31 December 2012

A New Year, More Caving


Your Obama Hat. Useful for Caving
Well, it's not surprising.

New year, same old Obama. He caved, permanent tax cut, permanent reduction on the AMT, permanent reduction of the inheritance tax, and temporary continuation of extended unemployment benefits and a few other social programs, and 3 months on the debt ceiling.

Obama wants his grand bargain, where he guts Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and he'll continue to subvert his own bargaining position so that he can have granny eating cat food.*

*In the interest of health, I would suggest that people eat dog food, and not cat food. Cats because they are one of the few true carnivores, do not need the complex carbohydrates and fats that people, and dogs do. As such, dog food is better for you than cat food because it provides carbs and essential fatty acids. A dog can go blind if it is fed on cat food, but a cat lives just fine on dog food. The phenomenon is known as rabbit starvation.

Catch Phrases XIII


Another Cave
"Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen"

Click for full size


Blah, blah, blah!




This could very well be the stupidest person on the face of the earth. Perhaps we should shoot him.*

*What, you've never seen Ruthless People? Great movie.

Click for full size


H/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS

Not Gonna Happen Next Year

Not this, nor next year, will the Former Greek finance minister face criminal charges:
Greece's coalition government called on Monday for the indictment of former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou for allegedly removing the names of three of his relatives from a list of Swiss bank account holders whose tax records were to be re-examined.

Seventy-one deputies from the three-party coalition signed the proposal to indict Papaconstantinou for allegedly tampering with a public document and breach of duty -- offenses that would carry a maximum 10-year jail term, according to legal experts.

Papaconstantinou, 51, served as finance minister between 2009 and 2011 in the previous Socialist government. But his party, which is part of the new conservative-led administration, is backing the proposed indictment.

The former minister has angrily denied the allegations, insisting the names were removed without his knowledge.
Not gonna happen.

It's not gonna happen because if he is put in the dock, he will talk, and if he talks, he will implicate most of the corrupt Greek ruling class, as well as the German and British banksters who were complicit in the fraud.

As an aside, for next year, can we please have our newsmakers have easier to spell names next year?

Let Us Start the Year the Way that Iceland Ended Theirs

And by that, I mean throwing our f%$#ing bankers into f%$#ing jail:
Two former executives at an Icelandic bank which collapsed in the 2008 financial meltdown were sentenced to jail on Friday for fraud which led to a 53 million euro loss, in the first major trial of Icelandic bankers linked to the crisis.

All three of the small North Atlantic island's top banks collapsed in quick succession in October 2008 due to big debts incurred during a rapid overseas expansion.

Glitnir was the first to fall after the collapse of Lehman Brothers caused international credit markets to freeze up.

A Reykjavik court sentenced Glitnir's former chief executive, Larus Welding, and former head of corporate finance, Gudmundur Hjaltason, each to nine months in jail, of which six months were suspended for two years. They had denied the charges.

Prosecutors said the two approved a loan to a company which owned shares in Glitnir so that the company could in turn repay a debt to Morgan Stanley.

The decision, taken outside the regular decision-making process, meant Glitnir was too exposed to the company and cost the bank at least 53.7 million euros (43 million pounds), the prosecution said.
It's a good idea, even if it force me to spell Reykjavik properly.

H/t Americablog.

Starting off the New Year With Praise to an Organization I Loathe

Fox News, yes thank you Fox News, for telling us how an apology should be done:



H/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

30 December 2012

Normally, I do Not Make a Big Deal Out of Football on this Blog

But I am a Redskins fan, and after starting 3-6, they won the next 7 straight, and just secured the division championship, and a playoff berth at home by beating the Dallas Cowboys.

To paraphrase the late Steve Gilliard, f%$# the f%$#ing Cowboys.

2012: the year in Politics in Politics in Pictures























H/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

The 3 States of Matter

Gas, Solid, and Cat:

link

Yes, I am aware of plasma as the 4th state of matter as well.

29 December 2012

Why We Need to Destroy Big Pharma

Well, the first answer is a utilitarian answer, we do not need them.

If the government spends 5 out of every 6 dollars spent on medical research, then there is no reason to pay the excessive monopoly rents that they extract from out economy.

But there is also a moral argument, and it is that the large pharmaceutical firms are ineluctably evil.

We have yet another example of this when we discover that they colluded with the government of East Germany to turn their citizenry into unwilling Guinea Pigs:
Major Western pharmaceutical companies carried out tests of medications in the 1980s on patients in communist East Germany, in some cases without the subjects’ knowledge, a media report said Friday.

“We have documents showing there were contracts between Western drug companies and East German institutions for medical tests,” a staff member at the German national archive told AFP, partially confirming a report in the daily Der Tagesspiegel.

The newspaper, which examined the documents, reported that more than 50 Western firms had contracts with East Germany’s Health Ministry to carry out a total of 165 medical tests between 1983 and 1989.

In exchange, the communist authorities were paid up to 860,000 deutschmarks (around 430,000 euros today or $567,000), according to the report, at a time when East Germany was desperate for hard currency.

Der Tagesspiegel said the companies involved included Bayer, Schering, Hoechst (now Sanofi), Boehringer Ingelheim and Goedecke (today owned by Pfizer).

It said the test subjects often were not informed, citing seven specific cases in which patients said later they had been unaware they were involved in testing. The national archive said it could not confirm this.
The taxpayers front ⅚ of the money to do the research, but out of some sort of need to "set the free market loose, we give away the property rights so that they can extract monopoly rents.

Enough.

This is an industry that exists only through the grant of exclusive rights by the government.  This is not free enterprise.

We need to make sure that if the taxpayers pay for the research, then the taxpayers own the research.

Jack Klugman Did the Wrong Thing for the Right Reasons

When actor Jack Klugman died recently, much was said about his career, but special note was given to his role in the passage of the Orphan Drug Act of 1983.

There can be no doubt here that his motives were good.  He wanted to see that diseases for which there was a limited number of sufferers, and hence limited profit, had drugs developed and produced.

Unfortunately, what seemed like a wonderful idea, subsidies and exclusivity granted to pharma, which had the added allure of providing a free market aura, has made things worse.

About ⅚ of the money spent on medical research is government money.  When one considers the subsidies present under the Orphan Drug Act, that number undoubtedly tops ⁹⁄₁₀ of the funds being from the taxpayers.

BTW, some of the Orphan drugs in questions are such "blockbusters" as, " Abilify, Provigil, Vioxx, Botox, and Cialis."

You see a similar effect with the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act and Colcicine, where a drug that had been in use for 3500 years (no that number is not a typo, the first documented use of the drug is from ≈1500 BCE) went from 9¢ to $4.85 a pill, a 5200+% increase.

The underlying flaw here is the idea that private business is an unalloyed good, so if there is something it will not do, the solution is to subsidize private businesses to do it, even when all indications are that having the government provide this function would provide the most benefit.

This is wrong, and we have seen nearly 40 years of this philosophy, it really became mainstream during the Carter years, has harmed society as a whole.

28 December 2012

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

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

No banks for the last weekend of the year, so the number remains at 53 (Full FDIC list), but we did have the 15th credit union failure of  the year, Chetco Federal Credit Union of Brookings, Oregon (Full NCUA list).

Here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):



Much better than the last two years.

Normally Not a Big Fan of Steampunk

But this is a masterpiece:

Astronomical Headline of the Year

Tell me that this was not the product of much giggles by the editorial staff:
Uranus takes a pounding more frequently than thought

Uranus isn't just gassy, it's also tilted completely sideways, such that instead of rotating like a spinning top, it rolls around the plane of the solar system more like a giant ball. Now astronomers think they know how this happened, and it means that Uranus has been pounded really, really hard not once, but twice.

Uranus' axial tilt of 98 degrees means that it's got one pole pointed almost directly at the sun, and one pole pointed out into space. As the planet revolves around the sun, these poles slowly switch places, meaning that if you lived there, you'd get 42 years of sunlight followed by 42 years of darkness, with a short time in between where things would seem almost normal.

Needless to say, this sort of behavior is a bit strange for Uranus, although nobody's quite been able to determine how it happened. New simulations from astronomers at the Observatory of Côte d'Azur in Nice, France may have just figured it out, and the answer seems to be that Uranus has suffered from not one but two giant impacts..
H/t LD at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

27 December 2012

Jobless Claims Drop as U.S. States Tally Data After Break - Bloomberg

350,000 initial claims, pretty good numbers, in what is an atypical week, because of the aftereffects of Sandy, and the Christmas holiday.

Good news, but I'm hesitant in calling a trend.

They Do Good Work, Send them Money

Support ProPublica’s Reporting Into the New Year:
As the year comes to a close, we hope you'll support our efforts to hold the powerful to account by making a tax-deductible contribution to ProPublica.

Turtle Power!

They beat us to the moon:
You might say the answer is Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and that other guy Michael Collins, the crew of Apollo 11. Or you could represent for the crew of Apollo 10, which reached the moon in May 1969 and then headed back to Earth without landing.

But there is a much stranger answer to this question, depending on how much you care about humans and what your definition of reaching the moon might be. Before any people arrived at the moon, other animals got there first. And unlike the dogs and monkeys that were made famous in early space shots and Earth orbits, the first vertebrates to reach the moon were a pair of steppe tortoises, Discovery's Amy Shira Teitel reminds us.

The Soviet Zond 5 sent the animals around the moon -- although not into lunar orbit -- during a mission in the middle of September, 1968. The unmanned craft then returned to Earth and splashed down in the Indian Ocean, after which the Russians recovered the craft.

A month later, Soviet scentists revealed that the Zond had been a tiny ark, carrying the tortoises, "wine flies, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and other living matter." A small dummy packed with radiation sensors flew, too.
Later, the turtles took to living in sewers, fighting with Japanese weapons, and eating pizza.

Unless I Get Hit By a Meteor


This day could not get any worse.

Posted via mobile.

26 December 2012

Republicans Do Not Have a Monopoly On Stupid

Case in point, Senator Barbara Boxer is proposing to deploy National Guard to public schools:
Federal funds would be made available to deploy National Guard troops at schools under legislation introduced Wednesday by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in response to last week’s mass slaying at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

The Save Our Schools Act would leave it to governors to decide whether to call out the National Guard and how to use troops around schools.

"Is it not part of the national defense to make sure that your children are safe?" Boxer said at Capitol Hill press conference.
Yes, armed soldiers patrolling the corridors of our schools is such a good idea.

We really need to strengthen out Posse Comitatus law, not abolish it.

Worst Holiday Book Gift Ever

How to Good-bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way?
—Hiroyuki Nishigaki
Click Through. This is real.  I sh%$ you not.

I Miss Madame La Guillotine


Roll Stewart!
Jerry Della Femina, who made his fortune on Madison Avenue, is whining like a baby about taxes, and claims that he is selling his posh Hamptons estate as a result:
He got taxed out of town.

Legendary advertising guru Jerry Della Femina is the latest Hamptons fat cat to unload his East End spread at the precipice of the dreaded fiscal cliff, The Post has learned.

The flamboyant Madison Avenue guru has sold his 8,500-square-foot estate — the host of many legendary Hamptons bashes — for $25 million, and blames his flight squarely on President Obama’s fiscal policies.

“I want the proceeds of this sale to go to my kids and my grandkids,” said the man behind iconic ad campaigns for Meow Mix and Absolut Vodka. “I don’t want my money going to Obama, and that’s what’s going to happen in the New Year. That’s why I sold right now, that’s why I wanted to get this done.”
Seriously.

This sort of sh%$ has me wishing for the return Maximilien de Robespierre.

I'll leave it to Jon Stewart to express how I feel, though he was actually directing it to hack journo Bernie Goldberg.

Just When You Thought the NRA Could not be Any More Contemptible………

While the NRA was condemning violent video games, it was also bankrolling the same games:
As Electronic Arts prepared to market Medal of Honor Warfighter, the latest version of its top-selling video game released in October, it created a Web site that promoted the manufacturers of the guns, knives and combat-style gear depicted in the game.

Among the video game giant’s marketing partners on the Web site were the McMillan Group, the maker of a high-powered sniper’s rifle, and Magpul, which sells high-capacity magazines and other accessories for assault-style weapons.

Links on the Medal of Honor site allowed visitors to click through on the Web sites of the game’s partners and peruse their catalogs.

“It was almost like a virtual showroom for guns,” said Ryan Smith, who contributes to the Gameological Society, an online gaming magazine. After Mr. Smith and other gaming enthusiasts criticized the site, Electronic Arts disabled the links, saying it had been unaware of them.

The video game industry was drawn into the national debate about gun violence last week when the National Rifle Association accused producers of violent games and movies of helping to incite the type of mass shooting that recently left 20 children and six adults dead at a school in Newtown, Conn.

While studies have found no connection between video games and gun violence, the case of Medal of Honor Warfighter illustrates how the firearms and video game industries have quietly forged a mutually beneficial marketing relationship.

Many of the same producers of firearms and related equipment are also financial backers of the N.R.A. McMillan, for example, is a corporate donor to the group, and Magpul recently joined forces with it in a product giveaway featured on Facebook. The gun group also lists Glock, Browning and Remington as corporate sponsors.
Seriously, these f%$#s make Dick Cheney look like Mother Theresa.*

*FWIW, I'm not a big fan of Mother Theresa, though I am not has extreme about this as Christopher Hitchens was.

Tweet of the Day


25 December 2012

We are Observing Christmas in the Traditional Manner


We are having Chinese food at  Umami Bistro, asks going to see a movie, The Hobbit.

You do know that we are Jewish, don't you?

Earlier today, I was clearing brush, trying to find or cat, Hummus.  Even using a (borrowed) chain saw, it was a LOT of work, and I hurt.

Posted via mobile.

24 December 2012

It;s the Hypocrisy, Stupid


Me Like Republican Mug Shots
Senator Mike Crapo was just busted for drunk driving:
Senator Michael D. Crapo of Idaho was arrested early Sunday and charged with driving under the influence in a suburb of Washington, D.C., the authorities said.

Mr. Crapo, a Republican, was pulled over after his vehicle ran a red light, the police in Alexandria said. He failed field sobriety tests and was arrested about 12:45 a.m., said a police spokesman, Jody Donaldson, and then was taken to the Alexandria jail and released on an unsecured $1,000 bond about 5 a.m.

“There was no refusal” to take sobriety tests, Mr. Donaldson said, and “no accident, no injuries.”

“Just a traffic stop that resulted in a D.U.I.,” he said.

The police said Mr. Crapo, who was alone in his vehicle, had registered a blood alcohol content of 0.11 percent. The legal limit in Virginia is 0.08 percent.

Mr. Crapo, 61, has a Jan. 4 court date.

“I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance,” he said in a statement on Sunday night. “I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter. I will also undertake measures to ensure that this circumstance is never repeated.”
So, why is hypocrisy an issue?

It's not because he's a Mormon. There is no reason to expect anyone to observe all the manners of observance of their religions, bur rather it is because he describes described himself as a Mormon who abstains from drinking alcohol.

It was a politically expedient lie about a moral position, and as such it is appropriate to invoke the "H-word".

Talk About Irony

Over at the Stellar Parthenon BBS, JR was discussing banging his head against a wall a discussion with his right-wing father over gun control.

In describing the discussion, he wrote the following:
I do think its a complicated question and gun control is only part of it. We have other nations with high gun ownership and not as many rampages. I do think that we need to approach the mental health angle, the question of how our society makes people crazy in the first place, etc.

It's kind of like fire-fighting. Having firemen is a good thing but building places like tinderboxes is also a big problem. Having no building codes is a problem. There are a lot of ways to mitigate against fire before it ever happens. But the f%$#ing NRA is like any other industry advocacy group trying to prevent reform because it costs money. The f%$#ing car companies said we couldn't afford safety equipment in cars. Manufacturers said OSHA standards would be too expensive to comply with. Maimed workers are the cost of doing business.
(%$# mine)

It's a valid point.

Today though, it's fraught with irony, because earlier today, some whack-job set a fire in Webster, NY and ambushed the firefighters who responded, shooting two of them dead.

Seriously, f%$# the NRA.

Better yet, don't f%$# the NRA, or more specifically don't f%$# NRA members.  Take the example of Lysistrata.

23 December 2012

Hunting for a Cat With a Chain Saw.


Ambiguity, the Devil's Vollyball
No, I have the chain saw, not the cat.

As you are probably aware, one of our cats, Hummus, has gone missing.

We believe that she is hanging with the local feral cats, who use a heavily overgrown area that sits on a space between our back yard, and that of our back yard neighbor. It was created by an easement for phone lines.

So, at a minimum, I needed to clear the heavy growth on the slope leading to our fence, the unused area acts as a sort of a reservoir, hence the use of a chain saw.

It's so much fun starting a small two stroke motor, let me tell you.

22 December 2012

Thank You CIA, for Preserving Polio

You see, the Taliban is targeting workers on the UN Polio eradication program, because they claim that they are CIA spies.

The problem here is that the CIA has, and has probably continued, to use vaccination programs as a part of the intelligence gathering process:
Back in 2000 I shared a train cabin from Amsterdam to Munich with an Afghan man who, when he learned I was a journalist, pleaded with me to communicate to the American public that the CIA had to stop destroying his country and rebuild it instead. "They have so much power," I recall him saying. I reacted with the tolerant and condescending attitude of the Western liberal. The real sources of Afghan misery, obviously, were tribal, political and religious rivalry, and while it was tempting for people with lower levels of political understanding to blame a foreign mastermind for their troubles, such conspiratorial thinking was actually part of the problem in the Mideast, as in Eastern Europe. Right?

Afghanistan and Pakistan are where liberalism goes to die. In the years since, it's become increasingly clear that my traveling companion was at least partially right: when trying to explain a social or political event in Afghanistan or Pakistan, it's entirely rational to assume that it stems from a plot by an intelligence agency, quite likely the CIA. The sickest confirmation of this point was the recent revelation that the CIA ran an operation to verify Osama bin Laden's location by gathering DNA samples through a false-flag hepatitis B vaccination programme. As James Fallows notes, American officials are defending this operation, not denying it.

This is despicable and stupid.
I would use the term evil, a term that I have increasingly applied to various actors in the United States state security apparatus, though one could also use the quote from (probably) Tallyrand, "It was worse than a crime; it was a mistake."

Worst………Speaker………Ever

You cannot negotiate with him, because, when push comes to shove, he is completely incapable of delivering the votes, even on a meaningless vote that was intended to call out a President that his caucus hates:
I just finished laughing from this spectacle on the House floor today. The House leadership tried desperately to pass “Plan B,” the main part of which was an extension of the Bush tax cuts on the first $1 million of income. In truth, all of the other giveaways in it would actually result in lower taxes for many wealthy earners, but tax rates have this weird power, especially within the Republican caucus. And you could just feel today that conservatives weren’t willing to pass the bill, even at that ridiculously high level. John Boehner and the leadership added a sweetener in the form of a package that eliminated the sequester on defense spending and applied it to more discretionary spending cuts, and even that barely passed, tainted by the association to Plan B.

We waited for a vote. And waited. Then the House Republicans held a closed caucus. And then Boehner had to come out and call the whole thing off.
The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass. Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff. The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the January 1 tax rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation’s crippling debt. The Senate must now act.
This is astonishing. Boehner spent three days talking up Plan B, which you just don’t do without the votes in hand. But conservative groups rule the House, and they turned against a bill that gives tax breaks to everyone making up to $1 million, along with enough reductions in other taxes to soften the blow for those poor millionaires. But House Republicans just aren’t going to do it, on this or any tax increase.
Seriously, negotiating with John Boehner is over the budget like negotiating with the Tatyana Egorova, coach of FC Rossiyanka, the leading Russian women's soccer team over nuclear arms reductions.

Even if you assume good faith negotiations, they simply cannot deliver on their promises.

It's Belated Bank Failure Friday!!!

I missed the 53rd bank failure of the year last week, Community Bank of the Ozarks.

I think that it is highly unlikely that a bank will be closed next week, so it looks to be 53 for the year, which is a pretty good number.

Here is a graph of the FDIC closings.



Less than ⅓ the closings of 2010. Not so bad.

21 December 2012

2 Manny Guns, Sulushen iz Moar Gunz

So, the NRA has finally made a statement about how to prevent more gun deaths, at schools, and their solution is lots of people with high powered weapons, and if that gets too expensive, they are suggesting amateur volunteers with guns:
After a weeklong silence, the National Rifle Association announced Friday that it wants to arm security officers at every school in the country, implicating violent video games, the news media and lax law enforcement as being far more to blame for the recent rash of mass shootings than guns.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A. vice president, said at a media event that was interrupted by protesters. One held up a banner saying, “N.R.A. Killing Our Kids.”

The N.R.A.’s plan for countering school shootings, coming a week after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was met with widespread derision from school administrators, law enforcement officials and politicians, with some critics calling it “delusional” and “paranoid.” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, said arming schools would not make them safer.

Even conservative politicians who had voiced support this week for arming more school officers did not rush to embrace the N.R.A.’s plan.

………

Mr. LaPierre said his organization would fund and develop a program called the National Model School Shield Program, to work with schools to arm and train school guards, including retired police officers and volunteers. The gun rights group named Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas who has been a strong supporter, to lead a task force to develop the program.

………

But what the N.R.A. proposed would expand the use of armed officers nationwide and make greater use of not just police officers, but armed volunteers — including retired police officers and reservists — to patrol school grounds. The organization offered no estimates of the cost.
(emphasis mine)

Seriously, you want any Johnny off the street and hang out with MY children?  I don't think so.

Tell you what, how we levy a tax on gun and ammunition sales to cover all this sh%$?

BTW, the Universe is having nothing of Mr. LaPierre's bullshit. As they were giving their non-press conference (no questions allowed), another mass shooting was happening in Pennsylvania, and it happened despite the presence in the area of peace officers with guns:
The National Rifle Association today held its first press conference since last week's deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, and the takeaway was clear: We need more guns.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

He went on to call for an armed police officer to be stationed in "every single school" across America to prevent further mass shootings, as critics tried to point out that armed law enforcement officials might not be the panacea the NRA thinks it is.

But before they could finish their sentence, the counterargument made itself as news broke of a mass shooting event in Pennsylvania with multiple casualties, including state troopers.

According to local reports out of Blair County, at least four people were killed and five more were injured in a shooting spree near Altoona. The gunman is said to be among the dead, and at least two state troopers were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

WPXI's Courtney Brennan says she was told by emergency officials that the shooting suspect "was 'mobile' at one point and went up and down a rural road and shot victims."

No additional information is available at this time, but a spokeswoman told the Altoona Mirror it was "a relatively large crime scene."
Seriously, The Onion needs to shut down and lay off all of its own staff, because they have been trumped by the world we actually have.

20 December 2012

Obama Will Definitely Nominate Hagel for Secretary of Defense

How do I know this, because in 1998, Chuck Hagel aggressively gay bashed James Hormel when he was nominated to be ambassador to Luxemberg:
The nation's largest LGBT rights group on Thursday called "unacceptable" comments former Sen. Chuck Hagel made in 1998 opposing a Clinton administration nominee because he was "openly aggressively gay."

The 14-year-old comments about Clinton's nominee to be ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel, came to light Thursday as Hagel is a front-runner to be nominated by President Obama for defense secretary in his second term.

Human Rights Campaign spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz also said, however, that "we do not know ... how [Hagel']s views have evolved over time" and that the group "look[s] forward to hearing from Senator Hagel on these issues should he be nominated."

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which works to support out LGBT presidential appointees, noted that times have changed since Hormel's nomination.
This would not be a SecDef who will move aggressively on removing the last vestiges of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" from the military.

His nomination, absent a serious and sincere mea culpa, would be a finger in the eye of the LGBT community, which would give Obama the sort of "Sister Souljah moment" opportunity that he loves so much, which is why I think Hagel will be nominated by Obama.

If You Spend the Better Part of a Decade Sh%$ting on a Profession………

It appears to me that if you are going to do your level best to be horrible to teachers, and to make their lives a living hell, it's Probably not a good idea to let them bring firearms to work and to give them military training:
Tennessee has emerged this week as a center of the “the answer is more guns in schools” sentiment following the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shooting.

A member of the Republican-controlled legislature plans during its upcoming session to introduce a bill that would allow the state to pay for secretly armed teachers in classrooms so, the sponsor told TPM, potential shooters don’t know who has a gun and who doesn’t.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has said the idea will be part of his discussions about how to prevent a shooting like the one in Newtown from happening in the Volunteer State.
This is not quite as stupid as McArdle's suggestion that we brainwash 6 year old children into gang tackling gun toting maniacs, but it's pretty f%$#ing close.

I am waiting for The Onion to announce mass layoffs, because they can no longer compete with reality.

Obama has lost………Markos Moulitsas Zúniga?!?!?!?

As in "Kos" of Daily Kos, who is thoroughly unimpressed with Obama appearing to cede ground on core Democratic Party values:
If President Barack Obama has a flaw, it's his obviously overwhelming desire to appear reasonable and conciliatory and "work together" to find "compromise" and "get things done". Bipartisanly. With a sane, reasonable, conciliatory opposition, that approach would make sense. But after four years of getting slammed by Republicans eager to destroy his presidency, Obama still hasn't learned the lesson. He still thinks he's going to get rewarded for being the "adult in the room." Yeah, everything I've put inside scare quotes is a joke. A bad, painful joke.

So there's nothing better than headlines like this one, in the Washington Post, to deliver the lesson to the White House to, well, just quit being the Capitulator In Chief:
A rough 24 hours for the White House
You see, Obama had drawn a line in the sand, and then—to no one's surprise—ended up capitulating on everything he said he'd never capitulate on.
While I think that Kos is entitled, and in fact justified in his disappointment, but I think that he is being naive about what is going on.

Barack Obama is not negotiating with himself, and he is not incompetent, he is getting exactly what he wants.

He is a conservative "Blue Dog in everything but name" Democrat; he is a Reagan revolution "Democrat" who thinks that our social safety net is too generous, and that taxes on the rich will destroy the economy.

Occam's razor suggests that the simplest solution is usually the best.

You have two alternate theories.

The 1st theory is that Obama is unable to learn and he is a poor negotiator, but he went to Harvard Law, which is arguably one of the best training grounds for negotiation in the country, and was elected editor of the Harvard Law Review, which means that he had to out do the greatest legal minds of his generation.

The 2nd theory is that this is pretty much what Obama wants.

So, which theory seems simpler to you?

19 December 2012

What a Surprise, US Style Hyper-Capitalism Kills

The shock treatment liberalization of the USSR and the former Warsaw Pact Nations, led by largely Larry Summers, and looted extensively by Summers protege Andrei Shleifer, resulted in over a million deaths:
As many as one million working-age men died due to the economic shock of mass privatisation policies followed by post-communist countries in the 1990s, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

The Oxford-led study measured the relationship between death rates and the pace and scale of privatisation in 25 countries in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, dating back to the early 1990s. They found that mass privatisation came at a human cost: with an average surge in the number of deaths of 13 per cent or the equivalent of about one million lives.

The rapid privatisation programme, part of a plan known by economists as ‘shock therapy’, led to a 56 per cent increase in unemployment, which the study says played an important role in explaining why privatisation claimed so many lives. Many employers provided extensive health and social care for their employees, so through privatisation workers experienced the ‘double whammy’ of losing not only their livelihood but also their means of surviving the crisis.
Yes, this is a 3½ year old story, but I just found out about this today, and I thought that I should comment.

Running an economy by, and for the banksters, and the privitization of government assets during the breakup of the USSR and WarPac was an invitation for the finance types to steal as much as they could carry, does more than impoverish people.

It kills people.

If you look at these numbers, and see this, plus the arbitrage in world food markets that had prices (and malnutrition) rising, the dismantling of the Greek healthcare system, etc. it could be argued that the extreme free market policies espoused by the US since at least the Carter administration have killed more people than all the wars over that period.

The refrain of the free market mousketeers out there  is not about freedom or free markets, it rather about a kleptocratic and parasitic society whose primary purpose is to impoverish the rest of us to their benefit.

Some People Brighten a Room by Leaving It

Robert Bork has died at 85.

Between his role in the Saturday Night Massacre, his hypocrisy in opposing most lawsuits and suing the Yale club for his clumsiness, and his almost single handedly emasculating anti-trust enforcement, he has a lot ot answer for.

As If Facebook Did Not Suck Enough

I'm sure you have heard of the Instagram thing, where they came out with new terms of service which said that they could sell your photographs, and you did not get anything.

It's a classic Facebook move, but it really does not bother me, because I don't "get" instagram.

If I want to funky things to photos I snap with my camera phone, I'll do it on my PC on an old copy of Paint Shop Pro.*

That being said, I really don't get Facebook either.  I appreciate its huge user base, and I signed up so that I could mirror my blog there, boosting eyeballs.

In the process I did reconnect with a bunch of old friends, but again, that's largely a function of the user base, not the site.

One of the problems is that it appears that every upgrade makes the totality of the experience worse.

The latest innovation is that Facebook will be adding auto start videos to its video feed:
Get ready for video ads in your news feed.

Facebook is set to unveil a new video-ad product in the first half of next year in its largest attempt to date to attract big swaths of ad dollars from TV advertisers, according to several industry executives who have been briefed on the company's plans over the past few weeks.

………

In what's sure to be a controversial move, the visual component of the Facebook video ads will start playing automatically -- a dynamic known as "autoplay" -- according to two of the executives. Facebook is still debating whether to have the audio component of the ads activated automatically as well, one of these people said.

On the desktop version of Facebook, the video ads are expected to grab a user's attention by expanding out of the news feed into webpage real estate in both the left and right columns -- or rails -- of the screen. Facebook is also working on a way to ensure that the video ads stand out on the mobile apps as well, though it is unclear how exactly the company will accomplish this.
I guess that they decided that the whole anal probe ad server thing just wasn't evil enough.

I do not get it. Are already running their server farms on power generated by incinerating harp seal pups, and claiming that it was "green" energy.

Isn't that evil enough for them?

Damn, he needs to buy a white Persian cat and a bond villain lair, and be done with it.

*BTW, a big f%$# you to the folks Adobe® who bought the makers of the program, JASC, and shut them down a couple of years later, because they did not want the product, a fairly capable and easy to use image editor, they just wanted to shut down a competitor.

Canada is a Strange Place

And I have to preface this by, "No, this is not The Onion."

It appears that Quebec police have foiled a massive theft from the Canadian Strategic Maple Syrup Reserves:
It was a culinary whodunit involving a daring heist, a golden bounty, and now, some allegedly sticky-fingered suspects.

Police in Quebec announced the arrest of three men in the theft of 6 million lbs. of maple syrup from a provincial warehouse, a haul estimated at $18-million and enough to smother a Himalayan mountain of waffles and pancakes.

The arrests mark a badly-needed break in a case that circled the globe and pulled in law-enforcement agents operating in two countries and three provinces, all deployed in the retrieval of one of Canada’s most cherished resources.

The theft was discovered in August at a depôt rented by the Quebec Federation of Maple Syrup Producers, in what police believe was an inside job. Some 10,000 barrels of stockpiled syrup, part of the federation’s carefully guarded “International Strategic Reserve,” had gone missing. The Fort Knox-style controls reflect the fact that Quebec dominates the world market in maple syrup and carefully controls the commodity’s price and supply.
(emphasis mine)

Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve? Seriously?

Something is seriously weird here.

Also:  If they have a International Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve T-shirt, or a baseball cap, I want one.

18 December 2012

Megan "Math is Hard" McArdle is the Most Horrible Person in Punditry

In her latest spewing (no direct link, ever) she suggests that we need to train school children to gang rush gunmen:
I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.
Ummm ……… You ignorant Randroid sociopath, you are are unaware of the physical capabilities of a 6 year-old child.

Let me illustrate this with pictures.

This is 8-12 6 year old children:


This is the worst ranked defense in the NFL, the New Orleans Saints:


While I could concede that the Saints (What is with those pink shoes and gloves) might be able to take down an adult armed with a wet noodle, those kids could not take down a llama, or for that matter, the Dali Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet.

Repeating for the benefit of the terminally stupid:

Children with llama
New Orleans Saints:
Dali Lama

And the Dali Lama, and the aforementioned 2 "l" llama,  are both more likely to take down a gunman armed with an assault rifle than are the children.

Why does this child or privilege and political patronage have a job?

17 December 2012

If You Are Going to Watch Zero Dark Thirty, For F%$#'s Sake, Torrent It

Because no one involved with the enterprise deserves a penny of money.

Glenn Greenwald rightly calls it a, "CIA hagiography, [and] pernicious propaganda."

Spencer Ackerman, of Danger Room, admires the torture scenes and how they show moral ambiguity, but this is completely wrong.

You see, in a private letter to members of Congress Leon Panetta stated that torture had no role in locating bin Laden, though in public, he continued to defend the CIA's torture directorate in public.

There is no ambiguity here. Our torture served no purpose but to satisfy the sadism of certain elements of the state security apparatus, along with people above them in the chain of command. **cough** Dick Cheney **cough**

There is no ambiguity. We did not derive actionable intelligence from torture. All we did was give Dick Cheney an erection.

FWIW,it should that the the European Court of Human Rights has officially declared that the CIA engaged in systematic torture. (See also here)

The fact that Obama and Holder have been complicit in indemnifying, and covering this up makes them more than reprehensible human beings, it makes them war criminals as well.

(on edit)

I am not suggesting that you torrent Bigelow's other works, though I wouldn't object to it.  I'm not gonna watch any of it.

Jim F%$#ing Manchin?

Yes, the West Virginia Democrat (so-called) who literally shot holes in a copy of Obamacare for his campaign, is calling for meaningful gun control:
A stream of Democrats in Congress including a prominent senator known for his support for the firearms lobby have backed President Barack Obama’s call for stronger gun controls but few Republicans have broken ranks to join them in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting.

Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democratic senator with an “A rating” from the National Rifle Association, marking him out as a strong defender of gun rights, told MSNBC that it was time to move “beyond the rhetoric” on the issue of guns.

“I want to call all our friends in the NRA, sit down and have this discussion,” he said. “Bring them into it. They have to be at the table. We all have to.”

Mr Manchin did not detail what changes he supported; nor so far has Mr Obama, who indicated in his speech at a memorial service in Newtown, Connecticut, on Sunday evening, that he will pursue legislation to try to reduce firearm violence.
Call me a cynic, but I don't think that his commitment to change will last beyond the first proposal to close the gun show loophole, but it is still kind of a remarkable development.

Just Read This

I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.

She really isn't.  Rather, Liza Long is describing the issues involved with raising her son, an extremely intelligent, and very troubled 13 year old., from the mom of a troubled adolescent, but there is a bigger issue that it obliquely address we look at the most prominent mass shootings in the past few years, they seem to be marked by the complete breakdown of the mental health infrastructure in this country.

Starting with Ronald Reagan, we have systematically dismantled our mental health infrastructure, so now we have the the emergency room, jails, and acute inpatient facilities.

For chronic, less severe mental health problems, there is nothing out there, except, "Take 3 pills daily," or moving to some place with a less antediluvian public health system, like Canada, or Spain, or Portugal, or India(!), or Egypt(!!), or Greece (until a year ago, when Angela Merkel demanded that they adopt the US's 3rd world health system because Greek pain equals German votes).

16 December 2012

DPRK Finally Gets a Launch Half Right

North Korea's satellite is actually in orbit, though it appears to be tumbling out of control:
After 14 years of trying, North Korea has finally joined the countries capable of launching a satellite into orbit. But the success was short-lived. The nation's space program is also experiencing the bitterness of the failure to keep its spacecraft stable.

North Korea succeeded Dec. 11 on its six attempt to orbit what officials there call an Earth-observation satellite. The U.S. led a group of nations , including Russia and China, that warned North Korea not to proceed with the mission. China has since expressed “regret” over it.

The launch technology can also be used to support the country 's ballistic missile program .

A U.S. defense official suggests the satellite is tumbling in its polar orbit. Strategic Command, which tracks orbiting objects, referred questions to the Pentagon. A spokeswoman there said she would not comment on classified intelligence matters.

One observer who tracked the spacecraft with night-vision goggles said it was “flickering” and produced an intermittent trace on a time-exposure photograph, which could suggest tumbling.
What is significant here is not the ballistic missile capability that this shows, because this rocket science isn't exactly ……… rocket science.

Yes, I know, it technically is rocket science, and from an engineering and technical perspective it is significant, but a ballistic missile aimed at the west coast would need to impart less than ½ the kinetic energy to the payload.

It's been clear that this has been well within the Kim's capabilities for years.

What is significant is now that any attempt to prevent testing related to ballistic missiles will now have to clearly show that it is not almost entirely related to weapons.

While there is support in the international community to prevent the development of explicitly military long range rocket capability, the idea that the United States, it's NATO allies, Russia, China, Israel, etc. should be allowed to hold a hegemony on such a technology will be anathema to most other nations in the world.

This is particularly true because the only nation put at threat by this, though South Korea and Japan are clearly at risk from shorter ranged rockets, is the United States.

15 December 2012

Light Posting for a While

One of put cats, Hummus, has gone missing, and we are scouring the neighborhood.

If you see this cat, please contact me.

Posted via mobile.

14 December 2012

Why Do Americans Want Our Children to be Shot?

I don't just mean the NRA. I just don't mean the sociopathic Talibaptists who say that it's because we do not pray to the right God. I mean all of us.

After every shooting we, and I mean all of us, are told by the Gun Nuts With Small Penises that it's not the time to talk about it, and so some dead kids, mall shoppers, etc. are consigned to the memory hole.

Now it's 28 people, including 20 children at Newtown Elementary School in Connecticut.

BTW, there is a special place in hell for White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who jumbed with both feet on the "we must not talk about it" meme.

BTW, there was a school attack in China today, 22 people attacked, WITH A KNIFE.

There were no deaths.


I understand that the NRA is a bunch of scary people to your average politician. We need to be even scarier.

Joke of the Day

There is an old story from the heyday of the Soviet Union. As part of their May Day celebrations they were parading their latest weapon systems down the street in front of the Kremlin. There was a long column of their newest tanks, followed by a row of tractors pulling missiles. Behind these weapons were four pick-up trucks carrying older men in business suits waving to the crowds.

Seeing this display, the Communist party boss turned to his defense secretary. He praised the tanks and missiles and then said that he didn’t understand the men in business suits. The defense secretary explained that these men were economists, and “their destructive capacity is incredible.”
H/t Dean Baker

13 December 2012

Platinum Coin Seigniorage Is Starting to Get Mainstream Coverage

Joe Firestone notes that we are starting to see coverage in the media of the trillion dollar platinum coin:
Did the MSM’s new wave of commentaries on platinum coin seigniorage (PCS) miss the really big story about it? Of course, I think it did, and I’ll continue my review of the MSM commentaries with the efforts of Chris Hayes at MSNBC, substituting as host on the Rachel Maddow show (12/05 at 9:20 PM); and John Carney at CNBC (12/06 at 11:54 AM). This is my second review post on this subject.
Platinum Coin Seigniorage is the idea that the US Treasury can use its right to print coins or arbitrary value, (the Federal Reserve has this power with regard to paper and electronic currency) which can then be used to pay down the debt by depositing at the Federal Reserve.

I think that this is a good thing, and so does Firestone, but he takes issue with a couple of points made by Hayes and Carney.

First, he objects to their characterization that such an action is unlikely to happen. I disagree.

I understand his point, that the legal and economic barriers to doing this are not great, but the psychological and political barriers, particularly for two people as wedded to economic and financial orthodoxy as Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner does make the possibility that this strategy would be implemented to be vanishingly small.

The area where I disagree is his argument that using the coin won't cause inflation.

While it is clear that if the coins are used exclusively to retire debt held by the Fed will not have much inflationary effect, Federal Reserve held Treasury Bonds are basically an accounting trick.

That being said, if you start retiring other debt, that money has to go somewhere, and if the trillions parked in US government securities need to find another place to park, one could expect these funds to slosh around and this would have an inflationary effect.

My more significant area of disagreement is his assumption that inflation is a bad thing, which is why he argues against the potential inflationary impacts.

I do not think that inflation right now is a bad thing. Given that we have a significant debt overhang, and inflation serves to devalue debt, favoring the debtor over the creditor, I think that inflation is a good thing.

In a very real way, we are in a position very similar to that at the end of the 1800s, when William Jennings Bryan gave his "Cross of Gold" speech.

Seigniorage is today's free silver, and much like free silver, it is not a likely to be implemented, except as a bargaining strategy.

Thanks Merkel

Not only is Angela Merkel's hard money policies impoverishing much of the Euro Zone, which might cause the currency zone to break up, but it looks like it's going to lead to the dissolution of Spain:
The center-right Catalan nationalist bloc CiU and the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) on Wednesday reached an agreement to call for a referendum on independence for Catalonia within two years.

The deal paves the way for Artur Mas to remain premier of the region. The CiU emerged as the biggest party in regional elections held last month but fell short of the absolute majority it was seeking. ERC was the second most voted party. The two sides still have to agree on the budget for next year. The accord on the referendum states that it must be held before the end of 2014 but does not give a specific date.

In a parallel development, the CiU, the ERC and other Catalan parties — with the exception of the local branch of the ruling Popular Party — reached an agreement not to implement the reform of the education system put forward by Education Minister José Ignacio Wert, which restores Castilian Spanish to the same level in the classroom as co-official regional languages such as Basque or Catalan.

The accord says the parties will adhere to the Catalan Education Law, which promotes immersion in the Catalan language. The parties described Wert’s proposals as “unacceptable” as they “prevent linguistic immersion by segregating pupils on the basis of language.”
Seriously, the pain caucus in the Euro Zone (Angela is their most senior member) is laying waste to everything that they touch.

Pelosi Draws a Line in the Sand

If you can count, and make an educated guess as to how many Republican Congresscritters are batsh%$ insane teabaggers, it's pretty clear that a greater proportion of Democrats in the House have to vote for a budget/tax proposal.

Well, Nancy Pelosi just made it clear that the votes aren't there if the measure includes an increase in the Medicare eligibility age:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday escalated her opposition to hiking Medicare's eligibility age, warning Republican leaders that it's a non-starter as part of the lame-duck fiscal talks.

"Don't even think about raising the Medicare age," she said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol. "We are not throwing America's seniors over the cliff to give a tax cut to the wealthiest people in America. We have clarity on that."
Nancy Pelosi is not trying to convince Boehner or McConnell not to cut entitlements, she's offering a shot across Obama's bow.

Even the Teabagger back benchers understand the politics of trying to pass cuts to Social Security and Medicare without any Democratic votes is political suicide, so even if Obama cuts a deal with the Republicans, they cannot afford to vote for it alone.

Best Comment on Over the Top Christmas Decorations Ever





Link

It's Jobless Thursday!!!

343K initial claims, one of the lowest levels this year, implying the effect of Super Storm Sandy is fading.

The 4-Week moving average, which is still showing effects of Sandy, fell as well, as did continuing and extended benefits.

Good news.

Wanker of the Day

Dana Milbank.

Dude, if you are that sad about Lieberman's exit to Connecticut, go with him.

12 December 2012

The DoJ Admits that the Banksters are too Big to Prosecute

We don't need no water let the Motherf#$%er Burn Burn Motherf#$%er Burn
Case in point, HSBC, which was literally laundering drug cartel money.

It will not be criminally prosecuted because it is too big to fail:
State and federal authorities decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world's largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system.

Instead, HSBC announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to a record $1.92 billion settlement with authorities. The bank, which is based in Britain, faces accusations that it transferred billions of dollars for nations like Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to move money illegally through its American subsidiaries.

While the settlement with HSBC is a major victory for the government, the case raises questions about whether certain financial institutions, having grown so large and interconnected, are too big to indict. Four years after the failure of Lehman Brothers nearly toppled the financial system, regulators are still wary that a single institution could undermine the recovery of the industry and the economy.

But the threat of criminal prosecution acts as a powerful deterrent. If authorities signal such actions are remote for big banks, the threat could lose its sting.

Behind the scenes, authorities debated for months the advantages and perils of a criminal indictment against HSBC.

Some prosecutors at the Justice Department's criminal division and the Manhattan district attorney's office wanted the bank to plead guilty to violations of the federal Bank Secrecy Act, according to the officials with direct knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The law requires financial institutions to report any cash transaction of $10,000 or more and to bring any dubious activity to the attention of regulators.

Given the extent of the evidence against HSBC, some prosecutors saw the charge as a healthy compromise between a settlement and a harsher money-laundering indictment. While the charge would most likely tarnish the bank's reputation, some officials argued that it would not set off a series of devastating consequences.

A money-laundering indictment, or a guilty plea over such charges, would essentially be a death sentence for the bank. Such actions could cut off the bank from certain investors like pension funds and ultimately cost it its charter to operate in the United States, officials said.
Seriously. Burn, motherf%$#er burn.

If there is no rule of law, the banks don't matter.

H/t Matt Stoller.

Dear God, Please Work on Your Aim

If you are going to take at Glenn Hubbard, please hit him harder!



Link

God Help Us, Berlusconi is Italy's Best Hope

I know that this sounds like a joke, but I'm as serious as a heart attack.

The Euro (as it is currently structured, it should be called the Reichsmark, because it is structured by Germany to benefit it's position as a predatory exporter) is of no real benefit to Italy, and Berlusconi is the only credible Italian political figure who is willing to say this:
The nation is richer than Germany in per capita terms, with some €9 trillion of private wealth. It has the biggest primary budget surplus in the G7 bloc. Its combined public and private debt is 265pc of GDP, lower than in France, Holland, the UK, the US or Japan.

It scores top of the International Monetary Fund’s index for “long-term debt sustainability” among key industrial nations, precisely because it reformed the pension structure long ago under Silvio Berlusconi.

“They have a vibrant export sector, and a primary surplus. If there is any country in EMU that would benefit from leaving the euro and restoring competitiveness, it is obviously Italy,” said Andrew Roberts from RBS.

“The numbers are staring them in the face. We think the story of 2013 is not about countries being forced to leave EMU but whether they choose to leave.”

A “game theory” study by Bank of America concluded that Italy would gain more than other EMU members from breaking free and restoring sovereign control over its policy levers.

………

Rome holds a clutch of trump cards. The one great obstacle is premier Mario Monti, installed at the head of a technocrat team in the November Putsch of 2011 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Central Bank – to the applause of Europe’s media and political class.

Mr Monti may be one of Europe’s great gentlemen but he is also a high priest of the EU Project and a key author of Italy’s euro membership. The sooner he goes, the sooner Italy can halt the slide into chronic depression.
The sooner that someone who counts (not Greece, not Portugal, and probably not Spain) declares that the Euro is a failure, and that it needs to be abandoned, the better it will be for most of the people in the Euro Zone.

The Eurobanksters will lose, and Angela Merkel will lose, but the entire Euro Zone, including Germany, is now in recession because of German competitive needs, and German mythology. (it wasn't the hyperinflation that brought the Nazis to power, it was the hard money contractionary policies, policies that the Germans are demanding for the rest of the EZ that did)

Absent Germany withdrawing from the Euro, the currency is doomed, and the sooner that it is abandoned, the better.

False Flag Operation for the Benefits of Fox News

If you follow Fox News (I don't I have the stomach to), you may have noticed that they have been running a video allegedly showing members of the Michigan labor protests tearing down a tent put up by the Koch suckers at Americans for Prosperity.

It turns out that those Teabaggers tore down their own tent:


Gee, what a surprise.

Jon Stewart on the Race to the Bottom

Jon Stewart, Aasif Mandvi and Jason Jones do a riff on the race to the bottom, in the context of their adoption of right-to-work legislation by Michigan and Indiana.



It ends with Mandvi proposing a bill where workers remuneration is thrown into a pit where they fight each other using the bones of the dead.

Tax the Rich, or Eat the Rich, Your Choice


H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS for the Pic.
John Judis demolished the idea that rich need piles of money for our economy to grow:
As the negotiations over the fiscal cliff continue, President Barack Obama has insisted on retaining the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, while letting the cuts for the wealthy lapse. Republicans have insisted that raising taxes on the rich would cost jobs – as many as 700,000, according to House Speaker John Boehner.

Obama, for his part, says that a tax increase would not cost jobs; that it would help the economy by reducing the deficit; and that it would be fairer than imposing new taxes on the middle class. “I’m not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the deficit while people like me who make more than $250,000 are not asked to pay a dime more in taxes,” he has declared.

Obama is right that a tax increase on the rich would not cost jobs; and he is certainly right that it would be fairer to tax the wealthy whose incomes have shot up, even during the downturn. And he is also correct that taxing the rich will actually benefit the economy--but not primarily for the reasons he cites. If the government extracts income from the wealthy, and then spends it on a $50 billion infrastructure program, an extension of unemployment insurance, and a Social Security payroll tax cut, as Obama has proposed, that will not only boost the recovery, but will also discourage the wealthy from rerouting their savings into the kind of speculative activity that helped create the Great Recession. A closer approximation of income equality is not only better for our souls—it’s also better for the economy. The question of fairness aside, the rich have been making relatively too much money for the country’s good.

Last September, the Congressional Research Service published a report countering Republican claims that lowering top tax rates would lead, or had led, to higher economic growth. “Changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth,” the report concluded. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell responded by having the report suppressed, but its findings were incontrovertible.

………

Regressive policies can also lead to financial crises. When firms suffer from global overcapacity or merely from domestic overproduction – when a glut arises of automobiles, ships, textiles semiconductors or fiber optic cable -- as happened in the late 1920s and again in the earlier part of the last decade, the wealthy, joined by corporate treasurers and bankers, have tended to pour their money into speculation rather than productive investment. The financial sector has become a casino for the rich, where they have gambled away funds that could have fueled the economy. So redistributing income through tax policy isn’t just fair; it is one way to began restructuring the economy to prevent future slowdowns and crashes.

Republican pleas to retain tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations and to eviscerate social programs do suggest a Romneyesque indifference to the 99 percent; they also presume an economy that no longer exists. “These incentives,” Livingston writes, “are merely invitations to inflate speculative bubbles.” Obama’s concession to arguments about the deficit, which come from Tea Party Republicans and business groups like Fix the Debt, is understandable, but unfortunate. There will come a time -- when unemployment dips, say, below six percent, and the countries’ businesses are at full capacity – when it will be important to reduce government deficits. And raising marginal taxes on the wealthy will be one way – along with other measures – to bring the deficit down.

But bringing down the deficit should not be the principal objective right now. What’s important is to continue the recovery from the Great Recession and to take measures to prevent future crises. Supply-siders were right about one thing: the best way to reduce the government deficit is to create economic growth. Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy and to transfer those revenues to workers and the unemployed isn’t just the fair thing to do; it is exactly what’s right for the economy.
Not only does coddling the rich not help the economy, it destroys it.

Go read, and supply your recipes below.

From the Department of, "Well Duh!"

Chris Van Hollen is suggesting that John Boehner is sandbagging the "fiscal cliff" negotiations until after his reelection as speaker, to avoid the possibility that his caucus will give his orange ass the boot for whatever deal he cut.

I'm not surprised. If he cuts a deal, he will have the Teabagger back benchers screaming for his head.

Another ½%!!!! Woot!!!!

The Federal Reserve has made a major change in its targeting, raising its inflation target tfrom 2% to 2½% and stating that they will continue quantitative easing until unemployment drops below 6½%.

This is a very big deal for two reasons, first, it's the first time that the Fed has ever linked its rates to employment levels, and second, it's a marked departure from their previous statements which said stuff like, "ZIRP for the nest 6 months, and then we reevaluate".

What they are doing now is much clearer, and makes it much easier to determine near term behavior.

I'm not a big fan of the "confidence fairy" theory of economics, particularly when used to justify "expansionary austerity", but the opacity of the Fed has not served the economy; all it has done is to reinforce the "high priesthood" aspects of the Federal Reserve's reputation.

Fed statement after the break:

11 December 2012

There is One Man Who Can Challenge the Gun Lobby

Jon Stewart doesn't challenge gun ownership per se, but rather the sh%$ storm freakout accompanying Bob Costas' comments on gun violence in the context of the Jovan Belcher murder/suicide.

He mad the rather unremarkable observation that absent Belcher's (legally owned) firearms, he and Kasandra Perkins might still be alive today.

The NRA, and its inadequately endowed paranoid ilk, want to make discussions of gun violence, and gun culture literally unspeakable in the media.

We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

Our Military is now objectively pro bombing children:
“It kind of opens our aperture,” said Army Lt. Col. Marion “Ced” Carrington, whose unit, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was assisting the Afghan police. “In addition to looking for military-age males, it’s looking for children with potential hostile intent.”
So targeting children, "Opens our aperture?"

So not only are you going to target children, you are going to be ecstatic about it.  It's like the original Deathrace 2000 movie, the one with David Carradine, where points were awarded not for skill, but for the helplessness of the victim and the brutality of the killing.

Colonel Carrington, you had better hope that there is no God, and no afterlife, because if there is either, your eternity is not going to be pleasant.

Wanker of the Day

Brendan Nyhan, who seems to think that fact checkers should put their thumbs on the scale so they can condemn the standard political fibbers and the pathological liars in equal numbers.

Read the exchange in the comments between him and Dan Froomkin, where the latter eviscerates Nyhan for his dumb-ass "a pox on both their houses" bullsh%$.

Shame on the Columbia Journalism review for publishing this crap.

Can They Both Lose? Please?

Ku Klux Klan protests Westboro Baptist Church

10 December 2012

Worst Marketing Decsion Ever

Worst Marketing Decision Ever: Drycleaner Puts "Pro-life" Message on Their Hangers



Yes, this is real.

Conviction in Satmar Sex Abuse Case

Notwithstanding a systematic pattern of harassment and coercion by the Satmar Hasidic community, the mother and daughter stood firm, and so-called counsellor Nechemya Weberman was convicted of sexual abuse over 3 years of a girl starting when she was twelve"
Sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has long been hidden. Victims who came forward were intimidated into silence; their families were shunned; cases were dropped for a lack of cooperation.

But on Monday, a State Supreme Court jury in Brooklyn delivered a stunning victory to prosecutors and victims’ advocates, convicting a 54-year-old unlicensed therapist who is a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg of repeatedly sexually abusing a young girl who had been sent to him for help.

“The veil of secrecy has been lifted,” said Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney. “The wall that has existed in parts of these communities has now been broken through. And as far as I’m concerned, it is very clear to me that it is only going to get better for people who are victimized in these various communities.”

The case against the therapist, Nechemya Weberman, was a significant milestone for Mr. Hynes, whose office has been criticized for not acting aggressively enough against sexual abusers in the borough’s large and politically connected ultra-Orthodox community.

The verdict represented the first time Mr. Hynes’ office has won a conviction of a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg for child sexual abuse.

The case also offered a glimpse of the Satmar community’s shadowy efforts to enforce rigid codes of behavior — particularly for young girls — by allowing so-called modesty committees to intimidate girls for wearing revealing clothing or using cellphones, and requiring parents to send children judged to be breaking rules to religious counselors, many of whom are not licensed and charge high fees.
Perhaps even more significant than the Brooklyn DA managing to crack the ultra-orthodox Omertà (code of silence) in order to get a conviction, but that he also issued an informal warning against any further harassment of the victim or her family by the community.

BTW, the halacha (Jewish law) is clear here:  It is required that these allegations be taken to civil courts, because a Beit Din (religious court) has no authority beyond moral persuasion in the US.