Galactic Stupidity

The Ugly Political Sock Puppetry of Arizona’s Top Educator

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 6.18.50 PMDespite the obvious heat surplus and water shortage issues, Arizona continues to be one of the most growth intensive states, and has pegged much of its future on what can be loosely called “smart sectors” such as information technology, solar, chip making and, indeed, higher education itself as evidenced by the recent Starbucks/Arizona State University partnership.

You would think, given the above factors, and many more, Arizonans would be meticulous and scrupulous about the leaders they elect to shepherd the state’s educational system. But you would be wrong.

The power and control of Arizona’s education system rests in the hands of an elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Sadly, it has been a position occupied by common, and morally bankrupt, conservative political hacks of late. From 2003 through 2011, the office, the fifth highest elected office in Arizona, was held by Tom Horne, the current embattled Attorney General of Arizona. Horne was a line construction lawyer who up and got elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. But, hey, how much worse is that than when a podunk lawn mower repairman got elected Maricopa County Sheriff (which was before the office went totally into the sewer with former travel agent Joe Arpaio).

Okay, Horne was awful as Superintendent of Public Instruction (and has disgraced the office of AG even worse since), but once he left, one John Huppenthal was elected to cover the educational interests of Arizona’s children. And since January 2011, Huppenthal has been the one in charge of Arizona’s education.

Who is John Huppenthal? Pretty much an up through the ranks of the bat shit crazy Arizona state legislature right wing political climber. People who lived in Huppenthal’s district in the late 90′s, when he was an Arizona State Senator, can attest that the man compulsively and inexplicably robo-called with all kinds of dogmatic messages, at all hours of the day and night. To the point to where some literally were forced to contact his office and threaten suit if it did not stop on their phone. Huppenthal and his office were stunningly cavalier and arrogant about Huppenthal’s compulsive robo-calling. Yet he took to it again as Superintendent of Public Instruction in an effort to undermine the public schools he was entrusted with protecting and, instead, cravenly support private vouchers taking money away from public schools.

Such is great flavor as to the “measure of the man” that is John Huppenthal, but still mostly ancient history. How has the aggressively dogmatic Huppenthal done as Superintendent of Public Instruction, i.e. Arizona’s top educator? Same old story; same old song and dogmatic nutjob dance. You may remember the controversy over “banned textbooks” by the Tucson Unified School District a little over two years ago from the somewhat hyperbolic and inaccurate “Jeff Biggers Salon expose“. Well, that whole ordeal, contrary to Biggers’ Salon framing, Continue reading

Obama White House Sponsors Young and Rich Narcissistic 1% Fucktards That Will Ruin the World

Proving it is never too late to shine your lame duck ass for a new generation of 1% oligarchs, Barack Obama laid open the real constituency of national politicians. And proved certain any inference that such was only the constituency and province of the GOP, Koch Brothers et. al is false.

If this is not stupid and ugly to the common Democratic fanchild, it is hard to imagine what is, or could be. From the New York Times hagiography:

On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a cozy auditorium at the White House.

Their name tags read like a catalog of the country’s wealthiest and most influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions in private wealth.

“Moon shots!” one administration official said, kicking off the day on an inspirational note to embrace the White House as a partner and catalyst for putting their personal idealism into practice.

“Moon shots!”

I guess the Obama White House couldn’t fathom a better phrase for coming in their pants over big money.

If there is a more sick comment on the perverted state of US national politics, it is hard to imagine what it would be.

We are ruled by a bunch of oligarchs, and political handmaidens that kiss the oligarch’s asses and hew their beck and call. If the fact the great once and forever symbol of the common citizen “hope and change”, Barack Obama, is such a distant leader, constantly beholden to not only the future of the moneyed class, but the current too, then there is no reality for the American public.

The well-heeled group seemed receptive. “I think it’s fantastic,” said Patrick Gage, a 19-year-old heir to the multibillion-dollar Carlson hotel and hospitality fortune. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Mr. Gage, physically boyish with naturally swooping Bieber bangs, wore a conservative pinstripe suit and a white oxford shirt. His family’s Carlson company, which owns Radisson hotels, Country Inns and Suites, T.G.I. Friday’s and other brands, is an industry leader in enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution.

Oh my. And holy crap.

The New York Times penned a factual report of this sick instance. Will the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, or any of the other august opinion pages of national press, deign themselves honest enough to write opinion and/or editorial pieces recognizing this political cancer for what it really is?

If you did not view the video, and listen to the lyrics in the video above, do so. Because that is exactly the class of “super citizens” your elected leaders are beholden to. The handful of billionaires count for far more than the actual billions of people on this earth.

Want proof? Look no further than the “liberal”, “socialist”, “Democratic” Obama White House, who just demonstrated the problem in Technicolor.

And, before you chafe, of course it would be even worse with Republicans in charge. But the question is no longer just which party is in control of the levers of power (though it DOES matter for SCOTUS), but where the values of the country really are.

It is almost impossible to fathom the country’s values are with the pimple faced, Bieber banged, teenager scions of billionaires the Obama White House so calmly and cooly glad-hands.

[Seriously, watch the video from the one, the only, fantastic Tubes:

Young and rich
Everything I desire
Light bulbs with shades
in every room
And work is play--believe me
Nothing must come too hard
It comes in the mail
most everyday

Maybe our leaders should find a more representative, and morally balanced, set of leaders for the future.]

Lavabit and The Definition of US Government Hubris

Graphic by Darth

Graphic by Darth

Well, you know, if you do not WANT the United States Government sniffing in your and your family’s underwear, it is YOUR fault. Silly American citizens with your outdated stupid piece of paper you call the Constitution.

Really, get out if you are a citizen, or an American communication provider, that actually respects American citizen’s rights. These trivialities the American ethos was founded on are “no longer operative” in the minds of the surveillance officers who claim to live to protect us.

Do not even think about trying to protect your private communications with something so anti-American as privacy enabling encryption like Lavabit which only weakly, at best, even deigned to supply.

Any encryption that is capable of protecting an American citizen’s private communication (or even participating in the TOR network) is essentially inherently criminal and cause for potentially being designated a “selector“, if not target, of any number of searches, whether domestically controlled by the one sided ex-parte FISA Court, or hidden under Executive Order 12333, or done under foreign collection status and deemed “incidental”. Lavabit’s Ladar Levinson knows.

Which brings us to where we are today. Let Josh Gerstein set the stage:

A former e-mail provider for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, Lavabit LLC, filed a legal brief Thursday detailing the firm’s offers to provide information about what appear to have been Snowden’s communications as part of a last-ditch offer that prosecutors rejected as inadequate.

The disagreement detailed in a brief filed Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit resulted in Lavabit turning over its encryption keys to the federal government and then shutting down the firm’s secure e-mail service altogether after viewing it as unacceptably tainted by the FBI’s possession of the keys.

I have a different take on the key language from Lavabit’s argument in their appellate brief though, here is mine:

First, the government is bereft of any statutory authority to command the production of Lavabit’s private keys. The Pen Register Statute requires only that a company provide the government with technical assistance in the installation of a pen- trap device; providing encryption keys does not aid in the device’s installation at all, but rather in its use. Moreover, providing private keys is not “unobtrusive,” as the statute requires, and results in interference with Lavabit’s services, which the statute forbids. Nor does the Stored Communications Act authorize the government to seize a company’s private keys. It permits seizure of the contents of an electronic communication (which private keys are not), or information pertaining to a subscriber (which private keys are also, by definition, not). And at any rate it does not authorize the government to impose undue burdens on the innocent target business, which the government’s course of conduct here surely did.

Second, the Fourth Amendment independently prohibited what the government did here. The Fourth Amendment requires a warrant to be founded on probable cause that a search will uncover fruits, instrumentalities, or evidence of a crime. But Lavabit’s private keys are none of those things: they are lawful to possess and use, they were known only to Lavabit and never used by the company to commit a crime, and they do not prove that any crime occurred. In addition, the government’s proposal to examine the correspondence of all of Lavabit’s customers as it searched for information about its target was both beyond the scope of the probable cause it demonstrated and inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement, and it completely undermines Lavabit’s lawful business model. General rummaging through all of an innocent business’ communications with all of its customers is at the very core of what the Fourth Amendment prohibits.

The legal niceties of Lavabit’s arguments are thus:

The Pen Register Statute does not come close. An anodyne mandate to provide information needed merely for the “unobtrusive installation” of a device will not do. If there is any doubt, this Court should construe the statute in light of the serious constitutional concerns discussed below, to give effect to the “principle of constitutional avoidance” that requires this Court to avoid constructions of statutes that raise colorable constitutional difficulties. Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. City of Alexandria, 608 F.3d 150, 156–57 (4th Cir. 2010).

And, later in the pleading:

By those lights, this is a very easy case. Lavabit’s private keys are not connected with criminal activity in the slightest—the government has never accused Lavabit of being a co-conspirator, for example. The target of the government’s investigation never had access to those private keys. Nor did anyone, in fact, other than Lavabit. Given that Lavabit is not suspected or accused of any crime, it is quite impossible for information known only to Lavabit to be evidence that a crime has occurred. The government will not introduce Lavabit’s private keys in its case against its target, and it will not use Lavabit’s private keys to impeach its target at trial. Lavabit’s private keys are not the fruit of any crime, and no one has ever used them to commit any crime. Under those circumstances, absent any connection between the private keys and a crime, the “conclusion[] necessary to the issuance of the warrant” was totally absent. Zurcher, 436 U.S., at 557 n.6 (quoting, with approval, Comment, 28 U. Chi. L. Rev. 664, 687 (1961)).

What this boils down to is, essentially, the government thinks the keys to Lavabit’s encryption for their customers belong not just to Lavabit, and their respective customers, but to the United States government itself.

Your private information cannot be private in the face of the United States Government. Not just Edward Snowden, but anybody, and everybody, is theirs if they want it. That is the definition of bullshit.

[Okay, big thanks to Darth, who generously agreed to let us use the killer Strangelovian graphic above. Please follow Darth on Twitter]

Operation Ballsack Labor Day Football Trash Talk

Hello. Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me.

I am not sure how well the Trash Talk Machine is greased after such egregious neglect. But, we can only do what we do, and carry on. And those skilz have NOT been forgotten jack. So saddle up cowboys and cowgirls.

You would think being a blogger is an easy, Cheetos filled, lifestyle. Not the case. It is hard work, hard work I tell ya. I have suffered the indignation of Marcy and Jim yammering about wanting “trash this” and “trash that”. Weeeeelllllll that is so much SPAM! So, as I said earlier, it’s not easy, you know. I get no respect!

To make a quick comment on the title of this 2013 football season opening trash, shit is truly fucked up and bullshit. We have Mr. Constitutional Nobel Scholar President agitating to make unilateral bizarrely unnecessary war on Syria….apparently because he screwed up and drew a moronic “red line” in the sand and now has to prove he actually has bolas, in addition to stupidity and hubris. The man who when seeking votes to be elected in 2007-2008 claimed war without Congressional assent was wrong, and whose Vice-Predident called such unsanctioned war bullshittery and an “impeachable offense”, now insists without the UN, without the Brits, and with a coalition of effectively one (one who were previously described as “cheese eating surrender monkeys” not that long ago in American lore). But that is where we are now. Which is why the best name for this clusterfuck is “Operation Ballsack“. Yes, it is all about Obama’s balls, and his desperate need to prove he actually has a primordial pair.

Huh? Oh, wait! This was supposed to be football Trash Talk wasn’t it?!?!

Yikes, better get to that then. Last night was a pretty exciting open to the NCAA 2013 schedule. The ‘Ole Ball Coach Spurrier and the ‘Cocks did not seem all that animated, but still clocked a fairly solid NC Tarheel team. Looked like Vady was gonna take a bite off the ‘Ole Miss Rebels, but Ole Miss tailback Jeff Scott let loose with a 75 yard TD romp with 1:07 left, giving the Rebels a 39-35 last minute win. Good stuff. In other news, Lane Kiffen proves the question of why he has not been fired yet is still very salient by coaching a narrow win for Tommy Trojan over the Rainbows. Mighty Troy barely made it over the Rainbows. Yay. If that is all USC has, even the Sun Devils are going to wax them this year (a game I will be attending by the way). also, from Friday night, let me just say that Sparty has some VERY sticky fingered defenders. Look out B1G.

Well, what else is up I wonder? Hmmmm, appears some fella named “Manziel” was suspended half a game for something. Guess it wasn’t anything bad, cause Dez Bryant got suspended a whole season for eating dinner with Neon Deion Sanders. I sign my name on things a lot too. I get paid to do so. Not sure who would sign thousands of items for zip, nuthin, free. Apparently the crack investigators and accountability specialists at the NCAA found no problem though. And you KNOW how sane they are, cause they banned Penn State from all bowls for four years without having any NCAA violation whatsoever present. Ugh.

Alright. Games. Real ones are being played this weekend. Battle manufactured where it should be. Naturally. By a nerd at ESPN instead of that fake Operation Obama Ballsack baloney.

The game of the weekend looks to be Georgia at Clemson. These are two top ten worthy teams, if not potential national championship contenders. Special players abound everywhere on both teams, including Sammy Watkins the super receiver for the Tigers, and Tajh Boyd his quarterback. For the Bulldogs, Aaron Murray may be the best QB in the conference, and that includes Johnny Football. Awesome game to have so early. Alabama hosting Virginia Tech is another unusual one to start off with. The Tide will roll them, but there could be a struggle. should be a way better game than the Tide expected.

Honorable mentions goes to TCU and LSU in neutral Texas, Boise State/Washington and Cal versus Northwestern. Tell us what you have and why!

The one other thing I want to address is the noggins of the NFL. As you may have heard, there was a settlement this week, and it heavily favored the NFL. The craven plantation owners admitted nothing, gave up no liability findings, and gave up a ridiculously cheap total sum as hard settlement. By the time lawyer’s fees and mandatory testing etc. is deducted, it is criminal how little was gotten for a class of at risk humans. Down the road, if these class members live, they and their representatives will be screaming bloody murder. Here is an outrageously great article laying out the factors, and doing so with the tart and sarcastic truth it deserves

This long Labor Day weekend’s music is from the one, the only, Ms. Linda Ronstadt. I have a real affinity for Linda, and haver seen her numerous times including a couple of very special ones. If there has ever been a better pure female vocal talent, I am not sure I have seen it. Pure, and with a range to die for. The singing voice may be silenced, but Linda is rocking on and fighting for the causes she believes in. And they are, and always have been, great, and the right, ones. Oh, also, in case you didn’t notice, she had a backup band on the first video. Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, Robert Cray and some other chaps. The second is the band she normally toured with (including Waddy Wachtel – but with Mike Botts on drums instead of Russ Kunkel, who I always saw) and, trust me, they were absolutely killer, and very cool people to boot.

That’s it for now. Let Willis, and one and all, rock this joint. We are Livin In The USA. All things considered, it is still pretty fucking grand. Enjoy the holiday weekend my friends.

“With A Neck Like a Jockey’s Bollocks” Trash Talk

Yeah, about the title. No, I am not quite sure what it means. Maybe Marcy and other sundry mystery guests will be along to explain the damn thing.

What I can confirm is that it is unequivocally the single most awesome grouping of words I have seen in a very long time. So I am rolling with it baybee!

And, you know, leave it to the Irish, in this case Michael Higgins, who was not then, but is now, the President of Ireland. And, also, who is, by my marker, a man of and among men. I would quote Mr. Higgins more, but it would not do him justice. Watch the video.

Honestly, sincerely, really unequivocally, whatever the fuck, just listen to Michael Higgins eviscerate the American ethos. It is brutal and real.

Oh, before we go any further, I have a new chapeau. I will, and you can, thank the one and only, ever lovely, Phred for this wondrous occurrence.

Y’all have known I had an affinity for CHEESE since I was a child in elementary school. It was easy then, as there was no NFL team within hundreds of miles, and the one that was there was the Rams, and it was not all that compelling. No, the team of my youth and dreams was Lombardi’s Packers. Fuck Dallas, Green Bay was, and is, the people’s, and America’s, team. Always has been. As the only team actually of the people, it must so be. Don’t pitch that crap about teams that are corporately owned, or owned by narcissistic dicks like Jerry Jones.

Knowing my affinity for the once, always, and future real team of America – the ONLY publicly owned and locally controlled, NFL team, the Green Bay Packers, our friend Phred has blessedly provided me with an official CheeseHead. It arrived a couple of days ago, and is the most awesome thing I have been given in a LONG time.

So, I raise my Ronnie Raygun like head to the Great Cheese In The Sky.

Back to Michael Higgins, necks and bollocks. Watch the video. Higgins correctly identifies the wankers in life, I love it and ratify his identification. Precisely.

Now, on to the sporting side of life. Well, normally, Marcy or I post up Trash Talk whenever we are so inclined. Sometimes, however, itinerant Roving Reporters, like Mademoiselle Rosalind, get all uppity in our grill and force us to Trash.

Oh my. The ignominy of it all.

So, without further adieu, we shall lead off with sailing. Yes, I know, this is all a bit discomfiting for the normal Trash Talk aficionados. Whatta ya gonna do Mofo? We support our Continue reading

Memo To The Clueless Nepotistically Self Unaware Flexible Bag Of Mostly Water Known As Luke Russert

Russert Nantucket Estate

………………..Russert Nantucket Estate……………….

Has there ever been a more self unaware little ball of unworthy entitled Beltway nepotism than Luke Russert? I ask that as an honest question, because it is quite possible the answer is no. The story of Luke, son of Tim, is mostly public record.

Let’s take a look at the latest from L’il Luke, humbly entitled:

Luke Russert: Like Me, Paul Ryan Is Driven By Personal Loss

Well, golly, you just know it is going to be an intellectual and cognitively aware barnburner piece from that, no?

Of course it is, because that is the searing literary talent of the one and only Luke Russert; progeny of the Wonder of Whiteboard, Tim Russert. Let us inspect Luke’s Hemmingwayesque prose:

I peppered the congressman with questions about the health care law and budget priorities for an interview a colleague would use on Nightly News. When we were done, we exchanged pleasantries and he got up to leave. After about 15 seconds, he came back in the room and asked me, “How old was your dad when he passed from heart disease?” I told him, “58.” He said, “Mine was 55. My grandfather and great-grandfather both died from heart issues in their 50s, too.” He then asked me if I was into fitness and inquired about my workout regimen. He told me to run more and that I needed to work up a sweat at least five days a week. We both joked about how preventative fish oil supplements had a bad aftertaste.

Oh, what personal pathos these two poor sons have seen. Luke, son of Tim, product of St. Alban’s Academy in Washington DC, was left with a mother who worked for Vanity Fair, an estate and mansion on Nantucket Island fit for a king and a sinecure at NBC.

Bootstraps baby, bootstraps.

And L’il Luke’s brother in hardscrabble upbringing, Paul Ryan? This common man of the people was born the son of a respected lawyer in a Wisconsin town known as Janesville and:

Mr. Ryan, the youngest of Paul M. and Betty Ryan’s four children, was born in 1970 and grew up in Janesville’s historic Courthouse Hill neighborhood…

Like Luke Russert’s traumatic childhood, Paul Ryan suffered such various hardships as being voted Prom King and “Biggest Brown-Noser” in high school.

Oh, the pain they must have suffered, the poor dears.

The smooth stylings of Luke Russert’s searing reportage continue: Continue reading

Hockenheim, Highway Stars & Aurora

It is time for the Formula 1 Grosser Preis Santander Von Deutschland 2012. There is that.

Then there is the fact Jon Lord has died. If you do not know Jon Lord, he was a founding member of, and keyboard player for, Deep Purple. One of the more underrated keyboard players, and bands, of all time (by my book anyway). RIP

And, indescribably, twelve more souls died in Aurora, with scores more injured gravely. I would love to say something pithy, profound and appropriate. However, I have no clue what that would be.

A lot of other stuff has also transpired demanding extreme talking of the trash. The video embedded to the upper right is custom made by my daughter, Jenna, and I, from CGI runs of the Hockenheimring set to the sounds of the timeless Deep Purple classic Highway Star. All for this F1 Trash and wake for the Lord thread. Okay, mostly her work, but she swears even I can be taught the necessary skills. We’ll see about that. With no further adieu…..

Let’s roll.

We are in the summer doldrums. No football. No basketball. Do they even play hockey in the States? I forget. I understand there is some kind of athletic contest coming up across teh pond. In a move that may well INCREASE the safety of one and all, in Olympic Village and the world over, actual stiff British upper lip troops will be filling in for corrupt, fraudulent and incompetent G4 Mercenary Contractors.

Other than that, there is the start of the second half of the baseball season and……Formula One! This week is the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

Uh, BREAKING NEWS: My TeeVee just told me:

“For years people have been working to perfect the margarita. At last, the wait is over. Introducing Bud Light Lime Margaritas. The ready to drink margarita. With the refreshing twist of Bud Light Lime.”

While I had heard of Bud Light Lime before, from Uncle Stanley McChrystal, this is something NEW and, apparently, wonderful. Or, you know, not.

At any rate, qualifying is about to go off at the German Grand Prix. Hockenheimring is a relatively flat, and traditionally very fast circuit. The video really gives a good feel for it. Although shorter than originally laid out to be, it is still nearly three miles long and presents numerous opportunities for overtaking.

At practice, the rain spoiled the fun, and especially so for the German favorite, Michael Schumacher. The Mercedes team may be further plagued by a five place penalty on the grid due to a gearbox change in Nico Rosberg’s equipment. Things were brighter, however, for McLaren, who saw Jenson Button be fast with Lewis Hamilton close behind.

The skies do not look to clear for Saturday’s qualifying, but the rain may hold off. [Quick addendum: watching Q3 now and the track is soaking wet. Both Alonso and Schumacher are radioing that it needs to be stopped, but the stewards do not appear so inclined. The ability of these drivers to keep their cars on the track in these conditions is simply stunning] Race day will be a crapshoot though. Updates after qualifying will be in comments below.

Which brings us to Aurora. I was still up early Friday morning when the first word of the tragedy started coming in. I thought about posting something, but was so numb there was just nothing to say. Not sure much has changed in that regard. The root facts are on the usual relentless babble stream of cable news etc. and I have not even checked in in a bit to see the latest. The one take that really stuck out to me was by David Sirota, who lives literally right by the scene in suburban Denver:

Confronting that question, of course, is mind-bending and painful — in the age of “War on Terror” agitprop that purposely defines terrorism in one specific, narrow and politically convenient way, it’s akin to the cognitive difficulty of pondering the size of the universe … or, perhaps, death itself. It takes us out of our comfort zone and forces us to consider the causes of all kinds of extremism and violence — not just the foreign Islamic kind that we so flippantly write off as alien. Indeed, at a time when so many bloodlusting Americans cheer on our government proudly assassinating the imams who allegedly inspire Muslim terrorism, a shooting like this (if, indeed, it had nothing to do with Islamic extremism) begs us to wonder why we don’t feel similarly bellicose or enraged at the inspirations fueling so many other forms of terrorism — whatever those inspirations may be.

These contradictions and omissions, of course, are why such a question will almost certainly be ignored in the now-practiced kabuki theater of horror porn — the kind where vote-seeking politicians issue meaningless platitudes, ratings-stalking reporters breathlessly recount the gory details and attention-starved pundits preen in front of cameras to prognosticate about the electoral implications of mass murder in a presidential swing state. Carefully avoiding the T-word, it is a conspiracy of distraction and reduction, playing to our reflexive desire for soothing diversions and simple answers. The conspirators expect that when the cameras eventually pan away from the cataclysm, we will slip back into hyper-sleep for another few weeks, until the next massacre hits, and then the cycle will begin anew.

Yep. About right.

There may not be much front line sports on this weekend, but there is certainly a lot to talk about. What have you all been up to? What is on your mind? Let’s talk.

Judge Cebull’s Smart Response To His Incredibly Stupid Act

I was going to delve deeper into the Cebull insult of Obama case after Friday’s events, but I now have something else I need to get to, so this is a shorter take. As you will recall, the intertoobz blew up at the end of last week, starting late Wednesday, with the story of Judge Richard Cebull, Chief Judge of Montana’s US District Court, and his email distributed slur on Barack Obama. The incident was first reported by a local paper, the Great Falls Tribune, but quickly hit the national wires.

I am not going to reprint the email, but it is fairly disgusting and very inappropriate (you can see it in the original form here). Numerous outraged individuals and organizations immediately called for Cebull’s resignation. David Dayen has a rundown on some of the loudest, as well as of Cebull’s “explanation/apology”, which has not been accepted to well by those calling for Cebull’s head. And, while Cebull’s statement is indeed less than exculpating, it is pretty much all he could say under the circumstances. Unlike Rush Limbaugh, at least Cebull had the guts to own up to the full weight of his act, even if concurrently inferring “heck I thought it was private”.

You can quibble about whether the “joke” was directly racist, or only indirectly racist in overtone, and I can see both sides of that argument; however, there is no denying that it was in unconscionably bad taste and completely inappropriate for a federal judge to be trafficking in. That’s a given. I am, at this point, far more interested in Cebull’s response which, all things considered, I find pretty crafty.

Cebull immediately admitted his full involvement, did so publicly to the press, and took the affirmative step of immediately filing his own formal judicial complaint – against himself – over the matter, and asked for an inquiry by the judicial council of the 9th Circuit. He also immediately issued a formal written apology to President Obama:

Dear Mr. President:

I sincerely and profusely apologize to you and your family for the email I forwarded. I accept full responsibility; I have no one to blame but myself.

I can assure you that such action on my part will never happen again. I have requested that the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit review this matter.

Honestly, I don’t know what else I can do. Please forgive me and, again, my most sincere apology.

Richard F. Cebull

It is brief and to the point and, frankly, there is not much more he can do to erase the stain he left. Which is where it gets interesting. As you can see by clicking on the link to Cebull’s self initiated complaint (there are others that will be later joined, but his was immediately self filed, that will count large), it is submitted to the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, Alex Kozinski. Not only Continue reading

The False Report of Banned Books In Tucson: The Tempest in the Arizona Teapot

Last Friday afternoon, author Jeff Biggers published an article at Salon entitled Who’s Afraid of “The Tempest”? The cognitive lede, and framing for the article as a whole, is contained in the first sentence:

As part of the state-mandated termination of its ethnic studies program, the Tucson Unified School District released an initial list of books to be banned from its schools today.

Biggers goes on to report and discuss on a litany of books and textbooks – even Shakespeare’s The Tempest – that were removed from Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) classrooms:

Other banned books include “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by famed Brazilian educator Paolo Freire and “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos” by Rodolfo Acuña, two books often singled out by Arizona state superintendent of public instruction John Huppenthal, who campaigned in 2010 on the promise to “stop la raza(sic).

It is a rather stunning, and alarming, report fashioned by Mr. Biggers and, little wonder, it swept like fire across the progressive internet, and social media like Twitter and Facebook over the King Holiday weekend. Biggers’ Salon article served as the basis for reportage of the banning of books, including Shakespeare’s The Tempest, in a plethora of media sources from such internet venues as AlterNet, to mainstream media like The Tucson Citizen, New York Daily News, and The Wall Street Journal.

There is only one problem with this story. It is categorically and materially false. No books have been banned in Tucson by the TUSD, much less Shakespeare’s classic, The Tempest.

Sensing that Biggers’ story did not sound correct, nor comport with my understanding of the law in this subject area here in Arizona, I was able to make contact with officials at TUSD over the Martin Luther King extended holiday weekend and spoke with an official on Monday, even though the school system was officially closed. It is an understatement to say they were dismayed and concerned; it is “disingenuous to say ‘banned’” said Cara Rene, Communications Director for the TUSD.

Indeed, upon returning to their offices Tuesday, the TUSD put out, through Ms. Rene, an official News Release stating:

Tucson Unified School District has not banned any books as has been widely and incorrectly reported.

Seven books that were used as supporting materials for curriculum in Mexcian American Studies classes have been moved to the district storage facility because the classes have been suspended as per the ruling by Arizona Superintendent for Public Instruction John Huppenthal. Superintendent Huppenthal upheld an Office of Adminstriation Hearings’ ruling that the classes were in violation of state law ARS 15-112.

The books are:
Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado
500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures edited by Elizabeth Martinez
Message to AZTLAN by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales
Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement by Arturo Rosales
Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuna
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by Bill Bigelow

NONE of the above books have been banned by TUSD. Each book has been boxed and stored as part of the process of suspending the classes. The books listed above were cited in the ruling that found the classes out of compliance with state law.

Every one of the books listed above is still available to students through several school libraries. Many of the schools where Mexican American Studies classes were taught have the books available in their libraries. Also, all students throughout the district may reserve the books through the library system.

Other books have also been falsely reported as being banned by TUSD. It has been incorrectly reported that William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is not allowed for instruction. Teachers may continue to use materials in their classrooms as appropriate for the course curriculum. “The Tempest” and other books approved for curriculum are still viable options for instructors.

Oh, my, that is fundamentally and materially different than what Mr. Biggers both stated, and inferred, isn’t it? It was excessive and inflammatory hyperbole, and that is not a good thing as it paints the TUSD, and the Arizona school and educational system in a false, and prejudicially negative, light. I know many teachers and administrators in the Phoenix area, and they were outraged. “Banning of books” is an extremely negative concept both emotionally and legally; it is an extremely serious allegation, and not one to be made lightly or inaccurately.

There are a LOT of very good people in the State of Arizona, and the bad that is going on here (and there IS plenty of bad too) should be painted large and loud for what it is, but not in brush strokes so big and hyperbolic as to give a false picture of the story and state. I dislike the existence and effect of HB 2281, the law that has created this controversy over ethnic studies, every bit as much as Mr. Biggers honestly seems to; but do not want that to be used as a whipping post to make Arizona an ogre in ways it truly does not deserve. And that was the effect of his January 13, 2012 article in Salon.

You would probably think this particular story, and my report on it, ends here for now. It does not and, for once, that is a very positive thing. Over the King Holiday weekend, in addition to contacting the TUSD, I also contacted Salon regarding my concerns. They were, under the circumstances, both cordial and professional. Early this afternoon a notice of correction was placed at the bottom of the original story, and a new report by Jeff Biggers, far more accurately portraying the facts on the ground in Tucson, was published by Salon. Salon, and its editors, are to be commended and applauded for their willingness to listen and act responsibly.

Which brings us to the bigger picture. Demagoguery and hyperbole are something that all of us do who write on emotional hot button issues; which are about the only kind of issues we do here at Emptywheel. I have noticed the same phenomenon in the progressive blogosphere and media acutely prevalent on torture, Bradley Manning, Occupy Wall Street and, just recently, the NDAA. Emotion and illustration are good; facts and truth are better.

Fuck You To Jamie Dimon & His Plaintive Wail For The 1%

Pardon me for the Taibbi like insolence, but this is just fucking amazing. While most Americans are struggling to stay alive, employed, and their families fed and in their homes, much less celebrate a decent Christmas, the 1% Masters Of The Universe have gotten together for a group bitchfest of elitist assholes:

Jamie Dimon, the highest-paid chief executive officer among the heads of the six biggest U.S. banks, turned a question at an investors’ conference in New York this month into an occasion to defend wealth.

“Acting like everyone who’s been successful is bad and because you’re rich you’re bad, I don’t understand it,” the JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) CEO told an audience member who asked about hostility toward bankers. “Sometimes there’s a bad apple, yet we denigrate the whole.”

Dimon, 55, whose 2010 compensation was $23 million, joined billionaires including hedge-fund manager John Paulson and Home Depot Inc. (HD) co-founder Bernard Marcus in using speeches, open letters and television appearances to defend themselves and the richest 1 percent of the population targeted by Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.

Uh, fuck you Jamie Dimon and to the plaintive wail of the skimming, raping moneychangers.

Oh, and in case you had any question on what side of the 1%/99% divide Barack Obama and his Administration are on, yet another answer was given today with the announcement of their proposed selection for the critical “independent” seat on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC):

The Obama administration is considering nominating Jeremiah Norton, an executive director for JPMorgan Chase’s investment bank, to sit on the FDIC’s board of directors.

Who is Jeremiah Norton? Well, as this quote states, he executive director of the investment banking shop and one of Obama’s buddy, Jamie Dimon’s, right hand men. Oh, and before that, Norton was former Goldman Sachs honcho Henry Paulson’s right hand man in the Bush Treasury Department and assisted Paulson in getting Goldman Sachs a backdoor bailout through AIG.

And, remember, if Barack Obama has to replace Turbo Tax Timmeh Geithner, Jamie Dimon is near the top of the list of replacements thought to be on the White House’s list.

So, while OWS is out protesting and the majority of citizens are falling deeper in despair and many losing their homes and hopes, and Barack Obama duplicitously coos about feeling the pain of the 99%, this is what is going on where the rubber meets the actual road.

PS: Digby has pounded Dimon on this as well if you want more searing criticism.

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz RT @Popehat: Man dies of gunshot wound to chest with his hands cuffed behind his back in police car. Coroner: that's a suicide. http://t.c…
16mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ryanjreilly @mgsledge @WesleyLowery "Eyewitness testimony is unreliable" you know; this probably never really happened!
42mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @jayrosen_nyu Exactly.
44mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @jayrosen_nyu: @bmaz If you are going to introduce a new confusion you better be right, be clear about why you are doing it, and have im…
53mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @jayrosen_nyu Yes. Also, it is clearly coming straight out of the PD, whether direct or laundered. Just say so and explain clearly.
53mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @jayrosen_nyu Yep. And I have great respect for @Sulliview for laying that out. She is a treasure.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @pmocek @PogoWasRight I don't think it will be a universal panacea, but, overall, think it would be a good thing.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV My sister sent me pecans from her yard a few months ago. Finally putting my grandfather's cracker to use. http://t.co/lv6xibYVJx
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @pmocek Exactly. Or anytime cops report things.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @mike_stark ...story, as they seem to here, it is pretty credible evidence. At least in my book anyway.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @mike_stark Well, it is what it is, people see things differently. But when several independent eyewitnesses report pretty much the same...
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @BGinKC @bryandunlap @jeffa934 Well, in this case, the cops didn't try to talk to any of the eyewitnesses at scene, which is also telling.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
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