27 February 2015

Barack Obama on DHS Funding

Barack Obama on DHS Funding   

 During the lame duck session of the 112th Congress, House Republicans fully funded FY 2015 budget, with the exception of Department of Homeland Security, in which a short term continuing resolution was applied to allow for a rider which would not Congressionally fund President Obama's Executive Action on illegal immigration.

 In the new 113th Congress, Senate Democrats refused to allow cloture to debate the DHS bill, lest the funding bill pass on majority terms.  The Obama White House and lackeys in the Lamestream Media and Senate Democrats are striving to frame Republicans for being obstructionists for not rubber stamping Mr. Obama's extra-constitutional effective amnesty. 

 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has suggested bifurcating the Executive Amnesty issue from DHS funding.  But this legislative legerdemain was acceptable to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) only if House Speaker John Boehner acceded to Obama's will.  So far, Speaker Boehner holds the attitude that Senate Democrats ought to "get off their asses" and vote on the House bill. 

The GOP opponents seek to claim that Republicans will endanger the nation due to not funding DHS's $38 Billion budget. Alas, 80% of DHS's 240,000 employees are essential workers, who are required to report to work without a guaranteed pay check (even though all workers have routinely been paid after a budget standoff).  So security should not be an issue, even though the Obama Administration has been hyping the Boko Haram and al Shabob threat on the Mall of America and other Jewish owned shopping centers (but this has nothing to do with certain religions). 

So now the Obama Administration's tact has shifted to hardball politics.  During a townhall meeting telecast on MSNBC and Telemundo, President Obama dared the Republicans to pass the House bill, which would merit another Obama veto.   


 May the majorities in Congress stick to their principles and not quickly fold to a passive aggressive bully chief executive.  No matter what, the Lamestream Media is ready to repudiate Republicans. But the shutdown is so targeted that the public won't shed tears over the World War II monument being shut down as during the Flying Flip shutdown of October 2013.

10 February 2015

Considering the Unintended Consequences of the FCC Imposing Net Neutrality

Ajit Pai, a Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission, has become outspoken in his objections to the political imposition of Net Neutrality by what is supposed to be an independent Federal commission.

Commissioner Pai noted that: “It’s no wonder that net neutrality proponents are already bragging that it will turn the FCC into the “Department of the Internet. For that reason, if you like dealing with the IRS, you are going to love the President’s plan." 

Many progressives have rallied around the concept of Net Neutrality thinking that it is hurting corporations and encouraging competition.  What Commissioner Pai points out is that applying Title II regulation to the internet, which was designed for railroads and Ma Bell, will stifle competition and favor behemoth businesses because of the regulatory burdens.

Congressional critics such as Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) have likened Net Neutrality as being Obamacare for the Internet, regulations sold to lower prices and improve delivery but which in reality do the opposite while making Uncle Sam the undisputed middle man.

Another alarming feature of such broad regulation by the FCC is the relative obscurity in which the rules are being cobbled together.  President Obama pressured the FCC in November 2014 about Net Neutrality.  Chairman Tom Wheeler, who had been a big Obama fundraiser, is complying but promises to make some changes in Title II to make it better.  Oh, so a regulatory schemata which was drawn up in 14 can be tweaked to apply to the internet age.  Right. FCC Commissioner Mike O'Reilly warned the public about the dangers of forbearance as applied to Title II Common Carriers. 

There is the larger issue, however, about whether Congress ceded its legislative mantle to the FCC to strictly regulate the internet. If we hold fast to living in a constitutional democratic Republic, shouldn't our elected representatives, not bureaucrats who are unaccountable to the people (or for that matter Men in Black) be crafting such momentous law?

09 February 2015

Cantankerous Knicks Owner Sent Poison Pen Piece to Angry Fan

James Dolan, the CEO of Cablevision and owner of the New York Knicks (not the Archbishop of New York) has a reputation for being cantankerous.  Dolan embodied that idiosycrasy in his email exchange with an angry Knicks fan.

Irving Bierman, a 73 year old Knicks fan sent Dolan a cri-de-coeur as the Knicks are 10-41, which is the worst record in the NBA.  Bierman wrote:

60 year Knicks fan Irving Bierman [photo: Mike Spencer for New York Daily News 
"I have been a Knicks fan since 1952. At one stage I thought that you did a wonderful thing when you acquired EVERYTHING from your dad. However, since then it has been ALL DOWN HILL.  
Your working with Isaiah (sic) Thomas & everything else regarding the Knicks. Bringing on Phil Jackson was a positive beginning, but lowballing Steve Kerr was a DISGRACE to the Knicks. The bottom line is that you merely continued to interfere with the franchise.

As a Knicks fan for in excess of 60 years, I am utterly embarrassed by your dealings with the Knicks. Sell them so their fans can at least look forward to growing them in a positive direction Obviously, money IS NOT THE ONLY THING. You have done a lot of utterly STUPID business things with the franchise. Please NO MORE." 

Granted, Bierman's critical sentiments must have been hard for the Knicks owner to hear.  But Dolan would take no guff from a plebian fan of the Knicks.  So Dolan retorted with a poison pen piece.

[Front-Center] New York Knicks owner James Dolan
"Mr Bierman. You are a sad person. Why would anybody write such a hateful letter. I am just guessing but ill bet your life is a mess and you are a hateful mess. What have you done that anyone would consider positive or nice. I am betting nothing. In fact ill bet you are a negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you. You most likely have made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe. I just celebrated my 21-year anniversary of sobriety. You should try it. Maybe it will help you become a person that folks would like to have around. In the mean while, start rooting for the Nets because the Knicks don't want you."
 Wow.  How to win friends and influence people--not!  It might have been a satisfying cathartic to put an angry fan "in his place" and tell him to switch allegiance but to pull out from your nether regions an ad hominem insinuation that your interlocutor is an alcoholic is remarkable.

Irving Bierman offered a measured response as he noted that he has not drank alcohol since he was 18. Bierman still stands by his critique: "[Dolan] has the audacity to tell me to become a Nets fan - you got to be kidding me.  He gets belligerent because I expressed an opinion.  It's a valid opinion." Bierman's wife was a little more colorful calling Knicks owner Dolan "a sick puppy".

Assuredly this exchange was not private as it was shared via social media. Last season, the NBA forced Donald Sterling to sell his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers due to some untoward comments made in private. But Jimmy Dolan nixed a longtime Knicks fan in the arena of public opinion.

New York Knicks fans have the highest average ticket prices in the NBA at $129.38 for a hopelessly uncompetitive team.  Some sports franchises do well despite not having success on the playing field. The Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series in over a century (nor played in the Championship Series since 1945), yet they have a fiercely loyal fan base which included storied Bleacher Bums. But Wrigley Field is considered "A Nice Little Place on the North Side" by George Will (2014) and the Cubs has developed connections between the team and the fans. It can be argued that before the Brooklyn Dodgers abandoned the bandbox Ebbits Field, they were liked and considered vital parts of the community.

Dolan showed his contempt of longtime loyal fans in his bilious bloviation by put them in their place  unjustifiable character smears. What a small man with horrible P.R. skills! What does that say about the man?  With Dolan in charge, is that the sort of franchise you would want to spend your time and treasure?

In the land of the free, people should have the right to say what they want (as long as it is true) even if they sound idiotic.  A league should not enforce political correctness as it did in taking the reins from Donald Sterling.  That being said, that does not mean that fans do not have any sway.

The NBA is holding its All Star Game on February 15th and guess who's hosting it?  New York City (Brooklyn) where Jimmy Dolan urges disappointed Knicks fans to cheer.

h/t: Deadspin

Brian Williams -- Trust in the Falling Rock?

Brian Williams on Trust

Brian Williams has been the chief anchor and managing editor of the NBC Nightly News for ten years.  The 55 year old news personality also hosted a prime time news magazine show titled "Rock Center", which tried to capitalize on NBC's identification with the Manhattan landmark Rockefeller Center.  Alas, Brian Williams "Rock Center" was cancelled after two seasons in 2013 for the lack of interest.  

Perhaps the memory of Rock Center not being interesting enough encouraged Brian Williams to conflate his combat zone correspondent stories. Williams original report from Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 seemed close to the truth (without revealing that William's Chinook helicopter was a half hour behind the bird under fire).  

When Williams went on Late Night with David Letterman in 2013, the story had been embellished to having rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and AK47s fired at William's helicopter and the pilot getting a purple heart for a wounded ear (which never happened).  

Williams revisited his war stories when paying an on the air tribute to Sgt. Major Tim Terpak who had been honored at a New York Rangers hockey game.  This caused the New York Times to scrutinize Williams ever evolving escapade. 

After Navy veterans who eyewitnessed the operation  called Williams out in Stars and Stripes for the inaccuracies in this reportage, Brian Williams claimed that he misremembered: 

“On this broadcast last week in an effort to honor and thank a veteran who protected me and so many others following a ground-fire incident in the desert during the Iraq War, I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago. It didn't take long to hear from some brave men and women in the air crews who were also in the desert. I want to apologize:  I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft. We all landed and spent two harrowing nights in a sandstorm in the desert. This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran, and by extension: our brave military men and women - Veterans everywhere -- those who have served while I did not. I hope they know they have my greatest respect… and also now my apology.”
Alas, veterans do not readily accept Williams half-hearted apology as a Fog of War mistake as the story had grown significantly in a dozen years.  Williams Chinook story had been likened to Stolen Valor as Williams claimed to be in combat in which he was not involved. 

NBC has officially refused to investigate the Chopper Whopper incident and is allowing Brian Williams to handle it himself. Presumably this is because Brian Williams has been the face of a successful NBC Nightly News operation for a decade and the network would literally and figuratively lose face by calling their star into question.  Howard Kurtz analogized that NBC is treating Brian Williams as if he was too big to fail.

In response to Conflate-Gate, Williams supposedly  self imposed a brief hiatus from the anchor chair,  so he is not the center of the news. In other words, he is waiting for the media storm to blow over. But now that Williams is established as a self-aggrandizing reporter, he may have lost his gravitas as a truth teller.

Brian Williams coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 has been impeached.  Williams claimed that he saw dead bodies floating outside of his window.  Well, the Ritz Carlton is in the French Quarter, which is the highest point in New Orleans, which FEMA disputes the flooding to be low to nonexistent.   Williams claimed to have gotten dysentery from drinking floodwater, but the New Orleans Advocate quotes Dr. Brobson Lutz, who was treating people near the French Quarter: “I saw a lot of people with cuts and bruises and such, but I don’t recall a single, solitary case of gastroenteritis during Katrina or in the whole month afterward."   Three separate individuals have disputed William's claim that gangs of thugs had overrun his posh pied-de-terre in the French Quarter. 

News junkies have known for years that NBC News entities "Lean Forward" which give a liberal slant to news coverage.  This was recently demonstrated with Savanah Guthrie's softball pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama in the White House kitchen.  Of course, GE and NBC was happy to work hand in hand with Al Gore devote 24 hours of programming for  his climate change campaign. Of course, Al Sharpton was given a platform to "resist we much" for race baiting on the George Zimmerman and Ferguson Missouri shootings.  While one could complain about the partisanship in the reportage or journalists inserting themselves into the story, at least the facts are not called into question.

At present, Brian Williams and by extension NBC News has become the butt of jokes, questioning their credibility in truth telling.  An effective internet series of memes places Brian Williams as a Zelig like figure in anachronistic poses, like being present for the lunar landings.

If Saturday Night Live were not a left leaning NBC property, it might even satirize William's tall tales.  But that is not how the Lamestream Media works today.

While the furor may subside, if Williams remains as anchor at Rockefeller Center, trust in NBC may fall like a rock.  In 1992, Dateline NBC aired a report "Waiting to Explode" which questioned the safety of GM's Chevy trucks.  To make more dramatic television, NBC strapped incendiary devices during the crash test. After this became exposed and General Motors threatened a defamation lawsuit, then NBC News President Michael Gartner admitted to the mistake and had Jane Pauley (who had no connection to the story) give a 3  1/2 minute on air apology. In the end, Gartner and three producers lost their positions as NBC News struggled to keep their bone fides as reputable reporters.

If NBC News dared to drop anchor, there might be other roles in which Brian Williams would be the perfect person. Williams would have been perfect for 30 Rock but alas the comedy series has been cancelled.  Perhaps as a correspondent for the Onion.  Maybe Steven Colbert needs a jocular sidekick for his stint on CBS's Late Night.

Then there is the question of what NBC News would do to fill the empty anchor chair. When NBC was considering a replacement  in October 2014 for David Gregory on Meet the Press, the execs at 30 Rock promised Daily Show comedian Jon Stewart a truckload of money to take the serious gig.  Stewart declined the NBC offer by saying: "News and entertainment have melded in a way. But they would be overcompensating on the entertainment side. That’s certainly not an outlandish decision, although I don’t necessarily think that’s the best direction for it.”

Jon Stewart did not want NBC News to become a joke.  So what do they do now with their credibility falling like a rock?

h/t: Adam Zyglis

03 February 2015

Scrutinizing Sonia Sotomayor on Judicial Activism

Sonia Sotomayor on Judicial Activism   

 When speaking before the Forum Club in Palm Beach and the Palm Beach County (Florida) Bar Association,  Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor dismissed concerns about judicial activism by denying that it exists.  She later elaborated: "What you will find out is that both sides always base it on a legal analysis. We don't come to our conclusions willy-nilly or arbitrarily. There won't be any decision you read where you will think that a judge is an activist." But Sotomayor's pithy quip raises questions about her judicial philosophy. 

 While the "Wise Latina" has occasionally uttered allegiance the rule of law and that the role of a judge is not to make the law but to apply it, Sotomayor sometimes seems content to include herself in the process. Sotomayor earned the moniker during her Senate confirmation hearings when she refused to renounce her inspiring words about being a "Wise Latina" judge who would make better decisions. Sotomayor tried to walk back the exclusivity of the exclamation, but that is hard when you say: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a while male who hasn't lived that life." 

 As Justice Sotomayor was publicizing her autobiographical book Mi mundo adorado / My Beloved World (2013), she revealed to the New York Times that:
“It is my great hope that I’ll be a great justice, and that I’ll write opinions that will last the ages. But that doesn’t always happen. More importantly, it’s only one measure of meaning in life. To me, the more important one is my values and my impact on people who feel inspired in any way by me....Serving as a role model is the most valuable thing I can do.”
But does a consciousness on being a role model make for a sort of judicial activism which inserts the self into a rendering of justice?

Justice Sotomayor has been candid about how her unconventional background permeates her position.  As she has said: "Since I have difficulty defining merit and what merit alone means - and in any context, whether it's judicial or otherwise - I accept that different experiences in and of itself, bring merit to the system."  Moreover,  Sotomayor has mused that: "Personal experiences affect the facts which judges choose to see."  And Tea Party types hold that silly thought that justice is blind.

 Justice Sotomayor has even reached out to the crumb chasers  with her appearance  on Sesame Street in which the dialogue sounded as leaden as the cafecita.


 While the baby talk explanation of what her job is works for the kinder care sect, one wonders if it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of Justice Sotomayor's role on the Supreme Court.   Sotomayor describes her duties as being a judge who solves arguments by giving his or her opinion. Really?  As the nation's highest court, SCOTUS determines the law not solving arguments.  Is this done through giving one's opinion or through judicial interpretation (her opinion on the law)?

No wonder Justice Sotomayor does not believe in judicial activism as it seems like the root of her judicial philosophy with a veneer of the rule of law and the spiff of class conscious inspiration.