Friday, April 30, 2010

Hooray! Hooray! It's the First of May.

And up here in the district our favorite outdoor sport begins today.

Your Two Minute Ed

Wherein Ed comes to the same conclusion about Rush the Talking Pig's culpability as I did.

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Your Dylan Dally Moment

And tonight the young Ratigan lad asks some good questions and show you how to know if your Senator was working for you on the financial reform bill.

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Before and during the HCR debate

John "The Orange Man" Boehner was a regular Vesuvius of lies and distortions. And now that the bill has been signed into law, don't you know that The Orange Man is still spouting lies about Health care. Now he says that Republicans came up with all the good parts. He just can't stop lying.

35 years ago the Vietnamese War ended

We stumbled into it and in the end we stumbled out of it. In between a great many people died. We fought to stop the commies and propped up a bunch of crooks and clowns and in the end, if we had done nothing the result would have been the same.

Today Vietnam celebrates the end of the war.

Another Arizona toon

From the pen of Ben Sargent

Investigations and downgrades kick Goldmine Sachs stock in the balls

Damn! I just talked to my broker who recommended against naked shorts on GS. Fifteen points in one day would have done wonders for my cash flow.

Open and honest derivative trading would cost Goldmine Sachs $3.9 Billion

We can all agree that honesty is the best policy but it obviously won't make you the most money. So let us all take a moment to pray that Congress will act soon to realize this reduction for GS and for the other pirates of Wall St like JP Morgan Chase.
At the NYT's Dealbook, Cyrus Santi has word of a rather staggering new report by Bernstein Research which projects that Goldman Sachs could see a 41 percent drop in earnings if strict derivatives reform moves through Congress. The total, per Santi's calculations, would be equivalent to $3.9 billion hit to Goldman Sachs last 12 months of income...

As the WSJ notes, derivatives reform would strike a big blow to JP Morgan's earnings. The bank's CEO Jamie Dimon has supported greater regulation for derivatives -- but he recently noted that even a neutered bill could cost the bank "several hundred million to a couple billion dollars" per year.
Their loss is America's gain.

BP has a dismal safety record

You could almost compare them to Massey Energy in their zeal to save money by cutting safety measures. Obama says BP will pay the costs of the cleanup, I hope that is before they pay the fines, too.

Did Rush Limbaugh set up the oil rig explosion?

We know that Rush the Talking Pig is trying to blame environmentalists for the explosion, which makes as much sense as blaming a a concentrated brain wave attack from Osama's cave. But let's look at what we know.

  1. Rush lives and works in Florida.
  2. Rush makes large amounts of money, more than he can spend on all the drugs and underage hookers in the DR.
  3. Rush is always trying to blame those he doesn't like for what he himself does and says.
  4. The radical right wing has never had any qualms about killing people.

How difficult would it be for Rush to pay a large sum of money to a roughneck to sabotage the platform on the chosen day so Rush could blame environmentalists?

Let's face it Rush the Talking Pig had the money and the motive to do it. A little investigative work would probably uncover his access as well.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Your Fathers Music Blogging

Your Dylan Dally Moment

Dylan was outside with the Wall St marchers today and talked with some of them.

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With an intro like this

You have to wonder how Gail Collins can top it.
Nobody had seen a Palouse worm since the 1980s, but it appears they were around all the time, going about their business underground. As Jim Robbins reported in The Times, spunky scientists from the University of Idaho recently located two by burying electrodes that sent shock waves through the ground and encouraged the worms to shoot up to the surface.

Good work, University of Idaho scientists! We’re all happy to hear the giant Palouse earthworms are still with us. Even though it turns out that they’re actually not all that big.

I am telling you this because my actual topic today is state legislatures. We all know how hard it is to keep anyone’s attention when discussion veers off in this direction, so, yeah, I was going for a cheap thrill.

State legislatures are frequently the subject of derision, but lately they have been freaking out with such alarming intensity that you’d think a mad scientist had surrounded state capitols with electrodes just to see what would come popping out.
No problem, she just provides us with a litany of state legislative activity around the country. And it is quite clear there is something in the water, even in Arizona which doesn't have any.

Trumka vs Haynes & bimbo

And at least Mark Haynes knew when to shut up and let the bimbo take it on the chin.

Quote of the Day

Everyone in Washington claims to be on the side of families and to support reform. But the test is who votes to paper over problems with another regulatory system designed to fail and who votes for real Wall Street accountability even if it means that some donors will be disappointed.

I'm tired of hearing politicians claim to support families and, at the same time, vote with the big banks on the most important financial reform package in generations. I'm deep-down tired of it.
Elizabeth Warren pronouncing the Republican proposals for consumer protection as just so much punk. Ms. Warren, you are not the only one deep-down tired of "Bullshit As Usual".

Stepping up Music Blogging

After almost 10 years of playing with a lot of fine musicians, Carrie Rodriquez is stepping forward to show the world she is a fine musician and singer herself.

The Taliban is getting stronger

According to the latest report to Congress from the Pentagon, the Taliban has only improved their position in Afghanistan.
A Pentagon report presented a sobering new assessment Wednesday of the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, saying that its abilities are expanding and its operations are increasing in sophistication, despite recent major offensives by U.S. forces in the militants' heartland.

The report, requested by Congress, portrays an insurgency with deep roots and broad reach, able to withstand repeated U.S. onslaughts and to reestablish its influence, while discrediting and undermining the country's Western-backed government.

But the Pentagon said it remained optimistic that its counter-insurgency strategy, formed after an Obama administration review last year, and its effort to peel foot soldiers away from the Taliban will show success in months to come.
Glad to see the Pentagon is still optimistic. I guess they think Obama is good for another 5 years in the Kabul Quagmire. Time enough to promote the next generation of polished brass meatheads.

President Obama sounds a warning

On Wednesday the President warned against those damned Conservative activist judges who issue rulings by agenda and not by law.
Obama already has openly criticized the Supreme Court for a January ruling - one led by the court's conservative members - that allowed corporations and unions to spend freely to influence elections. Obama has vowed to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens with a like-minded justice who will not let powerful interests crowd out voices of ordinary people.

On Wednesday, when asked about judicial activism as he spoke with reporters aboard Air Force One, Obama spoke of judges who ignore the will of Congress and the democratic process, imposing judicial solutions instead of letting the political process solve problems.

"In the '60s and '70s, the feeling was, is that liberals were guilty of that kind of approach," Obama said. "What you're now seeing, I think, is a conservative jurisprudence that oftentimes makes the same error."
But is it too late in the wake of "Citizens United"?

Hunter's Law

According to Duncan Hunter R-CA, the heir to his father's House seat, the evil of brown trumps the Constitution any day. Which leads one to wonder why there is no law against total batshit crazy?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Arizona Music Blogging

Even though the band is from New York City, which probably has as many immigrants ans Arizona.

And how can we forget Diaper Dave Vitter

Stormy, we miss you already.

The 3rd wave of RNC fake Census mailers expected soon

Because, in response to the second one the House are passed a new bill making fake Census materiel illegal.
Moments ago, the House passed a new bill that seeks to ban misleading Census mailers once and for all.

The new legislation, prepared by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the top GOPer on the House Oversight committee, would close any loopholes in the existing law that already bans deceptive fundraising mailers of the sort sent recently by the RNC.

The new bill passed the House by voice vote.

"Republicans and Democrats, we are united in our efforts to stop the RNC from using Census mailings for political gain and to fundraise for the RNC," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said a few minutes before the vote.
If the last law didn't apply to the Republican National Committee, why should this one?

How to make your mark in the world

Thanks from Crayola

Crayola Thanks the Tea Partiers - watch more funny videos

h/t Crooks & Liars

How Wall St. fraud happened.

From the pen of Tom Toles

R.I.P. Allen Swift

We heard you are dead.

Fed keeps rates the same, lower than a snakes asshole.

What it means is simple. All the talk of an improving economy is just smoke and mirrors. Keeping the rates low lets the big boys game the system and make profits but they are still not creating anything of value. Until the rates move up the economy is its same old moribund self.

Your Daily Satire

Jon is unimpressed by the "shitty" performance of Congress.

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Once again into the breach

UPDATE: The GOP has agreed to public debate

For their Banker buddies, the Republicans have again blocked open debate on the financial reform bill, preferring to work back room deals beyond the light of public scrutiny. This should regain all the money that Michael Steele has lost for the RNC.

They did it to themselves

Maliki of Iraq, in a stunningly expected response to allegations of torture in a secret prison, said that this is just not true, there are no such prisons in Iraq.
In response, Prime Minister Maliki said the charges were false and that “there are no secret prisons in Iraq at all,” a claim that seems to be spurious on its face.

Speaking on government-controlled Iraqiya TV, Maliki said the torture charges were "lies," a "smear campaign" orchestrated by foreign embassies and the media that have been tooled by his opponents for political gain.
But then MoI went that extra mile to show he has the right stuff to be a client of the US.
Maliki went even further, positing that opposition lawmakers encouraged prisoners to hatch fake torture charges by “rubbing matches on some of their body parts” to give themselves scars.

He then said it was somewhat acceptable because of the scandal over the US-run Abu Ghraib prison.

“America is the symbol of democracy, but then you have the abuses at Abu Ghraib,” Maliki remarked, according to Dagher's report. “The American government took tough measures, and we are doing the same, so where is the problem and why this raucousness?”
Great defense there. The prisoners tortured their own bodies to make him look bad and besides, we were only doing what the Americans taught us in Abu Ghraib.

Maliki, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

There is still a lot to be done

Consider this report from the AP on the efforts of Remote Area Medical in Los Angeles, California, USA.
They began arriving before dawn on a cold, misty morning, people of all ages lining up by the hundreds, some in wheelchairs, others hobbling on crutches, many of them missing teeth, all of them seeking the same thing: free medical care.

It was a scene that could have been playing out in a Third World country or perhaps some place like post-hurricane New Orleans, except that it wasn't. It was unfolding in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, and the hundreds who showed up weren't refugees of a disaster or a civil war, just mainly working people without health insurance.

One of them, Kenny Gillett hadn't seen a doctor in two years, not since the 47-year-old welder lost his job and insurance when his employer went broke.

Adriana Valenzuela, a self-employed and uninsured cosmetologist, brought an 8-year-old son with a mouthful of cavities. Frank Carodine, a friendly white-haired man of 57, who rolled up in his wheelchair, said he had lost parts of both legs to diabetes, which was now ravaging his right eye. He needed glasses.

"I've got coverage for my diabetes, I go to a clinic, but it doesn't cover eye exams," he said.
There may have been a health insurance bill passed a few months back but there are still many, many people who need help until Congress gets rid of the Republicans and does something good for this country. It wasn't too long ago that National Association of Free Clinics filled this same building with the same kind of volunteer effort to help people. This time it is Remote Area Medical which was founded to help people in primitive third world areas and has now found the need in the richest country on Earth to be just as great. Until we can destroy the GOP and deliver this country from oppression please give something to help their efforts at the links.

Remote Area Medical

National Association of Free Clinics

New Poll Up To Your Right

Please vote and feel free to comment.

Your Two Minute Ed

Ed and Howard Dean talk about Immigration

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So his toupee is not too tight after all

We were curious yesterday as to why Sen. Ben Nelson voted with the Republicans in support of their banking masters. It seems the answer is as obvious as the nose on his face.
Democrats were surprised on Monday evening when Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) did an abrupt about-face and became the only Democrat to help filibuster legislation to revamp Wall Street regulations.

The removal of a provision that would have dramatically benefited financial tycoon and Nebraska native Warren Buffett, it was said, played a role in the Senator's flip.

"He was on board until today and the only thing that changed was the removal of that provision," said one Democratic aide, who definitively said Nelson changed his vote because the Buffett carveout was removed...

Earlier in the day, Senate negotiators agreed to remove a provision that Nelson had inserted last week, which would have exempted any existing derivatives contracts from being subjected to new capital requirements. That provision had been pushed by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which has $63 billion in existing derivatives contracts and would have to set aside $8 billion to cover potential losses on those contracts if the legislation were to pass.
Poor old Warren would have had to prove he could cover his bets. Despite the smile and folksy ways, old Warren is just another greedy fuck gambling on Wall St. And speaking of the nose on his face, with a schnozz that big you just have to wonder when Ben's heart is going to quit on him, like he quits on the Democrats.

Carl Levin imitates South Park

When you are talking about a Goldmine Sachs deal, that is the only way.

Why, O, Why did they pull him over

Was it because he was riding his bicycle in an unsafe manner? Or was it because he is tattooed from neck to toe and he was only wearing a thong? If you want to know, the link has pictures.

Willkommen in der Vaterländischen

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

click pic to big

They are Republicans. They lie. That's what they do

And their latest lie is another fund raising effort that deceptively looks like a Census mailing. This time the mailing was done after a new law designed to stop this had been signed by President Obama.
The Nebraska Democratic Party filed a mail fraud report against the Republican National Committee on Monday for sending out deceiving mailers that appear to be a "Census Document." A member of Congress has also confirmed that the U.S. Postal Service was investigating the matter.

In a letter (pdf) sent to the Postal Inspection Service on Monday, Victor Covalt III, a bankruptcy lawyer and Nebraska Democratic Party official accused the RNC of "attempting to wrongfully trade off and profit from the 2010 Census."

He also charged the Committee with violating a recently-passed law, by not including "an accurate return address including the name of the entity that sent such matter," in its deceptive mailers.
There are several things you can do if you get one of these mailers. First you should contact your local post office about an illegal mailing. Second, fill out the questionaire in the most progressive manner possible. And last, return the prepaid mail envelope, without any donation, to the RNC. This will support your Postal Service.

A new crime of breathing while undocumented

New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse has an Op-Ed today explaining why she will not visit Arizona so long as the Republican supported Gestapo Bill remains in force.
What would Arizona’s revered libertarian icon, Barry Goldwater, say about a law that requires the police to demand proof of legal residency from any person with whom they have made “any lawful contact” and about whom they have “reasonable suspicion” that “the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States?” Wasn’t the system of internal passports one of the most distasteful features of life in the Soviet Union and apartheid-era South Africa?

And in case the phrase “lawful contact” makes it appear as if the police are authorized to act only if they observe an undocumented-looking person actually committing a crime, another section strips the statute of even that fig leaf of reassurance. “A person is guilty of trespassing,” the law provides, by being “present on any public or private land in this state” while lacking authorization to be in the United States — a new crime of breathing while undocumented. The intent, according to the State Legislature, is “attrition through enforcement.”
She does not call for a boycott, saying that each person must act according to their own conscience. But she makes it clear that you would need a conscience as withered and foul as Rush the Talking Pig to support Arizona.

Quote of the Day

It is surely not inspiring for radicalised people with the potential for violent action to see terrorists tried in ordinary criminal courts and sentenced to long prison terms. But it surely is inspiring to them to see terrorists treated as a special class of prisoners to be held by the military, imprisoned without trial and tortured. This is the kind of treatment that makes jihadists believe that they can indeed be the fighters for a cause that they aspire to be.
Nigel Inkster and Alexander Nicoll, writing in an article published in the International Institute for Strategic Studies journal Survival and making the argument for trials in civilian courts and closing Gitmo. Their logic is sadly beyond the comprehension of your average radical right winger.

Your Daily Satire

Because you didn't really think Arizona would get away untouched, did you?

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Republicans proudly stand up for the banks

And as expected, they all voted to block any public debate on the financial reform bill, preferring to accommodate their masters desire to weaken the bill with secret deals done in back rooms. To all you brave GOP Senators. standing up to the American public for your banking overlords, this is for you.

And you too Ben Nelson, but I think you just have a toupee that is too tight.

Your Dylan Dally Moment

Dylan dabbles in derivatives explanations

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Tom Tancredo has never met a batshit crazy idea he didn't like

Until now. It seems that even Tom, Colorado's answer to Michelle Bachman, thinks that the Arizona Gestapo Bill goes too far.
Former Congressman Tom Tancredo -- the same guy who said we should send the president back to Kenya and said a Supreme Court nominee is part of the "Latino KKK" -- said this weekend that the new Arizona immigration law goes a little too far.

"If I had anything to say about it, we'd be doing it in Colorado," Tancredo told Denver news station KDVR. But, he said, "I do not want people here, there in Arizona, pulled over because you look like should be pulled over."
Just to be fair, Tom says it is OK to ask for papers but only if you have a real reason to stop someone. No profiling please.

The Legacy of Caribou Barbie

Why spend your money when you can get others to spend their for your benefit. Witness the latest from the government of Alaska.
The state has committed to spending $5,000 on its share of the multi-state suit challenging the constitutionality of the mandate that people buy health care insurance or pay a fine. The 20-state consortium, led by Florida, aims to end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

But Alaska has vowed not to spend a penny more than $5,000 to be a part of the litigation, said Bill McAllister, a spokesman for Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan. Sullivan and Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell re-emphasized their commitment to low-cost legal action after they were criticized by the only Democrat in Alaska's congressional delegation: Sen. Mark Begich. Begich suggested the suit would be pricey and called it of "dubious merit."

"Regardless of the arrangement between Florida and their law firm, regardless of what it actually costs to get this done, the state of Alaska will not spend more than $5,000 on outside counsel," McAllister said in an e-mail.
A penny saved is a penny earned, you betcha!

US chickens aren't worth what they used to be

Consider the case of one Godfrey Davies who was in need of surgery and lacked medical insurance.
When Godfrey Davies learned he needed surgery to remove polyps blocking his nasal airways, the self-described bargain shopper set out on a mission to find an affordable surgeon. He quickly learned a good deal is hard to find.

"The total numbers they were throwing at me were just incredible. I couldn't believe it," he says.

Davies, who is semiretired from his real estate business and uninsured, says he received estimates from two surgeons. When hospital, anesthesia and incidental fees were all tallied, the cheapest price he could find in Indianapolis, Indiana, was $33,127 -- which he would need to pay out of pocket.

"I was speechless." Davies recalls. "It was absolutely out of the question financially for me to have this done under those circumstances."

Frustrated that his bargain shopping saved him so little, Davies called on family in the United Kingdom for assistance. When they told him they had found a private hospital in Wales that would perform the surgery for $2,930 [or £1,897], Davies didn't think twice.

He purchased a $768 round-trip ticket, and on March 18, he boarded a flight to the UK to have his polyps removed there at a savings of nearly $30,000.
True, he had his polyps removed by a socialist but I don't think the polyps would have noticed any difference. When given a chance to revisit their price quote, the best the Americans could do was $17,860. Any way you look at it, he was ahead of the game in Wales.

Tom Toles Today

Note the caption under each bill.

click pic to big

Damned activist judges

Turns out that menace to society is not those of a liberal bent, but the conservatives who are more devoted to an agenda than to the law. E.J.Dionne looks at this problem in light of the upcoming nominee for the Supreme Court.
Conservative judges are regularly invoking their alleged fealty to the "original" intentions of the Founders as a battering ram against attempts to limit the power of large corporations. Such entities were not even in the imaginations of those who wrote the Constitution. To claim to know what the Founders would have made of Exxon Mobil or Goldman Sachs or PepsiCo is an exercise in arrogance.

What liberals forgot during the years when their side dominated the judiciary is that for much of our history, the courts have played a conservative role. But today's conservatives have not forgotten this legacy. Their goal is to overturn the past 70 years of judicial understandings and bring us back to a time when courts voided minimum-wage laws and all manner of other economic regulations.
Equally important as the SCOTUS nominee are the many judges at the various levels of the judicial system. By blocking Obama's nominees, the radical right is working to upset the balance between honest judges and conservative judges.

Iraq court makes first move to fix election

Because you just knew the fix was in when Maliki of Iraq refused to accept votes as cast by the purple finger people.
A special electoral court in Iraq disqualified a winning candidate in last month’s election on charges he once was a member of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, two officials said Monday. The decision was the first concrete move to change the preliminary results of the vote that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s coalition narrowly lost.

The court’s ruling intensified a political crisis that remains far from resolved, raising tensions and even the specter of violence. The court’s decision, at a minimum, will delay the formation of a new government through the months when the Obama administration has pledged to withdraw its combat troops, leaving a force of only 50,000 after September.

The disqualified candidate won a seat in the new 325-member Parliament on a slate led by Ayad Allawi, a Shiite who served as interim prime minister after the American invasion in 2003, the officials said.

The court, however, also disqualified 51 losing candidates, and the votes they received will be discarded, requiring a recalculation of the winners — and losers — across the ballot, the officials said.

The director of the commission charged with purging former Baath loyalists also disclosed that he had asked the court to bar nine additional winning candidates, though the court has yet to rule on that. That would clearly change the outcome since all of the candidates belong to Mr. Allawi’s winning coalition, which had edged out Mr. Maliki’s bloc by two seats, 91 to 89.
A fix both clever and clumsy. If the recalculated votes don't deliver the election to the right people then they will just have to throw out enough of the "wrong" winners to deliver an acceptable outcome.

The Ratings Agencies were the lynchpin of the fraud

And Dr. Krugman points that out today in his column.
The rating agencies began as market researchers, selling assessments of corporate debt to people considering whether to buy that debt. Eventually, however, they morphed into something quite different: companies that were hired by the people selling debt to give that debt a seal of approval.

Those seals of approval came to play a central role in our whole financial system, especially for institutional investors like pension funds, which would buy your bonds if and only if they received that coveted AAA rating.

It was a system that looked dignified and respectable on the surface. Yet it produced huge conflicts of interest. Issuers of debt — which increasingly meant Wall Street firms selling securities they created by slicing and dicing claims on things like subprime mortgages — could choose among several rating agencies. So they could direct their business to whichever agency was most likely to give a favorable verdict, and threaten to pull business from an agency that tried too hard to do its job. It’s all too obvious, in retrospect, how this could have corrupted the process.
It is all well and good to identify the problem, but what to do about it. Even The Shrill One has no real ideas at this point.

Republican politics stalling Wall St reform

Sen. Richard "dick" Shelby R-Turncoat has said he would not agree to anything before the expected cloture vote this afternoon. Not that an agreement could not be reached, but because the Wall St gang speaking through their puppet Mitch The Chin McConnell wants it that way. Thanks to Michael Steele, the Republicans can't afford to bite the hand that will feed them this election and you can be damn sure it's not your hand.

Palin, Inc.

Gabriel Sherman has a lengthy cover story on the commercialization of Sarah Palin. If you are curious to see how the former half-term governor peddled her ass to every radical right wing media outlet, this is for you.

National Spokeschicken responds to Sue Lowden

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Something New Music Blogging

YouTube has 2 videos of this tune. One is a live performance with crappy sound. This one lets you enjoy the tune with nothing to look at. Until someone combines the best of both, I will enjoy listening to Natalie.

Too Big to Fail, not really

What the phrase really speaks to are not indestructible corporations. Too Big to Fail identifies corporations that have discovered the Holy Grail of corporatists, that is Too Big to Pay for Their Mistakes a/k/a That is What The Rest of Us Are Here For. Gretchen Morgenson examines the problem and, sadly, finds the answer to why this is so.
Edward Kane, a finance professor at Boston College and an authority on financial institutions and regulators, said that it was not surprising that substantive changes for both groups are not on the table. After all, powerful banks want to maintain their ability to privatize gains and socialize losses.

“To understand why defects in insolvency detection and resolution persist, analysts must acknowledge that large financial institutions invest in building and exercising political clout,” Mr. Kane writes in an article, titled “Defining and Controlling Systemic Risk,” that he is scheduled to present next month at a Federal Reserve conference.

But regulators, eager to avoid being blamed for missteps in oversight, also have an interest in the status quo, Mr. Kane argues. “As in a long-running poker game in which one player (here, the taxpayer) is a perennial and relatively clueless loser,” he writes, “other players see little reason to disturb the equilibrium.”
When The Powers That Be are major stakeholders in the status quo, that is all you are going to get.

The Ups and Downs of Wall St. and Goldmine Sachs

Franks Rich looks at the last week and what it has meant for the Malefactors of Great Wealth. Despite some promising beginnings, when all was said and done,

To award the audience a bonus, “This American Life” concluded with a Broadway song commissioned from a co- author of the satirical musical “Avenue Q.” Titled “Bet Against the American Dream,” it distills a complex financial saga to its essence: Those who shorted the housing market shorted the country.

Go online, listen to it and laugh. But the fact remains that those who truly hurt America are laughing harder still, all the way to the bank.


Lightfoot Lindsey throws hissy fit

The teacher did not call on him first so the poor dear is going to roll up and cry.
Voicing regrets, Sen. John Kerry said Saturday he is postponing the much anticipated unveiling of comprehensive energy and climate change legislation scheduled for Monday. The Massachusetts Democrat made his announcement after a key partner in drafting the bill, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, threatened to withhold support if Senate Democratic leaders push ahead first with an immigration bill.

Graham is angry that Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is considering that. Legislation to overhaul immigration laws and grant legal status to millions of long term immigrants unlawfully in the country could create problems for Republicans in the midterm elections. It's a top priority for Hispanic voters – and most Republicans are opposed. Reid's idea amounts to a "cynical political ploy," Graham asserted.
Why yes sweet Lindsey it is a political ploy that also just happens to be the right thing to do. In a situation like this, the rightness of the cause easily overrides any taint from the games you like to play. So please just shut up, bend over and take it like Rush Limbaugh.

Mitch The Chin says No to financial reform bill

Once again Sen. MINORITY Leader Mitch The Chin McConnell is promising to say NO to a reform bill. No one is really surprised as this is the normal Republican position on any improvement to the laws of the land. In fact it has been said that Mitch had the YES voting buttons disabled on GOP Senate desks to help some of the caucus members remember which way they are supposed to vote. In stating his position on Fux News Sunday, he also gave away a secret that the MSM has often missed.
"We don't have a bipartisan compromise yet but I think there is a good chance we're going to get it. What I'd like to see is an opportunity to prevent the Democrats from doing to the financial services industry what they just did to the health care of this country," said McConnell. "And Ironically, Chris, my view is very similar to that bastion of conservatism and tool of Wall Street, The Washington Post editorial page, which said this morning that this bill needs to be improved."
Given the extra surprise on Mitch's face, the hand up his ass must have tweaked him for revealing the true position of the WaPo editorial page.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Getting a hand job will clean your garage

Bill Maher takes on the teabaggers and "Our Big Stupid Boat"

From the pen of Tony Auth

China is stretching its sea legs

Mainly because they can. Throughout its history China has mostly been a land power. From time to time China would reach out across the seas (q.v. Cheng Ho),but China would soon restore its fabled insularity. Those days appear to be over and the Chinese Navy is working hard and quickly to develop "blue water" capability.
China calls the new strategy “far sea defense,” and the speed with which it is building long-range capabilities has surprised foreign military officials.

The strategy is a sharp break from the traditional, narrower doctrine of preparing for war over the self-governing island of Taiwan or defending the Chinese coast. Now, Chinese admirals say they want warships to escort commercial vessels that are crucial to the country’s economy, from as far as the Persian Gulf to the Strait of Malacca, in Southeast Asia, and to help secure Chinese interests in the resource-rich South and East China Seas.

In late March, two Chinese warships docked in Abu Dhabi, the first time the modern Chinese Navy made a port visit in the Middle East.

The overall plan reflects China’s growing sense of self-confidence and increasing willingness to assert its interests abroad. China’s naval ambitions are being felt, too, in recent muscle flexing with the United States: in March, Chinese officials told senior American officials privately that China would brook no foreign interference in its territorial issues in the South China Sea, said a senior American official involved in China policy...

The naval expansion will not make China a serious rival to American naval hegemony in the near future, and there are few indications that China has aggressive intentions toward the United States or other countries.

But China, now the world’s leading exporter and a giant buyer of oil and other natural resources, is also no longer content to trust the security of sea lanes to the Americans, and its definition of its own core interests has expanded along with its economic clout.

In late March, Adm. Robert F. Willard, the leader of the United States Pacific Command, said in Congressional testimony that recent Chinese military developments were “pretty dramatic.” China has tested long-range ballistic missiles that could be used against aircraft carriers, he said. After years of denials, Chinese officials have confirmed that they intend to deploy an aircraft carrier group within a few years.

China is also developing a sophisticated submarine fleet that could try to prevent foreign naval vessels from entering its strategic waters if a conflict erupted in the region, said Admiral Willard and military analysts.
And the unspoken element of this is that China can now afford to have such a navy without stressing their economy. If they can, then they will. Nothing shows you have arrived like a fleet.

Another shoe drops

I hesitate to say "the other shoe" because I don't really know how many feet a Vampire Squid has. The latest shoe should prove to be a problem for the execs at Goldmine Sachs. The shareholders are filing suits against management for failure to do what they were paid to do.
Goldman Sachs's CEO and other top officers are accused in a pair of shareholder lawsuits of lax oversight in deals involving risky mortage-backed securities that later went bad.

The lawsuits filed Thursday in New York State Supreme Court name Lloyd Blankfein and the firm's entire board of directors as defendants...

The two suits, filed by shareholders Robert Rosinek and Morton Spiegel, accuse Blankfein and other officers of "systematic failure" over 3 1/2 years for not properly vetting 23 mortgage-linked deals at the center of the SEC suit. Those deals, called Abacus, led to $1 billion in losses.
Hopefully this will be the anvil to the SEC's hammer. If they try to avoid the SEC by saying they did not know what was happening, they play right into the shareholders suit that accuses the Blankfein Gang of not doing their job. Either way, Goldmine's reputation is shot and that was their most valuable asset.

Mark Fiore explains Wall St.

And he uses pictures so that kids can share it with their parents.

Remember that big pool of mortgages Goldmine Sachs & Paulson bet against?

The Wall St Journal, showing some pre-Murdoch reportorial skills, tracked down the mortgagees who lost so they could make $Millions. Some were liar loans, some were broker frauds and others were just plain hard luck but they fit the bill that Paulson and GS were looking for. And in the end they are all people who wanted a home.

Rating agencies, the roundheels of Wall St.

Not only did Moodys and Fitch and Standard & Poors get into bed with every investment bank in town, but they told them what to say so they wouldn't waste time.
The rating agencies made public computer models that were used to devise ratings to make the process less secretive. That way, banks and others issuing bonds — companies and states, for instance — wouldn’t be surprised by a weak rating that could make it harder to sell the bonds or that would require them to offer a higher interest rate.

But by routinely sharing their models, the agencies in effect gave bankers the tools to tinker with their complicated mortgage deals until the models produced the desired ratings.

“There’s a bit of a Catch-22 here, to be fair to the ratings agencies,” said Dan Rosen, a member of Fitch’s academic advisory board and the chief of R2 Financial Technologies in Toronto. “They have to explain how they do things, but that sometimes allowed people to game it.”

There were other ways that the models used to rate mortgage investments like the controversial Goldman deal, Abacus 2007-AC1, were flawed. Like many in the financial community, the agencies had assumed that home prices were unlikely to decline. They also assumed that complex investments linked to home loans drawn from around the nation were diversified, and thus safer.

Both of those assumptions were wrong, and investors the world over lost many billions of dollars. In that Abacus investment, for instance, 84 percent of the underlying bonds were downgraded within six months.

But for Goldman and other banks, a road map to the right ratings wasn’t enough. Analysts from the agencies were hired to help construct the deals.
Funny thing about Wall St., they were in bed with each other and it was the rest of the country that got fucked.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Another totally incompetent and clueless CEO

If you were paid a total compensation of $ 7,569,981 last year, would you be even slightly concerned if you were unaware that your company was still giving fraudulent ratings to piles of shit as you were publicly downgrading the earlier piles of shit that you had fraudulently overrated earlier?
The chairman and chief executive of Moody's Corp. said Friday that he didn't know that his company continued to give investment-grade ratings to complex financial instruments backed by shaky subprime mortgages even after it downgraded billions of dollars worth of such deals in the summer of 2007.

His admission came during a daylong hearing by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is looking into the origins of the nation's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Moody's chief Ray McDaniel, under questioning, said that he didn't think his company had continued to rate complex deals backed by U.S. mortgages after it and competitor Standard & Poor's jolted the markets in July 2007 with massive downgrades of earlier deals.

"I apologize, I do not recall that," McDaniel said.
If he was not aware of how his company was performing its major and most lucrative function, just what the hell was he being paid for? He is either a liar or he owes the stockholders every penny they ever wasted on this clown.

From the pen of Rex Babin

Arizona Governor inserts head firmly up her ass

She signed the "Gestapo" bill allowing any policeman in Arizona to request to see your papers if he or she has a reasonable suspicion. This should make Arizona a favorite vacation site for border jumping Canucks. Who would ever suspect a pasty white dude drinking beer and eating donuts, eh?

Chicken Lady update

Yesterday I had a post on the NC GOPer who suggested paying in vegetables when you go to the doctor. I questioned how many head of lettuce would be needed for a tripple bypass. Today someone has put together a calculator to determine the price in chickens of various medical procedures. The cost of bypass surgery:
4482 Chickens
I guess we keep the vegetables for spare change.

PS: A flu shot is only 5 chickens

Remember when Music was Music Blogging

Four Lads, Two Names, One Song. Enjoy!

When you pick on someone in advertising

You should expect him to fire back with a professionally produced salvo. Gordon posted the result for your viewing pleasur.

A Tale of Two Mines

The New York Times did their research and presents a look at the daily operation of two mines in Appalachia. One is the Upper Big Branch.
Earlier this year, in the subterranean workplace of a southern West Virginia coal mine, methane kept building up because of a lack of fresh air. Odorless, explosive, this natural gas must be dispersed from where miners work, and yet it became such a familiar presence at the mine called Upper Big Branch that entire sections had to be evacuated four times this year alone.

Many of the miners suspected they knew a major source of the gas buildup: a coal shaft, unused for years, that passed down through several old mines before reaching theirs. According to a longtime foreman at the mine, who provided previously undisclosed details of its operation, the shaft was never properly sealed to prevent the methane above from being sucked into Upper Big Branch.

Instead, the foreman said, rags and garbage were used to create a poor man’s sealant, which he said allowed methane to permeate the mine, displacing much-needed oxygen.

“Every single day, the levels were double or triple what they were supposed to be,” said the foreman, whose account of the shaft was corroborated in part by records collected by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. The foreman, who is now working with federal prosecutors and elected officials investigating the mine, asked not to be identified because speaking out is not acceptable in the culture of his company, Massey Energy.
Speaking out is not acceptable, but killing 29 miners is a cost of doing business. Nice world Massey Energy.

The other mine is also non-union and according to miners releases more methane than Upper Big Branch. Still the safety record of TECO Coal Corp's E3-1 mine is vastly superior.
E3-1 has not had an underground fatality since it opened in July 2004; nor does it have anywhere near the number of violations accumulated by Upper Big Branch.

TECO is not immune to violations and accidental deaths; for example, an inadequately supported roof collapsed in 2006, killing a worker in a TECO-owned mine across the road from E3-1. But the operators at E3-1 say they build on experience, and strive toward vigilant safety practices, including routinely trying to double the required amount of fresh air that is directed into the mine’s chambers.

“This mine is gassy; it liberates methane,” said Robert J. Zik, the company’s vice president for operations. “So if we don’t do it right, you’re going to have a problem.”

“The mine has to be ventilated,” Mr. Zik added. “Otherwise, it will destroy the company. I don’t think TECO Coal could have an accident like Massey’s and survive.”

TECO executives and miners, who spoke openly and on the record during a reporter’s tour of the E3-1 mine last week, say that their training, procedures and equipment generally exceed what is required by Kentucky and federal regulators. The company says it rewards safety, provides an 800 number for anonymous complaints and fosters an open-door management style.

The differences in safety practices between TECO and Massey are often stark. Where TECO workers rigorously inspect the mine for safety problems before every shift, Upper Big Branch has had dozens of violations related to pre-shift examinations, some for failing to conduct them at all, others for not documenting that they had been done. All TECO miners get weeks of safety training, but in September an inspector ordered dozens of Massey miners out of Upper Big Branch because they lacked proper training.

Several years ago, TECO fired a mine foreman for failing to rehang a ventilation curtain that had fallen to the mine floor and contributed to a fire. At Upper Big Branch, inspectors more than once found curtains improperly hung or lying on the mine floor, a practice workers said was routine and encouraged because the plastic sheets get in the way of equipment.
Two different companies with two different views of safety. Safety requires a degree of respect for miners as people, something Don Blankenship does not seem capable of.

No more justice in California

It is too expensive. Better to close courts and layoff staff because you know no one wants their tax dollars going to support criminals. I wonder if they have considered charging criminals for having their cases heard?

Jon Stewart speaks out for Freedom of Expression

And in support of our South Park.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
South Park Death Threats
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

George Soros speaks out against derivatives

When an investor as sophisticated as Soros makes a clear and rational case for regulation, normal people listen.
Whether or not Goldman is guilty, the transaction in question clearly had no social benefit. It involved a complex synthetic security derived from existing mortgage-backed securities by cloning them into imaginary units that mimicked the originals. This synthetic collateralised debt obligation did not finance the ownership of any additional homes or allocate capital more efficiently; it merely swelled the volume of mortgage-backed securities that lost value when the housing bubble burst. The primary purpose of the transaction was to generate fees and commissions.

This is a clear demonstration of how derivatives and synthetic securities have been used to create imaginary value out of thin air. More triple A CDOs were created than there were underlying triple A assets. This was done on a large scale in spite of the fact that all of the parties involved were sophisticated investors. The process went on for years and culminated in a crash that caused wealth destruction amounting to trillions of dollars. It cannot be allowed to continue. The use of derivatives and other synthetic instruments must be regulated even if all the parties are sophisticated investors. Ordinary securities must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission before they can be traded. Synthetic securities ought to be similarly registered, although the task could be assigned to a different authority, such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Something like this will probably have little influence on the Perfumed Princes of the Senate. This is an election year, in their world money talks and reality walks.

A good day for God

The US Army has finally decided they do not want Franklin "Daddy's Little Putz" Graham at a National Day of Prayer event.

The Russians have told the Scientology cult to keep its crap out of their country.

Kudos to both for some clear thinking.

What else were they going to do.

Big story about SEC employees surfing the porn world while the economy was swirling around the bowl.
Senior staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were being paid to police the financial system, an agency watchdog says.

The SEC's inspector general conducted 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press.
Some were probably hired during the Cheney/Bush administration but all who had worked during that time were fully aware that attempts at policing the financial systems would get them fired. Another Republican value exposed, porn is more acceptable than regulation.

Krugman begs to differ

Having listened to President Obama's speech, Paul Krugman has a few differences with him. And in a change of position, Krugman now believes that size does matter.
On Thursday, President Obama went to Manhattan, where he urged an audience drawn largely from Wall Street to back financial reform. “I believe,” he declared, “that these reforms are, in the end, not only in the best interest of our country, but in the best interest of the financial sector.”

Well, I wish he hadn’t said that — and not just because he really needs, as a political matter, to take a populist stance, to put some public distance between himself and the bankers. The fact is that Mr. Obama should be trying to do what’s right for the country — full stop. If doing so hurts the bankers, that’s O.K.

More than that, reform actually should hurt the bankers. A growing body of analysis suggests that an oversized financial industry is hurting the broader economy. Shrinking that oversized industry won’t make Wall Street happy, but what’s bad for Wall Street would be good for America.
This is the fight that Main St wants to see and Wall St is busy bribing Congress to avoid. Obama himself, chose to go into the lions den and say "Nice kitty" instead of looking for a lion skin rug. Paul does a nice job of showing why this was the wrong choice.

Unknown Music Blogging

An old favorite from a new group on the music scene

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Your Two Minute Ed

Ed and Eliot segue nicely from what Dylan said earlier.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Your Dylan Dally Moment

Tonight Dylan and Ted Kaufman discuss breaking up banks that are too big to fail.

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Yesterday we learnd about Nevada's Chicken Lady

And today brings us news of a Tennessee state rep. (GOP of course) who suggests that we learn to pay for our medical care with vegetables.
Bell's made his comments last week, during discussion of a proposed state law that would attempt to nullify the federal health care insurance mandate in the state of Tennessee. Here is a transcript of a dialogue in committee between Bell and Democratic state Rep. Joe Towns, courtesy of the Nashville Scene, as Bell explained that many people get along without insurance:

Bell: They're some of the healthiest people you have ever seen. They pay cash when they go to the doctor. They work out arrangements with the hospitals if their children have to be hospitalized. This is an individual choice that we're talking about.

Towns: You're saying they pay cash? For organ transplants and cancer and heart cases, they pay cash?

Bell: I said they pay cash or work out other arrangements. I know for a fact. I know someone in the medical field who has been paid with vegetables from the Mennonite community.

Towns: That's an anomaly. That's not how the system works. I can't take a sack of vegetables down to the utility company and pay my utility bill on my house. Nobody's going to take vegetables for payment. We can't run the country on vegetables and horse trading.
The big question is how many head of lettuce does it take for a triple bypass operation?

The New Eden

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

click pic to big

Gail Collins has the best definition of derivatives, ever!

According to Ms. Collins:
Try to think of derivatives as being like the Tribbles in that classic “Star Trek” episode. For all of history, there was no such thing. Then somebody found the first ones, which looked cute and made soothing noises. We liked them fine, until the population grew to be worth about $600 trillion. When they got into the financial engine, all hell broke loose.

And there is absolutely no political percentage in allowing them free run of the ship.
And she also noticed Blanche Lincoln's hard left turn on her legislation regarding de-tribble-atives.
So it’s pretty easy to figure out what caused Lincoln’s hard line on financial reform. She is tacking to the left the same way John McCain, struggling in a hot primary in Arizona against a Tea Party-type opponent, is tacking to the right.

But let’s give her credit for never having gotten desperate enough to claim that cars full of illegal immigrants were “intentionally causing crashes on the freeway.” Unlike some former mavericks we could mention.
Interesting times inside the Beltway.

Hawaii working on bill to deal with birthers

This is not the name of the bill.

But it should be.

Dick "dick" Cheney endorses Rubio

While this may help Rubio in the primary, Dick "dick" is no longer in a position to influence the federal investigations in Mr Rubio's financial dealings.

The 11 Worst Governors

From the watchdog group CREW:
CREW's unranked list of the 11 worst governors includes:

* Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS);
* Gov. Donald Carcieri (R-RI);
* Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-NV);
* Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA);
* Gov. David Paterson (D-NY);
* Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA);
* Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX);
* Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM);
* Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD);
* Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC); and
* Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA).
Washington DC is not the only governmental center infested with vermin.

WellPoint sees no value in paying for breast cancer treatment

So like a good insurance company mindful of the CEO's bonus and meeting Wall St expectations, they systematically dropped anyone who developed breast cancer.
None of the women knew about the others. But besides their similar narratives, they had something else in common: Their health insurance carriers were subsidiaries of WellPoint, which has 33.7 million policyholders -- more than any other health insurance company in the United States.

The women all paid their premiums on time. Before they fell ill, none had any problems with their insurance. Initially, they believed their policies had been canceled by mistake.

They had no idea that WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted them and every other policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation, as the company searched for some pretext to drop their policies, according to government regulators and investigators.

Once the women were singled out, they say, the insurer then canceled their policies based on either erroneous or flimsy information. WellPoint declined to comment on the women's specific cases without a signed waiver from them, citing privacy laws.

That tens of thousands of Americans lost their health insurance shortly after being diagnosed with life-threatening, expensive medical conditions has been well documented by law enforcement agencies, state regulators and a congressional committee. Insurance companies have used the practice, known as "rescission," for years. And a congressional committee last year said WellPoint was one of the worst offenders.

But WellPoint also has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies, federal investigators told Reuters. The revelation is especially striking for a company whose CEO and president, Angela Braly, has earned plaudits for how her company improved the medical care and treatment of other policyholders with breast cancer.
This is not entirely new, but it is good to remember that despite the new law to combat this practice, any company that would let people die to save money will probably break the law rather than pay claims.

Army still thinking about Franklin Graham invitation

What is there to think about? Billy Graham was an honest country preacher with your average hillbilly values. Still and all, he did believe what he preached. His son Franklin is a Jesus hating douchebag who is only in it for the money and fame. His very presence should be anathema to anybody with real religious values.

Subdued Music Blogging

From a favorite Louisiana band.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If somebody offers you a meal of Kentucky tuna...

You would be safe in eating it and you may well enjoy it, just don't confuse it with what you think it may be.
Asian carp are reviled as vanquishers of native species, feared as hefty jumpers able to break a boatman’s jaw, and scorned as, well, carp. But even as Northern states battle to keep them from ravaging the Great Lakes, officials in the South, where the alien species have multiplied like guppies, are working to transform the carp into marketable assets.

First, the rebranding. In January, Louisiana wildlife officials rolled out the Silverfin Promotion, enlisting chefs to create recipes for what they called the tasty white meat of the bighead carp and silver carp, the two dominant invaders.

“A cross between scallops and crabmeat,” declared Philippe Parola, a noted seafood chef whose new recipes include silverfin almondine.

Meanwhile, would-be carp exploiters in Kentucky, after trying the fish smoked, canned and in fried balls, concluded that it tasted remarkably like tuna and proposed labeling it Kentucky tuna.
These invasive species can be a real problem in established ecosystems. The only real way to control them is to unleash the planets most voracious predator, man.

Moodys won't produce, gets a subpoena

One of the three main bond rating agencies at the heart of the Wall St. derivative fraud was reluctant to deliver some of the requested documents. This enabled the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to try out their subpoena power on Moody's.
It's the first subpoena issued by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to compel compliance, the panel's chairman, Phil Angelides, said during a conference call with reporters. The commission faces a December deadline to produce a report documenting and explaining the causes behind the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Until now, every party contacted by the commission has either complied or indicated a willingness to comply with its requests, Angelides said. Moody's -- one of the three major credit rating agencies accused of contributing, if not worsening, the financial crisis -- is the only party delaying the panel's investigation.

Angelides said the panel is after "essential documents and e-mails relevant to our investigation." He wouldn't specify what the commission is looking for. The commission first sent its request for documents on March 10, Angelides said.
I can understand Moody's reluctance. If it was my top grade rating that got everybody to pay top dollar for a mountain of manure I wouldn't want anyone to see how I did it either.

Your Two Minute Ed

Tonight Ed deals with the Chicken Lady.

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Your Dylan Dally Moment

Wherein Bernie Sanders of all people, tells Dylan to take a breath

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Having trouble paying for your medical needs?

Sue Lowden, a Republican candidate for the Senate from Nevada has the answer, barter. Need a checkup? Ask your sawbones if he will take a couple of chickens for it. Got a tooth needs pulling? Ask your dentist if he needs some painting around his house. And see if some lawn mowing will get your rheumatiz fixed up. And to find a willing medico, the DSCC has a widget to help you write a letter to Ms. Lowden seeking her help finding such a doctor. As the doctor will probably be in Nevada, you will have to travel for the appointment. The good side is after you are cured, you can stop in one of the casinos and win enough to pay for your travel. That way you can leave Nevada healthy, wealthy and a whole lot wiser. You betcha!

Astroturf on Wall St

And who didn't think this would pop up sooner or later. Wall St. has turned to a notorious astroturf group to form an artificial "grass roots" group to muddy the waters and hopefully foil financial reform. The name of the group is
Stop Too Big To Fail
It is a fake group but it did manage to fool some people who should know better. TPM has the details.

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