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31 July 2009

pay attention

by: astraea

at the risk of being more divisive, a word.

From TPM, the headline:Poll: 28% Of Republicans Are Birthers, 30% Undecided
Late Update:: Another thing to point out is that Birtherism is heavily
concentrated in the South. Only 47% of Southerners say Obama was born in the United States, 23% say he was not, and 30% aren't sure.

That Southern base is a consistent base. And down here, certain "churches" have been telling their flock to buy guns. This has fallen off since May 1, but ammo was getting hard to come by, they'd stockpiled so much of it. The Homeland Security report about stateside terrorists: don't blow it off. Please.

But guns don't kill people. Hatred does.

I've taken off my bumper stickers: the kids drive now. The Birther conspiracy is a measure of the power of Fox news and hate radio. A symptom of something much bigger.

And worse than you think. Go, read it all. via kos:
"Birther" conspiracy theory is based in apocalyptic Christian conspiracy narratives claiming that an antichrist figure will soon arise to lead an evil, bloody, tyrannical 'New World Order' police state.[...] for the full version of this story, see here.
For one of the most authoritative treatments of apocalyptic conspiricism and its relationship to US right wing movements, see Political Research Associates Head Analyst Chip Berlet's PRA series Dances With Devils



Hijacking America: How the Secular and Religious Right Changed What Americans Think (Paperback)by Susan George
Susan George (Author)
Visit Amazon's Susan George Page
Find all the books, read about the author, and more.

Talk To Action | Knowledge is Power: Five Books about the ...
Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History ... rightwing populism in the U.S. in its religious, secular and racist dimensions. ... future of our political system and the hope of progressive social change. ..... For that matter, if one wants to learn how things like the IRD's hijack - Cached - Similar -

Shakespeare and Sons :: Search Results
Hijacking America. How the Religious and Secular Right Changed What Americans Think. Price for Eshop: 488 Kč (€ 17.4) Condition: New, Binding: Paperback, ... - Cached - Similar -

BuzzFlash Book Reviews
When we post a Premium, we let you know why we think the book, DVD, ... Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics ... Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Paperback) Bart D. Ehrman ... How the Christian Right Is Hijacking Mainstream Religion (Paperback) Preface - Cached - Similar -

A Variation On...

by: Debra

How to wash a cat.

This was simply too much of a  time saver not to share it with you.

1. Put both lids of the toilet up. And add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl.

2. Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.

3. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close the lid. You may need to stand on the lid.

4. The cat will self agitate and make ample suds. Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.

5. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a 'power-wash' and rinse'.

6. Have someone open the front door of your home. Be sure that there are no people between the bathroom and the front door.

7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift the lid.

8. The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, and run outside where he will dry himself off.

9. Both the commode and the cat will be sparkling clean.



The Dog


Aaargh! The formatting is driving me crazier than I already am!

· · ·
30 July 2009

Birther Plot Theory

by: Foiled Goil

What is it with The Lunatic Fringe Of The Whacko Wing In Crazy Town? Now there are claims they have uncovered a secret evil plot!

The Goldberg-O'Reilly Birther theory: It's an evil Obama plot to make conservatives look like wingnuts

David Neiwert:
Bernie Goldberg has a theory about why there's been a significant controversy over Lou Dobbs' promotion of the "Birther" conspiracy theory: It's all an evil plot by the Obama White House to string the story along indefinitely so as to make his right-wing opposition look like a nuttier bunch than a PayDay bar.

...Goldberg: I have a theory. And the theory is this: That the Chicago Mafia inside the White House want to keep this crazy controversy going. Because the longer it goes, the better the chance that they will conflate the crazy right-wing fringe with regular conservatives and regular Republicans.

O'Reilly: That's not a bad theory. But from dealing with the Obama White House, now, for almost, more than a year, [...???...] I will tell you they are, uh, as every White House I've ever experienced, they're arrogant, they're arrogant. And they're saying to themselves, 'We're not gonna let Lou Dobbs tell us what to do. We're not gonna let these cranks on talk radio tell us what to do. They want the birth certificate released? Tough. We're not going to do it, because we have the power, and we don't like that.' That's what it's all about -- it's a 'Ha ha, we're not gonna do what you say.'

Interesting theories, gentlemen. Unfortunately, they both tend to run aground on a simple fact: Obama actually released his birth certificate in June 2008. It reads, "Certification of Live Birth."

Now, as's definitive piece on the certificate issue explains, this is in fact the "short form" of Obama's birth certificate, not its long form, which is filled out by the hospital and kept in its records. So why doesn't Obama release the long form? Because Hawaiian law doesn't give him that option:

The document is a "certification of birth," also known as a short-form birth certificate. The long form is drawn up by the hospital and includes additional information such as birth weight and parents' hometowns. The short form is printed by the state and draws from a database with fewer details. The Hawaii Department of Health's birth record request form does not give the option to request a photocopy of your long-form birth certificate, but their short form has enough information to be acceptable to the State Department. We tried to ask the Hawaii DOH why they only offer the short form, among other questions, but they have not given a response.

Now, if Goldberg and O'Reilly are so concerned that the public might conclude that mainstream conservatives are prone to far-right conspiracy theories and various other forms of wingnuttery, they might look in the mirror. It's the virtual definition of wingnuttery to even be asking why Obama won't release his birth certificate when he has in fact done so.

There's no Obama conspiracy keeping this garbage alive and tying it around the necks of mainstream conservatives. They're doing a very fine job of that themselves.

The only ones making the psychotic conservatives look like psychotic wingnuts are the psychotic conservative wingnuts! They're doing a mighty fine job of that, too:

WaPo reporter: Birthers get media attention because ‘there is no videotape of Obama being born.’

Jeebus. Once again, for:

'The Wacko Wing'

The Progress Report, July 27, 2009 via Huffington Post:
Born In The U.S.A.: Obama was born on Aug. 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. This date is on the Certification of Live Birth released by the Hawaii Department of Health last year at the request of Obama. Birthers like Dobbs point to the fact that the campaign released the "short form" certification rather than the "long form" -- which is drawn up by the hospital and contains more information -- as the crux of their argument that the president is hiding something. But as noted when they investigated and debunked claims about Obama's birth certificate, "the Hawaii Department of Health's birth record request form does not give the option to request a photocopy of your long-form birth certificate," and "their short form has enough information to be acceptable to the State Department." Birthers, like conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, claim that the certificate posted by the Obama campaign was "a false, fake birth certificate," but its authenticity has been independently confirmed by, which examined it in person and declared that "it is real and three-dimensional." Additionally, on Oct. 31, 2008, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii Department of Health, issued a statement saying that he had "personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama's original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures." Definitive proof of Obama's Hawaii birth has also been found in the archives of two Hawaii newspapers, the Honululu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin, which both printed birth announcements days after Obama was born in 1961. Birth announcements in those papers are placed by the state Department of Health, not the family.

One more time:

Hawaii again declares Obama birth certificate real
HONOLULU — State officials in Hawaii on Monday said they have once again checked and confirmed that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen, and therefore meets a key constitutional requirement for being president.

They hoped to stem a recent surge in the number of inquiries about Obama's birthplace.

"I ... have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen," Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said in a brief statement. "I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago." [snip]

However, it appears Congress has moved on and has accepted Obama's island birthplace. The U.S. House on Monday unanimously approved a resolution recognizing and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii becoming the 50th state. A clause was included that reads: "Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961."

It's no secret that a large chunk of what remains of the Republican Party base is made up of under-informed, far-right extremists and the like.

If only the lunatic fringe Birther Movement would just move on, too.

Just a little "sun-thing" to brighten your day!

by: Father Tyme

29 July 2009

Madness Has Struck

by: Dark Wraith

In her latest post here at Big Brass Blog, contributing writer Anna Van Z declares, "This way lies madness. Or more accurately, this way IS madness..."

She is, of course, referring to the proliferation of technological toys and the apps associated therewith, highlighting among other evidence of the descent of American Empire an iPhone app that actually measures performance during sexual intercourse.

Within a matter of only a few minutes, it hit me: I could make a fortune off this trend. I really could. The ideas came fast and furious, and I have time to offer readers here only a very few of the brilliant inspirations that are veritably pounding at my mind, right now. So, without further ado, here we go.
myPORK: Using the iPhone's native accelerometer, it records the health of 3-dimensional motion of a man's sausage as it goes through the obligatory pre-coital pep-'n-prep.

myGrunt: Record your best top-'o-the-mountain moan, and instantly compare it to other men's on Facebook.

iMoan: Why be one of those women who goes to the trouble of faking orgasms? Turn on the iMoan app on your second-generation iPhone or iTouch, and let your lover choose what he wants to hear! He'll get to treat himself to these and other mountain cherry-blasters: "O! O! You HOOOOORSE!" or "RING those ovaries with that Big Bell Clapper" or "AARGH! My DUODENUM!" and, of course, "NO! Not the... uh-huh-uh-huh-uh-huh... the FIREHOSE, AGAIN!"

Twatter: In 140 characters or fewer, tell the whole damned world your vagina's status, including live reporting by your on-the-scene Twatter followers.

iBOOB: Implant the latest CDMA-compliant phone right in your breast, with thousands of ringtones to choose from, including, "The Hills Are Alive, with the Sound of Music." Choose from over a hundred smartphones (with qualifying two-year service agreement), including 5-megapixel camera, MP3 player, and Web browser.

WiiFART: Yes, the ever-popular Wii now has a special pad you can sit on: you and your friends pass gas and watch the action as every burst of flatulence is rendered as a never-before-seen move by a Ninja warrior, including Death of the Four Winds, Spear of the Tormented Cloud, Dragon of the Intergluteal Cleft, and the unbelievable Blade of the Fetid Cyclone!

YouCrude: A special online video service where people can broadcast streaming video from miniature cameras in their colons. Gather subscribers by eating foods that make your viewers go, "O GOD! that's crude... wait... try that same food with Mentos and Diet Coke, next time, dude."

MyChrist: Yes, finally, an iPhone app that features a shockingly realistic, 3-D Jesus, who tells you every day that YOU ARE SAVED, but every other sinner is going to burn in hot-coals Hell for ever and ever and ever.

iJIHAD: For Muslims with a hankering for some infidel payback, do your thing without the muss and fuss of suicidal vests and the inevitable part where the last thing you see is your sorry dick flying up in front of your dying eyes. This app features all the sound and light of the explosion, and then it gets right down to the eternal reward with big-eyed, plump-assed virgins writhing around in your personal Heavenly Harem. Is Allah GREAT, or what?!

And finally...

FaceCrook: Your favorite online social network now has a place for every financial services industry executive who's ever violated his or her fiduciary duty. Join the fun as these pillars of modern economic civilization chat, share stories, and tell everyone about their favorite movies, songs, and congressional representatives.


You get the idea.

And if any of these ideas ever shows up for real, I'll be right there to collect my modest cut. After all, who but the most troubled of souls, running the most troubled of Weblogs, would be able to come up with winners like these?

The Dark Wraith awaits the fame and fortune.

· · ·

Pretzel Logic, Kristolized

by: Foiled Goil

You can skip the Palin makes his little heart go "pitty-pitty-pat" part if you want and just go to about four minutes in, when things get a little more interesting as Bill Kristol explains why American "public" citizens should have lousier and more costly health care from the insurance industry.
The Daily Show:

Bill Kristol bets that Sarah Palin will come on the Daily Show and admits the government can provide first-class health care. [ 09:01]

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bill Kristol
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day

Okay... Government run health care is bad, except when it's good. No... Government run health care is much better, if yours is much worse. Err... Some people deserve to have better health care than others, and the elite deserve the best. Ummm... What did he say?

· ·

Penny Wise And Pound Foolish

by: Debra

The California Dream has become a nightmare for a good proportion of its citizens. The Governator continues his policy of balancing the budget on the backs of the poor because the poor can't contribute to his coffers or buy him cigars and they must be punished until they miraculously find a way to improve their situation and their salaries. Without education or viable job opportunities of course. His solutions to the California budget crises is too take from the poor and give discounts to the corporations and the rich.  As a result emergency rooms will become even more crowded, elderly people with dementia will have little to no support and for $8 an hour will have very few competent people to help take care of them, and going to the park or beach for recreation is on its way to becoming a thing of the past.

The Golden State no longer gleams unless you're rich, in which case the immediate future looks quite bright.  It's only a matter of time before the worker bees find somewhere else where their minimum wage will go farther and they won't have to live in tent cites or parking lots that let them park their RV for the night.  And these aren't illegals, they are electricians and truck drivers.  Who will probably be joined by other middle class workers that worked for the state and couldn't afford to lose 14 percent of their pay.  And the best part?  Schwarzenegger and crew believe that the same amount of tax revenue can be brought in even if there are fewer employees to do it.
As part of budget-cutting measures, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered most state employees to take off three days each month without pay, including the staff of the Franchise Tax Board.

Despite objections from the board, the governor ordered employees to take two days off each month starting in February and a third beginning this month. The board estimated that the loss of work time already had cut income tax revenue by $177.4 million for the spending year that ended June 30.

If the furloughs continue, the board said the backlog of dealing with tax disputes and late collections would contribute to a net loss of another $372 million over the two years after that.
This isn't about balancing the budget, it's about revenge and punishing people for working for the state.
The board collects both the personal and corporate income tax, which bankrolls about 70% of the state's $85-billion general fund. The estimated tax collections lost through furloughs represent about 1% of all state income taxes paid in the state.

Forcing about 5,000 people at the board to take furloughs essentially reduces an already streamlined workforce by about 15%. But the productivity losses don't stop there. An additional 289 staffers have received notices that they could be laid off in the fall.

The reductions in personnel immediately translate into lost revenue for a state that's trying to dig itself out of a $24-billion hole with an austerity budget that the governor signed into law Tuesday.

"As a department, whose only product is revenue -- voluntary and involuntary -- cuts in our operations do impact our final revenue output," Franchise Tax Board Executive Officer Selvi Stanislaus wrote on June 30 to Schwarzenegger's finance director, Mike Genest.

The state would save about $60 million in salaries by furloughing all board workers for three days per month, the board said. But cumulative revenue losses would be as much as nine times that amount.
It looks like I really did get out in time even though there are three things I don't like about living in Reno.  One, the cigarette smoke.  It's everywhere.  I didn't realize how few people smoked in California until I started dodging the smoke clouds that hang in the most unusual places.  Two, they don't recycle here and I feel guilty not sorting my trash or returning my bottles.  Third and most important, I traded Dianne (I don't care what my constituents want) Feinstein for Harry (what are cojones and why do I need them) Reid.  Good grief, his hands off approach has made sure that nothing gets done in a timely manner except whatever is good for corporations and banks.  We the people are treated more like silly children instead of taxpaying citizens who deserve equal representation.

What the heck is wrong with this country when a family forgets one of their kids in a taxi and the taxi driver gets the reprimand instead of the parents?  Twenty years ago I had a friend who left his five year old at the grocery store.  For four hours.  He finally noticed the kid was missing and went back and found him tapping his foot with his hands on hips.  I never let an opportunity pass to tease this guy.  He may have been cute but he certainly wasn't responsible.  And neither was the taxi driver.


· ·

This way lies madness. Or more accurately, this way IS madness...

by: Anna Van Z

I think that the following news-bit comes as close as anything I've seen to date in exemplifying what's wrong with our culture. Everything, even the most personal, intimate contact possible between two people has been reduced to votes, ratings, scores, and mechanized analysis. The words "disturbingly tasteless" also come to mind. Do these "contestants" even exist outside of the ever-present reality show format running their conscious existence?
Toward the other end of the scale, it seems like for some even the mundane tasks of daily life are "performed", as if they're being watched and rated. And of course the twittering folks hurry to send a much abbreviated account of their insignificant task or current profound insight to their disciples, like it was breathlessly awaited breaking news. Endless streams of irrelevant minutia, like free-flowing cognitive diarrhea - and just as valuable. It should be noted that while the faithful followers are preoccupied with checking their trivia fixes from their cultural prophets, they are not occupied with forming their own insights, thoughts, or philosophies.
And really, has everyone pretty much regressed to Junior High School now? Spending hours each day sending little text messages and language fragments back and forth, instead of picking up a phone to actually converse with a person? Or hey, even sending email using big-people sentences?
Surely we can see how ridiculous all this has become, can't we? Is it really necessary to have our sexual activities graded, or virtually every daily activity or spontaneous thought shared? Sweet zombie Jesus on toast, can't we keep some things to ourselves?!

How Good a Lover Are You? Ask Your iPhone
By Tim McElreavy
These days, there's an iPhone app for just about everything—from finding nearby restaurants to learning obscure facts to charting out your menstrual flow. Now Chris Alvares has scripted and released an app that will quantify the quality of your love. Passion will measure how well you perform during sex, using such basic iPhone features as the microphone and the acelerometer. All you need to do is to launch the app and then place your phone on the bed (or someplace else nearby) in order for it to evaluate your performance on a scale of 0 to 10. The app is available for downloading at the iTunes Store; it retails for $4.99 and is available only to those 17 years of age and older. There's no word yet on whether you score better by including your iPhone in the sexual encounter, but we'll bet that proposing a three-way that includes your iPhone probably won't improve your chances of scoring. We also wonder how long the Passion app will be available before it's deemed too risque by the folks at Apple. See original here.
28 July 2009

Faux Snooz Geography

by: Foiled Goil

What's wrong with this picture?

Faux Map

Borrowed from MediaMatters


Kucinich: the Federal Reserve is paying banks NOT to make loans to struggling Americans.

by: Anna Van Z

27 July 2009

Monday Morning Musings

by: Debra

How much more study is needed before the soldiers get the help they need?  When ten guys from one unit have been accused of murder, attempted murder, and manslaughter, maybe more study isn't needed and the next step should be admitting there is a problem and doing something to change it for the better.
Almost all those soldiers were kids, too young to buy a beer, when they volunteered for one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Almost none had serious criminal backgrounds. Many were awarded medals for good conduct.
Obviously the military brass learned nothing from the aftermath of the Vietnam War.   What these kids were asked to do time after time against a dehumanized enemy will affect them and everyone around them for the rest of their lives.  And with the loyalty that the chickenhawks don't have, these kids will be he recipients of the next "we must be tough on crime" wave and spend the rest of their lives in a physical prison to go along with the prison of their minds.

I've been a Cincinnati Reds fan for most of my life.  I started with the Big Red Machine because I had a crush on Johnny Bench and thought that Joe Morgan, Ken Griffey, Tony Perez and Dave Concepcion were the best teammates in the world.  And Tom Seaver was pretty darn cute.  For the record, I never liked Pete Rose and that had nothing to due with his abilities.  It had to do with the sneer he always seemed to have, not very attractive.  While I may not like him personally, he was a great ball player and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.  Gambling had nothing to do with his skills or performance and he should be recognized for them.  Considering the antics of what passes for a star nowadays, maybe it's time for the Hall of Shame to be reviewed.

Cocktails!  I'm seeing something from the Star Trek Universe.  A sleek black tablet with a touchscreen and the ability to look up information, play music and relay messages sounds like a good start.

As the saying goes, if all you is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.  One of the problems with letting everyone have guns, is that everyone has guns.  Even people with known anger problems.  And this has a tendency to end in the deaths of police officers.  While I may think that the police have strayed from their mission of "to protect and serve", they don't deserve to die serving a warrant.

Of course he is.  Opposing Roberts and Alito was portrayed as partisan and being a bad sport, but opposing Sotomayor is okay because he has concerns about her positions on gun rights and white firefighters who like to sue their employers.  Sessions needs a session with mental health care provider.

My personal favorite of the beer labels banned in Maine is the last one.  Nut-Browned Ale sounds a little toasty, doesn't it?


· · · · · ·
26 July 2009

Tender Mercies

by: Missouri Mule

In my life, I've been fortunate to see what I believe to be a few great loves. To love and be loved is surely the greatest joy on earth. It's also the greatest show on earth for everyone in the vicinity of the lovers and their beloved. Whether the love is that of a young couple drunk with new-found infatuations or an old couple sated by a lifetime of loving each other or a little boy holding his first wriggling puppy in his arms as he flashes a heart-stopping grin at his adoring mother as she takes his picture---all make you smile clean through your soul. Just being in the presence of genuine love is truly a tender mercy in this life. The finest example I know of love at its best happened when I was in the courtyard of a hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi this spring. I only visit Biloxi in the spring, since heat, humidity, rain, and/or mosquitoes rule out courtyard lounging pretty much any other time of the year. I was alone having coffee and mouth-breathing. Across the way, a large group of folks, probably gathered for a family reunion, were laughing and talking, but after a bit, they all left except a little bitty girl in a stroller, about a year old, and a very old man---probably her great-grandfather. He was standing behind her, leaning over, looking at her face reflected in the glass doors of the patio. He was stroking her little head, gently lifting the wisps of her pale gold silky hair. His touch was so light, it wouldn't have disturbed a dandelion puff. She was perfectly still, gazing back at the reflection of his wrinkled old face and faded eyes, which were so completely and nakedly filled with the overwhelming love he felt for this precious child. Neither of them made a sound. Both were completely unaware of anything but each other. It was a moment of perfect holiness. I was stuck dumb by the power of it. So much was spoken in that silent space.

The very old man, lovingly touching the perfect head of this tiny child, was remembering, I suspect, the silky hair of his own baby daughter, and her daughter's after that, and now, to be granted the great gift of loving yet another baby girl in his long life, he was obviously overcome with love and gratitude. Perhaps, in the far reaches of his memory, lived the sweet recollection of his own father touching his own little baby head with such love and reverence. He had to know the fragility and impermanence of the moment----that this child would probably be the last of the babies in his life, and that the time left to stroke the head of this one were numbered, and counting down more rapidly than he could bear. But at that very moment, all was well with his soul, and he was so perfectly happy and at peace.

She, the precious infant, was simply alive in the moment, loving it, receiving it----completely unconscious of life and the pain it brings on occasion to us all. I wondered---and I wondered if the old man wondered----if she would have any real memory of this moment as she grew up. Would she be able, in times of fear or sorrow, to call up the image I saw before me that day? The sweet warm air of the courtyard, the little baby, and the very old man, loving and being loved in perfect harmony and completeness. Would she know----regardless of what fate would bring her way in life---would she know that at least one time in her life, she was utterly loved by another human being? You know, sometimes just that little bit of knowledge is all we have to carry us through, all we have to cling to---and it can be all we need.

When the others in the family reappeared in the courtyard, I was sitting there with tears streaming down my face---as they are now as I write this. I went over to the group and took the women aside---the mother, the grandmother, the great grandmother---and I told them, through my tears, what I had witnessed. Take their picture right this minute, in this very spot, I told them. Promise me you'll show her this picture and tell her the story of this day, and that you'll never let her forget him and his love for her and this perfect moment in her little life. No one knows what life has in store for her, or who among you will be here when she needs you, I said, but she will forever have this day to remind her of how much she was loved. As I left, they were taking the photograph.

Being loved beyond all reason not only blesses the lives of the lovers themselves--- but everyone around them. May y'all experience such love in your lives, and may you recongize it and treasure it every second.

What Is Joy?

by: Lisa Ranger

Lovers in the Moonlight, Marc Chagall

What we long for: joy
before death, nights
in the swale
— everything else can wait
--Blossom, Mary Oliver

Sunday homily: What is joy?

Not that forced thing that we often mistake for the Real Thing. To be joyful is to be in a state of grace, which is not to say it should be a holy or rarefied state. Joy just is, and can be quiet or boisterous, but it is always accompanied by a genuine smile (even if only on the inside.) Joy is genuine delight and has an aspect of celebration, though it need not be showy.

Lisa doesn't usually You Tube, but here's an exception. If the WaPo hadn't fronted it, I'd never have seen it -- Going to the Chapel & We're Gonna Get Jiggy. It's fun, and if this doesn't make you smile, or reminds you of your past two failed marriages, you are too serious or sullen.

What is this joy that we feel when we witness these happy Minnesotans?

Sincere connection is an aspect of joy. The video succeeds because the dancers, while involved in their mock-seriousness, are doing their little dance for people they love. Lack of self-awareness is a component. People on dance floors are often so self conscious or orchestrated that, regardless of their moves, they fail to move the observer. That is not the case here. Un-self-consciousness is a part of the recipe for joy.

The reason this vid is so affecting is its playfulness. It is a bit goofy, but exuberant, too. How often do we play? Animals seem to always be up for it (provided they're not neurotic, or running for their lives or engaged in some other serious pursuit.) Our play is often rough or refined, and comes as part of a script. Joy is unscripted.

Other cultures tease a lot, which is to say, engage in playful verbal roughousing. Badinage is an art. Instead, we so often talk only to communicate meaningful information (just the facts, ma'am). We are too busy to be troubled with "meaningless engagement".

We work so hard constructing an ego, that we cannot afford the possibility that we might be outed. But if joy is accessed, it persists no matter what is lost. As Emily Dickenson wrote, Blind me -- I can still sing. Joy cannot be denied.

A friend is going through depression right now. He is a far piece from joy, and says it is all he can do to focus on himself, which is what depression is: being alone at the bottom of a dark pit. It is too facile to say the only way out is through caring for another. But shining one's light onto a sincere other reflects it back more brightly to the sender. Depression is total self consciousness, and therefore, a total eclipse.

So much New Age material focuses on rituals and poses, crystals and scents. But joy is not found in doing or having the right accouterments; it is to be had in being the right person. Patti LaBelle had it right: get a New Attitude! So did Anaïs Nin: Living never wore one out so much as the effort not to live.

Joy is to be had merely at the prospect of being here: You survived! you triumphed over something, or at least you outlived it or extricated yourself.

Another friend revealed that shopping no longer delighted her, and her friends' predictability was beginning to bore her. Joy can probably not be had in stasis. It seems to be a dynamic process. The movement can be in body or thought, but something is animated.

Talking or shopping is not to be confused with this sort of movement, for many people talk in a canned monolog and are creating nothing new. Ditto shopping. The movement need not be of an exalted nature, but you full presence is required. The most exotic situation lived on auto-pilot will not deliver joy.

While discrete joys can be remembered, that is more like remembering pleasures or moments of happiness. They will become fusty over time. Joy is ongoing and underneath temporary pains and inconveniences. It has an aspect of appreciation and revelry. In the realm of the mundane, it seems almost a transcendent emotion.

Do you think joy is only fleeting or chimerical, or is it a foundational state obscured by our preconceptions?

Cross-posted from Ranger Against War

· · · ·
25 July 2009

Bullet Proof Baby Items! No sh*t!

by: Father Tyme

OK. This is definitely in the running for stupidest, moronic site of the decade.

For your edification:

So, is it real or a stage job? And if it's real, maybe the authorities should be alerted?


· · ·

What can I say?

by: Father Tyme

For only $14.96 (probably Confederate monies) you, too, can get this handsome 19 x 13 inch jigsaw (maybe some grammar-etic irony there) puzzle from freemarket warrior of N.C.

Don't ya'll rush out and clog his tubes now, ya hear?

This lends itself to all sorts of captions:
I'll see your Rhode Island and raise you Vermont!
Damn! I just lost another billion in medicare to George!

· ·

Don't you know it's gettin' pretty heavy to drag!

by: Foiled Goil

We are stuck with holding the bag?

Tab Toons

Greg Palast, March 14, 2008:
‘Steering,’ sub-prime loans with usurious kickers, fake inducements to over-borrow, called ‘fraudulent conveyance’ or ‘predatory lending’ under US law, were almost completely forbidden in the olden days (Clinton Administration and earlier) by federal regulators and state laws as nothing more than fancy loan-sharking.

But when the Bush regime took over, Countrywide and its banking brethren were told to party hearty – it was OK now to steer’m, fake’m, charge’m and take’m.

But there was this annoying party-pooper. The Attorney General of New York, Eliot Spitzer, who sued these guys to a fare-thee-well. Or tried to.

Instead of regulating the banks that had run amok, Bush’s regulators went on the warpath against Spitzer and states attempting to stop predatory practices. Making an unprecedented use of the legal power of “federal pre-emption,” Bush-bots ordered the states to NOT enforce their consumer protection laws.

Indeed, the feds actually filed a lawsuit to block Spitzer’s investigation of ugly racial mortgage steering. Bush’s banking buddies were especially steamed that Spitzer hammered bank practices across the nation using New York State laws.

Spitzer not only took on Countrywide, he took on their predatory enablers in the investment banking community. Behind Countrywide was the Mother Shark, its funder and now owner, Bank of America. Others joined the sharkfest: Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup’s Citibank made mortgage usury their major profit centers. They did this through a bit of financial legerdemain called “securitization.”

What that means is that they took a bunch of junk mortgages, like the Grinning's, loans about to go down the toilet and re-packaged them into “tranches” of bonds which were stamped “AAA” - top grade - by bond rating agencies. These gold-painted turds were sold as sparkling safe investments to US school district pension funds and town governments in Finland (really).

When the housing bubble burst and the paint flaked off, investors were left with the poop and the bankers were left with bonuses. Countrywide’s top man, Angelo Mozilo, will ‘earn’ a $77 million buy-out bonus this year on top of the $656 million - over half a billion dollars – he pulled in from 1998 through 2007.

But there were rumblings that the party would soon be over. Angry regulators, burned investors and the weight of millions of homes about to be boarded up were causing the sharks to sink. Countrywide’s stock was down 50%, and Citigroup was off 38%, not pleasing to the Gulf sheiks who now control its biggest share blocks.

Then, on Wednesday of this week, the unthinkable happened. Carlyle Capital went bankrupt. Who? That’s Carlyle as in Carlyle Group. James Baker, Senior Counsel. Notable partners, former and past: George Bush, the Bin Laden family and more dictators, potentates, pirates and presidents than you can count.

The Fed had to act. Bernanke opened the vault and dumped $200 billion on the poor little suffering bankers. They got the public treasure – and got to keep the Grinning’s house. There was no ‘quid’ of a foreclosure moratorium for the ‘pro quo’ of public bailout. Not one family was saved – but not one banker was left behind.

Every mortgage sharking operation shot up in value. Mozilo’s Countrywide stock rose 17% in one day. The Citi sheiks saw their company’s stock rise $10 billion in an afternoon.

And that very same day the bail-out was decided – what a coinkydink! – the man called, ‘The Sheriff of Wall Street’ was cuffed. Spitzer was silenced.

What's in the bag? Good question!

Morning Meeting:
What doesn’t the Fed want you to know?

July 24: The Federal Reserve is handing out millions of dollars to right the U.S. economy, but is it keeping something from the American people? MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan, Rolling Stone’s Toure and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer discuss. [ 8:38 ]


Grunge Men, Obama Man, All the Men Together

by: Dark Wraith

Barack Obama & Goldman Sachs

Former Goldman Sachs executive Robert Hormats has been named by the Obama Administration to serve as Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs.

Not only has Mr. Hormats worked for Goldman Sachs since 1982 — rising there through the years ultimately to attain the title Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs International and Managing Director of Goldman, Sachs & Co. — but he is also a trustee of the Freedom House, whose associations include the extremist Right-wing Sarah Scaife Foundation; Peter Ackerman, also associated with Scaife's group; Project for the New American Century neo-conservative chickenhawk Kenneth Adelman, who endorsed then-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama in October of 2008; Diana Negroponte, wife of Reagan- and Bush-era denizen John Negroponte; and an assortment of other individuals of varying degrees of repute and ill-repute.

Hormats is also a trustee of the Economic Club of New York, on which trustee list can be found none other than the failed former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and now U.S. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner.

Before his long stint at Goldman Sachs, during the Nixon presidency, Hormats was an economic adviser in the National Security Council, working successively under Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Aside from the eyebrows raised by the appointment of yet another Goldman Sachs alumnus influencing policy in the White House, Mr. Hormats joining the State Department has reinvigorated a relatively arcane scandal from the year 2000 involving the initial public offering of PetroChina, whose parent company, CNPC, was operating in the Sudan, which already had been listed by the U.S. State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal at the time of the IPO, Hormats asserted, "Sudan should not be an issue because of extensive legal firewalls in place to ensure that IPO proceeds are used domestically in China." That turned out to be incorrect. A materially false or misleading statement made publicly about a company that is the subject of a registration statement (like an IPO) would normally be treated as a violation of the Securities Act of 1933 if such a statement were made by a party involved in the offering of securities; but unlike many brokers, promoters, company insiders, and others who have deliberately or inadvertently run afoul of rules promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Hormats was never prosecuted.

Robert Hormats joins a fair-sized list of Goldman Sachs employees who have joined the Obama Administration, with the latest before Hormats being Philip Murphy, nominated earlier in July to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Germany, who was not only in charge of Goldman Sachs' operations in Germany, but was also at one time a finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee.

Gary Gensler, now the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, was formerly an insider at Goldman Sachs before joining Robert Rubin during the Clinton Administraton, where Mr. Gensler and his boss successfully spearheaded the deregulation of the credit derivatives swap market, with the help of Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) and then-Federal reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

Former Goldman Sachs lobbyist Mark Patterson is now Chief of Staff for Timothy Geithner.

Former Goldman Sachs executive Neel Kashkari was tapped last year by Bush Administration Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to run the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Kashkari's official (and officious) title is Interim Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability, where he remains under the Obama Administration, despite the "Interim" nature of his appointment made in the waning days of the President whose indisputably incompetent people and policies led to the financial meltdown from which the world's financial markets and economies are still struggling to recover.

Goldman Sachs, through its bundling of employees' donations, contributed $994,795 to the Obama campaign in the 2008 election cycle, making it one of the largest identifiable sources of donations to the man who was to become President of the United States and who, in that position, would then ensure that his financial benefactors were amply represented in his Administration, notwithstanding the palpable and justified scorn in which Goldman Sachs is held by those who do not benefit from its largesse, but instead must bear the burden of paying the incomprehensible cost of its grotesque, incompetent, irresponsible greed.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · ·
24 July 2009

Breathing While Black

by: Debra

Do I care that the police are offended by President Obama's assertion that the arrest of Henry Gates was stupid?  Not in the least.  Being caught on tape beating Rodney King didn't change their behavior, as a matter of fact, the police have escalated violence upon citizens of color.  They even shoot pets of mayors even though they don't have any proof that the mayor was involved in a crime.  And never apologize.

Considering that the police have gotten away with shooting so many whose only crime was breathing while black, they deserve to be called more than stupid.  From shooting an unarmed Amadou Diallo 41 times to fatally peppering Sean Bell with four of the 51 bullets fired by undercover officers into a vehicle where none of the suspects had weapons, the police have gotten away with murder time after time.  And they will probably get away with shooting a handcuffed Oscar Grant in the back because that's the way this country rolls.  If you're a black man you don't have the right to exist outside of prison and the police take every opportunity to ensure that as many black men as possible enjoy the hospitality of the the local prison.  Or preferably, the morgue.

Why should an old black man have to call a locksmith to get into his own house?  When melanin impaired people get locked out, they climb through windows or crawl in through the basement and nobody thinks that's odd. Do criminals normally bring chauffeurs when they break into homes? Mr. Gates has been a resident of Cambridge since 1991 and his neighbors don't recognize him?  Or are they so insulated that all black men look alike?

Has it occurred to anyone that after you reach the age of fifty, have received nearly fifty honorary degrees and are returning from China with a bad case of bronchitis to your home in an upscale neighborhood and the police arrive moment later, that maybe, just maybe you might feel like you are being singled out for no other reason than the color of your skin?

And now the poor little officer is thinking of suing.  Well, he and the rest of the police should get over it.  I have neither sympathy nor empathy for their feelings.  They taser pregnant women and people sleeping face down and naked on their own couch, they taser a deaf man wearing nothing but a towel in his own bathroom (after another false report) and claim that they were worried about their own safety, why should anyone have sympathy for them?  If they are that scared, maybe they should find a less stressful job.  Or quit using mass amounts of caffeine followed with the popular donut high, cut back on the steroids and take some stress management classes.

And for the record, at one time I wanted to be a cop.  My dad said they would never take me because I wasn't violent enough, he was right.


· · ·

Misleading Headline Denigrates Secretary of State

by: Dark Wraith

The top of the front page of on the evening of June 23, 2009, is presented below. The highlighted headline declares that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 'gets made fun of abroad.'

Screen capture of front page at on June 23, 2009

Clicking on the link for the article, this is the story presented:

Screen capture of Political Ticker on June 23, 2009

The title of the article clarifies that it is North Korea making fun of Secretary of State Clinton. Below is the comment I posted to the article, expressing my continuing disappointment with the "news" service's journalistic misbehavior, about which I have previously written.

This gives the impression that the story is about widespread derision of the U.S. Secretary of State in foreign countries; but as it turns out, the title of the article, itself, at the link is this: "North Korea: Clinton 'funny lady, by no means intelligent'." The rogue, internationally isolated regime in Pyongyang making fun of a high U.S. official does not, in any way, shape, or form, merit that front-page title.

Really, CNN? Are you that hard-up to stir more Right-wing animosity? Denigrating Hillary Clinton using a misleading headline is the realm of FOX News, and on my Websites I have been documenting your descent into that awful place into which journalism in general has debased itself. You just published a headline representing as a general foreign sentiment the propaganda of the North Korean government.

I have made screen captures of the front page and the article, itself. My readership will once again be infuriated by your outrageous departures from professionalism.

For your part, I trust that your misleading headline pleased your narrowing readership. Maybe it distracted them from the persistent annoyance of those silly, flashing, jerking, twitching ads you slap at the top of your "serious" Website's front page.

Yes, you're serious journalists, alright. Perhaps a merger with FOX News is in the offing. That would be a match made in Heaven.

Or someplace else, more likely.

At the time of the publication of this article at Dark Wraith Publishing online properties, had not posted my comment, which is consistent with previous comments I have submitted that were never posted. describes itself as "the Web site of the Most Trusted Name in News." Readers must decide for themselves the extent to which that motto is yet further evidence of CNN's inability to deliver factual news.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · ·
23 July 2009

Your Invitation to Listen Tonight to Dark Voices Radio

by: Dark Wraith

Join the Dark Wraith for Dark Voices Radio tonight, Thursday, July 23, 2009, at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time for 45 minutes of Internet call-in talk radio.

Listen to Dark Wraith
Thurs. @ 10:30 p.m. EDT on Blog Talk Radio

The badge above will display a flashing "On Air" icon when the show is live.


Govt calls for volunteers to test swine flu shots

by: Anna Van Z

Step right up, ladies and germs!
C'mon, admit it - you've always wanted to be an unpaid volunteer (read: guinea pig) in the service of big pharma. I'm sure that's a daydream we all share. Just think of the excitement - using your very own body to test a hastily developed vaccine that's rife with mystery components - doing real battle against a genetically engineered contagion that was also made in a lab! Sounds like serious thrills to me.
But wait, there's more! Gov-corp has already covered its ass: “Vaccine makers and federal officials will be immune from lawsuits that result from any new swine flu vaccine, under a document signed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius,” according to the Associated Press. (More on that here).
So, if you die or become permanently damaged as a result of your stint as test subject, you'll have NO recourse whatsoever! How could anyone not want to take advantage of this incredible offer?
Sadly, I've realized I'll be unavailable for about the next 24 months, so you can have my place in line...

July 22nd, 2009 By LAURAN NEERGAARD , AP Medical Writer
(AP) -- The race is on: The government and vaccine makers are seeking thousands of volunteers, from babies to the elderly, to roll up their sleeves for the first swine flu shots - to test whether a new vaccine really will protect against this novel virus before its expected rebound in the fall.
On Wednesday the National Institutes of Health tapped a network of medical centers around the country to begin a series of studies, with the first shots to go into the arms of healthy adults, of any age, in early August. If there are no immediate safety concerns, such as allergic reactions, testing quickly would begin in children as young as 6 months.
The tests, plus additional research from vaccine manufacturers, are key as the government decides whether to offer swine flu vaccine to millions of Americans starting in mid-October - assuming that enough is produced by then - still a big question as the vaccine is proving hard to manufacture. Health authorities in other countries are looking to the U.S. studies, too, as they make their own plans.
It's crucial to test all ages. Unlike regular winter flu that is most dangerous to people over 65 and under 2, this new swine flu that has quickly spread around the globe seems to disproportionately target school-age children, teenagers and young adults.
The rest here.
22 July 2009

The Whacko Wing Of The Lunatic Fringe In Crazy Town

by: Foiled Goil

To treat your facts with imagination is one thing, but to imagine your facts is another.
~John Burroughs

There are people who insist on clinging to nonsensical lunacy and they want to inflict that insanity on the rest of us. Factual proof doesn't stop them or appease them and, no matter what, nothing ever is going to satisfy them or make them change their delusional minds. And worse, there are always unscrupulous people who are more than willing to take advantage of those kinds of distractions and play to that wing-nut base of craziness, instead of focusing on the real and important issues of our times. I can't imagine what the rest of the world must think of that.

Matthews To GOP Rep. Advancing ‘Birther’ Myth: ‘You Are Feeding The Whacko Wing Of Your Party’

Think Progress:
July 21, 2009

Over the past several months, the right wing has been advancing the discredited myth that President Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen. These so-called “birthers” claim that Obama hasn’t produced his a valid birth certificate to prove that he is eligible to be president. (He has). CNN’s Lou Dobbs is the latest to traffic in this nonsense, despite the fact that his own guest-host debunked the “birther” claims on Dobbs’s show.

Today on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews interviewed Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), co-sponsor of a bill that would require candidates for president in the future to present a copy of his or her birth certificate “to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications” for president. “The proposal is not crazy,” Campbell said in defense of the measure. “Congressman, nice try,” Matthews replied. “What you’re doing is appeasing the nutcases…you’re verifying the paranoia out there,” he said. Matthews then held up a copy of Obama’s birth certificate and said, “That’s the way to deal with this, mail this birth certificate to the whacko wing of your party.”

Hardball with Chris Matthews:
‘Birthers’ bring down Republican base [ 11:33 ]

July 21: Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., joins Hardball’s Chris Matthews to talk about the so-called “Birther Movement,” a group of mostly Republicans who believe that President Obama was born outside of the U.S. and therefore is not a U.S. citizen. [9:05]

Birthers’ movement – problem for GOP? [ 7:04 ]

July 21: Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis discusses what problems the Republican Party will face if they continue to entertain conspiracy theories like those questioning President Barack Obama’s citizenship. [4:47]

The Rachel Maddow Show:
Birther of a nation [ 6:18 ]

July 21: Ten Republicans have sponsored a bill requiring future presidential candidates to provide a birth certificate as proof of citizenship. The bill is a clear gesture of support to conspiracy theorists who have convinced themselves that President Obama was not born in the U.S. Rachel Maddow is joined by Washington Independent reporter Dave Weigel.

Born in the U.S.A.
August 21, 2008

The truth about Obama's birth certificate.


In June, the Obama campaign released a digitally scanned image of his birth certificate to quell speculative charges that he might not be a natural-born citizen. But the image prompted more blog-based skepticism about the document's authenticity. And recently, author Jerome Corsi, whose book attacks Obama, said in a TV interview that the birth certificate the campaign has is "fake."

We beg to differ. staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as "supporting documents" to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.

Update, Nov. 1: The director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirmed Oct. 31 that Obama was born in Honolulu.

Update Nov. 1: The Associated Press quoted Chiyome Fukino as saying that both she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, have personally verified that the health department holds Obama's original birth certificate.

* * *

Recently FactCheck representatives got a chance to spend some time with the birth certificate, and we can attest to the fact that it is real and three-dimensional and resides at the Obama headquarters in Chicago. We can assure readers that the certificate does bear a raised seal, and that it's stamped on the back by Hawaii state registrar Alvin T. Onaka (who uses a signature stamp rather than signing individual birth certificates). We even brought home a few photographs.
Obama Certificate

See larger photo at

The certificate has all the elements the State Department requires for proving citizenship to obtain a U.S. passport: "your full name, the full name of your parent(s), date and place of birth, sex, date the birth record was filed, and the seal or other certification of the official custodian of such records." The names, date and place of birth, and filing date are all evident on the scanned version, and you can see the seal above.

The document is a "certification of birth," also known as a short-form birth certificate. The long form is drawn up by the hospital and includes additional information such as birth weight and parents' hometowns. The short form is printed by the state and draws from a database with fewer details. The Hawaii Department of Health's birth record request form does not give the option to request a photocopy of your long-form birth certificate, but their short form has enough information to be acceptable to the State Department.

Snippets: GOP HypocrisySnippet 10

I realize that most of this is going to be ignored by many of those at whom this is directed, but they should consider this . . .

After eight years of trying to tell me and every other Democrat that any attitude other than getting 100% behind the US President, no matter who he may be, means you are a traitor, your frenzied antipathy toward Obama makes you all seem like the most ridiculous of hypocrites on the American political scene. You might want to think about that some.

· ·
21 July 2009

Big Jellyfish on the Loose

by: Anna Van Z

Sounds like a great sci-fi flick. But it's not. It's real and it's a nightmare for Japanese fishermen.

The massive sea creatures, called Nomura's jellyfish, can grow 6 feet in diameter and weigh more than 450 pounds. Scientists think they originate in the Yellow Sea and in Chinese waters. For the third year since 2005, ocean currents are transporting them into the Sea of Japan.
Monty Williams, a marine biologist at Alabama's Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said the jellyfish grow to an enormous size as they are transported by ocean currents. He said they stay together in packs and as they drift northward, they get caught in fishermen's nets.

By Shelby Lin Erdman
CNN Radio
(CNN) -- Giant jellyfish descend on the Sea of Japan, causing untold devastation to coastal villages and leaving a trail of destruction and human misery behind.
The giant jellyfish are one of about 200 species of coastal jellyfish or large jellyfish that exist around the world. But Nomura's stands out because of its enormous size."The sheer size of them, individually, makes them fairly spectacular," Williams said.
Spectacular, perhaps, to scientists, but perilous to villagers along the Japanese coast who have seen the destructive habits of these colossal creatures in the past. They had giant-jellyfish invasions in 2005 and 2007, and because they've recently been spotted in the Sea of Japan, they're bracing for another, potentially harmful wave this summer.
See entire.


A somewhat more appealing jellyfish...

C-Street Family Values

by: Foiled Goil

Sex and power inside "the C Street House"

If you're chosen, the normal rules don't apply.

Jeff Sharlet, Salon:
If sexual license was all the Family offered the C Street men, however, that would merely be seedy and self-serving. But Family men are more than hypocritical. They're followers of a political religion that embraces elitism, disdains democracy, and pursues power for its members the better to "advance the Kingdom." They say they're working for Jesus, but their Christ is a power-hungry, inside-the-Beltway savior not many churchgoers would recognize. Sexual peccadilloes aside, the Family acts today like the most powerful lobby in America that isn't registered as a lobby -- and is thus immune from the scrutiny attending the other powerful organizations like Big Pharma and Big Insurance that exert pressure on public policy.

The Family likes to call itself a "Christian Mafia," but it began 74 years ago as an anti-New Deal coalition of businessmen convinced that organized labor was under the sway of Satan. The Great Depression, they believed, was a punishment from God for what they viewed as FDR's socialism. The Family's goal was the "consecration" of America to God, first through the repeal of New Deal reforms, then through the aggressive expansion of American power during the Cold War. They called this a "Worldwide Spiritual Offensive," but in Washington, it amounted to the nation's first fundamentalist lobby. Early participants included Southern Sens. Strom Thurmond, Herman Talmadge and Absalom Willis Robertson -- Pat Robertson's father. Membership lists stored in the Family's archive at the Billy Graham Center at evangelical Wheaton College in Illinois show active participation at any given time over the years by dozens of congressmen.

Today's roll call is just as impressive: Men under the Family's religio-political counsel include, in addition to Ensign, Coburn and Pickering, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, both R-S.C.; James Inhofe, R-Okla., John Thune, R-S.D., and recent senators and high officials such as John Ashcroft, Ed Meese, Pete Domenici and Don Nickles. Over in the House there's Joe Pitts, R-Penn., Frank Wolf, R-Va., Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., and John R. Carter, R-Texas. Historically, the Family has been strongly Republican, but it includes Democrats, too. There's Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, for instance, a vocal defender of putting the Ten Commandments in public places, and Sen. Mark Pryor, the pro-war Arkansas Democrat responsible for scuttling Obama's labor agenda. Sen. Pryor explained to me the meaning of bipartisanship he'd learned through the Family: "Jesus didn't come to take sides. He came to take over." And by Jesus, the Family means the Family.

Family leaders consider their political network to be Christ's avant garde, an elite that transcends not just conventional morality but also earthly laws regulating lobbying. In the Family's early days, they debated registering as "a lobby for God's Kingdom." Instead, founder Abraham Vereide decided that the group could be more effective by working personally with politicians. "The more invisible you can make your organization," Vereide's successor, current leader Doug Coe preaches, "the more influence you can have."

The Rachel Maddow Show:
Peering under the rock of the C Street 'Family' [ 7:40 ]

July 20: Politicians affiliated with the C Street House are going on the record to defend the secrecy there. What are they saying? Rachel Maddow is joined by Harper's Magazine contributing editor Jeff Sharlet.

Also related:

Worse Than Fascists: Christian Political Group 'The Family' Openly Reveres Hitler

Lindsay Beyerstein, Alternet - June 12, 2008:
Members will tell you that the Family is just a group of friends. As Sharlet discovered, 600 boxes of documents at the Billy Graham Center Archives tell a different story.

AlterNet writer Lindsay Beyerstein recently sat down with Jeff Sharlet at a Brooklyn coffee shop to discuss the Family.

The Family's Values: America's Most Influential (and Secretive) Religious Organization

ZP Heller, Alternet - June 16, 2008:
Jeff Sharlet's The Family is a hair-raising account that will leave you stunned by the religious motivations behind seemingly every political decision in the last 70 years. As the title suggests, Sharlet's book focuses on the Family, a highly secretive, elite fundamentalist organization that wields political power behind the scenes. The Family, also known as the Fellowship, believes in God-driven government whose precepts are spread by top level, "key men" throughout the world. This is creepy religious imperialism at its most harrowing, which Sharlet delivers through fascinating historical accounts blended with personal anecdotes of the year he spent living with the Family in its picturesque estate along the Potomac River, Ivanwald.

· ·
20 July 2009

We Can And We Must Reform Health Care

by: Foiled Goil

Now, there are some in this town who are content to perpetuate the status quo, are in fact fighting reform on behalf of powerful special interests. There are others who recognize the problem, but believe -- or perhaps, hope -- that we can put off the hard work of insurance reform for another day, another year, another decade.

~President Barack Obama, July 20, 2009

Yes, there those who are content to perpetuate the status quo in Washington, DC, and many of those are the very same politicians who get their health care courtesy of the American taxpayers. They've got theirs, but they don't want the rest of us to have ours. They would rather risk American lives and livelihoods than work together for our nation's Common Good. They are the party of "NO!" that brought so many economic problems down on this country. The party of "NO!" that refuses to accept any responsibility for the damage they have caused. The party of "NO!" that refuses to work for the benefit of the people who elected them to office. The party of "NO!" for the American people and "YES!" to the special interests and corporate cronies. The party of "NO!" that does not uphold their oaths of office to support and defend the Constitution of these United States. The party of "NO!" that does not care about its responsibility to its fellow human beings. The party of "NO!" that has no moral values. The party of "NO!" that has no ethics! They would rather have failures than work cooperatively toward regaining a strong America. And they think that is going to win them political points, and future votes? Those are the politicians of the party of "NO!" who need to be put in the unemployment lines. And that includes those "centrist" DINO Blue Dogs. The only things in the middle of the road are yellow lines and road kill. A pox on them all. This isn't about them. It's about us. It's about promoting the general welfare of "We the People of the United States."

The Constitution of the United States of America


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Countdown, full segment: [ 5:03 ]
Health care: the GOP’s side [3:11]

July 20: Newsweek’s Howard Fineman weighs in on a recent speech by RNC chair Michael Steele and the GOP’s strategy for undermining the President's health care reform effort.

Obama Urges Action On Health Care Reform: "We've Talked This Problem To Death"

Huffington Post:
President Barack Obama says it is time for the country to take action on his proposed health care overhaul because "we've talked this problem to death."

Obama said that out-of-pocket costs for Americans are spiraling while health insurance companies have reaped record profits. He also said families are spending more for less care. [snip]

The president responded directly to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who said last week that health care reform could be the president's "Waterloo."

"Now, there are some in this town who are content to perpetuate the status quo, are in fact fighting reform on behalf of powerful special interests," Obama said. "There are others who recognize the problem, but believe -- or perhaps, hope -- that we can put off the hard work of insurance reform for another day, another year, another decade.

"Just the other day," he continued, "one Republican senator said -- and I'm quoting him now -- 'If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.' Think about that. This isn't about me. This isn't about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses, and breaking America's economy."

Full text of the Remarks by President Obama on Health Care at Children's Hospital, July 20, 2009

· ·

Slavery ain't what it used to be.

by: Peter of Lone Tree

Reuters Headline: Crisis spurs people to work for free - good or bad?
(Text begins): "With U.S. unemployment at a 20-year high, some Americans are working for free while looking for a job, but experts are split over whether it is a sign of dedication or desperation.

"Unpaid job seekers can keep their resumes fresh by boosting their experience and learning new skills, experts say, but others warn businesses may take advantage of the jobless and that it is illegal for commercial companies not to pay workers."

Shit Fire And Save Matches! In the good old days, slaves at least got food, clothing, and shelter.

Reporting In

by: Debra

First Huntley, then Brinkley and now Walter. Another large chunk of my childhood is gone, along with any pretense of journalistic integrity. News reporting hasn't been the same since Mr. Cronkite retired, it's more infotainment than informative and I don't trust very many of what passes for journalists these days. Rest in peace Walter, you deserve it.

As some of you may have surmised, I have been out spending the money now that B of A has let me have it. The first thing I decided I needed was tires for my car. What an adventure that turned out to be. The original equipment tires are 2/5/R65 V 95s. Well, I was able to find 215/R65s but that V rating turned out to be very troublesome. It is sometimes called the speed rating and it turns out that they don't seem to make the V anymore. Both Costco and Wal-Mart will not install tires of a lesser rating due to insurance issues (theirs) and were willing to let me drive around on the currently installed (and very bald) 205/R65s, which makes little to no sense to me. I kept telling them that I was never going to drive 149 mph since I rarely go over 70, but it was still a no go. Finally Big O Tires took pity on me and installed tires with an H rating, which means I can only go 139 mph. Whatever. I still have to go back on Wednesday and have the rack and pinion assembly changed since it has a small leak now and fixing it now while I can afford it will prevent it breaking when I don't. She is also scheduled for a maintenance check/tune-up and then I will feel much better about driving her for the next five years.

Since I have the car back I feel like Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy. All the old ladies like to have me take them to their appointments and to the casinos. According to them, my car is the most comfortable and easiest for those who are handicapped to get in and out of. I'm glad that somebody besides me loves that car.

Mom is becoming more unsteady as the days pass. Last week she went to get up and did a face plant into the wall. She looked like someone beat her up. All those years of smoking has made her skin paper thin and she is constantly cutting and bruising herself. On Friday she cut herself getting out of the car and when I wasn't looking took the band-aids off and turned a clean cut into a big hole. It won't be long before I have no choice but to put her in a home.

I also bought a few new clothes which revealed another problem. Besides being more overweight than I should be I can also see the damage that all the Prednisone did to what used to be an hourglass figure. Now I look like I swallowed a beach ball and have normal legs and arms sticking out of it. I hate the funhouse mirrors and the ugly lighting that they use in the fitting rooms.

I purchased a pair of shorts that were rather snug, as in I could barely get the zipper up, and three hours later they were barely staying on. They have become pull on shorts and if I don't pull them up constantly I look like I'm trying to show off next week's laundry or trying to look like the kids of today. What's up with that?

Well, that's all the news that's fit to print since I've been ignoring politics and trying to get my life back into some semblance of order. Now I'm off to buy a bed for mom and a computer desk for me.


19 July 2009

Interview with a Grouchy Economist

by: Dark Wraith

Economics: death is betterIt is a more or less unspoken rule among teachers: do not give students assignments that put other teachers on the spot. More than a few years ago, a veteran high school English teacher — I shall call him "Will" — told me about what happened once when he took a sick day. He provided a thorough lesson plan for each of his six classes so the substitute would have clear instructions and no worries about what to do in any of the classes. When Will returned to his teaching duties the next morning, he found a large, thick envelope stuffed in his mailbox in the administrative offices. On the envelope was a short note from the substitute explaining that he was 'uncomfortable' with teaching grammar, and he was 'unfamiliar' with the books the kids were reading in the lit classes; hence, instead of covering material to which he wouldn't do justice, he gave every student in each class an assignment to write two paragraphs during class time. The envelope full of papers to grade was the fruit of that exhausting day's work for the substitute. That was about 140 papers Will would have to read, correct, and grade; and that would be six classes in which he would be behind on the schedule. This was early in the time when the teachers coming out of colleges with certification to teach English were getting the first, full-blown shock wave of the pop academic airhead movement that "grammar is dead," and all we have to do is have kids write and write and write, and that through this writing and writing and writing, somehow, good writers will just pop up like oceans of daisies from the soil of semi-literacy fertilized by newly minted teachers who are, themselves, semi-literate.

Will vowed never again to be sick on a school day.

Moving on from that story about the terrible state of modern English education (which will play a minor role in what is to come, below), a new instructor at one of the colleges where I teach apparently gave her students the assignment of interviewing a professor about an important topic in the news. That meant a class of maybe 18 students would be running around, trying to find some hapless sap willing to carve out the time to write out answers to a series of questions submitted by someone who might not have enough background in the subject area to pose questions that even make sense, and it would mean doing this in the last several weeks of the Summer Semester, the term when courses are twice as long each day so that a normal, 16-week semester can be compressed into eight weeks. It would also mean that the instructor who gave students such an assignment was going to be the subject of what in academia we diplomatically call a "conversation" with her division chairman. That conversation will be short: advise your teacher that, if she ever pulls a stunt like that again, your entire division will be denied access to the leftover doughnuts from the faculty senate meetings.

I have not spent a whole lot of time on campus the past couple of weeks; I have to gear up for the monster course load this Fall, a schedule that spans two schools and courses ranging from microeconomics, macroeconomics, and finance, clear through to a night course in transcription and proofreading. I keep my office hours, and that's it. That means the occasional student who is not in one of my summer classes is probably not going to catch up with me except by accident or by concerted effort to track me down.

Much to my dismay, several in that other teacher's class did. By last week, having been rebuffed by every other professor who was not particularly stupid, those students were desperate to find someone — anyone — who was an "expert" in an area of current news interest.

What was I supposed to do, tell kids to go away? I can't do that. My conscience doesn't bother me if the students can't find me; but if they catch me, my conscience pins me to the wall.

I agreed to be interviewed, but I stipulated that I did not care for giving answers that needed considerable background explanation that would be difficult to provide to an unprepared audience, and I made it clear that I reserved the right to publish the questions posed, along with my responses.

Below is the product of one of those interviews. The subject is unemployment. Readers should be forewarned that I took each question at its face value, trying not to read into the sometimes muddled grammar more than I had to. A phenomenon I have seen with increasing frequency is students who pound out text without even the slightest effort to look at what they have just slapped together. They print out what they have written and hand it in, send it out as e-mail, or otherwise publish it through their online communities; and they just don't care about the quality, comprehensibility, or readability of what they are presenting to others. I used to see this quite a bit among bloggers, but it seems to me that it is not quite as prevalent anymore, especially since many of the weaker bloggers have vanished and at least some of the survivors have become more aware of message quality as integral to the message being conveyed.

I should mention that the student who wrote the interview questions that follow has been in college for several years, and she has taken my course in microeconomics. She is somewhat accustomed to my sometimes sharp responses, and she probably knows that I will not allow for a simple answer without at least making mention of related issues. She also knows very well that I do not suffer fools: as I recall, she sat near the back of the class and took on the faint hint of a fetal position when I would start raging about the blazing stupidity of economic policies during the Bush era.

With all of that in mind, below is the product of her interview with me.

    1) Is unemployment a big issue in U.S.A.? Why or why not?

  • It is obviously a "big" issue because the mainstream media routinely report work force-related statistics, the most prominent being the monthly national unemployment rate and the bi-weekly number of net job losses. Another set of statistics being reported with some degree of regularity right now is the state unemployment rates.

    While the importance of these statistics might be debated by conservatives and liberals, the numbers are a "big" issue because of two prevailing assumptions: first, that the national unemployment rate is a good measure of overall national economic vitality; and second, that a high national unemployment rate is an indicator of economic distress of citizens. To the first matter, the term "high unemployment rate" is relative: liberal economists have long held that there is a so-called "natural" unemployment rate, but we now understand that, even if there is some desirable level of unemployment, or some tendency of the unemployment rate to some long-term, equilibrium value, it might be dependent upon the era, and it might be a number we do not want to achieve until other numbers are in line with desired targets. To the second matter, economic misery translates at some point into political upheaval, as happens relatively peacefully from time to time in American history — for example, in 1932, in 1980, and in 2008 — and rather more violently in other places in the world from time to time.

    2) How unemployment rate should be reduced (in your opinion)? Or what are the ways more jobs should be created? (because of the bankruptcy in businesses people are losing more jobs)

  • Your question is too leading. Do not assume that I think the unemployment rate "should be reduced," at least not right away and not as a first priority; in fact, as painful as it is for people to be out of jobs right now, the longer the unemployment rate stays high, the longer we will postpone an inevitable, debilitated inflation spiral caused by years of outrageously malfeasant monetary policy conducted by the Federal Reserve, first in the later years of Alan Greenspan as Chairman, and then under the incompetent watch of Ben Bernanke and his fellow Federal Reserve Governors.

    The Congress of the United States, with full support and encouragement by the Obama Administration, has authorized the expenditure of $787 billion in economic stimulus, much of it to the direct or indirect purpose of creating jobs. Fortunately, this recession is deep enough to make such otherwise ridiculously expansive fiscal policy stimulus actually work fairly slowly, which should lead to a controlled, slow decrease in the unemployment rate over the next three to five years. If the Federal Reserve can be brought back to conducting monetary policy responsibly, and if the Congress and the President can successfully move past their deficit spending binge, we might have a chance to move into an era of healthy job growth, while draining out the incomprehensible overhang of liquidity before it turns into a raging inferno of inflation.

    In my judgment, will it work out that way? No. The Federal Reserve cannot be depoliticized, much less can it be brought back from utterly irresponsible monetary policy regimes. For its part, the Congress is not thinking about controlling the deficits; it is, instead, planning new, wildly out-of-control spending, while fantasizing that new taxes and tax structures, along with renewed, useless vows of spending control, will somehow make everything work out.

    As for the President, he is an institutional center-right leader. Some of his people are the very individuals who had a hand in making our economy such a mess. Far worse, regardless of what he says, his actions belie a belief that we can somehow return to a set of status quo ante assumptions that, in reality, are no longer operational. The lasting legacy of the era of George W. Bush is that the extremists of the Republican Party, who long ago had expressed the desire to "change government as we know it," did so. They wrecked entire groups of solutions that were attainable from the Clinton years; yet, Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies just keep plowing ahead as if the Bush years and the degraded nation we now have from that time never happened.

    Here's the reality. Keynesian policy relies upon a lag between economic recovery and the realization of wage gains by workers. The aggregate price level rising without contemporaneous increases in aggregate wages means workers will have to work harder and longer to cope with prices rising all around them. During the Bush Administration, this "sticky wages" effect extended from the factors of production we call "labor" and "human capital" over to another factor, the one we call "equity." The factors we call "land" and "physical capital" were left to benefit greatly (as were narrow channels of human capital we generally refer to as executive compensation). The lag between the strong economic expansion and significant wage gains during the Bush Administration was considerable: only by the period near the end of the last overall growth phase did labor experience anything remotely like real gains; and as for equity, the stock markets never did deliver broad-based, real (that is, inflation adjusted) gains before the crash.

    3) Should jobless people get an extended aid? Why or why not? Is extended aid making those people lazier?

  • Asking me, "Should jobless people get an extended aid?" is tantamount to asking me if we should feed starving children. Yes, of course we should expand the period of unemployment benefits in bad economic times, and we should contract that period when economic times are good. Whether or not it induces the moral hazard of making people "lazier" is irrelevant: if a working-class family has no income, the children in that family go hungry. Regardless of whether or not their parents are lazy, public policy must always be to the effect of maximizing the survival of children, making sure that they are healthy, and seeing to it that they understand that the government can be a beneficent force in their lives, so that when they grow up, they not only support the government, but insist upon a government at least as humane in that future time as it was when they were children in need.

    That does not mean I support any and all government programs that give people incentives not to care for themselves and watch out for their own interests. This talk about government-funded, comprehensive health care is a case in point. I most certainly do not want my tax dollars paying for those who take inappropriate risks with their lifestyles, nor do I want to pay for goods and services sold by a medical-pharmaceutical industry that delivers dangerous, worthless, and over-blown products and procedures to gullible health care consumers. If the government is paying for everything, we rely upon that same government — which has so massively, systematically failed us in the past — to somehow, this time, do right on a permanent basis. If we are talking about life-saving and critical quality-of-life medical matters, and especially if we are talking about them for children, the elderly, and the truly poor, then I shall lead the parade for government-funded health care; but when I hear others promoting their own desire for health care consumption excess by hiding behind the needs of the genuinely needy, then I condemn it, and I condemn those who have the brazen gall to wave yet another bloody red shirt just so they can get something and make other people pay for it.

    (On the topic of health care industry reform, I shall soon offer a small, pure, "market reform" proposal at which I know right now both liberals and conservatives will sneer derisively; but mark my word, if that idea were ever to get before Congress as proposed legislation, the medical-pharmaceutical industrial complex would see to it that the bill got killed like a sparrow being silenced by a nuclear bomb.)

    4) Who is being more affected by decreasing unemployment rate: educated or non-educated?

  • The unemployment rate is most certainly not "decreasing." I have no idea where you got that information, but it is wrong. The unemployment rate is increasing, and it is increasing for both the "uneducated" as well as the "educated." You have taken a microeconomics class, now, and you should know better than to classify workers as "uneducated" and "educated"; labor supply is far more nuanced than that. The purely unskilled labor market in this country is but one of many, each characterized by some greater or lesser degree of valuation based upon the degree of formal education, training, and/or on-the-job skills development and innate ability.

    In virtually every one of the definable labor markets, unemployment is far higher right now than it has been historically. That having been said, though, myths abound about how recessions differentially impact these different labor markets. For one thing, unskilled labor generally has two advantages in recessions: first, basic services are always needed; second, low-skilled workers who exit the "official" labor force are more likely to have resources and/or lack of countervailing risk aversion to enter less formal, "gray" or "black" market work.

    More educated people, while appearing to be better able to retain employment, too often face the phenomenon or "underemployment" (not getting enough work) or "misemployment" (working in jobs that do not utilize the most valuable of their skills). Remember that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counts a labor force participant as "employed" even if that individual worked only one hour during the reporting period; and the BLS makes no effort in its widely reported unemployment statistics to determine the extent to which a worker is utilizing the skills he or she has spent the most time developing to highest comparative advantage.

So, there they are: my answers to interview questions from a student who probably wanted short, easily digestible responses. Quite obviously, that is what I provided. If she and her instructor want the long answers, they'll have to take several of my courses, or they'll have to read several hundred articles I've written and published.

Either way, they will get a whole lot more than I can provide in a short interview that neither of them probably really wants to read; but, then again, that's the way it is with most people who avoid my lectures and my writings: they want answers, but they want nothing to do with the knowledge that leads to answers. Hence, they don't really want answers.

That, of course, is what makes you readers different from most people. You made it all the way through — to the very end, in fact — of yet another one of my articles.

The Dark Wraith is, once again, mighty annoyed that not everyone can be dismissed as incurious.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · ·

Retro Ed

by: Anna Van Z

I once had a science teacher in college who used to finagle some of us education students into taking groups of kids on field trips to the desert. I figured he probably just enjoyed tormenting us, but it did lead to extra credit, so off we'd go with a busload of squirmy elementary school students. Naturally we'd go over all the important safety rules with them ahead of time, but they'd just sit and stare blankly at us, like we were speaking Japanese.

Then we'd get off the bus and the kids would scatter like cockroaches - reaching into holes and under rocks, jumping into deep washes - generally doing the opposite of whatever we had instructed. How it was that no one actually died on those trips is beyond me.

But it was so cool to see how excited these kids were! They just wanted to see and find out about everything. I don't think some of these kids had ever been out of their barrio before, and it was great facilitating that kind of energy. Nerve-wracking, but fun. They asked endless questions, and noticed everything. These excursions also taught us aspiring teachers many things — among those was the awareness that higher-level learning usually occurs through hands-on, engaged participation. And it's often messy.

A few years later, those kinds of moments became the sole remaining pleasure left for me in teaching. Forces that included approval-seeking politicians, the radical right, corporate interests, and government agendas converged to create a dumbed-down, de-funded educational system that emphasized packaged learning units and regurgitation. It's a public school curriculum that's been largely stripped of those pesky critical thinking skills and civics discourse, and instead loaded down with an endless series of standardized tests, and the preparatory activities preceding them. This continues to be sold to a gullible public as "accountability" and "performance." High test scores in a school district often mean the difference between getting needed funding or not. Often it determines how much the teachers are paid. Parents shop for areas with the best schools, believing that test scores = learning, and a quality education.

What I don't hear being discussed is the fact that there are many components of the learning process that can't be quantified, tested, or engendered by a particular software program. That reality is not a popular one among administrators and politicians these days, and teachers generally end up going along with the prescribed paradigm - and whether it's just because they need the job, or because they still want to work in education and do what good they can, they inadvertently become part of "the system." And for the most part, no one in the public schools or in education seems to be initiating this badly-needed dialogue.

During my early years of college, my mother gave me an old book of hers that ended up having a real influence on me, and impacted how I viewed education in general. The book was Teaching as a Subversive Activity, and it was written by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner. The first chapter is titled Crap Detecting, and it describes concisely the issues underlying this current problem in public education. I haven't seen other copies of this book in quite some time, although I still have my own well-worn original. It's disappointing that even though this book was first published way back in 1969, the issues are still so similar. This is not progress.

It's unlikely that the quality of K-12 public education will ever improve — unless parents become willing to question the purpose and goals of standard operating procedure in the schools, and not simply allow the corporate-political class to define for us what the issues actually are. For starters, anyway.
I'm not exactly holding my breath...
18 July 2009


by: Jersey Cynic

News from The Onion


click to enlarge

· ·
17 July 2009

"I'll Be Away On Assignment... Good Night."

by: Foiled Goil

Walter Cronkite, legendary news icon, has died of complications from cerebrovascular disease at the age of 92.

Thank you, Walter.  Rest in Peace.

"And that's the way it is."

CBS Legend Walter Cronkite Dies At 92

'Most Trusted Man In America' Was Also One Of The Most Influential Figures In Broadcast Television History

Walter Cronkite: On Network News:

Walter Cronkite: And that's the way it was

The mix of eloquence and authority that the CBS newsman embodied is a far cry from today's anxiety-provoking TV outlets.

· · ·

Obama the Obvious Speaks

by: Dark Wraith

President Obama, visiting a port in Ghana where slaves used to be shipped, has just declared, "The capacity for cruelty still exists."

Well, spank me, Jesus!

Perhaps we now understand why Mr. Obama doesn't want us to see all those pictures of the hideous things our people did to Iraqi and Afghan prisoners: he just wanted to be the first to break the news to us that "...cruelty still exists."

Welcome to the Twittering of horror.

· ·

Beyond The Duh Factor

by: Foiled Goil

Talk about being late for the train to Clueville:

Former GOP Congressmen Accuse Republicans Of Putting Party Above Constitution

Sam Stein:
Two former Republican members of Congress have accused their GOP colleagues of putting party politics over the Constitution during the Bush years, arguing that they failed dramatically to check the White House's use of executive powers.

Former Reps. Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.) and Chris Shays (R-Conn.) made the argument that if the Republican-controlled Congress had exhibited greater oversight during former President George W. Bush's time in office, they could have prevented some of the most calamitous results of that administration and even saved thousands of lives. [snip]

Shays said the Bush White House abused its powers in a way that resulted in many of the domestic and international problems that have unfolded recently.

"This past Republican Congress hurt this administration by not having some hearings," said the Connecticut Republican. "Had we had hearings it would have nipped those problems in the bud."

Edwards was even more critical. He mocked members of Congress when it came to flexing their constitutional oversight authority. In particular, he lamented the House Republican lawmakers' unified opposition to holding hearings to investigate the firing of U.S. Attorneys by the Bush White House.

"One of the most shocking things was when the House voted to hold [Counsel Harriet] Miers and [Chief of Staff Josh] Bolten in contempt because they refused to obey a congressional subpoena," said Edwards. "Every single member of my party, except for three, walked out. Members of Congress walked out of the chamber rather than stand up as members of Congress so that congressional subpoena (would) be obeyed. Party trumped Constitution."

It not like others haven't been complaining about some of that very same stuff, for years. Sheesh. Thanks for catching up, way after the fact; too bad you couldn't have spoken out much earlier.

· ·
16 July 2009

Pissed off ain't the right expression!

by: Father Tyme

U.S. Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook is seeking a federal court order to stall and eventually prevent an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. In the 20-page document — filed July 8 with the United States District Court, Middle District of Georgia — Cook's California-based attorney, Orly Taitz [online PhD.] , asks the court to consider granting his client's request based upon Cook's belief that President Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and is therefore ineligible to serve as commander-in-chief of U.S Armed Forces.

It may be helpful to recap the timeline here. March: Cook acknowledges he's among the plaintiffs in a class-action suit "on behalf of 120 military officers" challenging President Obama's authority as Commander in Chief. In May, Cook tells the Army he wants [requests] to be sent to Afghanistan. In June, the Army accepts Cook’s offer. In July, Cook sues to "get out" of that assignment, based on the same grounds (Obama not qualified) and using the same attorney (who actively seeks military members to participate in such suits) for a previous suit he was involved in that pre-dates his volunteering to deploy to Afghanistan.

Of course, those on the right who would put down their keyboards, shut off Fox and patriotically march off to defend America and do what they’ve always claimed they would do (as long as bake sales, letter writings and find raising don't interfere), don’t understand that as a reserve officer, [hopefully temporary, major] Cook can refuse to serve in Afghanistan. Even if he asked for it, he has the right of refusal up to the day of deployment. Needless to say, the chickenhawks on the right aren’t telling the offal in their coups the whole story.

I would offer a suggestion to those who have the authority. Stop-loss [major] Cook for the next 30 years, reassign him to something more along his chickenshit lines. I’d send him to walk the DMZ in Korea, steady nights for 5 straight years. After that, maybe he could count polar bears at Thule for about 15 years. Then a solo, 5 year fact finding recon in Northern Cambodia to see if he can determine if any of our boys were ever there. And finish it as a “forward penguin observer” or better yet, lineman at McMurdo for the last scheduled 5. Then discharge him, dishonorably; no benefits; no retirement; no nothing.

I wrote a critical piece about the daughter of a serviceman I used to respect and managed to upset someone. The disdain I have for the statement she made is only slightly less than what passes for my contempt for a chickenshit (Reservist, no less) major who thumbs his nose at the people who served and those who are now serving in another illegal conflict. The hypocrisy of those on the right and especially the mouthpieces of Sauron at NewsCorp(se) is unbounded.

While I’m thinking of Fox, one last suggestion for Rupert. Show the world that those dedicated patriots of your airwaves, those who you hired to support our efforts in Bush’s War, those who claim to be true Americans, those who called us traitors when most railed against an illegal war, send them to Afghanistan for a couple of 18 month tours to report from the front. Sadly, we’ll be there longer than the number of expendables you employ, but think of the good will and publicity for your video tabloid! It would be the supreme act of patriotism to have Hannity, Beck, O’Reilly, Joey and Mikka (from MSNBC) right there along side CNN’s Michael Ware reporting to all the Fox viewers just how wonderfully things are going. You could even take Pat Buchanan along for morale. I’m sure MSNBC wouldn't mind.

How ‘bout it mate? Be good fer the cause, eh? You betcha!
15 July 2009

Bank Chutzpah: Bailout, Bonuses, Secret Subsidies

by: Foiled Goil

Chutzpah on Steroids

Bob Herbert:
What is up with the banks and the rest of the financial industry? The people running this system remind me of gangsters who manage to walk out of the courthouse with a suspended sentence and can’t wait to get back to their nefarious activities.

These malefactors of great wealth developed hideously destructive credit policies and took insane risks that hurt millions of American families and nearly wrecked the economy. Then they were bailed out with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, money that came from the very people victimized by the industry’s outlandish practices.

Now the industry is fighting against creation of an agency that would protect taxpayers and ordinary consumers from a similarly devastating onslaught in the future. And at the same time they are scrambling to raise credit card interest rates and all manner of exploitive fees to build a brand new superstructure of questionable profits on the backs of the taxpayers who came to their rescue.

We’re reaching a whole new level of chutzpah here. [snip]

There is nothing free or fair about a market in which one side uses double talk and mumbo jumbo to obscure important information and deliberately dupe the other side into making decisions against its own interests.

Goldman generated $38 million per day last quarter

Chris in Paris:
They insist it was down to basic "blocking and tackling" though something doesn't completely pass the smell test. Goldman is obviously making an effort to make this sound like basic business and nothing risky though generating such massive profits so quickly in this environment does raise some serious questions about how much "blocking and tackling" was involved versus trick plays.
A leading US labour organisation, the Service Employees International Union, said Goldman's pay practices are a strong argument for root and branch change in Wall Street's compensation policy to end a culture of rewarding bankers for taking risks.

Stephen Lerner, director of the SEIU's financial reform campaign said: "They have some kind of moral and economic amnesia. After we bail them out with tens of billions in taxpayers' funds, they go back to exactly the same practices as before."
Fed Secrecy and Banker Bonuses

Sen. Bernie Sanders:
Stepping up a campaign for Federal Reserve accountability, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday questioned whether some of more than $2.2 trillion in secret subsidies went to Goldman Sachs and other bailed-out banks now planning to shower executives with huge bonuses. Sanders voiced his concern in a letter to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and during remarks at an Economic Policy Institute conference. [snip]

“The question I have is how do we know that right after Goldman and other banks pay back billions to the Treasury, the Federal Reserve doesn’t turn around and provide them with billions more with no strings attached?” Sanders asked. “The answer is that we don’t know. Ben Bernanke refuses to say.”

In a keynote speech at an Economic Policy Institute conference, Sanders argued that any firm that received a taxpayer bailout through the Troubled Asset Relief Program or the Federal Reserve should be subject to strict limits on compensation and should not be rewarding bonuses to senior executives.

The Senate in April approved 59 to 39 an amendment by Sanders calling on the Fed to disclose the names of all of the institutions that received more than $2.2 trillion in taxpayer assistance, how much each received and what they are doing with this money. The amendment was included in the final version of the Budget Resolution.

Sanders also is the chief sponsor of legislation to require the Fed to name the financial institutions that have received what could total more than $7 trillion in loans and loan guarantees. A separate Sanders bill would require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a comprehensive and independent audit of the Federal Reserve. [snip]

“Chairman Bernanke and the Federal Reserve have got to understand that this money does not belong to the Federal Reserve. It belongs to the American people,” Sanders said. “As long as the Federal Reserve is allowed to keep the information on their loans secret, we will never know the true financial condition of the banking system.”

Sanders Statement on Increasing Transparency at the Federal Reserve

· ·

Sy Hersh And The Next Shoe Drop

by: Foiled Goil

Seymour Hersh has already provided quite a bit of interesting insight into the dark side of the Bush/Cheney regime. Here is some more:

The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh was mocked in March when he referred to Dick Cheney’s secret squad of CIA assassins. Now, he talks to The Daily Beast about the next shoe to drop.

The Man Who Knew Cheney's Secret

Benjamin Sarlin:
Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh raised eyebrows back in March when he told an audience at the University of Minnesota that Dick Cheney ran a secret hit squad that he kept hidden from congressional oversight.

"Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on," Hersh said at the time. He added: "Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us." [snip]

Now, there are key differences between Hersh's reporting and the Times' latest piece. Hersh suggested that the assassination ring was conducted out of the Joint Special Operations Command rather than the CIA. Moreover, according to Hersh's sources, the program was operational, leaving a trail of bodies, while the Times cited officials saying that the CIA hit squad never actually carried out a mission. The Times and Hersh could conceivably be reporting two distinct squads.

The Daily Beast tracked down Hersh in South Asia, where he says he has not been able to read the New York Times piece but has received calls buzzing about the report. Asked about the officials quoted in the Times' report who claimed that Cheney's assassination ring never became operational, Hersh offered a skeptical response.

"I said what I said, they can always say what they say," Hersh told The Daily Beast. "The last time they said the government doesn’t torture; this time it's the government doesn’t assassinate."

Hersh said that his words in Minnesota were exaggerated in the press, because he had previously reported on covert operations that he alleged were out of Congress' view. In February 2005, he published a report that the president had authorized Donald Rumsfeld to organize special operations in South Asia and the Middle East without going through the CIA, and thus not having to report them to Congress. In July 2005, he wrote that the White House circumvented Nancy Pelosi to organize covert operations led by retired CIA officers and non-government personnel to influence the Iraqi elections.

"In my reporting for this story, one theme that emerged was the Bush administration’s increasing tendency to turn to off-the-books covert actions to accomplish its goals," he wrote in the July 2005 piece. "This allowed the administration to avoid the kind of stumbling blocks it encountered in the debate about how to handle the elections: bureaucratic infighting, congressional second-guessing, complaints from outsiders." [snip]

"There is a growing realization among some legislators that the Bush administration, in recent years, has conflated what is an intelligence operation and what is a military one in order to avoid fully informing Congress about what it is doing," he wrote then.

Beyond his own reporting, Hersh said President Bush's own speeches provided evidence of secret assassinations.

"Go read George Bush's January 2003 State of the Union speech," he said. "He's talking and he says we've captured and detained 3,000 al Qaeda members and other terrorists—crazy numbers—and said some of them will never bother us anymore. And Congress cheers."

Bush's full quote then was:

"All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."


Hersh Allegations

Seymour Hersh: Secret U.S. Forces Carried Out Assassinations in 'a Lot of' Countries, Including in Latin America

History Commons - Profile: Seymour Hersh

· · · ·

Making Rain By Hand

by: Foiled Goil

This is pretty good:

Rain Sound [ 1:49 ]

That is the introduction to the Toto song "Africa" as performed by Perpetuum Jazzile, an a capella jazz group from Slovenia.

Here is the entire song:

Perpetuum Jazzile - Africa [ 6:17 ]

This video has received over two million views since it was posted by jantrost on May 27, 2009.

· ·
14 July 2009

An Offended Mother on the Topic of Blowjobs

by: Anna Van Z

"Marcy Wheeler aka emptywheel mentioned a blowjob on Shuster's show yesterday and they felt the need to apologize for her".
Discussion Board, Democratic Underground.

By Rayne, at

Those of you who know me also know I have a couple of kids -- a teenager in high school, and a tweenager about to enter middle school.

Both of my kids have met the infamous blogger who used, you know, THAT word on MSNBC this afternoon. In fact, they were watching the video of the infamous blogger.

Neither batted an eye about the use of THAT word.

And I am so proud of them.

Because even my kids know the real obscenity isn't a euphemism for oral sex, or even that it happened on a cable show in the middle of the afternoon.

My kids know that the real obscenities are these:

* Our country went to war based on lies told by elected and appointed officials;

* Their brother and the sons/daughters/brothers/sisters of many other families like ours served for this war, came back damaged or dead, for nothing but lies;

* Their president and vice president lied repeatedly about all manner of things while refusing to accept responsibility for any failures which happened on their watch;

* Their government was either obstructed during investigations into these lies or simply failed to make any effort to investigate these lies;

* Their government spent billions of dollars to make these lies, to support these lies, to pass these lies on, while killing hundreds of thousands of people in other countries, while making plans to kill more on a targeted basis in the form of assassinations;

* Their government tortured people, innocents among them, including children, to further their lies, in violation of fundamental human rights and codified law;

* Their fellow citizens are not better off for all of this, but are far worse off in terms of security, health and finances than before all the lies started;

* The corporate-owned media in their country makes money off ghoulishly beating a tattoo every day about dead entertainers and missing white girls while avoiding the work required of investigative journalism important to real democracy.

Even kids understand when adults are being stupid and unethical, and they know the truth when they see it.

As a mother I'm absolutely offended, but not about the word "blowjob."

I'm deeply offended that the corporate-owned mainstream media can turn a blind eye to the really offensive obscenities, thereby becoming complicit in the criminality -- and they've done this in front of my kids for more than eight years.

What am I supposed to tell these children?

Toooos-day Aaaf-ter-noooon

by: Father Tyme

A Conservative Crossword Puzzle

Gotta take a little time to unlax, rewind and let the world go by. Here's a little diversion from whatever ails ya.
If the mood strikes, go to
Father Tyme's Pix
and view, save and print the puzzle. Then have fun solving it.

And now, a word from our non-sponsor...

by: Foiled Goil

Evian Roller Babies US [ 1:01 ]

CBS: Here's how they did it.

· · ·
13 July 2009

Bad People Against Our Common Good

by: Foiled Goil

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 25

* (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Former Top Insurance Exec Blows The Whistle On Health Insurance Companies’ Plot Against Reform

Faiz Shakir, Think Progress:

In an interview with PBS’ Bill Moyers on Friday, former health insurance executive Wendell Potter revealed that health insurance companies had developed a concerted strategy to discredit Michael Moore’s movie SiCKO:
BILL MOYERS: And there was a political strategy. “Position Sicko as a threat to Democrats’ larger agenda.” What does that mean?

WENDELL POTTER: That means that part of the effort to discredit this film was to use lobbyists and their own staff to go onto Capitol Hill and say, “Look, you don’t want to believe this movie. You don’t want to talk about it. You don’t want to endorse it. And if you do, we can make things tough for you.”


WENDELL POTTER: By running ads, commercials in your home district when you’re running for reelection, not contributing to your campaigns again, or contributing to your competitor.
Potter, the former head of Corporate Communications at CIGNA, said he thought Moore “hit the nail on the head with his movie,” which advocated that the government-run systems of other western democracies produce better health care outcomes. The health insurance companies “don’t want you to think that it was a documentary that had some truth,” Potter said.

Potter said he was driven to speak out when “it became really clear to me that the industry is resorting to the same tactics they’ve used over the years, and particularly back in the early ’90s, when they were leading the effort to kill the Clinton plan.”

PBS YouTube Video: Part 1, [ 6:02 ] — Part 2, [ 5:38 ]

Some Choice Words for 'The Select Few'

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship:

If you want to know what really matters in Washington, don't go to Capitol Hill for one of those hearings, or pay attention to those staged White House "town meetings." They're just for show. What really happens -- the serious business of Washington -- happens in the shadows, out of sight, off the record. Only occasionally -- and usually only because someone high up stumbles -- do we get a glimpse of just how pervasive the corruption has become.

Case in point: Katharine Weymouth, the publisher of The Washington Post -- one of the most powerful people in DC -- invited top officials from the White House, the Cabinet, and Congress to her home for an intimate, off-the-record dinner to discuss health care reform with some of her reporters and editors covering the story.

But CEOs and lobbyists from the health care industry were invited, too, provided they forked over $25,000 a head -- or up to a quarter of a million if they want to sponsor a whole series of these cozy get-togethers. And what is the inducement offered? Nothing less, the invitation read, than "an exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will get it done."

The invitation reminds the CEOs and lobbyists that they will be buying access to "those powerful few in business and policy making who are forwarding, legislating and reporting on the issues...

"Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No." The invitation promises this private, intimate and off-the-record dinner is an extension "of The Washington Post brand of journalistic inquiry into the issues, a unique opportunity for stakeholders to hear and be heard."

Let that sink in. In this case, the "stakeholders" in health care reform do not include the rabble -- the folks across the country who actually need quality health care but can't afford it. [snip]

According to one poll after another, a majority of Americans not only want a public option in health care, but also they think that growing inequality is bad for the country, that corporations have too much power over policy, that money in politics is the root of all evil, that working families and poor communities need and deserve public support if the market system fails to generate shared prosperity.

But when the insiders in Washington have finished tearing worthy intentions apart and devouring flesh from bone, none of these reforms happen. "Oh," they say, "it's all about compromise. All in the nature of the give-and-take-negotiating of a representative democracy."

That, people, is bull -- the basic nutrient of Washington's high and mighty.

It's not about compromise. It's not about what the public wants. It's about money -- the golden ticket to "the select few who actually get it done." [snip]

Even the pro-business magazine The Economist says America has the worst system in the developed world, controlled by executives who are not held to account and investors whose primary goal is raising share price and increasing profit -- while wasting $450 billion in redundant administrative costs and leaving nearly 50 million uninsured.

Enter "the select few who actually get it done." Three out of four of the big health care firms lobbying on Capitol Hill have former members of Congress or government staff members on the payroll -- more than 350 of them -- and they're all fighting hard to prevent a public option, at a rate in excess of $1.4 million a day. [snip]

That's how it works. And it works that way because we let it. The game goes on and the insiders keep dealing themselves winning hands. Nothing will change -- nothing -- until the money lenders are tossed out of the temple, the ATMs are wrested from the marble halls, and we tear down the sign they've placed on government -- the one that reads, "For Sale."

· ·
11 July 2009

A Little Light Humor

by: Debra

Cleaning sheet for men

* Broom (brum) - a long handled brush used for sweeping (also doubles as a mode of transportation for your mother)

* Vacuum (vak' u em) - much like the leaf blower except it sucks in, instead of blowing out. Don't let this alarm you. It isn't broken and doesn't need more torque, speed, RAM or whatever it is you did to the dishwasher.

* Dust pan (DUH) - Contrary to popular belief, this is where you sweep the dirt, not under the hallway area rug.

* Dust Cloth (dust kloth) - A cloth designated for removing tiny particles of dirt from every flat surface of the house. Hint: look for your old "lucky shirt".

* Bucket (buk' it)- Cylindric container used for holding soapy water when mopping the floor. Also known as your mid-evil knight helmet when you're playing with our seven-year-old.

* Mop - (mop) a bundle of coarse yarn, rags or cloth fastened at the end of a stick. You'll remember this as your dance partner at the New Year's Eve party last year.

* Toilet Brush (toi' lit brush) - Used for scrubbing the inside of the toilet bowl. I don't care what this looks like, you may NOT use my shower loofah again!

* Oven Cleaner (uv' en Klen' er) - No, not the teenager. This is an actually product that you buy, spray in the oven and wipe out two hours later. You won't need your welder's mask for this task, but if it makes you feel more dangerous, go ahead.

* Sponge (spunj) - used to gently wash away food particles from dinnerware. It won't be necessary to use your 300psi Power wash set. That was given to you in hopes of cleaning the EXTERIOR of the house (hint hint).

* Squeegee (skwe' je) - Same principle as washing the car windshield, and yes, real men DO squeegee!

Final Note:
While Duct tape may be a wonderful plumbers aid, it's really not the best solution for keeping the bathroom towels in place, and Jamie's teacher is still asking why his homework was stuck to his forehead last week. For these reasons, I have hidden the duct tape and distributed your picture to the local hardware stores. Don't make me call Duct Tape Anonymous again.

Take your time, everything will be fine. If you need me, I'll be in the basement cleaning up the smoke damage from your "do it yourself" electrical rewiring incident last week.



Saturday Morning Observations

by: Debra

That is kind of the point, isnt't it?  Schwarzenegger is California's version of hurricane Katrina.  Get rid of the poor, elderly and disabled by any means necessary, let them die if he has to and California will be the Golden State once again.  Completely missing the point that the people who actually do the work, the ones that clean the buildings, pick the fruits and vegetables, serve the food in restaurants or other such "lowly" jobs can no longer afford to live there and that eventually there won't be anyone to give the rich their due.
"It does not look like rich people are leaving California in order to avoid income taxes," Kolko said.

Tax critics often claim the state's high cost of living and tax structure drive high-income earners out.

The study found that the rich — those in the top 20 percent of income earners — leave California at only a slightly higher rate than those who arrive. For those with incomes above $200,0000, the departure rate is only 1.09 households for every one household that arrives, the report said.

Meanwhile, 1.73 households with annual incomes of $22,000 or less depart California each year for every one out-of-state arrival.
And yes, one of the factors in my decision to move to Nevada is that they have no state income tax.  I don't mind paying taxes, as long as they are used to benefit the public not just a select few.

The older I get, the less geek cred I have.  Along with not having any interest because I think we're in a technological holding pattern at the moment and I'm waiting for something a little more interesting than Twitter.

The problem with Texas having a known creationist in charge of the state Board of Education is that Texas has great influence on textbook printings.  Publishers are as cash strapped as any other business and can only afford to print a select number of books.  If Texas wants to teach creationism as part of its curriculum then a lot of other states (and children) will be exposed to the same nonsense.

The New York Times is considering charging for access.  Again.  Good luck with that.  All it did the last time was take themselves out of my reading rotation.  I don't pay for Wikipedia and the Times version of information sharing isn't much more accurate.

The Quit bull (love that term!) is still babbling.  So she chose not to play "their game".  What game would that be?  The one where you have to cross the finish line in order to collect your reward?


· · · · · ·

Fatboy (as opposed to "Fratboy") sez, "I ain't missed any meals lately; let the peasants either eat cake or starve to death."

by: Peter of Lone Tree

Obama rejects 2nd stimulus: Give recovery time

My not-so-rhetorical question of the day is for you: How many of the jobs that are being pulled lately (burglaries, robberies, etc.) are by people that are just trying to get the scratch together to pay for food or rent? 'Course, the peasants might merely say, "Thank you," for a handout as opposed to the bankers and other uppity-ups who've either been humming a tune on your gutwrench or slipping an envelope under the table.

Illegal G. W. Bush Surveillance Program

by: Foiled Goil

United States Constitution

Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Rachel Maddow Show:
CIA gone rogue?

July 10: CIA director Leon Panetta ended a spy program that was kept secret from Congress. Why did this program last so long without Congress’ knowledge? Rachel Maddow is joined by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL. [ 7:36 ]

Inspectors General Report on Warrantless Wiretapping

Kurt Opsahl, Electronic Frontier Foundation, July 10, 2009
Today, the Inspectors General of five government agencies released the unclassified version of a report on the Bush Administration’s warrantless domestic surveillance program. The report was required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008, which was signed into law one year ago today.

The IG report has been carefully scrubbed so that it reveals as little new information as possible about the illegal surveillance of ordinary Americans. Given the wide range of information already publicly known about the program, it is disappointing that today’s report is not more informative.

For example, as a candidate for President, then-Senator Barack Obama said there was “little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.” His administration’s unclassified report, however, does not discuss the role that telecommunications companies played in this illegal surveillance. Indeed, the IG report provides less information on the telecoms’ role than the Senate Intelligence Committee report issued prior to the law.

Nevertheless, the IG report does confirm that the warrantless surveillance involved “unprecedented collection activities,” beyond the surveillance program of Al-Qaeda touted by President Bush. The report described the scope of the additional spying only as “Other Intelligence Activities.” Collectively, the so-called terrorist surveillance program and the Other Intelligence Activities were referred to as the “President’s Surveillance Program.” The report does not use the program’s code name, Stellar Wind, which remains classified. Given the scope of the Nixon Administration’s illegal spying (which led to FISA in the first place), it is sobering to consider that the Other Intelligence Activities were unprecedented.

While the IG report does not offer an opinion about the legal issues, it does condemn the process, where the program was so tightly held that only a few lawyers reviewed the legal issues.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
Bush behind secret surveillance

July 10: MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe discusses the new revelations that the infamous pressuring of John Ashcroft in his hospital bed was orchestrated by President Bush, not Vice President Cheney. [ 7:53 ]

Report: Bush-era surveillance went beyond wiretaps

A government report raises new questions about how the Bush White House kept key Justice officials in the dark about the post-Sept. 11 program.

Josh Meyer, LA Times, July 11, 2009
The Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 surveillance efforts went beyond the widely publicized warrantless wiretapping program, a government report disclosed Friday, encompassing additional secretive activities that created "unprecedented" spying powers.

The report also raised new questions about how the Bush White House kept key Justice Department officials in the dark as it launched the surveillance program.

In a move that it described as "extraordinary and inappropriate" the report said the White House relied on a single, lower-level attorney in the Justice Department's Office Legal Counsel for assessments about the legality of the programs.

The attorney, John Yoo, a young George W. Bush appointee with close ties to the president's inner circle, wrote a series of memos legally blessing the program even though his superiors and most top officials were uninformed about it.

The report was compiled at the request of Congress by five government agency watchdogs: the inspectors general of the Justice Department, Pentagon, CIA, Directorate of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency.

It represents the most detailed public disclosure of the existence of secret surveillance efforts beyond the warrantless wiretapping program, saying the overall package of efforts came to be known in the Bush administration as the "President's Surveillance Program."

However, the report did not describe the other programs or explain how they worked.

"All of these activities were authorized in a single presidential authorization," the report said, referring to the warrantless wiretapping a "terrorist surveillance program" and the undisclosed efforts as "other intelligence activities."

"The specific details of the other intelligence activities remain highly classified," the report said.

The inspectors general interviewed more than 200 top officials and front-line agents in defense and intelligence agencies, and said views of the effectiveness of the warrantless wiretapping and other still-secret activities were mixed.

While many agents thought the efforts filled a gap in intelligence efforts, others "had difficulty evaluating the precise contribution of the President's Surveillance Program to counter-terrorism efforts because it was most often viewed as one source among many."

The inspectors general concluded that, even though Congress has adopted changes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act legalizing some of the activities, the information they produce "should be carefully monitored."

The report also provided a comprehensive and official narrative concerning the selective and often confrontational way in which the Bush administration sought and procured legal authorization for its post-Sept. 11 programs.

Eventually, the surveillance program and the Justice Department's role in it were so controversial that the deputy attorney general, James B. Comey, and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III both threatened to resign in 2004 because they believed the program was illegal.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
Bush caught again

July 10: A new internal government report reveals that former President George Bush played a direct role instructing Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card to go to former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s hospital bed and urge him to personally approve warrantless wiretapping on Americans. The New York Times’ John [s/b James] Risen talks about the major headlines from the report. [ 5:03 ]

U.S. Wiretaps Were of Limited Value, Officials Report

Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, NYT, July 10, 2009
While the Bush administration had defended its program of wiretapping without warrants as a vital tool that saved lives, a new government review released Friday said the program’s effectiveness in fighting terrorism was unclear.

The report, mandated by Congress last year and produced by the inspectors general of five federal agencies, found that other intelligence tools used in assessing security threats posed by terrorists provided more timely and detailed information.

Most intelligence officials interviewed “had difficulty citing specific instances” when the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program contributed to successes against terrorists, the report said.

While the program obtained information that “had value in some counterterrorism investigations, it generally played a limited role in the F.B.I.’s overall counterterrorism efforts,” the report concluded. The Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence branches also viewed the program, which allowed eavesdropping without warrants on the international communications of Americans, as a useful tool but could not link it directly to counterterrorism successes, presumably arrests or thwarted plots.

The report also hinted at political pressure in preparing the so-called threat assessments that helped form the legal basis for continuing the classified program, whose disclosure in 2005 provoked fierce debate about its legality. The initial authorization of the wiretapping program came after a senior C.I.A. official took a threat evaluation, prepared by analysts who knew nothing of the program, and inserted a paragraph provided by a senior White House official that spoke of the prospect of future attacks against the United States.

These threat assessments, which provided the justification for President George W. Bush’s reauthorization of the wiretapping program every 45 days, became known among intelligence officials as the “scary memos,” the report said. Intelligence analysts involved in the process eventually realized that “if a threat assessment identified a threat against the United States,” the wiretapping and related surveillance programs were “likely to be renewed,” the report added.

The report found that the secrecy surrounding the program may have limited its effectiveness.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
Can Bush be prosecuted for surveillance reports?

July 10: Prof. Jonathan Turley discusses the legal implications for former President George Bush if he tried to force his attorney general, John Ashcroft, to authorize domestic spying. [ 6:02 ]

National Security Act of 1947 (pdf)

· ·
10 July 2009


by: Father Tyme

Global Warming, Climate Change, Rising Oceans, etc. All Left Wing myths recited at bedtime to scare children into caring about something that has no proof of existence. Sure there are scientists who claim its happening but given special selective data, many come to a conclusion it's all real.

The Republicans, especially James Inhofe of Oklahoma, call Bull on all this “theory;” the theory that man is responsible for warming the earth through millions of factories and billions of cars. Because that’s really all it is, just theory or conjecture or stories that have been told and passed along for enough years so many start to believe them as true.

Can’t you see the fallacy in this logic? How can we even begin to accept any of this as even partially true when even many different scientists and Left Wing scholars can’t agree?
Why, it boggles the mind to accept something that, through actions based on preconceptions and rumor, has no shred of evidence. Yet they try to push this down the throats of our young by making them study these “theories” and allow no credible, creative alternative.

I know. You’re asking yourself, “What has science got to do with it?” Well, everything and nothing. Depending on who provides the science and who pays for the “research”, different conclusions can always be reached. Science just isn’t exact. In fact, when you really get down to it, science is more theory than fact. They try to fit the theory around questionable facts. Too many scientific facts one day are disproven the next. How would you like to base your existence on some view that may be reversed tomorrow?

Take for instance, evolution. There’s no credible proof we evolved form apes let alone tiny one-celled creatures. How could we have “evolved” in such a short period of time? “Scientists say evolution took unimagined millions years. Millions of years? Right! So, why aren’t there fewer animals and more humans if their evolution exists?

No, it doesn’t make any sense to believe in these so-called theories of evolution, global warming or even whether the stars are really that far away when they could be right next door or the theory that the earth is billions of years old! Just a bunch of made-up facts? What truthless nonsense! But they keep spewing this over and over hoping if it's repeated often enough, people will believe. And sadly, the number of believers in evolution is growing, ignoring the ways our parents and grandparents were taught. There’s a word for this and it’s called ”brainwashing.” The cult of science is growing more dangerous each day. Rather than chance our existence to men funded by liberal educational institutions, we need to rely more on what is the truth, and get that truth out to our kids.

We all know there is only one truth! And that truth comes from only one place, only one thing that can explain everything else. I don’t need to tell you what that truth is. You learned it those wonderful Sunday mornings when you were a kid. The only truths scientists and Left Wingers need to study were written 2000 years ago and have stood unchanged and will stand unchanged for all time.

Who are you going to believe? Some crazies who change their “facts” every few years to fit bedtime stories... or the one truth that has never changed?

· ·

Urge Congress To Investigate Military Extremists

by: Foiled Goil

To add a bit more info in regard to astraea's post, below:

SPLC Urges Congress to Investigate Extremism in the Military, 7/10/2009

The Southern Poverty Law Center today urged Congress to investigate growing evidence that racial extremists are infiltrating the U.S. military and take steps to ensure that the armed forces are not inadvertently training future domestic terrorists.

In a letter
[pdf] to committee chairmen with oversight over homeland security and the armed services, the SPLC said it recently found dozens of personal profiles on a neo-Nazi website where individuals listed "military" as their occupation — the latest evidence of extremist infiltration gathered by the SPLC. It also cites FBI and Department of Homeland Security reports supporting the SPLC's concerns.

"Evidence continues to mount that current Pentagon policies are inadequate to prevent racial extremists from joining and serving in the armed forces," SPLC founder Morris Dees wrote. He added, "Because the presence of extremists in the armed forces is a serious threat to the safety of the American public, we believe Congressional action is warranted."

The letter was sent to the chairmen of the House and Senate committees on Homeland Security and Armed Services. The SPLC has raised its concerns with Pentagon officials since publishing a report in 2006, but no apparent action has been taken. [snip]

The SPLC has been involved with this issue for more than two decades. [snip]

The SPLC again brought the problem to the attention of Pentagon officials in 1996... [snip]

But a decade later, military recruiters, under intense pressure to meet quotas for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, appear to have lowered recruiting standards, according to the SPLC's 2006 report. [snip]

In 2008, the FBI released an unclassified report that supported the SPLC's findings. [snip]

The letter also says that "the overwhelming majority of U.S. servicemembers reject extremism and are dedicated to serving and protecting the highest ideals of our country" and notes that there will never be a fail-safe system to weed out all extremists. "But we owe it to our courageous men and women in uniform, and the American public, to remain vigilant to ensure that the ranks are as free of extremists as possible," Dees wrote.


racial extremists are infiltrating the U.S. military

by: astraea

Southern Poverty Law Center
July 10, 2009

Dear Friend,

We have uncovered new evidence that racial extremists are infiltrating the U.S. military and have asked Congress today to launch an immediate investigation to ensure that our armed forces are not inadvertently training future domestic terrorists.

In recent months, our investigators have found dozens of personal profiles of individuals listing "military" as their occupation on a neo-Nazi, Facebook-type website. One person, apparently serving in Afghanistan, lists The Turner Diaries as his favorite book. That's the book by neo-Nazi leader William Pierce that served as the blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing by Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh.

new saxon
new saxon
new saxon

We've been warning the Pentagon about the danger of extremists in the military for more than two decades. In 2008, the FBI issued a report indicating that the problem may have worsened. Unfortunately, the Pentagon has not taken forceful action.

Indeed, the Pentagon appears to consider homosexuals more of a threat to the good order of the military than neo-Nazis who reject our Constitution's most cherished principles. While the military has discharged more than 12,500 service members because of their alleged homosexuality since 1994, it has refused to adopt a true "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to extremists in the military.

The overwhelming majority of our courageous men and women in uniform reject extremism and are dedicated to our nation's highest ideals. We owe it to them — and to the American public — to ensure that the ranks are as free of extremists as possible.

Please stand with us on this crucial issue and contact your congresspersons. We recommend sending a personal letter or calling the offices of your U.S. Senator or Representative.

Thank you for your support.

Richard Cohen
J. Richard Cohen
President, Southern Poverty Law Center

You can donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center online.

We welcome your feedback.
Contact us online.

Or by mail:
Southern Poverty Law Center
400 Washington Ave.
Montgomery, AL 36104

more about -- Those Evangelical Family Values...

by: astraea

re anna v's post (below)
the bigger picture we ignore at our peril...

munny again

by: astraea

the point being ...

Though most of my training was in biology and sciences, I had eight hours of undergrad econ, mac and micro, at umd college park when I was in journalism. this is what I take away from it.

no matter how one feels about global warming and where it comes from, resources are ultimately finite, and so is need. uber macro econ 101. & from biology, what the world can stand and still maintain a biosphere has to be (and will make itself) a factor.

and now with paper speculation based on theory (e.g., the short-sighted 1997 nobel prize-winning derivative formulas that proved wrong), fool's gold, whatever thin air the market can be made to agree it's worth, we have something like a grand casino, and you know the house always wins. thus the house perpetuates itself --------------> and everyone goes along, hoping to cut loses and praying that the house keeps standing. Goldman Sachs is now mothership titanic. I can hear them all walking down the halls telling each other "act normal!" and "we'll think of something!"

Meanwhile there's a world of hacking going on.

Someone, something has to get real.


and as for the mba in general, wraith, my close friend who teaches business at wharton would agree.

Halftarded Rewits learn themselves to talk more better.

by: Peter of Lone Tree

Yup. We done gone from "green shoots" to the "cusp of stabilization." "Signs of stability in the housing market, improving consumer confidence and smaller declines in auto sales are reinforcing forecasts for gains in consumer purchases. While the recovery is likely to be tempered by job cuts and shrinking household wealth, most economists said a second stimulus package won’t be needed.

“We are on the cusp of stabilization,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut
(Speak for yourself Bungtonguebreath.). "The right things are happening. They’re not happening fast enough to make everyone comfortable just yet, but we’re certainly headed in the right direction."
Iffen youse can stand the eggsitement, read the rest at Bloomberg's
Economists Raise U.S. Outlook as Recession Fades, Survey Shows

(Padre, it's time to fire up that Depression-era recording of "Happy Days Are Here Again.")

Those Evangelical Family Values...

by: Anna Van Z

Once again we must dive into the lurid, oily cesspool of a much-touted "christian marriage", as we continue examining the facts surrounding the Senator John Ensign affair. Remember that one? It was the GOP adultery scandal that preceded the Sanford brouhaha, and no, it's not dead yet. There's just too much delicious hypocrisy and public pretentiousness to splash around in before we race to the showers.

How is this for starters? John Ensign was best friends with Doug Hampton, and apparently had been ever since they attended high school together in Anaheim, CA. Doug and Cynthia Hampton got married in the late 1980's, and at that point, Doug was working in California. In the years that followed, they ended up moving to Nevada, because of Doug's new position with Nevada Power. In 2004, the Hamptons bought a large, expensive home in an exclusive gated community, and were living very near the Ensigns' home.

The wives had also become close friends, having much in common - the two families each had 3 children, and each family shared the same conservative evangelical faith. In fact, Doug and John were members of Promise Keepers, the nationwide christian movement that focuses on strong, traditional marriages, with the man as ruler and "moral leader" of the family (because God only knows what deviltry those weak-willed wimminfolk would get into if they weren't kept on a short leash!)

In 2007, John Ensign hired Doug Hampton to be his Senior Aide in the Senate, a position that paid 160k annually. At some point toward the end of 2007, John began having sex with Doug's wife. And Cynthia was moving on up in the Ensign political organization. She became Treasurer of his latest bid for re-election and also for one of Ensign's conservative PACs. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Cynthia "saw her salary double during the affair, before she left the job in May 2008."

Hmmm. Sounds like John and Cynthia were giving each other raises, all over the place. Keep in mind that the two wives were still bosom buddies, as were John and Doug. And we're talking about an affair that spanned months. It's not like it was one impulsive bout of drunken debauchery on a hastily-cleared desk, that "just happened" while working late nights at the office. Not that it would be okay then, but the point is that the affair was deliberately chosen and continued over a period of time. And all the while, they are lying to their best friends, their spouses, and their families.
Then Doug Hampton finds out about the affair (finally), and quit working for John Ensign in April of 2008. But even then John and Cynthia were still sleeping together - and reportedly did so until August of 2008.
Again according to the Las Vegas Sun:
"He went to work at a political firm, November Inc., which has close ties to Ensign. Hampton then went to work at Allegiant Air, whose CEO has given tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Ensign.
Sources for Allegiant Air and in Republican politics say Ensign was instrumental in helping Hampton land those jobs, fueling questions about whether these payments and jobs were hush money.

In early 2008 the Hamptons put their two-story, five-bedroom, 5 1/2 bathroom home on the market for $1.66 million, according to one neighbor. It has not sold.
Ensign’s associates told other media outlets he had been “extorted” by the Hamptons, though his spokesman later said he revealed the affair because the Hamptons approached a major news outlet after asking for a large sum of money.

The Las Vegas Sun disclosed the nature of that approach last month. Doug Hampton wrote a letter to Fox News detailing the affair..." read the rest of the Las Vegas Sun article.

So are you ready for that shower yet?
09 July 2009

Have You Seen?

by: Debra

Cankles.  They seem to be genetic which means the only time any member of my family will have fat ankles is if we suffer from congestive heart failure (only the right ankle will be swollen) or kidney failure (the left ankle will be swollen).  Good looking legs are a family trait.  One of the brothers is a long distance runner and the other has to buy pants to fit his thighs which means the waistband is always too large.  And while I may be overweight it doesn't show in my legs.  The injury (not a sprain, which can be prevented by doing improving your balance) and subsequent foot surgery affected the right calf so it isn't the same size as the left, but it is still muscular.  I'm fortunate to have the muscle definition that most women have to wear three inch heels to attain.  Unfortunately, my legs are rather short (27" inseam) so as one guy said "you have nice legs, it's a pity they aren't longer".  I don't know what his problem was, they reach to the floor.  Unless I'm sitting, in which case they dangle about two inches above.

The hip hop guide to neurobiology?  Smart kids with way too much time on their hands and a fertile imagination.  Let's give it up for Sarah Tonin.

Glee?  I finally watched the first episode at the Fox site and really enjoyed it.  The music rocked and if it continues in this mode a fun time will be had by all.

The Nun Study on Alzheimer's?  I first read about it when I was in school in 1998 and it's back in the news again.  Originally it was one guy tracking all the nuns for his doctoral thesis and it has morphed into something more.  In addition to language skills predicting your Alzheimer's risk, the original study also showed that incidences of head trauma also increase your dementia risk.  But anyone following the lives of football players and boxers could tell you that.

My jackpot money?  The lovely Bank of America extended the hold on the money until the fourteenth and been charging me overdraft fees.  They have sent me no paperwork to inform me of the hold, but they did send me an email informing me I need to make another deposit to avoid an extended overdraft fee.  After days of pleading and abasing myself, they refunded me most of the fees.  I'm 30 cents to the good now.  I can't afford to pay my bills despite having money in the bank and they are using that same money to generate income for themselves and trying to charge me extra fees while they do it.  I asked one of the supervisors I talked to why the hold was so long and she said "you haven't made a deposit that large before" and I said "yes, I have" (insurance payment from totaling the car) and she said "your daily balance doesn't reflect that".  Well, excuse me, that's what happens when one doesn't have a well paying job.  Why they think I'm going to use them as my bank after this baffles me.  Wankers.

On the other hand, one of the checks they honored (after two hours of cell time with Customer Support) was for the purchase of my car.  The one I sold a few weeks ago.  Returned reeking of stale cigarette smoke.  And I had to pay fifty dollars more than I sold it to the woman for, in addition to signing a contract where she supposedly had the right to repossess the car if the check was returned unpaid.  I don't think it would have held up in court since I've had the original pink slip the whole time, but I didn't want the hassle and besides, I had money in the bank.  All I wanted was my car back.  I'll put new tires on her, every maintenance I can think of, get her detailed and she should be good for a few more years.  Right after the bank credits my account with the money.


08 July 2009

Concealed Intelligence Activity

by: Foiled Goil

House intel chair: CIA 'affirmatively lied'

Domenico Montanaro:
The House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes claims the CIA "affirmatively lied to" his panel. He said so in a letter to Pete Hoekstra, the committee's ranking Republican, CQ reports.

Reyes "wrote that the committee has recently received information that reveals significant problems with the intelligence agency’s reporting to the panel," CQ writes. " 'These notifications have led me to conclude this committee has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications, and (in at least one occasion) was affirmatively lied to,' Reyes wrote. Reyes did not describe or detail the alleged false or misleading statements to the committee." [snip]

... Republicans contend a provision of the fiscal 2010 bill (HR 2701) scheduled for floor action Thursday would modify congressional notification procedures to provide political cover for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Such briefings are a sensitive political topic, because Republicans have repeatedly criticized Pelosi over what she knew and when about the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation techniques and her assertion that the CIA “misled” Congress on that topic."

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
CIA deceived Congress?

July 8: Former CIA agent, Jack Rice talks with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann about new Congressional testimony that CIA briefers deceived Congress. [ 4:23 ]

House Democrats: Panetta testified that CIA misled Congress

CIA Director Leon Panetta recently testified to Congress that the agency concealed information and misled lawmakers repeatedly since 2001, according to a letter from seven House Democrats to Panetta made public Wednesday.

The letter to Panetta, dated June 26, was published on the Web site of Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California.

"Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all members of Congress, and misled members for a number of years from 2001 to this week," said the letter, signed by Eshoo and six other House Democrats — Reps. John Tierney of Massachusetts, Mike Thompson of California, Rush Holt of New Jersey, Alcee Hastings of Florida, Adam Smith of Washington and Janice Schakowsky of Illinois.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
House Dems versus the CIA

July 8: NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports the latest on the feud between House Democrats loyal to Speaker Pelosi and CIA Director Leon Panetta. [ 7:02 ]

CIA Admitted It Misled Congress Since 2001, Six Lawmakers Say

Six Democrats on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said the Central Intelligence Agency misled Congress since 2001 about “significant actions.”

In a letter to CIA Director Leon Panetta, the six members said he had “recently” testified that “top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all members of Congress” and “misled members” from 2001 until this week. [snip]

The letter called on Panetta to “publicly correct” his May 15 statement that “it is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress.”

The disclosure came on the eve of a scheduled House debate on an intelligence spending measure. It would expand the number of lawmakers who must be notified of covert intelligence operations from eight congressional leaders to more than 35 members of House and Senate intelligence panels. [snip]

The lawmakers’ letter said Panetta’s recent testimony disclosed concealment by the CIA that is “similar to other deceptions of which we are aware from other recent periods.” The intelligence committee regularly receives private briefings from U.S. officials.

CIA spokesman George Little said in a statement that Panetta “stands by his May 15 statement” because “it is not the policy or practice of the CIA to mislead Congress” and that “Director Panetta’s actions back that up.”

The agency went to the panel with the new information, the agency’s statement said.

“As the letter from these six representatives notes, it was the CIA that took the initiative to notify the oversight committees,” Little said.

The Rachel Maddow Show:
Did the CIA mislead Congress?

July 8: MSNBC contributor Michael Isikoff joins Rachel Maddow with the latest details on new revelations that CIA director Leon Panetta has admitted in testimony to Congress that the CIA misled Congress. Does vindicate House Speaking Nancy Pelosi? [ 6:42 ]

A reaction to the CIA - Panetta - Congress story

For too long administrations Democratic and Republican have sought to limit who in the Congress was informed about matters military and of intelligence. In some cases those members informed were not allowed to take notes, were not allowed to discuss with other elected representatives of the American people nor to consult with the staff members who might have the specific expertise to help them raise the questions that appropriately needed to be asked. These administrations - not merely that of the previous president - sought to fulfill a shadow of the letter of the law while ignoring the clear purpose that Congress must be informed - how else can it determine if funds [to] be expended are in accordance with what Congress has, under its constitutional authority, permitted? Absent oversight, rules by Congress can be ignored, moneys can be spent on actions specifically prohibited by the Congress by an administration playing shell games. And that, as we saw in the Reagan administration with how it played games with the Boland Amendment, can have tragic consequences not merely for the foreign policy goals of the US, but for people in many nations.

I want my Congressman and my Senators to have all the access they need to do their jobs. That includes voting on authorizations and appropriations for all government activities. If their fellow House Members and Senators in the leadership and/or on the intelligence and armed services committees believe it is appropriate to share with people who are neither on those committees nor in the leadership, that should be a judgment appropriate to be made within the Congress under its rules and discipline - a member who might violate the appropriate secrecy is still subject to discipline within the chamber, up to and including expulsion.

The White House is apparently signaling that it is prepared to veto an intelligence bill that would place within the Congress the power to decide who else within the Congress should be informed. I object to that veto threat. I want oversight, I want checks and balances.

And I want a thorough examination of the actions of the intelligence agencies in recent years, in the Bush 43 administration to be sure, but even earlier. Unfortunately, the history of the CIA insofar as we know it does not lend confidence to assertions it might make on its own behalf about policy and practice, as expressed in May by Leon Panetta - we have too many documented instances of the CIA doing things not authorized by law or in some cases specifically prohibited. We have too many cases where people in the CIA have lied or obfuscated in the past for me to be willing to trust that merely by placing Leon Panetta at the top we have somehow changed a culture in that agency that has been, to put it mildly, problematic.

I do not want the Executive to have untrammeled power. Neither do I propose having all power rest within the Congress. Power is supposed to be shared - that is what our system of separation of powers and checks and balances is supposed to mean.
H.R. 2701


Grade the President

by: Dark Wraith

Barack Obama, Cold and Hot

Overall, what grade would you give Barack Obama for his performance to date as President of the United States?

  — Poll results —


G8 Countries Secretly Trying to Kick Out Italy, For Sucking

by: Anna Van Z

Italy was a pretty important country or whatever about 2,000 years ago, but since then it's gradually deflated to its current status as a wacky do-nothing ice-cream colony of back hair and male capri pants and trash and rats. Pompey was lucky to die when he did! Now the person running this ancient land-phallus is a naked orange clown who spends all of his time ringleading orgies with young non-wife girls or fiddling around with the roster of the soccer team he randomly owns. Which is great for him! But unfortunately for this Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, he signed Italy up as the host of tomorrow's latest G8 conference a while back without realizing that he and his minions would have to "do preparation stuff" in advance, so they just did nothing, and now "Washington" is trying to kick this embarrassing pizza-bagel of a country out of its Rich Nations Club once and for all.

Ha ha look at these nerds with their terms, terms like "sherpa calls," which are basically "catty conference calls behind lazy Italy's back."

Preparations for Wednesday's G8 summit in the Italian mountain town of L'Aquila have been so chaotic there is growing pressure from other member states to have Italy expelled from the group, according to senior western officials.

In the last few weeks before the summit, and in the absence of any substantive initiatives on the agenda, the US has taken control. Washington has organised "sherpa calls" (conference calls among senior officials) in a last-ditch bid to inject purpose into the meeting.

"For another country to organise the sherpa calls is just unprecedented. It's a nuclear option," said one senior G8 member state official. "The Italians have been just awful. There have been no processes and no planning."

"The G8 is a club, and clubs have membership dues. Italy has not been paying them," said a European official involved in the summit preparations.

And isn’t Italy allied with the Nazis, too?
Original here.
07 July 2009

A bit too much Michael coverage?

by: Father Tyme

Things I did instead of watching Michael Jackson coverage.

Finally got to those damn toenails.
Changed the oil in the car.
Changed the oil in the Fry Daddy.
Read War and Peace.
Watched all 252 episodes of MASH.
Cleaned the gutters (got both leaves).
Did a time lapse of radishes growing.
Successfully played a game of Towers of Hanoi by hand using 15 rings.
Hiked the Appalachian Trail (well, the Argentine part of it, anyway) twice!
Finished a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle of a black cat in a coal bin at midnight -upside down!
Changed the oil in the car…again.
Raced a snail…and lost.
Waited for the Cable man (even though I don’t have cable).
Helped three old ladies across a street.
Baked a three layer cake from scratch just for my wife.
(That really didn’t take long, but it WAS more fun!)

Can’t wait for the next really big meaningless media event! Been wanting to learn Chinese!

Quitter Rumors

by: Foiled Goil

Huffington Post Blogger Shannyn Moore in Palin's Cross Hairs (UPDATED - Press Conference in Anchorage)

There is an old expression which says, "In a crisis, do nothing." Wise words indeed, which means that soon-to-be-ex-governor Sarah Palin no doubt would never heed them. She's sort of adopted another philosophy. It's more like, "In a crisis, fly off the handle, be reactionary and threaten to sue someone for defamation in the hopes of intimidating the entire blogosphere and all national print and televised media into not talking about something." I'm not an oddsmaker, but this strategy seems destined to become a crumpled up tin can on the refuse pile of epic failure. [snip]

Her reason for resigning? Here's where it got really strange. The media was unfair. People were filing ethics complaints against her. Bloggers were making silly photoshops. She didn't want to be a lame duck. The state would be better off without her. We kept waiting to hear the real reason, the reason that would explain it all. We waited for the reason that would come at the end, after all the silly stuff. But it never came. That was it.

We were left scratching our heads. A woman who was the Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party, and who has been deemed in some circles to be a plausible contender for her party's presidential nominee in 2012, is quitting her job as governor, 17 months before the end of her first term, because people are picking on her? This just didn't compute. Even in the wildest contortionist spin of her most ardent supporters, this was not going to improve her chances in 2012. [snip]

There seemed to be dozens of rumors circulating about the governor at any given point in time, and this week was no different. People were muttering about personal family problems, about new ethics complaints, about legal cases involving her use of personal off-the-radar Yahoo email accounts to conduct state business. Then there was talk about the legality of her legal defense fund which is currently being questioned, or maybe even personal illness. But the ones that seems to have gotten under the governor's skin were reports involving rumors floating about town that there was some kind of shenanigans going on with the simultaneous building of the governor's house, and the Wasilla Sports Complex, and a supposed IRS investigation. [snip]

And all this brings us to the issue at hand which involves Palin, her attorney Thomas Van Flein, and a certain Shannyn Moore. Moore is a radio personality, a Huffington Post blogger, and frequent guest on MSNBC''s Countdown with Keith Olbermann. There were scads of blogs, both local and national that reported on the rumors above, many in greater detail and with more certainty than Moore did. But Moore really got under the soon-to-be-ex governor's skin. Why? Presumably because Palin watches TV more than she reads. [snip]

"I'll sue you for defamation!" is the toothless wonder of the legal world. The bluster is meant to scare people, intimidate them, and get them to be quiet. In this particular case, it's not going to work. Moore has already discussed the threat on her radio show, where she said emphatically, "Bring it on." She said she had already gotten legal advice, and has a long list of attorneys who had emailed her, stepping up and eagerly offering to depose Sarah Palin in such a case. Now that would make for some damn good blogging material. [snip]

Using the substantial might of the Executive branch of government to bring down unenforceable legal threats on a private citizen in Alaska, and attempting to curtail free speech through intimidation on the Fourth of July? Not a particularly brilliant PR move. By specifically singling out and naming Moore, Palin has done two things; she has shown herself to be a reactionary immature politician, and she has made Shannyn Moore a lot better known. And she is not the only one in Sarah Palin's crosshairs, mind you. You stand warned Huffington Post, New York Times, MSNBC and The Washington Post! You just better knock it off! [snip]

In solidarity with my friend and fellow Alaskan blogger, may I be the next to report to the team of Palin-Van Flein, and to the entire blogosphere at large:


There. I said it.

Sue me.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
Palin the petulant [ 6:45 ]

July 6: Blogger Shannyn Moore calls Sarah Palin "a coward and a bully" for threatening her critics with lawsuits. Moore joins Countdown's Keith Olbermann.

· ·
06 July 2009

U.S. won't "stand in the way" of Israel

by: Anna Van Z

In the probable event that Israel chooses to attack Iran, VP Joe Biden said Sunday that the U.S. government won't stand in their way. Again citing the alleged threat of Iran's nuclear development, Biden stated:
"Israel can determine for itself - it's a sovereign nation - what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else."
Hareetz reports that "Stephanaopoulos posed the question three times, and each time Biden repeated that Israel was free to choose its actions. 'If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice.' Read the article from Hareetz.

I'm sure this updated clarification of Cheney-Bush policy will win lots of new friends in the Islamic world. This is one of the reasons "why they hate us", this indefensible, knee-jerk support of whatever butchery Israel decides to undertake. People with their thinking caps on realize there's no way that Israeli military strikes against Iran would end up being limited or contained. The international consequences will likely be disastrous.

Mommy! They're pickin' on me again!

by: Father Tyme

The party's over
It's time to call it a day
They've burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away
It's time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up the piper must be paid

The party's over
The candles flicker and dim
You danced and dreamed through the night
It seemed to be right just being with him
Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
Take off your makeup, the party's over
It's all over...
It's all over, my friend

music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

"An', an' when I grow up, I wannabe a presnent, 'cause, 'cause I got lots more 'xecutive 'xperience than that Obama guy. Yeah, bein' the governator of the biggest state and havin' to worry 'bout Russia, did I tell you I can see Russia from my SBS Built Deck, that's a harder job than bein' some ol' Sen-a tor from some librul state? Yeah, 'cause if he really wanted ta help his state, he'd a stayed in the Senate an' got more experience, like me. Heck, he don't even know how ta clean an' gut a moose, or mush a dog team. How can he run a country without them qualifications? Yep! You betcha! I'm gonna be presnent someday. Jis as soon as them bad media types stop pickin' on me fer neglecting my duties while I'm governator. I'll show 'em!"
05 July 2009


by: Peter of Lone Tree

ABC's Headline: "Biden: We 'Misread the Economy'"

PoLT's Headline: "What's goin' on, Joe? Is the Lightbringer so chickenshit to make the announcement himself that the economy is in the shitter that he has to send out second banana to take the heat?"

Secondary Headline: "Economics Professor Dark Wraith Who Predicted All This 4 Years Ago When There Was Still Time To Do Something About It Runs Screaming Into the Wilderness"

The Teaching and Use of Economics

by: Dark Wraith

On the Road to WisdomI am seeing what to me seems like an increasing number of articles being written on economics and finance by individuals of lesser or greater qualification to address such arcane topics. In some cases, the points made are dead-on; in other cases, the claims, assertions, and declarations are stunning in their lack of depth and display of inadequate training in the subject matter under review. I must begin a series on the principles of economics, although I have already written here and elsewhere quite a few topical articles explaining and then using concepts from the discipline.

That project will take quite awhile to complete, and it will take some time for me to talk myself into starting. The best motivation is for me to read what others write on economics because this is what convinces me that I must set the record straight. To ramp myself up, I shall deal with relatively small matters I have seen addressed by others. Just today, I saw a reference to "the law of supply and demand." This and other myths and misunderstandings make the rounds on blogs and in the mainstream media with sufficient frequency that I actually repeat them to my economics and business classes to highlight the extent to which they, my students, are becoming separated through their learning from those around them who only think they know what they're talking about.

Concerning that "law of supply and demand," I am reminded of an incident from several years ago at a blog not far from here. A good friend of mine had posted the link to an article entitled, "Law of Supply & Demand Is Dead for Gold & Silver," by a fellow with an MBA (a bad sign to begin with) and a Master's degree in public policy. The writer of that story went into all manner of statements that were just patently incorrect, posing as he was to have knowledge of economics and finance way beyond his realm. The very title of his article, declaring as it did that a non-existence "law" is "dead," was a virtual sandwich-board sign that he was going to be sacrificing innocent electrons to the word processor god of nonsense. Any hope I might have had that reading his tripe was not a waste of ten minutes of my life was dashed when he made use of the word "bubble" in reference to commodities markets. For the time being, I have given up trying to deal with the conceptual vacuity of "bubble," which has become like the invocation of "Moloch" in the stupefyingly brain-dead "poetry" of the stupefyingly brain-dead "poet" Allen Ginsberg. The writer of the fairy tale article about the death of a non-existent thing in the gold and silver markets was not particularly cutting edge; but that word "bubble," especially in the context of how commodities markets actually work, is the mantric utterance of the thunderously uninformed, or in some cases it is the insider's o-so-revealing story line to make a few bucks telling silly stories to suckers who want simplistic explanations to make themselves feel smarter than they really want to work at being.

On the blog where my friend posted the link to the MBA guy's article, I wrote in comments that there was no such thing as a "law of supply and demand," a point I make emphatically in the early days of every microeconomics class I have taught for nearly three decades. I explained that there is a "Law of Supply" and a "Law of Demand," and I went on to make a summary statement of each of these, as I herewith shall:

The Law of Supply
As the price of a good or service increases, producers tend to provide a greater quantity of it to the market.

The Law of Demand
As the price of a good or service increases, consumers tend to want a lesser quantity of it.

The Law of Supply operates because, as the price of a good or service rises, the opportunity cost of using factors of production to make alternatives rises.

The Law of Demand principally operates because, as the price of a good or service rises, the price-relatives of substitutes fall, inducing consumers to move toward those alternatives that have become relatively cheaper.

The Law of Supply is captured graphically as an upward-sloping curve in quantity-price space, and the Law of Demand is captured graphically as a downward-sloping curve in quantity-price space.

(Each of these laws, by the way, has a rare but interesting exception.)

Okay, I laid out the Law of Supply and the Law of Demand as a quick primer on a basic topic in microeconomics, and I thought that would be the end of the matter there at that blog, but I was wrong. A Leftist commenter who had, with increasing frequency, been displaying the odd behavior of posting one comment right after another, came from out of nowhere and started using appallingly foul language to berate me, spewing howling nonsense from complete ignorance. He asserted something to the effect that there most certainly is a 'law of supply and demand' and he knew all about it. He went on to claim I had never written anything that was accurate about real-world economics, and he made some other blatantly false and appallingly hateful statements.

Because the owner of the blog chose not to make any public effort to deal with his verbally menacing behavior, I never wrote a comment there again. The blog belongs to her, of course, as she later declared in her own over-the-top, inappropriate response to a commenter who had dared to disagree in relatively mature language with the prevailing wisdom. When he noted her disproportionately nasty response, she told him that it was her blog, and she could do whatever she wanted there.

It seems that, when it comes to a small group of Leftists, private property is a thing of horror to be condemned until the private property belongs to a Leftist, at which point it becomes an altogether sacred site upon which anything goes, including decorum out the window.

Once again, there is no "law of supply and demand," although I have heard that mythical term used so often that it has become some kind of assumed thing, sort of like the legendary yeti.

Okay, I shall concede that stories about the abominable yeti are reinforced every time Dick Cheney shows up in public to talk, but that's not the same as saying the yeti, itself, exists — only that reasonable facsimiles of it are available for hire as has-been political commentators.

Returning now for one more example of statements that challenge me to rise above my occasional Paleolithic urge to run around the camp fire making pre-human sounds as I beat my own head with my club, the claim was made in comments to a recent post here at Big Brass Blog that "macro and micro econ. people get the supply and demand part, but schools don't teach too much else."

This assertion is far from my experience, both in my own classrooms and from what I know of what happens in the overwhelming majority of classrooms in American colleges and universities where economics is taught.

First, supply and demand would be taught in microeconomics; macroeconomics also covers supply and demand, but the constructs are different in the study of economies at the large scale, which is why, in macroeconomics, we use the terms "aggregate supply" and "aggregate demand" to distinguish them from their respective counterparts in microeconomics.

Moreover, although economics textbooks vary to some extent in topical sequence, the scope is relatively consistent from one book to the next, and the syllabi in colleges and universities tend to follow the layout of the textbook being used, so a certain degree of uniformity exists across schools. The topics of "supply" and "demand" are respectively underlain by a considerable build-up: "demand" is part of the theory of the consumer, and "supply" is part of the theory of the firm. In neither aspect of a microeconomics course are the coverages of supply and demand ends, in and of themselves. Not even close. Eventually, the two parts of the market are brought together to show how the so-called "equilibrium price" and "market-clearing quantity" are established, and then some work is done in supply and demand dynamics so students will be able to predict, under relatively simple conditions, what happens to that equilibrium price and market-clearing quantity when supply and/or demand changes. All kinds of useful and interesting results can be obtained, and I have a somewhat proprietary method to make the mechanical part of the analysis a little easier so more time and energy can be spent looking at what the results actually indicate and what they mean for real-world kinds of applications.

In macroeconomics, the topical material is far more integrated than it is in microeconomics, at least if the course is constructed well, the way I do it. The material is conceptually deeper, with more historical references, and a necessary requirement that students hold together an arc of thinking that spans virtually the entire course. While I enjoy teaching many of the topics in microeconomics, it is in macroeconomics that I can see the students, toward the end of the course, compiling a comprehensive picture that deeply affects their thinking about economic life, politics, and their place in a world where vast forces far beyond their control are affecting them and have been since long before they were born.

I shall stipulate that I have seen both microeconomics and macroeconomics taught badly, and that usually happens when a Right-wing or Leftist professor cannot keep his or her own unsupported ideas from going wild in front of students who are unable to know that the material being taught is tainted or who are too afraid to complain. I had a personal experience with a Right-winger who was teaching such unconscionably wrong material that his students were completely incapable of taking any other economics courses after he had finished with them. The situation was outrageous, and the very presence of such people in academia speaks to deep problems with the tenure system and modern methods of granting faculty appointments. One day, I shall write in scathing, personal terms of this mess. Fortunately, most professors are good, and I can state without qualification that most professors who have strong ideological tendencies Right or Left will nevertheless deliver a good course with considerable objectivity. At the same time, I have no problem (as my students will verify) declaring that I am the best teacher ever.

Self-promotion is cheaper than major media ad space.

An extraordinary amount of material is taught in microeconomics and macroeconomics; in fact, I tell my students right up front that economics principles courses are among the hardest courses they will take, certainly at the introductory level. They believe me within only a few class periods. Even though my failure/dropout rates are very low compared to those of most other teachers (and I am one of the toughest testers and graders I know), my drop/fail rate still hovers around 20 to 25 percent.

Beyond the classroom, I have published numerous articles on microeconomics and macroeconomics, including a killer, four-part series entitled, "The Economics of Wreckage." I hold in great esteem the clutch of long-time readers here at Dark Wraith Publishing online properties who have plowed through some of my more intensely analytical writings, a list of which can be found in my post, "The Echo of Now." As I tell my own classroom students, I do not expect anyone to thoroughly, deeply, comprehensively understand the principles of economics in one pass or even several. The understanding is not so much a process as it is a demanding trial. Much like any science or art, mastery is not something that just arrives at people's unconscious behest because they believe they know what they're doing or because they think they have insights from "wisdom and experience," although both are deeply important contributors to bringing the subject matter of any discipline to life outside the classroom and the textbook. This is tangentially related to the modern myth among early learners and the general public that the "Internet" is the key to unlimited genius at the touch of a button. Only slowly do students in good colleges come to realize that the online world they have known is nothing more than a child's wading pool compared to the vast ocean of content that flows from professors, from books, and from the deep resources, some fee-based, in databases like Lexis/Nexis, the Standard & Poor's Reports, Business Elite, Shadow Government Statistics, FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data), and thousands of other incomprehensibly vast lodes of data and information. Once students see the ocean and lose their fear of its impenetrable scope, the incredibly limited value of Google and Wikipedia, so overused by those who think knowledge is push-button easy, becomes apparent.

I do what I can, and I encourage the same in my students. "Thinking outside the box" is utterly useless without a deep, thorough knowledge of what, exactly, is inside that box. Shed light there, and quite a few myths will disappear about what it is that we have spent centuries developing, teaching, questioning, revising, and expanding. I have no intention of allowing the fields of my wide academic training, business experience, and years in teaching to be further eroded by either iconoclasts or institutional shills. I am old enough to be intensely bored by the wild 'n crazy crowd that thinks anything goes, and I am marginalized more than enough to be enraged by a corporatized, authoritarian system of governance that has penetrated society down to the very core of how people frame their concepts of personal, intellectual, and political freedom.

I am, on the other hand, not old enough to give up. I offer free subscription on Apple iTunes to entire courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and other courses I teach. These are podcasts of live, classroom lectures, and my subscriber base is not just my own students. People from all over the world listen, and the very fact that they would do something like that speaks to a heartening value at least some people hold: that information is insufficient without knowledge, and knowledge is insufficient without understanding.

At the end of the day, even understanding is insufficient if it fails to elicit within the learner at least a modicum of wisdom. That last step, I cannot provide. Many attain high degrees, great honors, and wide recognition, yet stop somewhere along the path from accepting raw data into their minds to distilling that data down to information and then processing it into knowledge. Others can make the journey without the need for those high degrees, great honors, and wide recognition. In any event, wisdom does not come without the prior journey. Most unfortunately, genuine wisdom will never be particularly valued, not in a society where ignorance is considered a viable voice, polemics a call to action, and wisdom a matter of opinion.

That does not mean the alternative in disciplined thinking backed by committed, on-going learning is dead.

Not, at least, until the Right-wingers and the Leftists who want teachers and practitioners like me to shut up get the guts to make their dream of a world of ignoramuses just like them come true.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · ·
04 July 2009

I've had it! I'll get to Sarah another time.

by: Father Tyme

July 4th, Independence Day,
unless you don’t agree with our “Democratic” President,
in which case “Ah, it’s just ano-ther day.”

There’s a large dose of irony here but for the life of me, I’m having trouble seeing it! Well, maybe not! You see, as a “good American,” I and you others are supposed to do whatever the person we elected tells us to do. Well, that’s what the former president tried to imbue in us and what the current occupant wants to continue. And the adoring faithful believe it.

Now he’s telling us that it’s not so “ok” to think independently; to trust him, I guess. Hey! It’s hard to trust someone you’ve chosen to lead you the way he promised when he cuts you off at the knees for the betterment of those who didn’t support but despised him. (I think that’s a little of the irony I mentioned.) During the campaign, those who now benefit the most showed little outward support for him. More irony.

Read the articles below. If things aren’t heading toward that Nationalist State that existed in the 1930s middle Europe, then where are they going?

I was under the impression that we elected a person to do the will of the majority, not that of a wealthy, self-entitled minority.

Imagine! He’s telling us that we’re to ignore our heritage of independent thought, much as the Right has done, and give up expressing our views simply because they don’t fall in line with his! The arrogance of that is not only unfathomable, or un-American, it may even be treasonous.

Obama 'Concerned' About DFHs Attacking Centrist Dems over Health Care Reform. Gee, I Wonder Why?
By Susie Madrak

“…Obama also hinted that efforts are under way to discourage allies from future attacks on Democrats, according to the source, who did not have permission to speak on the record about the discussion.
"Sweeping"? I think that word does not mean what he thinks it means. Because until we sweep greedy insurance companies out of their seats at the right hand of the throne, this will be a reform in name only, just like Massachusetts.
I wonder how they're going to "discourage" us? Cut off our internet access?”

Obama wants liberal groups (read: MoveOn) to stop pushing Dems to support public option
by John Aravosis (DC)

“…Liberal groups, such as MoveOn and SEIU, and liberal bloggers (such as Jane Hamsher and our own Joe Sudbay) have been pressuring Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu to support the public option in health care reform (i.e., some kind of public health insurance plan). Landrieu has been adamantly opposed to anything resembling a public option. So groups like MoveOn have been running ads against her.

Well, our president will have none of that, He want us all to stop trying to get Landrieu to support a public option. Specifically, he wants them to stop running this ad.

Obama is quickly pushing liberal groups to a make or break moment, I think. Groups like MoveOn can't just agree to stop supporting, and advocating for, key components of the liberal agenda simply because the president asks them to. I mean, sure, MoveOn can. Just as the gay groups have so far rolled over and played dead for the president even as he files briefs defending ant-gay laws, even as he compares their marriages to incest and pedophilia, even as he turns a blind eye towards the two gay service members a day being kicked out under his watch. But MoveOn doesn't lack the spine, and crave the cocktail parties, like our national gay civil rights groups. And now we have the second time that Obama has criticized MoveOn, and implicitly, its members.

At some point, liberal groups, and their liberal constituencies, are going to realize that the president has a habit of asking much and giving little in return. The blogs learned it during the election, when they busted their butts for this president and have since been treated like dirt. The gays have now learned it. The immigration groups are starting to learn it, as are the health care reform groups. I understand some women's groups aren't real happy (as if anyone thinks Obama, who is beginning to seem genetically incapable of fighting for anything "controversial," is going to defend abortion). And now it's MoveOn, again.

At some point these organizations' members are going to wake up and smell the coffee. And it isn't going to be pretty for anyone...”

An over-riding question is this:
With the Center-Right and Republican appointments to his cabinet and departments;
With his stance against Gays;
With his insistence on continuing privacy intrusions of common Americans;
With his support for the benefit of business over people;
With his support of corporations over the working population;
With his support of an illegal war and funding it over the needs of the people;
With a dozen other Right Wing and Neo-Conservative ideals;
He is trending toward a more conservative America than his predecessor.

Why are the Republicans fighting tooth and nail against this president when he epitomizes so much of their policies?

Celebrate our "Declaration of Independence Day?" From what? A person who asks us to follow him then treats us with veiled contempt; as ignorant masses who know no better? Read that document before it's considered fiction. It's more apropos than ever.

July 4th…used to mean something, but now, “it’s just another day.

sandford's missionary position

by: astraea

Peter, I have a google news alert going for "Sanford trade mission"

2 stories today, a few folks thinking bigger picture, outside the ol' box...

How Sanford spent state money on last year's Argentina trip - Miami,FL,USA
The records show that on June 25, 2008, Sanford left the rest of the South Carolina delegation who had taken part in a Brazilian trade mission and a private ...

Palin, Sanford and Dereliction of Duty
Daily Kos - Berkeley,CA,USA
If Palin's line about "overseas on international trade" was meant as a dig against the lovelorn Sanford, it surely backfired. After all, Palin during her ...

I Don't Want To Shock Anyone, But

by: Debra

I had a stroke of good luck.  I know, I know, it's not normal for me but every once in a while something nice happens.  And this was very nice.  Not that I had the money to be doing this, but I was over at the Atlantis playing a penny machine for 60 cents (max bet is a $1.50) with something called Goldbeard's Treasure and just after 4 in the morning, when my eyes were looking for matchsticks to keep them open, I hit a little jackpot.  And suddenly I was wide awake.

There are five progressive jackpots in this game and it randomly eliminates them one by one.  I figured I would win the $6.28 but it was eliminated first.  Then the $44 one disappeared, followed by the $50 one.  That left a $100 and one worth a very small five figures.  Which then started blinking "Winner."  You have no idea how surprised I was, I believe the exact quote was "no fucking shit?" Other than the taxi home the first thing I did was get a ticket to see Ron White tonight at the Peppermill.

Now that I have a little money in the bank (and of course B of A put a 7 day hold on it), I am loathe to spend it.  I need a car and a bed for mom would be really nice, as well as a computer desk (I'm using stacked beer cartons to hold the iMac and I prop the keyboard on my lap) and a lamp.  I loved the Infiniti but knowing what I know about the maintenance costs ($900 for a tuneup, premium gas only) makes me hesitant to replace it with another, but driving a beater car doesn't appeal to me.  I like things such as air bags, ABS brakes and the ability to smoothly move out of the way of trouble.  The heated seats weren't bad either.  Oh well, courtesy of the bank which has my balance at -$260, I have a week to look for a car.  And a new bank.

On the other hand, the woman who bought my car lost her job so I offered to buy the car back.  Then I could take some of the money and do the maintenance.  I like that alternative.

The maverick strikes again.  Since when does writing a book and giving speeches qualify one to run a country?  Especially one that thinks it's supposed to be the world's policeman.  Palin supporters are a different breed.  Of idiot.  Quinn Hillyer of the American Spectator writes that anyone who cuts and runs from elected office without finishing the term they were elected for is not to be admired or respected for their decision and the wingnuts came out in droves to support her and call him a twit, a fool and a mental lightweight.  And that was in the first four comments.  Funny how the army determines leaving your post to be desertion and to most employers it shows that the employee is not a good bet in the future because they didn't finish the job in the past.  While I thought the Bush supporters had drunk too much Kool-Aid, the Palin supporters have intermarried once too often.

Oops, in a surprise to researchers, self-help doesn't work.  It seems that the brain knows when your life isn't going well and resists efforts to convince it otherwise.  The brain prefers reality, what a concept.

Strange.  How can people follow me on Twitter when I never post?  Or maybe that's the point.

Today makes eighteen years since dad passed away.  I can't believe how much I still miss him.  Rest in peace, I love you.


· · · ·


by: astraea

a share from a psych list

stephen wrote

Deborah, all,


What interests me in your offering is the inflection of archetypes not
made explicit.

capitalism assumes 2 things: unlimited resources unlimited growth
I'm unaware of the model underpinning this assertion. Harkening back to
Adam Smith, I would suggest capitalism assumes scarcity, thus presumes a
law of supply and demand; then assumes a market to reconcile the
uncertainty of both. Unlimited amounts of anything are bad for the priests
of profit.

However, the phantasy of no limitation we could understand in
psychological terms: infinitude; illimitable vastness; perfection;
saturnian realization of the power of the Sun...and, the 'highest'
capitalist termed the Master of the Universe.*

as world heats up, these fairy tales implode.
unlimited paper resources.
unlimited greed.

Paper being wealth on paper? Of course, not even. So it happened that the
derivative Credit Default Swap's notional value exceeded world GDP by a
factor of 100?

I remember when the focus on quarterly earnings was decried. Yet, that was
making money the old fashioned way, right? It became a game for suckers
because the 'brightest boys in the room' figured out how to drive all
sorts of notional instruments to altitudes, Icarus-like heights,
unimaginable to those who could live with 5-10% returns on the equities of
companies that actually made stuff.


Back in the mid-eighties it became clear that the transfer of wealth from
the industrial midwest to the west, south and southwest would devastate
the midwest. Accomplished.

Helpful to that mission was a combination of deregulation and corporate
welfare. Then, in a very short time, making money the old fashioned way
simply became an idiotic venture given how easy it was to privatize
profits and socialize risk. This ended up with an incredible shift in
wealth to a very very few people.

By way of comparison, AIG has received about the same amount of money that
was spent on Iraq over the last two years. There are probably no more
dedicated socialists in world history than the current crop of super rich.

Ironic, eh?


It strikes me that the aspiration to be richer tomorrow than today is
right on the mark of extroverted puer psychology. Is there anyway for this
not to be a hallmark of provisionality? Of abiding dissatisfaction? Of
begging the mother for every last bit of everything she has, for the sake
of salvation?

To, as-it-were, continue the 'end of history'?

Also: hallmarks of the archaic personality, as Dr. jung put it in his
chapter, Psychology and National Problems (The Symbolic Life; 1936.)
Although in this piece Jung is highlighting the collective-fueled
negations of the individual on offer by the State, because here also is a
clear treatment of money and greed, it also does duty as a psychological
view, in the terms of Analytic Psychology, of any collective 'group
formation' fused to, as Jung put it, 'primitive tribal associations.'

(This noted, I would interpret the collective complex differently, and
make room for anima, as well as animus.)


Observing this all, I'm not surprised to be able to taste the cognitive
dissonance given by the nature of the projection on Mr. Obama, AND, the
mountain of money changing familiar hands in the background, both while
the insignificant people get marched through the sh*t storm. From this
also come the small group feeling revolution, while a very decadent
republican party consumes itself.

Another way to get at this psychologically, is to ponder what "Personal
Responsibility" means when used as a shallow political principle, to dress
up for 'the rest of us' the goings on. When various of the pious come
tumbling out of the sky, many aided by their golden parachutes, the
psychological situ in mythic terms seems clear.

The middle is not yet ripe.


Stephen in Clepheland

* Bertrand Russell termed Marxism a 'Christian heresy' in contrast to the
decadent Christianity that helped titanic capitalism reach maturity.



Stephen wrote:
capitalism assumes 2 things: unlimited resources unlimited growth
"I'm unaware of the model underpinning this assertion. Harkening back to Adam Smith, I would suggest capitalism assumes scarcity, thus presumes a law of supply and demand; then assumes a market to reconcile the uncertainty of both. Unlimited amounts of anything are bad for the priests
of profit."

my model? Draw it out. At some point all resources are finite. And so is need -- the thing that drives growth. And growth is assumed in capitalism. Depended upon to sustain a nation.

Simply: you have to have product, something to market. This is culled from raw materials. work. human beings. Things finite in a real world. A real planet. A planet that depends on balance and forces innate. It's the wall we've hit. (And why they want to mine outer space...)

And you have to have consumers who can afford to buy product. For the system to "work," that is, to sustain a society, things have to work the cycle.

Need becomes (necessarily) created, because growth is essential to the process. Planned obsolescence. Pet rocks. Thin.

Thus, the market is driven more like a cancer than by the symbiotic principles of nature. And only the latter endures.

There has to be tempering, balance.

Those 401k's that will feed you in old age. Security? Foreign thought to a country that has no real safety nets. And of course, the whole business is padded and subsidized... Free market is a myth. Look at oil.

And now at all that paper speculation. Money based on nothing but thin air.

Capitalism is a myth. And concentration of wealth that works to protect and propel itself first -- is contradictory to democracy.

As for the rest...
well done, stephen. you give a place to stand, a perspective, which helps one to not lose heart.

reading alice's credo and your bertrand russell, I'm reminded that balfour called socialism applied christianity. what a force that could be, the archetype freed from Christ's material literality and allowed to be realized as spiritual truth (the true rapture, even in the vaults of the vatican), to recognized itself (though our recognition) in other religions, and -- most of all -- in the eyes and form of all sentient beings.

and its shadow compensation -- money and wealth based on thin air.

what energy there is in this polarity. Latent "mojo", eros, genius. libido as jung defined it...


steep journey, here. Pace is all.

and as the world is buried in the news, we have to be our own light

Happy Birthday, America

by: Foiled Goil

The contest for ages has been to rescue liberty from the grasp of executive power.
~Daniel Webster

Liberty can not be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.
~John Adams

· ·
03 July 2009

Palin's Resignin'

by: Dark Wraith

Sarah Palin for President

Sarah Palin has announced that she will resign as Governor of the State of Alaska, effective July 26.

She did not explain exactly why she is resigning, although she repeated her recent complaints about her family being the butt of jokes, mentioning that her son Trig, who has Down's Syndrome, was "mocked and ridiculed by some mean-spirited adults recently."

Setting aside her newly found concerns for family members, speculation about why she intends to step down centers on the possibility that she wants to run for President in 2012, given her slightly veiled claim earlier this week that she could beat President Barack Obama in a race for the White House.

Albeit less likely, another possible reason she is resigning is that she has become aware of adverse information about her that will soon become public. Rumors persist about whether it is she or her daughter Bristol who is the biological mother of Trig, and scandals around allegations of personal intervention in legal matters involving family members caused considerable dismay even among members of her own party in the Alaska legislature. Furthermore, aids to Senator John McCain continue to let fly quite a few stories about her ignorance, her obstinacy, and her lack of self-control in spending campaign funds while she was the GOP nominee's running mate.

So, what's the real reason Palin's resignin'?

Only time will tell, but you betcha that the soon-to-be-former governor has her eye on the White House; and if the Republican Party has the common sense to slam the door on her aspirations, she could very well keep her ambition alive by other means, as I cautioned months ago in my November 2, 2008, article, "Sarah Palin, All on Her Own."

In the months ahead, if Ms. Palin does, indeed, plan to keep her burgeoning ego fed by the public limelight, she can be assured that she will have an ample and continuing supply of excuses to trot out her special, transparently disingenuous brand of manufactured outrage, if from no other source, then certainly from here, where she will get all the respect those who are pridefully ignorant, pompously hypocritical, and unintentionally ludicrous deserve.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· ·

The Snowball is picking up....

by: Peter of Lone Tree

Uh, make that "The Fiery Hellball of Destruction" is picking up speed as it rolls downhill.
Few days ago, I mentioned somewhere down below that 5 more banks had failed as of Friday the 26th, with DW adding that brought the total number for the year to 45.

Well, I wanted to get this posted in a hurry so I'm unsure if we just set a record for one week's worth of bank failures, but the FDIC closed 7 more this week for a grand total this year of 52.

Here's the lead sentence from the lead article at The Bank Implode-O-Meter: "The FDIC was busy this holiday weekend seizing seven banks after the close of business this fourth of July weekend. Founders Bank, Worth, IL, was the 52nd bank to be shut down by the agency in 2009 and the seventh of the night."

Also interesting is the fact that 5 of those 7 are located in Illinois. There's a buddy of mine who teaches over that way and I'll have to send him a link to this post and ask him if he could maybe be responsible for a lot of this by not learnin' them kids of his more better.

(Side note to the Wraith): I dutifully filed this under "Economics," but do you suppose we could have an additional category of EEK!onomics?
02 July 2009

DoJ, IRS, UBS, Phil Gramm, U.S. Tax Cheaters

by: Foiled Goil

UBS, the IRS and Phil Gramm

Perrspectives, February 20, 2009:
News that the Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Swiss banking giant UBS is just the latest chapter in the curious case of Phil Gramm. Just one day after UBS agreed to pay a $780 million criminal fine and admitted to conspiring to defraud the IRS, the DOJ demanded access to 52,000 accounts as part of its broad tax evasion probe. Which is more than just a little ironic. After all, before he became a UBS vice-chairman in 2002, then Senator Phil Gramm helped lead the 1990's Republican war to gut the Internal Revenue Service. [snip]

And what started out last year as an investigation into the possible criminal activity of 20,000 wealthy Americans has now mushroomed to involve as many as 52,000 people.

For UBS, Phil Gramm has brought a reverse Midas touch. Suffering billions in losses from subprime lending and steep losses in its stock price, UBS (along with other institutions) may soon witness the end of secret Swiss banking. As for the American people, the economic devastation wrought by Phil Gramm is far from over.

U.S.: UBS must release names of suspected tax cheats

USA Today:
Swiss bank UBS "systematically and deliberately" violated U.S. law by dispatching private bankers to recruit wealthy Americans interested in evading taxes and must be forced to reveal the identities of 52,000 of those clients, the Justice Department said in a court filing Tuesday.

The filing, which comes amid several published reports that the case may be near settlement, urges U.S. District Judge Alan Gold to hold UBS accountable for conducting years of illegal business on U.S. soil — business that earned the bank more than $100 million in fees but cost the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.

"It is time for UBS to face the consequences that it has brought upon itself," said Justice Department tax attorney Stuart Gibson in the 55-page filing. "The United States has proven its case for enforcement." [snip]

The IRS summons seeks the identities of all U.S. taxpayers who had an "undeclared" account at UBS between 2002 and 2007. Many of these UBS clients have already voluntarily come forward to settle tax obligations with the IRS, Byrne said.

UBS previously reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department in which it agreed to disclose the identities of up to 300 U.S. clients and pay $780 million to the U.S. government. In that deal, UBS admitted regularly violating U.S. law through its client recruitment methods, use of sham offshore entities and filing of false paperwork.

"In sum, UBS has admitted that its bankers committed very serious crimes on U.S. soil, in ways that subjected UBS to the full jurisdiction of the IRS and the courts of the United States," Gibson said in the U.S. filing.

· ·
01 July 2009

Righteous Wrath of an Analyst Who Got It Right

by: Dark Wraith

In comments to a post, below, here at Big Brass Blog, I was asked to address some recent analysis of the role of a certain financial institution in what has come to be called the "financial meltdown," and I herewith take an unapologetic turn at the entire mentality that has taken hold of intelligentsia as it flails about, looking for a culprit to pillory.

I have brought my writing to bear on this subject before, but I really do need to hit the point right on the head, dispensing with formalistic niceties. I am just plain weary of the "journalists," important media-approved "analysts," and mainstream politicians who spend their time looking around for this or that mendacious bad person, evil firm, or other greedy entity for the root cause of the fiasco that has befallen our financial institutions. It seems that everyone who is respectable avoids like the Plague looking at the failure of the institution in plain sight, the Federal Reserve, where an appalling, systematic, multi-year malfeasance lay at the heart of the whole disaster.

The Federal Reserve failed to control the money supply aggregate M3, and when its failure began to pulse like a flashing red beacon, the Federal Reserve had the unbelievable gall to simply stop publishing the information about the out-of-control aggregate. By not maintaining control of M3, a highly illiquid form of money, it gave banks and other financial institutions all the incentive in the world to construct derivative instruments by which that illiquid form of money could be used to generate more liquid capital.

It's like owning a house when you're cash-strapped. The house is "money," but you can't use it to buy groceries; but what you can do is use that house as collateral to borrow cash-money so you can make bets and engage in other risky behaviors that do generate cash.

It was, is, and always will be the Federal Reserve's principal duty to maintain a stable growth of the money supply, and part of the reason for this is so that distorted incentives do not arise in the financial system where market power is sufficient to both seek and discover prices for financial instruments.

To some extent, the Federal Reserve's custodial role is very similar to the job of parents in ensuring that distorted incentives do not overwhelm decision-making processes of their children. The world has all kinds of bad things to offer, and it has all kinds of ways by which those bad things can infect the thinking of rational entities who want what's best for themselves without regard to larger, longer-term consequences for either themselves or the bigger world that will have to pay the price for their errors.

Yes, of course Goldman-Sachs is a greedy entity. That's what motivates business enterprise, and no amount of shaming, "ethics" training, or preaching from the Bible is going to change either the nature of the firm or the nature of the people who comprise an enterprise. It is our public institutions (in a secular society) that have the responsibility to circumscribe our worst and to foster an environment in which our worst does not become our best choice.

The Federal Reserve failed, and it failed massively, both during the tenure of Ben Bernanke and before him during the last years of Alan Greenspan, who became a spiteful manipulator of monetary policy against Bill Clinton and then a shill for lies about the need for massive tax cuts under George W. Bush.

And now, let me go on the attack against President Barack Obama.

I have written time and time again against this man. He is, at best, a center-right authoritarian, and his judgment regarding appointments to high offices is nothing short of outrageous. He is not choosing the best; he is, instead, choosing institutional hacks and people of otherwise less-than-stellar minds and strengths. I could name his Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, as one of his worst-of-the-worst choices were it not for others who rank in the same league of outlandish incompetence, mendacity, and sheer inadequacy of qualifications and prior performance; but I shall for the purposes of this brief article focus upon Timothy Geithner, whom Obama appointed — under no pressure whatsoever to do so — as the Secretary of the Treasury.

This is the Timothy Geithner who was the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the so-called "Empire Bank," which has a permanent voting seat on the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, which decides upon and then directs the execution of monetary policy, with the principal means of carrying out that monetary policy being via what are called "open market operations" carried out by the Domestic Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve District Bank in New York.

Beyond Geithner's intimate involvement in the utterly irresponsible monetary policy regime that allowed M3 to grow out of control, because the Reserve Banks are in charge of supervising all member banks of the Federal Reserve system in their respective districts, the Empire Bank was the regulatory point where control of the banks in New York was supposed to take place, and yet New York was the virtual epicenter of the "financial meltdown." This happened when Geithner was the President of the Reserve Bank that was supposed to have had an iron fist of regulatory control over those very banks. And the claim that the Reserve Banks do not have regulatory authority over some of the financial institutions that got in trouble is sheer nonsense: after Glass-Steagall was all but thrown in the trash a decade ago, the financial sector dispensed with all pretense that there was a wall separating banking from all manner of other financial services, yet the Fed could do nothing to regulate this integrated financial services industry? Sure. Right.

Did Geithner get fired?

Did Geithner go to prison?

Did Geithner get publicly humiliated and driven into the wilderness?

No, President Barack Obama appointed him Secretary of the Treasury of the United States of America.

And finally, a brief mention of Ben Bernanke.

For allowing M3 to roar out of control, thereby allowing the creation of the vast overhang of illiquid monetary assets that were used to back ridiculously risky bets by banks, did Ben Bernanke get charged with crimes of any kind?

Was Ben Bernanke fired from his job for staggering malfeasance that will ultimately cost the American economy and its taxpayers more than $60 trillion? (You read that right: $60 trillion. Do a search using the keyword term "notional value.")

Has Ben Bernanke even been called before a grand jury?

Has President Barack Obama made any signal whatsoever that he will not tolerate this kind of stunning malfeasance in the government of which he is now the undisputed chief executive officer?

The answer to every single one of the above questions is a resounding, "No."

I am not interested in hearing about Goldman-Sachs or Bank of America or Lehman Brothers or Merrill Lynch or any other bad, greedy firm, not until someone tells me why it is that the greed of private enterprise is to be condemned when the incompetence of duly authorized public enforcers of proper behavior was so profound that greed in its destructive form could go as far as it did, for as long as it did, to the extraordinary detriment of the macroeconomy as it did.

Do not talk to me about how bad the kids are when no one wants to give me anything but blank looks about the trailer trash parents who were singularly, unambiguously responsible for seeing to it that their little snots didn't tear up the town.

I do apologize for being so blunt; but life is short, and no one else seems to have the guts to lay it out.

"No one could possibly have imagined..."?

I did. So did a few other analysts. We were marginalized; we were ignored; and the disaster happened.

Ignore us now, and the aftermath will be no better.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · ·

here's the thing...

by: astraea

a preface to the below...

capitalism assumes 2 things:

unlimited resources
unlimited growth.

as world heats up, these fairy tales implode.

so what now?

unlimited paper resources.
unlimited greed.

now how do we all opt out?

How Goldman Sachs took over Washington by engineering every major market manipulation since the Great Depression

by: astraea

(I've been away, wandering. Is this looking out for all, making laws, doing your best to be just -- a form of irreverence?

I am all too ready to steer.

Blessed be the best laid plans that go astray...)

To business.
Please go read Rolling Stone's matt taibbi article. Even better, read it in print.

and so goldman "answers" taibbi in the pages of the Murdochian (fair & balanced! We report; you decide! -- as in We decide what we report and twist it our own special way, praise the lord) rag, as noted in the nytimes:

Goldman and Rolling Stone Writer Trade Barbs

July 1, 2009, 6:47 am

It seems that a war of the words has broken out between Goldman Sachs and Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi, who authored an article sub-titled: “How Goldman Sachs took over Washington by engineering every major market manipulation since the Great Depression.”

The 12-page article focuses on Goldman Sachs’s Teflon-like quality, as the investment bank has managed to dodge bullets that brought down rivals like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.

As The New York Post puts it, “the article echoes a string of conspiracies centered on Goldman’s uncanny ability to make reams of cash in both good times and bad.”

For example, Goldman is said to have made billions trading on both sides of a bet on residential mortgages, pocketing large sums betting against them, while the investment bank was raking in cash packaging and selling those same mortgages. (Goldman was apparently not alone in using such tactics — The Post reports that both Bear and Lehman were up to the same thing.)

However, for Mr. Taibbi, “The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.”

It is claims like that in his article that seem to have gotten Goldman’s back up, The Post says.

Goldman spokesman Lucas Van Praag told The Post in an e-mail: “[Taibbi's] story is an hysterical compilation of conspiracy theories. Notable ones missing are Goldman Sachs as the third shooter [in John F. Kennedy's assassination] and faking the first lunar landing.”

“We reject the assertion that we are inflators of bubbles and profiteers in busts, and we are painfully conscious of the importance in being a force for good,” Mr. Van Praag added.

And it didn’t stop there. Goldman’s response so infuriated Mr. Taibbi, that he wrote a length rebuttal on his blog Tuesday, saying that “you’d have to be absolutely crazy…not to accept the notion that Goldman shouldered a significant portion of the blame for the internet mess. They were, after all, the leading underwriter of internet IPOs during the internet boom years.”

On the Goldman’s role in residential mortgages, Mr. Taibbi continues: “[W]hile their ‘former competitors’…were dumb enough to hold their mortgage paper and be sunk by it, Goldman shorted their own crap, which means…they knew that what they were selling was a loser. So while they maybe weren’t the biggest player, they were still a major player, and one can easily make the case that they were the most obnoxious player, given that they dove into this muck with their eyes wide open, unlike so many other idiots on Wall Street.”

Goldman, whose alumni appear all over the financial map, from Washington to Wall Street. survived the financial meltdown last fall, but not without help. It took $10 billion from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. It also received a $5 billion investment from Warren E. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway that came with a strong endorsement from Mr. Buffett.

Go to Article from The New York Post »
Go to Item from Matt Taibbi’s Blog »

(comments: click on date below.)

More Opinions Than A Newspaper

by: Debra

Looks like we left just in time. I didn't vote for Arnold and I most certainly didn't vote to recall Gray Davis because I didn't believe rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic was going to help. I did vote for Prop 13 and believe it is long past time for parts of it to be repealed. Specifically the two thirds majority for tax increases and corporations receiving the same tax break that only the elderly should have.  Fifteen people who have roofs over their head, food in their stomachs, taxpayer paid healthcare to go along with their cars, limousines and Hummers have cost the state an additional $7billion with their artificial tantrums and complete disregard for the welfare of their non-corporate constituents.

Now sit back and watch as the quality of life in California plummets: More crime and fewer law enforcement officers; more prisoners in already overflowing penitentiaries; more students crammed in dilapidated classrooms with fewer and lower-paid teachers; more kids thrown out of programs and into the streets; more layoffs and "furloughs"; more poverty without relief; more drug addicts and meth labs in "unincorporated" areas where sheriffs have been laid-off. And don't forget the crumbling infrastructure and the unkempt and unsafe state parks and young people denied the opportunity to go to college and a public health care system on the verge of collapse and a widening class divide between the richest and poorest Californians. Schwarzenegger's "legacy" will be that he tried his best to turn California into a post-apocalyptic Hellscape replicating the dystopian cinematography of one his Sci-Fi movies.

Yup, he played his best Kindergarten Cop in True Lies fashion.  Somehow they seem to get things done in Nevada.  We even have the occasional nice cop.

This just in, General Franco Michael Jackson is still dead.  I hope Lompoc gets some of the tourist dollars, they would appreciate it and people would discover a town where the air smells of flowers.  Oh, and to that paper that I no longer link to, Michael Jackson is not getting weirder in death, the coverage is.

Mine isn't worth the paper it's printed on.  And it certainly isn't worth the money it took to get it.

Kick his ass to the curb and don't look back.  There is no marriage to work on and it would be better for the kids if they saw that at least one parent had respect for themselves.  If it had been a single incident or partner maybe he could be forgiven.  But once your husband of twenty years has babbled in public about his soul mate and it isn't you, there is nothing left to save. It's time to move on with your life and find somebody who respects you.

Perhaps if the movie industry had actors instead of stars and good writing instead of explosions every five seconds and it didn't cost $10 for a ticket to a movie where the credits are almost as long as the  movie, maybe the industry wouldn't be in such trouble.


· · · · ·

Aren’t we just full of ourself?

by: Father Tyme


Hillary Duff should play me in a movie, Meghan McCain says

Who decided this "person" has anything noteworthy to offer?

"I just wrote a chapter about her [Sarah Palin], so she'll definitely be in [the movie], too. But I don't know who would play her," McCain said.
The blogger and political daughter — who envisions her book like Tori Spelling's 'sTori Telling — said she wants Hillary Duff to play her in the movie version of her book:
"I want Hilary Duff to play me. I think she's really hot - hotter than me - but I'd still want her to play me," she said.

You know that little piece of food that gets stuck somewhere between your teeth? The one that brushing just doesn’t remove? You get floss or a toothpick to try to remove that irritating speck. But sometimes, just sometimes, especially with us guys (I know you gals don’t do this because it’s soooo uncouth!) there’s a certain, little bit of satisfaction in trying to wriggle it out with your tongue! I know it sounds a bit disconcerting to those reared on the Upper East Side, but when you finally work that bit of dinner’s leftover out, a feeling of completeness comes over you! Exaggeration? Perhaps!

But Sarah Palin is just like that annoying particle stuck somewhere where you can’t quite get at it right away yet you keep trying for whatever reason to play with it until it’s stops bothering you.
Why can’t we get this Kindergarten “magna cum lasta” out of our consciousness? You can’t ignore that irritant. If you do nothing, it’ll find a way to keep bothering you with its presence. You'd like it removed immediately but at the same time, there’s satisfaction in knowing that eventually, after playing with it for a while, you’ll have disposed of it.

Well, now there’s another tiny bit of partially chewed fodder sticking between another section of our teeth. And while Sarah may just be a piece of undone, semi-tough steak or a scale off a slab of passable Alaskan Salmon, this one is just the Caraway Seed from a fast food hamburger joint (certainly not the Boss's Diner!). It’s stuck there, wont go away and even though there might be satisfaction in plucking it out with your tongue, it’s hard and tasteless afterward.

The irritating seed is none other than Meghan McCain. A bit of mouth dropping thrust into our selective palate by the MSM. Just when you think you got that smidgen of insipid, Palin mediocrity out, it's replaced by another; this time as a Sesame Seed from Mikki D’s.

Why did we go for that fast food in the first place? Well, it WAS cheap! And it seemed to be available everywhere! There’s no nutritional value! There’s really nothing that satisfies for other than a very short period of time and then it can cause stomach aches, gas and even worse! Yet we go back time and again.


Maybe it's just for the satisfaction of knowing we're going to always get something stuck between our teeth and for whatever reason we enjoy the effort or challenge in removing that useless particle wedged in so tightly. Whatever the reason, I guess we’re stuck with doing it over and over again. At least until we go on an all liquid diet.

Anybody got a toothpick?