April 22, 2015 archive

The Breakfast Club (Earth Day)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Richard Nixon dies, Elian Gonzalez seized by federal agents, Oklahoma land rush begins.

Zombie Lies – Environmental Edition

ou know what, why am I getting excited and bothering? This was never about facts to begin with. But what is new, is that it’s not even about pandering to voters any more. Even half of Republicans now want this issue dealt with.

Well good luck, because the zombie lies aren’t for the voters. They’re for the donors who make their money killing the planet. The question is not why today’s politicians suck more than ever. It’s who they’re sucking more than ever.

The Koch brothers are in the oil business and they’re pledging almost a billion dollars in this election. For that kind of money, Cruz and Bush and the rest of them will say anything. It’s what their fellow prostitutes in the sex industry call the girlfriend experience.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

As crude a weapon as the cave man’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life-a fabric on the one hand delicate and destructible, on the other miraculously tough and resilient, and capable of striking back in unexpected ways.

Rachel Carson, The Silent Spring.

On This Day In History April 22

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.

April 22 is the 112th day of the year (113th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 253 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1978, The Blues Brothers make their world premiere on Saturday Night Live.

It was Marshall Checker, of the legendary Checker brothers, who first discovered them in the gritty blues clubs of Chicago’s South Side in 1969 and handed them their big break nine years later with an introduction to music-industry heavyweight and host of television’s Rock Concert, Don Kirshner. Actually, none of that is true, but it’s the story that Saturday Night Live’s Paul Shaffer told on April 22, 1978 as he announced the worldwide television debut of that night’s musical guest, the Blues Brothers-the not-quite-real, not-quite-fake musical creation of SNL cast members Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.


The genesis of the Blues Brothers was a January 17, 1976, Saturday Night Live sketch. In it, “Howard Shore and his All-Bee Band” play the Slim Harpo song “I’m a King Bee”, with Belushi singing and Aykroyd playing harmonica, dressed in the bee costumes they wore for the “Killer Bees” sketch.

Following tapings of SNL, it was popular among cast members and the weekly hosts to attend Aykroyd’s Holland Tunnel Blues bar, which he had rented not long after joining the cast. Dan and John filled a jukebox with songs from many different artists such as Sam and Dave and punk band The Viletones. John bought an amplifier and they kept some musical instruments there for anyone who wanted to jam. It was here that Dan and Ron Gwynne wrote and developed the original story which Dan turned into the initial story draft of the Blues Brothers movie, better known as the “tome” because it contained so many pages.

It was also at the bar that Aykroyd introduced Belushi to the blues. An interest soon became a fascination and it was not long before the two began singing with local blues bands. Jokingly, SNL band leader Howard Shore suggested they call themselves “The Blues Brothers.” In an April 1988 interview in the Chicago Sun-Times, Aykroyd said the Blues Brothers act borrowed from Sam & Dave and others: “Well, obviously the duo thing and the dancing, but the hats came from John Lee Hooker. The suits came from the concept that when you were a jazz player in the 40’s, 50’s 60’s, to look straight, you had to wear a suit.”

The band was also modeled in part on Aykroyd’s experience with the Downchild Blues Band, one of the first professional blues bands in Canada, with whom Aykroyd continues to play on occasion. Aykroyd first encountered the band in the early 1970s, at or around the time of his attendance at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada and where his initial interest in the blues developed through attending and occasionally performing at Ottawa’s Le Hibou Coffee House.


The Case for Overturning Citizens United

One of the major things that the exposure of the Sony e-mails by Wikileaks revealed was the shift in campaign donations  to influence elections

Former Dem Senator Chris Dodd Advised Execs to Give to GOP: “Fundraising Does Have An Impact”

By Lee Fang, The Intercept

Chris Dodd’s first career was as the liberal U.S. Senator from Connecticut, a self-professed champion for working families and a Democratic presidential contender in 2008. But hacked emails from Sony offer new insight into how he operates in his second career, as the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, a lobby group for the movie industry.

On January 28, 2014, Dodd emailed executives from major motion picture studios to share two news articles. One revealed that Google had shifted its campaign donation strategy, giving more to Republican lawmakers, and another projected that the GOP would likely perform well in the midterm elections that year.

or to raise money by currying favor with corporations and their executives:

Hacked Sony emails reveal Cuomo fund-raising details

By Conor Skelding, Laura Nahmias and Bill Mahoney, Capital New York

Emails between Sony executives and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign staff leaked as part of the Sony Pictures hack and published in full by WikiLeaks Thursday appear to show Sony executives believed donating to Cuomo was a good idea because he is a “strong protector” of New York’s film tax credit. [..]

The emails also appear to show Cuomo’s campaign pressing Sony to deliver $50,000 worth of donations before a July 15, 2014 campaign filing deadline as he ramped up his re-election campaign last summer.

The first email dates from Jan. 7, 2014, from Keith Weaver, ā€Žexecutive vice president of Worldwide Government Affairs at Sony, to Sony C.E.O. Michael Lynton, concerning a fund-raiser with $25,000 per person ticket prices for Cuomo held on January 23, 2014 at the home of Jim Gianopulos, chairman and C.E.O. of Fox Filmed Entertainment. That fund-raiser yielded $300,000 for Cuomo’s re-election campaign.

Citizens must be made aware of the massive influx of money from billionaires via super PACS to back candidates, and influence congressional and state legislative agendas in order to keep the Republic from further sliding into an oligarchy.

Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) told Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman that if nothing is done to get money out of politics “we can kiss this country goodbye.”

I said on MSNBC that night five years ago that if we do nothing, you can kiss this country goodbye. Well, pucker up, because right now the millionaires and the billionaires and the multinational corporations are calling the shots with whatever they want in TPP, whatever they want in fast track-more generally, whatever they want. They get the bailouts. They get the tax breaks. They get the so-called deregulation. They get what they want here because they get what they pay for.

Bob Menendez Corruption Case Reads Like An Indictment Of Citizens United Ruling, Too

By Paul Blumenthal, Huffington Post

A prime example of the corruption is the indictment of Sen. Robert Menendezl (D-NJ).The indictment of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on public corruption charges is the first bribery case involving the use of corporate political spending to support a candidate since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision allowed corporations to do just that.

Justice Anthony Kennedy declared in the 5-4 majority opinion that corporations should be free to spend unlimited sums on independent political activities since “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Those making independent expenditures “may have influence over or access to elected officials,” but that “does not mean those officials are corrupt,” Kennedy wrote.

The Department of Justice begs to differ. Menendez’s indictment on Wednesday specifically ties two $300,000 contributions from Dr. Salomon Melgen’s Vitreo-Retinal Consultants to an officially independent super PAC — donations that were earmarked for Menendez’s 2012 re-election effort — to actions that the senator took on behalf of Melgen’s business interests.

This is exactly the kind of behavior that Kennedy could not fathom happening.

Justice Kennedy needed to get oout more.

There are now calls for a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United. Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT-I) has reintroduced an amendment that would do just that

Sen. Sanders had to propose a new amendment because legislation that isn’t acted on by the previous Congress expires at the end of the session. Since Congress didn’t act on the amendment the last time Sanders filed it, he is bringing it back in the new Congress.

The key section of the amendment is Section 2. The second section would halt the Supreme Court’s money is free speech interpretation of the Constitution. The first section of the amendment deals directly with the idea that corporations are people, but the second section overturns the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo Supreme Court decision that money is speech. The second section of the amendment would throw out the entire basis for the Supreme Court’s rulings in campaign finance cases.

However, the chances of getting the 2/3rds majority in both houses of congress and 38 states are somewhere around zero to none. Passage was not Sen. Sanders’ point:

The point is to bring attention to the issue of what Citizens United continues to do to our electoral process. The most likely path to overturning Citizens United remains a Democratic presidential victory in the 2016 election. Two of the conservatives Justices who made up the majority in the Citizens United decision are 78 years old. The odds of one or both justices serving the last two years of President Obama’s term and another eight years under another potential Democratic president are slim. (It also wouldn’t be surprising to see the 81 year old Ruth Bader Ginsburg retire before President Obama leaves office.) The Supreme Court is due for a generational change, and if Democrats control the White House, that change could result in a 5-4 liberal leaning court.

In the meantime, Sen. Sanders is leading the fight to inform the American people about the toxic nature of unlimited money in their electoral process. The movement to overturn Citizens United needs and educated population, because outside of the Supreme Court, public pressure is the best way to get the billionaire dollars out of our elections is to have tens of millions of voices demand it.

The more citizens are made aware of the dark influence of billionaires emboldened by the Supreme Court, the better able to confront the candidates and elected officials on their policies and votes. This can be stopped by a truly informed electorate and taking back local and state governments.

The Misleadership Class

Troops referred to Ferguson protesters as ‘enemy forces’, emails show

by Joanna Walters, The Guardian

Friday 17 April 2015 12.12 EDT

As the Missouri national guard prepared to deploy to the streets of Ferguson last year during protests sparked by the shooting death of Michael Brown, the troops used highly militarised language such as “enemy forces” and “adversaries” to refer to citizen demonstrators.

Documents detailing the military mission divided the crowds that national guards would be likely to encounter into “friendly forces” and “enemy forces” – the latter apparently including “general protesters”.

A briefing for commanders included details of the troops’ intelligence capabilities so that they could “deny adversaries the ability to identify Missouri national guard vulnerabilities”, which the “adversaries” might exploit, “causing embarrassment or harm” to the military force, according to documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request by CNN.

And in an ominous-sounding operations security briefing, the national guard warned: “Adversaries are most likely to possess human intelligence (HUMINT), open source intelligence (OSINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), technical intelligence (TECHINT), and counterintelligence capabilities.”

In less military-style language, the briefing then goes on to detail how protesters might obtain this intelligence – a list of sources no more technical than public records, social media and listening to conversations “being carried out in public” by civic officials or law enforcement, according to the report.

The Missouri governor, Jay Nixon, deployed the state national guard to Ferguson in August after local police forces caused international uproar by firing teargas on demonstrators while armed with gear that even US military veterans said was better suited for the streets of Afghanistan than an American suburb.

After Walter Scott Shooting, Scrutiny Turns to 2nd Officer

By MANNY FERNANDEZ, The New York Times

APRIL 17, 2015

Clarence W. Habersham Jr., the first officer to arrive on the scene after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man named Walter L. Scott, is drawing intense scrutiny both for the questions surrounding his response to the shooting and for what his role has illuminated about the pressures and expectations black officers face in largely white police departments.

Critics of Officer Habersham, 37, including black leaders and lawyers, have called for him to be prosecuted for what they say was his failure to provide adequate aid to Mr. Scott, 50, and for appearing to go along with what many viewers of a video of the shooting believe was an attempt by Michael T. Slager, the white officer who fatally shot Mr. Scott in the back, to plant a Taser by his body.

Officer Habersham later said in a brief police report that he tried to aid the victim by putting pressure on his wounds, but critics say the video does not show him performing CPR or acting with urgency in response to the shooting.

On April 4, Officer Habersham arrived on the scene after Mr. Slager, 33, who has since been charged with murder, fired eight shots at Mr. Scott as he was some distance away, fleeing after a traffic stop and a confrontation. In the video, as Mr. Scott lies in a grassy lot after Mr. Slager has handcuffed him, Officer Habersham can be seen crouching over Mr. Scott and at other times standing over him while directing medics to the lot on his radio. He does not appear to perform CPR on Mr. Scott, and he did not claim to have done so in his two-sentence report, stating that he “attempted to render aid to the victim by applying pressure to the gunshot wounds.” Yet there are moments in the video when neither officer appears to be tending to Mr. Scott as he lies dying.

Some experts question that response.

“I wouldn’t have expected him to jump immediately into CPR,” Seth W. Stoughton, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law and a former police officer, said of Officer Habersham. “You need to treat the bullet holes first to make CPR even remotely effective. But I didn’t really see him doing that. When I see two officers on scene with someone who has just been shot, I certainly do not expect to see both of them standing up and away from the body, neither one of them offering aid.”

Mr. Slager is shown in the video picking up an object from another part of the lot and then dropping either that object or something else by Mr. Scott’s body. Officer Habersham was standing over Mr. Scott, putting on blue medical gloves, when Mr. Slager dropped the object, and it is unclear in the video if he saw it happen. Civil rights activists contend that the dropped object was a Taser that Mr. Slager said Mr. Scott had tried to take from him.

The shooting is also being investigated by state and federal agencies.

Officer Habersham and four other officers are accused in a federal lawsuit filed last year of beating a black robbery suspect who was handcuffed in November 2011. It was unclear whether Officer Habersham participated in the beating, witnessed it but failed to stop it or played some other role, if any, but the lawsuit also accuses him and other officers of failing to render aid to the suspect.

“This is the Old South, and you have the Old South mentality here,” said Edward Bryant, president of the North Charleston chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. “The whites are always in charge. They’re the lead person, and Mr. Habersham is being in that role as they had it in the 1800s.”

Meaning of course that of Quimbo and Sambo.

Now it’s not like my Viking heritage is devoid of this, I invite the study of Vidkun Quisling who in many respects is even more reprehensible than Harriet Beecher Stowe’s stereotypes.  I once traveled with a Norwegian through New Haven and mentioned it was Benedict Arnold’s home town.

“Who is he?”, she asked.

“Well, he’s kind of the U.S. Quisling.”, I replied sort of off handedly but also to prove I was at least passingly familiar with the history of Scandinavia.

She turned to me and said, with real anger in her voice, “How do you know that name!”

Umm… well… uh…

Folks, this struggle is not about identity politics.  It’s not about your race, your creed, your gender, or sexual orientation.  It is a class struggle and identity politics is just another distraction to keep the corporatist Billionaires in charge and their political toadies in office.  It’s not a struggle of White and Black, it’s a struggle of Blue and Green and Gold above all against every one else.

Maybe if I had said it was the city Jim Morrison got arrested for obscenity in.

I once went to the New Haven Arena to watch a hockey game.  It’s now the headquarters of the New Haven division of the FBI.

Officer Cleared; Protesters Crash Cops’ Protest

by Paul Bass, New Haven Independent

Mar 27, 2015 3:31 pm

A week of building tensions over race and policing came to a peak as chanting cops crashed a press conference announcing the exoneration of an officer – and then anti-police demonstrators crashed the cops’ interruption.

A citizen video captured the officer slamming the handcuffed girl to the ground, sparking public criticism. The video went viral. It became a Rorschach test revealing America’s divide on policing. Some saw a handcuffed girl manhandled by an officers. Others saw an endangered officer carefully protecting himself and the public against a lawbreaker. The lack of crucial facts about the case, compounded by a week of missteps by the police department in communicating with the public, exacerbated tensions in town.

The teen’s mother, Valerie Boyd, reacted to the decision by saying “there’s no justice.”

“The department of training failed [the officer] as well as they failed me and my daughter. The department is at fault. He should have been retrained coming into New Haven as a police officer. He should have been given the proper procedures of how to apprehend a suspect,” Boyd said.

“He’s back on the street. I don’t feel safe.”

The officers’ crashing of the press conference was in turn crashed by protesters critical of the police protest. These demonstrators, most of whom were black, called the police protesters racists who are deaf to the concerns of the black community.

“We’re protecting you, you dumbbell!” shot back one of the pro-police protesters.

I am a class traitor.  Welcome to Stars Hollow Connecticut “the little town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve … where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

The Daily/Nightly Show (New Normal)

Sony Hacks


Jessica Williams

Next week’s guests-

We now know Jon’s last show will be August 6th.  David Letterman will be departing a scant month from now on May 20th.  It is unknown when Stephen will take over, it will depend in part on how quickly they can remake the set.  The same considerations apply to how quickly Trevor Noah will be taking over from Jon.  Comedy Central has said that they don’t intend to change the format that much (as opposed to Larry who’s had to build pretty much everything from scratch) so it may be quicker than you think or it may not.

Jeff Garlin will be on to promote Repeat After Me, a hidden camera show produced by Ellen DeGeneres that premiered February 17th.

The real news below.