Sunday, August 31, 2014

Douglas Carswell Leaves The Conservative Party For The Much More Right-Wing UKIP


Unless you're a Brit, you've probably never heard of Douglas Carswell, until last week, the Conservative Member of Parliament from Clacton a generally well-off, retirement seaside area in Essex, just northwest of London. Carswell, who often passes himself off as a libertarian, was on the extreme fringe of the Conservative Party, switched to the neo-Nazi UKIP last Thursday (August 28) and resigned from Parliament, triggering a by-election in which he will face off against a Labour candidate, Tim Young and an as yet unnamed Conservative candidate. If Carswell wins, he'll be the first UKIP Member of Parliament ever.

First elected in 2005, he's been viewed as a rebel within the Conservative ranks and a pain in David Cameron's ass. He's a clownish Climate Change denier with a facade that makes him appear like a Conservative reformer, but has been caught cheating on his expenses in a very big, very Conservative Party way. In the 2010 election he was one of the few Conservatives that the neo-Nazis actively backed, primarily because he was campaigning on getting the U.K. out of the EU and because he is viewed as generally sympathetic to their racist dogma. The UKIP has unceremoniously dumped its own candidate for the seat, Roger Lord, to make way for Carswell, their best chance to insert a fascist into Parliament. "The problem," said Carswell, "is that many of those at the top of the Conservative Party are simply not on our side. They aren't serious about the change that Britain so desperately needs. Of course they talk the talk before elections. They say what they feel they must say to get our support... but on so many issues-- on modernising our politics, on the recall of MPs, on controlling our borders on less government, on bank reform, on cutting public debt, on an EU referendum-- they never actually make it happen."
He said only UKIP could "shake up that cosy little clique called Westminster."

On Mr Cameron's pledge of an in/out EU referendum in 2017, after renegotiating powers back from Brussels, he said the prime minister's advisers had "made it clear that they're looking to cut a deal that gives them just enough to persuade enough voters to vote to stay in."

He added: "Once I realised that, my position in the Conservative Party became untenable."

Mr Cameron-- who was not warned by Mr Carswell about his plan to defect-- said: "It's obviously deeply regrettable when things happen like this, when people behave in this way.

"But it's also, in my view, counterproductive. If you want a referendum on Britain's future in the EU-- whether we should stay or go-- the only way to get that is to have a Conservative government after the next election.

"And that is what until very recently Douglas Carswell himself was saying."

Speaking exclusively to BBC political editor Nick Robinson in Glasgow, the prime minister said the by-election in Clacton would be held "as soon as possible" and he "wants to make sure there's a very strong Conservative campaign in that seat."

"I want to go early to Clacton for this reason: people in Clacton voted not just for Douglas Carswell, they voted for a Conservative government, for a Conservative member of Parliament," he added.

Douglas Carswell's announcement took Westminster by complete surprise. UKIP had told everyone they were about to unveil a major new celebrity donor.

No-one expected a Conservative defector to be unveiled instead. The identity of the defector is, perhaps, less of a surprise-- Mr Carswell has a long history of rebelling against his party and is known to be deeply disillusioned with what he sees as David Cameron's failure to clean up Westminster politics and deliver democratic reforms.

But it is Mr Carswell's decision to call a by-election in Clacton - rather than continuing to sit in the Commons under a different party banner - that will cause the biggest headache for Mr Cameron.

The prospect of defeat is real. And if it happens, expect more Conservative MPs to call for a pact-- at least informally, seat by seat-- with UKIP at next year's general election.

It will encourage Eurosceptic MPs to harden their rhetoric on a referendum and renegotiation. And for swing voters worried about the cost of living, they will hear the Conservatives-- to use the prime minister's words-- "banging on about Europe."

Technically the seat could be left vacant until the general election. But Mr Cameron cannot look like he is "running scared" on Europe.

In South Thanet the Conservatives selected a senior UKIP defector. They will have to trawl their membership lists to find another Eurosceptic to take on Mr Carswell.

Conservative MP Mark Pritchard-- a fellow Eurosceptic-- said Mr Carswell had been "flirting with UKIP for some time" and his defection would inflict "short-term" damage to the Conservative Party, as he may win the by-election.

But he said voters would realise a "vote for UKIP is a vote for Labour."

UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who this week was selected to fight South Thanet at the 2015 general election, shared the platform with Mr Carswell at his press conference.

He said the MP's decision was the "bravest and most honourable" he had seen in British politics.

The UKIP leader, who has been attempting for some time to convince MPs to join his party, told BBC News "there are others in Westminster having similar thoughts" to Mr Carswell.

A poll released this morning shows that Carswell will retain his seat… in an historic landslide, rebuking and humiliating the Conservatives. The poll shows old, white, middle class Brits happily embracing the nationalism, racism and neo-fascism that UKIP represents, at the expense of all the other parties, but especially Camron's Conservatives. Carswell will beat whatever the Tories throw at him and if the election were held today, he'd walk off with a staggering 64% of the vote to 20% for the Conservatives. This is going to put gigantic pressure on Cameron to form a coalition with the neo-fascists and ditch the Lib-Dems.

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Update: "Is this why we hate the gummint?" -- the sequel


Again, pay no attention to the "NO BICYCLE RIDING IN SUBWAY TUNNEL" sign. After all, no bicycle riders did in the time the sign was up. It's gone now.

by Ken

I just wanted to provide a quick update on the situation ("Closed for repairs that aren't being made: Is this why we hate the gummint?," December 10) at the entrance to the three-block-long pedestrian tunnel that links my stretch of upper Broadway (roughly at what would be 190th Street) to the IRT 191st Street station of the no. 1 train to the east, which lies far below St. Nicholas Avenue -- it's the deepest station in the subway system -- running north-south atop Fort George hill.

It's a tunnel of considerable historical -- and present-day -- importance, providing acess fromt the north-south valley in which Broadway runs, between the Fort George hill and the Fort Washington hill to the west -- to mass rapid transit. (Later, when the IND train that's now the A was dug beneath the Fort Washington hill, shorter pedestrian tunnels were built to join the valley to its 181st and 190th Street stations.)

At the entrance from Broadway, as I tried to explain, there is an immediate descent of about a story to the grade of the tunnel, which is managed two ways. The width of the opening is split in half, the left half as you face the tunnel being a stairway, the right half a fairly steep concrete ramp.

Last month, flimsy wooden barriers suddenly appeared at the top and bottom of the stairway, with cryptic signs stating that it would be closed for necessary repairs from 7/12/14 to 8/12/14. Well, what are you going to do? Necessary repairs are, you know, necessary. (A commenter on my original post contributed the helpful information that "actually, one of the steps is broken.") And, after all, we still had access to -- and egress from -- this vital tunnel via the ramp. Or at least access/egress of a sort; the incline is pretty steep. For some of us, it's manageable but not easily so. I imagine that for others it's just plain not manageable.

The thing was, though, that as days and weeks passed, and 8/12 began to become closer than 7/12, there was no evidence of any attention of any kind to these famously necessary repairs. ABout the only development was a gradual accumulation of trash on the orphaned steps. As the supposed reopening date of 8/12 approached, there was still no indication of any of this necessary repair work being begun. No doubt there were other necessary repair projects around town deemed more necessary -- not to mention conceivable others on the to-do list that weren't getting much more attention than ours.

What's more, it wasn't at all clear where one might complain, or inquire. The pair of signs at the head and foot of the steps didn't indicate who had closed off the steps, or who could provide information. I should explain that jurisdiction in the tunnel is always problematic. Since it's officially mapped as a street, New York City Transit, which operates the subways (itself a division of the MTA, the Metropolitan Transportation Association), always points out that it's under the control of the NYC Dept. of Transportation. For such cleaning of the tunnel as is done, DoT hands off to the Dept. of Sanitation. On the signs, no agency claimed, er, credit for the planning and accomplishment of the necessary repairs. Meanwhile, one recalled tales told of street-connecting stairways around town -- there are some pretty big hills in parts of NYC -- remaining closed and unrepaired for eons.

I first wrote about this situation, with 8/12 on the horizon and still no evidence of the start of work. This led me to wonder whether this sort of thing isn't why we hate government? Then 8/12 came and went. Still nothing.

Until one day -- maybe ten days ago, as I recall -- the lower "barricade" (really just a wood frame held up by police-activity-type yellow tape) was down. Literally down, lying flat on the floor of the tunnel at the foot of the steps. A day or two later the upper barricade was down too! At which point intrepid pedestrians began stomping over the downed barricades to resume use of the now-heavily-trash-littered steps.

A couple of days later, both barricades could be found leaning against the wall of the tunnel, leaving free access to the steps! And then, one day earlier this week, they were gone, vanished! And the steps themselves had been swept, perhaps the most miraculous occurrence in the whole business. Cleaning of the tunnel is always a rarely practiced and highly contentious affair, with NYCT, DoT, and Sanitation pointing "Who, us?" fingers. I'm embarrassed to say that many of my fellow tunnel-walkers are wicked bad litterers. (I just noticed that Wikipedia says "the passageway . . . is maintained by the Parks Department rather than the MTA." Okay.)

And this is where the matter stands. The steps are once again freely accessible, still in need of those necessary repairs. (I really must remember to look for that broken step.) Where the barricades came from and where they went remain a mystery.

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Ghost of Sunday Classics: "Kaleidoscope" -- a fondly remembered LP happily holds up under decades-later scrutiny



Point A, the opening of the piece (as heard last night):

Later we'll hear how we get from there to Point B:

However, Point B leads directly into Point C:

London Symphony Orchestra, Charles Mackerras, cond. Philips-Mercury, recorded July 1961

by Ken

Last week I reported my discovery of a hidden treasure trove (free!) of overtures, F. Reeder's Internet Archive compendium of "Overtures - Recorded 1926-1847)" -- 33 mp3 transfers of 29 overtures conducted by 18 conductors, most of them legendary (e.g., Barbirolli, Beecham, Furtwängler, Mengelberg, Mitropoulos, Reiner, Rodzinski, Toscanini, Walter, Weingartner). That helped nudge me into an overtury mood. I recalled that a happy heap of my listening over the years has been to recorded collections of overtures and related short orchestral pieces.

As I mentioned, this mood inspired me to finally order CD issues of material that had once been part of my "go to" listening material. As a result, we're not going to do much with the Reeder treasure trove this week, but we'll come back to it. Also, I should mention that in a February 2011 post I already flashed back to one of those treasured overture discs, the Capitol Paperback Classics reissue of Erich Leinsdorf's wonderful c1958 catchily titled Opera Overtures LP with the Philharmonia, augmented on CD with some fine overture performances by Felix Slatkin and Miklós Rózsa.

Another of those LPs sprang back to life with the arrival of those ordered CDs: a Mercury Living Presence CD reincarnation of sorts of Charles Mackerras's Philips LP Kaleidoscope. What we heard in last night's preview was the music that more than anything made me fall in love with the original Kaleidoscope. The CD isn't the original Kaleidoscope, exactly. On it material from two LPs is smooshed together (from the Kaleidoscope LP everything is here except two additional Brahms Hungarian Dances, a minimal loss), all recorded at the same time by the legendary Mercury "Living Presence" team of Wilma Cozart Fine, recording director; Harold Lawrence, musical supervisor; and C. Robert Fine, chief engineer and technical supervisor. The domestic Philips LP was in effect a "Living Presence" LP, which explains why it sounded so good. Unfortunately as with the general run of domestic Philips pressings, it could be, well, problematic -- my copy came badly warped.

But that didn't stop me from listening to it a few zillion times, especially the piece we began hearing last night. What we heard was the hushed, haunting opening -- "Point A" in the A-to-B-to-C sequence above. Now here's the whole thing, starting with the Mackerras recording. Then we have that wise old German hand Robert Heger (from a complete Merry Wives recording) and vintage Herbert von Karajan, plus a dip into the F. Reeder overture grab bag, turning up a conductor now hardly known, Nikolai Sokoloff (1886-1965), who does a pretty nice job while squeezing the thing onto one 78 side.

NICOLAI: The Merry Wives of Windsor: Overture

London Symphony Orchestra, Charles Mackerras, cond. Philips-Mercury, recorded July 1961

Bavarian State Orchestra, Robert Heger, cond. EMI, recorded 1964

Berlin Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan, cond. EMI, recorded c1959

[trimmed (and rushed) to fit on one 78 side] Cleveland Orchestra, Nikolai Sokoloff, cond. Brunswick, recorded May 1927 (digital transfer by F. Reeder)


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We Still Have Police Brutality? In America?


Over the weekend, Jonathan Martin, writing for the NY Times postulated that because control of the Senate will be largely determined by the ability of Democrats to hold or win 4 southern states that were won by Romney with substantial margins-- Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia-- there is a major effort to mobilize African-American votersbased, in part, on the police brutality and racism in Ferguson, Missouri.
In black churches and on black talk radio, African-American civic leaders have begun invoking the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, along with conservative calls to impeach Mr. Obama, as they urge black voters to channel their anger by voting Democratic in the midterm elections, in which minority turnout is typically lower.

“Ferguson has made it crystal clear to the African-American community and others that we’ve got to go to the polls,” said Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia and a civil-rights leader. “You participate and vote, and you can have some control over what happens to your child and your country.”

The push is an attempt to counter Republicans’ many advantages in this year’s races, including polls that show Republican voters are much more engaged in the elections at this point-- an important predictor of turnout.

…And the terrain is tricky: Many of the states where the black vote could be most crucial are also those where Mr. Obama is deeply unpopular among many white voters. So Democratic senators in places like Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina must distance themselves from the nation’s first African-American president while trying to motivate the black voters who are his most loyal constituents.
Last week was the 20th anniversary of passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act by the House (HR 3355). It passed 235-194, 46 mainstream Republicans joining 188 Democrats to pass it. 64 mostly conservative Democrats crossed the aisle in the other direction to vote with 131 reactionary, racist Republicans. And last week, Bruce Dixon's Black Agenda Report delved into the unpleasant realty of how the Department of Justice Department instill ignores the law requiring it to gather national police brutality statistics.
20 years down the road no such stats exist, because the Justice Departments of the Clinton, the Bush and the Obama administrations have all simply ignored the law and refuse even to try to gather the information. Let me say this again: the Clinton Justice Department defied the law and refused to gather national stats on police misconduct. The Bush Justice Department thumbed its nose at the law and also refused to gather national stats on police misconduct, and now the first black attorney general, who sometimes even utters the phrase “mass incarceration,” which he recently discovered, selected by the first black president who says if he had a son, his son could be Trayvon Martin-- Eric Holder and Barack Obama have likewise shown no interest whatsoever in fulfilling their legal duty when it comes to assembling a national database of police misconduct.

This should not surprise the president's apologists, who will surely counsel us that he has to be president of all the people, including the police. Everybody knows black and brown people are the disproportionate targets of police violence, so enforcing laws which particularly benefit black and brown communities are something we must not expect. Perhaps after the president leaves office, they'll tell us, he'll speak out more forcefully on this. Maybe the “My Brothers Keeper” initiative can get some charitable dollars to organizations like , or PUSH or the Urban League to help more of our young boys to pull their pants up so they won't get beat down.

Let's get real. The Republicans haven't stopped Obama and Holder from doing this, they stopped themselves. Like every cop on the beat, the Obama administration chooses which laws to enforce, which ones to bend and in what direction, and which ones to ignore. Obama's DOJ has resurrected the century old Espionage Act, not to prosecute spies, but to threaten and to imprison whistleblowers who tell the truth to reporters, and to journalists themselves if they do not reveal their sources with decades in prison, like Chelsea Manning, and on so-called “secret evidence.” So when you think about it, it's entirely logical that a president and attorney general who place such a high priority on protecting their torturers, their bankster friends, and the official wrongdoers of past and future administrations should want to protect the police from scrutiny as well.

It's time to shed some illusions, not just about this president but about the whole political class that claims he or any president can be “held accountable.” Barack Obama and his Justice Department are no more interested in justice than the administrations of ten presidents before him, and uncritical black and brown support has made this president less accountable to black and brown people than any in living memory.
This morning Alan Grayson sent his supporters an e-mail, "Acknowledging the Reality of Police Brutality." He began by reminding his readers that "a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri killed an unarmed African-American teenager. The police officer shot him somewhere between six and eleven times. According to some eyewitnesses, the victim, Michael Brown, was shot in the back. Then Brown turned around, with his hands up, and shouted 'I don’t have a gun-- stop shooting!' At which point the officer shot him shot several more times, and killed him." Grayson sees it as part of a pattern of behavior he's observed his whole life. You'd have to be either completely clueless or delusional not to have.
Since I grew up in the Bronx, I have some general familiarity with that scenario. In 1978, a Bronx police officer was convicted of beating a Puerto Rican to death-- while he was in custody.

In 1994, a young man in the Bronx was arrested for accidentally hitting a police car with his football. His brother expressed dismay to the officer about that arrest, crossing his arms across his chest. The officer then arrested the brother, for “disorderly conduct,” and literally choked the life out of him; the coroner listed the cause of death as “compression of his neck and chest.”

In 1996, a Bronx police officer frisked an African-American male, Nathaniel Gaines, on the “D” Train, and found that he was unarmed. One stop later, at 167th Street, overlooking the Grand Concourse on the southbound platform, one stop before Yankee Stadium, the officer ordered Gaines to disembark. The officer then shot at Gaines five times, including four times in the back, and killed him. Gaines was a veteran of the Persian Gulf War, he had no criminal record, and he had never been arrested.

In 1999, four Bronx police officers approached an unarmed Guinean immigrant named Amadou Diallo and ordered him to “show his hands.” Misunderstanding them, presumably because his native language was Fulfulde and not English, Diallo reached into his pocket and took out his wallet. The officers shot him 41 times, and killed him.

And in the meantime, in 1997, New York City police arrested Abner Louima, a Haitian-American, and then sodomized him with a broomstick. But that was in Brooklyn. My parents used to warn me about Brooklyn.

I could go on. Sadly, I could go on and on and on. But what is the point? Police brutality is a reality. And you can’t miss it, unless you literally close your eyes to it-- which all-too-many people seem willing to do.

Let’s start with Fox News. When I listen to Fox News, I feel torn. I just can’t decide: Are they idiots, or are they fools? Are they nitwits, or are they imbeciles? Are they morons, or are they jerks? Are they blockheads, or are they boneheads? They report, and we decide.

Remember how you used to hear the phrase “clever like a fox”? Since Fox News, you don’t hear that anymore.

The primary Fox “talking point” regarding the killing of Michael Brown is that Brown may or may not have been in a convenience store earlier in the day, and that he may or may not have stolen some cigars from that store. Fox has been playing the convenience store video footage in an infinite loop. But there is little or no evidence that the officer knew of the store incident, or that he connected it to Brown.

And if he did, then so what? Even under sharia law, if you steal a few cigars, the worst that can happen is that you get your hand cut off. Not eleven shots from a high-caliber weapon.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that our Constitution permits the death penalty only in cases of first-degree murder, and treason. Not cigar theft. If 11 bullet holes for stealing some cigars is not “cruel and unusual punishment,” then I don’t know what is. It’s definitely cruel, and I certainly hope that it remains unusual.

The other major Fox talking point is “why aren’t we talking about all of the black-on-black violence, and the black-on-white violence?” OK, let’s talk about that. I can give you dozens, if not hundreds, of examples of white police officers killing unarmed black men. I just gave you several from my younger days in the Bronx, alone. The Bronx represents well under one percent of the population of the United States, and my “younger days” were, sadly, quite a while ago.

Now, Fox News, give me an equal number of examples of black police officers killing unarmed black men. Also, give me a list of black police officers killing unarmed white men.

I’m waiting . . .

Anyone who thought that electing our first American-American President would end racism in America must be sorely disappointed this week.

If you ask a sociologist for a definition of “the government,” he or she will not mention Social Security, or the fire department, or the public school system, or our national parks. The sociological definition of the “government” is the entity that has a monopoly on the legal use of force. In every nation on Planet Earth, only the military and the police have the legal right to exercise force, up to and including deadly force. And that makes it tragic when that force is used indiscriminately or-- even worse-- discriminately.

In 1969, the American psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published a book about how people facing death deal with death. She said that there are five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

When it comes to the reality of brutality by our peace officers, too many of us are still in that first stage: denial.
Anyone think Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush or Mike Huckabee is going to deal with this and make it better? How about Hillary Clinton? By the way, do you remember which people in your high school class became policemen? Fox News fans?

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Bronx Lawbreaker Jeffrey Klein Says He's Entitled To Be A Lawmaker


Conservative crook Jeffrey Klein thinks he's above the law

We've written about the race between sleazy Bronx state Senator Jeffrey Klein and reform challenger Oliver Koppell before-- and Ken and I have both spent time with Koppell and Blue America has endorsed him. Last night the NY Times joined us:
Senator Jeffrey Klein is facing a primary challenge this year largely because he led a disruptive power grab in Albany that gave Republicans veto power over some of the state’s most important issues. Mr. Klein and several other state senators created the Independent Democratic Conference, which broke away from the Democrats almost four years ago. Their defection hobbled the Democrats while giving Mr. Klein a new title (temporary president of the State Senate) and more ability to raise campaign funds. His alliance with the Republicans resulted in the failure to approve public financing of campaigns and stronger protections for women.

Mr. Klein’s challenger is Oliver Koppell, a former City Council member and one of New York’s most experienced public servants. Mr. Koppell would spend his time working for New Yorkers, not for himself. As a former Assembly member and briefly the state’s attorney general, he is by far the better candidate. We enthusiastically support Mr. Koppell in this district.
The sleazy characters at the Working Families Party had drafted Koppell to run against Klein, then bowed to demands by Andrew Cuomo to be part of a spurious deal that included the WFP endorsing Cuomo and right-wing nut Kathy Hochul while abandoning Koppell. Today an old friend from Riverdale, who is afraid of retribution from Klein if her name is used, wrote a guest post about the race for DWT today. She tells me none of her Riverdale neighbors are planning to vote for Klein, who is generally viewed as a disgrace to the area and just another corrupt careerist using politics to line his own pockets.

Just How Corrupt Is State Sen. Jeffrey Klein?
Ms. X

The snake in the grass really has some grass. Turns out that Jeff Klein, the turncoat senator in New York has grass-- actual green grass but he shouldn't. He bought a residential house in a residential neighborhood and has been using it for his law office for years even after being given violations. Not allowed. Just recently he refused to allow an inspection of the property. He bought it with a residential mortgage (when commercial mortgages would have cost more), took residential tax breaks and claimed it was his primary residence when he lived somewhere else getting a tax exemption for a primary residence. He has grass at his law office. Real grass.
The city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) has renewed efforts to compel state Sen. Co-majority Leader Jeff Klein’s law office to comply with zoning laws. After first citing the East Bronx law office as an illegal commercial use in a residential zone in 2006, the DOB has now referred the site to its padlock unit-- the first step in a long process that could end with the office’s eviction.

DOB documents show that on Aug. 4 and 12, an inspector unsuccessfully tried to enter Klein, Calderoni & Santucci, LLC at 1614 Williamsbridge Road in relation to a complaint saying the building was an illegal conversion of a residential space.

The document states that a female inside the office denied the inspector access the first time and there was no answer to the official’s knocks and ringing the second time.

After that, the inspector quickly referred the matter to the padlock unit-- an arm of the DOB empowered to padlock illegally used buildings if the owner and occupant fail to end the illegal use after lengthy further negotiations.

A DOB document on its Building Information Site dated Tuesday confirmed that the complaint has been “accepted by padlock unit.”

Mr. Klein, who is in a Democratic primary fight, declined to comment on the matter on Thursday.

The New York Post first brought the complaint to light in 2012. Mr. Klein’s firm purchased the two-family house in 2005 and immediately converted it to office use. He told the Post that he was unaware, until he received a notice of violation from the DOB in January 2006, that he was not in compliance with zoning laws.

At the time of the Post report, the newspaper quoted him as saying he thought that payment of a $480 fine had settled the matter, although the city had issued a directive to “discontinue illegal use.”

Asked why so many years elapsed between visits by building inspectors, a department spokesperson said the DOB only acts quickly if the violation poses a health hazard and that otherwise, it is up to owners to resolve complaints.

The spokesperson added that it revived the case this year after receiving anonymous complaints to 311 saying Mr. Klein had not resolved the situation.

In the meantime, the DOB has received an additional complaint about the office’s prominent gold-letter sign, claiming that it, too, is illegal.

On Thursday afternoon, a man working in the front office of Klein, Santucci & Calderoni declined to give any comment. He said Mr. Klein, Dominick Calderoni and Fred Santucci were not available and directed inquiries to Mr. Klein’s Senate office.

Update: On Friday, Mr. Klein's campaign spokeswoman said a lawyer for the senator's law firm would provide a statement on Monday.
Monday? Labor Day? Slowest news day of the entire electoral cycle?

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Who's This Benton Bribery Character Miss McConnell Just Fired?


The day after Rachel's report (above), McConnell fired Jesse Benton as his campaign manager. BOOM! Out! McConnell didn't like him much anyway, since Benton has been quoted and requoted telling Kentucky libertarians that he was "sort of holding my nose for two years because what we're doing here is going to be a big benefit for Rand in 2016." Benton, a longtime Paul family retainer, is married to Ron Paul's granddaughter, Valori Pyeatt (Rand's niece). Before remaking himself into a Paulista, though, he worked for Louisiana sleaze bag David "Diapers" Vitter. He was Rand Paul's campaign manager-- and tenant, living in Rand's basement-- when he ran for Senate against McConnell's handpicked candidate. And then he was Ron Paul's very well-compensated presidential campaign manager two years later.

It has been widely known since the summer of 2012-- including by McConnell himself-- that Benton had bribed at least one Iowa Republican to come over to the Ron Paul campaign. At the time the Sorenson bribe was first exposed, the NY Times reported that "[a]nother top McConnell aide, Josh Holmes, said Mr. Benton would "absolutely" keep his job. He declined to say if Mr. Benton had apologized to Mr. McConnell" over the "holding my nose" comments. However, now that McConnell has won his anti-Tea Party primary battle against Matt Bevin, he no longer really needs Benton and as soon as it started becoming clear that Benton is likely to be arrested and indicted at some point, McConnell fired his ass, which was called, in typically dishonest political jargon, "reluctantly accepting his resignation." Kentucky political scientist Stephen Voss: "The problem with the scandal is the negative attention it brings to the McConnell campaign, which will come regardless of whether it turns out Benton really did anything wrong. Any whiff of scandal within a campaign organization can bring criticism, because opponents suggest that it reflects on the judgment of the candidate who appointed the individual."

Now that "distraction" is out of the way, McConnell can go back to vowing to block a minimum wage hike on behalf of America's anti-democracy plutocrats for whom his entire political career is dedicated to. Voss added that the revelation of the recordings of McConnell sucking up to the billionaires won't help him among Kentucky working families any more than the Benton scandal. "Both revolve around big money in campaigns, so they threaten to reinforce each other. Even worse, both events reinforce a longstanding Grimes campaign theme that McConnell is too tied into the world of lavish election spending to represent Kentucky."

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Ghost of Sunday Classics preview: Attention, please!


Can you imagine a more ravishing musical attention-getter?

London Symphony Orchestra, Charles Mackerras, cond. Philips-Mercury, recorded July 1961

by Ken

What we hear above is really and truly a preview; we're not going to hear any more of this piece until tomorrow's Ghost of Sunday Classics post. Many of you will recognize it (we've actually heard it before), but for now I just want to focus on this ravishing opening.

This is a talent, I think, the ability to grab a listener's attention musically. Not in a mechanical, conk-over-the-head way, which I suppose can be done by formula, but in a genuinely imagination-engaging way. The talent can certainly be cultivated, shaped, refined, but I think either you've got stuff in you head that can do the trick or you don't. We've listened, for example, to the way Puccini opened nearly all of his mature operas -- that, I think, is simply astounding, and a measure of unique genius.

One reason I'm so bowled over by the way our composer above seizes hold of our imaginations is precisely because there isn't any conking over the head. Just listen to what he does with that out-of-nothing hush, then gradually gathers momentum. Gorgeous!

This makes me think of the musical solutions Puccini's great predecessor Verdi found for the first of his two supreme masterpieces, Otello. We've heard all of these before (if anyone would like links, please just let me know in the comments; it's so tedious gathering them when there's no earthly purpose), but let's listen first to the similarly quiet orchestral introductions to Acts II, III, and IV.

VERDI: Otello
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Big Money Interests Investing Heavily In Their Most Subservient Political Handmaidens


I would call this Horsey cartoon from yesterday's L.A. Times pretty risqué. It uses an image of a cocaine snorting Miss McConnell to portray and mock his addiction to extreme right-wing Koch brothers cash. David Horsey is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Times and he can get away with stuff like this. He also wrote the piece the cartoon accompanied. "The dilemma," he wrote, "facing the true grass-roots tea party believers-- the dilemma they do not acknowledge-- is that their primary goal of whittling and whacking away at big government undercuts their secondary goal of saving the middle class from the greedy grip of big corporations." He contrasts this innocence from the right-wing populists with what the Democratic Party stands for.
If Democrats have a unifying philosophy, it is that government needs to be effective enough to curtail the economic and environmental abuses of unfettered capitalism. Republicans, on the other hand, preach the dogma that smaller government and unrestricted corporate power serves the best interests of the common man and woman.

The tea party folks have largely bought into that belief, but still are uncomfortable with Republicans who appear to be too much in thrall to big business. That is partly why a big tea party effort was mounted against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky’s Republican primary. McConnell was rightly seen as the epitome of the GOP establishment that the tea partiers so disdain. Yet, even with major support from national tea party organizations, such as FreedomWorks and the Senate Conservatives Fund, challenger Matt Bevin could not depose the incumbent senator.
Inevitably Horsey goes to the audio tape of McConnell paying abject obeisance to the Kochs and their billionaire guests at a soirée for extreme right-wing billionaires-- plus 3 of the most craven of this cycle's Koch-owned puppets, Tom Cotton (AR), Joni Ernst (IA), and Cory Gardner (CO)-- at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort in Dana Point (ironically an area of Orange County first developed by L.A. Times right-wing publisher, real estate baron and eugenicist Harry Chandler in 1923). Darrell Issa is the congressman who represents this very white, very conservative GOP enclave. "Caught on an audio recording," wrote Horsey, "the message the minority leader gave to that gathering of super-rich campaign donors might dissuade the more populist-leaning tea party voters from ever giving their support to the man who stands a very good chance of being majority leader come January."
In his remarks, McConnell proved himself to be a devoted servant of Wall Street and big corporations, which should be no surprise to anyone who has paid attention to the man’s political career. He boasted about his pro-billionaire agenda-- he has tirelessly fought against raising the minimum wage, repeatedly opposed extensions of unemployment benefits and scuttled changes in student loan rules that would help struggling students with a small tax on the country’s wealthiest citizens-- and pledged to continue the fight against other so-called big-government programs, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and restrictions on the financial services industry that were imposed after high-flying bankers and financiers nearly destroyed the U.S. economy in 2008.

The core focus of his pitch to the plutocrats was a reassertion of his vehement opposition to campaign-finance limits. He praised the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that said corporations have the same rights to political activity as real human beings. “So all Citizens United did was to level the playing field for corporate speech,” McConnell said, as if corporate moguls like the Kochs are even competing in the same league as the common man on the street when it comes to political spending.

McConnell also reminded the audience that he had opposed earlier restrictions on campaign spending passed by fellow Republicans. “The worst day of my political life was when President George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold into law in the early part of his first administration,” he said.

McConnell wants corporations to spend as much as they want in political campaigns, and he happily accepts their donations (for the last five years, Wall Street interests have been the biggest contributors to his campaign committee). In return, he will continue to fight any limit on corporate power, diligently carrying on a Republican tradition that stretches back to the days of the robber barons of the 19th century. When McConnell is out campaigning among coal miners and farmers, he speaks as if he is the champion of the little guy, but the real McConnell comes through when he is behind closed doors with his billionaire backers (according to one Democratic source, that group includes a fifth of the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans).

The question is whether tea party voters can stomach this. Will they hold their nose and show up to vote for McConnell? As the nation moves into the fall congressional campaign season, the McConnell/Grimes race could go either way. If tea party voters really want to be rid of McConnell, all they may have to do is stay home on election day.
The Finance sector is investing very heavily in the 2014 elections. So far the biggest single donor from the sector is hedge-fund criminal and wing nut Paul Singer through his company, Elliott Management-- $6,842,53. This cycle the whole sector has already poured $148,543,210 into congressional races, $89,724,597 to Republicans and $58,739,217 to conservative Democrats (primarily Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, not real Democrats). Their biggest single investment was in getting Wall Street-owned Democrat Cory Booker into the Senate, which cost them $3,597,949. After that the politicians they did the most to help build power were John Boehner ($2,664,676) and McConnell ($2,458,418).

Here's a list of the 20 Members of the House who have taken the biggest legalistic bribes from the Finance sector this cycle alone. None serve the interests of their constituents. All of them serve the interests of the Wall Street banksters and each has wormed his or her way into a position of power and influence where he or she can be most useful to the worst enemies of American working families on planet Earth:
John Boehner (R-OH)- $2,664,676
Eric Cantor (R-VA)- $1,848,125
Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)- $1,428,259
Tom Cotton (R-AR)- $1,288,662
Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $1,225,756
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $1,003,136
Joe Crowley (New Dem-NY)- $956,722
Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)- $918,800
Scott Garrett (R-NJ)- $912,363
Shelley Moore Capitol (R-WV)- $847,365
Pat Tiberi (R-OH)- $821,450
Ed Royce (R-CA)- $821,218
Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)- $801,750
Steve Stivers (R-OH)- $799,309
Gary Peters (New Dem-MI)- $786,080
Steve Israel (Blue Dog-NY)- $769,050
Peter Roskam (R-IL)- $702,149
Steven Daines (R-MT)- $667,056
Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)- $656,113
Ann Wagner (R-MO)- $655,138
With the exceptions of Wall Street favorites Tom Cotton and Gary Peters, each running for the U.S. Senate, none of these Members have even remotely competitive races. They are selling their souls to Wall Street to build personal power within their own respective caucuses. Banksters love that kind of ambition in their employees.

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Can Peter King Add This To The Republican Law Suit Against President Obama?


“No way any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday… a week after Jim Foley was beheaded"- Peter King

Roland and I have been traveling all over the world for decades. He'd eat grasshoppers, snakes, monkeys and, in Beijing, dog. So when I wondered if I knew anyone who watched the video of Jim Foley's beheading, I asked Roland. "Are you kidding," he declared in disgust. "I'd never watch the savage garbage." OK, so I don't know any friends or family who did. I asked a few congressmembers too and they all said no. I couldn't get an answer from Peter King's office but I bet he did watch it. He's that kind of guy. He's also the kind of guy who gets a free ride to reelection every year. His neighbor and crony, Steve Israel, refuses to allow the DCCC to recruit a candidate against him and when the local Democrats nominate someone, Israel threatens institutional donors and big contributors and does everything he can to undermine the Democrat trying to take on King, despite the fact that redistricting moved King out of most of his Nassau County comfort zone and into Democratic territory in Suffolk County. President Obama won the R+1 district with 51% in 2008 and with 52% in 2012. It's a far better shot for a Democratic pickup than deep red districts in Arkansas Israel is wasting DCCC money on.

But the two Long Island crooked pols are both connected to the Mob and both take plenty of cash from the same filthy sources. They have each others' backs. So when King regularly makes a monkey out of himself, there is no one to help local Democrats capitalize on it. Thursday King shot off his trap again: "There’s no way any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday. When you have the world watching… a week, two weeks of anticipation of what the United States is gonna do. For him to walk out-- I’m not trying to be trivial here-- in a light suit, light tan suit, saying that first he wants to talk about what most Americans care about the revision of second quarter numbers on the economy. This is a week after Jim Foley was beheaded and he’s trying to act like real Americans care about the economy, not about ISIS and not about terrorism. And then he goes on to say he has no strategy."

King may have not been trying to be trivial, but Peter King is trivial-- and Long Island voters deserve better. But Steve Israel would prefer to FedEx weekly packages of bagels and cream cheese to multimillionaire Sean Eldridge than actually replace a heinous and vulnerable Republican like Peter King, who he brought with him to the schule he ripped off.

Pelosi has consistently refused to fire Israel, even after his disastrous defeats in 2012 which resulted in another catastrophic Republican House-- and the last chance for Pelosi to reclaim the Speaker's gavel. Israel has no strategy to win, just a string of light-weight, failed tactics that he tried before and lost with. Steve Israel doesn't have the mental capacity to do anything but take bribes. If he's the chairman of the DCCC for 10,000 years, the Republicans will win the House for 10,000 years.

Even Peter King is entitled to a bad fashion decision every now and then

At least the local Long Island Democrats nominated a candidate, Pat Maher, even if she's being undermined by Israel. There are plenty of incumbents, around 80 of 'em, who are running without major party opponents in November. There are a few states, like California, Louisiana and Washington, where jungle primaries result in two Democrats or two Republicans facing off in November-- like Republicans Clint Didier and Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Republicans Tom McClintock and Art Moore (CA-04), Republicans Steve Knight and Tony Strickland (CA-25), Democrats Mike Honda and Ro Khanna (CA-17), Democrats Zoe Lofgren and Robert Murray (CA-19), Democrats Christina Gagnier and Norma Torres (CA-35), etc-- and then there are districts where incumbents aren't being challenged by the other major party. This is a list, along with each district's PVI:
Mike Thompson (CA-05)- D+19
Sam Farr (CA-20)- D+21
Adam Schiff (CA-28)- D+20
Janice Hahn (CA-44)- D+32
Juan Vargas (CA-51)- D+16
Ruben Gallego (AZ-07)- D+16
Trent Franks (AZ-08)- R+15
Jim Bridenstine (OK-01)- R+18
Sam Johnson (TX-03)- R+17
John Ratcliffe (TX-04)- R+25
Jeb Hensarling (TX-05)- R+17
Kevin Brady (TX-08)- R+29
Al Green (TX-09)- D+25
Mike Conway (TX-11)- R+31
Joaquin Castro (TX-20)- D+6
Lamar Smith (TX-21)- D+12
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)- D+7
Gene Green (TX-29)- D+12
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)- D+27
Mark Veasey (TX-33)- D+18
Cedric Richmond (LA-02)- D+23
Charles Boustany (LA-03)- R+19
Steve Womack (AR-03)- R+19
Phil Roe (TN-01)- R+25
Robert Aderholt (AL-04)- R+28
Mo Brooks (AL-05)- R+17
Terri Sewell (AL-07)- D+20
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)- D+13
Ander Crenshaw (FL-04)- R+19
Gus Bilirakis (FL-12)- R+7
David Jolly (FL-13)- R+1
Kathy Castor (FL-14)- D+13
Ted Deutsch (FL-21)- D+10
Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25)- R+5
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27)- R+2
Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03)- R+19
Hank Johnson (GA-04)- D+21
John Lewis (GA-05)- D+32
Austin Scott (GA-08)- R+15
Barry Loudermilk (GA-11)- R+19
David Scott (GA-13)- D+16
Tom Graves (GA-14)- R+26
Mark Sanford (SC-01)- R+11
Trey Gowdy (SC-04)- R+15
Robert Pittinger (NC-09)- R+8
Bobby Scott (VA-03)- D+27
Bob Goodlatte (VA-06)- R+12
Morgan Griffith (VA-09)- R+15
Bob Gibbs (OH-07)- R+6
Mike Doyle (PA-14)- D+15
Charlie Dent (PA-15)- R+2
Tim Murphy (PA-18)- R+10
Gregory Meeks (NY-05)- D+35
Grace Meng (NY-06)- D+13
Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08)- D+35
Yvette Clarke (NY-09)- D+32
Jerry Nadler (NY-10)- D+23
Charlie Rangel (NY-13)- D+42
Joe Crowley (NY-14)- D+26
Jose Serrano (NY-15)- D+43
Eliot Engel (NY-16)- D+21
Richard Hanna (NY-22)- R+3
Richard Neal (MA-01)- D+13
Jim McGovern (MA-02)- D+8
Joe Kennedy (MA-04)- D+6
Katherine Clark (MA-05)- D+14
Mike Capuano (MA-07)- D+31
Stephen Lynch (MA-08)- D+6
I can understand why a Republican doesn't run against Jose Serrano in the Bronx.The last time the Republicans ran a candidate he got 4,427 votes (3%) to Serrano's 152,661 (97%). Obama also beat Romney with 97% in the district. The PVI is D+43. Similarly, it makes sense that Democrats don't relish running against Mike Conaway in his sprawling, superstitious West Texas district where no Democratic congressional candidates have even gotten to 20% of the vote since Conaway, a pathetic backbencher with zero accomplishments, was first elected in 2004. In 2012 Romney beat Obama there 182,438 (79%) to 45,083 (20%). But if the DCCC can't at least put up a good fight against vulnerable incumbents like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Charlie Dent, David Jolly, Richard Hanna and, most of all, Peter King, what are they even doing collecting money from grassroots donors… aside from feathering their own nests?

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Why Would You Vote For Anyone Opposed To Increasing The Minimum Wage?


No doubt Labor Day is about barbecuing for many people… or an extra day off from work that can be spent with friends and family or in blissful solitude. But this morning, in his weekly address, Presdient Obama chose to discuss the minimum wage, particularly since Mitch McConnell had just prostrated himself before the Koch brothers and some equally heinous billionaires and viewed he would never allow an increase in the minimum wage to even come up for a vote if he wins reelection. It probably angered Peter King again, but the president decided to talk about economic issues that face American families, rather than a beheading in Iraq. "We set aside Labor Day to honor the working men and women of America," he said. And this Labor Day, we’ve got more to celebrate. Over the past 53 months, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs. Last month, for the first time since 1997, we created more than 200,000 jobs for six straight months. And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders worldwide have declared, two years running, that the number one place to invest isn’t China-- it’s America." Republicans don't want to hear this. Any good news for America makes their blood boil and their collective head explode. "[T]here are reasons to be optimistic about where we’re headed," the president continued, happy to infuriate them. "And the decisions we make now will determine whether or not we accelerate this progress-- whether economic gains flow to a few at the top, or whether a growing economy fuels rising incomes and a thriving middle class."
Think about it this Labor Day. The things we often take for granted-- Social Security and Medicare, workplace safety laws and the right to organize for better pay and benefits, even weekends-- we didn’t always have these things. Workers and the unions who get their back had to fight for them. And those fights built a stronger middle class.

To build a stronger middle class in today’s changing economy, we’ve got to keep fighting. We’ve got to fight for the right to affordable health insurance for everybody. The right to fair pay, family leave, and workplace flexibility. The right to a fair living wage.

Let me focus on that last one for a minute. In America, no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty. A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. And raising the minimum wage would be one of the best ways to give a boost to working families. It would help around 28 million Americans from all walks of life pay the bills, provide for their kids, and spend that money at local businesses. And that grows the economy for everyone.

The bottom line is, America deserves a raise. But until we’ve got a Congress that cares about raising working folks’ wages, it’s up to the rest of us to make it happen. And in the year and a half since I first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, Americans of all walks of life are doing just that.

Thirteen states and D.C. have done their part by raising their minimum wages. Four more states have minimum wage initiatives on the ballot this November. And the states where the minimum wage has gone up this year have experienced higher job growth than the states that haven’t.
Conservatives are now desperately trying to "compromise" on the minimum wage. The two conservative EMILY's List candidates in Hawaii, Colleen Hanabusa, a New Dem, and Donna Mercado Kim, a right-wing religious fanatic, were both defeated in Democratic primaries in part because of their refusal to get behind the already-too-low $10.10 minimum wage proposal. Hanabusa plotted with Maine Republican Susan Collins to cut back the $10.10 to as low as they could get away with. And Kim voted against legislation that passed the Hawaii Senate that did raise the minimum wage. Actual progressives understand why $10.10 is too low and that it's really just a baseline from which to go up-- not down. Monday Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to announce his plan to raise the Los Angeles minimum wage to $13.25 in increments over three years. His proposal includes increases pegged to inflation so that workers don't lose buying power as prices of necessities rise.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Yes, we know, guns don't kill people


"Much like the long-running national debates about jumping off a roof, licking electrical sockets, and gargling with thumbtacks, the vexing question of whether children should fire military weapons does not appear headed for a swift resolution.

" 'Like the issue of whether you should sneak up behind a bear and jab it with a hot poker, this won't be settled any time soon,' [pollster Davis Logsdon] says."

by Ken

Yes, we know, guns don't kill people. Sometimes nine-year-old moppets frolicking with Uzis on gun ranges kill people {"Child firing Uzi at Ariz. shooting range accidentally kills instructor, police say").

Gun enthusiasts become heated in their defense of responsible gun ownership and use. And I'm sure many of them are responsible. And yes, we're hearing some of them saying, "Wtf?" At this point, however, it carries less and less weight in the face of their steadfast defense of a do-nothing policy on gun control.

Earlier tonight I voiced some reluctance to make a big deal of the news that, just as opponents of torture warned out at the time of the waterboarding scandal, the practice has now been turned against us, now that we know that executed newsman James Foley and others have been waterboarded by the ISIS thugs. Gosh, who coulda predicted?

Despite my reluctance I thought it extremely important for once to try to hold the right-wing slugs who had pooh-poohed waterboarding and the whole torture scandal for their avalanche of lies and delusions. Similarly, I think it's important that the scum-of-the-earth liars and deluders of the NRA be forced to work a little harder at their never-ending game of lying and deluding.

Over at Daily Kos, Hunter passes on this presumably accidental but, shall we say, embarrassing juxtaposition:
Here's what the NRA Women twitter account piped up with on Wednesday while the rest of American media was showing videotape of a presumably now-traumatized 9-year-old girl losing control of a fully automatic Uzi before spraying her tourist-friendly "instructor" with bullets, killing him.

The tweet was deleted about an afterwards; the article linked to is a look at various products meant to make shooting at things more fun for small kids, such as targets shaped like animals or zombies or targets with bright colors or things that explode when you shoot them. You know, kid stuff. They do note, parents, that with the exploding targets you "do need to be extra careful."

So smooth work yet again, NRA. And hey, technically you did hold off until the body was cold—we might even count that as an improvement over your past work.
It was just earlier this month that I was registering astonishment and horror at the publication of a kiddie book, My Parents Open Carry ("An Open Carry Adventure/Safe - Responsible - Fun"). Yes, this is what we need, teaching kiddies to drool over guns. Raw Story's Scott Kaufman noted in his report:
The book’s authors, Brian Jeffs and Nathan Nephew, claim that they were inspired to write the book because they “looked for pro-gun children’s books and couldn’t find any. Our goal was to provide a wholesome family book that reflects the views of the majority of the American people, i.e., that self-defense is a basic natural right and that firearms provide the most efficient means for that defense.”
Well, maybe Monday's incident was just one of those things that happens. What're you gonna do? Oh sure, people are wondering what the hell a nine-year-old was doing with a submachine gun in her hands. Well, go figure!

The CNN report linked above included this:
Charles Vacca was accidentally shot in the head as he instructed the 9-year-old girl how to fire an Uzi, an Israeli-made 9mm submachine gun. As she pulled the trigger, the gun jumped out of her left hand toward Vacca, who was standing beside her.

"To put an Uzi in the hands of a 9-year-old ... is extremely reckless, " CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes said.

Gun experts contacted by CNN on Wednesday said young children should be taught to shoot with single-shot firearms rather than submachine guns.

They also said that safe learning is connected to the ability and experience of the instructor.

"It's always the supervision," said Greg Danas, president of Massachusetts-based G-and-G Firearms. "But you also have gun enthusiasts running businesses where they place firearms in the hands of the uninformed, whether they're 9-year-old kids who are not capable or adults. It all stems from gun enthusiasts running businesses that require a level of professionalism and education. The unexpected with firearms is something that's only learned through years of being a trainer, not a gun enthusiast."

Representatives of the gun range declined CNN requests for comment on the incident. But Sam Scarmardo, who operates Bullets and Burgers, told CNN affiliate KLAS on Tuesday they "really don't know what happened."
Did you catch that? "Gun experts contacted by CNN on Wednesday said young children should be taught to shoot with single-shot firearms rather than submachine guns." I guess it's wisdom like this that qualifies them as "experts." Yessir, the system is working like a machine -- a death machine.

It seems to me that a bevy of idiots collaborated to make the Arizona incident possible. The nine-year-old girl behaved like an idiot, but then, she's nine. What can possibly have been going on in the heads of the adult idiots who collaborated?


August 28, 2014


By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — Across the United States on Wednesday, a heated national debate began on the extremely complex issue of children firing military weapons.

“Every now and then, the nation debates an issue that is so complicated and tricky it defies easy answers,” says pollster Davis Logsdon. “Letting small children fire automatic weapons is such an issue.”

Logsdon says that the thorny controversy is reminiscent of another ongoing national debate, about whether it is a good idea to load a car with dynamite and drive it into a tree.

“Many Americans think it’s a terrible idea, but others believe that with the correct supervision, it’s perfectly fine,” he says. “Who’s to say who’s right?”

Similar, he says, is the national debate about using a flamethrower indoors. “There has been a long and contentious national conversation about this,” he says. “It’s another tough one.”

Much like the long-running national debates about jumping off a roof, licking electrical sockets, and gargling with thumbtacks, the vexing question of whether children should fire military weapons does not appear headed for a swift resolution.

“Like the issue of whether you should sneak up behind a bear and jab it with a hot poker, this won’t be settled any time soon,” he says.

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Oh no, the evil ISIS terrorists are waterboarding! How dare those dastards . . . oops!


Kids, don't try this at home! But I've got some suggestions of blowhards who deserve to undergo a lovely round of waterboarding -- at the hands of professional CIA torturers technicians. (Artwork by Simon Scarr/Reuters Graphic.)

"Critics of waterboarding have said for years that the practice endangered Americans, putting them at risk of being subjected to the same brutal treatment at the hands of the enemy."
-- from "Captives held by Islamic State were
" on

by Ken

Let's try not to make too big a deal of it, but since the Lying LIars of the Right have taken control of public discourse by screeching lies and delusions at people who are both vastly smarter and more decent than they are, while virtually never being held accountable for their 24/7 barrage of the most grotesque and vile falsehoods, I think we need to pause to consider this news:
Captives held by Islamic State were waterboarded

By Adam Goldman and Julie Tate August 28 at 8:43 PM

At least four hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State, including an American journalist who was recently executed by the group, were waterboarded in the early part of their captivity, according to people familiar with the treatment of the kidnapped Westerners.

James Foley was among the four who were waterboarded several times by Islamic State militants who appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Waterboarding often involves strapping a person down on a gurney or bench and pouring cold water over a cloth covering the face. It causes the sensation of drowning. “The wet cloth creates a barrier through which it is difficult — or in some cases not possible — to breathe,” according to a Justice Department memo in May 2005 about the CIA’s use of the technique.

President Obama has condemned waterboarding as torture.

“They knew exactly how it was done,” a person with direct knowledge of what happened to the hostages said of the Islamic State militants. The person, who discussed the hostages’ experience on the condition of anonymity, said the captives were held in Raqqah, a city in north-central Syria. . . .

A second person familiar with Foley’s time in captivity confirmed that he was tortured, including by waterboarding.

“Yes, that is part of the information that bubbled up, and Jim was subject to it,” the person said. “I believe he suffered a lot of physical abuse.”

Foley’s mother, Diane, said Thursday that she had not been informed previously that her son had been waterboarded.

The FBI, which is investigating Foley’s death and the abduction of Americans in Syria, declined to comment. The CIA had no official comment.

“ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people,” said a U.S. official, using one of the acronyms for the Islamic State. “To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.”

Waterboarding was one of the interrogation techniques adopted by the CIA and sanctioned by the Justice Department when the agency opened a series of secret overseas prisons to question terrorism suspects.

Three CIA detainees — Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Abu Zubaida and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri — were waterboarded while held in secret CIA prisons. Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was waterboarded 183 times, according to a memo issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. . . .

Critics of waterboarding have said for years that the practice endangered Americans, putting them at risk of being subjected to the same brutal treatment at the hands of the enemy.

“Waterboarding dates to the Spanish Inquisition and has been a favorite of dictators through the ages, including Pol Pot and the regime in Burma,” Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) said in an op-ed in 2008. “Condoning torture opens the door for our enemies to do the same to captured American troops in the future.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to release a report asserting that waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques used by CIA operatives were not effective, said Feinstein, who chairs the panel. Former agency employees dispute that conclusion. . . .


The right-wing scumbags I especially want to hear from are the ones who pooh-poohed waterboarding, insisting it was no big deal, and certainly not torture -- which we Americans don't do anyway, though of course it would be an intelligence gold mine if we could, or id. And in particular the ones who had a few drops of water splashed at them and pretended that they had actually undergone waterboarding their very own selves.

Forget for a moment the total illogic of this argument -- that if waterboarding is no big deal, then what the hell was the point of doing it? At the moment I'm more interested in the fundamental fraud of the make-believe waterboardees. So I propose that all those heroes immediately subject themselves to something closer to the real thing than their panty-ass Celebrity Phony Waterboarding adventure.

EVen the following seems to me a fairly mild description of real waterboarding, but since we just read it, it's worth underscoring:
Waterboarding often involves strapping a person down on a gurney or bench and pouring cold water over a cloth covering the face. It causes the sensation of drowning. “The wet cloth creates a barrier through which it is difficult — or in some cases not possible — to breathe,” according to a Justice Department memo in May 2005 about the CIA’s use of the technique.
You can be sure that the phony waterboardees underwent no such thing. More importantly, perhaps most importantly, the phony waterboardees had complete control of the process, which was bogus from start to finish -- not least including their certain knowledge that there would be a safe finish.

For their new round of waterboarding, I propose for starters that our heroes have no idea of what's going to happen. They will have to a liability waiver relieving everyone involved from any culpability for anything that may happen, up to and including death. It may take them one or two preliminary dunks to grasp that when they feel those first signs of suffocation, they may very well be allowed to die. By the second or third dunking, they should have grasped that their future is up for grabs, that they may in fact have no future.

To add some reality to the game, beyond the fact that anything could happen in it, perhaps we should build in a buy-out option, calculated in terms of each victim's net worth, Perhaps a spinning wheel could be used to determine -- unbeknownst to the "subject" -- the maximum percentage of the subject's net worth that the "technician" can try to extract, with a floor of, say, 25 percent, going on up to 100 percent. Perhaps another spin of the wheel could determine -- again unbeknownst to the subject -- how long each session can be allowed to continue, and how many sessions the subject can be subjected to, assuming he/she doesn't go for the buy-out.


. . . that any right-wing scumbag who offers waterboarding as proof of ISIS's evil will be immediately removed from the conversation. I'd suggest removal via secret flight to an undisclosed black sight. Never to be heard from again.

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