Thursday, December 31, 2009

Must-read Congressional hearing on climate change

Everybody, please read National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief's testimony before Congress on Dec. 2, along with President Obama's science adviser. The real stuff begins on p. 13, but you're welcome to read the Congressmens' biased opening statements. Rep. Sensenbrenner's comments are particularly awful.

Some excerpts from Dr. Lubchenco's statements:

"Today we know that it's [climate change] happening now."

"I emphasize that climate change is not a theory. It is a documented step of observations about the world."

"The NOAA data used in the IPCC report are open and available widely -- openly available."

"Global average surface temperature has risen by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900 and is projected to rise another 2 to 11.5 degrees by 2100. The current atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is estimated at about 385 parts per million, which is higher than the highest point in the last 800,000 years." [emphasis mine]

Rep. Inslee's opening question to Obama's science adviser Holdren is classic:

"It's interesting to me. And the only way that I've been able to understand it is that some people believe there's a massive global conspiracy that's intent on world domination associated with phonying up information about pteropods and the fact that the Arctic is melting. So I just want to ask you if you're part of that massive international conspiracy? Are either one of you members of the Trilateral Commission, SPECTRE or KAOS?"

Dr. Holdren, Obama's science adviser, on the e-mail controversy:

"And as to exactly what went on in the way of manipulation of data, I think that remains to be seen. To the extent that there was manipulation of data that was not scientifically legitimate, and I emphasize that scientists manipulate data all the time in order to make them comprehensible and consistent -- but if there was manipulation of data that was not scientifically legitimate, yes, I regard that as a problem, and I would denounce it." [emphasis mine]

Dr. Holdren on Dr. Mann's "hockey stick" graph:

"I think there is reason to believe that some of the statistical methods that Dr. Mann used were not the best for the purpose. The Academy [of Sciences] pointed that out and it nonetheless concluded that his -- that his basic finding that the last 50 years were the warmest half century in the last 1,000 to 2,000 years, was nonetheless robust.

"And again, I would point out that arguments about what the best statistical techniques to use are pervasive in the scientific community, and it's no surprise that one has a difference of opinion. It's no surprise that a scientist may have made a mistake in the
method chosen to analyze a particular dataset. Again, the key thing about science is not that scientists are always right. It's that they fix their mistakes over time."

Dr. Holdren on temperature fluctuations:

"If you look at the actual temperature data, and I have in front of me the NOAA dataset for the global average surface temperatures through 2008, what you see is that nine of the 10 warmest years in the 140-year thermometer record, the period of time since 1880 when we've had enough thermometer measurements around the land and the ocean to meaningfully define a global average surface temperature, nine of the 10 warmest years in that period occurred since 1998.

"1998 itself was the second-warmest year in the record, 2005 was the first-warmest, all 15 of the warmest years in the 140-year record occurred since 1990. You look at the numbers and you do see a bump as you see up there on the screen on the far right, where in the last few years there is no discernible upward trend. But this is completely consistent with having natural fluctuations, natural ups and downs super-imposed on a long-term warming trend associated with greenhouse gases."

Here is Rep. Insleee (D-Wash) talking to Holdren about scientific conspiracies:

"INSLEE: Dr. Holdren, you have testified several times listening to you that given the extensive review by the National Academy of Sciences and using information based from NOAA, NASA and a whole host of other -- of other datasets, that there is no reason to revise their fundamental conclusion that humans are contributing to change in climate and NOAA not to change a fundamental conclusion that the oceans are becoming more acidic.

Mr. Sensenbrenner suggested that there's some "scientific fascism," and that's a quote. Is there any evidence of fascism in the NASA organization, scientific fascism associated with this?

HOLDREN: I'm not even sure exactly what that term would mean, but I don't -- I don't -- I'm not aware of any cabals, conspiracies, misbehavior in the characterization and use of data in NASA or in NOAA.

INSLEE: Well, I'll tell you, it's troublesome to me that people who put the man on the moon, the people who discovered water on the moon, the people who are doing great research figuring out how the oceans are becoming acidic, some of whom are my constituents, it's disturbing to me that people would come to this chamber and call them fascists."

Of course, if the head of the NOAA is engaged in a global conspiracy, she's not going to admit it! But that just goes to show you the impenetrable rhetorical armor of the conspiracy theorists: absence of evidence of a conspiracy is not evidence of absence of a conspiracy.

So, if you persist in believing in this global conspiracy which must permeate all levels of gov't and academia, then you're placing yourself in the same yellow submarine with 9/11 Truthers and Birthers. I don't care how many people are joining "your side," since this issue is not a debate, it's science. There is only 1 right answer.

You're also dooming yourself to ignorance, since you don't trust anybody. (Well, you trust the debunkers, who don't do any original research, but really that amounts to the same thing: you don't trust scientists.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

15 worst industry-paid GW deniers

If for nothing else, peruse this list of oft-quoted Deniers to see whose money they take.

I'll say it again: real scientists do actual research. They do not open up corporate-funded institutes which do none of their own research, and dedicate their professional lives to debunking.

Some of the bastards responsible for subverting public understanding of climate change

By Michael Roddy & Ian Murphy
December 29, 2009 | THE BEAST

Security, opportunity costs, & 'puffer' machines

So it turns out that the explosive chemical powder PETN that Abdulmutallab used is easily detected by airport "puffer" machines during security screening. Only thing is, he never passed through one of those detectors in Nigeria, Holland, or the U.S.

You see, these puffer machines are expensive (about $160 K each), humidity and dirt make them break down often, and maintenance costs the TSA several $ million a year.

So about 100 of these puffer machines are sitting in storage, unused.

All I can say is... DWTF?!

The war in Afghanistan now costs us about $57,000 per minute. 3 minutes of fightin' evildoers over there could buy 1 "expensive" puffer machine; a minute more would easily pay for its annual maintenance. The money spent on 1 month of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan could cover the world's airports and train stations in puffer machines. We could afford to put one in every entrance of every mall in America.

Besides Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon is spending $ billions on laser weapons and space weapons -- really cool, high-tech stuff. And yet we can't develop an airport screening system that is fast, effective, and low-maintenance.

Can't, won't... or don't care? Or is it really what some have been arguing all along: the opportunity cost of "winning" over there is all the small, un-sexy but necessary things that keep us safe over here?

Hey, we're the freaking US of A, we can do anything we put our minds to! So, a rational person can only conclude that airport security -- and port and dam security, etc. -- are just not as important to our leaders as, say, faraway military adventures in godforsaken deserts. They -- Dubya, Obama, Congress -- pledged to keep us safe. So far, it seems that only al Qaeda's incompetence (and childish obsession with airplanes) and a strapping Dutch tourist are keeping us safe. In return for all the tax money and inconvenience we sacrifice for our supposed safety, our leaders owe us more.

By Pamela Hess and Eileen Sullivan
December 28, 2009 | Associated Press

Krugman: Decade of zero economic gains

By Paul Krugman
December 28, 2009 | New York Times

Maybe we knew, at some unconscious, instinctive level, that it would be an era best forgotten. Whatever the reason, we got through the first decade of the new millennium without ever agreeing on what to call it. The aughts? The naughties? Whatever. (Yes, I know that strictly speaking the millennium didn't begin until 2001. Do we really care?)

But from an economic point of view, I'd suggest that we call the decade past the Big Zero. It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true.

It was a decade with basically zero job creation. O.K., the headline employment number for December 2009 will be slightly higher than that for December 1999, but only slightly. And private-sector employment has actually declined — the first decade on record in which that happened.

It was a decade with zero economic gains for the typical family. Actually, even at the height of the alleged "Bush boom," in 2007, median household income adjusted for inflation was lower than it had been in 1999. And you know what happened next.

It was a decade of zero gains for homeowners, even if they bought early: right now housing prices, adjusted for inflation, are roughly back to where they were at the beginning of the decade. And for those who bought in the decade's middle years — when all the serious people ridiculed warnings that housing prices made no sense, that we were in the middle of a gigantic bubble — well, I feel your pain. Almost a quarter of all mortgages in America, and 45 percent of mortgages in Florida, are underwater, with owners owing more than their houses are worth.

Last and least for most Americans — but a big deal for retirement accounts, not to mention the talking heads on financial TV — it was a decade of zero gains for stocks, even without taking inflation into account. Remember the excitement when the Dow first topped 10,000, and best-selling books like "Dow 36,000" predicted that the good times would just keep rolling? Well, that was back in 1999. Last week the market closed at 10,520.

So there was a whole lot of nothing going on in measures of economic progress or success. Funny how that happened.

For as the decade began, there was an overwhelming sense of economic triumphalism in America's business and political establishments, a belief that we — more than anyone else in the world — knew what we were doing.

Let me quote from a speech that Lawrence Summers, then deputy Treasury secretary (and now the Obama administration's top economist), gave in 1999. "If you ask why the American financial system succeeds," he said, "at least my reading of the history would be that there is no innovation more important than that of generally accepted accounting principles: it means that every investor gets to see information presented on a comparable basis; that there is discipline on company managements in the way they report and monitor their activities." And he went on to declare that there is "an ongoing process that really is what makes our capital market work and work as stably as it does."

So here's what Mr. Summers — and, to be fair, just about everyone in a policy-making position at the time — believed in 1999: America has honest corporate accounting; this lets investors make good decisions, and also forces management to behave responsibly; and the result is a stable, well-functioning financial system.

What percentage of all this turned out to be true? Zero.

What was truly impressive about the decade past, however, was our unwillingness, as a nation, to learn from our mistakes.

Even as the dot-com bubble deflated, credulous bankers and investors began inflating a new bubble in housing. Even after famous, admired companies like Enron and WorldCom were revealed to have been Potemkin corporations with facades built out of creative accounting, analysts and investors believed banks' claims about their own financial strength and bought into the hype about investments they didn't understand. Even after triggering a global economic collapse, and having to be rescued at taxpayers' expense, bankers wasted no time going right back to the culture of giant bonuses and excessive leverage.

Then there are the politicians. Even now, it's hard to get Democrats, President Obama included, to deliver a full-throated critique of the practices that got us into the mess we're in. And as for the Republicans: now that their policies of tax cuts and deregulation have led us into an economic quagmire, their prescription for recovery is — tax cuts and deregulation.

So let's bid a not at all fond farewell to the Big Zero — the decade in which we achieved nothing and learned nothing. Will the next decade be better? Stay tuned. Oh, and happy New Year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lessons from Abdulmutallab's foiled attack

Hmm... What to say about this almost-tragedy? A few observations and broadsides:

1) It's Dubya's fault.
2) This Nigerian kid fits the typical al Qaeda-in-America terrorist profile: well off, educated kid from not-very-religious Muslim family who turns to radical Islam in his 20s after living in a Western country and experiencing alienation and/or racism and resultant loss of self-identity.

UPDATE (Dec. 30, 2009): Looks like I was right. Poor little Farouk was just lonely.

3) It's Dubya's fault.
4) He probably acted alone. (Which would explain his shitty detonator).

UPDATE (Dec. 30, 2009): They now say Abdulmutallab was carrying out an al Qaeda operation. They've claimed responsibility, anyway.

What does it all add up to? Not much, except: as the world's biggest Occupier of Muslim Lands, we might as well get used to crap like this. If some privileged but disgruntled college nerd from Africa can almost take down a U.S. airliner all by himself, then, well... What good is the War on Terra? We're kidding ourselves, folks. Our leaders have no idea how to keep us safe.

Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab poses for a picture  at the International school , Lome, Togo
Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab poses for a picture at the International school , Lome, TogoPhoto: AP

By Karen DeYoung and Michael Leahy
December 28, 2009 | Washington Post

AIG: 'About those bonuses... Um, yeah. We're gonna have to kinda take them back, m'kay?'

Gee, maybe the federal gov't should outlaw all AIG bonuses, let the rats flee the ship with their lawyers, let the company sink into oblivion, and then let Lucifer sort out the culprits. Just a thought.

To put it more lightly: These scumbags don't deserve bonuses or even employment because without the U.S. taxpayers AIG wouldn't exist right now. The only reason they got bailed out was to pay off Goldman Sachs' insurance. That dirty deal has been done. Time to cut these SOBs loose.

AIG executives' promises to return bonuses have gone largely unfulfilled
By Brady Dennis
December 23, 2009 | Washington Post


As Obama retreats, Mexico moves toward universal coverage

If they keep on coming, we'll know it's not for our health care.

Gee, if only we could solve Mexico's narco-state problem by stemming our insatiable appetite for their illegal drugs, then maybe Mexico could make some progress....

By Mary Sanchez
December 26, 2009 | Kansas City Star

Sunday, December 27, 2009

>30 Fed & Treasury programs make up $14 trillion bailout

Looking at this collossal hodgepodge of Fed & Treasury programs financed by U.S. taxpayers to prop up the largest Wall Street banks, I can't believe that in all these programs and with all that money, the geniuses (and ex-geniuses) of Wall Street couldn't devise a mechanism to get credit flowing again to small business and home buyers.

I can only conclude that Bernanke, Geithner, Obama, et al really don't give a damn about normal people, only about their banker buddies.

December 21, 2009 | Mother Jones

Treasury Department and Federal Reserve

Rep. Polis: 'No good reason to be in Afghanistan'

No good reason to be in Afghanistan
By Jared Polis
December 24, 2009 CNN

Editor's note: Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat, represents Colorado's 2nd Congressional District and is appearing in's "Freshman Year" series along with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah.

I recently attended the White House Christmas tree lighting and congressional holiday party. Christmas is traditionally a time of peace and love, quite a juxtaposition for a nation fighting three wars, one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan, and a global war on terror.

We went into Afghanistan eight years ago to oust the Taliban and capture their guest Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda associates. Eight years later, al Qaeda has largely been driven out of Afghanistan.

When should our nation go to war? Only as a last resort.

That's why I opposed the completely unnecessary invasion of Iraq, and why I now oppose an ongoing occupation of Afghanistan.

In meeting after meeting, I have been shown by generals and statesmen what we are doing in Afghanistan, how it could take decades, might not work, and is fraught with risks. In response, I ask the same repeated question: Why?

With all the ambiguity clouding the outcome, the case has not been conclusively made that the possibilities are more favorable with an increase of 30,000 troops.

The very real war on terror must be fought, not just in Iraq or Afghanistan, but across the globe. The terrorists, most notably al Qaeda and their associates, are a stateless menace.

With the manpower and financial resources we are putting into occupying the nation of Afghanistan, we could improve our port security, increase our intelligence gathering to locate and infiltrate terrorist cells, and increase our special operation capacity.

Three areas of focus -- homeland security, intelligence, and special operations -- are the three best tools in our toolbox to fight the war on terror. Focusing our resources on occupying a small mountainous Asian nation is peripheral at best and a lethal distraction at worst.

On military matters, I frequently turn to my colleagues who have more experience in the area, just as I hope they turn to me as it relates to education or small business issues.
My colleague Eric Massa from New York, one of the highest ranking retired officers now serving in Congress, stated my position far more eloquently and with more credibility than I ever could on a radio show last week: "If our security is at stake to the extent that we must rebuild a nation because there are 100 terrorists in Afghanistan, then we better be willing to occupy every single nation on the face of this planet and do the same.

"Our mission is to identify, locate, kill or capture, with malice of forethought, any terrorist anywhere. That does not call for a standing army of 100,000 people executing an occupational strategy in a foreign nation," Massa continued.

"We have tried this over and over and over again and it has never once worked. You cannot achieve this militarily. Period."

Before we send troops, we should truly know why we are doing it, and what their mission is.

Sending troops to capture bin Laden made sense. Had the intelligence reports indicating that he was acquiring nuclear weapons been accurate, going after Saddam Hussein could even have been justified.

Why are we bogging ourselves down in a country that is not a significant al Qaeda host at such great financial and human cost?

If Afghanistan were to become host to terrorist organizations, the answer would be targeted special operations to seek and destroy the terrorists, not embroiling the entire country in an interminable civil war and occupation.

In addition, our ongoing occupation increases the sympathy among some locals for the very terrorism we are there to fight.

The inevitable innocent casualties can turn neutral families into terrorist collaborators and America-haters.

The people that our soldiers are fighting day-in and day-out in Afghanistan are not terrorists.

It is unclear to me how spending $4 billion per month and putting tens of thousands of American lives at risk in Afghanistan is the best way to keep America safe from terrorist attack.

National security is neither partisan nor ideological. I am confident in saying that there isn't a Democrat or Republican in Congress today who doesn't want to protect our country from terrorists.

There is no conservative way to fight terrorists or liberal way to fight terrorists. Regardless of our party and ideology, every member of Congress needs to use the information we are privileged to receive to reach a conclusion as to the best way to protect our great nation from attack.

It is always difficult to oppose our commander in chief on such a vital national security issue, but I owe it to those who put me in office to use my best judgment using the best information I have.

I have done my due diligence, visited Iraq and Afghanistan, met with officers and statesmen, read the reports, and I cannot support sending a single additional American soldier to Afghanistan, much less 30,000.

Prager: 'Simple logic' for patriotic simpletons

Prager's self-described "simple logic" is so stupid that I'm only remarking on it for two reasons. First, because I know one or two of you really like him. Basically, Prager argues: Whatever makes America different from other countries also makes it better. As a syllogism it would go something like this:

Premise 1: America is unique (exceptional).
Premise 2: American exceptionalism is the "last best hope of Earth" (ripping Abe Lincoln's words out of their historical context and planting them square in the middle of the health care debate).
Conclusion: Whatever makes America unique is the best.

This false logic would lead us to conclude, for example, that our millions of legal firearms make us the last best hope of Earth (which conservatives do believe); but also that our extremely litigious society with its thousands of tort lawyers makes us the last best hope of Earth (which conservatives would vehemently deny). According to this logic, America's 10-15 million illegal alien residents make it the last best hope of Earth. America's highest incarceration rate in the world makes it the last best hope of Earth. Or, the fact that we consume the most oil per capita makes us he last best hope of Earth. I could go on and on about our uniqueness. You get the point.

In fact, this point is so stupidly obvious I shouldn't have to make it at all. Which brings me to the second, real reason I'm 'splainin' dis fo ya: Prager's argument has been employed for years, if not decades, by American conservatives, who get a free pass from Logic 101. Whenever we durn lib'ruls want to change something for the better, they say it's because we "hate America" or "blame America first," and want turn it into a copy of drab, gray, socialist Scandinavia. But when they criticize something about America, like lib'rul Hollywood, it's because they love America. Their unspoken assumption is that since they truly believe in "American exceptionalism" and treasure this as an ideal, and since they know what the "real" America is all about, they should be free to tinker with society's rules and mores as they see fit. For you see, they are the arbiters of our exceptionalism.

That's not only fallacious reasoning, it's terribly self-serving, too.

Finally, regarding health care reform, which instigated Prager's op-ed: I sincerely doubt that the rest of the world sees America's 40+ million uninsured population as a beacon of hope. Likewise, I truly doubt that immigrants come to the U.S. in the hopes that they, too, won't be able to afford decent health coverage.

Democrats Ensure America Will No Longer Be the Last Best Hope of Earth
By Dennis Prager
December 22, 2009 | Human Events

As the passage of the bill that will start the process of nationalizing health care in America becomes almost inevitable, so, too, the process of undoing America's standing as The Last Best Hope of Earth will have begun.

That description of America was not, as more than a few Americans on the left believe, made by some right-wing chauvinist. It was made by President Abraham Lincoln in an address to Congress on Dec. 1, 1862.

The bigger the American government becomes, the more like other countries America becomes. Even a Democrat has to acknowledge the simple logic: America cannot at the same time be the last best hope of earth and increasingly similar to more and more countries.

Either America is unique, in which case it at least has the possibility of uniquely embodying hopes for mankind -- or it is not unique, in which case it is by definition not capable of being the last best hope for humanity -- certainly no more so than, let us say, Sweden or the Netherlands.

Indeed, President Obama acknowledged this in April, when asked by a European reporter if he believes in American exceptionalism. The president's response: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."

The president was honest. In his view, as in the view of today's Democratic party, America is special only in the same way we parents regard our children as "special." We all say it and we all believe it, but we know that it is meaningless except as an emotional expression of our love for our children. If every is child is equally special, none can be special, in fact. If every country is exceptional, then no country is exceptional, or at least no more so than any other.

With the largest expansion of the American government and state since the New Deal, the Democratic party -- alone -- is ending a key factor in America's uniqueness and greatness: individualism, which is made possible only when there is limited government.

The formula here is not rocket science: The more the government/state does, the less the individual does.

America's uniqueness and greatness has come from a number of sources, two of which are its moral and social value system, which is a unique combination of Enlightenment and Judeo-Christian values, and its emphasis on individual liberty and responsibility.

Just as the left has waged war on America's Judeo-Christian roots, it has waged war on individual liberty and responsibility.

Hillel, the most important rabbi of the Talmud (which, alongside the Hebrew Bible, is Judaism's most important book), summarized the human being's obligations in these famous words: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"

What does this mean in the present context? It means that before anything else, the human being must first take care of himself. When people who are capable of taking care of themselves start relying on the state to do so, they can easily become morally inferior beings. When people who could take care of their family start relying on the state to do so, they can easily become morally inferior. And when people who could help take care of fellow citizens start relying on the state to do so, the morally coarsening process continues.

There has always been something profoundly ennobling about American individualism and self-reliance. Nothing in life is as rewarding as leading a responsible life in which one has not to depend on others for sustenance. Little, if anything, in life is as rewarding as successfully taking care of oneself, one's family and one's community. That is why America has always had more voluntary associations than any other country.

But as the state and government have gotten bigger, voluntary associations have been dying. Why help others if the state will do it? Indeed, as in Scandinavia, the attitude gradually becomes: why even help myself when the state will do it?

Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are right about one thing -- they are indeed making history. But their legacy will not be what they think. They will be known as the people who led to the end of America as the last best hope of earth.

Lincoln weeps.

Flying Dutchman puts U.S. passengers to shame

We Americans should be ashamed. While our compatriots were in a panic, it was a Dutch "eurofag" who immediately leapt across four other passengers, grabbed the explosive device, put out the fire with his bare hands, and secured the wannabe bomber with a choke hold. Damn, dude.

UPDATE (Dec. 30, 2009): CNN says the Dutch dude's name is Jasper Schuringa. Jasper's account of his own heroism HAS been independently confirmed.

Jasper: "Hey there, lovely American ladies. My arm really hurts from being such a hero. By the way, I'm Dutch but I'm not gay. Look for me on MySpace."

Class slaughter: Whose wealth & interests rule?

I don't know who does this site but he's awesome. The brutal truth backed up with hard numbers.

I know, many of you conservatives will caution, "Don't engage in class warfare." But what we have now is class slaughter: a rich minority is destroying the bottom 90%, while we in the majority do nothing. It's time we fight back.

Top 1 Percent Control 42 Percent of Financial Wealth in the U.S. - How Average Americans are Lured into Debt Servitude by Promises of Mega Wealth.
Posted by mybudget360

Many Americans are not buying the recent stock market rally. This is being reflected in multiple polls showing negative attitudes towards the economy and Wall Street. Wall Street is so disconnected from the average American that they fail to see the 27 million unemployed and underemployed Americans that now have a harder time believing the gospel of financial engineering prosperity. Americans have a reason to be dubious regarding the recovery because jobs are the main push for most Americans. A recent study shows that over 70 percent of Americans derive their monthly income from an actual W-2 job. In other words, working is the prime mover and source of their income. Yet the financial elite have very little understanding of this concept. Why? 42 percent of financial wealth is controlled by the top 1 percent. We would need to go back to the Great Depression to see such lopsided data.

Many Americans are still struggling at the depths of this recession. We have 37 million Americans on food stamps and many wait until midnight of the last day of the month so checks can clear to buy food at Wal-Mart. Do you think these people are starring at the stock market? The overall data is much worse:

Source: William Domhoff

If we break the data down further we will find that 93 percent of all financial wealth is controlled by the top 10 percent of the country. That is why these people are cheering their one cent share increase while layoffs keep on improving the bottom line. But what bottom line are we talking about here? The Wall Street crowd would like you to believe that all is now good that the stock market has rallied 60+ percent. Of course they are happy because they control most of this wealth. Yet the typical American still has negative views on the economy because they actually have to work to earn a living:


The above daily poll asks Americans about their view on the health of the economy. Only 13 percent believe the economy is good or excellent. Funny how that correlates with the top 10 percent who control 93 percent of wealth. Many Americans were sold the illusion of the bubble. They were sold on the idea that their homes were worth so much more than they really were. And many used this phony wealth effect to go out and spend beyond their means. They started spending as if they were part of this elite 10 percent crowd. But once the tide rolled out, it was clear they were not. And the horribly built bailouts demonstrate who is controlling our political system. This was not the rule of a capitalist system but a corporate run government.

Just think about the bailouts and which companies were saved. We ended up bailing out the worst performing and troubled companies thus keeping alive companies that should have completely failed. Did we bail out Google? Proctor and Gamble? Of course not. These companies actually produce something that people want. Banks and especially the Wall Street kind merely keep that 42 percent happy by making sure their stock values stay high so they can keep on making money while the average Americans is sold up the river.

Yet many were brought into the easy money fold by going into massive amounts of debt. And who has most of the debt? That is right, the average American:


The bottom 90 percent have been saddled with 73 percent of all debt. In other words much of their so-called wealth is connected to debt. Debt is slavery for many especially with egregious credit card companies taking people out with absurd credit card tricks and scams. Yet the corporate propaganda machine is strong and mighty. Have you ever received an inheritance? A large one? Probably not because only 1.6% of all Americans receive an inheritance larger than $100,000. If this is the case, why in the world do politicians worry so much about the tax impacts of this? Because they want to keep the corporatocracy alive and well so their spawn can get a piece of their pie. They give the illusion to average Americans that if you only work hard enough you too can join this elusive club of cronies. The data shows otherwise.

But if we start looking at investment assets, the true wealth in the country, we start realizing why Wall Street is all giddy about the recent stock market government induced rally:


Of investment assets 90 percent of Americans own 12.2 percent. The rest goes to the top 10 percent. Welcome to the new serfdom. The bailouts that went out to the filthy rich were more about protecting their tiny corner of the world than actually making the economy better. That is why it is interesting to see companies fire people and Wall Street cheer for the increase in earnings per share. Good for the few at the expense of the many. Yet the propaganda out of Wall Street and our government is what is good for Wall Street is good for you. Just like that 1.6% inheritance issue, the vast majority of Americans won't deal with that and their primary concern is simply a job. A job that has provided stagnant wages for a decade while the ultra wealth get richer and richer in a phony form of corporate socialism.

If you break down the data you realize that most Americans don't have time to speculate in stock markets:


Only 34% of U.S. households make more than $65,000 per year. What is that after taxes? Let us use a state like California for example:


Now if we breakdown this data further you will realize that most of the money is consumed by cost of living necessities, not Wall Street speculation. Just to show this example let us look at a family budget for someone in California making $100,000:


Notice after running the budget we are in the hole for $1,000? That is because of many costs that typical families have. We can debate the merits of where they are spending money but the point is this; are these people really making beaucoup money from the stock market? They are putting away $12,000 a year into their 401k. As we have now found out, 8 percent a year is never guaranteed in the stock market although the corporate powers would like you to believe that so they can have other suckers to unload stocks onto.

"Yet the median household income in the U.S. is $50,000 and not $100,000. They have even less to invest."

They are more concerned on working to have a paycheck to pay for necessities. They are more concerned about paying their house off by the time they retire and hopefully, have a little bit of retirement funds coming in. The sad fact is most Americans rely on Social Security when they retire. All those ads of unlimited golf and daily trips to Tahiti are propaganda of how Wall Street lives and they want to sell you the sizzle, and clearly not the steak. They live their lives paper pushing and sucking the life out of the productive part of our economy. The average American should now realize this since this financial crisis was primarily caused by them. They are now on a massive campaign to blame Americans for this. This is hypocrisy to the next level. Many Americans have paid for their mistake by losing their home through foreclosure. We have 300,000 foreclosure filings a month. Many have taken a hit to their overall stock portfolio (if they have one). Yet the corporate cronies have protected their horrible economy crushing debts at the taxpayer expense. Unlike you, many hold bonds on the companies and not common stock like many Americans. Bondholders have been protected at all costs during this crisis. Goldman Sachs through AIG received 100 cents on the dollar for their horrible bets. The banks have unlimited back stops thanks to taxpayers. This is how the top 1 percent rule the new feudal state.

Welcome to the 2010 serfdom. Time to wake up and restructure the system. Many people are starting to wake up to this massive scam.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Pentagon: Military outsourcing costs more

Gee, whaddya know, maybe all this U.S. military outsourcing not only harmed the morale of our nation's armed forces and undermined the traditional chain of command, but also produced less bang for the buck for U.S. taxpayers. I'm dumbstruck! Whoda thunkit?!

Pentagon sees big savings in replacing contractors with federal employees
By Walter Pincus
December 24, 2009 | Washington Post


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Investigation #47 finds ACORN still not guilty

I don't have strong feelings about ACORN one way or the other, but the sheer number of investigations that have led to ACORN's repeated exoneration troubles me. At what point should all these investigations be considered official harrassment of a law-abiding organization? If the NRA, for example, had been investigated 47 times and found not guilty of any crimes, conservatives would be raising holy hell and crying "Guvmint persecution!"

Report Finds ACORN Broke No Laws
By Janie Lorber
December 23, 2009 | New York Times


GOP Xmas Warrior: 'Happy Holidays!'

Yeah, but Dubya was president then. See, we knew that in his heart of hearts Bush really meant "Merry Christmas" when he said "happy holidays," but all those durn lib'ruls and PC police would never let him say it plainly. Same with Rep. Harry Brown (R-SC). Whereas Obama, well, don't even get me started. We know what's in his heart of hearts, don't we, and it's not Christmas cheer, no sir!

GOP Lawmaker Behind The Anti-'Happy Holidays' Resolution Sent A 'Happy Holidays' Greeting Last Year
By Lee Fang
December 24, 2009 | Think Progress


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bachman, Brownback, Grassley, Baucus get socialist farm subsidies

Filthy socialist hypocrites!

Nat'l Nurses Union opposes Senate HC bill

Nurses Say Senate Bill Entrenches Chokehold of Insurance Giants
By John Nichols
December 21, 2009 The Nation

Want to know what's wrong -- really wrong -- with the health-care "reform" bill being pushed through the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid?

Ask a nurse.

"It is tragic to see the promise from Washington this year for genuine, comprehensive reform ground down to a seriously flawed bill that could actually exacerbate the health-care crisis and financial insecurity for American families, and that cedes far too much additional power to the tyranny of a callous insurance industry," says National Nurses Union co-president Karen Higgins, RN.

"Sadly," adds Higgins, "we have ended up with legislation that fails to meet the test of true health-care reform, guaranteeing high quality, cost effective care for all Americans, and instead are further locking into place a system that entrenches the choke-hold of the profit-making insurance giants on our health. If this bill passes, the industry will become more powerful and could be beyond the reach of reform for generations."

The 150,000-member NNU, the largest union and professional organization of registered nurses in the U.S., condemned Reid's bill -- which is expected to gain Senate approval this week -- as a deeply flawed measure that grants too much power to the nation's largest private and for-profit insurers.

Specifically, the union that takes in the powerful California Nurses Association, cited 10 fundamental flaws in the Senate bill:

1. The individual mandate forcing all those without coverage to buy private insurance, with insufficient cost controls on skyrocketing premiums and other insurance costs.

2. No challenge to insurance company monopolies, especially in the top 94 metropolitan areas where one or two companies dominate, severely limiting choice and competition.

3. An affordability mirage. Congressional Budget Office estimates say a family of four with a household income of $54,000 would be expected to pay 17 percent of their income, $9,000, on healthcare exposing too many families to grave financial risk.

4. The excise tax on comprehensive insurance plans which will encourage employers to reduce benefits, shift more costs to employees, promote proliferation of high-deductible plans, and lead to more self-rationing of care and medical bankruptcies, especially as more plans are subject to the tax every year due to the lack of adequate price controls. A Towers-Perrin survey in September found 30 percent of employers said they would reduce employment if their health costs go up, 86 percent said they'd pass the higher costs to their employees.

5. Major loopholes in the insurance reforms that promise bans on exclusion for pre-existing conditions, and no cancellations for sickness. The loopholes include:

- Provisions permitting insurers and companies to more than double charges to employees who fail "wellness" programs because they have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol readings, or other medical conditions.

- Insurers are permitted to sell policies "across state lines", exempting patient protections passed in other states. Insurers will thus set up in the least regulated states in a race to the bottom threatening public protections won by consumers in various states.

- Insurers can charge four times more based on age plus more for certain conditions, and continue to use marketing techniques to cherry-pick healthier, less costly enrollees.

- Insurers may continue to rescind policies for "fraud or intentional misrepresentation" – the main pretext insurance companies now use to cancel coverage.

6. Minimal oversight on insurance denials of care; a report by the California Nurses Association/NNOC in September found that six of California's largest insurers have rejected more than one-fifth of all claims since 2002.

7. Inadequate limits on drug prices, especially after Senate rejection of an amendment, to protect a White House deal with pharmaceutical giants, allowing pharmacies and wholesalers to import lower-cost drugs.

8. New burdens for our public safety net. With a shortage of primary care physicians and a continuing fiscal crisis at the state and local level, public hospitals and clinics will be a dumping ground for those the private system doesn't want.

9. Reduced reproductive rights for women.

10. No single standard of care. Our multi-tiered system remains with access to care still determined by ability to pay. Nothing changes in basic structure of the system; healthcare remains a privilege, not a right.

In fairness to Reid and his fellow Senate Democrats, most of the flaws in their bill are also present in the House bill. And that's the really depressing part.

While members of the Obama administration and key senators claim that the legislation should be enacted because it seeks to expand coverage, places new regulations on insurers and might be improved in the House-Senate conference committee, NNU co-president Deborah Burger, RN, offers a more realistic diagnosis:

"Those wishful statements ignore the reality that much of the expanded coverage is based on forced purchase of private insurance without effective controls on industry pricing practices or real competition and gaping loopholes in the insurance reforms."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Williams: Who cares about athletes?

This is the first and probably the last time I will agree with everything Armstrong Williams has written.

The Absurdity of Athlete Worship
By Armstrong Williams
December 22, 2009 Human Events


Monday, December 21, 2009

Palin given dubious honor of Biggest Lie of 2009

She's a big liar, you betcha!

PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: 'Death panels'
By Angie Drobnic Holan
December 18, 2009 |  PolitiFact


Bearded climate scientists? No, it's Siemens

This is from Siemen's web site, a document called "The Company 2010:"

Megatrends that shape our future

Climate Change

  • The average global surface temperature has increased by 0.76 degrees C compared to the 18th century.
  • 11 of the 12 years between 1994 and 2005 rank among the 12 warmest since weather observations began.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions have risen dramatically since industrialization. Today we face the highest CO2 concentration in the atmosphere for the past 350,000 years.

This is a multi-billion dollar mutli-national corporation saying this. And they're making big-money bets with shareholders' money that these facts mean something.

GOP Sen. Graham: African-American population a 'problem'

OK, somebody explain this if I'm quoting Sen. Graham out of context, because it seems like he's a big, f-ing Southern racist.

Like I said, if I'm wrong, just set me straight, because maybe I'm not picking up on the subtle subtext in his argument.

As punishment, he should be released buck naked at 2 a.m. in South Central Los Angeles with nothing but a Confederate flag draped over his bony-ass white body.

SC Sen. Graham adds state's growing African-American population as "problem"

December 21, 2009 | South Carolina News


Cheney: 2009 Conservative of the Year

Just to give you an idea how far out in the wilderness conservatives are right now, Ronald Reagan's favorite conservative magazine, Human Events, named Richard "Dick" Cheney its Conservative of the Year.

That's right, Cheney. They couldn't think of anybody better. And they couldn't think of anybody better to present the award than ex-Ambassador John "Yosemite Sam" Bolton, who would be the Chief Magistrate of a smoldering, radioactive Tehran right now, if he had gotten his way. Is this an award by and for disgraced neocons, or what?

Cheney: "Grrrr... Thank you for this award. Grrrr...."

The eternal battle: The War on Xmas

"I think we are winning a lot of the battles in the war on Christmas, but I don't think the war is done, and I don't think it ever will be." - Matthew Staver, Law School Dean, Liberty University

And so this timeless battle rages on. Who will prevail? The baby Jesus's army of merrymakers, or diabolical, polit-correct, tree-hugging atheists?

Alas, that old warrior John Gibson is no longer able to defend us against the godless horde. Who will hoist his tarnished sword and battered shield and lead our noble crusade? Who will stand steadfast for defenseless Nativity scenes and jolly old Christmas carols? Who among us will find the courage to stand up to the gum-chewing teenage cashier at Kroger who refuses to say, "Merry Christmas"? Our beloved Christmas is in trouble, baby Jesus's crib is tottering on the brink, and... I'm holding out for a hero!

By Kristi Keck
December 18, 2009 CNN

Americans are in a war that pits the politically correct against Christmas carolers, some say. They say it's a battle that plays out in the halls of Congress, retail stores and public schools across the country, and it's one that's been raging for years.

Republican Rep. Henry Brown of South Carolina introduced a resolution this month asking that the House express support for the use of Christmas symbols and traditions and frown on any attempt to ban references to the holiday.

[Christmas can't survive unless our U.S. Congress defends it! Merry Christmas and God bless you, Rep. Brown! - J]

"Each year, I could see a diminishing value of the spiritual part of Christmas," Brown said. "It would seem like another group would go from the Christmas spirit to the holiday spirit."

"What I'm afraid of -- if we don't bring some kind of closure to this continuous change, then in 20 years it will almost be completely different from what we see today ... and so we would lose the whole emphasis of what the very early beginnings of Christmas was all about."

So far, the resolution has one Democrat and 72 Republicans as co-sponsors. The House hasn't taken it up, but the chamber adopted similar resolutions in the past.

Barry Lynn, an ordained minister and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, isn't keen on the prospect of congressional action.

"Resolutions like this come up because there is this bizarre view by some members of Congress that there is a war on Christmas and that they have to be the generals in some responding army," he said.

"My advice to the lawmakers would be promote any religion you have through your private acts, and don't try to 'help' the baby Jesus by passing a resolution on his behalf. It is arrogant and ridiculous at the same time," Lynn said.

Christmas is in no danger of being ignored, Lynn said, noting that signs of the holiday emerge as soon as Halloween passes.

"You would literally have to be living in a very deep cave not to understand that there is a religious holiday called Christmas that is soon to come," he said.

In his view, some people feel a "false sense of some kind of attack on Christmas" if a school holds a winter concert instead of a Christmas concert, or if retailers declare "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

In California, Tea Party activist Merry Hyatt is trying to get support for a ballot initiative that would require that public schools give their students an opportunity to hear Christmas songs. (Parents could opt out for their children).

Lynn said the move violates the principles of church-state separation.

"It's not being anti-Christmas to recognize that most Christmas carols are really hymns, and a hymn is a prayer set to music."

Mathew Staver, law school dean at Liberty University, a Virginia college founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, said, however, that some schools and businesses are going too far to "censor" Christmas because they don't know the laws.

Staver founded the Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit litigation group dedicated to advancing religious freedom and conservative values. The counsel provides free legal advice and defense for government entities to ensure religious viewpoints on Christmas are not censored.

One example Staver cited began in Oregon, where an elementary school principal replaced Christmas trees with snowmen and banned all religious symbols, saying Santa Claus fell into the category.

Liberty Counsel sent the principal a letter telling her the law doesn't require her to "secularize" the holiday. The counsel also pointed out that by banning religious symbols for a holiday with secular components, she risked violating the Constitution by not being "viewpoint neutral," Staver said.

Parents were upset as well. The principal eventually changed course and restored the tree and jolly St. Nick.

Staver keeps a "Naughty & Nice" list that shows which retailers include references to Christmas in their advertising and which do not.

When he started the list five years ago, both sides were about even, but this year the "nice" list is longer.

[Don't get too complacent, folks. It's nice that retailers are nicer this year, but they could easily backslide into naughtiness if we don't keep making a list and checking it twice. Keep the pressure on: keep yelling "Merry Christmas!" at them, no matter what! - J]

"It's better this year than it was in 2005, but I think it's better this year because we and others have made a point to make sure that Christmas is not forgotten," he said.

[Yeah, all you atheist SOBs, remember Christmas!? You know, that 2009-year-old holiday that falls between Hanukkah and Kwanzaa??? Don't forget it! - J]

Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies with the Family Research Council, which promotes Christian values, said the "pro-Christmas side" has made progress in recent years.

In some circles, he said, "Political correctness is preventing people from even sayings 'Merry Christmas.' "

He said it's important to defend the right of people to celebrate the holiday and noted that December 25 is a federal holiday the government recognizes as Christmas.

"If we want to be concerned about the fact that we are a multicultural nation, then the solution is to allow everyone the freedom to celebrate what they want rather than stifling the celebration of the majority because it might be offensive to the minority," Sprigg said.

In Washington, Republicans have taken up the war on Christmas as their own battle.

"Republicans and conservatives have definitely gained a lot of political points by pointing out some of the silliest and more extreme examples of political correctness," said Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center.

But Republicans also should worry about pushing it too far, he added, because the American people believe in "good liberal thoughts" like "diversity and different people all being treated the same." It's OK to attack political correctness, he said, but the GOP must be careful not to come off as "anti-minority or against diversity."

The attack can backfire as well if voters think their representative is more committed to protecting Christmas than protecting jobs or economic stability, Smith said.

For Staver, the campaign to save Christmas continues, and it's one he will never abandon.

"What happens this year is not necessarily an indication of what will happen next year, so I think each Christmas has to stand on its own and I think each one is worth fighting for," he said.

"I think we are winning a lot of the battles in the war on Christmas, but I don't think the war is done, and I don't think it ever will be."

[God bless him. - J]

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Taibbi: Defense earmarks steal from our troops

By Matt Taibbi
December 18, 2009 | True/Slant

The measure also trims personnel and maintenance accounts from previous versions of the measure to pump up weapons procurement for Afghanistan and Iraq by almost $2 billion.

Every year about this time a tiny trickle of little-noticed news stories weeds its way into the papers, usually in the back sections. It's the same narrative every year: Congress lumps all the unpassed appropriations bills together, slaps them full of pork, and quietly passes them (often in the dead of night) while everyone is already thinking about Christmas.

The defense bill is always the worst and most morally reprehensible, and this year is no exception. It should be noted that defense pork is one of America's great bipartisan traditions. The scheme is the same every year, regardless of who is in the majority: Congress quietly shoves in earmarks for unnecessary and ridiculously expensive weapons programs, and pays for them by gutting the existing budgets for actual soldiers.

What most people don't understand about earmarks is that they are not achieved by simply adding to the top number for the whole federal budget. Earmarks have to come out of the approved number for that particular appropriations bill. So if you want a highway earmark, the money has to come out of some other highway program.

In the defense bill, it usually works like this: Congress sticks in a few extra airplanes or ships as a handout to this or that member, usually in exchange for his vote somewhere else on some other issue. To pay for those earmarks, the favored targets for cutting are usually two parts of the defense bill: Personnel (i.e. military pay) and Operations and Maintenance (which includes such things as body armor, equipment, food, training, and fuel). Those of you who wondered over the years how it could be that soldiers in Iraq could somehow be left without body armor, well, here's your explanation. They usually took the armor off those kids in order to pay off some congressman with an extra helicopter or two.

My old friend Winslow Wheeler, a former Senate aide who is now a well-known watchdog on defense spending, points out that this year is no different. There are over 1,700 earmarks in the defense bill that just passed, worth $4.2 billion, but those are

… just the earmarks they will admit to. Not counted in that tally are the 10 C-17s for $2.5 billion, nine F-18s for a half a billion dollars (in the war funding part of the bill), plus the added $465 million for the GE engine

And where did the money to pay for all that come from? This is another annual trick. Usually if you add up all the earmarks, the total amount spent will roughly mirror the amount of the cuts in personnel and O&M. Wheeler found the following:

  • $1.9 billion in gross reductions to the Military Personnel (pay) account based on the arbitrary justification that there was need for an "undistributed adjustment," or in some cases "reimbursables."
  • $2.1 billion in net reductions from the O&M account in the base bill; $1.4 billion of that reduction was based on phony justifications (indirectly based on some flimsy GAO analysis never made public), such as "historic underexecution." (If you want to review my analysis of this flimsy GAO analysis , see it at
  • The House and Senate Appropriations Committees also raided the direct war fighting O&M account in Title IX of the bill by $1.5 billion.
  • Total O&M raids, thus, amount to $3.6 billion.

So, $3.6 billion in O&M cuts added to $1.9 billion in personnel cuts = $5.5 billion.

And $4.2 billion in earmarks added to $3 billion for the F-18s and the C-17s, plus $465 million for the Joint Strike engines (which the administration claims it doesn't want) = $7.66 billion.

It's always amazed me that this stuff isn't more of an issue with the right. We're talking about robbing soldiers to pay defense executives. They pull this scam like clockwork every year and nobody ever says a word — weird stuff.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Krugman: Denial will lead to more financial disaster

Indeed I do talk to conservatives, and I'm familiar with their "bizarro universe," where reckless deregulation, duplicitous "financial innovation," and a system built around bankers' personal get-rich-quick incentives did not cause our current global economic crisis, but rather corrupt bureaucrats and the FMs did.

Denial aint just a river in Egypt, folks. It runs clear through the center-right of U.S. politics; and unfortunately, most Republicans and even many elected Democrats are stranded on the other side of the truth.

By Paul Krugman,
December 13, 2009 | New York Times

When I first began writing for The Times, I was naïve about many things. But my biggest misconception was this: I actually believed that influential people could be moved by evidence, that they would change their views if events completely refuted their beliefs.

And to be fair, it does happen now and then. I've been highly critical of Alan Greenspan over the years (since long before it was fashionable), but give the former Fed chairman credit: he has admitted that he was wrong about the ability of financial markets to police themselves.

But he's a rare case. Just how rare was demonstrated by what happened last Friday in the House of Representatives, when — with the meltdown caused by a runaway financial system still fresh in our minds, and the mass unemployment that meltdown caused still very much in evidence — every single Republican and 27 Democrats voted against a quite modest effort to rein in Wall Street excesses.

Let's recall how we got into our current mess.

America emerged from the Great Depression with a tightly regulated banking system. The regulations worked: the nation was spared major financial crises for almost four decades after World War II. But as the memory of the Depression faded, bankers began to chafe at the restrictions they faced. And politicians, increasingly under the influence of free-market ideology, showed a growing willingness to give bankers what they wanted.

The first big wave of deregulation took place under Ronald Reagan — and quickly led to disaster, in the form of the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s. Taxpayers ended up paying more than 2 percent of G.D.P., the equivalent of around $300 billion today, to clean up the mess.

But the proponents of deregulation were undaunted, and in the decade leading up to the current crisis politicians in both parties bought into the notion that New Deal-era restrictions on bankers were nothing but pointless red tape. In a memorable 2003 incident, top bank regulators staged a photo-op in which they used garden shears and a chainsaw to cut up stacks of paper representing regulations.

And the bankers — liberated both by legislation that removed traditional restrictions and by the hands-off attitude of regulators who didn't believe in regulation — responded by dramatically loosening lending standards. The result was a credit boom and a monstrous real estate bubble, followed by the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. Ironically, the effort to contain the crisis required government intervention on a much larger scale than would have been needed to prevent the crisis in the first place: government rescues of troubled institutions, large-scale lending by the Federal Reserve to the private sector, and so on.

Given this history, you might have expected the emergence of a national consensus in favor of restoring more-effective financial regulation, so as to avoid a repeat performance. But you would have been wrong.

Talk to conservatives about the financial crisis and you enter an alternative, bizarro universe in which government bureaucrats, not greedy bankers, caused the meltdown. It's a universe in which government-sponsored lending agencies triggered the crisis, even though private lenders actually made the vast majority of subprime loans. It's a universe in which regulators coerced bankers into making loans to unqualified borrowers, even though only one of the top 25 subprime lenders was subject to the regulations in question.

Oh, and conservatives simply ignore the catastrophe in commercial real estate: in their universe the only bad loans were those made to poor people and members of minority groups, because bad loans to developers of shopping malls and office towers don't fit the narrative.

In part, the prevalence of this narrative reflects the principle enunciated by Upton Sinclair: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." As Democrats have pointed out, three days before the House vote on banking reform Republican leaders met with more than 100 financial-industry lobbyists to coordinate strategies. But it also reflects the extent to which the modern Republican Party is committed to a bankrupt ideology, one that won't let it face up to the reality of what happened to the U.S. economy.

So it's up to the Democrats — and more specifically, since the House has passed its bill, it's up to "centrist" Democrats in the Senate. Are they willing to learn something from the disaster that has overtaken the U.S. economy, and get behind financial reform?

Let's hope so. For one thing is clear: if politicians refuse to learn from the history of the recent financial crisis, they will condemn all of us to repeat it.

Merry Xmas from Glenn Beck!

Glenn Beck's Official Christmas Card

Funny signs of 2009

And keep the Guvmint out of my food stamps and Earned-Income Child Tax Credits, too!

Some people believe you must shave down there but I think that should be a personal choice.

A Charlie Brown Xmas turd

Obama f-ed the Left in his first year

Yep, Obama pretty much sucks. 

Give us another evil idiot like Bush.  Palin will do.  It's better than witnessing a politician as gifted and smart as Obama squander his talents and the hopes of most Americans.

But soon enough I'll stop being sad and angry, and just be angry.

President Obama Loses His Base: He Just Ran Out of Slack
By Tom Sullivan
December 18, 2009 | Huffington Post


BHO's Pentagon even more mercenary than W's

Something historic is happening, folks. It started with Iraq, when Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld decided it was politically more palatable to put armed mercenaries in harm's way than U.S. military troops. And it's continuing under Obama, who's being judged stupidly by hawkish Democrats and the MSM for how many troops he decides to surge with -- not for whether he should surge at all. Defense contractors outnumber our troops in Afghanistan about 2 to 1, doing things that U.S. soldiers (or the CIA) used to do, like security, transportation, logistics, intelligence-gathering and analysis, and even special ops.

The historic turnaround at the end of the Middle Ages when armies became permanent and not mercenary is turning back again. Will there come a day when "Support our Troops" bumper stickers are replaced with "Support our Mercs"?

Stunning Statistics About the War Every American Should Know
by Jeremy Scahill
December 19, 2009 |

TBTF banks figure out how to screw welfare recipients

More "financial innovation," courtesy of Wall Street: fleecing welfare recipients of money before it's even in their hands.

These sleazeballs in pinstripes have zero shame, and no morals.  Like China, the USG needs to try and execute a few bank CEOs just to put the fear in them.

Consider the irony: more Americans are on welfare because of the financial crisis that Wall Street created; Wall Street gets bailed out at taxpayers' expense, and then manages to take a % cut of Americans' welfare checks provided at taxpayers' expense.

It seems like the sum of their innovation is to figure out ways to steal legally from the U.S. Treasury.  Corporate socialism, plain and simple.

How Banks Fleece the Unemployed

By Barbara Koeppel
December 16, 2009 | Consortium News

Just when you thought the big banks had maxed out their chutzpah account, think again.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Limbaugh lamely defends GOP attacks on Medicare cuts

If you aren't sure whether Rush Limbaugh is a political hack whose first and only loyalty is to the Republican Party, then let this transcript from his show erase all doubt.

December 17, 2009 | Rush Limbaugh

CALLER: Yeah. I have a question, though, that I don't quite know how to answer. I heard on one of the Sunday talk shows a couple weeks back -- and then I had it repeated to me in a discussion I was having -- that Republicans or conservatives are hypocrites because we're against the big Medicare cuts that are in the current bill that's in the Senate. And, you know, I was kind of blindsided because if conservatives are against big government, and it's breaking the bank, why are we conservatives so angry about the big cuts in the current bill?

RUSH: That happens to be the question of the day. You have called the right person to get the answer.

CALLER: (laughing) I'm glad I did.

RUSH: Now, you're right theoretically. The Republican Party is against big government, the expansion of big government, and turning people into total dependents of the government and wards of the state. However, here we have a political situation that's reared its ugly head. Here is a health care bill with which the Democrats have promise that they're going to insure everybody at lower cost, and yet while they are doing that they're going to cut Medicare by $500 billion. Now, Medicare is the health program for the elderly in our country. If you cut $500 billion out of it, it's going to have a disastrous effect on senior citizens. Senior citizens are the largest voting bloc. Now, the next element of this goes back to the guy that called here earlier who works for the Senate. He talks about the rules of the Senate being sacrosanct and how they're being blown up. There are certain agreements that we have as a society made with people, and one of those agreements, via legislation, is Medicare. So the elderly, knowing that the program is there, have ordered their lives according to that. You can't blame them. Medicare was devised to provide health coverage and health care for the elderly at a point in time when their earnings disperse. It's the same thing with Social Security. So people have been living their lives and planning their lives based on that promise made to them by their government.

[Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP accounted for about 20 percent of the $3 trillion in federal spending in 2008. Defense (21 percent), Social Security (21 percent), "welfare" safety-net programs like earned-income tax refunds, unemployment insurance, food stamps, etc. (11 percent), and interest payments on the national debt (8 percent) made up most of the remainder. Conservatives always preach smaller government. And yet they say one of the biggest and fastest-growing entitlement programs is off-limits? Where's the ideological consistency? This is shameless pandering to older voters, their conservative principles be damned. - J]


RUSH: So here comes this bill that's going to cut $500 billion, and what I hear you saying is that a clean and pure-as-the-wind-driven-snow Republican, conservative, would stand up and say, "I support the cuts."

CALLER: Right.

RUSH: "I support the cuts because we need to reduce the size of government," and it is a tricky thing, but at this point doing that would be breaking a rule. Doing that would be breaking a promise, a commitment you've made to people. In fixing this stuff going forward -- and this is what so many of us had a problem with the Bush administration with the new Medicare entitlement -- is you don't expand it. You reform the system, not expanding Medicare, not expanding Medicaid but ultimately replacing them, knowing it can't be done overnight. But the political component of this is that the Democrat Party is gonna cut $500 billion out of Medicare, after making these promises to the elderly. Politically, that must be known. The elderly must know what's going to happen to them if the Democrats succeed here because we want their opposition to it so that it doesn't succeed. It's a real dilemma. I know exactly what you're talking about.

[Medicare is going to expand all by itself due to the "graying" of the U.S. population, thanks to the Baby Boomers. Even if we don't "expand" it, Medicare will continue to grow. - J]

[....] So in this case it's just a matter of, "Okay, we made the promise. We promised the season citizens Medicare is going to be there for them. If you take $500 billion away from it, it ain't going to be there for them," and we want those seniors to know who's taking it away from them. We may not have agreed with it, but we lost the battle. In fact, some of our people back when Medicare was being continually expanded, I betcha most Republicans voted for the expansion. It's the senior citizen voting bloc. So I hope the answer explains it. You may not like it, but I hope that explains. I'm glad you called, Hal. Thanks very much for waiting. I appreciate it.


RUSH: One more comment on the guy who just called and said, "Isn't it sort of hypocritical that we believe in smaller government and yet we don't agree with the Democrats' Medicare cuts?" It's a false premise, and if any of the others of you in this audience are asked that question, "Well, you guys, how come you're so worried about the Medicare cuts? You say you want smaller government! Why are you not in favor of Medicare cuts?" The Republicans never call for Medicare cuts. The dirty little secret here is that it's Democrats who are the hypocrites. It is the Democrats who are always accusing the Republicans of cutting Social Security, of cutting Medicare. They're always charging us with cutting Medicare, always charging with wanting to cut Social Security. Throw seniors out of their homes! Make seniors eat dog food! The Republicans are never the ones who start talking about these cuts. It's all the Democrats accusing us of that -- and when it comes to time to actually cut this stuff, it's the Democrats that do it. Now, I, frankly, think if more people really knew what the Democrat plan is, to cut $500 billion in Medicare -- Whew! That alone would cause the seasoned citizens of this country to rise up.

[Hey, it took a Nixon to go to China. Maybe Americans trust Democrats more than Republicans to rein in entitlement spending responsibly. This American does, at least. - J]