Friday, August 24, 2012

Headlines - Friday August 24

Infamous anti-gay New Orleans Pastor Grant Storms, seen above-right leading one of his annual "perversion sweeps" during Southern Decadence, was convicted yesterday of public masturbation near a children's playground.
Storms, 55, who lives in Metairie, declined to comment after the conviction. Judge Ross LaDart of the 24th Judicial District Court, who presided over the daylong trial because Storms waived a jury, did not even break to deliberate. He promptly found Storms guilty of the single count of obscenity. He sentenced Storms to three years of probation, citing no evidence of a criminal history. LaDart also ordered Storms to be evaluated, apparently psychologically. The judge noted that in Storms' confession, he admitted that Feb. 25, 2011, the day he was arrested, was the third time that week that he masturbated in Lafreniere Park.

"Lafreniere Park is a public place," LaDart said in announcing the verdict. "Lafreniere Park is a place that was chosen by this defendant to engage in a history of masturbation." Storms declined to testify. His attorneys, Brett Emmanuel and Donald Cashio, did not overtly deny their client masturbated in the park but argued he never exposed his penis. The exposure was a necessary element of the obscenity charge. In his confession, Storms told Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Sgt. Kevin Balser he had taken a break from his grass cutting business to sip a beer in the park, where he said he became "horny."

Yesterday I said this is barely outside the mainstream. Today it is the mainstream.

Paul Ryan argued that President Obama's foreign policy is "to subjugate ourselves to the United Nations" in an interview with radio host Mark Levin Wednesday night, via the Washington Post, playing on a common Republican theme that Democrats and Obama are too deferential to the U.N.

Referring to China and Russia, Ryan said: "So we are giving these two countries you mentioned — these two powers who do not share our values — undue, needless unnecessary clout because we're running everything through the security council. That's point No. 1."

Russia and China joined the U.N. security council in 1946. The president hadn't even been born yet. Furthermore, I doubt I need to point out that we aren't "running everything through" them.

Ryan's point No. 2 was that the upcoming sequestered defense cuts, which he voted for, will leave us vulnerable because the Navy will shrink to it's lowest number of ships since the early 1900s. And as you may have guessed, that's completely false.

Even if that were true, it's not like we don't still have thousands of nuclear weapons. We aren't vulnerable to the coalition of Russians, Cubans, and Nicaraguans who invaded America in 1984′s Red Dawn.

But, you know, it's a nice fantasy to entertain.


Birther-in-Chief Donald Trump will be joined by the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio at this years GOP convention representing birthers from across the country.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is scheduled to speak to delegates from western states on Aug. 30 during the Republican National Convention, the Arizona Republican Party said in a press release.

"Sheriff Joe is a good friend and a great Republican, a former member of the Electoral College representing Arizona, and he's wildly popular not just in Maricopa County but throughout the state and the country," said Tom Morrissey, Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party in the release.

Will Arpaio release the results of his posse's investigation into the president's birth certificate?

In case you forgot, Arpaio is also being sued by the Department of Justice for numerous rights violations and racial profiling. He has also failed to investigate over 400 sexual abuse claims because he's been too busy hunting brown people. And several people, including at least one Iraq war veteran, have died while in his custody.

The Republicans apparently aren't even attempting to hide The Crazy at this year's convention. They're reveling in it.


Fox News Outs Author of Book on Bin Laden Raid



The Republican war on women continues.

A federal appeals court ruled late Tuesday that Texas can cut off funding for Planned Parenthood clinics that provide health services to low-income women before a trial over a new law that bans state money from going to organizations tied to abortion providers.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans lifted a federal judge's temporary injunction that called for the funding to continue pending an October trial on Planned Parenthood's challenge to the law.

State officials sought to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood clinics that provide family planning and health services to poor women as part of the Texas Women's Health Program after the state's Republican-led Legislature passed a law banning funds to organizations linked to abortion providers. No state money goes to pay for abortions.


The problem seems to be the worst with fish that eat along the bottom of the sea, but this is still a significant problem.

Radioactive cesium measuring 258 times the amount that Japan's government deems safe for consumption has been found in fish near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported Tuesday.

(Fish with more than 100 becquerels per kilogram unsafe for consumption. A becquerel is a measurement of radioactive intensity.)


According to Victor Fleischer, a tax law professor at the University of Colorado, Mitt Romney cheated on his taxes:

Gawker today posted some Bain documents today showing that Bain, like many other PE firms, had engaged in this practice of converting management fees into capital gain. Unlike carried interest, which is unseemly but perfectly legal, Bain's management fee conversions are not legal. If challenged in court, Bain would lose. The Bain partners, in my opinion, misreported their income if they reported these converted fees as capital gain instead of ordinary income.
Bottom line: Mitt Romney has not paid all the taxes required under law.

This has gotten some media attention, but am I the only one who thinks that there's a bit of butthurt, and therefore diminished MSM attention, because Gawker scooped them all? Or, as the Times put it, some documents were "published online".


If he didn't want his contributions to be known, he shouldn't have run for president. And he damn sure shouldn't trot his wife out to talk about how super awesome and honest he is, and have her gush about how you give ten percent of your income to the LDS Church and then two weeks later claim that you want to keep the amount you donate to the church private because of Jesus. "You know, you should really look at where Mitt has led his life, and where he's been financially," Ann Romney told ABC's Robin Roberts. "He's a very generous person. We give 10 percent of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person who is trying to hide things, or do things? No. He is so good about it. Then, when he was governor of Massachusetts, didn't take a salary for four years."

"We've given all YOU PEOPLE need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life," the candidate's wife added.


Not even pretending anymore:

The news that New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the nation's most prominent Catholic prelate, will deliver the closing blessing to the Republican National Convention in Florida next week was seen as a huge coup for Mitt Romney, the party's presumptive nominee. But the move has also prompted a sharp debate within the church over the increasingly close ties between leading bishops and the GOP.

"The cozy relationship between a sizable portion of U.S. bishops and the Republican Party should be cause for concern, and not just among progressive Catholics," Michael O'Loughlin wrote in a post on the website of America magazine, a leading Catholic weekly published by the Jesuits.

Might as well have Scalia, Thomas, and Alito oversee opening night.


A shooting occurred Friday morning outside the Empire State Building on 34th Street in New York City, according to police. Two people are reportedly dead, as is the gunman. Emergency personnel received a call about the shooting just after 9 am. The motive of the shooting is not yet clear. The shooting follows a killing spree last night in the south and west sides of Chicago, in which 13 people were shot in just 30 minutes, including seven men and one woman, 14 to 20 years old. Chicago homicides have skyrocketed in the past few months.


Colorlines takes a look at a Tea Party organization that is quietly building an army of right-wing volunteers to serve as poll watchers around the country this November, and what that could mean for voters


A recent analysis based on the loose outlines of Mitt Romney's proposed tax plan — which would disproportionately benefit the wealthy and corporations — found that to remain revenue neutral, as Romney insists it will, it would have to raise taxes on middle- and lower-class families. The result, the Tax Policy Center concluded, is that middle class families would see a $2,000 tax hike, and that is based on the most generous assumptions, since Romney has yet to provide specific details of the plan.

In its analysis, TPC assumed Romney would pay for the corporate tax cuts by closing loopholes in the corporate tax code, but this week, the Romney campaign said that was not the case. Instead, the campaign told TPC that "cuts in corporate tax preferences were not meant to finance the initial rate cut to 25 percent but instead would pay for a subsequent revenue-neutral set of proposals that would reduce corporate rates further and enact a territorial system."

By taking the corporate loopholes off the table, Romney is ensuring that middle class families will see an even larger tax hike than TPC previously assumed, as Center for American Progress Action Fund Director for Fiscal Reform Seth Hanlon noted in a column published today:

The TPC authors confirm that accounting for Romney's unpaid-for corporate tax cuts would necessitate "even larger cuts to tax expenditures [i.e. tax breaks], and correspondingly larger increases in taxes on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers," than their original study found.

How big? The original TPC study found that in a single year, 2015, Romney's plan would shift at least $86 billion of the tax burden from households with incomes over $200,000 to households with incomes below that level. TPC estimates that in the same year, Romney's unpaid-for corporate tax cuts would cost $96 billion. Therefore, the tax increases on the middle class that TPC originally estimated – at least $2,000 for families and $500 for all taxpayers with incomes under $200,000 – would likely be around twice as much if Romney's unpaid-for corporate tax cuts are taken into account.

That's right: according to the TPC analysis — which, again, uses the most generous assumptions to fill in the blanks Romney left in the plan — the Romney plan would raise the average middle class family's tax rate by as much as $4,000 to finance trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the rich and corporations. That includes the cost of a transition to a tax system that not only dramatically lowers the amount corporations will pay on domestic profits, but also the amount they pay on profits earned overseas and return to the U.S. — a system that will encourage outsourcing and further stashing of profits in offshore tax havens.

Also: Romney Says 'Big Business Is Doing Fine,' But He'd Still Give Them A Trillion-Dollar Tax Cut

On the campaign trail today, Mitt Romney refused to grant interviews to any reporters who wanted to know about his position on abortion, or about Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), the Senate candidate whose "legitimate rape" comments sparked outrage over the weekend from Democrats and Republicans alike


They say that astronauts become alcoholics after returning from space, because they were in space, which was better. This is perfectly analogous to the situation of former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker — the man who SAVED IRAQ along with Gen. Petraeus and then… [somethinged] Afghanistan with Gen. Petraeus — who returned from seeing constant murder everywhere in the Middle East and now just drives his car into other cars while drunk and then speeds away. (Allegedly.) Fortunately no one was hurt, but Crocker was hella arrested and will now die in jail, maybe. (He won't). READ MORE »



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