Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Return To Sender

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took a copy of the letter then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in February 2009 demanding that President Obama’s cabinet appointees complete the background checks before their confirmation hearings, applied a Sharpie, and sent it back to McConnell yesterday.

schumer-letter-01-10-17Mr. McConnell’s office said that this time everything was entirely different.  For one thing, Trump is a Republican and therefore the rules don’t apply to him.

I have no doubt that the Senate will whoop through Trump’s appointees without a scratch and we’re going to have incompetents and those with sketchy ties to the industries they’re supposed to be overseeing ensconced.  But this little call-out by Mr. Schumer indicates that someone is not willing to let them get in without being noticed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Comedic Karma

The spirit of Gene Wilder was watching over the Miami-Dade County Public School administration building today. The fire alarm went off around 12:45, meaning the entire building had to evacuate out to the street. That’s nine floors on one side and seven on the other. As we trooped across the street, someone said, “Well, it could be worse.”  I immediately thought of the grave-digging scene in “Young Frankenstein.”

Well, guess what…

We made it back before we got too wet. Thank you, Gene.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Karma vs. Schadenfreude

All this talk about the GOP leadership having some kind of “intervention” with Donald Trump to get his presidential campaign back on the rails led Greg Sargent to put up this headline:

Republicans nominate dangerously insane person to lead America, then panic when he proves he’s dangerously insane.

Overindulging in schadenfreude can provoke bad karma, so it’s never a good idea to chortle too much about the misfortune of others, but what the hell.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Today In Karma

Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who became famous by going after Bill Clinton’s private life and thereby coming up with 657 different ways of describing a blow job, is on the verge of being fired as the president of Baylor University because he ignored the sexual misconduct by its football team.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lysistrata In North Carolina

In case you weren’t paying attention during the unit on Greek theatre in high school, “Lysistrata” is a comedy by Aristophanes in which the women of Athens declare their intention to withhold sex from the men until they stop the Pelopennisian War.  Peace breaks out immediately.

That seems to be at least part of the thinking behind this move.

There’s a new kink in North Carolina’s LGBT controversy: A popular porn website is banning all computers from “The Tar Heel State.”

XHamster.com has been refusing to serve anyone from North Carolina since 12:30 p.m. EDT, Monday.

Instead, users with a North Carolina IP address are just seeing a black screen on their computer — no porn.

The extreme measures will stay in place until North Carolina repeals House Bill 2, a law passed on March 23 that effectively prevents cities and counties in the state from passing rules that protect LGBT rights.

XHamster.com spokesman, Mike Kulich, said the website believes in equality for everyone.

“We have spent the last 50 years fighting for equality for everyone and these laws are discriminatory which XHamster.com does not tolerate,” he said in an official statement sent to The Huffington Post. “Judging by the stats of what you North Carolinians watch, we feel this punishment is a severe one. We will not standby and pump revenue into a system that promotes this type of garbage. We respect all sexualities and embrace them.”

Kulich told HuffPost that the company’s statistics show that North Carolinians are more open-minded — at least about their porn — than laws like HB2 might suggest.

“Back in March, we had 400,000 hits for the term ‘Transsexual’ from North Carolina alone,” he said. “People from that state searched ‘Gay’ 319,907 times,” he added.

Kulich said the website plans to replace the black screen currently seen by North Carolina porn buffs with a petition demanding the repeal of the law.

“Hopefully, it will get as many signatures as the ‘transsexual’ searches,” he said.

Bruce Springsteen cancelling a concert is one thing, but cutting off access to porn?  That’s just cruel.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Got Karma?

It doesn’t get much better than this.

“It ain’t because of the raw milk,” he told the newspaper. “With that many people around and that close quarters and in that air and environment, I just call it a big germ. All that Capitol is is a big germ.”

He also said that mass illness is common when the state legislature convenes, calling it “the Capitol crud.”

The paper also reported the state’s public health bureau opened an investigation Tuesday after receiving a complaint about the raw milk.

Cadle told the newspaper that he passed around raw milk to those who wanted to “live dangerously” on Thursday in the House chambers. He then missed work Monday because of a stomach bug, but returned to the Capitol on Tuesday.

He said it was just it bad timing.

“There’s nobody up there that got sick off that milk,” he told the paper.

Well, I’m sorry they got sick, but, [snort]

Friday, February 5, 2016

You’ve Got Mail

It turns out that Hillary Clinton wasn’t the only Secretary of State to get classified e-mails on her private account.

The State Department has discovered a dozen emails containing classified information that were sent to the personal email accounts of Colin L. Powell and close aides of Condoleezza Rice during their tenures as secretaries of state for President George W. Bush.

Two emails were sent to Mr. Powell’s personal account, and 10 to personal accounts of Ms. Rice’s senior aides. Those emails have now been classified as “confidential” or “secret” as part of a review process that has resulted in similar “upgrades” of information sent through the personal email server that Hillary Clinton used while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. The State Department did not say who sent the emails to Mr. Powell or to Ms. Rice’s aides, or who received the messages.

It is against the law to have classified information outside a secure government account.

But… but… Benghazi!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Reversal of Fortune

The Republicans and the anti-choice movement just got their heads handed to them by a grand jury in Houston.

A grand jury here that was investigating accusations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood has instead indicted two abortion opponents who made undercover videos of the organization.

Prosecutors in Harris County said one of the leaders of the Center for Medical Progress — an anti-abortion group that made secretly recorded videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue — had been indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony, and on a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.

That leader, David R. Daleiden, 27, the director of the center, had posed as a biotechnology representative to infiltrate Planned Parenthood affiliates and surreptitiously record his efforts to procure tissue for research. Another center employee, Sandra S. Merritt, 62, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record.

The record-tampering charges accused Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt of making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses, with the intent to defraud, for their April meeting at Planned Parenthood in Houston.

Abortion opponents claimed that the videos, which were released starting in July, revealed that Planned Parenthood was engaged in the illegal sale of body parts — a charge that the organization has denied and that has not been supported in numerous congressional and state investigations triggered by the release of the videos.

On Monday, the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, said in a statement that grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

She declined to provide details about the case against Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt, including any documents or evidence presented to the grand jury, citing state law on the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.

“As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us,” Ms. Anderson said. “All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

In a statement on Monday night, Mr. Daleiden said: “The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws. We respect the processes of the Harris County district attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well. Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see.”

The release of the videos last summer created a furor and gave new strength to the conservative drive to defund Planned Parenthood. The organization was forced to apologize for the casual tone that one of its officials had used to discuss a possible transfer of fetal tissue to what she believed was a legitimate medical company. But Planned Parenthood said the fees being discussed were to cover costs and were legal.

No word yet on whether or not Carly Fiorina, who has based a good deal of her presidential campaign on demonizing Planned Parenthood and claiming that she saw a non-existent video of dismembered foetuses, has apologized or owned up to making stuff up.  Not that it would make any difference; she and the rest of the anti-choicers will go on lying and demonizing PP.

But it is righteous justice, especially since the grand jury was supposed to investigate PP and ended up indicting the accusers instead.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Thursday, January 7, 2016

And Stay Out

The British Parliament is set to debate a bill that would ban Donald Trump from setting foot on that sceptred isle.

The debate has been scheduled for January 18 in Westminster Hall, where any member of Parliament is allowed to participate.

An online citizen’s petition to ban Trump from the United Kingdom garnered more than 568,000 signatures, well above the 100,000 threshold required for a measure to be considered for a debate, since being filed on December 8.

The petition says that because the country has banned entry to people for “hate speech” before, “the same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK.”

Words have consequences, and Mr. Trump just doesn’t know when to STFU.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Friday, December 18, 2015

Smarmy Pharma Dude Gets His Karma Moment

It could not happen to a more worthy target.

Martin Shreli Busted 12-18-15It has been a busy week for Martin Shkreli, the flamboyant businessman at the center of the drug industry’s price-gouging scandals.

He said he would sharply increase the cost of a drug used to treat a potentially deadly parasitic infection. He called himself “the world’s most eligible bachelor” on Twitter and railed against critics in a live-streaming YouTube video. After reportedly paying $2 million for a rare Wu-Tang Clan album, he goaded a member of the hip-hop group to “show me some respect.”

Then, at 6 a.m. Thursday, F.B.I. agents arrested Mr. Shkreli, 32, at his Murray Hill apartment. He was arraigned in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on securities fraud and wire fraud charges.

In a statement, a spokesman for Mr. Shkreli said he was confident that he would be cleared of all charges.

Mr. Shkreli has emerged as a symbol of pharmaceutical greed for acquiring a decades-old drug used to treat an infection that can be devastating for babies and people with AIDS and, overnight, raising the price to $750 a pill from $13.50. His only mistake, he later conceded, was not raising the price more.

My schaden is now freude.  Heh.

Photo by Andrew Burton, Getty Images.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Karmic Medicine

Via Newsweek:

The world’s most hated man this week could well be Martin Shkreli, whose pharmaceutical company inexplicably raised the price last month of a decades-old drug needed to treat a complex parasitic infection by more than 5,400 percent. But there is a group of folks who are probably delighted that Shkreli thrust himself into the public eye in such a negative way: Federal prosecutors.

Since at least in January, Shkreli has been under criminal investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, court records show. And Shkreli is not alone—some of his business associates have also received grand jury subpoenas in the case.

After being notified of the investigation that month, Shkreli—a former hedge fund manager turned drug company entrepreneur—has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination because of the criminal case whenever his testimony has been sought in the many civil lawsuits filed against him about his business dealings.

If only he hadn’t been such a dick, he’d have gotten away with it, but grifters gotta grift.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Your Moment of Karma

Via TPM:

The man shot at the armadillo just before 3 a.m. on Thursday after seeing it on the freeway in the town of Marietta, Texas, according to Cass County Sheriff official.

The bullet ricocheted back at his head. The man was treated for minor injuries. Local reports are unclear as to the condition of the armadillo.

Ah, the balance of nature.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Karma Gets You

From the Washington Post, Orin Kerr notes:

If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair, who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy.


I don’t think the situation with the former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is as much a “gotcha” moment as it is just karma.  Mr. Hastert, like all of his Republican colleagues at the time, was anti-gay and publicly prudish enough about the private activities of others such as the president that he could get up on his high horse and cast down judgment while firmly keeping the door on the closet locked.  They might as well stood in the well of the House and said “If there’s anyone out there who knows anything about our past that might be embarrassing to me, now’s the time.”

Karma may not be instant, but it is inevitable, whether it’s in the form of Larry Flynt or just the passage of time.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lone Star

The mere fact that I was born in Texas does not give me the right to sneer and disrespect the state or the people therein, and it’s totally unfair to label a happenstance of geography and cartography that has carved out a large chunk of the land mass we call the United States as the bilge.  Texas is a beautiful state with a lot of great people and places, ranging from the Gulf Coast to the rolling hills and desert of the west; I have a fond memory of driving across it in early August and being charmed by the variety of its open spaces and the friendliness of the people I met as I took Sam for an early-morning walk in Pecos.

So it must be just the confluence of circumstance and karma that three of the strangest and news-notable events of the past year have either started in Texas or are playing out there: Ebola, Jade Helm 15, and the assault on offensive cartoons of Mohammed by a couple of road-company jihadists from Arizona.

Of course the Ebola outbreak of last fall didn’t start in Texas; some poor fellow already infected with the virus happened to land there, get sick, and ended up dying in a Texas hospital that at first sent him home with two aspirin.  The nationwide panic that ensued was fueled by ignorance and to no small degree a midterm election that was desperate to find something to scare the crap out of the voters.  But it started in Dallas and gave the local politicians yet another thing to blame on incompetence of the federal government, all the while demanding that they do something before everyone in the Lone Star State was wiped out.  Fortunately (except for the first victim), no one else died of Ebola, and once the election was over, it was like it never happened.  Two months later, a much more infectious and potentially dangerous epidemic of measles swept the country, but since it started in California and there was no one running for office, we dealt with it calmly.  (Also “Ebola” sounds much scarier than “measles,” a disease we associate with childhood and cute poems about Christopher Robin.)

The paradox of rough-tough gun-totin’ Texans freaking out over a military exercise titled Jade Helm 15 that they see as a cover for martial law, gun confiscation, and a Red Dawn-style invasion by the forces of evil under the thrall of the Secret Muslim Kenyan Usurper is both amusing and scary: amusing that a military exercise that has been openly planned for a long time and is a reprise of pretty much the same exercise that took place in 2005, and scary that otherwise allegedly sane people who drive around with SUPPORT OUR TROOPS bumper stickers would think that the Special Forces of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines could pull it off.  What happened to the bumbling, fumbling, snafu-prone federal government?  Have they actually been using their legendary molasses-like pace as a cover for their truly swift and overwhelming abilities to seize an entire state without tipping someone off?  How very clever.

As with Ebola, this story couldn’t have gotten legs without the help and encouragement of the politicians who instinctively know how to exploit the fear and loathing of low-information voters, and Texas excels at electing such exploiters as Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Rep. Louis Gohmert, all of whom have gone so far over the top with the boogedy-boogedy about Jade Helm 15 that the voice of reason — at least in terms of defending the troops if not the president — is former Gov. Rick Perry, who heretofore was famous for succeeding George W. Bush both as governor and as a buffoon.

When Pam Geller, the anti-Islamic agitator, decided to sponsor a contest to see who could draw the most offensive cartoon of Mohammed, she chose a suburb of Dallas, probably based on the assumption that she would draw in, so to speak, a number of like-minded participants.  Maybe Ms. Geller didn’t know that there is a substantial Muslim population in Texas and they’ve been there for over 150 years.  Or maybe she did know and was doing it for the same reason someone who really hates Catholics would host a Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective or display Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” across the street from St. Patrick’s cathedral.

Ms. Geller has the First Amendment on her side and she said she was no different than Charlie Hebdo and their satirical cartoons, and when the two guys rolled up in their car and tried to shoot up the place, she got exactly the response she was hoping for.  (Taking a cue from the Jade Helm 15 conspirators, it does make one wonder if they weren’t set up by her organization, and the fact that a sharp police officer was able to kill them before they got out of the parking lot means they were collateral damage to her show.)  Had they not shown up, no one would have noticed the event at all.  Now she can claim that ISIS is in Texas, and if they’re there, they could be everywhere.

Texas doesn’t have the monopoly on batshit crazy and stupidity in America; after all, I’m writing this in Florida.  But whether it is because of its size, its diversity, and instinct for kneejerk repulsion against anything that doesn’t come from there (or they can lay claim to), it’s had a rough go.  And now that Ted Cruz is running for president and Rick Perry is planning to try again, the good folk of the Lone Star state can expect even more excitement.  But this is also the state that turned a massacre by the Mexicans at the Alamo into a rallying cry, so I expect they’ll make it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ready Or Not

Via TPM:

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said the shooting occurred Friday night in the city’s downtown area. Sources briefed on the investigation told CNN that a police report identified the victim as 26-year-old Becca Campbell.

Oh, Karma, thou art a heartless bitch.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Today’s Karma

Buying that new gun to prevent crime?  I hope you have better luck than this dude.

GRESHAM, OR (KPTV) – A man openly carrying his new handgun was robbed on a Gresham street by a man with a gun of his own.

Police were called out to the area of 172nd and Glisan Street at 2:10 a.m. Saturday.

Investigators said the 21-year-old victim bought a handgun earlier in the day and was openly carrying it while talking to his cousin.

They said a man approached them and asked for a cigarette. Talk eventually turned to the victim’s new purchase, before the robber pulled his own gun from his waistband and said, “I like your gun, give it to me,” according to police.

The victim handed over his gun and the suspect ran away.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Short Takes

Secretary of State Kerry meet with Arab leaders to build a coalition against ISIS.

European leaders agreed to tougher sanctions against Russia.

A newly-released video from Ferguson bolsters claims that Michael Brown was shot while surrendering.

What a surprise: Senate Republicans killed the Citizens United constitutional amendment.

Ted Cruz got booed off-stage by Arab Christians.

Tropical Update: Two areas of potential weather in the Atlantic are Invest 92L and TS Edouard.

The Tigers had a much-needed night off.