Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

The ViVA Girls kick out the jams on traditional Chinese instruments, rocking in the new year.

The music ends @ 5:30 and the rest is curtain call.

Tour the Mansions of the "Stars"

The New York Times has an article about the homes of the various Republican/Teabagger candidates for president. Included is a slide show of the various potential "summer White Houses". Must see, the Gingrichs Master Bath.

Obama signs NDAA

Probably hoping that you are too busy with football, parties and what have you to pay any attention to the final nail in the coffin of habeas corpus. Sure he included a signing statement, but that is only the President's way of saying "trust me, I'm a professional".

An anthem for 2011

For those of us in the 99%

The last remaining example of his kind

A fat North Korean.

Somebody is huffing too much happy gas

Bloomberg has a look at the year ahead that is quite optimistic. In fact, if you believe in a reality based world you can say it is a fairy tale. For some strange reason they believe that US efforts at austerity combined with the effects of European austerity will not influence the US economy.
Rising confidence, fewer firings and gains in holiday sales show the U.S. economy is picking up, defying a slowdown in Europe and much of the rest of the world.

The divergence will become even starker in 2012 as the world’s largest economy accelerates, the 17-member euro area sinks into a recession and growth in emerging markets cools, according to economists like Maury Harris of UBS Securities LLC and Barclays Capital Inc.’s Dean Maki.

“There is a sense of decoupling,” said Harris, chief economist at UBS Securities in New York, whose team was the most accurate in forecasting the U.S. economy in the two years through September. “We can still have a decent year here in the U.S. even with the rest of the world slowing down.”

An improving job market and freer credit may underpin American household sentiment and spending just as the debt crisis in Europe prompts additional belt-tightening overseas. Stabilization in housing will erase a source of weakness at the same time vehicle replacement demand benefits companies like General Motors Co. (GM)
What we may see is that bright flame up before the economy follows the rest of the world. We no longer have sufficient economic base to support the dreams of autarky inherent in the imagined decoupling.

When Banks compete

We the public will probably get a better deal for necessary financial services. For that reason, banks hate to compete, which is why only about 20 % of their municipal investment business is competitive. Matt Taibbi looks at the non competitive side.
In most cases, all the top investment banks will offer virtually the same service, with only the price varying. Towns and cities and states lose billions of dollars every year allowing financial services companies to overcharge them for underwriting.

It gets even worse in the derivatives markets, where banks routinely overcharge state and local governments for things like interest rate swaps, for one very obvious reason – swaps are not traded on open exchanges, so only the banks know how to price them.

Imagine what NFL gambling would be like if the casinos didn’t publish the point spreads every week, and you’ll get a rough idea of how the swap market works. If you couldn’t look it up, how many points would you give the Dolphins against the Jets next week? Two? Five? Seven? The big casinos know, because they’re taking all that action, that the real number is one point.

In the same vein, exactly how accurately do you think some local county treasurer might be able to guess the cost of an interest rate swap for his local school system? Answer: he’d probably do about as well as you or I would, guessing the odds on a Croatian soccer match.

The big banks know this, which is why there should never, ever be non-competitive bids for those sorts of financial services. In a sole-source contract for a swap deal, you’re trusting a (probably corrupt) Too-Big-To-Fail bank to give you a good deal for a product whose price is not publicly listed anywhere.
What you don't know will cost you. And that is what the Banksters like.

GOP wants to improve Endangered Species recovery rate.

According to McClatchy there are about 2000 endangered plant and animal species in the US. Since the implementation of the Endangered Species Act two dozen species have recovered enough to be removed from the list. That is a rate of 1% over 38 years. The Republican/Teabaggers want to change that, in their own special way. If they can gut the bill and destroy its effectiveness they should be able to drive at least 1000 species to extinction in a few years and effectively double the rate of success. Who says Republican/Teabaggers aren't good at math?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ah! The good old days

Before the mob convinced Tommy Dorsey that it would be a good idea to release Frank from his contract.

By way of Juanita Jean

Comes One Damn Dandy Idea. Check it out and then join the movement.

American bondage

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

Another way they steal from us

Stock options. They seemed like a good idea at first. Then the Big Swinging Dicks figured out how to game the system and make us pay for it.

Behold, the power of Keynes

Keynes has the power to be correct but sadly lacks the power to change those who prefer ideological purity to getting it right. Krugman points out this and other measures of the Austerians total failure to improve the economy by ruining it.
So the real test of Keynesian economics hasn’t come from the half-hearted efforts of the U.S. federal government to boost the economy, which were largely offset by cuts at the state and local levels. It has, instead, come from European nations like Greece and Ireland that had to impose savage fiscal austerity as a condition for receiving emergency loans — and have suffered Depression-level economic slumps, with real G.D.P. in both countries down by double digits.

This wasn’t supposed to happen, according to the ideology that dominates much of our political discourse. In March 2011, the Republican staff of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee released a report titled “Spend Less, Owe Less, Grow the Economy.” It ridiculed concerns that cutting spending in a slump would worsen that slump, arguing that spending cuts would improve consumer and business confidence, and that this might well lead to faster, not slower, growth.

They should have known better even at the time: the alleged historical examples of “expansionary austerity” they used to make their case had already been thoroughly debunked. And there was also the embarrassing fact that many on the right had prematurely declared Ireland a success story, demonstrating the virtues of spending cuts, in mid-2010, only to see the Irish slump deepen and whatever confidence investors might have felt evaporate.

Amazingly, by the way, it happened all over again this year. There were widespread proclamations that Ireland had turned the corner, proving that austerity works — and then the numbers came in, and they were as dismal as before.
No cheese up that alley but the Austerians and their Republican/Teabagger running dogs keep pushing us that way. Time to push back.

Why is Mittens hiding his tax returns?

At this point, it is hard to believe that Mitt doesn't want people to know he is being taxed at half the rate of working people. Hell, everybody who doesn't watch Fux already knows that. My thoughts are that Mittens wants to hide who is paying him. Perhaps he has been trading with the enemy like George W's grandfather. Or maybe he has invested in making porn films like so many Republican/Teabaggers before him. Whatever or whoever it is, Willard Mitt Romney does not want the voters to know. Shame on you, Mitt!

Another Republican/Teabagger who likes little boys

A former New Jersey Republican city chair has been arrested on multiple charges of using a hidden camera to videotape naked boys using communal showers at a Catholic high school.

Patrick Lott, the 54-year-old assistant principal at Bernardsville Middle School since 2009, is facing more than 50 counts including endangering the welfare of a child and invasion of privacy at Immaculata High School in Somerville, where he volunteered as a coach.
Got to love those "Family Values" Republicans. Their values are as flexible as a Nautch dancer.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


During a Norwegian newscast, the eye chart seen below was used as a graphic. Feel free to check your eyesight.

click pic to big

h/t Fark

Ten Years After

Ten years after can change a lot, but 40 years on their music is still great.

Finally some good job cutting

The Pentagon has announced plans to thin the herd of brass grazing in its many offices and corridors.
With the Iraq war over and troops in Afghanistan on their way home, the U.S. military is getting down to brass tacks: culling generals and admirals from its top-heavy ranks.

Pentagon officials said they have eliminated 27 jobs for generals and admirals since March, the first time the Defense Department has imposed such a reduction since the aftermath of the Cold War, when the collapse of the Soviet Union prompted the military to downsize.

The cuts are part of a broader plan to shrink the upper ranks by 10 percent over five years, restoring them to the their size when the country was last at peace, before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Even back then there were probably too many of them hanging around causing trouble. The good thing is that these folks won't hurt the economy when they leave their jobs. They get fine pensions and the defense cabal will probaly fit most of them into a job somewhere if they want it.

Market speculators plan to keep price of oil above $100

And they have announced their target price for the year ahead with the usual paid shill announcements.
The United States economy managed to cope this year despite triple-digit prices for barrels of oil. The lessons may come in handy, economists say, because those prices will probably be sticking around.

With Iran threatening to cut off about a fifth of the world’s oil supply by closing the Strait of Hormuz and unrest in Iraq endangering the ability to increase production there, financial analysts say prices for two important oil benchmarks will average from $100 a barrel to $120 a barrel in 2012.
With the discovery that $100 a barrel does not destroy the economy and the much anticipated pissing match between Iran and the US on the horizon, the speculative community fully expects to make their predicted profits in the year ahaed.

Top aide deserts Queen of the Bat Shit Crazy

Michelle Bachmanns top campaign official in Iowa has jumped from her campaign to Ron Paul's. I guess in Iowa it is considered a good career move to go from the Queen of Bat Shit Crazy to the King of the Shit House Rats.

Airline pilot panics, throws passenger off plane

For the heinous crime of carrying "anarchist" literature.
A protester associated with Occupy London was barred from boarding his flight home to Malaga for Christmas because he was carrying “anarchist” literature, according to a report in the U.K. newspaper The Independent. The demonstrator was kept off the flight because the pilot worried that he would distribute literature and “upset” other passengers.

Police claimed that John Charles Culatto, 34, was “acting suspiciously” when he stopped to talk to other passengers. He was taken into custody as security officials contacted Ryanair, the airline with which Culatto has booked his flight.
Ideas can be powerful, but I believe there is a physical limit to what they can do. And Mr. Culatto may have been lucky. This was Ryanair, an airline so cheap you can never be sure if they performed the necessary maintenance.

Lax regulation or stealth population control

It is hard to say, but the Chinese government has disclosed their findings of poisonous crap in one dairy and three cooking oil manufacturers.
Chinese authorities have recalled cooking oil products made by three companies after finding they contained the same type of cancer-causing toxin recently found in milk, state media said Thursday.

A product safety watchdog in the southern province of Guangdong suspended operations at plants owned by the firms, which made oil containing excessive levels of aflatoxin, caused by mold, the Xinhua news agency said.

The incident comes after leading dairy firm Mengniu revealed at the weekend that authorities found high levels of aflatoxin in a batch of milk before it was sold, caused by cows eating moldy feed at a farm in southwest China.

Aflatoxins, which affect grains and other agricultural products, can increase the risk of cancer, including liver cancer, according to the World Health Organisation.

The oil was made from peanuts, Xinhua said, naming the producers as Fusheng Oil, Manyi Peanut Oiland Mabao Oil.

It was not known if any of the tainted oil had reached consumers, it added.
It is worth noting that at least one Republican/Teabagger candidate has suggested that the US have less regulation than the Chinese. Given the Chinese results, can you imagine how many of us would be dead if we had less food regulation than China?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Psychotic reaction

Standard lipsynch performance on American Bandstand even if the harp player tries to stir things up.

Catholic Charities of Illinois to close down

Because the Bishops have determined it is holier to let everyone suffer rather than follow the teachings of some jew named Jesus.
Catholic Charities in Illinois has served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children. But now most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in Illinois are closing down rather than comply with a new requirement that says they can no longer receive state money if they turn away same-sex couples as potential foster care and adoptive parents.
The Bishops are claiming religious persecution if they are required to follow their founding principles. Use of the victim card, while becoming popular among religious extremists, will probably work for the Holy Motherfucking Church as well as it did for the Wall St banks.

It would be fun if Jesus came back to cast out the Bishops like he did to the moneychangers in the Temple.

Still don't know why people don't like Mittens

borrowed from the Great Orange Stan
click pic to big

This sport has a lot of potential

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

click pic to big

The King of the Drones

Nope, we are not talking about Lloyd Blankfein and his non-productive employees. Nor are we referring to the ruler of the Lost Island of Male Bees. The King of the Drones is our very own President, Barack Obama. And he is the man in charge of a massive fleet of drones that can find, watch and, if desired, kill anyone anywhere in the world.
But what the administration has assembled, hidden from public view, may be equally consequential.

In the space of three years, the administration has built an extensive apparatus for using drones to carry out targeted killings of suspected terrorists and stealth surveillance of other adversaries. The apparatus involves dozens of secret facilities, including two operational hubs on the East Coast, virtual Air Force­ ­cockpits in the Southwest and clandestine bases in at least six countries on two continents.

Other commanders in chief have presided over wars with far higher casualty counts. But no president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals.

The rapid expansion of the drone program has blurred long-standing boundaries between the CIA and the military. Lethal operations are increasingly assembled a la carte, piecing together personnel and equipment in ways that allow the White House to toggle between separate legal authorities that govern the use of lethal force.
No, our President is not yet the owner of the whole planet but thanks to the drones he can play one on TV.

The price of failure

If you are in New York State and running a group home for developmentally disabled people, the price of failure is pretty good. One could say it is even better than doing it right.
The problem stems from hasty decisions made four decades ago, when New York faced a court order to stop warehousing developmentally disabled people in huge institutions. The state turned to then-small nonprofit groups, many led by parents of developmentally disabled children, to open group homes quickly.

State officials saw the groups as allies, in need of support more than supervision. And as the organizations matured into multimillion-dollar enterprises, the state’s oversight system did not keep pace.

As a result, from the 1970s until this fall, the nonprofit providers, unlike nursing homes or hospitals, never faced fines when their care was found lacking. The state conducts inspections of their facilities, but the visits are rarely a surprise and are intended to be a collaborative learning experience.

Speaking of the state’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, Walter E. Saurack, a former official of a state watchdog agency, said: “They don’t view themselves as an oversight agency. They view themselves as a conduit of money to the nonprofits.” Mr. Saurack was chief of the fiscal investigations unit of the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons With Disabilities.
We are just here to give you money. Now you be a good group and don't spend it foolishly.

Canada smuggling bomb grade uranium into US

And is delivering it into the hands of the most feared terrorist organization the world has ever known, the US government. Despite a flood of propaganda about their benevolence, the recipients are still the only group known to have detonated nuclear bombs in populated areas.

Wednesday's Child Music Blogging

Donna will help even if you are only half full of woe.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Say goodbye to Ben Nelson

At least he had the decency to retire early enough to enable a replacement.

Obama plans to raise the debt limit

And despite laying all manner of procedural fol-de-rol in the President's path, no one is quite sure how this will play out. The President's message allows Congress 15 days to disagree, but Congress is on another vacation that will last longer than that. So the question is if the clock starts ticking with the announcement or with the return of Congress. No one really knows because the Republican/Teabaggers are notoriously sloppy in writing their bills if they don't have a lobbyist to help them. The President may be thinking that the former applies while the Republican/Teabaggers think it was the latter, even though they couldn't be bothered to create understandable English sentences. Popcorn time again.

Money talks and colleges listen

Bloomberg has a look at big money and big time college sports and how hard it is to deny anything to the cash cow that supports so much else.
“The revenue opportunities are so substantial that the pressure placed upon the athletic department and coach, specifically, make it ever more difficult to pursue a school’s mission,” Warren Zola, 44, assistant dean of graduate programs at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, said in a telephone interview from his Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, office...

The dependence by U.S. universities on sports to help fund everything from money-losing gymnastics teams to general scholarships has created a system where the needs of coaches and their programs supersede the educational values of their institutions, said Robin Harris, executive director of the Ivy League, whose schools don’t give athletic scholarships.

It also creates an environment where a coach like Paterno, a Brooklyn, New York, native known as “JoePa” whose bronze statue stands outside 107,000-seat Beaver Stadium, had the power to tell the university’s president that he wouldn’t help raise another penny if the school’s top disciplinarian wasn’t fired for being too strict with his players.

“There is so much money tied into big-time college athletics that it forces some people to make bad decisions,” Harris said in a telephone interview. “They may be people affiliated with a program, or coaches and administrators who do things purposely wrong, or turn a blind eye, because they are focused on generating revenue and not necessarily the integrity of the enterprise.”
And you thought prostitution was illegal.

Republican Congress opposes Free Hand of the Market

For all their talk about the free market and not interfering with its operations, the Republican/Teabaggers always seem to be the first to jam a stick in the spokes. Ezra Klein shows us what the market is calling for compared to what the Republican/Teabaggers have people believing is true.
The Treasury Department keeps track of something called "Daily Treasury Real Yield Curve Rates." It's the actual rate -- the one that takes into account expected inflation -- at which the United States can borrow. And something amazing has happened to it in the past year. For three-year, five-year, and 10-year treasuries, the rate has turned negative. That is to say, the market is so afraid of losing money in the dangerous, uncertain world out there, that they'll pay us to keep their money safe for them.

That's a sad commentary on the state of the global economy. But it's an incredible opportunity for us. It means that any investment with any positive rate of return is an investment worth making. Infrastructure clearly fits that bill. Not only is the likely return high, but if we don't do it now, we'll need to do it later, when our borrowing costs will be higher.

But the conventional wisdom -- the wisdom that says the only responsible thing to do is cut -- stands in our way. If we were going by the numbers, the path forward would be clear: Borrow now, when we can get money for free, when we have millions of unemployed Americans to put back to work, and when the economy is in desperate need of more demand. But don't stop there. At the same time, pass a large and credible deficit-reduction plan that covers, says, 2014-2023, and cuts federal borrowing as the global economy recovers and interest rates rise. in other words, make investments now, when it's cheap, but begin working on an exit strategy for a few years from now, when borrowing becomes expensive again.
I have yet to meet anyone who has been to the convention where they select conventional wisdom.

About those NRA approved gun laws

The New York Times has done some homework on the liberalized concealed carry laws that allow just about any mook to have a handgun. The results may please the NRA but should have the rest of us worrying about our safety.
The bedrock argument for this movement is that permit holders are law-abiding citizens who should be able to carry guns in public to protect themselves. “These are people who have proven themselves to be among the most responsible and safe members of our community,” the federal legislation’s author, Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, said on the House floor.

To assess that claim, The New York Times examined the permit program in North Carolina, one of a dwindling number of states where the identities of permit holders remain public. The review, encompassing the last five years, offers a rare, detailed look at how a liberalized concealed weapons law has played out in one state. And while it does not provide answers, it does raise questions.

More than 2,400 permit holders were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, excluding traffic-related crimes, over the five-year period, The Times found when it compared databases of recent criminal court cases and licensees. While the figure represents a small percentage of those with permits, more than 200 were convicted of felonies, including at least 10 who committed murder or manslaughter. All but two of the killers used a gun.

Among them was Bobby Ray Bordeaux Jr., who had a concealed handgun permit despite a history of alcoholism, major depression and suicide attempts. In 2008, he shot two men with a .22-caliber revolver, killing one of them, during a fight outside a bar.

More than 200 permit holders were also convicted of gun- or weapon-related felonies or misdemeanors, including roughly 60 who committed weapon-related assaults.

In addition, nearly 900 permit holders were convicted of drunken driving, a potentially volatile circumstance given the link between drinking and violence.

The review also raises concerns about how well government officials police the permit process. In about half of the felony convictions, the authorities failed to revoke or suspend the holder’s permit, including for cases of murder, rape and kidnapping. The apparent oversights are especially worrisome in North Carolina, one of about 20 states where anyone with a valid concealed handgun permit can buy firearms without the federally mandated criminal background check. (Under federal law, felons lose the right to own guns.)
And if the NRA had their way, this information would no longer be available to the public. You are supposed to be afraid of muslins and other dark people, not the 3 toothed mook down the block.

Victoria Jackson wearing tinfoil underwear with her tinfoil hat

But despite her best efforts it doesn't seem to protect her from another attack of the "stark staring loonies". Based on her latest public remarks, she is coming unwrapped at a rapid rate.
Former "Saturday Night Live" actress Victoria Jackson, working on confidential information she as a web talk show host has special clearance to obtain, has claimed that the United States is being overtaken by radical Muslims bent on bringing the nation under Sharia law.

"I just went to a briefing in Washington DC, across the street from the Capitol, at the Longworth building at 8:30 am two days ago and it changed my life," Jackson said last week on her web show, "Politichicks." "For six hours, I saw pictures and names and dates and facts and Islamic law books and Korans, Surahs for six hours and they proved to me... that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated our highest positions in government and this is serious."
And she is learning this from a defrocked FBI agent who got popped for trying to extort money from a witness. How come she was never this funny on SNL?

Bluesday Music

Helen Humes again with some support.

Helen Humes : vocal
Sonny Terry : harmonica
Brownie 'Kazoo' McGhee : vocal, guitar
Willie Dixon :vocal, bass
T-Bone Walker : vocal, guitar
Memphis Slim : vocal, piano
Jump Jackson : drums

Monday, December 26, 2011

That Was The Year That Was

Tom Tomorrow has Part 2 up. You can find Part 1 here.

The man who Pearled Newt's Harbor

According to Newt, that is. Everybody else knows it's Newt's own damn fault for spending his time selling books instead of running for president.
All Michael Osborne wants is a little fairness. But in the end he may be responsible for handing Virginia’s Republican presidential delegates to someone other than who the polls show Virginia Republicans want...

This is where Osborne — Oz or Ozzie to his friends — comes in. The self-proclaimed conservative independent and former Republican leans any which way but Romney in the Republican presidential primary fight, and says he likes what Gingrich has to say. But thanks to a lawsuit he filed after his local GOP, he says, tried to keep him off the ballot earlier this year as their nominee in a southwest Virginia delegate race, Osborne may be partially responsible for Romney’s much smoother path toward a win in the Commonwealth on Super Tuesday.
Thanks to Ozzie, the Republicans actually verified the signatures instead of simply accepting everything offered. On that basis Newticles was neutered in Virginia.

Boxing Day Music Blogging

An old classic

How sweet.

In response to the bombings in Nigeria, the US has offered to help.
The death toll from a Christmas Day bomb attack on a church near the Nigerian capital Abuja rose to 26, the government said.

The number injured in the early morning attack couldn’t be ascertained because many were being taken “in and out of hospitals,” Yushau Shaibu, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, said by phone today.

The U.S. promised to help Nigeria find those responsible for at least three bombings yesterday.

“We have been in contact with Nigerian officials about what appear to be terrorist acts and pledge to assist them in bringing those responsible to justice,” according to a statement by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
To put this in perspective, the US has never offered to help clean up the many disastrous oils spills in Nigeria nor have we ever put pressure on our oil companies to act more responsibly.

No money for the public good in Texas

But when it comes to "protecting" that ignorant piece of shit they call a governor, no expense will be spared.
His state-provided security guards were flying pretty high, too, spending more than $32,000 in taxpayer money for travel and lodging in San Francisco, $4,400 to dine near the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley, and another $6,400 for plane tickets to San Diego, records show.

In the ensuing weeks, Perry would see his political fortunes plummet, falling to as low as 6 percent in public opinion polls from a high of 32 percent. But the bills for his omnipresent security detail continue, costing taxpayers as much as $400,000 a month.

Aside from President Obama, Perry — the only sitting governor in the 2012 race — has the largest security contingent, and apparently the only one on the Republican side financed by taxpayers.
The question arises, if the people of Texas are already paying for a replacement in the lieutenant governor, why waste money protect the current cement head? It's not like he is someone important, like a football coach.

Having brought the US to a standstill

The Republican/Teabaggers can begin the New Year watching the rest of the world overtake the US in just about every field of human endeavor, except stupidity.
China launched a super-rapid test train over the weekend which is capable of travelling 500 kilometers per hour, state media said on Monday, as the country moves ahead with its railway ambitions despite serious problems on its high-speed network.

The train, made by a subsidiary of CSR Corp Ltd, China’s largest train maker, is designed to resemble an ancient Chinese sword, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Rumor has it the Chinese investigated the possibility of using Republicans, Teabaggers and Banksters as brake elements for the train. Any group that can bring a nation of 300 Million to a screeching halt would have no trouble stopping a little train. Unfortunately there were questions about whether they could do it safely.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Paul Krugman examines the new EPA regulations for mercury and air toxics for power plants and his column breaks down into the three above named categories.
The Good
I got my wish, in the form of new Environmental Protection Agency standards on mercury and air toxics for power plants. These rules are long overdue: we were supposed to start regulating mercury more than 20 years ago. But the rules are finally here, and will deliver huge benefits at only modest cost.
The Bad
As far as I can tell, even opponents of environmental regulation admit that mercury is nasty stuff. It’s a potent neurotoxicant: the expression “mad as a hatter” emerged in the 19th century because hat makers of the time treated fur with mercury compounds, and often suffered nerve and mental damage as a result...

The E.P.A. explains: “Methylmercury exposure is a particular concern for women of childbearing age, unborn babies and young children, because studies have linked high levels of methylmercury to damage to the developing nervous system, which can impair children’s ability to think and learn.”
The Ugly
And it’s a deal Republicans very much want to kill.
Ever since the advent of Teabaggers and Killer Kochs the Republican party have been apostles of foul water and unhealthy air and avid supporters of anything that will bring us back to the dirty old days. And that is why he closes with a dire warning.
mindless opposition to “job killing” regulations is now part of what it means to be a Republican. And I have to admit that this puts something of a damper on my mood: the E.P.A. has just done a very good thing, but if a Republican — any Republican — wins next year’s election, he or she will surely try to undo this good work.
And its your choice whether you stop it or not.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

New report, replacing fucked up report reaches same conclusion.

Because in the Pentagon, even when you have to do it a second time, you always know what result you want.
A Pentagon public relations program that sought to transform high-profile military analysts into “surrogates” and “message force multipliers” for the Bush administration complied with Defense Department regulations and directives, the Pentagon’s inspector general has concluded after a two-year investigation.

The inquiry was prompted by articles published in The New York Times in 2008 that described how the Pentagon, in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, cultivated close ties with retired officers who worked as military analysts for television and radio networks. The articles also showed how military analysts affiliated with defense contractors sometimes used their special access to seek advantage in the competition for contracts. In response to the articles, the Pentagon suspended the program and members of Congress asked the Defense Department’s inspector general to investigate.

In January 2009, the inspector general’s office issued a report that said it had found no wrongdoing in the program. But soon after, the inspector general’s office retracted the entire report, saying it was so riddled with inaccuracies and flaws that none of its conclusions could be relied upon. In late 2009, the inspector general’s office began a new inquiry.
And since it happened years ago, who really cares how we manipulated what you heard.

Pope urges flock to look beyond 'Superficial Glitter'

Dressed up in his finest handmade papal outfit, amid the awesomely lavish decoration of St. Peter' Basilica der Popenfuhrer continued the Catholic tradition of "do as I say not as I do" by calling upon Catholics
"Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light,"
Perhaps someday, when the pope foregoes his rich vestments for a simple surplice and directs his funds to help heal the sick and feed the poor, others might actually follow his lead. At least until some of his Cardinals hold a pillow over his face while he sleeps.

The rich burn as easily as the poor

From the NY Times:
Five people died in an early morning fire on Sunday that consumed their 4,000-square-foot house in a waterfront neighborhood of Stamford, officials said.

The mayor of Stamford, Michael Pavia, and the acting fire chief, Antonio Conte, told reporters at a news conference that three of the victims were children. Mr. Conte said two people escaped the fire, and had been taken to a hospital, according to The Associated Press.

They did not release the names of the family members or information about the cause of the fire.

The fire broke out before 5 a.m. in the house, which was built in the late 19th century. It had been undergoing renovations, said a police captain, Thomas Lombardo, and was purchased last December for $1.725 million.
It doesn't matter if you live in a 4000 sq ft mansion or a 400 sq ft trailer, fire burns us all and death is the great equalizer..

Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas cheer from our favorite Swedish mystic philosopher.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It matters not in which language you sing

In English

In French

Or the original German

Be at peace tonight. And may you have a happy and healthy New Year.

A few handy tips on Jesus

From America's Best Christian, Betty Bowers.

Just in time for the Holidays

Coming to a theater near you, Meryl Streep playing Old Iron Ass Maggie Thatcher, the British Ronald Reagan.

The Frothy One tried hard

But any realistic assessment of his campaign puts his chances out of reach. Reminds me of a song we sang in summer camp for the last one to dinner.
You're always behind, just like an old cow's tail.
You're no use at all, just like a ship without a sail.
When Gabe blows his horn on judgement day,
You'll be the last and then they'll say,
You're always behind, just like an old cow's tail.
A fitting anthem for the Frothy One.

The difference between 1% and 99%

According to Matt Taibbi, it depends on the amount of "skin in the game" that you have. And he goes on to show how that does not mean what you might think.
It's not because Schwarzman is factually wrong about lower-income people having no “skin in the game,” ignoring the fact that everyone pays sales taxes, and most everyone pays payroll taxes, and of course there are property taxes for even the lowliest subprime mortgage holders, and so on.

It’s not even because Schwarzman probably himself pays close to zero in income tax – as a private equity chief, he doesn’t pay income tax but tax on carried interest, which carries a maximum 15% tax rate, half the rate of a New York City firefighter...

So that IPO birthday boy is now standing up and insisting, with a straight face, that America’s problem is that compared to taxpaying billionaires like himself, poor people are not invested enough in our society’s future. Apparently, we’d all be in much better shape if the poor were as motivated as Steven Schwarzman is to make America a better place.

But it seems to me that if you’re broke enough that you’re not paying any income tax, you’ve got nothing but skin in the game. You've got it all riding on how well America works.

You can’t afford private security: you need to depend on the police. You can’t afford private health care: Medicare is all you have. You get arrested, you’re not hiring Davis, Polk to get you out of jail: you rely on a public defender to negotiate a court system you'd better pray deals with everyone from the same deck. And you can’t hire landscapers to manicure your lawn and trim your trees: you need the garbage man to come on time and you need the city to patch the potholes in your street.

And in the bigger picture, of course, you need the state and the private sector both to be functioning well enough to provide you with regular work, and a safe place to raise your children, and clean water and clean air.

The entire ethos of modern Wall Street, on the other hand, is complete indifference to all of these matters. The very rich on today’s Wall Street are now so rich that they buy their own social infrastructure. They hire private security, they live on gated mansions on islands and other tax havens, and most notably, they buy their own justice and their own government.
And it only gets worse but you do need the read the rest.

Lucky voters in Virginia

While Newticles and Ricky Good Hair may be saying all the right things to curry favor with the Republican/Teabagger base, they are missing a few essentials for any electoral campaign. One is the organization on the ground that does all the grunt work needed. The other is sufficient valid signatures to get their names on the ballot, something the grunts do for you.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich failed to collect enough signatures to appear on the Virginia primary ballot, the Republican Party of Virginia announced Saturday morning, leaving the longtime Virginia resident without a place on the state's ballot and raising questions about his campaign's organization.

Gingrich, as well as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, did not meet the state's requirement of 10,000 signatures and, therefore, did not qualify for the ballot, the Virginia GOP said via Twitter.

The state GOP announced Perry's failure to qualify late Friday.
When you are voting for a president, the first thing you want is someone who can get the job done.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What is Christmas without Der Bingle.

Of course he sang much more than White Christmas.

DoJ rules SC Voter ID law is dicriminatory

And they were able to use the statistics helpfully provided by the State of South Carolina.
The U.S. Department of Justice will block the voter ID provisions of an election law passed in South Carolina earlier this year because the state’s own statistics demonstrated that the photo identification requirement would have a much greater impact on non-white residents, DOJ said in a letter to the state on Friday.

The decision places the federal government squarely in opposition to the types of voter ID requirements that have swept through mostly Republican-controlled state legislatures.

Officials in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division found a significant racial disparity in the data provided by South Carolina, which must have changes to its election laws precleared under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, because of past history of discrimination. The data demonstrated that registered non-white voters were 20 percent more likely than white voters to lack the specific type of photo identification required to exercise their constitutional rights, according to a letter sent to South Carolina and obtained by TPM.
Given the villainous zeal that other Republican/Teabagger controlled states exhibited in passing their laws, this decision may bode well. At the very least the other states are vigorously scrubbing any statistical analyses they may have prepared.

Management by Dilbert

When I worked for a large corporation, there would be dictates coming down from the MBA's (Must Be Assholes) above that truly defied all reason. We called these Management By Dilbert because usually within a week either way would be a Dilbert strip that matched the dictate perfectly. At times, Scott Adams was suspected of having a pipeline to the Executive Suite.

God Squad surrenders in War on Christmas

From the WaPo:
In the last few days, I’d been hearing something counterintuitive from D.C. area pastors: Some churches were canceling services this Sunday, in honor of Christmas.

Yes, that’s right. Because so many people — parishioners and church staff — want to spend the whole precious day off with their families, some churches were going to cancel services. Or they were bracing for low turnout, maybe putting their JV-string of clergy out there for the smaller crowd.

The data confirm it: Almost 10 percent of Protestant pastors told Lifeway Research they were canceling this year because the holiday falls on a Sunday.
Can't wait to hear what Bill-O or the Mukluk Mooselini have to say about this on Fux.

Republican/Teabagger chimera bedvils ski areas

Wouldn't you know it, after one of their best years ever, ski areas in most parts of the country are facing a dearth of snow as they approach what should be their busiest time of the year. You could blame that on man made climate change, if such a thing really existed.

Despite writing in a major national newspaper

Paul Krugman has noticed that the dialogue of the campaign trail is in no way balanced. And the truth is the first casualty in the war on words. To illustrate his point he highlights Mitt Romneys inability to tell the truth.
As Greg Sargent of The Washington Post has pointed out, there’s a common theme to these whoppers and a number of other things Mr. Romney has said: the strategy is clearly to portray the president as a suspect character, someone who doesn’t share American values. And since Mr. Obama has done and said nothing to justify this portrait, Mr. Romney just invents stuff to make his case.

But won’t there be some blowback? Won’t Mr. Romney pay a price for running a campaign based entirely on falsehoods? He obviously thinks not, and I’m afraid he may be right.

Oh, Mr. Romney will probably be called on some falsehoods. But, if past experience is any guide, most of the news media will feel as though their reporting must be “balanced,” which means that every time they point out that a Republican lied they have to match it with a comparable accusation against a Democrat — even if what the Democrat said was actually true or, at worst, a minor misstatement.
Not that the answer would ever get into print in the Times, but I have to wonder if he has ever asked his editors why this is so?

Can Mittens ever be really human?

Did Mittens really pump his own diesel into his campaign bus? And why is he paying with cash? Doesn't his campaign have good credit?

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Republican presidential candidate former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney pays Allan Lowe for diesel after pumping fuel into his campaign bus during a stop in Randolph, N.H., Thursday Dec. 22, 2011. Lowe is also the Randolph police chief

Or is Mittens just paying for his speeding ticket before it goes to court (wink,wink)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas favorite from 1935

With a wonderful slide show of Christmas' past.

Gay and a sense of humor ,too

Amy Koch, the Republican State Senate leader and notorious homophobe who resigned after her affair with a married staffer was revealed, received an apology from the gays and lesbians of Minnesota.
An Open Apology to Amy Koch on Behalf of All Gay and Lesbian Minnesotans

Dear Ms. Koch,

On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community's successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage. We are ashamed of ourselves for causing you to have what the media refers to as an "illicit affair" with your staffer, and we also extend our deepest apologies to him and to his wife. These recent events have made it quite clear that our gay and lesbian tactics have gone too far, affecting even the most respectful of our society.

We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry. And we are doubly remorseful in knowing that many will see this as a form of sexual harassment of a subordinate.

It is now clear to us that if we were not so self-focused and myopic, we would have been able to see that the time you wasted diligently writing legislation that would forever seal the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, could have been more usefully spent reshaping the legal definition of "adultery."

Forgive us. As you know, we are not church-going people, so we are unable to fully appreciate that "gay marriage" is incompatible with Christian values, despite the fact that those values carry a biblical tradition of adultery such as yours. We applaud you for keeping that tradition going.

And finally, shame on us for thinking that marriage is a private affair, and that our marriage would have little impact on anyone's family. We now see that marriage is more than that. It is an agreement with society. We should listen to the Minnesota Family Council when it tells us that marriage is about being public, which explains why marriages are public ceremonies. Never did we realize that it is exactly because of this societal agreement that the entire world is looking at you in shame and disappointment instead of minding its own business.

From the bottom of our hearts, we ask that you please accept our apology.

Thank you.
John Medeiros
Minneapolis MN
What a nice thing for them to do.

Son of a bitch! The Orange Boner blinked

And Harry Reid gets a Christmas present from the Republican/Teabaggers. They have caved on approving the two month extension in return for working on a year long extension later.
As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested Thursday morning, it will involve House Republicans passing a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut (and unemployment insurance and reimbursement rates for Medicare physicians) in exchange for Senate Dems agreeing to a formal conference committee to work out a year-long extension of all items.

The temporary extension won’t be identical to the one Senate Dems passed. It will differ in very minor technical ways. House Republicans have already rejected the bipartisan Senate compromise bill, so they’ll have to draw up essentially the same bill from scratch, pass it in the House and then have the Senate readopt it by unanimous consent.

In exchange, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will agree to a formal conference committee. The House will bring its partisan, one-year extenders bill to the table (complete with policy riders and pay-fors that cut programs like Medicare) and the Senate will bring the bipartisan legislation that passed overwhelmingly on Saturday.
Far from perfect but at least it is not a major cave in by the Democrats. And all because the Boner pissed off Mitch the Chin.

Looking for a good motel in Wisconsin?

Do stop in this place, they will keep a light on for you.

Here is where you can find it.

Stolen from Charles Pierce

The difference between the United States and Brazil

In the United States, if your oil well blows up and you kill 11 people. If the oil leaked from the blow out fucks up the environment for hundreds of miles and trashes the livelihood of thousands. If you lie to the government to avoid penalties and end up delaying the solution. Well, you will get a stern talking to and be made to take a time out before all will be forgiven.

If you try that crap in Brazil.
Chevron Corp. (CVX), the operator of the Brazilian offshore well that triggered oil leaks, and rig owner Transocean Ltd. (RIG) will defend executives threatened with criminal indictments in the South American nation.

Chevron learned that Brazil’s federal police intend to indict employees involved in the drilling that led to the Nov. 7 leaks from seafloor fissures near the $3.6 billion Frade development, Kurt Glaubitz, a spokesman for the San Ramon, California-based company, said in a statement late yesterday. Transocean, in a separate statement late yesterday, said it will “vigorously defend the company and its collaborators.”
And they didn't have to kill anyone.

Gail Collins explains what is happening in Congress

If the image of a wart hog and a vampire bat bumping ugly doesn't bother you then you should read it.

Like an Easter Egg hunt for toddlers

You know, the ones where the eggs are in plain sight so the kids get the idea of finding them. In state after state and court after court across this country evidence of massive foreclosure fraud is turning up. Prosecutors, attorneys and judges are turning over the rocks and exposing the "eggs" so that someday the Department of Justice will know where to look to find them. Until then the Department of Justice under Attorney Corporal Eric Holder is sitting on the sidelines, watching.
Finding hard evidence has proved difficult, the Justice Department has said.
I wonder if the cops paid off by Al Capone were this brazen in looking the other way?

16 bombs in Baghdad and at least 69 people dead

So things are beginning in earnest in Mesopotamia but who is on which side will take some time to become clear. So far there is only speculation about who set off this round of bombs.

Mitch the Chin throws the Orange Boner under the bus

After which the Orange Boner got up, dusted himself off and said, is that the best you got? You ain't got nothing on Kosher Mouse.

Big ass says Michelle Obama has a big ass

Congressman Jim "Big Booty" Sensenbrenner has opened his yap again and let out another round of trouble.
Yesterday, Sensenbrenner was overheard speaking loudly into his cell phone at Reagan National Airport. According to an eyewitness, he told a story of a woman who approached him at a church auction to make comments in support of First Lady Michelle Obama. Sensenbrenner responded that he believed Mrs. Obama to be a hypocrite in that “she lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.”

Since then, Sensenbrenner’s remarks have touched off a firestorm. Today, Sensenbrenner spokesperson Amanda Infield has emailed FishbowlDC, saying that the Representative stands by his remarks.
He has said he will apologize to the First Lady for the remarks about her butt. He will probably do so with that extra insincere style that Republican/Teabaggers have raised to an art form.

Ron Paul gives CNN an interview

CNN starts asking him about his racist newsletters. Ron Paul denies everything. CNN asks again and Ron Paul ends the interview and runs away.

But he wants to legalize marijuana.

Prepare for the end of Georgia

The myth of the ancient Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world has been busted. However, new research has found evidence of Mayan occupation of Georgia.
Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of an ancient Mayan city in the mountains of North Georgia believed to be at least 1,100 years old. According to Richard Thornton at, the ruins are reportedly what remains of a city built by Mayans fleeing wars, volcanic eruptions, droughts and famine...

When evidence began to turn up of Mayan connections to the Georgia site, South African archeologist Johannes Loubser brought teams to the site who took soil samples and analyzed pottery shards which dated the site and indicated that it had been inhabited for many decades approximately 1000 years ago. The people who settled there were known as Itza Maya, a word that carried over into the Cherokee language of the region.

The city that is being uncovered there is believed to have been called Yupaha, which Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto searched for unsuccessfully in 1540. So far, archeologists have unearthed “at least 154 stone masonry walls for agricultural terraces, plus evidence of a sophisticated irrigation system and ruins of several other stone structures.” Much more may still be hidden underground.
Rumor has it they also found a new calendar which predicts the end of an as yet untranslated region. Scientists are also baffled by references to teabags as a cause of this end.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best carol of all time

Lousy intro so I included the lyrics if you wish to sing along.

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker 'n' too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, 'lope with you!

Hunky Dory's pop is lolly gaggin' on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo!
Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!

Will we have something to celebrate soon?

A timely Christmas present or good news to start the year may be in the offing. From the Daily News:
Poor health isn’t slowing down Dick Cheney during the holiday season. The bullish ex-vice president, who suffered five heart attacks, attended a party to welcome Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush to DC at former George W. Bush adviser Bobbie Kilberg’s home in McLean, Va., where sources say he seemed “enfeebled.” Cheney sat while others stood at the party, also attended by Virginia Sen. Mark Warner. We’re told he was seen using an oxygen mask to aid his breathing.
Of course this was denied. Probably he was just a little peaked, having delayed his daily meal of fresh virgin's blood to sample his host's stash.

A Wisconsin Christmas Carol

Borrowed for the season from the good Dr at Rising Hegemon

Bank of America nailed again

Thanks to that great idea that former CEO Ken Lewis had to buy Countrywide Mortgage, BoA will pay out another $335 Million to settle another lawsuit, this one brought by the DoJ. They must have found some marijuana somewhere to get this far.

The evil that men do lives after them;

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

click pic to big

And the bell sounds for Round 1

Shiite Prime Minister Maliki has dropped an ultimatum on the Kurds to give up the Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi there will be big trouble.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq threatened on Wednesday to abandon an American-backed power sharing government created a year ago, throwing the country’s fragile democracy into further turmoil just days after the departure of American troops.

In a nearly 90-minute news conference aired on tape-delay on state television, Mr. Maliki defied his rivals and pushed back on all fronts in Iraq’s burgeoning political crisis, threatening to release investigatory files that he claimed show his opponents have been involved in terrorism.

He told Kurdish leaders that there would be “problems” if they do not turn over Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who fled to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in recent days to escape an arrest warrant on charges he ran a death squad responsible for assassinations and bombings.

The Iraqi leader, a Shiite, also issued a warning to his rivals from Iraqiya, the largely Sunni bloc of lawmakers that includes Mr. Hashemi: if it does not end its boycott of Parliament and the Council of Ministers, he would move to form a majority government that would, in essence, exclude them from power.

If Iraqiya’s ministers do not show up at future sessions, he said, “we will appoint replacements.”
In Arabic this translates out as "Mine, All Mine!". At least until the shooting begins in earnest.

The many sides of Saint Newticles

MoDo takes a look at Newter's attempt to position himself as Defender of the Faith, any Faith in her column to day.
Just when you thought Newt couldn’t get any more grandiose, he leaps in to save freedom of religion in the most religiously free place on earth.

On his Web site Tuesday, he urgently vowed to establish a White House commission “On Day One” of his presidency (heaven forefend) “to examine and document threats or impediments to religious freedom in the United States.”
It is hard to imagine Newt as El Cid when he looks like Sancho Panza's ride.

And if you need a laugh, Sheryl Gay Stolberg has her "reach around" bio piece on Newticles today.

Newt meets the voters

And one voter calls him a fucking asshole to his face. Newt could just feel the love flowing over him.

US Chamber of Commerce gets hacked

And the hackers were from China, probably the government agency in charge of running the US government. On the serious side:
Hackers in China broke through the computer defenses of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last year and were able to access information about its operations and its 3 million members, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

In Beijing, China dismissed the report.

The Journal, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, reported the operation against the top American business lobbying group involved at least 300 internet addresses and was discovered and shut down in May 2010.

The newspaper reported it was not known how much information was seen by the hackers, or who may have had access to the network for more than a year before being discovered.

The group behind the breach is suspected by the United States of having ties to the Chinese government, one of the sources told the newspaper. The FBI informed the Chamber of Commerce that servers in China were pilfering its information, the source said.
So consider this. At that time the Chinese government knew more about who was buying whom in Congress and at what price than the voters ever will. Amazing gizmo those Intertubes.

Adam Savage busts another myth

This one being the myth that the SOPA/PIPA acts slowly working their way through Congress are somehow of value.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its sister bill in the Senate, the PROTECT IP Act, are not very popular right now, thanks in large part to a growing outcry from some of the strongest voices on the Internet, from the founders of Google, Reddit, eBay, Craigslist, Wikipedia and others. Now another, even more familiar voice is being raised to oppose the bills, which would mandate fundamental changes in the way the Internet operates.

Adam Savage, co-host of The Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters,” explained in an essay published this week by Popular Mechanics that the provisions in the anti-piracy bills would “destroy the Internet as we know it,” by giving content creators a club to whack entire websites based upon sometimes arbitrary claims.

“Make no mistake: These bills aren’t simply unconstitutional, they are anticonstitutional,” he wrote. “They would allow for the wholesale elimination of entire websites, domain names, and chunks of the DNS (the underlying structure of the whole Internet), based on nothing more than the ‘good faith’ assertion by a single party that the website is infringing on a copyright of the complainant. The accused doesn’t even have to be aware that the complaint has been made.

“I’m not kidding,” he emphasized.
Every voice counts against these bills and the large amounts of money supporting them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

For those times when....

honeyhoney has the solution

Shakespeare, a man for all seasons

And, as Martin Bashir points out, pretty good at describing human dynamics.

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

Arpaio's deputies kill another Latino.

This one was a veteran, which doesn't bother Sheriff Joe much. What probably does bother him is the family attorney, a high powered Phoenix lawyer who has won several million dollar judgements for wrongful death from Maricopa County sheriff/crime boss.

Republican/Teabaggers kill middle class tax cut

But because doing so is a hazardous political action, they cobbed up a rickety political facade to try and fool voters into thinking they voted for the tax cut.
However House Republicans are aware of the political peril that will come with killing a bipartisan plan to extend the payroll tax cut, and they know they’ll likely be held responsible if the tax holiday expires. So they’re structuring the votes in a manner that’s designed to give their members cover from that charge and, perhaps, preserves their right to reconsider the Senate bill in the coming days.

Specifically, they’re not actually going to vote down the Senate bill directly. Instead they will vote on a single measure that rejects the Senate’s plan and simultaneously calls for a conference with Senate negotiators to iron out the (significant) differences between the two chambers’ plans.

“We will have a motion to reject the Senate amendment and go to conference,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters at a Monday press briefing. “We expect the minority to have a motion to instruct conferees. And then we will have a majority resolution that will lay out our House position that is consistent with the bill that we passed last week.”

In other words, House GOP members will get to vote “yes,” but in a way that says “no” to the Senate bill. This bears some resemblance to the health care reform-era controversy over so-called self-executing rules, when Democrats briefly considered tying two votes together into one, thus “deeming” unpopular legislation passed. Under the GOP’s plan, there’s no way for a vote to result in passage of the Senate bill.
The plan was probably conceived by Kosher Mouse. It has the requisite weaselyness about it. The Orange Boner was probably too hammered to think of anything. Regardless of authorship, the Republican/Teabaggers think you will be fooled by their clever ruse. Just remember, the Republican/Teabaggers killed the middle class tax cut after agreeing to it. Yes, they are like that.

The Shooter and The Kid

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

click pic to big

Trust us we have your best interests at heart

Also known as, why do you keep poking around asking these questions. The WaPo reminds us what we already know but did not want to think about.
The administration has said that its covert, targeted killings with remote-controlled aircraft in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and potentially beyond are proper under both domestic and international law. It has said that the targets are chosen under strict criteria, with rigorous internal oversight.

It has parried reports of collateral damage and the alleged killing of innocents by saying that drones, with their surveillance capabilities and precision missiles, result in far fewer mistakes than less sophisticated weapons.

Yet in carrying out hundreds of strikes over three years — resulting in an estimated 1,350 to 2,250 deaths in Pakistan — it has provided virtually no details to support those assertions.

In outlining its legal reasoning, the administration has cited broad congressional authorizations and presidential approvals, the international laws of war and the right to self-defense. But it has not offered the American public, uneasy allies or international authorities any specifics that would make it possible to judge how it is applying those laws.
National sovereignty. It doesn't mean what you think it means if we say otherwise.

Just in case you forgot what the priorities are

The NY Times has a report on what is happening with a proposal for a Living Wage payment plan.
Let’s slip into our Louis Vuitton shoes and take a gilded stroll through Manhattan.

We begin downtown, where Goldman Sachs, that exemplar of 0.001 percent America, reaps a multimillion-dollar tax break for its office tower, a deal accompanied by a multimillion-dollar landscaping clause. (You expected Lloyd C. Blankfein to yank weeds, maybe?)

In Midtown, we can draw money from an A.T.M. in the richly subsidized Bank of America tower, and skip over to Ernst & Young, where public tax dollars have underwritten a smashing skyscraper.

Now off to Yankee Stadium, where parking, seats, grossly overpriced hot dogs and pitchers all owe a debt to hundreds of millions in tax subsidies.

Our tour complete, we loop back to City Hall, where with luck, we may hear our billionaire mayor declaim on a ruinous proposal that several thousand low-wage workers could receive a wage of $10 an hour if they labor in developments irrigated with city tax subsidies.

“I think,” Michael R. Bloomberg said a few weeks back, “that when the government tries to too much interfere with the marketplace, it doesn’t turn out well.”

There is an indefinable something about a so-called living wage bill that puts New York’s leaders at risk of breaking out in socialist hives.
The people at the bottom are so easily replaced, there is no need to pay them enough to live.

Branson calls for end to war on drugs

Richard Branson went to Portugal and did some research. What he saw should be obvious to most normal people.
Inspired by a visit to Portugal, billionaire Richard Branson is calling on the United States and the rest of the world to end its war on drugs.

In a blog post on his company’s site, the Virgin Media founder was impressed by the European nation’s move a decade ago to remove all crimes for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.

Branson went on to cite a Cato study of how Portugal now has the lowest rate on of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the European Union after decriminalization. The Iberian nation also has a decrease in drug usage among teens as well as death from heroin and other small drugs reduced by half.

“Portugal’s 10 year experiment shows clearly that enough is enough,” he said. “It is time to end the war on drugs worldwide.”
The next thing Mr Branson should learn is how cheap American congressmen are. He could probably buy enough of them to change the laws for less money than he now spends on household help. It would be money well spent.

I know you all dream of a Weiße Weihnacht

For those of you who don't get out much, people in other countries celebrate Christmas as well.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bipartisan agreement in Congress

And it comes in support of exactly what you would expect a bunch of old limp dicks would agree on, porn.
On Thursday, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers directed the federal government to deploy radical new powers to enforce and protect copyrights on pornography.

By a vote of 9 to 18, the House Judiciary Committee rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), which would have barred the Department of Justice from using the new tactics envisioned by an anti-piracy bill to protect "obscene and pornographic works."

Members of both parties came together to defeat the anti-pornography initiative, with Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.), and even hardcore social conservative Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) all against Polis' amendment, and in effect, standing up to protect the porn industry.
They have to protect their investments.

Damn! She can sing any old piece of crap

And put a shine on that turd that would impress a British Admiral.

The Czech Republic has Vaclav Havel

And it has been too long since we have been that fortunate.

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

That Was The Year That Was

And Tom Tomorrow begins his review of the year. More to follow next week.

Maybe they could Shock and Awe Detroit

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

Romney Bust-out firm still paying him

Because every good leader deserves to be paid years after he has ceased to be productive. And all the bad ones try to write themselves a similar deal.
In what would be the final deal of his private equity career, he negotiated a retirement agreement with his former partners that has paid him a share of Bain’s profits ever since, bringing the Romney family millions of dollars in income each year and bolstering the fortune that has helped finance Mr. Romney’s political aspirations.

The arrangement allowed Mr. Romney to pursue his career in public life while enjoying much of the financial upside of being a Bain partner as the company grew into a global investing behemoth.

In the process, Bain continued to buy and restructure companies, potentially leaving Mr. Romney exposed to further criticism that he has grown wealthier over the last decade partly as a result of layoffs. Moreover, much of his income from the arrangement has probably qualified for a lower tax rate than ordinary income under a tax provision favorable to hedge fund and private equity managers, which has become a point of contention in the battle over economic inequality.
The question that Bain investors may want to ask is why are they still paying for the deadweight?

To prove he is worthy

Kim Jong Pudge, successor to noted Irrationalist Kim Jong Il, had his military fire off a missile today. The missile with a Korean name that translates into English as "See How Big My Penis Is" was appropriately, a short range missile.

Beats him like a red headed stepchild

Watch Barney Frank do a number on George "Smug" Will

Hark, The Herald Angels Sing

At this time of the year I have to concede that the Mormons do one thing very well.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kim is dead, long live Kim

North Korea has reported the death of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il.
A state television presenter made the announcement Monday, saying that the leader died Saturday on a train trip, Reuters reported. The announcer said he had died of physical and mental over-work on his way to give "field guidance."
It is expected he will be succeeded by his son, Kim Jong Un, assuming the Army wants another crazy Kim in charge.

Let the Games begin!

We have only today brought the last troops out of Iraq and already the life and death struggle for control of Iraq has begun.
Only a couple days after US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta declared the Iraq War over and turned the last US base in Iraq over to the Iraqi military, Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has struck against a Sunni Arab vice President, Tariq al-Hashimi. Iraqi police have issued an arrest warrant for Hashimi, a member of the now Sunni-dominated Iraqiya Party. The Ministry of the Interior, which al-Maliki controls, confirmed the warrant.

Three members of the VP’s security detail had been under investigation in recent days, charged with engineering a car bombing inside Iraq’s Green Zone on November 28, allegedly in hopes of assassinating al-Maliki. The car bomb had been constructed inside the Green Zone (a protected area in downtown Baghdad encircling government offices and embassies) which admittedly does point to a member of the political elite. It is alleged to have gone off prematurely. Apparently Hashimi is now being fingered as the mastermind of the car bombing.

If the country’s vice president really is a terrorist, it is a sad commentary on the state of Iraqi politics. If he isn’t, then al-Maliki is deploying ‘war on terror’ accusations to grab complete power for his coalition of Shiite parties.
The Sunnis made appear to be on the short end of the stick here but they are not without their allies, including our BFF in the region, Saudi Arabia. If we are luckym this will be a civil war of the proxies for Iran and Saudi Arabia. If we are not lucky, nobody will be willing to lose in the end.

A step in the right direction

The British government has decided to accept the recommendations of the Vickers report on banking. Apparently they get the concept of "too big to fail" meaning "too big to exist". It is not a complete seperation, but it does acknowledge the problem.
The U.K. will force banks to separate their investment and consumer businesses as part of its acceptance of the findings of the John Vickers-led Independent Commission on Banking, business secretary Vince Cable said.

“Tomorrow, the government is going to launch this initiative on the banks, accepting in full the Vickers commission,” he told BBC television today. “We’re going to proceed with the separation of the banks, the casinos and the business lending parts of the banks.”

Former Bank of England Chief Economist Vickers recommended in a Sept. 12 report that banks build fire breaks between their consumer and investment banks and boost the amount of loss- absorbing equity and debt they hold to between 17 percent and 20 percent. Since 2007, the government has had to spend, pledge and loan 850 billion pounds ($1.3 trillion) to rescue British banks.

“These are vital reforms to protect taxpayers and consumers in the future, which the government must get on and legislate for rapidly,” lawmaker Chris Leslie, who speaks for the opposition Labour party on financial matters, said in an e- mailed statement. “The independent commission should be asked to publish a report in 12 months on what progress has been made in implementing and legislating for these reforms.”
But if this succeeds, we can expect it to be ignored in this country. No one in Washington has yet noticed that austerity is the exact wrong thing to do in a recession.

The Last Man to Die for a Mistake

From the WaPo:
To find Army Spec. David Emanuel Hickman on the morning after his unit returned to Fort Bragg from Iraq, you had to drive 100 miles north, to his home town. Up Highway 29, less than two clicks from the northeast Greensboro cul-de-sac where he grew up, Hickman was in Lot 54 in the Garden of Peace at Lakeview Memorial Park Cemetery.

Freshly turned red soil covered his coffin, which went into the ground two weeks and a day before he was due home. There were two shriveled carnations on the damp dirt. There was no marker yet, no indication that this was a soldier’s grave.

Hickman, 23, was killed in Baghdad by a roadside bomb that ripped through his armored truck Nov. 14 — eight years, seven months and 25 days after the U.S. invasion of Iraq began.

He was the 4,474th member of the U.S. military to die in the war, according to the Pentagon.

And he may have been the last.
Will W or Rummy or The Shooter send his mother a note of condolence? Or is he just another number, this time the last one in the line.

Nothing there, nothing here

All too many Iraq Fiasco veterans are finding that after putting their lives on the line for nothing, nothing has followed them home to the job market.
Veterans’ joblessness is concentrated among the young and those still serving in the National Guard or Reserve. The unemployment rate for veterans aged 20 to 24 has averaged 30 percent this year, more than double that of others the same age, though the rate for older veterans closely matches that of civilians. Reservists like Corporal Rhoden have a bleak outlook as well.

In July 2010, their unemployment rate was 21 percent, compared with 12 percent for other vets.

“There’s been an upsurge in young people going into the military and not staying for a full 20-year career,” said Jane Oates, the assistant secretary for employment and training at the Labor Department, which has worked to improve the three-day transition assistance program for outgoing soldiers and enlisted companies like Facebook to reach them. “I think transitions have been difficult, with too few jobs out there and lack of clarity about what the employer wants.”

The employment gap cannot be explained by a simple factor like lack of a college degree — despite their discipline and training, young veterans fare worse in the job market than their peers without degrees.
And despite changes to veterans benefits, they are pretty much priced out of the college market, too.

The last troops drove out of Iraq this morning.

And having entered the country with a fanfare of bombast and lies, the last to go took their leave quietly and unannounced.
For security reasons, the last soldiers made no time for goodbyes to Iraqis with whom they had become acquainted. To keep details of the final trip secret from insurgents, interpreters for the last unit to leave the base called local tribal sheiks and government leaders on Saturday morning and conveyed that business would go on as usual, not letting on that all the Americans would soon be gone.

Many troops wondered how the Iraqis, whom they had worked closely with and trained over the past year, would react when they awoke on Sunday to find that the remaining American troops on the base had left without saying anything.
And so George W Bush's Private Little War ends with the troops sneaking out in the night.

Let The Next Pope Derby begin!

The latest reports out of the Vatican have people reporting the the current Pope, Ratzy Red Shoes, has shown signs of weakening.
People who have spent time with him recently say they found him weaker than they'd ever seen him, seemingly too tired to engage with what they were saying. He no longer meets individually with visiting bishops. A few weeks ago he started using a moving platform to spare him the long walk down St. Peter's Basilica.

Benedict turns 85 in the new year, so a slowdown is only natural. Expected. And given his age and continued rigorous work schedule, it's remarkable he does as much as he does and is in such good health overall: Just this past week he confirmed he would travel to Mexico and Cuba next spring.

But a decline has been noted as Benedict prepares for next weekend's grueling Christmas celebrations, which kick off two weeks of intense public appearances. And that raises questions about the future of the papacy given that Benedict himself has said popes should resign if they can't do the job.
No way he resign, people don't give up that kind of power. In the meantime, all those who want to take his place have stepped up their politicking among the College of Cardinals. No idea who will actually succeed but one thing is sure. Thanks to all the Cardinals they made, he will be a conservative, Beatitudes hating tight ass like Ratzy and JP2.

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