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Anger Translator

I loved the Key and Peele skit from a few years ago, but here’s a new version, this time starring the real Obama:

It gets off to a slow start, but I loved the ending, so watch the whole thing. And if you never watched the original, click the link above.

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Late Night Political Humor

“Yesterday Hillary Clinton made the big announcement we all knew was coming. She’s going to join the all-female cast of ‘Ghost Busters’.” – Conan O’Brien

“Hillary Clinton is now driving from New York to Iowa. It’s been called the least-exciting spring break trip in history.” – Conan O’Brien

“Marco Rubio announced he’s running for president. Fun fact: Marco Rubio’s wife is a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader. In other words, she knows how to generate fake enthusiasm for someone who’s not going to win.” – Conan O’Brien

“A new report says that dogs can sniff out prostate cancer with almost 98 percent accuracy. The report also finds that cats can sniff it out with 100 percent accuracy but they prefer to watch you die.” – Conan O’Brien

“It’s two days until tax time. I know it’s late, but there is still time to deduct this show as a loss.” – David Letterman

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We’re Number One!

This is a map showing incarceration rate (number of prisoners per 100,000 population). Note that it doesn’t even include all prisoners in the US — it leaves out prisoners in juvenile detention, prisoners held in US Territories (which I presume includes Guantanamo), jails contracted by the US Marshals Service, and jails in Indian country.

Prisoner_population_rate_world_map.svg

Actually, the title of this post is ever so slightly wrong. There is one tiny country – so small and low in population that you might not have even heard about it – that has more prisoners per capita than we do. But if I announced that we are number two, we might take that as a challenge.

And we call ourselves the land of the free.

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Late Night Political Humor

“Yesterday President Obama traveled to Jamaica, where he will meet with students and Caribbean leaders. Jamaica’s such a beautiful place, Obama says he can’t wait to just take it all in, hold it for several seconds, and then exhale.” – Jimmy Fallon

“In a recent interview, Michelle Obama said that the Secret Service taught Malia how to drive. In exchange, Malia taught the Secret Service how to throw a party when her parents are away.” – Conan O’Brien

“In a new interview, the president discussed the upcoming election. He said that Hillary Clinton is going to do great as a presidential candidate. When asked how Biden would do, Obama said, ‘Hillary’s going to do great.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“When he was asked about Hillary’s candidacy, Obama said, ‘If she’s her wonderful self, I’m sure she’ll do great.’ He added, ‘If she’s her other self, watch out.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“A group called Draft Biden 2016 has started selling bumper stickers that say ‘I’m ridin’ with Biden.’ It’s a lot better than the other one that women around the White House have started using — ‘I’m hidin’ from Biden.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today appeared on a talk show called ‘Pasta and Politics.’ It went so well that he’s agreed to go on ‘Meet the Garlic Press.'” – Seth Meyers

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Guilty until proven Innocent?

The Washington Post has a very scary article about the FBI forensic unit, the people like those we have all seen in movies who analyze hairs and other physical evidence to establish guilt or innocence. This kind of evidence is frequently used in capital cases, such as rape or murder.

Unlike in the movies, the work that real FBI forensic unit workers have done is deeply flawed, and has sent many innocent people to prison for decades, or even to be executed.

How big a scandal is this? A review of the cases shows that in a stunning 95% of cases so far reviewed, workers gave testimony that significantly overstated forensic matches. In other words, the expert testimony was flawed (which is a polite way to say that they lied). “What we were finding was that the examiners … wouldn’t just simply say that there was a microscopic similarity [between the two hairs], but they would go beyond that and say it was a 100% match, essentially misleading the jury into concluding that the evidence had a certain value that it didn’t actually have.”

Put simply “The FBI’s three-decade use of microscopic hair analysis to incriminate defendants was a complete disaster.” In one case, there was testimony that a found hair matched hair from the defendant, but it turned out that the hair was actually from a dog. “Two FBI-trained analysts… could not even distinguish human hairs from canine hairs.”

What makes this truly horrible is that this is not the first time we have been told that forensic analysis was being misused. And yet we keep sending innocent people to jail for crimes they did not commit. Back in 2002, the FBI itself reported that its own DNA testing found that their examiners reported false hair matches more than 11% of the time.

In Washington DC, of seven defendants whose trials included flawed FBI testimony, five of them have been exonerated. Those defendants all served 20 to 30 years in prison for rape or murder.

And this may only be the tip of the iceberg. Most of the forensic specialists used by states and municipalities were trained by the FBI.

But the real problem is not the FBI. The real problem is the fact that forensic crime labs across the country work for the prosecutors. In some cases they are paid for each conviction. Of course they are going to push for guilty verdicts!

One group that is fighting to correct these problems is The Innocence Project.

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Late Night Political Humor

“Arizona Senator John McCain announced that he plans on running for a sixth term because he is concerned about the nation’s security. He plans to help just like any other 80-year-old: by sitting on his porch with a police scanner.” – Jimmy Fallon

“John McCain addressed critics who believe he will be too old to run for a sixth term in the Senate, saying that he’s still healthy and ready to go. Then people around McCain said, ‘Why is he talking to that mannequin?'” – Jimmy Fallon

“John McCain responded to critics who say he’s too old for a sixth term by saying that his mother is 103 years old and doing well. The crazy thing is that even she is somehow younger than John McCain.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Election season is heating up. We’re starting to hear who’s running for president in 2016. Hillary Clinton is expected to launch her 2016 campaign sometime in the next two weeks. So remember, act surprised.” – Seth Meyers

“The campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill has narrowed the choices down to four finalists. The four finalists are Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Flo from the Progressive Insurance ads.” – Conan O’Brien

“A new poll in Cuba shows that President Obama is more popular than Fidel Castro. Then again, so is putting your whole family on a raft in the middle of the night.” – Seth Meyers

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Do as I say, not as I do

Politico has an article about the Florida Everglades that is rife with hypocrisy. The title of the article is “Could Obama’s Everglades Stop Hurt the Everglades?” Their point is that by visiting the Everglades on Earth Day to point out the dangers from global warming, Republicans will now be more likely to be against trying to save them. Are you freaking kidding me?

It is like someone putting a gun to the head of a hostage, and blaming you if you don’t give them what they want. Rising sea levels from climate change threaten to inundate the low-lying Everglades with salt water, not only damaging the park but destroying the underground aquifers that provide drinking water for one third of Florida’s population.

In addition, Florida Governor Rick Scott (a Tea Party Republican) has even criticized Obama over the Everglades. Why? Even though Obama has been fighting for funds to help restore the Everglades, Republicans have repeatedly voted them down. So Scott berates Obama for failing to “find a way” to avoid those cutbacks. Yes, this is the same governor who barred state officials from using the words “climate change”.

Republicans are trying to scold Obama for making the Everglades issue “political”. But by not only denying funding for the Everglades, but even denying the existence of man-made climate change, the Republicans have already made it political. It is about time someone called them on it.

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Something in the Air

Last week, on tax day, Florida postal worker Doug Hughes managed to land his small, slow-moving gyrocopter on the lawn of the US Capitol, in one of the most protected airspaces in the world.

Many publications are focusing on the fact that he was able to evade our entire national defense system, but that should be no surprise to anyone. Complete security has always been, and will always be, a myth. Julius Caesar, the all-powerful leader of the Roman empire, couldn’t stop his friend Brutus from murdering him, and the US spending $600 billion a year on defense didn’t stop a handful of terrorists with box cutters on 9/11.

I hope this doesn’t overshadow the real message – why a mailman decided to risk his life to deliver a message to the US government. He is not a terrorist. Indeed, he went out of his way to alert the authorities in advance, sharing his plans with his local newspaper and keeping police informed.

The message delivered by Hughes is that our government has been corrupted by money – “legalized, institutionalized bribery” – and it is time to take our government back, “Because we the people own Congress”.

Hughes is also not a radical, he represents “moderates united by faith in principles of democracy”. He is not advocating extremist views, unless you consider the founding fathers of this country to be extremists.

Will we listen?

Nick Anderson
© Nick Anderson

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Late Night Political Humor

“Rand Paul is officially running for president. He even revealed his campaign slogan, which is ‘Defeat the Washington machine. Unleash the American dream.’ It’s hard to tell if he’s running for president or doing an infomercial for Bowflex.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Rand Paul announced he is running for president and bloggers pointed out that his campaign symbol, a small flame, looks nearly identical to the logo for the dating app Tinder. It’s appropriate because in either case you have no idea what you’re getting into and it probably won’t work out.” – Seth Meyers

“Election officials say that in 2016, it may be possible to vote for the president on your smartphone. Can you imagine that? With one swipe you can choose a president and at the same time tell him or her where you want to hook up.” – Conan O’Brien

“A massive power outage in Washington, D.C., today affected a number of federal buildings, including the White House. When asked when they could restore power to the White House, officials said, ‘2016?'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Former Vice President Dick Cheney has a new book coming out that slams president Obama. You can buy the book from Amazon or download the version directly from Cheney’s heart.” – Conan O’Brien

“The top 15 contenders for the Republican nomination own at least 40 guns among them. If we elect a Republican president no one is hopping over the White House fence ever again.” – Conan O’Brien

“British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing criticism from working-class voters after he was caught on camera today eating a hot dog with a knife and fork. And he got criticism from wealthy voters because he used a hamburger fork.” – Seth Meyers

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Why I Quit the Daily Show

The Guardian just published a good story and interview with Jon Stewart. It is definitely worth a read for people who want to know more about him, and what the future may hold.

Here’s one paragraph to whet your appetite:

When George Bush left office in 2008, some worried that Stewart would run out of material. This proved as shortsighted as the hope that Obama would be America’s grand salvation. Stewart, who describes himself as “a leftist”, has always hammered the Democrats with the vigour of a disappointed supporter, and subjected Obama to one of his most damaging interviews during his first term: the president admitted that his 2008 slogan probably should have been “Yes We Can, But…” At the time, Stewart laughed, but today he admits with a shrug, “It was heartbreaking. It’s generally heartbreaking – that’s what the gig is.”

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but watching Stewart on the Daily Show was one of the main reasons I started this blog. Humor is always the best medicine.

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Good News from the Republicans

I finally have something good to report about the Republicans. According to the LA Times, the GOP has given up on trying to repeal Obamacare. It only took five years, more than fifty repeal votes, and a few government shutdowns, but occasionally you can teach the Grand Old Party new tricks.

According to a prominent Republican pollster, “Only 18% of Americans want to go back to the system we had before because they do not want to go back to some of the problems we had.” The only remaining problem is that those 18% appear to be the core of the Republican base. The ACA remains extremely unpopular with GOP voters. But repealing it would anger everyone else, including the 20 million people who depend on it for their health insurance.

So expect more saber rattling from GOP candidates during the upcoming election, but absolutely no real action to get rid of the law.

Ironically, Republican politicians are even making proposals to ensure the continuing health of Obamacare. This year, the Supreme Court could strip away the insurance subsidies available to states that use the federal exchange, and would likely leave 8.3 million people uninsured.

The only solution would be for Congress to fix the law, and Congress is controlled by Republicans, who supposedly want to kill the ACA. Several GOP Congresscritters have already proposed extending the subsidies. What will they say to their base when they propose changes to save Obamacare?

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Late Night Political Humor

“President Obama just made his first presidential trip to the state of Utah. Obama spent his time in Utah just like you’d expect — telling people, ‘Uh, no, I don’t play for the Jazz.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“While he was in Utah, Obama discussed immigration reform with leaders of the Mormon Church. Obama introduced the first lady. Then the church’s president introduced HIS first lady. And his second lady. And his third, fourth, and fifth ladies.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Today was the annual Easter egg roll on the White House lawn. Usually when you see something rolling on the White House lawn it’s a drunk Secret Service agent.” – Conan O’Brien

“Jeb Bush is facing criticism after it was just revealed that he checked off his race as ‘Hispanic’ on a voter registration form back in 2009. When asked if he regrets it now, Bush said, ‘Si’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb Bush identified himself as Hispanic, so I guess it’s actually pronounced ‘Yeb Bush.'” – Seth Meyers

“According to The New York Times, Jeb Bush identified himself as Hispanic on his 2009 voter registration form. While Hillary Clinton identified herself as ‘President’.” – Seth Meyers

“On Easter, the Pope asked for peace in the Middle East. There are two groups the Pope has to contend with — Jewish people and Muslims. They couldn’t wait to hear his suggestions.” – Conan O’Brien

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Known By Their Deeds

Recently, Republicans have been trying to sound like class warriors, claiming that they care about the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Former VP candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI) complained that “The Obmamnomics that we’re practicing now have exacerbated inequality”, and added that only “the wealthy are doing really well.” In January, Mitt Romney (Mr. 47%) told the RNC that he was concerned that “the rich have gotten richer” and “income inequality has gotten worse”. Even Ted Cruz (R-TX) got into the act, warning that “Right now, the top 1 percent in this country, the millionaires and billionaires the president demagogues so much, earn a higher share of our national income than any time since 1928.”

Those are their words, but what do they plan to actually do about it?

Raise the minimum wage? Of course not!
Close tax loopholes that primarily benefit the wealthy? Never!
Extend unemployment benefits? That would only encourage freeloading.
Expand Medicare to the poor? Over their dead bodies!

What the GOP did do is vote to abolish the Estate Tax.

This is not another tax cut that favors the wealthy (like we have seen many times before), this is a massive $269 billion giveaway that ONLY benefits the top 0.2%. Already the first $10.86 million that a couple leaves behind when they pass away is not taxed (half that amount for individuals). So abolishing the estate tax entirely only benefits estates bigger than that, the richest of the rich.

Not only would this substantially increase income inequality, it dramatically enlarges the entrenched rich aristocracy that our founders fought to get rid of, creating a permanent elite of trust-fund babies.

And where does that $269 billion come from? The Republican bill simply adds the entire cost to the deficit, putting the lie to GOP claims of fiscal responsibility.

monopoly

[In case you can’t tell, this image is based on the British version of the Monopoly game. Whitechapel Road is one of the two cheapest properties, like Baltic and Mediterranean in the US version.]

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Approval Ratings?

hillary-vs-congress-approval

I don’t know where they got their numbers. The approval rating for Congress is now around 18% (although it went below 10% near the end of 2013). And Hillary Clinton’s approval rating is around 50% (although a few polls have put it higher than 67% in the past).

Although this meme is still funny.

And they seem to be correct in how often she has been named America’s “Most Admired Woman”.

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Un American

A very interesting survey from Bloomberg politics turns up results that are rather disturbing. I’ll quote directly from Bloomberg:

Republicans by a ratio of more than 2-to-1 say the U.S. should support Israel even when its stances diverge with American interests … Democrats, by roughly the same ratio, say the opposite is true and that the U.S. must pursue its own interests over Israel’s.

You read that right. Republicans put Israel’s interests above American interests. Can this possibly be true? Are Republicans really more loyal to a foreign country than to America? They would support Israel even if it was against our interests? And they are willing to say this out loud to a pollster?

Continuing the shocking results:

Republicans say they feel more sympathetic to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than to their own president, 67 percent to 16 percent, while Democrats are more sympathetic to President Barack Obama than to Israel’s prime minister, 76 percent to 9 percent.

I have a simple suggestion. If they really love another country more than America, the GOP should become the multi-Millineum Old Party and move to Israel. But I have to warn them what they will find there: socialized health care, taxpayer-funded abortions, and no Christmas. Oy Vey!

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