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Meanwhile, in Jesusland....


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #75 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



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
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« Reply #76 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



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
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« Reply #77 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



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
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« Reply #78 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



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.

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
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« Reply #79 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



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 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
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« Reply #80 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



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
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« Reply #81 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



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
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« Reply #82 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



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 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
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« Reply #83 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



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 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
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« Reply #84 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



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
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« Reply #85 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



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://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-murrieta-protesters-oversimplify-20140707-story.html
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« Reply #86 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



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
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« Reply #87 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



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
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« Reply #88 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



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
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« Reply #89 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



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
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« Reply #90 on: August 03, 2014, 02:15:51 am »

Another lefty cartoon fiesta lol
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« Reply #91 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



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
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« Reply #92 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

INDICTED: Texas Governor Rick Perry is seen in a mug shot released Tuesday (local time). — Photo: REUTERS.
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
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« Reply #93 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



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
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« Reply #94 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



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
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« Reply #95 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


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Are you sick of the bullshit from the sewer stream media spewed out from the usual Ken and Barby dickless talking point look a likes.

If you want to know what's going on in the real world...
And the many things that will personally effect you.
Go to
http://www.infowars.com/

AND WAKE THE F_ _K UP
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« Reply #96 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.
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« Reply #97 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



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
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« Reply #98 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



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
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« Reply #99 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



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 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
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