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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 02:59 PM
Number of posts: 52,330

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Support Our Troops: "They are being treated, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.”

“Many years ago I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.

But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts us absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many lifeless bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.”

― Kurt Vonnegut

Meet The Press Reportedly in Jeopardy as NBC Looks to Cut Back DC Bureau

As we head into 2014, the fate of the longest-running news program on television is starting to look uncertain. According to a new report from the New York Post’s Claire Atkinson, NBC News chief Deborah Turness is looking to make some major cutbacks at the network’s Washington D.C. bureau, where Meet The Press is produced.

Atkinson quotes one unnamed executive as saying, “Instead of getting better, NBC News has been getting worse (since Turness arrived earlier this year.)It’s a mess.” In October, the reporter cited rumors about Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski adding Meet The Press hosting duties to their already full 15 hours a week on MSNBC.

Meet The Press, which used to be the perennial first place finisher on Sunday mornings over ABC’s This Week and CBS’ Face The Nation, fell to a 21-year low over the summer and has been coming in third place behind those two show for much of 2013.

An NBC spokesperson, in a statement on Friday, said, “We offered a handful of voluntary buyouts in the DC bureau back in early November. Discussions are ongoing.” The spokesperson declined to elaborate. We have reached out to NBC News PR for more information.


Report Suggests NSA Engaged In Financial Manipulation, Changing Money In Bank Accounts

Report Suggests NSA Engaged In Financial Manipulation, Changing Money In Bank Accounts
from the that-would-be-big dept

Matt Blaze has been pointing out that when you read the new White House intelligence task force report and its recommendations on how to reform the NSA and the wider intelligence community, that there may be hints to other excesses not yet revealed by the Snowden documents. Trevor Timm may have spotted a big one. In the recommendation concerning increasing security in online communications, the second sub-point sticks out like a sore thumb:
Trevor Timm
Does this NSA report recommendation imply that NSA is conducting offensive cyber attacks against financial systems? pic.twitter.com/UlO0HN1vH7


Glenn Greenwald and others have warned that the worst Snowden revelations about the NSA are yet to come. If indeed we learn that the NSA has been manipulating international financial systems, whether of individual countries or world systems – or even that is has been manipulating markets here in the U.S. – the NSA as it currently exists will not survive.


Inequality in America is degrading our trust- it’s time to start rebuilding it -By JOSEPH E STIGLITZ

In No One We Trust

Opinionator Blog
New York Times
December 21, 2013, 2:39 pm

In America today, we are sometimes made to feel that it is naïve to be preoccupied with trust. Our songs advise against it, our TV shows tell stories showing its futility, and incessant reports of financial scandal remind us we’d be fools to give it to our bankers.


… In the years leading up to the crisis, though, our traditional bankers changed drastically, aggressively branching out into other activities, including those historically associated with investment banking. Trust went out the window. Commercial lenders hard-sold mortgages to families who couldn’t afford them, using false assurances. They could comfort themselves with the idea that no matter how much they exploited their customers and how much risk they had undertaken, new “insurance” products — derivatives and other chicanery — insulated their banks from the consequences. If any of them thought about the social implications of their activities, whether it was predatory lending, abusive credit card practices, or market manipulation, they might have taken comfort that, in accordance with Adam Smith’s dictum, their swelling bank accounts implied that they must be boosting social welfare.

Of course, we now know this was all a mirage. Things didn’t turn out well for our economy or our society. As millions lost their homes during and after the crisis, median wealth declined nearly 40 percent in three years. Banks would have done badly, too, were it not for the Bush-Obama mega-bailouts.

This cascade of trust destruction was unrelenting…

… inequality has infected the heart of our ideals.

I suspect there is only one way to really get trust back. We need to pass strong regulations, embodying norms of good behavior, and appoint bold regulators to enforce them. We did just that after the roaring ’20s crashed; our efforts since 2007 have been sputtering and incomplete. Firms also need to do better than skirt the edges of regulations. We need higher norms for what constitutes acceptable behavior, like those embodied in the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. But we also need regulations to enforce these norms — a new version of trust but verify. No rules will be strong enough to prevent every abuse, yet good, strong regulations can stop the worst of it.

Strong values enable us to live in harmony with one another. Without trust, there can be no harmony, nor can there be a strong economy. Inequality in America is degrading our trust. For our own sake, and for the sake of future generations, it’s time to start rebuilding it. That this even requires pointing out shows how far we have to go.


via: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/21/1264557/-Joseph-Stiglitz-In-No-One-We-Trust

"The Ice Bear"

WASHINGTON (Dec. 19, 2013)—Proof, National Geographic’s online photography experience, has announced the winners of the 2013 National Geographic Photography Contest. A stunning photograph of a polar bear peering up from beneath the melting sea ice on Hudson Bay as the setting midnight sun glows red from the smoke of distant fires has captured the grand prize. The photographer of “The Ice Bear” is Paul Souders of Seattle, Wash. He has won $10,000 (USD) and a trip to National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual National Geographic Photography Seminar in January 2014.


"The Fluffer" The Guy Who Created "Duck Dynasty" Starred In A Movie About Gay Porn

A decade before Scott Gurney created Duck Dynasty, he starred as a gay porn star in a 2001 movie called The Fluffer, an unmentioned but delightful fact in the background of the show’s recent conflagration over Phil Robertson’s homophobic comments to GQ. But it’s not a secret either; The Fluffer, which was an independent film that played at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival, is right there on Gurney’s IMDb page.

I called Gurney Productions — which Gurney founded in 2005 with his wife, Deirdre — to ask for a comment. I was told no one gets connected to Scott on the phone, and I should send an email. (I did.) A spokesman for A&E also didn’t immediately return an email requesting a comment.

Gurney’s character in The Fluffer is gay-for-pay and a meth addict. He becomes the object of obsession for a male film student who gets a job as his on-set fluffer. It’s dark! It was directed by Wash West and Richard Glatzer.


Geraldo Rivera: ‘C*cksucking f*ggot’ is not an anti-gay slur if you grew up with it

In an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Thursday night, Geraldo Rivera defended actor Alec Baldwin’s use of the epithet “c*cksucking f*ggot” in an angry confrontation with a photographer.

Rivera was agreeing with host Sean Hannity that A&E is making a mistake by suspending “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson for his anti-LGBT and racist statements in an interview with Drew Magarry of GQ magazine.

The people criticizing Robertson, he said, are the same “fundamentalist gay activists” who criticized Baldwin for his insults to the photographer.


Rivera countered that the offensive phrase doesn’t count as a slur because such utterances were “commonplace,” default insults when Baldwin was younger and growing up.


Eugene Robinson | Ending the 9/11 Panic Mentality at the NSA Once and For All

Eugene Robinson | Ending the 9/11 Panic Mentality at the NSA Once and For All


In plain language, the panel lays out just what the NSA has been doing: obtaining secret court orders compelling phone service providers to "turn over to the government on an ongoing basis call records for every telephone call made in, to, or from the United States through their respective systems."

That is a jaw-dropping sentence. No less stunning, however, is the panel's assessment of the program's worth as a tool to fight terrorism: from all available evidence, zero.


Somehow, the NSA has transformed itself from an agency whose mission was overseas surveillance to one that vacuums and stores massive amounts of information about our private communications. This isn't mission-creep; it's more like mission-gallop.

Unless we want to accept an Orwellian future in which privacy is a distant memory -- and I don't -- we need to limit the NSA's authority to surveillance of legitimate foreign targets.



Phil Robertson's America (by: TA-NEHISI COATES)

The Milwaukee Journal, January 27, 1935
Phil Robertson's America

I've yet to take in an episode of Duck Dynasty. I hear it's a fine show, anchored by a humorous and good-natured family of proud Americans. I try to be good natured, and I have been told that I can appreciate a good joke. I am also a proud American. With so much in common, it seems natural that I take some interest in the views of my brethren on the history of the only country any of us can ever truly call home:

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field .... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word! ... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.

That is Robertson responding to a reporter's question about life in Louisiana, before the civil-rights movement. I am sure Robertson did see plenty of black people who were singing and happy. And I am also sure that very few black people approached Robertson to complain about "doggone white people."


The belief that black people were at their best when they were being hunted down like dogs for the sin of insisting on citizenship is a persistent strain of thought in this country. What it ultimately reflects is inability to cope with America that is at least rhetorically committed to equality. One can quickly see the line from this kind of thinking, to a rejection of the civil rights movement of our age


There Are Two Americas, And One Is Better Than The Other

There Are Two Americas, And One Is Better Than The Other


In one America, it's O.K. to say this of gays and lesbians: "They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil." In the other America, you're not supposed to say that.

There's one America where it's O.K. to say this about black people in the Jim Crow-era South: "Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues." There's another America where that statement is considered to reflect ignorance and insensitivity.

In one America, it's O.K. to attribute the Pearl Harbor attacks to Shinto Buddhists' failure to accept Jesus. In the other America, that is not O.K.

There are two Americas, one of which is better than the other. And it's instructive who's sticking up for the worse America.

the rest:

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