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General Category => General Forum => Topic started by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 28, 2009, 12:24:04 am

Title: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 28, 2009, 12:24:04 am


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 31, 2009, 12:20:05 am

Excuse me while I locate a chunder-bucket to vomit into! (http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/XtraNewsCommunity2/MSN%20emoticons/09emcrook.gif)(http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/XtraNewsCommunity2/MSN%20emoticons/12emdgust.gif)

Brotherly love among ex-presidents

Associated Press | Saturday, 30 May 2009


BROTHERLY LOVE? Former President George W Bush
and, inset, former President Bill Clinton.

Former President George W Bush called former President Bill Clinton "his brother" and the two rarely disagreed in their first-ever appearance together on stage.

The Republican and Democratic ex-presidents defended each other at a Toronto forum overnight, disappointing some in the crowd of 6000 who expected a more heated debate.

Bush said that he never liked it when previous administration officials criticized his government but said Clinton was respectful and never did.

Bush declined to criticize the Obama administration, in contrast to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been a vocal critic of Obama. Bush, who wasn't asked about Cheney, said there are "plenty of critics in America."

Bush and Clinton did differ on Iraq. Clinton said UN inspectors should have been given more time to conduct the search for weapons of mass destruction and Bush should have concentrated on Afghanistan. Bush disagreed.

"I don't buy the premise that our attention was diverted," Bush said.

Bush joked about how much time his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and Clinton spend together. He said his mother, Barbara Bush, "said President Clinton and Father share the stage so much, he's like a son to her."

He said, "So brother, it's good to see you."

Clinton and the elder Bush have worked together to lead fundraising after disasters such as the southeast Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and last summer's Hurricane Ike.

While both men received polite applause from the audience at Toronto's convention center, a couple hundred protesters demonstrated outside. The organizers declined to say how much the men were paid for the event, called "A conversation with Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton." Ticket prices sold for C$200 (NZ$292) to C$2,500.

Bush joked about the speaking fees, which are normally lucrative for former presidents.

"President Clinton and I used to believe in free speech," Bush said before pausing. "So thanks very much for coming — we are glad you're here."

The two made speeches before taking questions from moderator Frank McKenna, Canada's former ambassador to the United States.

Asked why he didn't stop the killing in the Rwanda genocide when he was president in 1994, Clinton said he had no excuse or defense.

"It's one of the two or three greatest regrets of my presidency," Clinton said.

Clinton said the US could have saved 250,000 or 400,000 of the 800,000 people who died had he sent about 20,000 troops. Bush defended Clinton, saying 20,000 troops could not have been mobilized quickly.

Clinton praised Bush for his Aids initiatives and also hailed the racial and ethnic diversity of his cabinet choices.


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 31, 2009, 12:41:41 am

Armed plainclothes policeman shot dead in New York

Associated Press | Saturday, 30 May 2009


A plainclothes policeman who drew his gun while chasing someone he had found rummaging through his car was shot and killed by a fellow officer who was driving by and saw the pursuit, the police commissioner said.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly said 25-year-old Omar J. Edwards died after being shot late Thursday within blocks of the Harlem police station where he worked.

The shooter was white and Edwards was black, a fact that could raise questions about police use of deadly force in a minority community. And in recent years there have been several cases of off-duty policemen in the New York City area being shot and killed by other officers.

Edwards had just finished his shift when he headed to his car and saw that the driver's-side window had been smashed and a man was going through the vehicle, Kelly said.

Edwards struggled with the man, who got away from him by slipping out of his sweater, Kelly said. Edwards chased the man up two streets with his gun drawn, he said.

A sergeant and two plainclothes officers in an unmarked police car saw the pursuit and made a U-turn to follow the men, Kelly said. One of the officers jumped out of the car and fired six times, hitting Edwards twice - once in the arm and once in the chest, he said.

Kelly said Edwards did not fire his weapon. He died at the Harlem Hospital Center about an hour after the shooting.

The Reverend Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, said he and his National Action Network "are completely concerned of a growing pattern of black officers being killed with the assumption that they are the criminals."

He called for a federal investigation "to sort out the facts and bring about a just resolve."

It was unclear whether the officers identified themselves. The name of the officer who fired the shots has not been released, but Kelly said he had worked at the police department for four years.

"While we don't know all the details of what happened tonight, this is a tragedy. Rest assured that we will find out exactly what happened here, and we will learn from it so it doesn't happen again," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference from the hospital.

Kelly said Edwards had been on the force for two years and worked in the housing bureau. He was recently married and had two young children.

The shooting recalled other cases of off-duty policemen being shot and killed by fellow officers.

In 2008, a black, off-duty Mount Vernon police officer was killed by a Westchester County policeman while holding a gun on an assault suspect in suburban White Plains. A grand jury found the victim had failed to identify himself as an officer.

In 2006, a New York City police officer, Eric Hernandez, was shot and killed by an on-duty patrolman who was responding to an attack at a White Castle in the Bronx.


Faaaaark....only in the gUnhappy States of America! (http://www.smfboards.com/Smileys//smf/uglystupid2.gif)


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 06, 2009, 06:28:58 pm

From the Otago Daily Times — World News

Gun-loving pastor to his flock: Piece be with you

Associated Press | Friday, 05 June 2009


Ken Pagano, pastor of New Bethel Church in Louisville, Kentucky,
talks about the importance of gun safety, which will be discussed
at the “Open Carry Church Service” on June 27.
 — Photo by Associated Press.

A Kentucky pastor is inviting people to bring their guns to church to celebrate America's Independence Day and the constitutional right to bear arms.

New Bethel Church is welcoming "responsible handgun owners" to wear their firearms inside the church on June 27, the Saturday that precedes the Fourth of July holiday.

An ad says there will be a handgun raffle, patriotic music and information on gun safety.

Church pastor Ken Pagano says guns must be unloaded and private security will check visitors. He says recent church shootings make it necessary to promote safe gun ownership.

Marian McClure Taylor is executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches.

She says churches work to prevent violent harm and promote peace, but most "allow for arms to be taken up under certain conditions."


Faaaaark....only in the gUn-happy States of America (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1147.0.html)....(http://www.smfboards.com/Smileys//smf/idiot2.gif) (http://www.smfboards.com/Smileys//smf/uglystupid2.gif)


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 20, 2009, 07:07:28 pm

US controller joked about cooking cat

Associated Press | 12:20PM - Thursday, 20 August 2009


An air traffic controller was joking on the telephone about barbecuing a dead cat moments before a small plane collided with a tour helicopter, killing its New Zealand pilot Jeremy Clarke and eight others.

Transcripts obtained by The Associated Press show the controller at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey was talking to someone who works at the airport's operations centre at the time of the August 8 accident even while he was guiding the single-engine Piper and other aircraft.

"We got plenty of gas in the grill?" the controller asked. "Fire up the cat."

Seconds before the accident, the controller uttered a curse word and ended the call.

A family from Pennsylvania in the small plane and five Italian tourists in the helicopter were killed in the crash.

The body of Mr Clarke, 33, arrived in Auckland yesterday morning.

A contingent of 20 family members, including his fiance Danielle Granahan, arrived in New Zealand with Mr Clarke's body, while investigations continue into how the crash happened.

Mr Clarke's funeral will be held at Schnapper Rock Cemetery, Albany, on Saturday afternoon.

He and Ms Granahan had planned to get married next year.

He had lived in the United States since 2000 and recently became a citizen, the Associated Press reported.

The couple planned to move to Arizona and Mr Clarke recently went househunting in Phoenix.

Mr Clarke had worked for New York helicopter company Liberty Tours for 18 months, and previously worked as a pilot and instructor for Los Angeles Helicopters from 2005 to 2007.

Excerpts from a draft US government transcript of conversations between the control tower of the Teterboro, New Jersey, airport and the pilot of a plane that collided with a helicopter over the Hudson River on August 08, killing nine people including five Italian tourists and the New Zealand pilot Jeremy Clarke:

11:48:46 a.m., the Teterboro controller contacts a helicopter in the area to report that a plane is taking off and "will be turning to the southeast, join the river, climbing to 1100 (feet)." The controller asks the Piper, tail number N71MC, to report its altitude.

11:50:05 a.m., Piper pilot: "Climbing out of four hundred."

Teterboro controller: "Traffic 11 o'clock and two miles , northwest bound one thousand (feet), a helicopter."

Piper pilot: "Seven one mike charlie, lookin'."

At that point, the helicopter pilot reports the Piper is in sight, and the Teterboro controller tells the Piper, "helicopter has you in sight."

Piper pilot: "Thank you, sir."

11:50:41 a.m., the Teterboro controller gets on the phone with a woman from the airport's operations center. "Do we have plenty of gas for the grill?" he asks.

Operations: "Huh?"

Controller: "I said, we got plenty of gas in the grill?"

Operations: "(unintelligible) it kinda sucks that we can't, we won't be able to do it today."

Controller: "(unintelligible) fire up the cat."

Operations: "Ooh, disgusting. Augh, that thing was disgusting."

Controller: "Chinese people do it, so why can't we?"

Operations: "Augh, stop it."

Controller: (laughter).

11:51:17 a.m. Controller, to the Piper pilot: ''One mike charlie, start a left turn to join the Hudson River."

Piper pilot: "One mike charlie."

Controller: "This freakin' guy"

Operations: "I know (laughter)."

Controller: (unintelligible)

Operations: "Oh my god, it was pretty bad. Ugh."

The conversation continues for about 2 { minutes, interspersed with radio communications with various aircraft.

11:52:19 a.m., the controller radios the Piper and instructs the pilot to contact the Newark airport tower on a certain frequency, and the pilot repeats the instruction. At about the same time, the Newark tower calls the Teterboro tower about the Piper plane.

Newark controller: "Hey, Teterboro, Newark. Would you switch that guy, maybe put him on a two-twenty heading to get away from that other traffic please?"

Teterboro controller: "Say again, Newark."

Newark controller: "Can you switch that PA-32 (the Piper)?"

Teterboro controller: "I ... did keep an eye on him, though."

Newark controller: "I'm not talking to him, so..."

Teterboro controller, trying to radio the Piper: "One mike charlie, Newark is (on frequency) twenty-seven eighty-five. He's lost in the hertz, try him again."

Newark controller: "One mike charlie, Newark."

During this time, the Teterboro controller is also on the phone with the woman in the operations office.

11:53:07 a.m., Teterboro controller says to the operations office: "Damn."

Operations: "What's the matter..."

Controller: "Yeah, let me straighten stuff out." He hangs up at 11:53:10, four seconds before the collision occurs.

Teterboro controller, on the radio to Newark: "Newark, Teterboro. Did you get him yet?"

Newark controller: "Nope."

11:55:17, Newark controller: "I think he went down in the Hudson."

11:55:42, another helicopter pilot in the area: "Be advised there was an airplane crashed into a helicopter just south of the Lincoln (tunnel) a minute ago."

Teterboro operations: "Did he say what I thought he said?"

Controller: "Yeah."

Operations: "Where at?"

Controller: "Over the river."

Operations: "Oh, my lord. Okay, thanks."


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 31, 2009, 03:06:30 am

From the Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com)

A wedding chapel on wheels

A 1942 fire engine converted on ‘Trick My Truck’ with
stained-glass windows and a pipe organ offers brides
and grooms a sense of adventure. It's cozy, but fast.

By KIM JANSSEN (kjanssen@tribune.com) | Tuesday, August 25, 2009


The Rev. Darrell Best's firetruck, shown in a photo he provided, was converted on the Country Music Television show “Trick My Truck.”

Reporting from Chicago — As far as the Rev. Darrell Best knows, he has the fastest church in Illinois.

His 1942 firetruck is by no means a Ferrari, but it is equipped as a fully functioning chapel.

"I've had it up to 55 mph," Best said. "It gets a lot of attention on the highway."

Mechanics from the Country Music Television show "Trick My Truck" did the conversion after Best's family wrote to the program last year. The chapel has stained-glass windows, a pipe organ, an altar and two wooden pews.

Couples recently paid $100 to get married in the tiny church at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. "It fits me, the bride, the groom, the best man and the maid of honor," said Best, of Shelbyville, Illinois. "It gets a little crowded, but it works."

Best said he wanted to give people without a church a chance for a special service. And for $2 per mile, plus a $200 fee, he'll drive the church anywhere.

The truck suits "the kind of people who don't want a traditional wedding," he said.


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 12, 2009, 11:38:05 am

Andy Kroll — The Illusion of Recovery

posted November 30, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

Talk about a devastated landscape... Any which way you look, the housing numbers are relentlessly bad. For example, 23% of U.S. homeowners owe more (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125903489722661849.html) on their mortgages than their properties are worth, according to Ruth Simon and James R. Hagerty of the Wall Street Journal. They possess, in the vivid lingo of the housing industry, “underwater mortgages.” Among them, 5.3 million households have mortgages that are at least 20% higher than their home’s value, 520,000 of whom have already received default notices. In the meantime, home-loan delinquencies and home repossessions are now at record highs. According to (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-mortgage-defaults20-2009nov20,0,1052221.story) E. Scott Reckard of the Los Angeles Times, by the end of September, “one in seven U.S. home loans was past due or in foreclosure,” and the chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association expects the number of foreclosures to keep rising deep into 2010.

Worse yet, foreclosures on large rental-unit buildings are also on the rise (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/22/AR2009112200927_pf.html). This means, reports Robin Shulman of the Washington Post, that not just homeowners but renters are now being swept up in the housing crisis as landlords of apartment buildings in trouble let upkeep go while maintenance problems soar. Nor are the latest figures on home prices offering much cheer. Two key price indexes released last week, write (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/25/business/economy/25home.html) David Streitfeld and Javier Hernandez of the New York Times, “indicated that the momentum the housing market showed over the late spring and summer is faltering.”

There was, however, a rare ray of good news amid this dismal scene: Wall Street has, according to (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/business/22loans.html) Louise Story of the Times, figured out how to make money from the mortgage mess by “buying billions of dollars’ worth of home loans, discounted from the loans’ original value” and pocketing profits while shifting “nearly all the risk for the loans to the federal government — and ultimately taxpayers.”

With this grim picture in mind and with California one of four Sunbelt states that account for 43% of all foreclosures started in recent months, we sent TomDispatch regular Andy Kroll to the Ground Zero of the mortgage crisis to see what an economic “recovery” looks like firsthand in post-meltdown America.

— Tom Engelhardt

Housing Meltdown, Ground Zero

The American Home-Owning Dream on Life Support

By Andy Kroll

I. Rescuing the Dream

At the end of a week in mid-October when the Dow Jones soared (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ac24eb6e-b8b4-11de-809b-00144feab49a.html) past 10,000, Goldman Sachs recorded “just another fantastic quarter” (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-goldman16-2009oct16,0,3057124.story) with a $3.2 billion quarterly profit, JPMorgan Chase raked in a cool $3.6 billion, and a New York Times headline (http://www.nytimes.com/indexes/2009/10/17/pageone/scan/index.html) declared “Bailout Helps Revive Banks, And Bonuses” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/17/business/economy/17wall.html?ref=todayspaper), I spent a Saturday evening with about 100 people camped out in a northern California parking lot. A passerby, stealing a quick glance, might have taken the crowd for avid concertgoers staked out for tickets. There was, however, no concert here — just weary, huddled souls, slouched in vinyl folding chairs, covered by blankets, windbreakers, and knit hats against a late autumn chill.

A ragged line of them wound through the lot outside the entrance to the Cow Palace, a dingy arena decades past its prime on the southern edge of San Francisco. These people, and thousands more like them who had streamed into the arena all day long from as far away as Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, were unemployed, broke, bankrupt, or at their wit’s end. They were here waiting for help — for their chance to make it inside the warm arena to participate in “America’s Best Mortgage Program.”

For these homeowners, the last shot at saving their homes — and their personal version of the American Dream — lay under the glow of the floodlights in a expanse where tiers of brown and yellow seats encircled a desk-lined floor more accustomed to livestock shows and rodeos. This was, in fact, the latest stop on the “Save the Dream” tour (http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2009/10/video-no-economic-recovery-homeowners), a massive homeowner-relief event organized by a consumer advocate group, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA).

The turnout was staggering: close to 45,000 desperate homeowners showed up during NACA's five-day stand at the Cow Palace for the chance to renegotiate their disastrous subprime mortgages or sky-high interest rates or interest-only payments. For them, this event beat any chance at a star-studded concert — and best of all, it was free.

Inside, homeowners received housing-related financial advice and met with NACA’s counselors, a stoic crew, always with coffee or energy drinks in hand and clad in red and yellow T-shirts with STOP LOAN SHARKS and SHARKS BEWARE emblazoned on their backs. Here, homeowners could have their income, taxes, and spending habits analyzed, and possibly walk away with a monthly mortgage payment that actually fit their situations. With that payment figure in hand, homeowners could then meet with representatives from their mortgage companies in the same arena and try to hammer out new terms on more affordable mortgages.

The process would save many of them thousands of dollars, defuse an explosive mortgage, even avert foreclosure. To boost morale, NACA officials occasionally ushered chosen homeowners to a makeshift lectern where each offered a glowing testimonial over a PA system to the work taking place. They spoke fervently of new fixed-interest loans and fought back tears, while thanking their counselors, friends, NACA, and — regularly — God.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Venus Roberts, a homeowner from Los Angeles who came away from the event with lower mortgage payments.  I caught up with her in the arena’s parking lot as she was heading for the Amtrak station and a train home. A small, floral-printed suitcase in tow, Roberts had arrived early Friday morning, waited all day long, and finally spent the night in a nearby hotel. Back in line Saturday morning, she finally saw a counselor. The wait, she assured me, couldn’t have been more worth it. In the sort of reverential tone normally reserved for the miraculous, she avowed, “NACA is spreading the news that help is here.”

Not everyone was so inspired.  Near the tables behind which bank representatives were arrayed I spoke with Maria Hernandez of San Jose, who was fuming about her meeting with representatives from the bank Wachovia. Hernandez, haggard and emotional, struggled for words. “It was a… what’s the word? A mockery. Yes, a complete mockery.” Wachovia, she insisted, had failed customers like her, letting desperate people wait in line for days only to send them home essentially empty-handed. (No representatives of mortgage companies were made available for comment at the event.)

So impassioned was Hernandez that a small crowd of the frustrated and curious soon gathered around her. Even Bruce Marks, NACA’s pugnacious CEO (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2007/12/30/guarding_the_house/), stopped to hear Hernandez.“All this information is related to us, then we get to Wachovia, and for what?” she asked indignantly. “To just come back another day? Or have your kids in the van spend another night here?”

Most of the people I met at “Save the Dream,” though, weren’t either as elated as Roberts or as disgruntled as Hernandez; they were still in limbo, waiting in line, their futures hanging in the balance. That line began in the parking lot and, once inside, filled huge sections of the arena’s seats where thousands of bleary-eyed homeowners, some there for up to 36 hours, waited to see a counselor or to meet with Spanish-speaking advisers. Those earlier in the process sat in yet another section of the cavernous arena before an initial orientation workshop, a sort of Home Economics 101 held in an adjoining annex.

Some of the homeowners I interviewed that Saturday had already been in line for 10 or 12 hours on the previous day, and had returned before sunrise once again to take up their posts. Some had slept under blankets in their seats; others clutched rolled-up sleeping bags clearly meant for an expected camp-out that night.

As I waded through the main seating area around midday, Ed Kidwell, a burly, boisterous truck driver from Fontana, California, sporting a University of Southern California hat, stopped me. Noting my camera and pad, he wrapped a big arm around my shoulder as if we were lifelong friends reuniting. “I’m just waiting for some good news to take home to take the stress off my wife and kids,” he explained. Though dog-tired — he’d arrived in the wee morning hours — Kidwell assured me he’d do just about anything to get his mortgage fixed. As proof he offered to sing me a mortgage-themed song in the style of soul singer Sam Cooke. With a few thousand pairs of eyes trained on us, Kidwell promptly cleared his throat and belted out lyrics that featured some mix-and-match combination of the words “relief,” “modification,” “IndyMac,” and “baby.”

A man crooning about mortgage relief, retired couples camping in a parking lot for counseling appointments, 4,000 exhausted “fans” cheering announcements of 2% fixed interest rate loans as if they were so many slam dunks — after a day at “Save the Dream,” you’d be forgiven for thinking that, when it came to working class and middle class Americans, the housing market and the American economy in general hadn’t exactly improved since its implosion in the fall of 2008. Surveying the organized chaos in the Cow Palace, you might also be forgiven for thinking that all the talk of “recovery” was little more than that — unless you happened to work for Goldman Sachs. Indeed, the beleaguered faces of the desperate homeowners at “Save the Dream” brought to my mind a famous Dorothea Lange photo (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23373) of a Depression-era bread line (http://cybermuse.gallery.ca/cybermuse/enthusiast/acquisitions/2004-2005/Lange_text_e.jsp) in San Francisco’s Mission District, an image captured 75 years earlier just miles from where I stood.

If you happened to be at the Cow Palace that Saturday, the daily news about the very financial players who had fueled the subprime debacle and the global economic collapse returning to their risky, overleveraged ways (http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/07/15/chart-of-the-day-goldman-var/) could seem little short of surreal. Here, after all, was a reasonable selection of what the media likes to call “Main Street” mired in debt, clinging to homes at the edge of foreclosure, struggling through a jobless “recovery.”

A “recovery,” that is, in which the true (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/07/business/economy/07econ.html) underemployment rate (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/07/business/economy/07econ.html) is 17.5%, average employee wages continue to drop (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/30/MNLK1ACDVU.DTL), and the housing market is in shambles. The 937,840 foreclosure filings (http://www.realtytrac.com/foreclosure/foreclosure-rates.html) from July to September of 2009 set yet another industry record. So many people are returning to school that some community colleges have extended (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/education/28community.html) classes until 2 A.M. and are turning away hordes of new students. No one — not a single person — I interviewed at “Save the Dream” agreed with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner or Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that their country was on the economic rebound.

Mary McCleese, an Oakland resident, who was, at least for the moment, keeping her home thanks to NACA’s help, was typical. “If you look around, you see how many people is out of work, number one, and you see how many people is in foreclosure or lost their homes or in default because they've lost their jobs,” she said. “That tells you right there what the economy is doing.”

II. Housing Meltdown, Ground Zero

About a week before the “Save the Dream” event, I rented a car and headed east from San Francisco toward Ground Zero of the subprime mortgage meltdown. Visiting one of the hardest hit cities in the country would, I reasoned, offer another measure of whether the “green shoots” of “recovery” were truly pushing up through the overleveraged earth — better surely, when it came to ordinary Americans, than the rising price of AIG’s stock or the Dow’s ascent. While many cities can contest for the title of “most devastated by the meltdown,” including metropolitan hubs like Las Vegas and Fort Lauderdale or suburban areas like Bakersfield, California, or Mesa, Arizona, it turns out I didn’t have far to drive.

After all, Stockton, California, an arid, unremarkable city in the San Joaquin Valley, was only 80 miles away. A place for which “decimated” isn’t hyperbole but a mathematical statement of fact, Stockton, with its population of around 300,000, recorded nearly one foreclosure for every 10 houses in 2008. As other towns like to call themselves “the artichoke heart of America” or “America’s Bread Basket,” Stockton could call itself the heart of America’s subprime meltdown.

It’s an hour-and-a-half drive from San Francisco to Stockton, up through the Altamont Pass with its rows of wind turbines, then down into the Central Valley’s wide expanse and, via I-5, into the open streets of Stockton, a city that has often seemed to embody the vicissitudes of the housing crisis. In February 2008, for instance, national media outlets latched onto the story of a local man who, struck by the entrepreneurial spirit, started a business called Greener Grass Co. His service: Spray-painting the dead, burnt-out yards of foreclosed houses a hue of green so realistic that the local newspaper described (http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080209/A_BIZ/802090305#STS=g1h3g7qc.b66) the painted lawns as “good enough for a golf course or a professional football stadium.”

When I pulled into Stockton last month, more than a year had passed since CNBC had pegged (http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-us&brand=msnbc&vid=2771a4b9-8fc4-49d1-a5db-667a070e3a9c) it the “Foreclosure Capital of the World” — and painting lawns green was still de rigueur. Local government workers had now taken up the job. Dead lawns, the thinking went, signaled empty houses and so attracted trouble. Painting lawns, the city hoped, might dissuade people from breaking into deserted homes.

Around mid-morning, I pulled into the Little John Creek neighborhood near the airport on the city’s southern outskirts, and one of the first things I saw was an abandoned house displaying their handiwork. The green was, in fact, a sickly teal hue and had been laid down in bizarre stripes on a dead lawn on Togninali Lane. It was, to say the least, a far cry from fairways, football stadiums, or even the perfectly real turf on neighboring lots where grass grew and people lived.

Here, the houses without occupants stood out like so many missing teeth in a wide smile. On just about every street, foreclosures dotted the landscape: stucco homes with sheriff’s notices taped to front doors, FOR SALE signs askew in front yards, lawns burnt into suburban hay by the summer sun that had yet to receive their eerie coats of green. I parked near foreclosed house after house and walked up front paths and driveways to peer through windows and over backyard fences.  Most of the homes were starkly empty, often gutted — “trashed out” (http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/10/0082199) in industry parlance — with not a trace of their former owners.

In a few, though, there were hints of lives lived and lost. A deflated basketball, a toy truck, and a skateboard sat in the backyard of a tan house with a two-car garage in Little John Creek, the back porch light still unnervingly aglow in broad daylight. At a nearby house, the front flower bed was filled with foreclosure-crisis detritus, including the business cards of realtors and mortgage specialists.

The half-dozen neighborhoods I drove or walked through in various parts of Stockton proved but repeats of Little John Creek, still littered with empty homes — “decimated” — more than a year after the financial meltdown occurred. Though Stockton’s foreclosure rate has dropped (http://www.realtytrac.com/contentmanagement/pressrelease.aspx?channelid=9&itemid=7733) from 9.5% of the city’s houses in 2008 to 3.5% in the third quarter of 2009, that’s nothing to brag about. It remains the fourth-highest rate in U.S. metropolitan areas.

Before arriving, I had envisioned the foreclosure crisis as a somewhat localized event with the majority of such homes in a limited number of lifeless neighborhoods. In Stockton, at least, the opposite was true: foreclosed homes were salt-and-peppered around the city. They often sat singly or in twos and threes among occupied homes in still lived-in neighborhoods, in cul-de-sacs where kids played basketball, on blocks where neighbors waxed their cars on a Sunday afternoon, or down streets where friends were barbecuing in open two-car garages.

The thought of an emptied-out neighborhood may pack a more visceral punch for a story, but from an economic or social standpoint, a mix of foreclosed and occupied properties is far more damaging to those still in their homes. A report from the Center for Responsible Lending estimates (http://www.responsiblelending.org/mortgage-lending/research-analysis/soaring-spillover-accelerating-foreclosures-to-cost-neighbors-436-billion-in-2009-alone-73-4-million-homes-lose-5-900-on-average.html) that foreclosures will cost neighbors $500 billion in home value in 2009, or an average of $7,200 for 69.5 million homes. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago also found that when foreclosures increase, so, too, does violent crime in neighborhoods.

For those who have clung to their homes in hard-hit areas, the value of those investments has plummeted, while the ability to sell and so move elsewhere — to take a new job or live in a cheaper market — is now greatly hindered. In other words, a crisis like this one in a city like Stockton is not easily escaped.

III. A Bubble Grafted onto Rubble

The billboards and roadside ads lining Stockton’s streets like campaign signs repeatedly proclaim: “Mortgage Modification Works!” and “Call for Loan Modifications!” I counted five of them on one block alone, and together they created the impression that help had arrived. Yet I knew they were scams, with anonymous local phone numbers and little other identification, meant to relieve desperate homeowners in a city not lacking in desperation of whatever money they had left. The subprime meltdown, as it turns out, has been a boon for crooks preying on the vulnerable. (Not long ago, the FBI announced (http://tampa.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/2009/ta110409.htm) a nine-month mortgage fraud investigation in Florida involving 500 defendants and $400 million in loans.)

Outnumbering the scams three to one along Stockton’s main thoroughfares were glossier professional ads. At almost every intersection they urged locals to take advantage of the federal government’s recently extended $8,000 homebuyer tax credit. Never mind that this tax credit has been criticized by economists and experts alike who say it could create (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/11/homebuyer-tax-credit-new-housing-bubble) a new housing bubble amid the devastation. Even while the rubble of the subprime meltdown is still smoking, developers here in California’s Central Valley are already dreaming again about speculation on new homes.

At one point, I followed a succession of these tax-credit come-ons out to a subdivision called Cobblestone Bay. There, at the city’s edge, new homes with white picket fences are popping up at the edge of the undeveloped valley beyond. It was hard, having spent much of the day in foreclosure-riddled neighborhoods, to walk around this new development without a sense of déjà vu. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Cobblestone Bay was already being prepared for future foreclosure. All it lacked — for the time being — was the fake green lawns.

In fact, all the ad trails touting the $8,000 tax credit I followed led to subdivisions like this one, cookie-cutter communities lacking distinguishing characteristics that might remind you of California (rather than, say, Arizona or Florida). These were, of course, the very kinds of neighborhoods that were thrown up wherever land was cheap in the California boom construction years of 2005 and 2006, and the kinds of neighborhoods now in subprime ruin.

As my visit was ending and the sun disappearing behind the valley’s edge, I made one last stop on the outskirts of town at the ornate entrance to a subdivision called Golden Eagle. It included, as its centerpiece, an impressive five-tiered water fountain, while large wrought iron gates depicting eagles-in-flight separated Golden Eagle from the surrounding neighborhood. Except there was no Golden Eagle — just a single unfinished house on the weedy, 15-acre property.  Construction equipment sat motionless on the dusty earth. A placard outside the gated entrance trumpeted grand expectations, but the new neighborhood looked stillborn.

I took down a phone number from the entrance placard and, later that week, called Golden Eagle’s developer, a man named Tom Ruemmler. He told me that he had been on the project for more than three years, and envisioned it as a luxury, energy-efficient community for the green future. Ruemmler was no rube when it came to mortgages and the housing market: in the mid-1990s, he won a multi-million dollar mortgage-fraud whistleblower suit involving a Sacramento bank whose Stockton loan office he once managed.

Who, I asked him, would buy a custom, high-end, zero-energy, hypoallergenic home in a city leveled by foreclosures where housing prices have plummeted and nearly one in six people are unemployed? “I’m dealing with a different clientele,” he responded, bridling at the question. “I’m dealing with probably one-fiftieth of one percent of the buying public.” Did he honestly think he could sell 30 of these lots to such a small percentage of people in a place like Stockton? "Now is the time to build a custom home," he insisted. “Somebody out there is going to have money that has somebody in the family that has allergies.” And out in the San Joaquin Valley, with a foreclosure on almost every block, he intended to find them.

• Andy Kroll works for Mother Jones (http://www.motherjones.com/) magazine and is a frequent contributor to TomDispatch. He lives in San Francisco.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175170/tomgram%3A_andy_kroll%2C_the_illusion_of_recovery (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175170/tomgram%3A_andy_kroll%2C_the_illusion_of_recovery)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 15, 2010, 10:03:57 pm

Haiti ‘cursed’ — US evangelist

Associated Press | Friday, 15 January 2009

The White House has slammed evangelist broadcaster Pat Robertson's remark that Haiti has been cursed.

A devastating magnitude-7 earthquake hit the small island nation Tuesday.

"It never ceases to amaze me that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that can be so utterly stupid," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The day after the earthquake, Robertson said Haiti has been "cursed" because of what he called a "pact with the devil" in its history.

His spokesman said the comments were based on Voodoo rituals carried out before a slave rebellion against French colonists in 1791.

Spokesman Chris Roslan says Robertson never said the earthquake was God's wrath.

Earlier, senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett said on ABC television that Roberston's statement left her speechless.

She called it "a pretty stunning comment to make" and said it doesn't express the spirit of the American people or the president.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/3233176/Haiti-cursed-US-evangelist (http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/3233176/Haiti-cursed-US-evangelist)


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on January 16, 2010, 02:47:19 pm
Curses are human madness people curse things every day  ;D

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on February 25, 2010, 06:52:40 pm


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 07, 2010, 06:31:17 pm

This week in Tennessee....

http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2010/05/03/schermerhorns-25-million-pipe-organ-severely-damaged-by-flooding (http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2010/05/03/schermerhorns-25-million-pipe-organ-severely-damaged-by-flooding)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: nitpicker1 on May 07, 2010, 07:52:04 pm

Meanwhile today is the day of prayer,

It is occurring this year in spite of a recent court ruling declaring its unconstitutionality

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 08, 2010, 07:22:51 pm


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 24, 2010, 04:46:27 pm


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 01, 2010, 11:43:29 pm


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 01, 2010, 11:44:00 pm


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 01, 2010, 11:44:31 pm


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 25, 2010, 01:10:18 am

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/Cartoons%202010/3851844sLastVisit25Jun10.jpg) (http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/3846076/Obama-sacks-top-commander)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 14, 2010, 09:16:01 pm

CHUCKLE....you gotta laugh at those Tea Party retards and their silly wench, Sarah Palin, eh?  (http://www.smfboards.com/Smileys//smf/grin.gif)  (http://www.smfboards.com/Smileys//smf/2funny.gif)

Anger over billboard linking Obama, Hitler

Associated Press | 7:39AM - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A billboard ordered and paid for by the North Iowa Tea Party shows President Barack Obama,
Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin. — Photo: Associated Press.

IOWA — A billboard created by a conservative Iowa political group comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin is being condemned by other activists.

The North Iowa Tea Party began displaying the sign in Mason City last week.

The sign includes photos of Obama, Nazi leader Hitler and communist leader Lenin with the statement: "Radical leaders prey on the fearful & naive."

North Iowa Tea Party co-founder Bob Johnson says the sign highlights what the group argues is Obama's support for socialism. He says the pictures might be overwhelming the intended message.

Shelby Blakely, a spokeswoman for the national Tea Party Patriots, says the sign isn't appropriate. She says her group opposes any comparisons of Obama to Hitler or Lenin.

The White House declined to comment.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10658670 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10658670)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 29, 2010, 12:39:19 pm


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 29, 2010, 12:41:56 pm

Paris Hilton arrested for possession

Cover Media | 11:48PM - Saturday, 28 August 2010

ARRESTED: Paris Hilton has been arrested for cocaine possession.
 — Photo: Getty Images.

PARIS HILTON has been arrested for cocaine possession.

The 28-year-old hotel heiress was taken into police custody late Saturday night (NZ time) after officers stopped the car she was in on a Las Vegas street.

She was held overnight and booked into the Clark County Detention Centre on a charge of drug possession.

Public Information officer Marcus Martin said Paris was in a car that was being driven by a friend that was pulled over when police noticed what they suspected to be marijuana smoke coming from it.

Martin said officers searched the occupants of the car once it had been stopped, and found a controlled substance on Paris. Tests showed it was cocaine. It is not known how much of the drug was found.

Las Vegas police Lieutenant Wayne Holman said that Hilton was still in police custody late Saturday night (NZ time). He said she was expected to be released on bail later today.

Paris has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) several times, and spent 23 days in prison in June 2007 after she violated the terms of her probation for those charges.

She was arrested in July after she was accused of smoking marijuana at a soccer World Cup game in South Africa, but the case against her was later dropped. She was also arrested and detained at an airport in Corsica two weeks later for possession of marijuana. That case was also subsequently dropped.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/celebrities/4072418/Paris-Hilton-arrested-for-possession (http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/celebrities/4072418/Paris-Hilton-arrested-for-possession)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Magoo on August 29, 2010, 12:55:45 pm
Meanwhile............ In New Zealand.


Drug 'ringmaster' worked from jail

Last updated 05:00 28/08/2010
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The "ringmaster" of a Christchurch methamphetamine syndicate he ran from his prison cell had at least five years added to his life sentence for murder yesterday.

The Christchurch District Court heard yesterday how Dean Waka Nathan, 43, used an unauthorised cellphone to marshal eight associates in an operation worth nearly $2 million.

Nathan, who is already serving a life sentence for his part in the gang shooting of Black Power member Max Shannon in 2000, pleaded guilty to charges of supplying and conspiring to supply the drug in September.

Yesterday, Judge Philip Moran sentenced Nathan to 20 years with a minimum non-parole period that means he will not be eligible for parole until at least 2019.

Prior to yesterday's sentence he could have gone before the Parole Board in 2014.

The court heard between October 10, 2008, and January 31 last year Nathan used people to act as bankers and others to provide safehouses for the storage of drugs.

These activities were monitored by police using taps on phones.

A key member of the operation was Angie Lee Hurring, who made an abortive trip to Auckland to buy 10 ounces of methamphetamine for Nathan in January for $130,000.

The sale fell through when she and the seller became worried they were being followed by police.

A police summary of facts said that in February Nathan instructed his stepdaughter, Storm Harley Curran, to buy more methamphetamine from another dealer in Auckland.

When Curran flew into Christchurch Airport police caught her with 39 grams of methamphetamine worth up to $40,000.

Although Nathan had only pleaded guilty to being involved in these two incidents, the judge said evidence indicated they were not the only occasions.

Prior to January Hurring made eight trips to Auckland to buy drugs, he said.

"This was a large-scale operation with a minimum of eight transactions of eight ounces each. We are looking at $1.8m worth on the street.

"There were numerous trips to Auckland, all of which you were involved in and your culpability isn't limited to one transaction that formed the basis of your guilty plea.

"The evidence suggests an ongoing operation and you have called no evidence to the contrary," Judge Moran said.

"I accept the Crown's analysis that you were the common denominator between all of the conspirators. You did most of the calling rather than having people call you. You were the ringmaster in this offending."

Prosecutor Claire Boshier said no cumulative sentence could be imposed as Nathan was serving a life term.

However, a further non-parole period should "lengthen his existing sentence", she said.

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 27, 2011, 02:45:08 am

I wonder if the truck driver had an “oops, I fucked-up” moment in his head just before he crashed into the side of the train?  (http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/XtraNewsCommunity2/Animated%20emoticons/03_Huh.gif)

From the San Francisco Chronicle....

6 killed in Amtrak train crash, 28 unaccounted for

By JOHN COTÉ - San Francisco Chronicle | Sunday, June 26, 2011


SIX PEOPLE were killed and 28 remain unaccounted for in the fiery collision of a semi-trailer and an Emeryville-bound Amtrak train in the Nevada desert, officials said late Saturday.

It wasn't until Saturday afternoon that the wreckage was safe enough to allow search teams to enter the burned-out hulks of two passenger cars in the 10-car train that exploded in a fireball on Friday.

A team of 18 investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board is examining the wreckage, but they don't yet have a full explanation of why the crash occurred.

Firefighters look at the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger car Friday near US 95 north of
Fallon, Nevada. The westbound train was struck by a semi-truck and burst into flames.
The driver and a passenger of the truck were killed. Injured train passengers were taken
to local hospitals but officials must let the wreck cool off before they continue their search.
 — Photo: Liz Margerum/Reno Gazette-Journal/Associated Press.

Two other truck drivers watched in horror and disbelief as the lead semi-tractor trailer in their convoy failed to stop for flashing warning signals and plowed into the train, the federal investigators said.

"The two other trucks noticed the signs and took action," NTSB member Earl Weener said at a briefing. "The lead truck did not stop."

The initial findings only deepen the mystery of why the big rig slammed into the California Zephyr at a remote highway crossing about 70 miles east of Reno, shortly before 11:30 a.m. on Friday.

The fellow drivers in the three-truck convoy described ample warnings signs and functioning crossing gates and warning lights, Weener said. The first warning sign was almost 900 feet before what Weener described as a state-of-the-art rail crossing gate. There were additional markers at 650 feet.

Skid marks show the lead driver, who died in the crash and authorities have refused to identify, applied the brakes beginning at about 320 feet from the crossing but was unable to stop in time, officials said.

But more than a day after the rig, owned by John Davies Trucking of Battle Mountain, Nevada, slammed into the train, little information was available about who was killed and who was missing in the collision.

The investigators from NTSB combed through the charred wreckage, trying to determine why a semi-tractor trailer hauling empty gravel containers hurtled through the wooden safety gates and flashing lights at the remote highway crossing.

Crews also had the grim task of searching the charred hulk of part of the train for bodies.

The fireball that raged through the train cars made it too risky for crews to search the wreckage until Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

"The fire weakened the structure of the cars and they could collapse," Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Lopez said. "The safety of workers is a big thing, and we don't want to put someone else in an unsafe situation."

Amtrak officials, who earlier said there were 204 passengers and 14 crew members aboard the California Zephyr, were scouring the passenger manifest to determine how many riders were on the train and how many had bought tickets but did not use them.

There's difficulty in knowing exactly how many passengers were onboard the train, Weener said.

"It's not like an airplane where there's a record of who gets on," he said. "On a train, people can get on and off as they will."

The truck driver is expected to be the focus of the investigation.

"That's what everybody wants to know. Why did the truck collide with the train?" Lopez said. "Unfortunately ... he was pronounced dead."

Investigators are expected to review the man's driving and medical history. Autopsy results would probably indicate whether the driver had consumed any drugs before the collision.

Emergency crews work around two cars at the site of a collision between an Amtrak westbound train and
a truck on U.S. 95 about 4 miles south of Interstate 80 on Friday, 70 miles east of Reno, Nevada.
 — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press.

Firefighters put water on the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger car Friday June 24, 2011 near US 95 north of
Fallon, Nevada. The west-bound train was struck by a semi-truck and burst into flames. The driver and a
passenger of the truck were killed. Injured train passengers were taken to local hospitals but officials must
let the wreck cool off before they continue their search. — Photo: Liz Margerum/Reno Gazette-Journal/AP.

The wreckage of a truck is seen at right at the site of a collision between an Amtrak westbound train and
a truck on U.S. 95 about 4 miles south of Interstate 80 on Friday, 70 miles east of Reno, Nevada.
— Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press.

Emergency workers investigate at the site of a collision between an Amtrak westbound train and a truck
on U.S. 95 about 4 miles south of Interstate 80 on Friday, 70 miles east of Reno, Nevada.
 — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press.

A group of Amish from Ohio were among the passengers aboard the Amtrak train that was struck by a truck
at the intersection of U.S. 95 about 65 miles east of Reno Friday morning June 24, 2011. The group load onto
buses at Best Elementary School in Fallon. — Photo: Tim Dunn/Reno Gazette-Journal/Associated Press.

More than 80 people were taken to hospitals in Reno and the surrounding area, some in helicopters, authorities said. Six of the nine who had been taken to Renown Regional Medical Center, the local trauma hospital, were released by Saturday afternoon. Of the three who remained, one was listed in critical condition.

The riders' injuries included blunt trauma, fractures, abrasions, lacerations and internal organ damage, but not burns, Renown officials said.

Another 76 people were treated at Banner Churchill Community Hospital in Fallon, about 63 miles east of Reno, hospital spokeswoman Amiee Fulk said. All but one had been released by Saturday.

Dozens of other passengers were being taken by chartered buses to their destinations, Amtrak officials said. The first buses arrived in Emeryville around midnight Friday. Trains had to be rerouted around the crash site and the highway remained closed around the scene of the wreck.

The train had originated in Chicago. It was due to arrive in Emeryville at 4:10 p.m. Friday.

"Right now it's a shock to everybody's system," Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said, "but I think at the end of the day, we run a reliable and safe railroad."

Chronicle news services contributed to this report. E-mail John Coté at jcote@sfchronicle.com (jcote@sfchronicle.com).

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/06/25/MN9T1K2PVL.DTL (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/06/25/MN9T1K2PVL.DTL)

From the Los Angeles Times....

Over two dozen unaccounted for in Nevada truck-train wreck

Emergency workers find two more bodies, bringing the death toll
to at least six. Witnesses say the semi driver tried to stop.

By JACK DOLAN, RALPH VARTABEDIAN and STEPHEN CEASAR - Los Angeles Times | Sunday, June 26, 2011

Charred Amtrak passenger cars sit smoldering after the train was struck by a semitruck on Highway 95
north of Fallon, Nevada. — Photo: Liz Margerum/Reno Gazette-Journal/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.

SIX PEOPLE are confirmed dead and about 28 remained unaccounted for following the fiery collision of the California Zephyr passenger train and a truck in the Nevada desert.

The missing passengers are not necessarily all dead. In a news conference late Saturday night, National Transportation Safety Board Member Earl Weener said more than two dozen people from the train's 210-person manifest had not been found. It's not known how many of those 210 actually boarded the Chicago-to-California train and how many may have gotten off at stops before the crash, Weener said.

"That makes this a spongy number," he said.

At least six people were killed, including a member of the train crew and the truck driver, according to Amtrak officials and the Churchill County Sheriff's Department. The names of the dead were withheld pending notification of their relatives.

LEFT: A big rig plowed into a California-bound Amtrak train at a crossing in a rural area about 70 miles east of Reno.
 — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.
RIGHT: Passengers and crew exit the Amtrak train. — Ron Almgren/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.

Throughout the day Saturday, a team of federal investigators sifted through the badly charred wreckage of the westbound Amtrak train. They said the severe destruction was making it difficult to determine how many may have perished when the big rig truck rammed the train at a highway crossing Friday.

"If you look at the amount of damage to the train, you can understand why we don't know yet how many people died," an NTSB official said.

About 20 passengers were taken to hospitals Friday, said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Lopez.

The accident occurred at 11:20 a.m. Friday in an empty desert about 70 miles east of Reno, where Highway 95 crosses a set of Union Pacific Railroad tracks, and about three miles south of Interstate 80.

Smoke rises from train cars hit by the semi-truck. — Photo: Liz Margerum/RGJ/AP/June 24, 2011.

Passenger Abel Ortiz said he was sleeping on the side of the car that was struck. “I saw the flames
come over the windows of the side, like a quick flash of flames. Then smoked filled up everything.
There was some screaming.” — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.

Emergency crews investigate the site of the collision. Wreckage of the semi-truck is strewn
near the tracks. — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.

The truck that plowed into the train was the leader of a three-truck convoy, all from John Davies Trucking in Battle Mountain, Nevada, Weener said. Visibility was excellent at the time of the accident, Weener said, and the drivers of the trailing trucks told investigators they saw the train coming and wondered why the lead driver, a man in his 40s, wasn't stopping.

There was a warning signal 897 feet before the crossing, Weener said. The truck driver apparently slammed on his breaks, starting a skid mark on Highway 95 northbound that stretched 320 feet up to the tracks.

The truck was headed north on the road, which crosses the tracks at about a 45-degree angle. The road has a posted 70-mph speed limit. The truck could have required as much as 465 feet to stop if it was going the speed limit, according to widely used estimates.

The truck struck the train, which was bound for Emeryville, California, from the side, and the train engineer saw the impact in his rearview mirror.

The cab of the truck became stuck in the passenger car and was carried about half a mile down the tracks, where the train finally came to a rest. The bed of the truck was left relatively unscathed back at the crossing, according to Lopez. The train did not derail.

It's not clear when the fire erupted that engulfed at least two of the passenger cars of the train, Weener said.

A phone call to John Davies Trucking was not returned late Saturday night.

The engineer, who survived, tried to stop the train, which was traveling at 78 mph, but could not do so in time, Weener said. The section of track through the desert is rated for 80 mph, Weener said.

Amtrak has had 36 accidents at grade crossings from January through March of this year, resulting in 11 deaths, according to the Federal Railroad Administration's safety office. In the five-year period ending in 2010, the passenger train service was involved in crashes that took the lives of 309 people, an average of 62 per year. Amtrak's media relations officials did not return calls Saturday for comment.

Emergency crews did not begin removing bodies from the badly burned wreckage of the train until about 1 p.m. Saturday. Among their concerns was the possibility that the train could topple over on rescuers.

Brisk, dusty desert winds whipped crews as they slowly extracted the dead.

Jack Dolan reported from Lovelock, Nevada; Ralph Vartabedian and Stephen Ceasar from Los Angeles.

jack.dolan@latimes.com (jack.dolan@latimes.com)

ralph.vartabedian@latimes.com (ralph.vartabedian@latimes.com)

stephen.ceasar@latimes.com (stephen.ceasar@latimes.com)

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-nevada-train-crash-20110626,0,4724347.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-nevada-train-crash-20110626,0,4724347.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on June 27, 2011, 02:42:44 pm
You would think the guy would slow down a little for the crossing

350 foot skid mark  wonder how fast he was moving,maybe it slid because it was empty..wonder what caused the fire.

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 27, 2011, 03:16:31 pm
...wonder what caused the fire.

Most likely fuel.

The truck would have had plenty of it.

And those big AmTrak double-decker viewliner passenger cars each have their own power generator onboard on the lower level.

So presumably all of that diesel fuel ignited and the result was a fire.

There was a similar incident in NZ many years ago when a ready-mix concrete truck drove into the side of a passenger train at Rolleston just outside Christchurch. In the NZ example, the truck hit the side of the locomotive, straight into the side where the rear locomotive bogie is located. That is one of the most solid parts of a locomotive, so the result was the truck bounced off, but was spun around and the rear of the truck ripped the side out of the second passenger car as it passed over the crossing, killing two passengers, although fortunately there was no fire. One of the passengers on the train who died was the daughter of cricketer Lance Cairns. It was because of that crash that her brother (Chris Cairns) set up a trust and began a nationwide level crossing safety campaign. And following the Rolleston collision, the rail company closed the level crossing completely in spite of strenuous objections from local residents. They were able to do that because level crossings aren't public roads but are instead part of the rail corridor with motorists being allowed to cross the rail corridor by the grace of the rail operating company. Legally, KiwiRail could close and fence off any public level crossing in NZ if they wished, although political fallout would be huge if they started wholesale closure of level crossings around the country.

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on June 28, 2011, 12:44:54 am

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: nitpicker1 on August 03, 2011, 09:48:03 am

Obama says austerity bill only a 'first step'
August 3, 2011, 6:57 am

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed a emergency austerity bill that averted a devastating debt default, but warned the contentious plan was "just the first step" on a long road to economic recovery. ...

wanna see the rest?  http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/9955092/obama-says-austerity-bill-only-a-first-step/

meanwhile  (http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/XtraNewsCommunity2/Animated%20emoticons/47_Faint.gif)
Apple Currently Has $3 Billion More in Cash than the U.S. Treasury
By Matt Kiebus Friday, July 29, 2011

 In four days Steve Jobs will become the dictator of the country formerly known as the United States.

...Putting the country’s financial position into perspective, The Financial Post’s Matt Hartley reported this stunning factoid Thursday night: Apple has more cash than the U.S. Treasury.

That’s right. The Treasury Department said Thursday that it has an operating balance of $73.768 billion, compared with the $76.156 billion in cash that Apple recorded on its latest earnings report.

Hartley was quick to point out that the numbers aren’t directly comparable, since the Treasury’s number represents how much money the government has before hitting the debt ceiling, while Apple’s cash holdings represent all the money it has available on its balance sheet....


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 08, 2011, 12:49:01 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

High costs, malfunctions plague F-22 Raptor fighter jets

The fleet of 158 F-22 planes — costing $412 million each — has never
entered combat and has been grounded since May 3 because of
a government safety investigation. The probe follows more than
a dozen incidents in which oxygen was cut off to pilots, a problem
suspected of contributing to at least one fatal accident.

By W.J. Hennigan - Los Angeles Times | 7:47PM PDT - Saturday, August 06, 2011

The F-22 Raptor jet hasn’t been used in conflicts because its technology wasn’t needed, Air Force officials
say, adding that the F-22 is worth its high price tag — an estimated $412 million each — because it is the
“most advanced fighter aircraft, with unrivaled capabilities.” — Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images.

IT'S the most expensive fighter jet ever built. Yet the F-22 Raptor has never seen a day of combat, and its future is clouded by a government safety investigation that has grounded the jet for months.

The fleet of 158 F-22s has been sidelined since May 03, after more than a dozen incidents in which oxygen was cut off to pilots, making them woozy. The malfunction is suspected of contributing to at least one fatal accident.

At an estimated cost of $412 million each, the F-22s amount to about $65 billion sitting on the tarmac. The grounding is the latest dark chapter for an aircraft plagued by problems, and whose need was called into question even before its first test flight.

The sleek, diamond-winged fighter was conceived during the Cold War in the early 1980s to thump a new generation of Soviet fighter jets in dogfights. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Soviet fighters that the U.S. military planners feared never moved beyond development and were never built.

Now, while other U.S. warplanes pummel targets, the F-22 has sat silently throughout battles in Afghanistan. It has gone unused in Iraq. There has been no call for it in the conflict above Libya.

"For all that gigantic cost, you have a system you can't even use," said Winslow T. Wheeler, a defense budget specialist and frequent Pentagon critic at the Center for Defense Information. "It's a fundamental explanation on how the country has gotten itself in the financial mess that it's in today."

Designed in Burbank and built in Marietta, Ga., the F-22 won the final go-ahead from Congress in 1991, thanks in part to a lobbying campaign by the plane's manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Corp. — then Lockheed Corp. — and its near 1,100 subcontractors in 44 states.

"The Cold War was over, it didn't make any sense to go forward with the program," said Thomas Christie, a retired official who worked 50 years at the Pentagon. "But the Air Force built up such a large constituency up on the Hill that it couldn't be killed."

The Air Force wanted an engineering marvel with unmatched features of any other aircraft. Lockheed Martin delivered.

F-22 engines have thrust-vectoring nozzles that can move up and down, making the plane exceptionally agile. It can reach supersonic speeds without using afterburners, enabling the plane to fly faster and farther. It's also packed with cutting-edge radar and sensors, allowing the pilot to identify, track and shoot an aircraft before the enemy pilot can detect the F-22.

"The Air Force piled it all on," said Pierre Sprey, an aeronautical engineer who helped design the F-16 and A-10 jets. "It became a vehicle to carry a laundry list of technologies. The plane is a textbook case on the dangers of complexity."

As the Air Force saw more opportunities for design changes, the F-22 grew in cost. When the plane first entered service in 2005, it didn't take long for problems to arise.

In 2006, an F-22 pilot was stuck in the plane on the ground for five hours because the canopy wouldn't pop open. Firefighters had to cut the pilot out. A replacement canopy cost about $71,000, the Air Force said.

In 2007, a software error in the navigational systems caused 12 F-22s to turn around from a flight to Okinawa, Japan, from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. Six days later, engineers corrected the error at a cost of between $200,000 and $300,000, the Air Force estimated.

Last year, the fighters were inspected for rust corrosion "due to poorly designed drainage in the cockpit," according to the House Armed Services Committee. Fourteen F-22s had rusting parts in the cockpit replaced, the Air Force said.

Corrosion has also been an issue with the plane's radar-evading skin, which, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said, is "difficult to manage and maintain, requiring nearly twice the number of maintenance personnel as anticipated."

The plane takes about 3,000 people to maintain, the Air Force said. The service calculated that for every hour in the air, the F-22 spends 45 hours undergoing maintenance.

Two decades ago, the U.S. government planned to buy 648 of the fighters for $139 million apiece; the cost has almost tripled since then to $412 million, the Government Accountability Office said.

Recently retired Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ended the purchase in 2009 at 188 planes, only a handful of which are still being built. The $273-million increase per plane translates to $51.3 billion in lost buying power for the F-22 program.

"The reality is we are fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater," Gates told a congressional panel in 2008.

Air Force officials said the F-22 hasn't been used in conflicts because its technology wasn't needed. They added that all aircraft have problems that crop up, and that the F-22 is worth the high price tag because it is the "most advanced fighter aircraft, with unrivaled capabilities."

"The aircraft was designed for high-threat environments, not what we've seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya," said Lt. Col. E. John Teichert, who until recently commanded the F-22 squadron at Edwards Air Force Base. "If the F-22 prevents a military engagement with another country, it is well worth the money."

Even though the F-22 has never been sent over a war zone, it has experienced seven major crashes with two casualties — one of which may have been linked to the oxygen malfunction.

Capt. Jeff Haney, 31, was killed in a F-22 after a crash in the Alaskan wilderness in November near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. An ongoing Air Force investigation is examining the oxygen system as part of its probe.

The Air Force said the order in May to keep the planes grounded was caused by 14 instances since June 2008 in which pilots experienced sickness related to bad oxygen flow.

The Air Force said its investigation into the accident and oxygen problems "is currently scheduled to be completed and delivered to the secretary of the Air Force this coming fall."

The oxygen system problems have compelled the government to examine its forthcoming F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is also made by Lockheed. The F-35 is smaller than the F-22 and will be used jointly by the Navy, Marines and Air Force. The Pentagon plans to buy 2,457 F-35s.

John P. Jumper, a retired Air Force general, former Air Force chief of staff to President George W. Bush and fierce backer of the F-22 program, said the F-22 problems need to be resolved soon so the planes and pilots return to service.

"It's very troublesome," he said. "This is the sort of thing that deserves a thorough examination so it never can happen again."

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-fighter-jets-grounded-20110807,0,4799249,full.story (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-fighter-jets-grounded-20110807,0,4799249,full.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 08, 2011, 07:29:34 pm

Ticket for running engine ends spending in town

Letters to the Editor - The Durango Herald | Thursday, August 04, 2011

I ARRIVED  arrived in Durango in June around 4 p.m. I stopped to meet with a real estate agent to plan the next two days to look for our second home. The meeting lasted about one hour. Our next stop was going to be Lake Vallecito, where we stayed for three nights while looking for real estate.

It was above 80 degrees in Durango, and my wife and I travel with three dogs. I was not going to leave them in the full sun without leaving my truck running with the air conditioner on. I put a steering wheel locking device on and left my truck running. The dogs would have died from the heat build up in the truck, and that was not an option for me. When we returned to my truck, I was given a ticket for leaving my engine running. I completed a written appeal with the city, which was turned down, and now I owe $15.

My wife and I ended up purchasing a home in South Fork, and we need everything: furniture, patio furniture, two TVs, everything for the kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, vacuums, garage storage shelves, a Polaris, etc. Paying the $15 was ridiculous, given my alternatives, but better than killing my dogs. My wife and I were planning on doing all of our purchasing in Durango, but I am not willing to be given another ticket nor will I kill my dogs.

I wonder how large the ticket would be if I left my engine off and all three dogs died? I will never shop in Durango, and the local merchants large and small have their city to thank for that. I guess Durango is not part of the Great Recession.

I now plan to drive farther and do my shopping in Colorado Springs. Sorry.

Ross Wait
Yuma, Arizona

http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20110805/OPINION03/708059963/0/opinion/Ticket-for-running-engine-ends-spending-in-town (http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20110805/OPINION03/708059963/0/opinion/Ticket-for-running-engine-ends-spending-in-town)

I reckon the town of Duranga (in Colorado) has had a very lucky escape from being infested by a fossil-fuels wasting wanker!  (http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/XtraNewsCommunity2/Animated%20emoticons/54_Wkr.gif)

ONLY in America, eh?  (http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/XtraNewsCommunity2/Animated%20emoticons/46_Dummy.gif)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on March 13, 2012, 07:18:54 pm


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on April 14, 2012, 11:41:46 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

The voice of today's GOP: Allen West says Democrats are commies

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Thursday, April 12, 2012


REPRESENTATIVE ALLEN WEST (http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/allen-west-PEPLT00007617.topic), one of the loosest cannons in the Republican arsenal, believes there are about 80 members of the Communist Party (http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/government/communist-party-ORGOV0000117.topic) in the United States Congress.

Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in Jensen Beach, Florida, one of West’s constituents asked him how many “card-carrying Marxists or international socialists” there were in Congress. Without hesitation, Allen responded, “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party (http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/parties-movements/democratic-party-ORGOV0000005.topic) that are members of the Communist Party.”

He went on to identify them as the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group within the Democratic caucus that wants to end corporate welfare for oil, gas and coal companies, rebuild the country’s infrastructure, expedite an end to the war in Afghanistan and eliminate tax cuts for the top 2% of Americans while extending tax relief for the middle class. Now, that may not sound like communism to you, but to West, such scary ideas apparently reek of Bolshevism. (Note to Representative West: solid majorities of voters tell pollsters they support every one of those proposals — the commies have already won!)

Democrats are a wee bit offended. They say West’s remarks are reminiscent of Republican Senator Joe McCarthy (http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/joe-mccarthy-PESPT004781.topic)’s anticommunist witch-hunt in the 1950s. Well, yeah. But I think we are a long way from another Red Scare. Compared with the powerful McCarthy, the first-term congressman from Florida’s balmy beaches is a pipsqueak.

What makes West’s comment notable is how it is only a tiny stretch beyond the rhetoric being employed by many more prominent Republicans (http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/parties-movements/republican-party-ORGOV0000004.topic). Policy proposals like healthcare mandates, cap-and-trade and immigration reform that were once being touted by Republicans — radical lefties such as Mitt Romney (http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/government/mitt-romney-PEPLT007376.topic), Newt Gingrich (http://www.latimes.com/topic/arts-culture/newt-gingrich-PEHST000779.topic) and George W. Bush (http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/government/presidents-of-the-united-states/george-bush-PEPLT000857.topic) — are now branded as treacherous schemes to create a godless, socialist America. Throughout the primary campaign, GOP presidential candidates from Michele Bachmann (http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/michele-m.-bachmann-PEPLT000207.topic) to Rick Santorum (http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/government/rick-santorum-PEPLT005783.topic) have talked as if the 2012 election is the nation’s last chance to save the United States from becoming a clone of the Soviet Union.

These days, Republican town hall meetings often take on the tone of John Birch Society gatherings. Alarmed citizens stand up to speak of dark conspiracies and Democratic Party schemes to destroy the Constitution. Apparently, the meeting where West made his remarks ran along those lines. And, when the man stood up to ask about the percentage of card-carrying commies in the Congress, West first said, “That’s a good question.”

No it wasn’t. It was a crazy, paranoid question. Four years ago, when a woman at one of his rallies began to rant about Barack Obama being an anti-American Muslim, presidential candidate John McCain (http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/elections/u.s.-elections/john-mccain-PEPLT004278.topic) took the microphone away and said she was wrong. Obama was a good American and a good family man with whom he simply disagreed, McCain said.

This time around, no one is as brave as McCain. In a similar campaign setting with a similar comment from the crowd about “Muslim” Obama, Santorum just played along. Romney has masked his natural moderation with constant panders to the paranoids. It is hard to imagine Romney, Santorum or any Republican leader calling out Allen West for saying progressive Democrats are Communist Party members.

John McCain would, but then he’s a war hero who learned the hard way what real communists are like. These new would-be party leaders are no heroes. In fact, they are not so much leaders as they are cheerleaders turning cartwheels to please the most bellicose voices in the crowd.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-democrats-are-commies-20120411,0,1232324.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-democrats-are-commies-20120411,0,1232324.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 11, 2012, 02:31:18 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

Tattoo in sheriff's deputy clique may have celebrated shootings, sources say

One Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, who has admitted
belonging to a clique called the ‘Jump Out Boys’, has identified
about half a dozen other members, one source confirmed.

By ROBERT FATURECHI | 6:06PM - Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Officials suspect smoke is added to this tattoo when a member of the deputies' clique
is involved in a shooting.

THE INVESTIGATION into a secret clique within the Los Angeles County sheriff's elite gang unit has uncovered allegations that members had matching tattoos of a gun-toting skeleton, which deputies would modify to celebrate their involvement in a shooting, according to sources close to the internal probe.

One deputy, who has admitted belonging to a clique called the "Jump Out Boys", has identified about half a dozen other deputies as members, one source confirmed. Those men are expected to be summoned for interviews with internal affairs investigators, the source said.

Suspicion about the group's existence was sparked several weeks ago when a supervisor discovered a pamphlet laying out the group's creed, which promoted aggressive policing and portrayed officer shootings in a positive light.

The pamphlet was found in the vehicle used by the deputy who acknowledged his association with the clique, according to sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation.

Days after The Times reported on the discovery of the pamphlet, the captain of the division gathered his deputies for a private briefing, during which he told them they had shamed the department by forming the group and urged those responsible to identify themselves, a source with knowledge of the unit's inner workings said.

At some point, one deputy came forward, and he has since named about six others, the source said.

Internal affairs investigators are trying to determine whether the deputies violated Sheriff's Department rules or committed serious misconduct.

The deputies under scrutiny all work on the Gang Enforcement Team, a unit divided into two platoons of relatively autonomous deputies whose job is to target neighborhoods where gang violence is high, locate armed gang members and take their guns away.

The design of the tattoo, confirmed by two sources, includes an oversize skull with a wide, toothy grimace and glowing red eyes. A bandanna wraps around the skull, imprinted with the letters "OSS" — representing Operation Safe Streets, the name of the larger unit that the Gang Enforcement Team is part of. A bony hand clasps a revolver. Investigators suspect that smoke is tattooed over the gun's barrel after a member is involved in a shooting.

To the left of the skull are two playing cards — an ace and an eight — apparently an allusion to the "dead man's" poker hand, sources said.

One source compared the notion of modifying the tattoo after a shooting to a celebratory "high five."

Celebrating shootings and sporting matching tattoos were hallmarks of anti-gang officers in the LAPD's troubled Rampart Division in the late 1990s.

A corruption scandal erupted after one disgraced officer implicated himself and others in covering up bad shootings, planting evidence, falsifying reports and perjuring themselves to rid the streets of gang members and drug dealers.

In fact, the tattoo allegedly embraced by the Jump Out Boys is reminiscent of the one inked on Rampart officers, which consisted of a grinning skull in a cowboy hat with pairs of aces and eights fanned out in the background.

Sources say there is no evidence that deputies alleged to be in the clique have been involved in improper shootings or other misconduct. But the new revelations have heightened concerns.

The modified tattoos could also pose problems for the department in future litigation, making it more difficult for county attorneys to argue against lawsuits alleging bad shootings.

Sheriff Lee Baca's spokesman, Steve Whitmore, declined to discuss details of the investigation because it is ongoing. "We take this very seriously," he said. "This is absolutely no joke whatsoever."

The department has been grappling with unsanctioned cliques in its ranks for decades.

Last year, the department fired a group of deputies who all worked on the third, or "3000," floor of Men's Central Jail after the group fought two fellow deputies at an employee Christmas party and allegedly punched a female deputy in the face.

Sheriff's officials later said the men had formed an aggressive "3000" clique that used gang-like three-finger hand signs. A former top jail commander told The Times that jailers would "earn their ink" by breaking inmates' bones.

The Jump Out Boys, sources said, was a name coined by Compton-area gang members alluding to how quickly deputies from the unit would jump out of patrol vehicles to stop them.

Other cliques — with names like Grim Reapers, Little Devils, Regulators and Vikings — have been accused of breeding a gang-like mentality in which deputies falsify police reports, perjure themselves and cover up misconduct. Past affiliation with such groups reaches the highest levels of the department.

Baca acknowledged last year that his second-in-command, Paul Tanaka, has a Vikings tattoo. Tanaka has said the Vikings was a nickname for deputies assigned to the Lynwood station and did not represent anything sinister.

Some argue that the groups are not inherently problematic, providing cops working a dangerous job with camaraderie and emotional support. Experts say cliques become a problem when they push officers to put their comrades ahead of the law and department policy.

What investigators are most concerned about with the Jump Out Boys isn't the alleged matching tattoos, but the suspected admiration they show for shootings. Officer-involved shootings are expected to be events of last resort.

Maria Haberfeld, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York who specializes in police ethics and training, said joining police subcultures makes officers "vulnerable to be compromised by group think and group pressure." Tattoos that further distinguish officers involved in shootings, she said, are particularly problematic.

"Even though they are authorized to use deadly force, I don't think it's a cause for celebration," she said. "When you reach a point in your career that you have no choice but to use deadly force, if anything it's incredibly traumatic for the shooter. It's a little bizarre to commemorate a tragic event."

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-sheriff-clique-20120510,0,728956.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-sheriff-clique-20120510,0,728956.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 13, 2012, 01:41:34 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

Air Force safety measures attempt to address F-22 Raptor concerns

The Air Force reveals training, tests and other changes made in response
to concerns about oxygen systems on its F-22 Raptor fighter jet.

By W. J. HENNIGAN | Saturday, May 12, 2012

An F-22 Raptor's weapon bays are visible during a demonstration at Langley Air Force Base
in Hampton, Virginia, in April. — Photo: Steve Helber/Associated Press/April 30, 2012.

IN RESPONSE to growing concern about problems with its F-22 Raptor fighter jet, the Air Force revealed it has slapped on new safety restrictions to protect its pilots.

The announcement came as Senator Mark R. Warner (Democrat — Virginia) and Representative Adam Kinzinger (Republican — Illinois) Friday requested additional information from the secretary of the Air Force to further determine the scope of safety concerns raised by several pilots of the world's most expensive fighter jet, designed and built byLockheed Martin Corp.

The Air Force acknowledged last week that some of the nation's top aviators are refusing to fly the radar-evading F-22, a fighter jet with ongoing problems with its oxygen systems that have plagued the fleet for four years.

"The health and safety of our pilots — all of our pilots — is the utmost priority," said Brigadier General Daniel O. Wyman, an Air Force command surgeon. "Our operational flight surgeons and medical staff interact with our pilots on a daily basis, and mission No.1 is their health and safety."

The comments, posted on the Air Force's website, were meant to address the growing attention directed at the safety of the F-22. Concerns have grown in recent months as no clear explanations have emerged for why pilots are reporting hypoxia-like symptoms in the air. Hypoxia is a condition that can bring on nausea, headaches, fatigue or blackouts when the body is deprived of oxygen.

The F-22 is considered the most advanced fighter jet in the world. It entered military service in 2005, and the Air Force received the last of its order of 188 planes last week.

The plane can reach supersonic speeds without using afterburners, enabling it to fly faster and farther. It's also packed with cutting-edge radar and sensors, enabling a pilot to identify, track and shoot an enemy aircraft before that craft can detect the F-22. The Air Force says the aircraft is essential to maintain air dominance around the world.

According to the Air Force, each of the sleek, diamond-winged aircraft costs $143 million. Counting upgrades and research and development costs, the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates each F-22 costs taxpayers $412 million.

While other warplanes in the U.S. arsenal have been used to pummel targets in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, the Air Force's F-22s have sat largely idle — used only in test missions. Even so, throughout the jet's development, F-22 pilots have been in seven serious crashes, resulting in two fatalities.

Over the years, F-22 pilots have reported dozens of incidents in which the jet's systems weren't feeding them enough oxygen, causing wooziness. This issue led to the grounding of the entire F-22 fleet last year for nearly five months. But even after the grounding was lifted, the Air Force said investigators could not find a smoking gun.

The Air Force lifted the grounding last September. When that happened, Wyman revealed this week, the Air Force put all F-22 pilots through retraining so they would know their own specific hypoxia symptoms. It also affixed a device to pilots' fingers that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood while they are in the cockpit.

The Air Force also added a high-efficiency particulate air filter consisting of activated carbon and charcoal, Wyman said. "It was cleared for flight use by theU.S. Air Forceprogram office and has been used by the military for over a decade in the ground crew and aircrew ensembles," he said.

At the end of each flight, pilots turned in the filters to be examined by Air Force personnel.

Black dust was found in some of the breathing hoses.

"We analyzed it and found it to be activated carbon dust ... an inert or nonreactive compound that has been used for air and water filtration for decades without any significant evidence of harm," Wyman said. The dust was "well below the industrial hygiene standard levels set by government agencies," he said.

In addition, Wyman revealed, the Air Force conducted throat swabs of F-22 pilots, and those indicated no evidence of harmful substances. Even so, pilots reported persistent coughing, which they call the "Raptor cough."

"Coughing is a natural physiologic response that serves to re-inflate the air sacs," Wyman said.

Last Sunday, two F-22 pilots appeared with Representative Kinzinger on CBS' "60 Minutes" to discuss reasons why they refused to fly the jet. At the risk of significant reprimand — or even discharge from the Air Force — Virginia Air National Guard Captain Joshua Wilson and Major Jeremy Gordon said they would not fly the F-22 until the oxygen problems were solved.

Since the segment aired, other pilots have contacted Senator Warner of Virginia, which is home to one of the seven military bases where F-22s are based.

"After meeting with these pilots, and having conversations with many other knowledgeable individuals, we would recommend an immediate, confidential and anonymous safety survey of all active duty and reservist F-22 crews, pilots and flight surgeons to definitively document the scope and frequency of these hypoxia-like incidents," Warner and Kinzinger wrote in a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley. "It is our view that such a survey could be initiated within 10 days, and our offices would expect to receive timely updates both on the survey methodology and the results shortly thereafter."

The Air Force did not reveal how many of its 200 F-22 pilots had declined to fly the jet.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0512-f22-reactions-20120512,0,7723915.story (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0512-f22-reactions-20120512,0,7723915.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 13, 2012, 11:18:53 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

The frequent fliers who flew too much

Many years after selling lifetime passes for unlimited
first-class travel, American Airlines began
scrutinizing the costs — and the customers.

By KEN BENSINGER | 6:14PM - Saturday, May 05, 2012

For many years, Steven Rothstein, left, and Jacques Vroom held lifetime unlimited first-class tickets
with American Airlines. — Photos: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/Hans Kundnani/May 07, 2012.

THERE ARE frequent fliers, and then there are people like Steven Rothstein and Jacques Vroom.

Both men bought tickets that gave them unlimited first-class travel for life on American Airlines. It was almost like owning a fleet of private jets.

Passes in hand, Rothstein and Vroom flew for business. They flew for pleasure. They flew just because they liked being on planes. They bypassed long lines, booked backup itineraries in case the weather turned, and never worried about cancellation fees. Flight crews memorized their names and favorite meals.

Each had paid American more than $350,000 for an unlimited AAirpass and a companion ticket that allowed them to take someone along on their adventures. Both agree it was the best purchase they ever made, one that completely redefined their lives.

In the 2009 film "Up in the Air", the loyal American business traveler played by George Clooney was showered with attention after attaining 10 million frequent flier miles.

Rothstein and Vroom were not impressed.

"I can't even remember when I cracked 10 million," said Vroom, 67, a big, amiable Texan, who at last count had logged nearly four times as many. Rothstein, 61, has notched more than 30 million miles.

But all the miles they and 64 other unlimited AAirpass holders racked up went far beyond what American had expected. As its finances began deteriorating a few years ago, the carrier took a hard look at the AAirpass program.

Heavy users, including Vroom and Rothstein, were costing it millions of dollars in revenue, the airline concluded.

The AAirpass system had rules. A special "revenue integrity unit" was assigned to find out whether any of these rules had been broken, and whether the passes that were now such a drag on profits could be revoked.

Rothstein, Vroom and other AAirpass holders had long been treated like royalty. Now they were targets of an investigation.

WHEN American introduced the AAirpass in 1981, it saw a chance to raise millions of dollars for expansion at a time of record-high interest rates.

It was, and still is, offered in a variety of formats, including prepaid blocks of miles. But the marquee item was the lifetime unlimited AAirpass, which started at $250,000. Pass holders earned frequent flier miles on every trip and got lifetime memberships to the Admirals Club, American's VIP lounges. For an extra $150,000, they could buy a companion pass. Older fliers got discounts based on their age.

"We thought originally it would be something that firms would buy for top employees," said Bob Crandall, American's chairman and chief executive from 1985 to 1998. "It soon became apparent that the public was smarter than we were."

The unlimited passes were bought mostly by wealthy individuals, including baseball Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays, America's Cup skipper Dennis Conner and computer magnate Michael Dell.

Mike Joyce of Chicago bought his in 1994 after winning a $4.25-million settlement after a car accident.

In one 25-day span this year, Joyce flew round trip to London 16 times, flights that would retail for more than $125,000. He didn't pay a dime.

"I love Rome, I love Sydney, I love Athens," Joyce said by phone from the Admirals Club at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. "I love Vegas and Frisco."

Rothstein had loved flying since his years at Brown University in Rhode Island, where he would buy a $99 weekend pass on Mohawk Air and fly to Buffalo, New York, just for a sandwich.

He bought his AAirpass in 1987 for his work in investment banking. After he added a companion pass two years later, it "kind of took hold of me," said Rothstein, a heavyset man with a kind smile.

He was airborne almost every other day. If a friend mentioned a new exhibit at the Louvre, Rothstein thought nothing of jetting from his Chicago home to San Francisco to pick her up and then fly to Paris together.

In July 2004, for example, Rothstein flew 18 times, visiting Nova Scotia, New York, Miami, London, Los Angeles, Maine, Denver and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., some of them several times over. The complexity of such itineraries would stump most travelers; happily for AAirpass holders, American provided elite agents able to solve the toughest booking puzzles.

They could help AAirpass customers make multiple reservations in case they missed a flight, or nab the last seat on the only plane leaving during a snowstorm. Some say agents even procured extra elbow room by booking an empty seat using a phony name on companion passes.

"I'd book it as Extra Lowe," said Peter Lowe, a motivational speaker from West Palm Beach, Florida. "They told me how to do it."

Vroom, a former mail-order catalog consultant, used his AAirpass to attend all his son's college football games in Maine. He built up so many frequent flier miles that he'd give them away, often to AIDS sufferers so they could visit family. Crew members knew him by name.

"There was one flight attendant, Pierre, who knew exactly what I wanted," Vroom said. "He'd bring me three salmon appetizers, no dessert and a glass of champagne, right after takeoff. I didn't even have to ask."

Creative uses seemed limitless. When bond broker Willard May of Round Rock, Texas, was forced into retirement after a run-in with federal securities regulators in the early 1990s, he turned to his trusty AAirpass to generate income. Using his companion ticket, he began shuttling a Dallas couple back and forth to Europe for $2,000 a month.

"For years, that was all the flying I did," said May, 81. "It's how I got the bills paid."

In 1990, the airline raised the price of an unlimited AAirpass with companion to $600,000. In 1993, it was bumped to $1.01 million. In 1994, American stopped selling unlimited passes altogether.

Cable TV executive Leo Hindery Jr. bought a five-year AAirpass in 1991, with an option to upgrade to lifetime after three years. American later "asked me not to convert," he said. "They were gracious. They said the program had been discontinued and if I gave my pass back, they'd give me back my money."

Hindery declined, even rebuffing a personal appeal by American's Crandall (which the executive said he did not recall). To date, he has accumulated 11.5 million miles on a pass that cost him about $500,000, including an age discount and credit from his five-year pass.

"It was a lot of money at the time," Hindery said. "But once you get past that, you forget it."

In 2004, American offered the unlimited AAirpass one last time, in the Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog. At $3 million, plus a companion pass for $2 million more, none sold.

RAISED just miles from American's Fort Worth headquarters, Bridget Cade started in its reservations department in 1990. In 2007, she was promoted to the elite revenue integrity team, charged with rooting out passengers, travel agents and others suspected of cheating the airline.

Her first big job was to investigate AAirpass users.

In September 2007, a pricing analyst reviewing international routes focused the airline's attention on how much the AAirpass program was costing, company emails show.

"We pay the taxes," a revenue management executive wrote in a subsequent email. "We award AAdvantage miles, and we lose the seat every time they fly."

Cade was assigned to find out whether any AAirpass holders were violating the rules, starting with those who flew the most.

She pulled years of flight records for Rothstein and Vroom and calculated that each was costing American more than $1 million a year.

Rothstein, she found, would sometimes pick out strangers at the airport and give them surprise first-class upgrades with his companion pass. Once he flew a woman he'd just met in New Delhi to Chicago, a lift American later valued at nearly $7,500.

There was nothing in the AAirpass terms prohibiting that. But Cade considered the habit striking in light of something else she found. Rothstein made 3,009 reservations in less than four years, almost always booking two seats, but canceled 2,523 of them.

To Cade, this was evidence that Rothstein reserved flights he never intended to take. It also allowed him to hold seats until the last minute and offer them to strangers, she said later in court depositions, preventing American from selling them. Cade decided it was fraud and grounds for revocation.

On December 13, 2008, Rothstein and a companion checked in at Chicago O'Hare International Airport for a transatlantic flight. An American employee handed him a letter, which said his AAirpass had been terminated for "fraudulent behavior."

He apologized to his friend and filed suit in Illinois the following March.

Vroom's travel history told a different story, Cade found. Time and again, he booked trips with people he'd never flown with before, traveling round-trip to Japan or Europe without even staying overnight.

"We suspect he is selling his AAirpass companion tickets," Cade wrote in a February 2008 email. That, she later said, was against the rules.

She decided to try to catch him in the act.

Checking Vroom's bookings for first-timers, Cade came across Auyon Mukharji, a recent college graduate abroad on a music scholarship. He was scheduled to fly from London to Nashville with Vroom on July 30, 2008.

Working with airline security, Cade hatched a plan to confront Mukharji at London's Heathrow Airport, challenging him to admit he had paid Vroom.

"Mukharji appears to be naive, without financial wherewithal, and most probably very anxious to return ‘home’," American's head of global investigations wrote in an email.

At check-in, American agents detained Mukharji and escorted him to a private office. A former New York police detective working in American security offered a free ticket to Nashville if he'd confess to giving Vroom money.

But Mukharji insisted he hadn't, and American ultimately released him and gave him a coach ticket home. He could not be reached for comment.

Vroom landed at Heathrow that morning. As he boarded American Flight 50 from Dallas/Fort Worth to London the evening before, security officers took note of the clothes he was wearing, down to the Crocs on his feet.

Inside Heathrow, Vroom headed for the VIP lounge, where an American employee handed him a letter and said he could never again fly on the airline.

Vroom was shocked, unable to believe that his golden ticket was gone. He told the airline he had met Mukharji through a friend and, because both had attended Williams College in Massachusetts, simply offered him a ride to the U.S. as a friendly gesture.

With Mukharji insisting he had not paid for his ticket, Cade and her team began tracking down other Vroom flight companions.

In one instance, an American security agent called Sam Mulroy, a Dallas personal trainer who had been set to fly with Vroom to Europe, and told him his trip had been canceled. The agent promised a first-class ticket if he admitted to paying Vroom, according to company emails and correspondence.

When Mulroy refused, American froze his frequent flier account, offering to release it in exchange for details of payments, the documents show. Mulroy complained to American and the Transportation Department that he was being "extorted [in] an effort to punish another customer." He did not respond to requests for comment.

Weeks later, American sued Vroom in Texas state court. Vroom countersued.

In discovery, company lawyers tracked down a Dallas woman who had cut Vroom a $2,800 check to fly her son to London. An elderly couple gave him $6,000 for a trip to Paris. And bank records showed more than $100,000 in checks to Vroom written by owners of a local jewelry store who frequently flew with Vroom.

Vroom admits to getting money from some flying companions, but says it was usually for his business advice and not payments for flights. Other times people insisted on paying him, he said.

Cade wasn't done. In early 2009, the phone rang at the home of Willard May, the former bond broker who openly sold his ticket when he was forced out of work. His AAirpass, too, had been yanked.

"I never tried to deceive American," said May, noting that the Dallas Morning News in 1993 published an article quoting him and an American official about the practice.

Still, May didn't make a fuss when the call came. He'd grown tired of flying.

THESE DAYS, Vroom busies himself substitute teaching and hosting lectures in a custom-made cinder-block home in a hip Dallas neighborhood.

His lawyers say the seat-selling accusation is moot because Vroom's contract didn't prohibit it; American didn't ban the practice until three years after Vroom bought his pass.

Rothstein also denies committing fraud, saying his contract did not ban making multiple reservations. "It sure seems like the airline was looking for an excuse to be rid of my client," said Gary Soter, Rothstein's attorney.

Last summer, an Illinois federal judge ruled that Rothstein had violated the contract by booking empty seats under phony names, including Bag Rothstein. American had years earlier acknowledged that "airport personnel have become complacent" with the practice, court records show, and Soter planned to appeal. But that case and Vroom's were thrown into limbo when American's parent company, AMR Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November.

American spokeswoman Mary Sanderson said the canceled passes are "very isolated and represent an extremely small percentage of our overall AAirpass accounts."

"We actively analyze all of our ticketing and program policies for any improper activity," she said. "If we determine that any activity has violated our policies or is fraudulent in nature, we take the actions we deem appropriate."

Cade investigated at least two other AAirpass holders, court records show, and concluded that both also had committed fraud. American declined to say why their passes had not been revoked.

Rothstein moved to New York in 2009 and works for a trading firm. His office is crammed with family photos and reminders of exotic locales he visited flying American. Among his possessions is a 1998 letter on company stationery from Bob Crandall, with whom Rothstein once flew on the supersonic Concorde.

"I am delighted that you've enjoyed your AAirpass investment," the executive wrote. "You can count on us to keep the company solid, and to honor the deal, far into the future."

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0506-golden-ticket-20120506,0,3094073,full.story (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0506-golden-ticket-20120506,0,3094073,full.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 13, 2012, 11:56:05 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

HOMETOWN U.S.A.: Las Vegas

A $13.9-million dream house

In a town wracked by foreclosures, Daniel Coletti's
10,700-square-foot home with glass walls, infinity
pool and 17-car garage is the most expensive
residential property for sale. All that's
needed now is a dream buyer.

By JOHN M. GLIONNA | 8:09PM - Saturday, May 12, 2012

Daniel Coletti makes his way down a spiral wooden staircase inside his mountaintop home
in Las Vegas. It sits on land bought by Howard Hughes in the 1950s.
 — Photo: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/April 10, 2012.

AMONG all the special places inside his sprawling 10,700-square-foot mountaintop home, Daniel Coletti savors the vibe inside the living room most.

It's a luxury dreamscape distinguished by mammoth walls of glass and Idaho-hewn stone. At night, he gazes out past the blue waters of an indoor-outdoor infinity pool and onto a vast citywide vista capped by the shimmering lights of the Strip.

"It's like looking at a fire," his wife, Natalie, said. "You can't turn your eyes from it."

The property has another unique feature: Offered at $13.9 million, it's the most expensive residential listing in Las Vegas.

By California standards, it's a reasonable price for such a high-end home, but in Vegas' foreclosure-wracked real estate market — with a median sales price of just over $100,000 — the cost is stratospheric. So, how do sellers dwelling in the rarefied air atop real estate's Mount Olympus sell their homes?

Do you advertise for buyers in Los Angeles, New York and London? How do you determine who gets inside your mansion-sweet-mansion? If you're Coletti, the answer is simple: You advertise locally, assured that the right buyer will eventually emerge in this city of high-rollers and blank checks.

You also describe it with an appropriate Vegas flourish. Coletti writes online that the residence "blurs the lines between the interior and exterior spaces leaving one to wonder where a room ends and the outside begins."

Coletti, who designed and built the home through his company, Sun West Custom Homes, advertised the expansive windows, porte-cochere, double-island kitchen, wine and theater room — all illustrated by photographs that cost him thousands.

If F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jay Gatsby owned a house in Las Vegas, Coletti's home might be it. The five-bedroom, two-story residence sits on 25,000 acres, one of the last prized parcels of rugged desert terrain purchased by Howard Hughes in the 1950s.

The garage can house 17 cars. At 2,700 square feet, the pool is bigger than most people's homes. To reach Coletti's front door, a visitor must pass through four security gates, giving the exclusive aura of not just the nation's 1%, but maybe its 0.01%. Even the two family dogs have a room of their own.

But such top-end sellers also take precautions, such as conducting financial background checks on any buyer before rolling out the red carpet for a personal home tour, real estate experts say.

With hundreds of elite homes here, the market has remained steady: In December 2006, 21 single-family homes valued at $5 million or more were up for sale. A year later, there were 27.

Coletti's home serves as a reminder that, for all the city's troubles, Las Vegas is still a showcase for the glamorous. His firm has designed, built and sold 497 properties here since he moved to Las Vegas in 1989. But his own residence is more than just another real estate transaction.

The home is his personal masterpiece, an earth-toned chameleon that blends into the desert landscape around it. Coletti, 48, learned his design sensibilities from his mother, Cindy, a home builder who encouraged him to follow in her footsteps.

Coletti later earned a degree in building construction technology and has received architecture training, but like his mother, takes an intuitive, rather than a textbook, approach to his work.

In 2008, he said, he became captivated by the undeveloped hillside property 10 miles west of the Strip. The tract is owned by Summerlin Corporation, a firm developing the acreage Hughes once envisioned as a site of a supersonic airport.

"I stood on this piece of property every other day for a couple of weeks, at different times of the day," Coletti said. "Slowly an image came to me."

His unconventional design included an open floor plan with oversized motorized glass doors that allowed for expansive views of the mountain, city and nearby golf course from every major room. Glass walls pulled aside, many of the rooms are left open-air during temperate months.

His wife's favorite feature: a dining room that juts out into the pool like a peninsula. "Oh man," she said. "When you open the doors and eat at night, it's crazy. The water is right there at your feet."

The residence observes few class distinctions: Despite its size, there are no maid's quarters because the family does its own housework. Coletti's 20-year-old son, Chris, maintains the 68,000-gallon pool, and the outside desert landscaping takes little maintenance.

Still, the home builder is restless. That's why he's selling. Coletti has ideas for a new residence with a few design twists that will better suit his family after the two eldest of his four children leave home in the next few years.

But Coletti discovered that high-end buyers' tastes can be finicky. He first offered his home for sale a year ago at $16 million, but scaled back the price, sensing that $1,200 a square-foot would be more competitive.

Still, real estate agents here say, seller beware. People just can't be too cautious when making their multimillion-dollar dream home available to the public.

"There are security systems inside a home that scam artists could get visual access to," said Kolleen Kelley, president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors. "You don't want to make it easy for people to walk in and set up a theft plan."

Coletti guesses some people may be watching too many elaborate heist films. (Does the Vegas-set "Ocean's Eleven" come to mind?)

"Home security systems these days are too sophisticated for someone to merely walk through and scope them all out," he said. "There are too many cameras. You couldn't possibly know where they all are."

In the last 12 months, Coletti has shown the home to half a dozen carefully screened potential buyers, sometimes taking hours to show buyers every rolling wall of glass and exotic stone. He knows that buyers at this level are not easily wowed. "Many have knowledge of the nicer features in homes and so they expect to see them," he said.

And so Coletti waits for the buyer of his dreams. So far there have been no takers.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-vegas-mansion-20120513,0,7251628.storyhttp://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-vegas-mansion-20120513,0,7251628.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-vegas-mansion-20120513,0,7251628.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on May 15, 2012, 04:02:39 pm
Kelly Thomas: D.A. charges two officers with murder, manslaughter

Two Fullerton police officers have been criminally charged in the violent confrontation that left a homeless man dead, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas announced Wednesday.

Officer Manuel Ramos has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the beating of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man. Officer Jay Cicinelli has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.

Document: Charges against police

Rackauckas said the department reviewed 151 witness statements, videos of the beating, medical reports and police statements.

The district attorney's office had been awaiting the coroner's determination on the cause of death before deciding whether to file charges.

Photos: Kelly Thomas death

Officers approached Kelly Thomas on July 5 at the bus depot in downtown Fullerton while responding to a report of someone trying to break into cars. According to witness accounts, Thomas ran when officers attempted to search his bag. Exactly what happened next is unclear, but witnesses said they saw multiple officers hitting Kelly and shooting him with a Taser while he was on the ground.

Officials from the district attorney's office have said they were awaiting toxicology and other test results from the coroner before making a decision on the case. That report was handed over to the district attorney's office Tuesday, but the findings were not made public.

Thomas, a 37-year-old homeless man with schizophrenia, was a regular presence in downtown Fullerton. He died five days after the confrontation, after being removed from life support.

Earlier this month, an attorney representing the Thomas family released hospital records that showed Thomas had tested negative for drugs and alcohol and that the immediate cause of death was "brain death" due to "head trauma" from the incident.

The hospital records released showed that he suffered brain injuries, a shattered nose, a smashed cheekbone, broken ribs and severe internal bleeding. Thomas also had been shocked with a stun gun "multiple" times, including in the left chest near the heart, the records showed.

Thomas' father, Ron, has been pushing the district attorney's office to file charges against the officers, and the case has sparked a furious reaction, including weekly protests outside the police station and a recall campaign against three City Council members.







Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 16, 2012, 04:25:59 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

An electrifying freight solution on the 710? Siemens working on it!

By SUSAN CARPENTER | 4:12PM - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Trucks travel along a test track in Germany, where Siemens is working on its eHighway concept,
which runs diesel hybrid trucks on overhead electric wires. This system has been proposed
to cut pollution on Interstate 710 in L.A. — Photo: Siemens Corporation.

LOS ANGELES may be one of the first global cities to adopt a new electric freight trucking system, unveiled by electrical engineering giant Siemens (http://www.latimes.com/topic/economy-business-finance/manufacturing-engineering/siemens-ORCRP017333.topic) Corporation last week at the 26th Electric Vehicle Symposium, or EVS26.

The new technology, called eHighway, is a highway electrification system that uses overhead electrical wires to transmit energy to freight trucks in select vehicle lanes, similar to modern-day streetcars.

“Most people think about cars when they think of vehicle emissions, but the reality is it’s freight trucks,” said Daryl Dulaney, chief executive of North American infrastructure and cities sector for Siemens.

Freight transportation on U.S. roads is expected to double by 2050, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. But long before then, by 2030, the carbon dioxide emissions caused by freight transport are forecast to increase 30%.

Siemens created the technology to address the increased carbon footprint of trucking, and Los Angeles may be the first city to see this technology in action. The company is working to implement a pilot project along Interstate 710, moving freight from the ports of Long Beach and L.A. to inland destinations.

More than 40% of freight that arrives in the U.S. via shipping containers comes through the ports of Long Beach and L.A. That freight then has to be trucked to rail stations and other points of distribution.

More than 10,000 trucks serve these two ports, according to a 2011 analysis conducted by the Port of L.A. The movement of goods through Southern California’s ports affects almost 17 million people and causes billions of dollars in health-related costs annually, according to a 2011 report from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The report cites that levels in port areas are far higher than in other communities due to the activity of trains, trucks, ships and heavy equipment. For California to meet federal air quality standards, the AQMD has said the region will need to accelerate its transition to zero- and near-zero-emission trucks and cars.

“The ports have made tremendous improvements, but goods-movement-related air pollution remains our largest source of air pollution in Southern California,” said Barry Wallerstein, AQMD executive officer. “We’re hopeful that we will get [the eHighway] off the ground in the next 12 months,” said Wallerstein, who is working to secure grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (http://www.latimes.com/topic/environmental-issues/u.s.-department-of-energy-ORGOV000021.topic) to build it.

Siemens’ eHighway is one several technologies the AQMD is investigating. It’s currently running pilots of zero-emission electric and fuel cell trucks at the Port of L.A. and envisions marrying the eHighway to near-zero-emissions technologies to help meet federal clean air standards.

The eHighway’s so-called catenary system uses diesel hybrid trucks outfitted with software that senses when an overhead electrical line is available and automatically connects or disconnects as needed. When the trucks’ rooftop connectors are attached to the electrical lines, the trucks run entirely on electricity. When the connectors are lowered, they run on a hybrid electric propulsion system similar to the Toyota Prius. In hybrid mode, the trucks save 30% on diesel fuel.

In addition to reducing emissions, the trucks also reduce noise pollution. But there is a downside: Siemens estimates the system will cost between $5 million and $7 million per mile to build.

“The purpose of this demonstration project is to accelerate zero-emission cargo transport technologies that will reduce harmful diesel emissions, petroleum consumption and greenhouse gases,” said Edward Kjaer, director of Southern California Edison (http://www.latimes.com/topic/economy-business-finance/southern-california-edison-company-ORCRP014199.topic)'s Plug In Electric Vehicle Readiness Program. “Purchasing electricity and energy produced locally in place of diesel can insulate the region's economy from oil price shocks due to instability in foreign countries and depleting resources. Utilizing electricity produces greater energy price certainty for businesses, and in turn, consumers of the goods being moved.”

The eHighway concept has been getting a test run on an old air strip near Berlin for the past year. The L.A.-area eHighway is likely to be its first real-world application.

“It’s really about creating a more sustainable environment,” said Dulaney, who is in talks with the AQMD and Southern California Edison. “Already more and more consumers are driving electric and hybrid vehicles. If we can get the commercial freight industry to come on board, we’ll decrease emissions dramatically and improve sustainability.”

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/environment/la-me-gs-an-electrifying-freight-solution-from-siemens-20120515,0,6894089.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/environment/la-me-gs-an-electrifying-freight-solution-from-siemens-20120515,0,6894089.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 21, 2012, 06:54:20 pm

NATO summit in Chicago (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/natosummit)

      (Chicago Tribune news stories)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e04DkVXWwro (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e04DkVXWwro)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 22, 2012, 03:32:58 pm

Chicago Cops on bicycles, guarding the Mayor's residence....



Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 22, 2012, 03:33:11 pm

Some photograph galleries from the Chicago Tribune showing the Chicago NATO summit protests....

NATO summit protest photos: Thursday, May 17 (http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-120517-nato-summit-protests-thursday-pictures)

NATO summit protest photos: Friday, May 18 (http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-120517-nato-summit-protests-friday-pictures)

NATO summit protest photos: Saturday, May 19 (http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-120519-nato-summit-protests-saturday-pictures)

NATO summit protest photos: Sunday, May 20 (http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-120520-nato-summit-protests-sunday-pictures)

NATO summit protest photos: Monday, May 21 (http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-120521-nato-summit-protests-monday-pictures)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 23, 2012, 02:36:09 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

75th birthday celebration for the Golden Gate Bridge

For starters, the famous orange-painted span finally has a visitors center. Then
there's a gala in San Francisco next weekend with exhibits, films and more.

By JAY JONES | 11:58AM - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Golden Gate Bridge greets the dawn in San Francisco. The famed span is getting a visitors center.
 — Photo: Los Angeles Times/May 16, 2012.

AS ITS 75th birthday fast approaches, the Golden Gate Bridge is getting a little birthday present. Even though about 40 million vehicles cross it each year and visitors come in droves daily to admire and photograph it, the spectacular span has never had a visitor center. That is, until this month.

"The bridge experience up to this point has just really been self-guided and a photo opportunity," said David Shaw, vice president of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. "Now there's this bridge pavilion, which is a really nice welcome center. You enter the building and are greeted by a National Park Service ranger who can answer your questions and help you orient your visit. There are a number of interpretive panels that tell the bridge story and some actual artifacts."

Visitors will also find a new café and a gift shop where good-quality merchandise has replaced the former kitsch.

Even on the dreariest of San Francisco days, visitors can get their pictures taken in front of a bridge basking in warm sunshine, thanks to technology.


"A lot of people come to the bridge and their first question is, ‘Where's the bridge?’ because it disappears in the fog almost every other day," Shaw said. "The … photo program is a fun aspect if you come on a day when the bridge pulls its disappearing act."

Just-begun tours, offered daily, share the bridge's history and interpret what makes it so iconic.

"It's largely because of its Art Deco styling and its world-famous international orange color," said Mary Currie, public affairs director for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, the agency that operates the bridge. "That makes it distinct and unique. It stands out with its grace and beauty in a way that no other bridge here in the Bay Area or, in my opinion, around the world stands out."

The Golden Gate, only a few months younger than the Bay Bridge, its cousin to the east, opened to pedestrians on May 27, 1937, and to vehicles one day later. To mark the 75th birthday, San Francisco is throwing a summer-long party, but the big celebration is May 27 and May 28 (Memorial Day).

MILITARY BIPLANES fly between spans of the Golden
Gate Bridge during opening day gala in 1937.
 — Photo: Associated Press.

Next weekend's gala will stretch from Fort Point, which sits under the bridge, along the waterfront through Fisherman's Wharf and onto Pier 39.

"One of the main features is going to be the history tent out on Crissy Field," Shaw said. "That's an 80-foot-by-100-foot, high-topped tent full of graphics that tell the history of the Golden Gate Bridge, and artifacts and memorabilia from the Bridge District's collection.

"There's also at Fort Point a wonderful exhibit called ‘International Orange: The Bridge Reimagined’. That is an exhibit by a number of artists who are reinterpreting the bridge."

One of the more moving exhibits — "Whose Shoes?" — will remember the more than 1,500 people who have died jumping off the bridge. The display is sponsored by the Bridge Rail Foundation, a group whose goal is to stop suicides on the span.

A film series co-hosted by San Francisco's Walt Disney Family Museum will showcase Hollywood's fascination with the bridge. A summer camp — "Archi-techies" — will let children discover how the bridge was built to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis. And the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will serve bridge-themed desserts.

"In a way, I wish I could go back and visit that era," Currie said of the Great Depression, during which San Francisco-area residents approved the risky proposal to build the bridge.

"They voted to back the construction bonds that were eventually floated by Bank of America," she said. "They were voting to risk that toll dollars would pay back those construction bonds. So they were putting up their homes, their vineyards [and] their businesses on the risk that the bridge would bring something. It was a symbol of hope and ingenuity and a vision for the future."

http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-goldengate-20120515,0,440176.story (http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-goldengate-20120515,0,440176.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 19, 2012, 03:57:44 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Delayed revenge in a South Dakota town

An elderly man confesses to murdering a popular schoolmate more
than five decades after a locker room prank. The story of obsession
 — or mental illness — rattles a ‘Norman Rockwell town’.

By JOHN M. GLIONNA | 7:23PM - Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Carl V. Ericsson, 73, is escorted into court after a 72-year-old former schoolmate was shot to death
on his doorstep in Madison, South Dakota. — Photo: Elisha Page/Argus Leader/August 14, 2012.

Reporting from Madison, South Dakota.

THE MAN standing at Norman Johnson's door that cold January evening was a stranger who might have seemed vaguely familiar.

Johnson, a retired high school instructor who taught English and coached tennis and football for 35 years in this unassuming town, probably didn't even have his door locked when he came to greet the bearded, gray-haired visitor. The man bluntly asked him, "Are you Norm Johnson?"

When the 72-year-old Johnson didn't answer quickly enough, the man asked again. When Johnson finally said yes, the intruder shot him twice in the face, leaving him to die on the doorstep of his tidy brown-clapboard home.

In Madison, where many of the 6,500 residents have known each other since childhood, people don't die this way, especially well-respected people like Norm Johnson. Most police officers who swarmed the scene had once sat in the classroom of the strict but fair instructor they still politely called "Mr. Johnson."

Following a tip, police the next day arrested 73-year-old Carl V. Ericsson, who for years had been treated for anxiety and depression. Charged with first-degree murder, Ericsson told investigators a story of obsession that would rattle this Midwestern farm town, where the last murder conviction came in 1917 and the lone police detective badgered locals not to leave the keys in their trucks when they ran about town doing errands.

Ericsson told them he had come to avenge a long-ago locker room prank: In high school, someone put an athletic supporter over his head for laughs. Nobody's really sure whether Johnson was the culprit or whether he'd just laughed the loudest or even if it happened at all.

Back then, Ericsson and Johnson were a study in contrasts. Johnson was the star running back, a handsome boy who started every game and dated a cheerleader. He married her the year of his graduation, in 1958.

One grade ahead, Ericsson was the squad's student manager — a job relegated to non-athletes who assisted coaches and ran errands. He was a teen who existed mainly on the sidelines.

"Norm was a small spark plug of a kid, but real athletic. He wasn't cocky, but he was popular. He let his exploits on the playing field provide his leadership," said Buzz Rumrill, a former team lineman who knew both boys. "It's just hard to remember Carl. He wasn't popular, but he wasn't shunned either. I think he really wanted to be an athlete, but he wasn't. He was the team manager. He was a gofer."

For more than 50 years after high school, Johnson and Ericsson led separate lives — apparently never speaking — until just after 7:30 p.m. on January 31.

That night, the high school basketball team was playing a home game, leaving the streets virtually empty. What happened on that doorstep remains vague, pieced together by statements Ericsson made to police.

What is known is that a man with no criminal record parked his brown Ford Taurus outside Johnson's house and walked to the door with a Glock handgun, carrying 54 rounds of ammunition in three full magazines.

Now two families are left to cope with the aftermath. Ericsson's brother Dick, a popular lawyer and town councilman, lives with knowing his emotionally fraught older brother confessed to shooting a longtime neighbor and colleague. Dick Ericsson had served on the local hospital board with Johnson.

For Johnson's widow and two grown daughters, Ericsson's stated motive only added to their heartbreak. The National Enquirer (http://www.latimes.com/topic/services-shopping/books-magazines/national-enquirer-PRDPER000002.topic) published a story on the killing, emphasizing the alleged jock strap incident, and the slaying was highlighted on a nationally televised talk show (http://www.latimes.com/topic/arts-culture/genres/talk-shows-%28genre%29-GENRE000085.topic) segment on bullying.

But many here wondered: Did the taunting really happen, or was it the creation of a troubled mind? And if the humiliation took place, did Ericsson dwell upon it for decades or did it suddenly pop into his head during a depression-induced flashback?

"People are putting so much credence into the words of a mentally ill man — and so my father has become a bully in the eyes of the nation," said Beth Ribstein, Johnson's youngest daughter. "It's hurtful; it angers me. And conveniently, Dad isn't here to defend himself."

With Johnson's death, people here say society's mayhem has finally invaded their town, a place so quaint that they only needed to give the last four digits of their phone numbers until a second calling prefix was introduced recently.

"This really is a Norman Rockwell town. You half expect to see kids walking down the street with fishing poles on their shoulders," said Jon M. Hunter, publisher of the hometown Madison Daily Leader, who had Johnson as an English teacher and tennis coach.

IN AN agreement with prosecutors, Ericsson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder under circumstances of mental illness, which would send him to prison for life.

But first he had to face the family of his victim.

Ericsson stepped into the courtroom for his June sentencing hearing wearing a black-and-white-striped jail uniform. He sat at the defendant's table, using a hearing device to monitor the proceedings. When he spoke, his voice was feeble, nearly inaudible.

What the 30 people in the Lake County Courthouse heard that morning was the story of two men whose lives took vastly different paths:

Johnson never left Madison and remained active even in retirement. Known as "Stormin' Norman," he was a husky man with thick, silverish hair.

Everybody in town knew him: Either they'd had him as a teacher or came to know him as an adult.

After retirement, he worked part time as a custodian and playground supervisor, a proofreader at the local paper, and finally at the hardware store. He served on civic boards and studied piano. He especially liked playing the classical songs he'd loved as a child.

Former students sought him out. Some, now grandfathers and grandmothers, would approach him at the hardware store, calling him Mr. Johnson, just like always. He would shake his head and harrumph, saying, "Just call me Norm." One carpenter recalled how Johnson regularly looked in on him for months after learning the man had a drinking problem.

Ericsson, the son of a successful lawyer and a librarian, was a loner. After high school, he left for Wyoming, where he worked for decades as a federal government insurance officer.

After retirement, he moved to Watertown, South Dakota, about an hour north of Madison, with his wife of 44 years. He doted on Shep, his German shepherd, and two aging horses he kept at a nearby stable.

Neighbors, though, described him as a peculiar man who would snow-blow their driveways in winter but flip off people who displeased him. He'd often complain about nearby children making too much noise. Then, the next day, he'd play the role of good neighbor, offering to help jump-start a dead car battery.

"Sometimes, he got overly friendly and it creeped my wife out. I told her, ‘He's just a harmless old man. There's nothing to worry about’," neighbor Jason Crow recalled. "When his horses died, he blamed the vets. He said, ‘I ought to take my gun out and go shoot those sons of bitches’. He was great with animals; he just wasn't that good with people."

Authorities say they discovered he had kept a cache of loaded weapons inside his tiny one-story home.

At the time of the murder, a psychiatrist told authorities that Ericsson suffered from "severe and recurrent depression that is, for the most part, treatment resistant." In recent years he had threatened to kill his brother Dick, and after Johnson's death told his wife, Deanna, that he planned to take his own life in prison, according to court records.

At his sentencing, Ericsson told the judge he killed Johnson because of "something that happened over 50 years ago.... It was apparently in my subconscious."

But Beth Ribstein and her family weren't buying the story of any tit-for-tat grudge: On the night he killed her father, witnesses said, Ericsson was seen prowling around the houses of his brother Dick and another former teacher — but both men were at the basketball game. Ericsson, authorities now say, may have been planning a much more serious rampage.

Ribstein and her older sister, Terri Wiblemo, took the witness stand to confront Ericsson. Ribstein, a substitute teacher, said she believed her father's killer was jealous of successful people — old classmates, even his own brother.

"Your life has been filled with anger, jealousy and the need for revenge," she told him at the sentencing hearing. "I truly pity your wife and your family because you've been such a coward, but I can't blame you for being jealous of Dad. In high school he was popular. He was athletic. He dated Mom. They had 52 wonderful years together and had two daughters that adored him, four grandchildren that worshiped their grandpa."

When it was his time to comment, Ericsson told the court: "I just wish I could turn the calendar back."

ON A frigid day in February, 600 people showed up at Johnson's funeral. His colleagues at Jones Ace Hardware, many of them teenagers, wore their red work aprons. They gave the family a keepsake: Norm's old apron, complete with his name tag, tape measure in one pocket, working man's hand cream in the other.

"Norm was a mentor to so many people," store manager Luella Poppen said recently. "If he had known about Carl Ericsson's demons, he would have been the first to reach out to help him. That's what kind of man he was."

Most folks here have grown tired of the scrutiny and heartache the killing brought and want to be known for something else again.

The town has reached out to Johnson's widow, Barbara. One man offered to take care of her lawn. Another dropped by with a strawberry cake; he'd had Norm as a teacher and recalled him saying how much his wife loved strawberries.

Meanwhile, within days of the shooting, Johnson's family invited Dick Ericsson to dinner. "Dick is going through a terrible time," Ribstein said. "My mother was there. We wanted him to know we never had any hard feelings, that we didn't hold a grudge. He needed to see that we were still friends."

That night, they all talked about everything but the murder.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-south-dakota-murder-20120815,0,5790228,full.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-south-dakota-murder-20120815,0,5790228,full.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 05, 2012, 05:07:04 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Jerry Brown and Chris Christie engage in cross-country trash talk

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Tuesday, September 04, 2012


A BLOSSOMING FEUD between California Governor Jerry Brown and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie could bring a little fun back into politics.

The spat began on the first day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa during Christie’s visit to the California delegation. Christie, who later in the week would underwhelm as the convention’s keynote speaker, pointed out to the delegates he was a mere 14 years old when Brown won the Democratic primary in New Jersey way back in 1980. The trash-talking governor of the Garden State called Brown “an old retread” and implied Brown was chicken for sending his current tax hike proposal to the voters instead of pushing it through the legislature and taking the heat.

In Los Angeles last Thursday, Brown fired back at Christie during a speech at an organized labor gathering. The veteran Democrat said age may have left him with a lot less hair, but the years had provided plenty of experience and knowledge that Christie may lack.

“Because when you were 14,” Brown said to his new rival, “I was passing the farm labor bill. I was passing worker protections in California."

Brown then challenged the famously rotund New Jersey chief executive to a three-mile run, a push-up contest and a chin-up contest. With the negative implication about Christie’s excessive weight abundantly clear, Brown said he would take any bet on the challenge, adding, “I have no doubt of the outcome.”

It would be great to see this cross-country smack down go on for a few more rounds. Christie should take Brown’s fitness challenge on the condition that Brown agree to a rematch on more favorable turf — say a fritter eating contest at a Trenton donut shop. Brown would easily whip Christie in a foot race and managing even one pull-up seems an unlikely feat for the biggest Republican since William Howard Taft, but Christie clearly has the edge when it comes to consumption of sugar-basted, deep-fried dough.

It’s all about training.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-brown-christie-20120904,0,5085391.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-brown-christie-20120904,0,5085391.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 10, 2012, 04:30:05 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

DNA evidence exonerates 300th prisoner nationwide

A Louisiana man is released from death row after his murder conviction
is overturned. He said he was coerced into giving a false confession.

By HOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE | Monday, October 01, 2012

Former death row inmate Damon Thibodeaux, center, gets a visit from two fellow ex-prisoners who were
also exonerated of their crimes: Derrick James and Ricky Johnson. At left is attorney Barry Scheck of
the Innocence Project. — Photo: Michael Democker/Times-Picayune/September 28, 2012.

A LOUISIANA MAN has been released from death row, becoming the 300th prisoner nationwide to be freed after DNA (http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/human-body/dna-HHA000078.topic) evidence showed he was innocent.

Of those 300 prisoners, 18 had been on death row, according to lawyers from the New York-based Innocence Project.

"It feels good. I'm still processing it," said Damon Thibodeaux, 38, when reached by phone in New Orleans.

A Jefferson Parish judge overturned his murder conviction Friday and ordered Thibodeaux released after 16 years in prison, 15 on death row. The decision was one of several recent exonerations across the country.

Last Monday, John Edward Smith was released from a Los Angeles jail nearly two decades after he was wrongfully imprisoned in connection with a gang-related shooting. In August, Chicago prosecutors moved to dismiss murder charges against Alprentiss Nash 17 years after he was convicted of a murder that recent DNA tests indicated he didn't commit. Earlier that month in Texas, David Lee Wiggins was freed after DNA tests cleared him of a rape for which he had served 24 years.

Thibodeaux, a deckhand, was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to death after he confessed to the July 19, 1996, rape and murder of his 14-year-old step-cousin, Crystal Champagne, in Westwego, a dozen miles southwest of New Orleans.

The girl was last seen alive by her family when she left their Westwego apartment to go to a nearby Winn-Dixie grocery store. When she failed to return, her parents alerted police and a search ensued.

Her body was discovered the next evening under a bridge, her pants pulled down, a wire ligature around her neck; she appeared to have been strangled. That night, detectives began interrogating potential witnesses, including Thibodeaux.

After a lengthy interrogation, Thibodeaux confessed to raping and murdering Crystal, a confession that became the primary basis for his conviction in October 1997.

He unsuccessfully appealed his conviction in 1999, arguing that he was coerced into giving a false, unrecorded confession after being interrogated for nine hours by Jefferson Parish sheriff's investigators. He also said that there was insufficient evidence to convict him and that he did not receive a fair trial.

"This is a tragic illustration of why law enforcement must record the entire interrogation of any witness or potential suspect in any investigation involving a serious crime," said one of Thibodeaux's attorneys, Steve Kaplan of the Minneapolis firm Fredrikson & Byron.

In 2007, Thibodeaux's legal team persuaded Jefferson Parish Dist. Atty. Paul Connick to reinvestigate the case, sharing half the cost, which ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars. DNA testing showed that Thibodeaux was not the killer and that Crystal had not been raped.

"District attorneys now recognize that the system doesn't always get it right and many, like Dist. Atty. Connick and his team, are committed to getting to the truth," said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, which also represented Thibodeaux. The case highlights the importance of California's Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty, on the November ballot, Scheck added.

Thibodeaux, who said he felt "great sympathy for the Champagne family" and hoped Crystal's killer "is found and tried," said he was grateful the district attorney was willing to reexamine his case.

"A lot of prosecutors, when they see a case like mine, they just turn away from it and say, ‘We tried it in court, that's it’," he said.

Louisiana pays those wrongfully convicted $25,000 for each year they were held in error for up to a decade.

Thibodeaux plans to live in Minnesota, which he heard had a good reintegration program for former inmates.

After he walked out of prison, Thibodeaux said, he took the first step toward that new life, inhaling a deep breath of "free air."

"It's probably the best breath I've ever had," he said.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-dna-evidence-20121001,0,2977942.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-dna-evidence-20121001,0,2977942.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 10, 2012, 05:17:51 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses affair in interview

In a ‘60 Minutes’ interview, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says
he realized he was the father of his housekeeper's child when the boy was 7 or 8.

By ANTHONY YORK | Monday, October 01, 2012

Shriver and Schwarzenegger outside St. Francis Xavier Church in Hyannis, Massachusetts,
after their wedding on April 26, 1986. — Photo: Associated Press.

PHOTOGRAPH GALLERY: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-schwarzeneggers-pg,0,3604806.photogallery)

SACRAMENTO — Arnold Schwarzenegger said he realized he was the father of his housekeeper's child when the boy reached age 7 or 8 and the resemblance became apparent.

Although he never discussed the matter with the boy's mother, who kept the child's paternity secret while continuing to work in the home of Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, he began secretly sending the woman extra money to help care for his son.

Those details, revealed during an interview with CBS News' Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes" on Sunday, were the former governor's first public comments on the affair that grabbed headlines and destroyed his marriage last year. They came a day before the release of Schwarzenegger's new memoir, which is expected to delve into details of his relationship with Mildred Baena and their son, Joseph.

Schwarzenegger's decision to handle the paternity issue without telling those closest to him about it is characteristic of the former bodybuilding champion, movie star and politician, who said a certain amount of denial and secrecy has been a key to his success.

"That's the way I handle things, and it always has worked," Schwarzenegger said, according to a transcript provided by CBS before the interview aired on the West Coast. "It's not the best thing for people around me.... Some information I just keep to myself."

Shriver confronted Schwarzenegger about the child in a counseling session the day after he left office, in January 2011. She filed for divorce weeks later.

Schwarzenegger declined to discuss his current relationship with the boy but said he continues to give financial support to him and his mother.

While the affair with Baena remained private until after Schwarzenegger left office, allegations of lewd behavior and infidelity rocked Schwarzenegger's campaign for governor just days before he was elected in the historic recall of Democratic Governor Gray Davis.

Schwarzenegger told Stahl that campaign almost never happened. When he told Shriver, niece of former President John F. Kennedy, of his intention to run just four days before making the surprise announcement on NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," Schwarzenegger said, "she started shaking, and she had tears in her eyes.

"I realized that I was stepping into something that was much deeper than just me running and her being a supportive wife," he said.

Shriver's mother, the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, intervened, telling her daughter that if she got in the way of Schwarzenegger's political ambitions, he would never forgive her.

Shriver wasn't the only one down on her husband's gubernatorial ambitions, according to outtakes from the interview on the "60 Minutes" website. Schwarzenegger said he met with Karl Rove in the White House in 2003, and Rove was "dismissive" of the recall and the Hollywood star's chances of winning. Rove arranged a quick meeting for Schwarzenegger with Condoleezza Rice, whom Rove said was the White House's pick for California governor in 2006, the year Schwarzenegger was re-elected.

Also in the outtakes, Schwarzenegger says he foolishly wanted to rewrite his famous "Terminator" line, "I'll be back," to "I will be back." He found the contraction "feminine." He fought "tooth and nail" over it with director James Cameron, but Cameron resisted.

Sunday's interview was short on policy but touched briefly on Schwarzenegger's unsuccessful push to expand healthcare coverage to millions of uninsured Californians, which he characterized as an improvement on the plan passed by Mitt Romney when Romney was governor of Massachusetts.

With his movie career now back in full swing, an academic think tank launched in his name recently at USC and a nationwide book tour in the offing, Schwarzenegger is focusing on his future. But he said the affair with Baena, and the pain it caused his family, continues to be his greatest regret.

"That," he said, "is something that I will always look back and say, ‘How could you have done that?’"

CLICK HERE (http://www.cbs.com/primetime/60_minutes/video/?pid=5jHr9f0K_cu9&vs) to view the CBS ‘60 Minutes’ interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-schwarzenegger-60-minutes-20121001,0,1997169.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-schwarzenegger-60-minutes-20121001,0,1997169.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 10, 2012, 05:18:06 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Arnold Schwarzenegger's narcissistic book is creepy and cruel

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Friday, October 05, 2012

Arnold Schwarzenegger's “Total Recall” proves he is a moral girlie man.
 — Cartoon: David Horsey/Los Angeles Times.

A MAN who built his career on testosterone, who spent years pumping iron and staring at himself in mirrors, who thrived in the egocentric troika of sports, Hollywood and politics is probably not a good candidate for faithful husband. Maria Shriver had to have known that when she married Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arnold and men like him are supreme narcissists. Sure, they are charming, dynamic, seductive, even magnetic, but the world beyond their own minds and bodies is an abstraction. Other people are moons revolving around their sun. They are emotionally detached. All they really need in life are themselves.

So, it is truly mystifying to the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the world why a wife would get upset about him having sex with other women. As Arnold said to Maria, it had nothing to do with her; he still thinks she’s hot. It’s only sex, after all — sex and an inconvenient love child.

That’s how Arnold tells the story, anyway, in his new memoir, "Total Recall". And, asked by interviewers if he thinks revealing the details of his philandering and divorce might be painful for his ex-wife and children, he says yes, it is painful. Yet the look on his face suggests that pain is just a bit of collateral damage with no bearing on Arnold’s desire to market his autobiography. The way he sees it, the world needs to hear the epic tale of his life, and that is far more consequential than the feelings of those four children he fathered with Maria.

I first crossed paths with Maria Shriver on her Uncle Teddy’s campaign bus during the New Hampshire presidential primary in 1980. This was six years before she married Arnold. She was a 24-year-old budding TV journalist hanging out in the back of the bus with her younger cousin, Kara Kennedy. I was not much older — a fresh-out-of-college political cartoonist on my first national news assignment. I thought Maria was incredibly cute with her dark hair, angular Kennedy jaw and smiling row of bright teeth, that most ubiquitous family trait. I figured she had an interesting life in store — she was a Kennedy, after all.

During that trip, I visited the bridge at Chappaquiddick where Ted Kennedy had driven a careening car into the dark water and left a drowning young woman behind as he saved himself. Maria knew about that incident. She probably knew about Teddy’s other affairs and the secret sex life of her martyred Uncle John, the prince of Camelot. Infidelity was common behavior among the high-achieving males in the Kennedy clan (though her own father, Sargent Shriver, seems to have had a more true moral compass).

Biographers of John F. Kennedy indicate that he, like Schwarzenegger, saw sex with a series of bimbos as little more than physical release that had no significant bearing on his love for his wife, Jacqueline. Having grown up in that Kennedy world, perhaps Maria never expected her husband to be perfectly faithful. But she probably hoped for discretion, at least.

For men like Arnold who see themselves as bold men of action destined for great things, sex is a mere perk. While a wife is a trophy (especially one with the Kennedy pedigree), all other women are just incidental conquests along the path to mastery of bigger realms — Hollywood stardom, political power or a Mr. Universe competition. But even the most cavalier rogue can at least get his timing right if he cares at all about the people nearest and dearest to him.

Schwarzenegger’s book is an example of crass and callous self-promotion. Maybe in a few years it would have been OK to publish a tell-all tome, but this close to the moment of pain he inflicted on his family, it is just plain creepy and cruel.

Not that Arnold would see it that way; he is too enthralled by the face in the mirror and the siren call of his personal destiny.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-schwarzenegger-book-20121004,0,2782270.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-schwarzenegger-book-20121004,0,2782270.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 23, 2012, 06:56:31 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

The greedy hordes of Black Friday are now plundering Thanksgiving

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Thursday, November 22, 2012

Since David Horsey drew this Black Friday cartoon in 2009, many retailers have pushed store openings into Thanksgiving Day.
 — Cartoon: David Horsey/Los Angeles Times.

ADMITTEDLY, I am a guy who generally dreads the thought of plodding through a shopping mall on any day of the year, but to me the encroachment of Black Friday (http://www.latimes.com/topic/economy-business-finance/consumer-goods-industries/black-friday-%28shopping%29-EVHST0000115.topic) into Thanksgiving evening seems not only insane but also disturbingly unpatriotic.

It was bad enough when it became the norm for people to show up in the middle of the night in order to be near the front of the line when store doors swung open early on the morn after Thanksgiving. Every time I heard about the herd of shoppers being culled as someone got trampled or sent to the hospital after a fight over a Tickle Me Elmo, I felt justified in my smugness and disdain of this retail frenzy. If that is how the rabble wanted to spend their time and money, so be it. The manic rush to save a hundred bucks on a 50-inch flat-screen TV or finish Christmas shopping by 9 a.m. on Black Friday could go on without me.

Over the years, though, retailers have pushed the starting time for this mad dash earlier and earlier until now it is bumping up against the slicing of the pumpkin pie at the Thanksgiving dinner table. This does not seem right.

I pity the poor retail workers who have to leave home and hearth and turkey dinner on the most venerable national holiday of the year. Instead of giving thanks for the opportunity to be confronted by a greedy horde of bargain hunters, I suspect most of those workers are cursing the store owners who decided to ruin the day with their own lust for a dollar. I think it is safe to assume the guys who own Target or Best Buy or the other big retailers will not be manning the cash registers. No, they will be sharing a leisurely Thanksgiving repast with their heirs in the peace and safety of their gated communities.

In 2013, it will be exactly 150 years since Abraham Lincoln set aside the fourth Thursday in November as a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." Obviously, traditions shift over time, but let us hope that by next year those who put making money and spending money above all other values will not have totally desecrated what was once an all-American day like no other.

For anyone who feels as disgusted as I am with the plundering of Thanksgiving, go to Change.org (http://www.change.org/petitions/target-take-the-high-road-and-save-thanksgiving) and sign the petition (http://www.change.org/petitions/target-take-the-high-road-and-save-thanksgiving) urging Target to stop being the Grinch who stole Thanksgiving from employees. Maybe if one retailer is shamed into doing business more thoughtfully, others can be, as well.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-black-friday-20121121,0,5173887.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-black-friday-20121121,0,5173887.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: ssweetpea on November 24, 2012, 01:46:24 pm
Black Friday? But it wasn't the 13th of the month ???

Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, most major retailers open extremely early and offer promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season, similar to Boxing Day sales in many Commonwealth Nations. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many non-retail employers also observe this day as a holiday along with Thanksgiving, giving their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005,[1] although news reports, which at that time were inaccurate,[2] have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time.[3]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday_(shopping) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday_(shopping))

Ohhh...the penny drops

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 24, 2012, 05:52:43 pm

Yep......'merkins, eh?  (http://images.proboards.com/new/rolleyes.gif)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on December 06, 2012, 05:46:34 pm
US 'ready in days to take Syria'
BY: MICHAEL EVANS AND DEBORAH HAYNES From: The Times December 06, 2012 12:00AM

WASHINGTON is ready to launch military action in Syria "within days" if Bashar al-Assad resorts to mobilising chemical weapons to repel rebel forces trying to seize Damascus, US officials say.

US-led military intervention, which would also involve allies, is not imminent, but the Pentagon and Central Command, which has authority for US operations in the Middle East, were ready to respond if necessary, the officials said yesterday.

Take him out :P

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on April 24, 2013, 01:13:06 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

L.A. County condom mandate pushes porn producers into Ventura County

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Tuesday, April 23, 2013


HERE IS a political object lesson from the seamier, steamier end of the entertainment business: The new law in Los Angeles County requiring actors in pornographic films to wear condoms seems merely to have pushed the smutty movie industry into the quiet residential areas of unincorporated Ventura County. The lesson? Passing a law to banish unhealthy behavior does not necessarily solve a problem, it just kicks it to another place or directly into a courtroom.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has famously taken on several public health causes during his years in office. He banned smoking from public places, went after trans fats in food, outlawed super-sized servings of sugary soft drinks and now has come back around to smoking with a law forcing stores to keep cigarettes out of sight and a proposal to set 21 as the minimum legal age for buying cigarettes.

People have protested the mayor's nanny-state obsessions, but he has made much of it stick. The soda restriction is on hold, however, because a state Supreme Court judge issued an injunction to stop the law, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” As for the age limit for buying cigarettes, it may have about as much influence on teen smoking as the age-21 threshold for buying alcohol has had on binge-drinking college freshmen.

Human beings have a stubborn inclination to continue self-destructive behavior, no matter what the law says. That is not to say that some things should not be illegal, even if many people flout the law. Meth should be illegal, for instance, because it is an utterly destructive drug manufactured by scumbags who deserve to be in jail for a very long time (although a Darwinian argument can be made that the deadliness of meth benefits society by cleaning out the lower reaches of the gene pool).

When 57% of L.A. County voters approved the condom mandate in the November election, they had the good intention of preventing transmission of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. However, the law is being contested in U.S. District Court by Vivid Entertainment, one of the biggest producers of adult movies. (By the way, calling such films “adult” has always struck me as a misnomer, since most porn is decidedly, ridiculously immature.) The pornmeisters insist their 1st Amendment rights are being infringed. Keeping male porn stars sheathed is apparently akin to telling Clint Eastwood to keep his gun holstered.

Some of the “adult” film auteurs are not waiting for the court’s decision. They have moved production from the San Fernando Valley, long the home of the celluloid sex business, to neighboring Ventura County, where residents have been registering complaints about strange sights and sounds in neighboring homes.

"It's really disturbing," Tim Gray, a 56-year-old father of four, told the Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-porn-filming-20130418,0,3683860.story). "We were eating dinner and we heard these loud sounds outside, like something really bad had happened. I went outside and heard, well, the typical sounds you'd hear in a porn movie. It was echoing all over the neighborhood."

Ventura County officials are now proposing their own condom requirement, hoping that will get the pornographers to keep on traveling to the next county.

The porn filmmakers could eliminate the whole problem by taking advantage of the amazing advances in special effects that have transformed production of mainstream films. After all, real, live men are not all that necessary in porn movies. There is just one part of a male porn actor’s body that gets any serious screen time and that particular body part generally looks weirdly unreal anyway. Surely, a porn counterpart of Pixar or Industrial Light and Magic could create a CGI replacement for the live actor’s only vital component that would be visually convincing, yet disease free.

Heck, if moviegoers spent millions on "Star Wars" pictures in which the light sabers were just a special effect, the porn audience would probably go along with something very similar.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-condom-mandate-20130423,0,5436032.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-condom-mandate-20130423,0,5436032.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 10, 2013, 11:19:30 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Will voters still love Chris Christie when he's not so fat?

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Thursday, May 09 2013


NEW JERSEY Governor Chris Christie is worried enough about an early death due to obesity that, two weeks ago under a fake name, he checked himself into a hospital and had lap-band surgery on his stomach. It is being reported that having his tummy tied has already cut his food intake enough to help him shed 40 pounds.

The cable news pundit corps immediately questioned whether Christie was dropping weight to prepare for a presidential campaign in 2016, as if staying alive to see his children grow up and have children of their own were not motivation enough. However valid or specious, such speculation carries the clear implication that Americans would not elect a fat man to be president.

Is that true?

According to a recent poll, 76% of voters in New Jersey have a positive view of overweight candidates. It is hard not to think that has a lot to do with Christie’s current popularity in his home state, but it may also indicate that some people are more comfortable with a politician who looks like them, rather than one who is too slim. (Could that be contributing to the pathological hatred some folks have for our current svelte president?)

A 2012 Gallup survey put the share of Americans who are obese at 26.2%. Another 36.1% are overweight. That is a large base of potentially sympathetic voters for a candidate who enjoys his Krispy Kremes, Double Whoppers with cheese and 64-ounce sodas from 7-11. President Bill Clinton was notorious, not just for sneaking around the Oval Office with Monica Lewinsky, but for sneaking out for a Big Mac at the McDonald’s a block from the White House. Perhaps Clinton remains one of the country’s most popular political figures because he not only feels the pain of common people but feels their appetites as well.

It has been a century since we have had a fat president. William Howard Taft weighed in at 332 pounds and is said to have gotten stuck in the White House bathtub. In his day, his girth was uncommon. These days, millions of Americans are equally super-sized.

If politics really played a part in Chris Christie’s calculation, losing weight might not have been an obvious political plus. There are certainly voters who are biased against an overweight candidate, but there may be just as many who are portly themselves and who would not like being reminded of that fact every time they see a candidate who was once one of them wearing pants six sizes smaller.

If Christie starts eating arugula instead of pie ala mode, we’ll know he’s gone too far.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-chris-christie-fat-20130508,0,1302601.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-chris-christie-fat-20130508,0,1302601.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 11, 2013, 11:08:55 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

Ridiculous Republican rhetoric undermines Benghazi probe

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Friday, May 10, 2013


REPUBLICANS could make an easy hit on the Obama administration by highlighting the State Department’s apparent bureaucratic blundering during and after the deadly terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last fall, but they refuse to settle for such a small political prize. Instead, they have got themselves all steamed up and snarling about heinous, impeachable offenses that are figments of their imaginations.

The latest round of House hearings about the Benghazi incident provides a perfect example of how American politics has been warped and gummed up by bombastic, partisan extremism. A cool, methodical inquiry could well uncover serious mistakes and provide remedies so that future incidents can be thwarted before more American diplomats are killed in the line of duty. But the current generation of Republican lawmakers does not know how to do cool. Hot rhetoric more suited to a Glenn Beck tirade seems to be the only way they know how to communicate.

A prime example is Representative Steve King of Iowa. On Wednesday, he said he did not know “what took place, and who was where doing what and why,” yet he declared, “I believe that it’s a lot bigger than Watergate, and if you link Watergate and Iran-Contra together and multiply it times maybe 10 or so, you’re going to get in the zone where Benghazi is.”

Yup, King does not actually know any details, but he is sure Benghazi is vastly bigger than the two biggest political scandals of the last 40 years. Either King does not really have a clue what Watergate and Iran-Contra were all about or he simply thinks if he really, really believes, wishes upon a star, picks a crop of four-leaf clovers and asks Santa, he and his party will luck into a scandal big enough to topple a president they despise.

That seems to be what Mike Huckabee is praying for. On Monday, the former preacher and presidential candidate said on his radio show, "I believe that before it’s all over, this president will not fill out his full term. I remind you, as bad as Watergate was, because it broke the trust between the president and the people, no one died. This is more serious because four Americans did in fact die.”

Of course, none of these folks were calling for impeachment of President George W. Bush in 2001 when he and his top advisors ignored warnings of an impending attack and 3,000 people died on the morning of September 11th. That was a failure that went right to the top. Whatever lack of foresight there may have been at Benghazi, it pales in comparison to 9/11. With Benghazi, the fault appears to lie with mid-level bureaucrats (and perhaps with a myopic Congress that saw no need to provide adequate funding for State Department security).

It is a fever dream for Republicans to think they can bring down President Obama with this pipsqueak of a scandal. Possibly, though, they could do some harm to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the strongest Democratic prospect for the 2016 presidential election. A smartly targeted investigation might do that.

More likely, though, Republicans will continue to overreach and come off looking like hyper-partisan, blustering witch hunters.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-ridiculous-republican-rhetoric-20130509,0,841119.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-ridiculous-republican-rhetoric-20130509,0,841119.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 15, 2013, 03:17:51 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Partisan political bubbles distort Benghazi facts

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Tuesday, May 14, 2013


HOW you feel about Benghazi very likely has everything to do with your political leanings. If you think the Obama administration is covering up a scandal bigger than Watergate, you are almost certainly a Republican. If you think Republicans in Congress are simply trying to gain political advantage by exploiting the terrorist attack against the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September 11th, you are very likely a Democrat.

A Pew Research Center poll found that 70% of Republicans believe the administration has been “dishonest” about what happened at Benghazi. Only 16% of Democrats feel the same way. But 60% of Democrats believe Republicans have “gone too far” pursuing the issue while 65% of Republicans think their party’s representatives have handled it “appropriately.”

This stark partisan divide is hardly a surprise given the sour state of American politics, but, on an issue of national security, one would wish for broader middle ground in which concern for objective facts, not political advantage, would guide people’s opinions.

The Benghazi incident has been rather thoroughly scrutinized, both in congressional hearings and by the review board co-chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael G. Mullen. The facts appear to be that in the chaotic aftermath of the Libyan revolution U.S. diplomats lacked adequate security to protect themselves from terrorist attacks and that, after the horrific night when the American ambassador and three other Americans were killed, the State Department and the White House massaged official talking points to avoid criticism.

Playing a public relations game with the situation does not reflect well on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s State Department or on the Obama White House. However, this game of semantics was a fairly typical example of inside-the-Beltway spin doctoring and posterior protecting. It is not nearly in the same league of monumental cover-ups of illegal acts that took place with Watergate and the Iran-Contra scandal.

And that’s the problem with the current demand by many Republicans for a special committee to be set up to investigate the Benghazi affair. That seems a pretty obvious ploy to pump up the issue for political advantage and to do as much damage as can be done to the former secretary of State, who just might be the future Democratic presidential nominee.

The House and Senate committees now handling the Benghazi probe can do a perfectly good job of getting all the facts on the table if they will just stick to that job and stop playing their own spin game with an eye on the next election.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-benghazi-facts-20130513,0,1962623.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-benghazi-facts-20130513,0,1962623.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 16, 2013, 01:39:36 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

The real scandal: IRS gives tax exemptions to political partisans

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Wednesday, May 15, 2013


THE REVELATION that conservative political groups seeking tax-exempt status were singled out for special attention by Internal Revenue Service bureaucrats has given Republicans their best cudgel yet to beat on the Obama administration. But as the outrage revs into high gear, let me offer a contrarian perspective: As inept as the IRS may have been in the way they processed applications for 501(c)(4) status, the bigger scandal is that the IRS grants the tax-exempt designation to so many overtly political organizations, treating them as if they are no more engaged in partisan politics than the Girl Scouts.

The reality is that numerous high-powered political operatives for both Republicans and Democrats have formed 501(c)(4) organizations. The GOP’s most prominent political guru, Karl Rove, has Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)(4) entity that spent $70 million during the 2012 campaign encouraging voters to cast their ballots for Republican candidates. Under the guidance of former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, the president’s reelection apparatus has been reorganized as a 501(c)(4) group that no doubt will “educate” the public about the need for more Democrats in Congress.

After the Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens United decision in 2010 that opened the way for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns, all that new funding needed someplace to go where it would not be easily tracked. In response, the number of groups seeking 501(c)(4) status — which, in addition to the tax break, allows donors to remain anonymous — shot up to 3,400 in 2012.

The flood of applications overloaded the IRS processing system. It may be wrong that, in order to deal with the mountain of paperwork, the IRS functionaries began culling the applicants by looking for keywords such as “Tea Party” and “patriot,” but I suspect it had far less to do with political bias than it did with the fact that the majority of new groups were conservative. If someone were running a bogus political operation and wanted to attract corporate cash, they would probably pretend to be some kind of grass-roots Tea Party group. It is entirely understandable that an overwhelmed IRS bureaucrat would choose to look for questionable applicants in the most obvious places.

The fact is that none of the right-wing applicants were turned down, even though they are probably as engaged in partisan campaigning as Karl Rove or Jim Messina. A 501(c)(4) group is, by law, supposed to be a social welfare organization whose primary activity is not politics. Can anyone honestly say that about Rove or Messina or any of the many Tea Party organizations?

Sadly, after this so-called scandal has blown over and enough heads have rolled, the cowed IRS will be even more timid in denying tax-exempt designation to any front organization run by partisan political operatives and funded by corporate moneymen who want to keep their names out of the news.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-real-scandal-20130514,0,3072138.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-real-scandal-20130514,0,3072138.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 17, 2013, 07:15:37 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

By firing IRS boss, Obama buys into GOP's rush to judgment

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Thursday, May 16, 2013


ON WEDNESDAY, President Obama fired the head of the Internal Revenue Service, the first sacrificial lamb brought down after the alleged “targeting” of conservative political groups by the IRS. Obama declared, “Americans are right to be angry about it.” Call me out of step, but I am angrier that the president is joining the rush to judgment.

All that is known for sure is that some IRS functionaries took a shorthand route to identify partisan political groups that might be pretending not to be political so that they could get the tax-exempt status available to social welfare organizations. The IRS employed various key words, such as “Tea Party” and “Patriot,” and that is how it got into trouble. The IRS now stands accused of singling out conservatives for special scrutiny, even though such groups comprised just a third of the nearly 300 organizations picked out for extra attention.

It is worth noting that, though applications from some conservative organizations were slowed down, few, if any, were rejected. By law, any group whose primary purpose is to support the election of one set of candidates and the defeat of others should not be eligible for the 501(c)(4) designation. In practice, however, even Karl Rove and Barack Obama can weasel their way into a 501(c)(4) tax exemption that also provides anonymity for their fat cat corporate donors.

The actual scandal here is that so many campaign organizations are pretending to be no more politically involved than a group of volunteer firemen. Does anyone believe that the Tea Party groups that were supposedly so unfairly treated by the IRS are politically disinterested social welfare associations? Yet, everyone from the president to Jon Stewart to the mainstream media is buying into the Republican scenario that the IRS was carrying out a vendetta against the right wing.

What the IRS people did was not smartly conceived or executed, but there is, as yet, no evidence that they were trying to do anything more than their jobs. They were not helped in that by politicians in Washington who have so fuzzed up the campaign laws in order to benefit their political benefactors that it is not a simple thing for an IRS analyst to get things right when applying the 501(c)(4) statute. A big SNAFU was committed, but it is wildly premature for House Speaker John A. Boehner to demand that someone go to jail, as he did Wednesday.

The feigned outrage of Boehner and his compatriots is rather transparently part of the Republicans’ ceaseless campaign to undercut the president at every turn. They could hardly be expected to let an opportunity as ripe as the IRS flap pass them by. For his part, the president, embroiled in battles with his enemies on so many fronts, clearly decided he should get out in front on this one and put on his own show of outrage.

If some beleaguered IRS bureaucrats have their careers ruined, chalk it up to collateral damage in Washington’s permanent partisan war.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-firing-irs-boss-20130515,0,7874643.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-firing-irs-boss-20130515,0,7874643.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 22, 2013, 11:23:53 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

IRS tea party targeting “scandal” does not live up to the name

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Tuesday, May 21, 2013


NOW THAT more extensive, dispassionate reporting has been done about the "scandal” at the IRS, it is abundantly obvious that what is being called “targeting” of tea party organizations and other conservative groups was the result of bureaucratic confusion, not political conspiracy.

The facts, of course, will not get in the way of this latest Republican jihad against the Obama administration. Republicans will continue to pump up the illusion of scandal for weeks to come and, just as some folks on the right remain convinced that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, those same people will take to their graves the conviction that he and his minions at the IRS plotted to impede the liberties of tea party activists.

It is actually a bit comical that conservatives who decry the size of the American government have not figured out just how many layers of bureaucracy stand between the president and a lowly backwater outpost of the Internal Revenue Service. And conservative anti-tax crusaders surely should be able to appreciate that even IRS agents have trouble deciphering the nearly 4 million words in the U.S. tax code.

In a comprehensive New York Times story (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/us/politics/at-irs-unprepared-office-seemed-unclear-about-the-rules.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) about the now-notorious Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS based in Cincinnati, a former IRS lawyer, Philip Hackney, succinctly described the mundane reality. “We’re talking about an office overwhelmed by 60,000 paper applications trying to find efficient means of dealing with that,” Hackney said. “There were times when they came up with shortcuts that were efficient but didn’t take into consideration the public perception.”

The shortcut they used in trying to identify groups whose political activities might bar them from getting a tax break was to employ keywords like “tea party” and “patriot” in data searches. As a result, numerous conservative groups got snared for extra scrutiny. But they were not alone. More than 400 organizations of various types got special attention, including two dozen or more liberal groups.

That is not so much a case of targeting as it is an example of casting a wide net to scoop up a variety of politically oriented associations. And it definitely falls far short of a serious scandal. Watergate, this is not. Nor does it have any of the prurient appeal of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. In the end, no one is going to care that a few tax bureaucrats buried by an avalanche of paperwork found a clumsy way to try to dig themselves out.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-irs-tea-party-20130520,0,3479148.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-irs-tea-party-20130520,0,3479148.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 11, 2013, 09:26:21 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

F-35 fighter jet conducts first in-flight missile launch near L.A.

By W. J. HENNIGAN | 6:04PM - Monday, June 10, 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EnttHIgx8s (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EnttHIgx8s)

A F-35 FIGHTER JET launched a missile in mid-flight from its internal weapons bay for the first time in a test flight for the Air Force.

The missile firing took place last week about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles at the Navy’s Point Mugu Sea Test Range after the plane took off from Edwards Air Force Base.  It is a milestone that paves the way for targeted launches later this year.

On Monday, aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. released a video in which the F-35 ejects an AIM-120 missile that briefly falls before firing its rocket motor and bursting into flight.

"It's a testament to the entire military-industry test team,” said the pilot, Lieutenant Colonel George "Boxer" Schwartz. “They've worked thousands and thousands of hours to get to this point — to where we are today."

Indeed. The F-35 is a nearly $400-billion weapons program under development for more than a decade.

There are three versions of the F-35 being developed for the Pentagon.

Called the Joint Strike Fighter program, it is centered around a plan to develop one basic fighter plane that could — with a few tweaks — be used on runways and aircraft carriers, and hover like a helicopter for joint use by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

If the plane is successful, it will be the first time that a fighter jet will have supersonic speed, radar-evading stealth and short takeoff/vertical landing capabilities.

The Pentagon's long-term vision is to replace today's aging fighter fleets with 2,457 F-35s.

The Marine version is expected to be the first of the three versions to go into service. It’s scheduled to be delivered in 2015. The Air Force would be second to get operational F-35s when its version goes into service in 2016.

The Air Force’s plane is designed to carry a payload of up to 18,000 pounds using 10 weapon stations. It features four internal weapon stations in two weapon bays to maximize stealth capability.

The F-35 program is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule. The per-plane cost estimates have gone from $81 million in 2001 to $161 million today, according to the Government Accountability Office.

But Lockheed has promoted the fact that the F-35 provides 127,000 direct and indirect jobs in 47 states and Puerto Rico. The company expects to pump an estimated $6 billion into California's economy and create 27,000 jobs.

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-lockheed-f-35-fires-missile-20130610,0,1760150.story (http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-lockheed-f-35-fires-missile-20130610,0,1760150.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 12, 2013, 04:20:50 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Obama presidency, born in hope, is boxed in by unrelenting GOP

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Tuesday, June 11, 2013


AT DINNER a couple of days ago, my friend Janey Ireson said how disappointed she is that Barack Obama has been hemmed in by congressional Republicans and blocked from fulfilling the high expectations of those who supported his rise to the presidency. The next day at lunch, another friend, Colin Gray, expressed precisely the same sentiment.

One would expect to find such feelings of frustration among the half of Americans who cast ballots for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but Janey and Colin are not U.S. voters. They are members of a large group of people that could not vote for Obama, yet they had lofty hopes for what his election might bring. They are Europeans.

Janey and Colin are among several good friends I have visited in the English countryside this week. Pretty much uniformly, my British friends are wondering whether the American system of checks and balances has gone too far. How is it possible, they wonder, that the man who holds the most powerful position on the planet can be rendered so impotent?

The God, guns and go-to-war style of Americanism embodied by President George W. Bush repulsed most Europeans. To them, the election of the first African American president appeared to be a thrilling, historic break with the past that promised a new, more ideologically supple brand of American leadership. Such giddy expectations are what led the august Nobel Peace Prize committee to bestow their award on Obama before he’d done much of anything to earn it.

As it has turned out, the only area in which Obama has had the opportunity to exercise largely unfettered power has been foreign affairs. The Iraq war has been shut down and the military adventure in Afghanistan is being brought to a conclusion, but in the broader war on terrorism, Obama has proved to be a veritable Rambo, authorizing drone strikes at a rate far beyond the comparatively measured level of the Bush administration. The Nobel folks must be cringing.

In all else, Obama has been stymied. Despite his solid victories in two elections, Republicans have never ceased treating him as if he were an illegitimate usurper. On issue after issue, a majority of Americans supports his policies, but GOP leaders, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John A. Boehner, have refused to acknowledge that Obama has most people on his side. And, of course, the shrieking partisans of the right — from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin — have tirelessly promulgated the delusion that Obama’s ideology is an odious pastiche of Cuban socialism, African radicalism and Muslim-coddling anti-Americanism.

Obama has not been able to put together a consistently effective strategy to break out of the box Republicans have put him in. On the campaign trail, Obama showed himself to be to be a prodigy, a superb orator and an innovative tactician. But, in governing, his lack of experience has cost him. When it comes to driving legislation through the minefields of congressional politics, he remains clumsy. Then again, even Lyndon Johnson would have struggled to overcome the kind of unrelenting, uncompromising opposition Obama has encountered on every front.

As a man who hoped to achieve big things, Obama must be hugely frustrated. It may give him small solace to know that his frustration is shared, not just by progressives in America, but by millions on the other side of the Atlantic who have longed for an enlightened American president to be the champion of their aspirations as well.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-obama-presidency-boxed-in-20130610,0,1538028.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-obama-presidency-boxed-in-20130610,0,1538028.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 28, 2013, 06:58:17 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Supreme Court dumps Prop. 8 and DOMA; gay rainbow grows bright

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Thursday, June 27, 2013


NEVER has the power of an idea whose time has come been demonstrated more dramatically than in America’s rapid shift toward approval of same-sex marriage. The trickle turned to a steady stream and now, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to open the way to gay marriage in California and strike down key provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, it has become a flood.

Once regarded as an abomination that would never find acceptance, marital unions of a man with a man and a woman with a woman are being normalized in state after state. Even more powerful, the force of law is now heavily weighted against traditionalists who, only a few years ago, were comfortably in the mainstream of public opinion. They must be reeling from the speed with which they have been bumped to the margins.

When it came down to it, ancient religious teachings could not trump personal experience and common sense. The simple fact that so many gays and lesbians are longing to marry and live conventional lives pretty much like the rest of us worked against the contention that homosexuals are a bunch of hedonistic perverts who are out to destroy marriage and recruit kids to their lifestyle.

Now, the Supreme Court has ratified the view that marriage is a civil institution that can be made available to all citizens, no matter what their sexual preference may be. The justices did not go so far as to legalize same-sex marriage in every state, but the majority in the DOMA case did say that all marriages are equal under the law and, if a state chooses to expand the definition of marriage, the federal government cannot discriminate between married couples.

The court also tossed out an appeal of a lower court ruling that said California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, was unconstitutional. Prop. 8 backers claim that they still have some legal maneuvers left to try, but there seems little doubt that, within about a month, the nation’s largest state will join 12 other states, the District of Columbia and five Indian tribes that have already legalized same-sex marriages.

It may be a generation before states such as Alabama, Kansas and Utah join the club (actually, Utah may take several generations), but the Supreme Court’s ruling is a watershed. On this issue, America has made an abrupt turn and will not be turning back.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-supreme-court-prop-8-20130627,0,4719511.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-supreme-court-prop-8-20130627,0,4719511.story)

Click on the links to read the news stories at the Los Angeles Times....

Gay Marriage (http://www.latimes.com/search/dispatcher.front?Query=Gay+Marriage&target=adv_all)

Same-Sex Marriage (http://www.latimes.com/search/dispatcher.front?Query=Same-Sex+Marriage&btnSubmit=&target=adv_all)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 29, 2013, 03:59:42 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Supreme Court ignores new voting rights discrimination

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Friday, June 28, 2013


BY gutting the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Supreme Court got some of the facts right, but failed to recognize the reality of continuing discrimination against African American voters.

What the court got inarguably correct was that times have changed since the signature act of the civil rights era was passed in 1965. In the Southern states and the other jurisdictions whose voting practices were put under authority of the federal government, black Americans are no longer blatantly barred from exercising their constitutional right to cast a ballot to choose their leaders. In fact, blacks are holding more elected offices and voting in greater numbers than ever.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the conservative majority on the court reasoned that because the situation had changed so dramatically, there was no longer a justifiable need for the U.S. Justice Department to hold veto power over the way local and state officials in the affected jurisdictions set their rules for voting. To do so would be to discriminate against those states and localities.

What the court majority failed to recognize, or simply ignored, was what the court’s minority of liberals pointed out: There is discrimination at work, but it is not the state and local officials who are the victims of that discrimination; it is still minority voters.

It is a different type of discrimination, and it may be popping up in different places. Before 1965, black voters were kept from voting in many areas of the South and elsewhere simply because of the color of their skin — racism in its purest form. What is happening today is that black voters are having their influence on elections suppressed, not strictly because they are black, but because of the way black people vote: They are overwhelmingly Democrats.

As became evident during the 2012 election campaign, Republican officials in numerous states — not just in the South, but in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania as well — tried to employ various means to discourage blacks and Latinos from voting. New identification requirements were instituted, voting hours and days were curtailed and polling places in minority communities were hard to find, fewer in number and inadequately staffed.

A signature scene of the election was the picture of long lines stretching away from polls in black communities where voters had to wait hour after hour for their chance to vote. Such shamefully long lines were not in evidence in white neighborhoods — not because fewer white people were voting, but because whites were provided more places to vote.

Prior to all of that in states such as Texas, Republican legislatures passed redistricting plans with lines drawn to limit the influence of black and Latino voters and ensure a system that favors white Republican candidates.

All of this may not be pure racism, but it is certainly politically motivated discrimination. Thanks to the court decision, the federal government has lost one big weapon to fight such discrimination. And thanks to the way certain states and localities have manipulated voting rules and district lines, we have a U.S. House controlled by Republicans who have a vested interest in making sure no new voting rights measure ever becomes law.

Related news story:

 • Supreme Court kills Voting Rights Act federal oversight provision (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-court-voting-rights-20130626,0,847454,full.story)

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-new-voting-rights-discrimination-20130628,0,5106638.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-new-voting-rights-discrimination-20130628,0,5106638.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 01, 2013, 04:46:47 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

In San Francisco, a weekend of gay weddings at City Hall

Afraid the same-sex marriage window will shut again, gay couples line up
at City Hall, which on Saturday was staffed entirely by volunteer workers.

By MARIA L. LA GANGA, CHRIS MEGERIAN and JOSEPH SERNA | 9:10PM - Saturday, June 29, 2013

Army Sergeant Michael Potoczniak, left, and his partner, Todd Saunders, exchange rings during their marriage ceremony
at San Francisco City Hall on Saturday. — Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

SAN FRANCISCO — They piled into their white Prius in Los Alamitos at midnight and arrived at City Hall here not long after sunrise Saturday with one simple goal in mind: A marriage license. Right now.

Sandy Palmer and Mary Dang knew they couldn't get the crucial piece of paper over the weekend in Orange County, where they have lived together for 10 years. And they worried that the right to marry granted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday afternoon could be taken away again Monday morning.

Such a matrimonial bait and switch had happened to gay and lesbian couples before — not once, but twice. Hence the sleepless night, the moonlit sprint up Interstate 5, the 90-minute wait on the steps of City Hall as early morning traffic rushed by and the line for licenses swelled.

"We had a wedding in 2010," said Palmer, 33, a pirate-themed affair with swords and hats, friends and family. "It was amazing, but the legal piece was missing. I wanted to make this a part of my personal history, to grab the moment, be part of something special — not just for me, but for the country."

That combination of joy and tension radiated throughout the beaux-arts building all day Saturday, as couples from throughout the state converged on what was believed to be the only government office in California issuing marriage licenses. By the time the ornate doors swung open at 9:10 a.m., a line of more than 100 people snaked along the building's north side.

And on its south side? That's where a miniature tent city for the San Francisco Pride Celebration & Parade opened for business Saturday afternoon. The two-day fete usually draws a million people; organizers expect the crowd to swell by 20% because of last week's court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage in California and striking provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

For some couples, Saturday in San Francisco offered a chance to make up for lost opportunities, for not having wed during the brief windows in 2004, when more than 4,000 same-sex marriages were performed in San Francisco, and in 2008, when such unions were legal statewide before Proposition 8 was passed.

For others, such as Greg Van Dyke and Andrew Zack, lining up for a marriage license "was completely serendipitous." Saturday was Van Dyke's 43rd birthday, and the Los Angeles couple had bought plane tickets weeks earlier so they could celebrate his big day here.

The dermatologist and the Hollywood agent have been together for a year. They have a house in Mid-City. They have a wedding planned for Santa Barbara on Thanksgiving weekend. Zack's cousin, a rabbi, is flying in from London to do the honors. A surrogate is pregnant with their son, due in January.

But "we got in late last night," Van Dyke said, "had dinner, got up this morning, walked over to City Hall to see it."

And ended up in line for a marriage license.

In the first hour of business Saturday morning alone, San Francisco officials issued about 100 marriage licenses. All told, 246 were granted and 188 couples were married on the first full day of legal, post-Proposition 8 marriage.

The process was summed up nicely by a small sign outside the county clerk's office: "License = $99. Ceremony = $75. Both = $174. Equality = Priceless."

Everyone working at City Hall — which will be open again Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — was a volunteer, from the cashiers taking the license payments to the greeters keeping the process running smoothly and the marriage commissioners in their long black robes intoning, "By virtue of the authority vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you spouses for life."

The grand rotunda with its sweeping marble staircase rang with cheers, "I do's" and the sounds of decisions made on the fly: Are the witnesses here? Shall we do the ceremony by the steps? Do you have a ring? Where did my family go?

Wedding photographers Danielle Fernandez, 33, and Janeen Singer, 32, had planned to celebrate Pride weekend together in Dolores Park, home of Saturday's Dyke March, with a bottle of champagne.

Instead, they headed to City Hall in matching black shirts emblazoned with "lesbian and wedding photographer." Rates started at a discounted $40. Until Friday, Fernandez said, their job has been "pretty hetero."

But not anymore. "There's something about the energy around today," Fernandez said. "It's validation…. People are glowing. It makes for good photographs."

When Tom Rothgiesser and George Lucas (no, not that one) arrived at the Civic Center to cap off half a century of togetherness, they did not need a marriage commissioner to officiate.

The 79-year-olds brought their own Superior Court judge, a retired jurist with a pedigree. Judge James Warren is a longtime friend and the grandson of Earl Warren, the legendary U.S. Supreme Court justice who advanced civil rights nationwide.

Warren said his grandfather would have been thrilled.

"Equal protection under the law was the most important thing to him," he said. "He was rabidly in support of it."

Rothgiesser and Lucas met in South Africa, and when they came to the United States, marriage was never seen as a possibility. "The idea was preposterous," Rothgiesser said.

Years later, when gay couples were marrying in 2008, the men were traveling in New Zealand, where Lucas was born. By the time they made it back, Proposition 8 had passed, banning gay marriage.

With the law finally overturned after a lengthy court battle, they married each other in the center of City Hall's marbled atrium. Each held a bundle of white roses.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Tom and George have committed their lives together as husbands in the state of California," Warren said after the ring exchange. Then: "Tom and George, you're married."

The happy couple celebrated their nuptials with miniature cupcakes. Marriage, they said, probably won't change their relationship. But still, it was an emotional morning.

"It will probably hit us," Lucas said, "later."

Weddings never come off without a hitch, and Saturday's were no different.

ProjectMarriage, the sponsors of Proposition 8, filed an emergency petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop same-sex marriages from continuing in California. The filing occurred less than 24 hours after the marriages had resumed.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who started California's wedding saga in 2004 when he was mayor here, said Saturday afternoon that he was not concerned about the legal maneuver. People should not be surprised about such challenges, he said, as he posed for pictures with his daughter and a long line of newly married couples.

"This door in California is wide open," he said, "and it will remain open."

Les Leventhal and his wedding party weren't worried either. The 45-year-old had just married his partner of 14 years. The two San Francisco men are moving to Bali on Monday. Together. As spouses.

Legal maneuvers aside, "I think the train's already left the station," James Warren Boyd, a witness at the wedding, said of gay marriage. "Even if they manage to stop it again, it's not a matter of if, but when."

Related material & resources:

Photos: Supreme Court rules on Prop. 8 and DOMA (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-prop-8-doma-decision-pictures,0,320098.photogallery)

Photos: Prop. 8 dismissed: Celebrities react on Twitter (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/la-et-mog-prop-8-doma-celebrities-react-twitter-20130626,0,5989654.photogallery)

Highlights: Prop 8 ruling (http://timelines.latimes.com/highlights-prop-8-decision)

Graphic: Gay marriage in the U.S. (http://graphics.latimes.com/usmap-gay-marriage-chronology)

Full coverage: The battle over gay marriage (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/prop-8)

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0630-gay-marriage-20130630,0,4536905,full.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0630-gay-marriage-20130630,0,4536905,full.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 07, 2013, 07:38:27 pm

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix/latimes_2013jul07fl_zps79da6850.jpg) (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0707-quarter-financial-roadmap-20130707,0,4996854,full.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 09, 2013, 10:50:12 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG0WePdZoxg (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG0WePdZoxg)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 13, 2013, 03:45:57 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Obesity and exercise rates are both up: It's a matter of math

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Friday, July 12, 2013


HERE IS the so-called mystery: Americans are exercising more, but the national obesity rate keeps rising. How can that be?

The answer is pretty obvious. As my personal trainer (the only person standing between me and a gut hanging over my belt) has told me many times, “It’s all math — the number of calories burned and the number of calories consumed.”

According to data just published in the online journal Population Health Metrics, during the last 10 years Americans have gotten more active in two-thirds of the nation’s counties. They have also gotten fatter.

To take California as an example, the percentage of women in the state who get sufficient weekly exercise rose over the decade from 50.7% to 59.2%. For California men, the positive change was from 59.4% to 61.3%. Yet, at the same time, obesity rates rose in every California county.

Here’s the math. A person can walk an extra mile every day. In a week, that will burn up 900 extra calories. If that person has just one meal consisting of a Big Mac, fries and a Coke, he or she will consume 920 calories. One lunch negates all the extra miles.

The reality is, a person can exercise for hours every day, but calories are not easy to burn. What’s easy is consuming them. It’s not just visiting much-maligned McDonald’s that can get a person in trouble, it’s our entire processed-food industry. Widespread obesity is a problem unique to our current era and will not disappear until we can shift away from convenient processed and packaged food and get closer to the way our grandparents and great-grandparents ate.

Walking, running, lifting weights, riding a bike, swimming — all forms of exercise are good for your health. But eating a leaner diet is the only way to drop the pounds. It’s a simple truth that is tough to accept — take it from me, the guy who detoured to get a couple of Winchell’s doughnuts this morning on my way to the newsroom.

Please, don’t tell my trainer.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-obesity-and-exercise-20130711,0,590791.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-obesity-and-exercise-20130711,0,590791.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 20, 2013, 08:52:50 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

President Obama speaks personally on Trayvon Martin and race

On the eve of more protests over the George Zimmerman verdict, Obama discusses
black skepticism of the legal system and his own experience with prejudice.

By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY and CHRISTI PARSONS | 6:33PM - Friday, July 19, 2013

In an extraordinary soliloquy at the White House briefing room, President Obama spoke about race and the George Zimmerman
verdict: “Trayvon Martin could've been me, 35 years ago.” — Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

WASHINGTON — In an extraordinary 19-minute soliloquy, President Obama on Friday spoke bluntly and emotionally about his personal experiences with prejudice, the roots of African American skepticism toward the legal system and his optimism about the future of a nation still fractured along racial lines.

The comments, in a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room, were Obama's most extensive and personal on race since his election almost five years ago. Obama spoke on the eve of planned national protests over the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African American teenager, in 2012.

The president's remarks followed several days of internal White House discussions about how the first black president should respond to the Florida jury's decision in the Zimmerman case. The White House released a statement by Obama a day after the verdict, but the president himself had not commented until Friday.

"When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. And another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," Obama said. "When you think about why, in the African American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away.

"There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me," Obama continued. "There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often."

Obama's comments marked a rare moment for him. He has only occasionally addressed racial issues since a speech in 2008, in which he talked memorably about racism within his own family at a time when his presidential campaign faced controversy over his relationship with the outspoken black pastor Jeremiah Wright.

But since his re-election last year, the president has shown a new willingness to talk about the subject, although mostly to overseas audiences. In speeches in Myanmar, Germany and Northern Ireland, Obama has spoken of the U.S. history of slavery and bigotry, and cited himself as the once-unlikely evidence of one nation's progress.

A few weeks ago, on his first major tour of Africa as president, he noted that racial prejudice in South Africa had spurred his political activism as a 19-year-old. "As the son of an African father and a white American mother, the diversity of America was in my blood, but I had never cared much for politics" until getting involved in the fight against apartheid, Obama said at a speech at the University of Cape Town.

In Friday's comments, Obama said little about Zimmerman, but said the trial had been conducted "in a professional manner."

"The jurors were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works," he said.

Obama's remarks were greeted warmly by Martin's parents.

"We know our family has become a conduit for people to talk about race in America and to try and talk about the difficult issues that we need to bring into the light in order to become a better people," Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin said in a statement. "What touches people is that our son, Trayvon Benjamin Martin, could have been their son. President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him. This is a beautiful tribute to our boy."

The White House would not say whether Obama had called Martin's family, and Obama ignored the question shouted at him as he left the briefing room.

Instead of dwelling on the acquittal, Obama focused on reaching out to young black men.

He said the White House was looking at several ways to respond to the Zimmerman case, including measures to address racial profiling by law enforcement, initiatives aimed at supporting youth and a review of "stand your ground" self-defense laws.

The president didn't say explicitly that he found such state laws improper, but he suggested they are ripe for racial bias and problematic in practice.

"I'd just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?" Obama asked. "And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws."

The president's comments struck some as showing the sort of candor he has avoided, either out of political concerns or privacy. "What you're seeing is Barack Obama, the guy. At some point every president is a human being," said Rep. Keith Ellison (Democrat-Minnesota). "Today he was himself."

The president discusses race in optimistic terms with staff and friends, according to Jon Favreau, the former speechwriter who helped Obama write his pivotal race speech in 2008. "For all the injustice and challenges that still exist, he's always believed that we should take heart at the tremendous progress we've made," Favreau said.

Protests sparked by the Zimmerman verdict are planned in at least 100 cities this weekend, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and New York, where members of the Martin family will join the Rev. Al Sharpton. Sharpton, other black leaders and liberal activists had urged Obama to weigh in.

"African Americans are not only angry about the decision, they're angry about the context which produced it," said Eddie S. Glaude Jr., chairman of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. "Obama's silence could have easily folded into that."

Although the White House had issued a written statement on the verdict, aides said Obama recognized the need to speak out. Earlier this week he told his advisors that something more needed to be said, according to one aide, and that "he was in the best position to say it."

Aides said they were expecting Obama to address the matter in an interview or a news conference. But the president passed up the chance to discuss the subject when a reporter asked him about it Tuesday. He waited instead until he could speak about it in the briefing room, where he did so at unusual length.

"This speech was a step forward, a moment of identification with the African American community," said Glaude. "He's saying to America, ‘Hey, I'm a black man’. But he didn't linger there. … He's always careful not to trigger suspicions that he really favors African Americans, in a way that will disadvantage white Americans."

Obama's impulse to walk gingerly around race has at times angered African American leaders. Some argue the president too often talks tough to black audiences. At a speech at Morehouse College in May, he told new graduates at the historically black college that now was "no time for excuses."

The president has botched other attempts to speak plainly about being black in America.

In 2009, Obama made an off-the-cuff comment about the treatment of a prominent black professor at Harvard University, who had been arrested for disorderly conduct after police mistakenly questioned him about breaking into his own home. Obama said that he, too, would have been stopped by police in that situation.

Law enforcement officials responded angrily, and Obama tried to smooth over the situation by hosting a "beer summit" between the white police officer and the black professor at the White House.

After that, he confined his comments on the subject to carefully scripted addresses.

On Friday, the president declared, "Things are getting better," saying his daughters' generation gives him hope that race relations are continuing to improve.

"It doesn't mean we're in a post-racial society. It doesn't mean that racism is eliminated," Obama said. "But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends, and I see them interact, they're better than we are — they're better than we were — on these issues."

L.A. Times staff writers Devin Kelly in Los Angeles and Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-obama-race-20130720,0,1229229,full.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-obama-race-20130720,0,1229229,full.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 24, 2013, 09:23:26 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer ask voters to forgive their sins

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Monday, July 22, 2013


ANTHONY WEINER, the former New York City congressman, and Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York, wrecked their political careers in spectacularly seamy ways, but, in the Big Apple, there is always the chance for a second act.

Weiner famously got carried away amid cyber-flirtations with women other than his wife and tweeted a photo of his bulging underwear. When the tumescent tweet went public, he tried to evade responsibility with a clumsy lie. Spitzer, the supposedly straight-arrow ex-prosecutor, got caught spending a lot of time and a big wad of money on a dark-haired young call girl.

The two hugely ambitious Democrats were cast into the wilderness of political has-beens, but they are refusing to stay there. Currently, they are mounting comebacks; Weiner has a decent shot at becoming mayor of New York City, while Spitzer is comfortably ahead in the race to become city comptroller.

Not every New York Democrat is ready to absolve the two shamed men. The New York Post has identified numerous Democratic city officials — mostly backers of Spitzer’s opponent — who insist the ex-governor should drop out of the race and pay back the tax money he spent on a 2008 trip to Washington, D.C., where he hooked up with call girl Ashley Dupré.

Nevertheless, a majority of Democrats responding to a new Quinnipiac poll say Spitzer deserves a second chance. His hypocritical romp with a prostitute does not seem to be holding him back.

Meanwhile, Weiner has been able to raise nearly $900,000 for his campaign. Interestingly, Weiner’s chief fundraiser is his wife, Huma Abedin. Apparently, she has forgiven his sexting. The question is whether voters will be as forgiving, especially about his brazen lying.

One poll shows Democrats with an unfavorable view of Weiner outnumber those who like him. Most recent polls also indicate his reported surge to the front in the race for the Democratic nomination may be illusory. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn now appears to be edging him for the lead.

On Saturday, Quinn said having both Weiner and Spitzer on the ballot was bringing a “Kardashian-like” atmosphere to politics in the nation’s biggest city. One assumes, she meant that as a negative. Still, as the Kardashians have proven in the entertainment world, a little titillation and trashiness can be a winning combination.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-weiner-and-spitzer-20130722,0,2276468.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-weiner-and-spitzer-20130722,0,2276468.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 27, 2013, 01:01:33 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

Anthony Weiner should have told a joke before he became a joke

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Thursday, July 25, 2013


IF Anthony Weiner had been clever enough to use self-deprecating humor when his private sexting first became public, he might still be in Congress or have a better chance of becoming mayor of New York City. Instead, he’s become the joke.

In 2004, I was in New York to cover the GOP convention that re-nominated President George Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney for a second term. One evening during the convention week, a friend invited me to a comedy club where an up-and-coming Democratic congressman was going to do a standup routine. The congressman was Anthony Weiner and he actually was pretty funny.

Obviously, Weiner knows how effective humor can be. He is a friend of The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, after all. What would have happened in 2011 when his sexting activities came to light if, instead of trying to deny it and spin an elaborate lie, he had made himself the butt of jokes? “What do you expect from a guy named Weiner?” he could have asked. “I was just trying to keep up with the cool kids with all this social media and I got way too social.”

Of course he would have had to be serious about taking responsibility and making amends with his wife. He could have flown to Los Angeles to enroll in a sex therapy program with a few Hollywood stars. But allowing himself to lampoon the absurdity and stupidity of his own actions would have been a smart move too.

Would he have been able to hang on to his seat in Congress? It just might have worked. After all, his philandering was all digital. Bill Clinton did the real thing and he survived impeachment and remains the most popular politician in America. Mark Sanford was able to finish his term as governor of South Carolina, even after admitting his affair with an Argentine hottie. His wife dumped him, but South Carolina voters just elected him to Congress.

The revelation that a politician has been looking for love in all the wrong places is no longer a guaranteed career killer. When Louisiana voters found out their U.S. senator, David Vitter, had been hiring prostitutes, they did not much care and re-elected the guy. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer had to leave office when his own prostitution scandal broke, but now he’s back with a very good chance of becoming New York City’s next comptroller.

Yes, a joke instead of a lie would have helped Weiner back then — but probably not now that we have found out he continued to engage in sexting after he quit Congress and after both he and his wife had gone very public with the story that all that kind of stuff was in the past. It turns out the photos he sent of his private parts got even more explicit, the sexting evolved to phone sex and he adopted the online moniker “Carlos Danger”. (Actually, picking that alias does prove he has a sense of humor.)

The New York Times editorial board and a string of Democratic politicians are now insisting that Weiner drop out of the race for mayor, but nothing he did was against the law and, if hypocrites like David Vitter still have their jobs, why should Weiner have to quit just because he is an embarrassment to the city?

Let the voters decide his fate. The best thing would be for Weiner to be rejected by New Yorkers; not because of his sexting addiction, but because he has proven himself to be a hyper-ambitious, narcissistic, mendacious weasel. The people need a chance to tell him to find another career. The comedy clubs await.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-anthony-weiner-joke-20130724,0,2224621.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-anthony-weiner-joke-20130724,0,2224621.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 31, 2013, 02:08:36 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

House GOP and Obama are as far apart as Earth and Saturn

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Tuesday, July 31, 2013


FROM SATURN, nearly 900 million miles away, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has sent back images of Earth that show our planet as a tiny glowing dot in the dark expanse of space. That vast separation should inspire awe, but, instead, it brings up thoughts of the gaping distance between President Obama and the Republicans who control the House of Representatives.

They do not seem to be on the same planet. While the White House forges ahead with implementation of the national healthcare plan, the House Republicans hold frequent votes to repeal the whole scheme. As the president tours the country touting his economic recovery proposals,  House Speaker John A. Boehner declares Obama is offering nothing new and, even if it is new, it isn’t going anywhere. Obama says toe-may-toe, the Republicans say toe-mah-toe.

The view from space gives a false sense of lonely unity. Here in close-up, mankind roils with division. And in the governing class of our world’s oldest and greatest democracy, the opposing sides might as well hail from different ends of the galaxy.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-earth-and-saturn-20130729,0,2968635.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-earth-and-saturn-20130729,0,2968635.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 02, 2013, 11:43:23 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Anthony Weiner's sins pale beside prostitution of Congress

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Thursday, August 01, 2013


ALL BUT a few macho holdouts among the let-men-be-men faction agree that Anthony Weiner is not worthy of becoming mayor of America’s biggest city, but there is a perennial threat to our democracy that is far larger than the turgid tweets of the former congressman from New York. That threat is the ongoing whoredom of members of Congress who remain in office.

It is no secret that our senators and representatives expend a significant amount of time and effort every week of the year soliciting campaign donations from lobbyists for corporations and other special interest groups and from fat cat donors who have interests of their own. Most who take the cash will insist that they are not selling their votes and, in most cases, that may be technically correct. The reality, though, is that all that money drives the congressional agenda and buys an open door into the rooms where legislation is crafted. The votes automatically follow.

Certainly, there are a few men and women in Washington whose motives and philosophy are so pure that money does not sway them, but, too often, the money shapes the philosophy and justifies the motives. A case in point is the issue of gun rights.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat-California) has said that everyone inside the Beltway “lives in terror of the gun lobby.” After the string of horrific shootings that crippled a member of Congress and brought slaughter to a movie theater in Colorado and a primary school in Connecticut, many thought the federal government would, at last, act to place limits on the availability of high capacity ammo clips and assault rifles. Of course, that did not happen.

Was opposition to any type of firearms control (a) inspired by a sincere, deep-seated belief in an absolutist interpretation of the 2nd Amendment or (b) were Republican representatives and senators simply worried that showing any sensibility or nuance on the issue would lose them funding from the National Rifle Association and lead to a primary challenge from a candidate even more in thrall to the gun lobby? If you picked (a), rest assured that the Tooth Fairy will be by tonight and there is a pot of gold waiting at the end of the next rainbow you see.

The gun issue is merely one area where special interest money drives the agenda. Pick any area of national concern — banking regulation, environmental protection, education, military funding — and know that the voice of the voters is a faint squeak compared with the roar of all that money talking.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-prostitution-of-congress-20130731,0,2621221.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-prostitution-of-congress-20130731,0,2621221.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 20, 2013, 02:00:10 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Upgrades aim to extend B-52 bombers' already long lives

Despite the plane's more than half-century of service, the Air Force
thinks modifications and overhauls have made the B-52 ageless.

By W. J. HENNIGAN | Monday, August 19, 2013

A B-52 bomber receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Indian Ocean. — Photo: Cherie A. Thurlby/U.S. Air Force.

FOR Air Force Captain Daniel "Swoop" Welch, flying a B-52 bomber has become the family business.

His father, retired Lieutenant Colonel Don Welch, was trained to drop nuclear bombs with the aircraft during the height of the Cold War. His grandfather, retired Colonel Don Sprague, flew B-52 combat missions in Vietnam.

"It is definitely a testament to the robust design of the B-52," said Welch, 28. "Getting to fly the same aircraft as my father and grandfather has been pretty cool."

Despite the bomber's more than half-century of service, the Air Force believes that modifications and overhauls have made the B-52 ageless. Now engineers and technicians are working on a contract worth up to $11.9 billion for an array of upgrades to bring the B-52 Stratofortress fleet into the 21st century.

The plane's computers are only as powerful as the original PCs in the early 1980s. Bombing mission information has to be uploaded before a flight. It can't be changed in the air — even if the target on the ground changes.

Now Boeing is expanding on the bombers' limited capabilities by providing an upgraded communications system so aircrews can send and receive information via satellite links. This enables the B-52's five-person crews to change mission plans, re-target weapons in flight and interact better with ground forces and other aircraft.

Nobody can say for sure how many of the government's 76 B-52s — down from 744 in the plane's heyday — will survive three more decades. The most recent variant of the plane, built between 1960 and 1962, has undergone more than 30 major modifications.

Although the revisions have maintained the plane's 185-foot wingspan and a length of nearly 160 feet, the guts of the B-52 have been continually revamped. For example, the World War II-era tail gunner position has been removed and new electronics have been installed, although some planes still have vacuum tubes.

Now the plane, which was designed on the back of a napkin over a weekend in 1948 by three Boeing employees, is getting modern digital display screens, computer network servers and real-time communication uplinks.

"It's like taking your grandmother's old rotary phone and giving her the latest greatest smartphone," said Colonel John Johnson, chief of the Air Force Global Strike Command's bomber requirements division.

Boeing Company’s B-52 bomber plane, which first flew in 1952, is still flying missions for the Air Force. There are 76 B-52s in the U.S. arsenal
 – down from 744 in the plane’s heyday – with plans for them to keep flying until 2040. Now engineers and technicians are working on a
contract worth up to $11.9 billion to bring the B-52 fleet into the 21st century. The most recent variant of the plane, built from
1960 to 1962, has undergone more than 30 major modifications. — Graphic: Boeing Company/U.S. Air Force.

The B-52 was developed during the Korean War. It carpet-bombed during the Vietnam War. It ran crucial missions in Kosovo and the Middle East, and military strategists aim to keep it flying until at least 2040. It's still a large, lumbering aircraft, but over the years, the fleet has gotten new engines and technology. Built to carry nuclear weapons, it now drops GPS-guided smart bombs and bunker-busting munitions.

No other warplane in U.S. military history has been operational as long as the B-52. Other sophisticated military aircraft have come and gone, but the relatively low-tech B-52 has remained in the U.S. arsenal. It represents nearly half of all bombers in the fleet.

While the Pentagon struggles to rein in spending and battle cost overruns on programs such as the nearly $400-billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter now in development, it must rely on proven war horses like the B-52.

Several bombers were developed to replace the B-52 in the last six decades, but not one matched its affordability and versatility. Many of the programs were canceled or cut short because of political pressures and budget concerns.

The B-52 has remained. With its iconic shape and vast power, the bomber has also found its way into pop culture as the name for a Kahlua-infused cocktail, a beehive hairdo for women in the 1960s and a New Wave rock band in the 1970s.

Although some military industry analysts say the B-52 fleet is so old that there are planes in danger of falling apart, the Air Force has poured billions of dollars into modernizing the fleet, and Boeing says the plane could fly well into its 100th year.

Military makeovers have become common. Boeing, like other military companies that were once focused on churning out new aircraft, has found that researching and developing new advanced parts for aging planes to be a lucrative business. Hundreds of engineers across Southern California are working at places such as Northrop Grumman Corporation, Raytheon Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation on upgrades to aging warplanes.

Michael A. Miller, an analyst with the Congressional Research Service, wrote this year that a potential problem with sustaining a fleet of aging bombers is a shrinking inventory of parts and supplies that are no longer made, difficult to find or costly to remake.

"Without sufficient sustainment and modernization funding, many analysts argue the U.S. bomber fleet will quickly become a decrepit force ill-suited to the potential challenges posed by 21st century adversaries," he said. "A question to be answered is whether the defense industrial base will even be capable of meeting the sustainment requirements of America's legacy bomber force out to 2040."

Because of the wear and tear on the aircraft from the demands of military flight, made worse by 11 years of continuous combat in the Middle East, the aging airframe structures need reinforcement, engines need to be replaced, and computer and electronic components need upgrading, Miller said.

But with all the upgrades, the Pentagon and Boeing insist that the B-52 bombers are more capable than ever. It is the only bomber in U.S. arsenal capable of dropping conventional and nuclear weapons as well as deploying long-range cruise missiles.

The Air Force has 63 B-1 Lancer bombers, which are capable of supersonic and low-level flight, and 20 B-2 Spirits, a stealthy bat-winged bomber that became fully operational in late 2003.

On the drawing board is the Air Force's new proposal for a new "Long-Range Strike Bomber." But even if that program does move forward, flight-testing would not start until the mid-2020s, with initial operational capability near 2030.

Captain Brandon Fischer, a 30-year-old B-52 pilot stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, said that although a new bomber might be coming, the B-52 will still be flying high.

"It's remarkable to think that you're sitting in the same aircraft that was likely carrying nuclear bombs at some point during the Cold War," he said. "With all the improvements that are coming, it'll fly for another 30 years."

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ageless-b52-bomber-20130819,0,6642110.story (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ageless-b52-bomber-20130819,0,6642110.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 21, 2013, 02:24:56 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Border Patrol is becoming an occupying army in our borderlands

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Tuesday, August 20, 2013


THE SITUATION on the U.S. border with Mexico may be spinning out of control — not because of Mexicans trying to cross illegally, but because of the army of Border Patrol agents that is being amassed at the cost of billions of tax dollars.

According to journalist Todd Miller, author of “Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Homeland Security,” the U.S. spent $90 billion on border enforcement in the decade after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In 2012, the immigration and border enforcement budget was $18 billion. The immigration bill now being debated in Congress would spend an additional $40 billion and would raise the number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000. That is 10 times the number of agents in service in the early 1990s.

The rush to beef up security after 9/11 was driven by the new fear that terrorists would creep into the country and by the longtime concern about thousands of undocumented immigrants sneaking up from Latin America. Arguably, the dramatically increased surveillance and interdiction has contributed to a sharp drop in illegal immigration and, so far, no terrorists have been discovered trying to cross from Mexico or Canada.

But the new, massive round of spending being proposed may have less to do with terrorists or Mexicans — those concerns seem to have been met — than with defense contractors who see America’s wars winding down. Border security is a new cash cow for them, and the more security they can sell, the more profit they will make, even if that security is unnecessary and redundant.

Effectively, both our southern and northern borders are already militarized. If even more manpower and equipment are added, we may have a lot of guys with guns without enough to keep them busy. Miller reports that, already, regular citizens in border areas are feeling as if they live in a war zone where random searches are increasingly common and border agents turn up on private property challenging the right of residents to be on their own land.

In 2008, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy was stopped at a checkpoint 125 miles from the Canadian border, ordered out of his car and asked to prove his citizenship. Leahy said he asked the federal agent who initiated the stop by what authority he was acting. According to the senator, the agent pointed to his gun and said, “That’s all the authority I need.”

This year, Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, added a provision to the immigration bill that would disallow checkpoint searches beyond a 25-mile distance from the border. “The wide latitude in current law for setting up checkpoints far from our borders has led to maximum hassles of law-abiding local residents, with minimal value to border enforcement,” Leahy said in a statement.

Leahy’s provision, by the way, only applies to the northern border. Law-abiding residents of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas will get no such relief — unless, of course, one of their senators gets pulled over for no good reason by any of the thousands of new Border Patrol agents looking for something to do.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-border-patrol-20130819,0,7279239.story (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-border-patrol-20130819,0,7279239.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 31, 2013, 03:22:15 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

States have colorful personalities — red, blue and Western green

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Wednesday, October 29, 2013


AFTER A 13-year study involving more than 1 million Americans, a multinational team claims to have identified the dominant personalities in each of 48 states. Apparently, every one of us can now assess whether we belong in a state such as Pennsylvania, filled with “temperamental and uninhibited” people, Nebraska, heartland of “friendly and conventional” folks, or California, land of the “relaxed and creative.”

Obviously, each of these three personalities can be found anywhere in the country, but it is not a novel idea to suggest that social norms differ from region to region. The differences have always been obvious. No one is going to confuse North Dakota with New Jersey or Alabama with Oregon.

Looking at a map of the United States in Time magazine that illustrates the study’s findings is especially interesting, thanks to the colors chosen to designate the state “personalities.” Friendly and conventional states are colored in shades of red and orange, with a deep red indicating the strongest influence of that personality type. Blue marks states with a temperamental and uninhibited personality. On first glance, this red/blue divide seems to parallel the way the electoral votes have split in the last several presidential elections — Republican Southern and Midwestern states red, the Democratic Northeast blue.

But a closer examination reveals significant variations. The Great Lakes states that went blue for President Obama — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan — are, nevertheless, reddish by personality. They are redder — more friendly and conventional — than even South Carolina. Iowa joins Nebraska as the deepest red, yet Iowa also voted for the president.

Texas, meanwhile, comes up a light blue on the map. The home state of Ted Cruz and Rick Perry has more in common with the temperamental, uninhibited style of Massachusetts than with the Midwestern conventionality of Kansas. But, really, this is not such a surprise. Boastful, independent Texas has always been singular; a state that is so big it borders on Southern, Midwestern and Western states.

The most interesting aspect of the study is the third personality type identified: “relaxed and creative.” States dominated by this style are colored shades of green on the Time map. On the East Coast, only Virginia and North Carolina fall into this category. There is no green in the Midwest. In the West, though, green floods the map. California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico are, apparently, heavily populated by relaxed and creative people.

Politically, the green lumps together the dependably Democratic West Coast with Idaho and Utah, two staunchly Republican bastions. Apparently, the political leanings of relaxed and creative people in these green states are determined by proximity to the Pacific Ocean or altitude or, most likely, by whether they live in a city with millions of other people or in a place with more cows than cars.

The study reinforces the idea that Americans are, more than ever, clustering with people of like minds. But it also suggests that there are significant variations in those clusters that rise above politics. Los Angeles and Manhattan may vote the same way, but an Angeleno might still prefer to hang with a laid-back dude from Salt Lake City. Those New Yorkers are just too intense, man. Let them go argue with the Texans.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-states-personalities-20131028,0,7202128.story (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-states-personalities-20131028,0,7202128.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 16, 2013, 09:50:26 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

The politics of Obamacare worsen for a contrite president

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Friday, November 15, 2013


IN THE long run, Obamacare is likely to be as popular and permanent as Medicare, but, in the short term, it is turning into the worst political crisis of Barack Obama’s presidency.

On Thursday, the contrite president announced that Americans whose healthcare insurance policies have been canceled due to requirements of the Affordable Care Act would have another year to keep those policies. This new guarantee is meant to make up for his ill-considered promise that no one would lose their old policies if they wanted to keep what they had.

The problem with Obama’s new promise, though, is that he cannot force insurers to restore policies they have already terminated. And rather than doing the president any favors, those insurers are attacking him for trying to change the rules in the middle of the game.

Obama has a mess on his hands and — judging by his almost daily apologies for the screwed-up launch of the national healthcare exchange website, as well as for his misstatements about the effect of the plan on several million people who buy their own policies — it is pretty clear he knows how deep the mess has become.

Instead of anyone offering to help him out, though, everyone is piling on.

His fellow Democrats in the House and Senate are panicked, fearing the bad feelings about Obamacare will imperil their chances for reelection. Some are rushing to concoct a bill — any bill! — to do something — anything! — about healthcare. Their object is not to provide a fix, but to provide political cover. In the words of NBC’s chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd, Democratic senators and congressmen want to be able to demonstrate to their constituents that they “stood up to the president.”

It may seem strange that Democrats would prefer to run against Obama rather than put in extra effort to make the president’s healthcare plan work, but fear of losing a political career makes politicians do weird things.

Electoral considerations are also what drive the Republican response to Obama’s predicament. Any bad news for the president is good news for them. The last thing they would think of doing is anything constructive to improve America’s healthcare system if doing so would help the president they despise.

The media are running with the story, of course — not just the permanent opposition at Fox News, but most of the so-called mainstream media. Obamacare’s shaky start is the hot political crisis of the moment and can hardly be ignored. Still, as Rachel Maddow observed on MSNBC Thursday night, Romneycare — the Massachusetts healthcare scheme that provided the template for Obamacare — took a year to catch on and no one at the time thought of the early mis-steps as a huge scandal or proof that the plan would never get off the ground. Politicians in both parties worked to pull it together, and now 97% of the citizens of Massachusetts have healthcare coverage.

Don’t expect anything like that sensible approach with Obamacare. Healthcare is a political football, above all else, at the national level. Obama has blown several big plays and lost a lot of yardage. His own team is not providing much coverage and the other side is lined up, revved up and ready to sack him, steal the ball and put him out of the game.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-politics-of-obamacare-20131114,0,4457561.story (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-politics-of-obamacare-20131114,0,4457561.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 29, 2013, 01:42:18 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Seeds of our culture war were there at the first Thanksgiving

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Wednesday, November 27, 2013


THE PILGRIMS did not debate abortion and gay marriage and the right to die at the first Thanksgiving. Nor did they talk with the Native Americans at the table about private property, the environment or the rights of minorities.

But in the tension between the libertarian impulses that brought the Pilgrims to a new land and the strict religion they brought with them, and also in the wary welcome they received from their native hosts, lay the seeds of all the struggles that would rile the nation to come. We should give thanks that through the endless conflicts Americans have had with each other in nearly 400 years of history on this continent, we have miraculously kept on a course toward a more perfect union.

That’s worth remembering in our current polarized era. We will get through it, and we will be better for it.

Today’s Thanksgiving cartoon was first published in 1989, and it well illustrates how the spats between libertarians and social conservatives were as lively then as they are now. The cartoon appears in my fourth collection of cartoons, “The Fall of Man”, published in 1994. That book chronicled the end of the Cold War, the first Bush presidency and the rise of Bill Clinton. I have just published my eighth cartoon book. Titled Refuge of Scoundrels (http://david-horsey.com/content/refuge-scoundrels-classic-black-and-white-edition-bonus-cartoons), it follows our national journey from the inauguration of President Obama to October’s government shutdown. (You can check it out here (http://david-horsey.com).)

When looking through each one of my books, I am reminded how so many issues — abortion, taxes, big government, states' rights, deficit spending, war and peace, industrial pollution — seem never to be resolved. Yet, among all those cartoons there are also reminders that positive change does come. Soviet communism lies on the scrap heap of history. Gays and lesbians no longer hide in the shadows. Black children know even the White House is within reach of their ambitions. Each new generation of Americans moves farther from the narrow biases of their ancestors.

Thanksgiving is a good day to remember that sometimes, with enough struggle and debate, we finally get it right.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-first-thanksgiving-20131126,0,7534409.story (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-first-thanksgiving-20131126,0,7534409.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 11, 2013, 11:28:33 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

Economically myopic GOP resists raising the minimum wage

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, December 10, 2013

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix/latimes_2013dec10a_zps87fc9ce7.jpg~original) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-52a69c41/turbine/la-na-tt-minimum-wage-20131209)

IN A speech last week, President Obama declared that income inequality is the “defining challenge of our time.” Conservatives, however, seem to think talk about the gap between the super rich and everyone else is nothing more than the whining of society’s losers.

Obama said he would push for an increase in the federal minimum wage. Unfortunately, this will be yet another piece of legislation that has about as much chance getting passed in the Republican-controlled House as a bill to ban country music, gun shows and Sunday schools. Still, Obama said he would challenge the GOP to support his efforts to deal with the income gap or at least offer some ideas of their own.

“If Republicans have concrete plans that will actually reduce inequality, build the middle class, provide moral ladders of opportunity to the poor, let's hear them,” Obama said in his address at the Center for American Progress. “I want to know what they are.”

In answer, House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio tweeted the usual meaningless bromide: “He promotes more government instead of more freedom.” Such blather ignores the irony that a great many low-wage workers earn so little money that they are forced to depend on government aid, such as food stamps, to provide for their families. Apparently, the speaker and his fellow Republicans do not mind subsidizing multibillion-dollar corporations, such as McDonalds, by giving federal aid to the many workers who are not paid enough to support themselves.

Most of our political class — and not just Republicans — have not seriously confronted the new, stark fact of the American economy: The jobs that used to provide a good living wage to workers with no more than high school diplomas have nearly disappeared, yet we still have millions of people in that category. Quite a few rungs have been broken out of the ladder to success and no one is doing much to install new ones — certainly not our Congress, the most dysfunctional in American history, nor our “job creators,” the business owners who are hoarding cash and dumping more work on the employees they already have.

Republicans have an economic view that is myopically one-sided. They rightly recognize that a healthy private sector creates jobs. What they fail to acknowledge is that the private sector is not sustained by business owners alone. There would be no businesses without the workers whose labor enriches owners and investors.

For two decades, too large a share of business profits have been going to richly compensated chief executive officers and Wall Street while wages have stagnated. The fruits of capitalism need to be spread much more widely, as was the case in the 1950s and '60s when the American middle class was robust and thriving and so was the economy. The first small step in that direction is simple: Raise the minimum wage.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-minimum-wage-20131209,0,5145274.story (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-minimum-wage-20131209,0,5145274.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 31, 2013, 11:59:53 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

2014 offers little hope for a more productive Congress

By DAVID HORSEY | 6:00AM - Monday, December 30, 2013

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix/latimes_2013dec30a_zpsd38181fe.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-52c138b4/turbine/la-na-tt-2014-congress-20131230)

WHEN the calendar flips from an old year to a new one, we have a sense of being given a new start and new possibilities. Of course, the reality is that days and months and years are human constructs that merely mark the progress of the Earth around the sun. The world we live in on January 1st is pretty much the same as the world we experienced on December 31st. This is especially true when it comes to Congress.

Our senators and representatives left town for their Christmas break with plenty of unfinished business, and that business will be waiting for them when they return to work in a few days. Immigration reform, the farm bill, an extension of unemployment benefits and a long list of other bills languished on their desks in 2013, and 2014 is unlikely to bring a break in the political dysfunction that has prevented swift action on any of the challenges facing the country.

Soon, we will face another fight over raising the debt ceiling. There could be another budget showdown as well, because the spending plan agreed on in December has to be implemented by another vote in January. Tea party Republicans in the House will still be resisting compromise with a president they revile and will be giving headaches to the man with the job of keeping them in line, House Speaker John A. Boehner. In the Senate, even with recent revisions in the rules governing filibusters, it will still be a struggle to gather enough votes to get anything passed.

The slim hope for change lies with the congressional elections in November. The campaign will, itself, be an impediment to getting anything accomplished in the 113th Congress as the two parties jockey for advantage, but, if one party gains a mandate from voters, it would mean the 114th Congress could produce a coherent legislative agenda and get it enacted.

What are the chances of that happening? Not good, because the other thing that will not change in 2014 is the three-way split of American voters. About a quarter of us find our worldview reflected on "Duck Dynasty" and Fox News, another quarter are tuned in and turned on by Jon Stewart and MSNBC, and the remaining 50% are too busy, too lazy or too confused to pay attention to much of anything but the newest app on their cellphone.

That is not an electorate that is primed to give direction to a dilatory Congress, so 2015 and 2016 promise to bring more of the same.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-2014-congress-20131230,0,2674309.story (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-2014-congress-20131230,0,2674309.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 04, 2014, 03:22:46 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Theodore Roosevelt sets a high bar for slacker America

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Friday, January 03, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_2014jan03a_zps93873f3b.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-52c64dca/turbine/la-na-tt-theodore-roosevelt-20140102)

I WAS gifted a book for Christmas that has made me question the way I’ve used my time on this planet — Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism”.

It is not as if I have been a total washout; a couple of Pulitzers must count for something. Still, I have often felt like a lazy bum compared with two of my longtime friends, Jay Inslee and Tim Egan. After serving eight terms in Congress, Jay is now governor of Washington. Tim is a New York Times columnist and author of a string of successful books, including the National Book Award-winning “The Worst Hard Time”, “The Big Burn” and, most recently, “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher”.

Both Jay and Tim have always seemed to have endless energy and a disciplined work ethic that I only exhibit in short bursts. Combine them both, though, and their accomplishments would add up to only a fraction of what Theodore Roosevelt achieved in his busy lifetime. I am embarrassed to think where that leaves me.

T.R., as he liked to be called (not Teddy), was a severely near-sighted, asthmatic child who used his times of convalescence reading novels and history books, writing stories and essays and learning taxidermy and ornithology. He essentially willed himself into health with a years-long physical regimen that built the robust body of his adulthood.

After a distinguished college career at Harvard and Columbia Law School, he became a state legislator at the age of 24. When his mother and his first wife died on the same day, the young Roosevelt went west to North Dakota where he became a cowboy and rancher. Eventually returning to New York, he married his childhood sweetheart and restarted his political career.

Roosevelt became New York City police commissioner, then assistant secretary of the Navy. When the Spanish American War began, he organized a troop of cowboys into the Rough Riders and led them in a charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba.

After that, he was elected governor of New York and vice president. At age 42, Roosevelt became president of the United States, the youngest man to take charge of the White House and arguably its most successful peacetime occupant. He oversaw completion of the Panama Canal, created the national parks and championed the Progressive cause against the corrupt political machines and industrial monopolists whom he called the “malefactors of great wealth.”

Along the way, T.R. found the time to write 40 books and hundreds of magazine articles and book reviews. He rode horses, boxed, rowed, played tennis and polo and skinny-dipped in the Potomac. Oh, yeah, he also won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War.

We live in an age of great distraction. Everything from Facebook and email to video games and binge TV watching can give us the sense we have done something useful with our time when, in fact, we have merely wasted a lot of days we will never get back. Many young American men, the slacker generation, would benefit from adopting Roosevelt’s “strenuous life” as a model of manhood, but it is not just a boy problem. Most of us have a slacker inside. We could do worse than to strive for the energy, disciplined time management and moral core that made Roosevelt a man worthy of a place on Mount Rushmore.

We don’t all need to be exceptional achievers like our 26th president, but it would be good to frequently ask ourselves the question posed by poet Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Roosevelt did it all and with gusto.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-theodore-roosevelt-20140102,0,3199833.story (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-theodore-roosevelt-20140102,0,3199833.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on April 03, 2014, 12:16:49 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

FBI stung Senator Yee, but Sacramento's worse corruption is legal

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, April 01, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_2014apr01a_zps9c29fc76.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-533a67ae/turbine/la-na-tt-sacramentos-worse-corruption-20140331)

HERE'S A stimulating debate topic: Is the welfare of the Bear Republic more threatened by a few legislators who receive illegal bribes or by an entire breed of politicians who take legal campaign donations from unnamed billionaires with an ideological agenda?

That is a particularly pertinent question right now, given that two California state senators have recently been caught up in FBI stings. In February, Senator Ronald Calderon was hit with indictments on 24 felony counts, including accepting bribes totaling $100,000. Then, just days ago, Senator Leland Yee was charged with conspiring to illegally deal in firearms, wire fraud and public corruption (http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-yee-arrest-20140327,0,5960274,full.story).

Yee’s case is especially galling. In public, he was a vocal advocate of gun control legislation. In private, he is alleged to have offered to obtain automatic weapons and rocket launchers worth $2 million for a man Yee believed was a mobster (he was an undercover FBI agent, of course). If it’s true, Yee was selling his services at a bargain rate — just $70,000. With those ill-gotten gains, he hoped to pay off a campaign debt left over from his unsuccessful run for San Francisco mayor and to fund a prospective candidacy for secretary of state.

Obviously, politicians who take bribes reside far down the scale of moral rectitude from George Washington. These days, though, such old-style political crooks are an aberration. Much more common is the elected official who funds his campaigns the legal way: by taking gobs of money from people with hidden names and self-interested intentions.

Year after year, hundreds of billions of anonymous dollars flood into campaigns all across the country — presidential races, congressional contests, campaigns of would-be governors and state legislators and even state and local ballot measures. On contribution reports, the cash is invariably listed as a donation from a group with a benign, appealing name — Americans for Responsible Leadership, Americans for Job Security, the Center to Protect Patient Rights, Moms for Apple Pie and the Flag.

That last name I made up. The other three are real organizations that poured money into California to oppose Governor Jerry Brown’s measure to raise taxes and to support an initiative that would have made it tougher for labor unions to spend money on politics. In both cases, the big money lost, but voters still do not know for sure where the money came from. The best guess is that the three front organizations were funded by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists who have spread their fortune far and wide to back right-wing candidates and defeat unions, environmentalists, liberals and anyone else who might get in the way of their business interests.

The Kochs are now well known, but there are many more rich donors like them who have managed to stay in the shadows. Last month, the California Legislature was close to passing a bill that would have turned on a spotlight by requiring disclosure of all donor names. It failed by one vote in the state Senate, where it was supported by every Democrat and opposed by every Republican.

That political divide is hardly surprising, given that Republicans have benefited most from the dark money. Apparently, they would rather voters not know that those nice-sounding, “pro-liberty” nonprofits are really a front for absurdly rich businessmen who want to kill healthcare expansion, environmental protection, fair-wage campaigns and workers’ rights.

A San Francisco hoodlum nicknamed “Shrimp Boy” is accused of leading Senator Yee astray, but the corruption wrought by Shrimp Boy is nothing compared with the damage being done to the American political system by the unseen leviathans of great wealth swimming in the dark depths in every Capitol from Sacramento to Washington.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-sacramentos-worse-corruption-20140331,0,4516090.story (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-sacramentos-worse-corruption-20140331,0,4516090.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on April 11, 2014, 03:01:15 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Unpaid interns take Hollywood to court

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Thursday, April 10, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_2014apr10ah_zpsf5b5a55a.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5345e345/turbine/la-na-tt-unpaid-interns-20140409)

IT'S not quite “Revenge of the Nerds”, but it still might make a good movie: “Attack of the Unpaid Interns”.

Former interns for the 2010 movie “Black Swan” have brought a class-action lawsuit against Fox Searchlight Pictures and units of Fox Entertainment Group. They are demanding back pay, damages and a court order prohibiting the studio from using unpaid interns. A win for the plaintiffs could bring down the long-standing and widespread movie industry practice of exploiting lowly assistants who, for the sake of experience and job contacts, are willing to work for free.

Eric Glatt is a lead plaintiff in the suit. As a Sunday Los Angeles Times story (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-fi-ct-hollywood-interns-unpaid-internships,0,3443405,full.story) reported, Glatt traded a $95,000-a-year insurance company desk job for an internship with “Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky in which he ran errands to procure scented candles, a hypoallergenic pillow and the perfect tea for the director. Apparently, diligent performance of these menial tasks did not open up doors in Hollywood for Glatt.

The lawsuit turns on a provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act that stipulates unpaid internships must be of more benefit to the intern than to the employer. That is an interesting point of contention. It is true that many successful players in the film industry got their start as unpaid minions — buttressing the studio’s insistence that the internships do pay off down the line. But it is also true that much of the work the interns perform — filling gas tanks, fetching lunch, manning copying machines — has mostly to do with serving the whims of the boss.

Back in the mid-1970s, when I was in college, I had two newspaper internships. My duties were directly related to journalism. The newspapers benefited because they got my work product, raw as it may have been, but I benefited even more. For one of the internships, I received academic credit. Both were key experiences that led to my first job and all that has happened since.

For both internships, I got paid — not a great amount, but enough to keep me afloat financially and make me feel like I was worth something.

These days, that is far less common. As students have gotten more desperate in their search for jobs, employers have gotten cheaper. Hollywood studios and production companies are hardly alone in this. Annually, about half a million interns work without pay, allowing American businesses to save hundreds of millions of dollars, according to one researcher. Even if this works out well for some of the interns, it still is a raw deal and would seem to favor young people from affluent families who can afford to work without compensation.

Several big studios, including Sony, Disney, Paramount and Warner Brothers, do pay their interns. It seems ridiculous and miserly for any business not to do the same. Given the gobs of money spent on making movies, it is unlikely production will be brought to a halt if the kid delivering the coffee and answering the phones gets a tiny cut of the deal.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-na-tt-unpaid-interns-20140409,0,6901986.story (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-na-tt-unpaid-interns-20140409,0,6901986.story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 08, 2014, 10:09:38 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Home-grown right-wing terror bares its fangs in Kansas killings

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, April 17, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_2014apr17a_zpsd39d7ef1.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5366a595/turbine/la-na-tt-right-wing-terror-20140416)

HOW DOES a home-grown terrorist like Frazier Glenn Cross Jr. end up in the back of a police car shouting “Heil Hitler” after he has killed three people and shot up two Jewish community facilities in suburban Kansas City, Kansas?

Does he start with an ideological gateway drug, like a stream of shrill propaganda from the National Rifle Association? Does he move on through progressively harder stuff, from the pompous rants of Rush Limbaugh, to the paranoid fantasies of Glenn Beck and then to the seditious lunacy of Alex Jones? Does this get him hooked on anti-government delusions that take him deep into the philosophical meth, heroin and crack of right wing extremist websites and white supremacist militia groups?

Or do men like Cross just start crazy and get crazier?

Whatever the case may be, the shooting in Kansas City is another reminder that we continue to have a domestic terror problem. While the vast power of the U.S. military and intelligence agencies is targeted on radical Islamists around the world, we, as a country, show minimal concern about the threat of militants who have grown up among us.

The 73-year-old Cross spent four decades pushing the white supremacist cause. Cross served as grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He threatened to assassinate the founder of the anti-racist Southern Poverty Law Center. He spent time in prison but also ran for political office several times on a white power platform.

Tuesday night on MSNBC in a report on Cross’ connections to the broader extremist movement, Rachel Maddow cited the bizarre fact that Cross — then known by the last name Miller — was a key FBI informant in an unsuccessful federal effort in the 1980s to bring down the major players in the white supremacist movement. Despite his betrayal, Cross returned to the cause and cheered on other racist militants, such as Kevin Harpham, the man convicted of placing a bomb along the route of Spokane’s Martin Luther King Day parade in 2011.

When he went gunning for Jews last weekend, this guy did not spring out of nowhere. He was notorious. So, why was he off the radar of law enforcement?

In 2009, when federal agencies wanted to step up monitoring of extreme right wing groups, many conservatives went ballistic. They said the feds would use this as an excuse to go after anti-abortion activists and other legitimate political organizations on the right. They succeeded in getting law enforcement to back down.

They may also have succeeded in making the homicidal work of a domestic terrorist that much easier.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-right-wing-terror-20140416-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-right-wing-terror-20140416-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 08, 2014, 10:09:55 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Cliven Bundy's militiamen are neither terrorists nor patriots

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_2014apr22a_zpsbbdd36b4.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-53608841/turbine/la-na-tt-cliven-bundys-militiamen-20140421)

NEVADA rancher Cliven Bundy is a scofflaw with screwy ideas about the Constitution, and the armed oddballs who have joined his skirmish with the Bureau of Land Management are a nutty vanguard of the deluded conspiracy-mongers who dominate the far right wing in American politics. Given their actions, they do not deserve to be called patriots, but neither are they terrorists.

They have been characterized as both. Appearing together on a TV news show, Nevada’s two U.S. senators disagreed about the nature of the armed men who scared off federal agents as they attempted to confiscate Bundy’s cattle. Democratic Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, called them “domestic terrorists”. In response, Republican Senator Dean Heller said, “What Senator Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots.”

Reid went too far. The two brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon were terrorists. The anti-government militants who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City were terrorists. The neo-Confederates itching for a fight with the BLM are just amped-up rednecks with visions of glory and too much talk radio in their brains.

But Heller is wrong too. The guys with guns are not patriots. They, like Bundy, are lawbreakers. In most parts of the country — particularly in non-white neighborhoods — anyone pointing an automatic weapon at a policeman will quickly find himself in jail, if he isn’t shot down first. Bundy’s so-called militia set up a picket line on a freeway overpass and aimed AR-15s and AK-47s at federal agents. They got away with it and are now gloating about their “victory”.

These self-styled militiamen claim to be defending liberty. What they are really supporting is Bundy’s freedom to ignore court rulings that say he owes more than $1.1 million in grazing fees that he has refused to pay, even as his cattle have eaten their fill on BLM land for two decades. Why does he think he, unlike 16,000 other ranchers in the West, should not have to pay his share? Because, Bundy says, his family worked the public land in question long before the feds showed up with their rules and regulations.

Besides, he really doesn’t recognize federal jurisdiction over much of anything. He is one of those cranks who subscribe to the political theory that the only public official with any legitimate authority is the county sheriff. Luckily, in the America that most of us live in, people do not get to make up fairy tales to justify a refusal to follow the law. We have a Constitution, courts, legislative bodies and civilized procedures for setting rules and changing the ones we do not like.

Admittedly, the BLM was not smart to send in armed men to collect on an overdue tax bill; they just played into the paranoia on the right. They gave Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and even crazier right-wing blowhards an irresistible opportunity to foment hysteria about big government. But, if the preachers of radical libertarianism believe that the federal government has no legitimate right to manage rangelands on behalf of the public, are they willing to follow that logic back to the 19th century? Should the federal Homestead Act be ruled invalid? Should the appropriation of lands enforced by the United States Cavalry be repudiated?

After Nevada was grabbed from Mexico, I doubt that Bundy’s ancestors ever bothered to pay any Native Americans for the land that he now claims for himself. How could any libertarian protest if the descendants of those dispossessed people were to come off the reservations to notify Bundy and his posse that they are trespassing?

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-cliven-bundys-militiamen-20140421-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-cliven-bundys-militiamen-20140421-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 08, 2014, 10:31:14 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Koch brothers and big utilities campaign to unplug solar power

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_2014apr23a_zps66cdeb82.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5366a14c/turbine/la-na-tt-koch-brothers-and-solar-power-20140422)

THE Koch brothers have a new ploy to protect the traditional energy business that helped make them the planet’s fifth- and sixth-richest humans. They are funding a campaign to shackle solar energy consumers who have escaped the grip of big electric utilities.

Of all the pro-business, anti-government causes they have funded with their billions, this may be the most cynical and self-serving. On Sunday, a Los Angeles Times story (http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-solar-kochs-20140420,0,2718030,full.story) by Evan Halper outlined the Koch’s latest scheme. Along with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, several major power companies and a national association representing conservative state legislators, the brothers are aiming to kill preferences for the burgeoning solar power industry that have been put into law in dozens of states. Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona are their first targets, with more to come.

They already have their first victory. On Monday, Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature that authorizes electric utilities to tack a surcharge on the bills of private citizens who have installed solar panels or wind turbines on their homes. That’s right, Oklahomans who have spent money to generate their own clean and green power now must pay compensation to the power companies.

This sounds a bit like government trampling on the independence of the citizenry. You’d think the Tea Party would be protesting and militia groups would be riding in with guns drawn. But since it is Republicans and big business doing the trampling, there is, as yet, no outcry from the libertarian crowd.

So, what is driving this crusade against clean energy? As Halper reports, “At the nub of the dispute are two policies found in dozens of states. One requires utilities to get a certain share of power from renewable sources. The other, known as net metering, guarantees homeowners or businesses with solar panels on their roofs the right to sell any excess electricity back into the power grid at attractive rates.”

These laws have helped the solar industry reach a tipping point where the business model is finally viable. In a world where too much CO² from coal, gas and oil is being pumped into the atmosphere, that seems like a good thing, but the Kochs and the utilities claim solar’s success is a threat to the future of the power grid. If there are more and more households freeing themselves from total reliance on traditional power sources, there will be less money available to maintain the electricity delivery infrastructure.

They may have a valid point, but the problem could be addressed with modest adjustments to the system. That they have opted for an all-out war against key laws that promote alternative energy suggests the real motivation may be more crass: protecting the profits of the entrenched fossil fuels-based energy industry.

Environmentalists have been energized to stand in the way of this well-funded multi-state onslaught against solar power, and it is gratifying to hear there is one conservative with a venerable Republican lineage who is taking their side. Former California congressman Barry Goldwater Jr. has formed a group, awkwardly named Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed, that hopes to gather support among conservatives to oppose the big utilities.

“These solar companies are becoming popular, and utilities don’t like competition,” Goldwater told the L.A. Times. “I believe people ought to have a choice.”

Consumer choice. Business competition. Autonomy for individual Americans. Those certainly seem like sound conservative principles. You would think that is something the Koch brothers could appreciate, but, obviously, their brand of conservatism is defined less by principles than by profits.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-koch-brothers-and-solar-power-20140422-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-koch-brothers-and-solar-power-20140422-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 08, 2014, 10:44:33 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Crackpot Cliven Bundy waves the flag and flouts the law

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Thursday, April 24, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_2014apr24a_zps1565b090.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5366a03c/turbine/la-na-tt-crackpot-cliven-bundy-20140423)

THE right-wing insurrection at the Bundy ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, has taken another weird turn with new revelations about the family history of Cliven Bundy.

Bundy justifies his two-decade-long refusal to pay the Bureau of Land Management for grazing rights on the public land where he runs his cattle by claiming his ancestors gained livestock water rights in the 1870s, long before the federal government horned in on the deal. Now, it turns out, that is not exactly true.

KLAS, the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas, checked out (http://www.8newsnow.com/story/25302186/an-abbreviated-look-at-rancher-cliven-bundys-family-history) the Bundy family’s history with the land and found Bundy’s grandmother was born in 1901 to parents who had moved a few years earlier from Utah and farmed, not in Bunkerville, but in neighboring Mesquite County. All his other relatives came to the area years later from Arizona and other states. Although Bundy says water rights were somehow handed down to him, records show Bundy’s ranch bordering the BLM land was not purchased by his family until 1948.

In 1998, a federal judge ruled that whatever inherited rights Bundy claimed to have were specious since the Bundys did not even begin grazing cattle on the public lands until 1954. The judge said the rancher should be barred from grazing his cattle on federal rangeland until he paid fees to the BLM, just like all the other ranchers.

Bundy sees things differently — very differently. Not only does he believe he has some special inherited right that cannot be proved in court, he has said he does not accept that the government of the United States has any legal authority in the great state of Nevada. Defying the court, he continued to let his cattle roam wherever they wished until federal officers attempted to confiscate the herd.

Famously, that action inspired a small army of so-called militiamen to come to Bundy’s aid. The gun-toting volunteers scared off federal police and are now encamped near the ranch, consumed with the belief they are bravely defending a noble, self-reliant rancher from the heavy fist of tyrannical government. The sad truth is, they are just a bunch of oddball rebels in search of a fight who are protecting not a patriot, but a crackpot who believes he should be able to pick and choose which laws he will obey.

Bundy hops on his horse and parades around carrying the flag of the government he says he doesn’t believe in. He boasts that he is just like one of the founding fathers. He apparently has not figured out that most of his countrymen are starting to see him as a deadbeat who, for 20 years, has fed his cattle for free on land that doesn’t belong to him — land that, in law and in fact, belongs to the people of the United States.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-crackpot-cliven-bundy-20140423-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-crackpot-cliven-bundy-20140423-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 09, 2014, 12:34:54 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

Koch brothers face an unexpected new foe: Tea Party conservatives

By DAVID HORSEY | 11:30AM PST - Friday, May 02, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_2014may02a_zps1de99217.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-53669958/turbine/la-na-tt-koch-brothers-new-foe-20140502)

IN their quest to cripple solar power and protect the profits of their fossil fuels-based businesses, the Koch brothers have run into an unexpected and potent adversary: Tea Party conservatives.

Recently, I wrote about how the billionaire Koch boys, conservative state legislators and big utilities are leading the charge in several states to force private citizens with solar panels on their homes to pay extra fees to be connected to the power grid. At the time it looked as if they had won a big victory in Oklahoma, where the Republican-dominated Legislature passed a bill authorizing just such a fee scheme.

It turns out all the hard work of the anti-solar forces was immediately blunted by an executive order issued by Governor Mary Fallin. The order directs the state energy commission to impose solar fees only as a last resort and to continue making expansion of solar power a priority.

The question is how a Republican governor in a deep red state can go against the Kochs, the most notable financial contributors to right wing causes in the country. The answer is that among the thousands of people who are installing solar panels on their roofs (at an estimated rate of one new system every four minutes) are a whole bunch of independent-minded folks with strong libertarian impulses. They may or may not belong to the Tea Party, but they want to be able to fend for themselves without big government or big business telling them what they can and can’t do.

To these conservative-minded citizens, the extra fee being pushed by the Kochs and the utilities is the worst thing in the world: a tax.

“Monopoly utilities want to extinguish the independent rooftop solar market in America to protect their socialist control of how we get our electricity.” That assertion comes from the website of a group named TUSK, or Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed. It is a coalition of conservatives led by former California Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr. that, so far, has been very successful in beating back the energy industry attack.

Their next big fight may be in Arizona, where Goldwater’s father, the former senator and Republican presidential candidate, is venerated. There the utilities have managed to get a monthly $5 fee — or tax — slapped on the bills of ratepayers with home solar units. But the state’s largest utility company, Arizona Public Service, one of the many holdings of Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, wanted so much more. They had sought a fee of $50 to $100 but got into trouble themselves by conducting a surreptitious campaign against solar users funded by “dark money” and then repeatedly lying about what they were up to. The Koch brothers are alleged to be among the sources of the mysterious funding.

Now Arizona Public Service is pushing a tax on solar companies that lease solar systems to homeowners. This new tactic could be blocked by another female Republican governor, Jan Brewer, who is sometimes called “the solar queen”. If she decides to step in she will have the backing of Goldwater and plenty of conservatives who like getting their power from the sun and not from some giant monopoly.

The Koch brothers must be befuddled. All this time they thought they had bought and paid for the loyalty of Tea Party folks. Now, it turns out they are dealing with genuine rebels who look at the pushy billionaires as just another manifestation of King George III.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-koch-brothers-new-foe-20140502-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-koch-brothers-new-foe-20140502-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 10, 2014, 02:35:58 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Murrieta protesters oversimplify a complex immigration crisis

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Tuesday, July 08, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140708a_zps177a85d6.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-53bb8fb7/turbine/la-na-tt-murrieta-protesters-oversimplify-20140707)

THE unwillingness of the House of Representatives to discuss immigration reform — let alone actually pass a bill — has left the debate in the hands of a crowd of screaming hotheads in Murrieta, California, who show no inclination to let facts get in the way of their paranoia about brown-skinned hordes subverting the America they revere.

Not that the United States does not have a genuine problem along the southern border. Just when rates of illegal crossings from Mexico had dropped precipitously due to the dearth of jobs for adult migrants, a flood of thousands of children from Central America has overwhelmed the resources of the Border Patrol and capacity of immigration courts.

The protesters in Murrieta say there’s a simple solution: Send them back! They neither understand the law nor the complexity of the situation. Unsurprisingly, they are being fed their facts by Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing ranters on talk radio and Fox News who portray the whole thing as part of the liberal Democrats’ heinous plan to change the very nature of American society.

At least one woman who testified at a public hearing about the immigration crisis in Murrieta last week seems to have been drinking the conservative Kool-aid. She blubbered and wept as she spoke of President Obama’s scheme to destroy the country by opening the border to aliens.

The real Obama, meanwhile, is a bit flummoxed as he tries to figure out what to do about this latest immigration quandary. The steady march of kids from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador appears to be inspired by a perception in those countries that children need only get across the border and they will be allowed to stay in the U.S. The Obama administration sent Vice President Joe Biden to Central America to tell everyone to stay home because that perception is false.

Except it isn’t, and that’s the real problem.

As the Los Angeles Times has reported, fewer than 4,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended annually by U.S. border agents through most of the last decade, but, in fiscal year 2012, the number jumped to 10,146. In fiscal year 2013, it shot up to 20,805 and in the eight months from last October to this June 15th, the total of Central American kids arriving without legal status hit 39,133.

So, what’s really going on? Apparently, it has a lot to do with a federal law passed on a voice vote in 2008 by big, bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed by President George W. Bush. The well-meaning act aimed to protect young victims of sex trafficking and slavery by establishing legal protections that would keep immigrant juveniles from being sent back into the clutches of pimps and drug gangs.

Now, though, smugglers who make a great deal of money moving children over the border appear to be coaching at least some of the kids to say the right things to officials so they can take advantage of the law’s protections. Many others have truly been victimized, of course. Sorting out whose story is real and whose is false is just one of the tasks facing asylum officers, immigration judges and prosecutors.

While their cases slog slowly through the system, most of the Central American children are sent to stay with relatives in the U.S. — and years pass by.

Liberals and immigrant rights groups have taken to calling these children “refugees” who deserve shelter and they scorn the Murrieta protesters for their ugly lack of compassion. They should be careful themselves, though, not to slip into an alternative fantasy. Rather than calling the children refugees, a more accurate description might be “pawns”. The wiliest players in this cross-border chess game seem to be the organized crime groups who are profiting handsomely by promoting and facilitating the children’s passage to the north.

This is not a simple situation and there is no simple solution, so nothing will be gained from oversimplification by either bleeding hearts on the left or the stone-hearted shouters on the right.

Click on the cartoon to read a related news story from the Los Angeles Times archives:

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20120620asm_zps3424aa0b.jpg) (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-no-deportation-plan-20120620-story.html)

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-murrieta-protesters-oversimplify-20140707-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-murrieta-protesters-oversimplify-20140707-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 17, 2014, 01:13:01 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

We should be humble and grateful we were born inside U.S. borders

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Friday, July 11, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140711a_zps5e3bbfdf.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-53bedcfc/turbine/la-na-tt-born-inside-borders-20140710)

PRESIDENT OBAMA and Texas Governor Rick Perry came face-to-face to talk about the flood of Central American children coming across the U.S. border with Mexico and, despite their stark political differences, managed to be cordial and constructive. They set a good example for Congress and the rest of the country.

Since October, 57,000 kids from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have come into the U.S. illegally, overwhelming processing facilities and immigration courts. On Wednesday, Obama and Perry met with local officials in Dallas to discuss what to do about the crisis.

One attendee at the gathering, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, told a Los Angeles Times reporter that partisan positions were left at the door. “For Texas politics, it was not a particularly tense meeting,” he said.

Jenkins has reportedly gotten some heat for pushing a plan to open three new shelters in the Dallas area to house 2,000 of the apprehended kids. Despite the complaints, after seeing the overcrowded “drunk tank” where the children are now being held at the McAllen Border Patrol station, he felt the need to do something.

“Whatever your politics are, these are children,” Jenkins said. “They deserve our help.”

What a contrast with the screaming protesters in Murrieta, California, who have turned back busloads of kids who need a temporary place to stay while they are being processed through the legal system in anticipation of their being sent back home.

Don’t get me wrong, American borders need to be secure and immigration needs to be as orderly as we can make it. Tens-of-millions of people from around the world would hike, bike, swim or crawl to get to the United States if they thought they could just show up and stay. As much as we benefit from new immigrants, our society cannot sustain an unlimited invasion.

Still, as we debate ways to keep the number of newcomers at a healthy level, it’s worth remembering that most of us are in this country due to the luck of birth. Being born in a comparatively free, prosperous, stable, safe place is rare in this world. That is why the United States and Europe face the constant challenge of new immigrants pressing at their borders and why no one is eager to pick up roots and move to Somalia, the Central African Republic, Syria or North Korea.

I am fortunate enough to be an American because a man named Stephen Horsey shipped out of England and landed on the wild eastern shore of Maryland in about 1640, when there was no border to be patrolled. Through the many years that followed, my ancestors pushed across the continent, pretty much wherever and whenever they chose.

One of those ancestors headed to the California Gold Rush in the middle of the 19th century among thousands of other young men seeking fortune in a new land. They took over, pushing aside the Spanish families who had been living in California for generations and nearly wiping out the Indian tribes who called the place home far, far longer.

American history is a testament to the immense force of human migration. It is a force that can be hugely creative and terrifyingly destructive. That is why it has to be managed well. But, as we seek to devise better immigration policies, our national history and our great good fortune to be born Americans should make us humble, grateful and as generous as we can be.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-born-inside-borders-20140710-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-born-inside-borders-20140710-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 17, 2014, 01:13:53 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Is America ready for six Californias?

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140716a_zps29ed1341.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-53c62d93/turbine/la-na-tt-six-californias-20140716)

CAN America deal with six Californias? If the pipe dream of Menlo Park venture capitalist Timothy Draper becomes a reality, there will be five extra states along the coast between Oregon and the Mexican border and 10 extra senators voting in Washington.

On Tuesday, Draper submitted to California election officials the first in a pile of petitions containing 1.3 million signatures that, if valid, will put an initiative on the ballot in 2016 to carve up the Golden State into six smaller states. Draper says California is too big and its size has led to a dysfunctional state government that is too distant from the people. Draper claims the six-state solution is the best remedy.

Following county lines, Draper has outlined a sextet of new states and given them names. In the north where disgruntled rural residents have long complained about being ignored by lawmakers in Sacramento, Draper proposes a state called Jefferson — sort of a woodsy South Oregon. Below that would be a strip running from coastal Marin County all the way to Lake Tahoe, with Sacramento at its center. This would be called North California. The broad agricultural lands of the Central Valley would become Central California. The far south, including Orange County, San Diego, Palm Springs and the desert areas would become South California — sort of an Arizona with beaches. West California would include much of what most Americans think of as stereotypical California — L.A.’s tangle of freeways, the movie industry, Disneyland and the surfing beaches up to Santa Barbara.

The sixth proposed state — one that has raised the most eyebrows — is named Silicon Valley, encompassing the cluster of high-tech firms with which that name has become synonymous, as well as San Francisco, Oakland and Monterey County. Cynics suspect that Draper’s real motivation in proposing the division of the state has mostly to do with enhancing the position of the industry of which he is a part. A state of Silicon Valley — home to Google, Facebook and Apple — would be an economic dynamo freed from meddling legislators in Sacramento and liberated from sharing its immense wealth with poorer parts of the old, unified California.

Whatever Draper’s motivations may be, nobody expects his proposal to succeed. Even if the current negative sentiments of voters shift and the ballot measure passes, it will amount to no more than an advisory vote. Only Congress can create new states and something this radical will never get through a Congress as divided as the current one.

Were the powers-that-be inside the Beltway to unexpectedly develop an interest in adding five new stars to the flag, the addition of new senators hailing from those new states would be too unsettling to the status quo. Judging by current voting patterns, Republicans might initially have something to gain. They would stand a good chance of picking up eight of the 12 Senate seats. However, with the Latino population continuing to grow in the proposed South California, two of those seats could quickly flip to the Democrats in the near future.

No matter how the new Senate seats got divvied up, such partisan concerns would ultimately be less of a political factor than regional rivalries. Would politicians and voters in the rest of the country be anxious to see 10 additional senators from the West Coast? Not likely.

And that’s just fine. Although, California’s 37 million citizens are wildly underrepresented in the Senate compared, for example, to the half million residents of Wyoming, the six-state solution would do far more damage than good. California is vast and encompasses regions and communities that are very different from one another. Yes, that makes debates contentious and government unwieldy. But Californians are better off together than apart. The cultural and economic diversity of the state is a huge, dynamic advantage that most states — even most nations — do not have.

It would be pretty stupid to toss that aside just because Yreka is a long way from Malibu.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-six-californias-20140716-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-six-californias-20140716-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 26, 2014, 04:27:49 am

from the Los Angeles Times....

Immigrant kids bring out the phobias in conservative xenophobes

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Friday, July 25, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140725dh_zpse3a62c64.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-53d21ffe/turbine/la-na-tt-immigrant-kids-20140725)

ANYONE who has ever wondered what happened to that strange-looking, banjo-playing kid from “Deliverance” should check out Representative Louie Gohmert. Imagine that kid all grown up and you’ll have the spitting image of the Texas Republican.

Like banjo boy, Gohmert is weirdly mesmerizing. What swamp did he wander out of and how in the world did he get elected to the United States House of Representatives? The scary answer: There are thousands of people just like him in Texas's 1st Congressional District.

Gohmert shows up regularly to spin conspiracy theories on the floor of the House, thereby supplying snarky MSNBC hosts with a steady stream of crazy, right-wing nonsense to ridicule. A few years ago, he gained attention when he sounded the alarm about “terror babies” — children of women who he claimed were coming into the U.S. to produce offspring who would grow up to attack America.

These days, he is more concerned with a different kiddie threat. It is time, he says, to “use whatever means”, including troops and ships of war, to stop an invasion that he compares to the D-day invasion of Normandy. The invaders? All those children who made their way from Central America, stepped across the border and put themselves in the hands of federal authorities.

Gohmert is not alone in his alarm. Texas Governor Rick Perry has called up the National Guard and headed to the border himself to pose in a helicopter with a big gun aimed out the window, presumably in the direction of the invaders. Over in Arizona, a Republican congressional candidate, Adam Kwasman, chased after a school bus he thought was filled with immigrant kids. Before he was told the children were all-American boys and girls on their way to YMCA camp, not dangerous trespassers, he claimed he saw the fear in the youngsters’ faces.

There’s no argument that having 52,000 undocumented children land in the lap of the Border Patrol is a problem. But the response to the situation from some folks has been appalling, ranging from the merely stupid to the dangerously paranoid. Screaming, red-faced protesters blocking buses filled with immigrant children have shown an ugly face of America to the world. Militia groups — including one with a gun-toting leader who was dishonorably discharged from the military — have swept down to the border with trigger fingers itching. Republican politicians have exploited the issue, whipping up anger for political advantage while continuing to boycott any sane plan to reform the immigration system.

Glenn Beck, normally a hero to conspiracy-loving conservatives, has felt their wrath because he has taken truckloads of teddy bears and soccer balls to the detention centers where the children are being kept. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin, the P.T. Barnum of the Christian right, mocked Nancy Pelosi after the House minority leader called on people to recognize “the spark of divinity” in the immigrant kids because “we are all God’s children”.

Divinity is not what Palin, Gohmert, Perry or the gangs of angry “patriots” see in these children. Though there is plenty of evidence most of the kids have come north to escape the violence in their home countries, the patriot crowd warns that there are dangerous drug gang operatives among the 7- and 8-year-olds.

Even if all 52,000 of them were junior gangsters, I’m not sure they would be more of a threat to the republic than many of those who are so opposed to showing them an ounce of compassion. The kids, at least, might be persuaded to change their nefarious ways. The self-appointed border defenders, on the other hand, cannot be persuaded of anything that does not fit into their nutty version of reality.

They think they live in country where the president is a terrorist-coddling, Kenya-born socialist who wants to take their guns, close their churches, turn their kids into pagan homosexuals and open the borders to a horde of brown-skinned marauders who will all become loyal Democratic Party voters.

If things are really that bad, maybe it’s time for them to follow Mitt Romney’s advice and self-deport.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-immigrant-kids-20140725-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-immigrant-kids-20140725-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 02, 2014, 03:43:05 am

from the Los Angeles Times....

Religion has taken center stage in America's political debates

By DAVID HORSEY | 1:00PM PDT - Thursday, July 31, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140731dh_zps1db0caf4.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-53da95ba/turbine/la-na-tt-religion-center-stage-20140731)

NEAR the banks of the Clearwater River in Idaho there is an earthen mound that members of the Nez Perce tribe, by tradition, believe is the center of the world, the place from which all people originated. It is unlikely that very many Nez Perce believe this is literally true but, even if they believed the myth with all of their heart and soul, they would find it impossible to impose their belief on the rest of the country. There are just not enough of them.

There are many more Muslims in the world and a fair share of them feel compelled to enforce their version of religious truth. The Taliban in Afghanistan, the army of militant Sunnis in Syria and Iraq and numerous radical, religiously motivated factions in other Islamic countries simply can’t stand the idea that other people may not see things the way they do. They are willing and eager to imprison and kill to enforce their beliefs.

In Uganda, political leaders who claim to be Christian think it’s perfectly fine to execute gays and lesbians. They are inspired by a narrow reading of the Bible and cheered on by zealots from the United States who think modern-day persecution of homosexuals is justified by a few passages taken from texts written in distant millenniums. Oklahoma state legislator Scott Esk has said “we would be totally in the right” to stone gays to death because that is what God desires. In the ranks of America’s religious right, Esk is more outspoken but not alone in his interpretation of Scripture.

Many people observe the world’s multiple sectarian conflicts and look back at the religiously inspired wars, pogroms and persecutions that have scarred history and conclude that religion is the source of most human misery. Really, though, religion isn’t precisely the problem. People who hold fervent beliefs and want to inflict them on everyone else — they are the problem.

The United States is fortunate to have founding documents written by men who rejected the notion that any one sect or any religiously based government has the right to impose a particular set of beliefs on free people. Thomas Jefferson spoke for most of his compatriots when he wrote, “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” That principle has kept the country open to a broad range of religious practices and, by law, safe from imposed religion.

With abortion rights being curtailed on largely religious grounds in many states, with traditional believers being challenged by the swift spread of same sex marriage and with the U.S. Supreme Court giving an exemption from federal laws to corporations that claim a religious belief, the debate over the role of religion in public life is utterly contemporary.

For the first time, we have one political party — the Republicans — whose prime spokesmen compete to identify with the views of religious fundamentalists who are the most solid base of the party. Among past and future GOP presidential candidates, few are shy about proclaiming their faith. Governor Rick Perry of Texas hosts evangelical gatherings, former-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was a preacher himself and ex-Senator Rick Santorum bases all his social policy prescriptions on his conservative Catholicism. There is nothing wrong with that — they are as free as any of us to believe what they want — but it’s worth acknowledging that this is a new thing in U.S. politics. Before Jimmy Carter, it is hard to think of a serious presidential candidate, other than William Jennings Bryan, who was overt in his declarations of faith. Most kept it private, both because it was the common view that religion and politics did not mix well and because many of them were not especially religious men.

Jefferson is the one who proclaimed that a “creator” had endowed all of us with unalienable rights, but he is also the intellectual who created an edited version of the New Testament that whittled away all the supernatural elements. At the dawn of the republic, that sort of free thinking did not impede his political career. He might have a much tougher time today.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-religion-center-stage-20140731-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-religion-center-stage-20140731-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 03, 2014, 02:15:51 am
Another lefty cartoon fiesta lol

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 06, 2014, 11:28:40 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Bad news in Gaza, Iraq and D.C., but good news in Botox business

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Tuesday, August 05, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140805dh_zps340061dc.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-53e07f13/turbine/la-na-tt-botox-business-20140804)

THE awfulness of Gaza goes on. So does the madness in Iraq and Syria. Wildfires burn through the West, while in Washington, our do-absolutely-nothing Congress prepares to adjourn, freeing up time for representatives and senators to go home and campaign to be re-elected so they can accomplish nothing for another two years.

It seems an opportune time to consider a far less depressing issue, one that, outside of Hollywood and the Redneck Riviera, affects only a small minority: artificial body enhancement, a.k.a., cosmetic surgery or “having a little work done”.

I am mostly vacationing this week (hence my desire to avoid the big issues). My days are being spent on the shores of a gorgeous lake. Temperatures are hitting 100 degrees and, all around me, people are cavorting in swimsuits that reveal just how diverse human bodies can be.

Really, Homo sapiens is an unusual species. Other creatures of the same type pretty much all look alike. Sure, there are subtle differences, but it really is not a simple thing to tell one wolf from another. Or differentiate goldfish or ducks or chimpanzees. But humans? We can be 6-foot-5 beanpoles or 5-foot-6, square-shouldered, barrel-chested fire hydrants. Some are as lithe and leggy as dancers, others as bulbous as hippos.

Because we do not all look alike, humans, individually and collectively, have developed the concept of beauty and its opposite, ugly. In every age and in every society, certain types of bodies and faces have been preferred over others. Pacific Islanders used to believe bigger was better. Rubens also clearly favored females of great heft. Today’s anorexic beauties would have been considered freaks in old Tahiti or obvious members of the destitute underclass during the Renaissance.

Fat or thin, at various times in various cultures, women’s bodies have been altered to conform to the prevailing concept of beauty. Female feet have been bound, female necks have been stretched by metal rings, female torsos have been corseted. Today, most of these methods would be considered cruel and crazy.

We are so much more enlightened now, right? Heck, it makes perfect sense for a woman to have a surgeon implant globs of plastic-wrapped fluid in her chest so her breasts are the size of basketballs. And what could be misguided about injecting junk into your lips so they appear to have been stung by bees? And, gosh, who wouldn’t want to have needles poked into your face to squirt in some sort of super glue that smoothes out wrinkles and pins your mouth into a permanently weird grin?

We’ve all seen the celebrities who have taken these procedures way too far — their eyes and cheeks and lips and mouths stretched and warped until their appearance is permanently altered. We’ve seen Pamela Anderson go from perky boobs to watermelons and back. And we watched Michael Jackson transform from a cute black kid with a nice round nose to a pale-skinned elf with hardly any nose at all.

It’s not just celebrities, of course, who do these things to themselves, it is also people who try to emulate celebrities and end up looking as plastic as Barbie dolls.

In Hollywood, there has been a backlash against all this nipping and tucking and ballooning to double-Ds. Even Kim Kardashian has sworn off Botox. Reportedly, the number of cosmetic surgical procedures in the U.S. has dropped significantly since 2008. That shows that common sense can occasionally get the upper hand.

This doesn’t mean that women with tinier noses and bigger breasts still don’t get more attention, just as guys with perfect six packs are ogled more than lads with beer guts. But maybe a few more people are learning to be happy with the bodies they were born with and finding healthier ways to enhance what they have.

So, here at the cusp of summer, let’s all aspire to enhance, by natural means, whatever small measure of beauty we have been granted. Personally, I pledge to do a few crunches and push-ups before I go down to the dock to swig Coronas and dive into the chips.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-botox-business-20140804-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-botox-business-20140804-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 21, 2014, 02:29:10 am

from The Dominion Post....

Mug shot of Texas governor Rick Perry released

REUTERS | 12:26PM - Wednesday, 20 August 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix%202014/20140820_10403215s_zpseec20c93.jpg) (http://static2.stuff.co.nz/1408493074/215/10403215.jpg)
INDICTED: Texas Governor Rick Perry is seen in a mug
shot released Tuesday (local time). — Photo: REUTERS.

TEXAS GOVERNOR Rick Perry, a possible Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 race, has been fingerprinted and had his mug shot taken by judicial authorities after being indicted last week on two felony charges of abusing power.

“The actions that I took were lawful. They were legal and they were proper. This indictment is fundamentally a political act that seeks to achieve at the courthouse what could not be achieved at the ballot box,” Perry said Tuesday (local time) after finishing the 15-minute processing at the Travis County criminal justice center, a short walk away from the governor's mansion.

Supporters turned out to cheer his words while his opponents relished seeing him face a criminal court.

The indictment has cast a shadow over a presidential run for Perry, who has ranked near the bottom of possible Republican candidates. Experts predict that legal wrangling in the case is likely to stretch into the 2016 election cycle.

Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in the heavily Republican state, over his veto of funding for a state ethics watchdog that has investigated prominent Texas Republicans.

Perry, the longest-serving governor in the state's history,  became the target of an ethics probe last year after he vetoed US$7.5 million (NZ$8.8m) in funding for the state public integrity unit run from the Travis County district attorney's office.

The veto was widely viewed as intended to force the resignation of county District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she had pleaded guilty to drunken driving but remained in office.

Democrats have said Perry may have been looking to put an ally in charge of the unit, extending what they say is cronyism in his administration.

The more serious of the two felony charges carries a prison sentence of five to 99 years.

“This may be a sideshow to Rick Perry but no amount of spin can cover up two felony charges,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said.

Perry could try to rally support in Republican primaries by portraying himself as a conservative victim of a partisan legal attack launched by Democrats, analysts have said. But the indictment could undermine backing from major donors and party heavyweights who see the legal case as hurting his general election chances.

After flaming out in a gaffe-strewn campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Perry has been attempting a political comeback that gained him national attention for accusing President Barack Obama of doing too little to secure the US-Mexico border.

He will step down as governor when his term ends early next year.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/world/10403194/Mug-shot-of-Texas-governor-Rick-Perry-released (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/world/10403194/Mug-shot-of-Texas-governor-Rick-Perry-released)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 30, 2014, 03:58:20 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Tea Party voters could dump Mitch McConnell just by staying home

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Thursday, August 28, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140828dh_zpsff08bb7a.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-53ffda4a/turbine/la-na-tt-dump-mitch-mcconnell-20140827)

THE dilemma facing the true grass-roots Tea Party believers — the dilemma they do not acknowledge — is that their primary goal of whittling and whacking away at big government undercuts their secondary goal of saving the middle class from the greedy grip of big corporations.

If Democrats have a unifying philosophy, it is that government needs to be effective enough to curtail the economic and environmental abuses of unfettered capitalism. Republicans, on the other hand, preach the dogma that smaller government and unrestricted corporate power serves the best interests of the common man and woman.

The Tea Party folks have largely bought into that belief, but still are uncomfortable with Republicans who appear to be too much in thrall to big business. That is partly why a big Tea Party effort was mounted against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky’s Republican primary. McConnell was rightly seen as the epitome of the GOP establishment that the Tea Partiers so disdain. Yet, even with major support from national Tea Party organizations, such as FreedomWorks and the Senate Conservatives Fund, challenger Matt Bevin could not depose the incumbent senator.

Now McConnell faces a robust challenge from Kentucky’s Democratic secretary of state, Alison Lundergan Grimes, who, at age 35, has been alive exactly as long as McConnell has been in the U.S. Senate. Polls show Grimes is in striking distance of beating the old veteran.

Right now, to help Grimes, Democrats are making a big deal out of a private speech McConnell gave two months ago at a clandestine strategy conference sponsored by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers. Caught on an audio recording, the message the minority leader gave to that gathering of super-rich campaign donors might dissuade the more populist-leaning Tea Party voters from ever giving their support to the man who stands a very good chance of being majority leader come January.

In his remarks, McConnell proved himself to be a devoted servant of Wall Street and big corporations, which should be no surprise to anyone who has paid attention to the man’s political career. He boasted about his pro-billionaire agenda — he has tirelessly fought against raising the minimum wage, repeatedly opposed extensions of unemployment benefits and scuttled changes in student loan rules that would help struggling students with a small tax on the country’s wealthiest citizens — and pledged to continue the fight against other so-called big-government programs, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and restrictions on the financial services industry that were imposed after high-flying bankers and financiers nearly destroyed the U.S. economy in 2008.

The core focus of his pitch to the plutocrats was a reassertion of his vehement opposition to campaign-finance limits. He praised the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that said corporations have the same rights to political activity as real human beings. “So all Citizens United did was to level the playing field for corporate speech,” McConnell said, as if corporate moguls like the Kochs are even competing in the same league as the common man on the street when it comes to political spending.

McConnell also reminded the audience that he had opposed earlier restrictions on campaign spending passed by fellow Republicans. “The worst day of my political life was when President George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold into law in the early part of his first administration,” he said.

McConnell wants corporations to spend as much as they want in political campaigns, and he happily accepts their donations (for the last five years, Wall Street interests have been the biggest contributors to his campaign committee). In return, he will continue to fight any limit on corporate power, diligently carrying on a Republican tradition that stretches back to the days of the robber barons of the 19th century. When McConnell is out campaigning among coal miners and farmers, he speaks as if he is the champion of the little guy, but the real McConnell comes through when he is behind closed doors with his billionaire backers (according to one Democratic source, that group includes a fifth of the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans).

The question is whether Tea Party voters can stomach this. Will they hold their nose and show up to vote for McConnell? As the nation moves into the fall congressional campaign season, the McConnell/Grimes race could go either way. If Tea Party voters really want to be rid of McConnell, all they may have to do is stay home on election day.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-dump-mitch-mcconnell-20140827-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-dump-mitch-mcconnell-20140827-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 11, 2014, 02:46:42 am

from the Los Angeles Times....

City liberals lose out to rural Republicans for control of House

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Wednesday, September 10, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140910dh_zps071e3900.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-540fe20b/turbine/la-na-tt-rural-republicans-20140909)

FOLKS in the hinterlands who complain that they want their country back should stop whining. They have a lock on the House of Representatives and a good shot at owning the Senate, too. Meanwhile, the majority of Americans, who live in cities and close-in suburbs, are stuck with having their government tilted in favor of the rural minority.

That may be hard for aging conservatives out in the cornfields and cow pastures to believe, but the numbers show it is true. Demographically, the United States is changing rapidly — the number of nonwhite voters is steadily increasing, and younger citizens of all races do not share their elders' fears of gay marriage, secularism and dark-skinned newcomers — yet the Republican advantage in the House has actually gotten bigger.

How can this be? Well, an analysis in the New York Times by Washington correspondent Nate Cohn gives a good explanation. “Democrats often blame gerrymandering, but that’s not the whole story,” Cohn writes. “More than ever, the kind of place where Americans live — metropolitan or rural — dictates their political views. The country is increasingly divided between liberal cities and close-in suburbs, on one hand, and conservative exurbs and rural areas, on the other. Even in red states, the counties containing the large cities — like Dallas, Atlanta, St. Louis and Birmingham — lean Democratic.”

And most of those cities do more than lean: They are overwhelmingly supportive of Democrats. What that means is that a Democratic presidential candidate can roll up big numbers in the cities where the young, liberal and nonwhite voters tend to live and win the electoral votes of swing states such as Pennsylvania and Florida. But in the non-urban areas of those states, Democrats are in shorter supply and have a tougher time winning congressional seats.

Here’s how that works. Imagine a state with three congressional districts and assume that two-thirds of the state’s voters are Democrats. You’d guess that two of the three members of Congress would be Democrats. But you just might be wrong.

If most of those Democrats live in a large city located in one of those districts, that means the rest of the Democrats are divided up in the other two districts where Republicans will probably outnumber them. The result is two GOP congressmen and one Democratic representative, even though Democrats are the big majority in our hypothetical state.

A real-life example of this phenomenon is Pennsylvania, where President Obama carried the state in 2012 by running up huge vote totals in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Obama beat Mitt Romney by 5 percentage points in the state, which would indicate that a majority of Pennsylvania voters favor the Democratic Party. And yet, of the state’s 18 House members, 13 are Republicans.

This phenomenon is repeated through much of the country. Add to that a slight bias toward giving small states more representation than their populations merit, plus Republican success at drawing district lines that favor the GOP, and the Democratic Party is left with a daunting problem. If they cannot recapture the kind of support they once had in farm communities and small, working-class towns, Democrats will find it nearly impossible to win back a majority in the House for years to come.

The Senate, by design, is already tilted in favor of less-populous states that, these days, tend to be more conservative. With several Democratic senators on the edge of losing their seats in the autumn election, Republicans could ride into 2015 with full control of both chambers and a lame-duck Democrat in the White House.

That scenario may not be the will of the majority of Americans, but that is what we have come to in our curiously divided republic.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-rural-republicans-20140909-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-rural-republicans-20140909-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on September 12, 2014, 12:34:20 am
OMG you must have spent your childhood reading comic books i would class most of your post as


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 12, 2014, 01:31:08 am

Yeah, well I know you just look at the pictures, but I actually read the words in the articles that those pictures provide illustration for.

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 23, 2014, 07:52:59 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Congress will want war with Islamic State to be Obama's alone

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Thursday, September 11, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140911dh_zps0caab020.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54113a29/turbine/la-na-tt-war-with-isis-20140910)

PRESIDENT OBAMA's Wednesday night speech laying out his strategy to defeat and destroy the radical Sunni Muslim militant group Islamic State inspired me to go into my library and pull a book off the shelf. That book is historian Jay Winik’s tome “April 1865: The Month That Saved America”.

Winik presents a fascinating and somewhat iconoclastic analysis of the closing 30 days of the Civil War, arguing that peace was not inevitable as Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. Some Southerners wanted to fight on, to retreat into the hills and the swamps and fight a guerrilla war. Confederates had the means to do it — there were still rebel armies in the field — and many had the will.

Coupled with Lincoln’s assassination days after Lee's surrender, a protracted fight against unconventional forces might have drained the resolve of Unionists. Certainly, it would have deepened the bitterness between North and South and may have made reconciliation impossible. The United States might never have been able to reunite, and our national and world history could have been drastically altered.

What, in Obama’s speech, sparked me to recall this Civil War speculation? Well, it struck me that the finality of the Civil War’s end, much like the finality of the surrenders that closed World War II, had at least something to do with the mindset of those who were vanquished. The Confederates, the Germans and the Japanese had been crushed on the battlefield and their economies were in ruins. By the conventional rules of war, they had lost and they accepted defeat.

But what happens if one is faced by an enemy that does not play by, nor accept, conventional rules and is willing to accept war without end?

In Iraq, Saddam Hussein had an army to be obliterated and a government to be toppled, and American forces found those tasks surprisingly easy. In Afghanistan, it was easy enough to bring down the Taliban government, but the Taliban fighters melted into the mountains, regrouped across the border in Pakistan and implemented a guerrilla war on their own turf. When American troops finally leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014 after a dozen years of war, the Taliban will still be there, still potent and menacing.

A president whose greatest foreign policy goal was to end two wars is now taking the country into a new fight with an unconventional enemy and, as soon as he finished laying out his strategy, the debate began about the viability of his plan to hit Islamic State fighters with U.S. airpower while arming and training Iraqis and others to battle them on the ground. The toughest question to answer: If an American army could not destroy the Taliban, can American bombs possibly be enough to finish off Islamic State?

Beyond the battlefield questions, there are other hugely complicating factors:

  • Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, holds much of its territory in Syria, where its enemy is President Bashar Assad, the ruling despot that the U.S. and Europeans have been trying to bring down. Is Assad suddenly on our side or we on his?

  • In Iraq, Islamic State has been buoyed by the cowardice of the Iraqi army and the support of Sunni Arabs who despise the Shiite Muslim-dominated government in Baghdad. Can the new Iraqi prime minister reassure Sunnis that they have a place in the new government, and can the Iraqi army, with help from the U.S. military, finally become an effective fighting force?

  • Obama wants other Arab governments to join the fight against Islamic State. Saudi Arabia, in particular, has the money and muscle to make a difference, but it has been the source of funding and fundamentalist Muslim ideology that has helped create a generation of extremists across the Islamic world. Can the Saudis be trusted to turn on their militant spawn?

By its vicious actions, Islamic State has convinced the president and a majority of Americans it is an evil that needs to be eradicated. Few members of Congress, though, seem convinced that Obama’s strategy — or any other — offers certain success. That may be one big reason why most of them are intent on avoiding a vote to authorize war against the militant group. If the deadly and costly enterprise fails, they may want only one name associated with the debacle: Obama.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-war-with-isis-20140910-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-war-with-isis-20140910-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 23, 2014, 07:53:32 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

There is no exit strategy to avoid a long fight against terror

By DAVID HORSEY | 3:00PM PDT - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140916dh_zps20f8b552.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5418a71c/turbine/la-na-tt-no-exit-strategy--20140916)

WHENEVER I see some talking-points-mouthing congressman or catchphrase-spouting think tank dweller insistently telling a cable news host that America needs an “exit strategy”, I think to myself, “Dream on, sucker.” Obviously, it’s good to look before leaping into the next foreign cesspool, but the exit strategy concept is an illusion heaped on a delusion when it comes to the war on terror.

The fight against radical Islamists isn’t the Mexican War or the Spanish American War in which the opponent was a government with an army, land to grab and an interest in ending it all when the going got too rough. The enemy in this war is a hydra-headed beast that regenerates each time it gets cut down. Unlike the Mexicans and the Spaniards — or the Germans and Japanese and Russians — the forces Americans face today seem more interested in dying for their god than living for another day, which means the fight will not end easily and the exits will just be doorways to more dusty battlefields.

So, those who are now saying the Obama administration needs to know how to get out of the fight with Islamic State before we get in are either asking to be lied to or are looking for a benchmark to be used against the president when the next exit door turns out to be locked. The reality of this struggle — as in Afghanistan — is you go in when you need to and you leave when you have to and you claim “mission accomplished”, even when it is not.

Last Thursday was the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attack. That night, watching NBC’s two-part recounting of that day’s events, I was vividly reminded of how this all began. Part one showed excerpts from the network’s real-time coverage of that terrible morning. Part two featured very personal reminiscences from the team that covered every shocking minute of the attack — Tom Brokaw, Matt Lauer, Andrea Mitchell and Jim Miklaszewski. The collapse of first one and then the other of the twin towers is a sight as horrific now as it was then. In some ways, seeing those images today is even more searing, intensified by the knowledge of all that has come after. Spikes of sorrow and anger hit me as hard as they had 13 years before.

At the moment the second tower fell on that bright sunny morning in New York, Brokaw said, “The terrorists have declared war on the United States.” We keep wishing that war would end, but it is not going to go away any time soon. Instead, this is how it will go:

We will be drawn back into the fight over and over because the terrorists will not stop taunting us and because the things they represent are an affront to modern civilization and its finest attributes — freedom of thought, equality for women, religious tolerance.

Terrorists are likely to hit us hard and close to home again. If they do so thinking they can make Americans cower and withdraw, they will prove they have no comprehension of the nature of this country. As a nation made by war from our earliest days, we have rarely backed down from a fight, even at those times when fighting was a self-destructive choice. We always strike back. As happened with the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the occupation of Iraq, the vengeful exercise of our power will bring both swift victories and big miscalculations. The history we make in the coming years will be no more tidy and morally pure than the history we have already written.

And there will be no final exit strategy. We will leave one fight and then find another because this will not be about clear-cut victory, as in World War II, this will be about containment, as in the Cold War. The end will come only when, like communism in the Soviet Union, totalitarian extremism in the Islamic world is a spent force.

Barack Obama hoped his legacy would be that he ended two wars. Now, tragically, he is learning that those were merely two phases of a struggle that is not close to ending. It may have only just begun.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-no-exit-strategy--20140916-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-no-exit-strategy--20140916-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 23, 2014, 07:53:53 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

We have no Theodore Roosevelt to face down today's greedy corporations

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Thursday, September 18, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140918dh_zps9b050c26.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-541a6eca/turbine/la-na-tt-we-have-no-roosevelt-20140917)

THE three opening installments of the latest Ken Burns documentary on PBS, “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History”, offers a timely tutorial about an era when the greed and excessive power of corporations had distorted the American economy and created a huge gap in wealth between the rich and everyone else.

Sound uncomfortably familiar?

When Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, tycoons had grown fabulously wealthy through monopolistic manipulations of industry, and the economic deck was stacked against the common man and woman. T.R., the scion of a prominent New York family, was no stranger to wealth, but he was also raised with the conviction that those who came into life with great advantages had a moral responsibility to improve the condition of the disadvantaged. Believing that America could not thrive unless all Americans had a chance to thrive, Roosevelt used his epic energy, intellect and reformist zeal to confront the rapacious robber barons and offer the rest of the citizenry a “Square Deal” that promised the federal government would be a fair arbiter that would not favor the rich over everyone else.

Back then, most members of the House and Senate were quite literally bought and paid for by business interests, but Roosevelt steamrolled over congressional opposition by appealing directly to the people. Having risen from the vice presidency with the assassination of President McKinley, Roosevelt won election to a full term by a landslide in 1904, and his efforts to improve conditions for workers, clean up the environment, preserve the nation’s natural wonders and break up the monopolies became even more unstoppable.

It is easy to make the case that T.R. was our greatest peacetime president, but how would he do today confronting domestic challenges that are so similar? How would he deal with politicians whose campaign funds come from shadowy political action committees that are overwhelmingly funded by corporate dollars; politicians whose years in office are, more often than not, a mere prelude to lucrative careers as lobbyists for corporate interests? And how would he take the fight to financiers and CEOs who are far more sophisticated in their economic and political machinations than J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller ever were?

Citing just one example of current corporate avarice that is damaging the country, how would Roosevelt counter the loss of billions of tax dollars because major corporations are avoiding payment by moving enormous profits to foreign tax havens? Apple, Microsoft, General Electric, Pfizer, Caterpillar, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil, Wal-Mart and numerous other highly profitable companies are forsaking the United States and using legal loopholes to funnel massive amounts of money through ghost entities located in tax havens such as Ireland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. With U.S. taxes evaded, they then use accounting tricks to slip the money into Manhattan banks, make investments and make even more profits.

A scathing report (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-biggest-tax-scam-ever-20140827) in Rolling Stone — well worth reading if one feels like being outraged — notes that the bogus “foreign” earnings among American firms in the Russell 1000 Index skyrocketed from $1.1 trillion in 2008 to more than $2.1 trillion in 2013. This kind of tax avoidance has cut the rich corporations’ contribution to federal revenues from a third in the Eisenhower years to a mere 10% in the Obama years.

The situation has gotten so scandalous that even some Republicans are appalled. Neither party, though, has proposed any legislation that would put much more than a shallow dent in the problem. President Obama, who came into office with a call for “ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas,” gave up the fight early on after encountering stiff opposition from corporate lobbyists. It is extremely doubtful he now has the clout to champion the cause again with any chance of success.

Could a modern-day Roosevelt do any better? There are significant changes in our political system that have made the task of opposing corporate power even harder than it was a century ago, but Roosevelt would bring two significant attributes to the debate: his phenomenal skill at employing the bully pulpit to raise an issue to the top of public consciousness, and a sense of right and wrong that would compel him to take up the fight, no matter the political cost.

The sad fact of our political times, however, is that we have no one in our political class who looks as if he or she could be a new Roosevelt. This time, it looks like the robber barons win.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-we-have-no-roosevelt-20140917-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-we-have-no-roosevelt-20140917-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 23, 2014, 07:54:09 pm

from The Los Angeles Times....

FDR could not have survived the scrutiny media gave Gary Hart

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140924dh_zps33a054c8.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-542211ab/turbine/la-na-tt-fdr-gary-hart-20140923)

ONE chilly winter evening in 1988, I was the lone journalist among a small clump of voters gathered inside an old meeting hall in Manchester, New Hampshire. I was there, mostly out of curiosity, to witness the spectacle of a man desperately clinging to a shattered dream. The dream was the presidency. The man was Gary Hart.

Hart had once been sure it was his destiny to be president of the United States. The previous spring — perhaps convinced of his own inevitability and invulnerability and only weeks after declaring his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination — Hart had taken a ride to Bimini on a yacht called Monkey Business accompanied by a lovely young blond model named Donna Rice. Subsequently tipped off about Hart’s boat party with a woman who wasn’t his wife, reporters from the Miami Herald staked out Hart’s home in Washington, D.C., saw Hart there with Rice and confronted the candidate.

The Herald published a 7,000-word expose. A week later, Hart withdrew from the race and headed to Ireland to escape media scrutiny. By December, though, he had changed course and resumed his campaign. Before the scandal hit, Hart had been leading all Democratic contenders and was 13 percentage points ahead of the likely Republican nominee, Vice President George H.W. Bush. The night I saw him in Manchester, he was being ignored by the media and shunned by voters. He ended up with a mere 4% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary and the winner, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, went on to take the nomination and get beaten by Bush.

I felt pity for Hart as I watched and listened to him speak that night. How humiliating it must be, I thought, for a man to have his private indiscretions laid bare to the world, to have his life’s ambition crumble in an instant and then to press on in a quixotic, embarrassing effort to get it all back. At the same time, though, I was impressed by what Hart had to say; how much more depth and intelligence he brought to the issues than any of the other candidates. Given the opportunity, he might have been a very good president.

In polls at the time, more than half of voters said infidelity should not disqualify a person from being commander in chief. In the next decade, Bill Clinton proved a president could not only survive a sex scandal but could end up as one of the country’s most popular politicians. But Clinton seems to be the exception. Since Hart, numerous men in politics have humiliated themselves and wrecked their public careers by betraying their wives with other women. Voters have generally not been especially forgiving.

Of course, complicated relationships and dangerous liaisons are not rare. Most marriages hit rocky periods and many married partners learn, grow, forgive and survive as a couple. Hart and his wife, Lee, are an example, having now been married for half a century. Donna Rice is far in their past, but so is the dream of the presidency.

On Sunday, in the New York Times Magazine, reporter Matt Bai looked back at the Hart episode and made the argument that it marked a shift in how the press covered presidential candidates. Where in the past — think John F. Kennedy — the press had been complicit in keeping the private lives of politicians private, after Hart, reporters have obsessed about personal flaws and paid much less attention to policy. Bai says this has forever changed politics, turning reporters into scandal chasers and candidates into hyper-cautious mannequins.

Some commentators are taking exception to Bai’s contentions and they point to Clinton as the obvious example of a smart policy wonk who won two terms in the White House despite media fascination with his randy sexual proclivities. Still, it cannot be disputed that the political world is different than it once was.

In a long-gone era, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had some big secrets that could have wrecked his political career. The unrevealed scope of his polio disability was one, of course, but just as significant was the complex architecture of his marriage, including the women close to him who were, to a significant extent, surrogate wives. This was a big, untold story. If the public had known, it seems unlikely FDR would ever have become president. And, instead of having this extraordinary man in the White House through 12 of America’s most perilous years, the nation could have been led by men in the mold of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover — men with greater moral rectitude and placid marriages but parsimonious, niggling hearts.

On balance, full disclosure is a good thing. It weeds out plenty of creeps. Still, one wonders if, now and then, we sideline potentially great leaders when we learn too much about their fallible humanity before they have a chance to be great.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-fdr-gary-hart-20140923-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-fdr-gary-hart-20140923-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 23, 2014, 07:54:29 pm

from The Los Angeles Times....

Holder's enemies may cheer, but he is far from gone

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Friday, September 26, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140926dh_zps5e8b28fd.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54252cd2/turbine/la-na-tt-holders-far-from-gone-20140926)

THE announcement of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s impending resignation has lightened the scheming hearts of Republican governors and legislators who resent his interference with their attempts to curtail the voting power of African Americans. It has cheered those who think the country’s first black attorney general got too darn uppity when he called Americans “cowards” when it comes to talking about race. And it has kicked up a storm on Twitter among euphoric GOP congressmen and bewildered citizens who wonder what will happen to Holder’s investigation into policing in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Good riddance Eric Holder,” tweeted Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, echoing the common GOP sentiment. “Your disregard of the Constitution of the United States will not be missed.”

Representative Darrell Issa of California, who has a knack for injecting politics into just about any deliberation, ironically tweeted, “By needlessly injecting politics into law enforcement, Holder’s legacy has eroded more confidence in our legal system than any AG before him.” (Issa seems to have overlooked a guy back in Watergate days named John Mitchell, the ex-attorney general who actually did time in prison.)

Meanwhile, folks who were expecting Holder to dig into the circumstances surrounding the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson seem disappointed and suspicious.

A guy with the Twitter moniker “BOSSYhope and change” tweeted, “#ferguson why did Holder give up? I thought he was down for the fight. Whatup?”

Some said they suspected some wicked forces at work. “For Eric Holder to resign during the Ferguson investigation and ISIS war it had to be something ‘Scandal’ bad,” one person tweeted, while another said, “Seems like he’s getting out before the fuse blows.”

Well, happy, sad or confused, everyone should slow down just a bit. Holder is not gone, yet, and the word from the Justice Department is that he will remain engaged with the Ferguson situation for as long as he is in office — which could be a long time.

At the White House ceremony where the departure was announced, President Obama said Holder had agreed to stay until his successor is confirmed by the Senate. Given that for six years Holder has been target No.2 — after the president himself — for partisan attacks from Republicans, confirmation hearings for just about any replacement will be contentious.

The nominee will be asked to distance himself or herself from Holder’s policies, and when that does not happen (this person will be a pro-civil rights liberal, no doubt), the torches and pitchforks will come out all over Red State America. GOP senators will have no motivation to move the confirmation along quickly when so many ripe opportunities for scoring political points will be at hand.

This dynamic will only become more powerful if Republicans take control of the Senate in the fall elections. If that happens, count on a three-ring confirmation circus beginning early next year and playing out for months.

Eric Holder is far from out the door.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-holders-far-from-gone-20140926-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-holders-far-from-gone-20140926-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 23, 2014, 07:54:49 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Easy prediction: 2014 elections will merely renew gridlock

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20140930dh_zps423dd3e4.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-542a4287/turbine/la-na-tt-2014-elections-renew-gridlock-20140929)

AMERICANS are about to dive into the deep end of the 2014 congressional elections, and the pool is filled with odoriferous muck. Nothing new about that. Most campaigns these days are slimy affairs, but at least they sometimes bring positive change. This will not be one of those times.

After the vote on November 4th, Congress will still be drowning in the same partisan gridlock that has kept it from seriously addressing any of the crises facing the nation since the 2010 congressional elections. It might be reassuring to think that, in our Great Democracy, anything can happen, and we might all be pleasantly surprised to find we’ve elected a bunch of statesmen who are eager to work together for the good of the country. It would also be nice to discover the glaciers aren’t melting, or that there are millions of new, good-paying middle-class jobs, or that radical Islamists are becoming as docile as Presbyterians.

None of those nice things is going to happen anytime soon, if ever. Nor will there be a miracle on election day.

Instead, Republicans will retain control of the House of Representatives and possibly gain a few seats. There are several structural reasons this result is pretty much guaranteed. Gerrymandering by GOP legislatures is a small but significant factor; the over-concentration of Democratic voters in cities is a bigger one. This is also an election year that does not seem to be firing up either conservatives or liberals in a way that would endanger many incumbents. Add to that the minuscule number of true swing districts and there is not even a remote possibility of sweeping change in the House this year.

In the Senate, there are still electoral question marks. A small batch of races appear to be so tight that predicting which party finally wins control of the upper house is like guessing if a fruit fly will turn right or left. Still, it appears Democrats have the steeper climb to retain their Senate majority. In Louisiana, for instance, Democratic incumbent Mary L. Landrieu is ahead of her Republican opponent, but only because right-wing votes are being siphoned off to an independent Tea Party candidate. Landrieu is at 43% in polls today, and if she does not get 50% of the vote in November, she will be forced into a top-two runoff in December. Landrieu would likely lose that second round because she would be facing a reunited conservative vote.

The greater point, though, is that none of this matters all that much. Yes, President Obama would be more politically isolated without a Democratic majority in the Senate, but it is already nearly impossible to pass any administration-backed bill because Democrats do not have enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. And as we have seen for four years, even if Obama-friendly legislation squeaks by conservatives in the Senate, it is bound to die a lonely death in the GOP House.

If Republicans control both houses of Congress, they would not be able to implement their own plans any more easily than Obama has done. They would face filibustering Democrats in the Senate and a president with a veto pen.

We are dealing with a very different political system than we once had. The evolution of Republicans and Democrats from two broadly based parties built on coalitions of disparate groups to two political parties that are far more ideologically pure has made compromise and accommodation difficult. And the roughly 50-50 split in the electorate has lessened the chance either party can dominate government long enough to get a coherent package of policies in place.

Until something changes, until one side or the other wins both Congress and the White House, there is only one thing for sure that will happen in Washington and that is nothing.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-2014-elections-renew-gridlock-20140929-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-2014-elections-renew-gridlock-20140929-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 23, 2014, 07:55:07 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

White House guard is down: Are Secret Service agents bored?

By DAVID HORSEY | 1:06PM PDT - Thursday, October 02, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141002dh_zps5eaa219c.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-542da55e/turbine/la-na-tt-secret-service-20141002)

SECRET SERVICE agents should go to the movies more often. At least since the 1996 sci-fi film, “Independence Day”, in which an alien spaceship the size of Los Angeles incinerates the White House, attacks on the lovely old executive mansion have been a recurring cinematic theme.

Last year, two movies with remarkably similar plots featured lone men saving the president and what was left of his official home. In “White House Down”, the hero is a Washington, D.C., cop with aspirations to be a Secret Service agent who fights off a band of domestic terrorists. In “Olympus Has Fallen”, the hero is a desk-bound Secret Service agent who battles a horde of nasty North Koreans. In both films, the villains employ an arsenal of weapons and elaborate tactics to gain entrance to the White House.

Who knew that all they really needed to do was jump the fence and walk through the unlocked front door?

On Wednesday, the director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, turned in her resignation following revelations of several security breaches at the White House and on presidential outings. She quit just a day after being grilled by the always-cinematic Darrell Issa and a supporting cast on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The California Republican and committee chairman wanted to know how Omar Gonzalez, a troubled Army veteran with a knife, got past rings of security and into the Green Room on the first floor of the White House before he was tackled by Secret Service agents.

“An intruder walked in the front door of the White House,” Issa said before hazing Pierson. “That is amazing — and unacceptable.”

Another committee Republican, Utah’s Jason Chaffetz, wanted to know why agents did not simply shoot the guy while he was still outside the mansion. The congressman was frustrated by Pierson’s clinical answers to questions about when agents are authorized to use force. He insisted that the rule should be clear to both agents and would-be invaders: “You make a run and a dash at the White House, we’re going to take you down.”

Both Issa and Chaffetz criticized the agency for lauding the “tremendous restraint” exhibited by the agents who chased the intruder. Clearly, they would prefer Secret Service agents to be more like Channing Tatum and Gerard Butler, the bold, trigger-squeezing action stars of the White House attack movies.

Maybe the response would have been different had the First Family been in residence at the time of the intrusion. Still, the manner in which Gonzalez was taken down is not as troubling as the ease with which he got as far as he did.

I have walked past the White House many times — from my first visit there as a student in the 1970s, when cars could still drive past on Pennsylvania Avenue, through the year I spent working in a newspaper office a block away in the 1990s. I never failed to pause and take a long look at the house and always felt pride that, even in this dangerous world, a close view of the home of the president of the United States remains available to every citizen, even those who come to protest right outside the gate. But I also always assumed that there must be elaborate, unseen security systems in place that would kick in as soon as anyone tried to clamber over the fence.

Apparently, those defenses are more porous than I imagined. Could the problem be simple boredom?

As recent reports indicate, the instincts of airline pilots have become dulled and rusty as the tasks of flying have gotten more and more automated. This has led to dangerous pilot errors in emergency situations. Secret Service agents are not on autopilot, but they spend weeks and months on duty without anything happening that is more alarming than a screaming child on a White House tour. After awhile, the tedium must begin to feel endless. It is no surprise they let their guard down.

And that’s when some nut case jumps the fence and invites himself in.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-secret-service-20141002-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-secret-service-20141002-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 23, 2014, 07:55:26 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Same-sex marriage comes to America's ‘Brokeback’ states

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Wednesday, October 08, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141008dh_zps42239ba7.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5434fc25/turbine/la-na-tt-brokeback-states-20141008)

MARRIAGE is coming to Brokeback Mountain. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has declined a review of federal appeals court rulings that have struck down same-sex-marriage prohibitions in five states, wedding bells will be ringing for gays and lesbians in some of the reddest of red states.

Up to this point, same-sex unions have been legalized only on the West Coast, Hawaii, the Northeast and parts of the upper Midwest. After Monday’s Supreme Court action, though, those Democratic Party strongholds are being joined by five not-so-liberal states — Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, Virginia and Wisconsin. And other court decisions pending in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina are now expected to go against defenders of traditional, man-and-woman marriage.

Soon, three-fifths of the states will have stepped into the new frontier of marriage equality, either through ballot initiatives, legislative action or court rulings. Once partners of the same gender start getting married in Oklahoma, can Texas, Alabama and Mississippi be far behind?

Well, yes, they can be. They will kick and scream and complain and resist, but it now appears inevitable that one day soon, same-sex marriage will be legal from sea to shining sea.

Though gay-rights partisans are happy about the big boost to their cause, some complain that the high court is evading the marriage issue. Rather than simply letting the lower court rulings stand, the justices could have ratified those decisions themselves and settled the marriage equality issue for the entire country. Why not just do it, critics of the court say, since the tipping point seems to have been reached with 30 states opening up to same-sex unions?

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, told an audience in Minneapolis on Tuesday that, if the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds same-sex-marriage prohibitions in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, that would put the 6th Circuit at odds with the other appeals courts and she and her colleagues would be forced to step in. If the lower court lifts the bans in those states, however, Ginsberg said there would be “no need for us to rush.”

Ginsberg is said to be convinced that, even on an issue in which she strongly believes — she recently officiated at a friend’s same-sex wedding — there is virtue in taking time so that a national consensus can evolve. Such was not the case when the court legalized abortion, and the debate over that issue still rages. If marriage equality arrives state by state, rather than by a ruling from the politically divided Supreme Court, Ginsberg reasons it will be better for the country.

Gay and lesbian couples living in laggard states who are forced to wait a few more years before they tie the knot may not agree with Ginsberg’s reasoning, but I am swayed. A little more patience can buy acceptance — and permanence.

In the meantime, think of the hope all these changes would have brought to the two doomed and love-struck Wyoming cowboys in “Brokeback Mountain”. America has come a long way very quickly on gay rights, and it is bringing the United States closer to its founding ideals. As cowboy tunesmith Garth Brooks sings, “When we’re free to love anyone we choose ... we shall be free.”

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-brokeback-states-20141008-post.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-brokeback-states-20141008-post.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 23, 2014, 08:45:02 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Is Leon Panetta's slam of Obama a boost for Hillary?

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Thursday, October 16, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141016dh_zps9217d140.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-543f8b63/turbine/la-na-tt-panettas-slam-20141016)

DID Leon Panetta really conspire with Bill and Hillary Clinton to undermine Barack Obama by writing a memoir that slams the president’s leadership skills and foreign policy acumen? That’s what political strategist Dick Morris claims.

“I think Hillary put him up to it,” Morris said in a recent interview on a radio talk show in New York.

As the man who famously allowed a call girl to listen in on his conversations with President Clinton back in the 1990s when he was a White House political advisor, Morris is an expert on this kind of inside-the-Beltway intrigue. He notoriously wrote a damning tell-all book about the Clintons after his relationship with the prostitute became public and he was expelled from the president’s inner circle.

Now, Panetta, who served as Obama’s secretary of Defense and CIA director, has written his own revealing book, “Worthy Fights”. While not as sensational as the Clinton book Morris penned, Panetta's volume does not make his ex-boss look good. Morris seems to have no doubt about why Panetta chose to critique the inner workings of the administration at this particular moment, rather than waiting until Obama leaves office.

“What Panetta is doing is a hit — a contract killing — for Hillary,” Morris said. “Panetta at core is a Clinton person, not an Obama person. By accurately and truthfully describing the deliberations in the [Obama] Cabinet, he makes Hillary look better, and he makes Obama look worse... And I think he’ll get his reward in heaven.”

Heaven, of course, would be a Clinton restoration in 2016. Obama’s current low popularity and alleged weakness on foreign policy could be a drag on Hillary’s expected presidential campaign. The current conventional wisdom in the pundit class, a view that Morris spins to its most extreme, is that the Clinton camp wants to put a lot of distance between Barack and Hillary.

If true — and it probably is — Clinton is hardly the only Democrat running away from the president. In the current congressional campaign, Democratic candidates across the country have been disassociating themselves from Obama. A prime example is Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state who is running to topple Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from his Senate seat. Grimes has twisted herself in knots to avoid saying she ever voted for Obama, and she would probably go into hiding were the president to visit Kentucky to campaign on her behalf. But Wednesday, Grimes was perfectly happy to share a stage with Hillary Clinton who flew in to stump for her. The two of them joined raised hands and grinned for the cameras as if they were running mates.

Centrist Democrats, such as Panetta and both Clintons, who are nearly as hawkish on defense and foreign policy as Republican neo-cons, believe Obama’s rush to get out of Iraq was a mistake. In his book, Panetta echoes the same charge against the president as that made by conservatives — that he should have worked harder to force the Iraqi government to allow the U.S. military to retain a presence in Iraq. The total withdrawal of American forces, Panetta says, created a power vacuum that has been filled by the marauding battalions of Islamic State.

Pushing his book last Sunday on the CBS news show “Face the Nation”, Panetta said the U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State militants will not be enough to roll them back. Only “boots on the ground” can do that, the ex-defense and CIA chief said, and Obama is wrong to foreclose the possibility that those boots will be worn by Americans.

"I don't mind presidents who have the quality of a law professor in looking at the issues and determining just exactly, you know, what needs to be done,” Panetta said. “But presidents need to also have the heart of a warrior. That's the way you get things done, is you engage in the fight.”

I’m not nearly as cynical as Dick Morris, so I do not think Panetta is writing and saying these damaging things about Obama because the Clintons put him up to it. Still, he is quite effectively opening the way for Hillary to become the candidate with a warrior’s heart. This is tricky business for Democrats, though, because, no matter how much it may help a Clinton campaign in 2016, Panetta is presenting a case that could be a winning argument for plenty of Republican candidates this November.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-panettas-slam-20141016-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-panettas-slam-20141016-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on October 23, 2014, 10:12:59 pm
Yup..seen it a week or 2 ago....all these posts are like groundhog day...are you suffering from memory loss??

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 23, 2014, 10:47:32 pm

Jesus H faaaarking Christ, you're THICK!!  (http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/XtraNewsCommunity2/Animated%20emoticons/19_HammerHead.gif)

I really fear for NZ's collective IQ when you return, although the Aussies will be rejoicing to get rid of a dumbfuck like you.

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 24, 2014, 03:27:59 am

from the Los Angeles Times....

From Ebola to Canada shooting, bad news is helping the GOP

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Thursday, October 23, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141023dh_zpsfea35c38.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5448b49a/turbine/la-na-tt-bad-news-helping-gop-20141023/2048)

EBOLA, the shooting at the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, American kids running off to join Islamic State, lunatics jumping the White House fence, racial protests in Ferguson, Missouri — there is a long list of things making American voters uneasy as election day approaches. And when voters get rattled, they tend to vote against the people in power.

More precisely, all the troubling stuff gets blamed on the guy in the White House, whether that is fair and justified or not. As a result, we have the current political spectacle of Republican candidates for the House and Senate trying to make the campaign a referendum on Barack Obama. And, while they run against Obama, Democratic candidates are racing away from Obama, like Wile E. Coyote running from a lighted stick of dynamite.

This tactical abandonment of the president does not seem to be doing Democrats much good, though. It’s hard not to look like a weasel when you forsake the head of your party. Anti-Obama voters are more likely to think you are lying or fickle than to see you as principled and independent.

Maybe a Democratic candidate would not fare any better by standing tall and defending the Democratic president and Democratic ideals and accomplishments, but at least he or she would go down fighting instead of being remembered as someone who would do anything to hang on to a cushy job in Congress.

There are still quite a few close Senate races, but the latest polls indicate that momentum is slightly favoring Republicans. Some of this drift to the GOP must be driven by the weird news. It seems as if no one has a handle on things, whether it is a scary disease imported from Africa or security at the White House. The Republican Party has spent years perfecting the game of playing on people’s fears and that useful skill seems to be made for these disturbing times.

Democrats are offering an echo, not a choice, at least in the red states where all the tight races are located. Democratic candidates are, more often than not, trying to sound like Republicans on issues such as guns and energy and getting tough with terrorists. Very likely, some high-paid political consultant has guaranteed them that is the way to win, but when the Democrat essentially concedes that the Republican position is right on so many hot-button items, it should not be surprising that a majority of voters might decide to go for the real deal and cast a ballot for the Republican.

The president could be in for a frustrating finale to his two terms in office. If the GOP captures the Senate, Obama will not be just a lame duck, he will be a cooked goose.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-bad-news-helping-gop-20141023-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-bad-news-helping-gop-20141023-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 25, 2014, 12:36:36 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Red state Democrats parrot Republicans at their peril

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Friday, October 24, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141024dh_zps57248463.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5449edde/turbine/la-na-tt-red-state-democrats-20141023)

HOW'S this for a profile in courage? The Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, Michelle Nunn, has boldly confessed that she voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. What an amazing thing — a Democrat admitting she voted for the Democratic presidential candidate.

In a sane world, this should hardly seem a remarkable occurrence. I am hard pressed to remember a time since 1964 when Republican candidates for office were being forced to distance themselves from a Republican presidential candidate. But in some states this year, any association with Barack Obama is considered toxic, even for members of his party.

In Kentucky, as I have noted before, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who many thought had a chance to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has made a fool of herself by refusing to say which presidential candidate she backed in 2012. Grimes’ inane excuse — ballots are supposed to be secret, she insists — has made her look disingenuous and weak. Kentucky Democrats will now cast ballots for her with embarrassment, rather than pride, and independent voters will have gotten the message that she cannot be trusted to speak with candor and conviction.

This is part of a pattern that too many Democrats have followed for six years. In 2010, after passing the landmark healthcare legislation that came to be known as Obamacare, Democrats took cover in the face of the rampaging Tea Party instead of defending their accomplishment. The result: Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives.

This year, with Obamacare locked into the American system and proving to be more popular and less costly than many might have imagined at the program’s fumbled inception, are Democrats boasting? Not in the battleground states. There, if healthcare is mentioned at all, candidates on the D side babble about how they plan to fix it and reform it.

This plays perfectly into the Republican narrative that the Affordable Care Act is a disastrous corruption of American healthcare that, in Mitch McConnell’s words, must be torn out “root and branch”. McConnell and every other Republican who is not totally deluded knows that is not going to happen. Obamacare is too popular to be killed, just as they feared it would be. But, for campaign purposes — rallying the conservative troops and putting Democrats on the defensive — preaching the evils of Obamacare is still an effective tactic. This is true, in part, because too many Democrats — even a Democrat like Grimes who is running in a state where Obamacare has been a big success — cede the storyline to the GOP.

Republicans may not know how to appeal to young people, blacks, Latinos or single women, and their base may be shrinking, but they still control the terms of debate in this country. They and their compatriots in the conservative media have molded and marketed a version of reality in which government is always wrong, guns are at risk of confiscation, the federal budget is out of control, poor people are living high off the tax dollars of the middle class, corporations are being crushed by regulation, Mexicans are flooding the southern border and terrorists are running wild while the president cowers under his desk.

Each one of those points is either a complete falsehood or, at the very least, highly debatable. Rather than engaging in a debate, however, Democrats in competitive congressional districts and senate contests in red-leaning states choose to buy into the Republican narrative.

Yes, in a campaign it is hard to present a case that contradicts the fantasies that pervade the right wing media and get lodged in voters’ brains, but, with so many Republicans running on a string of falsehoods, it would be nice to see more Democrats speaking up for a fact-based version of reality.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-red-state-democrats-20141023-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-red-state-democrats-20141023-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 29, 2014, 10:44:11 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

The fate of America is in the hands of inattentive voters

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Wednesday, October 28, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141028dh_zpsbbf6ea5a.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-544f40d1/turbine/la-na-tt-inattentive-voters-20141028)

WITH election day just one week away, the fate of the nation — or at least control of the U.S. Senate — may rest in the hands of independent-minded voters, with the phrase “independent-minded” being a euphemism for oblivious.

Most of the people who actually pay attention to elections made up their minds about how they would vote long ago. That is because those people who are most intensely engaged with politics strongly favor one side or the other, just like they favor either Fox News or MSNBC.

Typical swing voters, on the other hand, more likely spend their time glued to ESPN or E! while occasionally drifting to CNN when there has been a mysterious plane crash or really nasty weather somewhere in the world. For a lot of them, news of the impending election comes as a big surprise.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties are pouring money into major get-out-the-vote efforts because, with many states and the country as a whole so closely split politically, turnout will be the deciding factor in several major races. Senate contests in Alaska, Iowa, Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and New Hampshire could go either way and how they go will decide whether President Obama should try to get any legislation passed or go golfing for the next two years.

We live in a compartmentalized society. Where once everyone read the same newspapers and watched the same TV news, now many Americans sequester themselves in ideological media bubbles that reinforce their biases. Those are the folks who routinely vote. For the rest, there are a thousand different ways to elude information about current events. The political parties are desperate to grab the attention of a few of those tuned-out folks and get them to complete a mail-in ballot or crawl off the couch long enough to drive to a polling place.

If one is a staunch Republican or Democrat, this has to be a bit demoralizing. You already assume that everyone voting against your side is an idiot, if not a traitor, and now you realize the fate of your cause rests in the hands of a few inattentive independents who, at best, are dumb enough to be swayed by a barrage of mendacious attack ads.

Winston Churchill famously said that “democracy is the worst form of government, except all those others that have been tried.” Those “others” rely on the dubious wisdom of a lone despot or a ruling elite. Democracy relies on the wisdom of the people, which is its strength, but also its biggest weakness if the people are too busy tweeting, texting, gaming and channel surfing to pay attention.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-inattentive-voters-20141028-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-inattentive-voters-20141028-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 31, 2014, 12:43:43 am

from the Los Angeles Times....

Chevron funds brazen campaign to buy a city government

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Thursday, October 29, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141029dh_zps8df43773.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5450b175/turbine/la-na-tt-chevron-brazen-campaign-20141029)

FANS of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling should be thrilled by all the corporate cash and billionaires' big donations being thrown around in campaigns this year. Fans of democracy, though, probably feel a bit less enthusiastic, not only because spending by interest-group super PACs is hitting record highs all across the nation, but because of the way some of that money is employed to create an extreme imbalance between contending sides.

This year’s top prize for brazen conduct by a giant corporation in the political sphere should probably go to Chevron. This is a multinational company that, according to a Los Angeles Times report, is bigger than General Motors or Apple and took in nearly $58 billion in revenue (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-stock-spotlight-chevron-20141013-story.html) during the second quarter of this year. Chevron has funneled a generous chunk of money to Republican campaign committees and individual candidates, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and wrote a million-dollar check to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a conservative PAC.

But backing pro-business conservatives hardly constitutes extraordinary conduct on the part of a corporation. Chevron’s brazenness has been manifested in the local politics of the Bay Area city of Richmond, where Chevron has been refining oil for a century. In 2012, a fire at the refinery sent noxious smoke into the air that sickened thousands of Richmond residents. Chevron paid a fine, but the Richmond City Council did not think that was enough. This was the third refinery fire since 1989, a period during which there had also been 14 toxic gas releases from the Chevron facility, according to city officials.

The city took Chevron to court seeking to force the company to improve safety procedures and oversight. Corporate leaders were not pleased and, in response, Chevron decided to back a slate of candidates for mayor and city council to replace the people who have dared to challenge the way the company does business in Richmond. Chevron’s chosen candidate for mayor has benefited from more than $1.4 million that the corporation has spent on his behalf while his opponent is trying to compete with a mere $40,000 in campaign funds. Chevron’s total spending in these local races is reported to be around $3 million.

Chevron’s big bucks have paid for TV attack ads, purchased space on virtually every billboard in town, funded a flood of mailers, financed a “news” website run by a Chevron employee and backed push polls all aimed at disparaging Chevron’s adversaries and electing a more pliable, less litigious group of city officials.

According to a recent report by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, when a local group calling itself Richmond Working Families began to organize to counter Chevron’s campaign, the company set up a puppet committee with virtually the same name, Richmond Working Families for Jobs 2014, and bought rights to the URL “RichmondWorkingFamilies.com” (http://richmondworkingfamilies.com).

This goes far beyond a simple donation to a candidate or a cause. In Richmond, Chevron’s money is drowning out any opposing voice. During a visit to the city, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said, “We are not living in a democracy when giant corporations like Chevron can buy local governments.”

But can we be surprised? Buying local governments is the logical next step for big corporations and wealthy individuals who are free to spend as much as they want to get whatever they want. Arguably, big business has already done a pretty good job of buying most of the United States Congress, so why shouldn’t Chevron buy a mayor and a few council members in a town the company treats like its private plantation?

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-chevron-brazen-campaign-20141029-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-chevron-brazen-campaign-20141029-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 31, 2014, 07:25:40 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Voting fraud frenzy threatens a core American liberty

By DAVID HORSEY | 2:00PM PDT - Thursday, October 30, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141030dh_zps19cd9ae9.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5452adcb/turbine/la-na-tt-voting-fraud-frenzy-20141030)

VOTING FRAUD is an issue that has generated a great deal of heat and very little light on the right. Fox News host Megyn Kelly recently had to backtrack from her report that voters in Colorado were being allowed to print out ballots at home and admit that was simply not true. But that did not stop her, or her compatriots in the conservative media, from continuing to whip up fear about elections being stolen by hordes of fake voters.

Does fraudulent voting occur? Of course it does. Mostly, though, it happens in local elections where some crooked official stuffs ballot boxes with bogus ballots. These days, this is very rare. Even more rare is some individual showing up to vote who is not eligible to exercise that right. Under President George W. Bush, the Justice Department conducted a five-year study of voter fraud. In the end, the study found just 38 violations that could be taken to court. Only one of those cases involved someone impersonating a real voter.

There are already plenty of laws against all kinds of voter fraud. But Republican legislatures and governors in several states have been on a crusade to weed out illegal voting by passing a range of restrictions justified primarily by “impersonation fraud” — the kind of fraud that is so rare that examples are extremely hard to find. A mere 10 cases of voting fraud have been reported over the last five years in each of the states of Texas, South Carolina, Kansas and Tennessee, yet those states have toughened up voter identification rules.

When states dig a little deeper into charges of individuals voting when they shouldn’t, they usually find there has been a clerical error or a problem with public records (as South Carolina discovered when investigating an erroneous claim that 900 dead people had voted in recent elections).

Do the laws being pushed to remedy voting problems do anything to clean up bad record keeping? Nope. Instead, the new laws simply make it harder to vote. They curtail voter registration campaigns and early voting. Those are steps that do very little about fraud, but do discourage working people, minorities and young people from voting.

Democrats make the argument that all the noise about voting fraud is simply a distraction to hide what Republicans are really doing: voter suppression. The biggest point of contention is the GOP’s push for all voters to have valid IDs when they show up at the polls. Although most of us have a driver’s license or some other form of government-issued ID, not everyone does, and a big proportion of those folks without official IDs are poor and non-whites — not exactly the Republican base.

The central principle that gets obscured in this debate and that should be of key concern to libertarians on both the left and right is that voting is the core liberty guaranteed to every American by the Constitution. Any restrictions on voting should be scrutinized with at least as much skepticism as the NRA brings to even the slightest curtailment of the right to keep and bear arms.

There should be more opportunities to vote, not fewer. There should be more people voting, not fewer. And, because this is a sacred right, we should make sure that only people who are eligible get to vote. But, in too many states, the voting restrictions being imposed are not actually protecting the right to vote, they are trying to ensure that only the right kind of people vote.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-voting-fraud-frenzy-20141030-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-voting-fraud-frenzy-20141030-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 05, 2014, 12:18:43 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Election 2014: Voice of the people is muzzled by political realities

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, November 04, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141104dh_zps52bac86f.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54583f66/turbine/la-na-tt-voice-of-the-people-20141103)

SOMETIME this evening, when most of the votes have been counted, someone will utter the words, “The American people have spoken,” and everyone will pretend that it is true. Reality, though, is a bit more complicated because, when it comes to congressional elections, most voters are only screaming from the sidelines, not playing in the game.

I’m not talking merely about those who choose not to vote, I’m talking about the vast majority of Americans who live in congressional districts where their vote does not count for much because either Democrats or Republicans are so dominant that there is little doubt about who the winner will be. Their choices have been foreordained by the legislators or redistricting commissioners who drew the district lines.

In some states, the way the lines get drawn has such a skewed effect that the will of the people gets subverted. In the 2012 election, for example, Republicans won barely more than 50% of the total votes cast in House races in Ohio, but they took 12 of the state’s 16 congressional seats. The same phenomenon happened in Pennsylvania, where votes were split almost evenly between parties, but the GOP walked away with 13 of the state’s 18 House seats. In North Carolina, where Democrats cast the most total votes, Republicans still won nine seats to Democrats’ four.

As outrageous as it may be, gerrymandering is hardly the only element that distorts the people’s voice. As Ezra Klein details in a smart, clinical analysis at Vox.com (http://www.vox.com/2014/8/27/6053039/the-most-important-facts-about-the-2014-election), midterm elections have underlying dynamics that dictate results occasionally at odds with the inclinations of a majority of voters. Klein points to a Pew Research Center poll that indicates Americans have a distinctly more negative view of the Republican Party than of the Democrats. Nevertheless, Republicans are certain to hang on to, and even increase, their House majority in today’s election and are very likely to take control of the U.S. Senate.

Why? Well, not because a majority of the American people want to give Republicans a big mandate. Instead, the GOP is likely to have a good night because Democrats are defending 21 Senate seats while Republicans are defending only 15. Among the Democratic senators are several who were swept into office by the unusually strong progressive tide that lifted Barack Obama into the White House in 2008. Now, with Obama’s popularity low and Democratic voters less inclined to show up to vote, those senators are in trouble.

And that leads to the core dynamic that has created an electoral swing between the two parties every two years. Republican voters are older and whiter than the general populace, and older white folk are much more likely to vote in midterm elections than the younger, browner Democratic base that seems to only get politically engaged in presidential election years.

As likely as Republicans are to win the Senate this year, Democrats will be just as likely to take control back in 2016 when the GOP will be defending many more positions and the electorate will lean Democratic. Neither now nor then should either party pretend to have gotten a mandate from the American people (barring a surprise landslide that dramatically favors one side or the other), but, of course, the winners will act as if they had been crowned kings.

Yes, in each election the people speak, but their voice is usually too muffled by structural impediments, low enthusiasm and mixed messages for any party to honestly claim the people have spoken just for them.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-voice-of-the-people-20141103-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-voice-of-the-people-20141103-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 06, 2014, 11:38:50 am

from the Los Angeles Times....

Obama's veto is the only weapon defeated Democrats have left

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Wednesday, November 05, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141105dh_zpse706352a.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5459e1ee/turbine/la-na-tt-obamas-veto-weapon-20141105)

EARLY in the evening on election night, nervous Democrats might have found solace in the fact that, even with all the advantages Republicans had going into the 2014 campaign — the conservative bent of midterm voters, gerrymandered House districts, a lopsided number of shaky Democratic U.S. Senate seats in play — most of the major races were too close to call. There seemed to be a real possibility those contests could fall their way.

That ray of hope disappeared as the night wore on. Almost all the tight races went to Republicans, and what had been predicted to be a bad night for Democrats turned into something approaching disaster.

Republicans took control of the Senate, not only winning nearly all of the most hotly contested races, but coming very close to stealing a seat in Virginia from Senator Mark Warner that Democrats had considered a sure bet. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell had a fabulous night; he crushed his Democratic opponent and went to bed facing the happy prospect of becoming the next majority leader in the Senate.

Republicans increased their numbers in the House of Representatives, building up such a commanding majority that it is unlikely to be undone for many election cycles to come. Democrats may hang on to the White House in the 2016 election, but the agenda of the next Democratic president will be blocked by a Republican House in 2017 and beyond.

Perhaps the worst news for Democrats was how badly they fared in governors’ races in states where Democrats are not supposed to lose, places like Maryland and much of New England. One of the only bright spots for the Democrats was New Hampshire, where they were able to re-elect both a governor and a senator.

When Barack Obama swept into office in 2008, he brought with him solid Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Those numbers have dwindled through his six years as president and, after last night’s rout, he must now be feeling like a general without an army. McConnell, on the other hand, should feel as smart as Caesar. He made good on his 2009 vow to oppose and defeat Obama at every turn, and that scorched-earth tactic paid off. Public disgust with a gridlocked government seems to have attached itself to Obama, not to McConnell and the Republicans, and voters have made the Democrats suffer for it.

In a gracious victory speech, McConnell reached out to the president and said, “We have a duty to get beyond conflict.” His words were pretty, but conflict has paid off so well for McConnell and his party that it would be more than surprising if he suddenly began to seek common ground with the man he has spent six years portraying as the source of national ruin.

It is far more likely that Republicans will use their control of Congress to confront the president even more boldly, and Obama, with Democrats on Capitol Hill fleeing like the Iraqi army, will find himself locked in a lonely battle, holding a veto stamp as his weapon of last resort.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-obamas-veto-weapon-20141105-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-obamas-veto-weapon-20141105-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 06, 2014, 12:17:03 pm

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20News%20Pix/sfgate_morfordbanner2.jpg) (http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/morford)

Extremism wins, ideas lose:
The irony of the spineless Democrats

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist (mmorford@sfgate.com) | 10:53AM PST - Wednesday, November 05, 2014

IT appears we have consensus!

Not that anyone cares, what with all the Democratic moaning and the Republican leering, liberals across American once again licking their wounds in a sort of dumbfounded, how-could-this-happen disbelief, as Republicans grab gobs of dumb power on waves of nothing but contempt, hostility and a derisive lack of a single fresh idea.

Nevertheless, everyone seems to agree: Democrats were destroyed, once again, by the party’s own infamous, downright astonishing ineptitude at executing (mostly) very good ideas.

A failure of nerve. A lack of ideological spine. A toothless mismanagement of a largely admirable agenda that, despite some terrific successes, never fully made it off the runway.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20News%20Pix/sfg_20141105_ObamaFrown_zpscbf6fb7e.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/files/2014/11/obama-frown.jpg)
We feel you, dude.

Call it what you will. But the president certainly didn’t help, with his weird tone of detached apathy, his failure to grow some serious backbone to push back against GOP obstructionism and trumpet the party’s successes from day one, all combined with a sort of pathetic lack of follow-through on maintaining the wild, youth-led enthusiasm he so rightfully earned in the beginning, and again in 2012.

And Republicans? Simple. They won (again) because of their utter mastery at hurling empty propaganda, and their utter hatred of President Obama (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/11/republican_party_wins_the_midterms_democrats_couldn_t_escape_president_obama.html).

Let us emphasize this point fully and clear: Hate won. Ideas lost.

Don’t take my word for it. Republicans admit as much themselves (http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/dont-just-do-something-stand-there). They widely acknowledge they forwarded not a single new idea, promised not a single fresh approach to governing. Far from it. In nearly every race in the country, Republicans ran on one campaign slogan and one slogan only: Obama is horrible.

And it worked. It worked shockingly well. As with every mid-term, turnout was abysmal, young (liberal) voters stayed away, and those who did turn out were the Republican’s most favorite chattel of all: older, fear-addled white conservatives who lack much in the way of critical thinking skills. Bingo!

Can you pity, for a moment, the poor Democratic party? For the horribly ironic bind it finds itself in, over and over again?

See, the party’s most fatal flaw is also its most appealing trait: It lacks the murderous cruelty and savage bloodlust of the Republicans.

Whereas the GOP has zero qualms about flinging outright lies (birthers, science deniers, creationists, et al) to get what it wants, not to mention an ever-present air of racism, sexism and a dark mistrust/hatred of everyone from Muslims to the entire African continent (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120086/american-voters-crazy-how-ebola-and-isis-are-shaping-election), Dems have no such arsenal, and no skill to use it if they did.

Republicans will say and do anything to win, and are utterly ruthless about how they go about it; enacting a smart, fair policy agenda is almost nowhere on their priority list. Dems are the exact opposite: terrific agenda, lots of policy, but morally unwilling to play dirty, to murder their own grandmother in cold blood and blame it on the GOP, to make it go.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20News%20Pix/sfg_20141105_Mitch_zpsf871fa42.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/files/2014/11/mitch.jpg)
Do you have any idea how much this man detests you?

This is why there is no Democratic equivalent of Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, no endless drumbeat of hate speech pounding across the flyover states 24/7, no incessant wails of fear, racism, hatred of Other. Liberal ideology prohibits such harsh machinery. The Dems are the party of the smart, the city, the college-educated, the critical thinker. Nearly every major metropolis votes blue, and every significant college town, and scientist, and artist, and creative entrepreneur. The general truism remains: The smarter, more compassionate and more attuned you get, the more liberal you become. The more fearful, suspicious and egocentric you get, the more conservative you become.

So then, consensus: Extremism and odium won; intelligence and compromise lost.

For now, anyway. Some say this is just a typical mid-cycle backlash, a blip, part of an all-too-common Democratic surge/crash cycle that Obama had hoped to mollify, and failed. Badly.

Some say wait until Hillary takes over in 2016. Which is amusing given how, aside from her gender, Hillary brings the exact same gnarly set of political baggage as those who came before.

Still others say that, despite this red surge, the country is still turning leftward overall, as demographics shift, women and minorities become more dominant, and older white males (http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/11/05/midterms_2014_64_percent_of_white_men_voted_republican.html) gasp their last. What with a lousy voter turnout and most of that from older whites from the red states, this election is a very poor indicator of overall direction.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20News%20Pix/sfg_20141105jpg_Spineless_zpse24ba322.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/files/2014/11/spineless.gif)
New Democratic Party logo!
At least until 2016.

One thing is certain: It’s going to be a very ugly couple of years (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/11/democrats-have-2-choices-gridlock-or-disaster.html). Fumes of Bush, off-gassing of Cheney, sour fragrance of Rove permeates the air. Obama just got much grayer (http://m.thenation.com/blog/188057-republicans-just-took-over-senate-heres-why-sucks), though all is not necessarily lost (http://www.thenation.com/blog/188193/obama-should-not-accept-lame-duck-status?_ga=1.269105016.887723783.1415211363).

Want a silver lining? A bright beacon of hope? I can think of two:

One (echoing John Judis’ excellent point at New Republic (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120138/2014-election-results-heres-why-democrats-lost-senate-gop)): if voter turnout this election had been what it was in 2008 or 2012, Dems would have done much better. Women, minorities and young people, who generally lean more liberal, barely showed up. Which means potentially good news for 2016. If the Dems don’t screw it up.

And two? Well, that would be right here at home, California.

This state, the 8th largest economy in the world, is sort of a marvel. Governor Brown, who is 76 years old, just won again, in a landslide (http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Brown-cruises-to-victory-over-Kashkari-5871053.php). Democrats have near-total control (http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Yee-Padilla-leading-as-Dems-dominate-statewide-5872571.php). And with the exception of a brutal drought, under Governor Brown and just a handful of years after our state was the butt of a debt-ridden, downward-spiraling, Schwarzenegger-sized joke, the state is largely flourishing.

Brown is frugal, deeply intelligent, compassionate. The state legislature, increasingly un-gridlocked and free of trying to combat Republican cruelty and obstructionism, moves with a rare sort of ideological ease. Here, ideas can actually become reality. Agenda items evolve. Some surprisingly progressive proposals (http://www.vice.com/read/california-just-became-the-first-state-to-de-felonize-drug-use-1105?utm_source=vicetwitterus) make it through. It ain’t perfect and we have our own pile of issues, but considering this state’s mammoth budget, stupefying economy and wildly complicated demographics, its ongoing success is nothing short of miraculous (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/jerry-browns-tough-love-miracle-20130829).

Is California a bright model of progressivism, wonderfully imperfect proof of what Dems can do when acidic conservativism and obstructionism aren’t a factor? Just might be. One thing is certain: At this particular moment, as Mitch McConnell’s flying monkeys swarm into D.C., cackling and smashing the furniture (http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/dont-just-do-something-stand-there) and ruining everyone’s day, our calm, liberal bubble has never looked better.

Email: Mark Morford (etc@markmorford.com)

Mark Morford (http://www.markmorford.com) on Twitter (http://twitter.com/markmorford) and Facebook (http://facebook.com/markmorfordyes).

http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2014/11/05/extremism-wins-ideas-lose (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2014/11/05/extremism-wins-ideas-lose)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 07, 2014, 05:27:25 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Republicans caught a big, angry wave that swamped Democrats

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Thursday, November 07, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141106dh_zps59ebf062.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-545ac9ec/turbine/la-na-tt-republicans-caught-a-wave-20141105)

MSNBC's Chris Matthews declared Tuesday’s national vote a “wave election” where Republican victories were not isolated events but part of a large, sweeping tide. Matthews picked the right metaphor; like a big wave, this latest expression of electoral unease was all brute force.

Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate surfed the wave successfully while many Democrats got swamped. That had a great deal to do with the nature of the wave, propelled as it was by older white voters in more conservative states. These were the same states that had elected Democratic senators six years ago when a different wave, driven by young, ethnically diverse voters, lifted Barack Obama into the White House.

Election results are never precise statements of support for particular policies and philosophies of government. They are unfocused manifestations of a collective gut feeling. Now and then, hope and optimism drive the vote, but, far more often, it is an expression of a general unease with the state of the nation. When that unease gets focused on an individual leader, as it did this year with the president, the opposition party invariably benefits.

That is why Republicans dare not assume their victories are portents of triumphs to come. The conditions were right for them to do well this year. There were plenty of endangered Democratic incumbents to pick off and, this being a lower-turnout midterm election, there were fewer young people and minorities showing up at the polls. In two years, those factors will be reversed.

Still, Democrats should not lull themselves into thinking the worst is over. Republicans ran well in places where, even in non-presidential election years, Democrats should be able to win. Democrats lost races for governor in the blue states of Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. They lost squeakers in Wisconsin, Maine and Florida. In Georgia, even the grandson of Jimmy Carter failed to knock off an unpopular, ethically challenged GOP incumbent. And in true-blue Vermont, the Democratic governor fell short of 50% of the vote, sending the final choice to the state Legislature.

There was good news for Democrats in Pennsylvania, where newcomer Tom Wolf convincingly drubbed incumbent Republican Governor Tom Corbett, and in California, where Governor Jerry Brown won a historic fourth term without breaking a sweat. If Brown were a young man, he’d be at the top of the list of Democratic presidential prospects. But he is 76 years old and at the climax of his career.

And that illuminates the biggest weakness of the Democratic Party going toward 2016. The most likely Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton, who will be 69 when the next election rolls around. These days, that is not necessarily old, but the Clinton brand is hardly fresh and new. If Democratic success is reliant on the kind of young, fickle voters who swarmed to Obama in 2008 because he was a youthful, mixed-race guy with an aura of cool and a celebrity-driven campaign, will they show up to vote for someone who already inhabited the White House when they were in grade school?

And if not Hillary, then who would the candidate be? Is the top alternative really Vice President Joe Biden, who will be nearly 75 when the nation votes again? Joe Biden, who is the butt of jokes on “The Daily Show” and Colbert and “Saturday Night Live”?

Among the Republican politicians lining up for the presidential race, there are right-wing zealots like Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum who would go down in flames and take their party with them. But there are also some relatively young and intriguing new faces, such as Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, who could reshape the GOP brand. Meanwhile, the Democratic bench is packed with too many veterans of past campaigns.

Older Democrats may pine for the return of Hillary and Bill, but for voters under 40 the Clintons are figures from history. When the next political tide rolls in, Democrats may wish they had someone better positioned to catch the new wave.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-republicans-caught-a-wave-20141105-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-republicans-caught-a-wave-20141105-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on November 07, 2014, 09:50:11 pm
mm...wonder if this may mean a shift to the right in the US.....could there be another Bush presidency?? ;)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 07, 2014, 10:06:37 pm

So correct me if I'm wrong....

The Republicans cannot pass any legislation without risking Obama exercising a veto.

Obama cannot get anything done without the Republicans blocking it.

Hahaha.....that sounds just like the dysfunctional government the Fascist States of America has had for the past few years.

Perhaps reality should shift there.....he is obviously as mentally ill as Americans, so would fit right in.

And perhaps another Bush presidency could be a good thing. The last Bush almost bankrupted the country wasting trillions of dollars on warmongering. The next bout of warmongering could end up bankrupting the country, and that really WOULD be a good thing. I could be the greatest entertainment show on earth. Sooner or later, the Chinese are going to turn off the money tap which is propping up the Jesuslanders. Another fuckhead prez could be just the thing to do it.

Bring it on!!  (http://www.smfboards.com/Smileys//smf/afro.gif)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on November 07, 2014, 11:09:03 pm
Brucie..."And perhaps another Bush presidency could be a good thing. The last Bush almost bankrupted the country wasting trillions of dollars on warmongering. The next bout of warmongering could end up bankrupting the country, and that really WOULD be a good thing. I could be the greatest entertainment show on earth. Sooner or later, the Chinese are going to turn off the money tap which is propping up the Jesuslanders. Another fuckhead prez could be just the thing to do it.

Bring it on!!  "

....please enlighten us as to the benefits for NZ if this was to occur ::)

...be careful what you wish for..... ;)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 08, 2014, 01:18:08 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Voters put climate change policy in the hands of climate change denier

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Friday, November 07, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141107dh_zpsb2ce9d0a.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-545c6c21/turbine/la-na-tt-climate-change-denier-20141106)

PEOPLE who voted for the GOP in the congressional elections this week may be surprised to learn they chose a militant climate change denier to oversee federal efforts to deal with climate change. The widespread expectation is that, when Republicans take charge of the Senate in January, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, a vehement foe of those who believe human exploitation of fossil fuels is contributing to a sharp rise in global temperatures, will be chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Exit polls taken during Tuesday’s vote indicated that this year’s electorate leaned conservative and that their top two desires were smaller government and a healthier economy. Inhofe would probably argue that halting efforts to deal with climate change would contribute to both goals, but, besides being wrong, his remedy may not be what many of those voters had in mind.

What were the voters saying? Conservatives have been expressing their wish for less government for years but, no matter who gets elected, Republican or Democrat, the federal government remains huge. And that is because, when it comes down to cutting the big stuff, there is not much that even conservatives want to do without. Besides the massively expensive right-wing sacred cow of defense, the two biggest pieces of government are Social Security and Medicare and those are dear to all the older voters who vote Republican.

What a push for smaller government usually comes down to is cutting food stamps for the poor and eliminating regulations for the rich. The former, while making life more miserable for folks at the low end of the economic scale, does not make a very big dent in the federal budget. The latter, while further enriching corporations, banks and Wall Street firms and freeing them to pollute the environment and come up with new, risky ways to manipulate the stock market, has not been proved to extend the benefits of a booming economy to the middle class.

Surely voters are hoping for more than that, but it is not always easy to know because a lot of people contradict themselves with their ballots. At the same moment voters were giving the Senate to the GOP and choosing a batch of new Republican governors, some were also voting to raise the minimum wage. This happened in five states — Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Illinois — where Democrats were being dumped in favor of Republicans, even though pro-business Republicans have blocked a federal minimum wage hike for years.

Voters do not always think about these contradictions and they certainly don’t spend time wondering how their vote will affect individual committee assignments in the Senate. But those obscure, small results are usually more tangible than all the noisy promises about improving the economy. Entrusting Jim Inhofe with climate change policy is one good example.

Inhofe answers the worldwide scientific consensus that climate change is already responsible for melting glaciers and extreme weather with reassuring passages from Genesis. Contrary to the ominous research-based predictions of climatologists, the senator insists that a warming planet might, in fact, be a good thing. Summing up all his skepticism and paranoia, Inhofe published a book in 2012, “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future”.

Actually, what he calls a “conspiracy” is more a threat to the future of the big oil and gas companies that have been the most generous contributors to Inhofe’s re-election campaigns. As far as actual danger, there are few places in the country more in peril than Inhofe’s Oklahoma and the lower Great Plains. Record temperatures, drought and water depletion are already big problems in the region. If climate scientists are correct and the current crisis is just a hint of worse days to come, one would think Inhofe might want to open his mind to the possibility he could be wrong about how wonderful climate change is going to be for his constituents.

Don’t expect it, though. He’s got books to sell, big donors to please and a committee chairmanship he can use to block any small effort to deal with what some consider an existential threat to the nation and the human race. No matter what they may have thought they were doing in the voting booths on November 4th, what voters did was put Jim Inhofe in charge of the future of the world.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-climate-change-denier-20141106-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-climate-change-denier-20141106-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 21, 2014, 05:17:53 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Obama may be too sane for our crazy world

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141112dh_zpsc83a68bf.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54633614/turbine/la-na-tt-barack-obama-too-sane-20141112/2048)

AN NBC report about this week’s Asian economic summit in Beijing had a shot of the various leaders walking together like a crowd of students on their way to a third-period history class. Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping were in front, talking and smiling. President Obama was off to the side and back a few steps.

The random placement probably meant nothing. Still, life often mimics high school and it sure looked as if Obama were being shunned by the cool kids.

Now that Democrats have been hammered in the midterm congressional elections and the blame has fallen on Obama, the usual gaggle of pundits is speculating that world leaders will perceive the president as significantly weakened. As if to confirm this, Alexei Pushkov (http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-obama-foreign-20141110-story.html), chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, told the Tass news agency that Obama has fallen “from the president of hope to the president of disappointment.” Pushkov’s pal, Putin, must be smiling at that thought, the class bully that he is.

Putin is the bad kid who is always in trouble with the principal but remains defiant. In the face of international sanctions meant to punish him for his incursions into Ukraine, he has skipped out of planning for an upcoming international summit aimed at controlling the spread of nuclear materials to terrorists. Instead, he has sent his navy to test a new intercontinental ballistic missile with the capacity to delivery 10 nuclear warheads. Not having to worry about elections himself, Putin can play the tough guy and scoff at his lame-duck counterpart in the United States.

Obama is the smart, well-behaved lad in the global high school that punks love to pick on. As president, he’s tried for six years to be a rational-minded conciliator. He wants his opponents, both foreign and domestic, to simmer down, dispense with threats and do the logical thing. Apparently — from the bully who brazenly stole Crimea to the wild bunch who shut down the federal government — everyone but him thinks that’s a lame idea.

Arizona Senator John McCain, likely the next chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is among the most vocal of the Republican critics who think Obama’s foreign policy has been too timid. As a West Point cadet, McCain was constantly on the edge of getting tossed out for bad grades and defiant behavior. You can bet if McCain had won the White House in 2008, he would have brought some of that cocky recklessness to the job. He was, after all, the candidate who, on the campaign trail in 2007, shocked a lot of people by singing his own version of an old Beach Boys tune: “Bomb, bomb, bomb — bomb, bomb Iran”.

It’s hard to imagine Obama pulling such a stunt, but recklessness, rather than prudence, just might be what many voters admire and what authoritarian leaders respond to.

When he was president, Richard Nixon, one of the most calculating leaders of his time, purposely tried to make his foreign adversaries believe that he was unhinged and capable of self-destructive actions, up to and including nuclear war. In October 1969, intent on convincing the Soviets and the North Vietnamese that a lunatic was loose in the White House, Nixon put the U.S. military on full alert and ordered bombers armed with thermonuclear weapons to probe the edges of Russian airspace for three days.

Nixon’s fake craziness — what he privately called his “madman theory” — may have had a lasting effect in Moscow. A decade later when Ronald Reagan first took up residence in the White House, the Soviets were so sure the new president was dangerously irrational that they put their own forces on high alert expecting an imminent nuclear attack.

It’s doubtful anyone worries about Obama doing anything crazy. Contrary to what Nixon believed, sanity should be a good thing, right? Maybe, but is Obama’s caution also why the Russians and, perhaps, the Chinese, have no compunction about defying him?

It’s a tough, crazy world out there and, though we wish humanity would grow up a little, it still seems as if we are stuck playing the foolish games of high school on a global scale.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-barack-obama-too-sane-20141112-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-barack-obama-too-sane-20141112-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 21, 2014, 05:18:06 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Right wing freaks out over China-U.S. climate change deal

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Thursday, November 13, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141113dh_zps8d1343e0.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54642f80/turbine/la-na-tt-chinaus-climate-deal-20141112)

ABOUT five seconds after the announcement came from Beijing that the United States and China had reached an unexpected and ambitious climate change agreement, Republicans in Washington declared it the worst deal since the Trojans accepted a big wooden horse from the Greeks.

Climate scientists had a different reaction. If China and the U.S. actually reach the goals to which they are committing, and if other nations follow their lead, climate experts are saying the world will have made a huge leap toward averting the worst effects of rising global temperatures.

You would think everyone would be cheering, but the boos and catcalls from the right have just begun.

Throughout his campaign for reelection, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell said it would be foolhardy to raise carbon dioxide emissions standards on American companies as long as China, the world’s biggest generator of greenhouse gases, was sticking to business as usual. But now that China has agreed to take a big step away from coal as its primary fuel source, McConnell still is not satisfied and stands ready to fight implementation of the new agreement once he becomes Senate majority leader in January.

In McConnell’s case, it is transparently obvious that his prime motivation is to protect his state’s coal industry. If that industry happens to be contributing to shifts in climate that threaten civilization, that’s tough luck. McConnell is far more concerned about the profits of the energy industries that finance his, and his party’s, campaigns.

The Senate’s chief climate change denier, Oklahoma Senator James M. Inhofe, also damned the China deal, branding it a “nonbinding charade”. The rest of the right wing chimed in with similar sentiments, asserting that the Chinese had bamboozled President Obama. Because there are no hard and fast requirements in the deal, just aspirational goals, the critics assert that the sneaky Chinese will do nothing while Obama’s reckless and unnecessary new emissions standards wreck the U.S. economy and turn the nation into an impoverished vassal of Beijing.

Besides ignoring the positive bump the American economy would receive from turning to renewable energy sources, the conservatives’ argument misses a very big factor driving China’s sudden willingness to do something about the bad stuff their factories and cars are spewing into the atmosphere. The pollution clouding Chinese cities is a political danger to the regime. China’s President Xi Jinping has agreed to cap emissions and move 20% of the country’s energy consumption to alternative fuels by 2030, not to please the international community or to pull a fast one on Americans, but to avoid a revolt in his own smog-choked country. It’s called self-interest.

Unfortunately, in the United States, too many politicians interpret self-interest as whatever it is that will get them re-elected. The true self-interest of our nation is far larger. It is to keep heartland farms from drying up, to avert extreme sea level rises that would flood coastal cities and to avoid increasingly intense and destructive wildfires, tornadoes, blizzards, floods and hurricanes — all the calamities that will come with climate change.

Anyone who actually cares about America — and the future American economy — would welcome the deal with China as a step in the right direction and would be engaged in making sure it is fully implemented by both countries. Instead, we have pseudo-patriots in Congress and the conservative media doing what they do best: spreading paranoia and protecting the interests of those who are getting rich today by forsaking generations of Americans to come.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-chinaus-climate-deal-20141112-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-chinaus-climate-deal-20141112-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 21, 2014, 05:18:31 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Legislators and lobbyists bonding over mai tais on Maui

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Friday, November 14, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141114dh_zpsb9a9b50c.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5465d098/turbine/la-na-tt-legislators-and-lobbyists-20141114)

I GOT into the news business covering the Washington Legislature as a student intern for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. In those days, lobbyists would host frequent fundraising events for key lawmakers during the legislative session and there was always lots of free food. Because I was paid barely enough to cover a dorm-type room and really cheap meals, I dropped by as many of these parties as I could and I’d head straight for the buffet. I didn’t think about the ethics of it at the time; I was just hungry.

The practice of special interests raising money for legislators while they were in the midst of deliberating legislation that affected those same interests was banned in Washington long ago, part of a general trend of elected officials trying to eliminate the appearance of being bought off by lobbyists. But, in this second decade of the 21stcentury, there are still glaring examples of lawmakers getting cozy with the folks who are paid to influence them.

A new case in point: A couple dozen California legislators have signed up for conferences at fancy resorts on the island of Maui that are subsidized by special interest groups including pharmaceutical companies, tobacco distributors, cable operators, public employee unions and oil corporations.

According to an article by Los Angeles Times reporter Patrick McGreevy (http://www.latimes.com/local/politics/la-me-pol-maui-legislature-20141112-story.html), legislators are getting their $350-a-night rooms paid for, and that’s just a start. These are annual events and, last year, an average of $2,500 in expenses was covered for each lawmaker. A very innocently named organization picked up that tab -- the Independent Voter Project. But guess where the group gets all its money: from Occidental Petroleum, the Western State Petroleum Assn., Eli Lilly, the state prison guards union and many other groups with a vested interest in the bills that get passed or killed in Sacramento.

Defenders of the Maui gatherings say the lawmakers need to escape the partisan rancor of the state capital and go someplace nice where they can build camaraderie and kick around important ideas. A statement issued on behalf of the Republican leader of the Assembly said the junket gives legislators of both parties a chance to talk with each other and with “experts” about public policy solutions that will lead to “a better California for all”.

Well, OK, in this age of obscene expenditures for campaigns, I guess five days of subsidized fun in the sun is small potatoes. And I guess these folks really need to fly off to Hawaii, since there are no good beach resorts to be found in California. And I guess it’s good that Republicans and Democrats are actually talking to each other — something that does not seem to happen back in Washington, D.C. And I’ll even stipulate that not too many politicians sell their souls for a mere $350 room and all the mai tais they can drink. But here’s the problem: This is all about access.

In those relaxed hours between heady policy seminars when legislators and lobbyists are sitting around the pool or playing a round of golf or ordering another round at the hosted bar, there are bonds being forged, friendships blossoming and good feelings being cultivated. This is an opportunity most citizens do not ever get.

So when those legislators are back at work and someone knocks at their office door, who gets in and who gets told to come back some other day? The lowly citizen might be given a minute or two for a handshake and a snapshot, but guess who is invited for a private word in the inner sanctum. You know who; that nice guy or gal who was so much fun back in Hawaii, the one who was nice enough to pick up the check.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-legislators-and-lobbyists-20141114-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-legislators-and-lobbyists-20141114-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 21, 2014, 05:18:43 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

GOP outrage at Obama immigration plan sticks to an old script

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141118dh_zps5e189348.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-546c0e50/turbine/la-na-tt-gop-outrage-at-immigration-20141118)

RONALD REGAN pulled off a great performance as president of the United States. All those years in the movies came in handy. Yet, it must be acknowledged that, even without careers in Hollywood, members of the current cast of Republicans are no slouches when it comes to playacting.

I’m not talking about the professional entertainers, such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, who are paid big money for their florid melodramatics. Nor do I mean the party’s hilarious clown corps, the laugh-a-minute buffoons Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert. I mean the true thespians — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House John Boehner, as well as understated players such as South Dakota Sen. John Thune and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.

These are actors who can suspend disbelief and make crass artifice seem sincere. Currently, they are playing outraged defenders of the Constitution and disappointed champions of bipartisanship. Faced with President Obama’s imminent announcement that he is unilaterally freezing deportations of several million undocumented immigrants, Republican leaders are taking the stage to spout grand soliloquies of condemnation: The president is exercising power like an autocrat, undermining the republic and usurping the power of the legislative branch.

Interspersed with the outraged orations, there are dewy-eyed pleas: Just work with us, Mr. Obama, just sit down and talk things over and we can solve the immigration problem together. It is a mark of their superb dramatic skills that Republicans can say these things and keep a straight face.

They rise above the reality that both Reagan and his successor, George H.W. Bush, issued executive orders on immigration that were quite similar in scope and effect to what Obama is proposing. In those instances, there were no Republicans rushing to the spotlight to declare the man in the White House a dictator and call for his impeachment.

And, as they express their eagerness for bipartisan compromise, there is nary a blush on the cheek of those who have spent six years opposing even the most uncontroversial idea emanating from the Oval Office. A casual member of the audience would never know these same people have been scheming against the Obama presidency with more determination than Brutus and Cassius showed in taking down Julius Caesar.

It may or may not be wise — or even legal — for Obama to push his executive authority this far (although, obviously, other presidents have done it). Many Democrats want him to postpone his immigration order so they can get a few last things done in the lame-duck session of Congress. But, having suffered through the shabby show of Democratic candidates running away from him during the just-completed election campaign, the president may not be in the mood to do them any favors. And he is understandably skeptical of pledges of comity coming from the same Republicans who made “Stop Obama” their singular goal from Day One.

Chiming in from the wings, Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal characterized Obama’s intransigence as a childish “temper tantrum”. But, if Obama’s cool demeanor qualifies as a tantrum, what do we make of a drama queen like Speaker Boehner who has angrily pledged to fight Obama “tooth and nail.” Boehner grimly warns that the president will ruin any chance of getting immigration legislation if he doesn’t back down. This is a gutsy performance from the man who could have gotten a truly bipartisan, Senate-passed immigration bill through the House and to the president’s desk at any moment in the last couple of years simply by allowing a vote — a vote that never happened because Boehner did not want to risk a riot among the anti-immigrant radicals in his caucus.

Sure, Republicans could be called crassly disingenuous, but, in theatrical terms, they deserve credit for adding an audacious new layer of artifice to a well-worn script. The president can be forgiven, however, for not applauding.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-gop-outrage-at-immigration-20141118-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-gop-outrage-at-immigration-20141118-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 21, 2014, 05:18:59 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Keystone XL pipeline pumps out political nonsense

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Thursday, November 20, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141120dh_zpsa534cd20.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-546d6f17/turbine/la-na-tt-keystone-xl-pipeline--20141119)

LIKE most debates in Congress, the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline is driven by posturing and partisanship rather than common sense. On Tuesday, this phenomenon was on full view as the Senate took a vote that fell short of overriding environmental concerns and giving the pipeline the go-ahead.

The goofiness began with the reason the vote was taken at all. Louisiana’s Democratic Senator Mary L. Landrieu pleaded with her party's Senate leaders to bring up the measure on the theory that a public display of her strong support for the pipeline would help her prevail in the December runoff election in which Republican Representative Bill Cassidy is favored to oust Landrieu from her Senate seat.

What’s goofy about that? Well, for one thing, though Landrieu is a sponsor of the Senate pipeline bill, Cassidy is sponsor of the House version, and it is hard to see how passage of the legislation would give Landrieu any advantage over Cassidy.

For another thing, if this was meant to be a demonstration of Landrieu’s clout as chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, it did not work very well. The bill missed getting through by one vote, and, as the world knows, even if Landrieu defeats Cassidy, her influence will only shrink when Republicans take over the Senate in January.

And, for a third thing, what lame-brained political consultant is naive enough to think that Louisiana voters care that much about a pipeline that would not even run through their state? Elections do not turn on issues of limited interest like this, especially if competing candidates have exactly the same position.

Still, California Senator Barbara Boxer — one of the leading Democratic opponents of the pipeline — told the media she thought taking the vote was worth doing since it produced a good debate on the issue. Maybe, but one of the country’s most prominent liberal voices, Rachel Maddow, spent several minutes on her MSNBC show mocking the Democrats’ quixotic attempt to help Landrieu when they have so few days left to do anything useful with their disappearing Senate majority.

“What on Earth were they thinking?” an incredulous Maddow asked. “How is this even conceivably, by any stretch of the imagination, a constructive use of time by the Democrats?”

Republicans, even though they lost the vote, were perfectly happy that Democrats gave them the chance to grandstand on the issue and highlight how things will be different when they are in charge. The incoming Senate majority leader, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, said the pipeline bill would be revived and passed early next year — possibly with a veto-proof majority.

Significantly, McConnell referred to the measure as “the Keystone jobs bill”. Republicans think they are on to something by shifting the terms of debate toward the job-creation aspect of Keystone. If President Obama decides to exercise his veto, they will slam him for killing jobs — and, for good measure, they will also hammer him for undercutting American energy independence.

That is more misleading silliness. According to TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, the project is expected to create fewer than 2,000 temporary construction jobs for two years and just a handful of maintenance jobs after that. The exceptionally dirty oil that will be extracted from Alberta’s tar sands and pumped through the pipeline will bring a lot of money to Canada and to multinational energy companies, but the oil itself will go to foreign countries, not to Americans.

The benefits of this project for the United States are dubious, but the risks are real, from the potential for disastrous oil spills and pollution of groundwater to a major increase in carbon spewed into the atmosphere. The smart thing to do would be to proceed with extreme caution, but that is not what congressional politics dictate once the posturing and partisanship shifts into high gear.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-keystone-xl-pipeline--20141119-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-keystone-xl-pipeline--20141119-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 22, 2014, 02:25:28 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Best revenge for angry GOP: Pass an immigration bill

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Friday, November 21, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141121dh_zps9d74a07e.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-546f8c81/turbine/la-na-tt-gop-pass-immigration-20141120)

I'VE got a great idea for congressional Republicans who are hopping mad about President Obama’s executive action suspending deportation for several million undocumented immigrants: If you want to undo what the president has done and improve your standing with the American people, turn off talk radio and pass an immigration reform bill.

Sure, that’s not as fun as going on Fox News to call Obama an emperor and to pose as valiant defenders of the imperiled Constitution. It’s not as exciting as shutting down the government or threatening to impeach the president. But it will be a far better use of your time, much better for your party and a whole lot better for the United States.

Yes, Rush Limbaugh has lectured you about how you were not elected to govern. He says your job is to spend the next two years doing nothing but stopping Obama from doing anything. It would be smart, though, if you put Rush on mute and began thinking about the people who elected you and, more crucially, the people you want to vote for you in the next election and the elections after that — Latinos, in particular.

Plenty of GOP voters are devoted fans of Rush and the other screamers who turn every political disagreement between Republicans and Democrats into a blood feud. Those riled-up folks turned out to vote and helped give you control of the Senate. Still, you need to face the fact that, down the line, you will need to expand your base beyond angry old white guys. The very best thing you could do to start building a bigger tent is to fix the immigration mess.

There are millions of immigrants who are cowering in the shadows because they fear their families will be divided by deportation. There are thousands of young Latinos who have grown up in the U.S. and who are going to college and trying to start productive lives who worry that they too could be forced to leave the only country they know. Barack Obama has earned their thanks by taking the limited steps he has available to make them feel more secure. So far, he’s gotten all the credit because you have failed to do anything.

One of these days, you will lose Texas and Arizona and other states to the Democrats because the rising numbers of Latinos who are citizens think you don’t give a damn about them. Pass a good bill that establishes fair rules for achieving legal status, for bringing in the guest workers needed by our agricultural industry, for welcoming those who have gone to college or done military service and you will suddenly have removed the single biggest handicap you have in attracting Latino voters.

Plenty of non-Latino voters would also be pleased and amazed that something finally got done in Washington and the credit will go to you guys, the new Republican-controlled Congress.

Rush will rant and the anti-immigrant fear mongers will be livid, but most of them will come around and vote for you anyway because they do not want commie-pinko-liberals running the show. And whatever votes you may lose on the right you will more than make up with swing voters and with many Latinos who, seeing the immigration crisis addressed, will start thinking about the business climate and taxation and family values — the things you may have in common with them.

You can spend the coming months distracted by a fight with Obama — which might be exactly what Democrats want you to do — or you can put your energy into showing you can do him one better on immigration. Maybe he’ll get some credit when a good immigration bill gets passed and maybe you hate that idea. But remember, he’s never running for office again. You are.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-gop-pass-immigration-20141120-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-gop-pass-immigration-20141120-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 26, 2014, 12:41:32 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Chuck Hagel was never let into Obama's inner circle

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141125dh_zpsa4d463dd.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54744d08/turbine/la-na-tt-hagel-inner-circle-20141124-001)

CHUCK HAGEL resigned his job as secretary of Defense on Monday. “Resigned” is, of course, a euphemism for being pushed out the door because his presence no longer pleases President Obama.

When a public official departs a job prematurely, it’s never easy to pin down the truth about why it is happening — although if the excuse is “wanting to spend more time with my family,” it is safe to assume the impetus for the departure involves a hooker, sex in a bathroom stall or a soon-to-be-revealed secret stash of money.

None of those embarrassing elements is the cause of Hagel being cast adrift. This looks like a fairly classic case of a Cabinet secretary being shut out of the inner circle and finally figuring out it is time to go.

Gleaning a probable scenario from the most informed first-day reporting, it appears that Hagel initiated a status-of-job discussion with the president several weeks ago. A mutual decision was reached that it would be best to part ways. Most observers are saying Hagel’s exit was a foregone conclusion because, as one Senate source told Politico, “he started to no longer be a yes-man.”

In his formal announcement of the news, with Hagel standing at his side, the president said he highly appreciated the Defense secretary’s willingness to give him straight talk. So, what was not appreciated? Apparently, several things.

Hagel got a bad start in his confirmation hearings two years ago, giving awkward testimony that allowed Republican opponents of the administration to drag out the process. Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, ended up winning approval with only four of his ex-GOP colleagues voting to confirm him.

Hagel’s lack of public eloquence continued as he underperformed as a spokesman for administration policies. Over time, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, eclipsed Hagel as the key spokesman on defense issues.

Obama brought Hagel in as his third Defense secretary to help cut the military budget and bring troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that there has been an about-face, with troops trickling back to Iraq to fight the Islamic State and a mini-troop-surge in the works for Afghanistan, Hagel no longer seems to be the right guy for the job.

Underlying all of this, though, seems to be the tendency of this administration to keep all the big decisions on foreign policy in the hands of a tiny circle inside the White House. That circle includes the president, national security advisor Susan Rice and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough who, before he took over running the White House in 2013, was deputy national security advisor. Beyond those three, not too many others are let into the cozy club of decision-makers and Hagel has not been one of them.

One foreign policy expert told NBC news that Hagel “had a crappy relationship with Susan Rice.” Hagel surely did not help that relationship by being a private critic of the administration’s internally dissonant strategy in Syria and Iraq (some of that straight talk the president claimed to value), because Rice is a key architect of that strategy.

Senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona), incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters he was very aware of Hagel’s frustrations with White House micro-management. Neither McCain nor Hagel is the first to express concern about the president sharing so many important decisions with so few people. And Obama is not the first president to show this inclination. Presidents have grown ever more reluctant to dilute their immense power in foreign policy, at least since Richard Nixon and his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, kept Secretary of State William Rogers out of the loop during Nixon’s first term.

Obama seems strongly inclined to rely on just a small group of advisors whom he knows well and can trust not to split off to write tell-all memoirs. That may be understandable, but it may not be wise. A president needs to hear dissent and consider alternative options. President George W. Bush cooked up a war with Iraq mostly on the advice of three men — Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — and his own national security advisor, another woman named Rice (Condoleezza). If ever there was need of a dissenting voice, it was then.

Questions about excessive White House micro-managing are sure to come up in the Senate hearings for Hagel’s successor. Republicans will undoubtedly grandstand on the issue, but that does not mean the questions won’t be worth asking.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-hagel-inner-circle-20141125-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-hagel-inner-circle-20141125-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 17, 2014, 03:32:07 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Congress gives bankers a sweet deal in funding bill, with more to come

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141216dh_zpsaca4491a.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-548fe785/turbine/la-na-tt-bankers-sweet-deal-20141215)

THE omnibus funding bill that the lame-duck Congress passed in the darkness of Saturday night sheds light on what we can expect from the Republican-dominated Congress that will take over in January. Here’s a hint: The bankers are smiling.

In addition to providing money that will keep the government running until September, the bill included some extras that have nothing to do with the federal budget. Among these is a sweet deal for banks actually written by Citigroup lobbyists and tacked on to the omnibus legislation. It repeals a section of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law passed in the wake of the near collapse of the American economy.

The repeal will allow federally insured banks to get back into the business of gambling with depositors’ money by dealing in exotic and risky securities. As long as the banks win their bets, everything is cool. Should they lose, though, as they did in a big way during the 2008 financial crisis, American taxpayers will be on the hook for their losses.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and other liberal Democrats cried foul when this stinker of an amendment came to light last week, but to no avail. The funding bill had to be passed or the government would run out of money, so President Obama and the Democratic leadership in the Senate gave the Republicans and the bankers what they wanted. Obama said this was the best deal Democrats could get and that putting up a fight would only delay passage of a funding bill until January, giving Republicans the opportunity to come up with something even worse.

As a result, Democratic leaders backed off, not only from opposing the banking giveaway, but from trying to stop several other policy riders the Republicans slipped into the bill. Here’s what a few of those riders will do:

• Allow underfunded multi-employer pension plans to severely cut benefits for retirees;

• Halt IRS efforts to scrutinize the tax-exempt status of political organizations;

• Stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the amount of lead in ammunition and fishing gear;

• Keep the Fish and Wildlife Service from declaring the sage grouse an endangered species;

• Prohibit Guantanamo Bay terror detainees from being released or transferred;

• And block Transportation Department regulations that aim to make sure truckers get enough sleep before they hit the road after a long haul.

In addition, Republican add-ons struck a blow on behalf of incandescent light bulbs and more salt in school lunches.

It is easy to see where this is going in the next two years of GOP dominance of Congress. There will be more Republican legislation that frees Wall Street bankers to act like Las Vegas gamblers, more efforts to undermine environmental protections and more attacks on regulations that favor consumers over corporations. And, knowing that they need to find a way to keep the president from pulling out his veto pen, Republicans will pad must-pass government funding bills with conservative policies the president will hate but may have to swallow.

The bankers got an early Christmas present from Republicans, with more and bigger gifts to come in the new year. Ho, ho, ho!

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-bankers-sweet-deal-20141215-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-bankers-sweet-deal-20141215-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on December 17, 2014, 10:43:01 pm
Russia, as economic woes squeeze Moscow
Published December 16, 2014FoxNews.com

Dec. 16, 2014: Signs advertising currencies are illuminated next to the exchange office in Moscow, Russia. (AP)
President Obama plans to sign new congressional legislation that heaps more sanctions on Russia -- another blow to a country whose economy and global dominance already is struggling from earlier sanctions and falling oil prices.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday that Obama has misgivings about the legislation passed overwhelmingly last week in Congress, but still thinks it gives him the needed flexibility.

"The bite on the Russian economy is only becoming stronger," Earnest said.

The decision, coupled with economic developments in Russia, raise questions over whether Moscow is becoming more vulnerable.

Earnest's remarks came just hours after Russia’s central bank made a desperate attempt to prop up the country’s currency, the ruble, which has plummeted in value as the result of the lower oil prices in recent weeks and roughly eight months of Western sanctions imposed over Russia's involvement in Ukraine.

The ruble's collapse is expected to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his foray into neighboring Ukraine.

Still, Putin maintains strong, widespread support among his people. So the new sanctions might not be the blow that forces him to pull back in Ukraine, Heritage Foundation scholar Luke Coffey said.

“We’re not at that point yet,” Coffey, the Margaret Thatcher fellow at the conservative think tank, said Tuesday. “We still have a long way to go before the population turns on Putin.”

Coffey argues in part that the sanctions largely target the Russian elite, so they will take some time to trickle down to the general population, and that a complete collapse of Russia is not in the West’s best interest.

“Who knows what sort of chaos will happen in that part of the world,” he told FoxNews.com. “The West has spent 30 years trying to integrate Russia into the global economy.”

In the aftermath of Ukraine residents ousting their pro-Moscow president in February and replacing him with more Western-friendly President Petro Poroshenko, the Russian Federation has annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and backed armed, pro-Russian separatists elsewhere in the county’s eastern region.

The violent and often deadly clashes with pro-Ukraine government forces have resulted in the worst standoff between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry also said Putin has tried in recent days to ease tensions in eastern Ukraine and that Western nations are poised to ease existing sanctions.

Speaking in London, Kerry said the U.S.-European sanctions are intended to show Russia the price of its actions in Ukraine but argued the collapse of the ruble is the result “a lot of combined factors."

Still, Kerry, who met Monday with Russia's foreign minister in Rome, said the sanctions are designed to lead Putin into making different choices.

“These sanctions could be lifted in a matter of weeks or days, depending on the choices that President Putin takes,” said Kerry, who did not address the new congressional legislation.

Earnest said the White House has concerns about the legislation in part because it sends a confusing message to allies, considering some of the language “does not reflect the consultations that are ongoing."

Russia on Tuesday raised the ruble’s interest rate from 10.5 percent to 17 percent.

The falling price of oil hurts Russian economy because the country's precious natural gas supply is traded on the global market in the more valuable U.S. dollar. And Russia’s budget is based on oil selling for $100 a barrel, double the cost right now.

Republicans and Democrats, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have called on Obama to sign the sanction legislation immediately.

The bill would require the president to impose penalties on state-owned arms dealer Rosoboronexport and other Russian defense companies tied to unrest in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Syria. The sanctions would be extended to individuals and entities that help the companies.

The bill also will give the president the authority to provide lethal and nonlethal military assistance to Ukraine. This includes anti-tank weapons, counter-artillery radar and tactical surveillance drones. The bill authorizes $350 million over two years to cover the cost.

"The territorial integrity of Ukraine must be restored and President Putin must understand that his destabilizing actions have serious and profound consequences for his country,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

FoxNews.com's Joseph Weber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 06, 2015, 10:45:31 am

from the Los Angeles Times....

Signs of a changing nation amid Rose Parade floats and bands

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM - Monday, January 05, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20Pix%202015/latimes_20150105dh_zpscda03cdf.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54aa57f3/turbine/la-na-tt-changing-rose-parade-20150105)

IN THE dark hours after the new year was rung in, hundreds of families had already staked out places along Colorado Avenue in Pasadena, camping out on the sidewalk through the chilly night. Some had propane heaters; some had barbecue grills fired up; some had set burn barrels aflame; most looked a bit daunted by the unusual Southern California cold.

Children were burrowed into blankets and sleeping bags. They huddled together along the curb or in the entryways of closed stores. Tipsy revelers rambled by, hooting and hollering, while the thump of music spilled out of neighborhood nightclubs. The kids looked more tired than happy, but their parents must have believed a little misery is a reasonable price for a front row seat at the annual Tournament of Roses Parade.

A couple hours after sunrise, my wife and I walked the four blocks from our warm apartment to the parade route and found a place to stand just behind the exhausted folks sitting on folding chairs and blankets who had lasted through the wee hours of the year’s first morning. Most of the people looked as if they might not have much money left for entertainment after monthly bills were paid; certainly not enough to buy tickets to the big game at the Rose Bowl. The parade — a decidedly antique form of fun in this digital age — had the virtue of being free.

The sun began to clear the tops of buildings, cutting the chill just as a police motorcycle unit weaved past to open the parade. Then came the mainstays: marching bands, floats, obscure dignitaries in vintage cars and people on horses, lots of horses.

Marching bands are venerable institutions that are wildly out of step with our hip-hop era. (By the way, I say this with great affection as a former high school horn player and son of a marching band director.) One after another, they blared their way down the street — from the imposing, solid ranks of a Marine band to the many rows of high school kids who pranced by in plumed hats and snazzy uniforms that could have been designed for Christmas nutcrackers.

Floats — those glorious anachronisms — were first invented for church processions in medieval times and are no less corny after a thousand years of artistic development. But there were surprises among the rolling flower arrangements. Along with the traditional sponsors of floats, such as the Lions Club, Kiwanis and the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, there was a float celebrating ancient Armenia. Another float ferried men in turbans and beards with their wives and children crammed aboard. They were Sikhs (http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-sikh-float-20141231-story.html); not a group that would have been found in Rose Parades of more distant decades. American patriotic tunes played from hidden speakers on the Sikhs’ rose-decorated contraption, a pointed reminder that, though some fools mistake them for terrorists, these Sikhs are Americans too.

It is no surprise to see floats honoring veterans, of course, but one this year paid tribute to the Japanese American vets who fought for the United States in World War II, even as their families back home were held in internment camps by the U.S. government.

The crowd along the route saved the biggest cheers for a marching band from Mexico and for a group of Mexican caballeros riding magnificent strutting horses. Half the crowd along the route appeared to be Latino — a percentage that ran even higher among those who spent the night waiting for the parade. Affection for the old homeland has not died in the hearts of California’s new majority demographic.

Midway through the parade, a line of L.A. County sheriff’s deputies rushed up to form a line along the sidewalk. A few of them waded into the crowd to get closer to a small group of protesters who had been hanging at the back waving signs decrying the deaths of young black men at the hands of police. Apparently, the deputies thought they were up to something. A police tactical unit in riot gear stood watch a block away. A later report said arrests were made.

At the tail end of the parade — following all the bands and floats and horses and big trucks — a squad of self-styled revolutionaries marched the route calling out for an end to Wall Street greed and the inequities of capitalism. Right behind them were police in squad cars and an armored assault vehicle. It wasn't clear if the cops were monitoring the radicals or were just part of the show. In contrast, though, when several groups of evangelicals had walked the wrong way along the street just before the parade began, no one interfered as they hectored onlookers about their sins.

The Rose Parade may seem like a place to retreat to a prosaic American past, but not this year, at least. Race, religion, police tactics, the wealth gap, immigration — so many of the issues that dominate our current political debates found embodiment in the floats and faces of participants in the parade and among the people who camped out all night so they could watch it all roll by.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-changing-rose-parade-20150105-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-changing-rose-parade-20150105-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 09, 2015, 10:19:07 am

from the Los Angeles Times....

Mike Huckabee needs to look like a good bet for the billionaires

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Thursday, January 08, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20Pix%202015/latimes_20150108dh_zpsb29db7ec.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54ae08a8/turbine/la-na-tt-huckabee-billionaires-20150107)

MIKE BUCKABNEE has quit his job as a Fox News host because he has an inkling that God wants him to run for president. But, just because the Supreme Being is giving him a thumbs-up, that does not mean the ex-Arkansas governor will get a green light from the demigods of American democracy: billionaires.

Unlike some conservative talkmeisters and would-be candidates, Huckabee does not come off as shrill or bombastic. He’s a likeable guy with a strongly positive image among Republicans. In particular, the former pastor is a hero to evangelical voters, the most dependable contingent in the Republican coalition. In early polls, Huckabee frequently comes in near the head of the large and growing pack of likely GOP presidential contenders. Add to that the years of free publicity from Fox, and it is not at all unreasonable for him to think he should make another run at the White House.

When he ran in 2008, he surprised everyone by winning the Iowa caucus. But ultimately, he did not have what every candidate needs to survive: Himalaya-size mountains of money. In 2012, President Obama and the GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, ended up spending about $1 billion each. The 2016 presidential race is expected to be even more expensive.

We are already in the opening stages of that campaign, and all the serious candidates — or at least the candidates who take themselves seriously — are on the hunt for major donors who will pay so they can play. Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, surprised a lot of people in the last few weeks by getting serious about running. Right away, the vaults of the wealthy started clinking open with the prospect of investing in the son and brother of past presidents. The well-heeled establishment likes a safe bet, and Bush seems to be it, much to the chagrin of other establishment darlings.

Billionaires are generally not Tea Party zealots who feed on dreams of overturning big government and driving liberals, homosexuals and atheists into the sea. Billionaires do not want revolution, they just want to stay on top. For them, Texas Senator Ted Cruz is too hot-blooded, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is too exotic, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is too callow, and outgoing Texas Governor Rick Perry is too slow on the uptake. Chris Christie of New Jersey and a couple of other governors would be OK for the rich and their corporate PACs, but Bush seems just right.

And Huckabee? He is about as right wing and evangelical as they come, but his style is soothing, not alarming. He has run a state. He can put more than two sentences together. But the fans of unfettered capitalism at the Club for Growth say that, as governor, Huckabee had a disturbing affinity for raising taxes and increasing government spending. Plus, Huckabee takes his Bible seriously and has a soft spot for the poor and disadvantaged. Billionaires might not like that.

Here's the bottom line: Whether you like Huckabee or Hillary Clinton or any of the others, unless you happen to have a billion bucks, you will not have much say in whom the nominees for president will be. The billionaires will vet the choices over the coming months. The rest of us will only weigh in after the money has spoken.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-huckabee-billionaires-20150107-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-huckabee-billionaires-20150107-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on January 16, 2015, 03:39:29 am
2 US men reach top of Yosemite's El Capitan in free climb

3:30 AM Friday Jan 16, 2015

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California (AP) " Years of practice, failed attempts and 19 grueling days of scaling by their fingertips have culminated in success for two American rock climbers who completed the first free climb of the 3,000-foot (900-meter) vertical wall of El Capitan in Yosemite. National Park

Tommy Caldwell was first to pull himself atop the ledge, capping what has long been considered the world's most difficult rock climb. He was followed minutes later by Kevin Jorgeson.

The two longtime friends embraced, and then Jorgeson pumped his arm in the air and clapped his hands above his head.

"That's a deep, abiding, lifelong friendship, built over suffering on the wall together over six years," said Caldwell's mother, Terry, among some 200 people thousands of feet (meters) below in the valley floor who broke into cheers.

She said her son could have reached the top several days ago, but he waited for his friend to make sure they made it together.

The pair captivated Americans and world through social media, livestreamed video coverage while documentary filmmakers dangled from ropes capturing each move.

Caldwell, 36, and Jorgeson, 30, became the first to free-climb the rock formation's Dawn Wall, a feat that many had considered impossible. They used ropes and safety harnesses to catch themselves in case of a fall, but relied entirely on their own strength and dexterity to ascend by grasping cracks as thin as razor blades and as small as dimes.

The two dealt with constant falls and injuries. But their success completes a yearslong dream that bordered on obsession for the men.

At the top another crowd was waiting for them, including Caldwell's wife and Jorgeson's girlfriend, who welcomed them to the top with hugs and kisses. It will take the pair two to three hours to hike down the mountain.

President Barack Obama sent his congratulations from the White House Twitter account, saying the men "remind us that anything is possible."

The trek up the world's largest granite monolith began Dec. 27. Caldwell and Jorgeson lived on the wall itself, eating and sleeping in tents fastened to the rock thousands of feet above the ground and battling painful cuts to their fingertips much of the way.

Free-climbers do not pull themselves up with cables or use chisels to carve out handholds. Instead, they climb bit by bit, wedging their fingers and feet into tiny crevices or gripping sharp, thin projections of rock. In photographs, the two appeared at times like Spider-Man, with arms and legs splayed across the pale stone that has been described as smooth as a bedroom wall.

Both men needed to take rest days to heal. They used tape and even superglue to help protect their raw skin. At one point, Caldwell set an alarm to wake him every few hours to apply a special lotion to his throbbing hands.

They also endured physical punishment whenever their grip slipped, pitching them into long, swinging falls that left them bouncing off the rock face. The tumbles, which they called "taking a whipper," ended with startling jolts from their safety ropes.

Caldwell and Jorgeson had help from a team of supporters who brought food and supplies and shot video of the adventure.

The pair ate canned peaches and occasionally sipped whiskey. They watched their urine evaporate into the thin, dry air and handed toilet sacks, called "wag bags," to helpers who disposed of them.

There are about 100 routes up the rock known among climbers as "El Cap," and many have made it to the top, the first in 1958. Even the Dawn Wall had been scaled. Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell (no relation to Tommy) made it up in 1970, using climbing ropes and countless rivets over 27 days.

No one, however, had ever made it to the summit in one continuous free-climb " until now.

"He doesn't understand the magnitude of the accomplishment and the excitement generated," said Caldwell's father, Mike Caldwell.

The pioneering ascent comes after five years of training and failed attempts for both men. They only got about a third of the way up in 2010 when they were turned back by storms. A year later, Jorgeson fell and broke an ankle in another attempt. Since then, each has spent time on the rock practicing and mapping out strategy.

John Long, the first person to climb up El Capitan in one day in 1975, said it was almost inconceivable that anyone could do something as "continuously difficult" as Caldwell and Jorgeson's free-climb.

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 16, 2015, 09:13:05 am

You'd be too much of a wimp to do something like that.

You're knees probably start knocking when you get three metres above the ground.

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 16, 2015, 10:54:16 am

from the Los Angeles Times....

After attack, France needs solidarity from U.S., not Beltway politics

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20Pix%202015/latimes_20150113dh_zps1de6c875.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54b4b28e/turbine/la-na-tt-france-needs-solidarity-20150112)

REPUBLICANS never miss a beat finding some new pretext for slamming President Obama. This week, he gave them an easy shot by failing to attend Sunday’s huge rally in Paris that attracted 1.5 million people, including a number of international leaders.

The gathering was a defiant affirmation of free speech after the murder of several French cartoonists in last week’s attack by Islamic terrorists at the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was there. British Prime Minister David Cameron was there. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was there. But not the president of the United States.

The White House responded to the criticism by noting how it is nearly impossible in this age of menace to make the necessary security arrangements for a traveling president on such short notice. But the president’s men also admitted they goofed up royally by not having the country represented by the vice president or some other official of higher rank than the U.S. ambassador.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry would have been a perfect person to send to the Paris rally, given the eloquence of the remarks he delivered to the French people in their own language after the attack. Unfortunately, Kerry stayed put in India. It must be said, though, it is ironic the Republicans are claiming to be so concerned about French sensitivities. These are the same folks who mocked Kerry for his French language skills and affinity for French wine when he ran for president in 2004 and who have slammed President Obama for being “too European” in his governing philosophy.

It was not that long ago that Republicans were insisting on being served “freedom fries” instead of French fries in the Senate and House dining rooms after France refused to join the ill-fated American invasion of Iraq in 2003. In those days, before Americans soured on the trumped-up Iraq adventure, the conservative view of France was summed up by a phrase first coined in an early episode of “The Simpsons.” The French, the saying went, were “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.”

For their part, the French looked at the inarticulate, squinty-eyed, swaggering Texan in the White House and had all their biases against Americans confirmed. From the earliest days of the relationship between the two nations, many of the French elite have considered Americans to be crude, unsophisticated and a bit barbaric. George W. Bush was the living proof.

These antagonisms are enduring and immensely petty, given the history that the French and Americans share. France played a pivotal role in helping the United States become an independent nation. The U.S. returned the favor by twice saving France from German aggression in the world wars. America’s most revered icon, the Statue of Liberty, was a gift from the French people. This goddess of freedom that is so important to us is essentially a sister to Marianne, the symbol of liberty and reason that is the personification of the French nation.

As Americans were ratifying their constitution in 1789, the French Revolution had just begun. The road to liberty, equality and fraternity in France was a long one. The French people repeatedly rebelled against new authoritarian governments and recreated their republic several times before they got it close to right. Through that lengthy process, France became a beacon of freedom as bright as the torch in the hand of the big lady in New York harbor.

Liberty is as precious to the French as it is to any American, Republican or Democrat. Some American conservatives scoff at the intellectual and philosophical tradition that matters so much to the French, but it is that tradition that makes the French passion for freedom of thought and speech especially intense. The right of a caustic cartoonist to say whatever he believes truly matters to them.

The despicable attack on Charlie Hebdo makes clear that France is on the front line in the battle against the closed-minded, violent fanatics of extremist Islam who would stamp out any thought, word or image that varies from their oppressive ideology. The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, is openly calling it a war. “It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity,” he said.

Solidarity is what France needs now from the United States. It is too bad Obama could not get to Paris. It is a national embarrassment his administration did not send someone notable to stand in for him. But, at this important hour, sniping from Republicans just adds to the impression that politicians here can focus on nothing but partisan games. From the White House to Congress, our leaders need to raise their sights beyond the Beltway.

This is a serious moment; a time to forge a united front with our oldest ally in a new defense of liberty.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-france-needs-solidarity-20150112-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-france-needs-solidarity-20150112-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on January 16, 2015, 02:29:11 pm
Superglue, salmon: How climbers achieved 'impossible' feat

5:00 AM Friday Jan 16, 2015

Two Americans yesterday completed what has long been considered the world's most difficult rock climb, using only their hands and feet to conquer a 900m vertical wall on El Capitan, the forbidding granite face in Yosemite National Park that has beckoned adventurers for decades.

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson became the first to "free-climb" the Dawn Wall, a feat that many had considered impossible. They used ropes and safety harnesses to catch them in case of a fall, but relied on their own strength and dexterity to ascend by grasping cracks as thin as razor blades and as small as coins.

The effort took weeks, and the two dealt with repeated falls and injuries. But their success completes a years-long dream that bordered on obsession.

Caldwell finished the climb first, and Jorgeson finished minutes later. The two embraced before Jorgeson pumped his arms in the air and clapped his hands above his head.

They then sat down for a few minutes, gathered their gear, changed their clothes and hiked to the summit.

The trek up the world's largest granite monolith began on December 27. Caldwell and Jorgeson ate and slept in tents fastened to the rock high above the ground and battled painful cuts to their fingertips much of the way.

Free-climbers do not pull themselves up with cables or use chisels to carve out handholds. Instead, they wedge their fingertips and feet into tiny crevices or grip sharp, thin projections of rock. In photographs, the two appeared at times like Spider-Man, splayed across the pale rock that has been described as being as smooth as a bedroom wall.

Both men needed to take rest days to wait for their skin to heal. They used tape and even superglue to help with the process. At one point, Caldwell set an alarm to wake him every few hours to apply a special lotion to his throbbing hands.

They also took physical punishment when their grip would slip, with long, swinging falls that left them bouncing off the rock face. The tumbles ended in startling jolts from their safety ropes.

Caldwell and Jorgeson had help from a team of supporters who brought food and supplies.

The 36-year-old Caldwell and 30-year-old Jorgeson ate canned peaches and occasionally sipped whisky. They watched their urine evaporate into thin, dry air and handed toilet sacks, called "wag bags", to helpers who disposed of them.

There are about 100 routes up the rock known among climbers as "El Cap", and many have made it to the top, the first in 1958. Even the Dawn Wall had been scaled.

No one, however, had made it to the summit in one continuous free-climb, until now.

"He doesn't understand the magnitude of the accomplishment and the excitement generated," said Mike Caldwell, Tommy's father, who along with 200 people gathered in a meadow below broke into cheers when the men reached the top.

The pioneering ascent follows five years of training and failed attempts for both Caldwell and Jorgeson. They got only about a third of the way up in 2010, when they were turned back by storms. A year later, Jorgeson fell and broke an ankle in another attempt.

Jorgeson has an impressive list of climbs in the United States, Europe and South Africa and works as a climbing instructor.

John Long, the first person to climb El Capitan in one day, in 1975, said recently of Caldwell and Jorgeson's free-climb that it was almost "inconceivable that anyone could do something that continuously difficult".

Family life in high places
Standing at the foot of a sheer cliff face as her husband clung on by his fingertips nearly 900m above, Becca Caldwell looked remarkably unperturbed.
"The fact he is up there is awesome for me," she said, squinting up at the small dot that was Tommy Caldwell.

"That's Tommy, he's kind of obsessed with mountains," said Mrs Caldwell, clutching their 21-month-old son Fitz. "I don't get worried or scared because I know he's safe on the wall - this is every day in our family life."

She said she would be at the summit to greet the two men.

It would be a special moment for the Caldwells because El Capitan is where their romance started.

"Tommy brought me here when we were friends, and we realised it was something special," said Mrs Caldwell, who is also a climber.

-AP / Telegraph Group Ltd

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 18, 2015, 12:42:45 pm

The pommy PM visits Jesusland....

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/Cartoons%202015/20150115_CameronInAmerica_original_zps1573bd28.jpg) (https://twitter.com/BrookesTimes/status/555982991923900418/photo/1)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on February 19, 2015, 11:47:16 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Willie Brown warns Villaraigosa: ‘Don't crowd Kamala!’

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Friday, January 30, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20Pix%202015/latimes_20150130dh_zpshk90jupm.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54cb5846/turbine/la-na-tt-brown-warns-villaraigosa-20150130)

WITH the possible exception of a Hollywood celebrity following in the footsteps of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican candidate has as much chance getting elected to the U.S. Senate from California as a Southern Baptist has to become pope. The only way Democrats can lose any statewide race is if they somehow sabotage themselves, and that’s why Democratic leaders in San Francisco seem intent on picking the winner of the 2016 Senate race in 2015.

For years, aspiring Democratic candidates in the Golden State have been able to climb only so high. The three top elected offices have been held by popular Democratic incumbents who just kept getting re-elected. Dianne Feinstein first went to the Senate after winning a special election in 1992. Barbara Boxer joined her there in 1993. Jerry Brown won the governorship in 2010 and took an easy stroll to re-election last fall — this, of course, after having already served two earlier terms as governor from 1975 to 1983.

Finally, though, this triumvirate is giving way. Term limits will not allow Brown to run for a fifth term in 2018. Feinstein will be 85 that same year, and her Senate seat will be on the ballot. She has given hints that she will choose not to run again. Boxer has already made that choice, having announced in early January her intent to retire when her term ends in 2016.

As a result, the scramble of would-be candidates has begun. Arguably, this is a good thing that will bring new energy into the party and give younger talent a chance to grab the top rungs of the ladder. But some people in the party seem to prefer an anointing over a wide-open campaign.

A week ago, Willie Brown, the former California Assembly Speaker and ex-mayor of San Francisco, suggested that former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa should sit out the race in deference to Brown’s favored candidate, state Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. This could be passed off as Willie Brown just being his old, flamboyant self, or it could be an indication that Bay Area Democratic leaders — a group not so affectionately described by Southern Californians as “the San Francisco Mafia” — want to hand the job to Harris right now.

That so-called Mafia dominates the state Democratic Party. Feinstein was mayor of the City by the Bay before she ascended to the Senate. Boxer was a member of Congress from Marin County. The minority leader of the House of Representatives is a San Franciscan, Nancy Pelosi. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who has been waiting for Jerry Brown to disappear and let him become governor was also mayor of San Francisco after being appointed to key city offices by Willie Brown early in his political career. John Burton, another veteran Bay Area politician, is chairman of the state party.

Perhaps most important, the Bay Area is as blue as Alabama is red and all those Democrats turn out to vote. Los Angeles County may have more people and potentially even more Democratic voters, but voter turnout in L.A. is dismal. That’s a problem for Villaraigosa. He may be a Latino in a state with a Latino majority and his base may be in the state’s biggest city, but it’s a flimsy base if he can’t get people to show up at the polls.

Harris, on the other hand, is another Bay Area protege of Willie Brown. Born in Oakland, she was San Francisco district attorney before heading to Sacramento to become attorney general. Harris was quick to announce her candidacy for the Senate after Boxer said she was not running again. She remains the only announced candidate.

Several other prospects for the job, including Newsom, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, state Treasurer John Chiang and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, have announced that they are staying out of the race. There might be others of less prominence who will give it a go, but Villaraigosa could be the only serious threat to Harris.

An editorial in the Sacrmento Bee chastised Willie Brown and “Bay Area politicos” for trying to “coronate” Harris. Telling Villaraigosa to step back and wait for another opportunity was a diss on Southern California Democrats and Latino voters, the editorial said.

Looked at as smart political calculation, though, it is entirely understandable that Democratic operatives might think an early winnowing to one candidate is a great idea. Harris is an appealing candidate who has won two statewide elections. In a presidential election year when Democratic voters will be out in full force, she would probably glide to victory over any Republican. Things could only get messed up if there are too many contenders on the primary ballot. This has become a new wild card in the political process now that the state has a top-two system where the pair of candidates receiving the most votes in the primary go on to face each other in the general election, without regard to which party they are from.

Why mess with a sure thing? That’s what the San Francisco Democrats seem to be asking.

The answer is that in a state already dominated by one party, if that one party offers only one choice then voters really have no choice at all.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-brown-warns-villaraigosa-20150130-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-brown-warns-villaraigosa-20150130-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on February 19, 2015, 11:47:29 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

The race is on to milk Romney's big cash cows

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Wednesday, February 04, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20Pix%202015/latimes_20150204dh_zpskhxzqm8r.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54d1b1a4/turbine/la-na-tt-romneys-cash-cows-20150203)

MITT ROMNEY's decision to forego a third campaign for president has set off a scramble for money among the remaining “establishment” Republicans who are considering a run for the White House. Like cash cows with full udders, wealthy Romney backers are suddenly being eyed by the likes of Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, each of whom would love to be the first in line with a milk bucket.

In 2012, the ultimately unsuccessful Romney effort may have lacked a smart strategy or a perfect candidate, but money was no problem. Romney’s network of donors helped finance a billion-dollar campaign. With Romney opting out of 2016’s political scrum, all those hedge-fund managers, corporate chieftans and bored billionaires now need to find a new place to invest their political play money.

There are about 300 mega-donors who pay the bills for Republicans. With as many as a dozen contenders trying to put themselves in a good position for a run at the GOP nomination, the question is whether donors will get behind just one or two of them or, instead, spread their money so widely that no one gains a substantial advantage. The people who have vast personal wealth or are experts at bundling the wealth of others tend to favor the candidates most likely to protect and defend the interests of the rich. They are wary of those who seem too eager to lead a social crusade, especially if one of the targets of such a crusade is Wall Street.

As a result, a Tea Party favorite such as Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a populist evangelical such as Mike Huckabee, or a libertarian with unorthodox economic ideas such as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, all seem too risky for the big-money boys. Conventionally conservative governors and ex-governors like Christie, Walker and Bush are a safer bet.

Rubio, the freshman senator whose political career in Florida sprouted and grew as fast as a mangrove in the Everglades, is also acceptable because his robust right-wing views are balanced by a conventional personal style. Recently, Rubio proved his appeal at an economic forum in Rancho Mirage sponsored by the billionaire Koch Brothers. While Rand Paul turned off the mega-donors with his blue jeans, cowboy boots and suspicious economic ideas, Rubio was a big hit in his well-cut blue suit, starched white shirt and crimson tie. They also liked his pro-growth talking points. Rubio’s reward was to take first place in a straw poll of the donors.

Following the money will be an interesting game in the coming weeks. Romney started the primary season in 2012 way ahead in the race for dollars. Though he was tested along the way by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, Romney was always able to dip into his huge hoard to buy the wall-to-wall attack ads that stunted every upward thrust of his opponents’ campaigns. They never had enough money to really fight back.

Christie and Bush would both love to be the new Romney in the eyes of top contributors, but they could face stiff competition for that designation from Rubio and Walker.

It may seem ridiculously early to be paying so much attention to a presidential election that is still nearly two years away, but the battle for money has already begun — perhaps the most important battle of the long campaign. After all, as the money goes, so goes the nation.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-romneys-cash-cows-20150203-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-romneys-cash-cows-20150203-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on February 19, 2015, 11:47:44 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Putin's Ukraine gambit leaves Obama with a hard choice

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20Pix%202015/latimes_20150210dh_zpsam26ixof.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54d9c563/turbine/la-na-tt-putins-ukraine-gambit-20150210)

ASK Americans if they believe the people of Ukraine should be free to determine their own future and about 99% would probably answer with a resounding yes. But ask them if they think America should go to war with Russia to guarantee Ukrainians that freedom and the favorable percentage would drop precipitously.

Even the most saber-rattling neoconservative foreign policy wonks are not calling for war, though their demand that President Obama send arms to Ukraine to fight Russian-backed separatists is, arguably, a big stride in that direction. They skirt the war issue by advancing the dubious argument that Russian President Vladimir Putin will back down from his aggression in eastern Ukraine if the Ukrainians are given the means to strike back hard.

Obama is receiving a lot of advice right now about how to proceed — most of it leaning in favor of providing military aid to the government in Kiev. Typically — and I think wisely — he is balancing that advice against the dictum that has guided much of his foreign policy: “Don’t do stupid stuff”.

That dictum has been widely criticized, even by Hillary Rodham Clinton, as too simplistic, but it is hardly less simple-minded than the various macho credos that more often drive U.S. actions in the world, such as George W. Bush’s promise to hunt down “evildoers” and his challenge to those evildoers to “bring it on”. In old cowboy movies, tough talk and direct action always seemed to work out well. In the real world — with Iraq as a prime example — even high-minded intentions can lead to very bad results. Avoiding stupid stuff is not such a bad place to start designing a foreign policy.

I’ve been to Ukraine and, when I think of the young people I met there who simply want to live lives as free and full of possibility as their counterparts in Europe and North America, it is easy to make a case for the United States to go beyond the stiff economic sanctions now in place and do more to counter Russian aggression. Putin is a cynical authoritarian who rules over a kleptocracy that has snuffed out the flame of democracy and free expression that flickered briefly after the fall of the Soviet Union. When the people of Ukraine made their move to get out from under Russia’s gloomy shadow, Putin first stole Crimea and then sent secret agents, soldiers and heavy weapons to foment rebellion in the eastern half of Ukraine.

Given all that, the United States would be justified in trying to take him down a notch or two. Supplying more sophisticated weapons to Ukraine would seem like the most direct way to do that. As I noted, those who propose this step insist that such a show of American resolve would cause Putin to finally back down and reach a settlement that would give Ukraine the autonomy it desires and deserves.

That is certainly a rosy scenario, but does anyone honestly believe in it? It is not far more likely that Putin would seize on the introduction of American weapons as justification for even more aggressive action? He has already sold the lie that the West is responsible for all the trouble in Ukraine; U.S. military aid would give him the proof he needs to back his lie.

The proposed schedule for delivery of weapons to Ukraine stretches into 2016. In the meantime, Putin would feel free to be even more overt in his aid to the pro-Russian rebels. As in Crimea, Russian troops might be brought into the fight in numbers too large for the Ukrainians to resist.

All of this would boost Putin’s already high popularity in his own country and distract Russian citizens from the harsh effects of Western sanctions. In the eyes of many, if not most, Russians, Ukraine is not foreign soil. It is not Poland or Hungary, it is a sister land that is considered the birthplace of Russia itself. Deeper American involvement would spark a rise in Russian nationalism and Putin would be empowered.

Are Americans ready to deal with that far more likely scenario? Just how far will we go to defend Ukraine? The answer may be that we should go a very long way or it may be that we should accept the limits of our influence in a part of the world in which Russia has long-standing ties and interests. Only those who view the world in simplistic terms believe that this is an easy choice.

And that is why it is not a sign of weakness for Obama to pause and ponder the consequences. That’s not weak; it’s smart.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-putins-ukraine-gambit-20150210-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-putins-ukraine-gambit-20150210-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on February 19, 2015, 11:48:01 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Christian Grey and the Koch brothers share a similar desire for dominance

By DAVID HORSEY | 2:00PM PST - Friday, February 13, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20Pix%202015/latimes_20150213dh_zpst1rdfipn.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54de60fb/turbine/la-na-tt-christian-grey-and-koch-20150213)

DOES “50 Shades of Grey” offer any insight into billionaires like the Koch Brothers?

The “mommy porn” book trilogy and the new movie upon which it is based tells the story of Christian Grey, a young, hunky member of the world’s top 1% who draws a callow college girl into his orbit and gets her to agree to be the submissive partner in a sadomasochistic bondage relationship. The books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. With a fan base like that, the movie, which premieres today, is likely to be a monster hit.

Charles and David Koch, by comparison, are two not-so-hunky old industrialists who draw Republican candidates into their orbit and get them to agree to a submissive relationship in return for campaign contributions. Last month, it was announced that they plan to spend $889 million in the 2016 election cycle to expand their dominance in Republican Party politics.

Like winsome coeds hungering for a hot hookup, four GOP presidential candidates accepted invitations to the Kochs' annual January retreat for big donors in Rancho Mirage. The willing foursome included Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the junior senators from Florida, Texas and Kentucky; Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. They — and the many other president-wannabes in the party — have a deep desire for the Kochs' approval and a piece of the brothers’ engorged campaign fund.

“It’s no wonder the candidates show up when the Koch brothers call,” David Axelrod, President Obama’s former campaign guru, said in comments to the press. “That’s exponentially more money than any party organization will spend. In many ways, they have superseded the party.”

Living beyond the boundaries that confine normal mortals is what being a billionaire is all about. Christian Grey has a secret room where he hides his array of intimidating sex toys and bondage tools. The Koch brothers have their secret donations that are nearly impossible to track, thanks to flaccid campaign finance laws made even more limp by rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court. Grey has his sleek top-end sports cars, his handy helicopter and his vast penthouse at the top of a Seattle high-rise. The Kochs have their family foundations, super PACs and think tanks in which they invest hundreds of millions of dollars with the aim of killing universal healthcare and environmental regulations and keeping the federal government from constricting their capitalist cravings.

Billionaires want what they want and believe they deserve to get it because they are rich. Grey wants a young woman to tie up and slap around in his secret room. The Kochs want to buy compliant politicians with their secret donations. Social critics slam “50 Shades of Grey” for encouraging abuse of women. Political observers criticize the Kochs for abusing the political system.

The big difference between Christian Grey and Charles and David Koch? Grey is a fictitious character; the Kochs are all too real.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-christian-grey-and-koch-20150213-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-christian-grey-and-koch-20150213-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on February 19, 2015, 11:48:18 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

More than an act of Congress will be needed to stop Islamic State

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:15AM PST - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20Pix%202015/latimes_20150218dh_zps8iefq9m5.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54e44d17/turbine/la-na-tt-act-of-congress-isis-20150218)

MY friend Janet is a passionate West Coast tree-hugging antiwar lefty who still retains a soft spot in her heart for revolutionaries such as Fidel Castro. Yet, when I had a drink with her the other night and the conversation turned to the latest atrocities committed by the psychopaths who call themselves Islamic State, she was ready to go to war.

More precisely, she said she would be willing to shoot the marauding monsters herself. For once, it seems, most Americans from one end of the ideological spectrum to the other can agree on one thing: These guys are evil.

Given that, one would think the United States Congress would be able to concur on a bill to authorize the continued use of force against ISIS or ISIL or whichever acronym one cares to attach to these creeps. Such an assumption, though, fails to take into account both the ongoing dysfunction that has made it nearly impossible for our senators and representatives to agree on anything and the complexities of stamping out a peril that is less of an invasion than an infestation.

The U.S. began bombing Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq six months ago, but it was not until last week that the Obama administration sent a draft resolution to Congress that would authorize and set parameters for a continued war against Islamic State. Rather than a resounding huzzah, the reaction on Capitol Hill split in three directions. For some, the resolution goes too far, for others it does not go far enough, and for a third group, it simply puts them uncomfortably on the spot.

Liberal Democrats are the ones wary of giving the OK to deeper military involvement. They saw how the Bush-Cheney White House used a congressional authorization of force back in 2002 to justify wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that cost the nation trillions of dollars and dragged on for more than a decade. To them, the battle with Islamic State seems to be just a restart of hostilities in Iraq and the new resolution would open the door to a wider war that could spread to Libya and other outposts of anarchy where the black flag of Islamic State is being raised.

Republican hawks, such as Arizona Senator John McCain, are on the other end of the argument. Obama’s resolution is far too timid, in their view, and needs to be strengthened to allow the full military might of the United States to be brought to bear against the enemy. On Fox News Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner said, “We need a robust strategy to attack ISIL and no one has seen one yet.” The draft resolution certainly doesn’t do the trick, in Boehner’s opinion.

Oddly, the president argues that he can do whatever he wishes anyway, with or without a new resolution, because the authorizations given to his predecessor in the White House still apply. Apparently, what he really wants is for Congress to sign on to this fight so that he will not be stuck with all the blame should it go terribly awry.

That is exactly what a third faction of lawmakers is thinking about. They would prefer not to be forced to vote on anything so that, down the line, they can avoid sharing the inevitable blame when things get really messy.

And messiness is likely. The Islamic State horde is especially loathsome because they perpetrate their vile deeds in shockingly personal ways — beheadings, crucifixions, immolations, slaughter of children, rape and enslavement of women. All of this makes them a worthy target. But they are not ruled by a government in a particular capital or contained within the borders one country. They are not even a regular sort of army. They are more like a swarm of insects that, beaten down in one spot, regroups in greater numbers somewhere else.

Destroying Islamic State on the battlefield may be a Sisyphean task. Only when there are no more disaffected young men in the broad Islamic world rushing to reinforce the ranks of Islamic State will this fight be over. That will happen only through a difficult weave of economic, political and social developments in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Yes, most Americans from left to right would like to see Islamic State crushed. However, after the hard lessons learned in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya — as well as in Vietnam — the daunting challenge is figuring out exactly how that can be done.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-act-of-congress-isis-20150218-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-act-of-congress-isis-20150218-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on February 20, 2015, 10:58:28 am

from the Los Angeles Times....

Jeb Bush foreign policy: More stability and less ‘democracy’

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Thursday, February 19, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20Pix%202015/latimes_20150219dh_zps3rykyezr.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-54e59e36/turbine/la-na-tt-jeb-bush-foreign-policy-20150218)

CO-OPERATIVE dictators can rest easier if Jeb Bush becomes president. Wednesday, in a speech delivered to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the latest Bush to set his sights on the White House implied that he wouldn’t be running around trying to spread democracy like his big brother, George W.

“New circumstances require new approaches,” Bush said in his remarks, while leaving it vague what those new approaches might be. In the question-and-answer session, though, he made it a little clearer. Asked about the balance between maintaining stability and pushing for democratic change, Bush said U.S. foreign policy, at least in the short term, needs to be practical.

“We have to balance our belief in liberty with a belief that security and engagement” will pay off down the line, Bush said. Just because a government holds an election does not mean American support should be automatic, he suggested.

Rather than sounding like a guy with new approaches, Bush seemed to be calling for a return to a more traditional foreign policy that depends on alliances with autocrats who keep the lid on chaos in regions such as the Middle East. In other words, a foreign policy more like his father’s than like his brother’s.

When George H.W. Bush went to war to push Iraq’s occupying army out of Kuwait, he famously stopped at the Iraqi border, not wanting to upset the Arab apple cart by driving on to Baghdad and overthrowing Saddam Hussein. When W. went to war, American tanks rolled all the way to the capital, toppled Saddam and stayed to fight for an additional 10 years.

Today, Iraq does have a shaky elected government, propped up by Iran and besieged by the invading terrorist army of Islamic State. That may or not be an improvement, but President Bush the younger can claim to have done what his father balked at doing; he replaced a dictatorship with a democracy.

That was the dream of Paul Wolfowitz and the other neoconservative theorists who handed the new president a ready-to-go foreign policy vision when he took office in 2001. They believed taking down Saddam and holding elections in one of the Middle East’s pivotal countries would set off a chain reaction. People would rise up, old regimes would fall and free elections would be held.

And their dream came true — sort of. After weeks of street protests and demands for democracy, Hosni Mubarak was expelled from power in Egypt. Elections quickly followed and, not surprisingly, an Islamist party won. The Islamists were not especially liberal in their governing style and, when they grabbed for too much power, the army stepped in. Now, Egypt is run by a general with a harder fist than Mubarak’s.

Libya’s nutty, ruthless ruler, Moammar Kadafi, was dumped by his people as well, with a forceful assist from European and American air power. Elections were held. Hope was high for a very brief time. Now, competing militias battle for pieces of the country and Libya’s democratic government has little control over the spreading anarchy.

In Syria, a push for democracy was met by a ruthless response from the government of Bashar Assad. The ensuing cruelties of the Syrian civil war provided fertile ground for the rise of the horrific Islamic State insurgency.

Only in Tunisia has democracy gained anything close to a solid foothold. The rest of the Arab world is more dangerous and chaotic than ever.

If Jeb Bush wants to return to a time when Americans were a little less picky about the libertarian credentials of their friends in power, who can blame him? Still, he can hardly claim that’s a new vision in American foreign policy.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-jeb-bush-foreign-policy-20150218-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-jeb-bush-foreign-policy-20150218-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on March 18, 2015, 04:04:50 am

from the Los Angeles Times....

Youngest senator, Tom Cotton, shows his immaturity with Iran letter

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20Pix%202015/latimes_20150317dh_zpspix5lz21.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-5507b83f/turbine/la-na-tt-tom-cotton-immaturity-iran-20150316)

ON MONDAY in Lausanne, Switzerland, Iranian negotiators demanded that their American counterparts explain to them the meaning of the open letter sent to Iranian leaders by 47 Republican U.S. senators. In the letter, the senators declared that any agreement with the current resident of the White House could be modified or nullified by a future president or by Congress. Apparently, their goal was to scuttle the Obama administration's effort to reach a deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry and the other U.S. officials in Switzerland who are trying to make that deal declined to characterize their response to the Iranians, but one might assume it was something like, “Hey, you’ve got your hardliners back home and we’ve got ours.”

The Republicans’ letter may not scare Iran’s rulers away from an agreement, but it contained a passage that ought to send a chill up American spines. Pointing out that a president is limited to two four-year terms, the letter noted that senators can keep adding six-year terms for as long as they keep getting re-elected.

“As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then — perhaps decades,” the letter said.

Now that is a genuinely frightening thought. Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby, David Vitter, Joni Ernst, Jim Inhofe, Mike Crapo, Ted Cruz and the rest of the saber-rattling, climate change-denying, corporation-adoring, immigrant-fearing cranks might still be in the Senate for years and years to come. God save America.

The one who could be around the longest is the freshman senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton. At 37, he is the Senate’s youngest member; he's the precocious darling of the conservative establishment who came up with the idea for the letter to Iran. Cotton claims his mail to the ayatollahs was a necessary assertion of the Senate's constitutional role in reviewing and approving treaties, but by intruding on the negotiations he flouted another constitutional mandate — the one that makes it the president’s job to forge international agreements on behalf of the nation.

Republicans justify their unyielding belligerence by forever implying that only they speak for the people of the United States. However, while Cotton and his colleagues have won elections in most of the old Confederacy and several sparsely-populated states in the West and Midwest, the president and vice president are the only two governmental leaders elected by the entire country. Republicans have been in denial about it for six years, yet the fact remains that Barack Obama has twice been chosen by a solid majority of American voters to represent them in the world.

It is dangerous for any bunch of senators to insert themselves so directly into delicate diplomacy involving six other countries about an issue as serious as nuclear weapons, but Cotton is happy to court danger since his favored alternative to diplomacy is military action against Iran. One would think that the Senate’s elders might have stepped in to caution the brash upstart from Arkansas. Rather than doing doing that, though, old guys like Mitch McConnell and John McCain added their signatures to Cotton’s letter.

McCain claimed he really didn’t read what he was signing. The Arizonan was in a hurry to get out of Washington before a snowstorm hit. Besides, he said, he gets lots of letters placed on his desk that colleagues want him to sign. Apparently for McCain it was not notable that this particular letter was postmarked for Tehran.

Critics of the Republican senators’ missive have branded it everything from a breach in protocol to treason. Whatever one wants to call it, the letter surely is one more glaring example of what poisonous partisan politics has done to undermine the image and authority of the United States in the eyes of the world. When U.S. senators cannot resist acting like impulsive children spoiling for a fight, we should not be surprised if people in other countries begin to wonder if Americans still have the requisite maturity to be global leaders.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-tom-cotton-immaturity-iran-20150316-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-tom-cotton-immaturity-iran-20150316-story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on April 19, 2015, 02:51:14 am

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20News%20Pix/sfgate_morfordbanner2.jpg) (http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/morford)

Put a woman on the $20! (Down with Andrew Jackson)

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist (mmorford@sfgate.com) | 2:24PM PDT - Friday, April 17, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202015/20150417a_EleanorRoosevelt_original_zpsiyxkiuzv.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/a-woman-on-the-20-because-yes/eleanorroosevelt.jpg)
Eleanor. A leading contender, and an obvious (read: safe, least likely to freak out the white male
status quo) choice.

WHAT EFFECT might it have, do you think? What might be the awesome psycho-cultural implications of stripping Andrew “I love slaves and the genocide of Indians” Jackson from his bland, 100-year stint on the $20, and replacing him with a notable American female — Harriet Tubman or Eleanor Roosevelt, say — just in time to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment and, let us merely offer a humble forecast, the first female U.S. president?

It’s an idea. It’s a thing. It’s a nicely empowering piece of legislation that’s actually being floated right this minute somewhere in the miasmatic halls of Congress (and on websites (http://www.womenon20s.org), and Twitter (https://twitter.com/WomenOn20s), where angry male trolls are all aflutter, so you know it must be a good idea), with who-the-hell-knows chances of success.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202015/20150417b_Sanger_original_zps9bgj0ypv.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/a-woman-on-the-20-because-yes/sanger.jpg)
Margaret Sanger was in the running for a bit, thus causing mild panic among terrified extremist males (hi, Breitbart!),
because, you know, fighting for a woman's right to basic contraception is FAR worse than the genocide
of Native Americans, or owning slaves.

Could it work? Dump Andrew Jackson and put a woman on the $20 (here’s the final ballot (http://www.womenon20s.org/vote2)) without much fuss or whiny political backlash? It’s possible. So far, aside from a few troglodytes on the far right wailing over the fact that one of the initial candidates was Planned Parenthood pioneer Margaret Sanger (Jackson owning hundreds of slaves is cool, but a woman advocating for a right to basic contraception? Horrible!), there doesn’t appear to be much resistance to Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s (Democrat-New Hampshire) proposal (http://www.shaheen.senate.gov/news/press/release/?id=05739d4a-bb0e-4724-a49a-031aa0797fd3). Yet.

Which is a good thing. The bill’s low-key status might prove its biggest asset. Obama has shown tacit support. Women’s groups would be, naturally, delighted. But best of all, no one’s exactly defending the highly unpleasant Andrew Jackson. Besides owning all those slaves and having a vicious temper, Jackson is perhaps best known for signing the brutal Indian Removal Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Removal_Act) and inducing the Trail of Tears, which killed Native Americans by the thousands. Also, he gave us Florida (http://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/2329). I mean, good riddance.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202015/20150417c_JacksonNo_original_zpsektvsskb.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/a-woman-on-the-20-because-yes/jackson-no.jpg)
Who cares about Andrew Jackson? Tough to defend all that slave owning and Indian decimating.

It’s a fine idea, no? Overdue and worthwhile? Dovetails beautifully with the Rise of Women (more women than men graduating from college, more political muscle, more influence across the board), Hillary’s historic second run, the ongoing fight for equal pay (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-republicans-reject-equal-pay-bill/2014/04/09/ce011342-c003-11e3-b574-f8748871856a_story.html), the aforementioned, upcoming 100-year anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which, after years of terrific struggle, finally gave women the right to vote and which, as Louis CK pointed out (http://www.eonline.com/news/526506/louis-c-k-hosts-saturday-night-live-performs-9-minute-stand-up-routine-opening-monologue), means America has only really been a democracy for 95 years.

One thing we know: These things matter. There is, like the various shifts and lurches that led to women’s suffrage, gay marriage and two-term black president, a cumulative effect when long-fossilized American tropes get shattered, a vital tonal shift that gets passed down to future generations and infuses everything that comes after. In this case, it’s a powerful and (still) all-too-rare message that women are not merely essential, but equally — if not sometimes even more — essential to our national identity than assorted old white males.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202015/20150417d_Rosa_zpsuoplnui6.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/a-woman-on-the-20-because-yes/rosa.jpg) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202015/20150417e_Tubman_zps70wie9ub.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/a-woman-on-the-20-because-yes/tubman.jpg)
LEFT: Rosa Parks, with some guy named Martin behind her. The highest name
recognition, the most recently alive. Does that matter? | RIGHT: Harriet Tubman.
Civil War Nurse, Suffragist, Civil Rights activist, Underground Railroad
mover/shaker. General badass.

Every little bit helps. Particularly in a time when angry old-timer fundamentalists are panicking over all the changes, when conservative states are digging in their heels over both gay marriage and women’s rights, passing shockingly harsh anti-choice legislation and embracing bigotry and discrimination and calling it “religious freedom”. The fight for basic progress is far from over.

And besides, aside from Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea on old coins, women have never been represented on US currency. And that’s a shame. It’s well past time to flip it all around, shatter the gender-lopsided message. After all, women on currency sure as hell beats women as currency, you know?

Email: Mark Morford (etc@markmorford.com)

Mark Morford (http://www.markmorford.com) on Twitter (http://twitter.com/markmorford) and Facebook (http://facebook.com/markmorfordyes).

http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2015/04/17/put-a-woman-on-the-20 (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2015/04/17/put-a-woman-on-the-20)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on April 19, 2015, 04:48:00 am
..mmm... Muck morgfud..could you please translate no NZ English.... Thanks 😜

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on April 24, 2015, 11:48:30 pm

U.S. Sec Of state John Kerry's tribute to ANZAC Spirit
24 April, 2015

The "Anzac spirit" was celebrated by US Secretary of State John Kerry in a tribute today.

Mr Kerry spoke on behalf of President Barack Obama and United States of America citizens when he said the Anzac spirit was defined by endurance, courage and "mateship".

"The United States is proud of our enduring cooperation with Australia and New Zealand in pursuit of these common ideals," he said.

"We will forever remember the heroic efforts of 1915 and the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of freedom."

Countering violent extremism, providing disaster relief, supporting good governance in the Pacific and promoting free trade through the Trans-Pacific Partnership were examples of the countries working together, Mr Kerry said.


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on April 27, 2015, 02:04:30 am
Shale as world's swing producer signals 'jagged' oil future

2:00 PM Sunday Apr 26, 2015
Oil rigs in North Dakota. U.S. shale oil has been anointed the world's new "swing producer". Photo: AP.
With OPEC ceding control for the first time since the 1980s, U.S. shale oil has been anointed the world's new "swing producer" by everyone from ConocoPhillips and Goldman Sachs to former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.

But can America's oil really swing it?

Producers cut billions in spending, idled half the country's rigs and kept more than 3,000 wells off the market, and it still took five months for U.S. production to start dropping.

Analysts and banks say a recovery in production will also prove slower and more difficult than it would be for a single producer like Saudi Arabia.

"When you think of a swing producer, you think of OPEC and you think of spare capacity that can be turned on and off," said Trisha Curtis, director of oil and gas research at Energy Policy Research Foundation Inc.

"U.S. oil can respond, but the response is going to be messy, it's going to be jagged and it's not going to happen overnight."

At the heart of all this is the fact that U.S. oil supply isn't controlled by a single Saudi Aramco-like entity with a lever on all 9.4 million barrels of daily oil output.

The recovery is going to be a lot more volatile
IHS vice chairman Daniel Yergin
"The traditional market balancer isn't there," Daniel Yergin, vice-chairman of energy analyst IHS Inc., said April 14.

"People have started to describe the United States as a swing producer. If it is the swing producer," the recovery is going to be a lot more volatile, he said.

Saudi Arabia boosted production by 658,800 barrels a day to 10.294 million in March, according to data the country submitted to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Once U.S. drillers decide to tackle the fracklog, or backlog of uncompleted wells, they have to wait for hydraulic fracturing fluids and completion rigs to arrive.

The largest challenge may be bringing back workers, tens of thousands of whom lost their jobs after prices collapsed.

"In reality, you can probably complete a well in between two and three months, but that's assuming you have all the frack crews available," Andrew Cosgrove, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said by phone April 15.

"It's going to be sticky in terms of getting everybody back to work."

U.S. producers will find it easier to locate equipment and supplies than they did last year, when delays in sand deliveries and labour shortages kept wells waiting for months to be tied in, Cosgrove said.

They may also find it cheaper as service costs have fallen along with demand for rigs, he said.

And while their response may be less consistent than that of Saudi Arabia, America's drillers are solely driven by market conditions and may actually decrease volatility by serving as a check on the rest of the world, said John Auers, executive vice president at Dallas-based energy consultant Turner Mason & Co.

Relying on flexible, low-cost opportunities that can stop and start on a dime will be critical as U.S. drillers become the world's swing suppliers, ConocoPhillips Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance said April 8.

"We're going into a world that's going to be characterized by lower, gradually rising prices and a lot of volatility."

The retreat in U.S. oil drilling is a prime example of how the market will play out in the future, said Mike Wittner, head of oil research at Societe Generale in New York.

Oil prices began collapsing in September, and yet U.S. producers didn't really start pulling rigs out of fields until December.

When prices rebound, their return to shale fields will again take months, he said.

"The big dogs, the Saudis, could snap their fingers and make that happen by tomorrow," Wittner said.

"Here, you have a whole sector of a couple hundred companies doing what they do and looking out for their own self-interests, and the whole thing takes a long time."

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on April 27, 2015, 08:50:09 pm
..if she doesn't make it i will really miss her 8)

Hillary on the brink of collapse
5 HOURS AGO APRIL 27, 2015 11:20AM
Gender and economic issues top agenda for Hillary Clinton at women's summit

A PASSAGE from Ernest  Hemingway fits the moment. In “The Sun Also  Rises,” one character asks,  “How did you go bankrupt?” and another responds: “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
The exchange captures Hillary Clinton’s red alert. She’s been going politically bankrupt for a long time, and now faces the prospect of sudden collapse.
If she’s got a winning defence, she better be quick about it. The ghosts of scandals past are gaining on her and time is not on her side.
The compelling claims that she and Bill Clinton sold favours while she was Secretary of State for tens of millions of dollars for themselves and their foundation don’t need to meet the legal standard for bribery. She’s on political trial in a country where Clinton Fatigue alone could be a fatal verdict.
After 25 years of corner-cutting and dishonest behaviour, accumulation is her enemy. Each day threatens to deliver the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It may already have happened and we’re just waiting for public opinion to catch up to the facts.
Meanwhile, her Houdini skills are being tested big time.
Hillary’s one big advantage is obvious — she’s the only serious contender for the Democratic nomination, and she beats most GOP opponents in head-to-head match-ups. But everything else weighs against her, including momentum.
Start with the fact that the sizzling reports of corrupt deals are coming from major news organisations that reliably tilt left. With supposed friends making the case against her, the tired Clinton defence that the ­attacks are partisan hit jobs has been demolished.
And after digging up so much dirt, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, Reuters, Bloomberg News and others are not likely to be content with stonewalling and half-truths, especially given her recent lies about missing e-mails. No wonder the Times editorial page called on her to provide “straightforward answers” to the accusations.
I don’t see how she can meet that test. The outlines of cozy relationships and key transactions are not in dispute. The only issue is whether the millions the Clintons got amount to a quid pro quo.
On the face of it, that’s certainly what they look like. There are several deals we know of, and more could emerge, that put money in the Clintons’ pockets while helping businesses, including some loathsome international figures, make a killing. It is preposterous to argue that it’s all a coincidence.
Her position was further undercut when the family foundation announced it would refile five years of tax returns. In one three-year period, it omitted tens of millions in foreign contributions, reporting “zero” to the IRS. In another two-year period, it admitted to over­reporting government grants by more than $100 million.
A foundation aide described the errors as “typographical,” which is bizarre — and par for the Clinton course. To concede the errors during the firestorm must mean keeping them quiet was an even greater liability.
Sooner rather than later, Hillary will have to meet the press — but what can she possibly say to alter the storylines?
If history is a guide, she’ll insist she did nothing wrong, offer ambiguous answers to specific questions, take offence at persistent reporters and end by playing the victim. She’ll follow up with a fundraising pitch for money to keep “fighting for ­everyday Americans.”
To imagine that scenario is to realise it won’t fly, but I’m not sure what other options she has. She can’t tell the truth. It will sink her.
Nor can she credibly demand to be trusted, given her past. A recent Quinnipiac poll finds 54 per cent of Americans already say Clinton is not honest or trustworthy.
Swing-state surveys show similar lopsided findings and each new sordid revelation will deepen the trust deficit. At this point in her life, it would take a near-miracle to change people’s basic view of her.
Her best hope is that a missing ­ingredient remains missing — a Democrat who could take the nomination from her, the way Barack Obama did in 2008. None of those already in the race or committed to it — Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, even Joe Biden — comes close to measuring up.
The only possible rival who does is Elizabeth Warren, the fire-breathing senator from Massachusetts. Gender aside, she is everything Hillary isn’t — an anti-Wall Street conviction populist with a record to match her rhetoric.
A movement to draft her started before Hillary hit the fan, so Warren would begin with a built-in constituency. So far, though, she insists she’s not running.
Then again, that also could change suddenly.
This article originally appeared on New York Post.

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 01, 2015, 06:47:48 pm

from The Washington Post....

The Marines say the controversial F-35 fighter
is now ready for combat. Now what?

By CHRISTIAN DAVENPORT | 1:53PM EDT - Friday, July 31, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/Washington%20Post%20Pix%202015/20150731a_F35B_zpse0qpoaok.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2015/07/F35verticallanding-1024x712.jpg&w=1484)
A Marine F-35B Joint Strike Fighter lifts off during the first short takeoff and vertical landing mission at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in 2013.
 — Photo: Samuel King Jr./U.S. Air Force.

THE Marine Corps, the ascetic tribe of “Devil Dogs” that prides itself on being “the first to fight,” is getting a new weapon, announcing Friday that its version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is, at long last, ready to be unleashed in combat.

The announcement comes after years of testing and development, marking a significant milestone for the sometimes-beleaguered, often-criticized and always controversial $400 billion program, which is years behind its original schedule and billions of dollars over its original budget.

The declaration means that the squadron of 10 F-35Bs stationed with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 in Yuma, Arizona, are “ready for worldwide deployment,” the Marine Corps said in a statement. And in announcing the decision, Marine Corps Commandant Joseph Dunford said the stealthy fifth-generation fighter “will transform the way we fight and win.”

Officials at the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin, the Bethesda-based manufacturer of the plane, cheered the announcement, saying it was evidence that the program had turned the corner from its previous troubles, and that it was primped and primed for its operational debut.

Air Force Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, the program's executive officer, said that the teams behind the plane “have worked through a number of challenges.” But he said they stayed focused on “delivering a stealth fighter that could fly faster than the speed of sound, carry its weapons internally, conduct short takeoffs and vertical landings, and be deployed from amphibious ships and austere bases.”

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/Washington%20Post%20Pix%202015/20150731b_F35B_zpsde3p1e7e.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2015/04/11819720955_94fac4d6e6_k-1024x683.jpg&w=1484)
The F-35B Joint Strike Fighter will be integrated into the Marine Corps in coming years, and the service is preparing for it now. — Photo: Lockheed Martin.

The fighter, the most expensive weapons system ever procured by the Pentagon, still faces questions from its legion of critics, however. Members of Congress recently asked Dunford, who is also President Obama's nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pointed questions about the program.

“Do you believe the nation can afford to procure these aircraft at a cost of $12 [billion] to $15 [billion] per year for nearly the next 20 years for an aircraft design that will be 30 years old at the completion of the program procurement phase?” they asked.

They also pointed out that the aircraft is still under development and that full production is not scheduled until 2019, 17 years after the program's inception. And they wondered whether the Pentagon really need 2,443 of the planes “in light of countervailing pressure to reduce force structure to conserve resources.”

Dunford replied that the F-35 “is a vital component of our effort to ensure the Joint Force maintains dominance in the air.” And he said that there will be updates to the plane over its life that will ensure it “maintains a tactical advantage.”

But he also said that the Pentagon is “analyzing” whether the 2,443 planes it plans to buy “is the correct number.”

That set off waves of concern, because the more planes the Pentagon buys, the less expensive they are. The Pentagon had dropped the number from its initial goal of 2,852. Another decrease could not only lead to an increase in price but spook allies, such as Canada, which are weighing whether to buy the aircraft, analysts said.

“Like all these major weapons systems sometimes, you just want to see them walk in a straight line and not fall off the curb,” said Byron Callan, a director of Capital Alpha Partners. “Hitting this milestone, which they've been talking about for months, if not years, is a positive step. But is it going to fundamentally alter the perceptions of the program? I’d say no.”

In a statement on Friday, Senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona), one of the program’s leading critics, said he remains “concerned about the capability and reliability this aircraft,” and vowed to make sure the program continues to improve.

The F-35 comes in three variants, for the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. The Air Force variant is expected to be declared ready for combat sometime late next year, the Navy’s in late 2018 or early 2019.

The F-35B, the Marine Corps' version, is the most complicated. It has a giant fan in the middle of the plane that allows it to land vertically. Before declaring it combat-ready, the Corps recently showed off the plane’s abilities as a small fleet of the jets took off and landed from the deck of an amphibious assault ship.

While the F-35B has now reached what's called its “initial operational capability,” the plane’s development is not complete. There are still updates to the software that need to be implemented. But Dunford said Friday that he had full confidence in the plane, and that it was capable of an array of missions, including “close air support, offensive and defensive counter-air, air interdiction, assault support escort and armed reconnaissance.”

For weeks, the Marines put the plane through a series of tests aboard carriers at sea, live ordnance sorties and “large-force” exercises designed to gauge how the plane would perform in combat.

• Christian Davenport covers federal contracting for The Washington Post's Financial desk. He joined The Post in 2000 and has served as an editor on the Metro desk and as a reporter covering military affairs. He is the author of “As You Were: To War and Back with the Black Hawk Battalion of the Virginia National Guard”.


Read more on this topic:

 • Meet the most fascinating part of the F-35: The $400,000 helmet (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/04/01/meet-the-most-fascinating-part-of-the-f-35-the-400000-helmet)

 • Marines overhaul air-to-air combat tactics while integrating the F-35 fighter jet (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/04/20/marines-overhaul-air-to-air-combat-tactics-while-integrating-f-35-fighter-jet/)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/07/31/in-historic-announcement-marine-corps-declares-controversial-f-35-ready-for-combat (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/07/31/in-historic-announcement-marine-corps-declares-controversial-f-35-ready-for-combat)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on August 01, 2015, 07:29:32 pm
Nice looking piece of kit...probably quite handy in the event that you want cause harm to something ;)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 01, 2015, 08:34:40 pm

Fortunately, even the Nats aren't silly enough to spend the huge amount of money the stupid Jesuslanders are spending on these aeroplanes.

I guess when Donald Trump becomes the next President of the USA (there are enough dumb retards in Jesusland silly enough to make it happen), he'll be able to bankrupt the country indulging in yet more warmongering and creating even bigger bogeyman than ISIS in the process.

Americans can be really STUPID & DUMB, eh?

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on August 01, 2015, 08:43:46 pm
well...i guess..it is a democracy...so they will get what the majority want...just like here ;)

..another win for democracy...long may it last ;D

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 05, 2015, 06:54:00 pm

from Mansfield News Journal....

Prison drone dropped heroin, marijuana and tobacco

By LOU WHITMIRE | 4:40PM EDT - Tuesday, August 04, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix%202015/20150804_MansfieldPrison_zpsqqefvkeu.jpg) (http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0d801a48b3f5978d85e4f8af5f76ac0f164ec596/c=0-44-1800-1394&r=x404&c=534x401/local/-/media/2015/08/03/Mansfield/B9318317737Z.1_20150803175810_000_G84BHE5C2.1-0.jpg)
A drone flew over Mansfield Correctional Institution last week while inmates were
in the recreation yard. It dropped a package containing drugs and tobacco.

MANSFIELD, OHIO — The package dropped by a drone at Mansfield Correctional Institution last week contained 144.5 grams of tobacco, 65.4 grams of marijuana, and 6.6 grams of heroin, according to JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Last week, the Mansfield News Journal reported a drone flew over MANCI but few details were released as to whether any contraband was dropped or found.

The incident occurred at 2:33 p.m. on July 29th according to information the News Journal received on Monday from the spokeswoman.

A drone may be remotely controlled or can fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in its embedded systems working in conjunction with GPS. Drones have most often been associated with the military but they are also used for search and rescue, surveillance, traffic monitoring, weather monitoring and firefighting, among other things.

More recently, the unmanned aircraft have come into consideration for a number of commercial applications. In late 2013, Amazon announced a plan to use drones for delivery.

Last year, the Mansfield post of the Ohio Highway Patrol stepped up efforts to watch and catch criminals in the act of throwing contraband over a prison fence.

According to the ODRC, on July 27th a fight broke out on the north recreation yard, and corrections officers Jade Wojciechowski and Melinda Hane called for assistance and gave orders for the inmates to stop fighting. Other inmates on both north and south recreation began running in the general direction of the fight. The officers then used pepper spray to control the fight and ordered all inmates to get on the ground. The inmates complied and remained on the ground as other staff responded.

All inmates (approximately 75 on north recreation and 130 on south recreation) were removed from the recreation yards to the gyms, where they were strip searched, run through the cell sensor, and clinic checked. The nine fighters were placed in solitary confinement status. There were no injuries to any staff or inmates, according to a report from ODRC.

Upon reviewing the cameras, it was determined that a drone passed over the recreation yards immediately before the fight began. Further investigation revealed the drone dropped off a package intended for an inmate. The package was picked up on the north recreation yard, setting off a fight. The package was then thrown over the fence to the south recreation yard, according to ODRC.

Smith could not confirm the incident was gang related.

The Mansfield patrol on Monday received a report of a drone flying in the vicinity of MANCI and Ohio 13 North by Cyclops Field. A dispatcher said the report could not be confirmed.

Related news story:

 • Drone flies over MANCI rec yard with inmates outside (http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/local/2015/07/30/drone-manci/30879809) (Thursday, July 30, 2015)

http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/local/2015/08/03/manci-drone-followup/31078367 (http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/local/2015/08/03/manci-drone-followup/31078367)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbqsyoM9zBU (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbqsyoM9zBU)

from The Telegraph....

Drone drops drugs into Ohio prison yard

Fight breaks out among prisoners over
heroin, marijuana and tobacco delivery.

12:10AM BST - Wednesday, 05 August 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix%202015/telegraph_20150805a_PrisonDrone_zpsodwoeh2n.jpg) (http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03397/drone-1_3397872b.jpg)
A Drone dropped package at Mansfield Correctional Institution on July 27th. — Photo: FOX28.

A DRONE dropped a package of drugs into a US prison yard while inmates were outside, sparking a fight, prison officials said.

The package was dropped on July 27th at the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio, creating a new front in the war on drugs in prison (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8414951/Prison-inmates-try-to-smuggle-drug-via-colouring-book.html).

It contained almost a quarter of an ounce (7 grams) of heroin, over 2 ounces (57 grams) of marijuana and more than 5 ounces (140 grams) of tobacco, JoEllen Smith, a spokeman for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, told the Mansfield News Journal.

Ms Smith said there have been other instances of drones breaching security (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11488432/Drone-carrying-drugs-and-weapons-crashes-into-prison-in-smuggling-bid.html) and the agency is taking steps to increase awareness and improve drone detection.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix%202015/telegraph_20150805b_PrisonDrone_zpsenfk6u3w.jpg) (http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03397/drone-2_3397878b.jpg)
A Drone dropped package at Mansfield Correctional Institution on July 27th. — Photo: FOX28.

According to the department, video footage showed the drone over recreation yards immediately before a fight began. An investigation determined the drone dropped a package intended for an inmate on the north recreation yard, and it was thrown over a fence to the south recreation yard.

Two corrections officers called for assistance and ordered the inmates to stop fighting, according to the department. They used pepper spray to control the fight.

About 75 inmates in the north recreation yard and 130 on the south recreation yard were strip-searched, run through a cell sensor and checked by a clinic.

The nine people involved in the fight were placed in solitary confinement. No staff members or inmates were injured, the department said.

Last year, the Mansfield post of the Ohio Highway Patrol increased efforts to watch and catch criminals who throw contraband over prison fences.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11784042/Drone-drops-drugs-into-Ohio-prison-yard.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11784042/Drone-drops-drugs-into-Ohio-prison-yard.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on August 05, 2015, 09:22:25 pm
We in NZ are much better...we dont allow drugs in our prisons ;)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 05, 2015, 09:27:21 pm

Neither do Americans.

It's only a matter of time before a drone bombs Hawke's Bay Regional Prison, or Rimutaka Prison, or other similar correctional establishments with drugs.

Jeeezus, you're a stupid clown.

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on August 05, 2015, 10:16:53 pm
...unless of course you happen to be in a high security serco prison...then all drugs are freely available ;)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on August 14, 2015, 10:53:55 am

..just ban guns ;)

Armed Offenders Squad cordon off Timaru street
 An armed officer searches a property on Evans St in Timaru.
An armed officer searches a property on Evans St in Timaru.

Gunshots were reported by neighbours as five police cars and an Armed Offenders Squad carried out an arrest warrant in Timaru.
Evans St in Timaru was cordoned off between Newman St and Luxmoor Rd.

Resident Dylan Bennet said he heard what sounded like two shots being fired.

He lives next door to the house on 114 Evans St.

Bennet, who has lived at the property since March, said the Armed Offenders Squad "camped out" the back of his house this morning before going on to the property.

He said the police have been at the scene for two hours and have mostly been talking to the people inside the property.

A neighbour believed one or more residents of the house were gang affiliates.

An unmarked police car took one person away from the house.

Nine armed offenders squad police officers have left the Evans St house. The cordons are no longer in place.

Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Warner said they were looking for someone specific.

Ad Feedback

"It is in relation to a specific address and public are not in any danger. It involves one house."

 - Stuff

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on August 15, 2015, 10:25:54 am
Editorial: Republicans must attack Trump now

5:00 AM Saturday Aug 15, 2015
International Politics US Presidential Election... United States
No one expects 'The Donald' to be President, but his rivals might be better to go for him now before he spoils his party's chances.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking in Phoenix. Photo / AP
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking in Phoenix. Photo / AP
Donald Trump, who was not much more than a big name in New York until this week, has become a presence everywhere. His name was invoked in our Parliament on Tuesday when Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson put down Winston Peters as "the Donald Trump of New Zealand politics who wants nothing more than a cheap headline".

Was that fair to "the Donald", as New Yorkers call him?

Whatever motivates Mr Trump to seek the United States presidency it must be more than attention-seeking. Just about everything he says or does with his money receives inordinate attention in the US media for no other reason than he is an outsized personality with ostentatiously bad taste in everything from hotels to haircuts.

Now he is bringing his gross tendencies to the political stage and it will be interesting to see how long he can survive.

The first serious poll taken since the Republican candidates' debate on the Fox Network last weekend found him still in the lead. His support seems not to have suffered from his aggressive attitude to a woman on the debate panel when she questioned his attitude to women, or the deeper hole he dug for himself later when he referred to blood coming from her "wherever".

Some of those who find his obnoxiousness entertaining must be giving him a vote in opinion polls but even they probably will hesitate to give him the vote that counts. The interesting question is, how much damage will he do to the Republican Party in the meantime?

None of the candidates on stage with him last weekend knew what to do about him, even though he alone had raised his hand when they were asked whether they might run independently if they did not get the party's nomination.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who looks the likely nominee at this early stage, said nothing against him until well after the debate. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who appears to have what it takes, remained silent.

They all seemed much more haunted by Hillary Clinton, who may be the Democrats nominee next year. Mr Trump is said to be a financial contributor to Mrs Clinton's campaigns, but that probably means little. He told the debate he also donated to some of his rivals on stage and they looked sheepish.

All of them have a long way to go even to reach the first primaries in the new year. Right now their campaigns all need to raise money, all except Mr Trump obviously. He will be enjoying himself immensely, saying what he likes, causing offence, poking fun at political correctness because he alone can afford to.

But finally elections are always about judgment. People generally vote for candidates whose judgment is sound. Platforms, policies, promises quite rightly count for less than what a candidate says and does in response to challenges and difficulties that arise in an election campaign.

The US presidential election campaign seems to get longer every time it comes around.
Mr Trump's ego and bank account might last the distance but nobody seriously expects him to be the next President. If he runs as an independent, at most he could spoil the Republicans' chances. Since they would need to attack him at that point, they might do better to go at him now.

- NZ Herald

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 03, 2015, 03:50:45 pm

from The Washington Post....

Taking photos on train tracks: ‘A mistake you can't undo’

By DAN MORSE | 7:00AM - Friday, October 02, 2015

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151002_DeReggi_zps729jbh6d.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/09/15/Local/Images/DeReggi021442357890.jpg)
John De Reggi and Natalie Crim, moments before DeReggi, was struck and killed by a train. He and his girlfriend, Crim,
had come to the scenic spot in Boyds, Maryland. — Photograph: Courtesy of Crim Family.

SARAH AND NATALIE CRIM had just taken 35 photographs on the train tracks. The 16-year-old twins stepped off and looked at the screen on Sarah's 35mm camera.

Several pictures caught their eyes.

One showed Natalie holding hands with her 16-year-old boyfriend, John De Reggi. Another showed Sarah, the sun lighting up her hair, with John striking a skateboarding pose atop a rail. As the sisters clicked through images, John stayed on the rail, holding his balance.

Behind the teenagers, less than a mile away, Amtrak's Capitol Limited was heading toward them at 76 miles per hour.

What happened moments later — a train looming, startled people who had been taking photos — has become a deadly phenomenon nationwide. John, a well-liked high school junior in Maryland, became the fifth person this year killed while taking photos or videos on train tracks in the United States.

It's not just kids taking photos. Professional photographers like to pose high school seniors on tracks to evoke moving on in life. Brides and grooms seek similar shots. Parents even take photos of their toddlers on the rails.

“People always think they have time to get away. That's a mistake you can't undo,” says Marc Orton, director of visual communications for the Norfolk Southern Railway.

In his six years at that position — where, among other duties, he coordinates safe photo shoots near tracks for the company's marketing — Orton has seen a growing number of portraits taken by the public on tracks.

“It's an alarming and growing trend,” says Aaron Hunt, spokesman for another large railroad company, Union Pacific.

In Boyds, in Montgomery County, Martland, where John De Reggi was killed three weeks ago, Carl Hobbs regularly sees photographers on tracks behind the small engineer repair shop he owns. “There are people taking pictures all the time,” he says.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151002a_TrackPhotos_zpsr1pe4l79.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_742w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/09/25/Others/Images/2015-09-25/trackphotos__8161443202330.jpg) (http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151002b_TrackPhotos_zps9uxtkbu4.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_742w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/09/25/Others/Images/2015-09-25/trackphotos__8171443202630.jpg)
LEFT: Natalie Crim and John De Reggi, both 16, walking on train tracks in Boyds, Maryland, on September 14th, 2015, moments before an Amtrak
train came up behind them. John was struck and killed shortly after this photo was made. | RIGHT: John De Reggi, 16, walking on train tracks
in Boyds, Maryland, on September 14th, 2015, moments before an Amtrak train struck and killed him shortly after this photo was taken.
 — Both photographs: Courtesy of Crim Family.

Indeed, while John, Natalie and Sarah were taking photos, another trio of teenagers was doing the same thing about 150 feet away. One of those three, Jeremy Sprites, 16, says he has taken photos on active tracks more than 30 times. “A lot of kids at my high school do it.”

Natalie and Sarah go to Clarksburg High School, where they are honor roll students and play varsity field hockey, and where this year Sarah signed up for a photography class. One of her first assignments: Take a series of photos that would illustrate pushing forward in life. The twins had been on the tracks before and said in an interview that they felt they would be safe.

The industry's alarm

For as long as there have been trains and cameras, people have been taking photos near tracks.

But recognizing that appeal, the railroad industry is increasing efforts to tell teenagers and professional photographers that shooting photos on the tracks is not only dangerous but illegal trespassing.

In June, Union Pacific pushed out jolting, animated videos over social media showing teens posing for photos on roads. In one, set on a country highway, an 18-wheeler comes up suddenly from behind; in another, it's a city bus that swoops in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsmqRHp7DpE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsmqRHp7DpE)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJiMOyR4lPY (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJiMOyR4lPY)

Why, the videos ask, would students who wouldn't feel safe taking senior-year photos in the middle of a road think it was fine on railroad tracks?

This month, Operation Lifesaver (https://s3.amazonaws.com/download.oli.org/Photographer+Issues/OLI-Photographer-Flyer.pdf), a railroad group, will host a Web-based seminar (http://www.ppa.com/event.cfm?EventID=84869) with the Professional Photographers of America to discuss the dangers of track photography and explore safer alternatives. Operation Lifesaver regularly mails letters to professional photographers whose track pictures show up on the Internet. The group will roll out its own public service announcements this year.

While the Federal Railroad Administration keeps track of how many pedestrians are killed by trains, it doesn't break out what they were doing when they were hit. But the FRA, Hunt, Orton and others in the industry say photography on tracks is a growing problem.

Part of the reason, they say, is the constant photo-sharing over the Internet — meaning images that once would have been tucked away in physical albums are now zipping around, planting ideas for similar shots. And with so many cellphone cameras, there are simply more people taking more photos of everything.

“This is a trend that seems to be going in the wrong direction,” says Travis Campbell, a locomotive engineer in Idaho.

During a decade operating freight trains, Campbell says, he has come up on people taking photographs more than 50 times. Sometimes it's people on the tracks who rush out of the way. Other times they remain next to the tracks, cellphone in hand, to snap a selfie with the blurring train behind them.

The risk, often lost on otherwise careful people, is high: The selfie-takers don't realize that trains extend several feet beyond the rail. And those on tracks don't realize that a train moving at 70 mph is covering the distance of a football field every three seconds.

“All reason and logic,” Campbell says, “seems to go out the window when people get around train tracks.”

A compelling setting

The romance and history of trains make for compelling photographs.

Earlier this year, in Hartford, Wisconsin, Mike Daly's wife Roxanne gave him a surprise Father's Day gift: A professional photo shoot on the tracks, complete with a Batman costume for him and a Robin outfit for their 15-month-old son, Finn. Roxanne positioned herself across the tracks, as if she were tied down and Mike and Finn were rescuing her. The photographer also got shots of Finn, seated by himself, on the tracks.

The images went viral on the Internet — and suddenly the Dalys were vilified. “I get where they were coming from,” Daly says, “and I'd certainly not advise people do it.”

But he said he has no regrets, and one of the photos of all three on the tracks hangs in the family's living room.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151002c_TrackPhotos_zpsxe3s4tyi.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/09/25/Others/Images/2015-09-25/trackphotos__8151443201671.jpg)
Trever Yakich poses for senior high portraits in Grand Rapids, Michigan. — Photograph: Courtesy of Sesi Lee Cnossen.

Three years ago, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, high school student Trever Yakich wanted a senior photo that played off images in a music video for the song “Long Black Train”. He enlisted his cousin, professional photographer SesiLee Cnossen, to take photos of him on rail tracks — playing his guitar while seated, playing his guitar while lying on his back across the track, head resting on one rail, feet on the other. “I didn't feel that nervous,” Yakich says.

Cnossen did and tried to get off the tracks within a few minutes. She says now she tries to take her track photos on abandoned tracks.

Newly engaged couples also are posing on tracks. In Boise, Idaho, Logan and Justin Weis commemorated their 2013 engagement with photos next to the city's historic depot. “It was an image of us walking down a path together,” Justin says. He says he felt safe because the few trains he'd seen passing through downtown Boise were going slow.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151002d_LoganJustin_zpsx56rhdwb.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/01/Local/Images/logan-justin_1241443743231.jpg)
Couples like Justin and Logan Weis, shown here to in Boise, Idaho, like to pose for photos on tracks to signify taking a journey together.
 — Photograph: Courtesy of Anna Gorin.

Photographer Anna Gorin, who took the shots, pitches the location for high school seniors. “A great moving-toward-the-next-phase-of-life feel, very appropriate for graduation,” she writes on her Web site (http://www.annagorin.com/blog/2013/01/how-to-choose-a-boise-portrait-location).

Last year, high school senior Chloe Krishnek arrived at the tracks with her parents. But there was already a photo shoot underway, so they moved to tracks nearby that are not in use. Even on the active set of tracks, though, Gorin said the slow speeds of the trains make her feel safe. “You definitely have to take into consideration where the tracks are,” she said.

Getting ready for work last year in Virginia, Norfolk Southern's Orton found himself drawn to a beautiful story on TV about a family in Georgia. Their 12-year-old daughter suffers from mitochondrial disease, which saps people of energy, and when her father danced with her on a stage, holding her as they twirled, the footage was bounced around the world.

Midway through the piece, a family photo was posted: Eight people on railroad tracks, including the girl in a wheelchair and two other young children — a sight that shocked Orton. After getting to work, he asked a Norfolk Southern police officer to call the photographer.

On the other end of the line was Maggie Culver of Studio ME Photography (http://studiome.smugmug.com), who thought she'd taken precautions. Not visible in the photo was a road crossing, a few feet in front of the wheelchair. “If we hear anything, grab the kids and go,” she had told the family.

“Did you know it was illegal to be on the tracks?” the officer asked, according to Culver.

“No, I didn't,” she said.

She listened to him explain the dangers, how fast trains can appear. She took the photos off her Web site and has since urged photographers online not to use tracks, she says.

“You can get the same safe effect from a fence line or a dirt road,” Culver said.

‘Faster than I thought’

Two sets of tracks set out from Washington D.C., head northwest into Montgomery County through Boyds and pass the historic Lander Lock House on the C&O Canal. Pepper Scotto is a docent at the lock house, and on Saturday, September 12th, she looked out to the tracks and saw a man getting ready to take pictures of four young children, including one no older than 3 who was picking up rocks and throwing them.

“You really need to get off the tracks,” Scotto recalled yelling.

The man ignored her. She walked closer to him, took out her phone and threatened to call the police.

The man reluctantly left the tracks, leading the children to a small parking lot nearby. Moments later, an Amtrak train flew by.

“That really goes a lot faster than I thought,” the man said.

It was about 15 miles away, in Boyds, that Sarah Crim, Natalie Crim and John DeReggi arrived on Monday, September 14th.

Earlier, in Sarah's photography class, students had been asked to study a long quote from a marketing campaign by the computer company Apple highlighting famous geniuses willing to stand out and challenge the status quo: Bob Dylan, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein and others.

“They change things,” Apple extolled. “They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.”

Sarah and her classmates were asked to create images that illustrated the quote.

She, her sister and John got to the tracks about 4:30 p.m. A commuter train passed, heading northwest. “Okay, I guess it's clear for us to go now,” Natalie said.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151002e_DeReggiSkateboard_zps3mvkclyt.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/01/Local/Images/trackphotos_DeReggiSkateboard1443742930.jpg)
John De Reggi, a gregarious and adventurous high-school senior, loved riding long skateboards near his home in Boyds, Maryland.
 — Photograph: Courtesy of Christine De Reggi.

Though just 16, she and John were very much in love. A year earlier, after they started dating, Natalie arrived home to flowers in her bedroom. John had given them to Sarah and asked her to put them there. “You seemed like you were having a bad day today,” a note he'd written said. “I hope this makes it better.”

The three walked toward the tracks, stopping for photos just before they got to them. John, as usual, was enjoying the moment. He seemed like someone, Natalie always thought, who woke up happy and spent the rest of his day that way. They made their way to the tracks, starting to walk northwest as they took more photos. Above them the sky was a clear blue. Behind them, all around, were towering trees, some starting to change color but still thick with leaves that muffle sounds.

Natalie and Sarah paused, stepped off the tracks, and looked at the photos they'd taken. Suddenly, from behind, they heard a sound and turned around.

“Guys, there's a train,” Natalie said.

She looked to the tracks. Saw her boyfriend — shocked, panicked, not immediately processing which way to jump.

“John!” she screamed.

Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

• Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County. He arrived at The Washington Post in 2005, after reporting stops at the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of The Yoga Store Murder (http://theyogastoremurder.com).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/taking-photos-on-train-tracks-a-mistake-you-cant-undo/2015/10/02/99769f94-6218-11e5-9757-e49273f05f65_story.html (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/taking-photos-on-train-tracks-a-mistake-you-cant-undo/2015/10/02/99769f94-6218-11e5-9757-e49273f05f65_story.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on October 03, 2015, 07:04:54 pm
..more kiwi's choosing reality...  :P

Richard Dawkins suspects religion 'dying' in NZ

4:52 PM Saturday Oct 3, 2015

Richard Dawkins has become a controversial figure because of his views on religion. Photo / Supplied

Evolutionary biologist and writer Richard Dawkins says he suspects religion is "dying" in New Zealand and that's a good thing for science and education.

"...Science is advancing all time and religion is not, and religion is slowly dying," Professor Dawkins told TV3 show The Nation today.

"It's dying much faster in some countries than others. It's dying very fast in western and northern Europe, I suspect in New Zealand as well."

Prof Dawkins said human understanding of science, and of phenomena such as evolution, improved when religious groups were less influential.

Prof Dawkins is credited for coining the word "meme" in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, and frequently sparked controversy with his outspoken views on religion.

He told The Nation he was especially critical of Islam because the religion had an aggressive agenda.

"Well, Islam is the only religion that's at the moment positively dangerous. It's the only religion that is actually attempting to infiltrate the rest of the world and to take it over and, in some cases, actually by violent means. So I think anybody just looking at the politics of the situation would have to worry about it."

He said 500 years ago, Christianity was similarly dangerous but today its "teeth have been drawn".

Prof Dawkins said on Twitter last week he was considering a visit to New Zealand soon.


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on November 03, 2015, 08:48:23 am

...god botherers do the wrong thing :o......nevaaaaaaa ;)

Vatican arrests two people in latest probe of leaked documents

6:46 AM Tuesday Nov 3, 2015

A Spanish priest and an Italian laywoman who had served on a financial reform commission set up by Pope Francis have been arrested in the probe into yet another leak of confidential information and documents, the Vatican said.

A statement from the Holy See's press office said that Vatican prosecutors upheld the arrests of the two, who had been interrogated over the weekend.

It identified the woman as Francesca Chaouqui and the priest as Monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda. He is still a Vatican employee. Both of them had served on a now-defunct commission that had been set up by Pope Francis in 2013 as part of his drive to reform the Holy See's finances.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Vallejo Balda is being held in a jail cell in Vatican City. Chaouqui was allowed to go free because she cooperated in the probe, the Vatican said.

Chaouqui "has furnished the maximum cooperation and deposited documents in support of what she declared," her lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA. Noting that her client was already back home, Bongiorno added "she is sure she will very rapidly clarify her position."

Bongiorno, who successfully won acquittal for Amanda Knox's co-defendant in an internationally watched murder trial, is one of Italy's top criminal lawyers. She didn't immediately answer phone calls seeking further comment.

Chaouqui, on her LinkedIn profile, describes herself as a communications expert who was the only woman, the only under-55-year-old and the only Italian woman on the pontifical commission.

Opus Dei, the conservative Catholic religious movement, expressed "surprise and pain" over Vallejo Balda's arrest. It described him in a statement as belonging to a priestly society linked to Opus Dei, and added it had no information on the case.

"If the allegation turns out to be proven, it will be particularly painful because of the damage done to the church," Opus Dei's statement said.

While Francis is intent on modernizing the Vatican and making its finances more transparent, the arrests were the latest confirmation that scandal and intrigue still swirl, as they have for centuries, through the largely closed world of the tiny city-state's administrative bureaucracy.

Current and past papacy efforts to clean house at the Vatican have sparked resentment and found resistance in the Holy See's entrenched bureaucracy, a perfect combination of factors to foster leaks.

Leaks of confidential documents from Pope Benedict XVI's papers in 2012 led to the arrest and trial of a papal butler and a Vatican computer technician.

"One must keep in mind that the leaking of confidential information and documents is a crime" under a law enacted in the first months of Francis' papacy, the Vatican statement said.

Last week, Italian news reports said the Vatican police were investigating to see who had tampered with the computer of the top Holy See's auditor, Libero Milone, who was appointed a few months ago by Pope Francis.

The Vatican confirmed that there was an investigation into the tampering, but declined to say if that incident was related to the two arrests.

Later this week, two expose books by Italian journalists about the Vatican's finances are being published, and the Vatican on Monday contended that such publications only hamper Pope Francis' clean-up drive.

"Publications of this nature do not help in any way to establish clarity and truth, but rather generate confusion and partial and tendentious conclusions," the Vatican said. "One must absolutely avoid the misunderstanding of thinking that's a way to help the pope's mission."

Without specifying if the latest arrests are linked, the Vatican described the books as "fruit of a grave betrayal of the trust given by the pope, and, as far as the authors go, of an operation to take advantage of a gravely illicit act of handing over confidential documentation."

Some Vatican-watchers have theorized that Benedict decided to be the first pope in centuries to resign largely because he was morally dismayed by the leaks and intrigue behind the Vatican's closed doors and felt that in his advancing years, he wouldn't be up to the task of grappling with the scandals.

- AP

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 10, 2016, 01:50:48 pm

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix%202016/20160110_1452382059830sr_zpsdaxtcsdv.jpg) (http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/75754142)
(click on the picture to read the news story)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 17, 2016, 12:38:21 pm

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/Latuff%20Cartoons/20160100_TrumpHillaryIsrael_zpss3a3pt1v.jpg) (https://latuffcartoons.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/trump-hillary-israel-mondoweiss.jpg)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on January 17, 2016, 01:03:35 pm
well that is surprising...didnt know Hillary was known for the dexterity of her tongue  ::)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on January 20, 2016, 12:27:37 pm
....goog to see that the majority of kiwis want the return to our ports of the American Navy :P

Kiwis torn on US ship visits

5:00 AM Wednesday Jan 20, 2016

Defence National United States
Poll shows half happy to see return of American navy but 30% don’t want it back at all.
At the Rimpac exercise in 2010, the New Zealand Navy was left out in the cold while other nations' ships docked at Pearl Harbour. Photo / AP
At the Rimpac exercise in 2010, the New Zealand Navy was left out in the cold while other nations' ships docked at Pearl Harbour. Photo / AP
Half of Kiwis would see a return by the United States Navy to New Zealand ports as a positive move but a large minority don't want their ships back, shows the latest Herald DigiPoll survey.

Prime Minister John Key believes resuming ship visits would be a positive step and extend markedly improved relations between the nations.

"Most New Zealanders can see the relationship with the United States has dramatically improved in recent times," he told the Herald. "A ship visit that is within NZ law would be a positive step."

A total 29.4 per cent don't want a ship to visit at all; 50.2 per cent think it would be a positive move; and 16 per cent displayed a sense of triumphalism by preferring to think it would be a victory for New Zealand's anti-nuclear policy.

The Navy has invited the US Navy, among others in the world, to its 75th birthday celebrations in November and the Pentagon is considering it.

But an acceptance would run counter to the most significant remaining reprisal against New Zealand's anti-nuclear laws.

The US Navy has boycotted NZ ports since 1986 when New Zealand was effectively expelled from the Anzus security pact with the US and Australia.

Reprisals have eased only in recent years. The ban on the US exercising with NZ was lifted only in 2010. But even then the Kiwis were not allowed to dock in naval facilities at Pearl Harbour but had to dock at a civilian wharf. President Barack Obama overturned that particular oddity for the 2014 Rimpac exercise.

Under New Zealand law, ships may visit only if the Prime Minister is satisfied they are not carrying nuclear weapons.

It does not require any confirmation that a ship is not nuclear armed but the US has always considered a visit by one of its ships would breach its policy of neither confirming nor denying whether its ships are nuclear armed.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the 50.2 per cent confirmed that people wanted NZ to have a good relationship with the US. "It is important that we do have a good relationship with them. But what is equally important to New Zealanders is our non-nuclear status. It has defined us as a nation for the past 30 years."

Mr Little believed the almost 30 per cent who did not want the US to visit would be those who, despite any assurances from the Prime Minister, would have doubts about whether any visiting US ship was actually non-nuclear.

He said the three options were not exclusive and there might be people who thought a ship visit was positive, but might doubt an assurance.

US ambassador Mark Gilbert was not available for comment but an embassy spokesperson emphasised other areas of co-operation.

"No decision has been made yet. Our bilateral military co-operation is strong, and we continue to partner in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peacekeeping support operations. Our relationship with New Zealand ... continues to grow, and we discuss and co-operate on a wide range of issues at the highest levels."

- NZ Herald

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: reality on January 20, 2016, 05:14:41 pm
ahhhhaha..yes...good point..calliope please read at your own risk of  tiredsomeness


Apparently, according the headline on Audrey Young’s article, Kiwis are “torn on US ship visits”.


Half of Kiwis would see a return by the United States Navy to New Zealand ports as a positive move but a large minority don’t want their ships back, shows the latest Herald DigiPoll survey.

Prime Minister John Key believes resuming ship visits would be a positive step and extend markedly improved relations between the nations.

“Most New Zealanders can see the relationship with the United States has dramatically improved in recent times,” he told the Herald. “A ship visit that is within NZ law would be a positive step.”

A total 29.4 per cent don’t want a ship to visit at all; 50.2 per cent think it would be a positive move; and 16 per cent displayed a sense of triumphalism by preferring to think it would be a victory for New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy.

The Navy has invited the US Navy, among others in the world, to its 75th birthday celebrations in November and the Pentagon is considering it.

If that is “torn” no wonder Labour thinks they are pushing National hard in the polls.

John Key already knew what Kiwis thought; he would have polled on it already. Polling is his not-so-secret weapon as I outlined in INCITE: Politics yesterday.

But seriously, the NZ Herald is being highly deceptive with their headline and the opening paragraph.

Andrew Little, though, tried to have a bob each way:

Labour leader Andrew Little said the 50.2 per cent confirmed that people wanted NZ to have a good relationship with the US. “It is important that we do have a good relationship with them. But what is equally important to New Zealanders is our non-nuclear status. It has defined us as a nation for the past 30 years.”

Mr Little believed the almost 30 per cent who did not want the US to visit would be those who, despite any assurances from the Prime Minister, would have doubts about whether any visiting US ship was actually non-nuclear.

He said the three options were not exclusive and there might be people who thought a ship visit was positive, but might doubt an assurance.

Complete mumbo-jumbo, as is usual from Little. He will likely be criticised by the hard left for wanting a good relationship with the US. I can’t wait for the spluttering blog of hate to decry Little’s position.

The Media party didn’t want this result. It goes against their core beliefs that the USA is evil, and nuclear ships are also evil. That is the reason for the headline, despite the poll numbers.

 – NZ Herald
by Cameron Slater on January 20, 2016 at 4:30pm

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 24, 2016, 11:50:34 pm

More runny shit from Cameron Slater.
Man.....somebody sure is rooted-in-the-head believing all of that verbal faeces spouted by Slater....(http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/XtraNewsCommunity2/Animated%20emoticons/42_Whip.gif)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on April 01, 2016, 02:30:42 pm

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20News%20Pix/sfgate_morfordbanner2.jpg) (http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/morford)

Amazon hits Peak Sloth, reveals Dash
buttons for Doritos, Red Bull, Slim Jims

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist (mmorford@sfgate.com) | 2:03PM PDT - Thursday, March 31, 2016

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202016/20160331a_Doritos_zpspnsoiond.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/dash-buttons-of-the-endtimes/doritos.jpg)(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202016/20160331b_Bullets_zpsyhbgqn3g.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/dash-buttons-of-the-endtimes/bullets.jpg)
LEFT: Behold! Peak Sloth courtesy of Amazon. | RIGHT: You KNOW it's coming to Texas very, very soon. Or maybe it should say “Death Penalty!”
Oh wait, they already have that button.

GOOD NEWS, BRO! Amazon has your (flabby, malnourished, pre-cancerous) back!

Get this: Bezos & Co. just announced a whole slew of new, entirely silly Dash buttons for the lazy and the perplexed. You ready? Who cares?

You remember Dash buttons? Those wildly ridiculous, individually branded, Bluetooth-enabled micro-devices you stick all over the house — on the dishwasher, the pantry, your kids' faces — to instantly reorder certain “everyday” major-label products (detergent, diapers, fetish porn) with the single press of a button, because you're too lethargic and desperately first-world entitled to actually make a shopping list or get off the couch to take care of your home like a normal human?

I wrote about these nefarious little demons of the apocalypse exactly one year ago (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2015/04/01/amazon-reveals-apocalypse), in 2015, when Amazon first unveiled them in a haze of firesmoke and creepy, distant screams. I went so far as to make up a few of (what I thought were) the most ridiculous-seeming buttons Amazon could try out in the future — vodka, bullets, birth control pills.

I was not the slightest bit far from the truth.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202016/20160331c_Gatorade_zpsuk2ygu5d.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/dash-buttons-of-the-endtimes/gatorade.png)(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202016/20160331d_HuggiesHelpMe_zpsazpqgs5w.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/dash-buttons-of-the-endtimes/huggies-helpme.jpg)
LEFT: This might be my favorite. A bogus “sports” drink, for the hardcore, sweaty athlete who is too lazy and tired
to actually go out and buy it in a store. I mean, who has the energy? | RIGHT: One button to rule them all.

Thus exclaims the excitable/stoned Amazon press release (http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2152070):

Today Amazon announced it has more than tripled its lineup of Dash Button brands available to Prime members. Now with over 100 Dash Buttons to choose from, Amazon makes it even easier for Prime members never to run out of everyday essentials again.

Representing top-name brands across dozens of retail categories, new Dash Button highlights include Red Bull, Energizer, Illy Coffee, Trojan condoms, Clorox, and many more!

Now, with Amazon Dash, you never have to run out of life's essentials — assuming, of course, your life is one of general abject misery, clinical depression and lots of highly processed, cancerous junk food, insofar as, no matter how much Red Bull you buy or how many bags of Doritos you inhale in a sad, drunken stupor, you only seem to feel more angry, less social, more apt to punch a wall and way too likely to suddenly vote for Trump.

(Note: It is somewhat possible I made up that last paragraph.)

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202016/20160331e_NoGays_zpswcmk2air.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/dash-buttons-of-the-endtimes/nogays.jpg)
Works exceptionally well in North Carolina.

Shall we try and be fair? After all, I imagine it to be wonderfully convenient and helpful, if you're a stressed parent, to be able to reorder necessary household goods easily and quickly, as you need them. Exhausted moms need all the help they can get. And of course, it's now an instant-gratification economy. Ultra-convenience is the American way (http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Postmates-offering-subscription-service-for-7218757.php). You know, until it kills us.

Then again, it's sort of bullshit, no? Can you even measure the size of the carbon footprint and the overall waste of human energy required to prep, pack and ship you, say, a few packs of Orbit gum, or a box of Trojan condoms, or a few bags of Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn? (Yes, each has its own button now (http://www.amazon.com/dash-button%E2%80%8E)). From my (very limited, because I don't really care about Amazon or Dash, and neither do you) research, there is no minimum order for Dash buttons. You can probably order a single bag of Xtreme Cool Ranch Doritos and have it shipped to your door tomorrow, and only the gods will look upon you in unabashed disgust. Progress!

Do you feel it, America? We're very close now. We're almost there. We've almost attained Peak Sloth.

For lo, it is now a world where you can sink back into your couch, safe in the knowledge that an unimaginably vast, complex, trillion-dollar network of globally interlinked communication technologies, computer systems, fiber-optic cables and tracking algorithms are right this second joining with highly advanced warehouse robotics and massive amounts of sheer human effort — all of it underscored by a millennia of mind-boggling scientific discovery and advancement — to make sure your pack of gummy, cancer-ready meat-like sticks is sitting on your doorstep mere hours after you drunkenly pressed the Slim Jims button.

Victory! See you in hell.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202016/20160331f_SlimJim_zpsbbmh9rqf.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/dash-buttons-of-the-endtimes/slimjim.png)(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202016/20160331g_Orbit_zpsszwj24ud.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/dash-buttons-of-the-endtimes/orbit.png)(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20Pix%202016/20160331h_RedBull_zpsvp2eyivq.jpg) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/dash-buttons-of-the-endtimes/redbull.png)
LEFT: Mix Red Bull, Doritos and Slim Jims together, and what do you get? that's right: Painful colon spasms. | CENTER: Yes, seriously.
RIGHT: Tastes like the future! Also, cough syrup mixed with gasoline and sadness.

Email: Mark Morford (etc@markmorford.com)

Mark Morford (http://www.markmorford.com) on Twitter (http://twitter.com/markmorford) and Facebook (http://facebook.com/markmorfordyes).

http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2016/03/31/amazon-gets-stoned-reveals-dash-buttons-for-doritos-red-bull-slim-jims (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2016/03/31/amazon-gets-stoned-reveals-dash-buttons-for-doritos-red-bull-slim-jims)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on April 20, 2016, 09:53:01 pm

from The Washington Post....

The Texas secession debate is getting kind of real

By AMBER PHILLIPS | 2:26PM EDT - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

WHEN Texas Republicans assemble for their state convention next month, it’s possible they will debate whether Texas should secede from the United States.

There's almost no chance Texas Republicans will actually vote in favor of seceding, mind you — not least because most of the party wants nothing to do with this — but the fact we're even mentioning secession and the Texas GOP convention in the same sentence suggests that the once-fringe movement has become a priority for at least some conservative grass-roots Texans.

To be sure, that seems to be a relatively small group. The Texas secession movement says 22 out of the 270 county GOP conventions passed some kind of independence resolution this spring. A party official said he'd be surprised if that were the case, and the Houston Chronicle was able to confirm (http://www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/texas-secession-independence-nationalist-movement-7248746.php) only 10 counties. But 10 is a lot more than the one county that passed an independence resolution in 2012.

Texas Republicans say these independence resolutions are just a handful of tens of thousands various resolutions to be considered at their convention. But it does seem like the secession movement is growing, or at least organizing, and may have become too big for party officials to ignore.

“It's cropped up in a major way just in this last year,” Paul Simpson, chairman of the Republican Party of Harris County, told the Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/texas-secession-independence-nationalist-movement-7248746.php).

Here's a rundown of what you should know about it:

First, some history…

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20160419al_Alamo_zpsqcdw6mvs.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_908w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2014/03/07/Foreign/Images/Texas_Daily_Life-09668.jpg&w=1484)
Members of the San Antonio Living History Association commemorate the Texas independence battle at the Alamo.
 — Photograph: Kin Man Hui/San Antonio Express-News/Associated Press.

Let's boil down Texas history in two paragraphs:

In 1836, a scrappy Texas won its independence from Mexico in a bloody war (Remember the Alamo? See video clip below…). The newly minted Republic of Texas experimented with running itself as its own country before going broke and voting to join the United States.

In 1861, Texans voted to secede and join the Confederacy during the Civil War. When the war was over, the Supreme Court decided — in a case brought by none other than Texas — that states can't secede unilaterally and any attempt to do so will be “absolutely null”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI5JKD9OKR8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI5JKD9OKR8)

Here's what modern-day secessionism looks like…

As Texas's earlier history makes clear, a variant of the Texas secession movement has refused to die. It has ebbed and flowed in Texas for the 150 years since. The modern secession movement revved up again in the 1990s under a controversial leader, Richard Lance McLaren, who took a more violent tack to get his point across — including kidnapping (http://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/20/us/national-news-briefs-texas-separatist-draws-90-years-for-kidnapping.html). He is currently serving a 99-year prison sentence related to that incident.

The Texas Nationalist Movement took over from there and has advocated a more political approach. It has attempted to get language advocating for secession on GOP primary ballots, and every four years, it's tried to prod a skeptical and reluctant Texas Republican Party to debate secession at its state convention.

So far, things seem to be going according to plan…

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20160419rp_RickPerry_zps3ke2or0p.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_908w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/04/25/National-Politics/Advance/Images/TXPerry021417883587.jpg&w=1484)
Former Texas governor Rick Perry. — Photograph: Julia Robinson/The Washington Post.

At a 2009 rally, then-Texas Governor Rick Perry (Republican) hinted at secession (http://blog.chron.com/texaspolitics/2009/04/perry-says-texas-can-leave-the-union-if-it-wants-to) (albeit tongue in cheek; he later made clear he doesn't support the idea). A subsequent 2009 Rasmussen poll found 1 in 3 Texans think their state has the right to secede, but if it were put to a vote, 75 percent of voters would decide to stay with the United States.

Tidbits here and there since Perry's remark hint at a growing movement. After the 2012 presidential elections, the Texas Nationalist Movement reported that its membership had gone up (http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2012/12/04/texas-nationalist-movement-claims-membership-has-skyrocketed-400-percent) 400 percent and its Web traffic was up 900 percent. Bumper stickers and signs advocating for secession began popping up in the state.

A 2012 WhiteHouse.gov petition to secede earned more than 125,000 signatures and a response from the White House (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/us/politics/texas-secession-movement-unbowed-by-white-house-rejection.html). (The response: “No!”) Last year, the group held speaking tours to try to promote its cause and get a non-binding resolution on the GOP primary ballot.

Today, the movement says it has advocates in most Texas counties and 200,000 members statewide (although those numbers are hard to verify and are just a small percentage of the state's population of 26.9 million).

Which brings us to 2016, when at least 10 Republican county conventions — there are 254 counties in Texas, but some have two conventions — passed some kind of item expressing support for Texas independence or at least for debating it.

Despite Perry's joke, most Texas Republican leaders want nothing to do with this…

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20160419ga_GregAbbott_zpsp4wznty8.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_908w/2010-2019/Wires/Images/2016-03-30/AP/Abbott_Governors_Commission_for_Women-00194.jpg&w=1484)
Texas Governor Greg Abbott. — Photograph: Deborah Cannon/Austin American-Statesman/Associated Press.

The reasons are fairly obvious, but we'll spell them out anyway: Texas Republicans think that the secession movement is unrealistic and unconstitutional and that it opens them up to Democratic attacks that they're wasting their time on extreme ideas instead of actually governing the state. (Republicans dominate the state: In the 2014 general election, Republicans swept all 15 statewide races (https://www.texastribune.org/2014/11/04/republicans-extend-statewide-streak-16-years) on the ballot and maintained their 16-year winning streak. They also have firm control of both houses of the Texas legislature and all of the state's governing boards.)

Texas Republican leaders would much rather ignore this pesky secession movement. But in recent years they've been forced to deal with it.

This fall, the group tried to get 75,000 signatures (https://www.texastribune.org/2015/09/15/texas-nationalist-movement-wants-texas-secede) to get a secession-related resolution on March's GOP primary ballot. It read: “If the federal government continues to disregard the constitution and the sovereignty of the State of Texas, the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.”

In December, the state party took matters into its own hands and voted down the idea. The movement doesn't even have “Republican” in its name, one state party official said. Another said he was “sorry we are even having the conversation.”

In return, the secessionists immediately laid the blame at the party's feet: They “are of the same mindset as the bureaucrats in Washington,” the group said (https://www.texastribune.org/2015/12/05/texas-gop-votes-down-controversial-secession-propo).

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Republican) probably didn't help quell the movement when he called for a constitution of states this January. This is an idea that pops up among Republicans from time to time — Marco Rubio's a fan (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/12/30/marco-rubio-wants-to-convene-a-constitutional-convention-it-wont-happen) — to help states regain some of the control from the federal government.

Lubbock County GOP chair Carl Tepper told the Houston Chronicle his county approved a resolution advocating for secession if such a convention fails to fix Texas's problems with the federal government.

So what's going to happen at the state party convention?

The Houston Chronicle's Dylan Baddour wrote (http://www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/texas-secession-independence-nationalist-movement-7248746.php) that the fact that at least 10 counties are coming to the state convention supporting independence resolutions makes it difficult for party leaders to sweep this under the rug. It's possible there will be some kind of a vote on the floor.

But if it comes to that, party leaders will probably try to keep the vote as quiet and dispense with it as quickly as possible. It almost certainly won't pass, and it almost certainly won't become part of the party's official platform.

Still, it's impressive the secession movement has made it this far. Then again, it's had 150-odd years to practice pitching this.

• Amber Phillips writes about politics for The Fix at The Washington Post. She was previously the one-woman D.C. bureau for the Las Vegas Sun and has reported from Boston and Taiwan.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/04/19/the-texas-secession-movement-is-getting-kind-of-serious (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/04/19/the-texas-secession-movement-is-getting-kind-of-serious)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 06, 2016, 02:29:48 am

from the Miami Herald....

He spent a year in jail and lost his business,
but they had the wrong Carlos

By JIM WYSS | 11:36AM EDT - Friday, August 26, 2016

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix%202016/miamiherald_20160826_CarlosOrtega_zps4qe2t9k0.jpg~original) (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/colombia/vmt4bg/picture98056162/ALTERNATES/FREE_960/DSC_0145_01)
Carlos Ortega was extradited to Florida by mistake. Now U.S. courts say he can't sue to recover legal fees or damages.
 — Photograph: Jim Wyss/Miami Herald.

BOGATA, COLOMBIA — Carlos Ortega spent a year in jail, ran up almost $300,000 in legal bills and lost his livelihood — all over a basic transcription error and what his lawyers say was an overzealous South Florida prosecutor.

But even though U.S. courts admitted that they made a mistake when they extradited the 66-year-old Colombian to the United States in 2012 on drug trafficking charges, Ortega is powerless to fix the injustice.

In June, the longtime commercial pilot and aviation expert lost an appeal seeking reimbursement of his legal fees plus damages. The U.S. Court of Appeals threw out the case saying the prosecutor had “absolute immunity”, even though Ortega's lawyers argued that the prosecutor knew Ortega was innocent, hid evidence that would have cleared him and shut down DEA officials who became concerned that they had the wrong man.

“I don't understand how there can be immunity under these despicable circumstances — when they destroy your career completely,” said Ortega, who lost his company while he was in jail. “If I had been guilty of something, then OK, but my case had been dismissed.”

The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment for this article, but documents and interviews with Ortega and others shed light on the obscure world of extradition, a system that critics say is riddled with problems (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/article46351585.html).

Ortega's troubles began in October 2011, when Colombian agents came pounding on his door at 4 a.m. and hauled him away in handcuffs. They informed him he was wanted in the United States for selling an aircraft to a drug dealer and they told him they had telephone recordings to back up their claims.

Carlos vs. Carlos

Ortega was well known in Colombia's aviation circles. A commercial pilot for decades, he later became the head of security for the equivalent of the Federal Aviation Administration and was someone frequently quoted in the press. In 2004, he started his own company, working as a consultant and airplane broker.

When he was arrested — despite his clean record — Ortega was locked in the extradition ward of the notorious La Picota, a maximum security prison in Colombia's capital designed to hold hardened criminals and drug lords.

A private investigator soon discovered the prosecution's mistake. The target of the wiretap investigation had been recorded speaking to two different men, both named Carlos. One was in Costa Rica and involved in criminal activity. The other was Ortega in Bogotá. Prosecutors were conflating the two men.

The entire case could have been resolved by looking at Ortega's passport (he’d never traveled to Costa Rica), or by double-checking the recording.

“An 8-year-old child could have told you that our voices were completely different,” Ortega said.

Ortega's lawyers and advocates alerted U.S. authorities to the problem in March 2012, five months after the arrest, but they say they were ignored. They also say federal prosecutor Andrea Hoffman covered up the exculpatory evidence.

When the DEA in Bogotá became concerned that they had the wrong Carlos, Hoffman “ordered the DEA agents” to “stand down,” Ortega's lawsuit said. She also directed them “to keep the phone wiretaps that established Mr. [Ortega's] innocence a secret.”

In June, 2012, Ortega was sent to Miami for trial, and that's where the real pressure began. Ortega says that even though prosecutors knew he was innocent they tried to force him to take a plea deal. At one point they told him that if he declared his guilt, he could go home in six months. When he refused, they told him to plead guilty and he could go home immediately.

“I would say 99.9 percent of people put in that situation plead guilty just to go home,” Ortega said. “I would have stayed there my whole life but I was not going to say I was guilty of something I didn't do.”

Last August, as it became clear they had made a mistake, prosecutors dropped all charges and Ortega came home. By that point, however, his life had come apart.

Ortega and his family had amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts to cover legal fees and travel costs, and his consulting company had gone under. Once a successful businessman, Ortega and his wife now live in a rented apartment in Bogotá and rely on their children for support. He was also stripped of his U.S. visa that he'd had for decades.

“I came out of this with nothing,” Ortega said. “Even my pants are borrowed.”

Nine-count complaint

Last year, Ortega sued the United States and Hoffman on a nine-count complaint including false imprisonment, false prosecution, abuse of process and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Though the appellate court noted that Ortega’s “arrest and detention negatively impacted his family life, mental health, credibility, reputation and ability secure employment,” it said the U.S. had “sovereign immunity” and that Hoffman was entitled to “absolute immunity” because the claims arose from “her prosecutorial duties.”

Marcia Silvers, the Coral Gables attorney who handled Ortega's appeal, said the case boiled down to the prosecutor's role. If Hoffman had been considered a “law enforcement” official she could have been held liable.

“Prosecutors frequently direct and supervise investigations. If they … violate defendants' constitutional rights, they should not be afforded immunity,” Silvers wrote in an email. “They should be subject to civil liability for damages, as are law enforcement officers under the Federal Tort Claims Act.”

The case, she said, is unusual because “on appeal, both the government and the defense agreed that Carlos Ortega Bonilla was factually innocent and wrongfully charged. Yet, the appellate court held that the prosecutor had sovereign immunity.”

Whose case?

Felipe De Vivero, Ortega's Colombian lawyer, said the extradition system is something of a “catch 22” for defendants like Ortega. Though he was initially held in Colombia, the charges came from the U.S., and there was no way to challenge the evidence in Colombian courts.

“In Colombia, they say it's not our problem, it's the fault of the United States,” he explained. “And in the U.S., they claim sovereign immunity.”

From 2002 through 2015, the United States extradited 1,878 people from Colombia. So far this year, 67 have been extradited.

In October, the Miami Herald interviewed more than 10 people (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/article46351585.html) who are either awaiting extradition or had passed through the system. All claimed they were denied basic rights while being held on U.S charges in Colombia, including running water, sunlight, minimal levels of hygiene, access to medical care and full disclosure of the charges against them.

“Carlos [Ortega] is a hero to so many because he went through the process, stuck to what he knew was right and didn't break down,” said Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, who was detained in September 2015 on allegations of U.S. securities fraud.

Entrepreneur to detainee

Isaza, a dual U.S.-Colombian citizen with real estate investments in the tourist city of Cartagena, was getting off a domestic flight to Bogotá when he was apprehended. He asked to be sent back to New York on the next flight — in handcuffs and under guard if necessary — to fight the charges. Instead, he spent nearly 11 months in Colombian maximum security prisons — where he says he was extorted and abused — before being extradited.

Isaza had no criminal record and was accused of a white collar crime. He had been in the U.S. shortly before his arrest and was planning to be back several days later. By detaining him in Colombia, and putting him in with hardened criminals without an arraignment, he believes U.S. authorities were putting him in harm's way and violated his constitutional rights.

“The entire system is designed to break you down and get you to plead,” he said from New York, where he is under house arrest awaiting trial. “And I think it's set up that way on purpose. Your family is suffering too. You haven't even seen a judge yet but you feel enormous pressure to just accept guilt and go home — irrespective of fact.”

Ortega is bitter about the experience, but he's also philosophical.

“In any war, there will always be innocents who get injured,” he said. “This is a war against narco-trafficking and I'm one of the wounded. It’s like they were trying to bomb the house next door but I got hit by the shrapnel.”

Even so, Ortega said he'd like a public apology.

“But the most important thing,” he said, “is that we have to find a way so that this quits happening.”

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/colombia/article98056167.html (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/colombia/article98056167.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 06, 2016, 02:32:28 am

I reckon Carlos Ortega would be justified in hiring a hit-man to dish out alternative justice in the form of a few bullets to Andrea Hoffman.

After all, if she is going to lie and hide evidence, then hide behind immunity from being sued, then she deserves to be dealt to in other ways.

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 13, 2016, 03:30:08 pm

from the Miami Herald....

A purple-haired grandma lives in a tree house.
Now she's told it has to come down.

By DAVID SMILEY | 7:30AM EDT - Saturday, September 03, 2016

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/News/miamiherald_20160903sct_ShawneeChasserTreehouse_zpsi0iioyl8.jpg~original) (http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/34pmhb-treehouse.jpg/ALTERNATES/LANDSCAPE_1140/treehouse.jpg)
A fight over a tree house has pitted Shawnee Chasser against Miami-Dade's $7 billion county government.
 — Photograph: Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald.

SHAWNEE CHASSER found a higher standard of living 25 years ago when she moved into a tree house.

Now, she has to come down.

A claustrophobic flower child with purple streaks in her graying curls, Chasser has spent the last year fighting Miami-Dade County over the fate of the wood cottage where she lives, nestled against the forked trunks of an oak and strangler fig in the wooded front yard of her late son's Biscayne Gardens home.

To Chasser, it's a suburban Eden preferable to the walls, windows and air conditioning of a house.

But the county says the open-air chateau was built illegally, is unsafe and must be demolished in the next four months. Chasser — who once marched from California to D.C. as part of an anti-nuclear arms protest — says that will never happen, setting up an only-in-Miami showdown between a $7 billion government and a 65-year-old grandmother who sells bags of organic popcorn at Whole Foods.

“I'm not taking down anything,” Chasser vowed during an interview. “I'll chain myself to that tree house.”

Chasser, who discovered her aversion to indoor living decades ago, has slept in a tree since 1992 after she moved her family back to Miami from California. Her brother, Ray Chasser, built her first abode at the Earth N' Us farm in Little Haiti, where he mounted a shanty on telephone polls and wrapped it around a pithecellobium tree.

Chasser later moved to her son's home on the corner of Northwest 135th Street near North Miami and commissioned a new cottage with curved wooden steps leading around the trees to a second story just large enough to fit a double bed. The ground floor includes a kitchenette stocked with a mini oven and sink, and a tiny, circular living room cooled by a Home Depot ceiling fan. There are family pictures everywhere, books above a desk, and a small couch where a 2-month-old raccoon named “Coonie” sometimes stretches out lazily.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXEGbU8qTbc (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXEGbU8qTbc)

Chasser, who walks around barefoot, says there's no better way to live.

“When I am up in my tree house in thunder, lightning and rain, I am in heaven,” Chasser said. “There's nothing nicer, more spiritual, more wonderful.”

The cottage, which can't be seen from the street, is off to the south side of “Shawnee's Paradise”, on the corner of Be Here Now Street and Joshua's Way, an ode to her late son, who died inside his house in 2009 of a heart attack. The property — recently featured by the Tiny House Giant Journey (http://tinyhousegiantjourney.com) travel blog — is just under a half-acre of wooded lawn stretched around a man-made pond and waterfall and hiding from its surroundings behind a hedge.

The home belongs to a land trust run by Chasser's daughter. Chasser makes the property available to tenants who want to rent rooms, a mini-camper, or even set up tents in the front yard. It's partly about sharing her simple life, but it helps her pay the bills too, along with proceeds from Shawnee's Greenthumb Popcorn, which she mass-produces and sells in Whole Foods stores around Florida.

But everything changed about a year ago, when someone called 311 to complain that Chasser was running the property like an apartment complex and campground in the middle of a single-family neighborhood. Chasser, who says she's tight with her neighbors, blames a booted tenant. But the unexpected visit from county code enforcement last September jarred her world.

She was issued a citation for illegally running a rooming house and for work conducted at the property without permits, including the pond, fountain, a chickee hut — and the tree house.

“This has got to be my first time ever of somebody living in a tree house,” said Ricardo Roig, Miami-Dade's code enforcement division director and a 26-year county employee.

The county's issue with Chasser's abode isn't specifically that she lives there, Roig said, but that it's unsafe. Roig said South Florida has strict rules about building code because of the frequency of hurricanes, and added that running water and electricity have to be installed with permits and inspections. He said Chasser is welcome to live in a legal tree house, but code and unsafe-structure inspectors looked at the cottage and found it constructed in a way that it can't be brought up to county standards. This week, the county's unsafe structures board agreed and gave her three months to tear the tree house down.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/News/miamiherald_20160903sctd_ShawneeChasserTreehouseDeck_zps75ahj2h8.jpg~original) (https://twitter.com/MiamiHerald/status/772558650283917312)
Shawnee Chasser relaxes in her tree house. — Photograph: Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald.

Chasser, who has already paid $3,000 in fines, potentially faces more than $7,000 in additional liens, according to the county.

“They're creating a campground out there. You just can't go into a residential property and start charging outsiders to come in. We've got neighbors who we've got to protect their rights also,” Roig said. “It's just a combination of situations that haven't been well thought out.”

Chasser is incredulous. Her brother's tree house in Miami is treated like a landmark and included in official marketing material from the county's tourism bureau. It also survived Hurricane Andrew.

Chasser says she can't afford to hire an engineer or architect to come help her bring her property up to code. Plus, even if she could, she said, the county tells her she would still have to apply to the zoning department for permission to inhabit the units outside the main home on the property.

But Chasser isn't giving up. The county's unsafe structures board allows for appeals and requests for additional hearings, and she said she’s talking with her attorney, Sheleen Khan, about all her options.

One non-starter: moving. Chasser notes that the bags that carry Shawnee's Greenthumb Popcorn celebrate a certain unusual style of living, and she doesn't want to be guilty of false advertising.

“It says on the back that I live in a tree house,” she said. “So I have to keep living in a tree house.”


Related media:

 • VIDEO: She lives in a tree house, but Miami-Dade County says it has to come down (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article99662437.html)

 • Facebook: “Shawnee's Paradise” (https://www.facebook.com/ShawneesParadise)

 • The Washington Post: ‘I'm not taking my treehouse down’, vows ‘hippie’ woman who has lived in it for 10 years (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/09/12/this-purple-haired-grandma-lives-in-a-treehouse-in-miami-but-may-be-forced-to-tear-it-down)

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article99662117.html (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article99662117.html)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 16, 2016, 10:21:42 pm

from The Washington Post....

Americans now live in two worlds, each with its own reality

By PHILIP BUMP | 1:18PM EDT - Saturday, October 15, 2016

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015dtvb_DonaldTrumpVirginiaBeach_zpsk2nu4iro.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_960w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2016/07/11/Local-Politics/Images/GOP_2016_Trump-2b2d8.jpg&w=1484)
Donald Trump gestures as he reads from a teleprompter during a speech in Virginia Beach on July 11th. — Photograph: Steve Helber/Associated Press.

IT IS not true that the 2016 presidential election is being rigged in any meaningful sense of that word. If you extend a definition of “rigged” to include such loose concepts as “members of the political establishment hoping outsiders are unsuccessful” or “campaign operatives using common political practices to improve the chances of electoral success,” then, maybe. But that's not the way that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, means it.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015twdt_TwitterDonaldTrump_zpsv4glijiw.jpg~original) (https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/787267564405653505)

In Trump's estimation, the campaign is rigged in the traditional sense of the expression: nefarious forces are seeking to commit voter fraud (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/12/donald-trump-says-hell-only-lose-pennsylvania-where-hes-down-9-points-is-if-cheating-goes-on) in Pennsylvania, the media is conspiring with a wealthy Mexican (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-belittles-accusers-as-unattractive-as-more-come-forward/2016/10/14/694fd214-923b-11e6-9c52-0b10449e33c4_story.html) to make up lies about him, Hillary Clinton is doing the bidding of a cabal of international bankers (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-groping-allegations-are-part-of-a-global-conspiracy-to-help-clinton/2016/10/13/e377d7e4-915a-11e6-a6a3-d50061aa9fae_story.html). On Saturday, he implied that Clinton had been given the questions (https://twitter.com/ZekeJMiller/status/787331777035694081) during the first debate, a laughable conspiracy theory that flourished briefly in the wake of her strong performance on the stage that night. But for Trump, sinking in the polls faster than Clinton is rising, any conspiracy theory that undercuts his opponent is one worth sharing.

His allies and supporters — like Senator Jeff Sessions (Republican-Alabama) and David Clarke, a member of law enforcement in Wisconsin — agree.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015twhb_TwitterHollyBailey_zpsehzxdncj.jpg~original) (https://twitter.com/hollybdc/status/787326558600044544)

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015twdc_TwitterDavidClarke_zpsrpcwydhj.jpg~original) (https://twitter.com/SheriffClarke/status/787314656641712128)

The accusations outlined above are false. In-person voter fraud is essentially nonexistent (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/03/heres-how-rare-in-person-voter-fraud-is); the idea that New York Times reporters are acting at the behest of a partial stakeholder in their employer is ridiculous; accusations that Clinton is seeking to undermine the United States to the benefit of international bankers is a strain of thought evolved from the worst anti-Semitic claims.

But many Trump supporters think I'm wrong — or intentionally lying as part of that same conspiracy. The beauty of a conspiracy theory is precisely that everything proves it: evidence and the lack of evidence, the latter proving the coverup. At a rally in Cincinnati, Trump fans told reporters (http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2016/10/15/donald-trump-warnings-conspiracy-rig-election-are-stoking-anger-among-his-followers/LcCY6e0QOcfH8VdeK9UdsM/story.html) from The Boston Globe that they were willing to stake out polling places to root out fraud, that the media was rotten, that the election was rigged.

It's unclear whether Trump is reinforcing existing skepticism about institutions such as the media and the government or whether he's creating new strains. It's probably both. As Wonkblog's Chris Ingraham noted on Saturday (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/10/15/the-republican-confidence-crisis-that-created-donald-trump), the lack of confidence in traditional institutions has spiked since 2008 — at least among Republicans.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015tw_TwoWords1_zpsw4tosgmq.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2016/10/IngrahamGraph.png&w=1484)

Trump has repeatedly argued that facets of those institutions, like the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Federal Reserve, are part of the same broad-ranging effort (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/06/donald-trump-seems-to-think-that-thousands-of-government-officials-are-conspiring-to-defeat-his-candidacy) to cause him to lose the election. A new survey from Marketplace and Edison Research indicates that a quarter of Americans agree with him (https://www.marketplace.org/2016/10/13/economy/americans-economic-anxiety-has-reached-new-high). That's split heavily along political lines, though. Only about 1 in 20 Clinton supporters distrust economic data such as unemployment rates and jobs numbers. Almost half of Trump supporters distrust that data.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015tw_TwoWords2_zpsd8g3qhme.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2016/10/2300.jpg&w=1484)

That dichotomy suggests that Americans live in worlds rooted in different core truths — and that's what Americans believe is happening. Pew Research asked Clinton and Trump supporters (http://www.people-press.org/2016/10/14/in-presidential-contest-voters-say-basic-facts-not-just-policies-are-in-dispute) whether they thought that the two political sides agreed generally on basic facts, disagreeing only on how to address the country's problems, or whether each side relied on different basic facts entirely.

More than 80 percent of respondents said it was the latter.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015tw_TwoWords3_zpslb51rlua.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2016/10/PewGraph.png)

That's the gulf that Trump is both widening and exploiting. It's not hard to figure out why he's happily passing around bad information at this point: The media is reporting on a number of accusations that his 2005 hot-mic comments about groping women were a reflection of what he actually did and not just “locker room talk.” The best way to get people to ignore those accusations is to double-down on their existing skepticism about the media and, ideally, to loop his opponent into that same grand conspiracy. It's not clear how this is a scenario that will propel him to victory in November, but it is clearly a strategy that might, at least, allow him to save face.

The rift in the electorate, though, may end up being a much harder problem to plaster over.

• Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/) at The Washington Post. He is based in New York City.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/15/americans-now-live-in-two-worlds-each-with-its-own-reality (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/15/americans-now-live-in-two-worlds-each-with-its-own-reality)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on October 17, 2016, 01:28:01 pm
Reality is this would be over nice and quick

me i hope if all this goes down they let us watch it on tv as i am


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 17, 2016, 01:46:45 pm

from The Washington Post....

Americans now live in two worlds, each with its own reality

By PHILIP BUMP | 1:18PM EDT - Saturday, October 15, 2016

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015dtvb_DonaldTrumpVirginiaBeach_zpsk2nu4iro.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_960w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2016/07/11/Local-Politics/Images/GOP_2016_Trump-2b2d8.jpg&w=1484)
Donald Trump gestures as he reads from a teleprompter during a speech in Virginia Beach on July 11th. — Photograph: Steve Helber/Associated Press.

IT IS not true that the 2016 presidential election is being rigged in any meaningful sense of that word. If you extend a definition of “rigged” to include such loose concepts as “members of the political establishment hoping outsiders are unsuccessful” or “campaign operatives using common political practices to improve the chances of electoral success,” then, maybe. But that's not the way that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, means it.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015twdt_TwitterDonaldTrump_zpsv4glijiw.jpg~original) (https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/787267564405653505)

In Trump's estimation, the campaign is rigged in the traditional sense of the expression: nefarious forces are seeking to commit voter fraud (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/12/donald-trump-says-hell-only-lose-pennsylvania-where-hes-down-9-points-is-if-cheating-goes-on) in Pennsylvania, the media is conspiring with a wealthy Mexican (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-belittles-accusers-as-unattractive-as-more-come-forward/2016/10/14/694fd214-923b-11e6-9c52-0b10449e33c4_story.html) to make up lies about him, Hillary Clinton is doing the bidding of a cabal of international bankers (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-groping-allegations-are-part-of-a-global-conspiracy-to-help-clinton/2016/10/13/e377d7e4-915a-11e6-a6a3-d50061aa9fae_story.html). On Saturday, he implied that Clinton had been given the questions (https://twitter.com/ZekeJMiller/status/787331777035694081) during the first debate, a laughable conspiracy theory that flourished briefly in the wake of her strong performance on the stage that night. But for Trump, sinking in the polls faster than Clinton is rising, any conspiracy theory that undercuts his opponent is one worth sharing.

His allies and supporters — like Senator Jeff Sessions (Republican-Alabama) and David Clarke, a member of law enforcement in Wisconsin — agree.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015twhb_TwitterHollyBailey_zpsehzxdncj.jpg~original) (https://twitter.com/hollybdc/status/787326558600044544)

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015twdc_TwitterDavidClarke_zpsrpcwydhj.jpg~original) (https://twitter.com/SheriffClarke/status/787314656641712128)

The accusations outlined above are false. In-person voter fraud is essentially nonexistent (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/03/heres-how-rare-in-person-voter-fraud-is); the idea that New York Times reporters are acting at the behest of a partial stakeholder in their employer is ridiculous; accusations that Clinton is seeking to undermine the United States to the benefit of international bankers is a strain of thought evolved from the worst anti-Semitic claims.

But many Trump supporters think I'm wrong — or intentionally lying as part of that same conspiracy. The beauty of a conspiracy theory is precisely that everything proves it: evidence and the lack of evidence, the latter proving the coverup. At a rally in Cincinnati, Trump fans told reporters (http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2016/10/15/donald-trump-warnings-conspiracy-rig-election-are-stoking-anger-among-his-followers/LcCY6e0QOcfH8VdeK9UdsM/story.html) from The Boston Globe that they were willing to stake out polling places to root out fraud, that the media was rotten, that the election was rigged.

It's unclear whether Trump is reinforcing existing skepticism about institutions such as the media and the government or whether he's creating new strains. It's probably both. As Wonkblog's Chris Ingraham noted on Saturday (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/10/15/the-republican-confidence-crisis-that-created-donald-trump), the lack of confidence in traditional institutions has spiked since 2008 — at least among Republicans.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015tw_TwoWords1_zpsw4tosgmq.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2016/10/IngrahamGraph.png&w=1484)

Trump has repeatedly argued that facets of those institutions, like the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Federal Reserve, are part of the same broad-ranging effort (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/06/donald-trump-seems-to-think-that-thousands-of-government-officials-are-conspiring-to-defeat-his-candidacy) to cause him to lose the election. A new survey from Marketplace and Edison Research indicates that a quarter of Americans agree with him (https://www.marketplace.org/2016/10/13/economy/americans-economic-anxiety-has-reached-new-high). That's split heavily along political lines, though. Only about 1 in 20 Clinton supporters distrust economic data such as unemployment rates and jobs numbers. Almost half of Trump supporters distrust that data.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015tw_TwoWords2_zpsd8g3qhme.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2016/10/2300.jpg&w=1484)

That dichotomy suggests that Americans live in worlds rooted in different core truths — and that's what Americans believe is happening. Pew Research asked Clinton and Trump supporters (http://www.people-press.org/2016/10/14/in-presidential-contest-voters-say-basic-facts-not-just-policies-are-in-dispute) whether they thought that the two political sides agreed generally on basic facts, disagreeing only on how to address the country's problems, or whether each side relied on different basic facts entirely.

More than 80 percent of respondents said it was the latter.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161015tw_TwoWords3_zpslb51rlua.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2016/10/PewGraph.png)

That's the gulf that Trump is both widening and exploiting. It's not hard to figure out why he's happily passing around bad information at this point: The media is reporting on a number of accusations that his 2005 hot-mic comments about groping women were a reflection of what he actually did and not just “locker room talk.” The best way to get people to ignore those accusations is to double-down on their existing skepticism about the media and, ideally, to loop his opponent into that same grand conspiracy. It's not clear how this is a scenario that will propel him to victory in November, but it is clearly a strategy that might, at least, allow him to save face.

The rift in the electorate, though, may end up being a much harder problem to plaster over.

• Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/) at The Washington Post. He is based in New York City.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/15/americans-now-live-in-two-worlds-each-with-its-own-reality (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/15/americans-now-live-in-two-worlds-each-with-its-own-reality)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on October 17, 2016, 03:39:40 pm

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 06, 2016, 05:27:20 pm

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20News%20Pix/sfgate_morfordbanner2.jpg) (http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/morford)

Meanwhile, Trump intensifies groping of America

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist (mmorford@sfgate.com) | 4:18PM PST - Monday, December 05, 2016

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Mark%20Morford/20161205a_Mnuchin_zpsi9w3ngkg.jpg~original) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/trump-gropes-america-volume-i/mnuchin_0.jpg)
Good thing the new president doesn't kowtow to Wall Street. Oh wait.

WAS IT his recent anti-Hillary tweet storm, childishly bashing his former rival again and again for joining Jill Stein's recount effort, the bitchy little hissy fit coming, this time, not from a boorish reality-TV imbecile, but from the imminent leader of the free world, the most powerful human on the planet, the president of these newly doomed United States — thus reconfirming Trump's grievous incapacity to “pivot” to something remotely more mature and respectable as we lurch toward apocalypse inauguration?

Is it the heartbreaking letters from large teams of NASA scientists — and the other one signed by more than 2,300 very concerned scientists across all disciplines (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/11/30/22-nobel-prize-winners-urge-trump-to-respect-scientific-integrity-and-independence) — decrying Trump's promised annihilation of all international climate accords and research, including Nasa's long-standing, enormously valuable, deeply respected Earth Sciences division?

Stripping the division of all funding would mean the elimination of NASA's world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena. NASA's network of satellites provide a wealth of information on climate change, with the Earth science division's budget set to grow to $2bn next year. By comparison, space exploration has been scaled back somewhat, with a proposed budget of $2.8bn in 2017.

Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for NASA to do what he has previously described as “politically correct environmental monitoring”.

What about Trump's nonsense pule that Hillary actually didn't win the popular vote (by a record 2.5 million humans, and counting), but rather, due to a completely baseless, reference-free lie he found on a racist fake news site somewhere, he actually won it, but all those millions of votes for him weren't fairly counted, even here in California?

It's all kinds of ridiculous. Except that it's not. Except, much like the mountains of fake news his numb followers believed pre-election without giving a damn for credibility, millions of his acolytes appear to believe him (http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/12/01/clinton_lead_tops_2_5_million_as_trump_popular_vote_lie_spreads.html), based on nothing but bloviated bullshit propaganda.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Mark%20Morford/20161205b_FlagGroper_zpskrsnuxmy.jpg~original) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/trump-gropes-america-volume-i/flag-groper.jpg)
Get use to it, America. — Photograph: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images.

Then there's the baffling, disturbing interview the new president-elect gave with The New York Times, bitching about an unflattering photo and pointing stubby orange fingers hither and yon and indicating, to everyone's ongoing horror, how much he hates the press and will do everything he can to mock, threaten and grope it into submission, if not outright arrest and imprisonment?

Did you enjoy the savage irony of all those Trumpsters whining about Hillary's “secret” speeches to Goldman Sachs, as Trump announces his new head of the US Treasury: one Steven Mnuchin, himself a lackey from Goldman Sachs, who has zero political experience whatsoever? What about entirely useless Ben Carson to lead HUD?

It's only bitterly amusing until you realize it's not, until you realize it's becoming quickly terrifying, akin to how the newly empowered trolls of the alt-right — AKA the KKK 2.0 — have now released their first “official” watch list, beginning with liberal professors and educators.

Did you hear? It's true: The alt-right has already begun targeting anyone who dares teach progressive or intellectually curious ideas (read: science, civil rights, environmentalism, love, breathing), often including the professors' photos, home addresses, phone numbers, and posting it all to online hate groups.

A bunch of idiot, meth-snorting racists baiting liberals from their parents' basements? Nothing new. Same inbred, sexless trolls given unexpected power and the full run of the White House? Terrorizing.

It's all capped by the devastating fact that we have somehow flipped from the most graceful, intellectually sophisticated presidency in modern history, straight to the sleaziest and most repulsively inept. It's a cruel sociopolitical whiplash that’s left us shattered, wildly destabilized, well below England on the shortlist of once-proud nations that seemed to basically have their shit together, to a suddenly unhinged totalitarian nightmare on the precipice of categorical collapse. No wonder Noam Chomsky called the GOP (http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/38360-trump-in-the-white-house-an-interview-with-noam-chomsky) “the most dangerous organization in world history.”

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Mark%20Morford/20161205c_UhOh_zpseduvjper.jpg~original) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/trump-gropes-america-volume-i/uh-oh.jpg)
Be very afraid!!

And oh, woe my beloved major media, beleaguered teams of talented reporters and journalists currently more shell-shocked than anyone, still trying to figure out how to cover it all (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/11/donald-trump-media-coverage-new-rules-214485) and remain not merely relevant, but more indispensable than ever, all against a vicious tidal wave of manufactured, anti-media vitriol, clickbait headlines, for-profit news centers, hateful fake stories, idiot alt-right bloggers and a new president eager to destroy them entirely.

One thing is certain: Trump is doing exactly what he promised; he is very much gutting the political machinery in DC. But of course he has absolutely no intention of making it better, more dynamic, more respectable, helpful and intellectually curious, a boon to both the American experiment, and the world.

Just the opposite: your Trump-ified US government is about to hurl itself into a pit of numb violence and vicious anti-intellectualism: America has officially declared itself more paranoid, more racist, more vindictive and shrill than perhaps any time in our history.

There is zero denying it: We have gone from a deeply civilized, hugely successful, beautifully historic presidential administration marked by tremendous grace and calm wisdom, to a bullying shit-show run by a bloviated, tiny-brained reality TV man-child who doesn't give a damn about what his army of confused, poorly educated protest voters might have wanted, but very much adores all those violent, misogynist white supremacist sociopaths who would gladly lead us all into the pits of hell. What fun it shall be.

Resistance is nigh (http://qz.com/846940/a-yale-history-professors-20-point-guide-to-defending-democracy-under-a-trump-presidency)!

Email: Mark Morford (etc@markmorford.com)

Mark Morford (http://www.markmorford.com) on Twitter (http://twitter.com/markmorford) and Facebook (http://facebook.com/markmorfordyes).

http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2016/12/05/meanwhile-trump-intensifies-groping-of-america (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2016/12/05/meanwhile-trump-intensifies-groping-of-america)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on December 06, 2016, 08:35:56 pm
mark moron is a whining pile of pc dog shit

i hope trump locks hillary up for her crimes so she will be someone's bitch

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 18, 2016, 02:19:35 pm

from The Washington Post....

Pagan priest wins right to wear goat horns in
license photo, saying they are ‘religious attire’

Phelan Moonsong feels so attached to his “spiritual antennae” that
he refuses to take them off for anyone — including the state of Maine.

By PETER HOLLEY | 8:00AM EST - Saturday, December 17, 2016

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161217pm_PhelanMoonsong_zpsafm339ei.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=http://img.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2016/12/unnamed.jpg&w=960&h=640)
Phelan Moonsong wearing his “spiritual antennae” goat horns.
 — Photograph: Courtesy of Phelan Moonsong.

IT DOESN'T MATTER how many articles of clothing Phelan Moonsong puts on before walking out the door each day: If he's not wearing his favorite pair of goat horns, the Pagan priest might as well be naked.

Unless the 56-year-old Millinocket, Maine, man is sleeping or bathing, his beloved horns are rarely far from his scalp.

It's been that way since he first laid eyes on the horns at a Pagan men's group gathering in 2009. A friend whose goat had recently died offered the horns to group members. Nobody else wanted the dead goat's hardware; Moonsong couldn't believe his luck.

So he took the horns home, drilled small holes in each one and attached them to his forehead using stretchy, 50-pound fishing line that he wrapped around his head like an invisible skull cap.

His life was never the same.

“As a practicing Pagan minister and a priest of Pan, I've come to feel very attached to the horns, and they've become a part of me and part of my spirituality,” Moonsong said, noting that he periodically soaks the horns in patchouli and cedar oil to keep them fresh and leathery. “The horns are part of my religious attire.”

Moonsong feels so attached to his horns that he refuses to take them off for anyone — including the state of Maine. In August, Moonsong said, officials at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Bangor told him that he would need to remove the horns to receive a state-issued ID.

When he tried to explain to bureau employees that he is a “Priest of Pan” — one who considers the horns his “spiritual antenna” — they were not moved. They told that the horns would have to be approved by Maine's secretary of state.

“She told me that I had to send in some documentation or religious text to show why it was required for me to have my horns on,” Moonsong said. “I said, ‘Okay, I'll go ahead and do that’, but it seemed like an onerous requirement.”

Moonsong said he sent the state a personal essay explaining the importance of his horns, along with four scholarly works, including one titled Pagan Religions: A Handbook for Diversity Training (https://www.amazon.com/dp/product/0971005060).

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161217pmdl_PhelanMoonsongDriversLicense_zpswfgla2zm.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2016/12/Moonsong-lic.jpeg&w=1484)
Phelan Moonsong, a Pagan priest, recently persuaded Maine to allow him to wear goat horns
in his state-issued ID. — Picture: Courtesy of Phelan Moonsong.

Though he didn't realize it at the time, Moonsong had joined a religious freedom battle that is being fought in DMV offices around the country.

At least 30 states offer residents high levels of constitutional protection for religious expression, some of them even higher than the protection offered by the Constitution's First Amendment, according to Charles Haynes, the founding director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute.

“Generally speaking, even in states without a high level of protection, officials have to have a pretty good reason for saying no to a religious accommodation for a driver's license photo,” Haynes said. “How strong that reason needs to be depends on where you live.”

But it also depends on the quality of the citizen's case, Haynes said. When people argue for the right to cover their faces in a driver's license photo — such as a Muslim woman who believes it's immodest to uncover her face — states often have the upper hand because it's in the interest of the state to assist police in being able to identify people.

“However,” Haynes added, “if the person's religious garb doesn't cover the face or obstruct law enforcement, those folks are likely to win.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a Christian woman who accuses DMV officials of discriminating against her by refusing to make a religious accommodation. Yvonne Allen says she was forced to remove her headscarf — which she wears for religious reasons — to have a photo taken for her driver's license, according to the complaint (https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/allen-v-english-complaint).

“When Ms. Allen explained her religious beliefs,” the complaint states, “the county officials responded with a remarkable claim: They admitted that there was a religious accommodation available for head coverings, but contended that it applied only to Muslims.”

“They also ridiculed Ms. Allen's sincerely held religious beliefs, with the Chief Clerk informing her that she was herself a Christian and did not cover her head,” the complaint adds. “Left with no choice if she wished to renew her license, Ms. Allen — with tears in her eyes and feeling sick to her stomach over the violation of her religious beliefs — removed her head covering.”

Heather L. Weaver, senior staff attorney for the ACLU's Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said DMV offices sometimes rule in favor of one faith and against another not because of bigotry so much as ignorance.

“Sometimes it comes down to them not understanding certain faiths,” Weaver said. “That's when we come in to educate DMV officials about particular religious headgear and explain that something is a legitimate religious belief that should be accommodated in the same way you might accommodate a Jewish yarmulke.”

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20161217pmgh_PhelanMoonsongGoatHorns_zpspbvxubxl.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2016/12/12821551_946650842049028_199810029111761756_n.jpg)
Moonsong at a Pagan festival wearing his horns as well as his “goat legs” and “hoofs”.
 — Photograph: Courtesy of Phelan Moonsong.

Allen's case is ongoing, but Moonsong said he managed to avoid hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit.

After several months of waiting to hear from the state's motor vehicle office following his initial visit, he says he informed the bureau that he was in touch with the ACLU. His ID arrived in the mail days later, he says.

A spokeswoman for the Maine secretary of state told the Bangor Daily News (http://hashtagmaine.bangordailynews.com/2016/12/12/the-internets/pagan-man-gets-license-after-being-rejected-for-wearing-horns) that Moonsong had not mentioned that the horns were religious in nature during his initial BMV visit.

“He did not cite religious reasons,” said the spokeswoman, Kristen Muszynski. “There are exceptions for religious headdress.”

The newspaper reported that the state of Maine follows American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators guidelines, which state that license photos “may only show the cardholder with headgear, if the cardholder is a member of a religion requiring the wearing thereof and provided that the headgear does not present as an obstruction or present a shadow and render the portrait inadequate for the identification of the cardholder.”

Moonsong, who changed his name earlier this year, said he was “elated” with the result of his BMV battle — not only for himself but for others who quietly share some of his beliefs.

“A lot of Pagans are in the closet and — as with the LGBT crowd — there's a lot of misconceptions and discrimination that they face,” he said.

“Many practicing Pagans are afraid of being public,” Moonsong added, “but when they see my horns it reminds them it's okay to be yourself.”

There are personal benefits to having an ID as well, he noted. Though he doesn't drive, Moonsong will finally be able to use his ID to board a plane to California, where some of the best Pagan festivals are found.

“I'm very excited,” he said.

• Peter Holley is a general assignment reporter at The Washington Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/12/17/maine-man-wins-right-to-wear-goat-horns-in-license-photo-saying-they-are-religious-attire (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/12/17/maine-man-wins-right-to-wear-goat-horns-in-license-photo-saying-they-are-religious-attire)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on December 19, 2016, 04:30:34 am
another stupid hillary supporter  ;D

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 19, 2016, 12:06:08 pm

Well, at least he isn't a stupid jesus supporter, eh?

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on December 20, 2016, 10:01:47 am
hillary supporters=stupid people who think they are goats

you're so stupid you dont know Jesusland is in the middle east

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 20, 2016, 12:24:16 pm

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/SFGate%20News%20Pix/sfgate_morfordbanner2.jpg) (http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/morford)

The Trump era: How wildly doomed are we?

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist (mmorford@sfgate.com) | 10:30AM PST - Monday, December 19, 2016

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Mark%20Morford/20161219a_RapeOfAmerica_zpsyak0wp3e.jpg~original) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/trump-and-the-rape-of-america/920x920-2.jpg)
What it feels like, all over America.

MORE THAN a third of all the trees in California — more than 100 million of them (http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Unprecedented-More-than-100-million-trees-10624642.php), covering roughly 7.7 million acres — are dead.

But it's OK, because the forests are largely empty anyway, given how we as a glorious human species have thoughtfully killed off half of all animals on planet Earth (http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/10/27/the_earth_has_lost_more_than_half_its_animals_since_1970.html), all in just the past 45 years or so, because people.

It's a statistic almost too staggering to fathom in scope and heartbreaking desolation, yet it seems to match up shockingly well with the current emotional timbre; there are hundreds of millions fewer birds than ever before in human history, desolated fish stocks, obliterated rainforests, dwindling numbers of elephants, lions, butterflies, rhinos and iguanas and leopards, on and on, everywhere and forever, all gone and most never to return. Sorry, kids.

Kids? Oh, we have plenty of those. There are, of course, many, many more babies swarming over the planet than we have healthy capacity to feed and water and sustain, on ongoing and sort of disastrous procreative commandment driven largely by the efforts of heavily Catholic and/or violently patriarchal cultural posturing, because of course babies are God's little angels and the Lord will provide and birth control is for heathens, and who cares about all the starvation and water shortages and poverty and vicious wars over dwindling resources?

But really, why worry? The incoming Trump administration is already working hard to assure a quick and bilious doom for all. The scowling orange monster has assembled the most laughably grotesque team of the most cold-blooded demolition experts (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/12/trump_is_building_an_ungovernment_and_his_supporters_won_t_care.html) in American political history — nearly all of them rich white males with the moral compass of flesh-eating bacteria (http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/worst-cabinet-donald-trump-made-some-horrible-picks-his-government) and each hell bent on undoing Obama's legacy and/or annihilating some indispensable hunk of the U.S. government, like the Department of Energy, or NASA, or the Department of the Interior, or Treasury, or nature, science, fundamental empathy.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Mark%20Morford/20161219b_VoteBallot_zpsxzn25pos.jpg~original) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/trump-and-the-rape-of-america/vote-ballot.jpg)
2.9 million more votes for Hillary, and counting.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Mark%20Morford/20161219c_LoveTrumpsHate_zpsyrbzxuww.jpg~original) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/trump-and-the-rape-of-america/love-trumps-hate.jpg)
Of course it’s true. But will it make any difference? Will it save us?

Let it be hereby repeated until every Trump voter hangs his head in shame, which they never will: The Trump era is going to be a shameless, leering rape of the American dream unlike few we have ever witnessed in our short history. Odds are tremendously good we will not ever fully recover. You know, just like Jesus intended.

Even comedians are getting nervous (http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/how-trumps-win-is-changing-stand-up-comedy-w455263). Hecklers are turning pro. No longer just loutish, drunken rednecks who don't get the joke, they're newly empowered defenders of ignorance, an army of mal-educated trolls who feel it's their Trump-given right to stand up and grunt their illiteracy, their sexism and their racism at the screen, the stage, the performer, this hamburger, that Starbucks cup, whatever and whomever they like, to the point of violence.

All that tact and grace, intelligence and kindness that so distinguished the Obama era? Drowned like dogs in favor of the howler monkeys of panic and white male fear. Hate is oozing into American thought-stream (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/12/how_the_aids_movement_has_given_birth_to_the_trump_resistance.html) like acid from a rusting car battery. Noam Chomsky has it exactly right; the GOP really is the most dangerous organization in the world.

Behold this mis-shapen snapshot, one of a thousand forthcoming: It's Trump, surrounded by all the leaders of modern technology (http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-tech-meeting-ridiculous-2016-12), the lords of Google and Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, Facebook and Tesla, et al (and of course, three members of Trump's own insufferable family).

And there was Trump, trying his damndest to hang, to pretend he's smart and lucid enough to actually belong in their educated, savvy, largely liberal clique, when each of them — with the exception of insufferable Trump ring-licker Peter Thiel — think the man is a tyrannical ignoramus with the mind of a frog.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Mark%20Morford/20161219d_Zuck_zpsq7dlv1um.jpg~original) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/trump-and-the-rape-of-america/zuck.jpg) (http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Mark%20Morford/20161219e_Roundtable_zpsiykpmwz0.jpg~original) (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/wp-content/blogs.dir/2467/files/trump-and-the-rape-of-america/roundtable.jpg)
LEFT: Thanks for the fake news fact-checking, Zuck. Where the hell were you two years ago? | RIGHT: With the exception of
his own soulless lackeys, everyone at this table thinks the president-elect is a dangerous moron.

Does all this ring a bit too bleak? Possibly. Surely some good news is afoot. Surely it's mildly heartening that, say, Facebook just decided to take the epidemic of fake news seriously (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/facebook-partners-with-fact-checkers-to-fight-fake-news-w456268). Though you might also agree that it's sort of tragic they didn't choose to do so, oh, about two years ago, back when armies of trolls, neo-Nazis, Russian hackers and misogynistic thugs dredged up from the sewers of GamerGate started swarming social media and dumbing down the (older, whiter) electorate?

Perhaps you're heartened by Michael Moore's prediction that Trump will never actually make it to the Big Chair, or that some secret legal or constitutional mechanism buried somewhere in the fractured American Dream will suddenly kick in and block the Trump administration from gutting the nation like a hog?

We can certainly hope. Then again, if North Carolina just taught us anything (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/north-carolinas-republicans-succeed-in-power-grab/510950), it's that the GOP is the biggest and most shamelessly corrupt middle finger to democracy and fundamental decency we have ever witnessed. There is, quite literally, nothing they will not do to derail progress and maintain grunting white male power.

One thing is certain: It is perilously easy to become dismayed. It is wildly tempting to say all is lost and to hell with our once-semiproud country because it turns out Obama really was our last and finest hope to stave off the demons of ignorance, of climate destruction, of moral incivility and desperation. Which is to say: History will show that Obama was extraordinary for an entirely different set of reasons than we first imagined.

Is it true? Are we running out of road, far more quickly than we can calculate? Or does hope survive in strange nooks and corners and unexpectedly successful Dakota pipeline protests? Will the backlash to Trump's intended rape of America's moral center whiplash us into a radical new awakening? Right now, anything is possible and all bets are off and it sure as hell would be nice if that felt far less terrifying than it is. Hang on if you dare (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/12/how_the_aids_movement_has_given_birth_to_the_trump_resistance.html).

Email: Mark Morford (etc@markmorford.com)

Mark Morford (http://www.markmorford.com) on Twitter (http://twitter.com/markmorford) and Facebook (http://facebook.com/markmorfordyes).

http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2016/12/19/the-trump-era-how-wildly-doomed-are-we (http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2016/12/19/the-trump-era-how-wildly-doomed-are-we)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on December 20, 2016, 01:47:13 pm
tired of gloom and doom here's the good news


bye bye to the lefts stupid idea's

good bye and good riddance to all
those hateful george soros funded shit stirring losers
and a good FU to the lamestream fake news blame it on the russians lying media

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 20, 2016, 02:45:47 pm
tired of gloom and doom here's the good news


bye bye to the lefts stupid idea's

good bye and good riddance to all
those hateful george soros funded shit stirring losers
and a good FU to the lamestream fake news blame it on the russians lying media

Yee Ha....that means America is DEFINITELY going to NEVER BE GREAT AGAIN.

They will officially have an IDIOT PUPPET as their PRESIDENT next month (controlled by Putin who Trump is in hock to....hence why he refuses to release his tax files which would expose this) and will therefore be the LAUGHING STOCK OF THE ENTIRE WORLD!!

Tom Scott summed things up PERFECTLY with his cartoon in today's Dominion Post newspaper....


(I must post some other recent Tom Scott cartoons lampooning the idiot Trump....they are hilariously funny and hit the nail right on the head)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on December 21, 2016, 06:19:51 am
tom scott and you are a couple of globalist brainwashed useful idiots
following a global eugenics blueprint for humans that dates back to hitler

all the crimes the vile cabal has been doing for the last 100 years
are about to be exposed by a bright light, it's always been about population control and domination
of the masses,

the future will be a time of progress that will make the past look like the dark ages

globalist controlled communism is doomed to the dustbin of history like dead a cockroach.

oh bugger our slaves are escaping and coming for us

it's the make the world great again revolution

obama the globalist puppet their last hope might have plan B
they have about 30 days to start a war with russia

they need a false flag another pearl harbour event like 911

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 21, 2016, 07:57:27 pm

Look at those dumb, stupid Jesuslanders.

The only intelligent people living there are in the northeast (apart from that dumb human ape, Donald J. Trump), around Chicago, and on the west coast.

The rest of them are the laughing stock of the entire world.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/TooFunny.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LaughingPinkPanther.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/ROFLMAO_Dog.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LaughingHard.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/ItchyBugga.gif)


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on December 21, 2016, 09:50:54 pm

The only people laughing are the winners at the stupid butt hurt losers


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 22, 2016, 01:04:11 pm

The world now has absolute PROOF that Americans are basically STUPID.

President Donald J. Trump....that is the PROOF.

America....the laughing stock of the entire world!!

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/TooFunny.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LaughingPinkPanther.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/ROFLMAO_Dog.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LaughingHard.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/ItchyBugga.gif)

(Woodville is the second-place laughing stock of the entire world)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on December 23, 2016, 12:09:49 am

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 23, 2016, 09:38:28 am

Americans.....the VILLAGE IDIOTS of the entire world.

And.....the LAUGHING STOCK of the entire world.

I know we shouldn't laugh at stupid people, but Americans are so stupid that one cannot help one's self.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/TooFunny.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LaughingPinkPanther.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/ROFLMAO_Dog.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LaughingHard.gif) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/ItchyBugga.gif)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on December 23, 2016, 02:48:55 pm
now this is funny  ;D


Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 24, 2016, 11:39:38 am

That's the sort of amateur photoshopping one would expect from a two-year-old.

Must be somebody with the intellectual inadequacy of a Trump supporter, eh?

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on December 24, 2016, 06:00:14 pm
oh look at me i'm wearing my big boy pants and know a big word it's one of my favorites ,intellectual it makes me sound smarter than the average bear,so ill use it a lot lol.

Your stupid lefty tribe cult members lost the us elections because people are sick of all obama and hillarys bullshit
they didn't lose because of putin hacking,"it's the economy stupid'

obama was a useless leader, he was making it hard for us people to make ends meet,he drove the us economy into the dirt taking the people with it.
the only ones who did well under chairman obama were the filthy rich and the banks obama was sucking their arse.

he is such a useless petty race baiting ego centred clown obama couldn't run a corner dairy
obama  and hillary are war criminals who caused the death or the suffering of millions of people all throughout the middle east, by trying to overthrow nations and arming terrorist to fight proxy wars

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 18, 2017, 09:52:26 pm

from The Washington Post....

A Navy pilot drew a penis in the sky.
It's not the first time something like this has been investigated.

The male genitalia was drawn in smoke by a two-person Navy EA-18G Growler jet.

By DAN LAMOTHE | 2:36PM EST - Friday, November 17, 2017

(https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2017/11/3053459-1024x682.jpg&w=1050) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2017/11/3053459-1024x682.jpg&w=1484)
Sailors conduct preflight checks on an EA-18G Growler assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 130 on the flight deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
in the Mediterranean Sea. — Photograph: Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/U.S. Navy.

RESIDENTS of Washington state turned their eyes to a clear blue sky on Thursday and found themselves staring at a cartoonish rendering of male genitalia, sketched in smoke by at least one Navy EA-18G Growler jet.

The image stretched hundreds of feet high over the Okanogan Highlands, based on photographs shared on social media. It has spawned a full Navy investigation, with a senior officer, Vice Admiral Mike Shoemaker, promising to examine the issue fully and respond.

“The American people rightfully expect that those who wear the Wings of Gold exhibit a level of maturity commensurate with the missions and aircraft with which they've been entrusted,” said Shoemaker, who oversees naval air operations, in a statement released by the service. “Naval aviation continually strives to foster an environment of dignity and respect. Sophomoric and immature antics of a sexual nature have no place in Naval aviation today.”

The unit involved, Electronic Attack Squadron 130 of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, flies a two-person variant of the F/A-18 Super Hornet and specializes in electronic warfare. The aircrew responsible has not been identified.

The Defense Department has placed heightened emphasis on sexual harassment and sexual assault in the ranks. And while it's not immediately clear what this investigation will yield, it's evident that the Navy is taking it very seriously.

This is not the first time a military pilot has drawn similar images. As The Drive pointed out (http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/16181/apparently-navy-pilots-from-nas-whidbey-island-drew-this-massive-penis-in-the-sky), a Royal Air Force jet drew what appeared to be a penis in the sky over Scotland (https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/royal-air-force-denies-they-drew-giant-penis-in-the-sky-1656501264/1656553987) in 2014. The RAF later concluded the suggestive smoke trails were caused by a pilot circling in a holding pattern while waiting to land.

In the United States, the Navy's elite flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, also was cited in an investigation released in 2014 (http://www.cpf.navy.mil/foia/reading-room/2014/06/blue-angels.pdf) for painting a giant penis on the roof of a trailer at its winter training home in El Centro, Calif, where pilots could see it from above. The blue-and-gold painting was so large that it could be seen on satellite imagery available on Google Maps, the Navy found.

The Blue Angels' commanding officer at the time, Navy Captain Gregory McWherter, was reprimanded for failing to stop sexual harassment and condoning pornography and homophobia in the workplace. Investigators also cited his call sign, “Stiffy”.

“This Commanding Officer witnessed, accepted, and encouraged behavior that, while juvenile and sophomoric in the beginning, ultimately and in the aggregate, became destructive, toxic and hostile,” the Navy's report said. Under his command, the Blue Angels environment “ran counter to established Navy standards and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and dramatically weakened good order and discipline.”

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DOyF6cMUQAEFaTE.jpg) (https://twitter.com/anahi_torres_/status/931266469869977600)

It's unclear what fate awaits the pilot in this latest incident. According to a Navy Department manual released earlier this year, incidents of sexual harassment “cover a wide range of behaviors, from verbal comments to physical acts, and can be subtle or overt.”

If the skywriting over Washington is determined to be sexual harassment aimed at someone in the same squadron, service members involved could be subject to formal counseling, negative fitness reports that hurt careers, administrative punishment, or court-martial and separation from the service.

As the photographs of the skywriting circulated online during Friday morning, more than 100 people sent stories about the incident to Maximilian Uriarte, a Marine Corps veteran who draws the popular military-themed web comic “Terminal Lance”. Drawing male genitalia is a running joke in his comic. Doing so, he said, is a way that service members joke around with one another in what is still a hyper-masculine culture.

“I don't know how much the culture of these pilots is embroiled in inappropriate things, but I think that drawing a penis is just meant to be funny,” he said. “For some reason, when you get into a situation where you need to draw something, it's always a penis.”

He paused for a second.

“I'd love to offer real insight on this,” he said. “But I don't know that there is much to be had.”

• Dan Lamothe covers the Pentagon and the U.S. military for The Washington Post. He joined the newspaper in spring 2014.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/11/17/a-navy-pilot-drew-a-penis-in-the-sky-its-not-the-first-time-something-like-this-has-been-investigated (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/11/17/a-navy-pilot-drew-a-penis-in-the-sky-its-not-the-first-time-something-like-this-has-been-investigated)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on November 19, 2017, 03:33:35 am
haha ;D

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on February 01, 2018, 05:24:27 pm

from The Washington Post....

One person killed when Amtrak train carrying GOP lawmakers
to retreat hits garbage truck

No members of Congress were seriously injured when the train carrying Republican members to their annual
retreat in West Virginia collided with a dump truck Wednesday morning near Charlottesville, Virginia.

By HAWES SPENCER, MARTINE POWERS and FAIZ SIDDIQUI | 5:51PM EST — Wednesday, January 31, 2018

(https://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1111w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/2018-01-31T182229Z_575006726_RC1BA55D2450_RTRMADP_3_USA-CONGRESS-TRAIN.jpg) (https://www.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/2018-01-31T182229Z_575006726_RC1BA55D2450_RTRMADP_3_USA-CONGRESS-TRAIN.jpg)
Emergency personnel work at the scene of the train crash involving a garbage truck in Crozet, Virginia. — Photograph: Crozet Volunteer Fire Department/Reuters.

CROZET, VIRGINIA — One person was killed, and six were injured when an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to an annual party conference in West Virginia hit a truck here on Wednesday morning.

None of the dozens of members of Congress aboard the train, or their accompanying family members and aides, were among the seriously injured. The person who died was one of three men in the disposal truck that had entered the railroad crossing.

The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched a team of nearly two dozen people to the site and said it would provide updates as it gathered additional information about the crash. Federal Railroad Administration officials also went to the scene to assist, a U.S. Transportation Department spokeswoman said.

The NTSB was expected to provide an update on Wednesday night.

(https://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_615w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/Rex_Train_carrying_GOP_members_hits_9350178A.jpg) (https://www.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/Rex_Train_carrying_GOP_members_hits_9350178A.jpg)
Damage to the front of the Amtrak locomotive following a collision with a garbage truck.
 — Photograph: European Pressphoto Agency/Agencia-EFE/Shutterstock.

Several lawmakers, including Senator Jeff Flake (Republican-Arizona) and Representative Brad Wenstrup (Republica-Ohio), helped first responders carry one of the injured passengers to an ambulance — a role that Flake said was “too reminiscent” of the lifesaving measures they took to help House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (Republican-Louisiana) after a shooting on an Alexandria baseball field this past summer.

Officials at the University of Virginia Medical Center said six patients were transported there from the crash. One was reported to be in critical condition, four were being evaluated, and one had been discharged Wednesday evening, according to hospital officials.

Representative Jason Lewis (Republican-Minnesota) was among those taken to a hospital as a precaution. A spokesman for the congressman said he suffered a concussion and was treated and released.

The crash cast a somber tone on the GOP's long-planned huddle at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The retreat would carry on “with an adjusted program,” organizers said on Wednesday. President Trump is scheduled to address the group on Thursday.

“The president has been fully briefed on the situation in Virginia and is receiving regular updates,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected by this incident.”

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The passenger train carrying GOP lawmakers is seen after colliding with a garbage truck. — Photograph: Justin Ide/Crozet Volunteer Fire Department/Reuters.

(https://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1111w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/2018-01-31T181744Z_129163096_RC1D48467410_RTRMADP_3_USA-CONGRESS-TRAIN.jpg) (https://www.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/2018-01-31T181744Z_129163096_RC1D48467410_RTRMADP_3_USA-CONGRESS-TRAIN.jpg)
Emergency first responders carry one of the injured across train tracks to an ambulance. — Photograph: Crozet Volunteer Fire Department/Reuters.

The crash occurred about 11:20 a.m. at a rural railroad crossing in Crozet, about 110 miles southwest of Washington. The train was carrying about 450 people.

Representative Tom Cole (Republican-Oklahoma) said it happened without warning while many members were milling around on the 10-car train. There was no perceptible braking before the crash, he said.

“It was quite a jolt,” Cole said. “It was just, ‘bam’.”

“It was a hard impact,” Flake recalled. “It threw everybody up in the air a little.”

(https://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1111w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/GOP_Train_Accident_06628-8584a.jpg) (https://www.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/GOP_Train_Accident_06628-8584a.jpg)
Emergency personnel are seen after the collision between a passenger train and a garbage truck. — Photograph: Zack Wajsgras/Daily Progress/Associated Press.

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Passengers watch as emergency personnel work at the scene of a train crash. — Photograph: Zack Wajsgras/Daily Progress/Associated Press.

Senator Mike Lee (Republican-Utah), who was reached by telephone aboard the train, said it took about a quarter-mile for it to stop, and a few of the passengers in his car were “roughed up.”

“Most of us hit a knee or a head on the seat in front of us, but nothing too serious on board,” he said.

The crash was “loud and surprising,” said Representative Thomas Massie (Republican-Kentucky). “We saw debris go by the left side of the train. The part of the truck we [could] see was decimated. Very relieved when the train came to a stop and [was] still on the tracks.”

Outside the car, the truck looked as if it had been cut in half, Lee said. Garbage blanketed the grass. And it was clear that the people inside the truck had fared worse.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20180131twrb_TwitterRacchaelBade_zps6kurykhb.jpg~original) (https://twitter.com/rachaelmbade/status/958740941589893121)

Immediately after the crash, Cole said, many members who are also doctors tried to leave the train to help the three men who were on the disposal truck. Security officials on the train discouraged them from getting off, he said, but several members did, including Wenstrup, Senator Bill Cassidy (Republican-Louisiana) and Representatives Michael C. Burgess (Republican-Texas), Phil Roe (Republican-Tennessee) and Roger Marshall (Republican-Kanas).

“They were very insistent,” Cole said. “Anybody who had any [medical] training was moving quickly.”

Roe, a retired OB/GYN, said it was immediately clear one of the men was deceased. “I think it was an instantaneous death,” he told reporters on Wednesday evening. “I don't think he suffered.”

The wife of one lawmaker — Kathryn Bucshon, an anesthesiologist — tried to intubate the other injured man to maintain an airway. She was unsuccessful, but Wenstrup, a former Army combat surgeon, said the man's instinctive resistance was a positive sign: “That showed us that there was a chance because he was bucking it.”

Among those on the train, the lawmakers said, was Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician to the U.S. Congress, and the Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, the House chaplain. Monahan helped attend to the injured men, Roe said, and Conroy administered last rites to the deceased man, according to Burgess.

(https://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1111w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/2018-01-31T201256Z_1791803003_RC158761DD90_RTRMADP_3_USA-CONGRESS-TRAIN.jpg) (https://www.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/2018-01-31T201256Z_1791803003_RC158761DD90_RTRMADP_3_USA-CONGRESS-TRAIN.jpg)
The wreckage of the truck lies beside the Amtrak train. — Photograph: Drone Base/Reuters.

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The railroad crossing arm is lowered next to the scene of the collision. — Photograph: Zack Wajsgras/Daily Progress/Associated Press.

Vickie Gresge, a resident of the Grayrock neighborhood where the crash occurred, said she heard the jarring sound — “like a big metal crash; very, very heavy”  — and looked out the window to see a cloud of dust near the tracks. She rushed up Lanetown Road, took in the trash strewn about the tracks, then spotted the people emerging from the train.

“When the train doors opened, out of every door, a military-style person with an automatic gun,” Gresge said. “It made me think there were dignitaries on the train — which, apparently, there are.”

“Before the ambulances arrived, there were two helicopters circling,” she said.

Gresge had her son beckon a neighbor, a nurse, who then administered CPR to one of two victims lying on the ground. She said a third man, wearing a reflective vest, was walking around.

The truck belonged to Time Disposal, according to a neighborhood resident and confirmed by a county spokeswoman.

“It's fresh, and we're trying to get a hold of it,” said a man answering the phone for Time Disposal. He said a team of company officials was headed to the scene.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20180131twrbb_TwitterRepresentativeBradleyByrne_zpsfndxzzqc.jpg~original) (https://twitter.com/RepByrne/status/958741079678947329)

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After the crash, the lead car of the train, which derailed slightly, was uncoupled from the other cars and will remain on the scene for investigators to assess. The rest of the train carried members of Congress and the other passengers back to Charlottesville Union Station, where they continued to Greenbrier via bus.

According to the Congressional Institute, the GOP retreat will continue with a modified program, which will now include a moment of prayer for those involved in the crash and a security briefing from the sergeant at arms and U.S. Capitol Police.

Burgess, the Texas congressman,  said he was “very conflicted” about continuing with the event, but he said the decision by Trump and Vice President Pence to appear put the decision in a different light.

“This is part of our job,” he said. “It is part of our planning process. It is part of how we approach our entire year, so it is important work that's going to be done…. If the vice president's going to be there tonight, I better be there, too.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Republican-Wisconsin) called the incident a “terrible tragedy.” He wrote on Twitter (https://twitter.com/SpeakerRyan/status/958767192241328128): “We are grateful for the first responders who rushed to the scene and we pray for the victims and their families. May they all be in our thoughts right now.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened” by the crash.

“My condolences, and those of the entire Senate family, go out to the victim's family, friends, and coworkers,” McConnell said. “Our prayers are with the other accident victims who are fighting to recover from their injuries.”

(https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dr-gridlock/files/2018/01/2300-Crozet.jpg) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dr-gridlock/files/2018/01/2300-Crozet.jpg)

Wednesday's crash was Amtrak's second high-profile wreck in less than two months, a fact that partly prompted D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (Democrat) to call for a congressional hearing on the state of rail safety in the United States.

“The public needs information and assurances on the safety of rail travel before the lengthy NTSB investigation on today's accident, along with other ongoing NTSB investigations, such as last year's Amtrak fatal derailment outside of Seattle, concludes,” Norton said. “We provided Amtrak with significant funding…. We need to know whether more is needed to address rail safety now.”

The segment of tracks where the crash occurred is owned by CSX Transportation but is leased to Buckingham Branch Railroad — the company that “is responsible for maintenance, signaling and dispatching train traffic on the line,” a CSX spokesman said.

Carrie Brown, a spokeswoman for Buckingham Branch Railroad, said in a statement that the company's personnel were assisting at the scene.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers, motorists and crew members impacted by this,” Brown said.

(https://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1111w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/GOP_Train_Accident_40491-5bdc7.jpg) (https://www.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2018/01/31/National-Politics/Images/GOP_Train_Accident_40491-5bdc7.jpg)
The wreckage of the truck at the collision scene. — Photograph: Zack Wajsgras/Daily Progress/Associated Press.

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Emergency personnel move an injured person to an ambulance near the scene of the collision. — Photograph: Zack Wajsgras/Daily Progress/Associated Press.

The crash occurred in a rural area at Route 684 and Lanetown Road in Crozet, at what is known as an “active crossing” involving gates, flashing lights and a “hump” warning sign for approaching drivers. The crossing's speed limit for trains is 60 mph, according to Federal Railroad Administration data.

The thoroughfare runs parallel to the railroad on both sides with a sharp curve into the raised crossing. The direction from which the truck was approaching was not immediately known.

Christine Stewart, who has lived near the crossing for nine years, said she hasn't seen anyone get stuck there — but has seen people try to speed through the closed crossing gates.

“It's not unusual for people to try to cut through, even when a train is coming,” Stewart said. “A lot of times, it's just a big coal train that moves slowly and people don't want to get stuck waiting. When it's a passenger train, it goes much faster.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation, which oversees grade crossings at public highways, said there have been three reported crashes within 250 feet of the crossing since 2007. Wednesday's was the first to involve a train or result in injury, VDOT spokeswoman Shannon Marshall said. In 2016, the driver of a pickup truck hit the crossing gate and fled, Marshall said. Also that year, a distracted driver ran off the road to avoid workers about 100 feet from the crossing.

Almost two decades ago, on February 5th, 1999, an incident similar to Wednesday's crash occurred at the same crossing, according to Railroad Administration documents. A CSX freight train traveling 30 mph struck a vehicle in the crossing. The driver of the vehicle was not inside, and no one was harmed. The train engine was damaged, a report noted.


Martine Powers and Faiz Siddiqui reported from Washington D.C. Mike DeBonis in Charlottesville and Ed O'Keefe, Lori Aratani and Michael Laris in Washington contributed to this report.

• Hawes Spencer Hawes Spencer is the founder and editor of The Hook, the weekly newspaper in Charlottesville, Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.

• Martine Powers writes about the Metro transit system and the wonky world of transportation for The Washington Post.

• Faiz Siddiqui is a transportation reporter for The Washington Post.


Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Train carrying GOP lawmakers collides with truck (https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/e3956d6c-06a8-11e8-aa61-f3391373867e_video.html)

 • On board the Republican train, “It was quite a jolt. It was just ‘bam’.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/on-board-the-republican-train-it-was-quite-a-jolt-it-was-just-bam/2018/01/31/b88bf0cc-06b3-11e8-94e8-e8b8600ade23_story.html)

 • PHOTOGRAPH GALLERY: The scene after a train carrying GOP members collided with a truck (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-scene-after-a-train-carrying-gop-members-collided-with-truck/2018/01/31/2dd72064-06ae-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_gallery.html)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2018/01/31/gop-retreat-train-collides-with-truck-no-serious-injuries-reported (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2018/01/31/gop-retreat-train-collides-with-truck-no-serious-injuries-reported)

Title: Re: Meanwhile, in Jesusland....
Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on April 25, 2019, 12:31:13 am

from The Seattle Times…

Miska, Bellevue's most persecuted tabby cat,
seeks her day in court

By ALEXIS KRELL — The News Tribune | 7:15PM PDT — Monday, April 22, 2019

(https://static.seattletimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/143724-780x630.jpg) (https://static.seattletimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/143724.jpg)
Miska the cat. — Photograph: Courtesy of Jon Zimmerman.

NO CAT in King County has a rap sheet longer than Miska.

The brown tabby has racked up thousands of dollars in fines while allegedly roaming her Bellevue neighborhood.

“The infractions, they just keep piling up,” said her attorney, Jon Zimmerman.

She even did hard time in King County's “kitty jail”.

Now she's turning to Pierce County to have her day in court.

Owner Anna Danieli has filed a lawsuit against Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC), alleging the agency has unfairly targeted the 10-year-old cat as a “vicious”, trespassing animal.

“… of the approximately 20,000 infractions filed by RASKC over a ten-year period, approximately 50 involved cats, and most of these infractions involved Miska,” says the complaint, filed on April 12 in Pierce County Superior Court rather than King County because the suit is against a King County agency.

When he ran the agency, former RASKC Manager Gene Mueller “pursued Miska like no other cat in Bellevue and King County” because the cat lived in his neighborhood, the lawsuit alleges.

The agency declined to comment, as did its current manager and Mueller. A RASKC spokesperson said they do not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit names them, and a list of Bellevue and King County officials.

Danieli also declined to be interviewed.

The lawsuit says she wants a Pierce County judge to void Miska's violations and to keep RASKC from prosecuting Miska in front of the King County Hearing Examiner. It also asks that RASKC's determination that Miska is “vicious” be voided, as well as any removal orders by Mueller or the acting RASKC manager.

Many of Miska's violations have been for trespassing, Zimmerman said.

“… to target one individual cat and go: ‘Well, that cat has to be removed from the fresh air and being outside and anytime that it might slip off the property that somehow there’s some sort of nexus between viciousness and it being outside’, it's just really ridiculous,” he said.

Some of her violations are for being a “vicious animal at large”, according to a partial list of alleged transgressions filed with the lawsuit.

Asked about Miska's demeanor, Zimmerman said: “Miska is a normal 10-year-old cat. She is very loving. She is social. She is friendly. She is intelligent, and she is really an excellent feline companion.”

In one complaint Zimmerman obtained, a neighbor called Miska “beautiful but predatory” and said she'd been taunting the neighbor's cats at the window. That complaint also called Miska an “exotic cat” and a “cheetah”.

Zimmerman said it's fair to classify Miska as a domestic brown tabby. He said it wouldn't be fair to turn her into an indoor cat.

“I think that this is somebody who has had the freedom to be outside for a long time,” he said.

The attorney said Miska was able to roam legally in Bellevue when she was born, but the law changed at some point.

“Bellevue is not a right-to-roam city for cats,” he said.

According to the lawsuit, Danieli started getting violations for Miska's behavior in 2014 and has received at least 30 since. The county has assigned at least four prosecutors to the cat.

“RASKC Manager Gene Mueller determined that Miska was ‘vicious’ and, in pursuit of his desire to separate Miska from Danieli and Miska's family, Manager Mueller signed an order to have Miska euthanized or deported from King County” in 2014, the lawsuit says.

Danieli fought that order, and it was vacated in King County Superior Court.

“However, unbeknownst to Danieli at the time, and while she was fighting for Miska in Superior Court, Manager Mueller was continuing to take official action against Danieli and Miska based on his own personal vendetta by filing his own complaints against Miska as one of Danieli's neighbors,” the lawsuit says.

In 2017, “RASKC personnel encouraged another of Danieli's neighbors to file one or more complaints against Miska for purported trespassing on a neighbor's property.”

RASKC helped trap Miska and took her to its animal control facility.

She was there for several months, until she made bail — RASKC ultimately agreed to release Miska as long as Danieli paid kenneling fees.

“Danieli felt she was in a hostage situation because she continued to suffer during RASKC's imposed family separation,” the lawsuit says. “For example, RASKC denied Danieli visitation rights and Miska was suffering by RASKC's isolation of Miska to solitary confinement.”

Ultimately, Miska's case ended up before the King County hearing examiner, who Danieli argues does not have jurisdiction.

The Bellevue City Code says the King County Board of Appeals is where a case goes when someone contests a violation from RASKC.

But that board stopped hearing such cases in 2016, and since then they've gone to the hearing examiner.

Since Bellevue City Code hadn't been changed to reflect that, Danieli argues the hearing examiner does not have jurisdiction over the city's animal enforcement cases and that Miska's violations should be voided.

A Bellevue spokesperson said the city's attorneys are reviewing the lawsuit and did not have further comment before Wednesday.

For now, the tabby's case remains in legal limbo.


Story updated at 10:58PM PDT — Monday, April 22, 2019.

Alexis Krell (https://www.seattletimes.com/author/cap-alexis-krell) covers local, state and federal court cases that affect Pierce County for The Tacoma News Tribune. She started covering courts in 2016. Before that she wrote about crime and breaking news for almost four years as The News Tribune's night reporter.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/eastside/miska-bellevues-most-persecuted-tabby-cat-seeks-her-day-in-court (https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/eastside/miska-bellevues-most-persecuted-tabby-cat-seeks-her-day-in-court)