Saturday, November 13, 2010

Headlines - Saturday November 13

If you can stomach it, read the entire article that details the numbers for many of the top for-profit schools in the US. I used to think nonprofit school executives were highly paid but this makes them look like paupers. Bloomberg also compares their compensation to executives working at similar sized public businesses and even there, many of the school executives fair very well. Shouldn't the students get more for their money or would that also be socialism?
Catholic church seeking more exorcists in US
And to think some find the church completely out of touch with the modern world. I can't even begin to figure out why my family ran away from this institution decades ago. It's equally hard to imagine why church attendance hovers around 7% here in Paris.
Citing a shortage of priests who can perform the rite, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops are sponsoring a conference on how to conduct exorcisms.

The two-day training, starting Friday in Baltimore, is to outline the scriptural basis of evil, instruct clergy on evaluating whether a person is truly possessed, and review the prayers and rituals that comprise an exorcism. Among the speakers will be Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas, and a priest-assistant to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
I would think arresting their own child rapists would be a bigger priority.
From a Paul Krugman column on The Cat Food Commission:
It seemed obvious, as soon as the commission's membership was announced, that "bipartisanship" would mean what it so often does in Washington: a compromise between the center-right and the hard-right.
George W. Bush Plagiarized Passages of His Book, Executed Innocent Guy

Hey, thanks for the help. 'Preciate it.

Isn't it great to have our previous president back in the news these days? How about this one: He lifted passages of his book out of other people's books and news articles? Yes, he did! Or rather, whoever was putting together his book did. Hey, c'mon, why would Bush want to remember stuff himself? It's much easier to copy and paste together other accounts of his life, switch a few words around, and call it a day. In fact, pages 48-164 probably seem so odd because they were lifted directly from the screenplay of W.: And then I turned to Rumsfeld and said, "Rummy, INT. H.W.'s KENNEBUNKPORT OFFICE – DAY. BUSH sits down." Oh, and he sort of let a guy on death row die despite needing a stay for a DNA check that it seems would have exonerated him. Cool!

The Huffington Post has a lot of these "lifted passages." Here's one:

The Bush White House challenged the accuracy of Bob Woordward's account of the administration's march toward war when he turned critical, but Bush relied heavily on those texts.

From Decision Points, p. 145: "I began my first Cabinet meeting since the terrorist attacks. As I stepped into the room, the team broke out in sustained applause. I was surprised, and I choked up at their heartfelt support. The tears flowed for the second time in two days."

From Woodward's Bush at War, p. 65: "The entire Cabinet, meeting at the White House for the first time since the terrorist attacks, stood and applauded when President Bush entered the room. Caught by surprise, Bush choked up for a moment, the second time in two days he had lost his composure in front of others."

Hey, if these people already wrote books about him, what's the big deal? Are you really asking him to remember his own life and/or all the human beings he ordered dead? He can't do that. This is a man who laughs anew at SpongeBob SquarePants every morning even though he has seen every episode at least 10 times.

And then there's this:

Claude Jones always claimed that he wasn't the man who walked into an East Texas liquor store in 1989 and shot the owner. He professed his innocence right up until the moment he was strapped to a gurney in the Texas execution chamber and put to death on Dec. 7, 2000. His murder conviction was based on a single piece of forensic evidence recovered from the crime scene—a strand of hair—that prosecutors claimed belonged to Jones.

But DNA tests completed this week at the request of the Observer and the New York-based Innocence Project show the hair didn't belong to Jones after all. The day before his death in December 2000, Jones asked for a stay of execution so the strand of hair could be submitted for DNA testing. He was denied by then-Gov. George W. Bush.

Tough shit. That's just how life works. You kill some innocent people, you kill some less than innocent people, and you kill some innocent people. [HuffPo/Texas Observer]


No offense to anyone I might know who works for TSA.
America has passed another unfortunate milestone in its ever longer history of torture.  The latest ex-president thinks that is a good thing, but for some without an immediate self-interest it doesn't look quite so pleasant.

For more on pruning back executive power see Pruning Shears.


We know a thing or two about hunting, fishing and camping, and Sarah Palin...doesn't A real outdoorswoman would not attempt to catch a salmon with a childs spinning reel, nor would she stand up in a boat...especially when her kids are in there with her. And the way she handles a shotgun - only used by real hunters to harvest birds - is truly frightening and would make us hit the deck and maneuver our way behind her and stay there. Hell, we would rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than that crazy broad.




And I thought the earth was only 6,000 years old


Evolution Moment of the Week "Palaeontologists have identified the oldest known dinosaur embryos, belonging to a species that lived some 190 million years ago. The eggs of Massospondylus, containing well-perserved embryos, were unearthed in South Africa back in 1976. The creature appears to be an ancestor of the family that includes the long-necked dino once known as Brontosaurus. The study in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology also sheds light on the dinosaurs' early development. The researchers used the embryos to reconstruct what the dinosaurs' babies might have looked like when they roamed the Earth. Having studied the fossilised eggs, the team, led by Professor Robert Reisz of the University of Toronto Mississauga in Canada, discovered that the embryos were the oldest ones ever found of any land-dwelling vertebrate. "This project opens an exciting window into the early history and evolution of dinosaurs," said Professor Reisz."






Now that's what I call Chutzpah

Randy "Duke" Cunningham is the former ace fighter pilot who parlayed his status as a war hero into a congressional seat that he promptly used to enrich himself and his defense contractor buddies by taking over two million dollars in bribes (we'll call that the quid) and in exchange, he made sure they got lucrative contracts (the pro quo).

By 2005, the Dukesters house of cards had come down, and he was facing some serious jail time - so he threw himself on the mercy of the court and took responsibility for his actions and fessed up, admitting in open court that he did indeed take bribes.

Now, five years later, still cooling his jets in the pokey, he has conjured up a new narrative.

Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, currently in prison for charges stemming from the bribes he confessed to accepting while in office, is presenting a new narrative to those who've been following his spiral into disgrace. Turns out, Cunningham now says, he wasn't bribed at all. At least not as much.

One of the men convicted of bribing Cunningham, former defense contractor Brent Wilkes, is attempting to reopen his case on the grounds that Cunningham now says the hundreds of thousands in money and stuff Wilkes was convicted of giving him was, in fact, not a bribe at all. In a pair of "declarations" Cunningham made in the past few weeks, theSan Diego Union Tribune reports that former Republican congressman said the payments were just "gifts between longtime friends."

"This was not a bribe to me," Cunningham said, referring to a more than $500,000 payment Wilkes was convicted of offering Cunningham to help "pay off a mortgage for a $1.2 million mansion Cunningham purchased in Rancho Santa Fe."

This is the same guy who, just a couple of months ago,  wrote to the judge whining that he had suffered enough, and accused him of siccing the IRS on him in violation of the restitution agreement, and besides, he's a war hero, damnit!  Like that ought to make him above the law or suspend the rules others have to live by or something.

Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, currently serving a eight-year sentence for bribery convictions, wrote a letter to his sentencing judge accusing the judge of reneging on Cunningham's plea deal and siccing the "KGB IRS" on him.

Reporter Seth Hettena posted the the three page,hand-written letter, in which Cunningham says the IRS is bleeding him dry.

"The IRS has taken everything I have worked for during my nearly 70 years," Cunningham wrote. "You can only push a man so far, your honor."

"As one of the most highly decorated veterans in the history of his nation and a lifetime of service yes I made mistakes but does that include killing me and my family," he went on.

Cunningham argued that liens the IRS had placed on his pensions went further than the restitution agreement he signed as part of his plea deal.
Judge Larry Burns wrote back, explaining that the IRS liens have nothing to do with his restitution agreement. The agency, he said, is collecting back taxes on the bribes Cunningham received while in office.

It's pretty obvious that Cunningham is far from the brightest crayon in the box, so maybe I shouldn't be too awfully surprised that he is still trying to talk his way out of the mess he made of his life, but the level of shamelessness that he is capable of displaying. Just when I think he has plumbed the depths, he manages to go lower, and insult the intelligence of his intellectual betters all over again.  



"I was elected to maintain the kind of tone that says we can disagree without being disagreeable. Over the course of two years, there have been times where I've slipped on that commitment."-Obama, the wild beast, trying to keep his razor-sharp tongue in check,    Link 

Really, Barack?
You're apologizing for being too agressive, too unwilling to compromise?

Did Jack teach you how to negotiate at the Beanstalk?


Eugene Robinson on the consequences stemming from Dem's failure to be forceful.

"Why don't they fight back?"

That's the question I've been hearing from the Democratic Party's stunned and dispirited base.

I confess that I don't have a good answer. What I can say with confidence, however, is that the White House and Democrats in Congress ignore these grumblings at their peril. Call it polarization, call it conviction, call it whatever you like: These are not wishy-washy times. If you don't stand for something, you get run over.


What I'm hearing is frustration, and it's getting louder. I'm hearing the view that the Obama administration, which has done much good, can do better – by speaking clearly, standing its ground – and, when pushed by bullies, shoving back.

Yes, Republicans don't play fair but it's not as if this is news to anyone, especially Democrats.  Nor can it be used as the excuse for caving in on every piece of legislation between now and 2012.  The big test is going to be how Dems handle the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Giving in to Republican demands to keep the cuts for the top 2 percent in place will increase the deficit by $700 billion over the next ten years.  It will also make Democrats appear to be sniveling weaklings especially in face of the fact that polls indicate that a majority of Americans are in favor of allowing the tax cuts for the rich to expire.

So, what will it be?  Cowardice or push back?


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