30 January 2015

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

We just had the 1st credit union faiure of the year, American Bakery Workers Federal Credit Union of Philadelphia, PA.

Jon Stewart Weeps

Mitt Rmoney has announced that he will not be running for President in 2016:
On a ski lift high above the powdery slopes of Deer Valley, Utah, Mitt Romney made it clear: His quest for the White House, which had dominated nearly a decade of his life, was coming to a close.
In a talk with his eldest son, Tagg, between runs down the mountain on Monday, Mr. Romney, 67, said he had all but decided against a third bid for the White House.

The conversation, according to a person familiar with it, came after days of increasingly gloomy news reached the Romney family.

Donors who supported him last time refused to commit to his campaign. Key operatives were signing up with former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida. The Republican establishment that lifted Mr. Romney to the nomination in 2012 in the face of scrappy opposition had moved on.
I don't think that there is anyone, besides the Mittster, who is more disappointed by this than the writers of topical comedy.

They already had the jokes written, because they could have used their jokes from 2012 and 2008 with a few tweaks.

For the rest of us though, it is a win.

29 January 2015

Alan Grayson Was Right! They Want You To 'Die Quickly'*

Michael R. "Andromeda" Strain. a resident "scholar" for the American Enterprise Institute, penned an OP/ED, and the moral pygmy that is Washington Post editorial editor Fred Hiatt, published a work titled, "End Obamacare, and people could die. That’s okay."

He wants the death penalty for poverty.

What's more, he tacitly admits that Obamacare saves lives.

 Seriously, the Washington Post has the 2nd worst opinion pages in the nation.

*This is not my bon mot, it is courtesy of Crooks and Liars.

The Best "Pass the Popcorn" Moment of the Year so Far


Pass the Popcorn
The only gay state legislator in Alabama, State Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), has just announced that her fellow representatives had better walk the "family values" walk if they talk the "family values talk", and that she will publicly out the philanderers in the state house:
State Rep. Patricia Todd, Alabama’s only openly gay legislator, is threatening to play hardball in the fight over marriage equality in her state. Over the weekend, Todd warned her colleagues who oppose same-sex marriage that they’d better be careful about the way they defend “traditional” marriage, and about the way they conduct their own lives: according to the Times Daily, the representative claimed she’s prepared to out lawmakers rumored to have had extramarital affairs, but who proclaim to defend family values.

“I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about ‘family values’ when they have affairs, and I know of many who are and have,” Todd posted on Facebook over the weekend. “I will call our elected officials who want to hide in the closet out.”
I haven't been this amused about the juxtaposition of marital infidelity and politics since Larry Flynt offered a bounty for cheating Congress critters during the height the attempted putsch against Clinton in 1998.

Women, Hit Your Congressman with a Clue Stick

After decades in politics, Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) has come up with the revolutionary idea that he should  actually talk to women about reproductive rights:
There are many factors involved when a woman decides to end a pregnancy, and over the past 14 years in political office, I have gained a deeper understanding of the complexities and emotions that accompany the difficult decisions that women and families make when confronted with these situations.

I was elected to political office at a young age, and being raised in a Catholic household, always considered myself pro-life. My faith is important to me, and like many Catholics I strive to adhere to its principles, especially one of the essential and highest teachings of “judge not, lest ye be judged.” I’ve heard firsthand from women of all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds about the circumstances and hardships that accompany this personal choice, which we should not judge.

I have sat with women from Ohio and across the nation and heard them talk about their varying experiences: abusive relationships, financial hardship, health scares, rape and incest. There are endless stories about women in troubling situations — the woman who became pregnant and has a violent spouse; the woman who lost her job and is unable to afford another child; or the underage girl worried she’ll be thrown out of her house if she reveals her pregnancy.

These are just a few of the many stories I have heard. Each of these women lived through difficult and personal situations with few options and no clear path to take. This is why there is no easy answer.

These women gave me a better understanding of how complex and difficult certain situations can become. And while there are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: the heavy hand of government must not make this decision for women and families.

As my friend and colleague U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro says, “Nobody celebrates abortion.” No woman makes this decision lightly. Each and every American deserves the right to deal with these difficult situations in consultation with their families, close friends or religious advisers. No federal or state law banning abortion can honestly and fairly take into account the various circumstances that make each decision unique.

Where government does have the ability to play a significant role is in giving women and families the tools they need to prevent unintended pregnancies by expanding education and access to contraception. We must get past the ignorance, fear and — yes — discrimination against women that lead to restrictions on contraception and age-appropriate sex education.

Only then can we hope to continue to make significant advances in what should be our true, shared objective: reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, which make up the vast majority of abortions. Isn’t that a simple approach on which we all could agree? This is not a partisan issue, but instead a personal one.

………

Today, I am a 41-year-old father and husband whose feelings on this issue have changed. I have come a long way since being a single, 26-year-old state senator, and I am not afraid to say that my position has evolved as my experiences have broadened, deepened and become more personal. And while I have deep respect for people on both sides of this conversation, I would be abandoning my own conscience and judgment if I held a position that I no longer believed appropriate.

I have come to believe that we must trust women and families — not politicians — to make the best decision for their lives.
I think that a part of this is that he realizes that his long held support for criminalizing abortion is a losing proposition, a part of this is some maturity that comes with time, and part of this is that he realized that his former anti-abortion fellow travelers don't just want to ban abortion, they want to ban all forms of birth control, because they want to punish women for having sex.

In either case, it is an indication that the Democratic party is becoming a less friendly place for those would restrict a women's reproductive choices, which is a good thing.

28 January 2015

I Think that the US Attorney Just Painted a Target on Hizzonner Cumo

With the indictment of Sheldon Silver, it is clear that the US Attorney is going to be turn over some rocks in Albany, but it now sounds as if he is drawing a bead on Governor Cuomo and the Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos:
One day after charging one of New York’s leading lawmakers with exploiting his office to obtain millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York delivered a stinging condemnation of the culture of corruption in Albany and said the system was set up to breed misdeeds.

The prosecutor, Preet Bharara, speaking at the New York Law School on Friday, castigated how deal-making has long been done in Albany — by “three men in a room” (the governor, the State Assembly speaker and the State Senate majority leader), who work in secret and without accountability to decide most vital issues.

For decades, state government has essentially been controlled by the three leaders. When they emerge from their private meetings, issues are usually settled, with no cause for public debate.

Mr. Bharara said this structure could lead to the kind of corruption outlined in the criminal complaint unveiled on Thursday against Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who has been the Assembly speaker for two decades.

If the charges are proved true, he said, then “at least one of the proverbial three men in a room is compromised.”

If that is the case, he said, “then how can we trust that anything that gets decided in Albany is on the level

By concentrating power in the hands of so few, he said, good people are discouraged from running for office because they know they will have little influence on important matters.

If you are one of the three people in the room, you have all the power and everyone knows it,” he said.

There is no need to brook dissent, encourage debate or explain yourself. “If you are one of the three men in the room you keep people in the dark because you can,” he said.

Mr. Bharara seemed to revel in mocking Albany and ridiculed the very concept of “three men in a room.”

………

As an example of such thinking, he cited the former leader of the State Senate who instructed his members to deliver their public disclosure forms by hand rather than mailing them so as to avoid any possible federal mail fraud charges — the unspoken assumption being that lawmakers might have lied on those forms.

………

But he urged voters to get angry, to demand change. “My hope is that in bringing the case,” he said, “there will be reform.”

“That almost happened with the Moreland Commission,” Mr. Bharara said, referring to the anticorruption panel established by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that was looking at lawmakers’ behavior when the governor shut it down. “But it turned out to be a little bit fleeting.”
It sounds to me like he's looking at Cuomo very closely.

27 January 2015

Inside Baseball, but it is the Supreme Court

Like many other courts, the Supreme Court can also mete out discipline against misbehaving lawyers who are/were before it.

The court has now decide to make the disciplinary docket public:
Beginning on February 1, the Supreme Court will publicly disclose documents on actions it is considering or taking to discipline lawyers who are members of its bar, a process long shielded in privacy, the Court announced on Tuesday. Currently, that file is treated as confidential, although final disciplinary actions are made public along with regular orders on pending cases. In the new arrangement, attorneys involved in a case may ask to keep their response confidential, in whole or in part.

Under the new disclosure policy, the Court’s announcement made clear, public availability of that docket will be the general rule. It will apply to documents filed after February 1. But if there are reasons to keep an attorney’s response confidential, that will be considered on a case-by-case basis, if sought by the lawyer involved. Typically, a lawyer is notified that potential disciplinary action is being considered by way of a “show cause” order, to which the lawyer then has a chance to respond and to argue against a disciplinary order.

One of the Court’s most noteworthy disciplinary cases now unfolding involves a “show cause” order issued on December 8, involving a Washington, D.C., attorney, Howard Neil Shipley. The order told him to respond within forty days on why he should not be sanctioned for his handling of a specific petition for review. There was no explanation of why that document may have involved a breach of either the Court’s rules or ethical rules. The petition at issue was rambling and, at several points, nearly incoherent. There was an indication that a non-lawyer may have had a central role in its drafting.
The reason that this is significant is that it is highly likely that this change in policy will work it way down to lower courts, and the law "profession" is sorely in need of sunlight on issues of ethics, which is typically handled ways that serve members of the state bars more than the interest of their clients.

The filing in question was in Sigram Schindler Beteiligungsgesellschaft MBH v. Lee, (copy and paste is your friend) a patent case, and it appears that the filing was basically gibberish.

Someone on/around SCOTUS has decided that there is a significant possibility that much of the brief was written by the holder of one of the patents at issue, and that Mr. Shipley simply put his name on it without any meaningful review.

Still, it's kind of weird.

Yes, That Military Rape Problem is Being Handled………

That's why the Army put a rapist in charge of prosecuting rapes:
A former Army prosecutor has been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after being convicted of several sexual assault charges, including rape and forcible sodomy, against multiple victims.

A court-martial panel on Monday found Maj. Erik J. Burris guilty of two specifications of rape, four specifications of assault, forcible sodomy, and disobeying an officer, Fort Bragg said in a statement.

He was found not guilty of other sodomy and assault charges.

Burris had been serving as the chief of justice for the 82nd Airborne Division when the allegations against him came to light, a Fort Bragg spokeswoman told BuzzFeed News.
(Emphasis mine)

Seriously, you need to take this out of the chain of command.

Church of England Enters 20th Century

The Church of England has appointed its first female Bishop. The American branch of the church, the Episcopal Church, first did so in 1989:
The Church of England consecrated its first woman bishop on Monday, the culmination of years of efforts by Church modernizers to overcome opposition from traditionalists - one of whom briefly shouted a protest during the service.

More than two decades after the Church allowed women to become priests, 48-year-old mother-of-two the Reverend Libby Lane became Bishop of Stockport in a ceremony at York Minster, a Gothic cathedral in northern England.

The protest came as John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, asked the congregation whether Lane should be consecrated as Bishop.

As the congregation chorused its approval, a lone man's voice shouted above them: "No, not in the Bible."

When Sentamu asked the question again, there was no dissent and the ceremony went ahead.

During the service, which ended in applause, Sentamu and other bishops ceremonially laid their hands on Lane and prayed for her.
This is really something that should have happened in the last century, but religious institutions are frequently MANY centuries behind the time, so this ain't too shabby.

FCC to Marriott: Go Cheney Yourself

The FCC just made it clear to hotels and convention centers, you block WiFi, and there will be sanctions:
After Marriott blocked Wi-Fi hotspots in parts of its hotels, the FCC sent a stern warning: don't even think about trying that again.

"The Communications Act prohibits anyone from ... interfering with authorized radio communications, including Wi-Fi," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a statement. "Marriott's request seeking the FCC's blessing to block guests' use of non-Marriott networks is contrary to this basic principle."

Wheeler pointed out that the FCC's Enforcement Bureau fined Marriott (MAR) $600,000 for blocking Wi-Fi, and said the agency will fine other hotels if they try anything similar.

After being fined, Marriott petitioned the FCC to change the Communications Act so that it could block access to Wi-Fi devices in its conference spaces. The hotel chain said it needed to block Wi-Fi hotspot access in conference centers because attendees could launch cyberattacks on the company's network or disrupt Wi-Fi service for the conference or guests.

Many customers were outraged by the petition, claiming that Marriott's request for a conference center Wi-Fi ban was a veiled attempt to ban access in hotel rooms and lobbies as well.
Of course it was.

Overpriced phone and internet has been a major profit center for hotels, and they are eager to find ways to get that money back.

The law is pretty simple though:  Civilians operating radio jammers is illegal.

In fact, it's illegal for most law enforcement as well.

Why do I Even Bother?

On Sunday, I lambasted Sarah Palin's word salad at the so called Freedom Forum.

I probably should have waited until Monday.

Once again, Jon Stewart's sarcastic elegance makes me look as incoherent as ……… well ……… Sarah Palin.

The irony is quite obvious to me.

I've been served.