30 September 2012

Light Posting for a While

I'm working on something long form.

I Have a New Favorite Abraham Lincoln Quote

And it is from the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Stephen Douglas was arguing for "Popular Sovereignty", where he argued that the new territories could ignore the Dredd Scott case, because they would be acting as independently of the Federal Government.

To say that Lincoln thought that this was weak tea is an understatement, because of the sweeping nature of the Supreme Court decision:
Has it not got down as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death?

Imagine that. People were making fun of homeopathy 170 years ago.

29 September 2012

Screen Grab of the Day

I don't have much news for Fox News, but Shep Smith does appear to be the cream of the crop at that nest of vipers.

Seen on Facebook.

28 September 2012

Paid Trolls

My "sh%$ty little blog" doesn't rate them, but Barry Ritholtz problems, particularly in his posts detailing Megan McCardle being a stooge of the Koch brothers, is something I've seen before.

I do believe that there are people being paid to troll his comment section.

I believe this because I am an alumni of Netslaves, where the sysop Patrick "Splat" Neeman was getting web design business thrown his way by Lauren "Uncle Meat" Bandler, and so was allowed to troll with impunity.

It destroyed the board and the community.

It's their goal.

H/t for the xkcd  for the cartoon, which does not obscure the naughty word.

Tommy "Toast" Thompson

Bummer of a Birthmark, Hal
You know, when you talk to constituents you get taped.

So if you want to pander to teabaggers your statements saying that you are the best person to get rid of medicare and medicaid will end up online:
Already down almost 10 points in the PollTracker Average, Tommy Thompson has now shown up in a video from a Tea Party meeting in June bragging that who better than him to “do away with the Medicare and Medicaid”.
BTW, I'm watching his debate with Tammy Baldwin right now, and I'm wondering if he if he was always this dense, or if he's doddering a bit in his old age.

He really sounds out of it.

How Long Before George Lucas to Send a Cease and Desist Notice

Seen on Facebook

Yes, Making a Tort a Criminal Matter is Stupid

I can think of no better example how how our relentless criminalization of our IP laws creating an environment where prosecutors and IP holders run roughshod over our rights and the presumption of innocence than the current clusterf%$# that is the Kim Dotcom persecution:
Officials in New Zealand's government apparently believed the law gave them the right to spy on MegaUpload founder Kim DotCom because he was a foreign national.

They were wrong.

In New Zealand today, Prime Minister John Key apologized to DotCom for the spying conducted against him by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

The United States has accused DotCom of criminal copyright violations. In January, New Zealand police raided his home and arrested him. Just ahead of the raid, the GCSB began collecting intelligence against DotCom to see if he posed any danger to the police who would later swoop in by helicopter to arrest him.

[It] Turns out that the GCSB isn't allowed to conduct such surveillance on New Zealand citizens, and the agency was under the false impression that DotCom, who was born in Germany, was not yet a citizen.

This meant that the spying was unlawful.
If you don't think that they were breaking the law knowingly at the explicit request of the FBI, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

What a Whiny Bitch, Todd Akin Edition

He's whining about how Claire McCaskill was mean to him in the debates:
Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin compared the recent debate performance of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill to that of a "wildcat," saying she is worried about her reelection chances.

McCaskill came on strong during their first debate last week, criticizing Akin's earlier suggestion that pregnancy "rarely" results from "legitimate rape" because women's bodies have a way of shutting down conception. McCaskill said his views were extreme and out of the mainstream.

"The first two minutes, wow, it's like somebody let a wildcat out of the cage," Akin told a small group of supporters and activists as his statewide bus tour stopped Wednesday evening in Rolla, a rural college town between St. Louis and Springfield. "She was just furious and attacking in every different direction, which was a little bit of a surprise to us."
You know, you've been spouting this crap for years, and now you are whining about someone telling people what you say? PuhLease!!!

BTW, he also came out in favor of paying women less for the same work.

It's simple: If you don't like people calling you out for saying stupid sh%$, then stop saying stupid sh%$.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

One failure this Friday, number 43, First United Bank in Crete, IL.

The numbers of banks closed by the FDIC has fallen sharply since 2010.

Part of this is that things are better than in 2008, but part of this is we may be running out banks because of mergers.

Full FDIC list

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

But It's Not Happening Here

It looks like the rest of the industrial world is seriously address the risks and effects of high frequency trading:
After years of emulating the flashy United States stock markets, countries around the globe are now using America as a model for what they don’t want to look like.

Industry leaders and regulators in several countries including Canada, Australia and Germany have adopted or proposed limits on high-speed trading and other technological developments that have come to define United States markets.

The flurry of international activity is particularly striking because regulators have been slow to act in the United States, where trading firms and investors have been hardest hit by a series of market disruptions, including the flash crash of 2010 and the runaway trading in August by Knight Capital that cost it $440 million in just hours. While the Securities and Exchange Commission is hosting a round table on the topic on Tuesday, the agency has not proposed any major new rules this year.
Here is the kicker, unlike the claims of the HFT mafia, it turns out that markets run better when they have limits placed on them:
The broadest and fastest changes have come out of Canada, where this spring regulators began increasing the fees charged to firms that flood the market with orders. The research and trading firm ITG found that the change had already made trading more efficient by reducing the crush of data burdening the market’s computer systems.

Now Canadian trading desks are preparing for rules that will come into effect on Oct. 15 and curtail the growth of the sophisticated trading venues known as dark pools that have proliferated in the United States. While the regulation has been hotly debated, many Canadian bankers and investors have said they don’t want to go any further down the road that has taken the United States from having one major exchange a decade ago to having 13 official exchanges and dozens of dark pools today.
It's time to realize that most financial innovation is not an advance in the art, but rather an exercise in fraud and rent seeking, and we need to stop it.

Because They are Our Terrorists, Dammit

The State Department has dropped the MEK from its terrorist organization list:
The US has removed the dissident Iranian group Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) from its terror blacklist.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally removed the group after sending a classified opinion to Congress earlier in September.

The organisation had been designated a terror group by the US since 1997.

The MEK led a guerrilla campaign against the US-backed Shah of Iran in the 1970s and also opposed Iran's clerical leaders who replaced the Shah.

Also known as the People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran, the group insists it has renounced violence.

The state department said its decision had been taken in view of the MEK's public renunciation of violence, the absence of any confirmed acts of terrorism by the organisation for more than a decade and its co-operation in the closure of their paramilitary base in Iraq.
I guess that all that lobbying money that they spread around Washington's elite lobbyists, money which was technically a felony to take, paid off.

27 September 2012

More Google™ Adsense™ Mishugas

So, I confirm a blog post, because the new blogger interface, and I see this piece of sh%$ add from that piece of sh%$ Andrew Breitbart.

I guess that it's better that they are wasting their money on this, than on something that might do them some good, but the folks at "The Google" desperately need to fix their algorithm.

Please note: once again, that I do not vet, nor do I endorse any ad that appears on my site, and I reserve the right to mock both the ads that appear on my site, as well as the advertisers.

Also, please note, this should be in no way construed as an inducement or a request for my reader(s) to click on any ad that they would not otherwise be inclined to investigate further. This would be a violation of the terms of service for Google Adsense.

Patrick Stewart's Finest Role

I'm not a fan of his, but his stint on The Daily Show is brilliant:

It manages to encapsulate all the insanity of the referee lockout in the NFL to the dulcet tones of Patrick Stewart.

It's Called Projection………………

The reason that Republicans are pushing voter ID is straightforward, they don't want n*****s to vote. The descendants of "Bull"Connor run the party now.

But there is another element to this, that of projection: The Republicans believe that Democrats engage in vote fraud, because they themselves routinely engage in vote fraud, largely through the absentee ballot process.

In Michigan, we have Thaddeus McCotter's staffers charged with voter fraud over his crudely forged reelection petitions. And some context:
This incident perfectly highlights the dirty little secret about election fraud. Election fraud overwhelmingly happens on the campaign side, not the voter side. It’s far easier – and more rewarding – to cheat while working from within the system than it is to commit in-person voter fraud. The GOP is legislating against cases of voter fraud in which a person would have to give someone else’s name at the correct polling place in order to falsely vote once; meanwhile a Republican Congressman and his staff fabricated 1,756 signatures so that he could run illegally.

And this is the truth about so many Republican policies: rules and regulations are put in place to scapegoat people who aren’t causing problems. In Florida, drug testing welfare recipients showed that less than 3% of those receiving welfare were using drugs illegally, while that discriminatory testing cost the state nearly $120,000. Mitt Romney has evoked the “47% of people [who] pay no income tax,” conveniently ignoring that collecting income tax from all of those households would bring in less than than the president’s Buffett Rule which would slightly raise taxes for the country’s wealthiest. Reagan’s racist welfare queen myth still looms large in the conservative narrative, despite the fact that the Bush-era bailout for corrupt and irresponsible banks cost far more than years of welfare programs.

And then we have Western Massachusetts, the Republican part of the state, not so far where I went to college, where voter fraud in East Longmeadow is so blatant that the state was compelled to take over the election:
There’s just one Republican primary in East Longmeadow next month.

Marie Angelides and Jack Villamaino are vying for a Massachusetts State Representative seat.

Secretary of State Bill Galvin says his office will be running the election. That’s because fraud has found way into the race.

Experts say in a State Representative race, there’s often 30-45 absentee ballots that are filed. This summer, there’s been more than 400.

Galvin confirms that hundreds of the applications were never filled out by voters; somebody forged the applications and even changed the political parties of Democrats to Republican so they would receive an absentee ballot in the mail. The Boston Globe reports it’s widely believed the Villamaino’s campaign and an East Longmeadow clerk’s office employee are behind the scheme.

“I have had a substantial amount of experience in running elections. I cannot recall a single instance where i saw such a brazen effort to steal the rights or identities of voters, to change their party enrollments and in effect to steal their ballots,” Galvin said.

“I’m disheartened to see that in the political process,” former State Representative and District Court Judge Robert Howarth said.
You notice just how much easier it is to commit voter fraud with absentee ballots?

If Villamaino's had been a bit less greedy, no one might have noticed.

And then again, there is Palm Beach, Florida, the home of the infamous butterfly ballot, and the epicenter of Republican vote fraud, where Virginia based Strategic Allied Consultants, one of Nathan Sproul's network of voting fraud shops:
The Republican Party of Florida is dumping a firm it paid more than $1.3 million to register new voters, after Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher flagged 106 “questionable” registration applications turned in by the contractor this month.

Bucher asked the state attorney’s office to review the applications “in an abundance of caution” because she said her staff had questions about similar-looking signatures, missing information and wrong addresses on the forms.

The state GOP hired Strategic Allied Consultants of Glen Allen, Va., for “voter registration services” and get-out-the-vote activities. The firm got identical payments of $667,598 in July and August.

“When we learned today about the instances of potential voter registration fraud that occurred in Palm Beach County, we immediately informed the Republican National Committee that we were terminating the contract with the voter registration vendor we hired at their request because there is no place for voter registration fraud in Florida,” said RPOF Executive Director Mike Grissom late Tuesday.

An employee of the company said no one was available to comment Tuesday evening.

Bucher said some of the applications she questioned were for new voter registrations while others were for address or party affiliation changes or requests for new voter cards, Bucher said.
Seriously, if the DoJ seriously went after real voter fraud, half the Republican consultants in the nation would be under indictment.

It's like the old days of the cold war:  You knew what the USSR was doing, because they would accuse us of doing it.

Good News Out of Wisconsin

The state supreme court has declined to rule on lower court injunctions against Wisconsin's voter suppression.

It's not a ruling on the law on its merits, but rather that it was premature at this time.

What it means is that the law will not be in effect for the elections.

Wile Coyote vs. Benyamin Netanyahu

Bibi at the UN.

Do Your F%$#ing Job

Yet another reason not to link to the AP, they have decided that if you lie enough, they won't cover it, because it's too much work:
An editor for the Associated Press said in a panel discussion on Wednesday that during coverage of the Republican primaries, fact-checkers for the organization would have to limit themselves to a “quota” of misstatements by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) during debates.

According to the Washington Post, the AP’s Jim Drinkard confessed that the sheer volume of factually inaccurate assertions, dubious claims and stretchings of the truth threatened to “overload” the stories of the debates.

“We had to have a self-imposed Michele Bachmann quota in some of those debates,” Drinkard told the audience at the National Press Club on Wednesday. Otherwise, Bachmann would have become the story. Of all the Republican candidates who ran, said Drinkard, “Often she was just more prone to statements that just didn’t add up.
It's called doing your f%$#ing job. When a politician lies, or a politician is so f%$#ing delusional that they cannot separate fact from fiction, this is news.

If you don't want to cover the news, go and work at your parents' dry cleaning shop.

26 September 2012


My fast went pretty well this year.

Things That Makes Me Want to Go Long on Guillotine Manufactures

Larissa Faw, a self-styled expert on millennial as well as a millennial herself, has identified the cause of the fact that her generation is not buying cars. It's because they want a brand new car with all the bells and whistles, or nothing at all:
The reason Millennials are turning away from cars is simply because no one is giving them vehicles they want. It’s not about car-sharing trends affecting city-dwelling youth or that they are avoiding gas guzzlers in order to save the environment. “[Millennials] expect you to be green and to do right by the environment,” says Anne Hubert of Scratch, the consulting unit of Viacom. “You don’t get extra credit for doing what you are supposed to do.”

Today’s teens and Millennials are often called the entitled generation for a reason. They expect to drive their very own fully-loaded luxury vehicle with retractable roof and multi-speaker audio system. If they can’t have their specific dream car, then they don’t want anything and won’t waste time getting a driver’s license. Past generations of young drivers, by comparison, were satisfied with any piece of metal that moved.

My brother and I, like many other Millennials, weren’t willing to downgrade, compromise, or to be forced to drive a parent’s vehicle. I received my license at age seventeen only after I had my red convertible sitting in the driveway. My brother refused to even look at the driver’s manual until he received his BMW at age eighteen. It is this sense of entitlement that is reshaping how automakers market and develop vehicles to appeal to Millennials. “It’s an entire soup-to-nuts makeover. The old recipe isn’t going to work,” says Hubert.
Just because your parents have have more money than common sense, and you are a self-entitled spoiled brat does not make this the normal state of affairs in America.

The sense of entitlement, and the complete lack of awareness of those less fortunate than her, makes me think that she must somehow be related to Mitt Romney.

H/t Atrios.

Deep Thought

Seen on Facebook.

25 September 2012

The Euro Crisis in 2 Minutes and 37 Seconds

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Clarke and Dawe, like Stewart and Colbert, show that the only truth tellers out there are the comedians.

This Dick Should Never Ever Be In Striking Distance of a Vagina

I made this comment in response to this Facebook post, and realized that it was blog worthy.

Offline for the Next 25 Hours

Yom Kippur.

No computer, no food, no fluids, no kidding.

I have a few posts queued up though.

24 September 2012

If You F%$# Your Base Long and Hard Enough, They Won't Be Your Base Anymore

Attempts by mainstream Democrats to turn education into another private sector profit center from which they can extract campaign donations is starting to piss off teachers:
The strike by public school teachers in Chicago this month drew national attention to a fierce debate over the future of education and exposed the ruptured relationship between teachers’ unions and Democrats like Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Over the past few years, even as Republicans have led efforts to thwart unions, lawmakers previously considered solid supporters of teachers’ unions have tangled with them over a national education agenda that includes new performance evaluations based partly on test scores, the overhaul of tenure and the expansion of charter schools.

As these traditional political alliances have shifted, teachers’ unions have pursued some strange bedfellows among lawmakers who would not appear to be natural allies.

In Illinois, the top two recipients of political contributions from the Illinois Education Association through June 30 were Republicans, including a State House candidate who has Tea Party support and advocates lower taxes and smaller government.


“The notion that just because you’re a Democrat” you can take the teachers’ unions for granted has changed, said Jim Reed, director of government relations for the Illinois Education Association.

As teachers grapple with a reform agenda backed by hedge funds and large philanthropic donors and championed by the Obama administration as well as some conservative Republicans, the unions are navigating a delicate political landscape where they increasingly pursue friends in unlikely places.

There are way too many Democrats, including Barack Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who think that handing our schools off to hedge funds is a good thing.

It's not.

The creation of the educational-industrial complex, much like the creation of the prison-industrial complex, and their granddaddy, the military-industrial complex, are a disaster for our society.

This is F%$#ing Nuts!

The Department of Justice has charged Aaron Schwartz with 13 felonies for violating the terms of service TOS of a web site:
Federal prosectors added nine new felony counts against well-known coder and activist Aaron Swartz, who was charged last year for allegedly breaching hacking laws by downloading millions of academic articles from a subscription database via an open connection at MIT.

Swartz, the 25-year-old executive director of Demand Progress, has a history of downloading massive data sets, both to use in research and to release public domain documents from behind paywalls. He surrendered in July 2011, remains free on bond and faces dozens of years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted.

Like last year’s original grand jury indictment on four felony counts, (.pdf) the superseding indictment (.pdf) unveiled Thursday accuses Swartz of evading MIT’s attempts to kick his laptop off the network while downloading millions of documents from JSTOR, a not-for-profit company that provides searchable, digitized copies of academic journals that are normally inaccessible to the public.


In essence, many of the charges stem from Swartz allegedly breaching the terms of service agreement for those using the research service.

“JSTOR authorizes users to download a limited number of journal articles at a time,” according to the latest indictment. “Before being given access to JSTOR’s digital archive, each user must agree and acknowledge that they cannot download or export content from JSTOR’s computer servers with automated programs such as web robots, spiders, and scrapers. JSTOR also uses computerized measures to prevent users from downloading an unauthorized number of articles using automated techniques.”
It gets better.

The DoJ lost big in the 9th circuit court, which said that a violation of the TOS was a matter for civil court, but Obama's DiJ decided not to appeal, so that they could continue to use their bogus vendettas in other jurisdictions.

Prosecutors have an obligation to represent the people.

This obligation goes beyond fishing for a suitably technically illiterate jury and using multiple indictments and the threat of decades in jail to extract a plea bargain.

This is a despicable case of prosecutorial overreach.

They are saying that, for example, lying about my appearance on a dating site would be a felony.

Prosecutors want to make their job easier, but their method, creating a world where everyone can be thrown in jail for a felony, because there is some law that they are in violation of, is repellant.

It is the hallmark of a police state.

Great, I Just Got Caught Up in the Patriot Act

I was getting some medicine containing some Pseudoephedrine HCL, and because of a glitch with a card swipe, their computer had me getting it, so I could not get another dose for 24 hours.

You wee, when the Patriot Act was reauthorized in 2006, it included legislation that made it tougher to buy Sudafed than it is to buy Plutonium.

After an hour of trying to fix the computer glitch, I left without the decongestant (Zyrtec® D).

F%$# the Patriot Act, and F%$# every F%$#ing member of Congress who F%$#ing voted for this F%$#ing piece of Sh%$ legislation, either the original, or the renewal.

23 September 2012

Megan "Math is Hard" McArdle Is Worse Than I Thought

Due diligence, what due diligence?
I've always thought of her as a partisan hack, but it turns out that it's worse than that. She is yet another bit of Koch brothers bought and paid for AstroTurf:
Megan McArdle is a Koch-trained conservative activist working as a business journalist and pundit. She earned her MBA from the University of Chicago, received journalism training at the Kochs’ flagship libertarian think-tank, the Institute for Humane Studies, and has used her position at The Atlantic and, most recently, Newsweek/ The Daily Beast, to run cover for and promote Koch interests and the Republican Party agenda. In early 2009, a GOP outfit backed by the Kochs hailed McArdle for her “leadership role in … re-branding the Republican party.” McArdle continues to conceal the extent of her deeply conflicted relationships with the Koch influence-peddling machine.
There is a line between being a hack, and being a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers.

If you hire someone while they are paid agents of an entity that they cover, you are making the integrity of your news organization a joke.

I have made the same argument about NPR's religion reporter, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, who interestingly enough is the sister of the multi-millionaire owner of MCardle's employer The Atlantic, David Bradley. (The world is weird that way)

There are some good people at The Atlantic, but even before these revelations, it was clear that giving McArdle a megaphone was a blight on the magazine.

So, Jon Stewart's S-Word Unbleeped Was a One-Off

Roll George Carlin (NSFW)
It appears that "Sh%$ unbleeped will not be a regular part of the lexicon for The Daily Show:
“The Daily Show” is not changing its standards concerning which words it will bleep and which it won’t, though it might have seemed that way Wednesday night.


Comedy Central executives emphasized that the decision to leave the words in affected only the initial late-night showing of “The Daily Show” and the ones run later at night. All the words were cut from repeats run during daytime hours Thursday.

A spokesman for the network, Steve Albani, said in an e-mail comment:

“Occasionally we allow certain language to go unbleeped on the show during its late-night premiere and encore. When we do, we have an alternate, bleeped version which runs during the daytime in its encore time slots, which receive a broader audience.”

The decision to allow the language this time had mostly to do with the substance of the comedy piece, another Comedy Central executive said, and did not signal a change in the network’s overall approach to what it will permit to be said uncensored on the show.
 I am unclear as to why people are so frightened by a simple 1 syllable word, particularly on cable.

But you cannot say "Chaos ullsh%$ Mounting" without that word.

22 September 2012

I Knew that Rmoney Was Using His Taxes to Deceive

Romney's lawyer has admitted that they massaged his tax returns to hit a politically expedient:
Mitt Romney’s lawyer admitted to the Democratic accusation that the Romneys could have paid a lot less in taxes in 2011, but they manipulated the returns so as to conform to an August Romney claim that he always paid at least 13%.

The AP reported:

But, Brad Malt acknowledged, the couple “limited their deductions of charitable contributions to conform to the governor’s statement in August, based on the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13 percent in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.”


Romney told us that paying more than he owed would disqualify him from the presidency, but he has now paid more than he owed in order to make his earlier statement about never paying below 13% appear to be true. Not to worry, though, Mitt Romney can merely amend his return after the election in order to get that money back from the government, like any 47%-er would want to do.
Additionally, there are no details on the offshore accounts in his Bain Retirement account, and note here, Romney is not personally evading taxes here, he couldn't because it's his retirement fund that is pays taxes right now, not the Romneys.

Furthermore, his use of the average rate may be a bit of statistical slight of hand:
5:32 pm by Liam Denning

We checked with the Romney campaign and the 20-year tax-rate average is a simple one (i.e., the average of the percentage in each year) rather than a weighted one (i.e., where you add up all the tax paid across the 20 years and divide it by all the income).

It’s a potentially important difference because the simple average treats each year equally -- whether Romney earned, say, $5 million in that year or $30 million. It is especially important if Romney paid a low tax rate in a year in which he earned a lot but paid a high tax rate in years when he earned less. The weighted average would give a more accurate picture.

Of course, releasing the actual underlying year-by-year data would clear up any confusion -- but that is a step Mr. Romney has said he won't take.
Well, we don't know what is hiding in has tax returns, but we know some of what he is intended to obscure in this release.

China Unveils 2nd Stealth Fighter Type

It's called the J-31, among other designations.

This one is much more similar to the F-35 and the F-22, so my guess is that this one is later to the game, and it's probably intended more for the air-to-air role.

It's appears to be about the size of the F/A-18.

I can't speak to its level of stealth, but considering the fact that it won't carry the overhead that the F-35 caries by having an STOVL variant my guess is that the performance would be roughly equal.

21 September 2012

No Prosecutions of Banksters, People are Finally Noticing

At least the reporters at McClatchy are noticing:
Running for re-election, President Barack Obama frequently blames Wall Street and the deep financial crisis it caused for the underperforming economy. He doesn’t advertise that no major honcho of finance has been jailed under his watch for the mess, however.

The lack of a high-profile arrest and trial is all the more surprising given that Obama has tried to stain his Republican rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, as a creature of Wall Street.

Past financial crises have always had antagonist. The savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s had banker Charles Keating. The CEO of collapsed energy trader Enron, Kenneth Lay, became the face behind a drive to revamp accounting laws in 2002. Both men were prosecuted for and convicted of financial crimes.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007-08 and the subsequent Great Recession, there’ve been plenty of scapegoats but no important actor fitted for pinstripes.

Why not? There’s no single compelling answer to that question.

“Some people (in regulatory agencies) believe that the folks at the Treasury and the Fed felt that pursuing chief executive officers would delay the economic recovery and continue to destabilize the financial system,” said John Coffee, a Columbia University law professor who frequently testifies before Congress on securities law. “They had that point of view. Whether they had any influence over the Department of Justice is very uncertain.”
Yeah, very uncertain.

The issue is not the influence of the Treasury Department over the Department of Justice.

Not prosecuting is the official policy of the President.  His response to wrongdoing whenever someone connected (CIA torturers and Dick Cheney) or powerful (banksters) is to say that he will "look forward, not back."  (But he's going balls to the wall prosecuting medical marijuana).

Whether Treasury has influence does not matter.  This is the a directive from Potus.

As an aside, McClatchy was just about the only major US news org to treat the run up to Iraq with any skepticism.

What I want, and what a solid majority of Americans want, is some bankster heads on a pike.

Deep Thought

Seen on facebook.

Mitt Has Released His Taxes

Well, he sort of released his taxes. He released his 2011 taxes, and "summary" for the past decade:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney fought back on Friday against Democratic charges he paid no taxes in some years, releasing a letter from his accountants saying he paid an effective federal tax rate of at least 13.6 percent annually over 20 years.

Despite heavy political pressure, Romney stood firm in refusing to make those returns public, but followed through on an earlier promise to release his 2011 return. It showed he paid $1.9 million in taxes on more than $13 million in income - an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent.


Romney has refused to release returns from his years as head of Bain Capital, a private equity fund that Democratic critics have charged plundered companies and cut jobs in a quest for profits. Romney has an estimated net worth between $190 million and $250 million.


The Romney campaign published a statement on Friday from former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Fred Goldberg, who declared the returns "reflect the complexity of our laws and the types of investment activity that I would anticipate for persons in their circumstances."

Goldberg said, "In my judgment, they have fully satisfied their responsibilities as taxpayers."

The letter from accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers said the average of Romney's annual effective federal personal income tax rate during the 20-year period up to 2009 was 20.2 percent, and he and his wife, Ann, had a charitable deduction rate of 13.45 percent.
Seriously, there is something really hinky about his tax returns that Mitt is desperately trying to hide.

BTW, if you want to run the numbers, I guarantee that he paid only about $10K in social security and medicare taxes, which would be less than 1%.

Ordinary mortals who earn less than about $100K pay about 7½% on every penny for social security and medicare, and that's before the stuff that he squirreled away in his (now closed) Swiss bank account.

It's Beginning toBlook Like the Last Days of the USSR Here

Much like the USSR life expectancies are falling at the end of empire:

For generations of Americans, it was a given that children would live longer than their parents. But there is now mounting evidence that this enduring trend has reversed itself for the country’s least-educated whites, an increasingly troubled group whose life expectancy has fallen by four years since 1990.

Researchers have long documented that the most educated Americans were making the biggest gains in life expectancy, but now they say mortality data show that life spans for some of the least educated Americans are actually contracting. Four studies in recent years identified modest declines, but a new one that looks separately at Americans lacking a high school diploma found disturbingly sharp drops in life expectancy for whites in this group. Experts not involved in the new research said its findings were persuasive.

The reasons for the decline remain unclear, but researchers offered possible explanations, including a spike in prescription drug overdoses among young whites, higher rates of smoking among less educated white women, rising obesity, and a steady increase in the number of the least educated Americans who lack health insurance.

The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, said S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead investigator on the study, published last month in Health Affairs. By 2008, life expectancy for black women without a high school diploma had surpassed that of white women of the same education level, the study found.

White men lacking a high school diploma lost three years of life. Life expectancy for both blacks and Hispanics of the same education level rose, the data showed. But blacks over all do not live as long as whites, while Hispanics live longer than both whites and blacks.

“We’re used to looking at groups and complaining that their mortality rates haven’t improved fast enough, but to actually go backward is deeply troubling,” said John G. Haaga, head of the Population and Social Processes Branch of the National Institute on Aging, who was not involved in the new study.
In the last two decades of its existence, life expectancies fell in the USSR, because it was carving the heart out of its economy with a bloated and over-sized military.

Luckily, we're nothing like that.

Just how many primary care physicians would one carrier battle group buy?

20 September 2012

Gold Egg Laying Goose, Meet Axe

All Microflaccid has left is its office suite, and it appears that they are determined to drive a steak through its heart:
Office 2013 is going to be, for most users, a fairly minor evolution of Microsoft's flagship productivity suite, except for one little thing: with Office 2013, Microsoft is pitching Office subscriptions to consumers.

The company has already been courting enterprise users with its Office 365 platform for a little over a year now. There are multiple price tiers, with enterprise users getting some combination of Exchange, SharePoint, Office Web Apps, and the desktop Office suite.

In addition to these enterprise-oriented offerings, the company today unveiled two non-enterprise plans. For $99.99/year, there's Office 365 Home Premium, giving Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access, plus an extra 20 GB of SkyDrive storage (in addition to the 7 GB that you get for free), plus 60 minutes of Skype calls per month. This is licensed on a per-household basis, and one account can be shared by up to 5 users across any mixture of five PCs and Macs.

The other new subscription is the $149.99/year Office 365 Small Business Premium. This adds Lync and InfoPath into the software mix, but changes the cloud services. Instead of SkyDrive and Skype, Small Business Premium users will get a 25 GB mailbox, shared calendaring, 10 GB of shared (company-wide) storage, and another 500 MB of storage per user. This is licensed per user, but that user can install on any combination of PCs and Macs, again up to a total of five systems.
Seriously, they lost me with Office 2007.  I use 2003 at home (unfortunately, I use 2010 at work which I really don't like

I understand that the "cloud" is in right now, but I like the fact that I don't have to upgrade to whatever clusterf%$# Microsoft feels fit to call an upgrade (see anything with the f%$#ing ribbon).

I've been through this sh%$ with Blogger, where they are determined to f%$# with sh%$ that already f%$3ing works.

Seriously, short these morons.

Whenever You Talk About Charles Murray

The author of any number of works, most notably The Bell Curve, which espouse the same thing, it's the fault of those n*****s.

Well, Bill Black discusses how Mitt Romney destroying his campaign is fully embracing the ideology of Murray, and in the process gets in some zingers against Charles Murray:
Charles Murray’s newest book: Coming Apart: The State of White America proves two classic truths. First, it is impossible to compete with self-parody. Second, be careful what you ask for; for you may receive it. Charles Murray asked right-wing plutocrats (he dismissed left-wing plutocrats as disloyal to their class and to capitalism) to drop what he derided as “political correctness” and denounce Americans who received governmental support as immoral failures. Murray is a vigorous supporter and flatterer of Mitt Romney, claiming that the fact that he became wealthy at Bain should make him a “slam dunk” for the presidency. Murray’s reasoning is so crude that he announces a new doctrine – the divine right of CEOs to govern America. “Who better to be president of the greatest of all capitalist nations than a man who got rich by being a brilliant capitalist?”

No need to hold elections; simply make whoever tops the Forbes list of wealthiest people the president. Think of the competitive incentives that rule would create.
This is a nice take-down, but it omits a crucial fact about Charles Murray, one that should be the lead item on any mention of him.

You see, as a teen, he burnt a cross next to a police station.

He has claimed that he did not know what it meant, as a high school senior in 1960.

The entire output of his professional career naturally follows from this.

This Almost Makes Me Believe the Obama Wannabee Dictator Teabagger Crap

Seriously, whenever the administration gets in front of a judge and argues for unlimited executive power. they sound like they are acting out one of Dick Cheney's fascist wet dreams:
The Obama administration warned Monday that a judge’s ruling last week blocking a statute authorizing the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects has jeopardized its ability to continue detaining certain prisoners captured during the war in Afghanistan.

In an emergency appeal of the ruling, the government asserted that United States District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest went beyond enjoining the statute — enacted last year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act — and potentially curtailed detention powers it has been exercising for years under its interpretation of the authorization to use military force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Judge Forrest’s order “threatens irreparable harm to national security and the public interest by injecting added burdens and dangerous confusion into the conduct of military operations abroad during an active armed conflict,” the government wrote in a 38-page filing with the federal appeals court in New York.

The motion focused on language used by Judge Forrest that rejected interpreting the original use-of-force authorization as including the ability to detain “substantial supporters” of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, as opposed to people who are actually part of those groups. The judge also called into question the idea that the United States could detain members or supporters of “associated forces” that had no involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Thankfully, the judge was having none of this:
“If, following issuance of this permanent injunctive relief, the government detains individuals under theories of ‘substantially or directly supporting’ associated forces, as set forth in” the National Defense Authorization Act, “and a contempt action is brought before this court, the government will bear a heavy burden indeed,” she wrote.
The interesting thing here is that there are at least two alternatives that come to mind:

  • They could use the ordinary criminal justice system.
  • They could declare them prisoners of war.
    • In fact, if they don't charge them, we are bound by treaty to declare them POWS and accord them all rights inherent in that status.
The thesis advanced by the Obama DoJ is that any inconvenience trumps the Constitution or treaty obligations.

 This is why I call Barack Obama the worst constitutional law professor ever.

John Cusak??? Seriously, John Cusak?!?!?

In 2008, John Cusak was seriously in the tank for Obama, and now he's said that he's crossed red lines, and he will not be voting for him:
I wrote this a while back after Romney got the nom… in light of the blizzard of bullshit coming at us in the next few months I thought I would put it out now

Now that the Republican primary circus is over, I started to think about what it would mean to vote for Obama…

Since mostly we hear from the daily hypocrisies of Mitt and friends, I thought we should examine “our guy” on a few issues with a bit more scrutiny than we hear from the “progressive left”, which seems to be little or none at all.

Instead of scrutiny, the usual arguments in favor of another Obama presidency are made: We must stop fanatics; it would be better than the fanatics—he’s the last line of defense from the corporate barbarians—and of course the Supreme Court. It all makes a terrible kind of sense and I agree completely with Garry Wills who described the Republican primaries as “ a revolting combination of con men & fanatics— “the current primary race has become a demonstration that the Republican party does not deserve serious consideration for public office.”

True enough.

But yet…

… there are certain Rubicon lines, as constitutional law professor Jon Turley calls them, that Obama has crossed.


Do we prosecute felonies like torture or spying on Americans? No, time to “move on”…
Now chaos is the norm and though the chaos is complicated, the answer is still simple. We cant afford this morally, financially, or physically. Or in a language the financial community can digest: the wars are ideologically and spiritually bankrupt. No need to get a score from the CBO.


One is forced to asked the question: Is the President just another Ivy League Asshole shredding civil liberties and due process and sending people to die in some sh%$hole for purely political reasons?
It pretty much mirrors my take on this, though I would add a dose of letting the banksters continue doing their evil unimpeded.

You should read the whole thing, I particularly liked the interview/discussion with Jonathan Turley at the end.

Unhelpful Stupid Self-Hating Democrats

Tim Kaine:
Virginia Senate nominee Tim Kaine (D) unexpectedly suggested in a debate with George Allen on Thursday that he’d be open to requiring everyone to pay a minimum amount — including the 47 percent of American taxpayers who do not currently pay any income tax.

Kaine was responding to a question from moderator David Gregory about whether “everyone in Virginia should pay something in federal income tax” in light of Mitt Romney’s leaked complaints about the 47 percent who he considered “dependent” on government.

“I would be open to a proposal that would have some minimum tax level for everyone,” Kaine said. “But I do insist, many of the 47 percent that Gov. Romney was going after pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than he does.”

Republicans quickly pounced. The Kaine campaign said the Democrat was simply discussing his openness to discuss anything as part of his plan to overhaul the tax code.
Yes, raising taxes on poor people is such good policy.

This is why the fetish that the political class of the Democratic Party has for candidates who are willing to sell core party values down the road is bad because it gets you lame wankers like this on the ticket.

To quote Harry S Truman, "Given a choice between a fake Republican and a real one, the public will choose the real Republican every time," and Tim Kaine is doing his level best to be a fake Republican.

My Sense of the Debate


Scott Brown got served like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Mitt Discovers His Inner Oompa Loompa

This is Mitt Rmoney

This is Mitt Rmoney in Channeling his Inner Oompa Loompa

Any Questions?
It appears that Mitt used spray tan for his interview on Univision.

Seriously, when you attempt to do outreach to voter groups, wearing black* face does not work.

Mitt and his team decided that it could be handled with a spray tan.

That is not outreach, that is stupidity.

H/t Cthulhu at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

*OK, Orange.

The Canary in the Coal Mine is Getting Woozy

 It looks like an increasing numbers of expats are bailing out of China:
Anecdotal evidence suggests that increasing numbers of western expats are beginning to leave China. A recent article that has gone viral in the expat community in China called "Why I’m leaving the country I loved" describes some of the reasons.
I am not sure whether this is a leading or a lagging indicator, but this does not bode well for the world economy.

H/t Naked Capitalism.


Remember last night when I said Jon Stewart was dropping the S-word without it being bleeped?

Well, you can see it here, Chaos on Bullsh%$ Mountain:

Truth be told, this is the most polemic I've ever seen him, but that's got to leave a mark!

Nice Try Scotty

Looks like little Scotty Brown was trying to avoid his first debate with Elizabeth Warren, using an upcoming Senate vote as an excuse.

Well, Harry Reid felt your pain:
Majority Leader Harry Reid abruptly scrapped votes in the Senate on Thursday so Sen. Scott Brown could participate in a high-profile debate with Elizabeth Warren in Boston.

"No more votes today," Reid (D-Nev.) said on the floor. "It's obvious to me what's going on. I've been to a few of these rodeos. It is obvious there is a big stall taking place. One of the senators who doesn't want to debate tonight won't be in a debate. While he can't use the Senate as an excuse, there will be no more votes today."
Well played, Senator Reid.

It's streaming on WBZ and on CSPAN-3.

In the first few minutes, Scotty is harping on her family history (the whole "part Cherokee and Delaware" thing).

He is coming across a really, really pissy.

He's sputtering.

19 September 2012

What the F%$#

OK, I was just watching The Daily Show, and Jon Stewart said sh%$.

This wouldn't be unusual, except for the fact that they didn't bleep him.

They didn't bleep him a lot, and they didn't bleep Pink in her song.

When did the word sh%$ stop being bleeped on Comedy Central?

My Hero of the Day

I got nothing to add but, "hurray!"
Iranian Woman Beats the Crap Out of Cleric for Telling Her to Cover Up

A cleric in Iran went crying to the country's state-run Mehr News Agency after a run-in with a woman who responded to his repeated requests to cover up by kicking the crap out of him.

While walking to a mosque in the northern city of Shahmirzad, Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti says he encountered a "badly covered" woman, and proceeded to "politely" order her to correct her outfit.

"You, cover your eyes," the woman reportedly responded. He then told her again to cover up, at which point she decided she'd had enough.

"Not only didn't she cover herself up, but she also insulted me," the cleric told Mehr. "I asked her not to insult me anymore, but she started shouting and threatening me. She pushed me and I fell to the ground on my back. From that point on, I don't know what happened. I was just feeling the kicks of the woman who was beating me up and insulting me."


Seen on facebook.

18 September 2012

Chicago Teachers' Strike Over

Technically, the strike is just suspended, but I can't see the teachers hitting the line again:
The Chicago Teachers Union’s House of Delegates decided this afternoon to end the city’s first teacher strike in 25 years and return more than 350,000 students to the classroom Wednesday.

The voice vote was taken after some 800 delegates convened at a union meeting hall near Chinatown to discuss and debate a tentative contract. Union leaders had already signed off on the agreement with Chicago Public Schools.

"We said we couldn't solve all the problems. . .and it was time to suspend the strike," CTU President Karen Lewis said at a news conference after the vote.
One hopes that Rahm gets taken down at the next election.

To the degree than anyone lost, it was Emanuel, and here's hoping that he gets taken down at the next election.

He's a f%$#ing bully who never seems to muster the guts to use it on the other side, and he's yet another case of an incompetence failing up.

He's Dick Cheney minus one finger tip.

This is Cool

An Ancient Roman mosaic was found beneath a farmer's field in Turkey:
A giant poolside mosaic featuring intricate geometric patterns has been unearthed in southern Turkey, revealing the far-reaching influence of the Roman Empire at its peak.

The mosaic, which once decorated the floor of a bath complex, abuts a 25-foot (7-meter)-long pool, which would have been open to the air, said Michael Hoff, a University of Nebraska, Lincoln art historian and director of the mosaic excavation. The find likely dates to the third or fourth century, Hoff said. The mosaic itself is an astonishing 1,600 square feet (149 square meters) — the size of a modest family home.

17 September 2012

Cameras are Everywhere, Mitt

Mother Jones has found a video of Mitt Romney in a private meeting with his millionaire supporters:
During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don't assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them. Fielding a question from a donor about how he could triumph in November, Romney replied:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.
Romney went on: "[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Mother Jones has obtained video of Romney at this intimate fundraiser—where he candidly discussed his campaign strategy and foreign policy ideas in stark terms he does not use in public—and has confirmed its authenticity.
I don't think that calling 48% of the country, and probably more than 60% of its senior citizens, moochers, is a death blow, if just because there has been so much bad ink over the past few weeks, whether it was his stumble on foreign policy, or the reports that his campaign staff is at each others' throats. that it's hard to tell which disaster will actually gain traction.

H/t Cthulhu at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.


Former Miss America, That Explains It
Well, it looks like the Gretchen Carlson got punked by an aspiring COMEDIAN:
Fox News host Gretchen Carlson cut an interview short on Monday morning after her guest, a so-called “former Obama supporter” and recent college graduate, didn’t seem to comprehend her questions or his reason for being on the show.

While it’s not clear what was going on with the man, identified as Max Rice, he didn’t seem to understand how television interviews work, offered insincere answers to Carlson’s questions, and even awkwardly hit on her.

“Hello Miss USA,” he said after being introduced. “It’s an honor. I wish I could see you.”

“Miss America, but close enough,” she corrected him.

“Miss America,” Rice said. “Miss Universe in my book, in my book.”

“Now, tell me your story,” Carlson prompted. “You believed in the hope and change of President Obama until you voted for him. Now, tell me the next…”

“Oh, I was a huge Obama supporter in 2008,” he replied. “I met him in third grade. I met him when I was little. What’s your question?”

“And why now are you supporting Mitt Romney?” she asked.

“Why am I supporting Mitt Romney? Well, it’s actually a funny story,” he began. “I lost a basketball game to a friend of mine… he’s a huge supporter of this show.”

Several seconds of silence followed. “Okay, so it sounds like you’re not being very serious about…” Carlson began.

“Oh, I’m also disappointed in the direction Obama has taken this nation,” Rice injected. “I will be casting my ballot for Mitt Romney.”


"They were just casting a part in a show," Rice told the progressive website RawStory.com. "The first thing that shocked me is that they were that desperate to find someone that fit that category. What they were seeking is someone who voted for Obama in 2008, then somewhere in the last four years got disenfranchised and now is a huge Romney supporter. But I feel like anyone who fits that mold would also dis Romney at the same time. So, they just couldn't find anyone. They're in New York City, so they had to go find a kid in Chicago."

Earlier this year, "Fox & Friends" aired a nearly-four-minute video about President Obama's first term, drawing the ire of critics who say it looked, felt and sounded like a political attack ad.
I am very amused.

Additionally, I actually learned something here.

It always seemed to me that there was a "fish out of water" aspect to Ms. Carlson that seemed familiar, and now I get it.

It's the Phyllis George all over again.

One final note, see Max Rice's speech as president of his senior high school class.  It's prize

For those of you who don't remember Ms. George, she was a sportscaster for a number of years with CBS sports after winning the 1971 Miss America pageant.

She had the broadcasting thing down, but she was always a bit off.

In particular I remember her wondering on air why they kept talking about a big NFL trade rumor.

She knew broadcasting, but she just didn't get sports, or at least Football.

Carlson is the same way. She is thoroughly competent at presenting herself on camera, but she simply does not get news.

h/t cz

16 September 2012

Happy New Year

Rosh Hashanah tonite. 

So, for the next 2 days, light posting.

Posted via mobile.

Football, Ameraca's Manly Sport

H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Least Surprising Data Point: Of The Day

Using OCC data, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Columbia Business School, Ohio State University, and the University of Chicago crunched the numbers to find the number of unnecessary foreclosures, and 800,000 homes were foreclosed on that should not have been:
But while evidence of these problems was pervasive, it was always hard to quantify the damage. Just how many more people could have qualified under the administration's mortgage modification program if the banks had done a better job? In other words, how many people have been pushed toward foreclosure unnecessarily?

A thorough study released last week provides one number, and it's a big one: about 800,000 homeowners.

The study's authors — from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the government's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Ohio State University, Columbia Business School, and the University of Chicago — arrived at this conclusion by analyzing a vast data set available to the OCC. They wanted to measure the impact of HAMP, the government's main foreclosure prevention program.

What they found was that certain banks were far better at modifying loans than others. The reasons for the difference, they established, were pretty predictable: The banks that were better at helping homeowners avoid foreclosure had staff who were both more numerous and better trained.

Unfortunately for homeowners, most mortgages are handled by banks that haven't been properly staffed and thus have modified far fewer loans. If these worse-performing banks had simply modified loans at the same pace as their better performing peers, then HAMP would have produced about 800,000 more modifications. Instead of about 1.2 million modifications by the end of this year, HAMP would have resulted in about 2 million.

That's still well short of the 3-4 million modifications President Obama promised when he announced the program back in early 2009. But it's a big difference, and a reasonable, basic benchmark against which to compare the program's failings.


The report does not identify these poor performing banks, but it's not hard to ID them. A “few large servicers [have offered] modifications at half the rate of others,” the authors say. The largest mortgage servicers are Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citi.

Bank of America in particular (the largest of all the servicers when HAMP launched) has been far slower to modify loans than even the other large servicers, as other analyses we've cited have shown.
These are the banks that we bailed out, either directly, or by bailing out their counter parties, and they responded by f%$#ing home owners, and by extension, the the real estate market and the entire country.

This is why not prosecuting the banksters was such a bad thing.  People who know that they have impunity, and know it, it does not produce ethical, or competent, behavior.

15 September 2012

This Ain't About the Free Market

The news that BAE and EADS are in merger discussions has very little to do with the market or market efficiencies.

It's about EADS purchasing an entry in the the US market, one which BAE purchased when it bought United Defense,  Tracor,  LMCS, LMAES, etc.

Ironically, BAE sold its 20% share in EADS about 6 years ago.

The reality is that the defense market is essentially a monopsony, with governments in general, and the US government in particular serving as a single buyer, though with this merger the other end of the dynamic is heading more towards monopoly as well.

Thus, I find the protestations by BAE management that the French and German governments must not have the ability to exert realistic shareholder rights, together they own about 45% of EADS, to ring a bit hollow:
BAE Systems has insisted it will walk away from talks with EADS unless the combined European champion in aerospace and defence was allowed to operate as a normal company without political interference.

BAE is also insisting that the combined entity’s defence business would have to be based in the UK if the plan, news of which was leaked on Wednesday before the structure was finalised, is to go ahead.
Gee, a defense contractor must be kept free of political influence?

This deal is all about creating an entity that can manipulate the politics to its own advantage.

The insistence that the French and German governments sell out, if they didn't they would have about a 27% stake in the merged firm, is all about the company being able to whipsaw governments with  promises, or threats, about defense jobs.

They are Still Flying Camberras?

And it appears that they are crucial to the efforts in Afghanistan:
They’re 49 years old, ugly and owned by NASA, not the Pentagon. But two modified WB-57F Canberras are now among America’s most important warplanes. With anonymous-looking white paint jobs, the Canberras have been taking turns deploying to Afghanistan carrying a high-tech new radio translator designed to connect pretty much any fighter, bomber, spy plane and ground radio to, well, pretty much any other fighter, bomber, spy plane and ground radio. That makes the former Air Force reconnaissance planes, originally transferred to the space agency for science missions, essential hubs of the American-led war effort.

With the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node system, or BACN, the WB-57s act as Star Trek-style universal translators, passing data between planes and troops and finally bringing to life the Pentagon’s decades-old dream of speedy, information-propelled, networked warfare. “It orbits high up and basically receives various platforms’ datalink data, then translates all that data and redistributes it in a fused manner back to different platforms in the operating area,” Aviationintel’s Tyler Rogoway told ace aerospace blogger David Cenciotti.

“BACN bridges the gaps,” manufacturer Northrop Grumman boasted.
This is an artifact of how the Pentagon buys stuff.

You see, instead of trying to deal with a serious problem, lack of proper interoperability between systems, they come up with a ridiculously over ambitious system, the now canceled JTRS, that never had a realistic possibility of meeting its overambitious requirements.

So now we are resorting to cobbled together electronics on an airframe that first flew almost 70 years ago.

14 September 2012

Interesting Labor Law Ruling in Wisconsin

It overturned Scott Walker's revocation of collective bargaining rights.

He declared that it violated the home rule provisions of the Wisconsin state constitution, as well as the 1st amendment.

I don't expect this to stand on appeal, but I'm an engineer, not a lawyer.

Doctors: Someone Else Who Did it All By Themselves

Except for the inconvenient fact that the federal government covers about 90% of the cost of medical residencies:
So let me get this straight. Currently, the Federal government fund about 90% of the cost of training new doctors at a cost of $12 billion per year? The health care industry itself only picks up 10% of the cost?

I would love to know how this state of affairs got to where it is. I can't think of another major profession - other than those that are exclusively government professions (military, police, firemen, etc.) where the government pays such a huge amount of training costs for its key personnel. It's actually kind of mind-boggling.
Yet another case of Randian Übermenschen who simply picked themselves up by their own bootstraps, I guess.

H/t Atrios.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

My bad, in the crush of Charlie's Bar Mitzvah last week, I missed a bank failure, and there was one this evening to, so here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. First Commercial Bank, Bloomington, MN
  2. Truman Bank, St. Louis, MO

Full FDIC list

The rate has definitely slowed over the past 2 years.

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

Charlie is in Hog Haven

His 7x7 and his 8x8 Rubik's type (Sheng Shou brand actually) arrived in the mail today.

(on edit)

Jeebus! They are huge.

Posted via mobile.

13 September 2012

And Torture Becomes the New Norm in the Classroom

One of the problems with "looking forward" on torture and not prosecuting peopel is that it makes torture a normative activity more generally.

Now we are seeing it being used on our children in our schools:
In my public school 40 years ago, teachers didn’t lay their hands on students for bad behavior. They sent them to the principal’s office. But in today’s often overcrowded and underfunded schools, where one in eight students receive help for special learning needs, the use of physical restraints and seclusion rooms has become a common way to maintain order.

It’s a dangerous development, as I know from my daughter’s experience. At the age of 5, she was kept in a seclusion room for up to an hour at a time over the course of three months, until we discovered what was happening. The trauma was severe.

According to national Department of Education data, most of the nearly 40,000 students who were restrained or isolated in seclusion rooms during the 2009-10 school year had learning, behavioral, physical or developmental needs, even though students with those issues represented just 12 percent of the student population. African-American and Hispanic students were also disproportionately isolated or restrained.

Joseph Ryan, an expert on the use of restraints who teaches at Clemson University, told me that the practice of isolating and restraining problematic children originated in schools for children with special needs. It migrated to public schools in the 1970s as federal laws mainstreamed special education students, but without the necessary oversight or staff training. “It’s a quick way to respond but it’s not effective in changing behaviors,” he said.

State laws on disciplining students vary widely, and there are no federal laws restricting these practices, although earlier this year Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote, in a federal guide for schools, that there was “no evidence that using restraint or seclusion is effective.” He recommended evidence-based behavioral interventions and de-escalation techniques instead.

The use of restraints and seclusion has become far more routine than it should be. “They’re the last resort too often being used as the first resort,” said Jessica Butler, a lawyer in Washington who has written about seclusion in public schools.
We did experience this with Charlie on occasion, though not to this degree.

When you look at this, or the relentless use of Tasers by police departments, when the circumstances do not involve any need to protection of either the target of the public, but rather inconvenience.

It's More than Just Jobless Thursday

But let's start with the fact that initial jobless claims jumped to 380,000, though tropical storm Isaac may have contributed to those numbers.

The bigger news is that the Federal Reserve has officially begun the 3rd round of quantitative easing (QE3):
The Federal Reserve opened a new chapter Thursday in its efforts to stimulate the economy, saying that it intends to buy large quantities of mortgage bonds, and potentially other assets, until the job market improves substantially.

This is the first time that the Fed has tied the duration of an aid program to its economic objectives. And, in announcing the change, the central bank made clear that its primary reason was not a deterioration in its economic outlook, but a determination to respond more forcefully — in effect, an acknowledgment that its incremental approach until now had been flawed.

The concern about unemployment also reflects a significant shift in the priorities of the nation’s central bank, which has long focused on inflation. Inflation is now running below the Fed’s 2 percent annual target. But with the unemployment rate above 8 percent, the Fed’s policy-making committee suggested Thursday that it might tolerate a period of somewhat higher inflation, promising to maintain stimulus efforts “for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens.”

“The weak job market should concern every American,” the Fed’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said at a news conference. The goal of the new policies, he added, “is to quicken the recovery, to help the economy begin to grow quickly enough to generate new jobs.”

The need for new stimulus reflects the disappointing condition of the American economy, which continues to struggle between crisis and prosperity three years after the official end of the recession. More than 20 million Americans cannot find full-time jobs. Median household income has declined. The housing market remains depressed.
You know, you guys should have been running around with your hair on fire a few years ago.

Of course, with interest rates at the zero bound, the people who are supposed to do this is the Congress, because fiscal stimulus works better under these situation, but between the gutlessness of the Democrats, and the active sabotage of the economy by the Republicans, it's not like there is going to be any help from that end.

This is Pathetic

Doctor Pepper puts out an evolution themed ad on Facebook, and the inbred morons go nuts:

Here are some of the responses:

I don't always drink soda, but when I do, I avoid drinking it with inbred brain damaged fundamentalist ratf%$#s
Seriously, there are way too many, "whacko, my parents are first cousins, X-Files wannabe, black helicopter, tinfoil hat wearing, stupid, dim-witted, thinks pro wrestling is real," nut jobs out there in the world.

I weep for the future of out country.

Rob Zerban is on My ActBlue Page

The latest internal poll from Paul Ryan's normally blood red Congressional district shows Democrat Rob Zerban down only by 7, and Ryan below 50%:
Rob Zerban, the Democrat running against Rep. Paul Ryan, has been trying to make the case that he has a real shot at taking down one of the GOP’s most visible leaders, and his campaign is now touting a new poll showing the race is closer than most expected.

The internal poll, provided to Salon ahead of its release, shows Zerban behind by just 8 points among likely voters when respondents were read a “profile statement” about the candidate. FM3 Research, which conducted the survey, wrote in a memo, “Paul Ryan is not the overwhelming favorite in the 1st Congressional District race … Rob Zerban remains a credible challenger.” After respondents were read the statement, 39 percent indicate they will vote for Zerban, while 47 say they will vote for Ryan. Another 4 percent went for a third-party candidate while 11 percent were undecided.
If you have a few bucks, you might want to throw it his way.

Even if it's a long shot, it will put Paul Ryan off of his game as Mitt's running mate, so it's a win-win.

Certainly it's better than giving to the DCCC, where (nominally) former Blue Dog Steve Israel is doing his level best to load up the Congress with Blue Dogs and New Dems.

12 September 2012

OK, This Could Be Big

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has vacated the lower court ruling which upheld the law.

While this is not an injunction, it does appear that the court is very dubious of the claims by state government:
Signaling that it will tolerate "no voter disenfranchisement," a divided state Supreme Court is sending the dispute over Pennsylvania's new voting law back to a lower court to decide whether the state is doing enough to get photo ID cards to voters who need them.

In a 4-2 ruling issued Tuesday, the high court ordered Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr., who upheld the law in August, to file a supplemental opinion on whether the alternate-ID programs set up by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and state election officials are providing the "liberal access" to ID cards that the legislature intended.

"If they do not, or if Commonwealth Court is not still convinced in its predictive judgment that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the commonwealth's implementation of a voter identification requirement . . . that court is obligated to enter a preliminary injunction," the majority said in an unsigned opinion.

The justices gave Simpson until Oct. 2 - just five weeks before the presidential election - to decide.
So, it appears that they are demanding affirmative proof that the state has set up its voter ID program properly.

I find it highly unlikely that they will be able to show this.

Of course, it is concerning that they basically kicked it down the road until October 2.

It's a clusterf%$#, and I would argue that this is by design. The goal is to keep blacks and Hispanics from voting.