Saturday, March 31, 2012

The odds of being struck by lightning

Are very much better than winning the MegaMillions. "Officials of the Mega Millions lottery, which had the largest prize in U.S. history, said that the odds of winning lottery were about 176 million to one." So when a Kansas man was struck by lightning Thursday and lived to tell of it, he figured his luck might be turning his way.
Isles said doctors wanted to make sure his heartbeat was back to normal. He suffered no burns or other physical effects from the strike, which he said could have been worse because his yard has a power line pole and wires overhead.

"But for the grace of God, I would have been dead," Isles said. "It was not a direct strike."

Isles said he had someone buy him 10 more tickets to the Mega Millions lottery on Friday night.
He was not the winner from Kansas.

Back in the '50s when they had variety shows on TV

These 4 ladies were likely to show up and show what they could do.

PS. Fuck you KIA

Heartless bastards

From the AP:
A Mexican national said he has been barred from entering the United States to bury his 10-year-old son, a U.S. citizen who died Tuesday in a house fire in northeastern Pennsylvania that killed three other people.

Attorneys for Fidelmar "Fidel" Merlos-Lopez are trying to win humanitarian parole so he can attend the funeral, but say U.S. Customs and Border Protection has rebuffed their efforts...

Humanitarian parole is granted to immigrants who have a compelling emergency that requires temporary entry into the United States. It is used sparingly: The government approves only about 25 percent of the 1,200 applications it gets each year.

Surin said Lopez qualifies. In fact, the Mexican husband of Tiffany Sanchez, the 29-year-old woman who died in the fire, was granted humanitarian parole to attend the funeral, she said.
So much for Reagan's "shining city on the hill". Thanks ICE for protecting us from the threat of a bereaved father.

Quote of the Day

The thing that makes our current politics particularly awful isn’t procedural. It’s that the Republican Party has become over-the-top extreme. You can try to fix that by working from within to groom a more sensible pack of future candidates, or from without by voting against the Republicans’ nominees until they agree to shape up.
Gail Collins, ending her column on the worst idea in politics with the best one yet.

Panetta still honking for bloated defense budget

Because Leon is a consummate bureaucrat who will never give up anything for his department, even if he worked hard against it when he was on the outside.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told U.S. Marines and sailors on Friday that Congress would be irresponsible if it doesn't act to prevent drastic military budget cuts.

In a visit to this amphibious assault ship off the Southern California coast, he also said Afghanistan is making progress against the Taliban but Iran remains a potential threat to the U.S.

A budget agreement reached last August calls for defense cuts of $487 billion over a decade, a reflection of the drawdown of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the pressure to reduce the nation's deficit.

The failure of Congress to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in savings means automatic cuts of more than $1 trillion next January to defense and domestic programs.

Congress "did a stupid thing" in risking the $50 billion in across-the-board reductions that would kick in next January, Panetta told hundreds of Marines and sailors.
Any stupiity would be in only requiring $50 Billion in cuts.

For the second time in recent history

Poland has allowed a foreign government to set up a brutal prison camp on its soil. And now, thanks to revelations from other countries, the people of Poland are starting to ask the right questions, including Co jest kurwa!
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday that Poland has become the "political victim" of leaks from U.S. officials that brought to light aspects of the secret rendition program.

In his most forthcoming comments on the matter to date, Tusk said an ongoing investigation into the case is proof of Poland's democratic credentials and that Poland cannot be counted on in the future in such clandestine enterprises.

"Poland will no longer be a country where politicians – even if they are working arm-in-arm with the world's greatest superpower – could make some deal somewhere under the table and then it would never see daylight," said Tusk, who took office four years after the site was shuttered.

"Poland is a democracy where national and international law must be observed," Tusk said. "This issue must be explained. Let there be no doubt about it either in Poland or on the other side of the ocean."

To some, it sounded like a long-delayed admission that Poland allowed the U.S. to run the secret site, where terror suspects were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics that human rights groups consider torture...

The issue is hugely sensitive because any Polish leaders who would have cooperated with the U.S. program would have been violating Poland's constitution, both by giving a foreign power control over part of Polish territory and allowing crimes to take place there.

Any officials who were involved could – in theory – be charged with serious crimes, including crimes against humanity.
Such a pity that former US officials are above the law.

Republican/Teabagger Healthcare

From the pen of Ed Stein

click pic to big

The moral crisis of the GOP - and us.

Katerina Van Den Heuvel writes in the WaPo about the damaging moral crisis the Republican/Teabaggers are forcing upon the US as they accuse others of doing exactly that. It is a moral crisis driven by ideology in pursuit of absolute power.
The real crisis of public morality in the United States doesn’t lie in the private decisions Americans make in their lives or their bedrooms; it lies at the heart of an ideology — and a set of policies — that the right-wing has used to batter and browbeat their fellow Americans...

It’s hard to point to a single priority of the Republican Party these days that isn’t steeped in moral failing while being dressed up in moral righteousness. This week, for example, they are hoping the Supreme Court will be persuaded by radical (and ridiculous) constitutional arguments to throw out some or all of the Affordable Care Act. Sure, you could argue that it’s really nice to make sure 31 million people who didn’t have health care can get it. Sure you could make the case that lifetime limits are a bad thing, that women shouldn’t have to pay more for health insurance just because they’re women, that the United States shouldn’t be a country where you die because you lost your coverage when you lost your job. But then again, liberty. Let’s not forget liberty. Also, freedom.

It is a very strange thing that the people who lecture most fervently about morality are those who are most willing to fight for policies that are so immoral. They watch Wall Street turn itself into the Las Vegas strip, take the economy down and destroy people’s lives and livelihoods. To that they say, “By God we need less regulation. Get me the hose, I have things to water down!” They see a CEO of a bank or a corporation, someone who passed off all of the risk and took on all of the reward, and they say, “Get that man a bigger bonus! In fact, get him two!”
If only there was someplace that moral behavior could be taught to our young.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Well she is from Canada

So it is only fair that she have a go at the anthem of all Canadians in Florida everywhere. And she got permission from her father, the songwriter.

I hope you all bought your MegaMillions tickets.

I want that prize as big as possible when I win it. :))

When the Blue Meanies screw the pooch

Nothing good will come of it, as Martin Bashir tells us.

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Highlights of Paul Ryan's Kill America Budget

  1.  $2.4 trillion in reductions from Medicaid and other health care for people with low or moderate incomes.
  2. $134 billion in cuts to SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.
  3. At least $463 billion in cuts in mandatory programs, such as farm programs and federal employee retirement.
  4. At least $291 billion in cuts in low-income discretionary programs, like Head Start, child care, K-12 education, job training, Pell grants and services for the elderly.

Arizona Sheriff Babeu sinks deeper in the doo-doo.

As bad as it may have been to have an undocumented alien for a boyfriend at the same time you were ranting about "illegals", making it worse by threatening to deport him should be as far as you go before you realize your mistake. Arizona Sheriff Babeu seems to have gone another step farther into the hole.
Investigators in Arizona are looking into whether embattled Sheriff Paul Babeu’s office destroyed records that may have shed light on whether he threatened to deport his immigrant ex-boyfriend after their breakup.

A report published Friday morning in the Arizona Republic said the inquiry is focusing on roughly 6,200 files that seem to have disappeared after state investigators requested they be preserved.

The new revelations mean that Babeu, an immigration hawk who was a rising Republican star before the scandal broke last month, is now facing three investigations — one each at the federal, state and local levels.

They come at a time when Babeu is also trying to make a step up to Congress, running for the Republican nomination in the state’s newly created 4th District.
He might make a good Arizona congressman, if they allow orange jumpsuits on the floor of the House.

Short and to the point

From the pen of Ben Sargent

R.I.P. Warren Stevens

Yes, I do remember seeing you in that movie.

Bishop nixes Kennedy widow speech

From the AP:
A Roman Catholic college in Massachusetts has withdrawn an invitation to the widow of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy to speak at graduation after the bishop of Worcester (WUS'-tur) raised concerns about her views.

Victoria Reggie Kennedy was scheduled to speak at Anna Maria College's May commencement. The Paxton school announced Friday that "concerns were expressed about the college being in conflict with the bishop."

The college did not cite Bishop Robert McManus's specific concerns.

A diocese spokesman says the bishop has followed directions that Catholic institutions should not honor Catholics who take positions contrary to church principles, "particularly on the dignity of life from conception and the sanctity of marriage."
So the Catholic institutions should not honor the bishops who supported the child abusers, unless child abuse is in line with church principles, right?

Talk about buying a pig in a poke

Bank of America sold off credit card debt to a collection company that it could not verify as real.
In a series of 2009 and 2010 transactions, Bank of America sold credit card receivables to an outfit called CACH LLC, based in Denver. Co. Each month CACH bought debts with a face value of as much as $65 million for 1.8 cents on the dollar. At least a portion of the debts were legacy accounts acquired from MBNA, which Bank of America purchased in 2006.

The pricing reflected the accounts' questionable quality, but what is notable is that the bank could get anything at all for them. B of A was not making "any representations, warranties, promises, covenants, agreements, or guaranties of any kind or character whatsoever" about the accuracy or completeness of the debts' records, according to a 2010 credit card sales agreement submitted to a California state court in a civil suit involving debt that B of A had sold to CACH.

In the "as is" documents Bank of America has drawn up for such sales, it warned that it would initially provide no records to support the amounts it said are owed and might be unable to produce them. It also stated that some of the claims it sold might already have been extinguished in bankruptcy court. B of A has additionally cautioned that it might be selling loans whose balances are "approximate" or that consumers have already paid back in full. Maryland resident Karen Stevens was the victim of one such sale, which resulted in a three-year legal battle (see related story).
Kind of like foreclosing on a house you don't own the mortgage for. The new banking normal.

Now it's wog-on-wog killing

Perhaps the NATO mission is working?
An Afghan policeman shot to death nine of his fellow officers as they slept in a village in an eastern Taliban stronghold on Friday, police said, blaming the attack on the insurgents.

The gunman opened fire with his assault rifle after waking up at 3 a.m. ostensibly to take over guard duty at a small command post in Paktika province, killing everybody inside, including the commander, according to officials. He then took their weapons, piled them in a pickup truck and sped away.

It was the latest in a growing number of attacks by Afghan security forces against their own people or against international troops in Afghanistan in recent years, some the result of arguments and others by insurgent infiltrators.

Provincial police chief Dawlat Khan Zadran said the incident took place in Yayakhil town of Yayakhil district.

Bowal Khan, chief of Yayakhil district, identified the gunman as Asadullah and said he goes by one name, as do many Afghans.

Khan said his own brother was among those killed, along with the commander of the post, identified as Mohammad Ramazan, and two of the commander's sons.
If we can get them to do more of this instead of shooting NATO troops, we can stay there another 10 years, at least.

Rasmussen finally has an accurate poll.

From the Raw Story:
A record number of Americans support the legalizing and taxing marijuana, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Their nationwide survey found that 47 percent of Americans agree that marijuana should be legalized, while 42 percent disagree. Ten percent are undecided.

The survey was conducted on March 24-25.

In October 2011, Gallup also found that Americans favor marijuana legalization now more than ever. A record-high 50 percent of Americans said the use of marijuana should be made legal, up 4 percent from last year and 14 percent from 2006.

“If this current trend on legalizing marijuana continues, pressure may build to bring the nation’s laws into compliance with the people’s wishes,” Gallup noted.
Are we really ready for "bring[ing] the nation’s laws into compliance with the people’s wishes"?

The Frothy Ones Top 10 Bullshit Items

Courtesy of Worldwide Pants and David Letterman

Michele Bachman thinks everybody can afford insurance

Speaking with Fux's Sean Insanity, Michele Bachman, the Queen of the Bat Shit Crazy, asserted that everyone can afford health insurance.
Speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity after attending Supreme Court arguments on Wednesday, the former Republican presidential candidate said that the Obama administration was wrong to suggest that insurance could be regulated because everyone would eventually be in the health care market.

“One argument that the government was trying to make is that somehow health care is uniquely different,” Bachmann explained. “That government can regulate it because everyone participates. Health insurance is not uniquely different.”

“It’s still an opportunity that some people choose to engage in, but 40 million people do not.”

She continued: “And the premise was made that people don’t buy insurance because they can’t afford it. That’s not true. There are people who just decide they want to roll the dice and take their chances that they won’t need insurance.”
A short time later she swore on a stack of bibles that God told her people go hungry because they don't want to buy food. Their pantries would be full if they so chose.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

There is never a bad time to post up a little Chopin.

Enjoy the Great One as played by another Great One. Martha Agerich

Republican/Teabagger Party Policy

We have seen in the Republican/Teabagger primary fights that for the last 4 to 5 months all the candidates have refrained from making any truthful statements, about their opponents or President Obama. And now we get the latest from Rinse Prewash and the Republican/Teabagger party.
A Republican Party Web-based advertisement uses altered audio from U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments to attack President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

In a spot circulated yesterday, the Republican National Committee excerpts the opening seconds of the March 27 presentation of Obama’s top Supreme Court lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, in which he is heard struggling for words and twice stopping to drink water.
Enlarge image Republicans Alter U.S. Supreme Court Audio in Obama Web Attack

“Obamacare,” the ad concludes, in words shown against a photograph of the high court. “It’s a tough sell.”

A review of a transcript and recordings of those moments shows that Verrilli took a sip of water just once, paused for a much briefer period, and completed his thought, rather than stuttering and trailing off as heard in the doctored version.

The RNC points to Verrilli’s halting performance as evidence that the 2010 law he is arguing to uphold -- the marquee item on Obama’s domestic agenda and a favorite line of attack for Republican candidates seeking to defeat him in the November elections -- is invalid.

“It seems that Obama’s lawyer hit a bit of a snag trying to defend the constitutionality of Obama’s health care takeover,” the RNC said in a statement accompanying the ad. “Maybe he’s beginning to realize something the American people already know: It’s hard to defend a law that is indefensible.”
The Republican/Teabagger Party - Tearing Down America One Lie At A Time.

Granny must die

Because keeping her alive would prevent rich folks from getting their tax cut and reduce health insurance company profits. And that would violate all that Republican/Teabaggers hold dear. So in this election year, Republican/Teabaggers are doubling down on Paul Ryan's Coupons for Healthcare Plan to gut Medicare.
For the second year in a row, Republicans voted Thursday to effectively dismantle Medicare — this time, just over seven months before a presidential election. And Democrats are salivating at the political opportunity, eager to hang the vote around the neck of the party’s presidential nominee and its candidates in tough congressional races...

The blueprint by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan is similar to his controversial Medicare plan last year, in that it ends the health insurance guarantee for seniors and replaces the program with a subsidized insurance-exchange system. Unlike last year’s plan, seniors can buy into traditional Medicare as a sort-of public option, and the vouchers it provides are more generous.
Once again, Republican/Teabaggers will present their Death Panels for Geezers plan as a sweeping reform, as in sweeping seniors out of the population just as fast as they can get sick.

Two jokes for Thursday

At the end of the tax year, the IRS office sent an inspector to audit the books of a local hospital. While the IRS agent was checking the books, he turned to the CFO of the hospital and said, "I notice you buy a lot of
bandages. What do you do with the end of the roll when there's too little left to be of any use?" "Good question," noted the CFO. "We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every once in a while, they send us a free roll." "Oh," replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer. But on he went, in his own obnoxious way. "What about all these plaster purchases? What do you do with what's left over after setting a cast on a patient?" "Ah, yes," replied the CFO, realizing that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question. "We save it and send it back to the manufacturer and every so often they will send us a free bag of plaster." "I see," replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster the know-it-all CFO. "Well," he went on, "What do you do with all the remains from the circumcision surgeries?" "Here, too, we do not waste," answered the CFO. "What we do is save all the little foreskins and send them to the IRS office, and about once a year they send us a complete prick."

Will those damned activist Conservative judges stike again

E.J.Dionne wonders what hoops the 5 Nazgul of the Supreme Court will make their decision jump through to make it conform to their activist agenda for the ultimate destruction of our country. In the end he shows us that we really can't avoid it.
The court’s right-wing justices seemed to forget that the best argument for the individual mandate was made in 1989 by a respected conservative, the Heritage Foundation’s Stuart Butler.

“If a man is struck down by a heart attack in the street,” Butler said, “Americans will care for him whether or not he has insurance. If we find that he has spent his money on other things rather than insurance, we may be angry but we will not deny him services — even if that means more prudent citizens end up paying the tab. A mandate on individuals recognizes this implicit contract.”

Justice Antonin Scalia seemed to reject the sense of solidarity that Butler embraced. When Solicitor General Donald Verrilli explained that “we’ve obligated ourselves so that people get health care,” Scalia replied coolly: “Well, don’t obligate yourself to that.” Does this mean letting Butler’s uninsured guy die?

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick called attention to this exchange and was eloquent in describing its meaning. “This case isn’t so much about freedom from government-mandated broccoli or gyms,” Lithwick wrote. “It’s about freedom from our obligations to one another . . . the freedom to ignore the injured” and to “walk away from those in peril.”

This is what conservative justices will do if they strike down or cripple the health-care law. And a court that gave us Bush v. Gore and Citizens United will prove conclusively that it sees no limits on its power, no need to defer to those elected to make our laws. A Supreme Court that is supposed to give us justice will instead deliver ideology.
Fat Tony "Kiss My Ass" Scalia shows us the way it will be.

I can't figure it out either.

Gail Collins questions the keen minds of our politicians who, at times of tragedy such as the murder of Trayvon Martin, cut right to the appendix of the matter.
Congress, which never draws any serious conclusions from terrible tragedies involving gunplay, did have time on Wednesday to fight about whether Representative Bobby Rush of Chicago violated the House dress code when he took off his suit jacket, revealing a gray sweater he was wearing underneath, and pulled the hood up over his head.

You may remember that Geraldo Rivera took measure of the Martin case and determined that the moral was: young men, throw out your hoodies. Even Rivera’s son said he was embarrassed. But, hey, we’re talking about it. Mission accomplished.

“Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” Congressman Rush said, before he was hustled off for violating the rule against wearing hats on the House floor.

This is pretty much par for the course. Whenever there is a terrible shooting incident somewhere in America, our politicians talk about everything except whether the tragedy could have been avoided if the gunman had not been allowed to carry a firearm.
But that can never happen when you have a Congress owned by and scared to death of the National Gun Dealers Association (NRA).

The Sanford police sure are nice.

George Zimmerman has let it be known that in the struggle with known hoodie wearer, Trayvon Martin, he got a broken nose and a cut on the back of his head. Any one who has ever had one knows that both wounds will bleed like a fountain. In the surveillance video from the Sanford police department Mr Zimmerman shows no sign of wounds or of blood on his clothes. The last is important, as Trayvon was alleged by the murderer to have been on top of Zimmerman when he was shot. Wasn't it nice of the Sanford police to take Zimmerman where he needed to go to get all cleaned up and to change his clothes?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A sad day

May they both Rest In Peace.

Adrienne Rich and Earl Scruggs

When I first heard this group

They had several vids posted on Music Fog including this tune in a sharper up tempo version. I think I prefer this older, moodier version. But make no mistake, they are both good listening.

The Two Deaths of Trayvon Martin

The first at the hands of George Zimmerman and the second now underway and described by Martin Bashir.

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Tax Cuts Don’t Help Growth, Tax Increases Don’t Hurt Growth

New economic research shows us just how much the Republican tax cutters have lied to us so they can evade their public responsibility.
The research comes from both directions. As Porter writes, Emmanuel Saez of Cal-Berkeley has research showing that the Laffer curve is set far, far too low. Higher marginal tax rates on the wealthy will not cause massive tax avoidance or a reduction of work from high-income earners such that economic growth would slow. The peak of where raising taxes can reduce revenue is simply much higher than the 35% nominal tax rate of the present day in the US. Saez and Peter Diamond of MIT (the former Fed Governor nominee) posited last November that the top tax rate could be increased to 76% without losing revenue, and to 48% even with the same loopholes we have today. My favorite conclusion of theirs was that the rich don’t really contribute all that much to economic growth:
The birth of the new conventional wisdom.

Public support for Afghan Failure is sinking like the Titanic

And given the recent sharp change in the levels of support, it is fair to say the Sunday Massacre was the iceberg needed to stop the unstoppable Pentagon folly.
Support for the war in Afghanistan is slipping fast, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released Monday. More than two-thirds of those surveyed, 69 percent, think the United States should no longer be fighting, a 16 percent jump from just four months ago.

A similar number, 68 percent, say the war effort is going either "very badly" or "somewhat badly," a big increase from 42 percent in the last poll in November.

Nearly half of Americans think the timetable for pulling U.S troops out of Afghanistan should be moved up. Forty-four percent say U.S. forces should leave before the Obama administration's planned withdrawal by the end of 2014, while 33 percent say the U.S. should stick to the current schedule. Seventeen percent say the U.S. should stay "as long as it takes"; 3 percent say the troops should come home now.

The growing disillusionment with the war is shared by both Republicans and Democrats, although Republicans have slightly less negative impressions of how the war is going and are more likely to want the U.S. to stay in Afghanistan.
Funny how Republicans are always more in favor of killing people.

Mittens has no future in stand up comedy

Current Republican front-runner and alleged human being Wlbert Mittens Romney displayed an awesome lack of talent for stand up comedy today. This despite months and months of speaking before small, intimate crows of voters across this land. After struggling to build up crowd emotion, Mittens dropped this big finish on them and laid an egg.
“One of most humorous I think relates to my father. You may remember my father, George Romney, was president of an automobile company called American Motors … They had a factory in Michigan, and they had a factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and another one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” said Romney. “And as the president of the company he decided to close the factory in Michigan and move all the production to Wisconsin. Now later he decided to run for governor of Michigan and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign.”

Romney said he recalled a parade in which the school band marching with his father’s campaign only knew the Wisconsin fight song, not the Michigan song.

“So every time they would start playing ‘On Wisconsin, on Wisconsin,’ my dad’s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop, because they didn’t want people in Michigan to be reminded that my dad had moved production to Wisconsin,” said Romney, laughing.
Rumor has it that no one making under $500K per year laughed. Perhaps he needs some new writers.

For those people too free to endure a mandate

Fixer has the perfect solution.

SCOTUS deliberates

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

click pic to big

What will Germany do?

When we cut back on our Imperial outposts in our German colony?
Towns whose identities are tied up in red, white and blue are being cut free with the pullback. Four of 12 Army bases in Germany will close, and Baumholder, a town of 4,500 Germans surrounded by 13,500 Americans on base — 4,300 troops, plus their families and other staff members — faces a turbulent future. Many Germans here doubt the base will remain open much longer, although the Army has said it will eventually replace half of the 3,700 troops who will depart by October.

In a town where American uniforms fill dry cleaners’ racks and one restaurant has clocks for three time zones — Baumholder, Baghdad and New York — residents say a closure might shake loose their longtime tilt toward America.

“We think more American — what they are doing here, where are they going, what’s going to happen — a lot more than other German cities. Because it affects our lives,” said Ingrid Schwerdtner, a town council member.

Many fear that the diminishing of the American presence would spell the end for them, too.
What a horrible future they face, having to become German in their own country.

The two biggest warmongers in Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin "Bugsy" Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud "Three Fingers" Barak. Both imagine that Iran's nuclear program is an existential threat to Israel. On the other hand, Israeli nuclear weapons under the control of this pair of lunatics is no big deal. The NY Times has a write up that tries to get you to believe that this is true,

Remember the Banksters Cream Puff Deal?

The settlement of their criminal frauds for about 2 cents on the dollar. And of that 2 cents, they can get credit for normal bank activities not related to preventing foreclosures.
In February, JPMorgan Chase donated a home to an Iraq war veteran in Bucoda, Wash., and Bank of America waived the $140,000 debt that a Florida man still owed after the sale of his foreclosed home. Over the last year, Wells Fargo has demolished about a dozen houses in Cleveland.

Banks do things like this — real estate transactions that do nothing to prevent foreclosure — all the time. But beginning this month, they can count such activities as part of their new commitment to help people stay in their homes.

That commitment comes under the landmark $25 billion foreclosure abuse settlement between the government and five major banks announced last month. The settlement promises that of the $25 billion, the banks will give $17 billion “in assistance to borrowers who have the intent and ability to stay in their homes,” according to a summary of the settlement. But more than half of that money can be used in ways that will not stop foreclosures, including some activities that are already standard bank practices.

For example, the banks can wipe out more than $2 billion of their obligation by donating or demolishing abandoned houses. Almost $1 billion can be used to help families that have already defaulted move out.

“The $17 billion is supposed to be the teeth of this settlement,” said Neil M. Barofsky, the former inspector general for the Treasury’s bank bailout fund known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program. “And yet they are getting all this credit for practices that they do every day.”
We wouldn't want the poor little bankies to lose any money now, would wee?

Rand Paul finds an acorn

From Raw Story:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Tuesday blocked legislation that would impose a new sanctions on Iran.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had hoped to quickly pass the bill by unanimous consent. But Paul objected and introduced an amendment stating that any use of military force against Iran must be authorized by Congress.

“Our Founding Fathers were quite concerned about giving the power declare war to the Executive,” Paul said on the Senate floor. “They were quite concerned that the Executive could become like a king.”

“Before sending our young men and women into combat, we should have a mature and thoughtful debate over the ramifications of and over the authorization of war and over the motives of the war,” he added.

The bill would penalize U.S. parent firms for certain Iran-related activities of their foreign subsidiaries and mandate sanctions for anyone that provides Iran with equipment that aids censorship or the suppression of human rights.
We don't need sanctions on Iran, we need sanctions on AIPAC. And that last bit about "censorship or the suppression of human rights" is such a farce. We already sell all that stuff to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Romney loves him some pre-existing conditions

Because he is a firm believer in denying healthcare coverage to people that have them. Can't endanger those insurance profits by covering sick people.
During an appearance on NBC’s Tonight Show, host Jay Leno told Romney that he knew people that had never been able to get insurance before “Obamacare” was passed.

“It seems to me like children and people with preexisting conditions should be covered,” Leno noted.

“People with preexisting conditions — as long as they’ve been insured before, they’re going to continue to have insurance,” Romney explained.

“Suppose they were never insured?” Leno asked.

“Well, if they’re 45 years old, and they show up, and they say, I want insurance, because I’ve got a heart disease, it’s like, `Hey guys, we can’t play the game like that. You’ve got to get insurance when you’re well, and if you get ill, then you’re going to be covered,’” Romney replied.

“I know guys that work in the auto industry and they’re just not covered because they work in brake dust,” Leno pressed. “And then they get to be 30, 35, and were never able to get insurance before. Now they have it. That seems like a good thing.”

“But people who have had the chance to be insured — if you’re working in an auto business for instance, the companies carry insurance, they insure all their employees — you look at the circumstances that exist,” the candidate explained. “But you don’t want everyone saying, `I’m going to sit back until I get sick and then go buy insurance.’ That doesn’t make sense. But you have to find rules that get people in that are playing by the rules.”
What Romney has stated, in his cynical let them die statement is the best argument for a universal not for profit healthcare coverage. When you cover everybody, you don't have to worry about people waiting until they are sick and neither do they. And when you take the profit out of it, you don't worry about losing money paying for people who are sick.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Late and great applies to too many bluesmen

One is the sadly missed blind Canadian picker jeff Healey.

Did I mention he had the most awesome collection of jazz recordings from wax cylinders to recent times and before his death he shared them with his listeners on a Toronto jazz station.

Brothels are safe houses for hookers.

So has the highest court in Ontario ruled and declared that a prohibition against brothels is unconstitutional.
A ban on brothels puts prostitutes at risk and is unconstitutional, Ontario's top court ruled Monday, in a case that is expected to be appealed to Canada's top court and have ramifications for the country at large.

The Ontario Court of Appeal said sex workers should be allowed to work safely indoors.

"The world in which street prostitutes actually operate is a world of dark streets and barren, isolated, silent places," said the five-judge panel in their ruling. "It is a dangerous world, with always the risk of violence and even death."

The court in Canada's most populous province has given the government a year to rewrite the law if it chooses.

The panel also said Monday that rules against profiting from prostitution should apply only to "circumstances of exploitation" to prevent pimps from exploiting prostitutes.

The change will allow police to prosecute violent and manipulative pimps while at the same time permitting prostitutes to hire drivers or body guards to protect them, the court said.
This ruling may still be appealed to a higher court but it is nice to see a court concerned about people.

The new "Friendly Fire"?

Another day, another soldier dies at the hands of one of our "loyal Afghan allies". Yesterday it was two British soldiers, today it is an American soldier.
A US soldier was killed at an Afghan police checkpoint on Monday in the latest “insider attack” by local security forces, a US military official said.

The assault in eastern Afghanistan was the second shooting incident of the day involving Afghans opening fire on their NATO-led allies, with two British soldiers shot dead in the southern province of Helmand. The attacks brought the death toll to 16 this year for such incidents.

The two British troops were killed when an Afghan soldier opened fire at the entrance gate to British headquarters in Lashkar Gah city. The attacker was shot dead by coalition forces and another British soldier was severely wounded...

More than one in six of the 91 foreign soldiers to have died in the country in 2012 have been killed in so-called “green-on-blue” attacks by Afghan security troops, and the growing problem has commanders worried about the effect on the war-effort.
And how many more will die before we achieve the same result in the future that we can get by pulling out now?

Really! What are they hiding??

In a display of their superiority over normal human beings, the Oklahoma Senate has removed the requirement that the legislators be drug tested before they start sucking on the public tit.
The Oklahoma Senate has dropped legislation that would require politicians throughout the state to be drug tested along with people receiving temporary public assistance.

The bill, passed by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services on Monday, would still require applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to undergo a mandatory drug test.

The Department of Human Services estimates 22,000 people in Oklahoma receive TANF benefits, which helps poor families with children pay for living expenses, including rent, heat, utilities and personal care items.

Democrats in the Oklahoma House who opposed the legislation added an amendment that required anyone seeking public office to pass a drug test as well. The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Guy Liebman, opposed the amendment, but his attempt to eliminate measure was defeated by a bipartisan vote.

When the bill arrived in the state Senate, Sen. David Holt (R) dropped the provision from the legislation, describing the amendment a “stunt.”
With these good folks constant;y trying to pass laws with no basis in reality, how much of a stunt is it really? And how much is it a level of protection for the public from drug addled dittoheads and Teabaggers?

Loonie Louie Gohmert - The Pride of East Texas

Fresh from his triumphal eulogy of Andrew Breitfart's balls, Loonie Louie is weighing in on the fight to deny healthcare to Americans. Now he gets to warn us all about the dangers of electing a redneck president.
“Let’s say you want to follow this administration’s idea of greatest good for the greatest number of people,” he said at a press conference. “It ought to scare liberals to come run and join conservatives, because what it means is when this president’s out of the White House and you get a conservative in there, if this president has the authority under Obamacare to trample on religious rights, then some redneck president’s got the right to say, ‘you know what, there’s some practices that go on in your house that cost people too much money and healthcare, so we’re going to have the right to rule over those as well.’”
Loonie Louie Gohmert, an intellectual role model for tree stumps everywhere. Well done, East Texas!

Monday, March 26, 2012

White collar holler

For all the oppressed Dilberts among us.

Paul Ryan has worked for Government most of his life

How is it that he, a mere Congressman, is worth from $1 Million to $3 Million?

Tom Tomorrow defends the Hoodie

Not that his arguments have the power to move the immovable force.

Paul Ryan still working on his plan

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

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One good move

From the NY Times:
The Supreme Court has thrown out a lower court ruling allowing human genes to be patented, a topic of enormous interest to cancer researchers, patients and drug makers.

The court on Monday overturned patents belonging to Myriad Genetics Inc. of Salt Lake City on two genes linked to increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer...

The high court said it sent the case back for rehearing because of its decision in another case last week saying that the laws of nature are unpatentable.
They can not take from us our genes!

Frank Rich reviews Republican/Teabagger Misogyny

And it is not pretty.
Note that she found Limbaugh “destructive” not because he was harming women but because he was harming her party. But the problem wasn’t that Limbaugh confused the issue. His real transgression was that he had given away the GOP game, crystallizing an issue that had been in full view for weeks. That’s why his behavior resonated with and angered so many Americans who otherwise might have tuned out his rant as just another sloppy helping of his aging shtick. It’s precisely because there is a Republican war on women that he hit a nerve. And surely no one knows that better than Noonan, a foot soldier in some of the war’s early battles well before Rush became a phenomenon. In her 1990 memoir about her service in the Reagan administration, What I Saw at the Revolution, she recalls likening Americans who favored legal abortions to Germans who favored killing Jews—a construct Limbaugh wouldn’t seize on and popularize (“feminazis”) until Reagan was leaving office and Anita Hill and Hillary Clinton emerged on the national stage.

GOP apologists like Noonan are hoping now that Limbaugh and Limbaugh alone will remain the issue—a useful big fat idiot whom Republicans can scapegoat for all the right’s misogynistic sins and use as a club to smack down piggish liberal media stars. The hope is that he will change the subject of the conversation altogether, from a Republican war on women to, as Noonan now frames it, the bipartisan “coarsening of discourse in public life.” That’s a side issue, if not a red herring. Coarse and destructive as sexist invective is—whether deployed by Limbaugh or liberals—it is nonetheless policies and laws that inflict the most insidious and serious casualties in the war on women. It’s Republicans in power, not radio talk-show hosts or comedians or cable-news anchors, who try and too often succeed at enacting punitive measures aimed at more than half the population. The war on women is rightly named because those who are waging it do real harm to real women with their actions, not words.
If one assumes Republican/Teabaggers had mothers the whole thing is very strange. If, on the other hand, you assume they are all sons of motherless goats, it makes sense.

Because we have done such a good job

With our failed mission toward an undefined goal. From Raw Story:
A man in Afghan army uniform shot dead two NATO soldiers in southern Afghanistan on Monday, raising to 13 the number of foreign troops to die in a series of such killings this year.

Almost one in seven of the 90 foreign soldiers to have died in Afghanistan this year has been killed in so-called “green-on-blue” attacks, raising tensions between NATO forces and their local colleagues.

A key strategy of NATO’s US-led mission in Afghanistan is training Afghan forces to take over national security by the end of 2014, allowing foreign combat troops to withdraw after a costly and lengthy war against the Taliban.

“An individual wearing Afghan army uniform turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Force service members in southern Afghanistan today, killing two,” ISAF spokesman Major Jason Waggoner told AFP.

Coalition forces returned fire and killed the gunman, he added, declining to specify the victims’ nationalities.
And the killing goes on. Who would have thought the old Soviet Union would be quicker to recognize a failure that the wonderful United States?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Have you heard about American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Even if you have, you may not know much about it. And Paul Krugman is taking the time to explain it to you because it is a dangerous beast, eating away at the very foundation of our democracy and society.
What is ALEC? Despite claims that it’s nonpartisan, it’s very much a movement-conservative organization, funded by the usual suspects: the Kochs, Exxon Mobil, and so on. Unlike other such groups, however, it doesn’t just influence laws, it literally writes them, supplying fully drafted bills to state legislators. In Virginia, for example, more than 50 ALEC-written bills have been introduced, many almost word for word. And these bills often become law.

Many ALEC-drafted bills pursue standard conservative goals: union-busting, undermining environmental protection, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization.

What this tells us, in turn, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is deeply misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.
And that is just the nice things you can say about it. Read the rest of what he has to offer. If you don't, you can kiss any hope for your country goodbye.

When you are 11 years old

And you get your first little Magnavox transistor radio, you remember the first songs you hear on it. This one has always been memorable. The guy upper right in the picture is the lead singer but that haunting soprano was the work of opera singer Anita Darian, who did not get credit for her ear catching work.

When politicians say, Trust us....

Run like hell in the opposite direction and call the police. It is a mortal lock that they are planning to screw you. The latest politician to issue this threat to the voters is the Devil's Own Son, Paul Ryan.
Appearing on two Sunday talk shows, the GOP’s top budget guru Rep. Paul Ryan promised to close enough loopholes to pay for the large tax cuts in his budget blueprint unveiled last week — but he repeatedly refused to specify any.

“We’re proposing to keep revenues where they are, but to clear up all the special interest loopholes, which are uniquely enjoyed by higher income earners, in exchange for lower rates for everyone,” Ryan said on CBS’ Face The Nation. “We’re saying get rid of the tax shelters, the interest group loopholes and lower everybody’s tax rates.”

The plan does not point to any such tax loopholes, nor is it expected to become law. But the House Budget Chairman’s suggested it isn’t his job to specify which ones. His message boils down to this: Trust us, we’ll get to it.
Short version. We will get to it but first things first we got to give tax cuts to our best buddies and, if anything is left, to you.

One way to lower healthcare costs

In Florida all it would take is to shut down the pill mills. One of the first places to see the true cost of these pharmaceutical gold mines (for the owners) is in the neo-natal ward.
On any given day, more than one-third of the babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at Manatee Memorial Hospital have been exposed to drugs.

Their mothers have passed the curse of substance abuse to their newborns.

In their cribs, the infants suffer from withdrawal.

They shake with jitters, they cry inconsolably. They fight skin rashes, vomiting and diarrhea.The number of newborns in Manatee County hospitals experiencing drug withdrawal as a result of their mothers' substance abuse rose from 2 to 27 during the years 2007-2010, an increase of 1,250 percent, according to the Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition.

Nearby, other Tampa Bay area hospitals are seeing similar trends: From 2009-2011, the number of babies born at Tampa General Hospital who were exposed to opiates and/or Methadone skyrocketed from 12 per year to 64.Those who provide medical care to babies blame prescription drug abuse.

The Manatee County Commission on Tuesday will consider a strict new ordinance designed to shut down bogus pain management clinics called "pill mills" that are really just businesses that sell highly-addictive prescription medication for profit.
Drug withdrawal is no way to start life.

Some diets never work

From the pen of Ben Sargent

The Frothy One wins Louisiana

What is surprising is that a state that loves the values of its Senator, Diaper Dave Vitter, chose to embrace the Opus Dei spouting ex-Senator from Pennsylvania. Maybe the good folks in the Pelican State think they share the same values.

The price of an Afghan

In this case the very high profile murder victims of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales and his, as yet, unnamed crew who brought us the Sunday Massacre.
The families of 16 Afghan villagers killed this month by a rampaging American soldier were given $50,000 by the United States for each of their slain relatives, Afghan and American officials said.
World Twitter Logo.

The payments were made on Saturday by American military officers at the office of the governor of Kandahar province, where the killings took place. Those wounded in the violence were each given $11,000, said Haji Agha Lalai, a member of the Kandahar provincial council.
And there may be more as these were not considered the usual "blood money" payments which are kept confidential. And despite all the money stolen from the US and their NATO allies, the Afghan government only thinks theyare worth $2,000/$1,000.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

With more than 3100 deserving Americans waiting

Someone decided to waste a perfectly good heart for transplant into that old war criminal, Dickwahd al-Cheney.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant Saturday, after five heart attacks over the past 25 years and countless medical procedures to keep him going. Cheney, 71, waited nearly two years for his new heart, the gift of an unknown donor.

An aide to Cheney disclosed the surgery after it was over, and said the ex-vice president was recovering at a Virginia hospital...

More than 3,100 Americans currently are on the national waiting list for a heart transplant. Just over 2,300 heart transplants were performed last year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. And 330 people died while waiting.

According to UNOS, 332 people over age 65 received a heart transplant last year. The majority of transplants occur in 50- to 64-year-olds.

The odds of survival are good. More than 70 percent of heart transplant recipients live at least five years, although survival is a bit lower for people over age 65.
Unless the new heart rejects that foul vessel, Cheney's body, this is proof positive that there is no God.

Saturday Night High Times

Our band tonight answers the age old question, How do you get high?

The Least Interesting Man in the World.

Extra added attraction, the real reason John Boehner cries.

The latest GOP fundraiser

And policy tool all rolled into one.

h/t DonkeyHotey

Drunk as a skunk and a friend of the judge

Who lets you mount an improper defense for you DUI. That's a walk.
Former Wisconsin state Sen. Randy Hopper (R) was found not guilty by a jury Friday on a charge of drunk-driving, after mounting a court defense that his arrest in October was the product of a conspiracy by the public employee union members who had successfully worked to recall him from office earlier last summer.
And the DA probably didn't send his first team to prosecute this one. Once again bullshit walks.

I agree

In the beginning there was hatred. And hatred begat prejudice, the father of stereotyping, the father of racial profiling. And racial profiling begat
George Zimmerman.

Thanks to Fearguth @ Bildungblog who let me steal the whole thing.

Paul Ryan's brackets

From the pen of Ed Stein

The Sunday Shooter has been indicted for murder

17 times.
The U.S. military on Friday formally charged Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales with 17 counts of premeditated murder, meaning the 38-year-old soldier could face the death penalty if convicted of a March 11 rampage in southern Afghanistan.

The military also said for the first time that nine children were killed and four were wounded in the early morning incident in southern Kandahar province. Their ages were unspecified and the manner of their deaths wasn't released, nor was any motive for the killings, which have shocked Americans and Afghans alike and raised new challenges for an orderly U.S. exit from the decade-long war in Afghanistan...

Bales was informed of the charges against him at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he's been held since March 16, officials said. The next phase of his case will be what is called an Article 32 hearing — the equivalent of a preliminary hearing in a civilian court — which will take place at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Tacoma, Wash., where Bales has been based for the past decade.

Under military rules, that hearing, where an investigating officer will determine whether there's sufficient evidence to bring Bales to trial, must take place within 120 days of his arrest, which was March 11. The military court can, however, add to that time based on lawyers' requests.
The Army is clinging to the single shooter story. Given the logistics of dealing with Afghan witnesses, the only thing slower than the US withdrawal from Afghanistan will be the trial.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A jazz interlude

From Allan Holdsworth and some friends.

Allan Holdsworth - guitar, Alan Pasqua - keyboards, Jimmy Haslip - bass, Chad Wackerman - drums.

It had to be him

Because who else could authorize a large transfer like that. Bloomberg is reporting that it was Jon Corzine himself who OK'd the transfer of $200 Million in client funds to JP Morgan Chase.
Jon S. Corzine, MF Global Holding Ltd. (MFGLQ)’s chief executive officer, gave “direct instructions” to transfer $200 million from a customer fund account to meet an overdraft in a brokerage account with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), according to a memo written by congressional investigators.

Edith O’Brien, a treasurer for the firm, said in an e-mail quoted in the memo that the transfer was “Per JC’s direct instructions,” according to a copy of the memo obtained by Bloomberg News. The e-mail, dated Oct. 28, was sent three days before the company collapsed, the memo says. The memo does not indicate whether that phrase was the full text of the e-mail or an excerpt.

O’Brien’s internal e-mail was sent as the New York-based broker found intraday credit lines limited by JPMorgan, the firm’s clearing bank as well as one of its custodian banks for segregated customer funds, according to the memo, which was prepared for a March 28 House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on the firm’s collapse. O’Brien is scheduled to testify at the hearing after being subpoenaed this week.

“Over the course of that week, MF Global (MFGLQ)’s financial position deteriorated, but the firm represented to its regulators and self-regulatory organizations that its customers’ segregated funds were safe,” said the memo, written by Financial Services Committee staff and sent to lawmakers.

Vinay Mahajan, global treasurer of MF Global Holdings, wrote an e-mail on Oct. 28 that said JPMorgan was “holding up vital business in the U.S. as a result” of the overdrawn account, which had to be “fully funded ASAP,” according to the memo.
So Jon Corzine testified that he never did such a thing to Congress. This would appear to be a bigger lie than the one Martha Stewart told, so will he go to a bigger prison? And another thing, JPM did try to get confirmation that the funds were not from customer accounts but they never did receive it. They took the money anyway and have been most reluctant to return it. Will they ever?

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

I hope it's not too late to save some effectivness.

from the NY Times:
A federal magistrate judge on Thursday ordered the Obama administration to alert drug makers that the government may soon ban the common agricultural use of popular antibiotics in animals because the practice may encourage the proliferation of dangerous infections and imperil public health.

The order, issued by Judge Theodore H. Katz of the Southern District of New York, has the effect of restarting a process that the Food and Drug Administration began 35 years ago in hopes of preventing penicillin and tetracycline, two of the nation’s most popular antibiotics, from losing their effectiveness in humans because of their widespread use in animal feed to promote growth in livestock like chickens, pigs and cattle.

The order comes two months after the Obama administration announced restrictions on agricultural uses of cephalosporins, a critical class of antibiotics that includes drugs like Cefzil and Keflex, which are commonly used to treat pneumonia, strep throat and skin and urinary tract infections. The F.D.A. is expected to issue within days draft rules that would bar the use of penicillin and tetracycline — highly popular in agricultural settings — in animal feed to further growth, the same issue tackled by Judge Katz. A decade ago, the F.D.A. banned indiscriminate agricultural use of a powerful class of antibiotics, called fluoroquinolones, that includes the medicine Cipro.

Geraldo proves time does not cure stupidity

In a vain attempt to be relevant Geraldo Rivera chimed in on the murder of Trayvon Martin. Hisremarks included this remarkably stupid statement.
“I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” the host ranted. “You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta — you’re going to be a gangsta wannabe, well people are going to perceive you as a menace. That’s what happens. It is an instant, reflexive action.”
Geraldo Rivera, the Forrest Gump of TV news except that no one like Geraldo.

Damn good advice

All the more so because it comes from someone who is privy to the Misogyny Policy that his party has adopted.
Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY) made a surprising request of women at a rally for the Equal Rights Amendment yesterday. According to a report at Huffington Post, the Republican Representative told women to open their wallets, dig deep and donate their money…to Democrats.

“I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault,” he said, “I’ll tell you this: Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side — my side — has a lot of it. And you need to send your own message. You need to remind people that you vote, you matter, and that they can’t succeed without your help.”...

“This is a dogfight, it’s a fistfight, and you have all the cards,” he said to the group of mostly female rally-goers, “I can only tell you to get out there and use them. Tell the other women, the other 51 percent of the population, to kick in a few of their bucks. Make it matter, get out there, get on TV, advertise, talk about this. The fact that you want [the ERA] is evidence that you deserve it and you need it.”
One of the last of his breed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lera Lynn has been here before

And if she keeps making good songs like this, she will be here again. Soon we hope.

Must be a lot of Afghan civilians left to kill

Because the General in charge of our failed mission in Shitholeistan wants to keep around 68,000 shooters there for next years Futile Killing Season.
The top commander in Afghanistan said Thursday he prefers a significant American force of 68,000 to combat insurgents in 2013, signaling a potential halt in the drawdown and complicating any effort by President Obama to speed up troop withdrawals after more than a decade of war.

Marine Gen. John Allen insisted that he will hold off on a recommendation on the pace of further reductions until after the 23,000-member surge forces leaves Afghanistan by the end of September. But in his most explicit comments in two days of congressional testimony, Allen indicated that he envisions no other withdrawals beyond that cut this year and expressed his preference for next year.

“My opinion is that we will need significant combat power in 2013,” Allen told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Like 68,000?” asked Sen. John McCain, the panel’s top Republican.

“Sixty-eight thousand is a good going-in number, sir, but I owe the president some analysis on that,” Allen replied.
And there is The Old Fart cheerleading the number. As for General Allen, he took over a failed mission and then made sure it stayed that way as the boys burned Qurans and staged a Sunday Massacre.

The latest climate change disaster.

While it doesn't match the severity of what faces Kiribati, it could have a profound effect on the mating habits of a significant segment of society.
A natural disaster has befallen the local pussy willow crop, threatening courtship traditions of the post-Easter celebration of Dyngus Day.

Because of the unseasonably warm weather -- Tuesday's high of 80 degrees marked the fourth straight day of record-setting temperatures at Buffalo Niagara International Airport -- the growth on pussy willow branches quickly is exceeding the desired fuzzy bud, or catkin, stage.

And Dyngus Day is April 9 -- almost three weeks away.

"We are at a crisis period right now," said Martin Biniasz, co-founder of Dyngus Day Buffalo.

According to Polish custom, young men and women demonstrate their interest in potential mates by swatting them with pussy willow branches or dousing them with water.

"Without the proper pussy willows, who knows. Marriages might not happen. Relationships could fall apart," said "Airborne" Eddy Dobosiewicz, Dyngus Day Buffalo's other co-founder.
This is serious. Without a swat from that certain someone, how will you know who to splash with water? Dyngus Day will be just another drunken polka festival.

The Uncle Jimbo Defense

But Uncle Jimbo just shot endangered species.

From the pen of Pat Oliphant.

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The Three Senate Stooges are at it again

The Old Fart, Droopy Dog and Lightfoot Lindsey have written another op-ed in the WaPo calling for continued wastage in Shitholeistan. If you have read their other op-ed, this is the same old shit re-mixed, and it still stinks. These three had it wrong the first time they wrote about is and they haven't improved since then.

The future of the NRA

Or as it is known to its most influential supporters, the National Gundealers Association. They are near the point of gun law saturation. Gail Collins looks at their sad state.
There is nothing so dangerous as a lobbying organization that’s running out of stuff to lobby about.

I am thinking in particular of the National Rifle Association. These people are really in desperate straits. The state legislatures are almost all in session, but some of them have already pushed the gun-owner-rights issue about as far as it can go. You can only legalize carrying a concealed weapon in church once...

This is big business. The N.R.A. takes in more than $200 million a year, which is a heck of a lot more than it made back in the old days, when its principal activity was running marksmanship classes. A considerable chunk of the cash comes from gun manufacturers and gun sellers. I cannot help but think that this was the constituency its lobbyists had in mind when they recently pushed Virginia to repeal its one-handgun-a-month purchase law. According to a recent poll, two-thirds of the residents of the state liked the law just fine. However, it did pose a considerable hardship for hard-working small businessmen involved in the transport of large quantities of weaponry up the East Coast to drug gangs in Philadelphia and New York City.
Thank God we have the NRA to support law abiding "gun mules" and other citizens who will be law abiding when the NRA gets the laws changed to its satisfaction.

Republican Congresstwit gives away the game

For months now the Republican/Teabaggers involved in the investigation of Solyndra have piously stated that their efforts are for the good of the country in uncovering wrongdoing. Until yesterday when Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) opened his yap and let the cat out of the bag.
"Our staff will continue to dig into it and see," Jordan told Energy and Environment Daily. "But what I hope happens is we stop doing these kind of things ... this whole cronyism approach to the marketplace.

"Ultimately, we'll stop it on Election Day, hopefully. And bringing attention to these things helps the voters and citizens of the country make the kind of decision that I hope helps them as they evaluate who they are going to vote for in November."
Even though the only ones who believed the Republican/Teabaggers before yesterday are Foxsuckers, the brazen bastards don't even make the effort to hide their motives any more.

Dallas Fed Head says Break up Too Big To Fail Banks

It is one thing for us DFH to call for breaking up the the Too Big To Manage banks but when the head of a Federal Reserve Bank calls for it, that is news. And when the head is one of the more conservative Fed bankers that is reaching to Fark.
In its annual report for 2011, issued on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas released a startling report revealing that 52 percent of all the assets held by the entire banking industry have now become aggregated into the hands of just five companies, and the top 10 institutions have swollen so large that they possess wealth that equates to roughly half of America’s annual gross domestic product (GDP).

It is for those reasons that Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher, who’s otherwise known as a conservative budget hawk, has embraced the radical cause of breaking up the nation’s largest banks and forever ending “too big to fail.” In a letter introducing the 2011 report, he cautions that Congress may not have gone far enough with prior attempts at financial reforms, and that those bills may even be working against the struggling economic recovery underway...

he argues, the risk of a “too big to fail” institution collapsing, which gave lawmakers the impetus for unprecedented financial bailouts in 2008, obstructs capitalism itself. Instead, Fisher writes, the banking industry must diversify — meaning lawmakers need to break out the hammer and chisel. He even warns that “megabanks” have become so powerful that they threaten the Fed’s ability to conduct monetary policy.

“Perhaps the most damaging effect of propagating [too big to fail] is the erosion of faith in American capitalism,” he adds. “Diverse groups ranging from the Occupy Wall Street movement to the Tea Party argue that government-assisted bailouts of reckless financial institutions are sociologically and politically offensive. From an economic perspective, these bailouts are certainly harmful to the efficient workings of the market.”
A copy of the report in PDF is here.
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Not your usual turnout gear

But one group of volunteer firemen from Minnesota showed dedication to their duty above and beyond what may normally be expected.
A group of firemen from the small town of Sedan were participating in an Irish-themed parade and fundraiser, wearing fabulously colorful gowns purchased from J.C. Penny, when a sudden emergency call came in.

Not thinking much of their attire, the first responders raced to the scene, discovering a vehicle alongside a highway that had caught fire.

Then, in front of a slowly gathering crowd of camera-wielding motorists, the frilly firemen faithfully fought both the blaze and the hazards of strapless evening wear, all at the same time.

The fire department’s chief later remarked that he now calls them, “My girls.”
Bless'em all!

Charlie Pierce is upset with Congress

And he has a few words to say about it.
In that spirit, let me say that the House of Representatives, under its current majority management, has degenerated into a complete madhouse, an asylum for nihilists and vandals who literally do not believe that the government of the United States has any legitimate function beyond organizing and training the military. There is no reason to mince words about these people any more. In 2010, the voters, in their infinite wisdom, visited upon the country the biggest bunch of fantasts, paranoids, and general whackaloons since the last time Glenn Beck dined alone. This is a legislative body that is not only an embarrassment to democratic self-government, but also an embarrassment to all human endeavor back to the Bronze Age. This isn't a Congress. This is a pre-school, the political equivalent of that Twilight Zone episode in which the little boy terrorizes all the adults and then turns one of them into a jack-in-the-box.
And there is more in the same vein.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

She does love the minor keys

The old standard was a Shithouse Rat

But with the opening of the Republican/Teabaggers into the full bloom of their insanity we may have to change the definition of crazy to a Texas Teabagger Senate candidate.
In an article that would appear to be a poorly-executed parody of Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz’s (R) right-wing beliefs it Cruz had not posted it on his own website, the Tea Party stalwart touts a truly ridiculous conspiracy theory about George Soros secretly partnering with the United Nations to come into our cities and eliminate our right to play golf...

Sadly, however, Cruz’s conspiracy mongering about George Soros’ war on Tiger Woods is par for Cruz’s course. When Cruz isn’t inventing fantasies about international plots to turn fairways into rough, he invents unconstitutional proposals to nullify federal laws or calls for a radical rereading of the Constitution that would lead to Medicaid and most federal education programs being declared unconstitutional.
So the new standard is Crazier than a Texas Teabagger Senate candidtate. And we sadly say goodbye to the old faithful Shithouse Rat.

Every fighter need a good cornerman

Someone better than Bugsy Netanyahu.

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

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Quote of the Day

We’re not going to turn our desolate protectorate into a modern Athens and there’s not going to be any victory strut on an aircraft carrier.

When you’re buried alive in the Graveyard of Empires, all you can do is claw your way out.
MoDo, writing about the useless waste of people and treasure in Shitholeistan for no reason at all.

NSA General denies Big Brother set up

According to the military goon in charge, the NSA is not set up to spy on all American citizens.
Responding to the recent report by Wired author James Bamford, one of the leading journalists on NSA affairs, General Keith Alexander insisted that no matter what Bamford’s insider sources might claim, the NSA is not able to spy on the communications of American citizens.

Published last week, Bamford’s story rips open alleged plans to build a data center in Utah equipped with the most advanced spy tech in history. His sources claimed it essentially represents the resurrection of the “Total Information Awareness” program that Congress killed in 2003.

The center will allegedly be capable of breaking almost any encryption, reading any email and recording any phone call anywhere in the world, even if it’s not made over the Internet. A network of ultra-sensitive satellites enhance the center’s intelligence-finding capabilities with the unique ability to sniff electronic communications from a massive distance.

More troubling still, Bamford’s three covert sources who worked for the NSA reportedly claim that the agency is dumping Americans’ communications into the mix, knowingly violating the U.S. Constitution in pursuit of a modern-day Manhattan Project. And it’s not just Bamford’s sources: prior reporting by MSNBC, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and other publications have carried similar claims by other insiders
Just the Americans they want to follow. If you don't believe me, go ahead and send that tweet you were thinking about.

When you "Drill, baby, drill" whaddaya get?

Unless you don't get out of the house much, you can see the result at the pumps today. Actually what you see at the pumps has little to do with the level of drilling activity in the US.
A statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production by The Associated Press shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.

If more domestic oil drilling worked as politicians say, you'd now be paying about $2 a gallon for gasoline. Instead, you're paying the highest prices ever for March.

Political rhetoric about the blame over gas prices and the power to change them — whether Republican claims now or Democrats' charges four years ago — is not supported by cold, hard figures. And that's especially true about oil drilling in the U.S. More oil production in the United States does not mean consistently lower prices at the pump.

Sometimes prices increase as American drilling ramps up. That's what has happened in the past three years. Since February 2009, U.S. oil production has increased 15 percent when seasonally adjusted. Prices in those three years went from $2.07 per gallon to $3.58. It was a case of drilling more and paying much more.

U.S. oil production is back to the same level it was in March 2003, when gas cost $2.10 per gallon when adjusted for inflation. But that's not what prices are now.
Production in this country is up from 2008 but so are exports to other markets. How's that helping you. And the same will be said if the XL Pipeline is built. So the real question is why should we give it up for other people's profit?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One of the Greatest Blues Men ever!

Some say that extra finger on his left hand made him the Best.

Paul Ryans wants his cake and yours , too.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that Paul Ryan's latest Republican/Teabagger budget proposal is just a pile of bad shit. Some of it comes with a heaping side of chutzpah, as well.
Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposal counts on more than $400 billion in tax revenue from the 2010 health-care overhaul he and other Republicans want to repeal.

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, in the plan unveiled today calls for repealing the health-care law while setting a revenue target that assumes the tax increases remain in place. The Wisconsin Republican’s budget plan seeks to collect $37 trillion over the next decade -- the amount the government would raise if the health-care law’s taxes take effect and some expiring tax cuts are extended.

House Republicans’ proposal to reduce the deficit by repealing the health-care law would work only by retaining the law’s higher tax revenue, said Jim Horney, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Washington research group advocates policies benefiting low-income families.
Did you catch that? They will take away the healthcare coverage part of ACA but the fiscally responsible Republican/Teabaggers will still tax you for it. They have to fund the tax cuts they will give the wealthy some how.

The 4 Horsemen of Republican Failure

Or as Kyle put it, in an updated form.

h/t Kyle & Juanita.

Quote of the Day

What they’re trying to do is put lipstick on a pig — that would be Ryan — and call it Monique — that would be Wyden. But it’s still a pig.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi assessing the Ryan-Wyden Plan to Destroy Medicare.

The Frothy One is weak on Geography, too.

Rick Santorum took the opportunity of blasting President Obama for allowing his daughter to vacation in Mexico.
Rick Santorum said President Obama set a bad example and potentially endangered American tourists by letting his daughter Malia go to Mexico on a spring break vacation.

Santorum told Glenn Beck that an American president should not send his own family into the area given State Department travel warnings for Mexico.

“What I would say is that the president’s actions should reflect what his administration is saying,” Santorum said in a phone interview with Beck. “If the administration is saying that it’s not safe to have people down there, then just because you can send 25 Secret Service agents doesn’t mean you should do it. You should set an example. I think that’s what presidents do. They set an example. And when the government is saying this is not safe, then you don’t set the example by sending your kids down there.”
Obviously Ricky is condemning the entire country of Mexico because, as even Glenda Becky's website pionted out, "there is no State Department travel warning in effect for Oaxaca, the popular tourist destination where the first daughter is reportedly vacationing." I suspect that his Secret Service code name is "Bag of Hammers".

Like shoveling shit in a big ass fan

The Pentagon ran one of their war games about an Israeli attack on Iran and while the details remain classified, the leakers are letting every one know the result was a disaster for the US.
The officials said the so-called war game was not designed as a rehearsal for American military action — and they emphasized that the exercise’s results were not the only possible outcome of a real-world conflict.

But the game has raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran, the officials said. In the debate among policy makers over the consequences of any Israeli attack, that reaction may give stronger voice to those in the White House, Pentagon and intelligence community who have warned that a strike could prove perilous for the United States.

The results of the war game were particularly troubling to Gen. James N. Mattis, who commands all American forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, according to officials who either participated in the Central Command exercise or who were briefed on the results and spoke on condition of anonymity because of its classified nature. When the exercise had concluded earlier this month, according to the officials, General Mattis told aides that an Israeli first strike would be likely to have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there.
When we chose to be an Imperial Presence in the region, we took on the consequences of all the little pissing matches that may take place. And the worst trouble maker is the spoiled brat that thinks he can hide behind us when he gets in a jam.

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