"It is the death of humanity to know the price of everything but the value of nothing." ~Unknown

Friday, April 30, 2010

How To Identify An Illegal Alien: Ye Shall Know Them by Their Shoes

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"They(Law Enforcement) will look at the kind of dress you wear, there is different type of attire, there is different type of -- right down to the shoes, right down to the clothes," ~Brian Bilbray R-Calif

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Someone should inform Arizona's Federales.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Virginia gun lobby pushes for right to drink alcohol while carrying a gun in public.

Think Progress » Virginia gun lobby pushes for right to drink alcohol while carrying a gun in public.

Philip Van Cleave + Guns + Alcohol = sheer stupidity, it's a show in itself....pass the popcorn please.


By Faiz Shakir on
Apr 27th, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Earlier this month, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed
legislation allowing “concealed
carry permit holders to bring loaded handguns
” into establishments
that serve alcohol. The law allows permit holders to carry guns in
restaurants, “as long as the holders do
not consume alcohol
.” A leading Virginia gun lobby is now arguing
that the law unfairly stigmatizes gun carriers as second-class citizens
because there is an exception that “allows law-enforcement officers and
commonwealth’s attorneys to carry concealed weapons and consume
alcohol.” Philip Van Cleave, leader of the Virginia Citizens Defense
League, complained, “We’re not allowed to drink, but they (law
enforcement officials) can. … That’s
two classes of citizens
.” But Van Cleave has a
Van Cleave said one proposed bill would allow no one but
an on-duty officer doing undercover work to drink alcohol while carrying
a concealed weapon. The other bill will say that anyone can
carry a concealed gun and drink if they wish, “as long as they are not

“Whatever the General Assembly assumes will apply to everyone,” he
said. “Police officers and permit holders are all in the same
tent; so I say: General Assembly, you choose. But whatever it is, we’re

In a letter to McDonnell on behalf of the state’s police chiefs,
Virginia Beach Police Chief Jake Jacocks, Jr. opposed the new law,
arguing: “We can fully expect that at some point in the future a
disagreement that today would likely end up in a verbal confrontation,
or a bar fight, will
inevitably end up with gunfire
if you sign this legislation into
law.” The chances of that happening would only increase if the Virginia
gun lobby has its way.

What Does An Illegal Alien Look Like?

Just my two Peso's worth...
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Just what does an illegal alien look like?
According to Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), "trained professionals" can identify undocumented workers just by looking at their clothes. Well, I have to ask: Has Rep. Brian Bilbray been dining on Magic Mushrooms? That is one of the most absurd statements I've ever heard....but wait, there's more!....

He then goes on to say: "Of course, law enforcement wouldn't detain people based solely on clothing,  (well, that's a relief)...but then he goes on to say: "They  (the 'trained professionals') also know to look out for the ways in which illegal immigrants just act illegal."  Soooo, how do illegal, undocumented workers act like?

I think maybe  Rep. Brian Bilbray  procure himself a chicken and make an appointment with a psychiatrist, oh and maybe stop snacking on the magic mushrooms....I'm just sayin.....

Tip:  Buy stock in Revlon and  Bausch & Lomb. I'm predicting an increase in the sales of blue contact lenses and blonde hair dye.

Stay Away From Arizona

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My brother posted the article below today by Bill Boyarsky. After reading it I simply could not gather enough self discipline and impulse control to resist adding the picture above (sorry for trampling all over your boundaries Mike).


Posted on Apr 29, 2010

By Bill Boyarsky
Arizona and its new immigration law offer a frightening preview of the police-state mentality that could envelop other parts of the nation if anti-immigrant hysteria spreads to other states with weak-kneed legislatures and city councils.

Under the law signed last week, cops can stop anyone if officers think there is “a reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally.

People can be jailed for the vague offense of trespassing if they are stopped on public or private land. The law requires some form of government identification to prove legal status. Arizona, as Linda Greenhouse wrote in The New York Times, would, in effect, require “internal passports, one of the most distasteful features of life in the Soviet Union and apartheid-era South Africa.”

I’ve vacationed in the Phoenix area of Arizona during baseball spring training for many years, the domain of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He’s infamous for his department’s sweeps through Latino neighborhoods, arresting dark-skinned people on suspicion of being illegal immigrants. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the practice. He’s more infamous for his male, female and juvenile chain gangs wearing black-and-white striped uniforms. He also forces male prisoners to wear pink underwear.

My brother Jeff and I take a cab when we go out to dinner at night, fearing that a cocktail or a glass of wine might land us on the chain gang or in pink shorts. In a way this is good. Drinking and driving is bad.

However, we also are constantly aware that we could be stopped for no apparent reason at all. That’s what can happen in Maricopa County now, even before the new law takes effect.

Take the case of a Latino truck driver, born in Fresno, Calif., who was stopped in the Phoenix area shortly after the immigration law was signed. When he arrived at a weighing station, he was asked for identification. He gave an officer his commercial driver’s license and his Social Security number. “He [the officer] came back and said ‘I need your birth certificate,’ ” the driver told Channel 3TV in Phoenix. “I said it’s in my house.”

The driver was handcuffed, put in a van and taken to the immigration and customs law enforcement building in Phoenix. An agent called his wife and told her to bring over his birth certificate. She drove home from work, retrieved the birth certificate and took it to the immigration building.

Her husband was released 90 minutes later.

She asked the agent why her husband had been jailed. The agent replied that he hadn’t answered the questions correctly. “We can be stopped any time,” the wife said. [We] have to bring the certificates with us. ... It just doesn’t feel like a good way of life, to live with fear, to be stopped.”

News coverage has centered on its impact on Latinos, 30 percent of the state’s population. This ignores the impact the law will have on others with immigrant roots, particularly those from Middle Eastern countries and South Asian nations such as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

“This is not just something that will affect the Latino community,” Affad Shaikh, civil rights manager of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles, told me. “This will affect minorities across the board. ... This law legitimizes racial profiling. How will they be able to tell if you are documented or undocumented?”

Anas Hlayhel, chairman of the Arizona branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said, “American Muslims have faced the detrimental effects of racial profiling, and we stand against the broad and generalized application of this practice.”

Sheriff Arpaio’s Maricopa County is an extreme example of what can happen when police are given such wide authority to make arrests.

Influenced by anti-immigrant activists, other state legislatures may pass the same kind of law. The Associated Press reported that a Texas legislator said she will introduce a measure similar to the Arizona statute. Cities and towns around the country have enacted or proposed harsh immigrant statutes.

I talked about this possibility with Ahilan Arulanantham, director of immigrants’ rights and national security for the ACLU of Southern California. He told me, “I think it does have implications beyond Arizona because the political sentiments that drove this law exist elsewhere, and that is why it is important to establish that this law is unconstitutional. If other legislatures recognize that, it should prevent them from copying it.”

Constitutional experts are divided on whether a court would throw out the law. Professor Hiroshi Motomura of the School of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The New York Times, “My view of the constitutional question is that it is unconstitutional. But it’s a far cry from predicting empirically what a judge who actually gets this case will do.”

That is why it is important for Congress to pass and President Barack Obama to sign a comprehensive immigration bill. It should give illegal immigrants a clear path to citizenship. The measure should also make it clear that enforcement of immigration laws is a federal matter, not something left to the whims and prejudices of local cops like Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

But this is much more than an immigrant issue. Giving police the authority to stop a person on the “reasonable suspicion” he or she is an illegal immigrant clears the way for the arrest of anyone from an American-born Latino doctor to an Indian-American professor to an English immigrant who somehow offended an angry, ignorant or oversensitive police officer.

Such statutes are a step toward a police state, and the president and Congress should get to work on a federal immigration law immediately.

In the meantime, stay away from Arizona.

LOS ANGELES Federal prosecutors have moved to dismiss charges against a Southern California sushi restaurant that admitted serving illegal and endangered whale meat

The Hump Whale Meat Scandal: Prosecutors Seek To Dismiss Whale Sushi Charges

Seems to me that Corporations rarely get anything more than that token slap-on-the-wrist when found guilty of criminal acts, even some of the most repulsive of criminal acts.  And should their name becomes too tainted  to do business under they'll just close down and reopen under a different identity. Typhoon Restaurant Inc., Just another sleazy corporation.   You decide.

LOS ANGELES  Federal prosecutors have moved to dismiss charges against a Southern California sushi restaurant that admitted serving illegal and endangered whale meat, though the case appears not to be over.

U.S. attorney's office spokesman Thom Mrozek said Wednesday that prosecutors want charges dismissed without prejudice, meaning they could refile them in the future.

Mrozek didn't explain the move, but said the investigation into The Hump restaurant in Santa Monica remains open and active.

Typhoon Restaurant Inc., parent company of The Hump, and the restaurant's chef were each charged with a misdemeanor count of selling a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose.

An attorney for Typhoon has said the now-closed restaurant accepted responsibility for the wrongdoing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

As Wall Street reform debate shows, there is indeed a link between legislation and campaign contributions

 Alex Gibney has directed a film about Jack Abramoff titled "Casino Jack and the United States of Money." In a post at the Atlantic, Gibney explains how Abramoff's tactics were a precursor to the massive lobbying underway to defeat financial reform. He included an short video, which includes CREW's Melanie Sloan, talking about the way money influences legislation. The video focuses on the lobbying effort to block Wall Street reform debate in Congress:
Goldman, CitiCorp, Bank of America, JP Morgan and John Mack's Morgan Stanley -- along with the Chamber of Commerce -- have all doubled down on their their bets, er, contributions to Congress and Congressional PACs in anticipation of possible legislation regarding derivatives and - gasp - consumer protections.  Texas Senator John Cornyn has been camped out in New York trying to fill the coffers of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.
All of this bears an eerie similarity to events described in my film, "Casino Jack and the United States of Money," about Jack Abramoff, lobbying and the influence of money in Washington, D.C. With this blog, we are releasing the first in a series of "flash forward" videos on the enduring value of the Abramoff story.  Though he was a piker in comparison to the lobbyists from PharMa or Wall Street, Jack's tale lives on through the growing role of money in our democracy.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hell Yes, Secesh! Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

by David Michael Green

It is a measure of the sheer poverty of our national politics that the notion of secession is in the air again. Hey, just like those happy days of slavery and civil war again!

Last summer, no less an official than the governor of Texas and likely presidential aspirant (never mind the irony - this is regressivism we're talking about here, folks), Rick Perry, hinted that if Washington didn't stop leaning so hard on the states, then people down there might just get to feelin' justified to go their own way. Don't mess with Texas, Eastern elite dudes! Meanwhile, though, Perry will of course continue accepting large lump-sum checks from the Feds, if it's all the same to you.

Then knucklehead governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, who seems every day more like a model of forward thinking - if only it were still the thirteenth century - has joined the recent stampede to honor those great patriots of the 1860s - who, er, um, tried to wreck the country - by re-instituting Confederate History Month there. No mention of slavery, either. Great idea, Bob! And so original, too. Old, racist, white guys feeling victimized by history. What a novel concept!

Meanwhile tea party savants continue to demonstrate the volatile dangers of amateur alchemy, mixing ample ignorance with toxic rage to produce catastrophic idiocy in scary proportions. (As if twenty minutes of watching Glenn Beck wasn't single-handedly sufficient to make that case by itself.) They hate the oppression of Washington and bemoan the transgressions against states' rights. Then they go cash their Social Security checks, on the way to their Medicare-funded doctor's office visit.

As if that weren't nutty enough, now we learn that a Republican district nominating convention in Minnesota - Minnesota! - missed by just two votes including a resolution in its platform declaring that states have the right to secede from the union. What is in those lakes up there?!?!

These are the ravings of lunatics.

The combination of federalism and capitalism makes American government in Washington about the least intrusive of any in the world, apart from those that are just a mess. I guess if you happen to think that the people of Sweden are being crushed as we speak under the oppressive yoke of socialism, you might find the (very low) tax rates in America to be scandalous. I guess if you think our good friends in Britain are enraged that they not only don't have a federal system of vertical power sharing like we do, but they don't even have states with which the national government could share power if it wanted to, then you might get away with thinking that Washington is a cruel taskmaster, lording it over Mississippi and Arizona. Just one thing, though - don't tell the Swedes or the Brits. So far, they have miraculously managed to avoid finding out just how oppressed and unhappy they truly are.

It's also amusing that you rarely hear the nice folks of the unhinged right specifying what it is, exactly, that the fascist feds are taking away from them. Guns?! Well, er, actually, no. Religion?! Gimme a break.
The right to be racist?! Still perfectly legal.

Even though logic is to the right in America what a snarling Doberman is to cornered blind cat, I'd like to nevertheless dignify their rants by treating them seriously enough to agree with their expressed desires.

If Texas wants to leave the union, I say: Let ‘em. Same with anyone else. I'm not kidding. I mean it.

I say that for three reasons. The first is philosophical. I have never understood how one can claim to believe in democracy, but only if people are limited in what they get to decide via their democratic institutions. It's not enough that you get to pick your representatives, or even set policy directly through an initiative or referendum. Ultimately, the most profoundly undemocratic thing you can do is force people to belong to polities they don't want to be part of, and set that question as off-limits to their democratic decision-making.

Americans hate the idea of being dictated to by this or that international institution. Why should they in turn demand that states be dictated to by America? If one happens to care about consistency of principle, this makes no sense.

Except if, as we often do, we reify the present into the eternal.

America, we say, must remain intact because it exists today and we therefore cannot imagine any other alternative. Well, guess what? There wasn't always America. There wasn't always France or Britain or Germany or Canada either. In fact, the creation of each of these polities from their respective parts was deeply controversial in its time and often remains so today. Don't be surprised if any day now the Québécois vote in a referendum to leave Canada, or the Scots to ditch the UK and form their own country. It's already come close to happening.

And if that's what they want, then that's what they should be allowed to do. Otherwise, let's not fool ourselves. It ain't democracy. It might even be colonialism.

The second reason I don't have a problem with the concept of secession is pragmatic. The fact is that secession attempts are going to happen. Always have, always will. And when they do, there are basically two response options available to those who are the would-be seceded upon: The first is what you might call the Lincoln model, which is to deny anyone the right to leave a union their grandparents voluntarily joined or (more often) were forced into, and to fight a war if necessary to prevail on that question. It's bloody and it is, as I've already pointed out, highly undemocratic.

I may be the only guy north of the Mason-Dixon Line to argue this, but I think Lincoln was wrong to force the South to remain in a union they no longer wanted to be in (not to mention the irony of him invoking the American War of Independence, over precisely the same concept, in the Gettysburg Address). The same is true of the ugly war Russia has fought in Chechnya, or the nasty Balkans wars of the 1990s.

The principle is exactly the same in each case.

Option two, which I am happy to report the Anglophone Canadians or the English in the UK would surely follow today, is to say a reluctant good-bye. Divide up the household assets, get a divorce, pat the kids on the head, wish them luck, and send them packing. We might call this the Gorbachev model, and thank goodness he employed, rather than Russia going down Lincoln's path and fighting the fourteen other former republics to make them remain in the Soviet Union. Can anybody say the world is substantially worse off today because Belarus or Kazakhstan are independent states now?

On the other hand, there are about 650,000 Americans who were consumed in Mr. Lincoln's war, and one heck of a lot more additional misery back then, beyond those direct battle deaths. That's a lot of people whom we can definitely say were seriously worse off. And for what? What great disaster would have ensued had the US split?

That's a serious question, which brings me to reason number three for letting secesh secede. It's not exactly a secret that the folks who want to split from the union today (as before) are the ones with the nastiest, most backward politics in the country, and would therefore hardly represent a loss to the rest of us. Worst of all, though, because they are aggressive and skilled at hard-ball politics, they are also the folks who hold leadership positions in the US government, way out of proportion to their numbers. Which means that their lousy politics get nationalized for all of us to enjoy.

Thinking I'm kidding? Do these names mean anything to you?: Bush, Cheney, DeLay, Palin, McCain, Armey, Clinton, McConnell, Gingrich, Lott, Frist, Rove, Atwater, Thurmond, Helms. and so on... For years now, these fine folks have been working to turn the USA into Mississippi, rather than the other way around.

And they've succeeded. So now that they're talking about seceding, I'm wondering exactly what the down-side is. It's not like we in the would-be rump United States will lose revenue or something. In fact, the opposite is true. The folks who bitch the most about the oppressive heavy hand of Washington are always the same ones whose states are net recipients of federal funds. Which makes the rest of us net payers. And, I'm sorry, I don't mind helping out my comrades (even in Texas) who need an assist here and there.

But not if they're going to have stupid and regressive policies. And especially not if the price of my assistance is having them insist we all have stupid and regressive policies. And really, totally, especially not if they're going to complain about how tough it is being forced to receive and spend my tax dollars.

I'm dead serious, then, when I say good riddance to the tea party and GOP dominated states and their backward societies.

If they want to secede from the union, we should encourage them. We in the progressive states will then be free to actually make thoughtful public policy decisions for once, without all this painful catering to absolutely obstinate regressive politicians. They, meanwhile, can set up their ideal Republic of Jesus.

They can toss out science and do supersti... - sorry, I mean religion - instead, as the basis for their education system and other policy decisions.

They can spend all their money on the military and eat pork rinds all day long. They can cut their lazy seniors off the Social Security and Medicare dole, and put them to work in coal mines right up until the day they die. It will be good for their character! They can oppress women and minorities and gays just as much as they need to in order to feel better about their sorry selves, and then watch what happens when all those folks split for better places, like where we live. (Watch out, though - we may borrow their repressive immigration policies to keep them out of Intelligent America. We'll treat regressives like they treat poor Mexican immigrants, and wouldn't that alone be worth the price of admission?)

I'd like nothing more, to be honest, than to see those two new polities, side by side, conduct a little living experiment in social science. Let's all come back ten, thirty and fifty years later and compare notes. Let's see who is succeeding and who is just seceding, whose policy ideas work, and whose don't.

But there's one little problem, of course. There wouldn't just be two new polities - there would be more. In some ways, the best thing that happened to the Confederacy was to lose the war, because otherwise, like any good confederal polity, they would have immediately had to struggle with the massive problems of a pathetically weak central government. It's the same built-in disaster that caused the Founders to ditch the Articles of Confederation after about a decade or so of failure under its structure, opting instead for the horrifyingly repressive federalism model of the Constitution instead.

Let's say the South were to secede tomorrow, and establish Richmond as the capital of the new Confederate States of America.

Not only would those boneheads immediately realize that none of their problems were solved by ditching Washington, and not only would they see that their problems and standard of living just got worse without us to carry them anymore, but they would also still be dealing with the same old power issues, only with worse outcomes.

Richmond would try to give orders to Texas, only to find Texas flipping them a very nice little states' rights birdie in response. It might even get deeper than that. Maybe southern Florida would split from the northern half of the state. Secession on secession. And so on. What an accomplishment, eh?

If it sounds like I'm laughing at these tea party buffoons and their secession rants, it's because I am.

And if it sounds like I'd be more than happy to grant them the wish of their autonomy, it's because I would.

Indeed, I would just as soon that we secede from them ourselves, if they're not going to get there first.

Goodbye, and good riddance.

Oh, and good luck, too. Y'all are gonna need it.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Demonizing Iran: US Media Continues Beating War Drums

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal had a lead story about Israeli planning to possibly “go it alone” in an attack on Iran if the US were not to “succeed” in its diplomatic efforts to get Iran to “stop” it’s alleged attempts to develop a nuclear weapon capability.

Aside from the fact that there is no hard evidence that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb or even to refine uranium to obtain nuclear-grade material, the paper ignored one crucial point: Israel cannot “go it alone” in any strike on Iran, since its key weapons–American fighter-bombers–are supplied to it, and kept flying, thanks to the equipment and spare parts provided by the United States.

Indeed the entire Israeli military machine is largely financed and armed by the US.

No Israeli military effort can go forward without the full backing of the US, and to say otherwise is to simply perpetrate a fraud on the American public, implying that Israel is an independent actor on the world stage. It is not.

Another example of media warmongering came in an interview by Terri Gross on her program “Fresh Air,” which I believe is the most widely syndicated and popular program on National Public Radio, produced here in Philadelphia at the studios of NPR affiliate WHYY.

Listening to “Fresh Air” this week, which featured an interview with New York Times war correspondent Dexter Filkins, a generally excellent reporter who distinguished himself for his reporting on the Iraq War, and particularly on the brutal US assault on the city of Fallujah, I heard Filkins refer casually to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as “America’s arch-enemy.”

Now it’s possible, and I certainly do hope it’s the case, that Filkins was being ironic here. But Terri Gross allowed this characterization of Iran’s president pass without comment.

America’s arch-enemy? Really? On what basis?

What, exactly, has Iran or Ahmadinejad done to make itself America’s arch- enemy? It has backed the same Shi’ite led government in Iraq that the US has been backing, and indeed, to the extent that Iraq has stabilized, it is largely Iran’s doing. It provided key help to the US in the early invasion of Afghanistan and the routing of the Taliban government, which was never favored by the Iranians.

We know also that two years before the election of Ahmadinejad to the presidency, Iran made an offer to the US to recognize Israel, help broker a two-state peace solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and end Iran’s support of armed groups in the Middle East region, all in return for the US accepting Iran as what the 70-million population nation unarguably is: a legitimate power in the region.

That offer was slapped down by the Bush/Cheney administration, which had as its goal not peace in Palestine or with Iran, but the occupation and control of Iraq, and perhaps ultimately a war against Iran.

In fact, since the Iraq invasion, the US is known to have been financing and helping to organize a terror campaign inside Iran that has led to many deaths by bombings. If any country is acting towards the other in an aggressive and warlike fashion, it is the US, towards Iran, and not the reverse.

It needs to be said, but somehow never is in the establishment US media, whether corporate or not-for-profit, that Iran historically is not an aggressive, expansive nation (can that be said with a straight face about our own country?). Though it is, by dint of its oil reserves and its population, one of the biggest and most powerful countries in the Middle East, Iran has not invaded another country since the 18th century, and there is no indication that it plans to invade any other country now.

Even nuclear experts scoff at the notion that a nuclear Iran would initiate an attack on Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East, with an estimated 200 high-grade nuclear weapons, and a first-rate delivery system of missiles and supersonic bombers. For Iran to launch a crude nuke at Israel would be an act of national suicide, and while individual terrorists may kill themselves, nations don’t commit suicide. They may miscalculate, with devastating consequences, but they don’t deliberately self-immolate.

None of this makes its way into the US media, which continues the drumbeat for war, whether by Israel, with US backing, or by the US, with reports that Secretary of Defense (sic) Robert Gates is presenting the president with Iran attack options, and that the White House, while “preferring a diplomatic solution” to Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions, is “keeping all options on the table.”

Most media reports refer to Iran’s “ability to produce bomb-grade uranium” within a year, without mentioning that there is no evidence that the country intends to do this (Iran insists it has no such plans). The New York Times, for instance, was reporting, incorrectly, back in 2008 that Iran had enough enriched uranium to make “one nuclear bomb.” Those reports, quoting Pentagon and CIA sources, now quote “experts” as saying that Iran could develop a bomb within three to four years, again generally failing to add that there is no evidence that Iran is trying to do that, or is even considering doing it.

And yet Iran is consistently portrayed as America’s “enemy” or even as its “arch-enemy”–a term that harks back to the Bush/Cheney claim that Iran was, along with Iraq and North Korea, part of a three-nation “Axis of Evil.”

On its face the idea that Iran is America’s arch-enemy is ludicrous. We are talking here about a third-rate country with an economy the size of Finland’s, with a third-rate military, the total budget of which, at $4.8 billion, is less than the annual replacement cost for the US military’s Chinook and Seahawk helicopter fleet, and which would be totally decimated in any all-out attack by the US.

Iran has no ability to attack the US, and even its ability to threaten US forces in Iraq or Afghanistan is severely limited, not to mention the fact that should it be foolhardy enough to initiate any such action, it would bring down the full force of the US military on its head in an instant.

Reading and watching American reporting on Iran reminds me of nothing so much as reading the Chinese state media about Taiwan when I was living in China back in the 1990s. It’s all pathetic nonsense, manufactured paranoia, and bluster. But at least the average Chinese citizen has enough sense to recognize that she or he is being fed a lot of propaganda. Americans, all to often, seem to ready to buy the garbage they hear and read about Iran. They may not be able to show you where on the globe Iran is, or tell you anything about the country other than perhaps that it is Muslim, but they will accept, uncritically, that it is our “arch-enemy.”

Note to Filkins: If, as I hope, you were being ironic on “Fresh Air,” please understand that irony requires a modicum of sophistication on the part of the listener–something I’m not sure you can count on with Times readers or NPR listeners.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Muslim group warns 'South Park' creators of death (VIDEOS)

Muslim group warns 'South Park' creators of death - Yahoo! News
Matt Stone, Trey Parker AP – FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2008 file photo, Matt Stone, left, and Trey Parker attend the Comedy Central …
NEW YORK – A radical Muslim group has warned the creators of "South Park" that they could face violent retribution for depicting the prophet Muhammad in a bear suit during last week's episode. The website has since been taken down, but a cached version shows the message to "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The article's author, Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee of New York, said the men "outright insulted" the religious leader. The posting showed a gruesome picture of Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was shot and stabbed to death in an Amsterdam street in 2004 by a fanatic angered by his film about Muslim women. The film was written by a Muslim woman who rejected the Prophet Muhammad as a guide for today's morality. "We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show," Al-Amrikee wrote. "This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them." The posting listed the addresses of Comedy Central's New York office and Parker and Stone's California production office. It also linked to a Huffington Post article that described a Colorado retreat owned by the two men. CNN, which first reported the posting, said the New York-based website is known for postings in support of Osama bin Laden and jihad, or holy war, against the West. Al-Amrikee told The Associated Press in a phone call Wednesday that the posting was made to raise awareness of the issue and to see that it does not happen again. Asked if Parker and Stone should feel threatened by it, he said "they should feel threatened by what they did." He said he was disappointed that publicity about the posting focused more on the potential danger to the producers but admitted, "I could shoulder some blame" for it. He said he "can't answer that legally" when asked if his group favored jihad. But he praised bin Laden. "We look up to him and admire him for the sacrifices he has given for the religion," he said. Last week's episode, the 200th for the cheeky and often vulgar cartoon, was intended to feature many of the personalities and groups that Parker and Stone insulted during the series' run. In 2006, Comedy Central banned the men from showing an image of Muhammad on their show. They had intended to comment on the controversy created by a Danish newspaper's publishing of caricatures of the Islamic leader. Muslims consider any physical representation of their prophet to be blasphemous. Instead, "South Park" showed an image of Jesus Christ defecating on President George W. Bush and the American flag. Comedy Central and the show's producers would not comment.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Worst Governor List ~CREW

CREW Releases ‘Worst Governors’ Report – 11 Governors Who Champion Their Personal Interests Over Their States |

April 21, 2010
11:13 AM

Peter Bjork 202.408.5565

CREW Releases ‘Worst Governors’ Report – 11 Governors Who Champion Their Personal Interests Over Their States

WASHINGTON - April 21 - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a report on the nation's most incompetent and unethical governors. CREW's Worst Governors report provides in-depth analyses of 11 elected officials who have pushed their states' best interests aside in favor of their supporters, families, political parties and bank accounts.

CREW today also launched the report's website,, which offers concise summaries of each governor's offenses and links to their full profiles.

In compiling Worst Governors, CREW reviewed the job performances of all 50 U.S. governors before identifying the worst 11. Though ethics laws, campaign finance rules and financial disclosure regulations vary from state to state, CREW found these governors' proclivities for corruption, cronyism and self-enrichment outweighed their competency, integrity and commitment to transparency.

CREW's unranked list of the 11 worst governors includes:

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS);
Gov. Donald Carcieri (R-RI);
Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-NV);
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA);
Gov. David Paterson (D-NY);
Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA);
Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX);
Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM);
Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD);
Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC); and
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA).

CREW's report also includes the Worst Governors Index, a Harper's Index-style compendium of statistics from the report. Highlights include Gov. Perdue's $2,400 private plane ride to a NASCAR race 30 miles away, Gov. Gibbons' 867 state-billed text messages sent to his "alleged" mistress over six weeks in 2007, and Gov. Perry's minimum 17 former aides-turned-lobbyists.

CREW's executive director, Melanie Sloan, said today, "From Gov. Jindal's hundreds of campaign-contributing state appointees to Gov. Paterson's efforts to pressure a domestic violence victim to stay silent - CREW's Worst Governors report leaves you wondering if these really are the people best equipped to handle the complicated problems faced across the nation."

Sloan continued, "There has been a great deal of focus on the ethics of Congress over the past few years, but CREW's report shows that state governments are not immune to ethics problems. Too often -- whether in Washington, D.C. or in South Dakota -- our country's political leaders are more focused on what's best for the favored few, rather than on improving the lives of Americans."

Click here to visit

Click here to read CREW's full Worst Governors report

Click here to read CREW's Worst Governors Index

Arizona's SB1070 Gestapo Law Reveals Right Wing Version of "Liberty."

Miguel Guadalupe

Miguel Guadalupe

Posted: April 21, 2010 06:25 PM          

"Show me your papers, are your papers in order?" This phrase was made famous, or rather infamous, by the Gestapo, and will soon be heard throughout the state of Arizona, should their Governor sign into law SB1070, a vague and broad law giving law enforcement the unprecedented power to stop and check the documentation of any individual where "reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.."

There are no guidelines as to what "reasonable suspicion" is, but knowing the reality on the ground, it is obvious to all that "reasonable suspicion" means those looking like, sounding like, or acting like general stereotypes of undocumented immigrants coming from Latin America. In short -- this is a bill that allows police to suspect all Latinos of being undocumented, and gives them the right to question their status at any time, for any reason.

The legality of this will of course be challenged as the rest of the nation and the world reacts in horror at what many who support immigration reform have long warned would be the consequence of allowing far right politicians to control the debate around immigration, and write enforcement-only laws which drip of xenophobia and racism.

This law also uncovers the unbelievable hypocrisy of the right -- those who have threatened to take up arms to "take their country back" from the brink of socialism, to defend freedom against tyranny. Where are you Tea Party, to decry this obvious encroachment on the individual liberties of the citizens of Arizona? Where are you, conservatives, decrying the use of government funds and resources to form a "police state" where the populace can be stopped for no other reason than for moving about freely in public?

While the right have been busy chasing socialist unicorns and barricading themselves against gun controlling Yeti, a real world example of everything they claim to be defending this country against has been grown like a prickly bush in their own lawn-chaired backyards.

But I forget. They support this measure, because it's against "the other." This doesn't effect "real Americans," but only outsiders who look different from them and who shouldn't be here anyway.

What of fellow citizens? What of the millions of US born and naturalized persons, or those who are in the process of becoming so, who might share the physical characteristics of these "outsiders?" Shall we pin our papers to our coats when walking on the street to avoid harassment? Perhaps we should stitch patches to our sleeves so the police can easily tell who we are and what our status is? If you can ask for papers of any one on the street, why not at their homes? Better yet, why not relocate us to a central part of town, so that the authorities can have an easier time monitoring our movements, all in the name of keeping out the undesirables.

We see now where the right plans to take this country. We see that their cries of liberty are not about liberty at all, but the simple wailings of an angry mob longing to be rid of "the other."

And what of "The Maverick" that never was? What of the Senator from Arizona, the one who claimed to have the temperament to lead our country? What of the man who just years ago, supported comprehensive immigration reform? He now supports his wayward statesmen, saying this legislation is necessary because these people "were causing accidents on the freeway." My god man. Are you so desperate to continue your senatorial ride that you'd hitch your cart to any ass in front of you? And by ass, I mean mule, of course.

The farce that we are witnessing before us cannot be ignored or defended as an isolated occurrence. Already we see an unprecedented raise of violence against those suspected of being so-called aliens across the country. From "beaner hopping" in Long Island, NY to the deportation of lawful Immigrants, this wave of anti immigrant and by extension, anti-Latino hate crime is up and has very real, very tragic consequences. Families live in fear for their children, and even multi-generation Americans like myself feel the stress when a society has decided to place Sarah Palin's crosshairs on our backs.

So show us, oh self proclaimed "defenders of liberty," that you are not just a band of angry White men still bitter from the last election, and defend us. What better example of government overreach than one that would force your fellow countrymen to walk under a cloud of suspicion, fearful that if one day we leave our wallets at home, we can be arrested, incarcerated, and shipped off to another country? You should be descending upon the Arizona legislature like you have on Congress, who merely wanted to reform healthcare for its citizens. Where is your anger, Mr. Beck?

But we already know what the answer to all this is -- those rallies about freedom aren't about freedom at all. It's not about liberty of the universal kind. It is hypocritical posturing to intimidate the rest of the country to allow the right back in the driver's seat, so that they can pass legislation like Arizona's SB1070.

I fear for an America where liberty can be so fickle and discriminate.

Follow Miguel Guadalupe on Twitter:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Conservative Group ALIPAC Demands Senator Linsey Graham 'Admit Homosexuality'

Lindsey Graham Gay? Conservative Group ALIPAC Demands Senator 'Admit Homosexuality'
How is this anyone's business?  Why should someone's sexual orientation matter to anyone?  A person's sexual orientation is and should be a non-issue.  I think people should be offended by William Gheen.  William Gheen is implying that homosexuality is something one should be ashamed of.  People, we need to get bigotry & religion out of Washington.

William Gheen, head of the conservative, anti-"amnesty," anti-illegal immigration group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), spoke at a Greenville, S.C. Tea Party rally this weekend and called for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to "come out of that log cabin closet."

According to Gheen, being gay is "a secret that Lindsey Graham has."

Gheen told the crowd: "I hope this secret isn't being used as leverage over Senator Graham, so today I think Senator Graham, you need to come forward and tell people about your alternative lifestyle and your homosexuality."

"Barney Frank is more honest and brave than you," Gheen continued, referring to the openly-gay Massachusetts congressman.

ALIPAC has posted the video titled "US Senator Graham is Gay" on YouTube, where various news outlets have covered it.

At one point, the video contained the tags "queer" and "fag," which Gheen told HuffPost were the result of a hacked YouTube account. When Gheen was informed of the keywords, he replaced them with less incendiary language.

The group defended itself Monday, and in fact doubled down on calls for Lindsay Graham to admit his homosexuality.
Story continues below

In a statement, ALIPAC alleged that a "brief clip of Gheen's speech, which is out of proper context, has already gone viral on YouTube and been reported by Keith Olberman on MSNBC without proper permissions or attributions."

"US Senator Lindsey Graham is gay and while many people in South Carolina and Washington DC know that, the general public and Graham's constituents do not," Gheen said in the statement. Though Gheen claimed, both in the statement and at the Tea Party rally, that he does "not care about Graham's private life," he again said that Graham must declare his supposed homsexuality "so the public can rest assured he is not being manipulated with his secret."

"I need to figure out why you're trying to sell out your own countrymen and I need to make sure you being gay isn't it," Gheen said over the weekend.

Anonymous rumors of Sen. Graham's supposed homosexuality have swirled around Washington before. In the run-up to Justice Sotomayor's confirmation hearing, Graham asked Sotomayor to explain uncredited comments about her past behavior. A blogger reactd by asking Graham to respond to anonymous speculation that he was gay.


Former CNN anchor and former ALIPAC partner Lou Dobbs is "calling for William Gheen to resign after his comments/actions on Sen. Lindsey Graham's sexuality" via Twitter.

Watch the video, started at the "gay" comments, or start from the beginning for full context:

NV-SEN Candidate Sue Lowden (R): 'Barter With Your Doctor' (VIDEO)

NV-SEN Candidate Sue Lowden (R): 'Barter With Your Doctor' (VIDEO) | TPMDC

Sue Lowden, a former Nevada GOP chair currently seeking the Republican nomination in the June 8 primary to run against Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, has detailed some of her alternative recommendations for health care policy: Encourage people to save as much money as they can in tax-free health savings accounts -- the number she mentioned was $20,000 -- and to barter with their doctors.

At a candidate forum this past Tuesday in Mesquite, Nevada, Lowden was asked what she would have done instead of the Democrats' health care bill. Lowden's message was generally deregulatory in nature, pointing to the ideas of interstate insurance policies and the legalization of stripped-down "mandate-free" policies. "I would have also allowed for us to have savings plans increase instead of being decreased like in this bill," said Lowden. "I would have said to all of you, if you have a health savings account, I don't really care how much you save, good for you. pre-tax, go ahead and save as much as you want. It's your -- it's for your health. And if you want to save $20,000, good for you. Save it pre-tax."

Lowden continued: "And I would have suggested, and I think that bartering is really good. Those doctors who you pay cash, you can barter, and that would get prices down in a hurry. And I would say go out, go ahead out and pay cash for whatever your medical needs are, and go ahead and barter with your doctor."

Here is the video, from a Nevada Democratic Party tracker:

Late Update: The Lowden campaign sent us a comment statement from the candidate. From the look of her explanation, it appears that she may have confused her vocabulary, using the word "barter" when she should have said "haggle," judging from her discussion here about doctors accepting a lower payment if offered in cash. Key quote:

"Currently, there are number of medical doctors in Nevada and across America who already accept cash, check and credit cards.  This isn't a plan, this is fact.  Usually, doctors will offer a lower payment in an agreement with patients because it saves them the hassle of dealing with insurance companies and government-administered health care.

"This may come as a surprise for Harry Reid, but many doctors are also small business owners, and they have their own bills to pay.


The Washington Monthly

April 12, 2010

'BARTER WITH YOUR DOCTOR'.... Once in a great while, we get a peek at Republicans' health care ideals, but rarely do we see them articulated as candidly as Sue Lowden described them last week.

Lowden is a former state senator and chair of the Nevada Republican Party. She's also, according to nearly every recent poll, the favorite to defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in November. Lowden is not, as one might imagine, a supporter of recent improvements to the broken health care system, and she was asked at a candidate forum the kind of policies she'd prefer to see. Among her proposals:

"...I would have suggested, and I think that bartering is really good. Those doctors who you pay cash, you can barter, and that would get prices down in a hurry. And I would say go out, go ahead out and pay cash for whatever your medical needs are, and go ahead and barter with your doctor."

Think about how this would work outside the realm of campaign rhetoric, and apply it to real-life. Someone feels ill and makes an appointment to see a doctor. The patient is concerned about her health -- maybe the ailment is serious -- and is feeling sick. The physician evaluates her condition and recommends some medication and tests.

At this point, in Lowden's vision, the ailing patient should turn to the medical professional and say, "Well, you know, that medication will probably cost about $200. Tell you what; how about I give you $130 and we call it even? And those tests you think I need sound kind of expensive. I may have a life-threatening illness, and I'm feeling weak and vulnerable, but I'm also looking for the best possible bargain. What kind of deal can you give me on that CT scan? And do I really need that blood work done?"

I also enjoyed hearing the would-be senator encourage people to "pay cash for whatever your medical needs are." Since Republicans tend to think Americans already have too much health insurance, Lowden's advice fits nicely into the larger GOP worldview.

Remember, Lowden has had plenty of time to craft her message on health care policy, and this is what she's come up with.

It seems hard to imagine voters finding this compelling, but it's an odd year.

Update: Some readers have suggested that I've confused "bartering" with "bargaining." Actually, I think Lowden has them confused. Unless the Republican candidate actually imagines a scenario in which sick people trade unrelated products and services for medical care, she probably was proposing some kind of haggling scenario.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Pat Robertson of Persia blames immodest, promiscuous women for earthquakes

 Honestly, I think 'Religion' need to be squeezed out of all public forums. Religions have been hijacked and  exploited by people to control other people. This is just sickening.  God save us from Religion!

Monday, April 19, 2010

BEIRUT – A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear immodest clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.

Iran is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, and the cleric’s unusual explanation for why the earth shakes follows a prediction by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate.

“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,” Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader.

The GOP is a party of White, Christian Conservatives, Tea-Baggers ~and Racism

  • Rep Trent Franks: Blacks Were Better Off Under Slavery:

FRANK: In this country, we had slavery for God knows how long. And now we look back on it and we say “How brave were they? What was the matter with them? You know, I can’t believe, you know, four million slaves. This is incredible.” And we’re right, we’re right. We should look back on that with criticism. It is a crushing mark on America’s soul. And yet today, half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted. Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery. And I think, What does it take to get us to wake up?

  • Limbaugh's song “Barack the Magic Negro”

  • The Arizona House of Representatives on Tuesday April 12, 2010 passed the Neighborhood Protection Act. The bill is a significant milestone in race and ethnic relations in America. It adopts as its underlying philosophy the basic tenets of apartheid and it harkens back to the Jim Crow laws of America before the Civil Rights Movement.

This piece of legislation basically allows police officers to ask people for their proof of residency based on "suspicion". Which means that every brown, black, asian or "colored" person in Arizona will have to carry their passport, birth certificate or proof of citizenship to avoid being deported.

  • South Carolina's Good Christian Lt. Governor Andre Bauer said: "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that."
Strange FruitOriginally sung by: Billie Holiday, her first  performance of  the song was at Cafe Society in 1939 (lyrics are at the bottom of this post).

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Dale Robertson, one of the founders of the Tea Patry

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Watermelons on the White House lawn sent by; California Mayor Dean Grose

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Staffer, Sherplatvormri Goforth emailed this picture which represents President Obama as only a set of eyes.

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CNN, Lou Dobbs "My wife will love this photo"

Strange Fruit
sung by Billie Holiday

Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves
Blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
The scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
for the rain to gather
for the wind to suck
for the sun to rot
for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

Composed by Abel Meeropol (aka Lewis Allan)
Originally sung by: Billie Holiday

Note:"Strange Fruit" began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx, about the lynching of two black men. He published under the pen name Lewis Allan

Looters in Loafers

Published: April 18, 2010

Last October, I saw a cartoon by Mike Peters in which a teacher asks a student to create a sentence that uses the verb “sacks,” as in looting and pillaging. The student replies, “Goldman Sachs.”

Sure enough, last week the Securities and Exchange Commission accused the Gucci-loafer guys at Goldman of engaging in what amounts to white-collar looting.

I’m using the term looting in the sense defined by the economists George Akerlof and Paul Romer in a 1993 paper titled “Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit.” That paper, written in the aftermath of the savings-and-loan crisis of the Reagan years, argued that many of the losses in that crisis were the result of deliberate fraud.

Was the same true of the current financial crisis?

Most discussion of the role of fraud in the crisis has focused on two forms of deception: predatory lending and misrepresentation of risks. Clearly, some borrowers were lured into taking out complex, expensive loans they didn’t understand — a process facilitated by Bush-era federal regulators, who both failed to curb abusive lending and prevented states from taking action on their own. And for the most part, subprime lenders didn’t hold on to the loans they made. Instead, they sold off the loans to investors, in some cases surely knowing that the potential for future losses was greater than the people buying those loans (or securities backed by the loans) realized.

What we’re now seeing are accusations of a third form of fraud.

We’ve known for some time that Goldman Sachs and other firms marketed mortgage-backed securities even as they sought to make profits by betting that such securities would plunge in value. This practice, however, while arguably reprehensible, wasn’t illegal. But now the S.E.C. is charging that Goldman created and marketed securities that were deliberately designed to fail, so that an important client could make money off that failure. That’s what I would call looting.

And Goldman isn’t the only financial firm accused of doing this. According to the Pulitzer-winning investigative journalism Web site ProPublica, several banks helped market designed-to-fail investments on behalf of the hedge fund Magnetar, which was betting on that failure.

So what role did fraud play in the financial crisis? Neither predatory lending nor the selling of mortgages on false pretenses caused the crisis. But they surely made it worse, both by helping to inflate the housing bubble and by creating a pool of assets guaranteed to turn into toxic waste once the bubble burst.

As for the alleged creation of investments designed to fail, these may have magnified losses at the banks that were on the losing side of these deals, deepening the banking crisis that turned the burst housing bubble into an economy-wide catastrophe.

The obvious question is whether financial reform of the kind now being contemplated would have prevented some or all of the fraud that now seems to have flourished over the past decade. And the answer is yes.

For one thing, an independent consumer protection bureau could have helped limit predatory lending. Another provision in the proposed Senate bill, requiring that lenders retain 5 percent of the value of loans they make, would have limited the practice of making bad loans and quickly selling them off to unwary investors.

It’s less clear whether proposals for derivatives reform — which mainly involve requiring that financial instruments like credit default swaps be traded openly and transparently, like ordinary stocks and bonds — would have prevented the alleged abuses by Goldman (although they probably would have prevented the insurer A.I.G. from running wild and requiring a federal bailout). What we can say is that the final draft of financial reform had better include language that would prevent this kind of looting — in particular, it should block the creation of “synthetic C.D.O.’s,” cocktails of credit default swaps that let investors take big bets on assets without actually owning them.

The main moral you should draw from the charges against Goldman, though, doesn’t involve the fine print of reform; it involves the urgent need to change Wall Street. Listening to financial-industry lobbyists and the Republican politicians who have been huddling with them, you’d think that everything will be fine as long as the federal government promises not to do any more bailouts. But that’s totally wrong — and not just because no such promise would be credible.

For the fact is that much of the financial industry has become a racket — a game in which a handful of people are lavishly paid to mislead and exploit consumers and investors. And if we don’t lower the boom on these practices, the racket will just go on.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hacking Democracy~ An HBO Documentary

Hacking Democracy HBO Documentary

ROCCO | MySpace Video

The Big Buy: How Tom Delay Stole Congress

Our Two Cents Worth: Only Bankers, Corporate CEOs and Disgraced Politions are able get away with crimes of this magnitude.

Sonoma County CA separates elderly gay couple and sells all of their worldly possessions

Sonoma County CA separates elderly gay couple and sells all of their worldly possessions | The Bilerico Project

Sonoma County CA separates elderly gay couple and sells all of their worldly possessions

Filed by: Kate Kendell

April 17, 2010 4:00 PM

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place--wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.
One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold's care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see elderly_man.jpgHarold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.
Ignoring Clay's significant role in Harold's life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold's "roommate." The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold's bank accounts to pay for his care.
What happened next is even more chilling.
Without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold's possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.
Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county's actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.
With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O'Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O'Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.
Read more about NCLR's Elder Law Project.

Are you disturbed by the story of how Clay Greene was treated by the County? Please blog about this, pass it on over Facebook or Twitter, just do whatever you can to help raise the visibility of what happened to Clay. Send a letter to the local paper, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat at Send them this link to NCLR's page.
Want to stay up to date on this case? Follow NCLR and Bilerico Project on Twitter.

DON BLANKENSHIP, CEO of Massey Energy: The Teabagger Who Kiled The Coal Minors

Meet The Teabagger Who Killed the Coal Miners  <----- PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK TO READ THIS SHOCKING STORY.

CSA: Confederate States of America: A Tea-Partier's Dream

 Note:  Due to the atmosphere of bigotry & racism that is currently permeating the air we think this post is quit appropriate.

  Patty & Michael.

Netflix: CSA: Confederate States of America

Watch it on Netflix or on YouTube
2004PG-1389 minutes
What would the United States look like if the South had won the Civil War, slavery was still legal and liberals had fled to Canada? According to filmmaker Kevin Willmott (an assistant professor at the University of Kansas), it would resemble the vision put forth in this provocative mockumentary, set in a modern-day Confederate States of America. Spike Lee lends his name as a producer to this daring, if discomforting, parody.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Goldman Sachs ~ "Government Sachs"

Goldman Sachs case likely to increase calls for Wall Street reform -
Reporting from Washington and New York
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was once a darling in Washington, handing out millions of dollars in campaign contributions and supplying so many executives for key federal positions -- including two recent Treasury secretaries -- that some people called the firm "Government Sachs."

But the Securities and Exchange Commission's allegation of fraud in Goldman's marketing of mortgage-backed securities is exacerbating the Wall Street firm's already substantial PR woes in the wake of the financial crisis and its receipt of $10 billion in bailout funds.

The case also is likely to not only further diminish the firm's already weakened influence in the capital but also fuel efforts by the Obama administration and congressional Democrats to pass the most sweeping overhaul of financial regulations since the Great Depression.

"When Goldman Sachs and their friends come into Congress and say, 'Leave us alone. You don't need to regulate us,' I think that argument becomes weaker and weaker," said Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), a strong supporter of tougher financial regulation.

Lawmakers from both parties scrambled Friday to use the case against Goldman to their advantage.

Democrats said the allegations showed the need for their regulatory proposals, particularly for a provision opposed by Goldman that would increase transparency in the trading of derivatives, the complex securities at the center of the SEC charges.

"We don't need to know the outcome of this case to know that the opaque nature of unregulated asset-backed securities fueled the financial crisis," Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) said. "We must pass Wall Street reform to bring practices like these into the light of day and protect our economy from another devastating blow."

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), meanwhile, depicted Goldman as one of Obama's "Wall Street allies" and "a key supporter" of a part of the legislation that would create an industry-paid fund to cover the cost of future seizures of large financial firms. Boehner and other Republicans said those seizures would turn into bailouts.

It already had been a precipitous fall for the Wall Street firm, a power player on Wall Street and in Washington for years.

Since 1989, the company's employees have contributed $31.6 million to federal political candidates, more than any financial firm, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics said. About two-thirds of that money has gone to Democrats, including nearly $1 million to Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, the company's top recipient during that election cycle.

Democrats and Republicans have tapped former Goldman executives for key financial positions. Robert Rubin, a former Goldman co-chairman, served as Treasury secretary under President Clinton. Former Goldman Chief Executive Henry M. Paulson held the Treasury post under President George W. Bush from 2006 to 2009.

But when the financial crisis hit, Goldman's reputation began sinking.

"In Washington and in the country as a whole, all of the industry's leaders have been tarred by this crisis and Goldman, because it's been so successful in many ways, has suffered worse than the others in terms of their reputation," said former investment banker Douglas Elliott, an economics fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The company also has been hammered for recovering all $14 billion it was owed from American International Group Inc. after the insurance giant was bailed out. Critics, calling the payment a "backdoor bailout," claimed that Goldman's connections with Paulson were behind that outcome.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner was pummeled during a recent congressional hearing for hiring a chief of staff who had worked for the firm. And when top Wall Street executives went before the bipartisan commission investigating the financial crisis in January, the panel's chairman focused his fire on Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, comparing him to a shady car salesman.

Goldman converted to a bank holding company during the crisis, allowing it to receive $10 billion in federal bailout money. Even though the company repaid the money in June -- and the government turned a 23% profit on its investment in the firm -- the criticism has continued.

Goldman's soaring profits since the crisis helped trigger complaints that Wall Street, after causing a deep recession, had returned to normal while Main Street still suffered.

Obama has seized on that anger, calling Wall Street executives "fat-cat bankers" and proposing a new tax on the industry to recover about $100 billion in projected losses in the government's bailout fund.

Speaking Friday at the White House at the start of a meeting with his outside economic advisors, Obama didn't mention Goldman by name, but he said his overhaul was needed to corral Wall Street excesses. He also said he would veto any bill that did not include tough new rules on derivatives.

"Never again should American taxpayers be forced to step in and pay the price for the irresponsibility of speculators on Wall Street who made risky bets, with the expectation that the taxpayers would be there to break their fall," the president said. "And we can't leave in place a tattered set of rules that will allow another crisis to develop, without the tools to deal with it."

The SEC allegations will cause Goldman's influence in the capital to "take a hit," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group.

"It's one thing for people to say bad things against Goldman Sachs and think bad things," she said. "It's another thing to have fraud charges filed against them."