Thursday, December 31, 2009

To say good bye to 2009

To those departed I say good bye
And to those I will meet I will see you next year.



Happy Hogmanay

More on the Goldmine Sachs double dealing

The bottom line is you can't trust Goldmine Sachs to put you in a good investment because they already have the winning combinations covered and they need you on the other side to make it work.

Want to be a vegetarian?

You will after reading this report from the NY Times about what goes into your Big Mac or Whopper. It turns out that the shit a company adds to the meat product to kill the germs that come from the shit that gets into the product makes the product taste like shit and doesn't kill the bad shit anyway.
The company, Beef Products Inc., had been looking to expand into the hamburger business with a product made from beef that included fatty trimmings the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. The trimmings were particularly susceptible to contamination, but a study commissioned by the company showed that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella.

Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the company’s ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli “to an undetectable level.” They decided it was so effective that in 2007, when the department began routine testing of meat used in hamburger sold to the general public, they exempted Beef Products.

With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.

But government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.
And if that isn't bad enough, the report goes on to illustrate how the USDA is still trying to figure out that bad shit in food is not a good idea.

When mother told us to eat our vegetables, we had no idea how smart she was.

Whatever you say, Sir!

It appears that the well known DC stenographic service, Politico, is taking heat from journalists for being a stenographic service. Politico's pretensions to real journalism rubs a lot of people the wrong way.
A number of writers and bloggers say Politico failed to perform the fact-checking role expected of reporters, pointing to questionable assertions from Cheney that went unchecked in Allen’s story.

The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan labeled Allen “Cheney’s Chief Spokesman” and quipped that Cheney should “be paying him.”

“There he goes again,” Sullivan said of Allen, “the mouthpiece for Rove and Cheney, believing his ‘access’ as a stenographer makes him a journalist. It doesn't. It makes him a stenographer.”...

...“So to sum up: Dick Cheney sends Mike Allen a press release, which Mike Allen then copies-and-pastes it into a 'news article' without mentioning key facts that would undermine Cheney's press release,” Foser continued. “Aren't you glad Politico got a spot on the Pulitzer committee?”

“Politico really is just a GOP bulletin board,” Foser posited.

Following Politico’s previous interview piece with Dick Cheney just weeks ago on December 1, Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen accused Allen and his organization of “stenography.”

“There's no real journalism to be found,” Benen wrote of the story. “No fact-checking, no pushback, no scrutiny. Just an uninterrupted string of predictable, misguided nonsense.”

“Cheney could have just written a blog post/screed, and had Politico publish it,” Benen added. “This would have saved Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei the trouble of adding quote marks to their stenography.”
But Politico is just doing what it is paid to do and its stenography is then copied by the network of stenographers salted throughout the news media. And all their corporate bosses are happy.

And now we have scientific proof

That all those greedy bastards in the executive office are not creating value for their companies, they are destroying it for their own benefit.
In a study released last week, Raghavendra Rau and Huseyin Gulen of Purdue University and Michael J. Cooper of the University of Utah surveyed 1,500 companies that extended incentive compensation to their CEOs between 1994 and 2006, and examined whether pay correlated to stock performance.

The researchers compared CEO pay across their data set and found that the 10 percent of companies with the most highly paid CEOs earned unusually low returns in both the near- and long-term. And the effects worsened over time

For the companies whose CEOs earn the most in incentive compensation -- defined as restricted stock and stock options -- the returns were especially low. (This may not bode well for those Wall Street firms, like Goldman Sachs, who have taken to cutting down cash bonuses and boosting stock awards for execs.)
Curiously, the study's authors attribute this in part to overconfidence by management. Perhaps confidence that they can get away with it allows the top dogs to unleash their inner greed. We do know that, so far they are getting away with it to the diminishment of corporate America.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rachels Ad

Rachel and her capable staff put together a response ad to all the GOP bullshit flying around. Enjoy it and share it.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


It may be a Happy New Year after all

Breaking news from the AP:
A Honolulu television station is reporting that conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was taken to a hospital with chest pains.

KITV reported Wednesday that paramedics responded to a call at 2:41 p.m. from the Kahala Hotel and Resort where Limbaugh is vacationing.

The station, citing unnamed sources, said paramedics treated Limbaugh and took him to The Queen's Medical Center in serious condition.
Many would say it is not right to wish ill on anyone. That we should take a christian approach and forgive our enemies, but I am not a christian. I am hoping, despite the best efforts of the cardiac staff that his heart is screaming "FUCK YOU RUSH!" as it does a Palin on him and quits. One less enemy of the United States.

UPDATE: It appears that God is dead and Rush is not.

A song for Underwear Boy

Something for him to dream of the rest of his days.


Your Two Minute Ed

Where Ed & Rep Eric Massa D-Pairoballs, show us how Democrats should respond to Dickwahd Cheney and Jim Demented and suchlike.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Dennis Kucinich to investigate Freddie & Fannie

And their continuing wild weekend with the Treasury. According to a press release from Rep. Kucinich, he will begin an investigation of the Treasury's $800 Billion Christmas present to the feckless mortgage duo.
As Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I'm announcing that the Subcommittee will launch an investigation into the Treasury Department's recent decision to lift the current $400-billion cap on combined federal assistance to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, opening the way for additional, unlimited funds through the end of 2012. This investigation will include the role played by Fannie Mae chief executive Michael J. Williams and Freddie Mac chief executive Charles E. Haldeman in the decision, if any, and will seek to ensure that the additional assistance is used for homeowners and not Wall Street.

Many questions remain unanswered regarding this move by the Treasury. Why suddenly remove the cap? Indications are that Freddie and Fannie, even as millions of Americans lose their homes, have used just $111 billion of the $400 billion previously available to them. Is lifting the cap on assistance a back-door TARP?
This could be a very productive investigation, most of the Democrats are also members of the Progressive Caucus, and the GOP members are a bunch of backbenchers.

The IMF does a report

On US lenders and mortgage lending leading to the Great Bush Depression. When it comes out with a title like this, "A Fistful of Dollars: Lobbying and the Financial Crisis," the findings are what you might expect.
"Lenders that lobby more intensively on these specific issues have (i) more lax lending standards measured by loan-to-income ratio, (ii) greater tendency to securitize, and (iii) faster growing mortgage loan portfolios," the report said.

"Ex post, delinquency rates are higher in areas in which lobbying lenders' mortgage lending grew faster, and, during key events of the crisis, these lenders experienced negative abnormal stock returns,"

The IMF economists said lenders that spent millions of dollars lobbying also expect preferential treatment.

"Such preferential treatment could be a higher probability of being bailed out, potentially under less stringent conditions, in the event of a financial crisis," they said.

Their studies showed that in the current crisis, 16 of the 20 lenders that spent the most on lobbying between 2000 and 2006 received financial bailouts from the government.

In total, lenders that lobbied on specific issues received almost 60 percent of the funds allocated under the U.S. government's Emergency Economic Stabilization Act set up by the Bush administration to rescue banks from failure.
Is it any wonder that we haven't seen the perp walks that is a better society would be coming daily.

White House responds to hysterical GOP pants wetting

From the White House Blog:
First, it’s important that the substantive context be clear: for seven years after 9/11, while our national security was overwhelmingly focused on Iraq – a country that had no al Qaeda presence before our invasion – Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda's leadership was able to set up camp in the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they continued to plot attacks against the United States. Meanwhile, al Qaeda also regenerated in places like Yemen and Somalia, establishing new safe-havens that have grown over a period of years. It was President Obama who finally implemented a strategy of winding down the war in Iraq, and actually focusing our resources on the war against al Qaeda – more than doubling our troops in Afghanistan, and building partnerships to target al Qaeda’s safe-havens in Yemen and Somalia. And in less than one year, we have already seen many al Qaeda leaders taken out, our alliances strengthened, and the pressure on al Qaeda increased worldwide.

To put it simply: this President is not interested in bellicose rhetoric, he is focused on action. Seven years of bellicose rhetoric failed to reduce the threat from al Qaeda and succeeded in dividing this country. And it seems strangely off-key now, at a time when our country is under attack, for the architect of those policies to be attacking the President.

Second, the former Vice President makes the clearly untrue claim that the President – who is this nation’s Commander-in-Chief – needs to realize we are at War. I don’t think anyone realizes this very hard reality more than President Obama. In his inaugural, the President said “our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.” In a recent speech, Assistant to the President for Terrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan said “Instead, as the president has made clear, we are at war with al-Qaida, which attacked us on 9/11 and killed 3,000 people. We are at war with its violent extremist allies who seek to carry on al-Qaida’s murderous agenda. These are the terrorists we will destroy; these are the extremists we will defeat.” At West Point, the President told the nation why it was “in our vital national interest” to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to fight the war in Afghanistan, adding that as Commander in Chief, “I see firsthand the terrible wages of war.” And at Oslo, in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, the President said, “We are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land.”

There are numerous other such public statements that explicitly state we are at war. The difference is this: President Obama doesn’t need to beat his chest to prove it, and – unlike the last Administration – we are not at war with a tactic (“terrorism”), we at war with something that is tangible: al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies. And we will prosecute that war as long as the American people are endangered.
That's how adults respond to scared children.

When success equals a miracle

McClatchy takes a look at the hurdles facing the US military as it tries to make an Afghan army. We already know what the Pentagon thinks about this task. Now we can get a look at why they think that way.
The effort to enlarge and train the Afghan army is critical to the Obama administration's plan to defeat the Taliban and al Qaida, pacify much of Afghanistan and begin to withdraw at least some U.S. forces in 2011. Success, however, is far from guaranteed: The Afghan military remains plagued by corruption, ethnic rivalries and illiteracy, and by its almost complete dependence on American logistical and intelligence support...

..."We have recognized that the military we're building here . . . is different from a Cold War military," said Col. Dennis Brown of the Georgia National Guard's 48th Brigade, who oversees much of the training.

The few Afghan soldiers who learn to fire artillery shoot only at targets they can see, as opposed to those 10 miles away, and the Afghan army has few tanks.

"In this terrain, big heavy vehicles don't do well," said Brown, from Marietta, Ga., a lesson the U.S. is learning for itself as it replaces its heavy Mine-Protected Ambush-Resistant armored vehicles with lighter, more agile off-road versions.

Afghan soldiers are schooled in urban combat, in storming the home of a suspected insurgent and in reacting to the improvised explosive devices that are the insurgents' deadliest weapons.
Strange that they are schooled in urban combat, given the number of cities in Afghanistan. But this next part should really give you confidence in the Afghan Army's chances.
About a year ago, the Americans stopped issuing the Afghans Soviet-designed AK-47 automatic rifles in favor of the NATO M-16, a rifle that's more accurate but less tolerant of dirt, dust and water.

The change may seem to be a minor one, but the AK's reputation for functioning best when it's set on full automatic and spraying bullets isn't well suited to a counterinsurgency campaign that's trying to teach fire discipline and minimize civilian causalities.
I hope they teach the Afghans how to clean their rifles really fast under fire from those AK's that stop for nothing. Without that everything else is just a waste of time.

O tempora o mores!

From the pen of Jim Morin


click pic to big


The joy of competition

Some not so good news on the browser front. Firefox 3.6 has been delayed until the first quarter 2010 which will push back 4,o to the end of the year or 2011. The good news is this is being done to assure they do it right.
Schedule delays are common in the software world, but browser development is furious these days with the arrival of Google's Chrome into the market, Apple helping to expand the frontiers of what the browser can do, Opera trying to dramatically speed up JavaScript execution and display performance, and Microsoft getting more ambitious again with Internet Explorer.

"We've always been more quality-driven than time-driven, but we understand timing in the market matters to our users and our competitiveness," said Mike Shaver, Mozilla's vice president of engineering, in an October interview.
Looking forward to the new features promised, but right now I am driving Opera 10.10 because I got tired of all the crashes in 3.5.

One way of looking at it

A Happy New Year from Pat Oliphant


click pic to big



Everything is cool in Iraq...

Except when somebody lets off a big bomb or something.
A car bomb and a suicide bomber struck a government building in the city of Ramadi on Wednesday, killing at least 24 people and wounding the governor of Anbar province, according to Iraqi police officials and witnesses.

Gov. Kassim Mohammad Fahdawi was among 57 people wounded, Anbar provincial council member Jassem Al Halbousi said. The two bombs detonated outside the provincial government building in Ramadi, about 70 miles west of Baghdad.

The bombings in Ramadi follow a string of about 40 assassination attempts in the past month in the western province of Anbar, mostly targeting politicians, police officers, religious figures and tribal sheiks, according to Iraqi police officials.
But we are no longer policing Iraq, so we should speed up the pullout and let them find their own equilibrium.

When does 10,000 = 1,600

When your friendly neighborhood SEC has been steamrollered by the lobbyists and your White House is giving you no support.

Obama takes another step to unite the Afghans

It won't necessarily enable them to better govern themselves under any system, but unity is its own reward for most people.
Protesters took to the streets in Afghanistan on Wednesday, burning an effigy of the US president and shouting "death to Obama" to slam civilian deaths during Western military operations.

Hundreds of university students blocked main roads in Jalalabad, capital of eastern Nangahar province, to protest the alleged deaths of 10 civilians, mostly school children, in a Western military operation on Saturday.

"The government must prevent such unilateral operations otherwise we will take guns instead of pens and fight against them (foreign forces)," students from the University of Nangahar's education faculty said in a statement.

Marching through the main street of Jalalabad, the students chanted "death to Obama" and "death to foreign forces", witnesses said.

The protesters torched a US flag and an effigy of US President Barack Obama in a public square in central Jalalabad, before dispersing.

"Our demonstration is against those foreigners who have come to our country," Safiullah Aminzai, a student organiser, told AFP.
If it were my choice, I would accede to the wishes of the populace. There is no need to worry about who would take over, it is easier and cheaper to bribe an Afghan than to fight an Afghan.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Obama sez 18 months, Army sez "Na gah happen"

Richard Engel has a report, prepared by the Pentagon, that says the primary mission for our presence in Afghanistan isn't going to happen. And without a complete makeover at the top, it is not even possible.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


TurdBlossom gets divorced...again

And has his spokesbitch Dana Peroxide request that people respect his family's privacy. To which we say, tough shit Turd! And with good reason. After going through two women (who have our total sympathy for their ordeal), now is the time when Turd will have to decide if he comes out of the closet like his father did or will he try to find another woman dumb enough to hook up with a slime bucket. Stay tuned for more details.

Those things from the past you are trying to remember...

Maybe they are better off forgotten, like this bit of international disco. Bimbo Jet is the band name.


Morgan Stanley is being sued for fraud

One of the many investors scalped by MS in the runup to the Bush Depression has put two and two together and is suing the investment bank, charging that they, in cooperation with Moody's deliberately sold crap that they were betting would fail.
The lawsuit filed December 24 in Manhattan federal court said Morgan Stanley collaborated with credit rating agencies Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's to obtain "triple-A" ratings for notes marketed in 2007 as part of a collateralized debt obligation (CDO) known as Libertas.

According to the complaint, the CDO was backed by low-quality assets, including securities issued by subprime lenders New Century Financial Corp, which quickly went bankrupt, and Option One Mortgage Corp, then owned by H&R Block Inc (HRB.N).

The complaint alleged Morgan Stanley knew the CDO's assets were far riskier than the ratings suggested, but was "highly motivated to defraud investors" with pristine ratings because it was simultaneously "shorting" almost all the assets. This was a bet that their value would fall, which they did in 2008.

"Morgan Stanley was betting the entire investment it was promoting would fail," according to the complaint, which was made available on Tuesday. "The firm achieved its objective."
We wish great success to the plaintiffs and can oly wish it were a criminal complaint.

Quote of the Day

Just imagine the Republican response if Barack Obama or Bill Clinton had released prisoners to enter an “art therapy rehabilitation program.” This sounds almost as silly as an American president sitting and reading a children’s book while the country is under attack.
Ron Chusid at Liberal Values.

“maladaptive brain activity changes.”

Or to those less scientific members of society, a Brain Fart. Here is an explanation of what it is and how it works. And why you probably can't avoid having one from time to time.

h/t The Great Orange Stan

Republican Party threatens more American lives than al-Qaeda

The GOP wants to prevent universal health care coverage and the chart below shows how many Americans will die in 2009 from lack of coverage. At the other end of the chart is the number of terrorist deaths in 2009 and even here we have Sen DeMint working to obstruct US efforts at prevention. And to add insult to injury, we have in between, firearms deaths and food poisoning and here too the GOP has worked hard to obstruct any efforts to prevent or reduce them. When will the Republican Party be declared a terrorist organization?



h/t Firedoglake for the graph

So how come we can't deport that miserable shit, John Yoo?

From Texas comes a tale of the awesome and awful web of immigration law that sends an adopted American back to his "home country" which he has had no connection to literally since the day of his birth.
In 1974, a midwife in El Paso placed a day-old baby in the arms of Lora and Royce Whiteley of Fort Worth. Six years later, while living in Woodville, they officially adopted Robin.

The Whiteleys, who had six children, moved to Lufkin in 1984.

McMillan, who was also born in Mexico and was adopted as an infant by the Whiteleys, recalls her little brother as most big sisters would — a boy who bothered and teased her. But she looked after him.

"I always felt very protective of Robin," McMillan said. "He was like my own baby doll. I took care of my little brother."

As he grew up, Whiteley was athletic and into boxing in Lufkin, she said. "He was just your normal, crazy kid and a typical teen."

But even Whiteley admits that he made bad decisions. State criminal records show that he had some misdemeanor convictions, and he went to state prison for a felony drug conviction.

When the time came for his release from prison in 2002, he fell down the immigration rabbit hole.

Neither the United States nor Mexico has a record of his birth, said his lawyer, Andres Lopez of McAllen. And his parents had pursued legal residency for him but not citizenship.

Lacking both a birth certificate and naturalization papers, Whiteley, who doesn’t speak Spanish, was deported to Mexico on the assumption that it was his country of origin, Lopez said. He now lives as an undocumented immigrant in a one-room cinder-block apartment in Reynosa, Mexico.
And without documents he can't work in Mexico or they will deport him, though it is left unsaid where to. Which brings me to my original question. Sure, he had a drug bust but he never tried to destroy the constitutional basis of this country, so you tell me, why is he deported and John Yoo is living comfortably in Berkley, CA?

Sometimes kids are smarter than adults

From the masterful mind of Hank Ketchum


Health insurance tax just another conservative attack on the middle class.

And Bob Herbert spells it out for you should you be one of those middle class folk who believe in attacking you own best interests.
Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do.

The tax would kick in on plans exceeding $23,000 annually for family coverage and $8,500 for individuals, starting in 2013. In the first year it would affect relatively few people in the middle class. But because of the steadily rising costs of health care in the U.S., more and more plans would reach the taxation threshold each year.

Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.
And employers are expected to move their plans to lower cost frauds designed to transfer the risk and expense from the insurance plan, which would cost less, to you. And all that money that businesses save would be given to employees as raises by their benevolent bosses.
A survey of business executives by Mercer, a human resources consulting firm, found that only 16 percent of respondents said they would convert the savings from a reduction in health benefits into higher wages for employees. Yet proponents of the tax are holding steadfast to the belief that nearly all would do so.

“In the real world, companies cut costs and they pocket the money,” said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America and a leader of the opposition to the tax. “Executives tell the shareholders: ‘Hey, higher profits without any revenue growth. Great!’ ”
So say goodbye to the annual chipping away of benefits in your company health insurance plan, now management can lop off huge portions of what you once received and claim great profits to Wall St to make their options more valuable.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Another NY Times article that is full of shit

And probably won't be read by many people because, really folks, who wants to know what a dairy farm does with all that manure. But you should give it a look-see. The reporter, Henry Fountain, has put no small effort to make it readable. Consider the intro:
Day and night, a huge contraption prowls the grounds at Frank Volleman’s dairy in Central Texas. It has a 3,000-gallon tank, a heavy-duty vacuum pump and hoses and, underneath, adjustable blades that scrape the surface as it passes along.

In function it is something like a Zamboni, but one that has crossed over to the dark side. This is no hockey rink, and it’s not loose ice being scraped up. It’s cow manure.
I'm not sure the Zamboni people would be keen on that comparison. But where else will you learn that the average dairy cow produces more manure by weight than the average weight of an adult German female (148.5 lbs). Maybe you should read it, you need the learning.

Even in the wilds of Fargo, North Dakota

They must have heard about this one. If not, it goes a long way to explaining a Senator like Kent Conrad.

Some people have memories longer than yesterday

And BarbinMD over at the Great Orange Stan brings one of those memories to our attention. With the failed attempt in Detroit, this has a special relevance.
Republicans have cast votes against the key TSA funding measure, the 2010 appropriation bill for the Department of Homeland Security contained, which included funding for the TSA, including for explosives detection systems...A full 108 Republicans voted against the conference version, including Boehner, Boehner, Hoekstra, Pence, Michelle Bachmann, Marsha Blackburn, Darrell Issa, and Joe Wilson.

The conference bill included more than $4 billion for "screening operations," including $1.1 billion in funding for explosives detection systems, including $778 million for buying and installing the systems.
You, as a member of the flying public, are supposed to forget that and only believe what the Republicans tell you today. Would those nice GOP'ers lie to you?

From the Party of NO: Sen. Jim DeMint is the one who has put a hold on President Obama's nominee to head the TSA because he is concerned that Erroll Southers will let the employees unionize, which is way more important than stopping people from blowing up planes.

Arlen Specter confirms what we all knew

At least all of us in the reality community. But the best part was his doing so from the den of the beast, Fux News Sunday.
"I'd like to pick up on what Sen. DeMint says about the process. I think the process was very bad. But the process was really caused, in large measure, by the refusal of the Republicans to deal in any way," said Specter.

"Sen. DeMint is the author of the famous statement that this is going to be President Obama's 'Waterloo,' that this ought to be used to break the president," said Specter, referring to the political battle over health care. "So that before the ink was dry on the oath of office -- and I know this, because I was in the caucus -- the Republicans were already plotting ways to beat President Obama in 2012."
Sen DeMint has responded, not by denying what Specter alleges but with a vicious ad hominem attack as prescribed in the GOP playbook.

Lewis Black expains the Old Testament

After all, it is his people's book.



Best Line: These people are watching the Flintstones as if it were a documentary.

Sorry about the sync problem

Noted Liar and GOP Smear Artist

Andy Martin, has cranked up his machinery and let loose a a True Rovian Lie at his Illinois primary opponent, Mark Kirk.
Andy Martin, a conservative public interest lawyer, put out a spot on local radio in which he pushes a "solid rumor" that fellow Senatorial aspirant, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), "is a homosexual."

"I helped expose many of Barack Obama's lies in 2008," the ad goes. "Today, I am fighting for the facts about Mark Kirk. Illinois Republican leader Jack Roeser says there is a 'solid rumor that Kirk is a homosexual.' Roeser suggests that Kirk is part of a Republican Party homosexual club. Lake County Illinois Republican leader Ray True says Kirk has surrounded himself with homosexuals."
For the record, Mark Kirk is saddled with many grievous flaws, but being gay is not one of them. Sadly, as Bullshit Andy Martin knows full well, just speaking the lie gives it a life it doesn't deserve.

Dear Reader, do not suppose that I in anyway support and GOP candidate. I thoroughly enjoy watching them rip each other apart. I do consider it a public service to bring light to the activities of mendacious scum like Andy Martin.

The Big Zero

So suggests Dr Krugman we should call the decade past.
But from an economic point of view, I’d suggest that we call the decade past the Big Zero. It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true.

It was a decade with basically zero job creation. O.K., the headline employment number for December 2009 will be slightly higher than that for December 1999, but only slightly. And private-sector employment has actually declined — the first decade on record in which that happened.

It was a decade with zero economic gains for the typical family. Actually, even at the height of the alleged “Bush boom,” in 2007, median household income adjusted for inflation was lower than it had been in 1999. And you know what happened next.

It was a decade of zero gains for homeowners, even if they bought early: right now housing prices, adjusted for inflation, are roughly back to where they were at the beginning of the decade. And for those who bought in the decade’s middle years — when all the serious people ridiculed warnings that housing prices made no sense, that we were in the middle of a gigantic bubble — well, I feel your pain. Almost a quarter of all mortgages in America, and 45 percent of mortgages in Florida, are underwater, with owners owing more than their houses are worth.

Last and least for most Americans — but a big deal for retirement accounts, not to mention the talking heads on financial TV — it was a decade of zero gains for stocks, even without taking inflation into account. Remember the excitement when the Dow first topped 10,000, and best-selling books like “Dow 36,000” predicted that the good times would just keep rolling? Well, that was back in 1999. Last week the market closed at 10,520.
So unless you were running a big hedge fund or Goldmine Sachs, the last decade really had nothing for you and the Big Zero does seem totally appropriate. Mind you, the decade is not to be confused with the person of George W Bush who is to many the manifestation of the Big Zero.

An idea worth fighting for

From Bloomberg:
A one-page proposal gaining traction in Congress could turn back the clock on Wall Street 10 years, forcing the breakup of banks, including Citigroup Inc.

Lawmakers in both parties, seeking to prevent future financial crises while soothing public anger over bailouts and bonuses, are turning to an approach that’s both simple and transformative: re-imposing sections of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial and investment banking.

Those walls came down with passage of the Gramm-Leach- Bliley Act of 1999. A proposal to reconstruct them, made by U.S. Senators John McCain and Maria Cantwell on Dec. 16, would prevent deposit-taking banks from underwriting securities, engaging in proprietary trading, selling insurance or owning retail brokerages. The bill could also force the unwinding of deals consummated during the financial crisis, including Bank of America Corp.’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co.

“The impact on Wall Street would be severe,” Wayne Abernathy, an executive vice president at the American Bankers Association, said in a telephone interview.
“The impact on Wall Street would be severe,” I think that is something we all would like to see. The banksters are going to fight this tooth and nail, which is a good indicator of the value of the restoration. If you are mad as hell about what Wall St. has done to your country, what the banksters have done, this is your chance to write or call or fax your Rep and Sens. Keep it clean, but let them know how you feel, now and every chance you get.

Start with an e-mail to House.gov or Senate.gov. It's free and you are already online.

P.S. Phil Gramm doesn't like the idea, it must be good.

Monday Music Blogging

A musical fantasie on the opera Carmen by Bizet.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Maybe they are both right

On ABC this morning Dr Krugman said something scary

'Reasonably High Chance' the Economy...

On the other hand, Tiny Tim Geithner thinks it will all be rosy.

And they are probably both right, because Tiny Tim is referring to the world he knows, that of his good buddies on Wall St and the Doctor is referring to the rest of the country, still looking at the Great Bush Depression.

Don't get sick

There might be something to the GOP health care plan if you read the Sunday papers.

The LA Times has a frightening report on the lack interstate uniformity in licensing of nurses and reporting of license revocations.

The Washington Post informs us that one of the people in the operating room may be a salesman instructing the surgeon how to use the latest technology.

About those two guys on the flight deck

If you are flying a major airline they probably have plenty of experience and training. If you are on a commuter or feeder airline, not so much. A year after a fatal airplane crash that killed 50 people, The Buffalo News is beginning a series of investigative reports on pilots and their fitness. The first part is about training, something the major airlines can afford and the little ones can't. And this exchange will make you doubt the schools they come from to begin with.
Several pilots said they know pilots who did their pre-airline flying in the Southwest — without ever flying in a cloud — and then were hired by a regional carrier flying in the wintry Northeast.

"Wow, wow," a new first officer said to his pilot on a regional airline plane, according to Louis Smith, a veteran pilot who runs FltOps.com, an Alabama-based professional pilot career advisory firm.

"What's wrong?" the pilot asked.

"Clouds, man. I've never flown in actual weather."
It's not all bad, but there is more than enough to make the train look good.

PS. Check out the related content as well.

I guess we won't go to war with Iran

And the tell is Sen Judas Joe Lieberschmuck, the preeminent asshole in the Senate (a signal honor in that body) now calling for war in [drumroll please] YEMEN! Yes Sir! Everybody's favorite CT Spooge Bucket wants more war and probably figures that Yemen is small enough for the remaining US military to defeat.

Happy Birthday Tracy Nelson

Born Dec 27, 1945 and still going strong


Remember those death panels?

The end of life counseling that gave rise to that vicious lie from the mouths of unfeeling politicians, is meant to deal with the subject of an article published in the NY Times. It deals with palliative care and medical sedation used to ease the pain and suffering of terminal patients last days. It deals with difficult questions of conscience and professional knowledge and skill. It is long, it is heartbreaking and it lets you see just how evil those damned death panel spouters really are.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Raise your hats and your glasses too

We will dance the whole night through


From the Onion

Is art supposed to imitate life or is it the other way around?


Reporters Expose Airport Security Lapses By Blowing Up Plane

Unknown to the public

And in most cases, if the recent financial collapse is any indicator, unable to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities. But don't for a minute think this keeps them from making tidy 6 figure sums for little more than a few days work at each of the several companies that hire them. I am referring to corporate directors, allegedly hired to oversee the executive officers of the corporation. The same executive officers that hired them, give them wonderful goodies and makes sure they are paid "appropriately".
YOU might think that board members overseeing businesses that cratered in the credit crisis would be disqualified from serving as directors at other public companies.

You would, however, be wrong.

Directors who were supposedly minding the store as disaster struck at companies like Countrywide Financial, Washington Mutual or Fannie Mae have not all been banished from other boardrooms. In many cases, directors just seem to skate away from company woes that occurred on their watch.

To some investors, this is an example of the refusal of those involved in the debacle to accept responsibility for it. Whether you are talking about top executives loading up on leverage, regulators who slept while companies took on titanic risks or mortgage lenders that made thousands of dubious loans, few in this crowd have acknowledged culpability. Taxpayers and shareholders, meanwhile, who had nothing to do with the problems, are left holding the bag.

“None of these directors have stood up and said, ‘We made a mistake here by not calling management to account,’ ” said Paul Hodgson, senior research associate at the Corporate Library, a corporate governance research firm. “They have certainly avoided the limelight as far as blame is concerned.”

Moreover, they continue to get work as directors at other companies.
Board members are just another form of unaccountable crook on Wall St and unlike your Blankfeins, Dimons & Lewis' you don't even know their names. So you never know where they will show up next.

What if you co-sponsored CPAC but weren't allowed to speak?

Chances are you would be a gay Republican 2nd class party member.
Earlier this month, conservative gay rights group GOProud announced that it would be a co-sponsor of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). But the group’s inclusion as a co-sponsor has led to a backlash from the anti-gay right, some of whom are threatening to boycott CPAC if GOProud’s sponsorship isn’t removed. CPAC director Lisa De Pasquale told Hot Air last week that she was “satisfied” that GOProud “do not represent a ‘radical leftist agenda’ and thus “should not be rejected as a CPAC cosponsor.” But David Keene, the head of CPAC’s main organizing group, tried to calm the potential boycott by using a different tactic. In an e-mail to a right-wing radio host, Keene promised that GOProud would not have a speaking spot and that gay rights issues would not be “open to debate”
Not as weird as it seems, after all Hitler and the Nazi Party had jewish supporters up to the end of the war. They weren't allowed to debate the Final Solution though.

O, what a tangled web we weave

And Robbie Burns was thinking of a simpler times when he wrote those words. The AP has put together a trail of companies involved in the shipment of North Korean arms that were seized in Thailand.
Thai authorities' high-profile inspection of 35 tons of North Korean weapons was nearing completion Friday, as clues emerging around the world shed light on the business of arms trafficking — and the lengths smugglers take to hide their identities.

Two weeks after Thai authorities impounded the aircraft and arrested its five-man crew, the key questions of who organized the shipment and where it was headed remain unanswered.

But a trail of companies and fake addresses from New Zealand to Barcelona has illustrated how the traffickers bounced around the globe to lightly regulated countries to disguise their movements. Over the past few months, they created a complex web of holding companies that facilitated the flight in an apparent effort to evade U.N. sanctions on North Korea.
The trail uncovered so far touches many parts of the globe and they still don't know everything. And this was only one planeload.

Happy Boxing Day

Please be careful to stay within your weight.Time to put away your Christmas decorations for another nine months.

Friday, December 25, 2009

How was your Christmas

From McClatchy:
Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, thousands of miles away from their loved ones, did things this Christmas Day that they wouldn't at home. They improvised -- building an ersatz Christmas tree out of stacked communications equipment. And they partied.

At Camp Phoenix, outside Kabul, dinner included prime rib, shrimp cocktail, and a Christmas cake in the shape of a tree that was about the size of a tree.

After the sun went down, and the mammoth spread of food was removed, the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation club at Camp Phoenix cleared the dance floor and blasted hip-hop music until midnight...

..With the American military's "General Order No. 1" still in effect, all celebrants were teetotalers. U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan are prohibited from consuming alcohol.

Langley spent Christmas evening sipping on an iced tea - regular, not Long Island - with friends.
And they have another 3 months before they have a happy New Year.

Dick & Dickless Cheney get their wish

According to the government there has been a terrorist attack on a flight inbound from Amsterdam to Detroit. It was unsuccessful and further details are emerging. As yet there have been no "I told you so's" from the Cheney family.

Three cheers for Tim Burke

From Cross Country Skier:
Sunday morning, U.S. Biathlete Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) made U.S. Biathlon history taking the coveted Yellow Bib as the Overall leader in the International Biathlon Union's (IBU) World Cup standings by placing 6th in the World Cup 12.5km Pursuit in Pokljuka, Slovenia. History has been repeating for Burke this season as he began the World Cup season with two podium finishes - silver in the 20km Individual competition (tying the best World Cup finish ever for a U.S. biathlete), and bronze in the 10k Sprint in Östersund, Sweden.

"Tim Burke taking the yellow bib today places him in the Royal Family of Biathlon," said USBA Executive Director Max Cobb. "He is the best American Biathlete ever!"
You can find more details here.

Merry Christmas to All

Something for all those awakened by the kids 2 hours after you went to sleep, and then have to welcome the family visitors.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stille Nacht (Silent Night )


O Holy Night


Minuit, chrétiens


O Little Town Of Bethlehem


Carol Of The Bells


We Three Kings of Orient Are


NORAD Santa Tracker

As they do every year, NORAD is keeping tabs on Santa Claus as he makes his rounds. At this time (1:43 PM EST), he is in Multan Pakistan. Probably dodging RPG's and AK rounds from Sunni and Shia alike. Stay tuned to see if he makes it to your neighborhood.

A new vehicle in the Governators future?

Back when the Hummer was first introduced, Arnold Schwartzenegger just had to get one to support his tough guy image. The Army is introducing a new vehicle into the Kabul Quagmire that is way tougher.
On Afghanistan's rough dirt roads, however, the new $500,000 to $1 million Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicle is a major improvement over the massive Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle it's replacing, soldiers say. The M-ATV is tailored to Afghanistan, at least parts of it, and the Pentagon is sending about 5,000 of them to the battlefield.

For soldiers who'd grown accustomed to bruising trips through rural Afghanistan, their first M-ATVs, which have just been introduced in the field, were an early Christmas present. Seemingly without effort, the vehicles climb mountains at angles that approach 45 degrees, and they glide across the country's rocky roads.

In the cities, the M-ATV's lighter frame can make sharp turns and maneuver through Afghanistan's lawless traffic much better than the hulking MRAP can.
And it's Oshkosh B'Gosh! Maria, are you listening, just in case you still need something for the Guv.

How to make a $Billion or two on Wall St.

The answer has been said so many times in so many ways, but Gretchen Morgenson and Louise Story take another look at how investment houses wrapped up a pile of the worst junk they could find, sold it as an investment vehicle and then bet against it. Or as one expert in the matter puts it,
“The simultaneous selling of securities to customers and shorting them because they believed they were going to default is the most cynical use of credit information that I have ever seen,” said Sylvain R. Raynes, an expert in structured finance at R & R Consulting in New York. “When you buy protection against an event that you have a hand in causing, you are buying fire insurance on someone else’s house and then committing arson.
It is probably not a good idea to read about this just before Christmas. And with all the friends and loyal employees of Goldmine Sachs in the government, you can't even hope for an honest investigation of this. Anybody trying to do a Judge Sirica in this matter would be steamrolled by several million dollars worth of lawyers before he called his court to order.

Another Republican plot to destroy the US is foiled.

From the WaPo:
The Defense Department estimates it will save an average of $44,000 a year for every contractor it replaces with full-time federal personnel to perform critical defense jobs, according to the House-Senate conference report on the fiscal 2010 defense appropriation bill.

The measure, which passed Congress on Saturday, contains $5 billion to hire replacements for contractors currently performing what have been termed "inherently government functions" both at home and abroad. Those functions include a wide range of activities, from supervising other contractors who provide guard services at forward operating bases, to providing oversight of aid projects overseas.
The use of contractors by the GOP and the Bushies in particular was always designed to defund the government and enrich some of their corporate buddies along the way.

Quote of the Day

I said, 'Let's start doing some Glenn Beck stuff but in praise of Glenn Beck,'" said Colbert. "But every time we do one, he will have done something dumber. He raised the stupid bar and now it's nearly inapproachable.
Steven Colbert, noting that Glen Beck may well be the death of satire.

At least the roof stayed in place.

When I was a teenager, the ultimate success in a drag race was to "blow the doors off" the other guy. Now that I am older and drive like my granny always told me to, it gives me shivers when I see this written about a nuclear research facility.
The explosion blew the doors off the building -- which is described in the report as, "two doors were propelled off the facility.
When these guys test their equations about an explosion, they aren't supposed to be that far off.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Your Two Minute Ed

A good lie is like a bad Republican, you can't get yourself rid of either.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


I'm not yet in the Christmas Spirit

Maybe a little Nutcracker will do it.


On the 30th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan

Rep. Eric Massa has a post in the Huffington Post calling for a vote in Congress on the Kabul Quagmire.
Christmas Eve is a time to gather with friends and family to reflect on the good things in life. It's a time to share our joys and our hopes for peace on earth and good will towards all.

This year Christmas Eve has a sad and ironic twist to it however.

As we begin our deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, this Christmas Eve will also mark the 3,000th day of the war in Afghanistan and the 30th anniversary of the initial Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Thus far, this war has already cost the American taxpayer a minimum of $300,000,000,000 according to the Congressional Research Service (and that's just the funding that's "on budget").

Sadly, the fact that we're spending about $101 million per day in this war is the good news. The financial cost of this war is nothing compared to the fact that 937 American troops have been killed, and 4,434 have been wounded (and that's not counting the thousands more that will carry the memories of this war for their entire lives).
Rep. Massa is one of the few voices calling for a turn to rational thought about Afghanistan. We should all support his efforts.


Pastor Fred Phelps furious at Lady Gaga

It seems she stole her act from his annual Christmas pageant.


God Bless Louise Slaughter

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, wrote in a CNN op-ed today that the health care bill should be scrapped entirely.

"The Senate health care bill is not worthy of the historic vote that the House took a month ago," Slaughter wrote
Ooo, this will make little Rahmbo very, very mad.

From the Progressive Change Campaign Committee


The Descent of McCain

MoDo looks at the sad, almost tragic decline of John McCain from principled maverick to embittered misanthrope displaying all the worst elements of a sore Republican loser.
The man used to be such a constructive independent that some of his Republican Senate colleagues called him a traitor. Now he’s such a predictable obstructionist that he’s in the just-say-no vanguard with the same conservatives who used to despise him.

On Tuesday afternoon on the floor, Senator Mitch McConnell, who contemptuously fought McCain’s campaign finance reform bill all the way to the Supreme Court, oozed admiration toward his Arizona colleague, as McCain did yet another grandstanding fandango on the health care bill.
What kind of brain damage could let a man voluntarily associate with Mitch McConnell.

Good thing John Kerry has good health insurance

Teresa Heinz says she is being treated for breast cancer discovered through mammography and argues that younger women should continue undergoing the tests despite a federal panel's recent recommendation to reduce their frequency.
We wish her well and hope he treatment is successful.

ICE has lockups anywhere they find a door they can lock

The upcoming issue of The Nation has a report by Jacqueline Stevens that reveals that ICE (International Criminal Enterprise?) has detention facilities all over the country. Many of the detention facilities of ICE are such in name only, without even the basic facilities provided in a lockup, like a bed and a toilet. And since these facilities are not officially detention centers, there is no oversight of how they are handled or who is detained. Or as the Bushie Head of ICE told a group of law "enforcement" people,
"If you don't have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he's illegal, we can make him disappear." Those chilling words were spoken by James Pendergraph, then executive director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of State and Local Coordination, at a conference of police and sheriffs in August 2008.
And when they disappear you what kind of a facility might you expect to end up in?
According to Ahilan Arulanantham, director of Immigrant Rights for the ACLU of Southern California, the Los Angeles subfield office called B-18 is a barely converted storage space tucked away in a large downtown federal building. "You actually walk down the sidewalk and into an underground parking lot. Then you turn right, open a big door and voilà, you're in a detention center," Arulanantham explained. Without knowing where you were going, he said, "it's not clear to me how anyone would find it. What this breeds, not surprisingly, is a whole host of problems concerning access to phones, relatives and counsel."

It's also not surprising that if you're putting people in a warehouse, the occupants become inventory. Inventory does not need showers, beds, drinking water, soap, toothbrushes, sanitary napkins, mail, attorneys or legal information, and can withstand the constant blast of cold air. The US residents held in B-18, as many as 100 on any given day, were treated likewise. B-18, it turned out, was not a transfer area from point A to point B but rather an irrationally revolving stockroom that would shuttle the same people briefly to the local jails, sometimes from 1 to 5 am, and then bring them back, shackled to one another, stooped and crouching in overpacked vans. These transfers made it impossible for anyone to know their location, as there would be no notice to attorneys or relatives when people moved. At times the B-18 occupants were left overnight, the frigid onslaught of forced air and lack of mattresses or bedding defeating sleep. The hours of sitting in packed cells on benches or the concrete floor meant further physical and mental duress.
Family, friends, attorneys, you won't find them because they can't find you.

Before any teabaggers start exulting at what ICE is doing to "illegals", stop and consider that they might just be practicing for when they are ordered to take you out.

Oh, nice reaction Senator!

GOP Sen. Barasso just sort of sits there and stares at the camera when a caller asks him if he prayed hard enough for Sen Byrd to die. I guess Republicans get asked that question every day.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Music for those far away

This tune was written during WWII to express a timeless feeling for those separated from their loved ones.


Didn't see this coming

James Wolcott has a new hero and it's no one you would normally imagine him admiring.

It's probably too late to get one.

All you last minute shoppers better try something else.


Aunts And Stepdads Line Up For This Year's Hottest Gift: The Electric Tea Kettle

Your Two Minute Ed

Tonight it's Ed & Sestak and some golfer

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Bernanke misses his cue

According to the WaPo:
Bernanke, who was in charge of regulating the nation's largest banks, told the audience that these firms were not at risk. He said most were not even involved in subprime lending. And the broader economy, he concluded, would be fine.

"Importantly, we see no serious broad spillover to banks or thrift institutions from the problems in the subprime market," Bernanke said. "The troubled lenders, for the most part, have not been institutions with federally insured deposits."

He was wrong. Five of the 10 largest subprime lenders during the previous year were banks regulated by the Fed. Even as Bernanke spoke, the spillover from subprime lending was driving the banking industry into a historic crisis that some firms would not survive. And the upheaval would shove the economy into recession.

Just as the Fed had failed to protect borrowers from the consequences of subprime lending, so too had it failed to protect banks.
And we are supposed to believe that if we give him another chance, he will get it right next time.

Michelle Bachmann, sucker of the public teat

Voters for Michelle Bachmann just suckers. It seems that our Merry Michelle cries out against socialism at the front door, while profiting from it at the back door.
Bachmann, of Minnesota, has spent much of this year agitating against health care reform, whipping up the so-called tea-baggers with stories of death panels and rationed health care. She has called for a revolution against what she sees as Barack Obama’s attempted socialist takeover of America, saying presidential policy is “reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom.”

But data compiled from federal records by Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog that tracks the recipients of agricultural subsidies in the United States, shows that Bachmann has an inner Marxist that is perfectly at ease with profiting from taxpayer largesse. According to the organization’s records, Bachmann’s family farm received $251,973 in federal subsidies between 1995 and 2006. The farm had been managed by Bachmann’s recently deceased father-in-law and took in roughly $20,000 in 2006 and $28,000 in 2005, with the bulk of the subsidies going to dairy and corn. Both dairy and corn are heavily subsidized—or “socialized”—businesses in America (in 2005 alone, Washington spent $4.8 billion propping up corn prices) and are subject to strict government price controls. These subsidies are at the heart of America’s bizarre planned agricultural economy and as far away from Michele Bachmann’s free-market dream world as Cuba’s free medical system. If American farms such as hers were forced to compete in the global free market, they would collapse.

However, Bachmann doesn’t think other Americans should benefit from such protection and assistance. She voted against every foreclosure relief bill aimed at helping average homeowners (despite the fact that her district had the highest foreclosure rate in Minnesota), saying that bailing out homeowners would be “rewarding the irresponsible while punishing those who have been playing by the rules.” That’s right, the subsidy queen wants the rest of us to be responsible.
To be fair to Michelle, who hardly deserves it, she is not the only one living high off the government hog. Chuck Grassley, Sam Brownback and some Blue Dogs also share the slobber, but health insurance for all Americans is just way too expensive.

Freshman Congressman comes out of the closet

Finally admits to his colleagues that, yes, he is a Republican. Experts are still concerned for his mental health.

Tom Toles Today



click pic to big

R.I.P. Arnold Stang

The face that sold a million Chunkys.


Xe, nee Blackwater looking for new contracts

Because if we waste too much money in the Kabul Quagmire, what the hell, we got plenty more. And if Blackwater murders a few people, breaks a few rules and costs way more than the value of their services, that's just boys being boys. And as former GOP congressman Christopher Shays says,
contractors play a vital role that is likely to grow as the U.S. buildup in Afghanistan goes forward.
And everybody knows soldiers can't do the job.

Roland Burris, Senator & Poet


Are there any other ways we can assist Goldmine Sachs?

From Bloomberg (News, not the mayor):
As if billions in cash and government guarantees wasn't enough, it turns out investment bank Goldman Sachs will also be sucking on the taxpayers' teat when employees move into their slick new digs at the corner of West and Vesey in Manhattan next year.

The New Goldman Sachs World Headquarters -- a 43-story office tower next to the World Trade Center site -- is being built with the help of millions of dollars from taxpayers, Bloomberg news service reports.

The company that has been the focus of populist anger since the TARP bailout last year took advantage of programs the government set up to revitalize lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks. Setting up shop next to the WTC qualified Goldman Sachs for $49 million in "job-grant funds, tax exemptions and energy discounts," Bloomberg's Christine Harper reported.

Additionally, because then-Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson raised concerns about security at the site, the city and state gave the construction project an additional $66 million in benefits. And the investment bank was also allowed to sell tax-free some $1.6 billion of Liberty Bonds -- bonds created to fund the effort to rebuild lower Manhattan. That allowed Goldman Sachs to avoid taking out a commercial loan for that amount of money, saving it an additional $175 million over 30 years, according to the Bloomberg report.
Windfall profit taxes look better and better each day.

Do you like auctions?

If so, you might like some of the auctions being conducted for the FDIC to liquidate the "other assets" acquired when the FDIC closes a bank. Much of it is mundane office furniture and equipment and such, but occasionally something special comes along.
The financial crisis that popped the real estate bubble and pushed U.S. bank failures to a 17-year high landed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. a rapper’s tour bus that reeked of marijuana.

“It smelled so bad of pot after one tour that they had to completely pull out most of the interior and replace it,” said Jerry Jenkins, who sold the bus at Penny Worley Auctioneers after the FDIC acquired it in the collapse of an Atlanta bank. “By the time we got it, it was almost brand-new.”...

..People get what we call auction frenzy,” Jenkins said. “We don’t want to give them a week to think about it afterwards, so items usually have to be picked up within one day.”

Most come prepared. That was the case with the Ferrari, a 360 Spider F1 with 27,363 miles that sold earlier this year. The buyer paid $61,000 for a car that New Frontier Bank of Greeley, Colorado, had repossessed from an auto dealer that had defaulted on a loan. The buyer arrived on a red-eye flight, paid cash, and drove away, Jenkins said.

New Frontier, which cost the insurance fund $670 million, also left the FDIC with a 1,000-horsepower drag-racing Chevrolet pickup truck, and almost 1,000 milking cows. Sales from assets of other failed banks have included armored trucks, industrial equipment and Thomas H. Benton lithographs. The palm tree fetched $105.
Hey, you never know what will go on the block.

O Come All Ye Faithful

Also known by the latin name "Adeste Fidelis" sung in a clean straight forward style by one of America's favorite singers in his day.


A very sensible idea

Travel writer and erstwhile flight attendant Tiffany Hawk has an opinion piece in the LA Times decrying the extended work hours of flight crews on most airlines. What was intended to be the maximum allowable has become the norm. Her solution for the problem is right on the money.
If an airline worries it can't afford to hire more flight attendants should schedules require safe doses of sleep, we should remind its shareholders that the company could get hundreds of them for the price of one chief executive officer. Though rested, the CEO won't be much help when your Airbus dives into the Hudson.
Nor anywhere else when you think about it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Your Two Minute Ed

Wherein Ed and Jane Hamsher speak out about the sell out.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Show us the e-mails

Elliot Spitzer follows up with Dylan Ratigan and Henry Blodgett on the Op-Ed from yesterday

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Three cheers for the Irish

Friend Mule Breath has found a device from the Emerald Isle that lets its users be blue and green at the same time. It is appropriate that an EMT would find such a healthful device.

The truth about bonuses



Don't blame the people who do the work.

click pic to big

Proof that Conservatism is a failed ideology

Former VP and current treasonous bastard Dickwahd al-Cheney has been named Conservative of the Year for extolling failed policies that endanger the United States, bankrupt the Treasury and fail to provide for the common security.

Your moment of Oh Shit!

The economist who has been most often right about the economy, Joseph Stiglitz, says the economy will be going down in 2010. He was saying this to a group that has most often been wrong about the economy and what to do about it, Congress. The odds of Congress putting together an effective stimulus as he suggests, about the same as winning the lottery. Your moment of "Oh Shit!"

Headline of the Day

Pig farts spark Australia gas scare
My first thought was what is Rush up to now, then I read the story.
Fifteen firefighters and two trucks were called to a property at Axedale in central Victoria state after reports of a gas leak, the Country Fire Service said.

"When we got there, as we drove up the driveway, there was this huge sow, about a 120-odd kilo (265-pound) sow, and it was very obvious where the gas was coming from," said fire captain Peter Harkins.

"We could not only smell it, but we heard it and it was quite funny."

Harkins said the pig's owner was "a little bit embarrassed to say the least," and it took fire crews a little while to compose themselves.
So, unlike listening to Rush Limbooger, no one was hurt.

And now the Huffington Post looks at the rampant mortgage fraud

You know, the one that began the financial collapse into the Great Bush Depression. Who they look at and the details they present may be new, but the big picture remains the same.
In its headlong rush to grow, Long Beach Mortgage, like most subprime lenders, tossed aside its tried-and-true tools for identifying risky borrowers and catching fraud in the form of falsified loan applications. As part of the company's business plan, the lender required little or no documentation from borrowers or allowed alternate forms of documentation, such as credit letters from landlords, that could be faked or forged.

Independent mortgage brokers recruiting new borrowers for Long Beach loans treated the policies as an invitation for fraud, former employees said. "A lot of brokers were forging a lot of that. They were making up pay stubs and presenting that," said Karan Weaver, who, as an underwriter in Long Beach Mortgage's Atlanta office, said she would reject such loans. "We did see falsified pay stubs and tax returns."
And the top management of these companies encouraged this atmosphere of fraud to maximize the quantity of loans and the profit, knowing they would be shipped and sold far away before they crashed and burned. Until there were too many for even the world economy to support.

And the rest of us are still waiting for the perp walks to begin.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]