Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Go ahead, Wayne, blame the 2-year-old

I double dog dare Wayne LaPierre and all the other gun nuts to say, in public, guns don't kill people while reading this story.

Wal-Mart parking lots are extremely violent places in gun nut states like Texas and Florida -- lots of carjackings, domestic assaults, robberies and gang shootings. Funny thing is, despite all the open and concealed carry laws, they are still violent. Dunno if there is a lot of crime in Idaho Wal-Marts but I feel safe at the Maui one.

Dok Zoom rounds up other holiday gun news, with mordant (pun intended) commentary.

UPDATE The Washington Post has a terrific -- that is, it will turn your stomach -- backgrounder on the mother who was shot with her own pacifier, with an O Henry "Gift of the Magi" holiday twist and everything. 

You will be unsurprised to learn that the gun nut grandfather/father-in-law considers the shooting just one of those things but is angry at people who suggest that in  well-regulated society his grandson did not have to kill his mother. Be very sure to follow the link highlighted as "grandstand."

“They are painting Veronica as irresponsible, and that is not the case,” he said. “… I brought my son up around guns, and he has extensive experience shooting it. And Veronica had had hand gun classes; they’re both licensed to carry, and this wasn’t just some purse she had thrown her gun into.”
But read the whole thing.


Even the people who sell penis substitutes are not stupid enough to want people around them with their PSs loaded and ready to shoot (this is the entrance to a gun store):

And in case you weren't reading the newspapers in 2014, Gary Legum has a partial roundup of what you missed.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Our racist Republicans

Is Rep. Steve Scalise a racist? Let's rephrase that. Is there any evidence he is not a racist?

This is kind of a bigger deal than the soft racism of most rightwingers. As House majority whip, Scalise is a playah.

Evidence that he is a racist: In 2002 he spoke to EURO, the rebranded Klan in Louisiana. It is difficult to imagine any politically active person in Louisiana (Scalise was a member of the Legislature) being unaware of EURO, which was hardly a reticent group.

Even if he was "young and disorganized."

I have to say that Republicans pick funny ways to defend themselves from charges like this: Our dear leader was disorganized and didn't have a clue what was going on around him.

Maybe Republicans should read newspapers.

The Post story is a classic. Scalise didn't know about what was going on in his own backyard but the minor league baseball team the Iowa Cubs did? (To be fair, the Cubs are owned by a retired newspaper editor, and he reads the papers.)

Even better was the defense by Rep. Steve King (an Iowa Dub):

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a leading conservative in the House, said in an interview Monday that he stood by Scalise and believed that many conservatives in the House’s hard-right bloc would do the same.
“Jesus dined with tax collectors and sinners,” King said.
So tax collectors are the moral equivalent of racist agitators? Got it.

Scalise's own defense was even lamer, hard as that is to believe:

In a statement, Scalise’s spokeswoman, Moira Bagley Smith, emphasized that the then-state lawmaker was unaware at the time of the group’s ideology and mission. “He has never been affiliated with the abhorrent group in question,” Smith said. “The hate-fueled ignorance and intolerance that group projects is in stark contradiction to what Mr. Scalise believes and practices as a father, a husband, and a devoted Catholic.”

The idea that a Catholic would not be a racist is beyond funny, especially in Louisiana.

Also, if you are a guest speaker for a group, you are affiliated with it, even if you don't carry the card. Remember "fellow travelers," "pinkos" and guilt by association? I sure do, and it was rightwingers who used such tactics to ruin the lives of ordinary Americans by the thousands.

UPDATE Little Green Footballs rounds up much more about Scalise's longstanding racism and connections to David Duke. Keep scrolling.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Recycled satire

I said that after the "Sherlock" review RtO wouldn't review any more movies and I'm sticking to that. But I would like to recommend a forgotten movie from the greatest period of Hollywood satire (mid to late '60s) that has resonance today because of the caterwauling of the Cuban fascists and their rightwing friends.

The movie was "Popi" with Alan Arkin  and Rita Moreno and even iMDB is barely aware it exists.

  • Abraham is a Puerto Rican single parent with two boys. He is becoming very worried about them living in their run down neighborhood when one day he notices that Cubans who escape are lionized and given exceptional benefits. He thinks up a plot to have his sons washed ashore as cuban immigrants who will be adopted by rich anglos.
    - Written by John Vogel <>
I think it was the best Hollywood satire of that period (and nearly as good as my favorite film of all, "White Voices," which was Italian and is even more forgotten, although it was prominent enough to be reviewed by Time -- "one long leer," said the reviewer who was a dense as most Time reviewers).

Besides the content, I liked "Popi" because the satire was somewhat restrained, unlike most of the satires of that period like "Dr. Stangelove" and "The Day the Fish Came Out."

When the Cuban fascists moan, think about the lesson of "Popi."

And the other lesson, which you do not get from the movie but is very obvious -- America has always been more welcoming to fascists than to democrats.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Strange tales of outsiders looking in

One of the ideas that forms the underpinnings of RtO derives from a long-ago feature in Le Monde, which is the French equivalent of the New York Times. In the '70s, Le Monde ran a series of full-page profiles of "great cities of the world."

For the United States, it chose Chicago, then the second city. In explaining why they chose Chicago and not some other place, the editors gave several reasons, of which I remember only one, but I have been marveling about it over the past 40-some years: "Unlike American cities like Boston, Chicago was never devastated by a great fire."

(I looked it up, and indeed Boston was devastated by a big fire, but that was in the early 18th century when Boston was, by modern measurements, not even big enough to be a middling county seat.)

Is it possible, I wondered then and wonder now, that my notions about France's second city (Marseille, which I have never visited) are as screwy as Le Monde's notions about Chicago?

My answer was and is, yes.

I keep that in mind with everything I write that is not based on personal observation. Which has not prevented me from forming decided notions about faraway places, but I try to make sure they are based on good sources.

I bring this up because of a New York Times story about how the people who live in Iraq (who really shouldn't be called Iraqis) are splintering their country. RtO has, since its inception and in many ways, doubted that a place called Iraq has any beyond a purely notional existence. This has led me to disagree with people who have had experience of Iraq, like Rory Stewart.

Believe me, when I do that I like to have solid reasons. In the case of Stewart, some of the evidence came right out of his book. (It is remarkable how many people, like Beauregard Bear in Pogo who could write but couldn't read, either don't read or do not understand the books they write.)

One of the joys of reading Stewart is his naïve restatement of the obvious. Early on, he decided that the approach of the Coalition Provisional Authority -- trying to deal with and amalgamate various former underdog factions (few of which had any higher ambition than being overdogs for a while) -- was wrong. Stewart thought the CPA should have worked through the sports leagues, the only organizations in the area that cut across all factions.

Do I have to say that if the only thing you have in common is soccer, you don't have the makings of a nation?
I wrote that in June 2008, very early in the run of RtO. It holds up well, does it not? (That review seems also to have been the first time I advocated, in print anyway, a free and independent Great Kurdistan, a theme I have returned to many times. That looks good, too, all these years later, does it not?)

All this leads up to a startling, if not surprising to me, admission by someone thought to be (by herself and others) a leading observer of Iraq society, Phebe Marr.

Allah knows she has had sufficient time to get it right, having studied Iraq since 1957. Still, she got it wrong:

“It never occurred to me when I wrote this that it would be a question if Iraq stays together,” said Ms. Marr, who is working on a new edition.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

What I DON'T want for Christmas

I mean, besides Bill O'Reilly's seasonal attack of the vapors.

I don't want beer-favored soda pop.

Keep it, Santa

I had never heard of this until spotting it among the Christmas candy and packaged plum puddings at a supermarket last week. After carbonated water, the main ingredient is sugar, flavored with hops and malt. It sounds awful.

Wikipedia says it has been around since 1910 and displaces Coca-Cola during the yuletide in Sweden. I have never been to Sweden but I have a Christmas album by the Swedish tenor Christer Sjogren that includes -- I kid you not -- "Green, Green Grass of Home" and "Dixie."

As a tradition, it beats O'Reilly attacking people for wishing strangers "Happy holidays," but not by much.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cliff Slater was right

New price $500,000,200
Another post cockaroached from my commercial blog at

Honolulu rail transit is going to be a disaster. It is no surprise that the cost overrun is already estimated at $500 million.
Still worse, Honolulu is thinking of plundering TheBus to cover TheRail. Honolulu once had a good bus service. No longer. And raiding the modernization fund will just destroy what’s left of it.
Extending the excise tax surcharge to forever for Oahu is also under consideration.
Expect someone in the Legislature to propose extending it to the Neighbor Islands.
Note to Joe Souki: Do not allow it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mr. President, tear down that pipeline!

Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post has a weekly feature on "Who Had the Worst Week in Washington." I don't think much of it; it's part of the inside-the-Beltway self-preening mechanism, and one of the numerous features that make the Post sound more childish than some of its competitors.

But even though I don't read it, as a subscriber to the Post, I know who Cillizza picks, the same way I know which Kardashian is in crisis this week: because I see the headline. Last week, in one of the more embarrassing journalistic pratfalls of 2014, Cillizza declared that Barack Obama had had the worst YEAR in Washington.

Obama then scored his penalty kick right in Putin's breadbasket, reveled in glowing economic reports and jiu-jitsu'ed the Republicans on appointments in the lame duck session of Congress. The opposition?

They managed to irritate the Latino voters, again (and they probably voted to repeal Obamacare though I didn't see that reported, but they do that an average of once a week, so they probably did).

However, I did not come here just to jeer at Chris Cilliza. I came to state what is obvious: The people who really had the worst week in Washington were the fascist lovers in the American rightwing. (Not all rightwingers are fascists but all fascists are rightwingers.)

Rachel Maddow also noted part of it. With her staff she was able to do what would have taken me days and days: Assemble a gallery of love-notes to the man she called "J. Alfred Putin" by various American fascists and fellow travelers. These ranged from Mitt Romney to Rudy Giuliani to various blowhards at Fox.

Maddow professes to find the love affair between American rightwingers and Putin puzzling, but she knows a lot of history and I suspect she really isn't all that surprised. After all, she included a photo of Putin with his shirt off, and I am sure she knows which other fascist who was the darling of the American right liked to take off his shirt for the masses.

No, I don't mean Clint Eastwood. This one:

(Digression: I had not thought of this before, but it is odd that that the man who introduced shirts into the vocabulary of politics was so eager to doff his.

(As Barbara Tuchman relates in a hilarious passage in "The Guns of August" about how the chief of staff of the Prussian Army died in his tutu (no, really), there is always a strong strain of suppressed homoeroticism and wishing to be dominated by a masterful, take-charge guy among rightwingers.)

(Query: We know Putin considers himself knowledgeable about history. Did he model his decamisadoismo on Mussolini or is it just a case of like minds thinking alike?)

It is amusing to note that -- as Maddow mentions in passing but does not highlight -- it was the rightwing hero Putin and not the leftwing demon Obama who canceled a pipeline last week. I swear, you can't make this stuff up.

In other news of American fascism, Obama stuck one in the eye of the Cuban fascists by threatening to normalize relations with Cuba. Younger Cuban Americans apparently thought, "About time" if they thought anything at all, but the older ones remained true to their anticommunism.

It is only restating the obvious to note that anyone who fled Cuba after Castro turned it left did not flee the equally antidemocratic but rightist despot Batista. Few -- perhaps none -- of the Cubans who flooded south Florida and poisoned its politics for the past half century were democrats.

They had no problems with fascism.

Curiously, the paladin who chose to snatch up the falling banner of Cuban-American fascism as it was falling toward the ground was Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the very, very few Cuban-Americans without the ancestral fascist taint.

Although Rubio's own version of his family history attempted to link it to the rest of the fascist diaspora, reporters have shown that his parents were apparently not political. They left Cuba during Batista's fascist regime but not to get away from him. They just thought it would be easier to grow rich in America and they were right. But not far right.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

'Legitimate rape' part deux

You know how they say that all publicity is good publicity (except maybe around Sony Pictures)? Missouri, then, must be in hog heaven, publicity-wise.

“I’m just saying if there was a legitimate rape, you’re going to make a police report, just as if you were robbed,” Brattin says. “That’s just common sense.”
Brattin later said his use of the phrase "legitimate rape" was in a different sense than one-time Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin's use.

Who knew that the Show-me State was full of such subtle thinkers?

(Also, isn't capitalism the greatest? You cannot push around an American capitalist, even if you are just a shadowy generator of digital pathways. No sirree


The idiot wasn't kidding and he wasn't misinterpreted.

Safety v. risk

Sometimes I worry that RtO is repetitive. I have put up something over 2,000 posts since early in 2008, and I don't have 2,000 ideas, nor do I know about 2,000 things.

When I was a reporter, I didn't worry about redoing stories, because our readership churned so much (what with people moving in and out, dying and growing up) that I figured that any story more than four years old couldn't have been seen by half my current readers. And -- let's be frank -- most of the other half had forgotten it.

Blogging is, or may be, different. I don't know. But I do worry about driving off readers by too much repetition.

But perhaps I worry too much. In the early days of RtO, I wrote a number of posts trying to explain the difference between a "risk" bank and a "safe" bank. The idea is not complicated or deep, but as we learned in October 2008, most bankers don't understand it. (Readers of RtO learned it even earlier, as I had been hammering the idea all summer and predicting the crash. Roubini got famous, I didn't. Readers who heeded my mantra in the summer of 2008 -- conserve cash -- probably saved themselves a lot of grief.)

It has been years since I've written about risk banks and safe banks. (I had actually been lobbying local investors on the subject back before there was an RtO -- even before there was an Internet -- as a method of driving local economic development. But no one with money took it seriously.)

It turns out that the lesson of 2008 was not learned by bankers and not learned by rightwing politicians. Imagine my surprise.

I recommend Dave Hellings' piece in the Kansas City Star. I'll even say his explanation of the difference between a risk bank and a safe bank is clearer than any of my attempts ever were.

A swap is often compared to insurance — or, critics say, a bet. A lender pays a premium to a third party, who must pay the lender back if a loan goes sour.
If that third party misjudges too many loans, though, and too many loans default, he loses the bet and the money runs out, leaving the lender unprotected. In 2008, many swaps designed to insure risky loans collapsed, and lending banks turned to the government for help.

Read more here:
And remember: unregulated markets crash.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Soft power works


From time to time I copy a post from my Kamaaina Loan blog here. Like now. And mainly just to needle the rightwing dimwits who were sure weak-kneed Obama was not warlike enough to earn respect in the rest of the world like, say, Dick Cheney.

Dick Cheney, who around the world doesn't respect him?

It seems pretty obvious from here that Obama's policy of using sanctions -- which never work, right? -- is working. Whether that is an unblemished good thing is an open question but it's a lot cheaper than starting wars and losing them. Now to copy myself:
When asked about the direction gold will take, Big Rich always says, “It will go up, or it will go down, or it will stay the same.” Seldom does it do both so enthusiastically during one 24-hour period than it did Monday and today, however. As Bloomberg News reports:
Gold rebounded from yesterday’s biggest drop this year as investors sought a haven amid turmoil in emerging market economies and falling commodities.
Russia’s ruble plunged to a record low after the country’s largest interest-rate increase in 16 years failed to revive confidence in the currency. The Turkish lira also tumbled to an all-time low.
Your Christmas (or Hanukkah) present is you don’t have many Turkish lira. Lucky you.
(Silver did not get the same kind of love. When nervous people with money look for comfort, they don’t look to silver — usually.)
The New York Times has much more about why gold did the big turnaround. It’s the ruble. It was less than 20 years ago that Russia defaulted, bringing down Long-term Capital Management and its two Nobel prize-winning advisers who didn’t understand that things can change on a dime — or 10 kopecks.
The economic news had another victim not mentioned in the news reports: Obama haters. Remember how they were sure that Obama’s “soft power” tactics were making the United States a pitiful has-been? Well, the five countries that are subject to US (and to some extent international) economic sanctions are all on the verge of economic collapse: Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba.
It might not be a great idea to collapse countries with nuclear weapons, but the sanctions were meant to have an effect and they are having it.
As always, Kamaaina Loan is ready to buy or sell gold for you at whatever the day’s price is. We don’t care about the ruble.
#mauipawn #mauiretail
UPDATE Wednesday

For a moment there, I thought I had found a source ready to credit Obama's foreign policy for its success.  Matt O'Brian's lede was promising:

A funny thing happened on the way to Vladimir Putin running strategic laps around the West. Russia's economy imploded.

But then he went off to write about something else. That something is worth reading: Russia is caught in a classic liquidity trap.

Individuals, firms and even sectors can get caught that way, but when it happens to a whole national economy (at least under modern conditions), it is almost always the result of national government policy. The Republicans did it to America in the 1920s and again in the 2000s, and as we learned -- or, some of us, didn't learn -- both times, a deflationary spiral is almost impossible to deal with.

That's why you want to accept plenty of perhaps otherwise suboptimal conditions to avoid one.


Paul Krugman has cogent comments (all from an interior Russian perspective, nothing about US policy), but being a city boy he leaves out Russia's intractable problem: food.

Putin, also a city boy, has done nothing about it and perhaps nothing can be done (although I think something could). The tsars couldn't do it, the peasants on their own couldn't and the Bolsheviks couldn't. All at least tried.

The USSR did not fall because Reagan scolded Gorbachev. It failed because it could never devise a workable agricultural policy. It increased grain production enormously -- faster even than its very rapidly growing population -- but it was very costly grain. Eventually, the uncovered costs emptied the Russian fisc.

To some extent Putin did the same with oil. Some years ago, it was freely predicted that Russian petroleum production was going to contract. It did not. But its costs were uneconomic compared with efficient producers.

Oil is a funny thing. For longish periods even inefficient producers can appear to be getting rich. But not indefinitely.

(In a peculiarly Russian wrinkle, too much of the grain was used to make vodka with terrible social consequences. Lucky for Russians, you cannot drink oil.)

A very, very bad week for gun nuts

It was a very, very bad week for America’s gun nuts. And since it was the anniversary of the Newtown slaughter of the innocents, decent Americans were often thinking about gun nuttery.

The gun nuts did not disappoint.

Working backward, I was having a late lunch in a redneck joint (pulled pork, cole slaw, dirty rice and a Diet Dr Pepper, can’t get more redneck than that) yesterday, and the teevee over my head was tuned, of course, to Fox. I couldn’t hear but the screen text read: Hostage Standoff Raises Questions about Australia’s Gun Laws.

Well, actually, no, among decent people the Sydney kidnapping did not raise any questions about Australia’s gun laws, which have resulted in 0 -- that’s zero, nil, nada, not any -- slaughters of innocent children since their passage about 15 years ago -- in response to Australia’s version of Newtown.

It will come as a surprise to no decent person that although three towns near Philadelphia were being searched for a gun nut who had slaughtered six members of his ex-wife’s family, Fox was NOT suggesting: Pennsylvania Manhunt Raises Questions about America’s Gun Laws.

You will not be surprised either to learn that the National Rifle Association had no comment on its website about Pennsylvania Manhunt, only an ad for it “exciting new brand,” NRA Tactical. I can imagine who is going to be excited about that:

Kory Watkins, leader of Open Carry Tarrant County, who this week called for overthrowing the gummint (this was his response to news that a member of his group had murdered her husband and his daughter):

“On Saturday the president of a Texas open-carry group called for like-minded followers to join him in marching on Washington to “arrest the bankers, crooked politicians and restore liberty here in our country” at gunpoint.
“Saying that voting ‘is not working,’ Kory Watkins, president of the Open Carry Tarrant County, wrote on his Facebook page: ‘Have you ever thought we might just need to organize a very large group of our own people. Like 200 from each state so we can march armed to DC take over the city, arrest the bankers, crooked politicians and restore liberty here in our country? I’m not scared. I mean really… and waiting is not working!’ ”
Watkins is sorta famous for dragging his young daughter away from a Sonic because it was “not safe” because Kory Watkins was asked not to carry his semiautomatic penis substitute in.

Do any of the gun nuts who read RtO want to argue that Kory Watkins is the kind of centered, stable personality who should be allowed to go anywhere with his loaded gun? (There are gun nuts reading; you will meet one shortly.)

Well, if Kory Watkins is NOT a raving lunatic, then there should be no safer place in the country than a gun store in Tarrant County. Thus it is hard to explain this news from Ft. Worth:

“Fort Worth police are looking for the person who shot and killed a clerk at a gun store.
“Police say the man was shot multiple times Saturday evening at the Military Gun Supply store and was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Police are trying to identify a person of interest seen in video footage from the store.”

Whenever I call gun nuts gun nuts, one (or more) of them whine. They resent being classed with other crazy people. So let’s finish with a couple of examples (in addition to Kory Watkins) of ammosexuals being NOT CRAZY. First, G. Baker, writing a letter to the editor of the Houston Chronicle:

“Regarding ‘Want to know what grand jury will decide in Ferguson? Look to Harris County,’. . . the author is implying that a police officer should give thugs of this world th benefit of the doubt. Having police officers in my family, I can tell you that is not how I feel. The suspect doesn’t do exactly as you ask? Shoot.”

And then there is Colin, a reader of RtO, who is also sane and reasonable, as you will quickly see  from reading this paragraph from a longer e-mail:

“Oh and your rants about gun owners, come on. Your so tough the way you talk. I mean living on Maui is such a dangerous place and you do it with out a firearm, how do you manage? How do you think you would fare in Fergusson. They would eat you alive! You would wish you had a gun for protection, I wish you wouldnt so there would be one less of you to spew your word vommit. Hey do you know that more people are bludgeoned to death each year than shot with rifles? Do you know that your government just put out a report that they estimate that between 500,000 and 2,000,000 people have been saved by firearms?? NO you libtards dont want that fact known, it destrpys your narrative. Maybe before you go popping off in your little bubble you realize that their is a real world out there that people are trying to survive in and enjoy the security of having a firearm and that includes police, fire, doctors, lawyers, etc. No your just a big fat stupid libtard popping off his mouth on  a little tiny island of la la land!

“Hey Mele Kalikimaka and go Fuck yourself!!”

As Wayne Lapierre says, an armed society is a polite society.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Malaria is still the king of diseases

From The New York Times:

The World Health Organization reported steep declines in malaria cases and deaths compared with 2000 in a report released early Tuesday, saying the progress was particularly notable in Africa, where the disease is most prevalent. But the W.H.O. coupled the news on malaria with a warning that it could worsen again in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the countries worst hit by the Ebola virus, which has overwhelmed their public health systems. In its World Malaria Report 2014, the W.H.O. said the malaria mortality rate fell by 47 percent worldwide and by 54 percent in the Africa region between 2000 and 2013. It attributed the improvement largely to advances in diagnostic tests as well as increases in the use of insecticide-treated bed nets and effective drug therapies. Malaria was responsible for about 584,000 deaths worldwide last year. While the scope of Ebola pales in comparison, it is far deadlier. In the W.H.O.’s latest Ebola update, on Monday, it reported 17,800 cases, including 6,331 deaths, since the outbreak began early this year.
Still 100 times more deadly than Ebola fever, even with the improvements. It is  noteworthy, also, that the new, lowered death count is higher than the lower bound of the generally accepted estimates of 500,000-1,000,000.

Most of the dead are babies and infants in areas without doctors, clinics or modern medicine. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Open carry? Hell, yeah!

What could possibly go wrong?

Open Carry Tarrant County (that's Fort Worth) have recently been the poster children of Gun Nut Nation. Who can forget the self-shot video in which a leader of OCTC dragged his daughter away from a Sonic drive-in because (in his words) "it's not safe" because Sonic asked them not to bring their firearms? (I cannot find a link to the video because I am not going to waste a lot of time on them.)

You know where else is not safe? The homes of Open Carry Tarrant County members.

 The suspect has been involved in area open-carry activities and has this quotation on her Facebook page: “Sometimes removing some people out of your life makes room for better people.” Her profile photo shows her aiming a gun.
Plenty of room in  her life now that's she's blown away her husband and his daughter.

OCTC's Facebook page has nothing to say about it.

Numbers of people have already stated the obvious, so no  need for RtO this time: It takes only a moment for a good guy (gal in this case) with a gun to become a bad gal with a gun.

You can't make this stuff up. Well, you could, but your version would probably not be as rich in irony, stupidity and evil.

Read more here:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Go ahead and cheat. It's legal

The 2nd United States Circuit Court of Appeals says so.  Nut graf:

“Although the government might like the law to be different, nothing in the law requires a symmetry of information in the nation’s securities markets,” the appellate court wrote, an apparent acknowledgement of the unfairness of trading stocks.

Remember when George Bush and the Republicans wanted to destroy Social Security and give all your pension money to those guys? Now you know why.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A humanitarian lesson

If you are not a subscriber to the New York Times and you've used up your free monthly views (Does the Times still have those? I am a subscriber, so I don't know), you should get one of the 99-cent teaser signups just to read this.

This is the funniest, saddest, weirdest news story of the year. Nut graf:

Cliff Sloan, the State Department envoy who negotiates detainee transfers, expressed gratitude to Mr. Mujica in a statement. Several other South American countries, including Brazil, Chile and Colombia, motivated by news of the Uruguay deal, had opened talks about potentially taking in some low-level detainees as well, but were watching would what happen.

“We are very grateful to Uruguay for this important humanitarian action, and to President Mujica for his strong leadership in providing a home for individuals who cannot return to their own countries,” Mr. Sloan said. “The support we are receiving from our friends and allies is critical to achieving our shared goal of closing Guantánamo.”
So Uruguay, which must be about 149th in the ISIL hit list, is sticking up its head to take some low-level jihadis (or not, who knows?) off our hands. I hope they don't get bombed for their trouble.

Next time some 100% 'Murrican yammers on about how we are the greatest, most helpful country that ever was, you might mention to her that Uruguay took in Guantanamo prisoners when the Congress (largely but not entirely the Republican part) is so terrified that it will not allow any of them to be brought into the United States in chains for trial.

This despite the fact that the several terrorism suspects who have been brought in for trial have successfully been tried. Leonie Brinkema, who presided over several of those trials, is a smallish, gray-haired woman, and she is not afraid to judge terror suspects. (I recall her saying as much at a judicial conference in Kaanapali, back in my reporting days; it seems a long time ago.)

But there is no more pitiful, quivering puddle of self-staining fear than an open-carrying, Second Amendment-lovin', kill-'em'-all-and-let-God-sort-them-out coward than a superpatriot.

FUN FACT: Can you name all the countries that the benevolent United States has not yet invaded?

NOT SO FUN ANSWER:    “Andorra, Bhutan and Liechtenstein – those are the only three of the United Nations-recognized 194 nations that the U.S. has not invaded,” says Christopher Kelly, co-author with British historian Stuart Laycock of “America Invades,”, a global tour of Americans’ military impact around the world.

(I cannot confirm that and suspect that they are using a broad definition of invade, but it's right to a first approximation.)

Recall that the landing on the moon, which some (but not RtO) have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of, was achieved only because America welcomed in hundreds of Nazi murderers (in Operation Paperclip).

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The party of family values

Common scold
If the Republicans are the party of family values, as they claim, why do they not embrace the Obamas? There has not been a First Family that displayed the homelitic, Readers Digest and Norman Rockwell style of family attributes in the White House since . . .  well, since ever.

To outward appearances, Mr. and Mrs. Obama are deeply in love, and also a matched team in furthering his career. The daughters, Malia and Sasha, seem to be polite, good students, warmly attached to mom and dad. Possibly Malia, who is around 13, throws tantrums over wanting to go steady and screams at Michelle, “You never loved me!” in the privacy of the family quarters, but it seems unlikely.

We may contrast this almost-too-perfect script from a Frank Capra movie with the train wrecks of domesticity the GOP has served up over the years. While I heard of no blemishes on the family image of the Romneys (aside from the dubious business morality of the pater familias), take the Palins, puh-leeze: Nobody but nobody ever worked the family values-scam harder than the floozy Sarah Palin with her floozy daughter, drunken son and all-round battlin’, griftin‘ mob of sanctimonious phonies.

Then there was horndog McCain, nobody’s model of marital fidelity. And before that the Bush IIs, with their drunken lout of a father who could not hold a job and their out-of-control drunken daughters.

The Bush Is were scandal-free but not very close. When Bush I needed a family portrait for political purposes, he could not get his children to gather for the photographer, so he created a clumsy forgery.

And who can forget the Reagans, paragons of all old-fashioned virtues, except for Ron Jr. working out his daddy issues on the teevee and Patti working out her daddy issues by taking off all her clothes and making soft porn films.I do not usually pay attention to the domestic affairs of political leaders. It does not have to affect their ability to operate -- FDR’s sham marriage and the misadventures of his sons did not prevent him from being the most effective president of the 20th century. (With Nixon, the dynamic apparently ran in the other direction; his political life made his wife’s life miserable. One wonders whether a loving and supportive wife would have buffed out some of the vindictive hatefulness in the man, but probably it wouldn’t have. Sociopaths are resistant to love.) But an otherwise trivial event blew up over the last week that really makes the question -- why don’t the Republicans admire the fine family values of the Obamas? -- insistent.
Dressed for church

A minor league, but entirely typical, Republican operative, Elizabeth Lauten, launched a weird attack on the behavior and appearance of Sasha and Malia at the pardoning of the turkeys. Lauten probably didn’t have that many readers but the Internet is a multiplier.

And her remarks were truly weird. She criticized the girls for dressing like they were going to a bar. In fact, as anyone can see, they were dressed either for church or the mall. Or maybe school. You might imagine that Lauten hasn’t ever been to a bar, but as we will see, that is not so.

More subjective was her rant that the girls seemed bored and showed a lack of respect. Lack of respect for a turkey pardoning? Say it ain’t so!

I watched the entire 5-minute film of the event on Post TV and while it did not show any eyerolling, the camera wasn’t on the girls most of the time. I have no trouble imagining that two girls, 13 and 16, rolled their eyes at some of the president’s corny jokes. “Come on, Dad!”

Or that they were bored. So what?

Lauten later removed her post but the Internet never forgets.

Subsequent to her apology and resignation, she scrubbed her FB page, but the Internet is not only retentive but cruel.

It turns out that when Elizabeth Lauten was Sasha’s age she was robbing Belk’s although unlike Mike Brown, she was not shot to death for it. And she does know what the inside of a bar looks like. Her own Twitter feed had a picture of her blowing a longneck.

Stay classy, Elizabeth.

It will come as no surprise that the Republicans, instead of trying to put Elizabeth Lauten as far behind them as possible, could not refrain from complaining that Democrats did worse, although they could not show any instance of it.

So, back to the original question: Why doesn’t the party of family values embrace the wonderful family values of the Obamas?

I can think of only one possible reason: the Obamas are black.