Archive for National

May
26

Isn’t that special?

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals.

Query: If corporations can sue over loss of “expected future profits” they didn’t earn, can people get food over loss of “expected future work”?

It has always seemed to me that people should be holding the corporate leash, not wearing the collar. “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.” Yet we seem ready to hand mega-corporations a new and improved leash.

TPP is a “sellout of democracy” by “well-intentioned, sophisticated, realistic people … used to disregarding democracy when they want to accomplish something important,” writes Duke law school’s Jedediah Purdy at Huffington Post (emphasis mine):

From what we know of the TPP, it works as an economic policy straitjacket, locking its members into a shared set of market rules. It even brings in “investor-state dispute settlement” — a fancy term for allowing foreign corporations to sue governments whose lawmaking interferes with their profits, outside the courts of law, in suits resolved by private arbitrators. All of that is fundamentally anti-democratic. It reverses the basic and proper relationship between a political community and its economy. But plenty of Americans are seeking just that reversal. Not all of them believe the market is perfect and magical; but they believe it works, more or less, and that democracy does not. They are more than half right that this democracy, “our democracy” (a phrase that’s hard to say without irony), does not work. And that is the reality that makes their anti-democratic agreement so plausible.

I just said it in plain English. That extra-legal process violates not only democratic principles, but all the “Makers” and “personal responsibility” bullshit our corporate Brahmins spew to keep the rest of us in line — especially the poorest among us. But when you are that special, living your hypocrisy is just another of the perks.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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May
25

Damned dirty hippies

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US war casualties in a C-17 Globemaster III at Dover Air Force Base
This photo and 361 others have been released by the Air Force due to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Memory Hole, and can also be found at this site. Initially, the request was denied, but were released after an appeal by The Memory Hole. Shortly after the release of the photos, the Pentagon barred any further releases of photos to the media. According to Dover AFB spokesman Col Jon Anderson: “They’re not happy with the release of the photos“.
(Public domain image.)

The sun is just up and I put out the flag. It is Memorial Day again. There will be a ceremony downtown later to honor America’s war dead. Some in Washington are clamoring to send more Americans to join them.

We have seen stories lately that Memorial Day originated in 1865 with freed slaves in Charleston, SC. They took it upon themselves to give a proper burial to hundreds of Union soldiers from a prison camp at the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club who had been buried in a mass grave. Whether that event was the inspiration for the national holiday established in 1868 is conjecture. According to Yale historian David W. Blight, the “Martyrs of the Race Course” have since been moved to the National Cemetery at Beaufort, South Carolina. The track is now a park adjacent to the Citadel military college.

I was on the Isle of Palms a few miles east of there on October 7, 2002, watching, the night George W. Bush gave the televised speech in Cincinnati. He threw everything but the kitchen sink at Saddam Hussein in an effort to convince the American people we needed to go to war against Iraq (as the White House had already decided). The well-orchestrated, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld propaganda effort has been much in the news lately. A decade later, Americans have largely concluded, knowing what we know now, that we, the Bush administration, and a cheerleading national press were misled by bad intelligence.

No, we weren’t. David Corn put it plainly last week: “George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, & Co. were not misled by lousy intelligence; they used lousy intelligence to mislead the public.”

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Categories : Iraq, National
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May
24

Like that could happen

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Privacy advocates worry that military drones could soon be used to spy on Americans. An activist friend trying to get reporters to publicize how the military plans for its squadrons of Predators, Reapers, etc. to share the National Airspace System (NAS) with private and commercial aircraft is greeted with the kind of skepticism one might have gotten a few years ago for suggesting the NSA was bulk-collecting Americans’ phone records. Like that could happen.

Others have worried about hackers hijacking unmanned or commercial aircraft and, say, flying them into buildings. Like that could happen.

According to Der Spiegel last week, IT expert Chris Roberts has shown what, in theory, could happen with commercial airliners:

According to the FBI document, which was first made public by the Canadian news website APTN, Roberts was able to hack into the onboard entertainment systems — manufactured by companies such as Panasonic and Thales — of passenger planes such as the Boeing 737, the Boeing 757 and the Airbus A320. He did so a total of 15 to 20 times between 2011 and 2014. To do so, he hooked his laptop up to the Seat Electronic Box (SEB) — which are usually located under each passenger seat — using an Ethernet cable, which is unsettling enough.

But Roberts may also potentially have used the SEB to hack into sensitive systems that control the engines. In one case, he may even have been able to manipulate the engines during flight. He says that he was able to successfully enter the command “CLB,” which stands for “climb,” and the plane’s engines reacted accordingly, he told the FBI, according to the document.

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May
23

Big donor just wants to serve Man

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We’re not exactly envious of the state of Oklahoma where Charlie Pierce ends his regular peek into the Laboratories of Democracy. Let’s just say there’s some serious experimentin’ he’s missed going on in the Tarheel State. A major donor Republican donor earlier this week put a fountain pen to his temple and told North Carolina’s GOP legislators that if he doesn’t get the tax and spending cuts he wants, their $25,000 donation gets it:

Raleigh businessman Bob Luddy, who chairs the board of the conservative Civitas Institute think tank and is an influential financial supporter of conservative candidates, emailed a sharp critique of the House budget to House Republicans, who are in the majority.

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May
22

Jebbie finds a message

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They’re scientists. They know stuff. Of course, they’re elitists.

In all the earned media former Jeb Bush got with his complaint about climate science, nobody noticed…. Well, first, his statement via Think Progress (emphasis mine):

In comments reported by CNN on Wednesday, the potential 2016 presidential candidate called the science of human-caused climate change “convoluted,” and questioned the degree to which carbon emissions are responsible.

“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he reportedly said. “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

I’m loathe to call Bush’s statement brilliant, or to suggest that he planned it — it was probably just reflex — but that really is a clever bit of wedge politics. It plays to a carefully cultivated anti-intellectual sentiment among GOP base voters. You don’t have to be Richard Hofstadter to figure it out. What the left sees as pandering to anti-science sentiment on the right (or to oil interests) is really the politics of resentment. Also carefully cultivated. Us vs. Them. Real Americans vs. snooty intellectuals. Or the ever-popular city vs. county (deployed frequently around these parts).

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May
21

Doubling down on double standards

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There’s a double standard in this country when dealing with crime. Cue Claude Rains.

Charles M. Blow this morning explores the media double standard in reporting on crime committed by whites and blacks. Last Sunday’s gunfight in Waco, TX was between “bikers” or “outlaw motorcycle gangs.” Those terms, Blow writes, evoke the American romance of the Old West and the open road:

While those words may be accurate, they lack the pathological markings of those used to describe protesters in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore. President Obama and the mayor of Baltimore were quick to use the loaded label “thugs” for the violent rioters there. That the authorities have not used that word to describe the far worse violence in Waco makes the contrast all the more glaring.

Blow continues,

Does the violence in Waco say something universal about white culture or Hispanic culture? Even the question sounds ridiculous — and yet we don’t hesitate to ask such questions around black violence, and to answer it, in the affirmative. And invariably, the single-mother, absent-father trope is dragged out.

Bikers? I thought they said bankers.

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Categories : National
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May
19

How many dead people can’t vote?

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Turning the dead people voting meme on its head, Daniel McGraw crunched some numbers on a Politico napkin to take a swag at how many voters will die off before the 2016 presidential election:

“I’ve never seen anyone doing any studies on how many dead people can’t vote,” laughs William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in demographic studies. “I’ve seen studies on how many dead people do vote. The old Daley Administration in Chicago was very good at that.”

Maybe soon it will be Republican zombies headed down to the DMV (Dead Men Voting) office to obtain their photo IDs. It turns out that mortality rates are more of a problem for Republicans than for Democrats. (And for Texans last weekend.) It’s not called the Grand Old Party for nothing:

By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, I calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. President Barack Obama’s voters, of course, will have died too—about 2.3 million of the 66 million who voted for the president won’t make it to 2016 either. That leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats.

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May
18

Omission accomplished

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Since elections that gave the GOP control of North Carolina’s legislature (2010) and governor’s mansion (2012), creating jobs hasn’t exactly been Job One. But keeping theirs has. That has meant election changes from soup to nuts, or rather, from gerrymandering to photo identity cards. The cherry on top? Voter registrations state agencies must offer clients by the National Voter Registration Act dropping by 50 percent since Gov. Pat McCrory took office. Plus regular voter fraud snipe hunts designed to generate public support for even more election “reforms.”

For all their amateur data-sleuthing, what the state’s voter fraud vigilantes lack in quality, they make up for in quantity. Yet documenting non-anecdotal cases of fraud has proven difficult. Finding real victims of the voting restrictions they advocate, less so, as the Institute for Southern Studies found:

Jerome Roberts and his daughter Diana battled nearly unbelievable odds to become U.S. citizens. And one of the first things they wanted to do after becoming naturalized was to cast votes in North Carolina’s 2014 elections.

In the 1990s, they had fled their native Liberia during the West African country’s deadly civil wars, which claimed the lives of both of Jerome’s parents. After living in a U.N. refugee camp in Ghana for several years, the family was moved in 2000 by the U.S. government to a resettlement in Charlotte, where Jerome has worked as a service technician for the city for eight years.

They were excited about voting as full citizens in their first general election in November 2014. And then?

On the morning of the elections, Jerome picked Diana up from high school, where she was an 18-year-old in her last semester, and they headed to their precinct at Druid Hills Academy. When they arrived, however, they discovered that Diana — despite being a naturalized citizen, and a registered voter since September — had been flagged as a potential non-citizen by state election officials. According to state law, only naturalized citizens can vote.

Diana was apparently on a list of 1,454 names the N.C. State Board of Elections gave to local election officials shortly before the 2014 elections, identifying registered voters whose “citizenship status was in question.” More than 300 names had been sent to Mecklenburg County.

According to Jerome and Diana, their voting experience went downhill from there. A poll worker told them to wait while precinct officials “called downtown” to address Diana’s citizenship status. They waited more than two hours, to no avail. In the meantime, Jerome — unfamiliar with the voting process — asked the same poll worker for help understanding his ballot; according to Jerome, she became impatient and dismissive, saying, “We can’t help you.”

In the end, Jerome cast a ballot, but Diana, frustrated and tired, did not. Asked if she planned to try again next election, she said no. Jerome added, “Is this how people vote in this country? Because these are the things that make people not want to vote.”

As President George W. Bush once said of his administration’s custom-designed fiasco, “Mission accomplished.”

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : Vote Suppression
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May
17

Any More Like Her At Home?

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From a Last Word segment on Friday:

Ivy Ziedrich, the 19-year-old Nevada college student who told Jeb Bush that his brother created ISIS, joins Lawrence O’Donnell for her first national interview in a Last Word exclusive.

May
17

It takes a criminal mind

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After signing the credit card draft, the customer asked for his carbons back. (That tells you how long ago this was.) The waiter (moi) must have gotten a puzzled look on his face.

“Nobody ever asked you that before?” the customer asked.

Nope.

The customer explained that dumpster-diving thieves would steal carbons to get credit card numbers.

“Huh? That never would have occurred to me,” I said.

“That’s because you don’t have a criminal mind,” the man said.

Which brings us to this piece in the New York Times. It seems Republican PACs are making a concerted effort to “inhabit the liberal role” on social media and dupe lefties into sharing anti-Hillary Clinton memes. Bill McKibben (350.org), the A.F.L.-C.I.O., and others have fallen prey to the tactic:

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