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Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

Click on the picture to see larger image.... Low Society News. AP: "... Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were among the guests as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin’s) married a Scottish actress. Mnuchin exchanged vows Saturday night with Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Mrs. Trump wore a pink blush dress" CW: which, if you follow Reality Chex, you will know was enhanced by some really costly baubles that remind the bride of Grace Kelly or happy times or something.

New Yorker: "In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers announced that they have pushed back the date of the earliest human remains to three hundred thousand years ago. And the specimens in question were found not in East Africa, which has become synonymous with a sort of paleoanthropological Garden of Eden, but clear on the other side of the continent — and the Sahara — in Morocco." -- CW ...

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers." -- CW 

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends." -- CW

Washington Post: "Two months before Monday’s [May 8] announcement that Sinclair Broadcast Group would pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and add to its dominance as the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, a top executive at Sinclair beamed a short commentary piece to many of the company’s 173 stations.In the segment, which looks like it belongs in a newscast, Sinclair vice president for news Scott Livingston stands before a wall of video monitors and warns that 'some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.' He accuses the national media of publishing 'fake news stories' — a direct echo of President Trump’s frequent complaint — and then asks viewers to visit the station’s website to share 'content concerns.' The piece was a 'must-run,' meaning news directors and station managers from Baltimore to Seattle had to find room for it.... While partisan coverage is a familiar staple of cable networks — Fox News on the right, MSNBC on the left — it remains mostly unheard of in broadcast TV, where it has generally been accepted that public airwaves should be used in the difficult-to-define public interest.” -- CW 

CNN: "21st Century Fox and the private equity firm Blackstone are in talks to launch a bid for Tribune Media, one of the nation's largest television broadcasting companies, a source with knowledge of the matter said Sunday. The deal currently under discussion would see Blackstone and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox forming a joint venture. Blackstone would provide the cash for the acquisition while Fox would add all its owned-and-operated television stations to the joint venture." -- CW 

New York Times: "Prehistoric humans — perhaps Neanderthals or another lost species — occupied what is now California some 130,000 years ago, a team of scientists reported on Wednesday. The bold and fiercely disputed claim, published in the journal Nature, is based on a study of mastodon bones discovered near San Diego. If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet." -- CW 

If you're curious as to how realistic the New York City apartments of TV sitcom characters are -- in terms of what the characters could reasonably afford -- the Washington Post checks out several of the hovels & dream rentals of a number of shows. Kinda fun. CW: My husband & I (he paid the rent) had a fairly spacious two-bedroom with a galley kitchen (dishwasher included!) & dining room plus teensy closets on Washington Square in the 1980s & '90s. NYU owned the building & helped considerably with the rent.

Politico: "Comedian Hasan Minhaj will be this year's entertainer for the White House Correspondents' Dinner later this month, the association's president announced on Tuesday. Minhaj is a stand up comedian and senior correspondent on 'The Daily Show,' where he has performed caustic bits on ... Donald Trump, liberals and others in between. Minhaj has Washington experience already, having performed as host of last year's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner." -- CW 

AFP: "After months of uncertainty and controversy, Bob Dylan finally accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature at a jovial, champagne-laced ceremony on Saturday, [April 1,] the Swedish Academy announced. The academy, which awards the coveted prize, ended prolonged speculation as to whether the 75-year-old troubadour would use a concert stopover in Stockholm to accept the gold medal and diploma awarded to him back in October." -- CW 

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Friday
Jan062012

January 6, 2012 -- E.H.C.

On the Day of the Epiphany, I ended up posting quite a few links to stories in the Commentariat that reminded us that Elections Have Consequences, which is an epiphany I wish would dawn on some of our readers. Read these stories -- or at least the links (though Lithwick & Bernstein really are essential reading) -- and tell me if and why you still think voting for Republicans and/or third-party candidates is a good idea.

** Elections Have Consequences. Dahlia Lithwick in the Washington Monthly: "If you care about the future of abortion rights, stem cell research, worker protections, the death penalty, environmental regulation, torture, presidential power, warrantless surveillance, or any number of other issues, it’s worth recalling that the last stop on the answer to each of those matters will probably be before someone in a black robe. Republicans have understood that for decades now, and that’s why the federal bench — including the Supreme Court — is almost unrecognizable to Democrats today."

Pat Garofalo of Think Progress: "... while corporate profits have rebounded to their pre-recession heights, setting a record in the third quarter of 2011, corporate tax revenue has yet to follow suit.... Corporate tax revenue has plummeted for several reasons, but one of the big ones is the growth of deductions, loopholes, and outright tax evasion that helps companies limit, or entirely eliminate, their income tax liability. 30 major corporations, in fact, paid no corporate income tax over the last three years, while making $160 billion in profits." CW: this story also falls in the "Elections Have Consequences" category. These companies aren't paying their fair share because Congress has decided they don't have to. Another good reason to support Sen. Bernie Sanders' Constitutional Amendment drive.

Elections Have Consequences. Brian Beutler of TPM: Mitt Romney's tax plan is a fucking disaster: "... the plan constitutes a major tax cut for wealthy Americans. But compared to today’s rates, Romney proposes effective tax increases for people making less than $40,000." Includes an interactive chart that shows the biggest break would be for those earning over a million a year, & the biggest tax increase would be for those earning less than $10,000 a year. And in case you're the last person in Amurrica who thinks Republicans care about the deficit, "The Romney plan would reduce federal tax revenues substantially."

Elections Have Consequences. If you think Mitt Romney will "move to the center" should he become president, as Nicholas Kristof argued in his wishful-thinking column yesterday (see my rebuttal of one aspect of it here), read Jonathan Bernstein's article in the Washington Monthly. Guess what? "Campaign promises set the presidential agenda, even when they don’t tell you which items will pan out and which won’t.... So as you listen to Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republicans..., don’t assume that it’s all meaningless, empty rhetoric that will be dropped once the campaign is over and governing begins. Don’t assume, either, that ... specific pledges made in the primary season will be left behind...." BTW, you can blame Steve Forbes for the deficit. (Read Bernstein to find out why.)

Write on this or something else. BTW, good discussions in the January 4-5 Not-GOP Thread.

Reader Comments (10)

A couple of responses to comments made at the end of yesterday's thread:

@The Doktor: like @Kate Madison, I had read Turley's column (probably linked it on the Commentariat) some while back. I'm glad he wrote it, as we always need reminding -- because Glenn Greenwald just doesn't remind us enough -- that our lords and masters are disasters. In the civil liberties area, the ultimate deciders are the Supremes. If you think doing anything to help make the Supremes even more conservative is a good idea, please read Dahlia Lithwick's column linked above.

The other thing to remember is this: like Greenwald, Turley is an attorney. The columns Greenwald & Turley write are advocacies for their clients or their general views. Neither Turley nor Greenwald is going to give you an accurate telling of the other side's POV. Neither do they have to weigh other considerations -- like public safety and political realities. So they don't. As commenter Zipperupus wrote in response to a Driftglass post the other day,

" If anything can be gleaned from Glenn's approach to politics, it is that civil liberties came into being at some nebulous point before Bush. These civil liberties were perfectly formed, and there no history of them being violated since their immaculate conception. Then Bush the demiurge appeared and did irrevocable damage, and now Obama is in many ways even worse. At no point has Glenn ever mentioned the Espionage Acts, and all other times in US history where outside threats (be they Tory, Mason, Confederate, Anarchist, Japanese, Communist, Muslim, etc.) have created expansions of executive authority into the liberties of US citizens. If Glenn were to be rhetorically consistent and honest, he would present a picture showing that the struggle for civil rights and liberties is a constant struggle that is universal to our democratic experiment. This would put Bush and Obama's actions in the same category for discussion as both Roosevelts, Truman, Lincoln, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, etc. Instead, by creating a manufactured unique crisis specific to these modern times, he foments a level of hyperbolic excess that feeds the Obama cult of personality. In so doing, Glenn misdiagnoses the problem as being specific to the patient as opposed to endemic to our government and society." Thanks to Haley S. for pointing out this comment to me.

Another commenter wrote a post he has since asked me to remove in which he mentioned a professional person who had been fired -- evidently without cause -- from a job she had held for years. A friend of mine recently wrote to me about a similar case, though the person fired may not technically be a professional (tho he does have unique expertise). My response is this: if these employees had been protected by unions, they could not have been fired without cause. Yes, companies could and should be able to lay off employees when their business models demand it, and yes, I'd like them to have some subjective say in who gets laid off, at least when it comes to highly-skilled and professional workers (i.e., jobs that required advanced degrees or training).

But especially when unemployment is high, I think it is immoral to fire productive workers "because you can." I understand supervisors have feelings & those feelings can lead them to make bad judgment calls, but if workers had union protections, a supervisory hissy-fit would not end or disrupt careers. The decision to weaken unions is a political decision -- one made by Republicans at the state and federal levels. So the next time you go to vote, or get all in a huff because President Obama made recess appointments to the NLRB, think about whether or not you give a rat's ass if your vote is another vote for giving corporations the power to weaken basic fairness to American workers.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

@Marie--

An excellent post on all counts today.

The quote from Zipperupus is marvelous for both its history and objectivity. Still, I'm glad that I've joined the ACLU to help do my part to maintain the constant tension between liberty and security which--as Zipperupus--has pointed out, has been with us since the Republic was founded.

Regarding my fired friend, yes, she was indeed fired without cause. My hope is that she will use her well-documented, long history of a hostile work environment in her organization--based upon her sexual identity--to sue the bastards.

Would a union have preserved my friend's job? Well, its not clear to me exactly what kind of union she would belong to as a professional, any more than I can think of what union I might have belonged to as a professional working in the defense industry.

Still, it's food for thought. And I am by no means anti-union. My maternal grandfather was a union man, and I can still fondly recall the smell of his favorite pipe tobacco: Union Leader.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZee

@Marie;
As usual- you make a great point, with supporting comments!
BUTT (it's 'sposed to be a big one) none of that changes the fact that President Obama was supposed to be the anti-Bush, or the fact that now, for the first time since the civil war, on mere suspicion of possibly accidentally aiding someone or something that may or may not actually be a terrorist YOU can be detained indefinitely with no Habeus Corpus rights .... so any Americans' freedom is apparently hanging by the slimmest of threads! I do not recall any such threat to any and all Americans, during any time in the past- there were no cell phones with memory cards that you could buy on e-bay that could later be traced to a crime by a vast spy network employed by the NSA and every other secret agency with a bunch of letters for a name. Because when you stop and think about it, this is a totally new threat, never before seen, because the technology simply didn't exist until just a few years ago. So in conclusion I have to disagree with @Zipperupus if you are asserting that this is somehow "no big deal" or that "we've seen all this before" -because of the incredible level of information that is being collected on all Americans (terrabite hard drives) at all times by so many different companies who are then forced to turn all of that information over to government agencies who may or may not have your best interests in mind! I'm a curious guy who has lots of ideas ( you guys have only seen the tip of my iceberg), one day it occurred to me that I had just googled several things in row that could EASILY be misconstrued, how about you?
@Zee;
That sucks for your friend, it's one of the worst feelings in the world, especially around the holidays. I should know, I've had at least 80 jobs, and owned three completely different businesses.
Hopefully as this door closes a new one will open for her. That is where I put my focus when something of that nature occurs. I obviously don't know the particulars, but my advice would be the same; Focus on the positive, take the unemployment, take a month or two off ( I prefer the Tropics) to cool off and reflect, have a few cocktails, then put together a bitchin' Resume, and if that Resume looks too good, off the charts fantastic and nobody could possibly pay enough for those type of qualifications... open your own business. It's hard as hell, but the feeling of buying something (or just paying a bill) with money you earned from your own endeavor is incredible.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Doktor

@ The Doktor: I think you're confused as to who the threat is. Who wrote the law? It was not President Obama. In fact, he got it watered down. Twice. In signing the bill, he wrote a statement that the law was (a) superfluous & (b) could be interpreted to violate the Constitution. When one of the Sens. Udall wrote an amendment that would have made the law more palatable to civil libertarians, Udall couldn't get more than about 38 votes to consider the Amendment. (It takes 60.)

I'm not disputing your concerns about personal liberties. The reason Obama thinks the law is unconstitutional is that he believes he already had all the power he needs to lock you up and lose the key if you're a "suspected" terrorist, & that Congress's "granting" the military that power at least creates the appearance of violating the Constitutional separation of powers.

Am I worried about that? Yep. I'm concerned about the whole lot of 'em. Obama reportedly has told affected agencies -- all of whom opposed the law & their agency heads testified before Congress to that effect -- to essentially ignore the parts of the law that speak to the military's power to knock down your door at midnight & take you away, never to be seen again. Obama already has civilians in place to do that and to hold you someplace other than a military facility.

If you have a protector here, it is not the Congress. It might be Obama, or if your friends & relatives miss you & figure out what happened to you, your last recourse might be the Supremes. Yes, those Supremes. But the heavy in this particular instance is not Obama.

And if you can't "recall any such time in the past" where your civil liberties were threatened then you don't remember when some of that same gang in Congress passed and repassed and repassed the Patriot Act, which President Bush requested & first signed it into law, & which Obama has signed again.

This tendency to blame Obama for everything that happens in Washington or anywhere else in the world is getting me down. There are plenty of people in positions of power in Washington (and elsewhere) who care less about your civil liberties than Obama does. A lot of those other people are our elected representatives.

P.S. If you think Ron Paul aims to protect you, you're grossly mistaken. Ron Paul believes the federal government should be stripped of most of its ability to protect Americans' due process.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

@Marie Burns;
I am quite careful not to ascribe unstated motivations or assertions to you or other posters... I would appreciate the same courtesy. I have never implied that Obama is "the heavy" or that Ron Paul aims to protect me or anyone else for that matter.
For the Record; I voted for Barack Obama to put a stop to the Bush policies, (anti-Bush) not to continue them with a "kinder, gentler machine gun hand", The Presidents' record on whistle blowers is actually worse than Bush's!
As far as any confusion on my part, I would love to know who wrote these bills and acts and laws that will take decades to get rid of before the next GWB saunters into Washington to set our country back another hundred years... Barack Obama the candidate said he was going to fix the things GWB screwed up, and if he doesn't do it I'll be the first to say he didn't do it, and I'll also say we damned well better find someone who can! I've been hearing "vote for the lesser of two evils" as long as I can remember, and during those decades I've watched Americans' ability to achieve upward mobility slowly evaporate. I never said I wouldn't vote for Mr.Obama, but if he wants my vote he'll have to earn it. If someone else (as yet unseen) comes along with a better plan, I'm all for it.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Doktor

The actual people who write these bills are legislative staff. H.R. 1540 as introduced was sponsorded by Howard McKeon (R-CA) & co-sponsored by Adam Smith (D-Wa). Carl Levin (D-Mich) sponsored it in the Senate. My recollection is that Levin's staff (with maybe a little help from McCain's [R-AZ]) wrote/amended the offending sections. The bill passed both houses with a 2/3rds-plus majority; i.e., enough to override a veto.

Ask WWII-era Japanese-Americans if you can be detained for years (& have your property "disappeared") for no reason whatsoever.]

What you don't recall is having any white dudes deprived of their habeas corpus right.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

@Marie;
So we've got Democrats just as guilty as Republicans leaving me even more resolved to advocate for a third or fourth party.
I have tried on many occasions to try and find any hard figures for even how many staff let alone names of staff for congresscritters, and come up dry every time. This is an instance of overlap for me, where I can agree with Tea Partiers about the failings of government. These areas of overlap are where we can hopefully build some consensus and maybe get past some of the talking points Americans have been indoctrinated to shout past each other and make this election count!
From a pragmatic standpoint it is the very fact that now it's at least possible that a white dude could be "detained" that is getting some attention...Raj Rajaratnam ring a bell? 11 years in prison for insider trading... or should I say cheating while black.
The Japanese internment camps only prove what can happen when we look the other way for only a moment, I don't think FDR was a terrible President, but I think that was a terrible thing to do! Mass hysteria can apparently be induced, so I don't know if cooler heads can prevail in times like those (these), and to a certain extent it seems like some of us haven't learned anything from history, and don't want to. Perhaps there is an element of society that is just too neanderthal to step back and assess freedom vs. fear- goaded by self serving demagogues into blind hatred of anyone who could be perceived as different from what is propagandized as normal.

I have spent way too much time here today! Thanks for the great conversation, as usual!

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Doktor

Here's what I can't figure out.... Who the hell is going to be able to comb through all that data? As all those thoughts get to twirling around up there a la Herman Cain, I picture a scene right out of "Brazil" and thousands sitting in some vast gothic hall filled with dimly lit grey cubicles reviewing hours and hours and hours of Facebook postings. A regular Pollyanna, aren't I?

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

NDAA is a big fucking deal and maybe technology makes the threat much, much bigger. But I read the Zip comments and was glad to have been reminded that we have gone through suspensions of constitutional rights beginning with Adams and up through FDR. And we survived. I'm not known for my "sunny outlook", but I'm hopeful. But not so much if the Republicans sweep. That Washington Monthly issue that Marie has linked is filled with what I thought were even scarier articles. One was by a guy from AEI and he tells what will happen if they take over. (Sorry I don't have the link. I'll close this and go find it.)

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine//features/congress034473.php

If you are having a hard time stomaching the idea of voting for Obama, please read the above. It's by the AEI guy telling us just what they plan to do.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon
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