Monday, May 31, 2010

Today is Memorial Day

Take some time to remember those who gave so much that you can be whatever you are today. They didn't want to do it either, but they did.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

A couple of fine Irish ladies


Friday, May 28, 2010

Pony Music Blogging


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Long Weekend Music Blogging


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Y'all come back next week now

I'm taking some time off for a long weekend with friends and family and you should too. Weather looks good for me. I hope it will be for you. And don't forget to go to the parade.

Thar's gold in them thar weeds!

And somebody finally did the economic analysis to see how much money there was to be made with a legal commercial medical marijuana growhouse.
My gut instinct said that this would be a great revenue and job generator for the city,” she said. "But after running the numbers, “I went, ‘Wow, that’s really a job generator.'"

Brion’s report found that licensing a seven-acre cannabis growing facility near I-880 at the Embarcadero would create up to 371 union jobs, paying an average salary of $53,700 a year. The site could produce an average of 58 pounds of cannabis per day, and generate gross revenues of around $59 million per year. The site would grow an estimated quarter of one percent of the estimated 8.6 million pounds of cannabis cultivated annually in California.

Jeff Wilcox, founder of AgraMed — a non-profit mutual benefit company set up in Oakland specifically to cultivate medical cannabis — commissioned the study. Wilcox, a retired construction company owner, wants to redevelop a seven-acre parcel he owns near I-880 and the Embarcadero. His four-building parcel abuts the Harborside Health Center, which is the West Coast’s most prestigious medical cannabis dispensary.

With largely vacant commercial real estate and a large power capacity, the entrepreneur in him looked at the growing medical cannabis industry and, after consulting with Harborside founder Stephen DeAngelo, concluded a large-scale indoor cannabis farm was an opportunity.
Turning lovely Oakland by the Bay into Cheebah City for fun and profit.

How to know when your shoes are smarter than your governor

When your state is so broke that it has to close the outhouses on its highways and your governor signs into law something that ultimately requires she establish a legal defense fund with the tax dollars that can't stretch far enough to keep an outhouse open.

Who said this?

"It's in our economic interests that we diversify away from oil. It's in our environmental interest, and, finally, it's in our national security interest."


If you said George W Bush you would be right.

Another gayboy in the American Family Association

And this guy must be killing himself with self loathing to come up with this idea. From TPM:
A top official with a leading social conservative group recently laid out the view that Adolf Hitler deliberately recruited gays to be his "enforcers," because they had "no limits" to "the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict."
How many people must be hurt before this shriveled soul comes out of his closet.

BP starts injecting mud

According to MSNBC, and we can only hope it goes in the right direction. Over at The Oil Drum Heading Out has some more details on how it works. It sure looks like BP has all the horses needed to pull this off, if everything works the way it should. A big if but what else do we have?

wkrg_oil_spill on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free


EXTRA: An industry look at the BP investigators report.

From the pen of Mike Lukovich


John Yoo sucks

And the New York Times gives the Godfather of Torture a platform to prove it.

Different industry, same process

In the economic collapse it was dangerous products with unknown risks in the hands of greedy people. In The Hayward Blowout if was dangerous processes with unknown risks in the hands of greedy people.
It’s unnerving, disorienting. A particularly noxious blend of helplessness, fear and fury that washes over you when you realize the country has again been dragged into a costly and scary maelstrom revolving around acronyms you’ve never heard of.

Our economy went in the ditch while traders got rich peddling C.D.O.’s and C.D.S.’s. Even many bankers — much less average Americans who lost their shirts — were gobsmacked by the acronyms, and scrambled to figure out how collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps worked.

And now a gazillion gallons of oil have poisoned the Gulf of Mexico, thanks in part to unethical employees at a once-obscure agency known as M.M.S. — the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service. M.M.S. is charged with collecting royalties from Big Oil even as it regulates it — an absurd conflict right there. So M.M.S. has had the same sort of conflicts of interest as ratings agencies like Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s had with Wall Street.
And in the end, people die, their lives and livelihoods are ruined and the malefactors walk off with the money. MoDo got this one right.

When the ICE man gets you

You are so fucked, even if you are innocent AND a US citizen.
Eduardo Caraballo, a U.S. citizen born in the United States, was detained for over three days on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant.

Despite presenting identifying documents and even his birth certificate, Caraballo was held by federal immigration authorities over the weekend and threatened with deportation, according to an NBC Chicago report. He was only released when his congressman, Luis Gutierrez -- a vocal supporter of immigration reform -- intervened on his behalf.
The ICE man may not be able to read but he does respect where his funding comes from.

Sarah Palin backs another loser

Vaughn Ward loses in Idaho primary. I will grant you that this bozo was well capable of losing on his own, but his going down in flames is all the more enjoyable thanks to the support of the Wasilla Winky Dink.

Momma don't let your daughter grow up to be Pi Beta Phi

Unless she plans to get a doctorate in Party Animal.
The Smoking Gun has obtained reports detailing the antics of two Ohio chapters of the same sorority at separate formal dances, both of which caused significant damage to the places in which they were held.
These was some crazy bitches!

Quote of the Day

The US is a big and important market for BP, and BP is also a big and important company for the US, with its contribution to drilling and oil and gas production. So the position goes both ways.
Carl-Henric Svanberg, the chairman of BP, trying to say that BP is the equal of the US and forgetting that he and Tony Hayward are just a couple of Brits over here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Your Two Minute Ed

Ed has a little fun with Rush The Talking Pig's stand-in

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


JD should stick to buzz words

And avoid anything that deals with facts.


Bluesday Music Blogging


Heard enough about the Top Kill?

If not, then poster Heading Out has a detailed and informative post on what is being done, what they will do and what they expect and what they want to avoid. They also have an animation for the kids.

Funny, yes

But I am waiting for the story coming up next.


Christian Groups: Biblical Armageddon Must Be Taught Alongside Global Warming

Is there anything too shitty

That Wal-Mart won't do it to one of its employees? Given all we know up to now, there is yet no bottom to the dark pit that is Wal-Mart's ethical behavior. Their latest stunt:
Friday night around 10:20, she was standing near some registers when she saw a man with a computer coming up the main walkway of the store.

“Action Alley is what they call it,” she says.

“He was walking rather fast, so it caught my eye.”

Ravenstein says the man kept walking and set off an alarm. She went after him.

“Let me see your receipt, and then I’ll take this off for you,” she told the man, referring to a sensor on the computer.

Ravenstein says the man refused and kicked her.

“And then he punched me in my shoulder, and then he finally gave up and just let go of the computer.”

Ravenstein walked back into the store and sat on the floor.

“I was shaking pretty bad,” she says.

Assistant store managers immediately checked on her.

“They all came out and made sure I was OK,” Ravenstein says. “They thanked me.”

The next day, about two hours before her shift was over, Ravenstein says an assistant manager asked to speak with her. He then told her it’s against Wal-Mart policy for anyone but a manager or someone in asset protection to try to stop a customer from stealing.

“He said there’s really no gray area,” Ravenstein says. “It just goes straight to termination.”

She was told to turn in her badges and keys.
Wal-Mart, where they rollback everything decent and admirable in life just to make a little more profit.

My Little Marjah

O little dear, you were supposed to be daddy's little darling. A shining example to all the sweethearts that followed you. Where did you go wrong and become such a disappointment?
The operation in Marjah is supposed to be the first blow in a decisive campaign to oust the Taliban from their spiritual homeland in adjacent Kandahar province, one that McChrystal had hoped would bring security and stability to Marjah and begin to convey an "irreversible sense of momentum" in the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan.

Instead, a tour last week of Marjah and the nearby Nad Ali district, during which McClatchy had rare access to meetings between McChrystal and top Western strategists, drove home the hard fact that President Barack Obama's plan to begin pulling American troops out of Afghanistan in July 2011 is colliding with the realities of the war.

There aren't enough U.S. and Afghan forces to provide the security that's needed to win the loyalty of wary locals. The Taliban have beheaded Afghans who cooperate with foreigners in a creeping intimidation campaign. The Afghan government hasn't dispatched enough local administrators or trained police to establish credible governance, and now the Taliban have begun their anticipated spring offensive.

"This is a bleeding ulcer right now," McChrystal told a group of Afghan officials,
In the theater, when you bring in a show doctor to punch up your play and it still bombs in New Haven, you close it before you waste anymore money. Obama and the Pentagon should look into that idea.

The question we all need answered.

Bob Herbert asks it today.
Traveling along the Gulf Coast, past idled boats with names like Big Shrimp and Blessed Assurance, past dead trees and hurricane fortifications and other signs of the area’s perpetual vulnerability, you can’t help but wonder how a company like BP, with its awful record of incompetence and irresponsibility, was ever allowed to drill for oil a mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s not as if we didn’t know that BP was a menace. On March 23, 2005, a series of explosions and fires at the BP Texas City refinery killed 15 people and injured 180 others in what was described by investigators as “one of the worst industrial disasters in recent U.S. history.” John Bresland, the chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, reminded us in March, on the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, that an intensive investigation by the board had “found organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP Corporation.”

The Texas City conflagration was just part of BP’s execrable pattern.
It is just too easy to say Money (and sex and drugs) talks.

"Whoever ends up with it last is the victim."

Such is the judgement of the Secret Service regarding counterfeit cash and who gets the loss.
A business inadvertently gives you counterfeit money — are you stuck with it? In most cases, yes. But what if that business happens to be a branch of the federal government?

Los Angeles resident David Lipin found himself asking this question the other day after he cashed a $1,000 Postal Service money order at a West Hollywood post office...

The Secret Service was sympathetic toward Lipin's situation. But an agent basically told him he was out of luck. Unless an investigation turned up a counterfeiting mastermind, the buck would stop with Lipin.

"Unfortunately, counterfeit money is like a hot potato," said Wayne Williams, deputy special agent in charge of the Secret Service's L.A. office. "Whoever ends up with it last is the victim."

Well, yes, but Lipin got his bogus cash from the U.S. Postal Service, redeeming a Postal Service money order. Shouldn't Uncle Sam bear some responsibility?

"Not really," Williams replied. "The post office operates as a business. It takes in money from customers. Postal workers don't really have special equipment or training to spot counterfeit bills. Unless they're in on it, this isn't their responsibility."

So Lipin is hosed?

"He's hosed."
And don't even think about passing it on once you know its funny money.

Because corporations are more important citizens than you or I

The Republican Party has stepped up to prevent poor little BP from being forced to pay their full liability for fucking up the Gulf of Mexico.
The failure to pass Menendez's proposal has become symbolic, in no small way, of what Democratic strategist James Carville described as a "lackadaisical" response to the crisis as a whole. As with the government's efforts to stop the flow of leaking oil, top Senate Democratic aides insist that they are utilizing all the available tools to get the liability cap raise into law. So far, two unanimous consent agreements to pass the bill have failed after a single Republican senator expressed objections -- worried, they say, that the higher liability would make it prohibitively expensive for smaller oil companies to drill in the Gulf.
If "Mom & Pop" can't pay the bill they shouldn't drill.

Arizona does it again

This time they are bringing out the accent police.


Monday, May 24, 2010

The ranks of the 99ers swell

And down in DC a bunch of lazy ass bums who get paid too much to do too little think that people who can't find work in the middle of the Great Bush Depression are too lazy to look for work.
More than a million people will probably be in Blake's boat by the end of the year. She's one of 19,000 in Maryland to have exhausted all available benefits, according to the state's labor department. As of last week, 65,400 people had exhausted benefits in New York -- up from 57,000 at the end of April. In Michigan, it's 34,900. In Illinois, 22,000. In Pennsylvania, 35,200. In California, 110,609. In Florida, the number had climbed to 130,000 before May and currently stands at 193,000.

People who've been out of work for longer than six months constitute 45.9 percent of the total unemployed. Those out of work at least a year make up 23 percent.

Only two-thirds of the country's 15.3 million unemployed receive benefits when they lose their jobs in the first place. Dean Baker, co-director of the progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research, said that while he supported extending benefits in principle, "It's a bit hard to push an argument that the benefits should be extended when so many people are getting nothing."[Somebody has their head up their ass with this idea]

Some families ineligible for unemployment benefits can get on welfare, formally known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The total number of TANF caseloads has risen to 4.6 million as of December after a steady monthly increase from 4.1 million the previous year. Policy experts say the program serves far fewer families than it should.
This would be a good time to remind those 535 useless fucks in DC that they are living comfortably on the public tit while they are telling millions of Americans to bugger off. We won't talk about the potential harm to the economy which is far from recovered.

Yeah, but it's Go-o-od Shit!

I like stories about ideas that show promise. This one from New Zealand is one such story.
A trial converter is being tested at Paraparaumu's wastewater treatment plant.

Dried human waste is mixed with plastic and formed into rods which are fed into the unit, where they are heated in the absence of air, in a process called pyrolysis.

As the material heats up, its carbon breaks down and is converted into gas.

That gas, which includes methane, could be used to power turbines and make electricity.

Any carbon-based material could go into the converter, SpectioNZ co-director Mike Henare said.

That meant New Zealand's mountain of plastic and organic waste could one day be turned into fuel. "Three million tonnes of waste goes into landfill each year. Of that, 1.8 million is organic, so there's the potential to divert that much. Successful development of the system could mean we no longer have to export waste to China."

The next step was to develop an industrial version of the converter, with a 100 kilowatt power supply, compared to 1kW on the trial version.
Here's wishing the Diggers good luck.

Your Two Minute Ed

Tonight Ed takes aim at the Wasilla Winky Dink.

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


Your Dylan Dally Moment

Dylan plays "Where's Baracko" and has an interesting chat with Spitzer and Alter.

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


Congratulations to Tom Tomorrow

It seems he gets to share in the glory of some guy named Vedder. And he still pens one of the most consistently great contemporary cartoons.

Remember that school dist. that set up a fake prom for the "others"

Having acted in such a low and mean spirited manner, they are too cowardly to admit what they did.
A rural Mississippi school district that was sued by a lesbian student who wanted to bring a same-sex date to the high school prom is denying accusations it routed her to a "sham prom" at a country club while most of her schoolmates partied elsewhere...

It's been nearly two months since McMillen attended a prom at the Fulton Country Club that drew fewer than 10 other students from Itawamba Agricultural High School. Most of her classmates attended a separate event at the nearby Evergreen Community Center, to which McMillen was not invited, and later posted pictures from the dance on Internet sites.
There seems to be a total lack of character and integrity in the homophobic community that makes it clear this country would be better off without them. Lower than a snakes asshole.

The sex and drugs must have been primo

Because the Minerals Management Service went way beyond reasonable and rational disagreement of positions to willful refusal to even look at evidence that might get in the way of their corporate pimps and drug dealers.
Last year, for example, federal marine mammal experts warned the MMS that it had minimized the environmental risks of drilling when assessing the impact of auctioning leases in four areas in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

MMS officials did not respond, although they are required under law to either adopt the recommendations from the experts or explain within 120 days why they rejected them. Their draft analysis was not finalized before the administration postponed further action on lease sales in March.

MMS officials also ignored the advice of its staff experts. In 2006, then-MMS biologist Jeff Childs provided a detailed analysis of how the Exxon Valdez spill had harmed generations of fish in Prince William Sound, and how a future spill could do the same in the Beaufort Sea. But Childs's conclusion that "a large oil spill . . . is likely to result in significant adverse effects on local [fish] populations requiring three or more generations to recover" would have forced MMS to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement before auctioning off a lease there.

"I have concerns about Jeff's analysis and will not insert it into the [Environmental Assessment] being sent to HQ at this time," wrote Deborah Cranswick, chief of the environmental assessment section at MMS, in a June 23 e-mail to her Alaska colleagues. "I believe that Regional management needs to review it first because Jeff has concluded new significant impacts from oil spills. This will trigger an EIS -- and thus delay the lease for at least a year."

Six days later, Paul Stang, Alaska MMS regional supervisor for leasing and the environment, sent a hand-written note to Childs saying, "As you know, a conclusion of significance under NEPA means an EIS and delay in sale 202. That would, as you can imagine, not go over well with HQ and others."

When Childs balked at deleting the finding, another manager rewrote it so that the lease process could move ahead without delay. The government held the sale in April 2007, receiving $42 million in bids from Shell, Conoco, BP, ENI Petroleum U.S., and Total E&P USA.
God forbid our corporate masters might face a delay or spend more money doing it right. More than most Bushies the MMS people knew what they were there for.

Top kill put off another day

First it was the weekend, then it would go on Tuesday and now BP is delaying one more day to Wednesday.
The oil company has been planning to attempt a procedure known as a top kill, in which heavy fluid would be pumped into the well. Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for exploration and production, said in an interview on NBC on Monday morning that the top kill would be attempted Wednesday morning. BP had previously said it hoped to execute the procedure on Tuesday.

The top kill is one of several proposed methods of stanching the flow of at least 210,000 gallons of oil a day that has been threatening marine life and sensitive coastal areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. BP officials have emphasized that none of the methods have been tried before at the depth of this leak, and Mr. Suttles noted the difficulties of working at such depths in explaining why the attempt was being delayed.
No real explanation here which makes the delay harder to take. They have to do it sooner or later and later will only be worse.

There is a lot of opposition to President Obama

And a great deal of it comes from corporations and the rest has been ginned up as corporate supported astroturf. And as Paul Krugman points out, none of this will stop large segments of the electorate from being fooled again into voting against their best interests.
So what President Obama and his party now face isn’t just, or even mainly, an opposition grounded in right-wing populism. For grass-roots anger is being channeled and exploited by corporate interests, which will be the big winners if the G.O.P. does well in November.

If this sounds familiar, it should: it’s the same formula the right has been using for a generation. Use identity politics to whip up the base; then, when the election is over, give priority to the concerns of your corporate donors. Run as the candidate of “real Americans,” not those soft-on-terror East coast liberals; then, once you’ve won, declare that you have a mandate to privatize Social Security. It comes as no surprise to learn that American Crossroads, a new organization whose goal is to deploy large amounts of corporate cash on behalf of Republican candidates, is the brainchild of none other than Karl Rove.

But won’t the grass-roots rebel at being used? Don’t count on it. Last week Rand Paul, the Tea Party darling who is now the Republican nominee for senator from Kentucky, declared that the president’s criticism of BP over the disastrous oil spill in the gulf is “un-American,” that “sometimes accidents happen.” The mood on the right may be populist, but it’s a kind of populism that’s remarkably sympathetic to big corporations.
And so we wait to see if Obama can use this fox populism to his advantage.

When you are faced with the death penalty

Have you the right to examine evidence that may prove your innocence if it was not a part of your trial? The Supreme Court will examine that and get back to us.
The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a Texas death row inmate should have access to evidence for DNA testing that he says could clear him of three murders.

The justices said Monday they will use the case of Hank Skinner to decide whether prison inmates may use a federal civil rights law to do DNA testing that was not performed prior to their conviction.

Federal appeals courts around the country have decided the issue differently. The high court previously blocked Skinner's execution while it considered his appeal.

Skinner, 47, faced lethal injection for the bludgeoning and strangling of his girlfriend, Twila Jean Busby, 40, and the stabbing of her two adult sons. The slayings occurred at their home in the Texas Panhandle town of Pampa on New Year's Eve in 1993.
Given the severity of his sentence, it seems only right to examine all the evidence, but appeals can be funny that way.

Brits want to beat feet from Kabool Quagmire

And let us not forget that they were smarter than we were in getting out of Iraq. Which makes their plans to withdraw from Afghanistan look like a good idea.
Senior British officials, including new Foreign Secretary William Hague, arrived in Afghanistan Saturday with a warning that Britain wants to withdraw its troops as soon as possible...

"We need to accept we are at the limit of numbers now and I would like the forces to come back as soon as possible," he was quoted as saying.

"We have to reset expectations and timelines.

"National security is the focus now. We are not a global policeman. We are not in Afghanistan for the sake of the education policy in a broken 13th-century country. We are there so the people of Britain and our global interests are not threatened," Fox said.
As this would not be the first time the Brits have left Afghanistan, we should respect their sense of timing. And sooner rather than later we should admit that experience counts.

Monday Music Blogging

You throw water on your face to wake up so throw a little Water Music on your ears, too.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Amen Corner

Can I get a witness


Cement

The LA Times has put together a good timeline of the Hayward Blowout with possible root causes examined. No one can be sure of what may or may not have occured until the well is sealed and a full investigation is done, there are common points of agreement.
Flaws in a cement encasement intended to seal BP's well were most likely the root of last month's deadly explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, according to interviews, government officials, congressional hearing testimony, drilling reports and other company documents.

The April 20 accident, which has resulted in millions of gallons of oil being spewed into the Gulf of Mexico, is the subject of multiple investigations that promise to be long and complex. Hearings in the last two weeks offered multiple lines of inquiry into what one engineer calls "a confluence of unfortunate events."

But at least a dozen experts with intimate knowledge of offshore drilling, including one who has seen investigation documents, agreed that, deep in the well, cement, or pipes encased by cement, had to have failed first.

Several have specifically fingered BP's design for that cement job, which used relatively little cement and relied on an unusual configuration that made it harder to test for imperfections, they said.
Did BP skimp on cement? Was the application flawed? Did BP omit the cement bond log to save money? We have to wait for the answer.

EXTRA: Another more technical explanation is here.

They are back and better than ever!

CEO perks are roaring back onto the corporate stage, making up for time lost to public opprobrium following the bankster induced financial collapse.
The lavish fringe benefits included country club dues, chauffeured drivers, personal financial planning services, home security systems and parking. Some increases were in perks that Obama administration officials consider among the most egregious, such as corporate aircrafts for personal travel.

J.P. Morgan Chase awarded its chairman and chief executive, Jamie Dimon, $91,000 in personal travel on the company jet in 2009, up from about $54,000 the previous year. His total perks increased 19 percent, to $266,000. Dimon, along with Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and McLean-based Capital One chief executive Richard Fairbank, also received sharply higher perks related to personal and home security.

"Marie Antoinette could fit into this crowd without missing a beat," said Nell Minow, co-founder of the Corporate Library, which found in recent studies of several thousand U.S. companies that more chief executives received club memberships than a year earlier, and companies paid more to cover executives' personal use of corporate planes. "Many people would think the solution would be not to be so provocative of unrest and unhappiness, but no, they're saying, 'Go ahead and do that, just build bigger walls around your house.' "
In fairness now, we have to admit that CEO's are worth every penny lavished on them. They are the only ones in the corporation doing any work.

R.I.P. Dorothy Kamenshek

That team up there has another All-Star.

Pissing away $Billions of tax dollars for this

From the WaPo:
The Obama administration's campaign to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan's second-largest city is a go-for-broke move that even its authors are unsure will succeed.

The bet is that the Kandahar operation, backed by thousands of U.S. troops and billions of dollars, will break the mystique and morale of the insurgents, turn the tide of the war and validate the administration's Afghanistan strategy.

There is no Plan B.
Brilliant idea, planning for everything to go as planned in a war zone. Why didn't anyone think of this before? And who can argue with some of the key requirements for success.
The offensive requires Afghan police to demonstrate, arguably for the first time, competence and integrity. It assumes that Americans, both military and civilian, can sort through complex tribal politics to ensure that power and funding go to the right people, and that Kandahar's chieftains will relinquish some control and support U.S. aims.
A plan so fool proof even a Republican could make it work. And to those who have to die as part of this glorious effort, we will keep you in our prayers. That always makes things better.

Will the cops mow your lawn, too?

The police officers in Corpus Christi Texas, in a moment of fine civic pride, spent a few hours the other day weeding a local park. Sadly, someone had to tell them what they were pulling out was not marijuana.
a recently discovered cache of plants, initially pegged by officials speaking to local news as "one of the largest marijuana plant seizures in the police department's history," turned out to be a relatively common prairie flower of little significance.

Texas officers ultimately spent hours laboring to tag and remove up to 400 plants from a city park, discovering only after a battery of tests that they had been sweating over mere Horse Mint, a member of the mint family -- effectively turning their ambitious drug bust into mere yard work.

The plants, which bear very few aesthetic similarities to cannabis, were reported by an unnamed youth who came across them while riding a bike in the park around 8 p.m. on Thursday. Upon visual inspection, police apparently agreed that the inoffensive plants had to go.

Ultimately, officers were reduced to conducting chemical tests to learn their "weed" was really just that: an actual weed.
Some poor little kid is going to get a beatdown when the cops get his name.

Sunday Music Blogging

A classic James Brown tune with some classic friends.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

100 percent principal protected absolute return barrier notes

Sounds like a good investment idea, doesn't it? And it was sold with the promise that worst case you get your principal back. Except when the issuing back goes tits up like Lehman Brothers.
The Minasians are a retired couple who live on Long Island. They contend that their UBS broker pushed the investment when one of their C.D.’s matured. The broker failed to explain the risks in the security, the Minasians said, and did not provide them with a prospectus. They did not even know their investment had been issued by Lehman Brothers until the firm collapsed.

“I am not a sophisticated investor,” said Mr. Minasian, a former engineer who is 68. “Many years ago I dabbled in the stock market, but I learned my lessons. Over the past 10 to 15 years my wife and I invested in C.D.’s.”

But that approach changed in January 2008, when, according to the Minasians, their UBS broker began calling with an investment idea — principal-protected notes. “We questioned him over and over,” Mr. Minasian said. “We initially told him we weren’t sure and that we wanted to think it over. Maybe the next day he called us and told us he was putting his father into the same notes and his father is very conservative.”

The Minasians said they decided to buy the instrument because they were assured by UBS, a financial adviser they had dealt with for years, that it was safe. The thing was called a “principal protected” note, after all.

Eight months later, Lehman went bankrupt. The note was virtually worthless.
And another group of suckers were fleeced by another "pulled out of my ass" investment vehicle that no one understood but it sure paid good to the brokers. Makes you wonder if anybody on Wall St sold any sound products these last ten years.

Bill Maher is mean to Conservatives

You too can bite into a refreshing burst of civilization.


Finally a useful purpose for Texas

From the AP:
Texas was all set to be part of an agreement with Vermont to dump nuclear waste in a remote region of the Lone Star state, and for the most part people living near the site were OK with it.

Now, though, that compact could mushroom to include waste from 36 other states, reinvigorating those who oppose the project to fight harder.

Environmentalists, geologists, the Texas League of Women Voters and others say the huge dumping ground will pollute groundwater and otherwise wreak havoc with the environment. The company that runs the site contends it'll be safe and many local residents applaud any expansion as a way to bring more jobs and prosperity to the West Texas scrubland.

"They got to put it somewhere," said Kathy Trevino, a retired nurses' aide who lives in Andrews, the closest Texas town to the site. "As long as they're safe and don't intentionally cause harm, I don't have a problem with it."
And the upside is that Texicans will no longer be able to sneak out into the civilized parts of the country. If they glow in the dark you ship them back home.

Bob Herbert gets it

From the NY Times:
The response of the Obama administration and the general public to this latest outrage at the hands of a giant, politically connected corporation has been embarrassingly tepid. We take our whippings in stride in this country. We behave as though there is nothing we can do about it.

The fact that 11 human beings were killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion (their bodies never found) has become, at best, an afterthought. BP counts its profits in the billions, and, therefore, it’s important. The 11 men working on the rig were no more important in the current American scheme of things than the oystermen losing their livelihoods along the gulf, or the wildlife doomed to die in an environment fouled by BP’s oil, or the waters that will be left unfit for ordinary families to swim and boat in.

This is the bitter reality of the American present, a period in which big business has cemented an unholy alliance with big government against the interests of ordinary Americans, who, of course, are the great majority of Americans. The great majority of Americans no longer matter.
Do you?

BP: Our shit is the best shit

Even though it has been tested to be less effective and more toxic that other dispersants, it does in the end produce greater profits.
[BP's chief operating officer Doug Suttles] confirmed BP had met a late Thursday deadline set by the US administration to answer concerns over the chemical dispersant used to break up the oil slick on the surface, but had failed to find a less toxic alternative.

"Right now, we cannot identify another product that is available that is better than the Corexit product," he said, stressing the dispersant they were using was on a list approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
So go suck on it you stupid sods!

Wrong choice Barry

President Obama had several choices for the long term response to The Hayward Blowout. Using Rahmbo's Ouija board this is what he chose.
President Barack Obama announced on Saturday the establishment of an independent presidential commission to probe a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that has already shut down a popular tourist beach in Louisiana.

As Grand Isle, Louisiana, closed its seven-mile beach to clean up an orange-liquidy slick washing ashore, the president moved to prevent similar disasters in the future.

The main task of the bipartisan body, formed by an executive order, is to provide recommendations on how the oil industry can prevent -- and mitigate the impact of -- any future spills that result from offshore drilling.
A Special Prosecutor would have been more appropriate.

Just in case

A lot of what happens in the diplomatic world is driven by the need to be prepared for what might happen in any given situation. If BP had used this model for their drilling, we might not need to do this as reported in the WaPo:
U.S and Cuban officials are holding "working level" talks on how to respond to the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill that is believed to be dumping some 5,000 barrels of crude a day into the Gulf of Mexico, two State Department officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The talks add to signs of concern that strong currents could carry the slick far from the site of the spill, possibly threatening the Florida Keys and the pristine white beaches along Cuba's northern coast.

They are also a rare moment of cooperation between two countries locked in conflict for more than half a century.

"I can confirm that they are ongoing and going on at the working level," State Department Spokesman Gordon Duguid told reporters in Washington. "It is incumbent upon us to inform all of our neighbors, not just the islands, but those countries that could be affected by disasters that happen within our territorial waters."
Ocean currents will make my territorial waters your territorial waters soon enough.

Obama needs a primary opponent for 2012

For all the good he may have accomplished, and most of that is arguable, President Obama has too often shown himself all too ready to trash the general public in the quest for chimerical support from the radical right. With the public outrage currently focused on the less than ept response to The Hayward Blowout in the Gulf, the public is being set up for another political shiv in the back.
In setting up his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, Barack Obama is again playing coy in public, but his intentions are widely understood among Washington insiders. The president intends to offer Social Security as a sacrificial lamb to entice conservative deficit hawks into a grand bipartisan compromise in which Democrats agree to cut Social Security benefits for future retirees while Republicans accede to significant tax increases to reduce government red ink.

Obama's commission is the vehicle created to achieve this deal. He ducks questions about his preferences, saying only that "everything has to be on the table." But White House lieutenants are privately talking up a bargain along those lines. They are telling anxious liberals to trust the president to make only moderate cuts. Better to have Democrats cut Social Security, Obama advisers say, than leave the task to bloodthirsty Republicans.

The president has stacked the deck to encourage this strategy. The eighteen-member commission is top-heavy with fiscal conservatives and hostile right-wingers who yearn to dismantle the retirement program. The Republican co-chair, former Senator Alan Simpson, is especially nasty; he likes to get laughs by ridiculing wheezy old folks. Democratic co-chair Erskine Bowles and staff director Bruce Reed secretly negotiated a partial privatization of Social Security with Newt Gingrich back when they served in the Clinton White House, but the deal blew up with Clinton's sex scandal. Monica Lewinsky saved the system.

Any recommendations require fourteen votes, and Obama has at least five loyalists who will protect him—Senators Dick Durbin and Max Baucus, Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Xavier Becerra, and former SEIU president Andy Stern. On the other hand, if Obama really wants to make a deal, these commissioners will very likely support him.

The people, once again, are kept in the dark. The Obama commission will not report its recommendations until after this fall's elections—too late for voters to express objections. Both parties assume they can evade blame by holding hands and jumping together.
Now is the time to start hanging out the windows and banging pots and shouting loudly. It is also the time for someone to show us what a leader can do and step forward to challenge Obama on the political. Don't forget that FDR was not elected until 4 years into the First Great Depression.

Satire no longer able to keep up with reality

This latest from Andy Borowitz is meant to be satire.
In a sign of his increasing prominence in the so-called Tea Party movement, a new poll shows Kentucky senatorial candidate Rand Paul topping former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin among voters who describe themselves as morons.

In the poll, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, 42% preferred Paul, 36% preferred Palin, and the remaining 22% were unsure what the word “prefer” meant.

According to Davis Logsdon, who supervised the poll for the University of Minnesota, Paul’s surging popularity among morons is bad news for Palin, who previously had a lock on that important constituency.

“I never thought I’d say this, but if Palin is going to stay competitive with Paul, she’s going to have to start dumbing down her message.”
Please show me the point where it moves beyond stark staring reality. If he can't keep up, Andy may have to take up a new career.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A $Million dollars a day

On top of all the other expenses entailed by The Hayward Blowout, BP has a clause in the lease for that well that allows payment for lost or wasted oil.
BP Plc, already facing billions of dollars in clean-up costs and liability claims, may owe the U.S. government as much as $1.1 million a day in royalties on the oil gushing from its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico.

The drilling lease with the Minerals Management Service for the Macondo well that blew up last month calls for BP to pay a royalty fee of 18.75 percent on the value of oil or natural gas “lost or wasted” if a leak is due to the company’s negligence.

BP may face $8.5 billion in clean-up costs and payments to affected businesses as a result of the spill, Neil McMahon, a London-based analyst for Sanford Bernstein & Co., said in an April 30 report. The leak began after an April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which BP leased from Transocean Ltd. Royalties on the oil spilled, as well as any that’s recovered, would add to the list of costs.
The key is negligence. The way the government has been treating BP, letting bygones be bygones seems a real possibility.

BP holds off top kill to Tuesday

There are delays in setting everything up 5000 ft down.
BP operations boss Doug Suttles estimated today that the earliest BP would try the pumping heavy drilling mud into the well to kill it would be Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Suttles said the top kill operation would start on Sunday or Monday at the latest.

He did not give a specific reason for the delay but said the time needed for underwater work was “difficult to predict.”

That work includes making connections with the choke and kill lines and hooking up the subsea manifolds.

On top of the water, BP has brought in a “very large” barge to handle the mud mixture and two “very large” pumping vessels that combined exceed 50,000 horsepower, Suttles said Friday.
The contractors involved want to be ready for anything because no one can afford another fail.

Link leads to a lot of current info if you are curious.

Your Two Minute Ed

Ed is hot tonight. Hotter than a well head fire about all the failures with The Hayward Blowout.

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Your Dylan Dally Moment

Dylan's off on FinReg again, tonight with Sen. Ted from Del.

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Rand Paul is a coward as well as a fool

What else do you call a churl who is afraid to face a softball pitcher like David Gregory on Meet The Press? Rand Paul has become the 3rd guest in 62 years to cancel out of MTP.

That must have hurt

Everybodys favorite snowbilly grifter finally ran into a problem known to all frequent travellers, her luggage was lost in transit. This put her in the position of having to pay for her wardrobe replacements before giving another cliche addled speech.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had to quickly buy a new outfit before a rally in Idaho on Friday because her luggage got lost.

Republican congressional hopeful Vaughn Ward introduced Palin before about 1,500 people and said she and her family arrived on time in Boise but their bags did not.

Palin appeared in a shimmery light-blue jacket worn over a black, knee-length dress and joked: "I'm in borrowed clothes, again," referring to the designer clothes controversy during the 2008 presidential campaign.

A spokesman says the Ward campaign bought the outfit from a Boise shop and Palin reimbursed it with a check for $298.50.
I guess the baggage handlers could not believe that anybody would really want to fly to Boise. But it is nice to know that the Potatoheads don't sell tight leather jackets with nipple zippers.

Low balling the leak size wasn't just spin

According to McClatchy, BP could use their minimal flow rate to minimize their ultimate liability.
BP's estimate that only 5,000 barrels of oil are leaking daily from a well in the Gulf of Mexico, which the Obama administration hasn't disputed, could save the company millions of dollars in damages when the financial impact of the spill is resolved in court, legal experts say.

A month after a surge of gas from the undersea well engulfed the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in flames and triggered the massive leak that now threatens sea life, fisheries and tourist centers in five Gulf coast states, neither BP nor the federal government has tried to measure at the source the amount of crude pouring into the water...

Legal experts said that not having a credible official estimate of the leak's size provides another benefit for BP: The amount of oil spilled is certain to be key evidence in the court battles that are likely to result from the disaster. The size of the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, for example, was a significant factor that the jury considered when it assessed damages against Exxon.

"If they put off measuring, then it's going to be a battle of dueling experts after the fact trying to extrapolate how much spilled after it has all sunk or has been carried away," said Lloyd Benton Miller, one of the lead plaintiffs' lawyers in the Exxon Valdez spill litigation. "The ability to measure how much oil was released will be impossible."

"It's always a bottom-line issue," said Marilyn Heiman, a former Clinton administration Interior Department official who now heads the Arctic Program for the Pew Environment Group. "Any company wouldn't have an interest in having this kind of measurement if they can help it."
Time to cancel BP leases and expropriate their property to guarantee payment in full.

R.I.P. John Shepherd-Barron

Yours was the last useful financial innovation in the world of banking.

"I have made safety my number one priority,"

So says Bloody Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy. Maybe Bloody Don should accompany the inspectors into the mines on their next round of inspections to point out all the good things his company does.

God may move in mysterious ways

But I doubt he ever tells his ministers to do this.
During Hopkins' trial in April, prosecutors said he killed his 36-year-old wife, Arletha Hopkins, in 2004 after she caught him molesting a girl, then stuffed her body in a freezer at their home in north Mobile. Investigators discovered the body in 2008 after a young woman abused by Hopkins told child advocates about it, authorities said. Police arrested Hopkins while he was preaching at a revival in the south Alabama town of Jackson.

Defense attorney Jeff Deen said his client admits putting his wife's body in the freezer, but he doesn't know how she died.
Life plus 51 years is about right. Hope he and Bubba get along.

According to the Federal Appeals Court

If you are a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, you have a right of access to US courts because the base is ostensibly US territory. If, however, you are a prisoner at Bagram AFB, you are fucked.
Detainees at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan cannot use U.S. courts to challenge their imprisonment the way detainees in Guantanamo Bay have, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The United States is holding the detainees at the military prison on Afghan territory through a cooperative arrangement with Afghanistan, three appeals court judges said in a unanimous decision turning aside the request of a Tunisian and two Yemeni prisoners.

The jurisdiction of the U.S. courts does not extend to foreigners held at Bagram in the Afghan theater of war, added the judges, who said a U.S. district judge should have thrown out the detainees' petitions.

"While we cannot say that extending our constitutional protections to the detainees would be in any way disruptive of that relationship" with the Afghan government, "neither can we say with certainty what the reaction of the Afghan government would be," said the opinion written by Judge David Sentelle.

The petitions to the U.S. court system by the three men sought the same right to challenge their indefinite detention that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, won in the U.S. Supreme Court.
We wouldn't want to upset Karzai of the Afghans, who gets very nervous around courts.

Domo arrigato GOP-san

Today Paul Krugman delineates the differences between the problems facing Greece and the disaster facing our economy. While the results may be similar the causes and cures are very different.
For the past few months, much commentary on the economy — some of it posing as reporting — has had one central theme: policy makers are doing too much. Governments need to stop spending, we’re told. Greece is held up as a cautionary tale, and every uptick in the interest rate on U.S. government bonds is treated as an indication that markets are turning on America over its deficits. Meanwhile, there are continual warnings that inflation is just around the corner, and that the Fed needs to pull back from its efforts to support the economy and get started on its “exit strategy,” tightening credit by selling off assets and raising interest rates.

And what about near-record unemployment, with long-term unemployment worse than at any time since the 1930s? What about the fact that the employment gains of the past few months, although welcome, have, so far, brought back fewer than 500,000 of the more than 8 million jobs lost in the wake of the financial crisis? Hey, worrying about the unemployed is just so 2009.

But the truth is that policy makers aren’t doing too much; they’re doing too little. Recent data don’t suggest that America is heading for a Greece-style collapse of investor confidence. Instead, they suggest that we may be heading for a Japan-style lost decade, trapped in a prolonged era of high unemployment and slow growth.
Money is the lifeblood of the economy, but for it to work it has to move. When it sits and waits it is a poison to that economy. And when the consumer and commercial segments won't move their money the only segment left to save the economy is the government, despite the screeching of the deficit hawks. People recognize this, indeed, the first comment for this column outlines anexcellent solution. From commenter JimF:
If we need to transfer our country's investments from financial-gambling to productivity, start by a) taxing carried interest (VCs, hedge funds, and Wall St.) at ordinary income and b) taxing every single stock or derivative trade at a tiny fraction of a percent, c) end farm subsidies, which incent sugar, and turning food into fuel, d) bring troops home from Afghanistan, e) cut the military budget by 30%, so it is still several times larger than every other military budget in the world, f) putting an overhead cap of 8% on insurance companies, g) add a $1 a gallon tax to gasoline to partially pay for its cost to our economy and health.
But as he also notes, finding a politician with the courage to do what is right is a Sisyphean task.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

CNN jumps the shark

As they run a headline suggesting the new Miss USA Rima Fakih is an agent for Hezbollah, the rest of the world wonders when Rupe The Poop Murdoch bought the network. There is also great sadness to see that they have ceased to be a news network.

Rand Paul back pedals from Civil Rights position

I think his campaign positions will run like an Italian tank, with 1 forward gear and 5 speeds in reverse.

Arizona Music Blogging

Los Tigres Del Norte


Now the EPA says something

From the beginning of the Hayward Blowout, BP has been using a dispersant made by a company it has a financial stake in. This is not a problem of itself, but the fact that Corexit is among the more toxic dispersant and not the most effective could be a problem. After applying more than a half million gallons on and below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, the EPA has decided that enough is enough.
The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered BP to find another chemical dispersant to use on the Gulf Coast oil spill amid concerns about the long-term effects of the substance now being used, the agency said Thursday.

The EPA has given BP until midnight Thursday to identify an alternative to Corexit 9500 and 72 hours to stop applying it to the undersea gusher, the agency announced.

Hundreds of thousands of gallons of Corexit already have been sprayed on the oil slick that has been spreading across the Gulf since late April. But the chemical has been rated less effective and more toxic than many others on the list of 18 EPA-approved dispersants, according to testimony at a congressional hearing Wednesday.

BP did not mention the order in a statement on dispersants issued Thursday morning, but the oil company said Corexit is biodegradable, has been approved by the EPA and the Coast Guard and is "readily available in the quantities required" by a response plan approved by the government before the spill.

"It has been very effective in causing the oil to form into small, isolated droplets that remain suspended until they're either eaten by naturally occurring microbes, evaporate, are picked up, or dissolve," the company said.

"At the same time, we are conducting ongoing assessment of alternative or supplemental dispersant products," it said.
Time to share the wealth with other manufacturers.

From the pen of Mike Lukovich



click pic to big

A day in the Kabul Quagmire

It's summer and time to fight in Afghanistan. C.J.Chivers, writing in the NY Times, has a report of one Marine platoons day, one of many more to come.
A new fighting season has begun around Marja, a richly irrigated zone of farming villages in Helmand Province that was both the center of Afghanistan’s opium production and a haven for its insurgency. Three months ago, thousands of Marines and Afghan soldiers swept into this area. The goal was to chase away the Taliban, disrupt the drug trade and usher in a government presence that might bring Marja under national control.

After roughly a week of often intensive fighting, the Taliban were unable to prevent the Marines and the Afghan soldiers they brought with them from opening roads, building outposts, importing Afghan officials and starting outreach programs for villagers caught between the two sides.

But with the opium crop now harvested, and temperatures rising with summer’s approach, the Taliban have tried to exert influence anew. They do so not just with hidden bombs and a campaign of intimidation against civilians suspected of collaborating with outsiders, but with more direct clashes with Marine patrols.

Fighting is frequent again. Marines, Afghans and an interpreter have been killed in separate firefights in the past week.
The Big Fool says they have to be there and they go where their officers say they should, but these Marines have no illusions.
“You ready to get some?” asked one, as they loaded weapons.

“Let’s go get shot,” a second Marine answered.

Best Republican Staten Island can find

Famous drunkard and adulterer Vito Fossella Jr. Way to go Staten Island, now you know why most New Yorkers don't know you exist.

Tap Dancing on a tightrope

The newly selected Republican candidate for Senate from Kentucky made an appearance on the Rachel Maddow show last night. Little Dr Paul has stated that he fully supports the Civil Rights Act for public institutions but has been clear that he does not believe that a private business is in any way public. From which you can conclude he believes that a private business may discriminate against anybody the owner chooses. Rachel tried to pin him down on that point and the boy proceeded to put on a fantastic display of tap dancing and one legged two stepping around the answer. Enjoy it.

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The best of intentions

From Bloomberg:
When Larry Estrada graduates from Harvard Business School next week, he’ll begin work at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. He’ll do so only after taking an oath.

Estrada, 30, joined about 150 fellow business school students and faculty worldwide to campaign for the acceptance of an MBA ethics pledge modeled on the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors. The aim is to get as many as 6,000 graduates at 50 MBA programs to swear they won’t put personal ambitions before the interests of their employers or society.

Created last year by Harvard Business students to counter a growing public mistrust of business, the oath is being championed by Nitin Nohria, the newly appointed dean of the school. After the global financial crisis, Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme and scandals at Goldman Sachs, there has never been a better time for managers to rethink their role in society, said Rich Leimsider, director of the Aspen Institute’s Center for Business Education, in New York, which is helping to coordinate the movement.

“One of the things we’re hoping to do is force hundreds of thousands of people in business to talk about and think about their responsibilities,” Leimsider said. “Nitin has given Harvard a huge head start in that direction.”
I wish them well with this endeavor but I have to wonder how long it will last when they are faced with the choice of a Million dollar payday or hitting the bricks.

Wake up Music Blogging

A gentle return from the Land of Nod


Blood is thicker that water

Which is why, when Karzai of the Afghans was looking for someone to solidify his control of security companies in the Kabul Quagmire he turned to his semi brother "Scarface Ahmed" Wali Karzai.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is weighing approval of an expansive new business deal that could give his controversial half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, increased influence over the lucrative security business that protects supply convoys for U.S.-led forces in southern Afghanistan.

As American strategists prepare military and political moves to extend government control in Kandahar this summer, President Karzai has before him a plan that would give a key ally of his half-brother the power to run the newly created Kandahar Security Company.

If approved quickly, the deal could allow the firm to obtain millions of dollars in contracts this summer as the U.S. military sends thousands of additional troops into southern Afghanistan.

Top Afghan officials say they're backing the deal as a way to gain control over rival security firms that have sometimes engaged in violent clashes over multi-million-dollar contracts.

Karzai's critics view the security consolidation as a covert effort to solidify Ahmed Wali Karzai's already-unrivaled hold on power in Kandahar. His grip on the city is widely seen as a major obstacle to establishing good local governance, a critical requirement for the success of the U.S.-led counterinsurgency operation.
Is Karzai of the Afghans the Kabuli equivalent of a family values politician?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Your Two Minute Ed

Ed to Obama: Go left young man, go left!

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Your Dylan Dally Moment

Dylan follows up on what Rep Weiner publicized yesterday on Countdown.

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Quote of the Day

Experience has shown that ‘economies of scale’ achieved by the largest banks as a result of Glass-Stegall have been very small. The cost of being too big to fail has been much larger
Nouriel Roubini

MoDo is absolutely right

She writes today that the White House is so scared of the gay that they have spun a tale of an unloved spinster around Elena Kagan.
Kagan has told a friend in the West Wing that she is not gay, just lonely. Even so, that doesn’t mean her sherpas in the White House, in their frantic drive to dismiss the gay rumors, should be spinning a narrative around that most hoary of stereotypes: a smart, ambitious woman who threw herself into her work, couldn’t find a guy, threw up her hands, and threw herself further into her work — and in the process went from single to unmarried.

It’s inexplicable, given that this should be Kagan’s hour of triumph as potentially only the fourth woman ever to serve on the highest court...

Why is there this underlying assumption that Kagan has missed the boat? Why couldn’t she be eager to come to Washington to check out the Obama-era geek-chic bachelors, maybe get set up on a date by Michelle Obama, maybe host some single ladies fiestas with Sonia Sotomayor, maybe even sign up for JDate with a new and improved job status?
The White House would be better served with some more capable spinmeisters, like MoDo.

Republicans stand up for Wall St

And Republican senators have moved to block three amendments designed to prevent Wall St from screwing the public, again.
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top-ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, rose to object to a vote on one of the most talked-about amendments, cosponsored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). Levin-Merkley would ban commercial banks from trading for their own benefit with taxpayer-backed money.

Shelby also objected to an amendment from Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) that would rein in predatory practices of payday lenders and one from Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) that would have banned naked credit default swaps, which were at the heart of the financial crisis. Dorgan's amendment was expected to fail, but Levin-Merkley had been surging in recent days. [UPDATE: The floor chaos continued late into the night.]

When it looked as if Levin-Merkley had at least 50 votes, the threshold was moved up to 60. Now that it appears within striking distance of 60 votes, the new tactic is to deny it a vote altogether.

Negotiations around Levin-Merkley have been going on throughout the day, with Levin and Merkley working out details of the bill with holdouts. But without an opportunity for a vote on the floor, those successful negotiations add up to little.

"Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is yet again doing the bidding of Wall Street and is blocking the Merkley-Levin amendment that will ban high-risk trading inside the lending and depository institutions from coming up for a vote today," said a statement from Merkley's office after the blockade. "They won't even allow a vote with a 60 vote threshold. On a day two Democrats are missing from the chamber. Wall Street lobbyists, and consequently Senator McConnell and the Republicans, want to kill the Merkley-Levin amendment by attrition because they're afraid of losing a vote. If this isn't a sign of the Republicans having the backs of the big banks on Wall Street over the American people, I don't know what is."
Most Americans should remember this shameless defense of the fat cats on Wall St for one very simple reason. Most Americans aren't rich enough to benefit from continued Wall St pillaging, but the Republicans in the Senate are.

Noon time Music


O-o-o poor baby.

From the HuffPo:
Texas financier R. Allen Stanford's attorneys said Tuesday that jail has reduced their client to a "wreck of a man" who is severely depressed, forgets conversations, can no longer see out of one eye and believes he is "losing his mind."
Rest of the country asks, "And your point is?"

You know that recovery from the Great Bush Depression?

Well, it turns out that Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President and CEO Sandra Pianalto has no plans to hold her breath waiting for it to finish.
In a speech, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President and CEO Sandra Pianalto said that she expects "our journey out of this deep recession [to] be a slow one" because of the loss of skills jobless Americans have experienced as a result of prolonged unemployment, and the "heightened sense of caution" consumers and businesses are operating under as they navigate the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Citing the fact that the average unemployed worker is out of a job for more than 30 weeks -- a new record -- Pianalto told the Economic Club of Pittsburgh that "the longer someone is out of work, the harder it is to find a job." About half of those currently unemployed have been out of work for at least six months.

"Research...tells us that workers lose valuable skills during long spells of unemployment, and that some jobs simply don't return," she said in her prepared remarks. "So workers who are lucky enough to find jobs may be going to jobs that aren't familiar to them, which means they and the companies they join may suffer some loss of productivity.

"Multiply this effect millions of times over, and it has the potential to dampen overall economic productivity for years," she warned.

The second effect of the Great Recession is "deep uncertainty about where the 'new normal' or baseline might be."
Time for Americans to join together to take our jobs back from the illegals. Picking vegetables and cleaning motel rooms can be fun.

Why does Goldmine Sachs have any clients left?

When Bloomberg reports something like this even the explanation sounds hollow,
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. racked up trading profits for itself every day last quarter. Clients who followed the firm’s investment advice fared far worse.

Seven of the investment bank’s nine “recommended top trades for 2010” have been money losers for investors who adopted the New York-based firm’s advice, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from a Goldman Sachs research note sent yesterday. Clients who used the tips lost 14 percent buying the Polish zloty versus the Japanese yen, 9.4 percent buying Chinese stocks in Hong Kong and 9.8 percent trading the British pound against the New Zealand dollar.
You see it really is simple, if you make the trades you lose. If you just capture the spreads you can make a pantload. Everybody knows that.

BP likes big numbers

Even ones that are beyond its reach. In their Oil Spill Response plan for the Deepwater Horizon they proclaimed they had a bushel of balls and a yard of cock and could handle a bazillion gallons of spill.
In its 2009 exploration plan for the Deepwater Horizon well, BP PLC states that the company could handle a spill involving as much as 12.6 million gallons of oil per day, a number 60 times higher than its current estimate of the ongoing Gulf disaster.

In associated documents filed with the U.S. Minerals Management Service, the company says that it would be able to skim 17.6 million gallons of oil a day from the Gulf in the event of a spill.

As of Tuesday, BP reported recovering 6 million gallons of oily water since the ongoing spill began four weeks ago. BP spokesman Tom Mueller said that only about 10 percent of the skimmed liquid was oil, which would amount to about 600,000 gallons of oil collected thus far.

Mueller also said via e-mail Tuesday that "the spill has stayed about the same size or even shrunk on the water as a result of our response efforts."

Skytruth.org, a website that monitors environmental problems using satellite imagery, reported Monday that the spill had grown to 10,170 square miles, based on NASA images. John Amos, head of Skytruth, told the Press-Register then that the spill had approximately doubled in size since Friday.
Sounds like BP has a bad corporate habit with numbers. Seems to me that their auditors might want to take a closer look at BP's books.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Goldmine Sachs was a very handy company

Because they seem to have had a hand in just about every shady, dicey and downright criminal scheme that preceded the Great Bush Depression. Forbes has a look at one of their oil trading schemes, in the news again because the people who got screwed are going to court.
Dozens of small oil and gas producers across Oklahoma and the Midwest are suing Goldman Sachs, BP and ConocoPhillips, claiming the defendants conspired to defraud them out of proceeds for crude oil they delivered just before the collapse of Oklahoma-based pipeline giant Semgroup in the summer of 2008.

With this lawsuit, filed in Oklahoma district court, we're one step closer to finding out if Goldman Sachs was responsible for helping to goose oil prices to record highs in the summer of 2008 by conspiring against Semgroup in massive crude oil trades. As first detailed by Forbes Magazine a year ago in this article, Semgroup collapsed into bankruptcy under $3 billion in short sale losses on oil futures trades. Goldman, through its J. Aron commodities division, was Semgroup's largest counterparty, and appears to have been responsible for giving Semgroup its final push off the cliff by unleashing a massive margin call on Semgroup as oil prices spiked. Billionaire John Catsimatidis, who has settled his own Semgroup-related suits in the past year, has asserted that Goldman's actions may have helped push up the price of oil to its record of $147 a barrel.
We wish the oil producers well but it looks like it might well be another Jarndyce v. Jarndyce

Bluesday Music Blogging

Some country blues


A moment of thanks

As the less stable element of the right wing heaps scorn and approbation on the latest Miss USA, we need to give thanks. We should be thankful that none of her critics has yet called her a Lesbianese.

Your Dylan Dally Moment

Dylan carrys on about FinReg and talks with Bernie

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