31 December 2011

Why I Haven't Put Out a List of My Best Posts of the Year

This puts this post in the top 10
Because it would simply be a list of my various cat posts and videos.


I don't have the writing chops to beat the pootie tats.

After all, the internet as we know it would not exist without cats.

30 December 2011

It's Bank Failure 2011!!!!!!

92 FDIC insured institutions, and 12 credit unions.

A lot less than what I expected at the beginning of the year.

Here is the graph pr0n with the 2010 numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

Well, At Least It's Still Below 400,000

Still, initial unemployment claims rising by 15K to 383,000 is still not good news.

The 4-week moving average fell, but continuing claims rose, though emergency claims fell.

I'll wait until we are out of the holiday season before drawing any conclusions.

29 December 2011

Epic Pwn463*

The clincher, of course is that these are Packers tickets, so it's really twisting the knife.



28 December 2011

What Dan Savage Says…

I don't know how I missed this.

It is positively brilliant:
Bachmann and her ilk believe that woman who have sex—along with men who fail to purchase health insurance—deserve to die horrible deaths. That's why they hate the HPV vaccine, that's why they fought its introduction, that's why they tell lies about it now. Because they want women to die.
Read the rest. It's short.

It's also true.

The majority of the people who who seek to criminalize abortion want to punish women for having sex, and anything that resembles freedom in their personal, in any way they can.

It's an unalloyed evil that these folks see The Handmaiden's Tale as a blueprint Rather than a warning.

Well, I Promised Pictures

Click for full size

Brains, Brains…

Brains, Brains

Or tuna. Tuna would be nice
Well, I did promise pictures of the new cats, so here are Mousetrap and Hummus (middle pic).

They seem to be settling in fairly well, though there does appear to be a bit of tense between the two of them.

Right now, there Mousetrap seems to be in the pole position for alpha cat, but we'll see how it sorts out.

If it's physical strength, it's definitely Mousetrap, who is built like a tank, though I think that Hummus might be a bit quicker on her feet.

27 December 2011

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

Senator Ben Nelson (DINO-Nebraska) is retiring.

This man has been a cancer on the Democratic caucus in the Senate for two terms, all while being adored by the morally bankrupt Washington punditocracy.

That being said, all is not well, as there is even more intense wankeritude in the wings, "Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, had also been mentioned on political blogs as a possible candidate if Nelson retired."


Busy Preparing for a Wondrous Blessed New Arrival

Two actually, with fur, tails, and whiskers, two and three years old from the Humane Society, one black and one a tabby/tortoise shell.

Sharon and the kids will be picking them up tomorrow afternoon, Hummus and Mousetrap, at least that's the name the Humane society gave them.

Pix to follow later.

26 December 2011

If You Want to Go Dumpster Diving at the Fed

Bloomberg has released the bailout secured from Federal reserve as a result of their successful FOIA litigation:
Bloomberg News today released spreadsheets showing daily borrowing totals for 407 banks and companies that tapped Federal Reserve emergency programs during the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis. It’s the first time such data have been publicly available in this form.

To download a zip file of the spreadsheets, go to http://bit.ly/Bloomberg-Fed-Data. For an explanation of the files, see the one labeled “1a Fed Data Roadmap.”

The day-by-day, bank-by-bank numbers, culled from about 50,000 transactions the U.S. central bank made through seven facilities, formed the basis of a series of Bloomberg News articles this year about the largest financial bailout in history.
What is revealed here, in the short form, is that the lending window was at below market rates, as opposed to the, "penalty over normal market rates," claimed by the Fed.

Additionally, on a quick look at the article, the lending, and the backstopping, where what amounted to loan guarantees were provided as a sort of a back door subsidy to allow banks to borrow at lower rates, it appears that this totaled more than ten trillion ($10,000,000,000,000.00) dollars, or something in excess of ½ the GDP of the United States of America.

It should also be noted that this is only the stuff that Bloomberg managed to pry from the Fed's fingers, and I'm certain that we will see this number grow as more rocks are turned over.

25 December 2011

It's Christmas, So…

Filmed in Baltimore County
As is the custom of my people, we went out for Chinese food, and then caused a movie.

A review of the movie will follow.

Movie Reviews

Over the past few days, we've seen a fair number of DVDs and one in theater movies, so here are my reviews:

Captain America:  

It's still basically a lead-in for the upcoming Avengers movie, but it is a lot better than Thor.

That's because whole Thor was about the character's back-story, Captain America is about his story.

Captain America has what the oldest story of any of the Avengers, beginning in 1941, and it ran for nearly 10 years before being folded in the early 1950s.

The Nazis, the Red Skull, etc.  are all a part of the original story arc.

What this means is that we have a real story here, as opposed to Thor's, "How did this Asgardean get to earth?" tale.

It also helps that Chris Evans gives a very down to earth performance as Steve Rogers.  He sells it when he says, "I'm just a kid from Brooklyn."

Iron Man and Iron Man 2:

The best part of both Iron Mans is the performance of Robert Downey, Jr.

He's fun to watch, and he is believable as a dissolute character who eventually finds redemption.  (Unsurprising)

One little detail that I loved is from the 2nd movie, when he is going through his father's notes on a power supply, and we see a sketch of a representation of a 3D shadow of a tesseract.

The 4-dimensional hypercube figures prominently in the technology used by the Red Skull in the Captain America movie, and the (not entirely clear) fate of the Red Skull in that movie points back to the interdimensional "bridge" used in Thor.

It's something you pick up on DVD or PPV, but might miss in the theater.

One thing that I have noted in all of the super-hero movies is that the villains tend to seize whatever scene they are in, and they have many of the best lines, the Red Skull's, "Not a scratch" is prize.

That being said, Micky Rourkes Ivan Vanko/Whiplash is kind of flat, and I found Sam Rockwell's Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2 to be far more engaging and funny, as is Gary Shandling's appearance as a self serving and fatuous Senator.

As to Scarlett Johansson's introduction as Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow, it's Scarlett Johansson in a cat suit. What more do you need?

The Adventures of Tintin:

This movie is fairly true to the original comic book/graphic novel serials, and it was a rollicking good time, with a clear sequel in the works, which is also very much in the spirit of the original.

It's light and fluffy fare, and relishes that fact, which makes it a pleasant diversion.  It's a well acted adventure fantasy.

I'm not entirely sure why they went with CGI based on motion capture, rather than live action, except for the fact that it allowed them to create the rather caricature like faces of some of the main characters to better match those of the original Hergé comics.

We all saw the film in 3-D, and the technology is much improved over the last 3-D film that I saw in theaters, 1983's Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.  Once the glasses were on, it just worked, even though I wear glasses myself.

It worked better, and was less obtrusive, at least when the director wasn't intent on showing it off.

One interesting note here about our theater experience, was that there was something near half an hour of coming attractions, largely also in 3-D, which I rather enjoyed.

24 December 2011

Religion, You Gotta Love It

10½ Years?

Duncan Black teases out this rather alarming factoid:
Bernanke Money Policy Seen Achieving Goal as Savers Become Consumers Again


The average age of cars and light trucks on the road today has risen to 10.6 years, Jenny Lin, senior U.S. economist at Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co., said on a Dec. 1 conference call. That’s above the seven-to-7.5 years Ballew says is the long-term average.
The number has been trending up for years, notwithstanding what Ms. Lin said, but a 1.2 year increase since 2008 is a big jump for just 3 years.

Here's something to think about: That number is never going back, because people are used to keeping their cars longer now, and the technological advances over the past couple of decades allow them to.

Cars are a lot better than they were 20 years ago, and they last a lot longer.

I Really Don't Have the Words to Express My Contempt for the Rich Who Whine About Not Being Loved Enough

Fortunately, Matt Taibbi does have words to express my contempt.

Read it.

I Just Tried a First in the Kitchen

I've never cooked fried chicken before, but I did so last night.

Natalie wanted some fried chicken, and, seeing as how it's Chanukah, when fried food is traditional, I figured, "what the heck"

I used a gluten free recipe, to accommodate Sharon's* sensitivity to wheat.  (Corn flake breading was out as well, because she and the kids have problems with that)

It turned out OK. The breading did not stick as well as I would have hoped, but it turned out moist.

One note, I used the beaten egg for the dredge, as opposed to the buttermilk presented as an alternative, kashrus, don't you know.

It did involve a gawd awful amount of oil, I had to fill up the skillet about an inch deep to fry the chicken.

(on edit)

I didn't brine,  and I used the egg wash, not the buttermilk.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

Japan Orders F-35

This is very good news for Lockheed-Martin.

I think that the devil will be in the details though.

The details that most likely cause problems is that, "But Japanese companies are likely to be excluded from work on the confidential and more lucrative stealth and radar capabilities of the fighters."

Seeing as how Japanese defense contractors are constitutionally prohibited from exporting their wares, I think that this might end up a major area of contention with their defense contractors.

23 December 2011

Merry Catmas

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

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

And the the FDIC is taking another week off

And we have credit union closings:
  1. ​Birmingham Financial Federal Credit Union, Birmingham, AL
Full NCUA list

It does appear that things are bottoming out.

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

I Miss Calvin & Hobbs Too

22 December 2011

It Sucks to be John Boehner

Yes, I know, orange, likely drinking problem, looks like a poster child for sex without partners, so it always sucks to be him.

It's just that today, it sucks even more, because he had to back down on his attempt to short circuit the 2 month extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits.

The problem here is that he backed out on a deal that he cut with, among other folks, the Senate Republicans, because he has no control of his caucus, and once the members of his caucus realized that they looked like complete prats, though not as complete as John Boy, they got in his face too.

When one looks at the basic mechanics of the office of Speaker of the House, and excludes the prism of ideology, Boehner is still the worst speaker in recent memory:  He can't count votes, and he can't hold onto them, and he cannot protect his caucus from their own worst impulses.

The word is that it's Eric Cantor who is setting himself up for this sh%$, because he wants the gavel, but Boehner, having attempted an unsuccessful coup against Gingrich in the 1990s, should know what is going on, and how to deal with it.

It's Jobless Thursday

And, once again, we are seeing some pretty good news, with initial claims falling slightly again, with the 4-week moving average, continuing claims, and extended claims falling as well.

It's good news.

It's time to look at the employment/population ratio now.

21 December 2011

Yes, this is a Change for the Better

One of the things that happens in the US Navy is that, after a long deployment, there is a passionate reunification on the dock.

Well, the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell has caught up with this:
A Navy tradition caught up with the repeal of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule on Wednesday when two women sailors became the first to share the coveted "first kiss" on the dock after one of them returned from 80 days at sea.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta of Placerville, Calif., descended from the USS Oak Hill amphibious landing ship and shared a quick kiss with her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell of Los Angeles. The crowd screamed and waved flags around them.

Both women, ages 22 and 23 respectively, are fire controlmen in the Navy. They met at training school and have been dating for two years.

Navy officials said it was the first time on record that a same-sex couple was chosen to kiss first upon a ship's return. Sailors and their loved ones bought $1 raffle tickets for the opportunity. Gaeta said she bought $50 of tickets. The Navy said the money would be used to host a Christmas party for the children of sailors.

The happy couple.

Quote of the Day

You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of the country, much better.
Matt Damon on Barack Obama
Your mouth to God's ear, Matt.

H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Wanker of the Day

Actually, the week, and likely the month, and possibly the whole year, is the so-called "fact checkers" at Politifact.

Basically, they declared that statements that the Paul Ryan "destroy Medicare" plan did in fact destroy Medicare was the "lie of the year."

I get it: Reality has a well-known liberal bias, but when you are replacing a single payer health insurance system with vouchers that won't cover private insurance, you are destroying Medicare:
This is simply indefensible. Claims that are factually true shouldn’t be eligible for a Lie of the Year designation.

It’s unnerving that we have to explain this again, but since PolitiFact appears to be struggling with the relevant details, let’s set the record straight.

Medicare is a single-payer health care system offering guaranteed benefits to seniors. The House Republican budget plan intended to privatize the existing system and replace it with something very different — a voucher scheme. It would still be called “Medicare,” but it wouldn’t be Medicare.

It seems foolish to have to parse the meaning of the word “end,” but if there’s a program, and it’s replaced with a different program, proponents brought an end to the original program. That’s what the verb means.
(emphasis original)

It's very simple:  If you eliminate a program, even if you come up with something completely different that you give the same name, you've eliminated that program.

Furthermore, if you want to take 10+ years to phase it, you've eliminated that program.

I'm in complete agreement with Krugthulhu:
The answer is, of course, obvious: the people at Politifact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other. So they’ve bent over backwards to appear “balanced” — and in the process made themselves useless and irrelevant.
And not only do they go with complete bullsh$%, but they overruled their own polling (even after a 'Phant congressman attempted to encourage astroturfing, it still came in 3rd) to declare the truth to be a lie, so they doubled down.

Needless to day, Politifact won't get links from me.

There are too many bastions of truthiness out there.

20 December 2011

All that Blood, So Little Cat

Well, it looks like catching that stray cat last night came to naught.  It jumped up on the shelving, and found its way into the ceiling of the basement, as I noted last night, and it appears that there is a passage between that and the outside.

When I came home, I saw it running away from the (still somewhat full) cat dish of food.

It's a bit of a relief actually, because I was concerned that I would have to cut a hole in the ceiling to rescue it.

We do want to get another cat, but I think that we will go the Humane Society route.

Now I have to get all the ceiling panels back into place.

This is chapter 2 of the tale of RP the Cat.

Happy Hanukkah to You Too, Dad

So, I got this from my Dad for Hanukkah.  Yep, it's a real Richard Nixon campaign button.

Have I mentioned that my family is just a wee bit bent?

Nixon is an interesting character:  The worst president from 1933 through 1973 1974, and the best president from 1969 through the present.

If he were running these days, he'd be the smartest, most pragmatic, most ethical,* and most liberal person in the White House since his own inauguration.

America is in decline, QED.

*Really, seriously.  Just on the issue of supporting civil rights, he's light years ahead of the competition.
Really. Opened the door to the People's Republic of China, created OSHA and the EPA, etc.
We are living in Bizarro World, seriously.

19 December 2011

Kim Jong Il Just Made the World a Better Place

By leaving this mortal coil.

No predictions, because any predictions with regard to the DPRK is like the bite of a dog into a stone, it is a stupidity.

It Appears that I Do Have Time to Bleed

Since Tudza has died, we have been trying to catch/adopt a young (my guess, less than 9 months) stray cat in our area.

Well, with the aid of a rescue trap, we got him, and he's hiding in the basement ceiling now.  (I'm giving him a few minutes to cool down before I try to extract him)

In getting him out of the trap though, he expressed his displeasure with his treatment in a most forceful manner.

John Stewart Weeps

Well, it was fun while it lasted, but Newt Gingrich's numbers are imploding.

Seriously, this makes Rudy Giuliani's flame-out in 2008 look look like when Saddam set fire to half the oil wells in Kuwait.

PPP notes that, "Gingrich has now seen a big drop in his Iowa standing two weeks in a row.  His share of the vote has gone from 27% to 22% to 14%."

He's lost almost half of his support over the past 2 weeks.

His campaign isn't doing a Dorian Gray, it's a face melting Raiders of the Lost Ark thing that he has going.

FWIW, I think that the cause of his numbers dropping is not that he is saying batshit insane stuff, but because people are starting to realize that he is doing so as a sacrifice at the church of Gingrich, and that there is nothing that he wouldn't say to sate his own ego..

One wonders if RuPaul Ron Paul starts getting some coverage of his decades long history of explicitly blatant racism if he wins Iowa.

I'm sick and tired of the press ignoring this, because he gives good article.

18 December 2011

The JSF, It Just Gets Better and Better

Seriously, this is seriously f%$#ed up:
When the Joint Strike Fighter team told Guy Norris about the jet's first run to its Mach 1.6 design speed, a couple of minor facts slipped their minds. Nobody remembered that the jet had landed (from either that sortie or another run to Mach 1.6) with "peeling and bubbling" of coatings on the horizontal tails and damage to engine thermal panels. Or that the entire test force was subsequently limited to Mach 1.0.
(emphasis mine)

So, they took the aircraft to its design speed, and it melted.

In addition to this, we have (to name a few):
  • The helmet mounted display that gives the pilot 360° visibility, and "makes maneuverability irrelevant," does not work, and has been replaced by a less capable system.
  • The emergency fuel dump system, is likely to cause flammable accumulations of fuel next to the integrated power package (IPP) exhaust.
  • The IPP itself is unreliable, and has been failing and throwing out bits that have punctured fuel tanks.
  • The arrester hook for the naval version is improperly located, and simply won't work, requiring a relocation, and a major structural redesign.
  • Excessive buffeting, causing control as well as fatigue issues.
The problem here has been exacerbated by the fact the, true to the latest theories of American techno-whiz bank, everything was supposed to work out of the box, because analysis and simulation techniques have become so sophisticated.

So testing became validation, and every test is supposed to be a success, and this (erroneous) assumption allowed to proceed and build of systems in parallel, even though a failure of one system could (and has) cause a disastrous cascade of delays.

Epic fail

17 December 2011

Oh, This Doesn't Sound Good

It is increasingly looking like the Iranians took down the RQ-170 drone using electronic warfare techniques, rather than an accidental crash:
Iran guided the CIA's "lost" stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone's systems inside Iran.

Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off communications links of the American bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel, says the engineer, who works for one of many Iranian military and civilian teams currently trying to unravel the drone’s stealth and intelligence secrets, and who could not be named for his safety.

Using knowledge gleaned from previous downed American drones and a technique proudly claimed by Iranian commanders in September, the Iranian specialists then reconfigured the drone's GPS coordinates to make it land in Iran at what the drone thought was its actual home base in Afghanistan.
Rather unsurprisingly, the GPS exploit has been known for nearly two decades, which reminds me about how the Serbs took down an F-117 in the '90s: it was sent on identical routes, at the same time every night, which is like painting a target on your back.

This is what happens when you think that technological whiz bang means that you can be stupid with impunity.

Unfortunately, this means that smart people with more limited resources sometimes kick your ass.

Apparently, the reason that it crashed, and did damage to the underside of the the drone, (hence the shroud on the bottom) was because there was a slight difference in elevation between the Iranian airfield and the home airbase, and it was either too high or too low.

My only question now is what they are asking the Chinese to give them for a peek at their prize.

16 December 2011


H/t Tom Fish

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

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

  1. Premier Community Bank of the Emerald Coast, Crestview, FL
  2. Western National Bank, Phoenix, AZ
Well, we had a three week hiatus on bank closings, but we've seen some action again.

This breather does mean that this will be the first time since 2008, (25 closings) we will have less than 100 bank closings.

Of course, if you want to be a pissant about this, you could add in the credit union closings, which would take us into 3 figures, but I'm not quite that much of a pissant.

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

Someone Gets It in Europe

Vice President of the Portuguese Socialist Party has been taped saying that default is a preferable alternative to dismantling the social safety net:
"We have an atomic bomb that we can use in the face of the Germans and the French: this atomic bomb is simply that we won't pay," said Pedro Nuno Santos, vice-president of the Socialist Party in the parliament.

"Debt is our only weapon and we must use it to impose better conditions, because recession itself is what is stopping us complying with the (EU-IMF Troika) accord. We should make the legs of the German bankers tremble," he said.

Angela Merkel and the rest of the sanctimonious "Good Germans" can natter all they want about responsibility, but if one of the debtor nations says, "f%$#k you, we're defaulting," it's game over for the German banking sector and their economy.

What the "Technocrats" and "Very Serious People" don't realize is that their demands are going to make this scenario happen sooner, rather than later.

There is a saying, "If you owe the bank $1,000.00, the bank owns you, if you owe the bank $1,000,000.00, you own the bank."

OK, this has Been a Good Week for Economic News

Yesterday, we saw the best number for initial jobless claims in 3½ years, dropping to 366,000, with the 4-week moving average dropping to 387,750, though continuing claims rose marginally, and extended claims jumped by almost 10%.

Still, overall, this is good news, particularly when juxtaposed with the fact that inflation is still nowhere to be seen, though the "very serious" central bankers are still chasing that phantom.

I Know that this is Stating the Obvious……

Barack Obama did not "Keep his promise" to get out of Iraq.

We still have thousands or armed mercenaries contractors, and Obama did not pull the troops out voluntarily.

The Iraqis kicked us out, and Obama wanted to stay.

He wanted thousands of troops, a number of bases, to remain in Iraq.

As I've said before, Obama claims to oppose "stupid wars", but he refuses to acknowledge that any war can be stupid."

15 December 2011

Yeah, It's a Black Thing

Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore parse Newt Gingrich's bigoted dog whistles, and take him to town.

Unfortunately, anyone who is considering voting for that bloated sack of bleached excrement sees validation for their own racism.

I would expect the "professional" press to ignore this as well, because they have effusively rubbed elbows with American Bund wannabee Pat Buchanan for years.

It's depressing that the best news show on TV is a comedy program.

I Was In the Zone This Afternoon

I was working on a design at work today, and lost track of time.

I came up with a sweet design though. (If I told you, I have to kill you).

As a result of this, was a little bit distracted on the way home, and I took the turnoff to I-70, instead of I-695, and was almost half the way to Fredrick before I realized what the f%$# I was doing.

It appears that the zone I was in was The Twilight Zone.

My wife was a bit concerned, because I got in kind of late.

I hope that this isn't early onset dementia.

We Won't See John Corzine Being Frog Marched Out of His Home in Handcuffs

Because, this is America, where the rich and powerful are above the law.

However, it appears that the CFTC is saying that they know where all the customer money went.

I should note that Corzine is claiming that he has no idea where all the client funds went, which, if true, means that he is in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley, which should still qualify for the bracelets … Or it would, if we were a nation of laws, instead of a nation of men …

It's On Wisconsin!

With over a month to go to gather signatures to recall him, the petition drive has already collected 97% of the signatures required:
Organizers of an effort to kick Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker out of office said Thursday they’ve collected nearly enough signatures to force a recall election, though their financial backing is far behind the Republican governor’s fundraising.

The state Democratic Party, unions and disgruntled citizens started organizing amid growing anger over Walker’s polarizing measure approved in March that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for public workers. Now, the United Wisconsin coalition reports that it collected 507,533 in 28 days; the group must submit 540,208 signatures by Jan. 17 to force the recall.

“The people of Wisconsin have said enough is enough,” Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate said.

But the coalition and Democrats have raised roughly $1.4 million since July, compared to the $5.1 million that Walker raised over the same period, according to reports from both sides Thursday.
Of course, Walker's response is to try to tie it up in the courts, and he and the 'Phants in the legislature are trying to replace the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board with lapdogs as well.

Oh, and did I mention that state senate leader is attempting to make signing a recall petition a possible cause for a felony investigation as well? (2nd link)

You know, I think that the protestations of Walker and his bully-boys that the voters will reject the idea of recalling them are ringing awfully hollow.

Works for Me

Marcy Wheeler looks at the defense authorization bill, and its provisions for indefinite detention without trial, and observes that it could be used to lock up JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon forever.

You see, his firm has attempted to thwart sanctions against Iran, allowed their bank to be used to to funnel money to terrorist assassins, and a whole bunch of other people who have, "supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces."

If Obama was willing to do this, I might actually vote for him.

Then again, considering the fact that he's signing the Defense Authorization act which tramples on the very notion of civil rights, which, ironically enough, is what gives him the power to lock up Jamie Dimon forever on nothing more than his say so.

I just have to figure out who I'm going to write in for the primary and the general.

14 December 2011

Adding Someone to My Act Blue List

Rob Zerban.  (see Matthew Saroff's Act Blue Page)

He's running against everyone's favorite Randroid nutjob, Paul "Let's voucherize Medicare" Ryan, and a recent poll seems to show that he is vulnerable:
A prominent Democratic pollster is making the case that the party should invest in a challenge to Rep. Paul Ryan, the architect of the conservative House budget plan.

Pollster Paul Maslin's survey of 405 likely voters "shows that challenger Rob Zerban is well-positioned to give incumbent Paul Ryan the toughest fight of his career, with a very good chance to upset him," Maslin wrote in a memo.

A serious campaign against Ryan is a tempting prospects for Democrats hoping to restore the third-rail status of the major entitlement programs Ryan would dramatically alter; it would be a massively expensive effort on both sides in a state, Wisconsin, that has been the center of the ideological combat of the last year.

The survey found the district, the Wisconsin First, evenly divided on partisan issues -- both President Obama and Governor Scott Walker have even approval and disapproval ratings

According to the memo, the late October and early November poll found a deep dislike of Congress in general that is spilling over onto Ryan
Here's hoping that he raises some good money, because if the Democratic Party apparatus, particularly the DNC under Tim Kaine, is true to form, they aren't going to support him at all, but will instead blow their money on conservadems on solidly Democratic districts.

Your Scott Walker News of the Day

First, in an exercise of profound wankitude, Scott Walker is attempting to charge people a lot of money to protest against him:
Gov. Scott Walker's administration could hold demonstrators at the Capitol liable for the cost of extra police or cleanup and repairs after protests, under a new policy unveiled Thursday.

The rules, which several legal experts said raised serious free speech concerns, seemed likely to add to the controversy that has simmered all year over demonstrations in the state's seat of government.

The policy, which also requires permits for events at the statehouse and other state buildings, took effect Thursday and will be phased in by Dec. 16. Walker administration officials contend the policy simply clarifies existing rules.

State law already says public officials may issue permits for the use of state facilities, and applicants "shall be liable to the state . . . for any expense arising out of any such use and for such sum as the managing authority may charge for such use."

But Edward Fallone, an associate professor at Marquette University Law School, said the possibility of charging demonstrators for police costs might be problematic because some groups might not be able to afford to pay.

"I'm a little skeptical about charging people to express their First Amendment opinion," he said. "You can't really put a price tag on the First Amendment."
Well, it seems like Scott Walker does think that you can put a price tag on the First Amendment.

In somewhat less depressing news, there has been the first arrest made in the so called "John Doe" investigation,  a realtor who refused to testify, because his grant of immunity would not be secret, even though the court proceedings were.

So it appears that he was more concerned about someone getting to him, and his family, than he was of the prosecutor.

The weird thing is that this is supposed to be an investigation of some of Scott's staffers … wait for it … making politically motivated blog comments while on the state clock.

I don't know what is going on here, but I do know that you don't haul witnesses before a grand jury with a gag order, and you don't arrest them for lack of cooperation, over a case of some staffers politicking on the job.

Here's hoping that we start seeing indictments in the middle of the recall campaign.

Also, in the "there are a few good guys out there, but here is one, department," the ACLU is suing Scotty over his voter suppression efforts:
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the State of Wisconsin on Tuesday over a new law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification, charging that the measure violates the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit says that the state is infringing on some citizens' right to vote and to be treated equally under the law and amounts to a kind of poll tax on voters who lack the documents needed to get an approved ID.

Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker, who is named in the lawsuit along with a long list of other state officials, have said they believe the measure will withstand a court challenge.

The action came Tuesday ahead of a scheduled speech by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in which he vowed to enforce civil rights protections amid a flurry of voter ID laws recently passed around the country. The Wisconsin lawsuit was filed in federal court in Milwaukee by the national ACLU and its Wisconsin affiliate and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty on behalf of a group of senior citizens, minorities and homeless residents.

"This lawsuit is the opening act in what will be a long struggle to undo the damage done to the right to vote by strict photo ID laws and other voter suppression measures," said Jon Sherman, an attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project.
With a 5-4 advantage of conservatives in the Supreme court, and the fact that all 5 are political hacks, I don't think that the Supreme court will end up doing the non-corrupt thing, but at least we should see an injunction for the next election cycle or two.

13 December 2011

You Will Never Have a Christmas Tree This Good

It's enough to make me want to have this tree, even though I'm a Yid.

This is sweet:

The Japanese (see link) truly understand the spirit of Christmas.

H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

The Fed Did Nothing Today

They didn't do much.

The FOMC Statement does show that they are expecting "moderate growth," and one can infer that they are scared sh%$less about the Euro and what is going on in Europe.

Pretty much, not much.

Occupy Baltimore Has Been Shut Down Last Night

This is not a surprising development, this has been going on all over the country.

The thing that most surprises me is that the Baltimore City PD seemed to be rather restrained, as opposed to trashing the place and beating protesters.

12 December 2011

Paul Krugman is Right

Newt Gingrich is a, "Stupid Man's Idea of What a Smart Man Sounds Like."

Case in point, Newt Gingrich seems to think that making the Federal Reserve like the European Central Bank is a good thing:
If Newt Gingrich were president--something that has recently at least entered the realm of plausibility--the Federal Reserve would no longer worry about trying to create jobs, and would focus instead only on controlling inflation. And wealthy financial industry tycoons like Warren Buffett would likely get a big tax cut.


The Federal Reserve has two tasks under the law: to keep inflation low, and to achieve maximum employment. Gingrich wants to end that "dual mandate," so that the central bank would focus solely on inflation.
So it's back to expansionary austerity, which is tearing the Euro Zone apart right now.

We are looking at a breakup of not just the Euro, but the real possibility of a breakup of the European Union because of this sort bloody-minded imbecility.

It's amazing just how much the press seems to eat up the idea of Newt as an intellectual, while pretty much everyone who has ever worked with him seems to think that he's an unstable wanker.

My money is on everyone who has ever worked with him.

Yeah, I Believe Him

Newt is pledging not to commit adultery for the 4th time:
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich this week signed a pledge to uphold conservative values from the Iowa-based group The Family Leader and vowed to restrict federal dollars from paying for abortion overseas, uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and stay true to his wife, Callista.

"I will also oppose any judicial, bureaucratic, or legislative effort to define marriage in any manner other than as between one man and one woman," Gingrich wrote in a letter to The Family Leader announcing his support of the group's pledge. "I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others."

That would actually be the fourth time Gingrich has taken a no-adultery pledge. He took the first one in 1962 when he married Jackie Battley, and then again in 1981 when he married Marianne Ginther and made a third one to Callista Bisek (now Gingrich) in 2000.

Gingrich, whose first two marriages ended because he was having an affair a woman who would later become his wife, addressed his history of infidelity at the ABC News/Yahoo! Republican debate on Saturday, where he said that he has sought forgiveness for his mistakes.
So the big lies were:
  1. I'll respect you in the morning.
  2. The cheque is in the mail.
  3. I will not come in your mouth. 
And we can now add #4:
  1. This time, Newt is serious about his marital vows.

    What Digby Says

    Her comments on the Obama's administration craven capitulation on Plan B contraception:
    If Democrats cared as much about getting young women to the polls as they care about getting ideologically incoherent swing voters, they'd win in a walk. They are progressive and they are hostile to the GOP agenda on nearly every level. They have been the most loyal Democratic voters but they are demoralized and need to be reassured that the Democrats give a damn about them. The Plan B decision says the opposite.
    This is patently clear to anyone with a brain, but, unfortunately, Barack Obama isn't.

    He got into the Senate because his rich primary opponents cut each other to bits, and then his opponent in the general self destructed (wanted to have sex in public with his wife) and was replaced by the craziest person in the Republican party (Alan "WTF?" Keyes).

    He won the White House because the press hated Hillary Clinton, and George W. Bush so thoroughly trashed the Republican brand, and then faced a doddering old fool who selected the stupidest f%$#ing person in Alaska as a running mate.

    It's better to lucky than smart, but stupid is always bad news, and I see absolutely no sign of any sort of political savvy here.

    It's sad when a politician seizes on a load of crap (Post Partisan Unity Schtick) as a "special sauce," and then believes it.

    Of course, this describes the Republicans too, and they all add a hefty dose of batsh%$ insane.

    I miss the calm sanity and liberalism of Richard Milhaus Nixon.

    OK, I'm Speechless

    An anti-Gay former Alabama gubernatorial candidate is donating sperm to lesbians:
    A conservative Christian politician has a secret life as a sperm donor for lesbian couples - even though he has campaigned against gay marriage.

    American politician Bill Johnson has spent most of this year in Christchurch helping run the earthquake recovery, all the while using the online persona "chchbill" to meet women who want help to get pregnant.

    Under that persona, he has discussed making donations to at least nine women without the knowledge of his family in the US.

    Three of the women are now pregnant, and Johnson has assisted another three with donations in the past month. It is believed he has been in communication with at least another three women to discuss sperm donation.

    He moved to Christchurch after the February quake without his wife Kathy, a two-time Mrs America finalist who has three children from a former relationship. Johnson is long-term recovery manager for Ceres NZ.

    The Herald on Sunday approached Johnson on Thursday at a restaurant in Christchurch where he had just finished dining with one of the women he had successfully impregnated.

    He said the urge to become a biological father was "a need that I have".

    "I am married to the most beautiful woman in the world. When I married her I knew we couldn't have any more children. She had a hysterectomy 10 years ago.
    OK, I do have one thing to say, this guy has some serious problems with narcissism.

    This is the most self absorbed thing that I've heard of ever.

    And the whole former Miss America thing is the cherry on the weirdness sundae.

    Talking Points Memo.

    11 December 2011

    I Think That the Fat Lady Is Tuning Up In the Green Room

    The rats are leaving the sinking ship that is Syria, case in point Hamas is beginning to remove its staff from Syria, despite the fact that their patron, Iran is threatening to cut them off if they do so:
    Iran had applied intense pressure to Hamas in an effort to persuade it not to leave Damascus, threatening even to cut off funds to the organization if it did so, Palestinian sources have told Haaretz.

    The Iranian pressure also included an unprecedented ultimatum - namely, an explicit threat to stop supplying Hamas with arms and suspend the training of its military activists.

    According to the sources, Hamas is abandoning its headquarters in Syria and looking at other Arab states as an alternative location for its political command center. Hamas' move comes despite intense Iranian pressure on the organization to refrain from relocating.

    A Syrian opposition spokesman said recently that once Assad is toppled, his successors will have no intention of preserving the strategic alliance between Damascus, Tehran and Hezbollah.

    According to the Palestinian sources, only "second and third-ranking" Hamas activists are leaving Damascus, while senior members of the organization's political wing, headed by Khaled Meshal, are remaining in the Syrian capital.
    I really don't think that there are a whole bunch of Arab nations out there that are chomping at the bit to paint a target on their back to ally themselves with Hamas, particularly since they are joined at the hip with Syria.

    The fact that Hamas is getting the hell out of dodge indicates that the longevity of the Assad regime is problematic.

    Pass the Popcorn…

    It appears that self hating gay Republican group GOProud was so incensed by Rick Perry's anti-gay bigotry ad, and they grew a pair, and outed gay Perry staffer Tony Fabrizio, which so offended board member, and lush, Andrew Breitbart that he quit from their board:
    GOProud issued a statement this morning, saying, “Tony Fabrizio is not the victim here. Tony Fabrizio has lined his pockets for years with money from gay groups and is now one of the chief architects of a campaign strategy – not just an isolated television ad – intended to demonize gay people in order to score political points.”

    It was in response to this decision that Breitbart, who edits Big Government, Big Hollywood, and several other conservative websites, released a statement of his own, resigning from his position as an advisor to GOProud. “I have a zero tolerance attitude toward the intentional infliction of vocational and family harm by divulging the details of an individual’s sexual orientation as a weapon of political destruction,” he told The Daily Caller, “As an ‘Advisory Board member’ I was not consulted on this extreme and punitive act.”
    You know, it's so cute when sh%$ like this goes down. 

    10 December 2011

    Expect Cost Escalations and Delays For the Joint Strike Fighter Engine

    Because GE and Rolls Royce have pulled the plug on their joint F136 engine venture:
    After 15 years of ups and downs, General Electric and Rolls-Royce have accepted defeat in their battle to power the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and will today announce the end of the F136 program and the Fighter Engine Team partnership.

    By deciding to discontinue self-funding the F136 alternate engine they are also parting ways at an interesting time for the propulsion world. Rolls’s recent, and unexpected, rapprochement with Pratt & Whitney over commercial engines could, for instance, signal the start of new strategic links in the military engine world now that the long-lived experiment with GE is over.


    The move to kill the F136 comes after an Oct 31 meeting between GE Aviation leadership and Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter in which “it became clear that the DoD would not support the FET self-funding effort,” says GE.
    So basically, the Pentagon left a horse's head in their bed.

    I expect that all the good news from Pratt & Whitney over the past few months, about them making noise about being ahead of schedule and budget, to end abruptly.

    Without a competitor engine, we  are now going to see all the stuff that was swept under the carpet for the F135 percolating back up, and the tax payer will be on the hook for it.

    Well, Now I Know Why They Were Flying a Stealth Drone in Afghanistan

    Click for full size

    Note the Radar Blocker in the Inlet
    I thought that its deployment to Afghanistan was a budget ploy, after all, why use a stealthy drone, the RQ-170, against an opponent who has no radar (the Taliban), but I was wrong.

    It turns out that they were using it to spy on Iran, and Tehran, does have an integrated air defense network.

    And now the us sources are privately admitting that they flew it over Iran, and that the Iranians did get the drone.

    Of interest, to my not particularly schooled eye, I think that I realize what the fairing on the top of the wing are; they are to accommodate the landing gear.

    BTW, here's a rundown on what secrets might be compromised, and it's a pretty big deal.

    09 December 2011

    This is an Inspired Way to F%$# With the Police

    No violence, no profanity, but the people at Occupy Melbourne have it going on!

    It's whimsical and effective.

    Two snaps up.

    (on edit)

    It appears that I postedcondemnation of the thuggish police response before I posted the story. (I set this up to post on Friday, because of its lighbt hearted nature)


    It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

    No action from the FDIC for 3 weeks, this may be the longest stretch without closings in a year.'

    That being said, there were 2 credit union closings last week that I missed: (Sorry)
    1. BCT Federal Credit Union, Binghmton, NY
    2. O.U.R. Federal Credit Union, Eugene OR
    Full NCUA list

    It's been an odd 2 weeks.

    08 December 2011

    People I Do Not Want to Piss Off: Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi

    Blah, blah, blah!
    He showed up to a press conference for Florida governor Rick Scott, and asked for a urine sample for a drug test:
    Gov. Rick Scott and his drug testing policy became the unwitting target of Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" on Wednesday as a reporter for the show broke into budget news conference and asked the governor to "pee into this cup."

    “You've benefitted from hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars over the years so would you be willing to pee into this cup to prove to Florida taxpayers that you're not on drugs,'' asked Comedy Central reporter, Aasif Mandvi. It was a reference to the governor’s drug-testing requirement imposed on all state employees and all welfare recipients.

    Scott looked straight at him, didn’t miss a beat and said: "I’ve done it plenty of times.”

    Mandvi then attempted to hand the sealed, official-looking collection cup to the governor. "We could all turn around, that's fine,'' he said.

    At one point Mandvi persuaded other reporters to pass the cup to the front row but Scott ignored it. Mandvi asked again. "I hate to keep harping on this, would you pee in a cup?" Scott shot back: "You don't get to run this."

    Last session, Scott persuaded the legislature to pass a law requiring all welfare recipients to pass a drug test but the measure was challenged by state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, and the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and put on hold by an Orlando court. Scott is appealing the ruling.
    Remind me to never ever piss off anyone on The Daily Show, not even Steve the Intern, ever!

    Holy Sh%$!!!

    A classmate of my daughter's, they had the same math class, was hit by a car and killed this evening.

    She's freaking out a bit.

    Another Core Democratic Party Value Betrayed

    This one isn't a surprise. Barack Obama has a long tradition of ambivalence to women's reproductive rights.

    He's been uninterested in women's issues since his days in the Illinois legislature.

    Most recently, we have the ruling by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruling the FDA's decision to make the Plan B morning after pill an over the counter medication.

    Let's be clear here. This is the first time ever that an HHS Secretary has overruled the FDA.

    And Obama is fine with this:
    President Obama, who took office pledging to put science ahead of politics, averted a skirmish with conservatives in the nation’s culture wars on Thursday by endorsing his health secretary’s decision to block over-the-counter sales of an after-sex contraceptive pill to girls under age 17.

    The administration action inevitably raised questions about whether politics was trump in this instance — especially from disappointed supporters in the scientific and women’s rights communities. Mr. Obama, who had criticized how his predecessor made decisions on issues like contraceptives, sought to dispel that idea in remarks to White House reporters.

    “I did not get involved in the process,” he quickly asserted.
    Yes, while Barack Obama is getting his faux populist cred on for the upcoming election, he had nothing to do with this decision.

    In the control freak factory that is the Obama administration, the idea that this decision was not thoroughly vetted by both the policy and political wonks is simply not believeable.

    In fact, if the head of HHS made this decision without passing it up the chain, it justify their firing.

    Mr. Obama said the decision was made by his secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius. On Wednesday, in a rare move, she overruled the Food and Drug Administration, which had recommended that the morning-after pill Plan B One-Step is safe and should be sold without a prescription to people under 17, just as it is now to those who are 17 and older.

    “I will say this, as the father of two daughters: I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine,” Mr. Obama said.

    “And as I understand it, the reason Kathleen made this decision was she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going into a drugstore should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect. And I think most parents would probably feel the same way.”

    This is just too dangerous, but acetaminophen, which causes, "over 56,000 injuries, 2,500 hospitalizations, and an estimated 450 deaths per year," kids can buy that at the drug store.

    And of course the whole, "Using his daughters as political human shield thing," is contemptible.

    First, he is putting a barrier in that will likely force some girls to ask their rapist's permission, second, even a couple of hour delay to get a prescription makes the drug less effective, and third, it's a couple of orders of magnitude (at least) safer than pregnancy.

    Once again, I am glad that I don't live in a swing state, so I don't have to vote for this hypocritical ratf%$#.

    Yeah, not primarying him was such a good thing.

    I Was Wrong, I Apologize

    For those of you have followed my blog for a while, I started it in May of 2007, I have been suggesting that the Euro was likely to supplant the US as the world's reserve currency.

    Well, I missed a couple of things:
    • The fact that the Euro was drawn up by a bunch of neoliberal (which means conservative) economists who has been railing against regulation and the welfare state, which, as the past few years have shown to be an unmitigated disaster.
    • That the Germans, would be … well … Germans.
    Now, I'm inclined to believe that, absent a German exit from the Euro, that the unified currency is doomed, and the EU may be as well.

    Unlike my hairier brother,* I do not think that another war in Europe is inevitable, though I think that an EU breakup has a potential of leading to some shooting, or, more likely, some sort of a "Cold Peace."

    *The Indians call him "Carpet who walks".

    It's Jobless Thursday

    And the news is actually pretty good, with initial claims falling to the lowest level since February, 381,000, with the less volatile 4-week moving average falling to 393,250, and the continuing and extended claims fell as well.

    Definitely good news. If we maintain this for the next 4 weeks or so, I'll believe that this is neither an outlier or an artifact of misused correction factors.
    Yeah, I'm a glass half full kind of guy

    07 December 2011

    Just When I Thought that I Could Not Get Any More Cynical………

    I read this analysis, which makes the very convincing case that Barack Obama does not object to the detention provisions of the defense authorization bill because he supports the rule of law, but because it classifies these detainees as prisoners of war, and so subject to the strictures of the Geneva Conventions:
    However, on further reflection I conclude that the Obama regime’s objection to military detention is not rooted in concern for the constitutional rights of American citizens.  The regime objects to military detention because the implication of military detention is that detainees are prisoners of war. As Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin put it:  Should somebody determined “to be a member of an enemy force who has come to this nation or is in this nation to attack us as a member of a foreign enemy, should that person be treated according to the laws of war? The answer is yes.”

    Detainees treated according to the laws of war have the protections of the Geneva Conventions. They cannot be tortured. The Obama regime opposes military detention, because detainees would have some rights.  These rights would interfere with the regime’s ability to send detainees to CIA torture prisons overseas.  This is what the Obama regime means when it says that the requirement of military detention denies the regime “flexibility.”

    The Bush/Obama regimes have evaded the Geneva Conventions by declaring that detainees are not POWs, but “enemy combatants,” “terrorists,” or some other designation that removes all accountability from the US government for their treatment.

    By requiring military detention of the captured, Congress is undoing all the maneuvering that two regimes have accomplished in removing POW status from detainees.
    A careful reading of the Obama regime’s objections to military detention supports this conclusion.(See http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/112/saps1867s_20111117.pdf)

    The November 17 letter to the Senate from the Executive Office of the President says that the Obama regime does not want the authority it has under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Public Law 107-40, to be codified. Codification is risky, the regime says. “After a decade of settled jurisprudence on detention authority, Congress must be careful not to open a whole new series of legal questions that will distract from our efforts to protect the country.”

    In other words, the regime is saying that under AUMF the executive branch has total discretion as to who it detains and how it treats detainees. Moreover, as the executive branch has total discretion, no one can find out what the executive branch is doing, who detainees are, or what is being done to them. Codification brings accountability, and the executive branch does not want accountability.

    Those who see hope in Obama’s threatened veto have jumped to conclusions if they think the veto is based on constitutional scruples.
    (emphasis original)

    Read the White House PDF.  They flat out  say that the reason that they object is because they want more "flexibility" (to torture, etc).

    It's not for nothing that I call Obama the "The Worst Constitutional Law Professor Ever".

    H/t Washington's Blog.

    06 December 2011

    That's Guilty, Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!!!

    This referring to the conviction of "Bad Hair Bob" Erhlich's 2010 gubernatorial campaign manager of attempted vote fraud:
    Paul E. Schurick, the 2010 campaign manager for former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., was convicted Tuesday by a Baltimore jury of four counts stemming from a robocall that prosecutors said was intended to suppress the black vote.

    The call, which Schurick acknowledged authorizing, was placed on Election Day to 112,000 voters in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, the state’s two largest majority-African American jurisdictions. Recipients were told by an unidentified woman that they could “relax” because Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had been successful.

    The guilty verdict not only sullied the three-decade career of one of Maryland’s best-known political operatives, it also served as a major embarrassment for Ehrlich, the state’s only Republican governor in a generation.

    Although prosecutors have never suggested that Ehrlich approved the calls, he is pushing a new book that draws anecdotes from his four years in Annapolis and contends his failed comeback bid last year was “swamped” by the black vote.

    The jury convicted Schurick — who got his start in politics working for Democrats — of trying to influence votes through fraud, failing to identify the source of the call as required by law and two counts of conspiracy to commit those crimes.

    Schurick’s defense argued during the week-long trial that he relied on the judgment of a campaign consultant hired to reach out to black voters, who said the calls would make use of “reverse psychology” and motivate potential Ehrlich supporters to go to the polls.
    This is where it gets interesting, because now that prosecutors have gotten a conviction, people are going to start thinking about rolling over.

    While I think that prosecutors are probably right when they say that, "prosecutors have never suggested that Ehrlich approved the calls," after all, when you break the law, you make sure that the candidate has no direct knowledge of it.

    That being said, I think that he had to know that the central pillar of his campaign was suppressing the black vote, and he had to know that, and I'm hoping that this come out at trial.

    Obama Sides with the 99%, and Goes After ……… Food Stamp Fraud

    No seriously, on the same day that Barack Obama gives a speech declaring his populist cred, we read this story about how his administration is going full Jihad over food stamp fraud.

    So we have this:
    Laying out a populist argument for his re-election next year, President Obama ventured into the conservative heartland on Tuesday to deliver his most pointed appeal yet for a strong governmental role through tax and regulation to level the economic playing field.

    “This country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share and when everyone plays by the same rules,” Mr. Obama said in an address that sought to tie his economic differences with Republicans into an overarching message.
    Juxtaposed with this:
    The nation’s struggling economy and an uptick in major natural disasters in recent months mean more Americans than ever are using federal money to buy food.

    More than 46.2 million people received a total of $75.3 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, in fiscal 2011, according to Agriculture Department statistics released Monday. Officials said participation spiked in the closing days of the fiscal year as Hurricane Irene caused destruction across a dozen East Coast states.

    Year-to-year, the program gained more than 6 million new participants and distributed $7 billion in additional funds, officials said.

    With more Americans relying on the program, the Obama administration on Tuesday plans to announce new steps to crack down on SNAP fraud amid estimates suggesting as much as $753 million in federal food aid is spent fraudulently each year.
    Some "populist".

    It's campaign time.  If you want to know who Barack Obama really is, don't look at what he says, look at what he does.

    And what he does, while talking about the 99% is that he goes after poor people who might be selling food stamps so that they can buy shoes for their kids, while allowing rich people who did steal trillions skate.

    And our alternative will be Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich.

    I think that I am writing in Angela Merkel in 2012.

    I'm With Amnesty International…

    They are calling for George W. Bush's arrest for war crimes while he is doing his foreign tour:
    Amnesty International is calling for the arrest of former President George W. Bush while he is traveling overseas in Africa.

    The human rights group issued a statement Thursday calling for the governments of Ethiopia, Tanzania or Zambia to take the former president into custody. According to Amnesty, the 43rd president is complicit in torture conducted by the United States during his administration and should be held pending an international investigation.

    "International law requires that there be no safe haven for those responsible for torture; Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia must seize this opportunity to fulfill their obligations and end the impunity George W. Bush has so far enjoyed," said Amnesty senior legal adviser Matt Pollard in a statement.

    Bush is traveling overseas in Africa to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS, cervical and breast cancer across the continent. He participated today via satellite in a Worlds AIDS Day event put on by the ONE Campaign and (RED) where he was joined by President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.

    Amnesty commended the philanthropic nature of the president’s trip but said in a statement that does not excuse what they believe are breaches of international law.
    Or US law for that matter, but Barack Obama has publicly stated that he intends to cover it all up, which, BTW, does put this under the purview of the ICC.

    Let's get his ass into the Hague.


    Last night, I posted about what I though was a seriously cheeky and inventive way of tweaking the cops at Occupy Melbourne.

    People wore tent costumes as a protest on the ban on tents.

    What was the police response?

    They stripped down a woman to her underwear in public, cutting her clothes off.

    There are any number of people who give good justification to be called pigs.

    You have, politicians (Newt, I mean you), sports figures (too many to name), reality TV stars (I try not to know their names), actors, musicians, the guy who cut me off in traffic today, overly aggressive telemarketers, etc.

    This does not make all of these people pigs, it just makes the pigs who have those jobs pigs.

    Well, these, "4 Melbourne City Council officers and 8 Victorian police officers," are pigs.

    I would not piss on them if they were on fire.

    I hope Karma is real for these folks.

    05 December 2011

    Don't Use Download.com

    Seriously.  They have taken to bundling malware with their download installers:
    From: Fyodor
    Date: Mon, 5 Dec 2011 14:35:30 -0800

    Hi Folks. I've just discovered that C|Net's Download.Com site has
    started wrapping their Nmap downloads (as well as other free software
    like VLC) in a trojan installer which does things like installing a
    sketchy "StartNow" toolbar, changing the user's default search engine
    to Microsoft Bing, and changing their home page to Microsoft's MSN.

    The way it works is that C|Net's download page (screenshot attached)
    offers what they claim to be Nmap's Windows installer. They even
    provide the correct file size for our official installer. But users
    actually get a Cnet-created trojan installer. That program does the
    dirty work before downloading and executing Nmap's real installer.

    At least, there is symmetry
    Note that the author of this post is also the author of Nmap, and this violates his license.

    Here's some more background.

    The fact that they (CNET/Download.com) also employ "Draw by Crayon Libertarian" Declan McCullagh, who is still proud of creating the "Al Gore created the Internet" lie provides a book end for this crap.

    I'm not suggesting a boycott here.  I'm suggesting that CNET, and more specifically Download.com, has crossed a line and is now a purveyor of malware.

    It's just not me saying this, it's, "Panda, McAfee, F-Secure," (top link) who are classifying their wrappers as spyware.

    Name the Historical Hottie

    You can find the answer here.

    While she is not a great beauty of her time, this is a rather surprising portrait, because it's someone known for not being either passionate or attractive.

    04 December 2011

    Iran Claims to Have Brought Down an RQ-170 Stealthy UAV

    The Iranians are claiming that they brought down the Beast of Kandahar:
    The official Iran Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) is reporting that national military forces have shot down a US Lockheed Martin RQ-170 stealth unmanned air system. The aircraft sustained "little damage" and is in the possession of the Iranian military, IRNA reports.

    Iranian news agency claims always have to be taken with some degree of scepticism.

    The credibility of the online version of the IRNA article is not helped by the accompanying photo. The US Air Force has never released an official picture of the RQ-170, but we can be sure the the UAV in the IRNA article is not it. The IRNA photo instead is a stock image of the BAE Systems Raven delta wing demonstrator, an aircraft that was retired more than seven years ago.
    NATO is admitting that it lost control of a drone, which, as David Axe notes would imply that it's not an RQ-170, since it is designed to operate autonomously.

    Of course, the question I've always had is why use an expensive stealthy drone in a theater where the opposition does not even have a radar.

    If the Iranians have in fact brought down an RQ-170, and right now I would say it's less than 30%, it happened because some moron in the Pentagon decided to deploy a system not required by the circumstances.

    Schadenfreud Futures are Dropping from Oversupply

    For the 2nd time in as many months, Alabama law enforcement has arrested a senior foreign auto executive in their state:
    To arrest one foreign car-making executive under Alabama's new tough immigration laws may be regarded as a misfortune; to arrest a second looks like carelessness.

    A judge has acted to put a Japanese employee of Honda Motor Company out of his misery by dismissing immigration charges against him, three days after he was booked under Alabama's new immigration laws that have been billed as the most swingeing in America. Ichiro Yada is one of about 100 Japanese managers of the company on assignment in southern state.

    Yada was stopped in Leeds, Alabama, at a checkpoint set up by police to catch unlicenced drivers. He was ticketed on the spot, despite the fact that he showed an international driver's licence, a valid passport and a US work permit.

    Key parts of the new immigration law, HB56, came into effect in late September, including the driving provisions. Under them, the police are required to check up on the immigration status of anyone they stop who they suspect of being in the country illegally.

    In addition, all drivers are required to carry a valid driver's licence, either from a US state or from their native country if they are from abroad. The law is designed to trap undocumented immigrants – in practice, Hispanics largely from Mexico – who are no longer allowed to apply for driving licences.

    Over the past two months thousands of undocumented Latinos have fled the state and many more have ceased driving for fear of being caught and incarcerated.

    Yada is the second foreign car executive to fall foul of the new law. Last month police officers arrested a German director of Mercedes-Benz for failing to carry a valid driver's licence. The move exposed Alabama to widespread criticism and ridicule.
    What the Germans and Japanese don't understand is that the compliant workforce, born of a vehement opposition of unions and worker protections, naturally leads to this, because hatred of the other is a way to deflect criticism for creating so many have-nots.

    I believe in tough immigration enforcement, but effective immigration enforcement must raise the risks of employing illegal aliens, not simply this sort of security theater.

    Gripen Scores Another Win

    The Swiss Military has decided to purchase the Gripen for its air force:
    Switzerland has chosen to replace its fighter jet fleet with Swedish defence and aerospace group Saab's JAS-39 Gripen, Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources close to the government.

    Neutral Switzerland has wrangled for the past three years over whether to replace its ageing Northrop F-5E/F Tiger fighters, purchased in 1976 and 1981, with up to 33 new aircraft.

    Saab shares were up 8.5 percent to 117.10 Swedish crowns by 1345 GMT after the newspaper report.

    The newspaper said the cost of purchasing 22 jets would be about 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.3 billion), 1 billion less than the same number of rival models would cost.
    I would also add that the Gripen is about ½ the weight and ½ direct operating costs.

    When juxtaposed with the exemplary short and austere field performance, and the generally short distances involved, it's the best choice for the Swiss.

    Well, it's the best choice except for not getting anything. After all, who's going to attack them, the French, the Italians, the Germans? I don't think so.

    Stephen Trimble confirms this. Both SAAB and the Swiss government have confirmed the deal.

    I Get Emails

    I am not sure if this is a function of my blogging, or of my work for Democracy for America 2004-2009, but I just got an email from the Maryland Democratic Party asking me to apply to be a pledged delegate for Barack Obama at the 2012 convention.

    It appears that they don't read my blog.

    Needless to say, I will not be applying.  Even if I were to be accepted (as in, how much can you bundle in donations for the party, Mr. Saroff), I could not in good faith be a pledged delegate, because I don't want to be in a position to where I promised to vote for him.
    From: David Sloan
    Subject: I want to see you in Charlotte
    Reply-To: mdconvention2012@gmail.com
    To: msaroff@xxxxxx.xxx
    You only have one week left to submit an online application to become a delegate for President Obama in Charlotte. There is so much grassroots interest in the Convention, so I want to make sure you apply to join us before the deadline next Saturday.

    The President has called the 2012 Convention the "People's Convention" because it is really about you. Yes, we will make history again as we renominate Barack Obama - but the Convention will also embody and celebrate the ideals, values and vision we share as Democrats. That is why I want you to take part in the delegate selection process.

    Remember, in order to qualify to become a Maryland Delegate you must complete an online application by December 10, and file at the State Board of Elections between January 3 and January 11, 2012.

    If you have any questions, make sure to sign-up for my last informational conference call on Sunday, December 4th at 6:00 PM. You can also check out our website or email me.

    The Convention in Charlotte will be a special event for the thousands who attend and the millions who will be watching. That's why the Party is committed to running an open process that will give as many people the opportunity to participate as possible.

    Thanks so much,


    David Sloan
    Executive Director
    Maryland Democratic Party

    PS: The application deadline is 7 days away. Apply today!
    If any of you want to apply, feel free to click through for the links.  I promise that they don't lead to Goatse or Lemon Party.*

    *If you do not know what Goatse or Lemon Party are, for all that is holy, don't Google it. Seriously. You are better off not knowing. If you see them, it will change you.  Forever.

    03 December 2011


    Herman Cain has ended his campaign.

    The loss of comedic material is a tragedy.  Send a condolence card to The Daily Show.

    Adventures in the Law Enforcement Industrial Complex

    It turns out that no one has every really tried to do a comprehensive census of child sex workers, and when researchers from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice conducted a census of those in New York City, they discovered that conventional wisdom on this problem is wrong:
    • Pimps are a very small (10%) part of the picture.
    • About half of the child prostitutes surveyed were male. (45%)
    • They were majority local (56%) and overwhelmingly US citizens(90+%).
    • A large majority (70%) had contacted social service agencies for help.
    • 95% said that they did this out of economic need.
    The money quote here is, "In other words, the typical kid who is commercially exploited for sex in New York City is not a tween girl, has not been sold into sexual slavery, and is not held captive by a pimp."

    How does this involve the "Law Enforcement Industrial Complex"?  Like this:
    Curtis and Dank were amazed by what their research had revealed. But they were completely unprepared for the way law enforcement officials and child-advocacy groups reacted to John Jay's groundbreaking study.

    "I remember going to a meeting in Manhattan where they had a lot of prosecutors whose job was to prosecute pimps," Curtis recalls. "They were sort of complaining about the fact that their offices were very well staffed but their workload was...not very daunting, let's say. They had a couple cases, and at every meeting you go to, they'd pull out the cherry-picked case of this pimp they had busted, and they'd tell the same story at every meeting. They, too, were bothered by the fact that they couldn't find any pimps, any girls.

    "So I come along and say, 'I found 300 kids' — they're all perky — but then I say, 'I'm sorry, but only 10 percent had pimps.'

    "It was like a fart in church. Because basically I was saying their office was a waste of time and money."
    As to what this means in terms of policy, what does this mean>

    Well, the obvious is that staffing DA's office on the basis of what you saw on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, is not a good policy.

    What is also clear from this study is that these children need long term support, and not just transitional support:
    For example, the John Jay study found that when asked what it would take to get them to give up prostitution, many kids expressed a desire for stable, long-term housing. But the widely accepted current social-service model — shelters that accommodate, at most, a ninety-day stay — doesn't give youths enough time to get on their feet, and instead pushes them back to the streets. The findings also point to a general need for more emphasis on targeted outreach, perhaps through peer-to-peer networks, as well as services of all kinds, from job training and placement to psychological therapy.
    One interesting question here is whether the numbers are different, particularly with regards to foreign sex workers, in countries with stronger social safety nets, because it sounds like this is largely being driven by our general lack of a meaningful social safety net.

    Of course, there are a lot of problems in the US that would be solved by a better social safety net.