Pending cases, and Action Scene Open Thread

The SC has held out on releasing its most interesting rulings until the very end.   The two gay marriage* cases, the Voting Rights Act, and the affirmative action case.  The opinions should be out any day now, possibly as soon as tomorrow.


Perry v. Brown is the case about Proposition 8,  the California state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and banning recognition of gay marriages carried out previously or elsewhere.  United States v. Windsor is the case about DOMA,  the federal law that exempts states from having to recognize gay marriages from other states,  and banning federal recognition of such marriages.


If the rulings go against both California and the United States, it could be a major victory,  depending on the reasoning used.  The "best" ruling from the gay rights point of view would be a ruling that the laws discriminate against gays,  must therefore satisfy strict scrutiny, and fail to do so.  However, the court could use narrower reasoning;  for example,  rule that California need not perform gay marriages but must recognize them under the full-faith and credit clause,  and rule that DOMA is unconstitutional not because it is discriminatory but because it exceeds Congress' authority. 


The court could rule against the US but in favor of California,  effectively making it a state issue.   That would still be a win,  since it's feasible if not convenient to temporarily move to get married,  the resulting marriage would be recognized for federal purposes, and the full-faith and credit clause could be used to litigate recognition in the states that don't perform gay marriages.


Of course they could rule in favor of California and the US,  which would actually move things backward since DOMA isn't currently being fully enforced due to adverse lower court decisions.  It's hard to see how the court could rule in favor of the US but against California,  unless it was on some very narrow basis that didn't really do much for anybody.


My prediction:  CA and US lose but on the narrow grounds described above.


Shelby County v Holder is the case challenging the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which apply only to certain states.  As I've mentioned before, this case is asking the wrong question - preclearance,  to the extent it is a good idea, should apply everywhere, not just places picked 50 years ago - and it was brought by the wrong people.  The challenge should have come from a voter somewhere not covered, asking why Congress is not extending the same protection people in the South get.


The slight problem for the liberals on the court is that in an earlier case (NW Austin) ,  8 out of 9 justices, including some of the current liberals, signed onto an statement that "current needs have to generate the current burden",  and Shelby County argues there should be a mechanism to evaluate current needs so that a state or county that's clean can get back the same authority other states and counties have.  But in the oral arguments the liberal justices basically argued that Shelby County specifically is definitely still a racist kind of place and ought to be covered anyway,  and whether some other places should or shouldn't be covered is irrelevant to the case at hand.   Furthermore, even the conservatives seemed sympathetic to the feds argument that you get back the authority by persuading Congress you're clean and getting them to change the law.


My prediction:  Shelby County loses, probably at least 6-3.


Fisher v University of Texas is the case challenging the rather weak vestiges of affirmative action that still exist in Texas.  Texas has a rule that anyone in the top 10% of their high school class gets admission into any state school.  This rule accounts for most admissions at the top-tier institutions,  and has led to fairly good diversity statistics.  Fisher is challenging the use of race as a factor in the few slots that are left open after the 10% rule is satisfied. 


The current UT Austin system was presumably designed to meet the requirements the SC outlined in Grutter v. Bollinger when they upheld the use of race in admissions at Michigan Law School,  so for Fisher to win, the SC has to reverse itself.  Really,  I don't see a compelling case either way.  Fisher could have been admitted or excluded for any number of other reasons ranging from math scores to athletic ability, she can't really prove race was the reason,  she wasn't a particularly good student, and it's hardly the case that the state denied her an education - there were any number of other schools she could go to.  On the other hand,  plenty of minorities would get to go to UT Austin even without the affirmative action, so there isn't really a compelling case in favor.


My prediction:  Fisher loses narrowly.



*"Gay marriage", of course, being shorthand for a marriage between two people of the same sex.  It's always been legal for gay people to marry,  just not to the person they probably wanted;  conversely, it's generally been illegal for straight people of the same sex to marry for purposes of getting a tax deduction or insurance benefits or as a fraternity prank.



Since my attempts at serious diaries usually fail,  this is also a Top 10 Action Scenes of the 20th Century Open Thread.


10.  Tank truck vs. skinheads in dune buggies -  The Road Warrior (1981)

9.  Vicious flying monkeys tear up the strawman - Wizard of Oz (1939)

8.  Kung fu in rope factory - Miracles (1989)

7.  Banderas vs. Zeta Jones - Mask of Zorro (1998)

6.  Chase through jungle and across log bridge - King Kong (1933)

5.  Opening gunfight in teahouse - Hard Boiled (1992)

4.  Closing gunfight in abandoned church - The Killer (1989)

3.  Lobby scene - The Matrix (1999)

2.  San Franscisco car chase - Bullitt (1968)

1.  Chariot race - Ben Hur (1959)




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"Gay rights" decisions handed down....

Jay C's picture

DOMA unconstitutional.


Prop 8 appeal denied on standing, lower court overturn stands.



Though in the former case, not without the usual p*ss*ing and moaning from Mr. Justice Scalia:



"We have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation" and that the decision represents an "exalted notion of the role of this court in American democratic society."

Would an example of that "democratically adopted legislation" also cover the renewal of the Voting Rights Act which happened in 2006???

Also. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .this case is a reminder that the legal landscape can change rather abruptly when a flimsy statute--or a poorly reasoned prior Supreme Court decision--is all that is keeping the law in its current state. What happened to Plessy and DOMA could easily happen to Roe and its progeny.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Speaking Of Which. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .I wonder how many of the people I saw screaming yesterday about the illegitimacy of overturning solemnly passed federal laws by a 5-4 vote on the Supreme Court will be arguing otherwise today?

Another Kennedy special. . .but with Bork having passed in December at least those annoyed by him will have to concede that an Obama appointed replacement for a hypothetical Bork seat would have almost certainly voted the same way.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

The job might've kept Bork alive longer


An all-consuming conservative bitterness probably isn't conducive to longevity.

thats not a great health care policy


screw the rest of teh world so this one guy might live a longer life, hahahaha....

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw



to think of living under a Roberts, Bork, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito majority.


Judging especially from his post-judicial career, Bork might well have unseated Alito as the worst justice.


... Re: the Prop 8 and DOMA cases, anyone notice how Alito managed to again avoid siding with liberals?


In contrast, Roberts, Kennedy and Scalia swapped around between the two cases and Sotomayor in the Prop. 8 case joined Alito, Thomas and Kennedy in dissenting.


Alito's voting continues to present him as mostly a conservative dude on the high court, not a systematic legal thinker.

For the last sentence

brutusettu's picture

Not true.

Or Killed Him Sooner

M Scott Eiland's picture

No way to know.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

i'm sure you'll let us know


if any of your hypothetical hypocrites emerge from the ether.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Impromptu Darwin Award Of The Day

M Scott Eiland's picture

Yeah, sucks to be a stupid armed robber in a state where the Second Amendment isn't considered icky.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Here's another one for ya


Justin Stanfield Thomas Shot, Killed Accidentally By 4-Year-Old Son In Arizona


And while I don't really mind when a gun nut blows himself away I feel bad when someone else pays the price for their stupidity (and in this case for the kid who'll grow up knowing that he killed his father).



If these are the experts

brutusettu's picture

114 American deaths in Gulf War I were from Iraqi forces
35 American deaths in Gulf War I were from American forces (+9 British soldiers died as a result of American friendly fire)

Let the non-icky friendly fire begin


M Scott Eiland's picture

A brief musical interlude:

Note the lack of baseball highlights in this short video. I suspect that renditions uploaded to YouTube in the next few days will not have that lack.

Congratulations to the 2013 College World Series champion UCLA Bruins!

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Non-decision decision in Fisher


The decision in the affirmative action case ended up being kind of unexciting.  The opinion basically says that the lower courts used the wrong type of analysis when deciding whether the university used race properly as an admission standard,  and told them to rehear the case.  


A small defeat for affirmative action since the court confirmed (including Sotomayor and Breyer) that any use of race has to survive strict scrutiny,  but on the other hand a small victory since they also confirmed (including three conservatives Kennedy,  Roberts, and Alito) that the diversity rationale can meet strict scrutiny if enough evidence is provided.


Thomas and Scalia wanted to eliminate consideration of race entirely,  Ginsburg thought the university had already proved their case.




...not too far from your expectations.


Which, by the way, is why I've made no comment on them. Your reasoning looks sound all around, so I've had little to add that would be of value.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

The Nation covers jailed journalist Barrett Brown


A philosophy professor writes a good piece on this crackdown by the Obama DoJ on an investigative journalist.


The FBI acquired a warrant for Brown’s laptop, gaining the authority to seize any information related to HBGary, Endgame Systems, Anonymous and, most ominously, “email, email contacts, ‘chat’, instant messaging logs, photographs, and correspondence.” In other words, the FBI wanted his sources.



When the FBI went to serve Brown, he was at his mother’s house. Agents returned with a warrant to search his mother’s house, retrieving his laptop. To turn up the heat on Brown, the FBI initiated charges against his mother for obstruction of justice for concealing his laptop computer in her house. (Facing criminal charges, on March 22, 2013, his mother, Karen McCutchin, pled guilty to one count of obstructing the execution of a search warrant. She faces up to twelve months in jail. Brown maintains that she did not know the laptop was in her home.)


By his own admission, the FBI’s targeting of his mother made Brown snap. ...


Read more: The Strange Case of Barrett Brown | The Nation

At least they're just snatching up some relatives for jail terms

brutusettu's picture

instead of the Stalin way of gaining compliance by threatening to neutralize larger family groups.

Why Ecuador Doesn't Play Ball with the US


Anti-American professor Juan Cole provides an analysis which seeks to understand rather than eradicate Ecuador's unfriendly stance towards the US:


* According to the Christian Science Monitor, an Ecuadoran court found Texas oil giant Texaco (now part of Chevron) guilty dumping “18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater and 17 million gallons of crude oil” in the Amazon basin in the northeast of the country. It was found guilty of “polluting an estimated 1,700 square miles of rain forest – an area the size of Rhode Island.”


* The US, in pursuing its ... “war on drugs,” set up an air force base in Ecuador, which President Rafael Correa became convinced was also an intelligence operation. He closed the base in 2009.


* US and other banks had indebted Ecuador to the tune of over $3 billion. President Rafael Correa argued that much of this debt was “odious,” contracted by corrupt governments and given under unfair terms, and he managed to have half that sum revoked.


* The State Department ... with US pharmaceutical corporations, actively lobbied to undermine Correa’s policy of improving public access to medicines and reducing drug costs.

Rafael Correa and Ecuador's economy


Latin American success continues to put the lie to the US's conservative economic consensus.


At nearly every turn, Correa has ignored neo-liberal advice embraced by the US and Europe, despite acquiring an economics PhD in the States - from the Univ. of IL Urbana-Champaign.


1. Ecuador's Reforms under Correa. From a 2/13 CEPR report:


* Since President Correa took office in January of 2007, the government has embarked on a series of reforms to transform and regulate the financial system. ...The government built up a liquidity fund for banking system emergencies that is funded by taxes on the banks themselves, which is now at $1.2 billion dollars.


* The new constitution defined the financial sector as composed of ...cooperatives, credit unions, savings and loan associations and other member-based organizations.... In January 2007 co-op loans stood at 11.1 percent of private bank lending; by July 2012 this percentage had nearly doubled, to 19.6 percent. ...tripling in real (inflation-adjusted) terms...


* In May of 2009 the government established a Domestic Liquidity Coefficient, which required that 45 percent of all banks’ liquid assets had to be held domestically. This was increased to 60 percent in August of 2012. ...


* The government also placed a tax on capital leaving the country ... increasing as a share of government revenue from less than 1 percent in 2008 to over 10 percent in 2012


* An anti-Monopoly Law from October of 2011 prohibited combining multiple banks or different types of financial institutions, so deposit institutions, investment banks and insurance firms had to be separate. ...


* ... a stimulus plan, amounting to nearly 5 percent of GDP in 2009.


* The biggest increase in government spending came in housing, but there were also significant increases in health care spending and other social spending. The government’s most important cash-transfer program (the Bono de Desarollo Humano) increased by one-fourth. Education funding more than doubled, as a percent of GDP, from 2006-2009.


2. Correa's Economic Record. And what were the effects of this nightmare of taxation, government red tape, and increases in inefficient social spending in Ecuador?


* By the last quarter of 2012, unemployment had fallen to 4.1 percent, its lowest level on record (for at least 25 years).


* Oil prices collapsed in the second half of 2008, falling by 79 percent before beginning to recover in early 2009; at the time, oil revenues accounted for 62 percent of export earnings and 34 percent of government revenue. ... Yet Ecuador experienced only a mild downturn, losing about 1.3 percent of GDP during three quarters of recession. A year later, or 7 quarters from the onset of the recession, the economy had returned to its pre-recession level of output (this took four years in the United States).


* The national poverty rate fell to 27.3 percent as of December 2012, 27 percent below its level in 2006.


* Average real (inflation-adjusted) lending rates have come down considerably during the Correa Administration, from a high of 8.28 percent in April 2007 to 3.85 percent today.


As long as we're basically ignoring the rule of law in the US, how about instead of chasing down Snowden and Assange, US intelligence agencies kidnap Ecuadorean president Correa, throw out our incompetent officials and representatives, and install Correa to lead the country's economy?

Thought-provoking. nt

mmghosh's picture


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

I Wouldn't Go That Far


But Ecuador is worth watching. I really don't have a lot of info but there are significant differences with Venezuela.


A concern for the environment is one of them, as reflected by the protection of rain forest in an unusual move where Ecuador receives money NOT to extract oil under the Yasuni rain forest. This alone is a notable contrast with Venezuela, where Chavez has denounced capitalistic destruction of the environment in speeches stretching for hours, while making increased tar sands extraction a goal for PDVSA.


I don't really trust Correa but I think that, his power being less absolute, he is moving the country to the left quite decidedly, but not as hard or as arbitrarily as the Chavez regime. Above all, he has little ability to engage in magical monetary policy so long as the dollar is the currency of the land.


Just to be clear, it goes without saying that I don't trust his opposition either. Also, I am perfectly aware that using a foreign currency has a cost and is not ideal. It's simply the least worst realistic alternative where currency has been systematically debased for many years. Inflation isn't free either.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

"Don't trust Correa"


Why not?


More Ecuadorian economic success from naked capitalism's Bill Black:


* 7.8% GDP growth in 2012


* A million Ecuadorians brought out of poverty (in a nation of 15 million) under the Correa administration.


* enormous emigration of Ecuadorians prior to his leadership replaced by net immigration.


* lowest unemployment rate in Latin America (4.1%)


* 2012 real wage growth of 3.0%


Correa has won 3 elections, the last two in landslides, and now enjoys an 85% popularity rating.


This 6 yr. record of leadership has lead to widespread greater prosperity and should give Correa the benefit of the doubt.


If we had honest economic reporting in this country, Ecuador along with several other countries in Latin America would be presented as blistering counter-examples to the consensus conservative economics. 


See CEPR's blog on The Americas for regular reports on propaganda in the US press that misrepresents the economic realities in the region.

And of course...


...Ecuadorean statistics are to be blindly trusted.


I know all about the US press and it's economic alignments. I also know that in Latin America economic "miracles" (of either the leftist or rightist persuasions) often turn out to be far more pedestrian booms fueled by one or more ponzi schemes, like monetary emission or one-off income from privatization of state assets.


Don't forget that Ecuador exports 300,000 barrels a day and has a small economy (120 billion a year). You need to be amazingly corrupt to screw that up (and past governments there have been). Correa is less worse. Is he good? Let's wait and see.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

"Let's wait and see"


For what and how long?


You're dismissing economic reports from The Center For Economic Policy Research, a respected think tank, and Correa's already in his 3rd term, with more than 6 yrs. as president under his belt.


As far as I can tell, your skepticism has migrated into unsatisfiable standards of proof.


This has the unfortunate effect of not being responsive to circa 15 yrs. of evidence re: the rise of leftist governments across Latin America (for which I like the term "the pink tide").

About 15 years


A decade and a half would be more solid.


The "pink tide"? Look at Brazil. Why are they rioting?

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Should we keep up the European austerity


for another decade then as long as we're dealing in 15 yr. increments?


... Lula and Brazil have been borderline members of the pink tide since Brazil's been fairly centrist (by Latin American standards), which I gather is going to continue under what's her face, the economist president they have now.


Even so, I dont think mass protests and rioting are incompatible with the pink tide, but rather have been fueling it. The cocao farmers were blocking roads in Bolivia when I was there despite electing their union head as president and I've read about indigenous miners in Ecuador rioting and protesting under Correa.


Good for them, it seems to work. Brazil has backed off its transport and tax rate hike. When the police cracked down on protesters in Brazil, the protests just grew.


When police cracked down on Occupy, most of the population jeered or was indifferent.


We got more lawless banking and a sequester in return.

No, Of Course Not


Abject failure shouldn't get 15 years benefit of the doubt, or even five.


I think what you are missing from the distance are the high rates of corruption and many other serious problems. Rioting like that doesn't happen for a bus fare hike. That's just the spark.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

The thing is, we have 15 yrs. of leftist governments


in Latin America. Chavez was elected 15 yrs. ago and a tidal wave of leftist governments followed.




Income inequality is falling in Latin America even as it rises elsewhere in the world, according to a World Bank study that encourages government intervention to reduce the wealth gap.


Over the past 15 years, more than 50 million people have risen into the middle class, which is now – for the first time – about the same size as the population of poor in the region, says the report, which was unveiled on Tuesday.


... a combination of favourable economic conditions and interventionist policies by left-leaning governments in Brazil and other countries has brought it more closely in line with international norms.


"This is not just a statistical anomaly. It is a significant reduction in inequality," said the World Bank's regional chief economist, Augusto de la Torre.


You could dismiss the World Bank's report and wait another 15 yrs., but I don't think that's a rational approach to assessing the available evidence. I think the west has had its head in the sand re: the success of leftist Latin American governments for too long. 


I think it's time to start looking at the region as the future, both b/c these countries have already lived through the harsh realities of the Washington Consensus that western governments are now imposing on themselves, and because of the increasing influence of Latin Americans in the US, who are much more likely to support these kinds of governments. 



Bernard Guerrero's picture

Rise Of China.  That is (almost) all.  You see 15 years of lefty governments, I see 15 years of commodity booms thanks to Deng Xiaoping.

Most people see China = lefty government. nt

mmghosh's picture


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

It Only Started Succeeding. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .when it stopped living strictly according to communist principles (and, not coincidentally, it has murdered its own citizens on a far lesser scale since that time).

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Still lefty, though. nt

mmghosh's picture


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

If Fascism* Can Be Considered Leftist

M Scott Eiland's picture

That's an argument that usually attracts mockery and/or anger from our friends on the left.

*--They don't call it that, but if it walks like a duck. . .

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).


mmghosh's picture

China's government is not lefty? Healthcare, education and all banking, insurance etc is done by the state.  That's lefty, by most definitions.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Oh, It's A Leftist Model

M Scott Eiland's picture

It's just not a *communist* model any more.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

What is a "communist" model? Workers councils?

mmghosh's picture

Workers co-operatives?  Peasant democracy? 


"from each according to his abilities, to each according to their needs"  captures something of the communist ideal, at least I think so.  Perhaps the early Proletkult?  

"The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one"

pure Bogdanovist god-building, IMO :)

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency



You can't see that distributing over an entire population the spoils of a commodity boom in the form of education, health care, infrastructure, and jobs is a major, major accomplishment of these leftist governments? 


And I guess you can't see any dividends down the road of investing in a country's material and personal infrastructure b/c conservatism?

Brazil? Rioting? Very Common, Rising Expectations almost


...always proceeds social turmoil. There is nothing unusual in this. Historically it is almost pitifully common.


No one could be more of the left than the current President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, a former imprisoned revolutionary.


When the boot is lifted just a little, then the peasants can see a bit of sky and want a piece of it...before most revolutions you will fine things actually getting better in the society.


Best Wishes, Traveller



But you get into very shaky ground when you find a way to interpret violent rioting as a positive. Anybody could play that game.


Sometimes a spade is a spade. Rioting happens because people are angry, and they are angry with the powers that be, no those that were.


Neither of us would interpret rioting students in Chile as a sign of success for right-wing president Piñeira, would we? So why the double standard with Dilma? Because she spent time in jail 30 years ago? She can go as king crazy as any other human.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

I Have to Continue to Disagree With You on Brazil...


...unlike Chile that had its own Lefty's runing things, Lagos (2000~2006), and Michelle Bachelet (2006~2010), Brazil was for much longer a desperately poor country while Chile and, to a certain lesser degree, Argentina, were firmly middle class regardless of various financial upheavals. 


The rest of South America, well maybe not Uruguay, has lagged behind for decades and decades and so giving rise to Chavezism. Things are much better in Brazil, it is now finally becoming a middle class country where the people can expect to have a voice, (can we ever get the Argentines to ever shut up on anything), and I am thrilled to see people finally have enough to eat that they can demonstrate in the streets...rising expectations.


And not wanting to be run maybe the Olympics and the World Cup were forced on the people...they maybe love soccer, but maybe loved better health care and education for their children more.


Grandiose Olympic spending and for the World Cup also was a visible sign that people's money was going there instead of where it was needed and further, a transit hike to help pay for more of these boondoggles rather than the needs of the people was the spark...a formerly poor country trying to announce to the world it had arrived...when the funds would be better spent elsewhere.


So in your sense, yes something was wrong and wrong that was visible with a people that now in my sense, rising expectations led to and supports the Brazil Riots.


Best Wishes, Traveller

Lula spent time in jail too


and Rousseff was his Chief of Staff.


i.e., I'm not sure there's been much discontinuity between the two admins, tho I'd be interested to hear of examples.

Hah - Lookit Heritage on Ecuador




Ecuador’s economic freedom score is 46.9, making its economy the 159th freest in the 2013 Index. ... Once considered moderately free, Ecuador has slid significantly in the rankings and continues for a fourth year as a “repressed” economy.


I'm sure the people of Ecuador are appalled to be so economically prosperous, er ... repressed.


Bill Black's comment puts things nicely:


Modern theoclassical economics has made an art form of fake empiricism produced by fake think tanks that shape their product to please their corporate founders/donors. The products may look like science, but it is simply dogma misrepresenting reality in an intellectually dishonest manner. President Correa drives entities like Heritage nuts because Ecuador has been so successful while he has been president because he championed policies they despise.


LOL...That's an Idea of Some Merit...nt



Landing In Moscow Sounds Like A Bad Plan

M Scott Eiland's picture

Given Mr. Putin's apparent ability to kill his enemies at a distance and his also apparent love of rare shiny objects:

"Edward Snowden was found dead today of unknown causes in his hotel room in Moscow--authorities declined to confirm a report that a Geiger counter brought to the scene of the death by the coroner was lighting up like a Christmas tree. In other, unrelated news, Mr. Putin replied to a question regarding a second Super Bowl ring he was seen wearing for the first time today: 'It was a gift from a friend who loves to win.'"

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Snowden might not have had any other options


I doubt very much there are direct commercial flights from Hong Kong to Guayaquil or Quito.


I wouldn't do a layover anywhere in Europe.


Remember, Assange has been stuck for a year in Ecuador's London embassy.


There's not a lot of places these guys can go.

Oh, I Think That is Exactly Correct...He Had to go Moscow/Havana




The interesting question will come tomorrow when a commercial airliner carrying Mr. Snowden and his party cross over into US airspace on an approach to Cuba...will we scramble jets, will we force the plane to land in Miami?!?


What fun.


Best Wishes, Traveller

Not Worth The Uproar

M Scott Eiland's picture

If they were willing to go to such extreme measures, they would have had someone snatch him in HK.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).



A snatch would be illegal. You are talking about committing a felony in a foreign country we are not at war with.


Forcing a plane down in your airspace is heavy handed, but totally legal.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

I Have A Feeling. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .that it would still cause an international incident, even if technically legal. Also, the snatch might be done in a way that would make it deniable by the US (particularly if they were ruthless enough just to make the man vanish). If so, the suspicion would always be there but there would be no concrete proof.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Think About That


Snowden does not appear to have thought things through beforehand, but he's either lucky or smart so far. He's certainly in way better shape than Manning.


Meaning, I don't think the man was walking around Hong Kong at 2 AM in a dark alley. I'd bet he's been in carefully chosen locations with carefully chosen company. Not so easy to snatch without the help of local police. And that sure as heck wasn't going to happen.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Has grounding a foreign plane like that ever been done before?


It would seem to dare foreign countries to do the same to US planes in their airspace.

Grounding a plane 'like that', maybe.


Remember the Achille Lauro and how we got the high jackers?

edit: I don't know if that is 'like that' enough.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 



THe wiki article doesn't say exactly where the planes were intercepted, but gives the impression it took place over NATO ally airspace (Italy), which might mean the US would have other options even if Snowden's plane steers clear of US airspace. 

You Sound Positively Putin-ish!

(#305792) times I have myself admired the very direct way Mr. Putin handles a problem.


Recently (this month)  there was his divorce over his long standing affair with a 25 year old lovely Russian gymnast...


Ain't no scandal here! Nothing I'd want to report on...(and live)



And yet the direct way is not known to be successful

mmghosh's picture

in the long term.


A good comment here

If the Government is collecting these records AND using them, you would expect to see drug seizures, Mafia dons going to prison, angry people with guns and on-line fantasies being arrested, tax evaders imprisoned. That is, if the data being collected was being used for the better running of society.


If the streets, Wall Street included, and government officers were being cleaned up, I’ll bet the American people would accept a lot of personal intrusion in their lives. If the Bad Guys had to go to writing letters again, they would be emasculated – just as Osama bin Laden was once he could not use modern media. Which would also be a good thing in most Americans’ view. The problem with Prism etc. is that the power of social overview is NOT used for the good of the community. Ever.


And how effective is it, anyway? Nazi Germany had the power of the State behind it and could not detect an assassination plot against Hitler. Romania and East Germany successfully spied on their citizens and in the process shut down social development. North Korea controls everything, but only those at the top of controls live reasonable lives. The ex-Soviet Union watched but could not stop the dissent they observed, despite, again, the coercive power of the State. And despite the power and the will, none of these examples lead to a better, more efficient, more effective, more stable, more happy society.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

HaHaHaHa...Big Rolling on the Floor Laughs...Did You Write This?


...Very excellent!


Wow, that is good!


Best Wishes, Traveller

The Fake News Quote? Yes

M Scott Eiland's picture

Sadly, Putin's political enemy dying from radioactive poison and his mysterious acquisition of a Super Bowl ring? Not fiction.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

No, No, I Know the Facts, It Was the Quality of the Writing


...I was commenting on.


Let me try again...if written by you, Nicely Done, Sir.


Best Wishes, Traveller

Thank You

M Scott Eiland's picture

Just a throwaway, but I like to keep my hand in. I haven't written much fiction except for Remixes the last few years.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Obama's approval ratings


CNN poll's approval/disapproval ratings:


3-17: 47% / 50%

4-7:  51% / 47% 

5-17: 53% / 45%

6-13: 45% / 54%


One explanation for this is that Obama got a bounce during the fake IRS and Benghazi scandals, but once real national security scandals started to surface about 6 weeks ago, his support began collapsing: 


"for the first time in his presidency, half of the public says they don’t believe Mr. Obama is honest and trustworthy."


Democrats should be worried that Obama's excessive authoritarianism will drag the party down in 2014.


Obama's (so far) disappointing 2nd term might also make a successful primary challenge to Hillary more likely, given increasing disenchantment with the D establishment.

Exclusive Content to the Forvm! Via Forvmite Traveller who Went

(#305766) the crash site of Michael Hastings. I was out and about on Friday night so I went to the place where Mr. Hastings died. Obviously  some people do not think that this was an accident...ahem.


I do not believe, (or at least I hope not), that my government actively kills Journalists...and yet this is a perfectly straight road, there was no heavy traffic to avoid, the vehicle was a brand new Mercedes Benz that should not have any mechanical problems, but maybe a dog or some animal did run into the path of his car when he was speeding...or, he was a 33 year old man blasted out of his mind of LSD/acid...damned if I know, but it would be difficult, I think, to jump that curb and plant your car directly into that palm tree...


Certainly possible, but unlikely...(yet this seems a bit too obvious, lacking in subtlety, and very difficult to guarantee this result...hummm).


And the US continues to put a full court press on Russia and other countries to prevent the transit of Edward Snowden. I am actually a little surprised by the obvious fury of congress members over this....maybe because they spent so much money? I don't know, but I do know that the US is all in on Snowden, but no longer has to worry about Mr. Hastings.






What about suicide?


Right after I graduated high school an underclassman killed himself like this.  I should say, he died from moving at a high rate of speed and hitting an immobile object, and the act was deemed a suicide.  Probably a fair call, no seatbelt, no skid/brake marks or any other sign of attempted correction, suicide speed, fairly straight road and the distance he had to come out of lane to hit the 'wall'* dead on were all indicators.  I'm not saying it is suicide, just having seen this before, it's in that pile of stuff that may occur to me and not others. 

*the vertical part of the planet to the left and right of a tunnel.


In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

It could be


Modern airbags and crumple zones make it a very unreliable method,  likely to lead to a job only halfway or three-quarters done.  If it was it was probably not thought out ahead of time.

A Lot Of Suicide Attempts Are Like That

M Scott Eiland's picture

And the list of methods that are reliable, not terribly painful, and don't risk harming or dragging others into one's demise isn't all that long. It's even shorter if for some reason the person doesn't want it to *look* like a suicide. "Reckless" driving on a mountain road with a sheer drop and no structures down below would probably do it if one had the presence of mind to skid convincingly before going through the guard rail.*

*--I always found it a little creepy that Grace Kelly had her fatal auto accident on the same road from that famous sequence in To Catch A Thief when she terrified John Robie (Cary Grant) by barreling around those narrow roads to evade the authorities shadowing Robie. Clearly, she was not attempting suicide with her younger daughter in the car with her, but if she had been alone (and if the autopsy hadn't shown signs of a stroke), there probably would have been whispers about it to this day.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

How Interesting! (Was Grace Kelly)...nt



Yeah, Eeyn, I agree but I'd point out two things


First, sometimes the results just speak for themselves.  If it's stupid and it works..... . The other is that I'm sure not how useful a rational approach is when trying to figure out the thought process for a suicidee.  

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

He got "lucky"


with the fire.  The passenger compartment didn't look crushed.

Well, I'd say the compartments that matter are the ones


that house the brain and all them squishy things in a fella's chest.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Ha! See eeyn, Your Threads do Grow Exponentially!...nt



Bah humbug


150+ comments and not one,  not even one,  addressing the incredibly interesting and absolutely crucial issues raised in the diary.  Not even a simple "Eeyn,  you're wrong."

Hey man, I did my thing.



In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Suicide is So Distinct a Possibility as to Be a Major...



....consideration. Some aspects of the accident are so improbable as to make Suicide a probably.


So yes, Suicide, a Corporation, or Black Ops seem likely...and of equal probability.


Best Wishes, Traveller



People who commit suicide send messages saying they are hot on a major story a few hours before?


Suicide is totally out of the question here.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

MA, I disagree


I'm speculating for lack of anything better to do.  Suicide certainly seems plausible but I wouldn't attempt a guess as to whether or not it's probable.  You're categorically ruling it out, unless you have some inside scoop on the dude's mental state, you're speculating to a far greater degree than I am.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Point Well Taken, I was being Gererous in Interpretations...nt



The Director of National Intelligence


gets to openly and flatly lie under oath to Congress w/out any repercussions. 


I don't think there's much question that our surveillance state doesn't have to play by the rules.


Re: linking this to Snowden, I'm reminded of a tweet by a reporter at The Atlantic: In Dulles UAL lounge listening to 4 US intel officials saying loudly leaker & reporter on #NSA stuff should be disappeared.


Who knows what happened, but would anyone be particularly surprised that Michael Hastings was "disappeared" by a US intelligence agency? There's a national security exception to due process after all.


A Flaming Death On A Public Street. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .hardly counts as "disappeared." Leaving for work/home/the neighborhood bar one day and never returning and not leaving a trace is more that trope.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Conspicuous is a bonus


if the intention is to intimidate others into silence.

Fair point - it's very conspicuous


which probably makes it less likely to be an intelligence operation.


Who knows, tho. This reporter brought down a NATO commander, recently went into hiding, and contacted WikiLeaks's general counsel about his national security reporting on the day he died.


I don't pretend to be an excellent judge of the likelihood of a domestic journalist being killed on US soil, but the fact that it seems within the realm of possibility for our federal government is damning enough.


I particularly like the Closing Sentence in that


Police have not yet confirmed that the person killed was Mr Hastings because the body was burned beyond recognition.


All of this just seems odd, somehow not right.





I am Fairly Surprised That a Semi-Famous Corruption Judge is..


...actually traveling with Mr. Snowden. Sitting next to him and, in effect, personally protecting Edward Snowden. The United States needs to be aware of some of what is not being reported widely in the US press...this is real coupe for Snowden...and looks good everywhere in the world, excepting the US.


Baltasar Garzon is the Spanish Judge that prosecuted Pinochet. The first time that Universal Jurisdiction has been successfully used.


And some fun, my most recent photograpy.....Yum!


Best Wishes, Traveller

I hope the Obama admin can get its hands on these moral monsters


That judge is aiding and abetting a known criminal.


Both of these scum deserve to rot in prison for their anti-American commitment to human rights.

Rand Paul pretended to be open-minded on immigration reform


I guess he's not interested in transforming the GOP into a 21st century political party after all.


No matter how many 10s of billions you throw at the US border (they just put in an additional 30 billion and 20,000 border guards), it's never enough:


"I'm all in favor of immigration reform, but I'm like most conservatives in the country, [in] that I think reform should be dependent on border security first"

NSA spying threatens US competitiveness


A Forbes editorial:


The vast foreign and domestic spying by the NSA revealed this week threatens the global competitiveness of US tech companies.

I Need to Send Money to Wikileaks Soon, Taking Bets Where...



....Snowden finally ends up.


I am not sure that some of this isn't disinformation to confuse the United States as to where Snowden is headed.


For me, what is interesting is where I would go were I Snowden....Iceland would give you rock (island) fever I think; Cuba would be nice for the colonial architecture; Venezuela would work for the Caribbean beaches, but Mother Russia is Mother...


Snowden is going to have an interesting life!


Where would you go?


The only Aeroflot flight that arrives from Hong Kong into Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport today is at 17:05 local time (13:05 GMT). Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin was unaware of Snowden’s plans to fly to Moscow.

It is understood that Moscow will not be Snowden’s final destination, he could potentially fly on to Ecuador or Iceland where he has allegedly applied for asylum. A diplomatic source told the Russian news agency Itar-Tass that no request for asylum in Russia had been received from the former CIA employee. 

Citing a source close to Snowden, Russian news agency Interfax reported that the whistleblower’s final destination will be Venezuela with a transfer in Havana, Cuba

“He chose such a complicated route in the hope that he would not be arrested on the way to his final destination of Venezuela,” the source told Interfax.


Best Wishes, Traveller


Stranger By The Minute


Venezuela is not a good choice. Unsafe, unstable, and certainly not free.


Hong Kong must have requested he leave.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

"Hong Kong must have requested he leave"


That seems to be the case: 


Ho told reporters on Monday that an individual claiming to represent the Hong Kong government had indicated to Snowden that he was free to leave the city and should do so.

"certainly not free"




Venezuela's a democracy and has better elections than the US's.

What do you mean 'what'?


I get the lefty desire to embrace all things Chavez, but come on.  When the common practice is to visibly display the roll of cash on the dash to pay the shakedown toll just to make sure you aren't 'mistaken' for some border jumping FARC guy, you've got to make a hell of a sale to convince yourself that's greater freedom than what you have in the US.  That's not to say the US doesn't need work but there is no comparison worth making between the two countries.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

I said the elections were better in Venezuela than in the US


I wasn't saying Venezuelans enjoyed more freedoms overall, just rebutting the claim that it's "certainly not free".

Well Sure


But who said the US was the benchmark? After all, we are talking about Snowden, the guy who told us the US reads everybody's mail.


Venezuela is not cool. If the US isn't too cool either these days, that doesn't make it any better.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Elections aren't everything.


Iran has them too.


Press freedom is suppressed, freedom of movement is restricted. You need to ask the government for permission to buy foreign currency in order to travel, for example, which involves explaining the reason for your trip, and the length of it, while the government tells you how much you can spend there.


And, though this is not a government policy as such, personal safety is low. The Venezuelan crime rate is the highest in South America. Kidnapping is common and widely feared.


If he's really going, at the very least he should stay the F away from Caracas. His stay will not be free. If they take him, they will want something in return.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Iran isn't a very good example


it has fake elections of people w/out real power who are from a list that is pre-approved by people who do have power.


Actual free elections, which Venezuela has, are pretty dang important, and Venezuela has less voter suppression and more participation than in the US.


Most media in Venezuela is privately owned and much of it is nakedly against the government and pro-opposition. Let's not exaggerate the situation or forget that we've got our own freedom of the press issues.


You've got some other points, but when Chavez died shortly after yet another US election with long lines and voter suppression, I became convinced that people in the US should show a lot more humility when criticizing Venezuela.

Even Snowden Gets It


He's going to Ecuador.


I know a few Venezuelans and people who travel there frequently. How can I put this... let's say that reality on the ground is not quite what you seem to think it is.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Gets what?


Ecuador is one of Venezuela's closest allies and has modeled itself after Chavez's Venezuela as much as any nation in S. America, w. the possible exception of Bolivia. 


I mean, Ecuador under Correa has charted a course deliberately informed by Chavism, down to nationalizing industries and pushing back against a hostile business press with state licensing. 

It Has


That's true, but it is a far weaker regime. Ecuador doesn't even have its own currency (they use dollars).


Like Venezuela, it has a high crime rate though, so Snowden better take care of himself.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

I've traveled in both countries and managed to not get hurt


Ecuador is a weaker regime, which is one reason it's so closely aligned with the stronger Venezuela.


I'm sure you noticed how all the South American countries being mentioned as Snowden destinations are in the Venezuelan-lead ALBA nations.


Re: the $, Ecuador is committed to moving to an alternative currency in common with Venezuela, the sucre.

That's easier said than done.


The SUCRE is not a currency as such but an exchange unit for trade within ALBA.


To get out of the dollar Correa would have to seize dollars now in circulation and in bank accounts in Ecuador. Good luck with that.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

OK, but the main point


is that pointing to Ecuador to diss Venezuela doesn't make a lot of sense, given that the two countries have very close ties, including a commitment to a common currency, and given that Ecuador has generally followed Venezuela/Chavez's lead in numerous ways.

Or They Made It Clear They Couldn't Hold Out Forever

M Scott Eiland's picture

Venezuela will be perfect for him--it's being run by a self-aggrandizing little drama queen that has paranoid fantasies about the US wanting to murder him. Hell, he might even be elected President there someday given his match for the preferred "Great Leader" profile of the land.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Drama Queens Are Never Reliable


They can turn on a dime. Snowden, if nothing else, has proven he's not the compliant type.


Yeah, I think HK basically said you are free to go, but we can't keep doing this for long.


But that's kind of odd though. The truth is that in a matter like this China can do whatever it wants, indefinitely.


Still, on the whole I don't get why the market has failed to grasp the significance. Google should be trading 30% down. Catchy's Forbes article is correct. American cloud services are dead to foreign government and corporate customers. Just like that.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Drama queens can be found in many places



I expect that foreign governments and large corporations already had a pretty good idea that this was happening. Private citizens not so much but they're not the ones buying cloud services.

Yes and No


I'm sure IT types suspected or assumed it, and some management too. But broader stakeholders, shareholders and employees in the case of corporations, voters in the case of governments, did not.


So, if only to avoid the pitchforks, American cloud services will be replaced wherever possible. There is also a vested interest here. A lot of companies, especially in the telecom sector, have been waiting for an opportunity to stick it to Google. Laws will soon be drafted (by them), and passed, with the stated objective of safeguarding privacy, but with the effect of moving business back on shore for them.


It does not help that both reports and US government statements have emphasized that only information of "US persons" is under Constitutional protection. It hurts a lot, actually, and those statements will be used constantly to hammer in distrust of US service providers.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.



It's one thing to have suspicions, however, and another to have conclusive evidence of lawless --or barely lawful and constantly expanding-- spying.


I think some governments and businesses received new information from The Guardian's reporting.

This is a public relations disaster for the entire country


I'm trying to think of a way to go about combating a reputation for having an alarmingly militarized government with an alarming domestic and international reach that is unconstrained by the rule of law. 


The Obama admin's answer is to aggressively chase Snowden with trumped up espionage charges across multiple countries, all on the front page of newspapers worldwide for the next several months.



But it primarily impacts the tech companies. IMHO Google above all.


Chasing Snowden keeps the story going.


So glad I did not vote for Obama.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

I wish Google would circumvent


US national security and intellectual properties law to the extent they have circumvented US tax law.

Cuba. And Greenwald? nt

mmghosh's picture


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Imagine if the Obama admin. put forward


"If Hong Kong doesn't act soon, it will complicate our bilateral relations and raise questions about Hong Kong's commitment to the rule of law," a senior Obama administration official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.


1/10th of the intensity and effort on prosecuting mortgage fraud as on prosecuting leakers.



You Mean. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .a tenth as many anonymous leaks to the effect that, oh darn, they'll be really, really peeved if those banks don't get in line? Maybe that an angry letter will follow?

Hope that the Obama administration people have shark proof skivvies.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

General Counsel for the New York Times


"President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom."

In Fairness. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .it's a common (and often rather dishonest) technique to downplay the sins of the retired and/or dead politician when one is attacking a current one. I've always been particularly amused at the clumsy praise heaped on Bush the Elder by columnists (and occasionally liberal activists) while his son was in office, given that how a lot of those writers savaged him while he was in office. The same could be said for old Clinton enemies comparing him favorably to Obama.*

*--though, admittedly, Clinton's time in office was (on the whole) much quieter on the international scene than Obama's, so Obama really is involved in stuff that Clinton was not.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I think there's evidence to back up the claim


From The New Republic:


Before this revelation on Monday about the AP, there had been six leak prosecutions under Obama by comparison with, depending on how you count, three in all of previous American history,” said Scott Shane, another national security reporter with the Times.



Snowden makes it 7 Espionage Act prosecutions under Obama, every one for leaking to the press.


That has unnerved reporters, he and others said, but even more so their sources: national security officials. In fact, it’s hard to call a reporter on this beat who hasn’t felt sources withdraw as the subpoenas and seizures have piled up.


... Jane Mayer, a national security reporter for the New Yorker, has had a source targeted by the FBI for potential national security violations, and another who feared being targeted. “People reporters need to be able to speak to become legally quarantined, so there’s no way then to get the story,” she wrote in an email. “It’s a huge impediment to reporting, and so chilling isn’t quite strong enough, it’s more like freezing the whole process into a standstill.”


The Obama admin. is doing a lot to shut down investigative journalism on national security issues.

I'm Not Disagreeing That He's Been Out Of Line

M Scott Eiland's picture

I'm suggesting that the "worse than Nixon" claim is a bit extreme, and I'm saying this as someone who has been fond of labeling Bill Clinton "the modern Democrat version of Nixon" (and explaining *why* I say that), and who obviously isn't a big Obama fan (while not partaking in the idiocy of Birtherism). Of course, one might wonder why the IRS is *acting* as if it were under Nixonian-type orders to screw Obama's political enemies, but hey, I hear from the Powers That Be that the IRS scandal is dead, so that can't be important.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Traveller Have you seen these yet?


Here is the link to the second part of the travelar national geographic picture contest photos.... 


Amazing stuff... :) 

Ask courageous questions. Do not be satisfied with superficial answers. Be open to wonder and at the same time subject all claims to knowledge, without exception, to intense skeptical scrutiny. Be aware of human fallibility. Cherish your species and yo

Thanks Da, Several Things of Interest...


...all of the photography was fabulous and I will be sending this link around on what Photography can be. Especially useful was the explanation caption under the image. But here's what I leared...this may seem simple, but it is important.


Some of the most wonderful images too great time and forethought to capture. (the Eagle image took 7 years!)


Many other wonderful images were the product of simple accident and serendipity. (I especially liked the image from the island off Italy, Sorrento, where he had walked past the street several times and only went down it to find that wonderful scene because he missed his ferry back to the mainland).


This was great fun for me and will be enjoyed by anyone that takes a look.


Thanks again.


Best Wishes, Traveller

Snowden charged with espionage


The complaint is sealed,  of course,  but those always reliable unnamed "officials" say espionage was among the charges.  There are lot of different sections to the espionage statute,  but if the feds make the case that the secrets were military in nature,  and we are "in time of war",  the death sentence is available.   Most likely a court would rule "in time of war" to mean a war declared by Congress,  in which case it's life imprisonment as the maximum. 

Now it's unsealed


at least the first page.  Three counts,  maximum of 10 years on each.

Police agent provocateurs targeted London Greenpeace.

mmghosh's picture

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

And Screwed MickeyD's In The Process

M Scott Eiland's picture

The term "own goal" comes to mind, unless the guy was an 11 dimensional chess player working for Labour or something.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

"Own goal"


Good term.


But it's a little disturbing how easy it is to think of law enforcement as essentially working for large companies.

Just Making The Reasonable Assumption. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .that he was trying to frame and thereby bankrupt the local Greenpeace organization. He may well have just been a guy who didn't like Greenpeace very much (they can be very annoying, admittedly). Or he might have been aware of McD's tendency to use legal overkill and decided to cost them a lot of money at little cost to himself. Where's a Klingon Mind Sifter when we need one to determine motive?

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I'd like to remind you that Star Trek is very liberal


I've been watching it recently and Republicans are portrayed by Klingons and later the Ferengi. 

Liberal? Perhaps progressive but not liberal.


The entirety of the plot is centered on a ship where the dude in charge enjoys pretty much absolute authority over everyone else.  It's rife with exploitation and favoritism.  Just look at the bridge. Spock does two things, jack and sh*t, except when he mindmelds with the rock eating lasagna, then he horribly over-acts.  Meanwhile Scotty is always busting his own a$$, oh except when they play to the strereotype and show him half in the bag.  Bones, angry. white. guy.  'nuff said.  Oh and like there isn't a caste system or anything.  'Effin awesome! I got a blue shirt.  What's yours Bob?  Red? Oh, sorry.'

Jesus, what a sign for the future.  Every other episode they need more; power, phaser, shields, cloaking device, or a thing that sees through cloaking devices, pick any two.  TNG comes along and do they have any of that stuff, nah screw it, they get a holodeck, an android and a klingon who, amidst 25th century technology, favors a weapon that he stole off a mosque steeple.  The rest of the Federation has got to be saying 'Seriously, Earth doesn't design any of our sh*t anymore.'  Also, in TNG how many folks do you think lost a shootout, realizing they grabbed a portable vacuum cleaner instead of their phaser?

And like every good govt program that employs the needy you get your grab bag of self-propelled fecal matter.  Take Chekov and Sulu.  Helmsman my a$$, they are always screwing around on facebook, it's where Takei got his start.  'Hey seriously guys, wake up.  We got a Romulan battle cruiser over there.  What?!? Sulu! What are you doing? WTF is that?  11th dimensional angry birds?  Quit screwing around and get the shields up.'  Which leads to my biggest personal beef.  Who keeps putting the shields down?

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Especially Ferengi...! The Reslembance is Frightening (nt)



TNG Era Is, Anyway

M Scott Eiland's picture

Which explains why a Federation that has solved all problems of basic need gets smacked around on a regular basis by third rate civilizations until Picard, et al fly in to save the day. Kirk would have kicked the snot out of the Cardassians in a single episode with time left over to sleep with the enemy commander's wife before the final scene.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

All Of It


All Star Trek is socially and economically liberal.


Granted, some of it, particularly TOS, but also some later work, is hawkish when it comes to security. Yet even in TOS we've become friends with the Russians.


Other than that though, the Star Trek universe is a godless, social-democrat cespool of diversity, tolerance, and strong government by way of the ever present yet largely benign Federation.


I'd score it as 90% liberal at least.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Interhuman Relations Don't Count

M Scott Eiland's picture

And at the very least TV TOS was conventionally capitalist (and the existence of spacefaring traders in the TNG era suggests that the "post money" image had some asterisks). Certainly overall more JFK brand liberalism than Obama-style.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

"The TV TOS was conventionally capitalist"


how so? I haven't actually made it through a full episode of TOS.


I remember the Original Series at least had the Federation, which is the UN to the tenth power.


TNG definitely isn't capitalist, a couple of asterisks or no.


Also, StarFleet's headquarters are in San Francisco. Think about that.

I Have

M Scott Eiland's picture

They evidently threw out the idiots in the area who hate the military and moved in what passed for soldiers in that era. Must have really p***ed off the hippies.

As for TOS economics, money was visibly used on Federation planets and outposts, and independent space traders were even more visible than they were in the TNG era.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Just b/c they used credits doesn't mean they were capitalists


and at least in TNG, independent space traders seem like they're on the fringe of social structures - relatively primitive, or species who link other societies- rather than an integral part of the civilizations they come across.


Except the selfish, exploitative Ferengi.

Well Sure


I know what JFK stood for. I still don't know what Obama does.


Star Trek was very much a projection of the Kennedy era, extrapolated hundreds of years, but recognizable nonetheless.


Obama stands for very little that can be recognized as a coherent body of policy. Rather, his administration thus far looks like a collection of tactical compromises that satisfy neither friend nor foe.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

For all we know


he might have been a Greenpeace plant in the police department.   Some kind of triple-agent,  or is it quadruple-agent,  I lose count.

I Can Just See The MSNBC Expose. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .if some of the more paranoid theories floated in the sinestrosphere about the criminal activities of the Occupy Idiots turned out to be true:


. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Krugman's rethinking on monopolies and rent-seeking


To date, he hasn't centrally tackled Intellectual Property or monopoly issues.


Back in his more moderate days in 2000, he wrote an article criticizing the Clinton DoJ for pursuing anti-trust action contra Microsoft.


Yesterday, however, Krugman wrote:


Profits Without Production


... what’s really different about America in the 21st century?


The most significant answer ... is the growing importance of monopoly rents: profits that don’t represent returns on investment, but instead reflect the value of market dominance.


This isn't good for anyone other than the wealthiest corporations:


... the growing importance of rents is producing a new disconnect between profits and production and may be a factor prolonging the slump.


A monopolist can ... be highly profitable yet see no good reason to expand its productive capacity. ... Apple ... provides a case in point: It is hugely profitable, yet it’s sitting on a giant pile of cash, which it evidently sees no need to reinvest in its business.


... to put it differently, rising monopoly rents can and arguably have had the effect of simultaneously depressing both wages and the perceived return on investment.


You might suspect that this can’t be good for the broader economy ... If household income and hence household spending is held down because labor gets an ever-smaller share of national income, while corporations, despite soaring profits, have little incentive to invest, you have a recipe for persistently depressed demand.

Just to link this up with the Ezra Klein comments below


Though the earlier comments centered around tax policy, Ezra's main point was that tax and spending policy is only one component contributing to inequality (government is only about 20% of the economy).


What Krugman is talking about is just as important -- e.g., government-granted monopolies via copyrights and patents, or financial consolidation and activities that serve to redistribute money upwards.


Two comments on Krugman:


1. He might've mentioned that the Fed's tragically low inflation also isn't incentivizing companies like Apple to re-invest their cash piles.


2. Two Supreme Court Cases this week show how bad conservative justices are for the economy and competition:


2a. In Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis, the Court held, in a five-to-three decision by Justice Breyer (Justice Alito was recused), that antitrust lawsuits challenging so-called “reverse payments” may proceed. Reverse payments are payments from the manufacturers of brand-name drugs, made to the manufacturers of generic drugs to convince them to drop challenges to the brand-name manufacturer’s patents and stay out of the market.


Three conservative justices voted with patent-holding, rent-seeking Big Pharma (and guess which way Alito would've voted).


2b. In American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant ... a group of merchants alleged that American Express had engaged in anticompetitive behavior, and they tried to arbitrate those claims as a class. American Express argued that they had to bring individual claims. The problem with that, from the merchants’ perspective, is that the costs of bringing a single antitrust claim (hundreds of thousands of dollars) dwarf the potential damages (closer to ten thousand dollars).


Guess which 5 justices sided with American Express's right to rent seek thousands of dollars from small businesses.

More on American Express v. Italian Colors


The Most Pro-Business Court Since the New Deal Strikes Again


This was the anti-trust case where small businesses were trying to enter into a class action lawsuit b/c the individual court costs of suing American Express were greater than the amount American Express was skimming from individual smaller merchants.


Unfortunately, American Express has small merchants agree not to engage in class action lawsuits, but instead opt for arbitration. That was good enough for the 5 conservatives on the court: 


"...antitrust laws," Scalia asserts, "do not guarantee an affordable procedural path to the vindication of every claim."



The article comments:


Today's holding has potential implications that go well beyond the ability of small businesses to bring antitrust claims against monopolies. Based on this ruling, for example, employers could require employees to sign employment contracts requiring them to waive their ability to bring class actions, making laws such as the Civil Rights Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, and Americans with Disabilities Act in many cases impossible to enforce in any case where the damages are exceeded by the cost of individual litigation.

Bernanke legacy watch


The Fed turns hawkish while failing on both inflation and unemployment targets.


This picture's worth a thousand words:




Brad DeLong, Tim Guy and Mark Thoma all criticize Bernanke






The critique is that the Fed is no longer being driven by data, but calendar dates and general hawkish discomfort.


Inflation, growth and employment are all below targets and earlier estimates, yet Bernanke announced yesterday he's likely to pull the plug on QE next year.


The moral of the story is don't put conservatives in charge of the economy.

Maybe This is Why Obama Was so Peavish With Him...


...on the Charlie Rose Show and, in effect, according to many, firing him on the air.


Best Wishes, Traveller

June 22, 1938

M Scott Eiland's picture

Louis/Schmeling--The Rematch: don't blink or you'll miss it.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Such a Beat Down, Just Like Ginobili in both Games 6 & 7/Spit/nt



Game Seven At The Half: Miami 46, San Antonio 44

M Scott Eiland's picture

At the end of Game Seven tonight, either Tim Duncan or LeBron James' legend will be set in stone beyond the reach of all but the most fanatical haters of the victor. The other man will find those who jeer him (or, in the case of Duncan, find him and his four rings to be boring and want him to go away) will have gotten a second wind, and a miserable offseason will follow for him. High stakes indeed.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Duncan's late missed shots for a few feet away

brutusettu's picture

instantly reminded me of Ewing's missed layup back in the day.



Manu's crazy 180° jump pass for no reason, well that's just one of the special things Manu brings to the table from time to time.  Not much was out of the ordinary there, might as well yell at clouds.




It's on Ginobili


How many turnovers did he have in the 4th quarter?


I watched the 2nd half of this game and just think the Spur's loss is mostly his fault.

Fun Stuff, The USA Assassinates a Reporter in Los Angeles


...the FBI denies all involvement in the death of journalist Michael Hastings...lolololol..Ha-ha.


Somebody killed him and I don't like conspiracies in general...but this smells bad. Mr. Hastings was the journalist that caused the resignation of General McChrystal and won Mr. Hastings the 2010 George Polk award for magazine reporting.


But he's dead now, 4am in Los Angeles, on Highland, a steet I know well...but his car Mercedes Benz looks like it was hit by a RPG rocket, and, conveniently, someone is there to snap a picture and video of the accident as it a palm tree or a lamp post that magically disappears...I mean our spooks must be getting sloppy.


Please see pictures and write up here...fascinating stuff!




Also interesting to note:

Hastings wrote an exposé of America’s drone war, an exclusive interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at his hideout in the English countryside, and an investigation into the Army’s illicit use of “psychological operations” aka mind control/psy-ops.

Michael was also investigating the current NSA scandal.






Trav, I'm not seeing the conspiracy here


I mean, 'conspiracy' kind of gets derailed when

"Also it looks like the street has been hosed down around the crash area ..."  What gave that away?  The wet road, the busted fire hydrant, or the picture where the hand of the guy holding the hose that's squirting water into the street is in frame?

Also the picture where the car supposedly hits a lamp?  The lamp is across the street, had a car actually hit that thing with enough force to rip it's motor out at the very least the lamp wouldn't be lit.

The big suspicion, who'd have a camera at at the site?  Dude, the other day I was fooling with my phone and I accidently took a picture of myself, taking a picture of myself, filming myself, taking another picture of myself, looking at satellite imagery of myself, taking a picture of myself, taking a picture of me taking a nap.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 



...that's a staggeringly violent crash. Did you see where the engine ended up?


Obvious conspiracy? No.


Suspicious as hell? Definitely.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Seriously, I Also Don't Like Loudlabs News (?!?) Being at the...



...scene 60 seconds after the accident and he jumps out and starts asking residents:


"Where's the Driver? Where's the Driver?" Twice.


What kind of question is that?!?


And then follows up, confirming, "Is anyone in there?"


These would not be my first questions...more like, What the hell happened?


In any case, this is my city, this is a corner I know extremely well...I've driven this myself many times at 4:30AM, so I am naturally curious.


And who is Loudlabs news, in a fairly sophisticated truck, scanner blaring in the approach?






loud labs looks like car crash chasers judging by their YT page

brutusettu's picture

car dash camera, police scanner etc.

OK, I Didn't Know There Was Such a Thing...Ahh...


...there is so much I don't know.



On the Other Hand, THAT Would be a Perfect Cover Name...


...for a company within "The Company."




And a good cover would have a Website anyhow.



I would've asked that question


concern for the safety of the driver seems normal 

No, On Further Reflection Your Points are Germaine....


....but but, was brand new rented Mercedes....and Poof. I agree a little about the tree, light post and water, but the Pictures from the LAT in the day look entirely different.


I just searched Youtube tonight for the video which I hadn't seen before and I wanted to post this before the


But as someone noted:


...hmm, how do you stop a runaway car if the accelerator keeps accelerating, the brakes cut out, and the key doesn't shut off the car? i guess you hit something like a palm tree, but then it's rigged to explode on contact, which also knocks you out, and you become a fritter critter.







Last E-Mail By Michael Hastings--Just Hours Before The Killing..

(#305717) crash.


In an email sent hours before his death in a single-car L.A. crash, journalist Michael Hastings wrote that his “close friends and associates” were being interviewed by the FBI and he was going to “go off the radar for a bit.”

According to the email, sent to KTLA, Hastings wrote he was working on a “big story” and was going to disappear. He told his colleagues that if the FBI came to interview them, they should have legal counsel present.

The subject of the email was “FBI Investigation re: NSA.” Hastings sent the email to his colleagues just before 1 p.m. Monday and blind-copied his friend, Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs.


Well, he has disappeared, hasn't he? Permanently!







OK, that's starting to look suspicious


The fact that he was trying to go off the radar means the story's on mine.

If you're doing conspiracies


there's this article that came out yesterday, although the allegations are old.

The producers of an upcoming documentary on TWA Flight 800—which exploded and crashed into the waters off Long Island, N.Y., on July 17, 1996, killing all 230 people on board—claim to have proof that a missile caused the Paris-bound flight to crash. And six former investigators who took part in the film say there was a cover-up and want the case reopened.


Jim Speer, an accident investigator at the time of the crash for the Airline Pilots Association, who sifted through the recovered wreckage in a hangar, said he discovered holes consistent with those that would be formed by a high-energy blast in the right wing. He requested it be tested for explosives. When the test came back positive, he said, he was "physically removed" from a room by two CIA agents.


Yes, I Saw That, I Don't Think it Will Ever Be Allowed to Be


...known that a US manufactured, shoulder fired, surface to air missile brought down a commercial aviation plane on landing or take off.


It simply would not be allowed to be made public.


Terror in the skies indeed!


Best Wishes, Traveller  

Spot The Legitimate Objection

M Scott Eiland's picture

The Zimmerman jury has been seated. So, what is really objectionable here--the fact that there are no blacks on the jury (expected demographic average for a Florida six person jury--1), or that there are precisely zero men on the jury (expected demographic average for a Florida six person jury--3)? One hopes that the defense was competent enough to weed out the MSNBC and "The View" watchers with challenges--or anyone who reacts to the name "Rosie O'Donnell" without dry heaving.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

One hopes for the defense of Peter Pan,

brutusettu's picture

that they can convince the jury that Zimmerman is a flipping idiot that's too stupid to know he's carrying a gun, too stupid to appreciated the fact that he's parked between a pedestrian on a sidewalk and where houses are, too stupid to know he's trailing someone walking back to where that person is staying, too stupid to follow a dispatcher's advice, too stupid to know that he already gave enough to info to the dispatcher about where TM was walking to,  too stupid of a neighborhood watchman to remember he had a gun while just looking for the name of the street he just passed (there's 3 gods damn street names in that little enclave,  3 street names and GZ, the neighborhood watchman, tells the police that he forgot the name of  by far longest street that circles around the interior of the enclave?), while out of the truck Zimmerman is concerned for his safety but forgets he has a gun,  sees the person he was following but forgets he has a gun, claims to get sucker punched and get the crap beat out of him but still forgets he is carrying a gun, claims that he was the last person in a fight to realize he was carrying a gun, wrestles control of the gun despite claiming he was getting his *** whopped.

Ezra Klein on inequality


What's changed isn't advancing technology or some other fatalist understanding of inequality, it's that the economy is deliberately and increasingly engineered by the government to send $s upward.


M Scott Eiland's picture

Wow--so raising taxes on the rich is not only OK, it's downright morally required!

Nice try, Ezra--your side lost this argument before your mom handed you your first juicebox.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Aside from directly


funding social programs, higher marginal rates could affect dynamic scoring in the other direction too:


1. Say I need to clear $5k a month to pay my mortgage and bills, kid's tuition and yadda yadda.  Instead of working less if my tax rate is higher, why would I not be incentivized to work more?  Or get a better job.


2. If I'm a small business owner and am contemplating whether to give my 20 employees a raise or pay myself enough to buy that sweet yacht, a higher marginal rate may convince me that spreading the wealth is better for everyone in the long run.  Which is also true in a macro sense since the economic activity multipliers are much higher for those with lower incomes.



Define "lost"


A strong majority in the country want to raise taxes on the wealthy and the Bush tax cuts have been recently and partially rescinded.


I don't know of any polling on the ethical motivations for wanting to tax the rich but "it's moral to help the less well off" would probably rank fairly high.


The only reason tax collections from the wealthy aren't significantly higher is b/c the rich and powerful have their boot in the face of American democracy.

Fighting Over The Last Gasp

M Scott Eiland's picture

The fifty percent tax bracket is as dead as Vanilla Ice's career, and that old liberal favorite (along with far more draconian levels of taxation) is what young Mr. Klein is waxing rhapsodic about, and which he will never see again except in the history books.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I have to doubt


That you even read the essay. First, it's more like a book report rather than an opinion piece... second, on balance it pretty much minimizes taxation as a factor, and emphasizes other factors that government hasn't anything to do with (technology) and other stuff that government has got something to do with (like patents.) But if you're having fun, don't let me stop you.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

So your comment is in favor of the rich and powerful


putting their boot on the face of American democracy.


Is that what I'm reading?

I know what *I'm* in favor of!

Bernard Guerrero's picture

I keep what's mine and the losers can take a long walk off a short pier.

Yeah, well, eventually there won't be any rents to collect


or $s to plunder from the developed world's middle classes.


Obviously you can't have the top earners increasing their incomes at the expense of everyone else's indefinitely. 


Enlightened self-interest and all that.

It's like sports


Pick a team to root for, cheer it on, and trash talk any opposing team. Choose a color, a mascot, grab a hot dog and watch from the rickety, collapsing stands. 

Some people still make a distinction


between "help the less well off" and "force other people to help the less well off".

People who make a big deal about that distinction


basically prioritize silly theoretical arguments over actually helping the less well off. 


But maybe someday the silly theoretical arguments will prevail, and we can get rid of all these horrible programs like medicare and social security that make America such a terrible place to live.

Why the fetish about....

Bernard Guerrero's picture

Maybe because I am the less well off?


And so are many people I know and care about?


Perhaps the second might be true of you as well, but you're too busy repeating an anti-utilitarian narrative to notice.

I'd say


calling the distinction between coerced and voluntary behavior "theoretical" is a fairly extreme position.  Not to say there's never a good case for a bit of coercion,  just that I don't think the issue is "silly".


When it comes to the financial and material side of things,  it's important enough that most languages  have different words.  For example, in English, one tendency is called "generosity" and the other is that four-letter word starting with an "e".

I'd say


it's not the "coercion vs. voluntary" distinction itself that's problematic, it's overly worrying about the distinction as applied to tax policy.


That's how we've ended up with as many people in this country harboring "taxation = theft" paradigms as people sensibly figuring out how best to incentivize widespread achievement and prosperity.



I'm familiar with cases where each of the other conservative justices branch out from their conservative brethren and vote with the liberals.


At least as of 2012, this has never happened with Alito.


He's much more likely to be a lone hold out on an 8-1 case like today's Descamps v. United States, which allows for less harsh sentencing of felons. Or he'll be the lone vote on cases that show he doesn't really care very much about free speech that offends his sensibilities.


The spirited lone dissent in the Fred Phelps picketing funerals case in particular was the single dumbest opinion I have ever read from the modern court. The sum total of Alito's argument was that the 1st amend. was never intended to allow for the "brutalization" that Phelps was inflicting on the families of dead soldiers.


Alito doesn't seem to have much of a judicial philosophy whose consistency would demand that he occasionally cross ideological lines. He's just some guy with an unsystematic, politically conservative outlook who the country is stuck with for the next several decades. 

Russell Brand eviscerates Mika & Co. on Morning Joe

Bird Dog's picture

I have never seen Mika so rattled and intimidated. I always thought the guy was pretty funny but he was brilliant in this clip.



Alexandra Petri:

They start by oddly baiting him (“He’s a really big deal… I’m told this. I’m not very pop cultured, I’m sorry”) addressing him in the third person, and at some point calling him Willy? I think? It’s unclear what they think they’re doing. And about six minutes in, he commandeers the show and marches off with it, leaving no survivors. (“Is this what you all do for a living?” he asks, later adding, “These people, I’m sure, are typically very good at their jobs. You’re conveying news to the people of America? People of America, we’re going to be okay.”) I would liken the hosts to a kitten pouncing on what it assumes is a dazed snake and discovering it has latched onto the tail end of a dragon. It’s cringe-inducing. “You’re talking about me as if I’m not here and as if I’m an extraterrestrial,” he observes. Never mock someone with a British accent.
“Thank you for your casual objectification,” Brand says, after one of the hosts starts talking about him and his accent in the third person. Another of the hosts, after Brand suggests more serious topics for discussion, goes back to riffing on the comic’s attire, and Brand cuts in, “That’s the problem with current affairs. You forget about what’s important and you allow the agenda to be decided by superficial information.”


Sometimes it helps to have someone visit and point out what the Emperor is wearing.

It’s not the hardest thing in the world to say. Comedians are often in the best position to say it. “You are supposed to be serious,” Brand and Stewart said. “At least, compared to me. Here’s what being serious would look like. And instead you’re — doing whatever this is. What is this?”
It is not difficult to say but it still bears saying.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009



Thanks for posting that. They were outclassed and outgunned, and they knew it.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

yeah, he kicked their ass


they all seemed like they were on paxil or xanax or something, when confronted with someone who can think and speak without cue cards they were dumbfounded.



“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Moar GOP outreach.



That rebranding is extra awesome. Plus they just voted to ban abortions. Keep it up, chumps.