Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mid-Week Dog Days Song

Happy birthday (tomorrow) to British singer Florence Welch, of Florence + The Machine, who has earned Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album.   With summer fading, her "Dog Days Are Gone," here in an MTV Unplugged performance, seem like a good choice.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Teed-Off Pundits

The Beltway media has been in a tizzy for days over President Obama's golfing during his brief vacation in Martha's Vineyard.  Questions from the Villagers at daily White House press briefings focus on the "optics" of the President golfing while THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END!!  Of course, "optics" are what our broken media know how to cover best since it requires the least thought.

NY Times columnist Maureen "MoDo" Dowd, someone who, when she's not obsessing on the Clintons' sex life is mocking Obama, had a true "jumping the shark" column in the Sunday Times, which is nicely summarized by Simon Maloy.  (Speaking of of "optics," Miss MoDo swooned over Dumbya's staged "Mission Accomplished" landing on the aircraft carrier -- we think it was his codpiece that impressed spinster MoDo).  Compare Obama's predecessor's vacation time at the same point in his Presidency (407 days), with Obama's (138).  It's also worth remembering that St. Ronnie of Hollywood, who wasn't heckled by a tame press when he was vacationing, was no stranger to vacationing during crises.  Finally, when they think of Presidents golfing, the media should remember this classic from Dumbya, intrepid fighter of "evil-doers."

Pic of the Day

Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner must feel powerless sometimes, with his out-of-control, off-the-deep-end teabagger Representatives calling the shots.  Well, he still has one friend:  a wind-up toy monkey, which we're sure he prefers to talk to rather than the teabaggers.  The whole situation makes him want to cry….

UPDATE:  Meanwhile, the wingnuts in the House are allocating $350,000 on a frivolous lawsuit against the President that everyone knows is going nowhere.  But, cut those food stamps!

UPDATE II:  We know one thing is making Mr. Tangerine Man happy - he's pulled down some nice profits from a corporate tax dodging (inversion) scheme.

The Russians Are Coming….

A group of Russian paratroopers have been captured inside Ukrainian territory, and the Ukrainian government accused the Russian Federation of sending them on a "special mission" to assist pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.  Videos of two of the paratroopers left no doubt of their authenticity, with one saying:
"Stop sending in our boys. Why? This is not our war. And if we weren't here, none of this would have happened. They would have sorted things out with the government themselves."
At the same time, Russian military forces have stepped up their attacks at the border between the two countries, with a Russian attack helicopter killing 4 Ukrainian border guards.  There are also reports by Ukraine that pro-Russian separatists are being assisted by a column of Russian armored vehicles and are attacking the southeastern Ukrainian town of Novoazovsk.

Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin is meeting in Belarus today with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss Russian intervention in Ukraine.  These incidents undoubtedly topped the agenda.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Home of the Tax Evader

"Just around the corner" if by "corner" you mean the Canadian border….

News that hamburger chain Burger King is bidding for Canada's iconic Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut chain provides another example of corporations relocating in foreign nations to dodge U.S. corporate taxes, while profiting from huge consumer sales in the U.S.

The tax-avoidance scheme is called "inversion," and we've recently noted where corporations are setting up their headquarters abroad to duck taxes here.  The assumption that all large corporations pay the full rate (35%) in corporate taxes is belied by the fact that the average rate they pay is 12.6% after taking advantage of write-offs and loopholes in the tax code.

From shipping jobs overseas to shipping themselves there, it's all about short-changing the public and pocketing the change in profits.

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon: Approved Ferguson Responses

(click to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Republican War On Women - Minnesota (Not So) Nice Edition

Try as they might to avoid it, Republicans attempting to hide their paleolithic attitudes toward women (and non-whites and non-straight people) are being exposed.  The most recent example is "Dim Jim" Hagedorn, Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party candidate for Congress in Minnesota's 1st District.  In the past, on his blog "Mr. Conservative," Hagedorn had some deep Conservative thoughts:
Lest anyone challenge his bona fides, Hagedorn wanted to make abundantly clear he was a straight white male. "Senator McCain's campaign was all but flat lined before he brought the feisty Caribou Barbie into our living rooms," he wrote in 2008. "Which reminds me, on behalf of all red-blooded American men: THANK YOU SENATOR McCAIN, SARAH'S HOT!" 
Not all female politicians were viewed as favorably. In a 2002 post, Hagedorn referred to Washington Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray as "undeserving bimbos in tennis shoes." Former Bush White House counsel Harriet Miers, he wrote in 2005, had been nominated "to fill the bra of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor."  (our emphasis)
We haven't seen his footwear, but we're going to say "Dim Jim" is an undeserving himbo in wingtips clown shoes.

Saturday Cartoon - That's Not What We Mean By "Diversity"

(click to enlarge)

 (John Deering, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Community relations might be a little difficult in places like Ferguson, MO, with psychopaths like (recently suspended) Sgt. Maj. Dan Page on the St. Louis County police force.  Sample quote:
"Policemen are very cynical. I know I am," Page says from a podium on the video. "I hate everybody. I'm into diversity. I kill everybody."  (our emphasis)
Page also rants about his opposition to hate crime laws and calls President Obama an "illegal alien."

Then there are these two sweethearts.  Missouri officials might want to administer some saliva tests to their state and local police to see how many cops like Page and his co-loons are strutting around with military-grade weapons.  Just a thought.

Insert Coin, Watch Scotty Dance

It's corruption season for Republican governors.  The latest shady deal to be exposed is Wisconsin Gov. Scott "Beam Me Up Scotty" Walker, who is alleged by prosecutors to have personally pressured contributors to his 2012 recall campaign to contribute to the right-wing Wisconsin Club for Plutocrat Growth, in order to duck campaign financing limits and disclosure laws.  Direct coordination between political campaigns and groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth -- which can accept unlimited, anonymous donations -- violates Federal law.

Beam Me Up Scotty is infamous for doing the bidding of the one percenters.  Gogebic Taconite LLC, a large iron mining firm, contributed $700,000 to Wisconsin Club for Growth and got their money's worth when the Governor later signed legislation to streamline mining regulations that benefitted Gogebic's mining project.  Birther Donald "Rump" Trump donated $15,000 to the group after a meeting with the Governor.  Then there's the prank call that he got in 2011 from a journalist pretending to be billionaire wingnut David Koch where he sucked up to his benefactor, promising to deal harshly with public employee unions.

The plutocrats, unlike the people, are getting what they paid for with Scotty.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hail To The (Slur)

The formerly great Washington Post Bezos Bugle has decided, as a matter of editorial policy, not to use the Washington football team's name, which is a slur on Native Americans according to the Federal Government (not to mention dictionaries).  The policy only impacts what's written on the editorial pages, not in the sports or news sections.  Too bad.

Owner Li'l Danny Snyder may have to cancel his subscription over this, which would elevate the quality of the subscribers immensely.

Weekend Box of Rain Song

This is a beautiful Phil Lesh/ Robert Hunter song from the Grateful Dead's "American Beauty" album that Lesh wrote to sing to his dying father.  He's said "Box of Rain" was intended to mean "the world we live on," and the time spent on it as ephemeral as, well, a box of rain.  But while we're talking about rain (it's been raining off and on hereabouts), we have to give a shout out to our Arizona Bureau Chief, AZ Gail, hoping that she stayed dry during the recent flooding in her area.  Enjoy the weekend and the song, because

It's just a box of rain
I don't know who put it there
Believe it if you need it
or leave it if you dare
And it's just a box of rain
or a ribbon for your hair
Such a long long time to be gone
and a short time to be there.

So Virginia's Not For Lovers After All?

The corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Bob "Blowdry Bob" McDonnell now hinges on whether the coin-operated former Governor can convince the jury that he and his -- uh -- materialistic wife Maureen were not enough of a couple to conspire in separating health pill magnate Jonnie Williams from his money in exchange for government favors.  The defense has been suggesting for weeks that the McDonnells were in a "broken marriage" that precluded any conspiracy between them to extract loans, gifts, etc, from Williams.

When Blowdry Bob took the stand for the first time yesterday, he portrayed a frayed marriage and a spouse beyond control in an attempt to distance himself from the gifts and loans provided by Williams.  Blowdry Bob, who was once mentioned on a short list of Republican Presidential possibilities, noted that his wife spent more time on the phone with Williams than with him, all part of an effort to distance himself from the "pay-to-play" corruption charges against him.  We'll see how the strategy works, but the prosecution will be eager to explore Blowdry Bob's direct involvement with Williams, for example his $30,000 investment in Williams' company, the $15,000 given to him to cover his daughter's catering costs, and much more.

BONUS:  Here's a teaser from Eugene Robinson's op/ed this morning on the Guv:
How far would you go to stay out of jail? Would you publicly humiliate your wife of 38 years, portraying her as some kind of shrieking harridan? Would you put the innermost secrets of your marriage on display, inviting voyeurs to rummage at will? 
For Robert McDonnell, the former Virginia governor on trial for alleged corruption, the answers appear to be: “As far as necessary,” “Hey, why not?” and “Sounds like a plan."  
Republican family values!

(photo:  "Bob, not so tight, you're choking me….Bob….Bob?"  Also, nice watch, Governor!)

No Good News There

Grim international events are keeping President Obama, the U.S. and the international community busy:

Earlier today, Ukraine accused Russian of invading its territory by sending a unauthorized truck convoy across the border near the city of Luhansk, where Russian separatists are losing the battle with Ukrainian forces for control.  Ukrainian officials said more than 100 trucks crossed the border, with only "34 or 35" having been thoroughly checked by border officials.  As a statement by Ukraine's foreign ministry indicated, "Neither the Ukrainian side nor the International Committee of the Red Cross knows the content of the trucks. This arouses special concern."  While many of the trucks may contain food, water and medicine, given Putin's designs on Ukraine, would it surprise anyone if arms and military supplies weren't tucked away with the "humanitarian" aid?

In the Middle East, the brutal murder of James Foley by ISIS/ISIL is only the latest outrage by their terrorist army, which has engaged in mass executions, rape and slavery.  Initially drawn into the battle against Syrian dictator Assad, ISIS/ISIL has waged a genocidal, fanatic cross-border war against Muslims, Christians and religious minorities in the territory they have gained.  Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated yesterday that ISIS/ISIL is as well-financed, well-armed and "beyond what we've seen" in terms of a very serious threat.  This won't be a "cakewalk."

UPDATE:  NATO sources are reporting instances of Russian artillery firing from inside Ukraine in support of pro-Russian separatists.  A NATO spokesperson said, "Russian artillery support - both cross-border and from within Ukraine - is being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces."  Ominous but not entirely surprising news.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Paul Ryan's Most Pressing Issue: Cutting Taxes On The Wealthy

Ayn Rand admirer and soon-to-be-Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (!) Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (Galt-WI) has told the right-wing rag the "Weekly Standard" that he thinks cutting the top marginal tax rate for wealthy Americans is an "even more pressing" need than it was in the reign of St. Ronnie of Hollywood, who cut it from 50 percent to 28 percent.

Because we don't have enough income inequality?  Or is this his way of addressing his "new focus" on poverty?

No, he's just showing his long-standing, true colors to his fan base of "Makers," whose philosophy of economic Darwinism drives their Republican Party's failed "trickle down" policies.  It's precisely the wrong formula for a healthy and prosperous middle class, which is the true driver of economic growth.