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Friday TOON Roundup 1 - Rethugs

Get Elected, Get Your Kids Rich: Washington Is Spoiled Rotten

Joe Manchin’s daughter Heather was looking for a job. The now-senator and one-time governor of West Virginia was only a state level rep when he ran into Milan Pushkar—the head of Mylan Inc., a Fortune 500 pharmaceuticals company—at a West Virginia University basketball game. Heather was hired for an entry-level position at the company soon after. Records show Mylan benefitted from millions of dollars worth of corporate tax breaks in the state during Manchin’s gubernatorial tenure. And these days, after stints as Mylan’s director of government relations and strategic development, Heather Bresch (née Manchin) is the company’s CEO, one of Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. All this without even an MBA—a 2008 investigation found that Bresch did not actually earn her degree from WVU as claimed. Officials had altered her official records and covered up for it, perhaps motivated by Mylan’s lucrative relationship with the University—co-founder Pushkar (Bresch’s business world fairy godfather) donated over $20 million and had the football field named after him.

Connected children of political families catching a break is something we Americans are plenty used to—there would be no Kennedy or Bush dynasties without the public’s acceptance that some people just raise their kids up all square-jawed and rolled shirtsleeves, ready to run for office. But the nexus of private business and politics is always one that’s skated over lightly in high school civics classes. Perhaps that’s why there was so much consternation over the recent revelations that Wall Street banks had hired the children of prominent Chinese politicians with hopes of currying favor with those who wield power over business decisions in the rising economic superpower. The hiring of so-called “Chinese Princelings” has been a widespread one in the banking community; JPMorgan Chase had a “Sons and Daughters” program that separated applications of Chinese elites’ children from the wider pool and held them to less rigorous standards. Documents have been uncovered indicating that the bank directly tracked the hiring of influencers’ children to the success of business deals.

The banks’ cozy arrangements with the Chinese have been difficult for many to stomach, but others have scoffed at what they perceive as prissy outrage, framing the affair as simply the ways of the world revealed. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Arthur Levitt, head of the SEC under President Clinton (and son of a former New York State comptroller), called the accusations, “scurrilous and hypocritical,” pointing out that wealthy and powerful Americans employ many of the same nepotistic practices on behalf of their own children. The right schools, the right friends, the right job out of college.





Unprecedented interruption of Supreme Court Proceedings

by Carl Gibson

Early on Wednesday morning, inside the stuffy chambers of the United States Supreme Court, a man stood up in a crowd of 330 citizens to address the nation’s nine top judges. He wasn’t scheduled to give testimony, and wasn’t a certified legal expert with credentials to present an oral argument in the Supreme Court. His interruption of Supreme Court proceedings would be the first in eight years, and only the second in two decades. And for the first time ever, a citizen speaking freely inside the Supreme Court chamber was caught on video.

“I rise on behalf of the majority of the American people, who believe that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and our democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder. Overturn Citizens United. Keep the cap in McCutcheon. The people demand democracy,” said Kai Newkirk of the organization 99Rise, before being hauled out of the courtroom and handcuffed. As of this writing, Newkirk is still in jail on charges of “haranguing” and uttering “loud threatening or abusive language" in the Supreme Court building.

Newkirk’s outburst preceded oral arguments for the McCutcheon vs. FEC case, which has been called “Citizens United, Part 2.” Shaun McCutcheon, C.E.O. of the mining industry-focused engineering company Coalmont Electrical Development, is the plaintiff in the case. McCutcheon, of Birmingham, Ala., donated $16,250 to the Alabama Republican Party in 2012. His company has donated to the campaigns of the most obstructionist Republicans in the US Senate, including top Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, who is credited with initiating the federal government shutdown of 2013. The latest oral arguments for McCutcheon vs. FEC were presented in October. It’s also worth noting that the Republican National Committee has joined McCutcheon in his lawsuit, along with Mitch McConnell himself, whose team of lawyers will be making arguments to the Supreme Court on McConnell’s behalf.

In January of 2010, Citizens United vs. FEC ruled that political contributions are an expression of free speech, allowing corporations to make unlimited political donations. Corporations were given the same rights as people after the Union Pacific Railroad vs. Santa Clara County ruling in 1886. Citizens United also paved the way for the creation of Super PACs – political entities that place no limits to how much one person can give at one time. McCutcheon argues because corporations are people and money is speech, aggregate limits for political contributions from individual citizens are unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

- See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/unprecendented-interruption-supreme-court-proceedings#sthash.jlcx89ux.dpuf

The Fed Thought the Housing Bubble Was Hilarious

By Barry Ritholtz

Earlier this week, we considered the amount of laughter in Federal Open Market Committee meetings as a sign the Fed wasn't fully cognizant of the coming financial storm.

Today’s chart (via Elliot-today) adds another component to this, overlaying the Fed's laughter with the Case-Shiller residential real-estate price index. Perhaps the best way to examine the contrast is as a function of mass psychology: The Fed appears to have become complacent, apparently relaxed and satisfied with the way it handled the aftermath of the dot-com/technology/telecom bubble that burst in 2000.

Sure, there is some form-fitting here as the FOMC chart is adjusted 6 months to make the two correlate. Regardless, it is the sort of coincidence that would rarely be noticed in real time and is terribly significant in hindsight.


The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass

By Sabrina Rubin Erdely
February 26, 2014 11:00 AM ET

Jesse Snodgrass plodded around yet another stucco corner, searching for Room 254 in time for the second-period bell, only to find he was lost yet again. Jesse felt a familiar surge of panic. He was new to Chaparral High School and still hadn't figured out how to navigate the sprawling Southern California campus with its outdoor maze of identical courtyards studded with baby palm trees. Gripping his backpack straps, the 17-year-old took some deep breaths. Gliding all around him were his new peers, chatting as they walked in slouchy pairs and in packs. Many of their mouths were turned up, baring teeth, which Jesse recognized as smiles, a signal that they were happy. Once he regained his composure, he followed the spray-painted Chaparral Puma paw prints on the ground, his gait stiff and soldierly, and prayed that his classroom would materialize. He was already prepared to declare his third day of school a disaster.

At last, Jesse found his art class, where students were milling about in the final moments before the bell. He had resigned himself to maintaining a dignified silence when a slightly stocky kid with light-brown hair ambled over and said, "Hi."

"Hi," Jesse answered cautiously. Nearly six feet tall, Jesse glanced down to scan the kid's heart-shaped face, and seeing the corners of his mouth were turned up, Jesse relaxed a bit. The kid introduced himself as Daniel Briggs. Daniel told Jesse that he, too, was new to Chaparral – he'd just moved from Redlands, an hour away, to the suburb of Temecula – and, like Jesse, who'd recently relocated from the other side of town, was starting his senior year.

Jesse squinted and took a long moment to mull over Daniel's words. Meanwhile, Daniel sized up Jesse, taking in his muscular build and clenched jaw that topped off Jesse's skater-tough look: Metal Mulisha T-shirt, calf-length Dickies, buzz-cut hair and a stiff-brimmed baseball hat. A classic suburban thug. Lowering his voice, Daniel asked if Jesse knew where he might be able to get some weed.

"Yeah, man, I can get you some," Jesse answered in his slow monotone, every word stretched out and articulated with odd precision. Daniel asked for his phone number, and Jesse obliged, his insides roiling with both triumph and anxiety. On one hand, Jesse could hardly believe his good fortune: His conversation with Daniel would stand as the only meaningful interaction he'd have with another kid all day. On the other hand, Jesse had no idea where to get marijuana. All Jesse knew in August 2012 was that he had somehow made a friend.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/the-entrapment-of-jesse-snodgrass-20140226

Army Removes 588 Soldiers From Sensitive Positions

By Halle Kiefer

Army officials announced Wednesday that they have removed 588 soldiers from active duty as part of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's attempt to quash military sexual assaults. Twenty thousand troops had their records investigated and 588 were discovered to have infractions including sexual assault, child abuse, and drunken driving. Of the 588 deposed, 79 are leaving the service and the rest "could face further actions from their commands." The soldiers held "positions of trust" including recruiters, drill sergeants, training school instructors and staff of sexual assault prevention and response programs. We're going to go ahead and assume that roughly 587 of those removed had hidden drunk-driving convictions, as the prospect of multiple sexual-assault prevention officers having committed sexual assault or child abuse is a prospect 588 times too bleak to contemplate.


Oh, Lord! "The First Amendment protects only the practice of the Christian faith."

Nutcase alert-
SB 1062 should never have had to be written
Posted on February 24, 2014 by Glen (online)

The First Amendment protects only the practice of the Christian faith.

The Arizona Republic gathered the twenty, or so, protestors against S.B. 1062 close together for a photo to place on the front cover of their Thursday edition. The gathering together is an attempt to show that thousands of protestors came to their demonstration.

In the center of the photo they placed a guy who just happens to be able to afford the tab-collar clergy shirt with a sign about how religions should be against this legislation. I am not sure from which Internet “U” this person obtained his certification, but they certainly had no requirement to read the Bible.

The “columnists” at the Republic are in full swing typing out their indignation at the “discrimination.”

Of course, when you are dealing with a group of people who get their Constitutional training from the Salon and Russia Today web sites, it is difficult for them to understand that this legislation should never have been written. You see, there is already a law that protects the right of those of the Christian faith to not serve those who are clearly abhorrent to that faith.

It’s called the First Amendment.

more insanity:

Police arresting suspected prostitutes, taking them to church

In May 2013, Monica Jones, a student and sex-work activist, was arrested for “manifesting prostitution” by the Phoenix police.

Hers was one of more than 350 arrests carried out by Project ROSE in conjunction with Phoenix police since the program's inception in 2011.

Project ROSE is a Phoenix city program that arrests sex workers in the name of saving them. In five two-day stings, more than 100 police officers targeted alleged sex workers on the street and online. They brought them in handcuffs to the Bethany Bible Church. There, the sex workers were forced to meet with prosecutors, detectives, and representatives of Project ROSE, who offered a diversion program to those who qualified. Those who did not may face months or years in jail.

In the Bethany Bible Church, those arrested were not allowed to speak to lawyers. Despite the handcuffs, they were not officially “arrested” at all.

In law enforcement, language goes through the looking glass. Lieutenant James Gallagher, the former head of the Phoenix Vice Department, told me that Project ROSE raids were “programs.” The arrests were “contact.” And the sex workers who told Al Jazeera that they had been kidnapped in those windowless church rooms—they were “lawfully detained.”


Bachmann to Blitzer: Tolerate Evangelical Intolerance

By John M. Becker

Last night, before Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed an anti-LGBT "right to discriminate" bill, Tea Party Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann went on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and told the CNN host that she supports these bills.

Not only that, but she suggested that it would be "intolerant" to ask anti-LGBT evangelicals to serve all members of the public and play by the same rules as everyone else in the public marketplace.

Bachmann used part of her time to urge "tolerance for the community of people who hold sincerely-held religious beliefs." While the congresswoman said she respects both sides of the debate, she said she does not think Governor Jan Brewer should veto the bill as other conservatives have been urging her to do.
Asked by Blitzer if the bill will "open the door for less tolerance for gays," Bachmann answered, "In fact, it's just the opposite. This is a decided level of intolerance. It's effectively eviscerating the rights of freedom of speech, expression, and religious expression for the people of Arizona and it sets a terrible precedent."
Blitzer pushed back, calling the bill "discriminatory" and not "respectful" to the gay community.
"Remember we are treating people who hold sincerely-held religious beliefs differently than other Americans either," Bachmann said. "This isn't one side or another. What we're talking is tolerance on both sides. And it is not tolerant to force people to violate their religious beliefs." She said if Brewer does veto the bill, it will "serve us not very well in terms of tolerance in the United States."

Don't you love how she assumes that all "sincerely-held religious beliefs" are anti-LGBT, completely ignoring the many religious traditions and people of faith who proudly and boldly support equality? Oh Michele.

Read more at http://www.bilerico.com/2014/02/bachmann_to_blitzer_tolerate_evangelical_intoleran.php
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