Big Brass Blog is a group blog founded in February of 2005 by Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare's Sister). The mission of this collaborative effort is to stand as the premiere forum where strong, enduring voices of Progressivism provide what liberal politics has been missing: the unapologetic, unrelenting voice of liberalism in the darkness visited upon our world by Right-wing extremists, their ruinous policies, and their hypocritical beliefs.
Stanford, 60, has been held as a flight risk in a Houston federal lockup since June 2009, when he was charged in an indictment with selling bogus certificates of deposit at his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd.
“Mr. Stanford’s mental, emotional and physical health are drastically deteriorating,’’ Ali Fazel, the financier’s co-lead lawyer, said yesterday in papers in federal court in Houston seeking Stanford’s release. “These medications have left Mr. Stanford in an unfocused and numbed state of mind’’ and have “created a condition where the accused can no longer assist counsel or invoke basic constitutional rights.’’
If he's in a "Houston federal lockup" what the fuck are they dosing him with?
Why don't they WATERBOARD him until he snaps out of it?
"It's hard to know exactly the precise words to describe the arrogance and unmitigated effrontery of Charles Munger, the billionaire vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, who today rattled off an insane barrage of insensitive comments regarding the bailouts.
"Please consider Munger Says ‘Thank God’ Bailouts Came Before Handouts:
"Charles Munger, the billionaire vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., defended the U.S. financial-company rescues of 2008 and told students that people in economic distress should “suck it in and cope.”
“You should thank God” for bank bailouts, Munger said in a discussion at the University of Michigan on Sept. 14, according to a video posted on the Internet. “Now, if you talk about bailouts for everybody else, there comes a place where if you just start bailing out all the individuals instead of telling them to adapt, the culture dies.”
“Hit the economy with enough misery and enough disruption, destroy the currency, and God knows what happens,” Munger said. “So I think when you have troubles like that you shouldn’t be bitching about a little bailout. You should have been thinking it should have been bigger.”
"Germany was unable to stabilize its financial system in the 1920s, and, Munger said, “We ended up with Adolf Hitler.”
"If that kind of arrogant insensitivity does not make you nauseous, what will?
"It's hard to know where to start, but let's start with a blatant lie. This was no "little bailout", this was a multitrillion bailout, not just from the Fed and Congress but from every central bank in the world.
"One of the beneficiaries of course was billionaire Charles Munger. Middle class America was the loser.
"Displays of Ignorance"
"The biggest display of ignorance in Munger's rant is his comparison of the current financial mess to Weimar Germany. Forgive me for asking but pray tell in what kind of fairytale fantasyland is the current deflationary credit bust remotely related to the war reparations imposed on Germany after the end of World War I that gave rise to Hitler?"
"Need for a Culture Change"
"The ridiculous Weimar comparison was not the Munger's most galling statement, however.
This is: “Now, if you talk about bailouts for everybody else, there comes a place where if you just start bailing out all the individuals instead of telling them to adapt, the culture dies.”
"The one thing we desperately need is a culture change. Instead, we made too big to fail, too bigger to fail. We preserved a culture that benefits billionaires like Munger and greedy CEO's that helped cause this mess. That culture benefits no one else.
"Yet Munger wants us to “suck it in and cope” and expect to be happy that he did not get wiped out.
"You know what? It would have been a damn good thing if the culture died and assholes like Munger got wiped out. Munger just proved beyond a shadow of a doubt Wall Street's culture was not worth saving."
A year ago, members of the Neanderthal Genome Project discovered evidence that shocked them: modern day humans, some of us anyway, carry around Neanderthal genes. The scientists had long thought, as had most paleontologists, that there had been no successful interbreeding between Neanderthals and early modern humans.
After all, mitochondrial DNA studies published by the same group a couple of years ago said had been no Neanderthal mtDNA input into Early Modern Humans. So, the scientists ran more tests, and eventually studied DNA from four Neanderthal sites and came to the inescapable conclusion that they were right. Modern Europeans, Asians and Melanesians all carry a tiny percentage (between 1-4%) of Neanderthal genes: Africans do not (or at least, so far as know at the moment). The Neanderthal Genome Project believes that's because contact between Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans took place after EMH left Africa and met Neanderthals in Europe, and, they, um, got to know one another. The dispersal to Asia and Melanesia came after that. This hypothesis puts the interbreeding as occurring between about 100,000 and 60,000 years ago, and probably someplace in the Middle East.
Some people don’t just have a caveman mentality; they may actually carry a little relic of the Stone Age in their DNA.
A new study of the Neandertal genome shows that humans and Neandertals interbred. The discovery comes as a big surprise to researchers who have been searching for genetic evidence of human-Neandertal interbreeding for years and finding none.
About 1 percent to 4 percent of DNA in modern people from Europe and Asia was inherited from Neandertals, researchers report in the May 7 Science. “It’s a small, but very real proportion of our ancestry,” says study coauthor David Reich of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. Comparisons of the human and Neandertal genomes are also revealing how humans evolved to become the sole living hominid species on the planet.
Neandertals lived in Europe, the Middle East and western Asia until they disappeared about 30,000 years ago. The new data indicate that humans may not have replaced Neandertals, but assimilated them into the human gene pool.
There's little question that modern humans and Neanderthals bumped into each other once upon a time.
"The archaeological record shows they overlapped between about 30,000 and 80,000 years ago," says David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School. [snip]
Reich says it's hard to pin down exactly how much DNA Neanderthals contributed to modern humans. "We estimate about 1 to 4 percent of the genetic ancestry of non-Africans is from Neanderthals," he says. [snip]
And just to be clear: Reich says there's no stigma to have a bit of Neanderthal heritage.
"Absolutely not," he says. "In fact, people who have Neanderthal DNA have done just fine in our society."
"In fact, people who have Neanderthal DNA have done just fine in our society."
In the U.S., corporations are legally regarded as persons. That part isn't new. It goes all the way back to erroneous comments added to a court decision by U.S. Supreme Court Reporter Bancroft Davis in 1886, but that technical fact has obviously been disregarded by both congress and the courts. Both continue to expand on that extraneous commentary like it was an actual court decision, which it was not.
During the past several years, the SC has ruled that the concept of eminent domain, which has been exercised by government, ostensibly to acquire property seen as essential to the public good, can now be exercised solely for the benefit of private industry. In other words, if you have a piece of nice acreage with the layout and resources a corporation says it must have to relocate to a particular municipality, that municipality can eminent domain you off that land, because the great corporate benefit will allegedly "trickle down" to the community via tax revenue. Aside from the other things wrong with that concept, such tax revenue is somewhat dubious; many municipalities offer massive tax breaks to corporations to operate within their borders. But the point is, your land isn't always your land, if someone in Gov-Corp wants it.
Oddly, we heard not a peep from tea bagger-type people when that decision came down from their beloved Bush-appointed, wingnut activist justices. Strange, considering these are the folks loudly railing now about the evils of government intrusion and trampling of individual rights. (Well, maybe not so strange - these very same folks seem okay with gubmint deciding whether or not women must bear children, what birth control will be available and/or covered, if citizens can get tattoos, play poker, or decide how to spend their own paychecks. Nope, as long as they can have their AK-47s and all the ammo they can stockpile, the baggernuts don't much care about all the other ways they are treated like simple-minded children by their state and federal government).
The January Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, was described by Alan Grayson as a blatant statement "that only huge corporations have any constitutional rights. They have the right to bribe, the right to buy elections, the right to reward their elected toadies, and the right to punish the elected representatives who take a stab at doing what's right."
I wrote that, "in a decision that's being called radical and destructive, five activist judges from the extreme right have decided that corporations should be able to use unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcome of elections." Liliana Segura said, "Indeed, in a momentous 5 to 4 decision the New York Times called a "doctrinal earthquake," the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an unprecedented ruling today that gives new significance to the phrase "corporate personhood." In it, the Roberts court overturned the federal ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns, ruling that forbidding corporations from spending money to support or undermine political candidates amounts to censorship. Corporations, the court ruled, should enjoy the same First Amendment rights as individuals.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the Supreme Court rejects "the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not 'natural persons.'"
So it would seem that the rights of the corporate person now generally supersede those of us mere worker drones as a matter of course. But the other side of the rights coin is responsibility. And special rights or privilege comes with special responsibility - right?
Which got me thinking: We all know about and have undoubtedly encountered flesh-based people with varying levels of psychopathology. If corporations are also people, can they be diagnosed as psychopaths using the same criteria? If corporate persons are found to be dangerous psychopaths, can they be committed for treatment? Should there be corporate group homes and halfway houses? If the psychopathic corporate person knowingly causes the deaths of others through reckless disregard for life, can the corporate person be executed? Should corporate people be made to take medication? What would be the corporate equivalent of a straitjacket?
Perhaps we should start giving this issue some serious thought. Cuz from where I'm standing, it looks like the typical American citizen is getting seriously assaulted by psychopathic corporate "people" that are way, way out of control.
For more elaboration on Dr. Hare's diagnostic assessment above, please check out the video below. Some of the most powerful observations come from Noam Chomsky during the last several minutes. The zinger at the end (from Peter Drucker) is about how the current "wisdom" in corporate thinking is to avoid leaders with a social conscience like the plague - bad for business, doncha know....
"Slavery is the Legal Fiction that a Person is Property; Corporate Personhood is the Legal Fiction that Property is a Person." -Poclad.Org
"Fascism should more properly be called 'corporatism' because it is the total merging of corporate and state power."
Senator Tom (I sterilize under age women) Coburn of Oklahoma. Mr. Coburn uses the excuse that he's a doctor (Ob-Gyn) and a deacon when dealing with the blowback from Senator John Ensign's affair so he doesn't have to disclose what advice he gave the cheating senator. That gets him the Chutzpah award.
The Stupid award is for holding up unemployment extensions for what he terms a "small group of people." This week that amounts to 212,000 people and next week and the week after that will add many more. His arrogance prevents him from understanding that the 212,000 only applies to the people receiving benefits and doesn't include spouses and children.
So it's likely that the full impact of the 8.4 million jobs lost and nearly three million homes foreclosed on since the recession began has taken an even bigger toll on the number of American households.
Those numbers probably aren't big enough for Mr. Coburn either. But funding two useless wars, tax cuts for rich people and corporations while enjoying automatic pay raises for Congress, that's okay.
Remember in the early nineties when it seemed like every exit off the freeway and many a four way stop had people with signs asking for help? That went away under President Clinton but they're back again. Except now they include children.
Neither Pat Robertson nor Rush Limbaugh have humane souls. Somebody, please grab the big butterfly nets and lock up these crazy men. They make big money spewing this kind of insanity and they are disgusting beyond words. I would not have responded as well as Keith Olbermann or Eugene Robinson did.
Jan. 13: Quick comment: Countdown’s Keith Olbermann responds to Pat Robertson’s accusation that the Haiti earthquake was the result of a “deal with the devil” the country made in the 19th century to gain freedom from France.
What kind of creep do you have to be to break in to a family's home three days after they were killed in a car crash? It's bad enough that the parents and two kids were broadsided by a drunk driver who ran a red light at seventy miles an hour as they were returning from a family vacation in Hawaii, but it takes a real lowlife to break into their home and steal their possessions and their car before their bodies have been buried. Hopefully these morons will plead guilty because it's going to be difficult to find an impartial jury.
Protecting the institution of marriage by banning gays from being married is better than banning divorce, because it would be "impractical" according to the California Family Council. Two people of the same sex pledging their lives to one another is wrong but it's okay for people to get married in a drunken stupor and get divorced three days later. On the other hand, some people try marriage (and divorce) three times before realizing that they are gay. How is marriage protected when it can be undone at will? Maybe the 47.9% of heterosexual marriages that end in divorce should have been prevented?
I don't accept his apology either. I'm not his wife or child and it isn't any of my business so I don't need an apology. He deserves the apology for people intruding on his life. Everyone is entitled to privacy, even if they are in the public spotlight. It isn't like he's a Lohan, Hilton or Salahi who seeks fame for fame's sake or someone who sees an opportunity to grub for money. And since it didn't happen on the golf course, why should it affect his career? My senator was fooling around with his best friend's wife and he still has a job.
How can a female soldier die from being shot in the back of the head and it not be considered murder? That is happened on a "secure" base in Iraq is even more mystifying and why is it taking the military so long to solve the case? Don't they watch NCIS?
If it wasn't for mom's social security deposit, we would be unbanked also. Three weeks after B of A raided my account for the California government and charged me $100 for the privilege in addition to $105 for not paying my bills, I have yet to receive notification or any official paperwork. California isn't getting the disputed tax money and my bills aren't paid, but B of A made a couple of hundred dollars at everyone's expense. I'd rather pay three dollars to Wal-Mart to cash a check and then run around town and pay my bills in cash. I wonder if Arnold is going to have his bank account raided for his back taxes? Somehow, I doubt it.
Speaking of the IRS, they are trying to auction off lands that belong to the Crow Creek Indian Reservation using the pretext of back taxes. There must be undiscovered oil or gold. Considering that the land originally belonged to them before they were hunted down and forced to exist on land that barely supports insects, this is some real chutzpah.
What I don't understand about Republicants is that they say human life is sacred. Until it's born. Or in a country they believe should be bombed because they don't like its leader.
They say every child has a right to life and then do everything in their power to make life harder for the child to succeed after it's had its first breath. They say the poor and minorities have too many children as they restrict access to birth control and abortion. Viagra, on the other hand, will probably be available over the counter in a few years.
They wail and gnash their teeth about sixteen year olds having sex because they don't know the consequences of their actions, yet are perfectly comfortable sending thirteen year olds to prison for life. And are sad that the Supreme Court won't let them put them to death.
They talk about supporting the troops, which really means sending them into as many armed conflicts as possible so they can use as much replaceable killing equipment as possible, but don't want to do anything to support those same troops once they have been injured or have returned home to families that don't know them anymore and to jobs that no longer exist.
They say people should find jobs to support their families instead of using welfare and food stamps and then continue to make it easier for corporations to send their operations overseas leaving whole neighborhoods and towns to be decimated by unemployment. Then they give the corporations an even bigger tax break saying it will encourage companies to create more jobs. Overseas.
They say people should get an education to get ahead and then cut or eliminate programs designed to do just that. They say they want children to learn, as long as it doesn't involve free thinking, history, civics, biology or the arts.
They say you should support the president under any and all circumstances, until it's a president they didn't elect.
They say they believe in freedom of religion, as long as it's Christianity. They say they believe in freedom of speech, yet object when it's anybody but them speaking. They say they believe in freedom of the press, as long as it's printing their point of view. They say they believe in freedom of assembly, as long as you are a teabagger, birther or watch Fox New on a daily basis, not if you are against the war, oil corporations or the police killing unarmed civilians.
They say they have the right to bear arms while totally ignoring the well regulated militia requirement.
They say America is the land of the free, yet we have the highest rate of incarceration in the world. They say America is the home of the brave, yet most decisions made since 9/11 have been based on fear.
Not that the stunningly uninformed Neanderthal oaf and diminished capacity Right-wing meathead creature featured in the video posted below by Dark Wraith has a clue as to what he's ranting about, here is some information that he is lacking:
On July 22, 2009, President Obama signed H.R. 1256, a bill that had culminated a more than decade-long effort by members of Congress to give the FDA regulatory power over tobacco.
While quickly perusing news stories, I made the mistake of clicking on the title of an article that I thought would amuse me. Being a buyer and seller on Craigslist, this one could not be ignored. From the telegraph.co.uk comes this September 8, 2009, gem of an article: "20 most bizarre Craigslist adverts of all time."
By the time I finished the article, I was somewhat out of sorts about what these ads have to say about the state of Western Civilization and where it is headed.
Some guy in Atlanta was selling an over-the-head, full-sized, duck mask (picture included); another person in Phoenix was selling pope hats apparently too small for most people, but possibly suitable for a "nice dog" or "maybe a large cat"; a deeply weird guy in Pittsburgh needed a woman to sit in a bathtub full of noodles (while he was not there) so he could come home later, season them properly, then eat them; and yet another individual, apparently quite the bibliophile, was selling a "1st edition of [Plato's] The Republic signed by its author."
I wish I had seen that last ad before it expired.
Ditto for the Pope hats.
Anyway, one of the ads caught my attention because I did not immediately understand the unwritten subtext, so I shall share it with you, dear readers. From Craigslist Los Angeles, dated December 13, 2008, (as filed on Best of Craigslist) comes this troubling plea:
I left my Dentures in your Silverado last night. I gave you my number but did not get yours. Please call me asap. I need my teeth. We met in the parking lot of Margarita Jones. Get back to me asap please. Thank you.
I should have known better than to keep reading after the tormented fellow's ad looking for a woman to flavor his noodles.
The Dark Wraith will probably go back to trolling eBay for bargains, at least for a while.
Yes, Glenn Beck is mad. As in crazy. Beck's overly histrionic behavior is deeply indicative of a man with a tenuous hold on reality and in Chinese Medicine he would be diagnosed as shen disturbed. We use the tongue as a diagnostic tool along with appearance, smell and actions and his tongue has a longitudinal crack down the center and is considered a telltale sign. It isn't as deep as Marshall Applewhite's but it reveals quite a bit about Beck's personality. They say the eyes are the window to the soul and Beck's are pretty glassy even without the tears on demand, another sign of mental derangement. Thinking that he makes sense and has America's best interests at heart is the equivalent of thinking that a spaceship is hiding behind a comet and has come to take you away to a better place.
Speaking of a better place, that would not be Oklahoma. For a state that is so fond of the only Second Amendment 75 percent of their high school students not only don't know who the first President of the United States was, but only three percent of those surveyed could pass the citizenship test that all those immigrants they love to hate must take to prove they are worthy to become Americans by choice instead of by birth. Eight years of the No Child Left Behind initiative and these kids would probably be lucky if they could find their state on a map. Exactly how would the rest of us suffer if the south was to secede? Other than lowering our national ignorance score to tolerable levels and reducing the public monies that flow into those states and not out of them, how would we know the difference?
Limbaugh wants to return to segregated busing and feels that racism is normal. All righty then. The White House can pretend that racism doesn't exist but it doesn't get much more blatant than that. Actually, segregated busing sounds like a good idea. Put all the crazies on the bus and drive them to the nearest institution, lock them up and throw away the key. We wouldn't have to provide healthcare or any other societal benefits they object to and they wouldn't have to pay taxes that they hate. It's a win win for everyone.
Thousands of Americans with no sense of irony, history, or hypocrisy marched in Washington, D.C. today.
The protests, "self" organized by Fox News and FreedomWorks.org (Dick Armey's lobbying firm) focused on how U.S. taxes should be cut to increase the deficit by even more than the $5,000,000,000,000 added during the last eight years.
"The government should be concentrating on cutting spending on all the programs, not thinking of new, wonderful ways of spending more. ... I've voted my whole life. This is the first time in my life I've gotten off the couch and said, 'I'm sick of this. It's only three hours away, and I'm going to be there.'"
Translation, "I loved it when Reagan and Bush ran up the deficits, but now that it's a Democrat doing so, I finally got off my couch to yell at him." [snip]
I've mentioned this before, but I find the entire "Tea Party" movement to completely lack any sense of their own irony. From the 'pedia.
To make matters worse, none of these folks had any problems with George W. Bush cutting taxes (and increasing the deficit) by $2,500,000,000,000 (nearly 40% of which went to richest 1% of Americans, many of whom are now running these latest protests). This simple fact exposes the hypocrisy and partisan nature of these protests. What, you folks *just* realized that Bush doubled the national deficit....now it's all Obama's fault?
The Tea Party Express went out with a fizzle, as a smaller than anticipated crowd gathered In Washington DC. The motley crew of marchers attending the event reflected a small misinformed minority feeling fear and anger over the more liberal direction the country began taking since the 2008 election. [snip]
The event was Astroturf in large part, a Glenn Beck publicity stunt shamelessly plugged by Fox News. In addition, right wing extremists and corporate-backed groups, (in particular a large showing by the health insurance industry), were also involved in sponsoring the de facto anti-Obama march.
In hindsight, the nation is lucky the event was a harmless goof for the tin foil hat crowd. Beck and Fox News have been constantly pandering to a dangerous right wing fringe.
Beck's rhetoric is schizophrenic, at one moment crying and asking if we can all get along, and at the next moment warning of black helicopters, government plans to steal children and a coming civil war. Beck likes to tell his audience: "We surround them" - which is in itself an incitement to violence, and but one example of Beck's reckless disregard for civility, decency and mutual respect.
The Tea Party attracted all sorts of crazies. Libertarians, White Supremacists, Birchers, Patriot Movement devotees and radical Anti-Abortion Movement supporters were all there. The National Association of Rural Land Owners (NARLO) a group that preaches a coming civil war, and seems to advocate violent insurrection, was a major sponsor of the event.
The Tea Party Express, was in the end, an attempt to make crazy main stream.
In honor of Labor Day, and submitted for reader satisfaction, comes the story of Michelle Duggar, a 42-year-old woman who is now pregnant with her 19th baby. That's right: she's already produced 18 with her 44-year-old husband, Jim Bob. The Tonitown, Arkansas, couple have their own reality TV show set in their 7,000 square foot house, where their home-schooled children serve as caretakers for their younger siblings and helpers for Michelle and Jim Bob to keep the household running smoothly.
Although stunningly fertile by modern Western standards, Mrs. Duggar is far from holding any kind of record for live births; that honor belongs to Mrs. Feodor Vassilyev, an 18th Century Russian peasant who gave birth to 69 babies, most in sets of twos and threes, with four sets of quadruplets.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Duggar and her husband are modern-day pioneers in prolific procreation. While the particulars of their religious affiliation are the subject of some debate, they are not Mormons, but instead are Baptists affiliated with a cult known as Gothardism (otherwise sometimes called "Quiverful"), so named for the founder of the movement, Bill Gothard, whose ministry and teachings have been criticized even by mainstream fundamentalist Baptist leaders. Gothard's followers, however, generally dismiss the complex and nuanced issues more mainstream Christian theologians have with the movement's patriarchal, Old Testament-based dogmatism. For their part, the Duggars are delivering for their spiritual leader a new battalion for his desired army of followers, who may, themselves, produce large numbers of children and thereby, after only a few generations, have enough troops to take over the world (or, at the very least, the reality TV genre, which could use a renewal of its dedication to tedium masquerading as story arcs).
Provided, of course, that the men of this army of Gothardites can get off their women long enough to do something useful for a change.
The Dark Wraith will now entertain comments and suggestions on what to do about the extraordinarily difficult problem of dealing with an army of religious zombies who simply cannot keep their loins under control.
I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)