Friday, August 22, 2014

2016's "Sarah Palin"

Rick Perry has never looked better than he does in his new mug shot. 

Currently under indictment on "abuse of power" and "coercion of a public servant" charges,  the Perry case is grabbing headlines and column inches around the country.  According to Dallas Morning News columnist, Wayne Slater, the indictment is neither frivolous nor spurious as characterized by Perry, his supporters & Republican talking heads.  Slater thinks it has legs.  

Meanwhile, Perry is out and about making speeches and gaining new followers. He made a big splash at the conservative Heritage Foundation by raising the alarm of ISIS at the back door of the U.S.  
"There's the obvious great concern that, because of the condition of the border from the standpoint of it not being secure, and us not knowing who is penetrating across, that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be [crossing]," he said. "There's a very real possibility that they may have already used that [strategy]."   The Hill 8/22/14
The article goes on to state the Pentagon strongly refutes that theory.   
This is the guy who, during a 2011 Presidential debate with Romney, Obama, Ron Paul, et. al couldn't remember the three agencies he was going to dump when he became president
Perry was discussing his jobs plan and his flat tax plan when he said: "And I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the... what's the third one there? Let's see..."
 "...I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops."    CBS News 11/10/11
Who does this remind me of...hmmmm...could it be ... SATAN?  Sarah Palin!  Wasn't she the good-looking empty headed alarmist spouting Barbie doll who commanded an impressive following to bolster her campaign and a surprising war chest despite her inability to conduct an informed interview with Katie Couric or anyone else for that matter.

Sarah & Rick have much in common.  They are attractive, well-dressed politicians full of sound and fury signifying nothing.  But hey,  at least we don't have to think too long and hard about ISIS beheading journalist James Foley earlier this week or the ongoing anger and police state tactics in Ferguson, MO. 

 This post is inspired by today's The Political Carnival post on the same.   


Monday, August 4, 2014

Gun Control Advocate Hero & Victim James Brady Dies

James & Sarah Brady 2011  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    James Brady, former White House Press Secretary to Ronald Reagan, has died. Brady was shot in the head by John Hinckley Jr. as he tried to assassinate then president Ronald Reagan.  The assassination attempt took place March 30,1981.  Brady had been on the job just 69 days.    Brady survived, confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life. He became an ardent gun control advocate, co-sponsoring, with wife Sarah Brady,  the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.  Their push for national legislation eventually became known as the "Brady Bill".  He leaves a legacy of courage, perseverance and strength.   

I came across this anecdote today.

How James Brady Didn't Get Me Fired
AUG 4, 2014 4:37 PM EDT
In 1979, I wrote a critical front-page Wall Street Journal profile of leading Republican presidential contender John Connally. The tough-talking Texan demanded that his press secretary call the Journal's top brass and get me fired. Later that press secretary reported back: "They won't do it; those bastards always stick together." Connally just shook his head.
The press secretary was James Brady, who of course never actually called the Journal's executives. Rather, he mollified the candidate without causing further damage.
Jim, who died today at 73, left a mark on America; he was a man of indomitable courage in the face of awful adversity.
A couple years after the Connally incident, he was riding high as Ronald Reagan's press secretary when he was severely shot in the head during an attempted assassination of the new president. My wife, Judy Woodruff, then NBC's White House correspondent, was standing yards away; it was a gruesome scene. This was only 10 weeks into the Reagan administration and Brady -- who was smart, funny, knew the ways of Washington and was respected by the press -- could have been become a Reagan insider.
It wasn't to be.
Jim never really recovered from his near-fatal brain injury, was wheelchair-bound and faced numerous health setbacks over the next three decades. But he didn't disappear. He and his incredibly persistent and gutsy wife, Sarah, became the most visible champions of a sensible gun policy in America. In 1993, the so-called Brady Law was signed by President Bill Clinton; it requires a background check before purchasing most firearms.
The law was diluted by the courts and politicians, and had too many loopholes. Still, millions of gun purchases have been blocked and probably many lives saved.
The Bradys became an inspiring presence at major events in Washington and in the corridors of Congress, sometimes at the White House. Jim lost a lot, never his spirit or humor.
A few weeks before the shooting in 1981, Jim and Sarah took my wife and me to dinner. Near the end of a delightful evening, I asked him a needling question about the White House. His instant retort: "I should have gotten you fired."
To contact the writer of this article: Al Hunt at


Sunday, July 20, 2014

James Garner Gone

As women of a certain age, we have our favorite actors and a number of them are passing; one of mine was James Garner.  He was handsome, witty and an excellent character and lead actor.  He was so nuanced I think his performances were under appreciated at times.  He played romantic leads (Murphy's Romance, The Americanization of Emily, The Notebook), con men (The Great Escape, The Americanization of Emily), a hapless husband (The Thrill of It All, Move Over Darling) a hapless gangster (Victor, Victoria), comedy (Support Your Local Sheriff, his Doris Day films and more), race car driver (Grand Prix), all his western roles which began with the TV show "Maverick" and, for me, his most endearing turn as the reluctant private eye in "The Rockford Files".  

There will be many accolades and remembrances.  Here's a brief encapsulation of his career.  The second to the last paragraph mentions his 12,000 sq ft home in northern Santa Barbara County. One of my friends was the builder.  From what I understand, it's one heck of a homestead.  But, of course, he was one heck of a man.

Clip from "Support Your Local Sheriff", a very funny film.

Siskel & Ebert's review of "Murphy's Romance".  The visual resolution on YouTube is fuzzy but their review is spot on; a terrific, funny and very romantic film.

"The Americanization of Emily" was Garner's favorite film.

RIP James Garner


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

If Corporations Are People, Why Aren't They Held to Account?

Disillusion with government and its willingness to protect "we the people", crony capitalism of our elected officials, life time appointments to the Supreme Court, polarization on major issues and the failure of certain unalieanble rights to materialize, such as equal pay for equal work, lead me to ponder the possible consequences of the Hobby Lobby decision and other political decisions.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that the decision "of startling breadth" that could unleash "havoc" on American society (in fact, Mother Jones surmises that 90% of all American businesses fit the criteria to be classified as "closely-held corporations," so, gird your loins, ladies. Literally). She wrote that for-profit companies, unlike nonprofits, don't exist to further an agenda beyond money making and therefore cannot be said to have religious beliefs, and points out that one of the forms of birth control objected to by the fact-ignoring folks at Conestoga Wood and Hobby Lobby is the IUD, which, if purchased and installed without the help of insurance, would cost about as much as a woman earning minimum wage would make in a month. "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield," she wrote. 6/30/14
Then there's our "too big to fail" banking system.  What happened?  Why weren't the perpetrators of the mortgage fiasco brought up on criminal charges? the 1980s, the so-called savings-and-loan crisis, which again had some eerie parallels to more recent events, resulted in the successful criminal prosecution of more than eight hundred individuals, right up to Charles Keating. And again, the widespread accounting frauds of the 1990s, most vividly represented by Enron and WorldCom, led directly to the successful prosecution of such previously respected CEOs as Jeffrey Skilling and Bernie Ebbers.
...While officials of the Department of Justice have been more circumspect in describing the roots of the financial crisis than have the various commissions of inquiry and other government agencies, I have seen nothing to indicate their disagreement with the widespread conclusion that fraud at every level permeated the bubble in mortgage-backed securities. Rather, their position has been to excuse their failure to prosecute high-level individuals for fraud in connection with the financial crisis on one or more of three grounds... NY Review of Books  1/09/14  
John Oliver gives his takeaway on possible scenarios treating corporations as people:

There are ways to protest.  Boycott products, stores and establishments owned by corporations whose behaviour, in your opinion, is unacceptable.  Hollywood insiders are boycotting the famed Beverly Hills Hotel & it's iconic Polo Lounge for the following reasons:
Since word spread of the May 1 implementation of Sharia law by Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah -- owner of the hotel through his Dorchester Collection of properties that also includes Hotel Bel-Air -- power players have responded by using their pocketbooks to condemn the criminal code that could mean stoning deaths for gays and adulterers.   
"I'm no longer going [to the Polo Lounge], and I was there three times a week," says WME partner Richard Weitz. Same for Trigger Street Productions' Dana Brunetti: "I will not return there while the sultan owns it." That sentiment was echoed by about two dozen industry names contacted by THR, even if most admit they're keeping an eye in the rearview mirror.   
"I feel bad for the staff," says Weitz. But waitstaff who rely on tips received good news May 8 when Dorchester announced that personnel at its L.A. properties would be compensated for lost gratuities in addition to wages and benefits.   The Hollywood Reporter 5/22/14 
If you notice in the last paragraph on the BHH, it's the staff who suffer, not the billionaire owner.  

As for me, I'm still looking for answers like this one: one that I know of has ever contended that a big financial institution would collapse if one or more of its high-level executives were prosecuted, as opposed to the institution itself.  NY Review of Books  1/09/14



by Cole Scott