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Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Senate's priorities are totally effed up.

While the Senate spent most of Thursday bickering about $30 billion in loans and an additional $12 in tax relief for small businesses they did get something done.

They unanimously passed a bill doubling the penalty for making pot brownies. They also authorized the issuance of a conservation stamp and created Polycystic Kidney Disease Awareness Week.

No commentary needed.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A couple of great Jon Stewart pieces from this week.

Goldman S@#%$
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Jon Stewart - spot on as usual.

Leader's Digest
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Glenn Beck's latest conspiracy theory.

He blames the radical 60's group the Weather Underground for Homer Simpson's TV character. I kid you not.

GOP: winning an election more important than helping small businesses

Senate Republicans filibustered a bill yesterday that would provide $30 billion in much needed loans for small businesses and provide $12 billion in tax credits as well. The GOP wanted to add a number of amendments to the bill on the Estate tax and on extending all the Bush tax cuts but the Democrats would only let them add three amendments related to the bill.

Republicans who had helped write the bill then blocked it. You don't have to be a policy wonk to understand the underlying story here. The GOP amendments are a poison pill that the Democrats will not support. They know this. Their goal is to deny the Democrats any credit before the November elections.

Mary Landrieu (D-LA) sponsor of the bill harshly criticized Mitch McConnell GOP Senate leader for blocking the measure, and warned that some businesses might fail.

“Our businesses have picked up enough weight; they can’t handle that weight,” she said in a floor speech. “And if we don’t give them some help now, today, many of them aren’t going to be here — I want the senator from Kentucky to know — when we show up in September.”

It's time the Democrats went Weiner (see post below) on the GOP 24/7. Let the American people know what where the Republican's priorities lie.

This is how to stand up to bullshit

Anthony Weiner (D-NY) let's rip on the GOP for voting against a much needed bill last night that would provide up to $7.4 billion in health care aid to rescue and recovery workers who have faced health problems since their work in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Click to the video in You Tube for the fullscreen.

From Move On - The 5 myths about Social Security

Myth: Social Security is going broke.
Myth: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer.
Myth: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security.
Myth: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs
Myth: Social Security adds to the deficit

The details are here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Reggae classic gets the full Clash treatment.

Iowa GOP takes the lead in the looniest platform race

GOP State platforms tend to make interesting reading especially since the emergence of the Tea Party.  The only people who show up for the state party conventions where they are drafted are the fanatics and the political professionals.   The fanatics these days far outnumber the pros and the resulting platforms can be quite amazing documents.  

Texas has generally set the gold standard for looniness but Iowa has recently leapfrogged them.  The platform has 387 separate planks and principles ranging from the paranoid to the ridiculous to the obvious as well bouts of surprising sanity that the GOP will never actually adopt.

The most startling platform is for “the reintroduction and ratification of the original 13th Amendment.” that failed to pass in 1810.  The Amendment was introduced in 1865 and prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude.  No, they don't want to reintroduce slavery but they do want to use the original version to deny Obama his citizenship.   It has nothing to do with the Birther movement either.  The original Amendment stated:

“if any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain any title of nobility or honor” from a “foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen” and “shall be incapable of holding any office of trust.”

They believe that in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize Obama would have violated this original Amendment.  I imagine they would have to then also believe that any Americans winning the Nobel Prize for any of the sciences or writing would also thus lose their citizenship.   The Department of Justice did look into whether Obama would need Congressional approval to receive the prize based on an existing emoluments clause but ruled that the Nobel Committee is not a "foreign power".  

They also want to eliminate the Departments of Education and Agriculture and the IRS.   The platform also calls for the elimination of the minimum wage and of OSHA.  They must like the idea of the sweatshops and factory conditions of a time long since passed.

Then there is the paranoid.   They oppose the imposition of Sharia Law.  So do I, and I also appose the idea that all Americans be forced to become Idol worshipers and I'm not talking about film or rock idols. This is as likely as the adoption of Sharia Law.   There seems to be some fairly pervasive idea among Tea Partiers that having a President whose middle name is Hussein is one step away from the imposition Sharia Law. 

They oppose the North America Union which allegedly will eliminate our borders and sovereignty as well as the Amero which will do away with out currency.   I've never even heard of either of these.  They also oppose a "World Government" which is about as likely as Sharia Law becoming the law of the land.   

Another part of the platform reads:

We oppose the restoration of the “Fairness Doctrine” by congress, the FCC, or the courts, which is nothing more than a pretext to silence conservative radio talk shows

The Fairness Doctrine was introduced in 1949 to force broadcasters to present both sides of controversial issues but was removed in 1981. The current meme among the right is that the Obama administration want to reintroduce it to silence conservative talk radio. There hasn't even been the slightest hint that they have even considered it but that doesn't bother the right from turning it into a rallying cry.

Activist judges should all be impeached. They obviously haven't considered that this could include all the conservative judges on the Supreme Court who ruled in favor of unlimited corporate campaign donations, overturning all settled law.

I do, however, like the second principle. All it says is "America is Good." You can't get any clearer and simpler than that. Then there is the sane principle that all farm subsidies should be eliminated. I have always agreed with that one although hell will freeze over before the GOP even considers that. One of the platforms deals with the definition of manure. You can make up your own definition for that one. It isn't bullshit although it should be.

Then there is the sane principle that all farm subsidies should be eliminated. I have always agreed with that one although hell will freeze over before either party even considers that one.

All in all, it's an entertaining though scary read through the minds of the far right in America today.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Senator can't understand math never mind economics

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) -- the fifth highest ranking Republican in the Senate -- has a new plan for lowering deficits, and as you might expect from GOP leadership, it involves zero tax hikes. 

He wants to cut deficit spending by 10% a year and says it will eliminate the deficit in 10 years according to an interview he did on Fox last night.  The host didn't challenge his math.   It will actually take 20 years using that formula. 

Oh well.

Taking a stand........not really

Ron Johnson, a businessman seeking the Republican nomination in Wisconsin against Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, might not fully grasp the concept of dumping one's stock holdings for political reasons.

He currently holds a couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of BP stock.   He says he is going to dump it........when it regains its value.  

Now that's what I call standing up to corporate malfeasance. 

Following on from the earlier post on tax cuts for the rich

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who spends a lot of time stoking fear about deficits under President Obama, explained on MSNBC this morning that the “difference” between President Bush and Obama is that Obama is spending far too much.

King is about right wing as they get in Congress on everything and anything. It gets him a lot of press but little else.

The current meme among most Republicans is that every bit of spending has to be 'paid for' by budget cuts elsewhere except for tax cuts. Here's what he said.

They have stimulated the economy. It is not paid for with offsets, those tax cuts have been in place as you characterized them, since May 28th of 2003. This is a continuation of a tax policy, so I would say you don’t have to ask for a paid-for continued tax policy. This is a tax increase if we let this happen without doing something happen about it. They have also demonstrated they increase in revenue with the capital gains as a part of that.

Here is a graph that shows just how out to lunch King is.  The graph shows individual tax receipts as a percentage of GDP.   Since the Bush tax cuts it has declined from a little more than 10% to a little more than 6%.   Numbers don't lie, politicians do. 

A matter of good economics as well as doing the right thing.

President Obama has proposed to eliminate the massive deficit-busting Bush tax breaks for the top 2 percent of Americans -- while maintaining tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans. He is spot on.

The Republicans charge that eliminating these tax breaks on the rich -- and returning them to Clinton-era levels -- would be a "job-killing tax hike in the midst of a recession." Let's recall that while the Clinton-era tax rates applied to the rich in the 1990's, the economy created more than 22.5 million jobs in less than eight years -- the most jobs ever created under a single administration. Moreover, the Federal deficit had turned into a surplus for as long as the eye could see. The number of private sector jobs created during the Bush years: zero. The Republican position amounts to nothing more than baseless pandering to the greed of their many wealthy donors.

The full article here. Worth reading.

Why we love Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin recently endorsed the Republican candidate Kelly Ayotte in the New Hampshire Senate race.

Since her endorsement 51% of voters in the state say they're less likely to back a Palin endorsed candidate to only 26% who say that support would make them more inclined to vote for someone. Among moderates that widens to 65% who say a Palin endorsement would turn them off to 14% who it would make more supportive.

at one point, the seat was considered a possible GOP win. Since then Paul Hodes, the Democratic candidate's lead in the polls among moderates has gone from 8 points to 21 points. Ayotte's favorability rating among moderates has gone from +5 to -19.

New Hampshire prides itself on moderation where 47% of voters describe themselves as such.

Sarah, keep those endorsements flowing.

Best goal celebration

From Iceland where they need something to celebrate. Double click to Youtube to get the widescreen version.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

For a change of pace

Is this what our priorities are?

Once again, war is being paid for with a credit card while investments in our children’s future are tossed aside. These investments – $10 billion for teacher jobs, $1 billion for summer youth employment, $5 billion for Pell grants, $701 million for border security – were cut from the war funding bill coming to the House floor despite being fully paid for and not adding to the budget deficit. They have been jettisoned in favor of further borrowed war spending. Today’s bill doesn’t include anything to maintain first responder, police or firefighter positions despite the dramatic need for those jobs in every community in America. We believe this is fiscal insanity and a moral tragedy.

The painful details here.

This picture speaks for itself.

NOM, the National Organization for Marriage is in the midst of a 23 city 'Summer for Marriage 2010' tour to promote their idea of heterosexual marriage only.   They're not exactly whipping up a storm.  Yesterday in Indianapolis they managed to attract 40 supporters and over 250 protesters.   The above poster is indicative of the type of person they attract.  Nothing more needs to be said.   

Tony Hayward is too busy to show up at a Senate hearing

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding a hearing about BP's role in securing the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. For those who may have missed the story, BP lobbied to have him released to secure a pending deal they had with Libya.

BP's role in his release has only recently been revealed much to the embarrassment of the British Government and the Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill. Both admitted the release was a mistake but not Tony. It should be obvious to everyone that by now that embarrassment is not in his repertoire of emotions.

Hayward is now the ex-CEO of BP but is still far to busy to show up for the hearing on Thursday as the Committee has requested. Ever the whining wanker that he is, he complained to reporters that he had been unfairly “demonized and vilified” in the US where Barack Obama and other politicians have been severely critical of BP’s actions and taken exception to some of his (Hayward’s) public comments.

The worthless wanker should be happy, he's finally getting 'his life back' while the residents of the Gulf are still waiting for their lives back.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was infuriated by Hayward’s reply, stating, “It is apparently more important to BP and Mr Hayward to focus on his multimillion dollar golden parachute than to help answer serious questions about whether the company advocated trading blood for oil.”

BP is ready to start deepwater drilling off the coast of Libya next month, a deal believed to be worth about $20 billion to them. I wonder if they'll be more careful this time.

They don't make movie moguls like they used to.

Sam Glodwyn:

"Anyone who goes to see a psychiatrist should get their head examined"

Defence Dept. can't account for 96% of Iraqi reconstruction funds

Who the hell screwed up and accounted for the 4%. Out of $9 billion spent between 2003 and 2007, $8.7 billion cannot be traced.

Story here.

Happy Birthday - Mick Jagger

Dictionaries have a purpose.

You would think by now the right might have stopped attacking Shirley Sherrod, the person at the center of the edited, so called 'racist' tape. Most have, but not Jeffrey Lord, who writes for The American Spectator, a haven for the thinkers on the far right. It's where Ben Stein suggested last week that the only reason so many people are still unemployed is because they have poor work habits or personality defects.

Lord writes

Shirley Sherrod's story in her now famous speech about the lynching of a relative is not true. The veracity and credibility of the onetime Agriculture Department bureaucrat at the center of the explosive controversy between the NAACP and conservative media activist Andrew Breitbart is now directly under challenge.

and goes on to say

Plain as day, Ms. Sherrod says that Bobby Hall, a Sherrod relative, was lynched. As she puts it, describing the actions of the 1940s-era Sheriff Claude Screws: "Claude Screws lynched a black man."

This is not true. It did not happen. How do we know this?

How do we know this? Because, Lord writes, Bobby Hall was beaten to death not hanged. Here is one the definition of lynch from the Oxford On Line Dictionary.

(of a mob) kill (someone), especially by hanging, for an alleged offense with or without a legal trial

While hanging was the preferred method of lynching, the legal definition is a mob of three or more killing or attempting to kill someone accused of a crime outside the legal system.

Bobby Hall was lynched both legally and linguistically. Jeffrey Lord spends four pages trying to prove that Shirley Sherrod is probably a racist because he has proved that she is a liar. It's the lead story on The Ameridan Spectator.

He could have saved everyone a lot of trouble by using a dictionary. Someone should tell him that they are there to be used by writers to help them not look like complete idiots.

Monday, July 26, 2010

We're giving billions to Pakistan to..........kill Americans

The leak of 90,000 classified documents on the war in Afghanistan late last week reveals that the Pakistani intelligence, as has been suspected for a while, is working hand in hand with the Taliban.

Time to get the hell out of there. No one wins wars in Afghanistan, ever. We're about to waste another $33 billion on this futility.

More here and here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another hot Sunday so what better than sitting in the shade with the NY Times crossword in hand.

BP - Playing their usual games.

More than a month after promising to set up an escrow account to pay people who have been financially hurt by the oil spill, no money has been deposited into the account.

Sounds like business as usual for BP.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Michelle Bachmann finally announces future GOP policy.

The GOP have refused to offer any solutions to the problem of job creation other than tax cuts for the rich which never work, nor have they been able to come up with any solutions for reducing the deficit despite their fanatical insistence that it needs to be cut drastically.

Michelle Bachmann the GOP rep. from Minnesota came to the rescue today, announcing the GOP's policy should they win the house this November.

"I think that all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another, and expose all the nonsense that has gone on. And it's very important when we come back that we have constitutional conservative leadership, because the American people's patience is about this big. So we have to make sure that we do what the people want us to do."

That's obviously exactly what the American people want, wall-to-wall subpoenas all day long. Forget solving the employment crisis, forget figuring out what to do with the economy, forget solving the health care problem. WE WANT OUR SUBPOENAS!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

He's coming back!!

For a couple of years, it was the love that dared not speak his name. In 2008, Republican candidates hardly ever mentioned the president still sitting in the White House. After the election, the G.O.P. did its best to shout down all talk about how we got into the mess we’re in, insisting that we needed to look forward, not back. And many in the news media played along, acting as if it was somehow uncouth for Democrats even to mention the Bush era and its legacy.

The truth, however, is that the only problem Republicans ever had with George W. Bush was his low approval rating. They always loved his policies and his governing style — and they want them back. In recent weeks, G.O.P. leaders have come out for a complete return to the Bush agenda, including tax breaks for the rich and financial deregulation. They’ve even resurrected the plan to cut future Social Security benefits.

Paul Krugman, as entertaining and informative as ever.

Some illuminating graphs.

To show some of the points I made in my earlier post about the bizzarro world of economic policy in Washington.

Graph 1 - rising income inequality.  One of the right's most persistent complaints is Obama's desire to redistribute the wealth when in fact the largest income distribution in history has already occurred in the past 10 years.  Now if only Democratic pundits on TV would start hammering home this point it might wake up a few people.

The GOP's belief that tax cuts, especially for the wealthy spur job growth is shown to be a complete lie in this graphic.  The last decade, which saw the Bush tax cuts is the first decade since World War II to have no job growth at all.

Lastly, the deficit with or without extending the Bush tax cuts. 

A picture is worth a thousand words. 

Newt Gingrich - :"Let's be more like Saudi Arabia"

Because there's nothing like emulating a truly repressive state.

Story here.

Health insurers sit on billions in cash while hiking premiums

An examination of 10 health insurance company plan finances found that in 7, the companies were holding more than three times the minimum required cash reserves while hiking rates by double digit numbers every year.

Recently there was a considerable fuss when Anthem/Blue Cross in California announced increases of up to 39% for individual policy owners. The State Insurance Commissioner's office found that they had flagrantly cooked the books to justify the increase.

While the health care reform will won't initially cure all these ills it has opened the door for further reforms down the road unless the GOP get's its way and repeals the whole bill.

Full story here.

Keith Olberman Is Fired Up

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Must watch 'Special Comment'. He's pissed. He came back from his first long vacation since his father passed away to do one about the Shirley Sherrod situation.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Bizzarro World of Economic Policy in Washington

“If we don’t get aide to state and local governments…we stand to lose by the fall 1 million people. That’s one million back in the pool of unemployment. So that figure will stay up. The American people get upset when the unemployment figure is up. These people will lose jobs; they’ll receive unemployment compensation. I mean it’s a bad deal all around. And if the federal government would pass some money for state aide, local government aide then we’d get out of this mess, at least for a while and start to build back. We’ve done it before.”

That's the reality facing the economy. Any help for state and local governments is off the table thanks to 40 Republican Senators and a few moderate Democrat deficit hawks. Any potential job creation will be snuffed out by this for the remainder of the year.

House Minority Leader John Boehner outlined the top three measures for the GOP's job creation plan today. They are to repeal the health care reform bill, stop any and all climate legislation and renew the Bush tax cuts. How this will help create jobs is beyond me or any sane person.

The health care industry is one of the few industries where there is job growth, reform or not. How stopping climate legislation will create jobs remains a complete mystery to me. I would like someone to explain this to me.

Then there are the Bush tax cuts. They are set to expire at the end of the year. The Democrats want to keep the tax cuts for all but the top two tax brackets. The GOP want to extend all tax cuts. Renewing the tax cuts for the top tier will add about $700 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years. This is from the party that thinks cutting the deficit is far more important than creating jobs.

Republicans believe, or at least they say they believe that tax cuts for the wealthy actually increase tax revenue because that additional money gets invested in creating tons of jobs. All empirical evidence contradicts that. Both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts increased the deficit. Studies have also shown that the rich invest a significant proportion of the increase in tax cuts in stocks or other financial investments. That helps the markets but does squat for creating jobs.

In short, the GOP job creation plan is incoherent but their job elimination program in refusing to consider aid for states and local governments is doing great.

Job creation, as any economist knows, can only come from spending, either from the government or from the private sector. Policy determines government spending and the fear about the deficit is restricting the ability to do that. Private sector investment generally comes from tax incentives or increasing demand. There are tax incentives aplenty available but that alone is not enough to stimulate an economy as moribund as the current situation.

The top 500 non-financial industry companies in America are currently sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash or cash equivalents. At no time in America's economic history has that much corporate cash been sitting idle. If you believe the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the GOP the reason that money is not being invested is because of uncertainty about possible tax increases and the fear of more regulation. There is one word for that: BULLSHIT!

With a high percentage of companies operating at less than full capacity their leaders would rather sit around and complain than invest or use their supposed excellence to innovate. Look at Apple and Google by contrast. Innovation is driving the company to new heights where they are now worth more than Microsoft.

When demand rises they will at least start thinking about investing and expanding. Sadly, most large corporations have become so moribund as their top executives sit counting their stock options and their salaries which are at historic highs while the rest of us struggle. Government spending, whether it's in saving a million local government jobs, extending unemployment benefits or more stimulus spending are three ways to sustain or grow demand. We can always deal with the deficit later.

After World War II when debt was proportionately far higher to GDP than it is today, spending on the GI Bill, the Interstate highway system and other things helped lift the economy which grew tax revenues and the deficit was reduced. Cutting spending now will only shrink the economy further, reducing tax revenues even more which will negate the effect of spending cuts on the deficit.

Come November, when the GOP will inevitably have enough votes to filibuster everything it will only get worse while they continue to believe in their panglossian economic theories.

One of the most entertaining live bands ever.

Ben Slime, I mean Stein is a pig

The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say “generally” because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work. They are people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job. Again, there are powerful exceptions and I know some, but when employers are looking to lay off, they lay off the least productive or the most negative. To assure that a worker is not one of them, he should learn how to work and how to get along — not always easy.

Ben Stein was fired by the NY Times for being a pitchman for a particularly sleazy Credit Fixing company. Lucky for him other people are still willing to pay him for his bile.

The Obama Administration has no balls #2

This one has far more serious implications than the Shirley Sherrod saga below.

One of the better things to come out of the financial reform bill that Robert Reich succinctly described 'a mountain of legislative paper, a molehill of reform' is the establishment of a much needed new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The issue is who will head the Bureau. There is one obvious choice, Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law Professor who proposed the idea of the Bureau three years ago and fought tirelessly for its establishment. Warren has constantly called out for better policing of banks and how they treat their retail customers.

In an age where banks care less about their customers than ever before and find myriad ways to squeeze extra money out of consumers, a strong Bureau is the only safeguard.

On the other side is Timothy Geitner, the Treasury Secretary who never met a bank he didn't like to bail out. The problem for the banking industry is that they are still sitting on trillions of dollars of worthless assets that they have yet to write off. If they did so, they would all be nominally bankrupt so they are going to have to take the next decade or so to slowly ease the pain of the write-offs.

It would be so much easier if banks could squeeze those extra profits out of consumers who don't have lobbyists defending their interests. The more money the banks make, the quicker they can write off their huge losses. Elizabeth Warren is the last person Geitner wants running the Bureau because that will spoil his fantasy of being the hero that saved finance.

The Obama administration has been lukewarm to Warren's nomination and has already expressed concern that it will be a battle to get her confirmed. For fuck's sake, if there is a battle worth fighting in today's economic climate, this is the fight. There is no gray area, it's consumers versus the big fat overbonused bankers.

Jason Linkins in the Huffington Post put it best:

You say that Warren's appointment is likely to be very contentious? And draw a lot of opposition? Well I am interested in hearing the other side of that argument! How is that going to do? Will it be, "We are worried that Elizabeth Warren has philosophical opposition to the Wall Street practices that led to the largest economic meltdown in the last half-century?" Or is it going to be more like: "If Elizabeth Warren gets her way, some consumers may end up getting protected?" If it were up to me, this wouldn't be a fight I'd be looking to actively avoid. I'd be looking for a way to drag it out for the next three months. (Unless I missed the part where Americans have suddenly rekindled their love for big banking institutions!)

The other candidate for the position, Michael Barr, gained notoriety for his opposition to reforming the derivatives markets after the economy collapsed.

The decision is a no-brainer but when people who sometimes act as though they have no brains you can't be to hopeful.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Obama Administration Has No Balls # 1

A fairly major shitstorm erupted yesterday when a video of a speech given by Shirley Sherrod, the USDA director for rural Georgia, suggested she was biased against white farmers in a recent speech to the NAACP. The video appeared on Andrew Breitbart's website (he of the ACORN video tapes)

The short video seemed damning enough. Here is the edited version posted by Breitbart.

"What he didn't know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me was, I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him. I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So I didn't give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough."

The implication was that she was referring to a recent incident in her duties with the USDA. Turns out the incident happened in 1986 and the point of her story was to illustrate how she overcame prejudice and helped save the individual's farm.

Before you knew it she had been forced to resign from her position, allegedly at the insistence of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak before Fox News had even managed to ratchet up the hysteria.

Breitbart is well known for editing video to assign guilt. For those who aren't aware. the aftermath of the ACORN saga was that a court in New York threw out all the charges as soon as the judge saw the unedited video. Remember the pimp and hooker outfits the two white interviewers were wearing on the video? Turns out they did that for show but wore normal clothes when meeting with ACORN.

The result was a mega-shitstorm that ultimately forced ACORN to disband despite all the good work the organization did to help minority housing. Despite all the vote rigging accusations against ACORN, no charges were ever filed under the election laws.

Breitbart is notorious for this sort of thing and for the Obama administration to throw Ms. Sherrod her under the bus without considering the validity of the accusation is shameful. Are they that fearful of the right wing media when they hurl around unsubstantiated accusations?

In an interview with Breitbart it turns out that he didn't edit the tape. He received the 2 minute video extract from an anonymous source and ran with it without questioning the context. By this afternoon the couple, who's farm she eventually saved were on TV saying how wonderful she was and that they had become lifelong friends with her.

By then, the damage had been done and the Obama administration have put themselves in a no win situation by their hysterical overreaction. It's pathetic that they still have a cowardly knee-jerk reaction when the right squawks about anything.

For Breitbart, this incident will at least expose him for the lying sack of shit that he is. It didn't happen with the ACORN debacle because their exoneration in the courts happened long after the incident when the idea that ACORN equals voter fraud had already been embedded in the nation's mind. This time the pushback was swift and damning.

Possibly the most amazing reaction came from Glen Beck who took Ms. Sherrod's side this evening. He compared the situation to "taking a videotape of me at an AA meeting where I say, 'And you know what, I have to tell you something. I was drunk everyday. I was completely out of control," and stopping the tape before he said he found Jesus.

Not that I believe he found Jesus. He found that he could make a lot of money feeding into people's paranoid delusions about a 'one world' government and the Marxist-Kenyan-Muslim to destroy America.

Shame on the Obama administration for being suckered by a notorious charlatan and liar.

UPDATE Breitbart on CNN with John King last night challenged Eloise Spooner’s “purported” story, accusing King of trusting Sherrod “that the ‘farmer’s wife’ is the farmer’s wife”

Keep digging that hole. Soon you'll disappear.

One of the best live bands. Intensely political, Peter Garrett, the lead vocalist was elected to the Australian parliament in 2004, and in 2007 was made the Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts.

The Tea Party is the voice of the GOP

A recent in depth survey of the Tea Party shows members are even more closely identified with the GOP than those labeling themselves 'conservatives'

Far from an uprising against Wall Street and big business, Tea Partiers are among the most pro-big-business segments of the electorate, the poll found: 54 percent rate big business warmly; only 20 percent coolly.

And they are likewise far from the independent, nonpartisan movement some in the media seem to believe they are: The Tea Party is strongly affiliated with the GOP: 86 percent of movement supporters and activists either identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, and 82 percent say they will vote for the GOP candidate in the November 2010 midterms; only 9 percent say they won't. That margin is actually higher than it is among self-described "conservatives," where it's 72 to 18 percent.

Appallingly, the movement is united by the false belief that Barack Obama is a socialist: 90 percent of Tea Partiers polled call our centrist corporate-Democratic president a socialist.

Read on.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Giant Mess Called 'Security'

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

Here's an idea. If politicians are truly sincere about cutting spending this might be a good place to start. It's not going to happen. The first politician to suggest it will also be the first to be attacked for being 'soft on security for even suggesting it.'

Instead, in a misguided attempt to impose 'fiscal sanity', more and more unemployment benefits will be cut, more teachers will be laid off while the security trundles along like a drunk elephant. Since 9/11 263 separate government security organizations have been formed. There is no oversight and no cost controls.

Yesterday on the Sunday talk shows, a couple of GOP Senators were totally clueless when asked where they would cut Federal expenses. They probably don't read the Washington Post and the cable news media will continue to cover whether the Tea Party is racist or not.

The full article is definitely worth reading.

Bring back Bush's economic policies

That is what leading GOP politicians are saying in so many words.  I think the Democrats will be quite happy to have that discussion leading up to the mid term elections in November. 

The full story here. 

GOP Candidate in Tennessee fears the imposition of Sharia Law

The proposed construction of a Muslim community center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has become a hot issue in the Republican primary for the open Dem-held TN-06 district. One candidate, Lou Ann Zelenik, has been accusing her rivals of not taking a strong enough stand against it -- and her campaign is also warning against the possibility of Sharia law being instituted in Tennessee.

Her campaign spokesperson issued this statement:

"This isn't about building a mosque. This is about the establishment of Sharia law over the Constitution. And we're taking a very strong stance on that, we're opposed to the establishment of Sharia law in our state. We're going to give the people of Murfreesboro a forum to air their voice about the Islamic center that is being constructed."

I can see how this can happen.   First those darned Muslims build a community  center and next thing the Tennessee legislature starts enacting Sharia law. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Free Nelson Mandela - The Specials AKA

More Mandela

A short interview with Francois Pienaar, the captain of the Rugby World Cup winning team from 1995 who was played by Matt Damon in 'Invictus'.   It's a revealing perspective of the humanity and understanding of 'Madiba" as he is affectionately known by all South Africans.  

Happy Birthday - Nelson Mandela - 92 today

Here is a short bio on his life for you.

My father was born about 300 miles away ten days after Mandela's birth.   My father, who was white, also became a successful lawyer who believed Apartheid and racial oppression was evil.  Because of that I understood this at a very early age.   My father was lucky enough to see Nelson Mandela lead a a relatively peaceful transition to a free South Africa, something few South Africans expected to ever see in their lifetime.

The successfully staged recent World Cup is proof of  his legacy.  None of this would have been possible without his humanity, his humility and his willingness and ability to reach across a chasm of fear and hatred to bring peace to a country that so badly needed it.  He is truly a giant among men.

Extra! Extra! Right Wing throws another fit = condemns tolerance.

The Helena Montana School District has a new education plan that includes teaching tolerance, safe sex as well as including anti-bullying measures.

The loony right has a problem with these values. Bill O'Reilly came out strongly against tolerance.

’REILLY: This stuff comes from the school boards and the superintendent. They want to indoctrinate the children. The reason is they don’t want bullying. They want tolerance across the board. So you take a 5-year-old who just wants to play and, all of a sudden, it’s Heather has two mommies or Gary has 18 daddies. I don’t know what it is. [7/14/10]

They also think that getting on to MTV's "16 and Pregnant" is a valid career path.

Laura Ingraham, trying her best to be Anne Coulter and failing miserably said,

Children will learn that sexual relationships could happen between two men or two women. Why stop there? Why are they stopping at two? I mean that’s very exclusionary, don’t you think? No plant life invoked. [7/15/10]

I'm all in favor of teaching safety when having sex with plats.

Hannity had to have his say as well.

HANNITY: What right does a school district that can’t even teach kids to read and write — and this is, generally speaking, around the country — have to impose their values on the kids? [7/13/10]

Only right wingers like Hannity, O'Reilly and Ingraham have the right to impose values on our schools. School boards should shut uo and just teach to the test. Leave the indoctrination to us.  Retards, all of them.

It's good to be a bank

Just before sunset on April 10, 2006, a DC-9 jet landed at the international airport in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, 500 miles east of Mexico City. As soldiers on the ground approached the plane, the crew tried to shoo them away, saying there was a dangerous oil leak. So the troops grew suspicious and searched the jet.

They found 128 black suitcases, packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100 million. The stash was supposed to have been delivered from Caracas to drug traffickers in Toluca, near Mexico City, Mexican prosecutors later found. Law enforcement officials also discovered something else.

The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August 2010 issue.

This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers -- including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.

Wachovia admitted it didn’t do enough to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for Mexican-currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That’s the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history -- a sum equal to one-third of Mexico’s current gross domestic product.

They didn't notice $378.4 billion pass through their bank!!!!
Bullshit! The notice when I am overdrawn by a dollar. Then again, if I was laundering a tenth of the current Federal budget through my account they would be quite happy not to notice it and leave me alone.

That's essentially what virtually every major bank has admitted to in the past 15 years (most we lesser amounts). Wells Fargo, which bought the failed Wachovia bank eventually paid the government $120 million or 2% of their annual profit. They also promised not to do it again.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Glenn Beck outraged at what Michelle Obama is wearing

and her White House vegetable garden is a commie plot.

GOP Rep. Steven King - GOP shouldn't offer any solutions

because then it would become a campaign issue. Following on from the post about the Tea Party below, conservatives can only focus on perceived wrongs about which they are clueless and cannot or will not offer any solutions because then they will come under scrutiny.

Idiocy rules.

Tea Partiers have no idea what they are against.

NPR afternoon news did a short segment on the Tea Party yesterday and the Constitution. They interviewed a few TP adherents who all accused Obama of violating the Constitution in some way. When pressed by the interviewer to explain why or how their responses were all basically the same, "We know he's doing it but we don't really know how or why." A couple of generic 'states rights' and the 2nd Amendment were thrown in without any specifics.

They all agreed though, that the Obama administration has commited a myriad of crimes but once again no one could elucidate even one, after all, Rep. Michelle Bachmann did call it the 'gangster government.' That's good enough for the Tea Party.

Conservatism's Death Gusher

Many, perhaps a majority, of the Gulf residents affected are conservatives, strong right-wing Republicans, following extremist Governors Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour. What those conservatives are not saying, and may be incapable of seeing, is that conservatism itself is largely responsible for what happened, and that conservatism is a continuing disaster for conservatives who live along the Gulf. Conservatism is an ideology of death.

It was conservative laissez-faire free market ideology -- that maximizing profit comes first -- that led to:

* The corrupt relationship between the oil companies and the Interior Department staff that was supposedly regulating them
* Minimizing cost by not drilling relief wells
* The principle that oil companies could be responsible their own risk assessments on drilling
* Maximizing profit by outsourcing risk assessment that told them what they wanted to hear: zero risk!
* Maximizing profit by minimizing cost of materials
* Maximizing profit by failing to pay cleanup crews and businesses for their losses
* Focusing only on profit by failing to test the cleanup methods to be used if something went wrong
* Minimizing cost by sacrificing the health of cleanup crews, refusing to allow them to use respirator masks to protect against toxic fumes.

It is the 'profit above all' market fundamentalism that virtually guarantees disaster like the oil spill. It is that same belief that guaranteed the financial meltsown and the recession. These aren't random 'accidents' that happen despite our attempts to avoid them.

Conservatives will see this through their own ideological prism which ignores the direct causation of the above. Despite their advocacy of a smaller and weaker government, they then turn around and blame President Obama for not using enough government resources to solve the oil spill problem.

Link to full aerticle here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Something light and cheery for an effing hot afternoon

Evidence that Democrats might have spines.

Senate Democrats are doubling down on the argument that Republicans refuse to reauthorize extended unemployment benefits because they want a better November through a worse economy.

"There's only one kind of job Republicans care about saving or creating: their own," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a statement. "To advance their political prospects, Republicans are pushing a job-killing agenda that America can't afford: protecting tax breaks for CEOs who ship jobs overseas, while blocking tax cuts for small businesses and middle-class families. "

More here.

It's what I have been saying for quite a while. Republicans are quite happy to let 3 million people lose their unemployment benefits and let people lose their last safety net to make sure the economy remains stagnant to score political points. Their election comes first, the American people are a distant second.

GOP wants to repeal financial reform before it has even passed

The party of 'No' is at it again. John Boehner (R-fake tan)want to repeal financial reform because there is nothing wrong with the way they system worked before.

One of his top lieutenants, Republican Conference Chair Mike Pence agrees. "We hope [the Senate vote] falters so we can start over," Pence told TPMDC yesterday. "I think the reason you're not hearing talk about efforts to repeal the permanent bailout authority is because the bill hasn't passed yet."

One problem with that quote; the bill specifically does not authorize a 'permanent bailout authority'. Republicans never let the facts get in the way of a good sound bite.


The Senate just passed the bill. Bear in mind this bill is a vastly watered down version of the original bill. While this bill will fix some problems the root cause of the financial meltdown, there is little to prevent the wild speculation on derivatives.

Something is wrong with this picture

The costs to the foreign oil giant BP for poisoning the Gulf of Mexico will lower the company’s taxes by billions of dollars, and BP “may be able to get a refund for taxes paid in previous years.” If BP’s cleanup costs reach $60 billion, as Merrill Lynch & Co. estimates, the company will be able to deduct almost $20 billion over time. In addition to billions in subsidies, the company has received $10 billion in federal contracts from the American taxpayer in the last ten years. BP spokesman Steve Rinehart told Bloomberg News that BP will deduct the $3.5 billion already spent on cleanup efforts and any future expenses:

More here.

One final clip for those suffering World Cup withdrawal.

The almost unanimous "greatest" World Cup goal ever. Brazil - Italy final 1970. With a few minutes left and Italy an already beaten team down 3-1, Pele creates a masterpiece for Carlos Alberto racing in from the right. This clip is shot from the opposite side of the field than the far more frequently shown clip.

This view shows the key to the goal, not visible in the opposite side clip, which is Tostao. who started the move in Brazil's penalty area closest to the Italian goal pointing to Pele's right to alert him to Carlos Alberto steaming into the attack from his defensive position. A casual, but perfectly weighted pass from Pele allows Alberto to hit it first time without breaking stride.

Teamwork is the essence of football and this goal illustrates that to perfection. Some argue that Diego Maradona's brilliant individual goal against England in 1986 (not the Hand of God goal) is the greatest ever but for me, nothing beats a perfectly worked team goal. This was it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's tough finding a job these days,

especially if you're responding to these help wanted ads.


  See more of themhere.  

Dept. from Barcelona to honr Spain winning it's first World Cup final.

Click to watch on Youtube in widescreen. Still can't figure out how to make it work on blogspot.

Deborah Coleman - A 'Hobo' in the GOP's eyes

For nearly two years, Coleman says she has filed an average of 30 job applications a day, but remains jobless.
"People keep telling me there are jobs out there, but I haven't been able to find them."
Coleman, 58, a former manager at a telecommunications firm, said the only jobs she found were over the Ohio state line in Kentucky, but she cannot reach them because her car has been repossessed and there is no bus service to those areas.
After her $300 a week benefits ran out, Freestore Foodbank brokered emergency 90-day support in June for rent. Once that runs out, her future is uncertain.
"I've lost everything and I don't know what will happen to me," she said.
Since the Republicans have blocked extending unemployment insurance over 2 million people have lost their benefits while another 1 million will be gone by the end of July.  With ''hobos' like Deborah Coleman out there who cares what happens to them.  

Nevermind that almost all economists agree that unemployment benefits stimulate the economy more than most other spending and tax cuts for the wealthy stimulate it the least.   That fact doesn't fit the GOP playbook.   As you will see in the article even Goldman Sachs agrees with the Economists on this one. 

North Iowa Tea Party puts up billboard comparing Obama to Hitler

Iowa Tea Party leaders now say they disagree with the use of the pictures, but not the Obama-is-Hitler message. North Iowa Tea Party co-founder Bob Johnson stated  that while the “the pictures might be overwhelming,” the sign “highlights” the right message. Iowa state Tea Party coordinator John White agrees that while the “sign goes” where “the Tea Party doesn’t want to be”, “everything Obama has done is "lock-step with what Hitler did in his day.”

When Obama hauls me away to a concentration camp or  invades Poland I might agree  but until then you're nothing more than paranoid morons. 

GOP to unempliyed - get a job already you lazy bums

Oh, and while we about it, m0re tax cuts for the richest Americans because that's how you create jobs at Bentley dealers and expensive restaurants. Yacht sales will pick up as well.

One GOP House Rep. from Nevada thinks we are creating a nation of hobos by extending unemployment benefits. No you idiot, unemployment is preventing that.

Here is a roundup of of their thinking.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup 2010: South Africa Says "Ayoba" To The World

The word 'Ayoba' has murky origins but what is known is that it originated in South African townships, originally used to express appreciation of good dancing, something that runs deep in the veins of South Africans.  The best description I have seen uses the word 'awesomeness', even though that word cannot be found in any dictionary.
South Africa's hosting of the world's premier sporting event is about to come to an end and 'Ayoba' fits perfectly.  That was the last thing the world expected four years ago after Germany in 2006. 
South Africa's high crime rate was the main issue but other questions remained. Would the stadiums be ready? Would there be enough accommodation? Would the transport system be a disaster and the attendance numbers pitiful?
The barrage of negative publicity was relentless, especially in Europe and the U.S. It reached levels of absurdity. The German team were considering bulletproof vests for their players, and an English tabloid hysterically cataloged the list of some of the world's most dangerous snakes that were lurking around the English team's rural base, just waiting to short circuit their World Cup hopes.

Read the rest of my article here.

50 years ago this week the world changed forever.

The birth of the Twist.  Originally recorded by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters as the B side to “Teardrops on your letter” in 1959 it became a hit the following year.  Chubby Checker's version in the same year became a #1 hit and parents could never trust their kids after that. 

John Boehner (GOP minority House speaker) - a victim of racism

One look at John Boehner and you can tell he spends a lot of time working on his tan. A recent report says he is always one of the first Congressman out of the door and spends a lot of his spare time hanging out in bars. Between that and many hours in the tanning salon one wonders when he has time to take care of the people's business for which he was elected.

John Boehner is dumb.  Google his name with dumb and you will see the evidence.   A couple of weeks ago he described financial reform as 'killing an ant with a nuclear bomb'.  Tell that to people who have seen their 401Ks shrivel and those who's homes are now worth less their mortgages.

The current issue Republicans and especially Boehner are up in arms about a 10% tax on tanning salons in the health care bill.  Last year, cancer treatment experts classified tanning beds as 'high risks' for cancer.   For the same reason, there are extra taxes on cigarettes. 

This has led to a serious discussion among the loony right that the tax is unconstitutional because black people tend not to need to work on their tan the way John Boehner does.  They are seriously considering a challenge to that.  Rush Limbaugh has been all over this for the past week and a guest on the Glenn Beck show said, "I now know the pain of racism", because paying a little extra to get a fake tan is just like not been allowed to vote, being forced into segregated schools and not being allowed into a restaurant.

Good grief.  It's tough being a little too white in America these days. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

You're not serious are you.

Famed bordello patron Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has received more than a little flack for keeping a staffer who slashed his girlfriend with a knife - thankfully not seriously. The aide was eventually fired, but only after the news became public two years after the aide's arrest.

Ironically, the aide was in charge of woman's affairs. Not so, said Vitter today, "he handled abortion issues."

Oh well. For Republicans, abortion is apparently not a 'woman's issue."

BBC's 10 Greatest World Cup Goals

Double click to watch the full screen video on You Tube.

The greatest consensus World Cup goal was Brazil's final goal in their 4-1 final defeat of Italy in 1970. Pele's final pass to create the goal is pure genius. Evidence why he is still the greatest player in football history.

Like Shooting fish in a barrel

Jon Stewart takes on Fox News about Muslim Paranoia.

Wish You Weren't Here
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Sharon Angle GOP candidate for Nevada has no understanding

She believes that abortion should be prohibited even if the mother's life is at risk or in the case of a daughter impregnated in a rape by her father.

She insisted that a young girl raped by her father should know that "two wrongs don't make a right." Much good can come from a horrific situation like that, Angle added. Lemons can be made into lemonade.

I hope it never happens to anyone in her family. I am sure she will change her mind then.

The full atrocity here.

One a fool always a fool.

Stephen Moore, is the former President of the euphemistically named, Club for Growth and is now on the Wall Street Journal editorial board. He has an MA in Economics but you would hardly think so considering his many vapid utterances. He has appeared on Bill Maher's Real Time on HBO in the past but has been smacked down repeatedly, especially on Iraq and on his strange ideas of budgetary priorities that he hasn't been back in a while.

Conservatives are rapidly approaching full fearmongering mode because the Bush tax cuts are due to expire at the end of this year. The Obama administration is proposing keeping the tax breaks for 98% of Americans but raising them to previous levels for the top 2%. For the top 2% their tax breaks alone are bigger than the average incomes of 90% of Americans.

Stephen Moore is front and center in the fearmongering, spouting ideas that have no basis in reality. Yesterday he said that it would benefit the economy more if the lowest tax rate was increased from 10% to 15% while the highest tax rates should be lowered even below the current Bush levels.

He uses the canard that lowering taxes for the the rich will lead to more investment to create jobs. When businesses, whose taxes are not affected by any of this, invest jobs are created but they key for business to invest is increasing demand which results from increased spending. Rich individuals invest most of their additional income in stocks and bonds which help the financial markets but do virtually nothing to spur the real economy.

On the other hand lower income earners spend virtually all, if not all their money on buying things and paying bills so their money gets circulated right back into the economy where it does a lot of good. Real economists who actually use real economic data know that lower income spending generates $2-$3 for every dollar of actual spent. In Moore's panglossian world his ideas are somehow better for the economy.

Here are some real facts about income disparity in America today. The top 1% today earn 25% of income whereas in 1970 they earned about 10% of income. While median income in America has stagnated over the past 10 years income for the the top 2% has more than doubled. In that same time the gap has risne to its highest levels since the 1920s and we know what followed that era.

Another study recently found that the top 400 earners paid an average of 30% of their earnings in taxes in 1995. In 2006, a variety of tax breaks and loopholes had lowered the average to about 17%, which is 8% lower than a single person earning $34,000 or a married couple earning $68,000 pays. Something is radically wrong with this picture.

If people like Moore had their way, achieving a healthy economy and reducing the deficit would be virtually impossible. Then again. Moore and his cohorts believe that the Federal government should only spend money on defense and securing our borders. That will reduce the deficit but it will also destroy education, health care as well as any assistance for the needy or the unemployed but Moore won't have to worry. He will still be paid to spout nonsense.

The original piece here./

Meanwhile in Iran

Effing savages. Click on the link and sign the petition.

An Iranian mother is about to be stoned to death for adultery.

For those suffering through a heat wave

You would think these people would know better

I took some time off from watching football and dealing with life to watch CNBC for a bit yesterday afternoon. You would think hosts on a financial cable news show would understand basic economic theory. You're wrong.

They were giddy about the 274 point rise in the Dow because in their world the performance of the Dow is reflects how well the economy is doing.

They were also lamenting the fact that industry is still not investing in expanding their business enough despite sitting on piles of cash. They believe it's because industries are worried about future government regulatory policies from the 'socialist' Obama. In short this is utter bullshit. They aren't investing because most companies are still not running at anything near capacity so why invest more when current capacity is not being utilized. Only one thing will change that; increasing demand.

Why can't these so called experts understand that. I am reminded of the famous Upton Sinclair quote, “If is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”

Remember the people at CNBC are anti-regulatory, tax cutting, deficit hawks whose paychecks depend on toeing the big corporate GOP line. Remember how gung ho they were during the rising housing bubble. Remember Jim Cramer touting Bear Stearns as a 'can't miss' stock pick just before it's collapse. Any housing bubble skeptic was derided and virtually run off the show.

As usual, Paul Krugman nails it. nails it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

BP's incompetence is staggering.

In the 77 days since oil from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon began to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has skimmed or burned about 60 percent of the amount it promised regulators it could remove in a single day.

It's becoming quite obvious they had no serious planning or ability to deal with a disaster like this.

John Oliver of the Daily Show tries to find racism in South Africa

Oliver - World Cup 2010: Into Africa - The Amazing Racists
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Why are we bothering in Afghanistan

Millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars being spent in Afghanistan are finding their way in suitcases to buy Villas for Afghani VIPs in Dubai.

A number of Afghan businesspeople have purchased expensive villas in Dubai, once only attractive as a golfer's paradise. These include a brother and a cousin of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, one of Karzai's former vice presidents and the brother of Mohammad Qasim Fahim, one of the country's two current vice presidents. Asking prices for the stylish, Roman-style houses built along the beaches of the man-made island Palm Jumeirah, for example, start at $2 million. Until just a few years ago, many of their current inhabitants were far from wealthy.

As the Washington Post has discovered, these properties are often only registered under the names of the individuals issuing the loans, such as Sherkhan Farnood, the founder and chairman of Kabul Bank, Afghanistan's largest private bank, who was also a key supporter of President Karzai during his 2009 re-election campaign. Like many of his clients, Farnood now spends the majority of his time in Dubai. And among the 16 shareholders in his bank are Mahmoud Karzai, the president's business-minded older brother, and Haseen Fahim, the brother of Afghan Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim.

Most financial transactions in Afghanistan continue to be conducted through so-called "hawalas," traditional Islamic money-transferring outfits based more on honor and good faith than receipts, a fact that makes it more or less impossible for Western corruption investigators to trace the flow of money.

Michael Steele, head of the RNC recently suggested we get out of Afghanistan. For this heresy he has been lambasted by the GOP and has been asked to resign. Maybe for once, he might actually be right.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Feels like 1932

Scary stuff

The G.O.P. have this totally crackpot idea that cutting spending and other austerity measures will stimulate economic growth. That idea worked really well for Hoover and when Roosevelt tried it in 1937 the economy slid right back into the Depression.

Or they just want the economy to go hell in a handbasket so they can blame Obama which is about the only thing they can do successfully.

A Coalition of the Heartless, the Clueless and the Confused.

Paul Krugman gets it right again.

There was a time when everyone took it for granted that unemployment insurance, which normally terminates after 26 weeks, would be extended in times of persistent joblessness. It was, most people agreed, the decent thing to do.

But that was then. Today, American workers face the worst job market since the Great Depression, with five job seekers for every job opening, with the average spell of unemployment now at 35 weeks. Yet the Senate went home for the holiday weekend without extending benefits. How was that possible?

The answer is that we’re facing a coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused. Nothing can be done about the first group, and probably not much about the second. But maybe it’s possible to clear up some of the confusion.

By the heartless, I mean Republicans who have made the cynical calculation that blocking anything President Obama tries to do — including, or perhaps especially, anything that might alleviate the nation’s economic pain — improves their chances in the midterm elections. Don’t pretend to be shocked: you know they’re out there, and make up a large share of the G.O.P. caucus.

By the clueless I mean people like Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for senator from Nevada, who has repeatedly insisted that the unemployed are deliberately choosing to stay jobless, so that they can keep collecting benefits. A sample remark: “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn’t pay as much. We’ve put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry.”

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Paul Krugman Read it.

When I was young and naïve, I believed that important people took positions based on careful consideration of the options. Now I know better. Much of what Serious People believe rests on prejudices, not analysis. And these prejudices are subject to fads and fashions.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s column. For the last few months, I and others have watched, with amazement and horror, the emergence of a consensus in policy circles in favor of immediate fiscal austerity. That is, somehow it has become conventional wisdom that now is the time to slash spending, despite the fact that the world’s major economies remain deeply depressed.

This conventional wisdom isn’t based on either evidence or careful analysis. Instead, it rests on what we might charitably call sheer speculation, and less charitably call figments of the policy elite’s imagination — specifically, on belief in what I’ve come to think of as the invisible bond vigilante and the confidence fairy.

What else but.......on the 4th of July

Dave Alvin = The 4th of July

My favorite 4th of July song

Saturday, July 3, 2010

An unmitigated disaster from beginning to end.

The Iraq was has been a disaster from beginning to end other than the small benefit of getting rid of Saddam Hussein. The complete lack of a coherent plan is still evident in so many things.

The American reconstruction authorities decided, however, that the first big rebuilding project to win hearts and minds would be a citywide sewage treatment system.

Now, after more than six years of work, $104 million spent, and without having connected a single house, American reconstruction officials have decided to leave the system unfinished, though they portray it as a success. It is just one element in a strategy to complete or abandon rebuilding projects before American troops leave in large numbers over the next year.

Devastated Ghana football team gets an honored treat

Yesterday Ghana suffered one of  the cruelest exits in World Cup History.  They were on the verge of becoming the first African team to reach the semi finals in the first World Cup help on African soil.  The hopes of a billion Africans rested on their shoulders, the five other African teams having already been eliminated. 

They were playing Uruguay and had the better of them for most of the game as well as the 30 minutes of extra time but the score was still tied 1-1.  With virtually no time left they would have scored the winning goal had not a Uruguayan player who wasn't the goalkeeper stopped the ball from crossing the goal line with his hands.  The rules of football decree a penalty with a red card dismissal for the offender.  

Asamoah Gyan who had played his heart out strode up to take the kick.  On average 85% of the time, the kicker will score.  The final whistle would blow as soon as the kick was taken.  Gyan who scored twice previously from the penalty spot in the finals got under the kick, the ball hit the crossbar and bounced out.  

They went to the penalty shootout where each team gets 5 penalties, each to be taken by a different player.   Gyan went up first, fighting God knows how many demons.  He scored but two Ghanaian players subsequently missed and Ghana were out while Uruguay were moving on.   A stunned silence came over the 84,000 spectators save a small pocket of Uruguayan fans.  Gyan was inconsolable. 

They are the youngest team in the finals, oozing with talent so they will, in all likelihood be back at the next finals in Brazil in 2014 but until then, the nightmare end to the game with a tragic Shakespearean conclusion will live with them.  

Today they received a little bit of grief counseling from the man without whom there wouldn't have been a World Cup hosted by the Rainbow Nation of South Africa. They met with a frail 91 year old Nelson Mandela at his home in Johannesburg..  It's little consolation but something that the team will remember for the rest of their lives. 

Yesterday, a billion Africans were all Ghanaian.  They came agonizingly close but a continent is proud of them as they share their pain.