Out of My Mind
The world we live in (if it’s not purgatory)
What I don’t get is folks who claim to be devout Catholics but who think that the Catholic church’s opposition to the Death Penalty is just for show and not meant to be taken seriously. For years, I have watched Pat Buchanan make this case and it never does not stink of hypocrisy. Abortion is bad, he says, because his church says it is and The Pope is, after all, infallible on such matters. But when the same church and the same Pope say the same thing about the Death Penalty they (a) really don’t mean it and (b) especially don’t mean it because the person receiving the Death Penalty has taken an innocent life and no one is ever wrongly convicted of that.
So The Pope is infallible except when we aren’t supposed to listen to what he says…or something like that. And the courts do not sentence someone to Death Row unless that person deserves to die and pay no attention to those DNA-testing exonerations because, well, just don’t pay attention to them.
Spot the difference
The Bush Administration admits that as many as 22 political advisers to the president, including Karl Rove, used their Republican National Committee email accounts for White House related business. At the time, the RNC automatically purged emails after 30 days. Later, a White House spokesperson reported that as many as 5 million emails could have been lost from the White House’s official server.
A Mar. 4, 2015 report from NBC News finds that between 1999 until early 2007 Jeb Bush used his own private email server for official business as Florida Governor.
Two former aides to Gov. Scott Walker, while he was Executive of Milwaukee County, used a private Internet network to conduct campaign work. They are later charged with illegally campaigning on government time.
In 2011, Sarah Palin releases more than 24,000 pages of emails sent from a private account while she was Alaska governor, responding to public records requests made in 2008. The emails reveal less-than scandalous details of her life including her early attempts to meet John McCain, a draft ghostwritten letter-to-the-editor in response to criticism against her and plans to see a controversial Christian pastor in Juno, Alaska.
The Record releases a cache of emails sent from personal accounts between top Chris Christie aides that reveals their plan to create a traffic jam over the George Washington Bridge possibly as retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee who refused to endorse Christie in the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election.
And a few Dems. Read the rest.
But the thing is, none are Hillary and Clinton scandals, no matter how, um, wrong or trivial, attract an audience and attracting an audience makes them newsworthy. Too, the mainstream hate the Clintons. So that, too, makes it newsworthy.
But actually important?
One thing that’s gotten buried in all of the breathless reporting about how shocking and unprecedented it is that Clinton used a personal email account for work is that it wasn’t against the rules. If you paid really close attention, you might pick that information out of the ninth or twelfth paragraph of any given story, but it wasn’t the impression the coverage was designed to leave. And even now, in an article running through the lack of rules about how federal agencies save and store emails and the wide array of ways different agencies deal with that, we get this:
“The wiggle room for Mrs. Clinton is that those policies didn’t come into play until after she was gone” from the State Department in early 2013, said Thomas S. Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, an independent, nongovernmental organization focused on transparency.
“Wiggle room”? Wiggle room is how we describe minor technicalities. I’d say that the lack of a policy governing how you handle this situation is something beyond wiggle room, unless Blanton has information about time travel somehow playing a role in the Clinton email saga.
Too little, too late, and no excuse for failing to get it right in the first place.
The economic trends that have battered Americans have been exceptionally hard on African Americans, making them perhaps the truest face of economic inequality. Much of the progress in the workplace and in schools that African Americans have made since the 1964 Civil Rights Act has now ground to a halt, or worse. Blacks are nearly three times as likely to be poor as whites and more than twice as likely to be unemployed. Compared to whites with the same qualifications, blacks remain less likely to be hired and more likely to earn lower wages, to be charged higher prices for consumer goods, to be excluded from housing in white neighborhoods, and to be denied mortgages or steered into the subprime mortgage market. Racial disparities in household wealth haven’t just persisted; they’ve increased.
Well, consider the people Simon Wren-Lewis calls the “high priests”, people who are supposedly “close to the markets” and whose vast experience and intuition grant them insights denied to nerdy economists with their little models. How did they do? The answer is that they’ve spent these past six years declaring that we’re going to turn into Greece any day now (and it’s “regrettable” that it hasn’t happened yet), that we can boost the economy by cutting deficits, because confidence.
Great calls, guys. Remarkably, as Simon points out, politicians still hang on the words of these high priests. But the truth is that textbook economics and the economists who were willing to apply it have done vastly better.
And the factoid of the day:
This jubilation makes perfect sense so long as you don’t happen to know that the official unemployment rate in the United States doesn’t actually depend on the number of people who are out of work. What it indicates is the percentage of US residents who happen to be receiving unemployment benefits — which, as I think most people know at this point, run out after a certain period. Right now there are a huge number of Americans who exhausted their unemployment benefits a long time ago, can’t find work, and would count as unemployed by any measure except the one used by the US government these days. As far as officialdom is concerned, they are nonpersons in very nearly an Orwellian sense, their existence erased to preserve a politically expedient fiction of prosperity.
We always need an enemy for the government to protect us from
In the spring of 2010, Afghan officials struck a deal to free an Afghan diplomat held hostage by Al Qaeda. But the price was steep — $5 million — and senior security officials were scrambling to come up with the money.
They first turned to a secret fund that the Central Intelligence Agency bankrolled with monthly cash deliveries to the presidential palace in Kabul, according to several Afghan officials involved in the episode. The Afghan government, they said, had already squirreled away about $1 million from that fund.
Within weeks, that money and $4 million more provided from other countries was handed over to Al Qaeda, replenishing its coffers after a relentless C.I.A. campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan had decimated the militant network’s upper ranks.
“God blessed us with a good amount of money this month,” Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, the group’s general manager, wrote in a letter to Osama bin Laden in June 2010, noting that the cash would be used for weapons and other operational needs.
Another sick person heard from:
Wouldn’t destroying much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure merely delay its progress? Perhaps, but we can strike as often as necessary.
Of course, Iran would try to conceal and defend the elements of its nuclear program, so we might have to find new ways to discover and attack them. Surely the United States could best Iran in such a technological race.
I have faith in Bibi’s reelection
After decades of empowering the Likud fascists, what are the odds against him now? I love how the self-centered narcissists in the mainstream can’t understand some people being comfortable with suffering. If Bibi protects them then he’s allowed to fuck up the economy.
Phrase of the day
How it went bad
American democracy and freedom is dependent upon our taking personal responsibility for understanding our most important economic and political issues.
We failed to take responsibility and now it’s gone. Exactly that simple.
The Republicans’ war against the right to vote continues. Because that’s how much they love democracy. Then again, anyone who uses their right to vote to vote against democracy….
Of course, they also love acts of treason: “One-third of Republican insiders believe that Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and his GOP colleagues — including several potential presidential candidates — crossed the line when they published an open letter to Iranian leaders warning about a possible nuclear deal.”
“Elections change nothing.” — German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble. “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.” — President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker. His predecessor José Manuel Barroso said — “democratic governments are often wrong. If you trust them too much they make bad decisions.” (Note that the European Commission is appointed, not elected and “represents and upholds the interests of the EU as a whole.” It was the EU that deposed the elected leadership of Greece and Italy and imposed IMF approved puppets in 2011.) These are the people who now suggest that Greece not pay any salaries or pensions “for one or two months” so the government can pay German and French banks.
“Republican Texas state Rep. Jonathan Stickland hung a sign outside his office in the Texas Capitol on Wednesday identifying as a “former fetus’” on the occasion of representatives of Planned Parenthood visiting to lobby the Texas state legislature. (Link.) Maybe they’re so anti-abortion because of a fear that legal abortion can serve as the basis for legal retroactive abortions. Certainly not because they’re pro-post-natal life.
Apparently being drunk doesn’t enable an agent to do a better job protecting POTUS. Gotta note, though, not a one’s died due to a Secret Service agent being shitfaced.
In a move that would cut the population of New Jersey’s three publicly run psychiatric hospitals by 30 percent, the Christie administration has given community mental health providers an ultimatum: Find new places to live for 430 patients by March 16, or the state won’t pay you.
This is simple insanity — the neocon mentality.
Matt Ford writes in The Atlantic that thanks to a European Union embargo on the export of key drugs, and the refusal of major pharmaceutical companies to sell them the nation’s predominant method of execution is increasingly hard to perform. With lethal injection’s future uncertain, some states are turning to previously discarded methods. The Utah legislature just approved a bill to reintroduce firing squads for executions, Alabama’s House of Representatives voted to authorize the electric chair if new drugs couldn’t be found, and after last years botched injection, Oklahoma legislators are mulling the gas chamber.
Of course one would: “A Republican legislator in Texas wants to make filming the cops a crime.”
Computers operating on the New York Police Department’s computer network at its 1 Police Plaza headquarters have been used to alter Wikipedia pages containing details of alleged police brutality….
“An Australian company has reached a $5.73 billion agreement to buy the bankrupt business that holds the lease to the Indiana Toll Road.” Woulda been better for ownership to revert to the state in case of bankruptcy….
Obama says that Venezuela’s trampling of human rights, beheading of political opponents, public flogging of protesters and arbitrary imprisonment of any and all constitutes “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” and must be punished with economic and military sanctions. Oh, wait. That’s Saudi Arabia… or Egypt, or any number of US allies and dependent states. Venezuela must have done something really bad, like having oil or being a functioning democracy…
Right to work laws: Spawned by white supremacists?
Eat shit and die: No longer an expression but an actual thing. Like this: A ranch-dressing-themed restaurant.