09/15/2015 archive

Our Lady of Perpetual Exemptions Has Closed Its Doors

As quickly as it opened its doors and our eyes to fraudulent televangelism, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemptions has closed. John Oliver, pastor and host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” announced the end of his church’s mission not because they had to, they were perfectly legal, but because, as his “wife” Wanda Jo put it, “when someone send you jizz in the mail, its time to stop whatever you’re doing..”  

Warning the video below contains NSFW material.

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: Lehman Day: Making Fun of the Second Great Depression Crowd

This week marks the 7th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the huge investment bank. This collapse set off the worldwide financial panic that brought Wall Street to its knees. The anniversary of this collapse, September 15th, is the day set aside to ridicule the people who warned of a second Great Depression (SGD) if the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board didn’t rescue the Wall Street banks. [..]

There is no doubt that the initial downturn would have been more severe if the market was allowed to work its magic and put these banks out of business. But the question the SGD gang could never answer is how this collapse would prevent the government from boosting the economy immediately afterward? After all, then Federal Reserve Board Chair Ben Bernanke once ridiculed people who questioned the ability of the government to boost the economy, commenting the government “has a technology, called a printing press… .”

Rather than sitting through a decade of double-digit unemployment, why would Congress not pass a large stimulus package supported by aggressive monetary policy from the Fed? There certainly was no economic obstacle to this path. And the claim that political gridlock somehow would have prevented any stimulus flies in the face of history. Even Republicans have supported stimulus to counter economic slumps. For those too young to remember, the last such incident was the stimulus package signed by President George W. Bush in February of 2008, when the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent.

David Cay Johnston: New DOJ white-collar crime policy just reheated cabbage

We know how to fight corporate fraud, but Congress and the White House are unwilling to do what is necessary

After years of coddling corporate criminals, is Barack Obama’s Justice Department, under the leadership of new Attorney General Loretta Lynch, now serious about prosecuting corrupt individual bankers, executives and traders?

Will the disreputable practice of imposing big fines, which end up being paid by shareholders, be replaced by criminal charges against those who abused their positions?

The White House certainly wanted to create that impression last week when it gave a scoop to The New York Times, headlined “Justice Department sets sights on Wall Street executives,” based on a new memo by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

The Times story was much more nuanced than the headline, but many other news organizations ran with the simplistic version, as so often happens. And hardly any reports noted, as my column did a few weeks ago, that federal prosecution of white-collar crime is at a 20-year low.

Sadly, don’t expect much to change, despite the alleged new policy. But don’t miss the real story here either: Bluster and magical thinking is supplanting the hard work of governing in America. Creating the appearance of tough law enforcement is the goal here, not justice.

Steven W. Thrasher: The Ferguson Commission won’t bring social change. Black Lives Matter will

It’s going to get a lot harder to pretend that the suffering in Ferguson, Michael Brown’s death and the explosive reaction after his shooting weren’t all about race now that the Ferguson Commission has bluntly written: “make no mistake: this is about race.” [..]

The commission’s assessments about structural racism in and around St Louis are direct and to the point. The commission acknowledged its own limitations, writing: “we do not know for certain if these calls to action are the answer. We can’t”. They wrote that, historically, commissions after riots have focused on “economic revitalization ‘to the exclusion of social issues, such as racial tension, segregation and discrimination”; this whitewashed over racism in an expedient, cowardly way. Citing political scientist Lindsey Lupo, the Ferguson Commission scolds previous commissions for (emphasis added).

“Arguing that our society has moved beyond race, thus the problems must be purely economic. But race remains at the root of the violence, as evidenced by its very inception with every riot studied here being the result of white law enforcement harming a black civilian.”

Luis Gallardo: The burden of paying back Puerto Rico’s debt should not fall on the island’s poor

In the wake of Governor Alejandro García’s June declaration that the Puerto Rican government’s $72bn public debt is unpayable – putting an end to the traditional practice of financing the government’s massive annual deficits and rampant spending through loans – citizen and labor groups have taken to the streets concerned that the burden of paying off the debt will fall disproportionately on the island’s poor, working and middle class residents.

The release last week of the Fiscal and Economic Growth Plan, the product of a special working group commissioned by the government, has not allayed their concerns. Though some of the measures – such as the simplification of tax codes and investment in energy infrastructure – are a necessary condition of reform and recovery, large corporations and the wealthy will wind up almost unscathed by the proposals. On the other hand, those least able to afford to pay the consequences of years of profligate government spending will have to tighten their belts.

Martin O’Neill: The unexpected rise of Jeremy Corbyn

Victory rebukes Blair third-way politics and British austerity policies

On the morning of Sept. 12, Jeremy Corbyn took to the stage for his victory speech at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster dressed like Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Syriza. Wearing an open-neck shirt, a style favored by Europe’s new radical left, he addressed the crowd with a stark anti-austerity message.

“We don’t have to be unequal,” he said. “It does not have to be unfair. Poverty isn’t inevitable. Things can – and they will – change.”

This summer has seen an extraordinary transformation of the British Labour Party. This wave culminated in the party election of Corbyn, a veteran from its hard-left faction, as its new leader. Few outside Labour circles had even heard of the man even a few months ago.

While other European countries such as Spain and Greece have seen the rise of radical socialist alternatives to established parties of the center-left, in Britain the anti-austerity socialist surge has transformed Labour from the inside rather than displaced it. Nobody saw this coming, Corbyn included.

How did this happen? And what will be the consequences of Labour’s unexpected change of direction?

Alex Kane: It’s time for Israel to disarm

A nuke-free Israel will create a more stable Middle East

It’s September in New York: the start of a diplomatic marathon that will no doubt bring renewed attention to Israel’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

Since 1974, the United Nations General Assembly has passed a laudable Egyptian-sponsored resolution calling for the Middle East to become a nuclear weapons free zone each year. Starting five years later, the UN began repeatedly passing an Egyptian-authored resolution calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which it would disarm and place its nuclear materials under international inspection. But these resolutions are nonbinding, and the leading Arab state’s calls to focus on Israel’s arsenal of at least 80 nuclear warheads are usually ignored by Western powers.

That reality is unlikely to change this year. But it should.

The July signing of the Iran nuclear accord is certain to produce political clashes at the UN. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t be able to resist railing against the deal in front of the world. But the expected focus on the Iranian nuclear program makes the UN General Assembly, which opens its 70th session on Tuesday, the perfect opportunity to probe another nuclear program in the Middle East – one that has actually produced a weapon, unlike Iran’s.

The Breakfast Club (Summer Winds)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

This Day in History

Four black girls killed in a church blast in Alabama; President George W. Bush vows massive rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina; Nazi Germany adopts Nuremberg laws; Agatha Christie and Oliver Stone born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.

Albert Camus

On This Day In History September 14

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.

September 15 is the 258th day of the year (259th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 107 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1963, a bomb explodes during Sunday morning services in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls.

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was a racially motivated terrorist attack on September 15, 1963, by members of a Ku Klux Klan group in Birmingham, Alabama in the United States. The bombing of the African-American  church resulted in the deaths of four girls. Although city leaders had reached a settlement in May with demonstrators and started to integrate public places, not everyone agreed with ending segregation. Other acts of violence followed the settlement. The bombing increased support for people working for civil rights. It marked a turning point in the U.S. 1960s Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The three-story Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was a rallying point for civil rights activities through the spring of 1963, and is where the students who marched out of the church to be arrested during the 1963 Birmingham campaign’s Children’s Crusade were trained. The demonstrations led to an agreement in May between the city’s African-American leaders and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to integrate public facilities in the country.

In the early morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, Bobby Frank Cherry, Thomas Blanton, Herman Frank Cash, and Robert Chambliss, members of United Klans of America, a Ku Klux Klan group, planted a box of dynamite with a time delay under the steps of the church, near the basement.

At about 10:22 a.m., when twenty-six children were walking into the basement assembly room for closing prayers of a sermon entitled “The Love That Forgives,” the bomb exploded. According to an interview on NPR on September 15, 2008, Denise McNair’s father stated that the sermon never took place because of the bombing. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins (aged 14), Denise McNair (aged 11), Carole Robertson (aged 14), and Cynthia Wesley (aged 14), were killed in the attack, and 22 additional people were injured, one of whom was Addie Mae Collins’ younger sister, Sarah.

The explosion blew a hole in the church’s rear wall, destroyed the back steps, and left intact only the frames of all but one stained-glass window. The lone window that survived the concussion was one in which Jesus Christ was depicted knocking on a door, although Christ’s face was destroyed. In addition, five cars behind the church were damaged, two of which were destroyed, while windows in the laundromat across the street were blown out.

The Daily Late Nightly Show (Whoops!)

The Reviews are in


You stop being racist and I’ll stop talking about it.

Tonight we have Emily Blunt, the Baker’s Wife from Into The Woods (I’ll not spoil it but it came as quite a shock to me and rather unfair actually because all she does is cheat a little on James Corden who since he is now Stephen’s co- late night white male sausage will no doubt get the privilege pass and did you notice that Prince Charming but not sincere skates?  Just saying.).

I presume she’ll be wanting to talk about Sicario and not Lip Sync Battle.  Our other guests are Stephen Breyer, and The Dead Weather.

The New Continuity

It’s not really as much fun as he makes it seem.

Tonightly the topic is whatever and our panel is Mike Yard, Brooke Van Poppelen, and Mac Miller.