Monday, November 30, 2009

Your Two Minute Ed

Wherein health care returns as the Senate begins debate today.

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Quote of the Day

We've been told for a year that we need to pay for every dollar that it's going to cost us to reform our health care system. That's about $900 billion over 10 years. If we wind up being committed in Afghanistan for eight to 10 years, that's also going to approach $800 billion to $900 billion. And if we're going to do that, it seems to me that if we're being told we have to pay for health care, we certainly ought to pay for this effort as well.
Rep. David Obey D, explaining to John King on CNN why we need Pay to Play for Afghanistan.

4 police dead because of Fox News host

Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to the families of the four officers murdered in cold blood by a career criminal released from his 95 year sentence by Mike Huckabee.
The police also said Mr. Clemmons had recently been arrested in Pierce County and charged with assaulting a police officer and raping a child.

Nine years ago in Arkansas, The Seattle Times reported, Mr. Clemmons was released from prison after Gov. Mike Huckabee commuted his lengthy prison sentence, over the protests of prosecutors.
And the Huckabee response.
Late Sunday night, Mr. Huckabee’s political action committee released a statement saying that “a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State” would be to blame if Mr. Clemmons were found responsible for the shootings.
Ain't Mike a beaut?

Jobs, jobs, jobs

Living and working outside of DC, Dr Krugman has a habit of focusing more clearly on the heart of the problem that your average congressional shit-for-brains. And, as the title may indicate, today he writes about the one solution to the Great Bush Depression that will work, jobs.
You might think, then, that doing something about the employment situation would be a top policy priority. But now that total financial collapse has been averted, all the urgency seems to have vanished from policy discussion, replaced by a strange passivity. There’s a pervasive sense in Washington that nothing more can or should be done, that we should just wait for the economic recovery to trickle down to workers.

This is wrong and unacceptable.

Yes, the recession is probably over in a technical sense, but that doesn’t mean that full employment is just around the corner. Historically, financial crises have typically been followed not just by severe recessions but by anemic recoveries; it’s usually years before unemployment declines to anything like normal levels. And all indications are that the aftermath of the latest financial crisis is following the usual script. The Federal Reserve, for example, expects unemployment, currently 10.2 percent, to stay above 8 percent — a number that would have been considered disastrous not long ago — until sometime in 2012.

And the damage from sustained high unemployment will last much longer. The long-term unemployed can lose their skills, and even when the economy recovers they tend to have difficulty finding a job, because they’re regarded as poor risks by potential employers. Meanwhile, students who graduate into a poor labor market start their careers at a huge disadvantage — and pay a price in lower earnings for their whole working lives. Failure to act on unemployment isn’t just cruel, it’s short-sighted.

So it’s time for an emergency jobs program.
And it is just too bad that the people who can make it happen have small minds and short vision. If you are out of work, don't hold your breath waiting for them to to something that will help the situation.

Just what California needs, another ballot measure

This one actually would protect the sanctity of marriage, but I doubt Californians could approach this with the right attitude.
Til death do us part? The vow would really hold true in California if a Sacramento Web designer gets his way.

In a movement that seems ripped from the pages of Comedy Channel writers, John Marcotte wants to put a measure on the ballot next year to ban divorce in California...

...Marcotte needs 694,354 valid signatures by March 22
If you are a California voter, sign his petition, it should make a good show.

Monday Music Blogging

Easing back into blogging with a 2 for 1 blast in my continuing culture war in the blogosphere. Aram Khatchaturians most beautiful piece performed in dance by The Bolshoi Ballet's Irek Mukhamedov as Spartacus and Lyudmilla Semenyaka as Phrygia.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Break time

Going to visit family for Thanksgiving and probably won't post again until next week. Please feel free to sign the guest book.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Still not sure what he will do

At least that is how the press is presenting the no-brainer that has been presented to Karzai of the Afghans. According to McClatchy
President Hamid Karzai's pledge to root out political corruption in his second term faces a quick test from government attorneys, who've asked for new powers to pursue some of the country's top leaders.

Officials in the attorney general's office said Monday that they wanted Karzai to take decisive steps so that they could pursue corruption cases against as many as 15 current and former government officials, including at least two in the president's Cabinet.

It wasn't clear whether Karzai, whose government is internationally rated as one of the most corrupt in the world, would approve of an investigation into political allies, some of whom may have helped him win re-election through massive vote rigging.
He may well say yes because of the pressure he is under to clean up his act, but only after he has completely gelded any investigations.

And in the meantime the butchers bill for covering his thieving ass is:
government officials said four U.S. troops, three Afghan soldiers and five Afghan civilians, including three children, had been killed in the last 24 hours.

So far this month, 15 American fighters have been killed in Afghanistan. Nearly 60 Americans were killed in October, making it the most deadly month of the war.
The whole of Afghanistan isn't worth even one of those lives.

The latest Leaks Du Jour

From McClatchy:
President Barack Obama met Monday evening with his national security team to finalize a plan to dispatch some 34,000 additional U.S. troops over the next year to what he's called "a war of necessity" in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told McClatchy.

Obama is expected to announce his long-awaited decision on Dec. 1, followed by meetings on Capitol Hill aimed at winning congressional support amid opposition by some Democrats who are worried about the strain on the U.S. Treasury and whether Afghanistan has become a quagmire, the officials said.

The U.S. officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the issue publicly and because, one official said, the White House is incensed by leaks on its Afghanistan policy that didn't originate in the White House.

They said the commander of the U.S.-led international force in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, could arrive in Washington as early as Sunday to participate in the rollout of the new plan, including testifying before Congress toward the end of next week. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry also are expected to appear before congressional committees.

As it now stands, the plan calls for the deployment over a nine-month period beginning in March of three Army brigades from the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., and the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., and a Marine brigade from Camp Lejeune, N.C., for as many as 23,000 additional combat and support troops.

In addition, a 7,000-strong division headquarters would be sent to take command of U.S.-led NATO forces in southern Afghanistan — to which the U.S. has long been committed — and 4,000 U.S. military trainers would be dispatched to help accelerate an expansion of the Afghan army and police.
Looks like the Billy McChrystal/Betrayus crowd is leaking again. Obama should be asking for some letters of resignation over the leaks. And for every general fired, he should also can their claque of colonels because nits make lice.

Sign of the times to come

h/t to Outta the Cornfield

If you described this song to me

I would say no thanks, not my style. Damned if I don't want to replay it every time I hear it.

Bat For Lashes - Sleep Alone

Your Two Minute Ed

Tonight Ed speaks with Eric Massa about a much needed Pay to Play plan for the Kabul Quagmire.

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When your supporters cain't spel two gud

It is just as obvious as the sun in the sky that this would have them mightily confused.
That old saw “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is taking on new meaning: Two Sarah Palin books that look alike on the outside but are very different inside have some of the public — and the media — seeing red. Or should that be rouge?

“Going Rogue” is Palin’s memoir, which had a huge initial print run of 1.5 million copies. “Going Rouge,” on the other hand, is a collection of essays critical of Palin, compiled by the editors of The Nation magazine.

Both books were released Nov. 17, and before they were, some wags predicted they would befuddle readers. After all, both covers show a smiling Palin dressed in red. But “Going Rouge,” subtitled “An American Nightmare,” shows dark, imposing storm clouds in the background, while Palin’s shows a bright blue sky.
MSNBC has the covers side by side, see if you can tell the difference.

Not good at all

Unless you need your ticket punched. It looks like the event that the military was letting Obama peg his withdrawal to, may not happen when it should.
Iraq’s tortuous effort to hold parliamentary elections on schedule in January collapsed Monday, raising the prospect of a political and constitutional crisis next year as the United States begins withdrawing the majority of its combat troops.

After two days of divisive sessions and failed talks, Parliament disregarded a veto by one of the country’s vice presidents and approved new amendments that the vice president promptly indicated he would veto as well...

...The Parliament, or Council of Representatives, does not appear to have the necessary three-fifths majority to override a new veto, making it impossible, several senior lawmakers said, to hold the vote in January as required under the country’s Constitution.

The Obama administration and the American commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, have long planned the withdrawal of American forces around the expectation that the election would take place in January.

There are now roughly 120,000 troops in the country, and a significant withdrawal, known at the Pentagon as “the waterfall,” is scheduled to begin in the spring. Under President Obama’s policy, fewer than 50,000 troops are to remain after August 2010
And the withdrawal should go ahead as planned because it is the only possible course out of George Bush's War. But you know those who get their jollies from the deaths of others, a/k/a the GOP, won't let that happen quietly.

Too little, too late

His Shrillness is warning of another failure of courage by the Obama administration. Having failed to put through an adequate stimulus the first time, thanks in no small part to too many "bipartisan" tax cuts, Obama now sounds like a Wall St Republican in his worry about the deficit.
Most economists I talk to believe that the big risk to recovery comes from the inadequacy of government efforts: the stimulus was too small, and it will fade out next year, while high unemployment is undermining both consumer and business confidence.

Now, it’s politically difficult for the Obama administration to enact a full-scale second stimulus. Still, he should be trying to push through as much aid to the economy as possible. And remember, Mr. Obama has the bully pulpit; it’s his job to persuade America to do what needs to be done.

Instead, however, Mr. Obama is lending his voice to those who say that we can’t create more jobs. And a report on suggests that deficit reduction, not job creation, will be the centerpiece of his first State of the Union address. What happened?
Dr. Paul suggests a few reasons, but in the end it all boils down to a lack of courage in the White House, again.

"OK, who left the yellow underwear in the President's closet?"

Another fiscally irresponsible Democrat

Is saying that if we continue to have troops in Afghanistan & Iraq we should pay for it with increased revenue.
Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, warned that if President Barack Obama decides to send additional troops to Afghanistan, it should be funded with the new tax.

“If we have to pay for the healthcare bill, we should pay for the war as well,” Obey told ABC News in an interview, “by having a war surtax.”
No reply yet from the Republicans, but they are all probably asking themselves, What would George Bush do?

You know you are a pure Republican if..

You agree with at least 7 of these positions.
(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill;

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

(4) We support workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership;
Anything less and you are, at best a RINO or worse a damned dirty liberal (a liberal being defined as anyone who thinks before they act). So, do you support the four corporatist positions (1-4), the two failed neo-con foreign policies (6-7), the three hard core social con positions (5,8,10) and if #9 make sense to you, you are a Republican through and through.

Monday Music Blogging

A beautiful Mozart concerto for two instruments not normally out front.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The New York Times makes a funny

A NY Times editorial today slams Goldmine Sachs and CEO Lloyd Blankfuck's non apology for their role in the Great Wall St Recession that led to the Great Bush Depression across the rest of the country. The NYT gets it right and then makes a funny that must have had Blankfuck spitting coffee every time he looked at the paper.
On the day of Mr. Blankfein’s non-apology, Goldman pledged $500 million over five years — crumbs from its table — to help 10,000 small businesses. It is hard to take seriously Goldman’s claim that the program was not motivated by its public relations problems. The money will be welcomed by the recipients, but if Goldman wants to make a meaningful contribution, it would have to be in the billions and aimed more directly at taxpayers.

So, here’s a thought: A multibillion-dollar gift to the federal Bureau of the Public Debt, which accepts tax-deductible donations to reduce the national debt. The donation can come from the bonuses; that way, it would not harm shareholders, because they only get their cut after the bonuses are paid. Goldman’s tax savings from the donation could help finance the small-business initiative.

And a contribution might help Goldman ward off the alternative: serious calls for a windfall tax on bonuses, which would be justified since the profits they are based on are in large part the result of government efforts. One way or another, the taxpayers will demand their due, and one way or another, they just might get it.
Fortunately Mr Blankfuck has enough menials to clean up whatever mess he made in the dining room.

Pedophilia is OK but God forbid you support abotion

It is a terrible act to impede the development of blastocysts, they are the ultimate recipients of God's love, according to the Catholic church in Rhode Island. And the bishop of RI has told Patrick Kennedy so, and taken the further step of forbidding him from communion in RI parishes.
The Roman Catholic bishop of Rhode Island said Sunday that he asked Rep. Patrick Kennedy in a 2007 letter to stop receiving Communion, the central sacrament of the church, because of the congressman's public stance on moral issues.

Bishop Thomas Tobin divulged details of his confidential exchange with Kennedy after the Democratic lawmaker told The Providence Journal in a story published Sunday that Tobin had instructed him not to receive Communion. The two men have clashed repeatedly in the past few weeks over abortion.
Now if Rep. Kennedy had supported tax breaks for NAMBLA, the bishop would probably be jiggy with that. After all, the kids have already been born and are of no importance until they are monsignors or wealthy enough to donate and support the bishops life style.

The IRS really needs to start reassessing religious tax exemptions.

Getting hard to tell fact from fiction

Nothing like a good disaster movie.

The Whore of Bridgeport objects to concessions made for him

Now that the HCR bill is on the Senate floor, Judas Joe Lieberschmuck is no longer trying to disguise his hypocrisy. In his usual Sunday morning appearance on Press The Meat J.J. objects to modifications that were inserted to answer his earlier objections.
Lieberman is offering a deeply cynical reading of the legislation. The restrictions on who can access the public plan, for instance, were put into the bill as a way to placate members of Congress like himself, who were worried about legislation sapping the private market. And the reason the public plan may charge higher premiums is due, in part, to the fact that it will have to pay negotiated rates to providers instead of a fee tied to Medicare rates. This too was added to placate conservative Democratic lawmakers. If Lieberman finds these provisions objectionable, he should be directing his opposition at his fellow centrists. Instead, he's targeting the bill itself.

"[O]nce the bill is on the floor, amendments will be offered," he said on Sunday. "But essentially every amendment is subject to a filibuster and will take 60 votes to pass. My only resort, and every other senator -- and there will be others who feel exactly the way I do about the public option, if the public option is still in there -- the only resort we have is to say no at the end to reporting the bill off the floor."
You see, the Whore, like many people who are liberal in their younger days, has taken a hard right turn as his personal stash has been fattened by his corporate buddies. He is now willing to abuse millions of Americans to protect it. And the only reason he hasn't crossed the aisle is his committee chairmanship. Take that away from him, as the Democrats should do, and he will cross the aisle faster than diarrhea.

EXTRA: Steve Benen documents the monthly positions changes of JJTWOB. See if you can make sense of what Judas Joe says.

Quote of the Day

They have done incredibly well, and I think that it’s important that we pay for it if we possibly can” instead of increasing the federal debt load.
Carl Levin D-MI, putting forth the sensible idea that we pay for the Kabul Quagmire with a tax increase on the wealthy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Still socializing the losses.

Sunday's NY Times has a report on the latest scam involving home mortgages. The latest iteration appears to help homeowners by reducing loan amounts, but in the end, we the taxpayer are on the hook for any losses and the vulture funds pocket all the profit.
Investment funds are buying billions of dollars’ worth of home loans, discounted from the loans’ original value. Then, in what might seem an act of charity, the funds are helping homeowners by reducing the size of the loans.

But as part of these deals, the mortgages are being refinanced through lenders that work with government agencies like the Federal Housing Administration. This enables the funds to pocket sizable profits by reselling new, government-insured loans to other federal agencies, which then bundle the mortgages into securities for sale to investors.

While homeowners save money, the arrangement shifts nearly all the risk for the loans to the federal government — and, ultimately, taxpayers — at a time when Americans are falling behind on their mortgage payments in record numbers.
Creative financing at its best, if you are making the profits. Ruthless exploitation of a program designed to help homeowners, perverting it to raid the public treasury if you are an ethical human being.

Glen Beck fancies himself the new Thomas E. Watson

You may not remember that name if you are not from the south, but Thomas E. Watson was a leader in resurrecting the Ku Klux Klan following World War I. Now the NY Times informs us that the Beckerhead, having had some success with his Teabaggies, wants to go out and be a political organizer.
Glenn Beck, the popular and outspoken Fox News host, says he wants to go beyond broadcasting his opinions and start rallying his political base — formerly known as his audience — to take action.

To do so, Mr. Beck is styling himself as a political organizer. In an interview, he said he would promote voter registration drives and sponsor a series of seven conventions across the country featuring what he described as libertarian speakers.

On Saturday he held a festive campaign-style rally in The Villages in Florida, north of Orlando, in which he promoted his recently released book, “Arguing With Idiots,” and announced another book to come next August filled with right-leaning policy proposals gathered from the conventions.
Given Mr. Beck's well known disdain, and even hatred for the Constitution and the values that created this great country one can only imagine with horror what manner of murderous organization he plans to create.

For a minute I thought they meant Blankfein

But then I read the story under the headline "Goldman Sachs to take out garbage at Thanksgiving" and learned that it will literally be taking out the garbage.
The turkey dinner will be prepared by Great Performances, a catering company that stages banquets for the grand ballroom of The Plaza. Leading the culinary team is star chef Marc Spooner, a winner of the Food Network's "Chopped" TV contest and the caterer's chef de cuisine.

Three hundred employees of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Wall Street's richest firm, have volunteered for the holiday feast and will be tasked with taking out the garbage.

"Goldman wants their volunteers to sweat,"
That last quote pretty much guarantees it won't be Blankfein or any of the top money people working that day. Those people have been warned to avoid anyplace where they might be exposed to H1N1, even their car doors. And nothing about any money put up by Goldmine Sachs for this or any other events. A tithe of just their bonuses would have a salutary effect on some of the many people they have harmed with their manipulations.

On the outside looking in

And from that position Sen John McCain, famous for losing an election despite having Caribou Barbie on his team, has made a truly screwy prediction.
"I am absolutely convinced and totally confident that with sufficient resources we can turn the situation around," McCain told reporters at an international defense summit in easternmost Canada.

"I even am bold enough to predict that in a year to 18 months you will see success if the effort is sufficiently resourced and there is a commitment to get the job done before setting a date to leave the region," he said.
Of course no one will pay attention to the Old Fart because he is in no position to do anything. All he has is an "I told you so" point for later, which people will listen to because he was a POW.

Detroit, a symbol of the American middle class

Bob Herbert was in Detroit recently, and was struck by how emblematic that once great city is fo the state of our countrys middle class.
What you’ll see are endless acres of urban ruin, block after block and mile after mile of empty and rotting office buildings, storefronts, hotels, apartment buildings and private homes. It’s a scene of devastation and disintegration that stuns the mind, a major American city that still is home to 900,0000 people but which looks at times like a cross between postwar Berlin and the ruin of an ancient civilization.

Detroit was the arsenal of democracy in World War II and the incubator of the American middle class. It was the city that taught mass production to the rest of the world. It was a place that made cars, trucks and other tangible products, not derivatives. And it was the architect of the quintessentially American idea of putting people to work and paying them a decent wage. It’s frightening to think seriously about what we’ve allowed to happen to this city and what is now happening to the middle class and the American economy as a whole.
He compares what he sees to a war zone and in truth it was. A front in the battle between the corporate oligarchs and the workers who created the assets the oligarchs have since appropriated. And Detroit shows us who is winning. How did we get this way?
Detroit and its environs are suffering the agonies of the economic damned because of policies, crafted at the highest national and corporate levels, that resulted in the implosion of crucially important components of America’s manufacturing base. Those decisions have had a profound effect on the fortunes not just of Detroit, or even Michigan, but the entire U.S. economy.

“We’ve been living with the illusion that manufacturing — making things — is so 20th century,” said Mr. Shaiken, “and that we could succeed by concentrating, for example, on complex financial instruments while abandoning the industrial base that sustained so many American families.”

The idea that the fallout from the wrongheaded economic concepts of the past 30 or 40 years could be contained, with the damage limited to the increasingly troubled urban areas while sparing prosperous suburbia, has now proved as phony as Bernie Madoff’s fortune. Americans, whether they live in big cities, suburban towns or rural areas, need jobs, and when those jobs are eliminated (for whatever reasons — technological advances, globalization) without being replaced, the national economy is guaranteed at some point to hit a wall.
Hit the wall for sure. And this shows why, even though the Great Wall St Recession is abating, the Great Bush Depression still floods across the rest of America.

A little humor to brighten your day

Courtesy of the good folks at MSNBC's Countdown.

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EXTRA: Sarah has lost Joe the Plumber, even if we haven't yet had that pleasure.

Ha! What do they know

Moodys has threatened to lower New York's credit rating if the legislature doesn't do something about the deficit. Like Moodys knows what they are talking about. As we all know, even in its current state New York is much sounder than the CDO's that Moody was so fond of giving its highest rating. By that standard, New York should be getting the highest rating plus bells and whistles and extra geegaws. But I am guessing that the governor chose not to buy it.

Some cross border culture blogging

Three talented women from Canada.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Your tax dollars at work

Having been so much a part of blowing what crap was left out of Iraq after a 10 year killer embargo, the US felt compelled to rebuild Iraq. To that end much money was spent. And what did we get?
In its largest reconstruction effort since the Marshall Plan, the United States government has spent $53 billion for relief and reconstruction in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, building tens of thousands of hospitals, water treatment plants, electricity substations, schools and bridges.

But there are growing concerns among American officials that Iraq will not be able to adequately maintain the facilities once the Americans have left, potentially wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and jeopardizing Iraq’s ability to provide basic services to its people.

The projects run the gamut — from a cutting-edge, $270 million water treatment plant in Nasiriya that works at a fraction of its intended capacity because it is too sophisticated for Iraqi workers to operate, to a farmers’ market that farmers cannot decide how to share, to a large American hospital closed immediately after it was handed over to Iraq because the government was unable to supply it with equipment, a medical staff or electricity.
So many of the skilled and educated professional needed for these projects fled the country in the anarchic aftermath of Bush War II. The result is so many projects are just empty shells. Maybe enough will return in time to use some of the facilities before they waste away. But all is not lost.
And whether or not the American-built health centers and power plants are ever used as intended, the American companies that won the lion’s share of rebuilding contracts from the federal government have been paid.
Phew! Had me worried there for a moment.


Matt Taibbi examines the driving forces or vacuums that propel Caribou Barbie and attract so many people to the only major politician with less substance than George W Bush. What he discovers are assholes, the ones we all gripe about in our daily lives and which Sister Sarah seems to have coalesced into the Universal Bitch that we can all relate to.
Sarah Palin is on an endless crusade against assholes. It’s all she thinks about. She doesn’t really have any political ideas, in the classic sense of the word — in fact the only thing resembling real political convictions in Going Rogue revolve around the Trans-Alaska pipeline and how awesome she thinks it is.

Most of the rest of the book just catalogs her Gump-esque rise to national stardom (not having enough self-awareness to detect the monstrous narcissistic ambition that in reality was impelling her forward all along, she labors in the book to describe her various career leaps as lucky accidents or mystical acts of Providence) and the seemingly endless parade of meanies bent on tripping her up along the way. The book is really about her battles with these people, how much they did and do suck, and how difficult and inherently unfair life is for a decent hardworking American gal who just wants to live life, serve God, and try to be president without being bothered all the time.

Viewed through the prism of this particular brand of insanity (Palinsanity? does that work?), Katie Couric’s notorious Palin interview last year really was a cheap shot. After all, Katie was trying to nail Palin — which is mean! Who among us can’t sympathize with the experience of being sandbagged by some slick professional rival who catches you in a moment of weakness and, instead of lending a helping hand, drives a fireplace poker through your eye?
And will it work for her, Matt thinks not. She will continue with her side show funhouse, hopefully irrevocably destroying the GOP until she burns out like some villagers torch after the monster is dead.

Your Two Minute Ed

Tonight he shows us how Fux bows to reality and has a shot for Lady BatShitCrazy.

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Standish MI to Dickless Cheney, Please STFU!

Dickless Cheney and her crew of twaddlemongers made a little video about big, bad politicians forcing innocent Standish to take a pack of evil super villains from Gitmo into their maximum security prison.
Officials in a small Michigan town featured in a new video about Guantanamo by Liz Cheney’s national security group want her to know that they’re not falling for her “fearmongering” — and tell us they want Gitmo detainees in their town.

Cheney’s group, Keep America Safe, has released a short documentary starring several residents of little Standish, Michigan, slamming the Obama administration over a proposal to transfer some Guantanamo detainees to the town’s maximum security facility, one of several facilities being discussed.

The vid, which is below, ominously warns that unnamed “politicians” want Gitmo detainees placed in their “small farm town,” without saying who the politicians are or whether they’re Federal or local. A resident says those politicans “aren’t listening to us little people in Standish.”

But Standish’s City Manager tells us that local leaders and residents want the facility, and dismissed Cheney’s efforts as “fearmongering.”
Prison towns know full well what is involved in keeping prisoners and don't need some coward's daughter scaring the help.

A truly sad announcement

Bill Moyers is leaving weekly television.

The New York Times' Elizabeth Jensen reports that the PBS newscaster is retiring from his Friday night program, "Bill Moyers Journal," on April 30, 2010...

..."I am 75 years old," Moyers told Jensen. "I feel it's time."
A major loss to journalism and America.

How to win friends and influence voters

Caribou Barbie appears to have a problem finishing anything.

h/t to FDL & Great Orange Stan

So let's see now what happens

At the 2nd inaugural of Karzai of the Afghans, the guest list included to very interesting and different people.
On one side of the cavernous room sat Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who's warned that the international community is losing patience with Karzai.

On the other side was Abdul Rashid Dostum, the Afghan warlord who's become a symbol of cronyism and government corruption. Dostum was stripped of his top military post after he was accused of war crimes and investigated for enacting vigilante justice on the streets of Kabul.

Although foreign leaders have demanded that Karzai sideline Dostum and other discredited political allies, the Afghan president is also under pressure to reward those, such as Dostum, who helped him win re-election.
So Secretary Clinton wants Karzai of the Afghans to clean up the corruption. Abdul Rashid Dostum is a prime example of the corruption in the Kabul Quagmire. Secretary Clinton has returned to Washington DC. Abdul Rashid Dostum is still there at the side of Karzai of the Afghans. Frankly, I fully expect the Buffalo Bills to win a Super Bowl before there is any diminution of corruption in the Kabul Quagmire. So why are we still there?

The legacy of Tiny Tim Geithner

Paul Krugman looks at the real result of the Wall St giveaway presided over by Tiny Tim. You know, the one where he made all the Wall St stupidity whole at 100% on the dollar.
For the A.I.G. rescue was part of a pattern: Throughout the financial crisis key officials — most notably Timothy Geithner, who was president of the New York Fed in 2008 and is now Treasury secretary — have shied away from doing anything that might rattle Wall Street. And the bitter paradox is that this play-it-safe approach has ended up undermining prospects for economic recovery. For the job of fixing the broken economy is far from done — yet finishing the job has become nearly impossible now that the public has lost faith in the government’s efforts, viewing them as little more than handouts to the people who got us into this mess.
Maybe one day Tiny Tim will make my 401K whole. Fat chance, I will settle for him on the unemployment line like so many of the rest of us.

Who knew Colbert was a book reviewer?

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If you're going to fight a war, you should pay for a war

Which makes perfect sense unless you are a Republican. The GOP prefers to borrow without any revenue offset so they can trash the financial supports of American government.Several prominent Democrats, who still believe in paying for what you do, have called for a war tax to pay for the Kabul Quagmire.
Influential US lawmakers on Thursday called for levying a new income tax to pay for the war in Afghanistan, warning its costs pose a mortal threat to efforts like a sweeping health care overhaul.

"Regardless of whether one favors the war or not, if it is to be fought, it ought to be paid for," the lawmakers, all prominent Democratic allies of Obama, said in a joint statement on the "Share The Sacrifice Act of 2010."

The proposal came with US President Barack Obama set to announce within weeks his decision on whether to send more US troops to fight the war, now in its ninth year.

The group included House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey; Representative John Murtha, who chair that panel's defense subcommittee; and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.
And they are exempting the military and their families from this because they have given enough already. This is supposed to be symbolic but it makes too much sense to be easily sloughed off.

Mitch "The Chin" McConnell, serial liar

And the Democrats have put together a 2 minute video detailing some of The Chin's bigger whoppers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It was 50 years ago today

That Ford announced the end of the Edsel. Distinctive enough that people either loved it or hated it, it was a marketing disaster. As this promo may indicate, the beancounters must have made a full scale assault, with bayonets fixed, on the executive offices to stop this effulgence of the automakers art. 18 models and 90 color combinations! Nowadays you are lucky to get 3 models with 7 colors, including 3 shades of grey and 3 shades of brown.

Your Two Minute Ed

Tonight he whacks the Great Orange Boner and talks pink, as in salmon.

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The CEO of CIGNA made $28. 82 Million last year

And will probably make more this year. Think Progress has the details as to how H Edward Hanway earns this kingly sum, year after year.

Is Mike Huckabee a Republican or an adult?

We know he claims GOP membership and speaks to them, so why was he speaking like a grownup the other day?
During a relatively unnoticed speech in early November, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said he found it "deplorable" and "shameful" that his fellow Republicans were attacking the president for even the most trivial or well-intentioned matters...

...The underlying point, Huckabee concluded, was that knee-jerk criticism to the president was counter-productive to civil debate. "I hated it when people did that to George Bush," he said. "They couldn't even laugh at the man's jokes they found something wrong with everything and if we do that to Barack Obama, then shame on us, shame on us. No wonder our country is so divided when that happens."
This should lose him the teabaggies, birthers, deathers, KKK and White Citizens Council votes. So who is left to vote for him?

Just a prediction

Tonight or tomorrow, KO will have Virginia Foxx as one of his Worst Persons. Wonkette has the video, I won't post that lying sack of shit here.

Quote of the Day

Whether they’re attending ‘tea party’ rallies featuring Holocaust imagery, comparing health insurance reform to terrorism, or staying silent about plans to burn public officials in effigy, the tenor from House Republicans grows more alarming by the day.

It’s long past time for the House Republican Leadership to speak out against this disturbing pattern of increasingly extreme rhetoric from their ranks and engage in the constructive search for solutions that America’s many challenges demand.
Chris Van Hollen, DCCC Chairman calling for the adults in the GOP to stand up and take charge.

I like Chris so I hope he's not holding his breath waiting for a response.

God made Texas Republicans last

We know this because he was quite clearly running short of brains when he made them. Any other explanation would simply deny the majesty of His works.
Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 constitutional amendment designed to ban gay marriages erroneously endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state.

The amendment, approved by the state legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."
Read it a couple of times and let it sink in. Regardless of their intent, the clarity of their language is unmistakable. Your Texas Republicans, saving their brains for when they need them.

Jon Stewart on Caribou Barbie

In which Jon points out all that is obvious about her and her swains on Fux.

EXTRA FUN: Watch Jon dismantle Lou Dobbs.

Thursday Tom Toles

click pic to big

Teabaggie support for Major Hasan

Or at least approval of his method, which they are willing to emulate when they get the chance.
Police in Michigan are investigating after an irate reader of the Port Huron Times-Herald reportedly called in a threat to the newspaper after it criticized a local House representative's participation in the anti-health reform Tea Party protest two weeks ago.

"A 60-year-old Port Huron woman threatened to take a gun to the newspaper and 'do what they did at Fort Hood,' according to police," the Times-Herald reported on Tuesday.
The report says police have not yet charged the caller. We ernestly hope they throw the book at her as a preventative to others of her ilk.

A very bad report card

The US Navy has released its report on the collision last March between a surface ship and a nuclear attack submarine.The blame has been put on the sub for, among other reasons,
The navigator was listening to his iPod during a critical evolution.

Watchstanders were known to sleep on the job.

Stereo speakers were rigged for music in the radio room.

An informal atmosphere — along with crew complacency, a “weak” command and inferior submariner skills — are named as contributors to the March 20 collision between the attack submarine Hartford and the amphibious transport dock New Orleans in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Navy Times summary of the report is pretty scary when you consider the various nuclear elements on board. We hope this was a one off example of "McHale's Navy" and not a trend.

Doug Hoffman smoking crack, again?

It would explain the wild eyed look he brought to NY-23 during his campaign. It might also explain the wild eyed accusations of conspiracy against him that he is currently flinging like monkey poo at the usual consortium of conservative bugbears.
With his prospect of winning the 23rd Congressional District race now almost zero, Conservative Party candidate Douglas L. Hoffman suggested Wednesday in a letter that “ACORN, the unions and the Democratic Party” “tampered” with results to deny him victory.

Mr. Hoffman provided no evidence to support his claims, but asked fellow conservatives to send donations his way to “ensure every vote is counted.”

Jerry O. Eaton, Jefferson County Republican elections commissioner, called Mr. Hoffman's assertion “absolutely false.”

“No one has touched those ballots or has access to those ballots except board of elections staff - and in a bipartisan manner,” he said.
even those who might favor his positions are realizing that Doug is a pusillanimous worm, not fit for elective office. Doug, on the other hand thinks that Glen Beck's reach around entitles him. It certainly allows him to be as wrong as he can be.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's only money

Still, as Xe, nee Blackwater International, never thought the rules applied to them, the sum of money for multiple violations is substantial.
The international security company formerly called Blackwater Worldwide is facing large government fines for unlicensed arms shipments to Iraq, as a key Congressional committee is asking for a separate investigation into whether the company bribed Iraqi officials.

In talks likely to result in millions of dollars in penalties, executives from the company, now known as Xe Services, are negotiating with government regulators over years of violations of export laws. According to government officials and former company employees, many of the violations involve arms shipments to Iraq, to outfit company security guards operating inside the country.

In addition, former company officials say that other penalties could result from violations of licensing requirements for the transfer of other forms of military technology and training expertise to foreign countries.
In addition, that horse faced stiff John Kerry has asked the State Dept. IG to see if Xe, nee Blackwater, is still fit to contract with the State Dept. Hopefully, by the time the SDIG answers, the various state and federal grand juries will have generated many, many indictments.

And it's only Linda Ronstadt...

Your Two Minute Ed

Wherein Ed & Rep Pete DeFazio call for the end of Tiny Tim & Fat Larry.

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Ol' Doc Tom Coburn lifts his hold on Veterans Caregiver and Omnibus Health Benefits Act of 2009

The one that was hanging up S 1963 in the Senate. In return for this, Dr. Dickhead will get a chance to offer his amendment to the bill. We do sincerely hope it is defeated 99-1, but we do know there is more than one dickhead in the Senate.

Extreme right calls for the death of the President

Rachel and Frank Schaeffer show us how they use God to call for his killing.

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Dumb as a shoelace

Go-olly, he has done it again. Rep. Louie "Gomer" Gohmert R-Gooberpatch has once more proved that, in GOP circles, it is a badge of honor to be dumber than the shit you took this morning. Pretending that he knows something about New York and American Justice and, indeed, anything that adults have to deal with, Gomer has opened his mouth and dropped another load.
Rep. Louie Gohmert appeared on Fox News earlier today to discuss the House bill he's proposed that aims to prevent Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other detainees from being tried in New York City.

Gohmert first claimed that "millions of New Yorkers who will be put at risk" by such a trial, where "you've got weak links all along the way. From the jailers, the bailiffs, the clerks, the jurors, the judge, everybody in the courtroom, their families. You've got subways, tunnels, bridges, all subject to terrorism."

Gohmert continued: "Unless they're trying to create a new jobs bill by allowing terrorism back in New York, then this is insane." He added, "and even that would be insane."
Some might say Gomer is dumb as a bag of hammers, but that implies some heft. Our little Gomer is a real lightweight.

Listen to Gomer whine on Fux

Looks like it will be another record year

Not that anybody outside of Tom Coburn wants to see this type of record set.
Suicides in the Army are expected to reach a new high this year, with 140 suspected cases among active-duty soldiers so far, Army officials said Tuesday.

This will be the fifth year in a row that grim statistic rose despite an aggressive military campaign to tackle the mental health stigma in the Army. This year's number already matches that for all of 2008. There were 115 suicides in 2007 and 102 in 2006.

These new statistics come as the military is investigating what may have driven Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, who allegedly shot 55 people Nov. 5 at Fort Hood, Texas. The military has charged Hasan, who was set to deploy to Afghanistan, with 13 counts of premeditated murder.

Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, said that the military wasn't seeing any trends that explained the rise. Forty suicides occurred in the first two months of the year. About a third were by soldiers who'd never deployed to war zones, and 40 percent of those who committed suicide had seen mental health specialists.

"We are almost certainly going to end the year higher than last year," Chiarelli said. "This is horrible, and I do not want to downplay the significance of these numbers in any way."
A horrible record and no pattern to help focus efforts to the most vulnerable. Bad, bad news, indeed.

New Poll up today

To your right. We are asking your opinion of the Butt Stupid-Pitts amendment and other, similar legislation. Don't be shy.

A chinese plot to turn us into Republicans?

Not that I am a believer in conspiracy theories. The common failings of humanity do not need collusion the have dire consequences. Still, the continuing problem of lead in products aimed at children does, at times, seem more than coincidental.
Children’s toys carrying the Barbie and Disney logos have turned up with high levels of lead in them, according to a California- based advocacy group—a finding that may give consumers pause as they shop for the holiday season.

The Center for Environmental Health tested about 250 children’s products bought at major retailers and found lead levels that exceeded federal limits in seven of them. Lead can cause irreversible brain damage.
Todays irreversible brain damage is tomorrows Teabaggies Party.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When you cover Bob Dylan

You have to do something different.

Your Two Minute Ed

Tonight he looks at McCain v. Chrysler

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

If you have enough oil to grease the skids

You won't have any trouble getting a visa, as the NY Times reports.
The nation’s doors are open to Mr. Obiang, the forest and agriculture minister of Equatorial Guinea and the son of its president, even though federal law enforcement officials believe that “most if not all” of his wealth comes from corruption related to the extensive oil and gas reserves discovered more than a decade and a half ago off the coast of his tiny West African country, according to internal Justice Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement documents.

And they are open despite a federal law and a presidential proclamation that prohibit corrupt foreign officials and their families from receiving American visas. The measures require only credible evidence of corruption, not a conviction of it.

Susan Pittman, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement in the State Department, said she was prohibited from discussing specific visa decisions. But other former and current State Department officials said Equatorial Guinea’s close ties to the American oil industry were the reason for the lax enforcement of the law. Production of the country’s nearly 400,000 barrels of oil a day is dominated by American companies like ExxonMobil, Hess and Marathon.

“Of course it’s because of oil,” said John Bennett, the United States ambassador to Equatorial Guinea from 1991 to 1994, adding that Washington has turned a blind eye to the Obiangs’ corruption and repression because of its dependence on the country for natural resources. He noted that officials of Zimbabwe are barred from the United States.
Or as Billie Holliday wrote, "Them that's got shall get
Them that's not shall lose"

Mrs. Pauley has the balls in the family.

The NY Times reports on the debate that has arisen as the local Foxsuckers have received their talking points and are now pissing and moaning about the scruffy bunch of criminals that might be locked up, let's repeat that, locked up in the unused prison in town. The report included this,
“It’s the terrorist-type thing that gets me,” said Donald L. Pauley, 64, who said he felt queasy at the notion of such prisoners being kept here, 150 miles west of Chicago, a place where everyone acknowledges that signs describing the population as 600 are overestimates by now.

Not even talk of added security measures, of a second fence around the prison, of increased law enforcement along the Mississippi River, which is less than a mile away, was enough to assure him, Mr. Pauley said.

But, in one example of the split that is playing out all over this village, even within houses, Mr. Pauley’s wife, Merrie Jo, said she was firmly behind the idea of turning over the Thomson Correctional Facility, a barely used state prison, to federal authorities, in part for those from Guantánamo.

“We need the jobs,” Ms. Pauley, who was the village president here for 27 years, said as she and Mr. Pauley dined at the Sunrise Restaurant, one of the few restaurants still open in an area where unemployment was 10.5 percent in September. “This place has been changing, and we’ve been going in the wrong direction.”

The notion that a terrorism suspect could slip away into Thomson without notice was unimaginable to Ms. Pauley, who added, “If a stranger comes around here, everyone knows within 20 minutes, believe me.”
I wonder if Mr. Pauley was always a coward?

Think about the children

Bob Herbert is thinking about the children in a way most people don't usually do. He wonders if they will have the sound bridges and roads, clean water and air that we take for granted today.
This came to mind as I was reading about yet another closure of the problem-plagued San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which is more than 70 years old. In 20 years, will today’s toddlers be traveling on bridges and roads that are in even worse shape than today’s? Will they endure mammoth traffic jams that start earlier and end later? Will their water supplies be clean and safe? Will the promise of clean energy visionaries be realized, or will we still be fouling the environment with carbon filth to the benefit of traditional energy conglomerates and foreign regimes that in many cases wish us anything but good?

The answers to these and many other related questions will depend to a great extent on decisions we make now (even in the midst of very tough economic times) about the American infrastructure. We’re trundling along in the infrastructure equivalent of a jalopy, with bridges rotting and falling down, while other nations, our competitors in the global economy, are building efficient, high-speed, high-performance infrastructure platforms to power their 21st-century economies.

We used to be so much smarter about this stuff.
Once upon a time...

Dickless Cheney still spewing shit

On Fux as is to be expected because no one in their right mind could swallow that shit. You have to be a true Foxsucker to do that. She does say one bit of truth.
"This demonstrates conclusively that we are going back to a pre-9/11 mentality," she said.
Failing, as usual, to note that pre 9/11 we were not afraid of our shadows, we believed in the rule of law and until the Supreme Court overruled the election results, we elected competent people.

TPM has the video clip if you have the stomach for it.

C St cult headquarters loses most of tax exemption

And despite rumors to the contrary it will not be taxed at the same rate as other brothels. The tax rate is not determined by the amount of boffage and boning conducted there even though it was run as a B & B.
Residents of the C Street Christian fellowship house will no longer benefit from a loophole that had allowed the house's owners to avoid paying property taxes.

Previously, the house -- despite being home to numerous lawmakers -- had been tax exempt, because it was classified as a church. That arrangement had allowed the building's owner, the secretive international Christian organization The Family, to charge significantly below market rents to its residents. In recent year, Senators John Ensign (R-NV), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), and Reps. Zach Wamp (R-TN), Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) have all reportedly called C Street home.

Natalie Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Office of Tax and Revenue for Washington D.C., told TPMmuckraker that her office inspected the house this summer. "It was determined that portions of it were being rented out for private residential purposes," she said. As a result, the tax exempt status was partially revoked. Sixty-six percent of the value of the property is now subject to taxation.
The religious status of the cult that owns it will apply to the remaining 1/3 of the building.

If you like your eggs on the Jersey side

Monday, November 16, 2009

Your Two Minute Ed

And tonight he reports on Big Pharma's idea of a fair deal.

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The Damnation of Joe Lieberschmuck

Firedoglake has a couple of videos from the prayer vigil held outside Judas Joe's office in CT, led by various religious leaders. It was best summed up by Rabbi Fish of Norwalk.
"The moral imperative for our time is clear. Anyone whose guide in public policy is conscience, anyone who argues that faith and religious traditions should direct our actions, such a person must stand for universal health care in America," Fish concluded. "It happens we are all also citizens of Connecticut. That fact leads us to ask you Senator Lieberman, what is it that you stand for?"

I really feel bad for the people of Hardin, MT

They build a prison and can't get any inmates. Not even the federal government which might like a place to keep their badass thugs seperate from the general prison population.
The Bureau of Prisons is not looking at the empty jail in Hardin, Montana -- which was recently at the center of the American Police Force con -- as a potential site for Guantanamo inmates, contrary to an AP report today, a spokesperson for the bureau tells TPMmuckraker.

"We do not have any information that a facility in Montana is being considered for a BOP facility," spokesman Edmund Ross told us. "We're looking at the Thomson facility in Illinois."
I think they can thank Max Baucus for this, he didn't have to be such a dick all summer.

As if returning vets did not have enough problems

Sen. Richard Burr is determined to pass through an amendment that would overturn existing rules and allow vets to purchase firearms, regardless of their mental state.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) says his "Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act" will protect veterans' gun rights. But the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence calls it a "dangerous" proposal that could allow "over 100,000 mentally incapacitated or incompetent persons" to buy guns—people who would previously have been barred from doing so by the Veterans Administration (VA).

With debate over Fort Hood still raging on cable news, one might think that Burr might try to quietly shelve the measure, whose co-sponsors include Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). Instead, Burr fired back at the Brady Campaign in an interview with Fox News, accusing its president, Paul Helmke, of using the tragedy to "exploit the senseless murder of American soldiers in the quest to secure personal triumph."

Responding to Burr Thursday in an open letter, Helmke wrote, "it is hardly 'exploitative' to have an honest debate" about the proposal, which would cancel out key provisions of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and override standards used by the VA for nearly four decades.
With increasing mental problems in vets, up to and including suicide and murder, it doesn't make sense to remove any safeguards to veterans and their families and friends safety.

"There are children starving in India"

Or Africa, whichever area your parents were aware of, they used that statement to get you to eat your dinner. Soon parents in India or Africa may be telling their kids, "There are children starving in the US".
The number of Americans who lack dependable access to adequate food shot up last year to 49 million, the largest number since the government has been keeping track, according to a government report released Monday that shows particularly steep increases in food scarcity among families with children.

In 2008, the report found, nearly 17 million children -- more than one in five across the United States -- were living in households in which food at times ran short, up from slightly more than 12 million children the year before. And the number of children who sometimes were outright hungry rose from nearly 700,000 to almost 1.1 million.

Among people of of all ages, nearly 15 percent last year did not consistently have adequate food, compared with about 11 percent in 2007, the greatest deterioration in access to food during a single year in the history of the report...

...Last year, people in 4.8 million households used private food pantries, compared to 3.9 million in 2007, while people in about 625,000 households resorted to soup kitchens, nearly 90,000 more than the year before.
As these numbers go up, the number of people who can help goes down. Thank God for Wall St bonuses, we will be spared the sight of beggers in front of Goldmine Sachs.

The United States, Leader of the Third World

The NY Times reports on the flow of money between Mexico and the US. It is not as you think.
During the best of the times, Miguel Salcedo’s son, an illegal immigrant in San Diego, would be sending home hundreds of dollars a month to support his struggling family in Mexico. But at times like these, with the American economy out of whack and his son out of work, Mr. Salcedo finds himself doing what he never imagined he would have to do: wiring pesos north.

Unemployment has hit migrant communities in the United States so hard that a startling new phenomenon has been detected: instead of receiving remittances from relatives in the richest country on earth, some down-and-out Mexican families are scraping together what they can to support their unemployed loved ones in the United States.

“We send something whenever we have a little extra, at least enough so he can eat,” said Mr. Salcedo, who is from a small village here in the rural state of Oaxaca and works odd jobs to support his wife, his two younger sons and, now, his jobless eldest boy in California.
Mexicans sending remittances back to the US is a pretty stark indicator of how bad The Great Bush Depression really is. Will they be able to send enough to keep our country afloat?

A question of policy

In this case, Paul Krugman looks at the monetary policy of China and the deleterious effect it has on the US.
China is the great exception. Despite huge trade surpluses and the desire of many investors to buy into this fast-growing economy — forces that should have strengthened the renminbi, China’s currency — Chinese authorities have kept that currency persistently weak. They’ve done this mainly by trading renminbi for dollars, which they have accumulated in vast quantities.

And in recent months China has carried out what amounts to a beggar-thy-neighbor devaluation, keeping the yuan-dollar exchange rate fixed even as the dollar has fallen sharply against other major currencies. This has given Chinese exporters a growing competitive advantage over their rivals, especially producers in other developing countries.

What makes China’s currency policy especially problematic is the depressed state of the world economy. Cheap money and fiscal stimulus seem to have averted a second Great Depression. But policy makers haven’t been able to generate enough spending, public or private, to make progress against mass unemployment. And China’s weak-currency policy exacerbates the problem, in effect siphoning much-needed demand away from the rest of the world into the pockets of artificially competitive Chinese exporters.
Can an economic team led by Fat Larry and Tiny Tim give President Obama the tools needed to deal with this? The Dr. does has his doubts, and that means trouble.

Coming soon to a VCR near you

From Gawker:
Carrie Prejean, Porn Star? Vivid Has the Sex Tapes and Wants to Distribute Them.
If only the biggest mistake (or eight) of your life was worth "millions of dollars." Porn distributor Vivid Entertainment is making a play to distribute the former Miss California's sex tapes—which it allegedly has in its possession, already.
Part of their new series, "Wanking With The Stars"?

OMG, the world is coming to an end

According to a report from mining company Barrick Gold, our planet had reached Peak Gold and it's all downhill from here.
Since starting its slide in 2000, the world-wide production of gold has finally hit "terminal decline," according to reports citing Barrick Gold, the largest gold miner in the world.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph during a London gold conference, Barrick President Aaron Regent said that one could argue that Earth has reached "peak gold," as new supplies of the ore are increasingly difficult to find.
This means there is only one remedy left.

Mine Baby, Mine!

Monday Music Blogging

Back to basics and basics begin with B as in Beethoven.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

How to make $2 Billion Dollars a Year

First, promise to reduce the price of your drugs by $8 Billion.
Even as drug makers promise to support Washington’s health care overhaul by shaving $8 billion a year off the nation’s drug costs after the legislation takes effect, the industry has been raising its prices at the fastest rate in years.

In the last year, the industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent, according to industry analysts. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation’s drug bill, which is on track to exceed $300 billion this year. By at least one analysis, it is the highest annual rate of inflation for drug prices since 1992.

The drug trend is distinctly at odds with the direction of the Consumer Price Index, which has fallen by 1.3 percent in the last year.

Drug makers say they have valid business reasons for the price increases.
Pocketing an extra $2 Billion Dollars will always be called a valid business reason. Indeed, it must be valid because they have done it before.
A Harvard health economist, Joseph P. Newhouse, said he found a similar pattern of unusual price increases after Congress added drug benefits to Medicare a few years ago, giving tens of millions of older Americans federally subsidized drug insurance. Just as the program was taking effect in 2006, the drug industry raised prices by the widest margin in a half-dozen years.

ICE ain't nice

Not by a long shot. Regardless of how he may have begun, 13 years of service in the war on drugs should have gained Ernesto Gamboa some reward. Not if you ask ICE.
Gamboa, who entered the U.S. in 1992 and overstayed a visitor's visa, says he may decide early next year to give up and return home.

Under the supervision of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Gamboa began working as an informant with local law-enforcement agencies in the mid-1990s.

His work on major national and international drug investigations helped to win more than 90 federal convictions and led to seizure of money, weapons, vehicles and drugs, including more than 282 pounds of cocaine.

He parted ways with ICE near the end of a major drug investigation in May, when he said he was threatened with deportation after telling an agent he was broke and wanted to take a regular paying job on top of his informant work.

ICE soon arrested and detained Gamboa and moved ahead with plans to deport him. But under mounting pressure from other agencies, it released him after six weeks.

Now, Gamboa's status is not unlike that of millions of illegal immigrants nationwide — unable to find legitimate work or to travel — and with no obviously viable way to make it right. "I'm out and everybody's turned their backs," he said.

"It's really frustrating that after all these years they close the door and say, 'Forget about him.' "
The degree of ingratitude involved here is appalling and somebody should lose their head for it. Instead Ernesto will probably end up returning to El Salvador where some drug gang will probably find him and kill him, with the grateful appreciation of ICE for removing their embarrassment.

Quote of the Day

The only way [Republicans] will read the Health Care Bill is to rest it on the back of the hooker they're boning down at C Street House!
Wanda Sykes, in her monologue of her new show. Go over to Crooks & Liars and catch it.

Next verse, same as the first

Jonathan Schell, writing in the Nation, takes a look at the forces trying to influence his decision on Afghanistan. Curiously, things like the Geo-Strategic results, the unconscionable expense and the potential lives lost do not play into it. Examining the thoughts and actions of those who led us into Vietnam, it becomes clear that Halbertam's Best and the Brightest" were driven mainly by domestic political considerations.
In Bird's book and in a more recent one--Lessons in Disaster by Gordon Goldstein, who helped McGeorge Bundy to prepare a book reconsidering the war--another factor moves into the foreground. Bundy's death prevented completion of that book, but Goldstein makes use of Bundy's notes in his own book. Seeking to understand the origins of the war, Bundy was impressed with the salience of domestic politics. In 1949 the Communist Party had come to power in China, and ever since, Republicans and other right-wingers had been accusing Democrats of "losing" China. The belief that the United States could have prevented the communist victory was a fantasy; yet the charge became one of the principal themes of Senator Joe McCarthy's attacks on Democrats, which sent currents of fear far beyond the government and into society at large, intimidating and paralyzing a generation. The dread of being accused of lacking patriotic toughness--and above all of being accused of losing a military venture--cast a long shadow. Even Kennedy, who according to Goldstein showed remarkable independence in refusing the nearly unanimous advice from his advisers to send large numbers of combat troops to Vietnam, expressed his fear of being called a "communist appeaser." As he said to his aide Kenny O'Donnell in early 1963, "If I tried to pull out completely now from Vietnam, we would have another Joe McCarthy red scare on our hands, but I can do it after I'm re-elected." That re-election, of course, never came.

Johnson was more deeply frightened by the right. Urged by Senator Mike Mansfield to withdraw from Vietnam, he answered that he didn't want another "China in Vietnam." Bundy fueled Johnson's fears. In a 1964 memo he wrote that "the political damage to Truman and Acheson from the fall of China arose because most Americans came to believe that we could and should have done more than we did to prevent it. This is exactly what would happen now if we should seem to be the first to quit in Saigon." In another memo, Bundy outlined a moderated version of the domino theory and went on to argue that neutrality would be viewed by "all anti-communist Vietnamese" as a "betrayal," thus angering a domestic constituency powerful enough "to lose us an election."
Even before talk radio and the Internets, the right wings could howl with enough banshee like fury to guarantee the deaths of thousands of Americans and countless others. And in the end Schell poses a Gordian Knot-like question.
In short, in strictly political terms, the Vietnam dilemma has been handed down to Obama virtually intact. Now as then, the issue politically is whether the United States is able to fail in a war without coming unhinged. Does the American body politic have a reverse gear? Does it know how to cut losses? Is it capable of learning from experience? Or must it plunge unchecked over every cliff it approaches? And at the heart of these questions is another: must liberals and moderates always bow down before the crazy right when it comes to war and peace? Must presidents behave like Johnson, of whom his attorney general, Nicholas Katzenbach, later said, "It would not have made any difference what anybody advised him--he would have done what he did [in Vietnam].... It was fear of the right wing." What is the source of this raw power, this right-wing veto over presidents, Congresses and public opinion? The person who can answer these questions will have discovered one of the keys to a half-century of American history--and the forces that, even now, bear down on Obama as he considers what to do in Afghanistan.
So far Obama has impressed few who look to him to solve this question. Still, he may well have the stones to ignore those who demand he untie the knot and simply use his decision to cut it off with one stroke.

Perhaps, if he remembers that a hero only dies once, a coward dies a thousand times.

His master's voice

With apologies to RCA, it looks like Nipper, the famous RCA mascot, can be replaced by at least 42 members of Congress. And their master's voice comes not from a vinyl disc, but from lobbyists for the biotech firms seeking a patent mortal lock on their products.
In the official record of the historic House debate on overhauling health care, the speeches of many lawmakers echo with similarities. Often, that was no accident.

Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies.

E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans.

The lobbyists, employed by Genentech and by two Washington law firms, were remarkably successful in getting the statements printed in the Congressional Record under the names of different members of Congress.

Genentech, a subsidiary of the Swiss drug giant Roche, estimates that 42 House members picked up some of its talking points — 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats, an unusual bipartisan coup for lobbyists.
Working hard for a foreign company to profit. That many of these products are based on publicly funded research which these companies do not pay for is just our tough luck.

It would be a great idea, if like NASCAR drivers, Congresscritters had to wear decals listing all their supporters in proportion to their support.

The Deficit Chimera

Paul Krugman has a pair of blog posts explaining the fallacy of worrying about the deficit at a time of Zero interest rates and double digit unemployment. In the earlier one, he cuts right to the heart of the matter.
I’d be a little more forgiving of the nonsense if all the people screaming about the deficit were sincere. And some are. But many, if not most, are perfectly happy to incur huge unfunded liabilities for the wars they want to fight, and/or to eliminate inheritance taxes for the heirs of multimillionaires. It’s only deficits incurred to help working Americans that get them all moralistic.
And those who don't know any better continue to support these bastards.

Money well spent

According to some sources, the $Millions directed to the Pakistani spy service, ISI, bought good value.
The CIA has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan's intelligence service since the Sept. 11 attacks, accounting for as much as one-third of the foreign spy agency's annual budget, current and former U.S. officials say.

The Inter-Services Intelligence agency also has collected tens of millions of dollars through a classified CIA program that pays for the capture or killing of wanted militants, a clandestine counterpart to the rewards publicly offered by the State Department, officials said.

The payments have triggered intense debate within the U.S. government, officials said, because of long-standing suspicions that the ISI continues to help Taliban extremists who undermine U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and provide sanctuary to Al Qaeda members in Pakistan.

But U.S. officials have continued the funding because the ISI's assistance is considered crucial: Almost every major terrorist plot this decade has originated in Pakistan's tribal belt, where ISI informant networks are a primary source of intelligence.
The ISI is the only game in town so the annual running of the cost/benefit analysis is absolutely necessary. We can only hope that those running it put in the right benchmarks, but you never know with the CIA.

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