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Archive for September, 2012

Hooboy: Rotten Florida Republican Edition/Updated

Posted by Charles II on September 26, 2012

Kudos to Mark Caputo, Manny Garcia, and Scott Hiassen of the Miami Herald for this most entertaining story. It was summarized by Eric Lach, TPM Muckraker:

[Ana] Alliegro, a self-described “conservative bad girl” who this summer served as campaign manager to Justin Lamar Sternad, disappeared just before a scheduled meeting with federal investigators on Sept. 6.

[Democratic candidate] Sternad’s efforts reportedly benefited from $46,000 in secret money linked to [Republican Congressman David] Rivera.

Alliegro — whose grandfather was Senate president in Cuba during the Batista era, and whose father helped train contra rebels in Nicaragua for the U.S. military — has made several unsuccessful runs for public office.

A very bad girl. Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald:

She’s a Bonnie without her Clyde, a political operative with a penchant for dating and marrying older men with impressive jobs. Only they end up running for their lives, including former Miami Mayor Joe Carrollo, who begged for a divorce after 83 days.

Now the feds investigating Justin Lamar Sternad’s campaign finances want to talk to Alliegro, but she didn’t show up for her Sept. 6 date.

The FBI and federal prosecutors believe Alliegro was the go-between linking David Rivera, the Republican congressman running for reelection, and Sternad, a part-time hotel clerk whose campaign Rivera allegedly funded with tens of thousands of dollars in cash.

she tried in 2007 to shoot her architect ex-husband, Moshe Cosicher, after he refused to remarry her.

No screenwriter could come up with a livelier scene than this Herald account of police and prosecution reports of that altercation:

“She then sat naked at a desk with her leg up and compared the gun to a male sexual organ.

“ ‘If you think your [expletive] is powerful (showing the gun), this is mine,’ Alliegro told Cosicher . . .

“She fired a round into the ceiling. ‘You see. It’s loaded — this is business,’ Alliegro allegedly said.”

He tried to leave.

“She shot at me when I approached the front door (she missed my head by inches),” Cosicher wrote in a police statement.

Update 1: Mugshot

Update 2: More on the fake Democrat.:

Sternad said Alliegro referred to the congressman by his initials, “D.R.,” and called him by the nickname, “The Gangster.”

Posted in Florida (where magical things happen), ratf*cking, Republicans acting badly | 6 Comments »

Such a soft touch, that Romney

Posted by Charles II on September 25, 2012

Hello, Crooks and Liars readers, and thanks for the shout-out, Swim Girl!
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When it was reported that Mitt Romney had given 29% of AGI to charity in 2011, I was intrigued, and went to look at the tax returns to see what I had been missing about the philanthropic side of this man.

It seems this represents another flip flop. Ben Adler, The Nation:

While running for president Romney seems to have suddenly found his inner philanthropist. As George Zornick reports (quoting Romney’s trustee, Brad Malt), “Over the entire 20-year period period [of 1990-2009, the Romneys gave to charity an average of 13.45 percent of their adjusted gross income.” To be a Mormon in good standing one must donate 10 percent of one’s gross income to the Mormon church. If Romney did so, that means he gave only 3.45 percent of his vast fortune to all other charities.

So, there’s a 16 percentage point jump from his typical giving to this year, when his taxes are up for scrutiny.

Now, the Obamas’ giving has also increased substantially. But they were not established as wealthy until 2009, when book royalties (pre-tax) hit $5.7M, and they are far less wealthy than the Romneys.

Then there’s the question of what the Romneys give to. They give, as mentioned. 10% to the Mormon Church. Some of the activities of the Church, like running anti-gay initiatives, are a lot less charitable than the Church would like to admit. Also, there’s not much question but that the Church ties humanitarian aid much more closely to evangelization than, say Church World Service, a mainline Protestant service, or Catholic Charities. To quote the director of LDS Humanitarian Services, Gary Flake:

The humanitarian effort of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is part of the whole effort of expansion. It is a way of helping the needy of the world and, at the same time, increasing awareness of the Church.[he later states that the purpose is “simply for the good it does,” but as framed, it’s clear that this is secondary to the goal of evangelism]

The Catholic Church and mainline Protestant churches see humanitarian aid as an end in itself. It is not expected to aid in expanding the church.

Aside from the Mormon Church, Romney’s main recipient has been The Tyler Foundation. No, not the one that helps “children are undergoing treatment for epilepsy at Children’s Hospital Boston and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center” The one concocted by Romney as a vehicle to deliver contributions to such philanthropic enterprises as the George W. Bush Library. Yes, some of the money went to traditional charities, like the United Way. But as Josh Harkinson of MoJo put it:

In 2006, for instance, Romney’s foundation gave $10,000 to the anti-gay Massachusetts Family Institute, which believes that sexual orientation is a choice that can be cured by what critics call “pray away the gay” programs. In 2009, it gave $25,000 to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a year after its chairman, Seamus Hasson, compared marriage-equality activists to Al Qaeda.

Such “charity” is a disgrace to the system of tithing and an example of why the tax code is hopelessly screwed up. When God’s accountant sifts through the Romney’s tax returns, I suspect she’ll find that Romney’s philanthropy amounts to 1% to feed, clothe, or shelter non-Mormons and the rest was concealed political donations or to shore up his standing among his political base.

Posted in 2012, hypocrites, Mitt Romney | 6 Comments »

The operative word is “tyranny”

Posted by Charles II on September 24, 2012

Elizabeth Drew, New York Review of Books:

Having covered Watergate and the impeachment of Richard Nixon, and more recently written a biography of Nixon, I believe that the wrongdoing we are seeing in this election is more menacing even than what went on then. Watergate was a struggle over the Constitutional powers and accountability of a president, and, alarmingly, the president and his aides attempted to interfere with the nominating process of the opposition party. But the current voting rights issue is even more serious: it’s a coordinated attempt by a political party to fix the result of a presidential election by restricting the opportunities of members of the opposition party’s constituency—most notably blacks—to exercise a Constitutional right.

This is the worst thing that has happened to our democratic election system since the late nineteenth century, when legislatures in southern states systematically negated the voting rights blacks had won in the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Posted in totalitarianism, voting rights | 3 Comments »

Made possible by your tax dollars/updated

Posted by Charles II on September 24, 2012

DemocracyNow:

A prominent human rights lawyer known for defending peasants in Honduras has been assassinated. Antonio Trejo [Cabrera] was attending a wedding when he was shot to death just outside the church. Trejo represented several peasant rights groups in their struggle against wealthy Honduran landowners. Hours before his death, he had spoken out publicly as part of his vocal opposition to plans for privately-run cities in Honduras with their own police and tax system.

Doesn’t your chest just swell with pride knowing that US influence is the only reason that the murderous oligarchy is in charge?
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Update: Well, well. The State Department is “saddened and outraged” enough to issue a statement expressing sadness and outrage at the murder of Trejo.

Tangible steps to solve the murder, like dispatching the FBI, no.

Posted in Honduras | Comments Off on Made possible by your tax dollars/updated

Good Morning!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 24, 2012

Nothing special right now; just wanted to wish you all a good morning or afternoon or evening.

image

Carry on!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Our next Republican President

Posted by Charles II on September 23, 2012

Jason Farago, The Guardian:

Not too long ago, Chris Christie, the obstreperous governor of New Jersey, liked to tout something he called a “Jersey Comeback”. But that phrase somehow didn’t make it into his keynote speech at last month’s GOP convention. And no wonder: unemployment in the Garden State is at a 35-year high of 9.8% – the fourth-worst in the nation – and unlike in the Rust Belt states or other hard-hit regions, in Jersey unemployment is still climbing. Poverty rates are also at their highest in years, according to new census figures. And this week, all three of the big credit rating agencies lashed the state’s economic performance, with S&P cutting its rating to negative and warning that Christie’s budget was a thing of make-believe.

when the head of the state’s nonpartisan office for budget analysis identified the massive revenue shortfall [due to Christie’s false projection of 7.2% growth], Christie responded in typically furious fashion. “Why would anyone with a functioning brain believe this guy?” he yowled, before comparing him to Dr Kevorkian.

Christie first trumpeted his arrival on the national scene by cancelling, at the height of Tea Party anti-government fervor, the largest public works project anywhere in the United States: a vital new tunnel under the Hudson River 20 years in the making….according to a report this April by the Government Accountability Office, Christie had grossly exaggerated New Jersey’s liability for the tunnel. He said the state would have to foot 70% of the bill; it was really under 15%.

Bluster and lying work pretty well until there is impact with reality.

Posted in Republicans acting badly | Comments Off on Our next Republican President

Big Business: Blaming The Government For Their Own Failures Since 1932!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 23, 2012

Richard Wolff speaks: You listen:

Capitalists and the rich remain determined now NOT to bear the costs of the bailouts or the crisis. Unlike in the 1930s, they don’t see organized, determined and militant workers’ movements to worry about today – nor any USSR positioned as an alternative to modern capitalism. So, they push austerity policies for governments everywhere. To sustain governments’ austerity policies, capitalists and the rich lean on their ideological crutches to try to thwart political opposition.

The mainstream ideology that works best as capitalism’s crutch is blame the government. This interpretation of modern society insists that the ultimate root and cause of economic problems is the government, not capitalism nor capitalists. If you are unemployed, foreclosed, or underpaid, the problem is not the capitalist who refuses to employ you, evicts you, or pays you poorly. It is instead partly your own fault, but mostly that of the government: the politicians and the bureaucrats.

Blame-the-government ideology serves capitalists and the rich executives, managers, professionals and advisers who depend on them. They can boost their profits and wealth by cutting wages, jobs and benefits, using toxic technologies, relocating businesses overseas, jacking up prices, foreclosing, evicting, and so on. They can provoke global crises and take massive bailouts with public money. To cover all that, business and political leaders, media spokespersons and academics compose a chorus that endlessly repeats, “blame the government.” They seek to transform that idea into “common sense” so victims of capitalists’ actions will automatically not blame them, but instead get angry at politicians.

If you’re wondering why Big Business backs bigots (whether in terms of race, gender, religion or other markers) via the Southern Strategy, wonder no more:

Mainstream blame-the-government ideology is a fig leaf that hides (and thereby protects and supports) how capitalism works. In crisis times, it intensifies (e.g., Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan and Rush Limbaugh) to shift public attention away from capitalism’s breakdown and gross injustice. Its ideologues then urgently ratchet up blame on the government for taxing us, limiting guns, attacking marriage, religion and heterosexuality, mandating health insurance, imposing regulations etc. Their mission: redirect mass hurt, fear, anxiety and resentment about the effects of capitalist crisis into rituals of resisting the evil politicians and bureaucrats who want to control us.

This is about as simple, elegant and concise a stating of American political reality as can be imagined. Which is precisely why you’ll never see it on the Big Three, CNN, or FOX.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

This may be the first victory in the war on terror/Updated

Posted by Charles II on September 22, 2012

Conal Urquhart, The Guardian:

Militias blamed for the killing of US ambassador Chris Stevens have been forced out of Libya’s second city, Benghazi, by popular protests.

At least 11 people were killed and 60 wounded as militiamen tried to defend their compounds against thousands of demonstrators protesting against extremism.

Saturday morning’s rout followed a day of demonstrations on Friday against the militias, in particular Ansar al-Sharia, which has been blamed for the murder of the US ambassador and three of his colleagues.

The apparent defeat of Ansar al-Sharia across Benghazi and the huge outpouring of public support for the government marks an extraordinary transformation in a country where the authorities had seemed largely powerless to curb the influence of militia groups armed with heavy weapons.

The US is not occupying Libya. The American ambassador was well-liked because he was seen as an honest broker in trying to get support for the Libyan people in getting rid of Gaddafi. The Islamist militias have been holding prisoners and otherwise oppressing the people of Benghazi.

This is a win in the real war, the war to establish justice for all. As the saying goes, no justice, no peace.

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Update, Chris Stephen, The Guardian:

Ansar al-Sharia militia, blamed by many for the killing of ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his diplomats had last week deployed anti-aircraft guns around their Benghazi compound, fearing attack from drones and US warships. But the attack, when it came, was from a very different direction. Civilian. Unarmed. And with nothing more than the desperation of a population staring anarchy in the face.

For the people of Benghazi, the killing of Stevens was the final outrage in a campaign of extremist violence that had seen other consulates firebombed, the convoy of Britain’s ambassador rocketed, commonwealth war graves vandalised and 14 officials assassinated. As foreign missions fled and businessmen cleared out, Benghazi found itself cast as Libya’s Dodge City. And in the absence of a sheriff to impose order, its people staged their own spontaneous cleansing.

So I guess the peaceful expulsion of Ansar al-Sharia and its voluntary disbandment (and the incorporation of four other militias into the military) is a huge conspiracy that only As’ad AbuKhalil can detect.

And, yes, I read his comment before concluding that his hunch was simply wrong.

Posted in Good Things | 17 Comments »

The corruption of medicine

Posted by Charles II on September 21, 2012

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian:

In 2010, researchers from Harvard and Toronto found all the trials looking at five major classes of drug – antidepressants, ulcer drugs and so on – then measured two key features: were they positive, and were they funded by industry? They found more than 500 trials in total: 85% of the industry-funded studies were positive, but only 50% of the government-funded trials were. In 2007, researchers looked at every published trial that set out to explore the benefits of a statin. These cholesterol-lowering drugs reduce your risk of having a heart attack and are prescribed in very large quantities. This study found 192 trials in total, either comparing one statin against another, or comparing a statin against a different kind of treatment. They found that industry-funded trials were 20 times more likely to give results favouring the test drug.

These are frightening results, but they come from individual studies. So let’s consider systematic reviews into this area. In 2003, two were published. They took all the studies ever published that looked at whether industry funding is associated with pro-industry results, and both found that industry-funded trials were, overall, about four times more likely to report positive results. A further review in 2007 looked at the new studies in the intervening four years: it found 20 more pieces of work, and all but two showed that industry-sponsored trials were more likely to report flattering results.

Selective publication probably accounts for most of this. But Goldacre is too kind. When a researcher is faced with the prospect of not getting his work published if s/he finds a drug is ineffective, then there is direct pressure to find that the drug is effective. Sometimes, there’s outright intimidation of researchers.

You can read more about reboxetine here. The drug does not work. It produces side effects. It is on the market. Its manufacturers, Pfizer and Lundbeck never published the data that did not make the drug look good.

There’s more, but the message is clear. The drug approval process has been corrupted. The testing process needs to be taken out of the hands of the drug companies.

Posted in abuse of power, science and medicine, working the refs | Comments Off on The corruption of medicine

Why, hello there, Megan McArdle!

Posted by Charles II on September 21, 2012

Via Ritholtz, and Yves a review of the career of Atlantic/Newsweek/Daily Beast columnist Megan McArdle by Yasha Levine and Mark Ames of Project S.H.A.M.E. .

The part I found most interesting:

* McArdle received journalism training from the right-wing Institute for Humane Studies, headed by Charles Koch since the 1960s. According to the IHS, its journalism program “places talented writers and communicators—who support individual liberty, free markets, and peace—at media companies and non-profit newsrooms”...
* In 2011, McArdle returned to her Koch alma mater as a guest lecturer and instructor at the Institute for Humane Studies’ “Journalism & the Free Society” summer internship program. The program tackled such topics as “Is an ‘objective’ press possible — or even desirable?” Other faculty members joining McArdle that year included Radley Balko, then-editor at the Kochs’ Reason magazine
* In a sign of just how close and trusted McArdle is to the Kochs, in October 2011, she was chosen to emcee Charles Koch’s 50th Anniversary gala celebration of his flagship libertarian think-tank, the Institute for Humane Studies, featuring Charles Koch as the keynote speaker and guest of honor. McArdle and Koch were joined by hundreds of leading GOP donors and activists….The IHS attempted to hide McArdle’s involvement, scrubbing her name from the dinner announcement page. (emphases added)

There’s more on McArdle’s comic career, her dishonesty and hypocrisy, but the point is that she’s paid, trained, and placed by the true heirs of Lenin, Charles and David Koch for the purpose of inserting propaganda into public discourse. She is an apparatchik. And The Atlantic, The Economist, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast have all been used as tools of dissemination.

Project S.H.A.M.E. describes itself as follows:

The S.H.A.M.E. Media Transparency Project takes the war against corporate trolls and media shills to a new and more effective level. Its goal is to expose corrupt media figures, document journalistic fraud and make life a little harder for covert propagandists who manipulate the public, degrade our democracy and help perpetuate oligarchy power.

S.H.A.M.E. was inspired by our readers and donors, who are tired of the rampant media fraud and deception, and want some way to fight back and reclaim our democracy.

The purpose of S.H.A.M.E. is not to merely document media crimes, nor simply to humiliate or call out hypocrisy. The project is about providing useful, fun and effective tools the public can use to protect itself from being manipulated by sophisticated public relations con-artistry.

Think of S.H.A.M.E. as a kind of roach trap for media shills and corporate lackeys.

Posted in koch brothers, Media machine, mediawhores, propaganda, Republicans as cancer | Comments Off on Why, hello there, Megan McArdle!

 
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