Monthly Archives: June 2011

Colbert Gets His SuperPAC.

In a five-to-one decision, the Federal Election Commission granted comedian Stephen Colbert the right to create a “SuperPAC” to raise money for the 2012 election campaign. This would make him an equivalent to people like Karl Rove who are attempting to influence the elections.

But the FEC also concluded that the television host’s employer, Viacom Corp., would have to report any help it gives to Colbert for political activities outside the “Colbert Report” show. The panel gave the newly registered “Colbert Super PAC” a relatively narrow media exemption applicable only to the humorist’s show. Any assistance from Viacom outside the show must be treated as “in-kind” contributions and reported to the FEC.

Since the 2010 Supreme Court decision allowing unfettered corporate spending in elections, Super PACs like Colbert’s now number over 100. They didn’t exist before the Court’s decision (a point Colbert seems to be making in a comic way.)

“Some people have said, ‘Is this some kind of joke?’ I for one don’t think participating in democracy is a joke.”

..said Colbert to the crowd afterward. When a reporter asked him when the first ad would run, Colbert Responded:

“I’ve got to get some money first.”

Education Break: The Story of Bottled Water

This is from the Story of Stuff series with Annie Leonard. Occasionally I run one of these at Under The LobsterScope. This is one I haven’t run before.

This is why Elly and I put a water filter onto the kitchen sink and no longer buy bottled water.

A Quote for the Day – Taxing the Rich…

Obama says Republican Leaders Must Bend on Taxes – especially in restoring tax cuts for the rich.

Speaking at his Press Conference today:

“If you are a wealthy C.E.O. or hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are lower than they have ever been. They are lower than they have been since the 1950s. And they can afford it… You can still ride on your corporate jet. You’re just going to have to pay a little more.”

- Barack Obama

Jobs Bill Killed!

This was sent to me this morning in John Case’s Daily Mailing:

Another Jobs Bill Killed via Open Congress : Blog by Donny Shaw on 6/23/11

On June 6th, the Senate opened debate on the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011, a bill to reauthorize and expand a long-running and consistently successful job-creation agency, the
Economic Development Administration. The EDA has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, and this reauthorization bill was introduced with bipartisan co-sponsorship and passed out of committee without any dissent from Republicans. But after two weeks of debate, the bill was unanimously filibustered by Republicans and has now been pulled from the floor.

Like the last jobs bill to die in the Senate, the bill was bogged down and ultimately killed by dozens of controversial and unrelated amendments that were submitted to it. Senate rules do not requireamendments to be germane to the bill they are submitted to, so individual senators can choose to use any bill to force a vote on any of their pet issues. By the time the EDA bill was killed, 99 amendments had been submitted, and the list read like an overview of current hot-button political topics. The amendments included everything from raising the debt ceiling, to repealing health care reform, repealing financial regulatory reform, expanding offshore oil drilling, and more.

This problem of non-controversial bills being killed by controversial amendments has its roots in a deal on procedure that Democratic and Republican Senate leaders agreed to at the beginning of this session.
In exchange for Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] keeping bills open to amendments, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell [R, KY] and his caucus agreed to not mount filibusters of bringing bills to the floor as a matter of routine. As a result, the Democratic majority has been able to hold debates on their legislative agenda, but the Republicans have also been able to turn every debate into an attempt to repeal health care reform.

The Senate Majority Leader has almost complete control over what bills get brought up for debate, so it is the case that most Republican issues stand no chance of being voted on this session outside the amendment process. But the Senate can’t vote on every contentious political topic for every bill, so Reid has to make a decision when to cut off the amendment process and start moving towards passing the underlying bill. In this case, Reid allowed two Democratic amendments and two Republican amendments to be voted on before filing a motion to end debate and move forward towards passage. But since most senators didn’t get to have their pet amendments voted on, they voted against
 he motion to end debate and essentially forced a filibuster. Even Sen. James Inhofe [R, OK], an original co-sponsor of the bill, voted for the filibuster.

And so gridlock prevails, even on the one issue that everyone claims to care about — job creation. Just another example of why Americans have less confidence in Congress than any other institution in American society.

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So the next time Mitch McConnell complains about Obama not doing anything to create jobs, send this article to his office and ask “Why?”

Keith Olbermann’s show brought up the relationship between the Debt Ceiling battle and the 14th Amendment.

Keith brought up and interviewed a couple of people on the 14th Amendment’s specific requirements of meeting all National debts on his program tonight… something that hasn’t been mentioned in any other budget discussions of late.

Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (You know – that document that the Tea Party says everything has to be based on?) confirmed the legitimacy of all United States public debt legislated by the Congress.

In Perry v. United States (1935), the Supreme Court ruled that voiding a United States government bond (ie: a debt… like the National Debt…or like the cause of our current deficit) “went beyond the congressional power” on account of Section 4.

Republican economist Bruce Bartlett argues that Section 4 renders the debt ceiling unconstitutional, and obligates the President to consider the debt ceiling null and void. Gee… I guess that means that there are no required budget cuts to abide by Constitutional law.

Let’s see if Obama will use this instead of giving in to Republicans again.

Why aren’t they prosecuting Whitey for EVERYTHING?

James "Whitey" Bulger

Who says the elusive Bulger still has no influence in Boston?

The Federal prosecutors have moved to drop a 1994 racketeering indictment against mob boss “Whitey” Bulger including charges of extortion, loan sharking, witness tampering and conspiracy.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz says prosecutors consider a later 1999 indictment charging Bulger with 19 murders the stronger case, since faces life in prison on those charges. Doesn’t he also face life if you add the other charges? Maybe several lives.

Why take a chance with a guy who already eluded them for 16 years?

I’m making another stab at the Under The LobsterScope Podcast this morning at 10…

So, if you want to see if I get through or not (which always seems questionable) go  HERE to  BlogTalk Radio.

If you miss it, the recording will be at BlogTalkRadio, HERE .

You can call in during the half hour that it’s on at 1 (661) 554-9186. I’ll be glad to discuss just about anything with you.

________

UPDATE

_________

Success, Success! I only did about 15 minutes since I was testing out the iPhone and connections, but it worked.

I’ll plan bigger and better for next Tuesday.

Celebrating New York State’s Legalizing Gay Marriage…

I was going to right something about the overwhelming vote in the New York State Legislature which has legalized Gay Marriage… but then I heard Jonathan Mann‘s Song-A-Day for today, and that about sums it up:

Nuff Said.

June is turning out to be a miserable month…

Do you know the feeling when you go in to your auto mechanic‘s operation to get a headlight replaced and walk out with an estimate for over $1,000.00 worth of work or your car is going to fall apart within the next 3000 miles?

Or how about having a computer with only two weeks left on the warranty that your local repair guy couldn’t handle and he sent you to another place 60 miles away and then this guy said it would have to be shipped to Apple to have them look at it… meanwhile you’re still waiting?

Or the little part-time job you were told you’d have in June when it was presented last April just never came through?

Or that your built in depressive personality is caught up in what seems like the destruction of government, especially relating to senior citizens like you who depend on Social Security and Medicare and you don’t feel like there is anything that can be done about it?

And don’t forget, you are five weeks away from the next Social Security check and this month’s problems have already eaten up the one you got last Wednesday…

Well, that’s where I am as the month ends… and, on top of that, I’m feeling more lost and alone than usual (Cymbalta or not) and, at many times during the day, these feelings keep me frozen in one place, unable to accomplish ANYTHING.

This morning I made one or two major screwups on the radio show… thankfully Ralph Petrie called in and corrected at least one… and I left having little or no confidence in my broadcast abilities. I’m not at all sure what will happen with tomorrow’s podcast… assuming the telephone connection doesn’t screw it up like last time…I still haven’t had one episode that sounded at all good or where I would listen to me given the choice.

I have to go do the dishes before Elly gets home and I don’t feel like getting out of my recliner (I also aid I’d make a pie… yeah, sure!).

I hope July is better… at least we’ll have the Contemporary American Theatre Festival to kick it off… and I can remember how my Theatre career fizzled in the seventies.

Why I love (and support) Bernie Sanders…

As the debate over deficits ramped up in Washington today, Sen. Bernie Sanders laid out the compelling case not to slash programs for working families. Any deficit reduction package must rely on new revenue for at least half the reduction in red ink, he added in a major address in the Senate. Sanders spoke at length about what caused deficits (wars, Wall Street bailouts, tax breaks for the rich) and how to shrink them (more revenue from the wealthiest Americans to match spending cuts). He urged fellow senators not to yield to Republican congressional leaders who “acted like schoolyard bullies” when they walked out of budget negotiations. And he urged President Obama not to accommodate them again on the backs of working Americans, the poor and the Elderly. He summed up the situation in a letter to the president that had been signed by more than 18,700 people by the time he completed his speech.

Sign the letter »

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Women vs. Corporations (and Society in general)

Jim Morin at the Miami Herald:

So the Supreme Court thinks more of Wal-Mart than it’s poorly treated female employees…

- and -

Kevin Siers in the Charlotte Observer:

… and their lawyers were reduced to second raters…

- and -

Jeff Danziger of the New York Times Service:

… but perhaps the second raters are actually IN the Supreme Court…

- and -

Tony Auth in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

… and women are persecuted by society in general…

- and -

Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald Leader:

… of course, we are following precedents from other countries.

- and -

Alice Playten (August 28, 1947 – June 25, 2011) died today…

I was so sad to hear of the death of Alice Playten in a posting from Charlie Leipart on my Facebook Page. Playten was 63 years old.

Originally a television face in a 1970 Alka-Seltzer commercial, Playten went on to act on and off-Broadway, in films and on a number of television shows.

I first saw Playten onstage in the rather abstract off-Broadway musical Promenade by Al Carmines and Maria Irene Fornes, where she played Miss U. She went on to appear in shows such as The Last Sweet Days of Isaac and National Lampoon’s Lemmings (for which she received one of her two Obie Awards.)

Alice Playten was liked and admired by so many in the Theatre.  As Charlie said in his Facebook post:

“What a light and joy Alice was to the theatre. I am stunned and so very grateful that her life touched mine. She brought her amazing talent and joy for living to all who knew her.”

As June ends we see the economy getting worse…

Unemployment looks like it’s starting to go up again, even here in Shepherdstown where we were doing pretty well – something which I think is pretty common in small University towns not based on industry or international trade – and I’m getting more and more pissed off at our Congressfolk who would rather battle for control of the government than the salvation of the citizenry.

Take, for instance, the walkout of Cantor and Kyl from the deficit talks – blaming it n the Democrats seeking tax increases for the rich (after they had already given up three trillion dollars in concessions according to the news on television). Now it seems the walkout was pre-planned and this  was a strategy to throw the Republican position into Boehner‘s lap, keeping the House from any kind of agreement on returning the upper 1% of rich folks from going back to the tax levels that Bush had brought them “temporarily” down to. As they pulled this off, the ability to fund the basics of Medicare and Medicaid seem strained and folks like Max Baucus, one of the few Democrats that I have the least trust in, announced he was ready to look at more cuts in the health care agenda.

If the deficit ceiling is not raised by the end of the next three or four weeks we will have plenty of opportunity to hear both parties blaming the other… both of them claiming that the majority of Americans agree with them. But since the rest of us are all part of that majority of Americans it seems strange that no one really feels the politicians are really speaking for us.

Perhaps it is time for us all to find ways to show that we could work together to solve problems, and send the politicians, lobbyists, Koch Brothers, Fox Newscasters, and all the rest who are making their big bucks on this conflict out into the night.

Maybe we can do it. Maybe.

Today is the Shepherdstown Street Fest…

… and I’ll be spending some time there. I’ll get back to the blog later today…

- Bill

A Quote for the Evening… the Unions are not quite dead yet (Hooray).

“Today’s union families ought to follow the example of those who came before us. Talk to your children about why some politicians want to use us as scapegoats. Tell them why attending a union meeting at night is important. Make sure they understand the importance of standing up for what’s right.

“Tell everyone from your children to your neighbors to your newspapers that privatization can be stopped and collective bargaining can be restored. Tell them why we must defeat politicians who want to hurt working families. Our union’s political strength — the Green Machine — has long overcome our adversaries and, working together, it will continue to be the force of change. We’ve proved our determination in the past, and we will do so time and again.”

- AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee

OK… defeating politicians who want to hurt working families. That means defeating huge corporations and tax-eating billionaires. Are you ready? Can we do it?

Everybody say “Yeah!

Peter Falk – “Columbo” – is dead at 83

After several years suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Actor Peter Falk died yesterday at his home in Beverly Hills.

The idiosyncratic character actor first caught my attention in 1961 in the film A Pocket Full of Miracles, Frank Capra‘s last film and a color version of his 1933 classic Lady for a Day. Falk played a comic underling  gangster to Glenn Ford‘s Dave the Dude.

During his career, Falk made over 50 films, but he will be remembered by audiences for his years on television as the disheveled, cigar smoking Police Lieutenant in the wrinkled raincoat.

He drove a beat up Peugeot and was always polite to the suspect (and this was the only show at the time where the audience knew who did it from the beginning.) The fun was in watching Columbo, in a most distracted and fumbling manner, lead the guilty party to a confession.

Columbo, and, indeed all of Falk’s characters, had a signature squint due to his having a glass eye, which was due to a tumor removal in childhood. After the series’ long run, he came back several times over the years to play the Columbo character in made-for-TV movies.

Suppose you were killing weeds in your garden and producing birth defects, too.

Monsanto‘s Roundup, which has been associated with deformities in a host of laboratory animals, may have a similar impact on humans.. One laboratory study done in France in 2005 found that Roundup and glyphosate caused the death of human placental cells and abnormal embryonic cells. Another study, conducted in 2009, found that Roundup caused total cell death in human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells within 24 hours. Yet researchers have conducted few follow-up studies.

“Obviously there’s a limit to what’s appropriate in terms of testing poison on humans, but if you look at the line of converging evidence, it points to a serious problem. And if you look at the animal feeding studies with genetically modified Roundup ready crops, there’s a consistent theme of reproductive disorders, which we don’t know the cause for because follow-up studies have not been done.

“More independent research is needed to evaluate the toxicity of Roundup and glyphosate and the evidence that has already accumulated is sufficient to raise a red flag.”

- Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology

We have been critical of Monsanto for soft-peddling Roundup, as have members of the scientific community. In 1996 New York State’s Attorney General sued Monsanto for describing Roundup as “environmentally friendly” and “safe as table salt” (although I don’t think anyone from Monsanto would sprinkle Roundup on their spaghetti.) Monsanto, while not admitting any wrongdoing, agreed to stop using the terms for promotional purposes and paid New York state $250,000 to settle the suit.

Roundup Ready seeds are now proliferating 80 % or more of the seed market (if you don’t believe me try purchasing a heritage corn seed at any major supplier like Home Depot or Lowe’s. While they are occasionally there, most products are Monsanto GMO seeds that are Roundup Ready.) Driving by fields and fields of weed-free Roundup Ready corn yesterday, I rolled up my car windows so as not to breathe in any of this crap.

If you want to track the GPA‘s review of glyphosphate, go HERE. BTW, this is the same EPA that the Republicans want to have defunded. I wonder who is getting most of the contributions from Monsanto?

Daydream.

What if some day the Supreme Court didn’t support Corporations over Citizens?

What if some day the Senate and the House put our country first and the lobbyists a distant tenth?

What if some day the health insurance companies offered to teach the government how to run a single payer system at no charge to the country?

What if President Obama got on TV and announced that ALL troops in ALL middle east countries are coming home over the next three months and we were declaring “victory” once and for all?

What if all Billionaires begged the government to tax them at the same rates that Ronald Reagan did?

What if ALL workers, teachers, firemen, police officers, public employees and salespeople were encouraged to join Unions by receiving significant tax perqs?

What if everyone in government believed they were working “in service” to America and not to themselves?

What if campaigns for elections were not allowed to take more than three weeks?

What if daydreaming was somehow connected to reality?

A Quote to Kick Off Your Afternoon…

“They found him? Finally. I want my sister to come home.”

- Margaret McCusker, Catherine Greig’s sister, when told of Greig and Whitey Bulger‘s arrest.

McCusker lives in Whitey’s old stomping grounds of South Boston. I guess she doesn’t realize that her sister is implicated in one of the 19 murders as a co-defendent.

Change To Win

I spend most of my time on this blog, lately, pointing out the growing number of things that are destroying our economy, our community, our health and, ultimately, our existence. I’m not sure who listens or believes what is proven over and over. I know many are putting their faith is religion, in second comings, in waiting to be lifted to heaven as the Devil takes over the Earth

Come back to reality, folks. Most of the solutions are fairly clear and require us to put in a great deal of work. We have all got to be ready for it.

I haven’t run one of these videos in some time… but I feel like upping everyone’s will to win:

Got it? I hope so.

Educate yourself – learn about Monsanto, GMO foods and industry lobbying…

Most Americans go rambling through their grocery stores with no concept of what they are buying as it relates to the poison Monsanto and other chemical companies has spread through our fruits, vegetables and even meats. If YOU are unaware of this situation, then watch the video that follows…

Now look at the Top 10 Facts about Monsanto from the Organic Consumers Association:

  1. No GMO Labeling Laws in the USA!
  2. Lack of Adequate FDA / USDA Safety Testing
  3. Monsanto Puts Small Farmers out of Business
    Farmer Suicides After GMO Crop Failures
  4. Monsanto Products Pollute the Developing World
    500,000 Agent Orange Babies
  5. Monsanto Blocking Government Regulations
  6. Monsanto Guilty of False Advertising & Scientific FRAUD
  7. Consumers Reject Bovine Growth Hormone rBGH in Milk
  8. GMO Crops Do NOT Increase Yields
  9. Monsanto Controls U.S. Soy Market
  10. Monsanto’s GMO Foods Cause NEW Food Allergies

In 2009 a documentary was aired on French television (ARTE – French-German cultural tv channel) by French journalist and film maker Marie-Monique Robin, The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that you won’t see on American television. . . but you can see it HERE.

Got the picture? Now figure out what you are going to do about this. Start by educating others.

Here’s to the FBI – they’ve finally nabbed Whitey Bulger…

It took 16 years with James “Whitey” Bulger on top of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, but yesterday they grabbed the former gang leader, alleged murderer (wanted for 19 killings) and all-around bad Bostonian in Santa Monica, CA.

Bulger had a $2 Million reward on his head… the highest ever offered on an FBI wanted criminal. His girlfriend, Catherine Greig, also captured had a $100 Thousand reward attached to her.

At one time Bulger was an FBI informant and used that position as a means of actually committing robberies and murders and getting his competition out of the way. His brother, William “Billy” Bulger had been a well-known Boston politician and, later, the President of the University of Massachusetts, and admittedly withheld information on Whitey for years,

Catherine Greig

eventually costing him his job.

However, it was only recently after years of embarrassment with books and movies made about Whitey that the FBI actually stepped up it’s investigation. Recently they started focusing on Greig, a former Dental Hygienist known to frequent beauty parlors and plastic surgeons, as a means of capturing Whitey. Recently, in this context, the released a video in cities where Bulger had been spotted over the years:

 

There has been no mention of who, if anyone, received any of the awards for information leading to Bulger and Greig.

Will you help Bernie Sanders expose the Koch Echo Chamber?

Here’s a video from Robert Greenwald of Brave New Foundation:

The Koch brothers fund multiple think tanks and academic centers to promote their ideology and grow their profits, a Brave New Foundation investigation reveals. Let’s create an echo chamber of truth by using YouTube‘s SHARE tools above to protect Social Security and counter the Koch billions. http://KochBrothersExposed.com/socialsecurity.

Quote of the Day – What has Obama done about Climate Change…

Al Gore doesn’t think he’s done very much at all.

This from a piece called Climate of Denial in Rolling Stone:

President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has not defended the science against the ongoing withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community … to bring the reality of the science before the public.”

There is one other quote from later in this superb article (which shows one of the many reasons that Gore is our leading advocate of finding a solution to Climate Change) that sums up the poor support Obama has given to this life-affecting problem:

“… President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates — including one Republican — felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that “drill, baby, drill” is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil.

So what can we do about the abandonment of Climate Change focus by the administration? Gore lays out five distinct things we can all do at the end of his essay. Since it runs over a page, I’ll just link to it HERE. It is worth your while to go in and read it.

Of course the most obvious of the five solutions is to put pressure on the President, or Representatives and our Senators, and everyone else involved at the Cabinet level. If we don’t push for the decisions that will, hopefully, start turning around the changes in our climate, then they won’t be made. As Gore says:

“Why do you think President Obama and Congress changed their game on “don’t ask, don’t tell?” It happened because enough Americans delivered exactly that tough message to candidates who wanted their votes.”

Can you imagine what a great President Al Gore would have made instead of…oh, what was the name of that jackass that left us in debt and at war? A Republican, wasn’t he?

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