31 July 2011

It Looks Like There is a Debt Limit Deal

And it looks like it sucks.

I'm still digesting it, but it appears mandate cuts, and not taxes, and it gives the Republicans to pivot away from their disastrous vote to kill Medicare, and accuse Democrats of doing the same.

I guess that's what serves as bipartisanship in Obama's mind.

About the only bright spot is the possibility that House Democrats may desert this bill en mass, which has the possibility of changing the dynamic in a positive way.

And the Clusterf%$3 in Libya Goes Into High Gear

Normally, this would not start happening until after a successful foreign backed revolution, but with a stalemate on the ground, I guess it's time that the various factions of the Libyan rebels have decided to start killing each other to determine who gets the spoils.

The first head on a stake is that of their chief of staff Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis:
The chief of staff for rebel forces fighting to overthrow Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi was attacked and killed Thursday, according to the rebels' leadership council.

In a terse announcement that left many questions unanswered, the president of the council said Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis and two other commanders were killed as they returned from the eastern front near Port Brega to Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital.

Reading haltingly from a brief communique, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, president of the Transitional National Council, said pro-Kadafi gunmen had infiltrated rebel-held areas, but he did not specifically blame them for the killings. Abdul Jalil refused to take questions from reporters.
In response, the council has ordered all militias to stand down, and to integrate into the formal security forces.

This was foreseeable. This is a group with no real leader, and no credibility beyond the support that it receives from NATO, so it was inevitable that we would see this.

Of course, this means that NATO will feel compelled to escalate in order to show their credibility, so I expect to see British and French troops on the ground as "advisers" in the not too distant future.

It's kind of like Vietnam writ small.

Looks Like Someone Was Bankrolling the Christofascist Terrorist in Norway

I would note that the source is not the most reliable, Justin Raimondo has a a truly peculiar history, he's an antiwar activist who is gay and who endorsed Pat Buchanan, but he has followed the money on Anders Behring Breivik, and it indicates that Mr. Behring Breivik:
  • Accumulated well over 100 Grand in savings.
  • Never held down a real job that would imply that level of savings.
  • Lived a lavish lifestyle.
  • Had his money in opaque offshore accounts.
Assuming that Raimondo's thesis bears up to scrutiny, and it did to my 10 minutes of Goggling, then there are really just two possibilities here, either he was a relatively successful professional criminal, or he was being bankrolled by the Christofascist right in the same way that Scott Roeder was by Operation Rescue and their ilk.

Needless to say there was some fairly explicit support of these fanatics on our side of the pond, Pam "I Would Be in Jail If I Were Muslim" Geller, for instance, published a letter from Norway that sounds suspiciously like Breivik's manifesto, while scrupulously preserving the author's anonymity a few years back.

One hopes that the Norwegian authorities are more diligent in their pursuit of right wing terrorists than Barack Obama and Eric "Place" Holder have been, because the ties between Operation Rescue and the Tiller assassination have at this point elicited nothing by way of a credible investigation.

30 July 2011

More Like The Bush Administration Every Day


Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
Case in point, punishing scientists who speak the truth even when big oil wants lies:
It was seen as one of the most distressing effects of climate change ever recorded: polar bears dying of exhaustion after being stranded between melting patches of Arctic sea ice.

But now the government scientist who first warned of the threat to polar bears in a warming Arctic has been suspended and his work put under official investigation for possible scientific misconduct.

Charles Monnett, a wildlife biologist, oversaw much of the scientific work for the government agency that has been examining drilling in the Arctic. He managed about $50m (£30.5m) in research projects.

Some question why Monnett, employed by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, has been suspended at this moment. The Obama administration has been accused of hounding the scientist so it can open up the fragile region to drilling by Shell and other big oil companies.

"You have to wonder: this is the guy in charge of all the science in the Arctic and he is being suspended just now as an arm of the interior department is getting ready to make its decision on offshore drilling in the Arctic seas," said Jeff Ruch, president of the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. "This is a cautionary tale with a deeply chilling message for any federal scientist who dares to publish groundbreaking research on conditions in the Arctic."
There could be some completely innocent explanation for this, and I could be the rightful heir to the house of Saud.

I think that both are equally likely.

Just Mint the Damn Coin Already!

I haven't said much on the solutions on the debt ceiling debate, I've been more focused on the source of the problem, which is that Obama, in his eagerness to find a way to gut cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in order to feed his own ego by burnishing his self image as a bipartisan compromiser who brings people together because he's just so damn awesome.

At this point, it would be good to have a plan B, and while there are a number of ways to work around this, though to my mind is the use of the Treasury's explicit statutory authority to mint platinum proof coin of arbitrary value, which they could be deposited in the Federal Reserve account and used to keep the debt below the ceiling.

So if they mint a few trillion dollar coins, deposit them in their "checking account", and it's off to the races.

But it won't happen, because Obama still wants to find a way to gut cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

29 July 2011

This is Wicked Cool…

Click for full size




The Artist is Judith Klausner
These are nice little cameos, but what makes them truly special is the medium.

They are done in Oreo Cookies.

Well, This Might Explain the Bank Failure Spike

It appears that the economy is slowing, with the last two quarters GDP disappointing.

1st quarter GDP was revised down from a 1.9% annual rate to an 0.4% annual rate, and the 2nd GDP disappointed, coming in at a 1.3% annual rage, below the 1.6% forecast.

So, as the (already grossly inadequate) stimulus has run out, the economy has sputtered to a halt.

No worry though, austerity will create growth by:
  1. Collect Underpants
  2. ?
  3. Profit
What this has to do with bank failures?

The fact that they are a lagging indicator.

You see banks become insolvent when too many of their loans go bad, and those loans go bad following the economy tanking, not before.

We are in a double dip recession in all but the NBER ruling.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

 And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.

  1. Virginia Business Bank,Richmond, VA
  2. BankMeridian, N.A., Columbia, SC
  3. Integra Bank National Association, Evansville, IN
Full FDIC list

It's been a busy week.

In fact, it's been a busy past 4 weeks.  There have been 13 banks closed after what had been a bit of a lull.

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

When Joke Line Calls Out Republicans, They Have Jumped the Shark.


This is one big shark that they jumped.
One With Frikken Lasers!
In fact, this is an indication that they are jumping C. Megladon.*

Because Time Magazine's Joe Kline, the man who has made a career of hating on liberals and sucking up to Republicans, to the degree that he wrote a bio of Woody Guthrie that treated his politics ("This machine (his guitar) kills fascists") as a sort of an idiot-savant phenomenon, has finally been forced to find the current behavior of Republicans to be beyond the pals:
And so, here we are. Our nation’s economy and international reputation as the world’s presiding grownup has already been badly damaged. It is a self-inflicted wound of monumental stupidity. I am usually willing to acknowledge that Democrats can be as silly, and hidebound, as Republicans–but not this time. There is zero equivalence here. The vast majority of Democrats have been more than reasonable, more than willing to accept cuts in some of their most valued programs. Given the chance, there was the likelihood that they would have surrendered their most powerful weapon in next year’s election–a Mediscare campaign–by agreeing to some necessary long-term reforms in that program. The President, remarkably, proposed raising the age of eligibility for Medicare to 67.
(emphasis mine)

Joe Klein has made a career out of saying that both sides are wrong, and when you've lost him, it says that you not only crossed a line, but you crossed that line a very long time ago.

*The largest shark, and likely largest predator fish ever. It died out some 1.5 million years ago. The Genus is still in dispute, between either Carcharodon (Great White) or Carcharocles (broad toothed Mako). But in either case, you are jumping C. Megladon, you have jumped the biggest shark ever.

Crap

A federal appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling and ruled that patents of genes are legal:
A federal appeals court affirmed the right of Myriad Genetics to patent two genes linked to breast cancer, overturning a lower court ruling that threatened a key element of the biotech business.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in a ruling on Friday backed Myriad's right to patent two "isolated" human genes -- BRCA1 and BRCA2 -- that account for most inherited forms of breast and ovarian cancers.

………

The appeals court said the genes isolated by the company can be patented because Myriad is testing for distinctive chemical forms of the genes, and not as they appear naturally in the body.

One member of the three-judge appellate panel dissented, saying that despite Myriad's process of isolating a human gene it still could not be patented.

………

The appeals court also said that Myriad's method for screening potential therapies was patentable.

The judges did, however, agree with the district court that Myriad's method of analyzing DNA sequences did not involve sufficient transformation, and thus could not be patented
I'm not surprised. This is the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a body that was created specifically to rule on patents, and they, under the "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" theory, are insanely pro patent.

How insanely pro patent? They are assuming patently false facts to justify their ruling:
Bruce Wexler, a patent expert at the law firm Paul Hastings, said the ruling means the appeals court has recognized that DNA takes on a different molecular structure when it is isolated and removed from the body.

"That is a very significant result that is very important to the biotech industry," Wexler said.
This is scientific bullsh%$. DNA is DNA is DNA is DNA, whether in vivo or in vitro.

Here's hoping that the Supreme Court or the full appeals court (unlikely, see my hammer nail argument), and it gets slapped down.

SCOTUS has issued a number of "what are you smoking?" rebukes of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit regarding patents over the past few years, so there is some hope, but such a ruling would be highly disruptive to the industry, and the Roberts court has been very pro-industry, so I think that it is a small one.

Background here.

Quote of the Day

Yves Smith on Obama's mishandling of the debt ceiling crisis:
It is hard to come up with words that are strong enough to describe what an appalling display of misguided ego, inept negotiating postures, bad policy thinking, and utter disregard for the public interest are on display in this fiasco. But as a friend of mine likes to say, “Things always look darkest before they go completely black.”
Word.

28 July 2011

It's Jobless Friday

Initial claims fell to 397,000, the first time it's been below 400K since April

It should be noted that the austerity confidence fairy is not really smilling, now with durable goods orders falling in June.

And we keep hearing that "Prosperity is just around the corner."

Guess Who Loses If There Is a Default?

Surprise, surprise, it won't be the Banksters, because the bond holders will get priority over the people who will actually suffer as a result:
The U.S. Treasury will give priority to making interest payments to holders of government bonds when due if lawmakers fail to reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, according to an administration official.

The official requested anonymity because no announcement has been made. The Treasury has said about $90 billion in debt matures on Aug. 4 and more than $30 billion in interest comes due Aug. 15. Overall, more than $500 billion matures in August.

The $90 billion in six-month Treasury bills maturing Aug. 4 pared losses after the comments. Obama administration officials will brief the public no earlier than after financial markets close tomorrow on priorities for paying the nation’s bills if the $14.3 trillion limit isn’t raised, a Democratic Party official said earlier.

“The announcement is reassuring, but there’s really no alternative to favoring the bondholders,” said Christian Cooper, head of U.S. dollar derivatives trading in New York at Jefferies Group Inc., which as one of the 20 primary dealers is obligated to bid in Treasury sales. “The alternative would point to a default”
The alternative would be children not going to bed hungry, uninspected meat poisoning people, and old people not eating cat food, but no one in Washington, DC gives a crap about them.

Teabagger Family Values

The Teabagger Congressman who defeated Melissa Bean (no great loss, she was a horrible Dino) is being sued for $117,000 in unpaid child support.

He's claiming poverty, but he loaned his congressional campaign $35,000, so I'll just put it down to his being a sleaze ball:
U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of McHenry owes more than $100,000 in child support and interest to his former wife, she alleges in a Cook County Circuit Court filing.

The dispute, set out in a court filing last December, remains unsettled. Walsh's ex-wife says he is $117,437 behind in payments.

Walsh, 49-year-old Republican, entered Congress in January, swept into office with help from tea-party activists. He often appears on television demanding the country drastically cut its spending and pay its bills.
John Kenneth Galbraith nailed it when he said, "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

It Sucks to be John Boehner

I guess we already knew this, but today, it sucked even more than usual to be John Boehner.

You see, John Boehner had to postpone the vote on his debt ceiling plan because he didn't have the votes to get it passed:
Despite a days-long push to force their conservative members into line, and sneak Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) debt limit bill through the House of Representatives, GOP leadership has postponed a scheduled vote on the legislation -- a sign that their efforts have thus far failed.
TPM SLIDESHOW: Debt Negotiations At The White House

This evening, members were alerted that Boehner and his leadership team were delaying the vote, which had been scheduled for 6 p.m.

"Members are advised that the House GOP Leadership has postponed the votes on the motion to recommit and final passage of S. 627 - Speaker Boehner's Short Term Default Act (amending the Faster FOIA Act of 2011)," reads a notice from Minority Whip Steny Hoyer's (D-MD) office to his whip team.
You would think that as speaker of the house, he would be able to get his own caucus to vote for him, or at least he would be able to count votes, but this is apparrently beyond the Congress's orange avenger.

He's the most incompetent Speaker of the House ever.

This is a good thing, because he's an evil son of a bitch, it's better when evil people are incapable of doing evil well enough.

I expect the Todal to so totally Gleep his ass.*

*The Todal is, "an agent of the Devil, sent to punish evildoers for having done less evil than they should."   It Gleeps said unfortunate souls.  Go read James Thurber's magnificent book, The 13 Clocks.

27 July 2011

It Looks Like the 50-State Foreclosure Fraud Coverup May be Unraveling

First, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said yesterday she will not release banks from liability incurred through fraudulent paperwork:
Three states conducting their own probes of residential mortgage practices are resisting broad liability releases sought by banks to settle a nationwide foreclosure investigation.

The banks, in settlement talks with state and federal officials, are seeking releases that would protect them from future legal liabilities. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said yesterday she won’t endorse a deal that includes certain releases. New York and Delaware have raised similar concerns over terms of a possible deal.

All three states are conducting investigations tied to mortgage operations of banks. Delaware and Massachusetts officials say a settlement shouldn’t release banks from some claims, including those related to bundling mortgages into securities, while the inquiries continue.

“We’re not prepared to do a broad liability release for either securitization issues or for MERS until we’ve completed that piece of investigation,” Coakley said in a telephone interview yesterday. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., or MERS, is a national mortgage database used by banks.
Basically, Coakley is saying that if there is a release on securitization fraud, she will not sign onto the deal, and the banks know that if they are ever effectively pursued on securitization fraud, they are dead, so no deal.

To the rest of the AGs, get off your ass, and convene a grand jury, the rest of the AGs, and stop letting yourself get strong-armed by Obama, Holder, and company to go easy on the banks.

H/t Naked Capitalism.

You Have to Love the Bait and Switch that Obama Pulled on the CFPB

As you know, Barack Obama decided not to appoint Elizabeth Warren as the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), but instead chose to nominate their current head of enforcement, Richard Cordray, former Ohio Attorney General, who had filed lawsuits against predatory banks.

It was better than the alternative, Raj Date, but it seemed to me that it was a worthless gesture to the Republicans, since they promised to filibuster anyone, because they want the bureau gutted.

Obviously, this screams "Recess Appointment," but Obama is having none of that, not because he's weak, but because this creates paralysis which he can exploit to effectively make a banker the head of the agency.

Raj Date has been elevated to adviser to the Treasury secretary for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren's old position, and I guarantee that there will be no pressure from the Obama to administration to get an up or down vote on Cordray.

They give a nod to the people who want the CFPB to work with their nomination, and then they put a bankster in charge of running the bureau.

Seriously, Obama has his tongue so far up the bankster's asses that he tastes tonsils.

Who is Date? He's the current associate director of research, markets and regulations, and he's a f%$#ing bankster, having been the, "senior vice president for corporate strategy and development at Capital One and a managing director in the financial institutions group at Deutsche Bank."

So now, Date can emasculate the CFPB while Cordray waits for a vote on his nomination that will never come.

If You Were Wondering How Evil the Banksters Were………

The fact that they are threatening to drop millions of customers because the law may require them not to F%$# them over quite so badly might give you an inkling:
Brokerage firms may drop millions of individual retirement account holders if a proposed U.S. Labor Department rule takes effect, a lobbying group said today.

The Labor Department wants to expand the scope of fiduciary responsibility to protect those saving for retirement from conflicts of interest, such as recommending investments with higher fees. The rule would require investment professionals who advise employers and workers with retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s or IRAs to act in the best interest of their clients.

The change may cause financial firms to offer fewer investment options in retirement accounts and shift to a fee- based model used by investment advisers, which will raise costs, Kenneth Bentsen, executive vice president for public policy and advocacy at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said at a Washington hearing before the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.
He's circumspect, but what the lobbyist from the lead financial services organization in the country just said was, "If you don't let us f%$# our customers without lube, we'll kick them to the curb."

Why aren't these guys going to jail?

H/t Naked Capitalism.

26 July 2011

The Koch Suckers are Flooding the Zone in Wisconsin

No, I do not mean boots on the ground, the Kochs don't work that way.

I mean money, and lots of it:
If you want to get a good sense of what’s really happening in the Wisconsin recall wars, keep an eye on the right wing money that’s now flooding into the races, in a last ditch effort to keep the state senate in Republican hands.

Club for Growth Wisconsin has dumped at least $1.5 million into the recall races, according to the progressive group One Wisconsin Now, which tells me it got the information from its ad tracker.

Even more tellingly, the Club has poured a surprising $400,000 into the battle to recall state senator Alberta Darling, who was once viewed as safe, One Wisconsin Now’s executive director Scot Ross tells me. Ross adds that his media tracker found that the Club sank the money into the race right after a Dem poll found that Darling is getting edged by her Dem recall challenger, Rep. Sandy Pasch.

If true, this is significant. If labor and Dems can knock off Darling, it would be a major coup: She is the co-chair of the legislative committee that passed Scott Walker’s union-busting proposals. Of all the GOP state senators targeted for recall, she’s been in office the longest. And Dems privately admit that they think the chances are slim that she can be defeated. But if the Club is pouring massive cash into an effort to prop her up, this could mean Dems have succeeded in widening the playing field beyond the most vulnerable GOP recall targets, meaning that cash being spent on Darling could have otherwise been spent elsewhere.
Obviously, the fact that they have lots of money to throw around is not good, but the fact that they feel compelled to throw it at what should be slam dunks is good.

If the Democrats want to win this, they need to focus on boots on the ground, and I mean locals, not hired guns, because the 'Phants will have more money for the foreseeable future.

Oh My God…


And I am left listening to this with an expression resembling a cow that has stepped on its own udder
This is a day for insane bigoted people to leave me stunned at their evil.

Case in point, Glenn Beck compared the murdered Norwegian campers to Hitler Youth:
Glenn Beck, the rightwing US broadcaster and Tea Party favourite, has compared those who were massacred on the Norwegian island of Utøya to the Nazi party's youth wing.

"There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like the Hitler youth, or, whatever. I mean, who does a camp for kids that's all about politics. Disturbing," said Beck on his syndicated radio show.

The comments were condemned by Torbjørn Eriksen, a former press secretary to Jens Stoltenberg, Norway's prime minister.
Seriously, what is wrong with him?

More importantly, what the f%$# is wrong with the people who watch his show, and what the f%$3 is wrong with his sponsors?

BTW, when I was at school, I remember some of the right wing ratf%$#s on the SGA Senate (some of whom were later caught up in the Abramoff scandal) talking about conferences, summer internships, and similar activities, so the idea of some sort of  "political camp" is not foreign to the 'Phants.

Not Enough Bullets…

Just so you know, pay about 18% of their income in federal taxes:
The 400 richest Americans used to pay 30% of their income on the average to Uncle Sam. Today, they pay 18% on the average, according to Steve Rattner, a Wall Street financier, who just presented these figures on Mornings With Joe,MSNBC.

The main reason for the drop in their tax rate of some 40% is the tax cuts by George Bush in 2003, taking the rate paid on dividends and capital gains down to 15%. This reduction in the investment class’s taxes powered the bull market in stocks from the fall of 2003 until the fall of 2007.

Shockingly, the plan to raise the debt ceiling collects nothing from the wealthiest Americans to reduce our budget deficit. The Republican right wing holds the Obama White House hostage. It’s a sad day for the principle of sharing the pain equitably
Obviously, we need to make major cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

We really need to go back to a 94% maximum tax rate.

The Unemployed Need not Apply

Many employers are now explicitly saying in their ads that they only hire people who are currently employed:
That is the message being broadcast by many of the nation’s employers, making it even more difficult for 14 million jobless Americans to get back to work.

A recent review of job vacancy postings on popular sites like Monster.com, CareerBuilder and Craigslist revealed hundreds that said employers would consider (or at least “strongly prefer”) only people currently employed or just recently laid off.

Unemployed workers have long suspected that the gaping holes on their résumés left them less attractive to employers. But with the country in the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression, many had hoped employers would be more forgiving.

“I feel like I am being shunned by our entire society,” said Kelly Wiedemer, 45, an information technology operations analyst who said a recruiter had told her that despite her skill set she would be a “hard sell” because she had been out of work for more than six months.

Legal experts say that the practice probably does not violate discrimination laws because unemployment is not a protected status, like age or race. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently held a hearing, though, on whether discriminating against the jobless might be illegal because it disproportionately hurts older people and blacks.
The American business culture is truly repulsive.

Pat Buchanan Has Disappointed Me

I did not think that he could actually disappoint me, Molly Ivins had him nailed when she said that his infamous "Culture War" speech at the Republican convention, "It probably read better in the original German."

Needless to say, he is an appalling person, and it is even more appalling that he is treated as a font of wisdom by the Washington punditocracy.

So I expect him to appall me.

What I don't expect is for him to say something that is so outrageous that he actually exceeds my already lowered expectations, but he has outdone himself.

He excused the mass murder in Norway, saying that Anders Breivik might be right.

Why is this man on cable TV? Why is he not a social pariah?

Why he is published in any paper with more credibility than the Moonie Times?

25 July 2011

The Debt Ceiling Showdown is Blazing Saddles


One Move, and the N***** Gets It
Yves Smith's interview on The Real News Network, is a cogent description of what is wring here, and makes reference to that classic scenes from Mel Brooks' masterpiece, Blazing Saddles.

It's 8 minutes and 27 seconds well spent.

Her thesis, and it is one that I support, is that the "Debt Ceiling Crisis" is largely an artifact of the Obama administration's desire to gut cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

It's screw granny theater.

More Like Bush Every Day

The New York Review of Books has what can only be called an epic take-down of Barack Obama and his administration.

I really cannot do justice to the piece, you should read it, but here a re a couple of quotes:
Plouffe’s advice to the President defines not just Obama’s policies but also his behavior. Plouffe tells the President, according to this observer, that the target group wants him to seem the most reasonable man in the room. Plouffe is the conceptualizer, and Bill Daley, the chief of staff who shares Plouffe’s political outlook, makes things happen; Gene Sperling, the director of economic policy, and Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, are smart men but they come out of politics rather than academia or deep experience in their respective fields. Once Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, departs later this summer, all of the President’s original economic advisers will be gone. Partly this is because the President’s emphasis on budget cutting didn’t leave them very much to do. One White House émigré told me, “It’s not a place that welcomes ideas.”
(emphasis mine)

It sounds an awful lot like what John Dilulio characterization of the Bush Administration's lack of a policy apparatus as, "The reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."

Every time I hear something like this, I become increasingly convinced that there's not a damn bit of difference between them and the Bushies.

And then I read this, and realize that there is a difference:
According to a report in The Hill newspaper in late June, the tough-minded, experienced, and blunt Democratic Representative Henry Waxman of California told Obama in a White House meeting that he’d asked several Republicans about their meeting with him the day before, and, “To a person, they said the President’s going to cave.” Then the congressman said to the President of the United States, “And if you’re going to cave, tell us right now.” The President was reported to have been displeased, and responded, “I’m the President of the United States; my words carry weight.”
Obama, while just as petulant as Shrub, lacks his guts, and everyone knows it.

Just read the whole thing.  It's very good.

Helmut Kohl Excoriates Angela Merkel

And it's not just the former German Chancellor, (with the caveat that he is denying that he said this now) who was at one point considered her mentor, as well as much of the CDU's old guard have not taken to harshly criticizing her behavior in the crisis.

This is rather unsurprising.

Unlike in America, the mainstream right (the CDU) finds the idea of hosing down taxpayers to pay off bankers, particularly when it won't solve the problem, to be a bad thing.

Hopefully this is a step in realizing that the problems with the Eurozone, at least those not centered in EU HQ in Brussels, flow from Germany, and how it used its influence to structure the Eurozone.

Yes, I Heard His Speech, and It Pissed Me Off…

Same sh%$, different day, it's the culture of Washington, both sides are at fault, if we do nothing disaster looms.  (False: doing nothing means letting the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012, and deficits drop by a lot)

It seemed to be more of a plaintive whine that people just don't get how awesome he is, or they would go all happy non-partisan.

This is all largely an artifact of his own making, he could have gotten this all done in December, but Obama wanted an opportunity to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, so we have this hostage situation.

That's not what pissed me off the most though, it's that, because of the speech, Maddow was preempted by that fatuous f%$# Lawrence O'Donnell.

I know that it's not rational, but his voice sets my teeth on edge.

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

"Democratic" Congressman Mike Ross (AR-4), has announced that he will not seek reelection in 2012:
The only Democratic congressman in Arkansas, Mike Ross, said on Monday that he will not seek a seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives, saying he wants to spend more time with his family.

The announcement sent a shock through Arkansas political circles, and opened the possibility of a Republican replacement for the popular congressman. The redistricting process has left Ross's district heavily GOP, with an uphill battle for Democrats there next cycle.
Note that he's not only a member of the phoney Democrat "Blue Dog" Caucus, he is one of their co-chairs, and it's these folks, who seem to value holding office above any hint of real political values, and they were the ones hardest hit by  the 2010 sweep, because people do not like voting for weasels.

Unfortunately, this means that the DCCC will doubtless find yet another phony Dem, and throw enormous sums of money at him, in the hope that he can make it to Washington, and vote against the party.

If You Are Not Up to Speed on Patent Trolls………

Planet Money and This American Life joined forces to run Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures patent extortion ring to the ground, and it is well worth the read. (There is a link to the This American Life broadcast there)

It shows how our patent system, where I sh%$ you not, someone has patented toast, rather than being a spur to innovation, or, as they conclude:
The big companies — Google, Apple, Microsoft — will probably survive. The likely casualties are the companies out there now that no one's ever heard of that could one day take their place.
One of the more interesting bits is how they show that Myhrvold's claim that they are a purely defensive company which does not sue people is a bald faced lie.  They use a network of shell corporations to extract their tribute.

This system needs to be fixed, but the victims are largely invisible and poor, and the rentiers have lots of money, because they get paid for doing nothing, which means that it is tough to get Congress interested in this.

24 July 2011

Sikorsky X2 Makes Final Flight of Program

Considering that it was developed with private money on a shoe string, the program has had some fairly remarkable accomplishments:
  • Achieving a cruise speed in level flight of 253 kts, a record.
  • Doing so while maintaining the low speed and hover performance of a conventional helicopter. (as compared to the performance of the V-22 in those areas, which is just pitiful)
  • Doing so at noise and vibration levels equal to or lower than current helicopters.
Sikorsky will not be moving onto developing the S-97 light attack/scout helo.

Bernie Sanders Calls for a Primary Challenge to Barack Obama

Roll tape
Yes, he did say that, on the Thom Hartmann radio show:
SANDERS: Brian, believe me, I wish I had the answer to your question. Let me just suggest this. I think there are millions of Americans who are deeply disappointed in the president; who believe that, with regard to Social Security and a number of other issues, he said one thing as a candidate and is doing something very much else as a president; who cannot believe how weak he has been, for whatever reason, in negotiating with Republicans and there’s deep disappointment. So my suggestion is, I think one of the reasons the president has been able to move so far to the right is that there is no primary opposition to him and I think it would do this country a good deal of service if people started thinking about candidates out there to begin contrasting what is a progressive agenda as opposed to what Obama is doing. [...] So I would say to Ryan [sic] discouragement is not an option. I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.
Admittedly, Sanders is not technically a Democrat, he's a Socialist (really, JFGI) but he does caucus with the Democrats, and he is a sitting US Senator, so the idea that Obama needs a primary challenge is starting to gain a bit of mainstream traction.

If someone credible announces, they go on my Act Blue page.

H/t Think Progress.

Did a Not-Krugman Times OP/Ed Writer Just Call Republicans Domestic Terrorists?

Why yes, I think that Nicholas Kristof just wrote that:
IF China or Iran threatened our national credit rating and tried to drive up our interest rates, or if they sought to damage our education system, we would erupt in outrage.

Well, wake up to the national security threat. Only it’s not coming from abroad, but from our own domestic extremists.

We tend to think of national security narrowly as the risk of a military or terrorist attack. But national security is about protecting our people and our national strength — and the blunt truth is that the biggest threat to America’s national security this summer doesn’t come from China, Iran or any other foreign power. It comes from budget machinations, and budget maniacs, at home.

House Republicans start from a legitimate concern about rising long-term debt. Politicians are usually focused only on short-term issues, so it would be commendable to see the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party seriously focused on containing long-term debt. But on this issue, many House Republicans aren’t serious, they’re just obsessive in a destructive way. The upshot is that in their effort to protect the American economy from debt, some of them are willing to drag it over the cliff of default.

…………

So let’s remember not only the national security risks posed by Iran and Al Qaeda. Let’s also focus on the risks, however unintentional, from domestic zealots.
BTW, I think that he's wrong: This is intentional.

They want to win in 2012, and they are attempting to destroy the nation to do so.

Let's Be Clear On This: Republicans Are Not the Patriotic Opposition, They are the Treasonous Enemy

Why do I say this?

Because at the core of our system of government is the idea that people should be denied the right to vote, nor have excessive roadblocks placed in their way, and that the vote and vote counting should be free and fair.

Well, we are now seeing evidence that the system set up to tabulate vote in Ohio in 2004 was constructed in a manner which appears to specifically designed to facilitate a man-in the middle attack:
A new filing in the King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case includes a copy of the Ohio Secretary of State election production system configuration that was in use in Ohio's 2004 presidential election when there was a sudden and unexpected shift in votes for George W. Bush.

The filing also includes the revealing deposition of the late Michael Connell. Connell served as the IT guru for the Bush family and Karl Rove. Connell ran the private IT firm GovTech that created the controversial system that transferred Ohio's vote count late on election night 2004 to a partisan Republican server site in Chattanooga, Tennessee owned by SmarTech. That is when the vote shift happened, not predicted by the exit polls, that led to Bush's unexpected victory. Connell died a month and a half after giving this deposition in a suspicious small plane crash.

Additionally, the filing contains the contract signed between then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell and Connell's company, GovTech Solutions. Also included that contract a graphic architectural map of the Secretary of State's election night server layout system.

Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney in the King Lincoln case, exchanged emails with IT security expert Stephen Spoonamore. Arnebeck asked Spoonamore whether or not SmarTech had the capability to "input data" and thus alter the results of Ohio's 2004 election. Spoonamore responded: "Yes. They would have had data input capacities. The system might have been set up to log which source generated the data but probably did not."

Spoonamore explained that "they [SmarTech] have full access and could change things when and if they want."
(emphasis mine)

The Republicans constantly accuse the Democrats of voter fraud, the sort where some people who should not vote, but do. Retail voting irregularities.

This is wholesale voting irregularities, and, unsurprisingly, the Republicans take their lead from "Uncle Joe" Stalin, who said, "I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how."

Seriously, watching the Republicans is like watching the Soviets: You know that they are doing something because they accuse the other side of this.

And then we have Wisconsin, where the Republicans are requiring a DMV supplied voter ID while closing DMVs in Democratic districts:
Michael Shatz, a Wisconsin blogger:

This story shows just how stupid neoconservatives think the public really is. Walker and his ilk pass a bill requiring voters to present valid photo identification at the polls. Then, in the same breath, Walker and his ilk propose a bill to close the identification issuing centers (the DMV’s) in the Democratic districts, making ID’s more difficult for low-income voters to obtain.
And the reaction when they were called on it was just classic:
A high-ranking DOT official rejected that claim, saying the changes were based on economics, not politics.

Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, called on the state Department of Transportation to reconsider its plants to close the Fort Atkinson DMV center. The department plans to expand by four hours a week the hours of a center about 30 minutes away in Watertown.

Jorgensen said he was concerned doing that would discourage people from Fort Atkinson from participating in elections.

"What the heck is going on here?" Jorgensen said. "Is politics at play here?"

Transportation Department executive assistant Reggie Newson denied that politics was behind the office closure plan, saying the decisions were being made based on what made the most economic sense.

"This has nothing to do with politics," he said. "We're trying to make sure that we can provide service in each county statewide efficiently."
How conveeenient.
This is not the opposition.

These are people who are determined to destroy our government in order to achieve power.

I believe that the term "Seditious Conspiracy" applies here.

23 July 2011

An Outbreak of Common Sense in California

It looks like California will start levying a tax on people who choose to live in fire prone areas:
As Californians have crowded the state's bucolic foothills and scenic mountains with subdivisions and cabin retreats, pushing further into the combustible wild, state firefighting has become a billion-dollar enterprise.

Now, with the state continuing to lurch from one fiscal crisis to another, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature are pushing back.

They are requiring rural homeowners who rely on state firefighters to pay a $150 annual fee for fire-prevention services. Lawmakers are mulling over whether to revive proposed land-use restrictions that were killed just three years ago, after fierce objections from developers and local officials. And, Brown has directed the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to study how the state manages and pays for fires in those zones — and whether local governments should shoulder more of that responsibility.

Brown has said that the cash-strapped state can no longer afford the entire cost of battling blazes in fire-prone areas. The new fee could raise as much as $200 million a year from the more than 846,000 homeowners who live within more than 31 million acres of "state responsibility areas," where Cal Fire is the primary responder.

A spokesman for the governor said the levy will "ensure that landowners in these areas that receive a disproportionate benefit from Cal Fire's services pay an appropriate portion of the state's wildland firefighting costs."
This is something that should be implemented nation wide, and not just to burn prone areas.

When You Assume, You Make an Ass out of U and Me

Yesterday's Face of Terror
Case in point, the Norway terrorism.

I assumed that it was some sort of Islamist activity, which is why I found it so puzzling.

I was wrong, it was right wing Christo-Fascist nationalist Anders Behring Breivik, though there may have been some other people involved.

Quote of the Day

Courtesy of John Cole:
I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.
Word up.

22 July 2011

Military Ends Don't Ask Don't Tell

And what do you know, they buried the news with a Friday afternoon announcement:
The ban on gays in the military has stood for nearly a century.

In 60 days, after decades of discharges, lawsuits and lobbying, that will change.

On Friday, President Barack Obama fulfilled a 2008 campaign pledge, formally ending the ban. After meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, the joint chiefs of staff chairman, the president certified to Congress that repealing the ban would not jeopardize the military's ability to fight.

"As commander in chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness," Obama said in a statement. "Service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country."
I still think that this happened because he was forced to (Google "don't ask don't give") and they went with a low profile release in an attempt to bury it.

The basic rule here is that they will do the right thing, if they are absolutely forced to do do, and then they will try to minimize their involvement.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.

It appears that things are picking up a bit.
  1. Southshore Community Bank, Apollo Beach, FL
  2. LandMark Bank of Florida,Sarasota, FL
  3. Bank of Choice,Greely, CO
Full FDIC list


So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

Oslo? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Why the hell would a group of terrorists (maybe just 1) bomb Oslo and open fire in a youth camp?

It's not like Norway goes around the world bombing people, or lunching drone strikes.

It's kind of deciding to target the world finance system by bombing Butte, Montana.

I Carry Within Me the Threat of a Global Mass Extinction Event…

Most people are unaware of this, but the extinction of the dinosaurs (except for the birds) was not the most massive extinction event.

In fact, the mass extinction that led to the dinosaurs was the largest of all time.

So, how does this involve me?

Well to those who know me, in particularly my relatives, will understand from the headline:
Did Giant Earth Fart Give Rise to the Dinosaurs?

A huge release of methane gas may have triggered the prehistoric mass extinctions that allowed dinosaurs to become the dominant life form on earth, according to a new study.

About 201 million years ago, half of known species vanished in an event that signaled the end of the Triassic period and created the lack of natural competition necessary for the ascendance of dinosaurs. The oldest known dinosaur fossiles date back to about 230 million years ago, but they do not take over until about 30 million years later.

Scientists had attributed the mass extinctions to 600,000 years of rampant volcanic activity, but a team of researchers at the University of Copenhagen's Nordic Center for Earth Evolution develop that theory further by arguing that a surge in volcanic activity released methane trapped in the sea floor, sending temperatures soaring.

"A small release of carbon monoxide from volcanism initiated global warming of the atmosphere, increasing temperatures in the oceans," lead researcher Micha Ruhl told FoxNews.com. "Methane is stored in the sea floor -- it's a molecule which is caught in some kind of ice structure. As soon as the temperatures got above a certain threshold, the ice melted and that methane was released."

Ruhl and his team studied the chemical remains of plants that had lived on the ocean floor and found a dramatic spike in carbon levels that lasted for a much shorter time than the period of volcanic eruptions, suggesting a shorter, more intense release of methane gases. Methane is more powerful than the carbon monoxide released by the volcanoes, and could have created a period of intense warming.
Be afraid, be very very afraid.

On a slightly less silly note, the idea that there is a tipping point where solid methane hydrate on the ocean floor (and in the tundra) would start outgassing at a ferocious rate, creating a horrific cascade.

21 July 2011

It's On Bitch

And by Bitch, I mean Ohio Governor John Kasich, who passed an even wider ranging assault on union rights, because the referendum to repeal the bill is on the ballot:
Ohio residents will be voting this fall on whether to allow a controversial collective bargaining law to go into effect, officials said Thursday.

Backers of the effort to repeal the law have successfully collected almost four times as many signatures needed to put the issue on the statewide ballot.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said opponents of the newly passed law collected 915,456 valid petition signatures. A total of 231,147 were needed.

"We Are Ohio has collected and validated more signatures than any other campaign in Ohio history," said Melissa Fazekas, a spokeswoman for the group collecting the signatures. She expects voters will repeal the new law in November.
According to Maddow it's gotten so bad that Kasich is polling behind Rick Scott of Florida. He's down to 35% approval, which means that not only is he less popular than a case of hemorrhoids, he's probably less popular than Dick Cheney pole dancing.

I expect that a lot of this vote will be about Kasich in addition to the union busting law.

I just hope that the Koch suckers and their corporate money don't turn this around.

It's Jobless Thursday

And unsurprisingly, all this talk of expansionary austerity and government defaults is not producing jobs.

Initial claims rose to 418,000, and we are seeing a spike in layoffs.

We Need to Primary Him Now!!!

I'm beginning to think that the Republicans, the ½ sane ones anyway, may have been right in their criticisms in 2008 when they tried to portray him as a self-absorbed narcissist.

I am increasingly convinced that he obsessed with his own legacy such a degree that he just does not care about right and wrong.

He thinks that he is so damn awesome that he can somehow create a post partisan partisan paradise, with sparkle ponies!

To be fair, it could be that he's just enamored by the idea that government should be private companies run by his Harvard buddies, but the effect is the same.

The latest episode in this is that he is trying to cut a deal with Republicans on the debt ceiling which is all cuts, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid:
President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner rushed Thursday to strike agreement on a far-reaching plan to reduce the national debt but faced a revolt from Democrats furious that the accord appeared to include no immediate provision to raise taxes.

With 12 days left until the Treasury begins to run short of cash, Obama and Boehner (R-Ohio) were still pursuing the most ambitious plan to restrain the national debt in at least 20 years. Talks focused on sharp cuts in agency spending and politically painful changes to cherished health and retirement programs aimed at saving roughly $3 trillion over the next decade.

More savings would be generated through an overhaul of the tax code that would lower personal and corporate income tax rates while eliminating or reducing an array of popular tax breaks, such as the deduction for home mortgage interest. But the talks envisioned no specific tax increases as part of legislation to lift the debt limit, and the tax rewrite would be postponed until next year.

Democrats reacted with outrage as word filtered to Capitol Hill, saying the emerging agreement appeared to violate their pledge not to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits as well as Obama’s promise not to make deep cuts in programs for the poor without extracting some tax concessions from the rich.

………

After a lunchtime meeting between Lew and Senate Democrats, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) made no attempt to hide his anger, telling reporters that his caucus would oppose the “potential agreement” because it appeared to include no clear guarantee of increased revenue.

“The president always talked about balance, that there had to be some fairness in this, that this can’t be all cuts. There has to be a balance. There has to be some revenue and cuts. My caucus agrees with that,” Reid said. “I hope that the president sticks with that. I’m confident that he will.”

Congressional and administration officials said the White House informed Democratic leaders about the talks after Obama met privately with Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) late Wednesday. Congressional aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity to detail private discussions, said the White House acknowledged that the emerging agreement is “to the right of the Gang of Six” — a bipartisan Senate debt-reduction framework unveiled this week — and far removed from what Democrats have said would be acceptable.

Obama summoned top Democratic leaders in both the House and the Senate back to the White House later Thursday for further discussions.
Barack Obama is the Manchurian Democrat.

To be fair, sources within the Obama administration are denying this, but as John Aravosis notes, in terms identical to when they killed the public option in secret:
Obama White House's Dan Pfeiffer on rumors that they sold out the public option:

A rumor is making the rounds that the White House and Senator Reid are pursuing different strategies on the public option. Those rumors are absolutely false.

In his September 9th address to Congress, President Obama made clear that he supports the public option because it has the potential to play an essential role in holding insurance companies accountable through choice and competition. That continues to be the President's position.
We all know how that went.

Obama White House on the rumors that the President has sold out on the budget deal:
A White House spokesman called the claims from aides "not credible" -- the result of having a "3rd hand version of the facts."
And here's more on the record from - wait for it - Dan Pfeiffer:
pfeiffer44 Dan Pfeiffer
Anyone reporting a $3 trillion deal without revenues is incorrect. POTUS believes we need a balanced approach that includes revenues.
Barack Obama is going to f%$# the American people, and he's going to f%$# the Democratic party, and while he does not understand it, he's going to make Sarah Palin President, because the American people hate the idea of cutting entitlements, and like taxing the rich, and he's decided that we are all idiots, so he's setting it up so that Republicans will be completely insulated from the consequences of gutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

I Think that Jimmy Murdoch is Going to Jail…

Of course, if the Parliamentary inquiry committee had sworn him in, it would have been even more likely.

You see, according to tow of James Murdoch's staffers, he was specifically made aware of the phone hacking when he signed off on settlements with litigants:
James Murdoch has been accused of misleading the parliamentary select committee this week in relation to phone hacking, igniting yet another fire for the embattled News International boss to extinguish.

In a highly damaging broadside, two former News of the World senior executives claimed the evidence Murdoch gave to the committee on Tuesday in relation to an out-of-court settlement to Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, was "mistaken".

The statement came as something of a bombshell to the culture, sport and media select committee, which immediately announced it would be asking Murdoch to explain the contradiction.

Colin Myler, editor of the paper until it was shut down two weeks ago, and Tom Crone, the paper's former head of legal affairs, said they had expressly told Murdoch of an email that would have blown a hole in its defence that only one "rogue reporter" was involved in the phone-hacking scandal.

This contradicts what Murdoch told the committee when questioned on Tuesday.
As an aside on the media, if you want to follow this, I recommend two sources, the Guardian, which really went out on a limb in following this for years, and Keith Olbermann who has been on this like white on rice.

20 July 2011

Wanker of the Day

NY Times Reporter and columnist Frank Bruni, who admits that he has written opinion pieces about things that he has no knowledge or opinion, because he wanted to look cool:
I'm glad Bruni feels comfortable admitting that he's a poseur. This admission confirms the suspicions I had about Bruni as a political reporter and as a food critic.

It's good to know upfront that your op/ed columnist is so insecure that he'll generate spurious opinions rather than admit that he's not well-informed or even interested in the topic at hand.

Everyone fronts from time to time, but it's disconcerting to realize that Bruni thinks this bad habit is something to brag about.
As an opinion columnist, they have every right to their opinion, but the idea that they would fake having an opinion just boggles the minds.

You can read the rest of Lindsay Beyerstein's post on this, it's short, and well worth the read.

I Said that the Ivins AnthraxEvidence was Tenuous………

Lawyers at the Department of Justice have concluded that, notwithstanding the FBI's claims to the contrary, there is absolutely no evidence that accused anthrax mailer Bruce Ivins had any access to equipment that would have had to be used to weapoonize the disease:
The Justice Department has called into question a key pillar of the FBI's case against Bruce Ivins, the Army scientist accused of mailing the anthrax-laced letters that killed five people and terrorized Congress a decade ago.

………

Now, however, Justice Department lawyers have acknowledged in court papers that the sealed area in Ivins' lab — the so-called hot suite — didn't contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined powder that floated through congressional buildings and post offices in the fall of 2001.

The government said it continued to believe that Ivins was "more likely than not" the killer. But the filing in a Florida court didn't explain where or how Ivins could have made the powder, saying only that his secure lab "did not have the specialized equipment . . . that would be required to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters."

The government's statements deepen the questions about the case against Ivins, who killed himself before he was charged with a crime. Searches of his car and home in 2007 found no anthrax spores, and the FBI's eight-year, $100 million investigation never provided direct evidence that he mailed the letters or identified another location where he might have secretly dried the anthrax into an easily inhaled powder.

Earlier this year, a report by the National Academy of Sciences questioned the genetic analysis that had linked a flask of anthrax stored in Ivins' office to the anthrax in the letters.
I've always felt that the FBI was more interested in finding some guy than they were interested in finding the guy, and from that perspective.

In fact I think that Ivins' suicide was an implicit goal of their tactics, which appears to have been a desired outcome for the FBI (they went out of their way to, for example, alienate and terrify his therapist), because dead men don't defend themselves.

It makes it easier to close the case.

Background here.

This Joint Kills Fascists

Click for full size

This is your brain


This is your brain on drugs … Any Questions
About 5 years ago, a couple of young twins (about 14) achieved some notoriety as the singing group called "Prussian Blue."

It was a white white supremacist group.

Well, these days, the girls have renounced racism, and they credit marijuana for their change of heart:
Lamb and Lynx Gaede, whose band Prussian Blue was popular back in 2005 among those inclined to like such things, ascribed their unsavory past to having been "home schooled country bumpkins" heavily influenced by their domineering white supremacist mother, reports Neurobonkers.

The twins back when they were little 13-year-old Nazis about six years ago
​Since then the twins, who turned 19 on June 30, have moved to Montana to attend high school, where in her first year Lynx was diagnosed with both cancer (which led to removal of a tumor) and cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS). Lamb developed scoloiosis and back pain, "as well as lack of appetite and intense emotional stress."

Both of the girls, who sort of became the white supremacist equivalent of the Olsen Twins, began using marijuana after Lynx had a bad reaction to the harsh pharmaceutical narcotics Oxycontin and morphine, which a doctor had prescribed to treat her pain.

"I have to say, marijuana saved my life," Lynx said. "I would probably be dead if I didn't have it."

Lynx became one of the first five minors in Montana to get a medical marijuana card, and Lamb now has one, too. One can only wonder what will become of the girls now that Montana's conservative Republican-controlled Legislature has all but repealed the state's compassionate medical marijuana law, approved by 62 percent voters in 2004.

Apparently, the marijuana didn't just ease the physical pain, but also quelled the psychological hatred that had been inculcated in the girls by their racist upbringing.
No, this is not The Onion.

How is Barack Obama Different from George W. Bush?

No this is not a lead in for a joke it's a real question because Barack "I'm Shutting Down the CIA Black Sites" Obama has set up a new CIA black site:
Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Set on the coast of the Indian Ocean, the facility looks like a small gated community, with more than a dozen buildings behind large protective walls and secured by guard towers at each of its four corners. Adjacent to the compound are eight large metal hangars, and the CIA has its own aircraft at the airport. The site, which airport officials and Somali intelligence sources say was completed four months ago, is guarded by Somali soldiers, but the Americans control access. At the facility, the CIA runs a counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives aimed at building an indigenous strike force capable of snatch operations and targeted “combat” operations against members of Al Shabab, an Islamic militant group with close ties to Al Qaeda.

As part of its expanding counterterrorism program in Somalia, the CIA also uses a secret prison buried in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, where prisoners suspected of being Shabab members or of having links to the group are held. Some of the prisoners have been snatched off the streets of Kenya and rendered by plane to Mogadishu. While the underground prison is officially run by the Somali NSA, US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners. The existence of both facilities and the CIA role was uncovered by The Nation during an extensive on-the-ground investigation in Mogadishu. Among the sources who provided information for this story are senior Somali intelligence officials; senior members of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG); former prisoners held at the underground prison; and several well-connected Somali analysts and militia leaders, some of whom have worked with US agents, including those from the CIA. A US official, who confirmed the existence of both sites, told The Nation, “It makes complete sense to have a strong counterterrorism partnership” with the Somali government.

The CIA presence in Mogadishu is part of Washington’s intensifying counterterrorism focus on Somalia, which includes targeted strikes by US Special Operations forces, drone attacks and expanded surveillance operations. The US agents “are here full time,” a senior Somali intelligence official told me. At times, he said, there are as many as thirty of them in Mogadishu, but he stressed that those working with the Somali NSA do not conduct operations; rather, they advise and train Somali agents. “In this environment, it’s very tricky. They want to help us, but the situation is not allowing them to do [it] however they want. They are not in control of the politics, they are not in control of the security,” he adds. “They are not controlling the environment like Afghanistan and Iraq. In Somalia, the situation is fluid, the situation is changing, personalities changing.”
Bullsh%@.

This is not an existing state security apparatus who is doing us a favor, this the CIA, and possibly the NSA running another black site.

The "official government" in Somolia controls, "Somali government forces control roughly thirty square miles of territory in Mogadishu thanks in large part to the US-funded and -armed 9,000-member AMISOM force."

This government controls about half the land area of Liechtenstein and that only by dint of massive foreign aid.

Seriously, what Barack Obama has done by way of the rule of law and civil rights is worse than what George W. Bush did, because he has normalized behavior, both by refusing to investigate criminality, and by aping the policies of Bush/Cheney.

…and it's not getting any coverage by the MSM.

19 July 2011

Here's a Bit of Etiquette for All You Pie Flingers

If you are going to fling a pie at some rich pig as a way of publicly taking them down a peg, the preferred, and traditional, pie is a cream pie, but you should include both a crust and a filling, even if the latter is just whipped cream (kind of lame).

That being said, I do not approve of the actions of comedian and political activist Jonathan "Jonnie Marbles" May-Bowles, who flung a pie tin full of shaving cream at Rupert Murdoch when he was testifying before Parliament. (His wife deflected the projectile, that's love … and good reflexes)

Mr. May-Bowles, if you are to fling a pie at Rupert Murdoch, make it a real pie.

I'm Going Long On Republican Crazy

First, we have Allen West, who just unleashed a truly unhinged tirade against Debbie Wasserman-Schultz:
A Republican congressman from Florida turned to email on Tuesday to call a Democratic colleague from the state "vile, despicable and cowardly" after she called into question his stance on Medicare during the debate over a spending cap and balanced budget bill before the House.

Rep. Allen West, a first-term Republican from south Florida, wasn't shy about his online outburst. He sent his peppery email to numerous lawmakers as well as his target, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

The subject line of the email: "Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman Schultz."

The e-mail said: "Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up."
Is it me, or did he just challenge her to a fight?

It certainly sounds like Zell Miller challenging someone to a duel. The only difference is that it was email, which means that it's less likely to end up on Stewart.

And then there is Michelle Bachmann's staff, who in response to a reporter asking about the reports that she is taking a veritable pharmacy of drugs for her stress related migraines, which regularly incapacitate her for days at a time, roughed up the reporter, and not just any reporter, but ABC's Brian Ross:
Bachmann said 30 million Americans suffer from migraines and that “nearly 1 in 4 American households” have a migraine sufferer. “While I appreciate the concern for myself and for my health,” she added, looking to climb back down to safer ground, “the greater concern should be the debate that is occurring today in Washington, D.C., over whether or not we will increase our debt spending and taxes.” Bachmann reiterated that she would not vote to raise the debt ceiling. And with that, she departed without taking questions.

That’s when things got interesting. Ross dashed after Bachmann, repeatedly asking whether she had ever missed a House vote due to a migraine. She ignored him. Ross pursued her into a parking area behind the stage. Her aides grew alarmed. When Ross made a beeline for the white SUV waiting to carry Bachmann away, two Bachmann men pounced on him, grabbing and pushing him multiple times with what looked to me like unusual force. In fact, I have never seen a reporter treated so roughly at a campaign event, especially not a presidential one. Ross was finally able to break away and lob his question at Bachmann one more time, but she continued to ignore him.

Afterward, I asked Ross — a hard-nosed pro who nevertheless seemed slightly shaken — whether he had ever been treated so roughly. “A few times,” he told me. “Mostly by Mafia people.
(emphasis mine)

Does anyone know if someone out there has a futures market where I can invest in Republican crazy?

Something like the Iowa Electronic Markets, only one that would allow bigger bets.

I'd make out like a raped ape.

Wanker of the Day

No surprise, it's a rat f%$# who works at the Heritage Foundation, who is claiming that because poor people can get 5-year old video game systems at the Goodwill for under 20 bucks.

So, the idea that there are no poor, because, "In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave," little more than a substitute for screaming out the N-word at a Klan rally.

Full disclosure:  I harbor a lot of personal malice against the Heritage Foundation.  They fired a friend of mine for having cancer.

Lucy Will Hold The Football This Time … Really

The "Gang of Six" in the Senate, it's back:
The once moribund Senate “Gang of Six” gained new life Tuesday after Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn unexpectedly rejoined the group and President Barack Obama praised a new effort to cut the debt by as much as $3.7 trillion over the next decade.

Speaking at the White House Tuesday afternoon, Obama gave the Gang of Six a big boost, saying its proposals were “roughly” in line with his negotiations during the stalled debt-ceiling talks. But he said there would need to be broader buy-in to the proposal and he said Congress needed to have “fail-safe” plan, being drafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to avert a default.

“I think we’re now seeing a potential for a bipartisan consensus,” Obama told reporters.
And Obama is not just positive about this development, he is a "ferocious advocate" of capitulation masquerading as bipartisanship:
President Obama heaped praise on a deficit-reduction proposal produced by bipartisan group of senators known as the "Gang of Six," calling it a "significant step" and arguing that members on both side of the aisle are beginning to coalesce around a balanced approach involving cuts to entitlements and tax increases.

"We're in the same playing field and my hope is that we start gathering everybody in the next couple of days" on an agreement, Obama told reporters in a brief appearance in the White House briefing room Tuesday.
This is just pathetic.

In response to Republicans taking "a shellacking" because of their attempts to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid, Obama has signed on to a plan that calls for cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

Yesterday's quote of the day shines a bit more light on this problem.

Barack Obama's fetish regarding "Responsibility without conviction," is more than "weak".  It is in fact profoundly irresponsible.

Speaking as a parent, and someone who plays an adult on the internet, sometimes adults actually have to deal with children, and, "I'll give you another ice cream if you stop ……… Well OK, you did not stop, but here is your ice cream anyway," is not responsible anything.

I think the idea that Barack Obama is the responsible adult in the room is a delusion, and one that is most firmly held by one one Barack Hussein Obama.

18 July 2011

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?!? Rudy Giuliani Seizes the Moral High Ground?!?!

No, this is not a joke. Rudolph Giuliani really said the right thing, and there will very likely be a not inconsiderable political cost, because the right thing has very little intersection with the Republican party:
Rudy Giuliani, always a critic of his party’s social agenda, urged Republicans to “move on” from social issues after New York State’s recent approval of gay marriage.

“I think that marriage should be between a man and woman, but I think that the Republican Party would be well advised to get the heck out of people's bedrooms and let these things get decided by states,” said the former New York mayor, who's considering another bid for the Republican presidential nomination, in an interview aired Sunday.

Giuliani said that he thinks the New York vote was “wrong,” but “there are other things that I think are wrong that get decided by democratic vote.”

The libertarian streak of the Republican party, he added, should want to avoid “getting involved in people’s sexual lives.”
We live in strange times.

Quote of the Day

Courtesy of George Packer:
Weber’s terms perfectly capture the toxic dynamic between the President, who takes responsibility as an end in itself, and the Republicans in Congress, who are destructively consumed with their own dogma. Neither side can be said to possess what Weber calls a “leader’s personality.” Responsibility without conviction is weak, but it is sane. Conviction without responsibility, in the current incarnation of the Republican Party, is raving mad.
Word.

17 July 2011

I Think That He Needs to Get a Younger Girlfriend………*

Click for full size








Baltimore is a strange place
So, I was driving home from shopping with my family, and come up on a motorcyclist who has a decidedly atypical companion on the back of the bike:  a skeleton, complete with wig and helmet.

I asked Sharon to snap some pictures of this, and here they are.

As you can see, he saw our interest, and my wife snapping pictures, and posed a bit for us.

It added a bit of the surreal to this day.

*I cannot claim credit for this bon mot. It was coined by my daughter, Natalie.
Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

16 July 2011

Can We Please Primary the Bastard Now?

So it appears that Barack Obama is removing Elizabeth Warren as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
President Barack Obama has chosen a candidate other than Elizabeth Warren as director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The president’s choice is a person who already works at the consumer agency, the person said yesterday. Obama may make the nomination as soon as next week, another person briefed on the administration’s plans said.

The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process isn’t public, didn’t name Obama’s choice.

Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard professor, was appointed last fall by Obama to set up the consumer bureau until a director was named. Warren previously was head of the congressional watchdog panel overseeing the bank bailout.
And here is the kicker:
Raj Date, a top deputy to Warren at the consumer bureau, was on a short list of candidates to become director ………

………He was senior vice president for corporate strategy and development at Capital One and a managing director in the financial institutions group at Deutsche Bank. During the debate over Dodd-Frank, Date headed the Cambridge Winter Center for Financial Institutions Policy, a research group he founded.
So he's replacing Elizabeth Warren with a f%$#ing banker.

But in classic fashion, he's floating out a payoff for her to keep her mouth shut until after the 2012 election, the Democratic nomination for Senate, where she would run against Scott Brown:
Elizabeth Warren’s calendar sure looks like the schedule of a woman considering a Senate bid, or at least someone being courted by power players in Massachusetts and the Senate Democrats’ campaign operation in Washington.

In recent weeks, Warren has met in person or spoke on the phone with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, David Axelrod, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Massachusetts Democratic Reps. Barney Frank, Stephen Lynch and John Tierney. The phone call with Murray took place in early June, Roll Call has learned. Warren attended a community banking event with Tierney in the Bay State and dined with Schumer, a former DSCC chairman and an aggressive recruiter who remains involved in DSCC activities.

Warren’s May calendar, the most recently available public schedule, shows the Schumer dinner along with the other meetings and discussions.

Given that Warren is leading the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB business could, of course, have been the lone agenda item during these meetings. But for a woman some national Democrats and liberal activists are hoping will take on Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) — a prime target in 2012 — her calendar alludes that she has at least been examining the possibility of a run.
So he's putting her up to run against Scott Brown, which is a win-win for Obama.

Basically, she's about the only person who appears to have a possibility to beat him right now, though it's a tough row to hoe, because Brown is the consummate politician, and she isn't.

If she wins, it's easier to hold onto the Senate, and she gets buried as a low seniority Senator, where the old boys' network keeps her far away from any meaningful banking regulation

If she loses, then no one could have won, and he keeps her inconvenient truths out of the press until his reelection.

With the Space Shuttle Program Ending

Let me be contrarian, and say good riddance to bad rubbish.

I worked on the HRS (Radiator for the International Space Station) and among its specifications was a minimum stowed size which was large enough to rule out any other launcher.

It was one of the many lame ass attempts by NASA to create a need for the most expensive, least reliable, and least safe launcher that they ever created.

It was flayed in concept, it was flawed in execution, and it was flawed in basic architecture.

15 July 2011

Deep Thought


This is the 2nd best practical joke ever.

Friday Cat Blogging


Not Even 5 Years Old
Heh.

But I think that my cat is more of the Uma Thurman with a Samurai sword type.

He's Proposing Means Testing Medicare? Is He Nuts?

One of the reason that Social Security and Medicare are popular are because they both apply to everyone.

When you start trying to exclude people for being too rich, you remove a powerful constituency that supports the programs, and save next to no money, and set the stage for a lower level, until finally the programs are just for the poor, and they are easier to kill.

Well, at his press conference, this is what Barack Obama proposed:
"The fall back position, the third option, and what I consider the least attractive option, is one in which we raise the debt ceiling without making any significant progress on reducing the deficit," he said.

Obama specifically highlighted the possibility of additional means-testing for Medicare as a way to achieve savings, noting that his proposal would not affect current beneficiaries.

"You can envision a situation where for somebody in my position -- me having to pay a little bit more -- would be appropriate...and that could make a difference," Obama said during a Friday press conference.
Will someone please primary the bastard before he destroys the last vestige of the New Deal? Please?

His narcissistic interest in accomplishing big things, even when they are bad big things, is profoundly troubling.