April 17, 2010

First Amendment trumps 12-Steppers again

When will officers of the parole, rehab and other parts of the legal system finally learn that AA is a religion, under two U.S. appellate court rulings, rather than either be ignorant or lie? And, in light of that, assume that NA is the same?

And, when will they either ignorantly or arrogantly stop costing the rest of us money through leaving state governments, or the federal one, open to lawsuits, damages, etc.? And, since the 9th Circuit, which includes California, was one of two federal appellate courts, in 2007, to have already found AA to be religious in First Amendment terms, this case is even more egregious.

Considering that the Bay Area is home to a major "secular" recovery group, Lifering Secular Recovery, parole agent Mitch Crofoot is either very ignorant or very lying.

Lawsuits next for G. Sachs? Euro action? More?

Some European countries, especially Germany, are making noise about going after Goldman Sachs themselves, in the wake of the Securities and Exchange Commission's civil filing yesterday.

But, that all may be just for starters. There's other things that could happen. Like the SEC trying to roll Fabrice Tourre, which itself is a good reason for Goldman to look at settlement offers.

There's lawsuits by disgruntled investors, who wonder not only how much they lost on Goldman's alleged "bet against CDOs" private investments, but also wonder if Sachs had other such sweetheart deals.

Third, in light of the three possibilities above, is the chance G. Sachs stock will continue to take a beating. If CEO Loyd Blankfein resists settlement offers from the SEC, even tough ones, especially after either European country actions or individual lawsuits, he could be seriously accused of not doing due diligence for major investors.

Fourth, also in light of a stock tanking, senior staff at Sachs, who get bonuses as a signficant part of pay, might organize an inside coup against Blankfein out of financial self-preservation.

I'm probably just scratching the surface; read the full story.

BMW cop cars?

Well, at least a BMW engine and drive train, the same engine that's in the diesel version of the X5 SUV. Specs? 0-60 in 6.5 secs, top end of 150 mph and more. BMW isn't building the chassis; that's a custom company.

If you're a gearhead, especially if you're a gearhead worried about police pursuit or wondering if you can someday order a civilian version, read the details.

Our constutional law(breaking) scholar Prez strikes again

Despite U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb finding the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, and rejecting Department of Justice arguments to the contrary, President Barack Obama will go ahead and sign a presidential proclamation about the day.

Gee, maybe he'll fire a Predator drone at Judge Crabb.

Ecstasy may help overcome the agony

The agony of PTSD, that is. More evidence is coming in that MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy, may indeed be psychologically therapeutic. And, its effects may have long-term duration.

No, you CAN'T multitask

Not really. Not even if you're a woman. It looks like the human brain, using its bilateral division, assigns two tasks to different hemispheres and does something similar to computer buffering as needed.
"The human prefrontal function seems to be built to control two tasks simultaneously. It means in everyday behaviour we can readily switch between two tasks but not between three. With three tasks the division is limited to only two hemispheres, so there is a problem," Dr. Etienne Koechlin said.
What does that mean if you're doing more than two things at once, or trying to? Pretty simple:
The study suggests that this basic division of the brain into two halves may explain why human beings tend to prefer a simple choice between two options rather than three or more.
The story author then tries to extrapolate to British politics, and perhaps goes too far:
It might even explain why the Liberal Democrats, as the third political party, find it hard to get a look in at general elections.
Nope, not an explanation. Look at Germany, for example. Rather, the British, like the Americans, have a "first past the post" election system which makes it tougher on third parties.

Beyond that misconjecture, though, the full story is worth a read.

April 16, 2010

10 millionth scat ...

Or, 10 millionth SCATter, to be precise, gets you a free big-screen TV. Plus an iPod Nano and other stuff.

I don't get marketing on stuff like that. Five years from now, is Mr. Nassib going to remember either Magnavox, or an individual TV dealer, while plopped in front of his big screen? Hell, will he remember SCAT, for that matter? And, biggest "hell" — Magnavox is still in existence? And, will it be, five years from now?

Scat with Apple?

Apple has iPhone scat identification apps? Really? Part of me is amazed to know what different developers will create. Part of me wonders if that increases, or lessens, a wilderness experience while out hiking. Another part of me can think of numerous angles on "bear shitting in the woods" jokes.

Looking forward AND backward and assaulting civil liberties

Yessir, when it comes to snooping on you and I the general American public, Team Obama, led by Der Schnoopenfueher himself, wants to have it both ways.

It wants to look forward in being worse than BushCo in warrantless e-mail snooping, while, despite Der Schnoopenfueher's claims to not want to look backwards, it's looking backward indeed in prosecuting a government leaker. The Times story doesn't name who it is, but via a Glenn Greenwald link, you can learn it's one Thomas Drake.

Oh, articles apparently based on the leaking won several national journalism awards. That's how bad the leaked crap was, AND how necessary it was to be leaked. It was apparently about the NSA's fucked-up, and hugely costly, Trailblazer program.

Hell, the NYT is even officially swatting Obama on the hand on the snooping issue — from ANOTHER court case.

Fuck you, Obama.

April 15, 2010

Obama discovers gay rights!

At least, for lovers and partners of people sick in hospitals, he's actually discovered civil rights.

More of Obama's thoughts at the link. Maybe he'll discover DADT repeal next.

At the same time, Sully has half a point on Obama's move being a special interest group sop, at least in part. But, no, Andrew, it's not a full point, either.

Halfway agree with Sully. Not totally, but halfway.

Obama's call to action will have no effect on state laws that allow barring of domestic partners. It does nothing about DADT. It says nothing about Obama's attitude toward gay civil unions, let alone gay marriage.

Judge: Natl Day of Prayer unconstitutional

I'd like to personally thank U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb for this bit of constitutional wisdom.
Crabb wrote that the government can no more enact laws supporting a day of prayer than it can encourage citizens to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue or practice magic.

"In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual's decision whether and when to pray," Crabb wrote.
Indeed. This encourages local-level events, which become even more coercive.

The Obama Administration said that federal proclamations of the day are simply an "acknowledgment" of prayer's place in society. Crabb disagreed, rightfully in my opinion:
"It goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context," she wrote. "In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience."
This one is going to be fought out for quite a while.

Blacks cause Tea Partiers to be stereotyped as racist

TEA PARTY CITY (AP) - Nutt Andrew Breit Barr XVI, executive director of Tea Partiers United, said today from the small independent enclave inside Orange County, Calif., that "attacks of the world" against the movement were all ultimately the fault of black Americans who "obviously hate the original American heritage that all Tea Partiers, without exception, honestly, honorably and humbly uphold and defend."

Asked about claims of racial bias within Tea Partiers, Barr said, "I've never seen it." Asked about apparent Tea Partiers carrying signs with racist slogans at rallies, Barr vehemently insisted such persons were "imposters, and even reverse racists in some cases." Barr also dismissed claims that he knew about racists in the Tea Party movement and reassigned such persons to be out of the media spotlight.

April 14, 2010

Army pulls in its horns in Afghanistan

Tactically, leaving the Valley of Death outpost is eminently sensible.

Strategically, after holding it for nearly four years, though, will it backfire by emboldening the Taliban?

At the same time, given the history of the area, it was dumb to insist on trying to hold it in the first place, I think.

Power has its limits. Another lesson to be learned.

Tiger, you can go back to Perkins

Or clubbing, or wherever. Elin won't be waiting for you at home, it looks like. (Insert "two eggs, sunny side up" joke for Perkins' visits here.)

Per Bill Simmons, if the above is true, NOW the real comeback begins for Tiger, too.

So, with no hopes or pretenses to worry about, does Tiger drop even more f-bombs on the course? Do other golfers not of the clubbing type themselves, who have been cordial or sociable to Tiger so far, drop their pretense as well? How much will some fans heckle him outside the sterile confines of Augusta National? (Could you picture Tiger going to the half-drunken mosh pit 16th hole of the Waste Management Phoenix Open?) How many other sponsors will drop him? Will this actually affect him mentally?

Catholic hierarchy now blames gays, not Jews

From one canard to another: Now it's the old claim that homosexuality causes pedophilia. If you're a gay priest, keep your head very low.

Terror group 'decapitation' doesn't work

Via Robert Wright, who actually has a good NYT opinion blog this week, knocking off the leader of a religious extremist group only disempowers that group about one-sixth of the time.

Something for The One to think about, in addition to extra-constitutional illegality, when he talks about assassinating American citizens.

That's in addition to being acts of war under intl law (that pesky world court worry again) etc., and risking further decay of Pakistan into a failed state.

The Palin greed train continues, $12M version

Yeppers. As for snarky wingnuts bloviating about Al Gore getting rich off climate changed stock, Gore has yet to haul in this much, namely, the $12 million Gov. Dopey Dopey has made since becoming ex-governor.
That conservative estimate is based on publicly available records and news accounts. The actual number is probably much higher, but is hard to quantify because Palin does not publicize her earnings. She reputedly got a $7 million deal for her first book, with the bulk of that money due after her resignation as governor, and will earn about $250,000 per episode, according to the web site The Daily Beast, for each of eight episodes of a reality show about Alaska for the The Learning Channel. She has managed to keep a lid on reliable figures for her earnings from a multi-year contract with Fox News and a second book deal with HarperCollins.
Guess she has a lot of NYC wardrobes to buy, eh?

April 13, 2010

The Palin greed train continues

Calif. state university system slashed to the bone? Check.

Foundation for a Cal State branch pouring out the gravy train for Sarah Palin? Check.

And, let's not forget the clearly deliberate ignoring a state open records request by State. Sen. Leland Yee, after claiming it did not have a copy of a contract with Palin, then students later finding one in a trash bin:
"This is our little Watergate in the state of California," he said Tuesday at a news conference where he was joined by Briggs and Lewis.

Russell Giambelluca, the university's vice president of business and finance, said no one at the university was advised to destroy specific foundation documents, and staff members routinely shred and dispose of paperwork that is no longer needed.

Regarding the excerpt of Palin's contract, he said: "I find it interesting that among shredded documents you find one that's completely intact related to the contract."
Dark day, indeed.

Oh, and as for Josh the snarky commenter, Al Gore has yet to haul in this much, namely, the $12 million Gov. Dopey Dopey has made since becoming ex-governor.
That conservative estimate is based on publicly available records and news accounts. The actual number is probably much higher, but is hard to quantify because Palin does not publicize her earnings. She reputedly got a $7 million deal for her first book, with the bulk of that money due after her resignation as governor, and will earn about $250,000 per episode, according to the web site The Daily Beast, for each of eight episodes of a reality show about Alaska for the The Learning Channel. She has managed to keep a lid on reliable figures for her earnings from a multi-year contract with Fox News and a second book deal with HarperCollins.
Guess she has a lot of NYC wardrobes to buy, eh?

Here's part of how the vaccine fears took root among antivaccers

Straight from the pages of behavioral psychology, it's a classic case of overestimating the likelihood of rare events.

Of course, that was exacerbated by Dr. Andrew Wakefield's pseudoscience on thimerosal, further exacerbated by Nature actually printing that.

John Paul Stevens is no liberal

He just happens to play one on today's SCOTUS.

So long, Andy Stern

The powerful, elbow-throwing, semi-tyrannical, and definite corporate suck-up head of the Service Employees International Union is stepping down, and, I won't really miss him.

I know thousands of California nurses definitely won't.

April 12, 2010

Priest: Jews are behind child-abuse condemnations

A couple of months ago, supposedly, the Catholic Church was being persecuted like Jews in the Holocaust.

Now, I guess that's not true.

Rather, the Catholic Church is being persecuted BY JEWS.
(R)etired Bishop Giacomo Babini of the Italian town of Grosseto told the Catholic Pontifex website that the Catholic pedophile scandal is being orchestrated by the "eternal enemies of Catholicism, namely the freemasons and the Jews, whose mutual entanglements are not always easy to see through… I think that it is primarily a Zionist attack, in view of its power and refinement. They do not want the church, they are its natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God-killers."
What's that sound I hear from the Vatican? It's crickets, I believe.

WSJ repeats FDR-Depression lies

You know, the standard lie that he didn't get us out of the Depression.

Fact? In his first term, the unemployment rate was cut almost in half. Then, in his second term, when he listened to Wall Street nattering about balancing the budget, and abandoned "stimulus" ideas (listening, Obama?) unemployment went back up and the economy fell into recession.

As for the claim that postwar tax cuts stimulated the economy? Here's the info that Hillsdale College (BIG conservative red flag) professor Burt Folsom presents:
Income tax rates were cut across the board. FDR's top marginal rate, 94% on all income over $200,000, was cut to 86.45%. The lowest rate was cut to 19% from 23%, and with a change in the amount of income exempt from taxation an estimated 12 million Americans were eliminated from the tax rolls entirely.
Thoughts ...

First, this ISN'T "supply side as practiced today. By percentage of drop, and with income baselines subject to taxation being shifted, this was definitely targeted at the lower end of the scale in a way that would give today's GOP apoplexy.

Second, Folsom ignores things like federal mortgage guarantees, the GI Bill making sure many ex-soldiers were college students and not newly-unemployed, and more.

Contra Mr. Folsom, what really "runs on" is the myth that FDR had nothing to do with ending the Depression.

Fox News knows where its bread is buttered on Tea Party vs. GOP

I've always figured that when push came to shove between Tea Partiers and GOP inside baseball, Fox wouljavascript:void(0)d clearly come down on the side of inside baseball. And it has. In spades.

When did you think you would read this from Fox?
(T)he rallies have also attracted the kinds of mistruths, exaggerations and conspiracy theories that make Tea Party leaders cringe.
Then, followed by a full laundry list of actual nuttery.

That said, why now? What big issue is pushing Fox to feel that it has to issue a smackdown? Is it perhaps that some of the GOP primary battles are getting too heated?

Priest: Jews are being child-abuse condemnations

A couple of months ago, supposedly, the Catholic Church was being persecuted like Jews in the Holocaust.

Now, I guess that's not true.

Rather, the Catholic Church is being persecuted BY JEWS.
(R)etired Bishop Giacomo Babini of the Italian town of Grosseto told the Catholic Pontifex website that the Catholic pedophile scandal is being orchestrated by the "eternal enemies of Catholicism, namely the freemasons and the Jews, whose mutual entanglements are not always easy to see through… I think that it is primarily a Zionist attack, in view of its power and refinement. They do not want the church, they are its natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God-killers."
What's that sound I hear from the Vatican? It's crickets, I believe.

Hande hoch, Herr Ratzinger!

Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins want to make a citizens' arrest of Pope Benedict XVI, in essence.

They hope he can be brought low just like acclaimed Spanish magistrate Balthsar Garzon had one-time Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet arrested.

That said, their clock is tikcing. As the story, notes Benedict will be in Britain between September 16 and 19, visiting London, Glasgow and Coventry, where he will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th-century theologian. The pair has already retained two lawyers, who believe they can ask the Crown Prosecution Service to initiate criminal proceedings against Benedict, start their own civil action against him or refer his case to the International Criminal Court.

Can we have the International Criminal Court try him in ... Nuremburg? Oh, the irony.

Oh, and while we're at it, can we dig up John Paul II and try him posthumously?

And why not? John Wilkes Booth was put on trial posthumously.

As for why, JPII's top fundraiser was a notorious pedophile, as well as a well-protected one.

April 11, 2010

Bonds 'supports' McGwire

Of course he does. Big Mac has fessed up to roiding, breaking ground for Bonds, should he ever decide to do the same. And, with the lamest excuse for roiding yet, Big Mac has also cleared the way for whatever whopper Bonds wants to tell.

That said, I am eagerly awaiting the whopper that Bonds may eventually decide to pull out of his ass.

OK, how about 'Zionist extremism,' Joementum?

Joe Lieberman says that if Team Obama stops using the phrase "Islamic extremism," it would be "Orwellian."

OK, then let's just start using "Zionist extremism" instead.

EU readies lifeline for Greece

It's not officially been accepted yet, but a financial backstop of more than 30 million Euros is now available. At the same time, it's carefully structures as to not a "bailout." Too bad folks like Big Ben Bernanke and Little Timmy Geithner weren't that smart, eh?

For broadband equality, just change the label

Seriously. It's arguable that's all the FCC needs to do to work around last week's circuit court ruling that it doesn't have the authority to regulate broadband internet.

Very interesting. So, will it get on the stick?