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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Your Thursday Molly Ivins Moment

Normally I put Molly's weekly gem from the past below the fold. But while rooting around the archives yesterday I found this January 2006 column and thought it deserved to be put up top like a cherry on a sundae. As Edward Snowden's NSA revelations continue to leave us gobsmacked (well, me, anyway), this is the nuttiness Molly was documenting eight years ago, as the first NSA revelations hit the front pages:

Cover of the book
Molly's last book (2007)
 is a must read, too.
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There [Bush] was at Brooke Army Medical Center over the weekend, once again getting it wrong: "I can say that if somebody from al-Qaida's calling you, we'd like to know why. In the meantime, this program is conscious of people's civil liberties, as am I. This is a limited program ... I repeat, limited. And it's limited to calls from outside the United States, to calls within the United States."

So then the White House had to go back and explain that, well, no, actually, the National Security Agency's domestic spying program is not limited to calls from outside the United States, or to calls from people known or even suspected of being with al-Qaida. Turns out thousands of Americans and resident foreigners have been or are being monitored and recorded by the NSA. It's more like information-mining, which is what, you may recall, the administration said it would not do. But now Bush has to investigate The New York Times because Bush has been breaking the law, you see? [...]

I love the way we always start secret spy programs with great vows that the information shall be guarded and the innocent protected---and it turns out one of the first to make use of the NSA program for his own purposes was that parfait, gentil soul of discretion John Bolton, the Godzilla diplomat. Came out during his confirmation hearings: Bolton---no one's idea of a judicious, reticent man---called on the NSA 10 times to identify sources he wanted the names of, presumably in connection with NSA's shamelessly undercover spying on the United Nations just before the Iraq War started.

Like so many bloodthirsty Iraq war-era dolts, Bolton remains one of the traditional media's Very Serious People. Read the rest of Molly's column here, including a reminder that Bush was absolutely breaking the law until Congress retroactively unbroke it for him. Neat trick.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Cheers and Jeers for Thursday, January 9, 2014

Note: "You'll have to pry my cold dead hands from my cold dead hands," says cranky old man with four hands.  Film at 11.

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Gasparilla Pirate Festival logo
16 days!!!
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By the Numbers:
Days 'til the Oscar nominations: 7
Days 'til the Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa: 16
Number of consecutive years during which health care costs have slowed at "historic levels": 4
(Source: AP)
Years since the U.S. trade gap has been as narrow as it is now: 4
(Source: Commerce Dept.)
Percent of Americans who supported marijuana legalization in 1987: 16%
Percent of Americans who now support marijuana legalization: 55%
(Source: CNN poll)
Number of votes by which Democrat Lynwood Lewis, Jr. is leading in the special election for the state senate seat in Virginia's 6th District: 10

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Puppy Pic of the Day:  Happy snow happy snow happy happy happy...

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CHEERS to the adventures Wonder Woman.  Yesterday was the third anniversary of the Tucson massacre that killed half a dozen people and almost took the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  To promote the amazing work that physical therapists have done for her, Giffords---whom, I'll never forget, was reported as dead by some news outlets following the shooting---hopped in a plane and went for a little skydive.  No, seriously:

Gabby Giffords skydiving on the 3rd anniversary of her shooting in Tucson.  Jan. 8, 2014.
Photo by Savannah Guthrie
And this is the part of C&J where you talk amongst yourselves because I'm a little verklempt.  I'll give you a topic: Rand is the name of both a terrible senator and a terrible author.  Discuss.

JEERS to untying the knots.  What a bunch of sick GOP fucks in Utah, where 1,300 same-sex couples who yesterday were legally married find themselves this morning in matrimonial limbo.  And for that they can thank their Republican governor and his pals.  So, like states affected by the polar vortex, gay marriage in Utah is on ice.  But---and bear with me as I get oh so clever here---like the changing of the seasons, the ban will start to thaw as the legal wheels turn, and marriage equality will once again bloom like posies in Salt Lake City.  Memo to the right-wingers doing a victory dance this morning: enjoy yourselves, but we'll get the last laugh.  In tap shoes.

CHEERS to world peace...or some approximation thereof.  On January 9, 1951, the United Nations headquarters officially opened in New York City.  From its preamble:

The United nations on opening day: january 9, 1951
WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED

• to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
• to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
• to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
• to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

It drives conservative paranoids crazy because they think the boys and girls in the blue helmets are gonna impose martial law and take control of our cities and towns without any regard for the principles of democracy.  Idiots---they're obviously confusing the U.N. with Michigan.

CHEERS to loving the smell of schadenfreude in the morning.  These emails exchanged by two of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's BFF's….

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."  “Got it.”
Newspaper headlines on Jan. 9, 2014, a day after the Chris Christie bridge scandal blew up.
Heckuva job, Christie.
…will live in Republican scandal infamy alongside Michael Brown's Katrina emails ("I am a fashion god") and Mark Foley's texts to teenage House pages ("You naked?").  From the beginning of the bridge-clogging scandal, I've watched Christie follow a familiar pattern.  First he ignored accusations of political revenge on the mayor of Fort Lee.  Then he mocked them ("I put the cones up myself ha ha!").  Then he got all pissy and defensive with the press.  And now that the scandal has landed at his office door, he's in the acceptance phase…as in, accepting that everyone is to blame but himself.  Where this heads is anybody's guess, but one thing's for sure: Bridgegate is going to have a long "span life."  Thank you, thank you….

CHEERS to the Nutmeg State.  Happy 226th birthday to Connecticut, which popped out of the womb of freedom on this date in 1788.  It's responsible for giving us the nuclear submarine, Pez candy, lollipops, the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, beloved Daily Kos front-pager Greg Dworkin, Governor Dan Malloy, and Senators Chris Murphy and Dick Blumenthal.  Oh, also Joe Lieberman.  Oh well…no state is perfect.

JEERS to great balls of fire.  Big Oil is thrilled that yesterday's news cycle was so insanely busy.  Because buried beneath the rest of the headlines was a story from Maine's eastern border with Canada involving yet another derailment---and explosion and fire---of a train pulling a string of oil cars:

Closeup of flames, fire
Oil train fire: baaaad.
Officials in Canada said a derailed freight train carrying crude oil and propane continued to burn Wednesday, and about 150 residents remained evacuated from their homes. There were no deaths or injuries. […]  Later Wednesday, the Canadian National Railway said two of the cars carrying liquefied petroleum gas and one car carrying crude oil were on fire.

“It is contained, but it is evolving,” said Claude Mongeau, the chief executive of CN.

Or, as the drill-here-drill-now crowd likes to say, "It is creationisming."

CHEERS to decent piano playing skills.  That's one of the few positive things I can say about Richard Nixon, who was born on this date in 1913.  Said the late, great Andy Rooney a few years back: "I forget how Richard Nixon got elected.  It makes you wonder about our democratic system of government.  I mean, how could we have done that?"  And in their great book Rating the Presidents, Bill Ridings, Jr. and Stuart McIver unwittingly fire back at the teabagger idiots who once complained that President Obama put his feet up on his desk:

Richard Nixon with Elvis Presley
President Nixon, seen here with Vice
President Presley, turns 101 today.
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The president that Richard Nixon, a Republican, admired most was a Democrat---Woodrow Wilson. Both were dedicated to world peace. Shortly after Nixon's inauguration, he had Wilson's huge desk moved into the Oval Office. Since he liked to sit with his feet on the desk, his heels left scars. Once, while he was abroad, someone had the mahogany surface refinished. Nixon was not pleased: "Dammit, I didn't order that. I want to leave my mark on this place just like the other presidents."

Richard Milhous Nixon left his mark, but it was more than scuff marks on a desktop. The mark he left behind was a scar on a nation he betrayed. In the cause of peace he achieved an enviable record in foreign affairs, proving himself a highly-effective president. Then he threw it all away.

Today is Nixon's 101st birthday.  I got him a gift certificate to his favorite store: The 18½ Minute GAP.

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Five years ago in C&J: January 9, 2009

JEERS to a blue Christmas.  The Bush administration's final parting gift:

The U.S. economy lost 524,000 jobs in December, closing out the worst year for job losses since World War II, the Labor Department said Friday.  Nearly 2.6 million jobs were lost in 2008, with 1.9 million destroyed in just the past four months, according to a survey of work places. It's the biggest job loss in any calendar year since 1945, when 2.75 million jobs were lost as the wartime economy was demobilized.
I believe I speak for the entire nation when I say we woulda settled for a box of chocolate-covered cashews.

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And just one more…

CHEERS to the Night Of A Hundred Drunken Celebrities.  The Golden Globes will be handed out Sunday.  They tend to be a more raucous (and, thankfully, shorter) than the Oscars, mostly because they start serving champagne three hours before the show starts.  And even if you can't stand awards shows, I say it's worth it just to watch Tina Fey and Amy Poehler emcee the plastic-ness.  You can peruse the nominations here.  As usual, I haven’t seen half the movies yet, but that's never stopped me from making dangerously uninformed predictions before.  (It's a little trick I learned from Republicans over the years.)  So here goes:

Robert Redford in
Redford's year? It
damn well better be.
Picture (drama): Philomena
Picture (musical or comedy): American Hustle
Director: David O'Russell for American Hustle
Actor (drama): Robert Redford for All Is Lost
Actor (comedy): Bruce Dern for Nebraska
Actress (drama): Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Actress (comedy): Amy Adams for American Hustle
Supporting Actor: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years a Slave
TV Series (Drama): Breaking Bad
As usual, the most nervous person in the room won't be one of the nominees.  It'll be the guy in charge of the "bleep" button.

Have a nice Thursday.  Hang in there, frozen toes---only 70 days 'til spring.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?

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Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

Cheers and Jeers as Massive as Earth … Except Gassier and Puffier
---Bad Astronomy

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Poll

Do you agree with Maine Governor Paul LePage when he complains that one reason the economy isn’t doing better is because there aren't enough 12-year-olds in the labor force?

7%240 votes
0%20 votes
0%17 votes
1%33 votes
89%2798 votes

| 3112 votes | Vote | Results

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