With the Pope resigning and and scandals festering, the Catholic Church is in crisis!
Hurry! To the Conclave!
In their ancient meeting chamber, red-robed Cardinals from across the globe must battle corruption and disgrace and find a new face!
The Dean of the Cardinals, Angelo “The Clam” Sodano excels at the dark art of the pedophile cover-up– and has swept some of the evilest abusers under Vatican vestments.
While Cardinal Mahony, “The Shuffler,” arrived at the conclave fresh off a deposition delving into his past crimes of hiding child rapists in various states and countries.
Maybe German Cardinal Ratzinger is the one, and people won’t notice he helped keep crimes hidden too! Oops! He’s already been pope–
And is off to live in a freshly-remodeled, forty-three-hundred square foot cloistered nunnery, with tastefully-appointed immunity.
Out with the nuns, in with the former-Pope!
Maybe it’ll be a bold, brash American Pope, like Cardinal Tim Dolan! Who paid predators twenty-thousand dollars to make them go away.
Whoever said the money-changers can’t work for you?
But surely this character isn’t fit to be Pope! He blabs all about corruption, is a liberal when it comes to women in the Church, and he’s never said anything about priests being celibate!
It’s a new day for a new leader . . . to be chosen by the old leaders from the old days . . .
So, hurry! To the Conclave!
February 2013 archive
Feb 27 2013
Feb 27 2013
Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Richard Wolff joined Bill Moyers for a look behind the disaster left in capitalism’s wake and a discussion of economic justice and a fair minimum wage:
“We have this disparity getting wider and wider between those for whom capitalism continues to deliver the goods by all means, [and] a growing majority in this society facing harder and harder times,” Wolff tells Bill. “And that’s what provokes some of us to begin to say it’s a systemic problem.”
Wolff pooh poohs financial regulation, peculiarly dismissing the fact that it worked well for two generations. And what broke it was not bank lobbying but the high and volatile interest rates of the 1970s, which resulted from imperial overreach (Johnson refusing to raise taxes when the economy was already at full employment; he deficit financed the combo plate of the space race, the war in Vietnam, and the war on poverty. And Vietnam was the reason for not raising taxes; the war was already unpopular, and a tax increase would have made it more so). At one point, Moyers brings up oligopolies as another driver of increased concentration of wealth, and Wolff misses the opportunity to take up the idea (the failure to enforce anti-trust regulations is a not-sufficienlty well recognized contributor to rising income inequality).
Moyers opened the segment by saying that even if the country increases the minimum wage to the $9 per hour proposed by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union speech, workers will still be worse off than their counterparts were fifty years ago.
Wolff agreed, “The peak for the minimum wage in terms of its purchasing power,” he said, “was 1968. It’s basically been declining, with a couple of ups and downs, ever since.”
“So, you’ve taken the people who work at the bottom, full time job,” he continued, “and you’ve made their economic condition worse over a 50 year period while wealth has accumulated at the top. What kind of a society does this?”
“Who decided that workers at the bottom should fall behind?” Moyers asked.
“Well, in the end,” said Wolff, “it’s the society as a whole that tolerates it. But, it’s Congress’ decision and Congress’ power to raise the minimum wage.”
Feb 26 2013
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
February 26 is the 57th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 308 days remaining until the end of the year (309 in leap years).
Two national parks preserved, 10 years apart. The two national parks were established in the United States 10 years apart, the Grand Canyon in 1919 and the Grand Tetons in 1929.
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon in 1903. An avid outdoorsman and staunch conservationist, he established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve on November 28, 1906. Livestock grazing was reduced, but predators such as mountain lions, eagles, and wolves were eradicated. Roosevelt added adjacent national forest lands and redesignated the preserve a U.S. National Monument on January 11, 1908. Opponents such as land and mining claim holders blocked efforts to reclassify the monument as a U.S. National Park for 11 years. Grand Canyon National Park was finally established as the 17th U.S. National Park by an Act of Congress signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on February 26, 1919.
In 1897 acting Yellowstone superintendent Colonel S.B.M. Young proposed expanding that park’s borders south to encompass the northern extent of Jackson Hole in order to protect migrating herds of elk. Next year, United States Geological Survey head Charles D. Walcott suggested that the Teton Range should be included as well. Stephen Mather, director of the newly-created National Park Service and his assistant Horace Albright sent a report to Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane in 1917 stating much the same. Wyoming Representative Frank Mondell sponsored a bill that unanimously passed the United States House of Representatives in 1918 but was killed in the United States Senate when Idaho Senator [John Nugent feared that the expansion of Park Service jurisdiction would threaten sheep grazing permits. Public opposition to park expansion also mounted in and around Jackson Hole. Albright, in fact, was practically run out of Jackson, Wyoming, by angry townspeople in 1919 when he traveled there to speak in favor of park expansion.
Local attitudes started to change that same year when proposals to dam Jenny, Emma Matilda, and Two Ocean lakes surfaced. Then on July 26, 1923, local and Park Service representatives including Albright met in Maud Noble’s cabin to work on a plan to buy private lands to create a recreation area to preserve the “Old West” character of the valley. Albright was the only person who supported Park Service management; the others wanted traditional hunting, grazing, and dude-ranching activities to continue. In 1927 philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. founded the Snake River Land Company so he and others could buy land in the area incognito and have it held until the National Park Service could administer it. The company launched a campaign to purchase more than 35,000 acres for $1.4 million but faced 15 years of opposition by ranchers and a refusal by the Park Service to take the land.
In 1928, a Coordinating Commission on National Parks and Forests met with valley residents and reached an agreement for the establishment of a park. Wyoming Senator John Kendrick then introduced a bill to establish Grand Teton National Park. It was passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress and signed into law by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge on February 26, 1929. The 96,000 acres park was carved from Teton National Forest and included the Teton Range and six glacial lakes at its foot in Jackson Hole. Lobbying by cattlemen, however, meant that the original park borders did not include most of Jackson Hole (whose floor was used for grazing). Meanwhile the Park Service refused to accept the 35,000 acres held by the Snake River Company.
Discouraged by the stalemate, Rockefeller sent a letter to then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt telling him that if the federal government did not accept the land that he intended to make some other disposition of it or to sell it in the market to any satisfactory buyers. Soon afterward on March 15, 1943 the president declared 221,000 acres (890 km2) of public land as Jackson Hole National Monument. Continued controversy over the Rockefeller gift still made it impossible for the monument to officially include that land, however.
Opposition to the monument by local residents immediately followed with criticism that the declaration was a violation of states’ rights and that it would destroy the local economy and tax base. Ranchers, led in part by famed actor Wallace Beery, drove 500 cattle across the newly created monument in a demonstration designed to provoke conflict. The Park Service did not respond to the stunt but the event brought national attention to the issue nonetheless. Wyoming Representative Frank A. Barrett introduced a bill to abolish the monument that passed both houses of Congress but was pocket vetoed by Roosevelt. U.S. Forest Service officials did not want to cede another large part of the Teton National Forest to the Park Service so they fought against transfer. One final act was to order forest rangers to gut the Jackson Lake Ranger Station before handing it over to park rangers. Residents in the area who supported the park and the monument were boycotted and harassed.
Other bills to abolish the monument were introduced between 1945 and 1947 but none passed. Increases in tourism money following the end of World War II has been cited as a cause of the change in local attitudes. A move to merge the monument into an enlarged park gained steam and by April, 1949, interested parties gathered in the Senate Appropriation Committee chambers to finalize a compromise. The Rockefeller lands were finally transferred from private to public ownership on December 16, 1949, when they were added to the monument. A bill merging most of Jackson Hole National Monument (except for its southern extent, which was added to the National Elk Refuge) into Grand Teton National Park was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on September 14, 1950. One concession in the law modified the Antiquities Act, limiting the future power of a president to proclaim National Monuments in Wyoming. The scenic highway that extends from the northern border of Grand Teton National Park to the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Park was named the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway to recognize Rockefeller’s contribution to protecting the area. In 2001, the Rockefellers donated their Jackson Hole retreat, the JY Ranch, to the national park for the establishment of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, dedicated on June 21, 2008.
Feb 26 2013
In High School I was part of a group that amused ourselves by acting out Monty Python skits. In this piece I sang the Michael Palin role.
It led eventually to our staging a full production of HMS Pinafore which we performed 4 times in the main auditorium and toured at all the Junior Highs and Elementaries in town. I was cast as the less interesting romantic lead Ralph Rackstraw intead of Captain Corcoran or Sir Joseph Porter, but it did give me a chance to do a duet (Refrain Audacious Tar) with Josephine who I was really interested in, though her not so much.
Feb 26 2013
And the winners are . . . No, not the awards recipients, I’ll get to those, it’s the dresses. There wasn’t quite as many fashion faux pas as in year’s past, although there were some, well how shall else can I say, losers. Most of the ladies were quite elegantly gowned, well coiffed and bejeweled.
Of course there are the ladies in red, who always stand out. The red carpet chuckle was Olivia Munn discussing the hazards of wearing red lipstick, telling the interviewer that she had opted for lip stain.
Best Supporting Actress Nominee Sally Field, Lincoln
Best Supporting Actress Nominee Jackie Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Actress Jennifer Aniston
Actress Kerry Washington
Actress Olivia Munn
Actress Marcia Gay Harden
As I noted previously, I always look for actress Helena Bonham Carter whose intentional “fashion statements” in the past have been show stoppers on the red carpet. Although a toned down this year, she had her fun, along with director Tim Burton, with her hairstyle:
Songstress Dame Shirley Bassey strode down the red carpet in an understated black sheath.
Later, she arrived on stage in a stunning gold to sing the song that launched her international career, Goldfinger, in a tribute to the 50th anniversary of James Bond films. Needles to say she had the audience on their feet.
The oldest nominee Emmanuelle Riva, Actress in a Supporting role is 85, looking very elegant in Lanvin.
While the youngest nominee for Best Actress, nine year old Quvenzhane Wallis, charmed everyone in her bright blue Armani Junior gown that looked like it was sprinkled with fairy dust and carrying her puppy dog purse.
The surprise of the night was actor Jack Nicholson introducing his co-presenter for the Best Picture award, First Lady Michelle Obama wearing a glittering, custom smoke gray Naeem Khan gown and Sutra Silver at Fragments jewelry.
Feb 26 2013
On Sept. 11, 2001, Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Couch’s friend died co-piloting the second plane to hit the World Trade Center. Soon after, Couch became one of the first military prosecutors assigned to the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay to prosecute men alleged to have carried out the terrorist plot. He ultimately would refuse to prosecute one detainee: Mohamedou Ould Slahi. “It became clear that what had been done to Slahi amounted to torture,” Couch says. “Specifically, he had been subjected to a mock execution. He had sensory deprivation. He had environmental manipulation; that is, cell is too cold, or the cell is too hot. … He was presented with a ruse that the United States had taken custody of his mother and his brother and that they were being brought to Guantánamo.” Couch says he concluded Slahi’s treatment amounted to illegal torture. “I came to the conclusion we had knowingly set him up for mental suffering in order for him to provide information,” Couch said. “We might very well have a significant problem with the body of evidence that we were able to present as to his guilt.”
Feb 26 2013
“Just pass a one sentence bill that repeals sequestration” an idea that was posed by Up with Chris Hayes host Chris Hayes in the last segment of his Sunday show. So why isn’t that “on the table?”
Sequestration, when it was proposed, was supposed to be such a terrible economic idea that it would force Democrats and Republicans to come to “reasonable” agreement about the economy and implementing sound economic policies that would stimulate economic growth, create jobs and, in the long term reduce the deficit/debt that our elected officials and the traditional main stream media are agonizing over. The truth of the matter is, that regardless who is to blame (my opinion both parties are equally responsible), neither side wants to just end this insanity, not even Pres. Barack Obama, who “refuses to kill sequestration“, as William K. Black, former bank regulator and professor of law and economics, points out:
President Obama has revealed his real preferences in the current blame game by not calling for a clean bill eliminating the Sequester. It is striking that as far as I know (1) neither Obama nor any administration official has called for the elimination of the Sequester and (2) we have a fairly silly blame game about how the Sequester was created without discussing the implications of Obama’s continuing failure to call for the elimination of the Sequester despite his knowledge that it is highly self-destructive.
The only logical inference that can be drawn is that Obama remains committed to inflicting the “Grand Bargain” (really, the Grand Betrayal) on the Nation in his quest for a “legacy” and continues to believe that the Sequester provides him the essential leverage he feels he needs to coerce Senate progressives to adopt austerity, make deep cuts in vital social programs, and to begin to unravel the safety net. Obama’s newest budget offer includes cuts to the safety net and provides that 2/3 of the austerity inflicted would consist of spending cuts instead of tax increases. When that package is one’s starting position the end result of any deal will be far worse.
In any event, there is a clear answer to how to help our Nation. Both Parties should agree tomorrow to do a clean deal eliminating the Sequester without any conditions. By doing so, Obama would demonstrate that he had no desire to inflict the Grand Betrayal.
digby noticed Hayes’ comment, too:
As I’ve said a thousand times, this was not written in stone, it did not come down from Mt Sinai, it was an agreement that was struck to save face in the moment and it can be unstruck at any time. There is nothing absolutely requiring the congress to go through with this. There is some discussion that the only way this can happen is if the people see that government services they need are being affected and then put pressure on the government to end this game of chicken. Maybe that’s true. But let’s not kid ourselves that it isn’t a purely political bind these people have gotten themselves into. This goes back to the ill-fated 2011 Grand Bargain negotiations in which both the White House and the Republicans in the House bungled things so badly that we are still dealing with the fallout.
Joining Chris and Prof. Black for a lively panel discussion of “the anatomy of the sequester” were Neera Tanden, president and CEO for Center for American Progress; Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense; and Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Feb 26 2013
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Feb 25 2013
UK’s credit rating downgraded from AAA to AA1 by Moody’s
Press Association, The Guardian
Friday 22 February 2013 18.05 EST
The agency warned that “subdued” growth prospects and a “high and rising debt burden” were weighing on the economy. But Osborne said the loss of the gold-plated status did not mean the government should change course.
“Tonight we have a stark reminder of the debt problems facing our country – and the clearest possible warning to anyone who thinks we can run away from dealing with those problems,” he said.
“Far from weakening our resolve to deliver our economic recovery plan, this decision redoubles it.
Osborne humiliated as UK loses AAA credit rating
By George Eaton, New Statesman
Published 22 February 2013 22:50
Back in February 2010, a few months before he entered the Treasury, George Osborne declared: “Our first benchmark is to cut the deficit more quickly to safeguard Britain’s credit rating. I know that we are taking a political gamble to set this up as a measure of success.” A gamble it was and how it has backfired on the Chancellor. Tonight, Moody’s became the first rating agency to strip the UK of its AAA credit rating (downgrading it to AA1), citing the “continuing weakness” in the UK’s growth outlook and its “high and rising debt burden”.
For Osborne, who chose to make our credit rating the ultimate metric of economic stability, it is a humiliating moment. Not my words, but his. During one of his rhetorical assaults against Labour in August 2009, he warned: “Britain faces the humiliating possibility of losing its international credit rating”. Rarely before or after becoming Chancellor, did Osborne miss an opportunity to remind us just how important he thought the retention of our AAA rating was.
By Osborne’s own logic, then, his deficit plan is no longer credible.
The economic consequences of the downgrade are unlikely to be significant. France and the US, for instance, have seen no rise in their borrowing costs since losing their AAA ratings (in fact, yields on US and French bonds have fallen). All the evidence we have suggests that the market is prepared to lend to countries that can borrow in their own currencies (such as the UK) and that enjoy the benefits of an independent monetary policy, regardless of their credit ratings or their debt levels. But the politics of the downgrade are toxic for Osborne.
Still, you might ask, why should we listen to Moody’s, the agency that gave AIG an AAA rating just a month before it collapsed? The answer is simple: we shouldn’t. But this doesn’t alter the fact that Osborne did. For political purposes, he used Britain’s credit rating as a stick to beat Labour with. He can hardly complain if others now use this move against him. Tonight, the Chancellor has been hoist with his own petard.
“I don’t care what the ratings agencies think about anything, but if it’s a stark reminder of anything it’s a stark reminder that you’re the stupidest fucking person on the face of the planet.”- Atrios
“Often “austerity” and the “need” for budget cuts are just excuses to kicks the poors and olds and ram through whatever horrible agenda you wanted to ram through in the first place. But I think the simpleton Gideon Osborne really believes it. He likes kicking the olds and the poors too, but he’ll nonetheless be proved fucking right.
Except he won’t.
And for some reason Labour is unwilling to just say Shit Is Fucked Up And Bullshit, austerity bites, and we gotta step on the gas.”- Atrios
The condensed Moody’s downgrade
By Alex Hern, New Statesman
Published 23 February 2013 10:43
Some will focus on the fact that Moody’s analysis starts with poor growth as the basic factor for Osborne’s failure. Others will note that Moody’s is still a firm advocate of high-speed deficit reduction.
Still others, myself included, will argue that, apart from the fact that the Chancellor has been hoist by his own petard, all the news really does is prove yet again that ratings agencies aren’t very good at their jobs. Moody’s recognises that Britain’s economic travails stem from depressed growth, but its analysis seems incapable of progressing on from there. Taken as a whole, the agency is saying, with a straight face, that “Britain’s attempts to cut its debt have harmed its attempts to cut its debt, and this could harm its attempts to cut its debt”, and it sees nothing problematic with that.
Really, nothing in Moody’s analysis matters. The only important part of it is that one missing A, and the effect that has on Osborne’s credibility.