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Friday, April 30, 2010

Virginia, the new WIld West?

The Virginia governor, Bob "Remember the Confederacy" McDonnell recently signed a bill that would allow people licensed to carry a concealed weapon to take them into places that serve alcohol with the proviso that the permit holder can't drink.

The gun lobby in Virginia has objected because only law enforcement officers can carry a concealed weapon and drink. Their argument is that this law discriminates against others who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon can't drink. Their solution - any permit holder can drink as long as they don't get drunk.

I can see how well that will work out. An argument fueled by a couple of drinks will turn into Shootout at the OK Corral.

Breaking - FBI investigating Massey Energy for bribing safety officials

Why am I not surprised.

Spill Baby Spill

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill appears destined to become the largest oil spill in America and the worst environmental disaster in years. Tourism and fishing along the Gulf of Mexico will be devastated. People in New Orleans (as if they needed more problems) say they a 'pungent fuel smell' is already wafting over the city.

I'm waiting to see Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and others who think that offshore drilling will solve all our energy needs dressed in waders helping cleanup but until then, shut the fuck up.

Update Rush Limbaugh blames 'environmental whackos' for the spill. Maybe Limbaugh should offer his fat bloated body to be used as a floating boom to contain the spill. I hear they don't have nearly enough of them to do the job.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Something to while away the day

Goldman Sachs

One interesting revelation from the hearings seemed to slip under the radar. One of Goldman's excuses about the Abacus deal (that's the one the SEC is suing them about) is that they lost money on the deal that went south. The implication is that they had chosen to invest some of their own money in the deal and we should therefore feel a little sorry for them.

Most of the witnesses at the hearing used the usual tactics of obfuscation, misdirection and delay as they shuffled through their papers and actually admitted very little. The Fabulous Fab, a nickname that will live in infamy, and the key to the Abacus deal admitted in testimony that Goldman only landed up owning part of the Abacus deal is because they couldn't sell all of it and were stuck with owning part of it. Maybe because he's just not as ingenuously slick as some of the head honchos who gave testimony.

Bottom line, the lied and got partially screwed only because they couldn't find enough suckers to take the shit off their hands.

Light blogging for the next day or two

Due to some personal and business issues I will have little time to blog over the ext couple of days but will check in and at least post some light stuff, some vids and who knows what else that might make live interesting.

Thank you for your understanding.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A relic of Apartheid rears its ugly head in Arizona

A relic of Apartheid rears its ugly head in Arizona

One of the most despised laws in South Africa during Apartheid were the ‘Pass Laws’ which were used to ensure segregation and to severely restrict the movement of non-whites. Black South Africans were forced to carry their ‘Passes’ at all times or be subject to arrest.

The philosophy behind Apartheid was ‘separate but equal.’ In the belief that the black and white people of South Africa were so culturally divergent that they could not possibly live together peacefully. Ironically this idea was first endorsed by the United States Supreme Court in Plessy vs Ferguson in 1896 when the court ruled 7-1 that separate but equal facilities were acceptable thereby stamping a seal of approval on segregation.

In South Africa, the Apartheid regime designated certain areas as ‘black homelands’ much like the Indian Reservations in America. The difference is that in South Africa whites comprised only 20% of the population and designated only 19% of the land as black homelands, all of which was in remote less developed and less arable land. It made the Apartheid version of the map of South Africa look like a Rorschach map on steroids.

Blacks were considered ‘citizens’ of their designated tribal homeland who were ‘guest workers’ allowed to work in white areas as long as they had a valid Pass Book. The police (mostly though not exclusively white) would routinely stop blacks, demanding them to produce their Pass book. Anyone who could not produce their Pass, whether they legally posses one or not, was immediately arrested and very often shipped back to their ‘homeland’ within a day or two despite having never set foot in their designated homeland in all likelihood.

Of all the odious laws that formalized and legalized racial separation and discrimination in South Africa it was the one law that criminalized merely being black. A protest against the pass laws led to one of the ugliest events in South African history. In March 1960 the African National Congress, now the ruling party held demonstrations against the Pass law. In protest blacks gathered and publicly burned their Pass books. An otherwise peaceful protest in a black township, Sharpeville on March 21m 1960 turned violent when South African police opened fire without warning or provocation on the protest. By the time the shooting ended 69 people had died.

I grew up in South African during Apartheid and saw first hand the fear and heartache that resulted from the enforcement of these laws despite being white and part of the privileged elite. What has struck me most about the new Immigration Law in Arizona is just how clearly it reminds me of the Pass law specifically the trespassing clause.

11. Specifies that, in addition to any violation of federal law, a person is guilty of trespassing if the person is:
a) present on any public or private land in the state and
b) is not carrying his or her alien registration card or has willfully failed to register.
This clause does exactly what the Pass law did. It makes behavior that is legal by any normal standards into an illegal act. It forces the burden of proof on people who are legally entitled to reside in Arizona to have to prove their legality by carrying documents stating this. Let’s not be fooled for one minute that if the law is enforced as written will result in people being arrested for going about their daily business merely because they don’t have the correct documentation on their person at the time they are apprehended.
It is interesting that the law does not proscribe how a citizen can legally prove that they are not an illegal alien if apprehended.
There is thankfully one huge difference in the context of the two laws. There was no constitution in South Africa until after the fall of Apartheid so that any law that was passed, no matter how discriminatory, no matter how illogical, was not subject to judicial or to any other form of revue. With the luxury of hindsight, the South African constitution adopted in 1997 to replace the interim constitution adopted in 1993 was the first in the world to enshrine full equal rights for sexual orientation.
The saving grace in Arizona is that America does have a robust constitution that allows any law to be challenged on constitution grounds. While I have no legal background it does appear to me that there are a number of potential constitutional challenges to the law and that there is a strong likelihood that this laws as it is written will never become the law of Arizona.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I think Sen. Levin is trying to prove a point

Groucho Marx sings the Republican Party theme song

Women the next to suffer in Arizona

While all the focus is on the Immigration bill in Arizona the state has become the first to vastly restrict access to abortions under health care reform. The bill will prevent insurance companies that participate in state run health care exchanges from “from providing coverage for abortions unless the coverage is offered as a separate optional rider for which an additional insurance premium is charged.”

As almost all insurance companies will be part of the health care exchanges this means that coverage for abortions will only be available at an additional cost if the insurance company chooses to offer them. Currently, in 5 states where abortion riders are required, no insurance companies actually offer them.

So if the riders are available, women will have to pay extra if they foresee that they might possibly need an abortion in the future. I'm assuming that men will still be covered for Viagra without any additonal cost if they might need help in 'getting it up' in the future.

Goldman Sachs top priority - 'Sell the shitty deal'

Today before a Senate hearing the top priority is evasiveness.

Republicans protecting Wall Street

Don't let platitudes fool you. In filibustering financial reform Rebubicans are showing that talk about negotiations is just another ploy to deflect and delay.

Also today Goldman Sachs heads are before the Sen. Carl Levin's Subcommittee. I'm sure we'll have some great sound bites before the day is done.

More on Goldman Sachs here. The deal subject to the SEC fraud suit appears to be just one of many. The idea of serving the client's interests seems to be a bygone relic. Instead, it's all about the fees.

UPDATE For the first time since 2004 major Wall Street banks are giving significantly more money to Republican candidates than to Democrats. The return on this investment will probably dwarf even the profits from the sleaziest of deals that Wall Street can concoct.

"Gay Dog" refused entry to restaurant in Australia

A restaurant employee in a restaurant in Adelaide thought a customer said a 'gay dog' instead of a 'guide dog' and banned the dog from entering the restaurant.

Jon Stewart - Arizona the meth lab of Democracy

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Spill Baby Spill

The Deep Horizon oil spill from the wrecked drilling platform is spewing 42,000 gallons a day into the Gulf of Mexico. A remote sub us trying to shut off the well but if that stop the leak quickly, they might need to drill another well to redirect the oil, a laborious process that could take weeks. The oil slick is already 48 miles wide and 39 miles long. Major oyster beds are threatened as well as a huge swathe of coastline.

American Idiot of the day - Kristia Cavere

Kristia Cavere is a 30 year old rookie on the political scene and there can be no better way to fame and misfortune than to snag an American Idiot award right out of the gate.

She is running in the Republican primary for the 19th Congressional district in New York in the seat held by John Hall (D), the former leader of the 70's band Orleans.

Cavere is a Tea Party favorite and isn't expected to win the GOP Primary which is a pity for Hall because with her as an opponent, all he need do is sit back and wait for her to open her mouth.
According to her bio on her website, Kristia received a Masters in Science degree in “Defense and Strategic Studies” from Missouri State University, which is located in Fairfax, Virginia right outside our nation’s Capitol. She graduated summa cum laude and with a 4.0 grade point average.

This makes no sense to me. What the fuck is Missouri State U. doing in Virginia and WTF is a degree in "Defense and Strategic Studies" anyway. Judging by her idiot award winning statement, it can't mean much.

"The Republicans are the ones who liberated Europe in World War II.”

Where to even begin. Firstly, Republicans didn't liberate Europe. Neither did the Democrats . America played a significant part in that but so did the British while the Soviets suffered the most casualties and did the most fighting so it could be argued that they did the most to liberate Europe. Sadly they unliberated half of it a few years later.

At this point I am asking my readers to imagine me doing an Irritable Liberal virtual version of Glenn Beck and his blackboard routine. Draw a big circle around the word 'Soviet'. Take Cavere's statement at face value. After all she has an advanced degree in important strategic stuff and knows of what she speaks. Draw a big circle around the word, Republican and connect it to the circle around 'Soviets'. Now imagine drawing a line downwards from Soviets to circle the word 'Stalin' leader of the Soviets at the time. Now complete the illustration by connecting 'Stalin' to 'Republicans' and it becomes so obvious. Stalin was a Republican and Republicans are therefore Stalinists. QED

What the hell did she learn at Missouri State U (misplaced) and what is a degree in “Defense and Strategic Studies”. Are we talking Parcheesi, checkers, lacrosse, rock scissors paper? If she got a 4.0 GPA and is still stupid enough to utter the above example of ignorance someone should be investigating MSU's credentials and pleaqse explain what it's doing in Virginia.

Rising above the flotsam and jetsam, today's American Idiot, Kristia Kavere


A few months ago the GOP sent out a mailer designed to look like a census form. Most of the GOP agreed that it pushed the envelope of acceptability too far and along with the Democrats, voted to bar political parties from the practice.

They must have had their fingers crossed behind their back when they voted because they've done it again.

A fund raising mailer they have just sent out says, "Census Document" and "DO NOT DESTROY/OFFICIAL DOCUMENT," in big bold letters on the envelope. In much smaller letters the words "This is not a U.S. government document." are printed. What appears to be missing from the letter is the sender's name and address as stipulated by law.

A GOP Spokesman said, "We simply looked at the new law, saw that it did not apply to our mailer and continued with the mail pieces." The short version: we'll follow the law except when we decide that we won't. I like this concept. Imagine the possibilities - no more judges, no more jury duty.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A quick primer on the status of financial reform

From the always insightful Simon Johnson. He co-authored 13 Bankers which along with Michael Lewis' The Big Short are essential reading to understand just how criminally reckless the large investment banks were in precipitating the financial crisis.

For ongoing comments and analysis read blog The Baseline Scenario.The Baseline Scenario.

Thousands line up for free clinic in Los Angeles

The state of our health care in the wealthiest country in the world. Last year 6,000 took advantage of a free clinic in Los Angeles while many thousands more were turned away. People lined up for hours to get a wristband so they can return later in the week for free medical care.

Another aspect of the Arizona Immigration Bill

Disallows officials or agencies of the state or political subdivisions from adopting or implementing policies that limit immigration enforcement to less than the full extent permitted

by federal law, and allows a person to bring an action in superior court to challenge an official or agency that does so.

It's a given that every local police department will be sued by some idiot who believes not enough is being done to round up illegals. The only occupation that's going to profit out of this whole thing are lawyers.

Towns will go broke or have to raise taxes defending lawsuits.

Never mind the intent of the law, this Bill has been so badly thought out it is going to cause a slew of unintended consequences no one took the brains or the time to figure out.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Great song from one of the best

Grilled Cheese Invitational

Had a wonderful sunny afternoon at the 8th annual GCI tasting some delicious and innovative grilled cheese sandwiches. One called Duck Duck Goose had duck confit, pate de fois gras, aged Gruyere, truffle oil and chestnut infused with lavender oil. Yum. Some interesting dessert grilled cheese efforts as well. About 10,000 people attended and the lines for beer were way too long. Salads for the next week, especially after the dessert sandwiches.

On the way back to the Metro station the headline in La Opinion, the LA Spanish paper said it all. "ARIZONA TIERRA HOSTIL"

More sage chicken advice

The folks at the Lowden Plan website have an important disclaimer. That's the site that calculates the cost in chickens for various medical procedures.

You can't be too careful what with ambulance chasing lawyers lurking behind every chicken coop.

Chicken count is an estimate only based on current market value of typical live chickens and average costs of medical procedures gathered from multiple sources. Your doctor may require more chickens than specified. For your convenience, we recommend bringing at least 20% more chickens than specified to any doctor's appointment. For that matter, you should have at least 1500 chickens per passenger in your car in the event of an accident, so you could just use those if you're a little short on chickens, but then be extra careful driving home from the doctor because you will have used up some of your accident chickens. Do not mail your medical chickens as payment. Please barter medical chickens in person. Chickens should be secured in your trunk or truckbed if possible. Any chickens riding in the passenger compartment on the way to the doctor must wear seat belts. Chickens should not drive you to the doctor, if you are unable to drive you should dial 911 for an ambulance. Ambulances may not accept chickens for payment, you should have at least 4 goats or an adult pig for such cases. Your healthcare provider may not accept chickens for payment, but many accept other livestock. The Chicken Calculator can not convert medical procedures to sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, cows, llamas, ostriches, etc. Check with your local livestock association for current exchange rates and providers.

Financial Reform Update

Quick updates

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations headed by Carl Levin, one of the good guys, released a slew of damning internal Goldman Sachs e-mails. Lloyd Blankfein, recent American Idiot recipient and other Goldman execs will be appearing before the Subcommittee on Tuesday. Should be interesting.

Meanwhile, surprise surprise, bipartisanship has been put on the backburner again as Republicans don't like the idea of a Financial Consumer Protection Agency actually having any power. We'll see if the Democrats will try to open debate in the Senate on Monday despite threats by the Republicans to filibuster. The GOP are still dancing to Wall Street's tune.

Yesterday the ratings agencies appeared before the Subcommittee and basically admitted that the system is totally corrupt. They gave the entire pile of shit 5 star ratings lest they lose the huge fees they were being paid to rate the shitpile.

Much more in the coming days.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sinead O'Connor doing Bob Marley's war on Saturday Night Live. Watch to the end of the video when she tears up a picture of the Pope. At the time she got castigated for her gesture. Who's complaining now in the wake of almost daily revelations of the Church covering up and protecting priests worldwide.

American Idiots of the day - John McCain and Brian Bilbray

A joint award today for the above two. John McCain has been running away from his "Maverick" image as fast as he can due to a serious primary challenge from the truly unbalanced JD Hayworth, a Tea Party favorite. So much so he recently denied he ever referred to himself as a maverick. Tough to get that one to fly especially when one of his self penned books has 'maverick' in the title.

He gets an Idiot award for claiming that among other things, illegal immigrants intentionally cause accidents on freeways. No they don't you cretin. I've lived in Los Angeles for longer than I care to remember and have never heard even a suggestions of this. Causing an accident on the freeway is probably the last thing an illegal would want because the police will show up and start to ask questions as well as ask for ID. That is unless the aforesaid illegals were actively trying to find a free ride back to the border, although I tend to doubt this.

Then along comes Brian Bilbray, a Republican Congressman from the San Diego area to solve McCain's problem with illegals. California is regarded with disdain for our San Francisco and Hollywood liberals in flyover country but we also breed a brand of Republican elected officials that would fit in with comfortably in the most reactionary circles one could find anywhere.

On Chris Matthews' show yesterday Bilbray dismissed the idea that the now signed into law Arizona immigration bill would create a level of racial profiling not seen in America since the Civil Rights days. He claimed it was easy to identify illegals, especially by trained professionals.

"They will look at the kind of dress you wear, there is different type of attire, there is different type of -- right down to the shoes, right down to the clothes,"
Not only that, but they can spot illegal behavior a mile away. WTF, does he think that illegals still wear traditional Aztec costumes. I would also guess any illegal who has survived here for more than a few months might have developed a knack for looking inconspicuous. I certainly couldn't spot an illegal out of a crowd of Hispanics. Then again, I am only an amateur when it comes to illegal recognition skills.

McCain and Bilbray, proving that is doesn't take much other than a dose of the stupid to be selected Idiot of the day.

Must read editorial by Paul Krugman

A lot of people loathe Paul Krugman; Wall Street for one and most conservatives as well. That's a ringing endorsement in my eyes. He also predicted the economic collapse as early as 2006 both frequently and eloquently.

Read Don't Cry for Wall Street.

So why were bankers raking it in? My take, reflecting the efforts of financial economists to make sense of the catastrophe, is that it was mainly about gambling with other people’s money. The financial industry took big, risky bets with borrowed funds — bets that paid high returns until they went bad — but was able to borrow cheaply because investors didn’t understand how fragile the industry was.

Stephen Colbert on Sen. Lindsay Graham 's alleged gayness

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Credit where credit is due

This afternoon the Governor of Arizona signed the anti-immigration bill, the last hurdle to it becoming law in the state.

Earlier Mike Huckabee said, on Fox News no less, that this law will instigate a plethora of lawsuits that will cost Arizona dearly. He also reiterated that control of the border is a Federal prerogative and no southern border state has the resources to do this.

Later in the interview, Huckabee added that “Hispanic Americans have the right to be unhappy about the fact that they might be pulled over.” “If I were being pulled over because I looked a certain way, I would be highly offended,”

I discussed the obvious discriminatory flaws in the law in a previous post but a couple points should be emphasized. Firstly the law gives any individual the right to sue the local authorities if they feel not enough is being done to enforce the law. You can guarantee that within a few months every municipality in Arizona will be sued by some Wingnut who thinks that enforcement is too lax. Secondly the law also criminalized any legal resident if they are in the company of an illegal immigrant whether they have proper documentation on them or not.

I've always had a grudging respect for Huckabee, who despite his strong social conservatism sticks to his principles.

Buried in chickenshit

Evo Morales, the left wing President of Bolivia caused bemusement and more than a few giggles when he claimed that female hormones in chickens leads to homosexuality and baldness at a recent Environmental conference. While hormones are still unfortunately used to accelerate growth in chickens in America, it's use has been banned in most Western countries. While Morales is right on many things, he's far too frequent incoherent ramblings undercut his credibility.

Meanwhile the chickens for heath care story will not go away. A State Senator in Tennessee, suggested that vegetables be traded for health care before the chickens idea even reared its head.

On Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall produced a handy analysis calculating how many chickens would be needed to cover health care costs and came up with a 'chicken gap' of approximately 416 billion assuming all chickens would be used to barter for health care at retail prices. Unfortunately the piece seems to have disappeared from the website but take my word for it.

Then there's a new site with a handy calculator that converts the cost of medical procedures into chicken currency. A hip replacement would cost 6,549 chickens. They suggest considering cattle for major expenses or investing in the 'Sue Lowden medical savings account.' Noting that an egg costs 95% less than a chicken a pallet of fertilized eggs is a great way to reduce future medical expenses. All you need is your own coop, feed and a feces pond for the inevitable flood of waste. They even offer advice to doctors on how to deal with more chickens than even KFC can handle.

Then there's the enterprising soul in Reno, Nevada who posted an ad on Craig's List. No takers yet but you never know. "Needs Heart Transplant - Have chicken"

Get breast cancer, lose your health insurance.

Wellpoint, the largest health insure in the U.S. with over 33 million policies is being investigated by Federal authorities for using computer algorithms to identify newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer to then trigger a fraud investigation to uncover any discrepancy in the initial application and the patients medical records no matter how flimsy. The company then uses this to cancel the policies. One well publicized case caused a woman to lose her insurance because she neglected to mention she had been treated for acne as a teenager.

The revelation is especially striking for a company whose CEO and president, Angela Braly, has earned plaudits for how her company improved the medical care and treatment of other policyholders with breast cancer.

The disclosures come to light after a recent investigation by Reuters showed that another health insurance company, Assurant Health, similarly targeted HIV-positive policyholders for rescission. That company was ordered by courts to pay millions of dollars in settlements.

While the new Health Care Reform law ends such discriminatory practices, many critics including some federal and state regulators fear that the law doesn't have the teeth to stop or even substantially reduce rescission.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

To my readers

I’ve heard that most blogs don’t last a month. Today marks the four week anniversary of this blog and I have no intention of packing it in. When I started I made a commitment to at least 3 posts a day and I have exceeded that. This will be my 120th post which is a little more than 4 a day.

I want to thank all those who visit the blog on a regular or less than regular basis and hope you enjoy my rantings, my insight, my somewhat twisted sense of humor and the music vids I post.

I ma still feeling my way into the blogging world but am happy with the progress. The blog reached 1,500 hits today, modest by any means with traffic having slowly increased week to week after an initial flurry when the site first launched.

I am still feeling my way into it and would welcome more feedback from my readers. Fortunately, or unfortunately there is no shortage of issues to write about in these interesting but trying times. If you feel inclined to pass on any story, video or anything else that you feel is worth posting please let me know. My email address for the blog is I will also welcome any contributions that you feel will fit the perspective of the blog.

Please feel free to spread the word to all especially those liberals, irritable or not and thank you to those who have already helped spread the word.


Philip Cramer

Mercy Mercy Me - Marvin Gaye for Earth Day

Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
No, no
Where did all the blue sky go?
Poison is the wind that blows
From the north, east, south, and sea
Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
No, no
Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury
Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
No, no
Radiation in the ground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying
Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
What about this overcrowded land?
How much more abuse from man can you stand?
My sweet Lord
My sweet Lord
My sweet Lord

This isn't the 19th Century

But you wouldn't know if you worked at the Upper Big Branch mine where 29 coal miners recently died. You would think they might show a little kindness and humanity in the wake of the disaster but no.

They wouldn't allow the miners who survived time off work to attend their friends' funerals nor would they allow the miners to set up a makeshift memorial at the entrance to the mine.

The rumor that the mine is about to start employing children as young as 8, has however, proved to be unfounded.

Glen Beck's God given plan....or not.

Glen Beck has been touting his plan for the next 100 years to save America. He hasn't actually revealed any details until this week. Now God is giving him the plan, sort of....

"It's darkness, and I can just feel it coming.' And I al-- I started to say -- I said, 'The problem is, is that--' and I stopped, because I don't want to utter something like this without really thinking it through. But I was about to say, 'the problem is, is that God is giving a plan, I think, to me that is not really a plan.'"

Maybe it's the same God of short selling that Lloyd Blankfein believes in.

American Idiot of the day - Lloyd Blankfein - CEO Goldman Sachs

One interesting feature of the financial meltdown has been the singular lack of contrition among the key players save Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citibank who wasn't even at the helm most of the time. Maybe it's his Indian upbringing.

Blankfein of Citibank however, recently went so far as to claim he was doing 'God's work' by making credit available for businesses. He had to walk that statement back after a minor shitstorm erupted by claiming it was said in jest. I suspect not and the only God he and his scheming cohorts could possibly be working for is the God of shortselling.

Since the SEC filed a lawsuit against Goldman Sachs he has been under the gun. One would expect him to be extremely circumspect considering the flak he's getting but instead he came out with guns firing. In a call to major clients yesterday, even the staid Financial Times thought his response to be completely over the top. Blankfein's tone seemed hysterical, defensive, narcissistic and paranoid.

For me the killer came when he claimed the suit was politically motivated and would 'hurt America.' It might hurt the America where compensation is measured in a string of zeroes but not in the America where people have seen the value of their houses, their pension and their 401K's shrivel up and their job security threatened.

Is this arrogant asshole even aware that a good part of the $1 billion lost in his company's little Abacus investment scheme was pension money for teachers, police, firemen and others? People who actually do something useful and who are now being laid off by the thousands or are having their work hours cut.

And this delusional cretin who is too chickenshit to admit he maybe fucked up, thinks he's done 'God's work' and that his company finally nailed for fraud is a bad thing for America.

Idiot is about the kindest word I can use to describe him. If this was a just world the America he should be experiencing is life in a maximum security prison.

Only on the French Riviera

There is an ongoing battle in LA to regulate a growing number of supergraphics and video displays which has become a legal quagmire. I wonder what the Los Angeles Planning Commission would say about this billboard on the French Riviera, just outside Monte Carlo.

Stephen Colbert on Illegal Immigration

Even putting crappy states on the border hasn't kept them out.

Jon Stewart on the British Election Debates

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Jon Stewart with John Oliver.
JS "You can't just say you're doing an American style debate you have – you have to earn the brand"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Maximum Rock N' Roll

A vestige of Apartheid appears in Arizona

Arizona has just passed a new Immigration law that will allow police to demand proof of citizenship or legal residence without any just cause other than they suspect the person is an illegal immigrant. The law demands that everyone (or in reality those who look Hispanic) must carry proof of legality at all times or be subject to arrest.

I grew up in South Africa under Apartheid where blacks were forced to carry a "pass" which authorized them to live in certain areas. The police would randomly stop blacks and if they didn't possess a pass or even if they did not have it on their person they would be arrested and shipped back to a remote "homeland". If all the travails imposed by Apartheid on the black population that made up 80% of South Africa, this law was the most reviled. In 1960 the police shot and killed 69 unarmed peaceful protesters because they dared to burn their passes in a protest.

The law in Arizona is essentially no different. In the Phoenix area where Crazy Sheriff Joe Arpaio, currently under federal investigation for discriminating "search and seizure" rules and for corruption will no doubt have his police arbitrarily pulling over anyone they suspect might be an "illegal" which means focusing only on Hispanic looking people. To make matters worse, anyone can sue the police department if they think they are not doing enough to go after illegal immigrants. Anyone in the company of an 'illegal' is also subject to arrest whether they are aware of it or not.

The law is in all likelihood unconstitutional and I am sure it will end up in the courts but with the current Supreme Court there is no guarantee that it will be struck down.

More details here. The implications are far worse than even my short description suggests.

Earth Day - April 22

We celebrate Earth Day tomorrow. Treat it kindly, it's the only one we have.

I would also like to recommend a good friend of mine, Lindsay Leveen's blog, Green Explored. He is quite brilliant and always sees through a lot of the crap that passes for progress. He posts about once a week but it's always worth reading.

I work with extremely intelligent and very well educated people, yet many of them naively believe we will have electric cars that solve the oil problem, we will have bio-engineered diesel fuel to replace fossil fuel, we will have technical solutions to all of the problems we will face because we are smart. Right now we do not need “technical solutions” we need adaptive human behavior. We need less from the earth and more from ourselves
We can admit to our collective failure and reset the course. The human population does not need to double again, the livestock population does not need to double, and certainly the number of vehicles does not need to triple. The question is whether the modern lifestyle is a “successful failure” or a “failed success”. Irrespective of the way we term our past history we must change course.

The "chickencare" dance remix

Right click on the video and click on "show all" to see the full screen.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Anerican Idiots of the day - A tie

After much debate the Irritable Liberal editorial board could not choose between 2 candidates.

Idiot # 1 - Unnamed Woman in Georgia

The Georgia Senate has decided to ban microchip implants in humans. This may be related to allegations that the Health Care Reform bill mandated microchip implants into humans to facilitate 'death panel' decisions. A State Senate committee was holding hearings on the matter. An unnamed woman was gave evidence that she had already had a microchip implanted. Instead of stopping her there and then the committee listened.
"Microchips are like little beepers," the woman told the committee. "Just imagine, if you will, having a beeper in your rectum or genital area, the most sensitive area of your body. And your beeper numbers displayed on billboards throughout the city. All done without your permission."

"Ma'am, did you say you have a microchip?" state Rep. Tom Weldon (R) asked the woman.

"Yes, I do. This microchip was put in my vaginal-rectum area," she replied.

No one laughed. State Rep. Wendell Willard (R), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked her who had implanted the chip.

"The Department of Defense," she said.

Willard thanked the woman for her input, and the committee later approved the bill.

Idiot # 2 - Sue Lowden - GOP Senate Candidate for Nevada

The other day she floated an idea of using barter as a solution to paying medical bills. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, a leading liberal blog/news outlet joked about it, writing, "I bid three chickens for that MRI."

Lowden is either channeling Josh Marshall or is dead serious about her idea.

Yesterday she told a local news program: "I'm telling you that this works. You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor."

She didn't specify whether the chicken should be live, frozen or cooked.

The scary thing is that she is way ahead in the polls to win the GOP primary and appears as though she will also beat Harry Reid to become the next Senator from Nevada.

Message of the day

More on the insane war on drugs

Last year 40,300 people were arrested and detained for possession of small amounts of Marijuana in New York City. 35% of New Yorkers are white yet only 10% of all those arrested were white. Assuming pot use is spread evenly among all races this suggest a high level of discrimination.

Worse yet is a 1998 law that bars anyone with an arrest for even a minor drug offense from getting any student aid. Over 200,000 students have lost access to loans because of this. Their chances of getting a job, an apartment or a loan are severly limited because they were caught .

Now many future Obama's have been denied an opportunity to achieve their full potential? It's amazing that this can still happen in the U.S., never mind in one of its most liberal cities.

Celebrate 420

At about 4.20 this afternoon people all over the world will be lighting up and celebrating. 420 for those who aren't aware, is a codeword for marijuana. Times have changed. Medical marijuana is legal in 14 states and California is about to legalize both possession and cultivation for personal use in a 5' x 5' plot.

The origin of the term is murky. The original belief was it was the police code for smoking pot in San Rafael, California but that is not true. A long investigation and many interviews with people whose memories are, shall we say, slightly fuzzy found the source. It was San Rafael and originated as far back as 1971 with a few friends. Here is the entire story, investigative journalism at it's finest.

On a more serious note, far too many people still sit in jail for possession or for dealing small amounts of pot.  In 2007 over 800,000 people were arrested for marijuana, 88% for possession only.   While attitudes are slowly changing there is still a long way to go.   The benefits of medical marijuana are sufficiently well documented and a large majority of Americans believe that it should be legal for medical use. 

So if you indulge, kick back and light one up this afternoon and celebrate 420. 
Amazing volcano pics.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Morrisy live - "There is a light that never goes out"

One of the most pathetically sad songs ever written.

American Idiot - Rick Perry - Governor of Texas

Most Republicans want to turn and run when the subject of George W. Bush comes up. Not Rick Perry of Texas. Here is an excerpt from an interview he did a couple of days ago.

PERRY: At the end of the day, when the history books are written, I think George W. Bush will go down as a very, very good President. Approaching great? I don’t know yet because I don’t know if we’ve seen the –

A year and a half since he’s been out of office, this may be a little bit early to write George’s history. But here’s why he was an incredibly good President: because this man kept America safe. […] (Except for 9/11)

Anyone who is not a rank political hack, who has an agenda, and looks at this President’s efforts — I mean, there are two things that I think people judge Presidents on: their safety and the economy. He was very, very good on both.
(other than the biggest recession since the 1930's and the largest growth in the Federal debt in history.)

There is nothing more to add although I could mention a disastrous and hugely expensive war of astounding incompetence and Katrina as well and I must obviously be a political hack with an agenda. Proud of it as well.

A well deserved Idiot of the day award.

"What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?

More bad news for Goldman Sachs tomorrow?

Word is that the other shoe is about to drop on Goldman Sachs tomorrow courtesy of Sen.Carl Levin who's one of the good guys in the Finance Reform saga.

Levin's staff has uncovered new documents "that link certain actions to specific people" at Goldman, according to a senior legislative official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official would not divulge the nature of the allegation but said that Levin believes it amounts to "another big shoe to drop on Goldman." Spokespeople for Levin said they were not prepared to discuss the nature of the probe, but his committee has been conducting several weeks of hearings and one is planned for April 27 on "the role of the investment banks." "We expect to have some information tomorrow," spokesman Bryan Thomas said Monday.

Newsweek has the scoop.

And now for something completely different

There's an election coming up in Britain and things are a a tad different there. They are far less crass and  are inevitably tinged with a bit more humor. The biggest difference is that you only vote for your local candidate in your constituency. The party that wins the most seats forms the new government.

Then there are the fringe parties like the MRLP (Monster Raving Loony Party) who's entire platform consists of floating bicycles to ease traffic congestion.

Knigel Knapp, parliamentary candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said people could then cycle on canals.

Mr Knapp, who calls himself shadow minister for big fibs and blatant lies, demonstrated the "Loony Bike" on the River Thames near Parliament on Sunday. He said: "What with global warming everyone might have to use them when the sea levels rise. We might have to build a few more canals and that can only be good for the unemployment figures". 

Among their candidates are:

Monkey the Drummer, Nick the Flying Brick, R.U. Seerius, Chinners, Baron Von Thunderclap and Hairy Knorm.   Some candidates seems to have no shame and are using their real names.

Their official website,  much in need of a design minded webmaster.  

How to make people think you're a big shot.

The Florida GOP is quite something. They make RNC head Michael Steele, he of the now famous Voyeur Club shenanigans, seem like a cheapskate.

Now comes a new story about Jim Greer, the former Florida GOP Chairman who is currently under criminal investigation for a contract he awarded himself in which he took a 10% commission on all donations to the party.

He was already under fire for out of control spending when in he publicly cut up his GOP issued Amex card in a faux public act of contrition and fiscal discipline. He then proceeded to run up an additional $1.3 million in charges on a subordinate's Amex card.

Now comes this story from the Orlando Sentinel. Seems like money wasn't all he needed to boost his ego.

Sharon Day, a Broward County committeewoman and secretary of the Republican National Committee, called Greer pompous and showy.
"We were at RNC meetings, and if you were to believe Jim Greer, the governor was calling him every 40 minutes.
At one out-of-state RNC meeting, an aide kept walking in and handing notes to Greer, Day said. She was afraid something bad had happened in Florida, so she asked the aide about the notes. They were blank, she said. Her conclusion: Greer had had them delivered to make himself look important.

Maybe he racked up all those Amex charges for Extenze and Viagra

SEC - Another Total Failure

Remember Allen Stanford, or as he was known in Antigua, Sir Allen Stanford, accused Ponzi schemer currently in Federal custody awaiting trial? Turns out the SEC looked into his affairs on 4 separate occasions and did nothing despite finding his activity "suspicious". They took no action despite the fact that the amount in question grew from a few hundred million to a few billion.

It's a similar story to Madoff although in that case the SEC never even bothered to investigate.

During the Bush years the SEC sat back and did as little as possible, allowing the 'free market' to run its course. That worked well.

In the Stanford affair the SEC held back because it didn't want to bother with what appeared to be too complex for their tiny little minds.

At the center of the story is Spencer Barasch, the chief of enforcement at the SEC's Fort Worth office, who declined to pursue Stanford multiple times, only to later jump ship to become a partner at a big private law firm where he proceeded to represent none other than 'Sir' Allen Stanford.

He should be in the dock nest to Sir Allen, dressed in a stylish orange jumpsuit.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

American Idiots – White House version.

It’s déjà vu all over again. Just like poor Charlie Brown. The kid believes this time Lucy won’t yank the football away at the last second. Naturally she does and Charlie Brown ends up on his ass again. Some Republicans say to the Democrats, “make some concessions and we’ll play nice”, so they do and then the metaphoric football gets pulled away at the last second. That happened today after the all GOP Senators vowed to use the filibuster to stop the finance reform bill from even reaching the Senate floor.

Things are starting to heat up in the battle for financial reform. One of the bones of contention has been a tax on banks to create s $50 billion fund that will be used to wind down or split up ‘too big to fail’ financial behemoths. This would be funded by a tax on banks. The banks don’t like this and therefore neither do the Republicans.

As I wrote last week, the Republicans have dishonestly been claiming that the proposed bill will result in endless taxpayer funded bailouts and with that lie in hand all 41 GOP Senators signed a letter opposing the reform on Friday. To try and reach some common ground the White House and the Democrats floated the idea of taking the $50 billion tax idea off the table in the hope of enticing at least a few moderate Senators to work on a compromise.

The White House got their answer today when the Republicans suggested scrapping the bill and starting over again despite the compromise offer. Haven’t we heard that before? Oh yes, with health care reform.

We’ve seen this play out far too many times. If the White House and the Democrats had any balls they would have stuck to their guns. In the wake of the Goldman Sachs story and more to come from the Lehman and Washington Mutual debacles (both rife with fraud according to recently released reports) the Democrats should stand firm and dare the GOP to filibuster. Let the country see them being forced to actually filibuster which means holding the floor for countless hours doing nothing.

For being suckered one more time the White House and the Democrats deservedly get today’s American Idiot award.

Stunning goal from Maicon

Brazilian Maicon shows how it's done in an Italian league game for Inter Milan.

Volcanic ash God's punishent for Health Care reform

or so says Rush Limbaugh. He is truly vile.

Cooking for Cannibals

An Austraian publisher has had to pulp copies of the Pasta Bible [asta cookbook due to an unfortunate proofreading error.  A recipe for Tagliatelle with prosciutto and sardines listed a couple of ingredients as "two tablespoons of salt and freshly ground black people" . 
"We're mortified that this has become an issue of any kind, and why anyone would be offended, we don't know," head of publishing Bob Sessions is quoted as saying by the Sydney newspaper.

Excuse me but while it's hysterical I can imagine some people might be offended.  

Full story here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Computer nightmares.   One crashed hard drive (I hate Vista) and the other system infected with a virus.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhh.

Fairly unbalanced coverage will resume as soon as possible.

Friday, April 16, 2010

American Idiot(s) of the day - 41 Republican Senators

In some weird bizarro world the Republicans still think they won the Health Care Reform battle because polls show a slight edge for those who oppose the bill.   If one were to dig deeper in those polls you will find that 10-15% of those who disapprove do so because they think the bill didn't go far enough.   Back that out of the equation and the picture changes. 

Next up is Financial Reform and as I documented over the past couple of days, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R- the slightly less insane one from KY) he has been flat out lying about how the proposed bill deals with bank bailouts. 

Timing is often everything and today brought that home with a bang for the Republican Senators.  For a while it looked like a few GOP Senators might actually work with the Democrats on the bill but that all went up in smoke when all 41 Senators signed on to a letter that they will oppose the bill vehemently.  The underlying message is that they will use their 41st Senator to block any debate on the bill.  

A mere couple of hours after delivering the letter to Harry Reid, the SEC announced that it was bringing charges against Goldman Sachs for fraud related to the financial meltdown.   Two weeks ago the investigation into the collapse of Lehman Bros. revealed that $50 billion in debt had been fraudulently hidden al a Enron and this week a similar report on the demise of Washington Mutual revealed that its' mortgage division knowingly wrote thousands of loans based  on fraudulent information and then proceeded to sell them to unsuspecting investors.  

The lid is being yanked off this whole rancid financial episode and there are sure to be a steady stream of lawsuits in the coming months but the Republicans are sticking to their guns just like they did on health care, expecting they're going to win this one as well.  

National Debt Ratio by President

Click on image to enlarge

A useful graph of debt as a percentage of  GDP.   Since the end of World War II the percentage of debt has risen during 5 presidential terms.  All of them were Republicans.  Since Nixon/Ford every GOP President has overseen a rise in the percentage while every Democratic term has seen the percentage drop.  

Republicans - all talk when it comes to debt reduction but complete failure when it comes to action.

Green World Rewards - how to help the environment

Green World Rewards will allow you to shop from hundreds of major on-line retailers though their website and up to 15% will be donated to purchase carbon offsets at no cost to the buyer.

Here is a link to the site.

Alaska's Debt Problem

At 70%, Alaska has the highest debt to GDP ratio of all 50 states. As Mayor of Wassilla Sarah Palin increased spending by 63% and increased the town's long term debt from $1M to $20M, or $3,000 per person because she totally botched a deal to build an ice hockey arena.

So how's that hopey, changey fiscal discipline working out for ya, Sarah baby.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The benefits and pitfalls of tax policy

On the day by which Americans have to file their taxes or get an extension here is an illustration of how tax policy can hurt or help.

State and local governments have been hit particularly hard by the recession due to declining tax revenues and increased expenses for unemployment, Medicaid and other programs. The expected shortfall for states and local governments is a whopping $469 billion over the next three years. It’s also estimated that a further 900,000 state and local government jobs could be lost. There are two solutions – cut costs or raise taxes.

Here is how 6 states are dealing with the problem.

VIRGINIA: Virginia faces a $2.2 billion shortfall over the next two years. The conservative Governor (he of the Confederate honoring proclamation) said he would veto any tax increase. The result is a $730 million cut in education, freezing enrollment in a health insurance program for low income children, ending the school breakfast program, closing State parks and requiring state workers to take 10 days unpaid leave a year. The result is schools suffer; teachers are laid off, parents of low income children will wait until the last minute to seek health care and when they do it will be in the emergency room and will end up costing the state more. As a result, the economy in the state will contract even further and the quality of education will decline.

MINNESOTA is doing much the same but is also taking away health care for 20,000 people while cutting corporate taxes by 20%. CALIFORNIA, normally a progressive state has a totally dysfunctional government where 50% plus one of the general population can vote for a spending initiative but a 2/3 majority in the State Senate has to agree to pass any tax increases and the Republicans veto any tax increase. The result is that almost 800,000 state employees have seen their salaries cut 10% with another 5% cut on the way. School funding has been cut by billions. Over 20,000 teachers have been laid off with more to come and over 200,000 children have or will lose their health insurance.

OREGON, a more progressive state was facing a $2.5 billion shortfall with similar cuts. Instead voters in Oregon passed short term tax increases on the wealthiest 2.5% of Oregonians and on the richest 7% of corporations to shave over $1.1 billion off the shortfall despite an onslaught of ads funded by Oregon corporations. As a result Oregon will be able to fully fund education and other services without any cuts. The same scenarios happened in NEW YORK and WISCONSIN where small, short term tax increases for the wealthiest will be enough to offset any potential cuts.
It doesn’t require a genius to see which states will be in better shape in a few years. In New York for example, people earning over $500,000 a year will pay 2% more in state taxes while those earning $250,000 to $500,000 will pay 1% more. They will barely notice it but schools, teachers and those in need of assistance for health care will certainly notice the benefit of not enduring cuts.

Republicans however believe that the cure for any and all economic situations is tax cuts. This flies against all rational economic theory but they’re sticking to it despite the fact that across the board tax burdens are at historical lows. It reminds me of the accepted cure for most illness well into the 19th century. It was believed that bleeding a patient (literally draining x amount of blood from the victim) would cure the illness and if they died, they were going to die anyway and if they recovered they were going to recover even though bleeding inevitably slowed the recovery.

Next: How the richest Americans pay less tax proportionately than the middle class.

Grizzly Bear

One of the featured bands at the 3 day Coachella Festival starting tomorrow out in the desert near Palm Springs. My almost 17 year old daughter is going to her first big multi-day festival. She's had a rough year and can't wait for tomorrow. There are times when I envy her youth.
A distant second in the race for 'Idiot' was Sen. Scott Brown, the new Senator from Massachusetts. In the final days before his election Wall Street gave $200,000 to his campaign, about half his take in that stretch.

He obviously intends to pay them back in kind.

Today he cam out against the Finance Reform bill. It was his reply to the reporter questioning him that put him in the running.

When asked what areas he thought should be fixed, he replied: “Well, what areas do you think should be fixed? I mean, you know, tell me. And then I’ll get a team and go fix it.”

Good effort Scott, but Idiot of the day's demands far more than mere stupidity.

Today's American Idiots - Convervative 'Intellectuals'

There is a truly bizarre debate going on among so called conservative 'thinkers' about the mating habits of Obama's mother. I kid you not. The problem for these idiots is that she married not one, but two foreign Muslim men and had children with both of them, thereby establishing a pattern of insidious behavior culmination in some sort of Manchurian Candidate plot.

The idiots in question think this rubbed off on Obama. The existential discussion they are having is not whether this is true or not, but to what degree it is true.
There are those who think as does David Goldman who wrote,

I’ve been screaming about this for more than two years: Obama is the loyal son of a left-wing anthropologist mother who sought to expiate her white guilt by going to bed with Muslim Third World men. He is a Third World anthropologist studying us, learning our culture and our customs the better to neutralize what he considers to be a malignant American influence in world affairs.

The 'moderates' among these geniuses argue that while it doesn't make him a traitor per se, it at least explains his 'unamerican' tendencies.

I understand these people cannot abide the fact that Obama is President but this is lunacy. I can see these people lying awake at night, their minds unable to relax as they seek even more proof that Obama is about to invite Al Qaeda to set up shop in the West Wing. I almost feel sorry for them.
Isn't it a little bizarre that at a time when the tax burden for all income levels is at historic lows, the Tea Party is screaming about 'excessive taxation'.

John Stewart last night - brilliant

A Farewell to Arms
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To introduce our new daily feature - Green Day - American Idiot

The toughest part will be to select the Idiot Of The Day when so much idiocy abounds. I realize it's akin to shooting fish in a barrel but I will try each day to select the person (or group of people) who truly rise above standard stupidity to the level of Idiotic excellence.

Today's American Idiot - Bill O'Reilly

List night BillO almost blew a gasket when Sen. Tom Coburn (R - Texas), himself as conservative as they come, criticized some of Fox News' coverage of the health care debate as misleading and biased. O'Reilly claimed that no-one at Fox had ever suggested that people refusing to buy health care as mandated would be jailed for it.

O'Reilly insisted that his crack team of researchers hadn't found any instance of the 'going to jail' meme. He repeated this claim three times. Trouble is Glenn Back has often claimed this and even said it to BillO's face on November 13 last year.


Here's the video posted by Media Matters

At least the Democrats are going after Mitch McConnell for siding with Wall Street. With a bit of luck a few of the more sentient Tea Partiers might even figure this one out. Then again....

The Muslim conspiracy to take over the world strikes again

These people are fucking nuts.

To honor Hank Williams' Pulitzer Prize award for his career as one of America's great songwriters.

Mitch McConnell story update

I reported yesterday that Sen. McConnell has come out against the Finance Reform bill after meeting with Wall Street heavies. Turns out it's Deja Vu all over again.

Just as with the Health Reform bill, a lot of the opposition is based on a willful misreading and misrepresentation of the bill. McConnell claims that the bill ensures future bailouts for all "too big to fail" financial institutions. This is a complete fabrication but look for this meme to become standard fodder for the Tea Party and others in the coming months as the fight for Finance Reform heats up.


Barney Frank sticks it to McConnell. Calls McConnell's statement, "Willful Ignorance Or Absolute Dishonesty". Video here.

This sums up Teabaggers far better than words can

And then there's the results from a recent Harris Poll on Republican views.

67% think Obama is a socialist
57% think he's a Muslim
47% think he wasn't born in the US
38% think he's following the same polices as Hitler
24% think he's the Anti-Christ

During the Bush years Move On ran a contest to create an ad on Bush. One entry depicted Bush as Hitler. As soon as Move On became aware of the video they deleted it. This wasn't enough for the right wing whine machine. The accusations went on for months. Their silence on the above is deafening.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No surprise here

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY the slightly less insane one) comes out against financial reform today. The fact that he met with leading Wall Street bankers and Hedge fund managers last week seeking campaign contributions might have something to do with it.

The recent Supreme Court decision giving almost unlimited latitude in campaign donations might also be a factor. Why bother fixing a broken system desperately in need of reform when when you can snag all that campaign money.

What a bunch of crybabies

"Speaker Pelosi likes to call the Republicans the 'Party of No'.
Some of us, we don’t like the way that sounds. It hurts our feelings..."
-- LA Governor Bobby Jindal at the GOP Southern Leadership Conference,

Could somebody get the Governor a tissue?

And then there is this

The Obama Administration is trying to help homeowners with a new plan to get banks to lower the principals on home mortgages to help stem the tide of foreclosures. JP Morgan is fighting this concept by citing the sanctity of contracts and the borrower's "promise to repay."

In January, the firm's chairman and chief executive, Jamie Dimon, told the panel investigating the roots of the financial crisis that, prior to the collapse, JPMorgan Chase did not conduct any stress tests that showed house prices falling.

"I would say that was probably one of the big misses," Dimon said. "We stressed almost everything else, but we didn't see home prices going down 40 percent."

So the firm made loans, arguably not knowing that the value of the assets backing those loans might one day significantly decline in value.

These idiots fucked up. There is no other way to put it but god forbid they should do anything to help homeowners in danger of losing their homes.

American Idiot - Rush Limbaugh

A couple of days ago famous entertainer and political know-it-all Limbaugh asked why the Mineworkers Union didn't ensure the safety at the Upper Big Branch Mine where 29 miners died a couple of weeks ago.

The answer is simple. The mine is non-union as are almost all 41 mines owned by Massey Energy. When the miners voted for a union three separate times, Don Blankenship the CEO threatened to close the mine and fire all the workers. His stated goal is to use non union miners to drive the price of coal down and to drive all union mines out of business. Profits over safety.

Safety records at union mines are consistently better than at non union mines.

Blankenship should be in jail and Limbaugh remains a complete idiot who can't even get his facts right. Then again, he doesn't care about facts.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Some late night languid blues for your entertainment

A really funny John McCain internet ad

McCain is facing a primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth a Tea Party favorite and dumb as a box of rocks.

To view the full screen right click on your mouse in the video select "show all"

An interesting story that has flown under the radar.

Dawn Johnsen was nominated for the Office of Legal Counsel in January of 2009 but was finally forced to withdraw her nomination a few days ago. The Legal Counsel advises the President on matters of civil rights and adherence to the rule of law. She was an excellent choice for those who believe the rule of law trumps executive power.

In practice the Obama administration has stuck too closely to the Bush doctrine of executive power and having Johnsen in the picture could have made things quite uncomfortable.

The White House had the votes to for her nomination through but never pushed it.

The full story here, written by the always excellent Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer himself.

Paul Krugman must read on environmental economics

Paul Krugman, the economist and Nobel Prize winner is loathed by conservatives, partly because he is right most of the time. He constantly criticized Bush's economic policies and warned often and early about the housing bubble while everyone else slept.

He has a must read article in the NY Times magazine about environmental economics. He argues for market based solutions which conservatives constantly claim will destroy the economy despite minimal evidence to support this.

Here is a key quote from the article.

In any case, experience suggests that market-based emission controls work. Our recent history with acid rain shows as much. The Clean Air Act of 1990 introduced a cap-and-trade system in which power plants could buy and sell the right to emit sulfur dioxide, leaving it up to individual companies to manage their own business within the new limits. Sure enough, over time sulfur-dioxide emissions from power plants were cut almost in half, at a much lower cost than even optimists expected; electricity prices fell instead of rising. Acid rain did not disappear as a problem, but it was significantly mitigated. The results, it would seem, demonstrated that we can deal with environmental problems when we have to.

Already a Classic - The Sarah Palin Network on SNL

Serial wife Elizabeth Taylor going for number 9

After a 14 year layoff since her last marriage to a construction guy, Elizabeth Taylor is getting married for the 9th time. The lucky guy is 49 year old Hollywood agent, Jason Winters who will become the 9th husband of the 78 year old actress.

I wish the couple well although I have a problem with Elizabeth Taylor. She married Senator John Warner of Virginia in 1976. It was her first to a politician and/or a Southern gentleman. In response Saturday Night Live did a skit with John Belushi playing Taylor choking on a fried chicken bone. Unfortunately not available on You Tube or anywhere else on the web for viewing it is manically hysterical in a way only Belushi could do.

My problem is that every time I see Elizabeth Taylor on TV the I picture Belushi choking on the bone


Elizabeth Taylor now claims that she is not get married but that doesn't change just how effing funny the Belushi skit is.

Newt Gingrich - wrong all the time

Noted women's rights thinker Newt Gingrich appeared on CNN recently to announce that Sarah Palin is something of a feminist icon. Explaining her appeal, Gingrich seemed to suggest that women --aside from San Francisco liberals-- adore Palin and are drawn to her unique, can-do qualities.

A recent CBS News poll showed Palin's support among women at 21% versus 29% among men. Her support among women who think hunting wolves from helicopters is a sport, however, is probably in the high 90% range.

For those who don't remember, Newt is a serial adulterer who served divorce papers on his wife when she was in the hospital recovering from cancer. He once said she wasn't attractive enough to be a politician's wife.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cloudy with rain later on so what's better than a...

I was rIght 70% of the time - Alan Greenspan

Well whoop de fucking doo. Sadly, the 30% of the time he was wrong resulted in the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression. Anyway, 70% correct is a C+ at best if we were to grade him generously.

Greenspan, along with a host of other financial luminaries have been appearing in Congress over the last week testifying about the financial crisis. The answers were all mind-numbingly the same. "No-one could have predicted...and even if I had predicted correctly, there is nothing I could have done." The pathetic spectacle reminded me more of an 8 year old trying to explain a new believable reason for having forgotten their homework for the third time in a week than anything.
The only difference is that the financiers’ interrogators were far more reverential than an 8th grade teacher would be.

I am no economist and I am not involved in the financial field but I predicted this mess in 2006. (I have witnesses who can verify this). I am reminded of a quote from Upton Sinclair, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.” It might explain why a somewhat intelligent observer from the periphery such as yours truly could see this coming, yet those so-called geniuses earning countless millions to be at the vortex seem to have been unwilling to even consider they might be wrong.

What’s worse is the complete lack of contrition in their testimony. They all blame someone or something else. It‘s a malaise that has infected our world. The rush to war in Iraq is explained away by the excuse that the CIA intelligence was bad. How about at least a little bit of due diligence before committing our solders to a difficult war, made more difficult by the same intransigence on WMD’s as on ignoring the experts and the reality in Iraq as did Cheney and Rumsfeld. Neither has ever accepted even the slightest of responsibility.

We are seeing it again in the Catholic Churh’s abuse allegations. The Vatican hierarchy and its American apologists are so busy blaming the media, anti-church bigotry and salacious gossipmongers while ignoring reality they have contorted themselves into sanity defying statements. Taka of Bill Donohue head of the American Catholic League who went on TV to claim that homosexual molestation after the age of puberty somehow isn’t rape or even statutory rape.

There is no shame any longer in denying responsibility. If anything, there is at least acceptance, if not praise for ‘passing the buck’

Frank Rich says it far better than I can in a column in the NY Times today.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

It looks more than likely that Californians will vote in November to legalize it. Current polls show it winning by between 55-60% and there doesn't seem to be any well funded opposition.

Glenn Beck - oozing vile ignorance as usual.

On a possible replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justic John Paul Stevens.

Mark my words, a radical is coming," Beck warned.

If the president is smart, Beck said, he'll find "a gay, handicapped black woman, who's an immigrant."

"She could be the devil. She could say, 'I hate America. I want to destroy America.' And that way, they'll only be able to say, 'Why do you hate gay, immigrant, black handicapped women. Why do you hate them?'

The Party of Fiscal Restraint

A junior Republican staffer in Florida had $1.3 million charged to her party American Express card. Among the charges were $40,000 for a trip to London, jewelry, sporting goods etc. To be fair to the junior staffer, most of the charges were for her superiors who also had access to the card.

A series of embarrassing revelations over profligate credit card spending by the Republican U.S. Senate frontrunner Marco Rubio and Tea Party favorite and others have already precipitated both state and federal investigations.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jon Stewart on the Nuclear Arms Treaty

The Big Bang Treaty
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Hilarious as usual. Newt Gingrich and Hannity are caught in a complete lie and that Reagan supported exactly the same treaty that Obama signed but you wouldn't get that from listening to Sarah Palin. It's sad when there is more truth in a comedy show than on the news.