Daily Archive: 03/17/2015

Mar 17 2015

2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Play Ins Day 1

Yes hoopies fans, it’s that time of year again where we cram a little over 3 seasons of Basketball into 3 weeks, 128 games worth of Men’s and Women’s action.

Tonight we start with 2 Play In games in the Mid-West and West Regions.

Time Channel Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
6:40 True 16 Manhattan 19 – 13 16 Hampton 16 – 17 Mid-West
9:10 True 11 Mississippi 20 – 12 11 BYU 25 – 9 West

Oh and just in case  you’ve forgotten what a horrible greedy institution the NCAA is, here’s John Oliver again.

Mar 17 2015

Rep. Aaron Shock Resigning from Congress

Illinois Republican Representative Aaron Shock, he of the Downton Abbey office, announced his resignation from the House of Representatives after questions about his finances and high spending life style.

Schock’s spending came under scrutiny after a Washington Post report highlighted the Republican’s newly redecorated office, allegedly modeled after the popular British period drama “Downton Abbey.” The report noted that the office’s decorator, Annie Brahler, remodeled the office for free, sparking an ethics complaint against the congressman.

Schock ultimately repaid $40,000 for the redecoration, but the initial story set off a series of reports on the 33-year-old congressman’s lavish spending habits. Subsequent reports detailed a taxpayer funded weekend in New York for his staffers, a dozen charter flights worth over $40,000 on donors’ planes and $24,000 in campaign funds spent on concerts and events, including a sold-out Katy Perry concert.

Other reports raised questions over Schock’s relationships with donors. In February, a complaint was filed against Schock over the alleged sale of his home to a campaign donor for a significant profit. And earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune reported that multiple Schock donors were directly involved in a 2014 property deal in which the congressman paid one donor for a commercial property, and then took out out a mortgage for that property from a bank run by other donors.

When Rep. Shock was first elected in 2008, he was the youngest member of congress. He is currently the third youngest.

In another development, the ex-girlfriend and fund raiser for convicted felon former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY11), was sentenced to three months in jail. Diana Durand, 48, plead guilty last September to violating campaign finance law. Despite the recommendation of the prosecutors for no jail time, Federal Judge Sterling Johnson Jr disagreed.

Ms. Durand pleaded guilty in September to using straw donors to illegally contribute more than $10,000 to Grimm’s 2010 congressional campaign. Kaplan had asked for no prison time, noting that she’s the single mother of a 16-year-old son.

Prosecutors did not object to that request, but U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. had other plans Tuesday.

“This is a very perplexing case, as all sentences are,” he said, adding, “I think that a custodial sentence is necessary.”

Johnson gave no other explanation for the sentence — three months, followed by a year of supervised release and a $10,000 fine. Ms. Durand is slated to surrender to U.S. Marshals in Texas, where she lives, on May 1.

Ms. Durand was also accused of giving illegal funds to Rep. Shock. Nor does this bode well for Mr. Grimm who is to be sentenced June 10.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) has five days to notify the county clerk of the vacancy and the state must hold a special election for Rep. Snock’s empty seat within 115 days. The special election for the NY-11 vacancy is May 5.

Ah, the young ans the restless.

Mar 17 2015

The Wearing Of The Green

O Paddy dear, and did ye hear the news that’s goin’ round?

The shamrock is by law forbid to grow on Irish ground!

No more Saint Patrick’s Day we’ll keep, his color can’t be seen

For there’s a cruel law ag’in the Wearin’ o’ the Green.
I met with Napper Tandy, and he took me by the hand

And he said, “How’s poor old Ireland, and how does she stand?”

“She’s the most distressful country that ever yet was seen

For they’re hanging men and women there for the Wearin’ o’ the Green.”
So if the color we must wear be England’s cruel red

Let it remind us of the blood that Irishmen have shed

And pull the shamrock from your hat, and throw it on the sod

But never fear, ’twill take root there, though underfoot ’tis trod.
When laws can stop the blades of grass from growin’ as they grow

And when the leaves in summer-time their color dare not show

Then I will change the color too I wear in my caubeen

But till that day, please God, I’ll stick to the Wearin’ o’ the Green.

You can listen to it here.

Mar 17 2015

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Dean Baker: Using the Fed and trade to make the rich richer

There are two obvious ways to reduce inequality, but – surprise – The Washington Post editorial page is against them

One of the greatest scenes in movie history occurs at the end of “Casablanca.” Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, is standing over the Gestapo major’s body with a smoking gun. When the police drive up, the French captain announces that the major has been shot and orders his men to “round up the usual suspects.”

Nearly all Democrats, and even many Republicans – including potential presidential candidates Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio – now agree that inequality is a serious problem. They all profess to be struggling to find ways to address the problem. They spout the usual lines about their pet theories: lack of education and skills among the workforce, robots making workers obsolete and the increasing number of children raised in single-parent families.

Yet they will likely stand by and watch as government takes two obvious steps that will increase inequality: the Fed’s raising of interest rates and the signing of free trade deals. While these policies go into effect, which are designed to redistribute income upward, we can count on our political leaders to ignore these smoking guns and round up their usual suspects.

New York Times Editorial Board: Gen. Petraeus’s Light Punishment

Granted, Americans love a comeback story.

But it is astonishing how quickly David Petraeus seems to have bounced back from the sordid aftermath of his extramarital affair, which cost him his job running the Central Intelligence Agency and added a rap sheet to the carefully managed legacy of the most famous American general of his generation.

Compared with the Obama administration’s aggressive prosecution of whistle-blowers and other leakers of classified information, Mr. Petraeus stands to emerge largely unscathed despite the extraordinarily poor judgment he showed while serving in one of the nation’s most critical national security jobs.

Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Stephen Kim, a former State Department contractor serving a 13-month term for leaking information about North Korea to Fox News, complained in a letter to the Department of Justice that the disposition in Mr. Petraeus’s case showed a “profound double standard.”

David Cay Johnston: Spanish company tops list of US corporate welfare hogs

New report represents first effort to measure flow of taxpayer money flowing into company coffers

How much welfare Uncle Sam provides companies has long been one of the great mysteries of taxpayer spending. Like a secret underground river, boodles have flowed out of the Treasury and into corporate bank accounts without notice.

Now we finally have a first look at the size of that river and where the cash goes.

The federal government has quietly doled out $68 billion through 137 government giveaway programs since 2000, according to a new database built by a nonprofit research organization, Good Jobs First. It identified more than 164,000 gifts of taxpayer money to companies. You can look up company names, subsidy programs and other freebies at the Subsidy Tracker 3.0 website.

A report the organization released today, “Uncle Sam’s Favorite Corporations,” shows that big businesses raked in two-thirds of the welfare.

The most surprising and tantalizing finding is the identity of the biggest known recipient of federal welfare. That dubious honor belongs to Iberdrola, a Spanish energy company with a reputation for awful service and admissions of incompetence. It collected $2.1 billion of welfare on a $5.4 billion investment in U.S. wind farms from coast to coast.

Robert Reich: The “iEverything” and the Redistributional Imperative

It’s now possible to sell a new product to hundreds of millions of people without needing many, if any, workers to produce or distribute it.

At its prime in 1988, Kodak, the iconic American photography company, had 145,000 employees. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

The same year Kodak went under, Instagram, the world’s newest photo company, had 13 employees serving 30 million customers.

The ratio of producers to customers continues to plummet. When Facebook purchased “WhatsApp” (the messaging app) for $19 billion last year, WhatsApp had 55 employees serving 450 million customers.

A friend, operating from his home in Tucson, recently invented a machine that can find particles of certain elements in the air.

He’s already sold hundreds of these machines over the Internet to customers all over the world. He’s manufacturing them in his garage with a 3D printer.

So far, his entire business depends on just one person — himself.

New technologies aren’t just labor-replacing. They’re also knowledge-replacing.

Sean McElwee: If everyone voted, progressives would win

The best way to create a progressive America is voting reform

In preparation for the 2016 presidential election, Democrats appear united around one candidate, while the Republican contest remains far from secured. Many on the left, who view Hillary Clinton’s stances as a tame brand of liberalism, have attempted to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to run. But the progressives do not need a charismatic leader. Instead, they need to invest in unleashing the disgruntled progressive majority. A longer-term strategy for progressives should be to strengthen unions and boost turnout among politically marginalized populations.

“If everybody in this country voted,” the economist John Kenneth Galbraith said, “the Democrats would be in for the next 100 years.” There is strong evidence to support his claim. A 2007 study by Jan Leighley and Jonathan Nagler found that nonvoters are more economically liberal than voters, preferring government health insurance, easier union organizing and more federal spending on schools. Nonvoters preferred Barack Obama to Mitt Romney by 59 percent to 24 percent, while likely voters were split 47 percent for each, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center poll. Nonvoters are far less likely to identify as Republican, and voters tend to be more opposed to redistribution than nonvoters.

Mar 17 2015

TBC: Morning Musing 3.17.15

OK, I totally spaced on it being St Patty’s Day,s o I don’t have anything specifically themed for ya. But I do have 4 articles that are interesting…

First, this is as green as it gets today, but it is kind of round about green. Not sure how I feel about the idea, but it would make things interesting to say the least:

Al Gore should run for president

To many Democrats, the fight the party needs is clear: Hillary Clinton vs. Elizabeth Warren. But the differences between Warren and Clinton are less profound than they appear. Warren goes a bit further than Clinton does, both in rhetoric and policy, but her agenda is smaller and more traditional than she makes it sound: tightening financial regulation, redistributing a little more, tying up some loose ends in the social safety net. Given the near-certainty of a Republican House, there is little reason to believe there would be much difference between a Warren presidency and a Clinton one.

The most ambitious vision for the Democratic Party right now rests with a politician most have forgotten, and whom no one is mentioning for 2016: Al Gore.

Jump!

Mar 17 2015

On This Day In History March 17

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 17 is the 76th day of the year (77th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 289 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 461, Saint Patrick, Christian missionary, bishop and apostle of Ireland, dies at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland.

Much of what is known about Patrick’s legendary life comes from the Confessio, a book he wrote during his last years. Born in Great Britain, probably in Scotland, to a well-to-do Christian family of Roman citizenship, Patrick was captured and enslaved at age 16 by Irish marauders. For the next six years, he worked as a herder in Ireland, turning to a deepening religious faith for comfort. Following the counsel of a voice he heard in a dream one night, he escaped and found passage on a ship to Britain, where he was eventually reunited with his family.

According to the Confessio, in Britain Patrick had another dream, in which an individual named Victoricus gave him a letter, entitled “The Voice of the Irish.” As he read it, Patrick seemed to hear the voices of Irishmen pleading him to return to their country and walk among them once more. After studying for the priesthood, Patrick was ordained a bishop. He arrived in Ireland in 433 and began preaching the Gospel, converting many thousands of Irish and building churches around the country. After 40 years of living in poverty, teaching, traveling and working tirelessly, Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul, where he had built his first church.

First St. Patrick’s Day parade

In New York City, the first parade honoring the Catholic feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is held by Irish soldiers serving in the British army.

Early Irish settlers to the American colonies, many of whom were indentured servants, brought the Irish tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s feast day to America. The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread. Today, across the United States, millions of Americans of Irish ancestry celebrate their cultural identity and history by enjoying St. Patrick’s Day parades and engaging in general revelry.

Mar 17 2015

The Daily/Nightly Show (Basketball Jones)

What use is an album no one will hear?

So we’re going NCAA today.

Just want to point out that we’ll be covering both the Men’s and Women’s tournaments starting with the Play-Ins.

Continuity

Fat, Drunk, and Stupid is no way to go through life

Pick any two.

And I can’t neglect this-

As you know TMC lives on Staten Island and I’ve had a tour.  It is really much worse than this.  I live 200 feet up the side of a valley.  Rain doesn’t bother me though my basement has been known to get a mite damp.

This Week’s Guests-

Andrew Cockburn is on to shill his latest- Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins.

The real news below.