31 August 2010

Not Enough Bullets: CEO Pay Disclosure Edition

What Cee Lo Green Said (NSFW)
It looks like the overpaid CEOs have decided that telling shareholders just how overpaid they are is an unreasonable burden:
US companies face a “logistical nightmare” from a new rule forcing them to disclose the ratio between their chief executive’s pay package and that of the typical employee, lawyers have warned.

The mandatory disclosure will provide ammunition for activists seeking to target perceived examples of excessive pay and perks. The law taps into public anger at the increasing disparity between the faltering incomes of middle America and the largely recession-proof multimillion-dollar remuneration of the typical corporate chief.

S&P 500 chief executives last year received median pay packages of $7.5m, according to executive compensation research firm Equilar. By comparison, official statistics show the average private sector employee was paid just over $40,000.
If you cannot determine the number of employees, and your total payroll (total payroll $/number of employees=average pay) in under 10 minutes, then you aren't doing your f^%$ing job.

Yes, I know that the actual number is the median salary, so that should only take 15 minutes.

The real problem is not the ratio, it's that they don't want the shareholders, who, you know, actually own the damn company, to know how much they are getting paid.

It's f%$#s like this that make me say to people, "If you plan on going postal, take out upper management first."

It's Over in Alaska

Murkowski has conceded.

This actually improves the chances of the Democratic candidate, Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, from "snowballs chance in hell" to long shot candidate.

Your Moment of Geek

How a manual transmission works:

H/t The World of Technology.

Sometimes Someone Just Nails It

Case in point, whoever coined the term "Whitestock" for the Glenn Beck hate-a-thong, and Driftglass for riffing on the Woodstock logo.

Truth be told, not only did I miss the broadcast of Whitestock, but I am trying to avoid all rebroadcasts and Youtubes of same.

Mission Accomplished Lite

I listened to the speech on the road (long story), so I had to pay attention, as opposed to taking notes, and what I discovered was that I really don't like listening to him, while he proclaims that maintenance of tens of thousands of troops, and permanent and extensive bases, somehow mean that the war is over.


30 August 2010

Someone Has a Clue

Specifically, Laura Tyson, who is calling for another round of stimulus.

Of course, you can find a lot of people calling for another round of stimulus, but what makes Ms. Tyson different from people like Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman, and Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz is the fact that people at the White House actually listen to her, she is a member of the White House's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Of course, that paragraph raises a question for me: Why is the White House studiously freezing out people like Nobel Prize winning economists Krugman and Stiglitz?

It would seem to me that these are the sort of people one should listen to.

The Term is Ethnic Cleansing

2 Words Left Unsaid
Rachel Maddow talks about the housing situation in New Orleans, and makes the point that the elimination of much of the subsidized housing for the poor was intended to reduce the availability of housing for the poor, and generally black, residents of the Crescent City.

John Aravosis references Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine," but there is a far uglier term for this: Ethnic cleansing.

Economics Update

The lede has to be the ADP report showing that private employers cut 10,000 jobs in August.

Obviously, we will get the official numbers from the Feds on Friday.

On the other hand, manufacturing grew more than expected in August.

It's kind of a mixed bag news day, with consumer spending increasing, but real incomes fell for the first time in over 6 months and the Conference Board's consumer confidence beat estimates.

I'm not sure exactly what they are spending money on though, because car sales had the weakest August in 27 years, which would imply an aversion to big ticket purchases.

In real estate, the Case-Shiller home price index rose in June, though that's probably more a result of the now-expired tax credit than anything else, mortgage applications rose slightly, though, unsurprisingly, more so for refinance than it did for home purchases, and construction spending was significantly lower than estimates.

In the "these are real lives that are being f%$#ed with" category, bankruptcy filings fell in August, though they still remain at a near 5 years high.

Finally, Canada's economy slowed significantly in the 2nd quarter.

Domestic Terrorism

Some terrorist torched construction equipment at the sight of the future mosque in Murfreesboro, TN, and when parishioners came by to survey the damage, someone took shots at them.

What should happen right now is that the FBI and ATF should flooding the zone and go full patriot act on anyone they catch.

It's what Clinton should have done on the abortion clinic bombers who later became assassins, because arresting white folks for terrorism is icky, and besides, Barack Obama is afraid that people will think that he is a Muslim if he goes after white terrorists.

Doubling Down on the Stupid

It's one of Barack Obama's Stupid Minions, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said on the Sunday talk shows that a renewal of the new home buyer tax credit might be coming back.

This is unbelievably stupid on a number of levels. First people who are considering buying homes will hold off, waiting for the tax credit, second, it's really bad policy, that cost taxpayers something like $80K for each additional home sold.

Now there have been tepid denials from HUD, but this sort of crap should not be happening.

Great Googly Moogly.

H/t Atrios.

We Are F%$#ing Doomed

Thanks, Barry!
The latest Gallup poll is out with the generic Congressional ballot, and Republicans have a 10% lead, the highest since Gallup started running this poll in 1942!

You know, continuing with Bush's Kangaroo courts and surveillance state, selling out homeowners to banks, and ranting against your party are working really well, aren't they?

If we don't end up with Boehner as speaker, I would be very surprised.

[on edit]

It's worse than I thought. It's not a daily tracking pool, it's a weekly.

At this rate, we will lose the Senate too.

The Best Critique, and the Best Path Forward, I've Yet Seen on Obama

Ian Welsh has a must read essay.

What he suggests that Obama could have done without having to consult Congress at all:
  • Start negotiations with a maximalist position, as opposed the current mode of giving the store away before anyone sits down.
  • Ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell discharges
  • Not made the HAMP a fraud perpetrated against desperate home owners.
  • Halting the Kangaroo courts at Gitmo.
  • Not starting the cat food commission after Congress voted it down.
Going forward, he suggests that Obama use the authority granted him under the Federal Reserve act, which allows him to remove governors for cause and recess appoint their replacements, and take the the distressed debt that the FED holds, and sell it.

This would force the banks to mark their own assets to the now established market value, which makes them insolvent, and which would mean that FDIC and related agencies could nationalize them.

I like this last one, but it ain't never gonna happen.

Go read the article though, it's very good.

29 August 2010

Matt Taibbi has a Point

I would have invoked Der Stürmer, and encouraged invocations of Godwin's law, but Matt Taibbi is right, Fox News, and their fellow travellers are much closer to Radio Rwanda than they are to Julius Streicher's oervre:
A lot of Tea Party anger is driven by real local issues -- where I live in central Jersey, for instance, there are a lot of pissed-off white people crowing over a nutty state supreme court case in which a Central American drunk driver got off because cops didn't explain the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer in his native Spanish. But without the constant reinforcement of national 24-hour media, which has taken these isolated cases and presented them as a coast-to-coast massive conspiracy, the rage over stories like this would never reach the levels we're seeing.

In fact if you follow Fox News and the Limbaugh/Hannity afternoon radio crew, this summer’s blowout has almost seemed like an intentional echo of the notorious Radio Rwanda broadcasts “warning” Hutus that they were about to be attacked and killed by conspiring Tutsis, broadcasts that led to massacres of Tutsis by Hutus acting in “self-defense.” A sample of some of the stuff we’ve seen and heard on the air this year:
  • On July 12, Glenn Beck implied that the Obama government was going to aid the New Black Panther Party in starting a race war, with the ultimate aim of killing white babies. "They want a race war. We must be peaceful people. They are going to poke, and poke, and poke, and our government is going to stand by and let them do it." He also said that "we must take the role of Martin Luther King, because I do not believe that Martin Luther King believed in, 'Kill all white babies.'"
  • CNN contributor and Redstate.com writer Erick Erickson, on the Panther mess: "Republican candidates nationwide should seize on this issue. The Democrats are giving a pass to radicals who advocate killing white kids in the name of racial justice and who try to block voters from the polls."
  • On July 6, the Washington Times columnist J. Christian Adams wrote an editorial insisting that "top [Obama] appointees have allowed and even encouraged race-based enforcement as either tacit or open policy," marking one of what would become many assertions by commentators that the Obama administration was no longer interested in protecting the rights of white people. "The Bush Civil Rights Division was willing to protect all Americans from racial discrimination,” Adams wrote. “During the Obama years, the Holder years, only some Americans will be protected."
  • July 12: Rush Limbaugh says Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder “protect and represent” the New Black Panther party.
  • July 28: Rush says Supreme Court decision on 1070 strips Arizonans of their rights to defend themselves against an “invasion”: "I guess the judge is saying it's not in the public interest for Arizona to try to defend itself from an invasion. I don't know how you look at this with any sort of common sense and come to the ruling this woman came to.” That same day, Rush says this: "Muslim terrorists are going to have a field day in Arizona. You cannot ask them where they're from. You cannot even act like we know where they're from. You cannot ask them for their papers. We can ask you for yours. Not them."
  • July 29: The Washington Times asks “Should Arizona Secede?” and says the Supreme Court "is unilaterally disarming the people of Arizona in the face of a dangerous enemy” with the aim of creating a “socialist superstate.” The paper writes: "The choice is becoming starkly apparent: devolution or dissolution."
  • July 29, Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy continues the Radio Rwanda theme, saying, "If the feds won't protect the people and Governor Brewer can't protect her citizens, what are the people of Arizona supposed to do?"
There’s nothing in the world more tired than a progressive blogger like me flipping out over the latest idiocies emanating from the Fox News crowd. But this summer’s media hate-fest is different than anything we’ve seen before. What we’re watching is a calculated campaign to demonize blacks, Mexicans, and gays and convince a plurality of economically-depressed white voters that they are under imminent legal and perhaps even physical attack by a conspiracy of leftist nonwhites. They’re telling these people that their government is illegitimate and criminal and unironically urging secession and revolution.
(emphasis mine)

There are some deeply evil people out there who are looking to leverage bigotry, racism, and fear for their own profit and power.

Taibbi calls for a boycott, saying that he'd, "Like to see at least one firm get blown out of business as a consequence of financially supporting the network that is telling America that its black president wants to kill white babies," but he misses a part of the dynamic with his call to action: It isn't that Fox News, and probably the rest of the media outlets, are driven by cynical economic or political goals, it's that many of them, are bed wetting cowards like Roger Ailes, and they truly live their lives in terror.

As to the politicians stoking this matter, it's pretty clear that they (Newt) are looking at this through the prism of political advantage though.

I won't muse on the mental processes of Sarah Palin, that way lies me huddled on the floor, covered in mayonnaise, and gibbering, "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"

A True American Hero

Colonel Lawrence Sellin, US Army Reserve, who published a blistering critique of the "PowerPoint Ranger" culture within the military in Afghanistan, and was then promptly fired and kicked out of Afghanistan.

This is not surprising. When one publishes an OP/Ed which contains gems such as this:
For headquarters staff, war consists largely of the endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides to conform with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them information. Even one tiny flaw in a slide can halt a general's thought processes as abruptly as a computer system's blue screen of death.
It ain't good for career prospects.

In fact, the phrase, "Cognitively Challenged Generals," used in a publicly published opinion piece, is pretty much a letter of resignation for any member of the military.

Still, it mirrors my experience with FCS, were the generals seemed tremendously concerned about the consistency of colors between variants of the manned ground vehicle in the presentations.

If I were SedDef, I would be tempted to place an immediate and absolute ban on the software.

28 August 2010

Anachronisms in Defense Promotional Videos

Lockheed has a video pushing its VTOL Advanced Reconnaissance Insertion Organic Unmanned System (VARIOUS) fan in wing UAV.

It's OK defense video pr0n, but what caught my eye were the tanks at about 1:22 in the video.

They are T-34 tanks, and I actually think that they are the T-34/76 variant, which ceased production around 1944, and has been out of service for decades, though could could see T-34/85s in service in Bosnia in the 1990s.

H/t The DEW Line.

The Gang That Can 't Shoot Straight: Semi-Stealthy Fighter Edition

Because of supply chain issues, and because the assembly line is being constantly raided to keep the test fleet flying, Lockheed Martin is having to partially dissemble the wing on the F-35 to install components out of sequence:
Lockheed Martin has pushed back the resolution of a manufacturing problem plaguing F-35 Joint Strike Fighter final assembly schedules, but key suppliers are making progress building components as the programme prepares for the next leap in production orders.

In October 2009 government audit reports showed that Lockheed expected to eliminate the "wing-at-mate overlap" problem for the F-35's four-piece wing with final assembly of BF-13, the thirteenth short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) in production.

The overlap means that key parts are delivered after the wing has entered final assembly, requiring workers to partially disassemble the structure.

The Defense Contracts Management Agency (DCMA) identified the resulting delays and inefficiency in the wing manufacturing process as one of the key drivers for production delays ranging from four to six months during the first two years of low-rate initial production (LRIP).
Your tax dollars at work.

A Clusterf%$# Deferred

The Army's Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) competition has been canceled
The Army has canceled the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) solicitation because the service decided, after an internal and external review, that the current Requests for Proposal (RFP) do not accurately reflect Army requirements and a changing acquisition strategy, sources tell us.

A contract for the new vehicle was very close to being awarded, we’re told. A restart of the GCV competition is expected fairly soon, a new RFP may be out within 60 days, and the Army intends to stay within the original seven year timeline to field a new vehicle.

When you have a series of requirements that delivers you a proposal for an unwieldy and ruinously expensive 70 ton behemoth, about the same weight as an M-1 Tank, something is stunningly wrong.

27 August 2010

This is a Great Musical F%$# You

And completely not safe for work.

I guess you would call what Cee Lo Green is doing here R&B, and while I am not an avid follower of the genre, I rather like this.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

But no bank failures, after 8 last week.

Not sure what is going on, but here is the full FDIC list and the full NCUA list of closures for the year

So, here is the graph pr0n with trendline (FDIC only):

I would note that are now at the point where the utility of the least squares trendline is diminishing, but I'm keeping it here for historical purposes.

Obama Throws the Environmental Movement Under the Bus

This is a distressingly familiar refrain
I'm sure that there are a lot of "eleventy dimensional chess" folks out there, but when you look at Obama's record, both in terms of his support for coal and for his full throated endorsement of the fiction that is "clean coal," the fact that the administration filed an brief urging the Supreme Court overrule the appellate court decision does not surprise me one bit:
The Obama administration has urged the Supreme Court to toss out an appeals court decision that would allow lawsuits against major emitters for their contributions to global warming, stunning environmentalists who see the case as a powerful prod on climate change.

In the case, AEP v. Connecticut, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a coalition of states, environmental groups and New York City. The decision, handed down last year, said they could proceed with a lawsuit that seeks to force several of the nation's largest coal-fired utilities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.


In a brief (pdf) filed yesterday on behalf of the Tennessee Valley Authority, acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal agreed with the defendants, saying that U.S. EPA's newly finalized regulations on greenhouse gases have displaced that type of common-law claim.


Matt Pawa, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the case, said he and his colleagues expected the White House to stay out of the matter. During a meeting with more than 30 administration lawyers at the solicitor general's office on June 24, it seemed they had "a lot of friends in the room," he said.

"We feel stabbed in the back," Pawa said. "This was really a dastardly move by an administration that said it was a friend of the environment. With friends like this, who needs enemies?"
I would also note that the regulations that the Solicitor General is touting, which he says should preempt this suit, only applies to new power plants, and these new plants are not the subject of the nuisance suit.

I suppose that a lot of folks will blame Rahm, who has a history of sucking up to miscreant industries for campaign cash, but remember, Obama knows who and what Rahm is, and hired him. Remember, the Cossacks work for the Czar.

As gay activist Joe Sudbay noted at Americablog:
Welcome to our world.

Now, what these environmentalists don’t understand — yet — is that Team Obama isn’t really on their side. Not in the way they think, anyway. It’s a tough lesson and hard to swallow. The gays learned it early on, between Rick Warren and the DOMA brief.

(Mr. Pawa and Mr. Bookbinder should be prepared. They’ll see a lot of their colleagues in the environmental movement make excuses and apologize for what the Obama administration did.)
If the Obama were serious about carbon emission regulation, then it should see this suit would be a wonderful lever to get Congress to move on comprehensive legislation.

The only two justifications for this brief are that they aren't serious, or, once again, they are trying to expand the reach of the executive branch.

Economics Update

Well, they just revised the 2nd quarter GDP, and it went from an initial reading of 2.4% to a 1.6%, though it should be noted that a lot of this was driven by a surge in imports.

Still, this is not an economy expanding, first the US is one of the few nations on earth that applies hedonic adjustments to GDP, and the rate does not even cover growth in population.

But the banks can meet their bonus payments, and who cares about ordinary people.

Well maybe the people who sell stuff to, or make stuff for, ordinary people might care, because the ordinary people, as reported by the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's Surveys of Consumers, are not in a spending mood:, as consumer sentiment fell again.


Click for full size

A better recruiting tool Osama never had
It appears that there is a company that carts around decommissioned missiles and jet cockpits to hospitals and the like, in order to amuse the children.

They actually have filed for a patent for their business model, "Business Promotion Via Mobile Interactive Aviation Museum," yet another indication that our IP system is badly out of whack.

Of course, that's just one bad patent out of hundreds that are granted every month by the over worked USPTO, which would ordinarily not merit much comment.

What does merit comment is the fact that they are donating dummy missiles for demonstrations that the bigots opposing the 51 Park Islamic center are holding.

Not Everyone On The Daily Show Gets Hammered

Case in point, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Basically, I think that the strategy to succeed here is not to be an evil lying sack of sh%$.

26 August 2010

Deep Thought

If you are a, "whacko, my parents are first cousins, X-Files wannabe, black helicopter, tinfoil hat wearing, stupid, dim-witted, thinks pro wrestling is real," lunatic,* as well as a raving bigot, it's probably not a good idea to allow yourself to be interviewed by a The Daily Show correspondent:

*Sorry, I think that I just channeled the comedian Denis Leary.

What Barack Obama Wants

So, after Alan Simpson has repeatedly shown an implacable hostility to Social Security spanning decades, and referred to every person in the us as freeloaders sucking at the tits of society, the Obama administration has decided to double down on this biased nutjob:
But at the White House, Jennifer Psaki, the deputy communications director, said, “Alan Simpson has apologized and while we regret and do not condone his comments, we accept his apology and he will continue to serve.”
The only reason to appoint him in the first place, and the only reason to keep him on after this incident is because Barack Obama wants, and, based on his behavior, what he wants is to gut Social Security.

Your Blago Update

The Feds have dismissed charges against his brother Robert, but they will retry Rod early next year.

Se we get to see more of the hair. I and I'll have to keep spelling his f%$#ing name.

Economics Update

It's jobless Thursday, and initial claims fell back to what seems to be its sweet-spot, 473,000, with the less volatile 4-week moving average rising by 3250 to 486,750, and continuing claims falling by 62,000 to 4.46 million, though emergency claims, which are not counted as continuing, rose by 268,000 to 5.86 million, so we are still seeing a jobless non-recovery, with initial claims about 100,000 more than what would be required for a recovery in the job market.

In real estate, foreclosures fell, but delinquencies rose in the 2nd quarter, which likely indicates that people are still doing worse, but the various moratoria, as well as what Atrios accurately calls the, "Treasury's predatory lending program," aka HAMP, is pushing the problem down the road.

Oh, and the Dow is below 10K again, which means nothing in the greater scheme of things.

25 August 2010

The Definitive Word on Dr. Laura

Courtesy of The Daily Show:

Funniest screen crawl ever!

SEC Gives (some) Shareholders the Right to Run a Slate of Directors

The 3-2 vote in favor of a rule allowing for shareholder nominations of directors is a good start, but as it exists now, it is very weak tea:
Shareholders won more power on Wednesday to shake up corporate boards in the United States after the financial crisis exposed weaknesses in how companies were managed.

The Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a rule that gives shareholders an easier way to nominate company directors.

Activist shareholders who want more say on how companies are run have long sought the ability to place their nominees' names on company proxy statements.
In theory this is a good reform, but in practice, it is way too restrictive:
Under the rule, shareholders must hold at least 3 percent of the company's stock for at least three years to nominate directors. Shareholders must hold the stock until the date of the meeting at which director elections are held. Shareholders would be allowed to nominate up to 25 percent of companies' boards. They would not be allowed to nominate a director if their intent were to take over or change control of the company.

Companies with less than $75 million in market capitalization would get a three-year delay in compliance, to give the SEC time to study implementation in larger companies and make adjustments, if necessary.
3% and 3 years is way to high a hurdle.

At 3% you are talking institutional investors, and probably at a ½ dozen of them to reach the threshold, and then all of them would be required to have held the stock for 3 years.

Not gonna happen, but still, the 2 'Phants on the panel are squealing like stuck pigs about this.

Economics Update

Yep, and the news is not any improvement over yesterday.

New home sales came out today for July, and they hit a 40-year low, and the price of a new home fell to a 7 year low.

When juxtaposed with the fact that , you can see how things get ugly.

And the consumer is continuing to deleverage, which is one reason why consumer credit card debt has fallen to an 8 year low, though part of this is the 2005 bankruptcy laws, which is driving people to default on their mortgages in favor of paying down credit card debt:
Changes to the US bankruptcy code, enacted in 2005, are coming back to haunt banks, according to Yra Harris, a veteran trader at Praxis Trading.

Harris told CNBC that banks lobbied hard for changes to the bankruptcy code, but the legislation is now having the effect of encouraging consumers to do all they can to pay down their credit cards, while leaving their mortgage payments on the backburner.
Karma is a bitch.

In many states, mortgages are non-recourse loans, so once they have the house, they cannot go after the consumer, while in every state, credit card companies can attach wages, etc., so, rather unsurprisingly, consumers are running the numbers and making their choices.

Said consumers are not spending.

I'm beginning to think that absent a 20-40% devaluation in the value of the US dollar, we won't be out of this mess for a decade or more.

Some Meta on Comments

I've been having intermittent problems with comments not showing up on my "recent comments" widget, and I thought that it was some sort of problem with the hand off between JS-Kit comment system and blogger.

It turns out that it wasn't.

Blogger introduced an anti-spam system for their comments, basically diverts some comments to the spam folder.

Unfortunately, the filters catch about ½ of the comments, they seem to favor shorter comments.

In any case, I've added a tab to my Firefox start with the spam box, so any comment you make should show up in 24 hours, 48 on weekends.

I'm sure that I'll appreciate the spam filtering once I get enough readers to attract spammers, but right now it's a pain.

Tom Delay to Be Tried for Corruption in Austin

He had asked for a change of venue, on the grounds that Austin was "too liberal,"but the judge decided that he could have a fair trial in Travis County, and ruled against moving the trial.

Honestly, thee did not pass the laugh test, but I understand why the defense tried it, it loses them nothing if they lose.

You move a trial when excessive pre-trial publicity taints the jury pool, not because they voted for the other party, and Delay's corruption got no more coverage in Austin than it did anywhere else.

I'm not sure how this will turn out, but according to the good folks at Talk Left, they are not particularly impressed with Travis County DA (TX law has most corruption prosecutions being conducted by the DA for the Austin area), Donnie Earle, and Delay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, is very good.

Presumption of innocence be damned, this is a man well deserving of a couple of decades of jail time.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?!?!?

First, I hear news that some guy flipped out and allegedly stabbed, Ahmed Sharif, a cabbie in New York because the drive was Muslim, and now we discover that this guy worked for a multicultural organization promoting peace and tolerance:
As you've seen in our earlier reports, we have what appears to be a straight-up hate crime, in which an NYC cabbie picks up a fare, passenger asks him if he's Muslim and then stabs him in the neck. The NYPD says Michael Enright, 21, is going to be charged with 2nd degree attempted murder and a hate crime. (See the statement from the victim here.)

Only then things get a little weird. Enright is not who you'd expect. He's a film student who'd recently been either volunteering for or employed by Intersection International, a multifaith and multicultural effort which seeks to promote justice and peace. And the group has very publicly come out in favor of the Cordoba House project, what opponents call the "Ground Zero Mosque."

Needless to say, that's a bit difficult to figure.
This is just freaky, and I just don't get it, though reports indicate that a significant amount of alcohol was involved.

But if you are talking about this tomorrow, note that the "New York cabbie" has a name, Ahmed Sharif, and remember his name.

A Bit of History

This is an anti-Fascist film from 1947 or so produced by the War Department.

The echos are chilling.

It's well worth the 17:25 to watch it.

Remember That Alan Simpson Was Always Thus, and Obama Picked Him

So, a few weeks back, Anal Alan Simpson, the co-chair of Barack Obama's so called "Cat Food Commission," ostensibly charged with reducing the deficit, but in reality given a mandate to trim Social Security, hence leaving seniors surviving on cat food,* was referring to recipients of the pension program as "Lesser People," in society.

That was pretty offensive, but Barack Obama knows his way around Washington, and he knows who and what Alan Simpson is, and so I figured that he selected him to co-chair the committee because he wants to cut Social Security.

Today however, I look back at that truly repugnant statement by former Senator Simpson as a high water mark on his civility, because in an email exchange with the president of the Older Woman's League in which he ridiculed her organization and its membership, and described Social Security as a, "Milk Cow with 310 Million Tits."

By this, he means that he thinks that every single American who might be eligible for the program is in his mind a moocher.

Of course, we now see the non-apology apology:
I can see that my remarks have caused you anguish, and that was not my intention. I certainly did not intend to diminish your hard work for the Older Women's League. I know you care deeply about strengthening Social Security, and so do I, just as deeply. I remember your testimony at our public hearing in June about the importance of retirement security for women. Over the last 40 years, I have had my size 15 feet in my mouth a time or two. To quote my old friend and colleague, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, when I make a mistake, "It's a doozy!"
You see, it's not his fault, it's her fault for being offended, and Simpson is just a good old boy who sometimes misspeaks.

You now have a number of advocacy groups calling for his resignation, saying, with a lot of justification, that this shows that Simpson has already pre-decided this matter, while the AARP has indirectly done so as well:
The vast majority of the 310 million Americans he insulted - particularly 156 million women and younger Americans for whom the traditional pension will be a relic of history - don't have access to the type of traditional pension retirement security that Sen. Simpson has from his decades in Congress. Perhaps that's why his comments demonstrate a woeful disconnect from or disinterest in the challenges facing many American families for whom Social Security is literally a lifeline.

"Sen. Simpson's most recent departure from reality would be easy to dismiss if not for his position co-leading a Presidential commission that will likely recommend changes to Social Security. Sen. Simpson's remarks not only cross the line of good judgment, but they undermine the serious work of the commission and give us little confidence the commission can fairly look at important programs such as Social Security."
I am not going to join into any dead pool on Simpson. He's going to stay on the board, because Barack Obama wants him on the board, and given his long history on the social safety net, the only reason that Barack Obama wanted him is because he wants to gut the program.

Expect the deficit commission to propose a few token taxes, no defense cuts, and draconian cuts to programs that help the needy, because that's how the White House rolls.

*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.

So Not a Surprise……

Former Bush (Jr.) Campaign manager and RNC chairman Ken Mehlman has come out of the closet, admitting that he was gay.

While his coming out might be a bit of a surprise, his sexuality has been a matter of discussion for years.

I would note that while he was head of the RNC, they ramped up appeals to homophobic bigotry, and he has not spoken to that.

24 August 2010

Appeals Court Denies Federal Reserve Coverup Bid

Bloomberg filed a freedom of information act request to get information on the Fed's bailout of banks and other financial institutions about 2 years ago, and true to form, their response to a perfectly reasonable request for information has been delay and litigation.

They lost at the circuit level, and they lost at the appeals court level, and now the appeals court has denied them an en banc rehearing, so unless the Supreme court deigns to hear the case, they are going to have to turn over the information:
The Federal Reserve will have to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if it wants to avoid having to disclose details of its emergency lending programs to banks bailed out with taxpayer money during the financial crisis.

The U.S. 2d Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Fed's motion on Friday to rehear the case in which Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News and News Corp's Fox News Network sought information on the U.S. central bank's emergency lending programs that began in late 2007.

The programs, designed to shore up the financial markets, more than doubled the Fed's balance sheet to well over $2 trillion, especially in the wake of the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.
I am not sure how much of this is just the fetish that the Federal Reserve has for secrecy, and how much is an attempt to cover up behaviors which might be illegal or otherwise appear corrupt.

My guess is that it is a bit of both.

But in either case, absent the Supreme Court taking this up, it appears that we may have some very dull reading of some rather interesting events over the next few months.

Older posts on this are here.

Just how Broken is Our Government?

Well, how about a lobbying group brazenly using its ability to bribe members of Congress in an attempt to get an industry to target its own customers with onerous positions:
The Recording Industry Association of America said on Monday that current U.S. copyright law is so broken that it "isn't working" for content creators any longer.

RIAA President Cary Sherman said the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act contains loopholes that allow broadband providers and Web companies to turn a blind eye to customers' unlawful activities without suffering any legal consequences.

This seems like innocuous whine, the sort that we have heard from the RIAA, the MPAA, the BSA for years, but it's the threat that caught my eye:
In response to a question from CNET, Sherman said it may be necessary for the U.S. Congress to enact a new law formalizing agreements with intermediaries such as broadband providers, Web hosts, payment processors, and search engines.

The RIAA would strongly prefer informal agreements inked with intermediaries, Sherman said: "We're working on [discussions with broadband providers], and we'd like to extend that kind of relationship--not just to ISPs, but [also to] search engines, payment processors, advertisers."

But, Sherman said, "if legislation is an appropriate way to facilitate that kind of cooperation, fine."
The basic attitude here is that they can ask Congress to jump, and the only response will be the query, "how high?"

It is a revolting state of affairs.

It should be noted that RIAA chief Cary Sherman later "clarified", saying that, "A broader law enacted without their cooperation isn't what the RIAA wants," which really more a restatement of the the threat than anything else.

I hope that attitudes toward IP, and IP absolutism, are changing slowly. It seems to me that they are, largely as a result of the Blackberry case, when a patent troll nearly shut down the Blackberries in the US, in fact RIM's inability to separate commercial users from government users is in large part why the troll finally settled, they realized that judges deprived of their "Crackberries" can get stroppy.

Shirley Sherrod to USDA: Go Pound Sand

So the US Department of Agriculture, after unceremoniously firing her on a trumped up controversy, offered a new job, the "Deputy Director Of Advocacy And Outreach," but she declined the offer.

I'm sure that Ms Sherrod was polite and gentle in her denial, but she is not an idiot, and I think that anyone with this experience with any organization would be inclined to believe that the political appointees of the USDA are a bunch contemptible weasels who cannot be trusted.

Of course, the civil service staff of the USDA were a bunch of contemptible bigots, in the not too distant past, as Ms. Sherrod is no doubt aware, being one of the recipients of proceeds from the Pigford settlement.

Stephen Colbert on Religious Bigotry

This is the word, and this is brilliant:

Well, Obama Mans Up On Somethng

I have always felt that Obama has been profoundly ambivalent on the matter of abortion rights, so I figured that their response to a judge's injunction against funding embryonic stem cell research would be to wring their hands, bleat a bit, and suggest that "Congress" do something.

I appear to have been too cynical, because the DoJ has announced that it will appeal this ruling:
The Obama administration said Tuesday that it would appeal a court ruling challenging the legality of President Obama’s rules governing human embryonic stem cell research, as the head of the National Institutes of Health said the decision would most likely force the cancellation of dozens of experiments in diseases ranging from diabetes to Parkinson’s.
I am truly shocked. My sense was that Obama would go the way he tried to on "Don't Ask Don't Tell", and punt to Congress.

Fire Him Now

I understand that Marine Corps Commandant is retiring in just a few months, but he needs to be fired right now, and lose his pension:
A senior US general has warned President Barack Obama's deadline to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan is encouraging the Taliban.

US General James Conway, head of the US Marine Corps, said the deadline was "giving our enemy sustenance".
Obviously, unlike McCrystal, this isn't staffers, or the general, denigrating POTUS, this is something far worse. This is a Douglas McCarthur on Korea moment.

This was not an inadvertent slip, this was a deliberate statement made at a Pentagon press conference.

Actually, I would suggest that a criminal investigation of insubordination is called for.

I don't expect Obama to man up on this one, but the Pentagon has become increasingly hostile to the concept of civilian authority, and this needs to be ended.

America Best Journalists, perhaps America's Only Journalists

I am referring, of course to The Daily Show, who follows the advice of Fox News®, and follows the money supporting the 51 Park development in Manhattan, which leads to Alwaleed bin Talal, who is the single largest largest non Murdoch investor in Fox News.

As to the dispute, whether Fox is stupid or evil, I think that evil and stupidity is orthogonal.

I Hate It When a Complete Asshole Agrees with Me

Case in point, House Minority leader John Boehner calling for Tim Geithner to be fired:
U.S. House Republican leader John Boehner called on President Barack Obama to fire Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the other remaining members of the president’s economic team.

In a speech today to the City Club of Cleveland, Boehner said Obama’s stimulus policies are failing to create jobs.
It would make me wonder about whether I was being too tough on Timothy "Eddie Haskell" Geithner, but I am reassured by the words of this guy:
[MSNBC Commentator Jim] Cramer during Tuesday’s Stop Trading! took issue with comments from a key House Republican, who called on President Obama to fire his economic team.

Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said during a speech in Cleveland that the president should get rid of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House economic adviser Larry Summers for starters. But Cramer stepped in to defend Geithner.

Boehner’s comments were “outrageous,” the "Mad Money" host said. “Geithner’s done a remarkable job.”
While I am troubled that I agree with John Boehner on this, I am reassured that I am still on the other side of the issue from Jim Cramer.

Jon Stewart showed just what Cramer's opinions are worth.

Holy Crap

Click for full size
Scary picture h/t Calculated Risk
They, whoever "they" are, were predicting that existing home sales would be fall post tax credit to an annual rate of something north of 4½ million.

Well, they were wrong. Existing home sales fell to 3.83 million, a 15 year low, and the 27.2% drop was the biggest since they, whoever "they" are, started collecting data.

What's more, housing inventory has risen from 8.9 months to 12.5 months since May.

The thing is, this was foreseeable. Everything that has been done in terms of real estate has been about extend and pretend.

Whether it's the fraud perpetrated on desperate people through HAMP, or the ruinously wasteful home buyer tax credits, this has all been about propping up housing prices in the short term in the hope that the banks can nickel and dime small consumers to generate enough profits to dig themselves out of their hole.

They keep pushing the sh%$ up hill, expecting to reach the crest of the hill, and it ain't happening, and now this pile is collapsing back down on us.

Recovery my ass.

23 August 2010

I Cannot Belive that I am Saying this, But

Ron Paul has seized the moral high ground.

He has come out foursquare in favor of the building at 51 park:
Is the controversy over building a mosque near ground zero a grand distraction or a grand opportunity? Or is it, once again, grandiose demagoguery?

It has been said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” Are we not overly preoccupied with this controversy, now being used in various ways by grandstanding politicians? It looks to me like the politicians are “fiddling while the economy burns.”

The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque.

Instead, we hear lip service given to the property rights position while demanding that the need to be “sensitive” requires an all-out assault on the building of a mosque, several blocks from “ground zero.”
You can go and read the rest, but he's right, and sticking to his principles, and, for once, refreshingly free of "the crazy".

In doing so, he is publicly disagreeing with his son, who is in a relatively tight Senate race, and so is showing a lot more guts, with a lot more at stake, than jellyfish like Harry Reid or (to my great sorrow) Howard Dean.

The Anti-Defamation League Had Jumped the Shark

This is one big shark that he jumped.
With Frikken Lasers!
Specifically, Abraham Foxman has now vaulted over C. Megalodon*.

There are now credible allegations that Foxman lobbied against an interfaith trip to Auschwitz:
Earlier this month, several imams joined U.S. officials to visit the Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps, a trip which resulted in the clerics issuing a statement condemning anti-Semitism and vowing "to make real the commitment of 'never again.'"

The eight Muslim-American clerics were joined by Hannah Rosenthal, the presidential special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, and a handful of other officials from the Obama, Bush and Reagan administrations.

But according to Politico, "Organizers of the trip say they were dismayed that the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman lobbied U.S. officials against participating."
I hope the Abraham Foxman has a serious mental or neurological problem, because otherwise, he is just a pathetic bigot, and dementia is preferable to that.

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

No, They Are Cruel People*

I enjoy reading Felix Salmon, and I generally agree with him, but a few days ago, he had a high level and sort of (no names) off the record briefing senior Treasury Department officials, including Timmy, and they revealed that the failure that is HAMP is actually a success because by stringing desperate home owners along, they managed to milk a few more mortgage payments, and delay foreclosures for a while:
Treasury told Waldman — and told my group of bloggers, too — that HAMP, even if it was a failure, was a success. It might not have helped much in terms of its ostensible stated aim of permanently modifying millions of home loans. But it did help in at least three other ways: it gave temporary tax and payment relief to millions of homeowners; it massively reduced the rate at which homeowners in default were being foreclosed on; and, in the words of Waldman, “it helped banks muddle through what might have been a fatal shock”.
We had to save the banks, so if we destroyed a few lives, it was worth it. This is contemptible.

Maybe Andrew Breitbart should cover this, that would get Geithner fired, because Obama trembles at Breitbart's fury.

Truth be told though, the definitive account is by Steve Waldman, and his account of this exchange is even more damning:
The conversation next turned to housing and HAMP. On HAMP, officials were surprisingly candid. The program has gotten a lot of bad press in terms of its Kafka-esque qualification process and its limited success in generating mortgage modifications under which families become able and willing to pay their debt. Officials pointed out that what may have been an agonizing process for individuals was a useful palliative for the system as a whole. Even if most HAMP applicants ultimately default, the program prevented an outbreak of foreclosures exactly when the system could have handled it least. There were murmurs among the bloggers of “extend and pretend”, but I don’t think that’s quite right. This was extend-and-don’t-even-bother-to-pretend. The program was successful in the sense that it kept the patient alive until it had begun to heal. And the patient of this metaphor was not a struggling homeowner, but the financial system, a.k.a. the banks. Policymakers openly judged HAMP to be a qualified success because it helped banks muddle through what might have been a fatal shock. I believe these policymakers conflate, in full sincerity, incumbent financial institutions with “the system”, “the economy”, and “ordinary Americans”. Treasury officials are not cruel people. I’m sure they would have preferred if the program had worked out better for homeowners as well. But they have larger concerns, and from their perspective, HAMP has helped to address those.
(emphasis mine)

I think that he is wrong. They are cruel people, and they are evil people, and they know the evil that they do, but they think that the preservation of Wall Street, and its excessive bonuses to be worth perpetrating a fraud on desperate families grasping at straws.

These people were drowning, and they knowingly threw them anvils.

*That is what Atrios said.

Court Injunction Against Federal Embryonic Stem Cell Research

My non-lawyer opinion
This seems to be a rather strange ruling to me.

Federal Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that the plaintiffs had standing because someone else might get grants if studies using embryonic stem cells could get funding, which seems top be a big of a whiskey tango foxtrot moment to me.

The Dickey-Wicker amendment prohibits the NIH from funding the destruction of embryos, and not all research post this act, which makes appear to me that this ruling is rather a bit of overreach by the judge as well.

Aldous Wins

And I now feel like gouging my own eyes out with a rusty spoon

Stewart McMillan is bumming me out.

22 August 2010

Yeah, Sure, Nothing to See Here

Tell Me That You Do Not Believe That This is a Setup
So, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange goes to Sweden to setup a server, because Swedish laws, and the Swedish concept of Offentlighetsprincipen (openness) in the constitution, as well as an offer from the Swedish Pirate Party to host for him.

Wouldn't you know it, Swedish authorities issued a rape warrant against Mr. Assange, and then withdrew the warrant the next day.

It couldn't be that the CIA, the Pentagon (DIA), or the DNI were behind these apparently now bogus charges could it?

As Capt Howdy observes, it's like we are living in that, "horrific thru the looking glass universe where Nixon is serving his 5th term." (a Watchman reference, and yes, it would now be the 11th term)

As to my legal mind, my guess is that at this moment, some Swedish prosecutor is reviewing the laws on suborning perjury, and hoping that they don't apply to him.

As a practical matter, I would suggest that the rest of the folks at Wikileaks start dealing with the "Julian Assange commits suicide by shooting himself in the head 3 times and then throws himself off a bridge," contingency.

Monty Python's Lying Circus

I love Alan Grayson.*

*In a 110% purely heterosexual kind of way, of course, as the General would say.

Tests Of Alternate JSF Engine Show Higher Thrust

GE's F-136 has demonstrated a 15% sea level thrust advantage over the Pratt & Whitney F135 at the USAF's Arnold Engineering Development Center.

Additionally, GE is saying that they are doing this at lower turbine inlet temperatures, which would imply lower maintenance costs as well as greater upgrade capability:
The intense battle over powering the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could be heading to new levels following test results that show the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 alternate engine has more than 15% thrust margin against specification, significantly exceeding the power of the baseline Pratt & Whitney F135.

The tests at the U.S. Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) in Tullahoma, Tenn., are the first to officially calibrate the combat-rated thrust of a production-representative F136 at sea level conditions. Although the test program is only a matter of days old, it already appears to be showing greater performance margin in afterburner than expected, says the General Electric Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team.
I would note that it is likely that, as with the F100/F110 comparison, that the GE engine is somewhat heavier, which would imply that at higher altitudes the P&W engines would provide better performance.

Trying to Go B-1 With the F-22

Lockheed and the USAF have reached an agreement to preserve the F-22 production tooling for future use.

The claim is that this is about, "will be able to repair and modernise the service's aircraft, or manufacture new Raptors." (Emphasis mine)

Make no bones about this: This is not about SLEPPing the airframes or upgrades, they don't need the tooling for this.

They are hoping for a President, SecDef, and Congress will at some point change policy, as Reagan did with the B-1, and this is the sort of insubordinate crap that really needs to be addressed.

In a perfect world, Obama would find out who is behind this, fire them, and take the tooling and sell it for scrap.

In this world, we'll see the pigs at the trough every year or so for the next decade in an attempt to restart the program.

21 August 2010

How To Scare White People…

Do not have anything in your mouth when you click play. (Marginally SFW)

Black people brunch Hard, son: (5:15)

In the Navy……

I am left speechless.

I am also far less concerned about a remilitarized Japan:

H/t Information Dissemination.

An Interesting Point on Moves to Reduce the Size of the General Officer Corps

Click for full size

It costs a lot, and make you lose wars
One of the areas where SecDef Gates is looking to reduce costs is reducing the level of general officers (general and admirals).

An interesting sideline to this is that history shows that the more officers, particularly general officers, that you have, the worse that your military performs:
Militaries with proportionately large numbers of field [major through colonel] and general grade officers have historically proven to be losers, not winners, in war. At its current levels, the U.S. military is among the worst.
Of course, the voice of officialdom, The Washington Post, notes that an officer's billet only costs about a ¼ million dollars a year, noting that, "Terminating a single general's billet might save about $200,000 a year in salary and benefits, barely a rounding error in the Pentagon's base budget this year of $535 billion."

This is, rather unsurprisingly, about as completely untrue as one can be without actually making a verifiable lie.

When someone becomes a general, he doesn't spend his days playing golf waiting for a war, they get a command somewhere.

If there isn't a command somewhere, then one is created, or the supervision of a task is upgraded from a field officer to a general officer, and the office, staff and budget are increased accordingly.

Once the office has a general officer in charge, there is a bureaucratic imperative for it to become "essential" in some way or another, so it will find things to do, and doing those things, whether needed or not, will cost money.

I would agree to cuts, but I would also suggest repealing the provision of the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act of 1980, aka "Up or Out", which make promotions a requirement for continued service.

It creates an incentive for rank inflation, what Robert Gates calls "brass creep" in assigning roles in the services.

As to why these additional costs have not been addressed in their article, my guess is that the Post editorial board thinks that something would be missing from Sally Quinn's cocktail parties if there were not a few generals in uniform there.

After Over a Decade of Starving Their Force to Make Room for F-22s and F-35s………

The USAF is looking at buying new build F-16s and F-15s to fill the gap:
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a new report today that for the first time reveals how US Air Force plans to deal with a fighter shortfall that is expected to reach 200 jets by 2025.

The GAO report summarizes two mandatory reports the USAF delivered in March to Congress. There are four options:

1. Extending the service life of and modernizing about 300 F-16 aircraft
2. Increasing annual F-35 procurement above 80 aircraft per year
3. Procuring new upgraded variants of legacy aircraft such as the F-16 and F-15
4. A combination of options 2 and 3

The fact that the USAF has even considered resuming F-16 and F-15 orders could be very significant. Two decades of USAF leaders have consistently upheld the all-stealth rule for combat aircraft.
Significant is an understatement.

The USAF has been doing its level best to create a fighter shortfall for the past 15 years or so in order to force a move to an all-stealth force.

The fact that the situation has gotten so dire that the USAF is considering buying some Eagles or Vipers is a big deal.

It indicates that the budget pictures on the F-35 are even grimmer than previously understood.

BAE close to launch contract for APKWS rocket

BAE is looking to get its 1st contract to deliver APKWS guided 2.75 inch rocket.

The advantage to a system like this is that something like a Hellfire is sometimes too big, and always too expensive for smaller jobs, like taking out a room, a car, or a mortar fire team, and a helicopter can carry a lot more of these than it can Hellfires.

Rather unsurprisingly, it's the Marines who are looking to take a buy.

Honestly, I'm waiting for them to cancel this, and move the money to the JSF or Osprey, which would both penny and pound foolish.

Prior posts on the various programs to add guidance to 2.75 inch rockets.

20 August 2010

Your Friday of Muppest

I've never liked John Phillip Sousa

One of Life's Deeper Questions

Are they Nazi zombies, or zombies who were formerly Nazis?

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Community National Bank at Bartow, Barlow, FL
  2. Independent National Bank, Ocala, Fl
  3. Imperial Savings and Loan Association, Martinsville, VA,
  4. Shore Bank, Chicago, IL
  5. Pacific State Bank, Stockton, CA
  6. Butte Community Bank, Chico, CA
  7. Los Padres Bank, Solvang, CA
  8. Sonoma Valley Bank, Sonoma, CA
Great googly moogly.

After two slow weeks, we just tied the record for most bank closings this year.

Not pretty.

Full FDIC list

So, here is the graph pr0n with trendline (FDIC only):

I would note that are now at the point where the utility of the least squares trendline is diminishing, but I'm keeping it here for historical purposes.

The Circle of Life

Heal the Bay has produced a video describing the migration of the common plastic bag.

And yes, that is Jeremy Irons narrating.

For the Sci-Fi Geek in All of Us

So completely not safe for work, except, perhaps if you work in a library.

Is Fox News a Terrorist Command Center?

National treasure Jon Stewart wants to know:

Krugman Channels Williams Jennings Bryan

Is it just me, or does his most recent OP/ED have some significant thematic similarities to William Jennings Bryan's Cross of Gold speech.

Here is the first 'graph of Krugman:
As I look at what passes for responsible economic policy these days, there’s an analogy that keeps passing through my mind. I know it’s over the top, but here it is anyway: the policy elite — central bankers, finance ministers, politicians who pose as defenders of fiscal virtue — are acting like the priests of some ancient cult, demanding that we engage in human sacrifices to appease the anger of invisible gods.
Here is the last 'graph of Bryan:
If they dare to come out in the open field and defend the gold standard as a good thing, we shall fight them to the uttermost, having behind us the producing masses of the nation and the world. Having behind us the commercial interests and the laboring interests and all the toiling masses, we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them, you shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.
Note, I am not making accusations of any sort of misappropriation of work. I am suggesting that two people, attempting to address similar problems, deflation and recession, have, 114 years apart, come to very similar conclusions, and expressed them in similar ways.

In any case, both Bryan's speech, and Krugman's OP/ED should be read. They are both very good.


I think that I injured myself laughing:
Outrage Over Plans To Build Library Next To Sarah Palin

PLANS to build a state-of-the-art library next to Republican catastrophe Sarah Palin are causing outrage across mainstream America.

Meanwhile President Obama has caused unease within his own Democratic party by endorsing the library and claiming that not everyone who reads books is responsible for calling Mrs Palin a f%$wit nutjob nightmare of a human being.

But Bill McKay, a leading member of the right-wing Teapot movement, said: "Sarah Palin is a hallowed place for Americans who can't read.

"How is she going to feel knowing that every day there are people going inside a building to find things out for themselves and have thoughts, right in the very shadow of her amazing nipples."
(%$# mine)

No go read the whole thing. It's pretty short.

19 August 2010

Stewart Does Beck

Damn, he is good!

Trolling for Bribes

Hamid Karzai is planning to ban the operations of private military contractors (PMCs, aka mercenaries) by the end of this year:
President Hamid Karzai is planning to sign a decree this week ordering the disbanding of all private security forces by the end of the year, his spokesman said Monday.

But it is not clear how the move, which would constitute an extraordinary change in the security makeup of the country, could be carried out. There are at least 24,000 private armed guards in the country, some foreign but most Afghan, and there is no immediately available alternative for the array of crucial tasks they perform.
This being Hamid Karzai, my guess is that this will not be fully implemented in time or in a consistent manner, but that is like saying the sky is blue.

As to the motivations for his doing this, I see three main policy goals here:
  • An attempt to ameliorate some of the outrage among Afghan citizens who are the ones on the wrong ends of the Mercenary's bullets.
  • He wants to ensure that whoever is allowed to continue will be people whom he has vetted as being supportive of him.
  • Any mercenary operations allowed to continue will have to pay some sort of bribes to him and his family.
I am a cynic on such matters.

The Recent Comments Widget Still Appears to Be Fracked

It is still only updating intermittently,


A Few More People on the Right Side of 51 Park

And they are Democrats.

Senator Al Franken:
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) is slamming conservative opposition to the Muslim community center project near Ground Zero in New York City -- the city where he formerly resided for many years -- calling the attacks against it "one of the most disgraceful things that I've heard."
And Congressman Charlie Rangel:
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) came out in support of the proposed Cordoba House Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero yesterday, saying that he's "kind of proud that they're sticking to their guns and saying this is where they would want to worship."
Also, lesser plaudits to Nancy Pelosi, who suggested that the anti-Islamic Center movement might be AstroTurf, though she walked it back a bit later in the day.

Great Google Moogly!

Click for full size
It's been too ugly for too long
H/t Calculated Risk
Remember how I said that unemployment has been stuck between about 450,000 and 480,000 initial claims a week?

Well, not any more, today's numbers were up by 12,000 to ½ a million initial claims, with the 4 week moving average rose by 8,000 to 482,500.

Of course, since the article was written by a financial journalist, which means that they feel the need to be a cheerleader, and they are innumerate, they found someone to say that the 13 K drop, to 4.48 million, in continuing claims as, "an encouraging sign," but later they note that the number of people on emergency benefits, "increased 260,105 to 4.75 million in the week ended July 31." (the week prior to this one)

Let me explain this slowly for the financial journalists who might read this The people who are on continuing claims are in the 26-week window, if they go beyond that, they are no longer counter as having a continuing claim, they are counted as being on emergency benefits, so the falling number of continuing claims is not people getting jobs, it's people being unemployed even longer.

In any case, this is really grim. The already inadequate stimulus is winding down, and job losses are once again accellerating, and we have an election in 2½ months, and if the Republicans take power, they will drive the country even further into the ditch.

Yes, a half assed stimulus, which was then watered down by the dickwads in the Senate was such a good idea.

18 August 2010

Deep Thought

Dick Armey created an Army of Dicks.*

Jon Stewart does a good job teasing out the hypocrisy of the Congressman, former House Majority Leader, and über lobbyist Dick Armey casting himself as an anti-establishment foe of Washington .

Jon Stewart, Part 1 of 3

Jon Stewart, Part 2 of 3

Jon Stewart, Part 1 of 3

*The Teabaggers.

No Prosecution for Photographing Unclothed Teens in Their Houses

Because when a school does it, it's OK:
Federal authorities announced Tuesday they will not prosecute administrators connected to a webcam spying scandal at a suburban Philadelphia school district.

Prosecutors and the FBI opened an inquiry following a February privacy lawsuit accusing Lower Merion School District officials of spying on students with webcams on the 2,300 district-issued MacBooks. The lawyers who filed the lawsuit claim the district secretly snapped thousands of webcam images of students, including images of youths at home, in bed or even “partially dressed.”

Zane David Memeger, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said he found no criminal intent in the alleged surveillance.
I cannot understand how there isn't a trial of someone involved in this.

I guess that the prosecutor decided that high school students have no right to privacy.

Earlier posts are here.

But Will They Roll on Bush and His Evil Minions&trade

Polish prosecutors are considering charging the former Polish President and PM with war crimes for allowing the CIA to operate gulags in their country:
Polish prosecutors are considering bringing charges of war crimes against the country's former prime minister and former president over allegations of secret CIA prisons.

Former president Aleksander Kwasniewski and former prime minister Leszek Miller, who held office between 2001 and 2004, may stand trial before the State Tribunal, a court specifically designed to try Poland's top officials, Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza reported on Wednesday (4 August).

The court's prosecutor wants to ask the speaker of parliament to initiate the criminal procedure against the two men. The case would first have to go to a parliamentary committee and then to the lower house of parliament, which would decide whether or not to press charges, the news report says.
One hopes that eventually we find someone who is willing to sing on this, and the Shrub and the Smiler will end up in the dock.

It does seem that this is all beginning to unravel, and perhaps we are near a point where revelations breed further revelation.