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Monday, May 31, 2010

World Cup Stories - We'll always have Archie Gemmill's goal

“I hate being Scottish. We're the lowest of the fucking low, the scum of the earth, the most wretched, servile, miserable, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some people hate the English, but I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. We can't even pick a decent culture to be colonized by. “

Renton’s opinion of the Scottish from Trainspotting 

When the first football international was played in 1872 Scotland  were the best team in the world.  Then again their only opponent at the time was England and that team was largely made up of upper class twits from Oxford and the Royal Engineers. By the 1890's professional football among the working classes in the north of England had gained a foothold and Scotland became second best.  Things have gone downhill ever since then.   

They have appeared in World Cup finals 8 times and have never made it out of the first round group stage.  No other team has even come close to this level of futility.  The names of great Scottish footballers are legendary, amongst them Dennis Law, Kenny Dalgleish, Billy Bremner and Graeme Souness.  Their achievements in International football a lot less so. 

In 1974 in Germany they held both Brazil and Yugoslavia to draws and beat Zaire as well.  Normally that should be more than enough to advance but Yugoslavia and Brazil also drew so it came down to goal difference against Zaire.  Scotland scored two while Yugoslavia scored nine and Brazil three sending Scotland home.

In 1978 they came agonizingly close again.  It came down to the final group game against the eventual beaten finalists Holland.  Scotland needed to win by at least two goals to advance and eliminate the Dutch.  Holland scored first but then Scotland equalized.  In the first minute of the second half wee Archie Gemmill etched himself into the consciousness of Scottish fans forever with a magnificent solo goal.  Scotland needed one more goal.  The got it in the 68th minute but a Dutch goal in the 71nd minute ended another dream for Scotland.  

Things have got even worse for Scotland.  They will not be in South Africa making it the third World Cup in a row they have missed.  Who knows when they will be able to extend their record of futility in the finals.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two giants of music together.

A trillion dollars is a lot of money

We passed a shameful milestone this weekend as we remember those who gave their lives fighting to defend America.   The cost of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars passed the trillion dollar mark this week making them by far the most expensive wars in actual dollars in our history and that is the official count.  In all likelihood, the cost is a lot higher. 

It has also cost America 5,000 lives, thousands more permanently injured, an estimated 200,000 Iraqi lives and there is no end in sight.  Lifetime care for Iraqi vets alone is expected to add another 500 billion or so to the tab so the end result will probably hit the 2 trillion mark.  That's about $6,600 for each and every American.

Think what we could have done with that money instead of wasting it in Iraq -

Then again just last week Nestor Kirchner, the formed President of Argentina said that George Bush once directly told him, "The best way to revitalize the economy is war."

"We had a discussion in Monterrey. I said that a solution for the problems right now, I told Bush, is a Marshall Plan," he claimed to have suggested. "And he got angry. He said the Marshall Plan is a crazy idea of the Democrats. He said the best way to revitalize the economy is war, and that the United States has grown stronger with war."

The worst President in history.   There is no debate. 

Glenn Beck proves how vile he is again.

The 'we can't stand the idea that Obama is President' crowd is having a new conniption about the dress Michelle Obama wore at the state dinner for the Mexican President. Here is what Beck said about the First Lady.
" Did you see the picture of his wife yesterday, all dolled up? 'Sex in the City' is what it said on the Drudge Report. She looks positively like she's trying to be some Greek statue. I don't think I've ever seen the first lady with her -- excuse the expression -- but with her breasts all smooshed up, sort of. I mean, what is that?"
Here is a picture of Michelle and her 'outrageous dress' that is causing Beck so much distress
 Here is first lady Dolly Madison showing her 'smooshed up breasts'
Glen, what do you have to say about Dolly.   Michelle Obama is a lady and you, Glen Beck are a perverted creep.

Do us all a favor and shut the fuck up

BP CEO disputes claims of underwater oil plumes.

Everything Tony Hayward and BP have said or done thus far have proved to be wrong. The next thing I want to hear from him is, "There is finally no more oil leaking into the gulf." Until then, STFU.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Great WC goals - Josimar - Brazil - Northern Ireland 1986

BP 'systemic failure' endangers Gulf cleanup workers

Federal regulators complained in a scathing internal memo about "significant deficiencies" in BP's handling of the safety of oil spill workers and asked the Coast Guard to help pressure the company to address a litany of concerns.

The memo, written by a Labor Department official earlier this week and obtained by McClatchy , reveals the Obama administration's growing concerns about potential health and safety problems posed by the oil spill and its inability to force BP to respond to them.

It gets worse and worse
and it's becoming more and more obvious that BP only cares about it's own reputation but in trying to protect it, the company has exhibited a level of incompetence and tone deafness that is proving to be far more damaging. Not that the damage to BP's reputation is of any solace to those suffering from the effects of the disaster or for those observing from further away.

Glenn Beck - a truly vile human being

In a Washington Post  op-ed last month, Simon Greer — the president and CEO of Jewish Funds for Justice an organization that helps people achieve social and economic security by investing in healthy neighborhoods — bluntly rebuked Glenn Beck for his war against social justice.

“Mr. Beck,you are a con man and America is not buying it,” Greer wrote. “When churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship across this country advocate for social justice, advocate for the common good, advocate for America, they, and we, walk in God’s path.”

Yesterday on his radio station, Beck responded the only way he knows how — with hyperbolic, extreme rhetoric referencing Nazi imagery. Beck said that Greer’s advocacy for the common good and social justice “leads to death camps.” “A Jew, of all people, should know that,” Beck added. “This is exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany”.    Link to the audio.

Here is Greer's eloquent reply to Beck.
Glenn Beck has a history of recklessly invoking Nazi Germany and the Holocaust in order to advance his political agenda. But never before has Beck accused Jews – including survivors of the Holocaust and their children and grandchildren – of paving the way for fascism. Through his comments, Beck has demonstrated that he has no idea what leads to fascism. Jews and others, who were victims of the Holocaust, do not have the luxury of his ignorance.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Great WC goals - Bobby Charlton - 1966 against Mexico

World Cup Stories - Never stiff a witchdoctor

Australia 2006

Until recently, by virtue of its geographic undesirability, Australia has had the odd predicament in World Cup qualifying rounds of being grouped as part of what is called Oceania which has never been given an automatic spot in the finals. They were required to play a play-off leg with a nation from another group to ultimately qualify. In 1970 they had to play Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in neighboring Mozambique. They hired a witchdoctor, buried bones near the goal-posts and cursed their opponents. They duly won the game, but when they couldn’t come up with the money to pay the witchdoctor, he then reversed the curse.

They qualified for West Germany in 1974 but failed to score in three games and were quickly eliminated, thus beginning a tale of futility that culminated in 2002 when, ten minutes away from a place in the finals, they gave up two goals to Iran and failed to qualify. In 2004, a local TV personality, John Saffran journeyed to Mozambique to reverse the curse. It involved sitting in the center circle of the pitch with chicken blood among other things, but the curse was apparently lifted. A thirty-two year wait was over and Australia qualified for the finals in Germany in 2006.

Their first game was a must-win against Japan considering their next opponent was the mighty Brazil. With seven minutes to go it seemed that the curse was still on. Japan led 1-0 on a goal that should have never been allowed. Australia then went on to score their first three goals in finals history; and a draw with Croatia in the final game was enough to qualify for the next round. They faced Italy and were tied 0-0, and a minute away from extra time. They had a man advantage, when Materazzi was red carded early in the second half, and were outplaying Italy when an ill-advised half-tackle by Lucas Neill and a spectacular ‘dive’ by Grosso won Italy an undeserved penalty. So the Aussies lost to the eventual Cup winners on the last kick of the game.

Time will tell if the curse has truly been lifted.

Did Bush start the Iraqi war because of a biblical prophesy

It seems like he did.
Here's a story we should all be ashamed of missing: George W Bush attempted to sell the invasion of Iraq to Jacques Chirac using biblical prophecy.

In the winter of 2003, when George Bush and Tony Blair were frantically gathering support for their planned invasion, Professor Thomas Römer, an Old Testament expert at the university of Lausanne, was rung up by the Protestant Federation of France. They asked him to supply them with a summary of the legends surrounding Gog and Magog and as the conversation progressed, he realised that this had originally come, from the highest reaches of the French government.

President Jacques Chirac wanted to know what the hell President Bush had been on about in their last conversation. Bush had then said that when he looked at the Middle East, he saw "Gog and Magog at work" and the biblical prophecies unfolding. But who the hell were Gog and Magog? Neither Chirac nor his office had any idea. But they knew Bush was an evangelical Christian, so they asked the French Federation of Protestants, who in turn asked Professor Römer.

He explained that Gog and Magog were, to use theological jargon, crazy talk. They appear twice in the Old Testament, once as a name, and once in a truly strange prophecy in the book of Ezekiel:

For BP it's all about the PR

Chris Roberts, a Jefferson Parish councilman whose district encompasses Grand Isle, told Yahoo! News that BP had bused in "hundreds" of temporary workers to work on the cleanup of local beaches. And as soon as the president was en route back to Washington, the workers were clearing out of Grand Isle, as well.

"The level of cleanup and cooperation we've gotten from BP in the past is in no way consistent to the effort shown on the island today," Roberts said by telephone. "As soon as the president left, they were immediately put back on the buses and sent home."

BP seems to be far more focused on PR than on doing the right thing.

American Idiot of the day - Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan, noted conservative op-ed writer and George W.'s buttlicker supreme is full of it. Here's what she said in the aftermath of Katrina.
Is the Bush Era over? No, no, no. It has three more years. That’s a long time. History turns on a dime. There is much ahead, and potential for progress.
Here's what she wrote today.
I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill.
She goes on to write:
His [Obama's] philosophy is that it is appropriate for the federal government to occupy a more burly, significant and powerful place in America—confronting its problems of need, injustice, inequality. [...] Then the oil spill came and government could not do the job, could not meet need, in fact seemed faraway and incapable: “We pay so much for the government and it can’t cap an undersea oil well!”

I'd like to know which Department of the government she thinks is in charge of capping undersea oil wells? Go back to praising Bush you silly woman.

This headline says it all

House approves costly weapons program that Pentagon doesn't want, cuts programs for laid off workers. 

The full story here. here.

Trying to cover up everything

Journalists from publications like the New Orleans Times-Picayune, CBS News, and Mother Jones are “complaining that their efforts to document” the oil spill “are being thwarted by local and federal officials — working with BP — who are blocking access to the sites where the effects of the spill are most visible.” BP is also reportedly pressuring fishermen and charter boat captains to not work with the press.

A clear cut choice in the Cayman Islands

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A goal that will live in infamy

England always seems to find a way to lose at some point in the World Cup except when they are the hosts.  Their record in World Cups is 1-0 at home and 0-11 everywhere else.   This is why they are frantically working to be hosts in 2018.   Most of their failures have been by their own hand.  This one was courtesy of the 'goal' that Diego Maradona described as the 'hand of God'.   That is assuming God is an Argentinian.  

US fans get ready for their game against England

American football fans are normally a fairly sedate lot but as the game grows in popularity, partly because the national team has become a lot more competitive over the last decade they have learned the ways of football fans all over the world.   A few years ago their most rabid fans who call themselves Uncle Sam's Army came up with a brilliant chant at a game in Chicago against England.   With a big bass drum behind them they chanted, "Boom, boom boom. we've got dentists."  Brilliant. 

A Slow Boat to Montevideo - World Cup stories


International footballing authority, FIFA’s decision to hold the first World Cup in 1930 in Uruguay infuriated Europe which considered itself the center of the soccer universe; so much so that initially no European country entered until Uruguay offered to cover team’s travel expenses. One of the four teams to take up the offer was Romania, sparked by the encouragement of the newly-crowned King Carol II, a devoted soccer fan.  Not only did he pick the team but he made sure all the players would still have their jobs when they returned. 

An arduous train journey followed by two weeks on a ship together with the Belgian and French teams dispatched the Romanians in Montevideo on July 4th. On July 14th they beat Peru 3-1 in front of 300 spectators, the smallest crowd ever to watch a game at the World Cup finals. Their next and last game in the tournament was a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of hosts and eventual winners Uruguay, in front of 80,000 spectators. That was followed by the arduous trip back to Romania and a place in soccer history. 

Such was the relatively haphazard organization of the first World Cup that the Romanian manager was pressed into service as a linesman in a couple of matches, albeit in a different group. 

An additional footnote to the first World Cup was the performance of the U.S. who finished third.  The U.S. won their group by beating both Belgium and Paraguay 3-0. Against Paraguay, Bert Patenaude of the U.S. became the first player to score a hat-trick in the finals. 

Failed polical ad

The Virginia Republican Party released a new ad that raises the possibility that Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) might be secret gun control proponents.

The Los Angeles Times notes the key to the accusation was "damning video footage of members of Congress giving Mexican President Felipe Calderon a standing ovation last week when he called on the U.S. Congress to consider reinstating the assault weapons ban."

The problem? Neither Boucher or Perriello actually attended the speech.

The image speaks for itself

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The GOP is asking the public for suggestions

Here are some examples.
"End Child Labor Laws," suggests one helpful participant. "We coddle children too much. They need to spend their youth in the factories."

"How about if Congress actually do thier job and VET or Usurper in Chief, Obama is NOT a Natural Born Citizen in any way," recommends another. "That fake so called birth certificate is useless."

"A 'teacher' told my child in class that dolphins were mammals and not fish!" a third complains. "And the same thing about whales! We need TRADITIONAL VALUES in all areas of education. If it swims in the water, it is a FISH. Period! End of Story."
The full story here.

World Cup 2002 - Denmark - Senegal

First timers at the finals, Senegal shocked holders France with a 1-0 win in the opening game. In their second game they were down 1-0 to Denmark when they equalized with a sweeping move that started in their own penalty area.

The went on to eliminate Sweden, then finally losing to Turkey in extra time in the quarter finals. The only other African team to progress that far was Camaroon in 1990. Can an African team do better in South Africa on their home continent?

The End of an Empire - World Cup Stories

England v. United States 1950

There was once a time when England owned soccer. They had a national team thirty years before any other country outside of the British Isles. With residual imperiousness left over from the days of the Empire, England declined to enter the first three pre-World War II World Cups, believing it was merely a competition to determine the second-best team in the world.

In 1950, they finally decided to show up and were co-favorites with hosts Brazil. So confident were England that they let their best player Stanley Matthews join the team late. They won their first game and then took on a United States team of semi-pro players cobbled together from semi-pro leagues. On the U.S. team was Walter Bahr, long time Penn State soccer coach and father of Chris Bahr and brother Matt who became two of the first ‘soccer style’ place kickers in the NFL.

It soon became obvious to all in attendance that the game would end in a rout. Within the first twelve minutes, England had six clear goal-scoring opportunities, being denied twice by the post and once from a brilliant save by Frank Borghi, the American goalie. Then in the thirty-seventh minute, completely against the run of play, Joe Gaetjens glanced a floating cross off his head into the back of the English net. England renewed their assault on the American goal, but with the confidence of the lead the American defense stiffened. Despite a host more chances, England did everything but score and the largely Brazilian crowd rejoiced at the defeat of Brazil’s biggest perceived threat.

The game and the tournament had been largely ignored in England. Only one English reporter was present and he had to pay his own way. When the newspapers reported the score the following day everyone assumed there was a misprint and England had actually won 10-1. However the match has become a small part of American sports folklore with the recent movie, The Greatest Game Ever Played.

The virulent anti gays act predicatably about DODT.

Now that the administration is moving forward on Don't Ask Don't Tell the usual suspects are coming out of the woodwork.  

The Family Research Council claims that passing DODT will precipitate far more instances of homosexual rape in the military.  

During a radio broadcast, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association explained:
Hitler recruited around him homosexuals to make up his Stormtroopers, they were his enforcers, they were his thugs. And Hitler discovered that he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough to carry out his orders, but that homosexual solders basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after. So he surrounded himself, virtually all of the Stormtroopers, the Brownshirts, were male homosexuals.

There is no evidence that the above is true.

Newt Gingrich is a bloviating fool

Gingrich was for and against the financial bail out in the same interview.  He attacked it initially saying, "And I have said over and over, you can’t have capitalism on the way up and socialism on the way down because you get socialism both ways."

A little later in defending George Bush he said, “If we don’t do X, Y and Z, the entire world economy is going to collapse. That’s pretty good grounds for stopping and trying to do something."

I guess it's okay when there is a Republican president.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The pictures speak for themselves


The goal that made Michael Owen a legend

All of 18 years old he scored this brilliant goal against Argentina. England typically lost the game on penalties after David Beckham was sent off early in the second half for one of the dumbest acts of petulance ever seen at the World Cup.

Nutty and nuttier

There's an interesting GOP primary battle going on in North Carolina to see who gets to take on the incumbent Democratic for a house seat. Tim D'Annunzio is a Tea Party favorite and is currently leading in the polls. The GOP establishment is mounting a furious campaign against him.

Here are some of the reasons why. He has claimed to be the Messiah, tried to raise his stepfather from the dead, believed God would drop a 1,000-mile high pyramid as the New Jerusalem on Greenland, and found the Ark of the Covenant in Arizona. I can believe the Ark story but the rest of his claims are a little sketchy.

In his divorce case a doctor wrote in the custody proceedings that D'Annunzio told him he had once received treatment for heroin dependence, and was jailed three times for offenses that included burglary and assaulting a police officer. I can't imagine why his wife wanted out.

I assume the above is not much of a deterrent for Tea Party enthusiasts. The race is providing an interesting snapshot of the GOP establishment's ability to control the election and marginalize the lunatic fringe. This is only a taste of the insanity that will be in full flow as the November mid-term elections get closer.

Snakes on a pitch

From The Sun newspaper in England:

ENGLAND'S South African World Cup base is surrounded by some of the world's deadliest snakes.

Killer pythons, spitting cobras, puff adders and black mambas hunt around Bafokeng Sports Campus in Rustenburg.

The medical unit has been stocked with vials of anti-venom in case players are bitten. Pitches will be checked before sessions and the millionaire stars, who arrive for the five-week contest on June 3, will be banned from fields after dark.

And there are lions roaming the street and be careful of the deadly scorpions under the bed and watch out for the baboons that can come walking into your hotel room at any time. I lived in South Africa for about 23 years and the only poisonous snake I saw on the loose was in a game park miles from the nearest football field.
Local herdsman Charles Ndaba, 58, said he has seen dozens of puff adders.
And rancher Matshana spotted a 20ft python by the hotel.
He said: "I was able to back off and get away."

Methinks they were having some fun with the gullible reporter. South Africans like to tell stories and the more gullible the listener, the more interesting the story will be.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The art of football

Brazil didn't win the World Cup in 1982. They were knocked out by eventual winners Italy 3-2 but along the way they put the beauty back in 'the beautiful game.' Eleven of the best.

Happy Birthday Bob

Hilarious mugshots

This charming fellow ran his girlfriend over with a truck.
40 more mugshots here.

Fair and balanced

Fox news edits out the applause at President Obama's speech at West Point on Saturday.

Something strange happened in Arizona last week

Politics in Arizona has always been relatively easy to understand. It's conservative with a slight libertarian bent but with enough Democratic enclaves to hold 5 out of 8 seats in the House. It's forced John McCain to move far to the right to hold off a primary challenge from the even further right J.D. Hayworth.

Arizona like most states is suffering from a huge deficit due to the slumping economy and were facing huge cuts to education and to health insurance for children from low income households. On the ballot last week was a proposal to increase the state sales tax by one percent to offset some of the cuts. In a surprise considering the current anti-tax sentiment the measure won by a 64-36% margin which means a significant number of Republicans voted for the increase. In even more conservative Kansas the same measure was approved.

In California's dysfunctional political system any tax increases need a two thirds majority to pass so the Republican minority has managed to block any chance of increasing revenues despite the fact that a plethora of spending initiatives over the years have been approved by a simple majority of voters in a variety of propositions.

Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed $8.4 billion cuts in the budget, all of which are directed at schools and lower income families. Among the cuts are the complete elimination of a home nursing care program and the decimation of health insurance for low income children. Cuts in education will severely damage public schools. Over 20,000 teachers have already been laid off with more to come.

Not on the table are rescinding a sales tax exemption for yachts, charging oil companies an extraction fee (the only state in the Union to grant this exemption) and a $1.5 billion tax credit to the ten largest California corporations.

There is one word for this - insanity.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A tax loophole for Hedge Fund managers might finally be closed.

Fund managers can claim all their income as capital gains at 15% instead of the 35% they would be paying if it was treated as normal income. This results in a situation where their secretaries earning a fraction of the fund managers income are taxed at a higher rate than their enormous wealthy bosses.

The House has tried to close the loophole three times but each time the Senate has killed the effort at the behest of their Wall Street donors. Robert Reich, Clinton's former Secretary of Labor explains it succinctly.
Several of these private investment fund managers, by the way, have taken a lead in the national drive to cut the federal budget deficit. The senior chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, one of the largest private equity funds, is Peter G. Peterson, who never tires of telling the nation it faces economic ruin if deficits aren't brought under control. Curiously, I have not heard Peterson advocate closing this tax loophole as one way to further the cause of fiscal responsibility.

Closing tax loopholes for billionaires may seem like a no-brainer, especially at a time when the nation is cutting back spending on the middle class -- slashing budgets that fund child care, public schools, and public universities. Tens of thousands of teachers are getting pink slips.
This loophole leaves an additional subsidized amount of $20 billion in the hands of fund managers. They argue that a higher tax rate will discourage investment. This argument is to put it briefly, bullshit. If the investments are worthwhile, there is no reason why taxpayers should subsidize their risk especially with so many punitive cuts from local and state governments decimating teachers, health care and other services for everyone else.

Great WC goals - Argentina - Serbia 2006

17 consecutive passes before the goal. Teamwork and patience are two of football's virtues.

Click through to the You Tube site to get the widescreen view. For some reason Blogspot doesn't support the wider view.

No one has a an effing clue

BP has told the Environmental Protection Agency that it cannot find a safe, effective and available dispersant to use instead of Corexit, and will continue to use that chemical application to help break up the growing spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP was responding to an EPA directive Thursday that gave BP 24 hours to identify a less toxic alternative to Corexit -- and 72 hours to start using it -- or provide the Coast Guard and EPA with a "detailed description of the alternative dispersants investigated, and the reason they believe those products did not meet the required standards."

There has been virtually no testing of the effectiveness or the effect of the dispersant under the conditions it's currently being used and many suspect that the its only role is a policy of 'out of sight, out of mind' that is nor providing any solutions.

Obama's reaction is to appoint a commission. Some estimates suggest that fishing in parts of the Gulf could be ruined for a decade or more. BP has lied and obfuscated throughout this disaster. Why are they still making the decisions?

BP has basically given the finger to the EPA and thus to the Federal Government. Such is the power of corporations today that they can get away with this.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

World Cup 1974 - Holland Destroys Argentina

The greatest team never to win a World Cup final. Holland fell 2-1 to Germany after destroying Argentina and Brazil to get into the final.

Texas turns education on its head

A longstanding battle has been waged in Texas over the school curriculum. The 15 person Board of Education is elected and the far right have stealthily managed to run enough candidates to take control of the board. With that power they have tried and now succeeded in politicizing the Social Studies curriculum in a vote this past week.

Among the changes are a radical de-emphasizing of the Civil Right Movement, a complete vindication of the McCarthy era, describing America, not as a Democracy but as a Constitutional Republic lest people connect 'Democracy' with Democrats.

The curriculum now gives as much weight to Jefferson Davis' (President of the Confederacy) inauguration speech as it does to Lincoln's.

One change that was initially approved but then rescinded, apparently because it was simply too embarrassing even for these people, was to require that the system known as the "slave trade" be known instead as the "Atlantic triangular trade." The fact that it was first approved is more than disturbing.

Even more disturbing is the facile attempt to change the role of religion in the founding of the country. Thomas Jefferson will no longer be a part of American history in Texas, excluded because of his belief in the separation of church and state. In March, a majority of SBOE members voted “against requiring high school American government students to learn that the nation’s Founders barred government from favoring or disfavoring one religion over all others.”

Except for the minor inconvenience of the first Amendment to the bill of rights which does quite clearly state that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech".

Texas unfortunately wields a big influence on school curriculums in other states. As the 3rd most populous state, textbook publishers will make the necessary changes and will then make those books available to smaller states that don't have the clout to influence content. California has fortunately already said it will not allow any Texas style amended textbooks in the State.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The rainbow nation is ready to celebrate

The country of my birth still lives in my heart. The new free South Africa in all its rainbow hues is ready to show its joyful, passionate face to the world. Let the games begin.

Journalism malpractice

The BBC really pissed me off this afternoon. They prefaced an inspirational story about African football in anticipation of the World Cup kick off in South Africa in a couple of weeks with:
While South Africa struggles to get ready for the World Cup.
Being an ex-South African thrilled that the country is hosting the Cup I was pissed. There has been a drumbeat of negative publicity, particularly early on from American football journalists as the Americans pushed hard to be named an alternate venue if the South Africans were not capable of getting the work done. Well they did and they are ready. There might be a some glitches but the country is bursting with pride at being the focus of the world for a month that things will work out and a great time will be had by all. Who are the Americans to talk. They screwed up the Summer Olympics in Atlanta so badly it was common for people with tickets not to get to the venues in special buses specifically laid on until the event was half over.

On to the inspirational story. Didier Drogba is one of the best strikers in the world and although he has played all his football in Europe and most recently for Chelsea, one of the top teams in Europe, he represents his home country of the Ivory Coast. The Ivory Coast are one of the top African teams. The country has produced a host of footballers from local football academies who mow play in Europe where the money is.

They qualified for the last World Cup but had to play Holland and Argentina, both world powers in their first two games. They gave as good as they got but lost both games 2-1 rendering their final game against Sebria, which they won, moot. This time they have the unenviable task of playing Portugal and Brazil, ranked #1 and #3 in the world, in their first two games. They need to win one of those to move on assuming they beat an unknown North Korean team in their final group game.

A civil war in the Ivory Coat had waged for five years prior to qualifying for the 2006 cup. In the dressing room after the game that sealed qualification, Drogba lead his teammates onto their knees to beg the warring parties to make peace. They did.

Drogba later helped move an African Cup of Nations qualifier to the rebel stronghold of Bouake to seal the deal. He has donated millions to his charity to build a hospital and to other aid in his country of birth. Time selected him as one of the 6 individuals to grace the cover of Time magazine's current issue on the 100 most influential people in the world.

He and the team are national heroes. Every one in the Ivory Coast will forget about their problems for a few weeks as their eyes turn to South Africa. Football has the power to move nations like no other sport.

Quick update on the chicken barter candidate

Sue Lowden the GOP Primary senate candidate has gone from 47% to 26% in the month since she started her chicken walk. It didn't help when she denied saying words she clearly said during a debate.

More on the dispersants being used by BP

But what may be an even larger problem are the unknown, long-term health effects of the dispersants. BP has reportedly bought up more than a third of the world’s supply of these dispersants. The issue is that we do not actually know what chemicals are in many of these dispersants, or what their long-term effects will be since their exact makeup is kept secret under competitive trade laws.
Although the exact chemical content of the dispersants is not public, the National Academies of Science 2005 report on these dispersants included several sobering cautions, including how the chemicals are tested in the first place. Most lab studies use the fluorescent lighting usually found in the labs when they test toxicity and chemical breakdown, but research conducted under conditions more equivalent to natural sunlight indicate that toxicity increases significantly after sun exposure—by 12 to 50,000 times as much. Worse still, The New York Times reports that BP chose to use dispersants manufactured by a company with which it shares close ties, “even though other U.S. EPA-approved alternatives have been shown to be far less toxic and, in some cases, nearly twice as effective.”

The full article here.

Late night blues

Fishermen Report Illness From BP Chemicals

More fallout from the oil spill. I posted an article earlier about the dispersants being used to break up the oil. It seems the worst fears are being realized.
More and more stories about sick fishermen are beginning to surface after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The fishermen are working out in the Gulf -- many of them all day, every day -- to clean up the spill. They said they blame their ailments on the chemicals that BP is using.

One fisherman said he felt like he was going to die over the weekend.

"I've been coughing up stuff," Gary Burris said. "Your lungs fill up."

Burris, a longtime fisherman who has worked across the Gulf Coast, said he woke up Sunday night feeling drugged and disoriented.

"It was like sniffing gasoline or something, and my ears are still popping," Burris said. "I'm coughing up stuff. I feel real weak, tingling feelings."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A bus driver's red letter day

In Denmark, Mukhtar the bus driver had a birthday. He worked that day. His regular passengers had an idea:


A CBS News team was threatened with arrest by Coast Guard officials in the Gulf of Mexico who said they were acting under the authority of British Petroleum.

World Cup only 22 days away - the real football

In anticipation of the greatest sports competition in the world I will be featuring great goals and moments from previous World Cups. First up is Dennis Bergkamp of Holland's wonder goal to beat Argentina in the quarter finals in 1998

How to avoid responsibility

Transocean the operator of the Deep Horizon oil rig has come up with a slick little trick to avoid fiscal damages for the disaster. The company is already registered in Switzerland so they pay no taxes in the U.S.

Now they have decided to distribute $1 billion to shareholders.

When a company facing claims that exceed its assets makes distributions out to its shareholders, this may be attacked as a preference or a fraudulent conveyance under debtor-creditor law in many jurisdictions. But moving the money down the line to shareholders makes it much more unlikely that much of it will ever be recovered by the parties suffering from the leaks in the Gulf of Mexico—like fishermen, owners of coastal resorts, and the United States, which is now preparing to assume control of the efforts to stem the leak and launch a clean-up following the demonstrated inability of British Petroleum, Halliburton, and Transocean to do so.

Interesting results from yesterday's elections.

In the Kentucky GOP Senate primary, Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul trounced the handpicked GOP candidate 59% to 35% in contest to replace Sen. Jim Bunning who is retiring (better late than never). In Pennsylvania, Arlen Spector lost to liberal challenger Joe Sestak illustrating the anti-incumbent feeling everywhere.

Most telling though was the special election in Western Pennsylvania to replace the late ethically challenged John Murtha (D). The GOP pulled out all the stops to win the seat in the only district won by Kerry in 2004 but won by McCain in 2008. If the GOP has any hopes of taking back the house in November a win for them in this election would have been an indication that they had some hope. It's a district where both Obama and Health Care approval ratings are well below 40%.

Still, Democrat Mark Critz managed to pull off an eight-point victory, 53 percent to 45 percent, over Republican Tim Burns. The race marked the third highly-contested, fair-fight special House election that the GOP has dropped in the last year.

Out of this world. Usain Bolt's first race of the season. Many think he's best race might end up being the 400M which he has never even run. No athlete has ever broken the 100M, 200M and 400M world records before, never mind held them at the same time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another one bites the dust.

Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) resigned his congressional seat on Tuesday, confessing to an affair with a staffer and ending an eight-term career as a Republican from Indiana.


Souder is a vociferous proponent of pre-marital sexual abstinence. A video of Tracy Jackson, the mistress in question, interviewing Souder about sexual abstinence has been pulled from his U-Tube account but the Huffington Post saved the video.

Far more damaging though, has been Souder's role in the 'War Against Drugs'. No Republican has been more outspoken in Congress in his moral condemnation of Americans who use illicit drugs. In order to punish such sinning, Souder championed and vigorously defended perhaps the least forgiving law on the federal books: the denial of federal student aid for any student convicted of drug possession, no matter how minor.

In Souder's world a convicted rapist can get a student loan but a person caught with as little as one joint can never receive a federal student loan to try further his education and improve his or her life.

"Vile" doesn't even begin to describe the level of heartlessness and hypocrisy evidenced in Souder's deeds.

Red Families - Blue Families

In a related story to the vile soon to be ex-Congressman Souder, "Red Families v. Blue Families" a provocative new book by two law professors, Naomi Cahn and June Carbone. The authors depict a culturally conservative “red America” that’s stuck trying to sustain an outdated social model. By insisting (unrealistically) on chastity before marriage, Cahn and Carbone argue, social conservatives guarantee that their children will get pregnant early and often (see Bristol Palin), leading to teen childbirth, shotgun marriages and high divorce rates.

In fact 6 of the 7 states with the highest divorce rates are Red states. I would assume California made the list thanks to Larry King, the Kardashians and a few other Hollywood serial divorcers. All seven states with the lowest divorce rates are liberal strongholds.

Parenting fails

Many more here.   All those in favor of making parents get a license to have children raise your hand.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And in the Gulf of Mexico

Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

Newt Gingrich, go away and stop bothering us.

Gingrich came out on Fox News this morning to slam Harvard University for accepting Saudi money.

On the one hand, Harvard accepts money from Saudis. Saudi Arabia, by the way, executes homosexuals. Saudi Arabia represses women. Saudi Arabia does not allow Christians or Jews to practice their religion, but Saudi money is fine.

Fine except for one minor detail. The largest block of ownership outside the Murdoch family is owned by Saudi oil tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Alwaleed has boasted in the past about forcing Fox News to change its content. Gingrich is a regular on Fox where he can spout hypocritical bullshit like this in total safety.

Standard operating procedure for Gingrich.

For fuck;s sake

Part of the official platform for the Republican Party platform in Maine since it was hijacked by the Tea Party is to "Reject the UN Treaty on Rights of the Child".

In various parts of the world children are being cynically used as soldiers in guerrilla wars, children are being sold and forced into prostitution, children are being murdered along with their families in genocide, children are forced to labor for pennies and the Maine GOP now believes they shouldn't be protected.

The outrageous comments, signs and actions at Tea Party rallies are explained by its defenders as 'isolated acts'. This is not an isolated act. This is the agreed upon belief of the Maine GOP/Tea Party. Those so called 'isolated acts' are the face of the Tea Party.

In a related story, classrooms used by the Maine Tea Partiers to caucus were defaced and items removed because they objected to some of the teaching materials.

Oil spill execs finally come clean on Saturday Night Live

The Republican Party becoming unglued?

Future historians tracing the crackup of the Republican Party may well look to May 8, 2010, as an inflection point.

That was the day, as is now well known, that Sen. Robert Bennett, who took the conservative position 84 percent of the time over his career, was deemed not conservative enough by fellow Utah Republicans and booted out of the primary.

Less well known, but equally ominous, is what happened that same day, 2,500 miles east in Maine. There, the state Republican Party chucked its platform -- a sensible New England mix of free-market economics and conservation -- and adopted a manifesto of insanity: abolishing the Federal Reserve, calling global warming a "myth," sealing the border, and, as a final plank, fighting "efforts to create a one world government."

One world government? Do our friends Down East fear an invasion from the Canadian maritime provinces? A Viking flotilla coming from Iceland under cover of volcanic ash?

From The Washington Post.

Glenn Beck is their mouthpiece. Here are a few choice quotes from him in the past couple of weeks.
"Social and ecological justice and all of this bullcrap, is man's work for a global government."

"Jesus doesn't want a cap-and-trade system."
I wonder if Beck is friends with Jesus on Facebook or maybe he gets Jesus' ultra secret Twitter Tweets.

The ugly reality of the man behind the "Rentboy" hilarity

From the always excellent Frank Rich in the New York Times today. A taste
only weeks before Rekers’s excellent European adventure, his name appeared on the masthead of an official-looking letter sent to some 14,000 school superintendents nationwide informing them that homosexuality is a choice that can be stamped out by therapy. The letter was from the “American College of Pediatricians” — a misnomer for what is actually a political organization peddling homophobic junk-science. Rekers was also on the board of another notorious peddler of gay “cures” — the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality, or Narth — until he resigned last week. Such groups have done nothing to stop homosexuality but plenty to help promote punitive “treatment” and suicidal depression among untold numbers of gay youths.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Traveling on business for the next couple of days so blogging will be light until late Saturday.

What is wrong with these people - Michelle Bachman edition

Remember when Bush was President anyone on the left who dared to use the term, "fascism" or "Nazi" were viciously attacked from all quarters. As you can see from the Lewis Black video from the Daily Show posted earlier today, Glenn Beck for one uses the comparison all the time with impunity.

Today Michelle Bachmann is at it, comparing financial reform to Italy under Mussolini because things were working so well without financial reform here.

"Let's remember really what this is. This has a lot in common with Italy in the 1930s and they way Italy dealt with economics," she said. "It still continues private ownership of business but government is in control."

She continued, "So government control of the private business, while it's private ownership, that's still at the end of the day the federal government virtually having a say over private business. We lose freedoms; we lose economic competitiveness."

In Italy the fascists did take over nominal control of many key businesses but they never had to bail out the banking system. Despite my many reservations on how it was done, especially the lack of transparency some form of bail out was necessary.

On second thought, why do I even bother to comment on such idiocy. Bachmann's words speak for themselves.

A trillion dollar waste - the "war on drugs"

MEXICO CITY — After 40 years, the United States' war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.

Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn't worked.

"In the grand scheme, it has not been successful," Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. "Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified."

This week President Obama promised to "reduce drug use and the great damage it causes" with a new national policy that he said treats drug use more as a public health issue and focuses on prevention and treatment.

Nevertheless, his administration has increased spending on interdiction and law enforcement to record levels both in dollars and in percentage terms; this year, they account for $10 billion of his $15.5 billion drug-control budget.

The full article here.

A litany of errors in the Deep Horizon "failsafe" devices

A House energy panel investigation has found that the blowout preventer that failed to stop a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had a dead battery in its control pod, leaks in its hydraulic system, a "useless" test version of a key component and a cutting tool that wasn't strong enough to shear through steel joints in the well pipe and stop the flow of oil.

The full story here.  Criminal charges for all three responsible companies are likely to follow.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rhythmic gymnastics 1940's style - and they sing too.

New from The National who I had not heard of before today.   Take a listen. 

What it takes to be a Republican in Alabama

Bradley Byrne is running for Governor in Alamaba.   The True Republican PAC (I assume the name is to ensure that true believers aren't fooled by fake Republicans) put out this ad attacking Byrne for supporting the teaching of evolution which I assume is a sin in Alabama. 

Byrne shot back with a response to prove his credentials.  "I have never wavered in my belief that this world and everything in it is a masterpiece created by the hands of God... I fought to ensure the teaching of creationism in our school text books."

Why expanding offshore drilling is totally irrelevant

This graph clearly illustrates why the 'drill baby drill' crowd are living in an alternative reality when they think it's the solution to our dependence on foreign oil.   The graph looks ahead to oil consumption as well as the origin of oil for the next 20 years.   The little tinge of orange at the top of the graph is the total production if all current untapped offshore sources were drilled.   Makes you think 'why bother' considering the current Gulf of Mexico disaster. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who would have guessed

Oil spill hearings in Congress: Companies all blame each other, refuse to accept any responsibility.

George "lift my luggage" Rekers gets paid a lot as a legal expert to talk shit.

George Rekers, co-founder of the ultra conservative Family Research Council made headlines recently when he used to accompany him on a trip to Europe to help 'lift his luggage'. The Rentboy in questions has since admitted they had sex as has another Rentboy.

Rekers is also one of the leading lights in the ex-gay movement which claims that finding religion can cure homosexuality. As a so-called expert, the State of Florida recently paid him $120,000 to give 'expert' testimony against allowing gay couples to adopt children, testimony that was deemed not credible by the judge.

He did the same in Arkansas and was paid a settlement of $60,000 after trying to bill the state for $160,000.

In both cases, judges threw out his testimony as not being credible and for being too ideological. In Florida, under state AG, gubernatorial candidate and long-time Republican stooge, Bill McCollum taxpayers had to pony up every dime.

I guess his cavorting around with Rentboys can be can be explained by field research but he's still sticking to the excuse that he needed someone to 'lift his luggage' after a recent operation. Feel free to interpret luggage lifting any way you want to.

American Idiot of the day - Liz Cheney

A bonus twofer. She manages to make to be an idiot twice in one day. Quite an achievement.

On Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace she claimed that America is bailing out Greece (false) and that we should adopt a Greek style austerity plan.

Firstly, America is not bailing out Greece. The EU and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) are. The U.S. — along with many other countries– is a contributor to the International Monetary Fund, which serves as a lender of last resort to countries in crisis in order to prevent these crises from spreading worldwide. By Cheney’s standard every Administration in the last 60 years since the IMF was created, including the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush administrations, have “bailed out” countries.

Secondly Greece is currently unable to service it's debt which caa lead to Greece defaulting. This has the potential to roil stock markets worldwide. Their economy is also contracting at a rapid rate so there is no possibility that economic growth will help mitigate the debt situation. By contrast, the American economy is currently quite capable of servicing it's debt and the economy has shown reasonable growth over the past few quarters so, despite many economic problems, the U.S. is heading in the right direction.

An 'Austerity Plan' would put the brakes on economic growth in a New York Minute and the economy would inevitably slide back into a deep recession at best. As it is, one of the biggest current drags on the economy are the severe budget cuts by state and local governments, partly from huge layoffs, and partly from wage freezes and unpaid furloughs.

Cheney and Republicans have a 'one size fits all' economic policy that regards tax cuts and cutting government spending as the cure for any economic ailment. It reminds me of medicine in the 17th and 18th centuries when 'bleeding' the patient was considered the cure of last resort no matter what the ailment. The result was that a patient that was going to die anyway died sooner and if the patient was going to survive, the 'bleeding' slowed the recovery.

Liz Chaney has been far too visible on cable news since the election of Obama considering her dual purpose of trying to protect her father's legacy and attack Obama. If she actually knew what she was talking about and didn't live in a fact free world she might have some credibility.

Monday, May 10, 2010

One last Mother's day song - a day later

Get ready for the Elena Kagan nomination hearings. Bring out the popcorn and wait for the GOP assault on her alleged sexual orientation and more.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

As an addendum to the previous post here is a quote from Sean Hannity a few days ago.
Hannity: I've actually had an idea -- no one listens to little ol' Sean Hannity. But I'm like -- I think the Iraqis, with all their oil resources, need to pay us back for their liberation. Every single solitary penny. Because we really need --

Johnson: I really thought that from the beginning. I thought that that was kind of, part of the equation.

Hannity: It should have been part of the deal.

Johnson: Should have been part of the deal.

Hannity: I think it should be now. I think they owe us a lot for that.

Just a reminder of the cost of arrogance and incompetence

* Total deaths: Between 110,663 and 119,380

* Coalition deaths: 4,712

* U.S. deaths: 4,394

* U.S. wounded: 31,768

* U.S. deaths as a percentage of coalition deaths: 93.25 percent

* Iraqi Security Force deaths: At least 9,451

* Total coalition and ISF deaths: At least 14,163

* Iraqi civilian deaths: Between 96,037 and 104,7542

* Non-Iraqi contractor deaths: At least 463

* Internally displaced persons: 2.6 million

* Refugees: 1.9 million

Financial costs

* Cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom: $748.2 billion

* Projected total cost of veterans’ health care and disability: $422 billion to $717 billion

Total cost of the Iraq war will add between $1.2 and $1.5 trillion to the deficit. For the first time in history, the American people have not been asked to contribute anything to offset the cost of a major war in the form of higher taxes no matter how small the increase mat be. Instead future generations will be forced to pay.

Rare, officially unreleased Bob Dylan, "Mama, you've been on my mind" on piano.

To all the mothers out there

Friday, May 7, 2010

Amy MacDonald, Scottish singer/songwriter from her first album "This Is The Life" released just before her 20th birthday. She sold 3 million copies, mostly in Europe and was barely noticed in America. The album was released by Mercury in the U.S. but with no support and only one showcase performance. She has a new album out called "A Curious Thing" and is playing festivals all over Europe this summer but still has no plans to tour America.

One of the greats

Thank God for incompetence

It seems to me that the people who want cause mayhem and far worse in America these days are all thankfully clearly lacking in competence no matter what their political leanings. From the world of Islamist crazies we’ve had the shoe bomber with the apparently flame resistant sneakers, the underpants bomber who likewise couldn’t get his Jihadi brand underwear to explode and most recently Faisal Shahzad, the latest example of sheer ineptitude. Not only was he a complete failure at bombmaking but he’s also going to have long time to figure out that buying a vehicle to utilize as a car bomb on Craig’s list using your own cellphone is not the way to cover your tracks.

Since Obama’s election we’re also seen a rise in Militias as well as a general radicalization on the right. Nine members of a militia in Michigan were recently arrested for planning to kill a policeman or two and then set of a bomb at their funeral. Considering what they were planning, a Facebook page was probably not helpful in the discretion that their plan required.

Now comes the arrest of Walter Fitzpatrick a few days ago. Fitzpatrick is a radical birther who tried to perform a citizen’s arrest on the foreman of a Grand Jury in Madison County, Tennessee. Fitzpatrick had previously tried to persuade that grand jury to consider charges of Treason against President Obama. They declined and that ended up in Fitzpatrick being himself arrested. This prompted Darren Huff, a local militia member in Georgia to attempt to mount a one posse to free Fitzpatrick. His first mistake was telling his bank manager that he and about 8 or 9 other militias were going to descend on Madisonville and take over the city. Huff told the manager to keep an eye on the news as he (Huff) would be on it. He got his wish and he’s also been arrested.

It wasn’t too long before FBI agents showed up to interview Huff at his home on April 19. Huff told them he would be traveling to Tennessee to help Fitzpatrick get the charges against him dropped. Huff assured the agents there would be no violence unless they were provoked into violence. Still, he told agents he planned to travel with his Colt .45 handgun and AK-47 rifle.

At 6.15 AM the following day the FBI who by now were obviously watching him closely, saw him leave on his one man crusade to Tennessee. He hadn’t gone very far before The Tennessee Highway Patrol pulled him over for various traffic warrants and registration violations. If I was intent on carrying out Huff’s mission I would make sure all outstanding tickets, warrants and registration had all been taken care of. Client confidentiality with one’s banker does not extend beyond your financial situation so telling him he and other militia members were going to take over a city in another state does is not protected by any client confidentiality that I’ve heard of.

Huff has now been charged with traveling in interstate commerce with intent to incite a riot and transporting in commerce a firearm in furtherance of a civil disorder. He'll also have a long time to dwell on how dumb he was.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Alpha Dog of the Week - George Rekers
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We're in the twighlight zone officially

A must read editorial from Gail Collins in the New York Times. Republicans want to deny terrorism suspects who are citizens their constitutional rights yet are quite happy to let them buy AK'47s and explosives.
There seems to be a strong sentiment in Congress that the only constitutional right suspected terrorists have is the right to bear arms.

“I think you’re going too far here,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday. He was speaking in opposition to a bill that would keep people on the F.B.I. terrorist watch list from buying guns and explosives
Here is an example of the logic Graham's argument.
“when the founders sat down and wrote the Constitution, they didn’t consider flying.”

God, please help us. Sanity is in short supply and we badly need some.

Financial reform - GOP Sen. Shelby goes to bat for the finance industry

One of the bigger sticking points in the Financial Reform debate is the establishment of a badly needed consumer protection agency for the finance industry. If I buy a toaster oven that doesn’t work properly and the manufacturer refuses to take care of the problem I have an I can complain to. If I sign on to a new credit card company and I fail to see a clause on page 12 of the small print that gives the issuer the right to raise my rates at will, negating any other protections in the contract (and they do this sort of thing) I have no agency to complain to. I should have just read all the small print.

For obvious reasons the financial industry doesn’t like the idea of such an agency one little bit. They realize it is inevitable in one form or another so their preference is to give it as few teeth as possible and to open loopholes all over the place. This has their lobbyists scurrying all over Capitol Hill with a heightened sense of urgency. They have their supporters, mostly but not entirely made up of Republicans. Sen. Selby (R-AL) and minority leader on the Banking subcommittee has duly gone to bat for the industry with a lobby written amendment that will effectively retain the status quo at best or even weaken current controls at worst.

Shelby’s amendment is remarkable in that it not only gives a bank regulator veto power over the new consumer division’s rulemaking authority, but it prevents the division from enforcing consumer protection rules against almost the entire financial system. Commercial banks, investment banks, payday lenders, auto dealers, check cashers, and non-banks that deal in products other than mortgages (such as AIG) would all be exempt from the division’s enforcement. I'm not sure the amendment applies to anyone.

The current system allows Federal Bank regulators to override more stringent consumer protections laws that States enact. States like Georgia and New Jersey tried to reel in predatory subprime lending in 2002 and 2003, but federal bank regulators stopped them in their tracks.

The current proposed bill would force regulators to preempt state law on a case-by-case basis (which still isn’t great), while the Republican alternative would grant the banks blanket preemption, rendering every state’s consumer protection efforts moot henceforth. It seems odd that the party so concerned with states’ rights would advocate nullifying state laws before they’re even written.

One of the key tenets of Republican/Conservative philosophy is the idea of States Rights. In the new world of the right even core principles only apply when it suits them.

Die Antwoord

Zaf Rap from the one of the hottest trends in South African music. Zaf is Afrikaans for 'Redneck'. 'Die Antwoord is The Answer in Afrikaans. They were at the Coachella Festival with a U.S. tour scheduled later this year.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More insanity from the world of wingnuttery

Farad Zakaria is a conservative middle of the road writer for Newsweek. He is also a frequent guest on cable news, a host on CNN and also happens to be a Muslim. He has written a book titled, "The Post-American World". Here is the first paragraph of Amazon's review:

“This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else.” So begins Fareed Zakaria’s important new work on the era we are now entering. Following on the success of his best-selling The Future of Freedom, Zakaria describes with equal prescience a world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy, orchestrate geopolitics, or overwhelm cultures.

Sounds terrifying, doesn't it. A recent picture of Obama shows him with the book in his hand. This has prompted a flurry of e-mails from the delusional right to flood people's in-boxes.


The name of the book Obama is reading is called:
The Post-American World, and it was written by a fellow Muslim.
“Post” American means the world After America ! Please forward this picture to everyone you know, conservative or liberal. We must expose Obama’s radical ideas and his intent to bring down our beloved America !

They aren't called 'wingnuts' without good reason.