Monday, October 27, 2014

After “messing with the wrong redhead” Governor Fatso gets verbally bitch-slapped. He then backs down, like the opportunist and coward he is.

Governor Christie and Massachusetts
gubernatorial candidate Charlie 
Baker are involved in a scandal. Is 
the NewJersey Ebola panic an attempt
 to deflect attention? Read this story 
all the way through.
I truly wonder if the headline at the top of this post is strong enough. If you keep reading you’ll see that the real story may not be about Ebola, but about a political “pay to play” scandal. Here’s the story.

A nurse from Maine, Kaci Hickox, got off a plane in New Jersey on her way home after an heroic stint helping an overwhelmed population in West Africa fight the ravages of Ebola.

Fatso Governor Chris Christie “arrested” her. No, let me take that verb out of quotes. He arrested her. Period.

The governor lies about
an heroic nurse’s health

She was “obviously ill,” the big fat bully said of the nurse. 

So he confined her for 21 days to a tent, with no flush toilet (living in a tent with a chemical toilet is like living with a port-a-pottie in the bedroom), no shower, not even a television set.

That’s tantamount to imprisonment in a particularly disgusting prison. People in need of medical quarantine should be quarantined in a hospital room, or their own homes, not a filthy tent.

Except, Nurse Hickox is not at all ill. She has test negative twice for Ebola. She is showing no symptoms.

“Obviously ill?” That’s Chris Christie telling a flat out lie to cover his own fat butt. 

The bully, still lying.
backs off from the nurse

The brave nurse spoke out. She got a lawyer. She protested. And now the lying governor is backing off, sort of. The New York Times reports Christie as saying:
“It’s always been about her condition. And if her condition permits release, then we will work with the state officials in Maine to make sure she could go home,” he said. “Our preference always is to quarantine people in their homes.”
No, Governor Christie, it has never been about her condition because she is not sick, did not arrive her sick, and the test results show that she does not have Ebola. And the reason you want to “make sure she could go home,” is that this thing has blown up in your face like projectile vomit from a real Ebola patient.

“…he’s messed with the wrong redhead,” the Times reported that Nurse Hickox’s boyfriend said. And here’s more from the Times:
“She’s not a loudmouth activist,” said Dr. Nora Rowley, a classmate at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.But she understands the contagiousness of the virus, and now she has to come back and be subjected to a policy that’s not based on anything other than fear.” 
Her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, a nursing student in Fort Kent, Maine, said she had not planned on speaking to the news media but changed her mind after Mr. Christie said on Saturday that she was “obviously ill” when she knew she was not.
Let me offer an alternative theory to explain Christie’s police state behavior. He’s not panicked. He’s trying to spread panic, the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater. And I submit that his motivation for this unpardonable behavior is to deflect attention from yet another Christie scandal, every bit as big as the George Washington Bridge mess of a few months back.

The simmering 
pay to play scandal

There seems to be a pay-to-play scandal regarding Christie’s people awarding contract to manage New Jersey’s pension money to Charlie Baker, a candidate for governor in Massachusetts against Democrat Martha Coakley. There are documents that increasingly sound like they’d reveal violation of New Jersey’s state laws by its own governor, but Fatso isn’t releasing them.

The Crooks and Liars website sums it up:

The documents being withheld pertain to an investigation of Baker's $10,000 contribution to the New Jersey Republican State Committee. The contributions came just months before Christie officials gave Baker's company, General Catalyst, a contract to manage New Jersey pension money. New Jersey's pay-to-play rules prohibit contributions to state parties from "any investment management professional associated" with a firm managing state pension money. 
When the campaign donations and subsequent pension contract came to light in May, Democrats criticized  Baker, who was then launching his 2014 campaign for governor of Massachusetts. In response, New Jersey launched a formal investigation into Baker's contributions. The Newark Star-Ledger reported at the time that Christie officials "said the review would take several weeks.” 
Five months later, with Baker now neck-and-neck in the polls with Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley and backed by more than $5 million from the Christie-led RGA, Christie officials have denied an open records request for the findings of the investigation. 
In a reply to International Business Times' request for the findings of the audit under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act, Christie's Treasury Department said the request is being denied on the grounds that the documents in question are "consultative and deliberative material."  
Despite officials' assurances in May that the probe would take only weeks, the New Jersey Treasury said in September that the investigation is still "ongoing" -- a designation the department says lets it to stop the records from being released.
So how do you deflect attention from an offense that could have you thrown out of office, screw up any possibility you still have left of a presidential run, and mess up a probably-not-completely-honest Republican gubernatorial candidate in Massachusetts to boot?

Why, of course you change the subject by creating an Ebola panic.

That’s yelling “fire’ in a crowded theater for sure. 

It’s time for Christie to go. Preferably to the fat farm. Despite lapband surgery, he’s still obviously overweight. And he’s got a big fat lying mouth.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Right wing fanatic stirrer-uppers discover there’s money in Ebola – their gullible followers’ money.

Genuine right-wing baloney
Some of those folks who stir up the gullible on emotional issues from abortion to immigration to guns have made a big, profitable discovery.


More about this in a moment. But first a short explanation of how I glommed on to this information.

Some years ago, I clicked on an e-ad offering to give me a free gun if I'd sign up for an arms course. I didn’t want no stinkin’ gun. And I didn’t want an arms course, having taken all the arms courses I’ll ever need in U.S. Army Basic and Advanced Infantry training. 

But I was curious. So I requested more information. I read all about the free gun offer, yawned, and trashed it out of my mailbox. But then, junk e-mails by the buh-zillions began to flow in.

Now I get regular mail from Rand Paul. I get regular mail from something called “the Right to Bear in Defense of Your God Given Rights.” (In case you didn’t know it, God wrote the U.S. Constitution when he was finished with the Bible. And I suppose I’m going to learn next that God designed the Confederate flag. But I digress.)

I get breathless updates on an alleged secret plot by Barack Obama to enslave us, Muslimize us, turn us into Africans, destroy our school system and give us dreaded diseases. All in the name of either Mulim domination, or Socialist domination, or domination by the secretive rich. Take your choice.

The latest, which popped up in my mailbox just a few days ago began,

“Read this or you and your family might die.”

Yup, that’s what it said. It also told me that the message was “from our advertising sponsor, UJGAR, LLC,” whatever the hell UIGAR is. And then it got down to the terrifying brass tacks. It said:
Forgive the "in-your-face" email ... but this is serious.Ebola is here and the TRUE facts are so scary ... it's unbelievable.(Hint: the Government and the Center For Disease Control (CDC) are NOT telling you everything because they don't want people to panic)In short, if you are not preparing for an Ebola pandemic I believe you are making a HUGE mistake ...Click the link below to see what you can do to get ready now. Read this or you and your family might die 
Dave Walon Editor

So I clicked and learned, just for openers…
WARNING:Ebola Has Invaded The USA!It started with just one reported case in Dallas, Texas. Now ...Ebola infections are DOUBLING every 21-days (the amount of time it might take for a person to show the infection symptoms) ...The Center for Disease Control (CDC) predicts a worst-case scenario of 1.5 MILLION cases by January 2015 ...
Sheesh! And to think that we've only had a handful of reported cases of Ebola in the U.S, and we’re getting news reports (no doubt all of them lies inserted into the news by Secretive Socialist Rich Muslim terrorists) that this whole thing has been pretty much nipped in the bud. Even though that frantic website is warning me…
Once the panic and infections spread ...We might see full-blown Martial Law in the United States!
M-m-m-martial law?! Who’s telling me all this horrifying news? He writes:
My name is Caleb Lee. And I’m the editor and founder of THE 3-PERCENTER REPORT, an exclusive society of self-reliance and self-defense practitioners. I’m also an NRA certified firearms instructor and I’ve been black belt for well over a decade now ...
Phew! That’s a relief. If Caleb ever runs into an Ebola virus, thanks to his epidemiological expertise he can shoot it with an AR-15, or use his black belt self-defense skills to at least karate chop the daylights out of it.

But what it all boiled down to is, Caleb wants you to send him seven bucks. For seven bucks  he’ll send you his book. Well, not a paper book, despite that picture showing it spiral bound with a bright yellow cover. It’s actually a digital download, but hey, what’s a misleading graphic among Tea Party patriots, survivalists, gun nuts, and Obama-haters?
If (and when) the infections spread ... and panic sets in ... we will most likely see entire cities or regions of the United States under military quarantine.This is serious.
And on and on. Oh, bother!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What’s next for Southwest and Jet Blue airline passengers? Mid-air executions?

A hanging at sea (below the American flag, at the boat’s stern) dated from the mid-19th Century. Could an airline pilot have you hanged in flight for having an opinion??

There was a time when, at sea, the captain’s word was law. If he didn’t like the way you looked at him, or the fact that you whispered something to a shipmate, or that you complained about wanton flogging of the crew, he could hang you from the yardarm, like that

The hanging depicted in the picture above occurred in 1842 aboard a ship called the USS Somers. The hanged men were almost certainly innocent. You can read the horrifying tale of the paranoid captain and the hapless sailors here.

Now both Southwest and Jet Blue airlines seem to want to renew the practice of giving captains and themselves God-like legal powers over people aboard their vessels – air vessels in this case, to stop them from posting opinions on Twitter.

And no, the passengers are not tweeting threats. They’re not tweeting Al Qaeda or ISIS propaganda. They’re not tweeting remarks about bombs.

Instead, they’ve been tweeting how unhappy they were with airline personnel, and service.

For this, the passengers were forced off their flights. I suppose the authority to do this dates from that old rule of the sea, the one that enabled captains to hang people aboard their ships: the captain’s word is law.

Before I go on, I should point out that I like Jet Blue, one of the two airlines whose philosophy seems to be, “throw ‘em off the plane if they’re unhappy” Or at least I used to like Jet Blue. I’ve flown them several times. Their seats are roomier than comparable seats on United, which I’ve also flown in recent years. Their employees, at least when I’ve flown the airline, always seemed to be in better humor and consequently more courteous and accommodating to their passengers. My baggage got handled correctly and promptly. I wasn’t nickeled and dimed the way other airlines chisel their passengers.

But in one recent case, a planeload of passengers were delayed because the captain took umbrage at a tweet that questioned his sobriety Which leads me to wonder if there wasn’t really something to that passenger’s tweet after all. I’d be pretty plastered before I’d turn a plane around in mid-air and fly back to the airport to give myself a sobriety test and have a passenger taken off the plane for criticizing me.

Worse yet, although Jet Blue offered a paragraph full of long-winded gobbledygook, it in fact provided no rational or specific explanation at all of why the tweeting passenger was put off the plane. Here’s the reported full text of Jet Blue’s explanation.
It is not our practice to remove a customer for expressing criticism of their experience in any medium. We will remove a customer if they are disruptive and the crew evaluates that there is a risk of escalation which could lead to an unsafe environment. The decision to remove a customer from a flight is not taken lightly. If we feel a customer is not complying with safety instructions, exhibits objectionable behavior or causes conflict at the gate or on the aircraft, the customer will be asked to deplane or will be denied boarding especially if the crew feels the situation runs the risk of accelerating in the air. In this instance, the customer received a refund and chose to fly on another carrier.
So which was it, Jet Blue?” “Not complying with safety instructions?” “Exhibits objectionable behavior” by silently tweeting an opinion? “Causing conflict at the gate or in the aircraft?” Or more likely, just saying something about Jet Blue on Twitter that screws up the image you want to project, whether it's an accurate image or not?

In the Southwest Airlines case, a man and his two little kids felt he had been treated rudely by a gate agent and  tweeted that opinion. And then,
...after he boarded, an announcement came over the plane asking his family to exit the aircraft. Once at the gate, the agent said that unless the tweet was deleted, police would be called and the family would not be allowed back onboard.

Note, what Southwest, with less than a sterling reputation objected to was not the man’s behavior on the plane, but the text of his tweet.  And that tweet was hardly unique among Southwest’s present and more likely former customers. I mean, Southwest has a problem. I mean, a big problem. I mean, a horrendous problem. I mean…well, you get the idea.

Southwest’s solution to customers complaining about mistreatment? Don't stop mistreating them. Just  yank ‘em off the plane if they refuse to accept the Southwest party line.

Thie behavior  raises a question. If the captain or his employer can hark back to ancient laws of the sea to put you off a plane simply because he’s in a paranoid, or drunk, or simply cranky enough mind to, or because the airline doesn’t like to get caught misleading the public,  why can’t the captain hang you in midair? 

And what makes you think it will never happen?

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Secret Service, the White House, the tan suit, Ebola, and Republican attack opportunists

The Ebola virus has African origins. Our
president's lineage is half African. Therefore
as any good Republican can see, err, ahh...
The Republican penchant for attacking the president – on any grounds, on flimsy grounds, on no rational grounds whatsoever – is getting a tad tiresome.

It started with that socialistic, communistic, fascistic, maybe even Muslimistic (not to mention totally totalitarian) idea that was the crown jewel of the Obama administration: seeing to it that as many Americans as possible had health care coverage. O, the horror of it all! 

Even to this day, Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is running for re-election on a promise to repeal that accursed law and throw us back to the tender mercies of the greedy insurance companies. They will, he implies, do as right by us as they always have in the past because, uh, Freedom.

The American public has also endured Republicans foaming at the mouth concerning, uh, well let’s call them (and this is only a partial list) Benghazigate, Birthergate, Golfgate, Vacationgate, and what until now has been my all-time favorite. 


TanSuitgate was when Republican Congressman Peter King launched into a vicious attack on President Obama for wearing a tan suit to a press conference. Then, facing withering scorn for his own idiocy, King walked it back maybe, oh a half step or so, and insisted he was only speaking in metaphors. Metaphors? Isn't that actually Congresspeak for speaking in tongues? 

For the record, here’s one of the Congressman’s kingly "metaphors" on what clearly, from his enraged tone, must have been nearly an act of treason by Obama:
“There’s no way I don’t think any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday,” King said.  “You have the whole world watching, you have a week, two weeks of anticipation of what the United States is going to do and then for him to walk out — I’m not trying to be trivial here — in a light suit, a light tan suit.”
So why am I not amazed, or even slightly surprised, that the Republicans are barking and snapping like a pack of rabid Yorkshire terriers because the Secret Service is is falling down on its job of protecting him?

Yes, we should all be concerned about lapses in the President’s security. And yes, the Secret Service needs a cataclysmic culture change to get the problem fixed. But some professions of concern over the president’s security by all the folks who’ve been trying to bring him down for the past two terms strikes me as a bit, eh, shall we say disingenuous?

 When Congressman Darrell Issa, the would-be scourge of President Obama, attacks the Secret Service for not adequately protecting Obama, one has to think his secret hope is that some of the mud flung at the secret service will instead stick to the President.

As the Fiscal Times reports:
Rep. Darrell Issa’s two terms as chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have been marked by hearings on issues that seemed to greatly excite members of the hard right, Issa himself (R-CA) and the anti-Obama element of the Republican Party. Until now, Chairman Issa’s tendency to work himself into high dudgeon over scandals, including the “Fast and Furious” investigation and Lois Lerner’s IRS emails have failed to get real traction with the broader American public.
This morning, however, given the latest news reports about the severity of the Secret Service’s lapses in protecting the White House, Issa might finally get what he seems to have wanted all along – the chance to indulge in some high-profile righteous anger that has the sentiment of the American people behind it.

And now, the E-bomb

Now the latest stink bomb in the Republican arsenal is emerging. Ebola. You see, the E-bomb is all Obama’s fault. 
Many Republicans—and conservative media outlets—are also now hitting the president for thus far refusing to block flights to the U.S. from those nations, something some European countries have done.
Of course, if we block air traffic to the affected African countries and fail to send medical assistance to the areas where Ebola has reached epidemic proportions, the epidemic will inevitably spread faster, likely evolving into a worldwide pandemic that could cripple the United States.

Meanwhile, we’d have more and more, longer and longer delays at American airports, more and more angry passengers, more and more financial losses.

But of course, that would have to be the President’s fault, too.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Pharmaceutical prices, football, drug companies and a possible new role for universities

Football is a moneymaker for universities, no? 
Universities could create non-profit com-
petition for drug companies that would
help lower drug prices

But what does football have to do with scientific research or the advancement of knowledge in general – the reasons, presumably, for universities to exist?

Not a damn thing.

Meanwhile, earnings-hungry drug companies doing advanced research are literally bankrupting cancer patients who are faced with a choice that comes down to, “Your money or your life.”

When Leslie Stahl brought this home to 60 Minutes viewers on Sunday, she wasn’t revealing anything new. She was merely adding fresh emphasis to the horrid state of affairs that includes not only outrageous drug prices but also the power of the drug companies over Congress, which currently makes it illegal for Medicare to negotiate prices with insurance companies. 

When a drug company charges in excess of $100,000 to extend your life a month or more, even insured cancer victims end up paying staggering co-pays.

But there may be a stronger answer in the future than negotiation. It may veto create lower-cost, less greedy competitors to drug companies.

What if, instead of the hundreds of millions of dollars poured into football stadiums, perhaps with seed money from wealthy foundations universities put that kind of money into acquiring laboratories and researchers who would hunt for and test new drugs?

That’s a perfectly legitimate business for universities to be in. And nonprofit universities could be expected to use drug prices to pay back the price of their research and perhaps generate a little extra for their institutions – without charging the outrageous prices drug companies are getting.

The universities are also likelier to develop some new low-priced alternatives to medicine’s dwindling repertoire of effective antibiotics, to mention just one of the additional benefits.

You can expect the drug companies to bleat cries of self-pity over this, should it come to pass. Let me weep with them now: oh boo hoo. And yes, some universities will find greedy leaders who will want to overcharge as much as the pharmaceutical giants. But university overcharges threaten their non-profit status and could be controlled by reminding them of the trade off.

All the same, some additional cash from pharmaceutical royalties flowing to the universities could help stem the tide of endless tuition increases. It could create a resource on campuses for all sorts of student learning and work opportunities. It could add to the prestige of universities that sponsor such programs, especially when they yield valuable new drugs.

Yes, there are undoubtedly some institutions that will prefer to invest in football. That’s nothing new. 

But if you’re looking for a job (other than in coaching or sports marketing) would you rather say you went to a football school, or a scientific research school?

Just asking.