Thursday Links from The Political Carnival
I just finished watching the Oscars and I'm glad I taped them so that I could skip through passages which meant nothing to me. It looks as many of them have excellent special effects, but I doubt I'll see them. There's just something too slick, too perfect about them (based on the excerpts I saw). I still prefer simple films and simple stories like Black Orpheus.
I chose it for this evening's overnight for two reasons. One is that it's a beautiful film. Two that it takes place during the carnival in Rio. Netflix, unfortunately, does not stream it, but it is available from them on DVD.
Black Orpheus (Portuguese: Orfeu Negro)
is a 1959 film made in Brazil by French director Marcel Camus. It is based on the play Orfeu da Conceição (pt) by Vinicius de Moraes, which is an adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in the modern context of a favela in Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval. The film was an international co-production between production companies in Brazil, France and Italy.
The above is from the Wiki where you can read more about the film.
Bitcoin? No thanks...
I haven't gotten into arguments with right-wingers for a long time and I don't miss them. I got tired of them because they never seemed to use a single brain cell to back up their points.
Libertarians are the worst of the lot because they live in a pure fantasy world where Ayn Rand's fiction is, to them, serious economic theory. They never appreciated my telling them that Howard Roark is just as real as Harry Potter. In essence, they all saw 'the emperor's clothes' although he was butt naked. They had no connection with reality and still do not.
That's what I feel about Bitcoin.
I found a great explanation of Bitcoin in this article by Kevin Roose on the New York Magazine site: The Doomsday Cult of Bitcoin.
From the excellent article:
Today, another nail hit the coffin courtesy of Flexcoin, a so-called "Bitcoin bank" that announced that all its users' accounts had simply vanished.
For months now, Bitcoin soothsayers have proclaimed that the virtual currency is going to Change Everything. The mass adoption of Bitcoin, they told us, would utterly transform the way the world stores and exchanges value. Government-backed currency would become obsolete.
In other words, there's no there there! Bitcoin is virtual slight-of-hand, legerdemain.
These may seem like isolated incidents, but together, they add up to a massive, damning breach of trust. I don't doubt, as Nobel laureate Robert Shiller put it last week, that "something good can arise from [Bitcoin's] innovations." But Bitcoin itself will never recover from these initial pratfalls.
The nature of a speculative commodity like Bitcoin is that it essentially runs on hope – the more people who buy the hype, the higher the value goes, and the more firms like Andreessen Horowitz are willing to pump money into strengthening the Bitcoin ecosystem. Wish for the UFO hard enough, and it might actually arrive.
But the Bitcoin dream is all but dead. Now the true believers are trying to cope with their setbacks by increasing their numbers. And if history is any guide, they’ll keep telling you the bright future of Bitcoin is just ahead, long after they've ceased to believe it themselves.
Someone finally pointed out that the emperor is naked.
Oh, by the way, don't take any wooden nickels.
I received this today from Senator Warren's office -- yes, it's a fundraising letter, but the body of this is something we all should keep in mind:
Sometimes I want to ask the extremist Republicans in the House: "What planet are you living on?"While our country still struggles to recover from its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, why in the world do House Republicans spend so much time on votes to undermine a woman's right to choose?While our nation's seniors are facing a real and growing retirement crisis and 14 million of them rely on Social Security to stay out of poverty, why in the world are House Republicans so determined to slash our seniors' safety net? While our kids and grandkids are getting crushed with ever-increasing levels of student loan debt and our commitments to higher education continue to shrink, why in the world are House Republicans prioritizing tax loopholes for our largest corporations? The mixed-up, backwards, and flat-out offensive priorities of the House Republicans already have too much representation in Washington. But now three House Republicans from Montana, Colorado and West Virginia are running for the Senate this November and working to bring their radical agenda with them. Our friends Mark Udall, John Walsh, and Natalie Tennant need your help to fight back against their House Republican opponents – and the millions of dollars in attack ads coming their way from shadowy special interests. Make a donation to Mark, John, and Natalie's campaigns right now.There is a long list of terrifying things that these three House Republicans believe in, but let me just name a few:
I know these policies sound crazy to you and me. But Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, and their powerful allies will spend zillions of dollars in the next eight months to tear down our candidates and bring the House Republicans' agenda to the Senate. Like you, I'm frustrated about the status quo, but I'm deeply concerned it can get even worse.
We're all abuzz about what's happening in Ukraine and Darrell Issa's asshatitude, but there's another important story that deserves attention, and it's about our schools. What is taking place in my home state can make a real difference; it involves a lawsuit, by billionaires, against the state of California claiming that tenure and seniority violate the state constitution.
But you and I know that it's just another way to go after unions and teachers. This case hits home, because I spent over fourteen years working in public schools as a theater arts educator and director.
The trial is now underway. You probably haven't heard about it because it hasn't gotten much coverage. It's called Vergara v California, and I have a source or two at the trial who fill me in daily.
Basically, a tech entrepreneur opened a non-profit, got money from billionaires to sue the state of California because-- ta daa!-- they don't like teachers. Seriously, that's what it boils down to.
They claim that fair working conditions for teachers hurt students. Again, seriously, that's what they're saying. Even though the research tells us otherwise. See, while these people are backed by billionaires and ideology, the defense in the case is backed by research and pesky things called facts.
The defense's first witness was a woman named Dr. Susan Moore Johnson. She's one of the most respected researchers on education policy. She's an education professor and researcher at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Here are some highlights from her testimony:
- Due process allows teachers to do their best work: "It's essential that the people who work with students, primarily the teachers, are able to do their best work, and that means that the conditions of their work have…to ensure that they have the resources they need, the time they need and the conditions they need to teach well."
- Better working conditions mean greater student improvement: "When we took the data from the surveys and identified the schools that were rated as very favorable working environments, favorable working environments, unfavorables, and we linked that to student achievement using a student growth measure which is used in the state of Massachusetts, we found that student improvement was greater in schools where teachers reported better working conditions."
- Laws around tenure, seniority and due process help retain good teachers: "Teachers remain in schools where there are strong and effective principals who deal fairly with them and with students and create environments where they can do their best work. Teachers want to be able to teach effectively, and schools that enable them to do that are schools where they will stay. And that's regardless of the income level of the school."
So who do we believe? The experts in educational research and the teachers who spend every single day working tirelessly in the classrooms... or the billionaires and anti-union folks who are trying, yet again, to destabilize our public schools?
What the frack, Gov. Jerry Brown? First he's in a panic about the "evil weed", and now he supports the evil deed, as you can see in the following press release. Both issues affect my home state of California, and both are rantworthy.
The good news: My old pal Andy Cobb has put out yet another hilarious video filled with snarkitude that skewers his targets in all kinds of memorable and effective ways. We owe you one, Andy. The bad news: The vile F word won't go away: Frack (scroll).
Frack Water Cologne Ad Exposes Motives Behind Gov. Brown’s Fracking Push
New online video and campaign finance analysis highlight dangers of fracking, influence of Big Oil in California
California Governor Jerry Brown is taking a hit today for his penchant for fracking and dirty energy donations with a new satirical online video launched by Oil Change International (OCI) and comedians Andy Cobb and Mike Damanskis of Heavy Crude Video. The video is the latest escalation of the Big Oil Brown campaign effort sponsored by OCI, pushing for a ban on fracking for oil and gas in the state.
The video parody, entitled “Frack Water,” portrays a Governor Brown look-alike outside a southern California oil field accompanied by a California oil industry representative, in a shot for shot remake of a 2004 Stetson cologne advertisement starring actor Matthew McConaughey:
"In a land plagued by drought, one man stands tall….We won’t tell you what’s in it, but Big Oil Brown’s got it all over him…Jerry Brown’s frackwater. A fragrance that smells like a man…a man who doesn’t give a [bleep] about drought or climate change."
Here is the original McConaughey ad:
Also out today is a new analysis released by Oil Change International that outlines the massive contributions from the oil industry to the Governor’s coffers in recent years. The review shows these contributions have surpassed $2 million since 2006.
The campaign contribution analysis can be found here.
“You can’t buy back your legacy, Governor, even with all that Big Oil cash,” Turnbull said. “California is on the brink of climate catastrophe and fracking up the state will help push it over the edge. Californians deserve better than to be beholden to Big Oil’s desires and befouled by their stench.”
The video and analysis come just over a week ahead of a major mobilization in Sacramento planned for March 15th, where thousands of anti-fracking activists from around the state are expected. More information on the March 15th mobilization can be found at www.dontfrackcalifornia.org.
More from the team at Heavy Crude Video can be seen here.
Pompous, self-important and arrogant. Oh, I'm sorry. I was just musing at the picture above of Darrell Issa, the GOP scandal monger who chairs what used to be a respected position as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Now it's the House Rumor and Innuendo Committee Starring Darrell Issa.
Once again today, Issa called in a hostile witness in the IRS scandal hearings that over the past year have yielded zero instances of law breaking, bias or even bending. If anything they have served to prove in substantiated, fully vetted evidence, the fact that the IRS acted more judgmentally against liberal causes than conservative ones.
But here we are again today. Talking Points Memo:
Issa had summoned former IRS director Lois Lerner before the Congressional committee. Lerner pleaded the Fifth Amendment, declining to comment for the investigation, which has dragged on for months, in spite of a complete lack of evidence to indicate that conservative groups were being targeted by the tax agency.
With her simple plea of her constitutionally guaranteed privilege, Ms. Lerner took the 5th. Issa then took it on himself to bang the gavel to close the hearings, determining unilaterally that he could see no purpose in continuing.
Whoops. Darrell done loosed the fateful lightning of Cummings terrible swift sword, shouting:
“I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America! I am tired of this,” he said. “You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is absolutely something wrong with that and it is absolutely un-American.”
Cummings went on to say that over the course of the last year, the investigation has squandered more than $14 million and “we have found no evidence to support allegations of a political conspiracy against conservative groups.”
And Cummings didn't stop there. He gave Chairman Issa a lashing the likes of which haven't been seen since Patsy was beaten nearly to death in 12 Years A Slave. Don't take my word for it... this is pure entertainment.
And stay to the end. You won't want to miss the punchline added by an off-camera House member on the committee. Add this to your priceless list.
The Political Carnival T-Shirt
Modeled by @suzannegypsy
Lt. Col Barry Wingard is the lawyer for Gitmo detainee Fayiz Al-Kandari. For their ongoing story + related topics, please click on the link below:
Kuwaiti Citizen Detained at Guantanamo since 2002
The Political Carnival is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Photographs on The Political Carnival site (please read):
Photographs from other sources sometimes appear on TPC for humorous or illustrative purposes. As it is not our intention to use these images in any inappropriate manner or to infringe upon any rights held by others, anyone holding legal rights in the use of these images who wishes to have them taken down please contact us immediately requesting such removal, with which we will comply promptly.