Saturday, March 12, 2011

Beck's site suspects O'Keefe's NPR tapes were doctored

Thank goodness for crazy right-wing conspiracy mongers posing as news sites which can police the integrity of crazy righ-twing black operators posing as investigative journalists.

See, it all balances out and we still don't need the lib'rul media... including NPR.

Couldn't be prouder: Filet-o-Fish invented in NKY

Forgive me for posting something non-political, but I'm pretty proud that my hometown invented the closest thing to healthy on McDonald's heart-attack menu, the Filet-o-Fish. It is aka "Fish Mac" in E. Europe. There is an uneaten one in my fridge right now, awaiting its date with destiny.

And you thought all Kentucky invented was great fried chicken! It is a veritable Bell Labs of fast-food innovation.

UPDATE: Somebody pointed out that the filet-o-fish is actually not very healthy. Well he can go suck an egg white!

By Stefano DiPietrantonio
March 12, 2011 |

Today was the first "fish-fry" Friday of the Lenten season. Many people give up eating red meat on Fridays and instead eat only fish or no meat at all.

Lent is a 40 day span of reflection and sacrifice for Christians around the world as we move toward Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

One of the most popular places to find fish sandwiches during Lent is McDonald's. Did you know that a piece of pop-culture history was invented right here in Cincinnati?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mosques and Islam are healthy for U.S. government

The more religious American Muslims are, the more civically involved they are, and the more likely they are to support the U.S. system of government. Gee, whoda thunkit.

'Course, they all could have been programmed to lie to pollsters by their radical, America-hating imams.

By the way, Rep. Peter King is a stupid douchebag for having these hearings on Muslims in America. He's handing anti-U.S. propaganda on a platter to radical Islamists who will tell their co-confessionals, "See, we told you so: America hates Islam." His needless neo-McCarthyite hearings will create more anti-U.S. terrorists and put more of our citizens at risk.

Congress should organize a counter-hearing on how Rep. Peter King is making Americans less safe and what we should do about it.

Mosques are a positive force in America

By Karam Dana and Matt A. Barreto
March 9, 2011 | CNN


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rush: 35% of Americans are garbage

Attention, my fellow Americans: if you collect Social Security, Welfare, or unemployment benefits, Rush Limbaugh classifies you as "slothful" "lazy" and "living on the dole."

Rush and the Right never got this upset about the Wall Street bailouts, or the $ billions in bonuses paid out to banksters with our tax money. This shows where his sympathies lie. Don't you be duped (again) by another very well paid apologist for the super-rich who wants to screw you over and collect your vote at the end.

Obama's America: A Welfare State

March 9, 2011 | The Rush Limbaugh Show


20 lies by Wis. Gov. Scott Walker -- GET INFORMED OR STFU!

Too many lies by Wis. Gov. Scott Walker to copy-paste. Check it out for yourself, if you care about the truth! (I realize that's a big IF).

20 lies (and counting) told by Gov. Walker

By Russell King
March 5, 2011 | Russ' Filtered News


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Big media lies: Public-union membership, political contributions NOT mandatory

Must-read article!  This is an especially salient observation:
The irony here is that while unions can't compel workers to fork over a penny for political campaigns, corporations can donate unlimited amounts of their shareholders' equity to do so – they are, in fact, in the 'unique position' to elect pliant lawmakers. 'What the right-wing and the business community always try to portray is that you have these union bosses that are forcing helpless employees to give them money,' says Gold, 'when the reality is that these are their members who chose to be in a union and then elected their officers democratically, in sharp contrast to corporations, none of whose officers are elected democratically unless you count shareholders voting at an annual meeting as a real democratic system.'

And conservatives have long held that voluntary donations to political campaigns are a high form of free speech. The double standard is clear-- 'money equals speech' unless it's money freely donated by working people to advance their own economic interests.

By Joshua Holland
March 5, 2011 | AlterNet

Indian lesson in globalization?

When U.S. workers get laid off and their jobs shipped to India, they meekly ask their boss for a reference and berate themselves for costing the company so darn much.

When Indian workers get laid off, they grab their boss and burn him alive.

Silly Indians don't understand globalization!

By Cara Parks
March 4, 2011 | AP

Friday, March 4, 2011

What 18th century American economy was really like

Git yerself edumacated about the glorious golden age of America's founding:

Tea Party history insists ordinary, hard-working Americans of the founding era wanted nothing more than to reduce government and keep it out of economic markets. But what those Americans really wanted can be gleaned from their terminology. The rich called them rioters. The people called themselves regulators.

By William Hogeland
March 1, 2011 | AlterNet


The only real money in 18th-century America was metal — silver and gold coin from England, Spain, and Mexico — and for long, terrible periods, money was rarely seen by ordinary people. Small farmers and artisans, wanting to survive and improve their lot, had to borrow. Merchants, gaining access to metal through imperial trading networks, used their money to make money, becoming lenders. Well before the Revolution, Americans defined themselves in practical terms either as "debtors" — poor and working people in small-scale enterprise — or "creditors" — well-heeled merchants growing their money by lending it.

Workings of the debtor-creditor relationship will sound unpleasantly familiar. Merchants had the money supply conveniently sewn up. Small farmers and artisans had to post the land and shops they hoped to develop as collateral for the credit they needed. Merchants might set interest rates as high as twelve percent — per month. Default, often predictable at the loan's outset, subjected borrowers to foreclosures, which in bad times were epidemic. Families became indigent while their land, tools, and homes were snapped up at bargain prices, often by the merchants themselves, who speculated in land as well, and were building immense parcels. The rich got richer.

Is it any wonder that ordinary people viewed this disastrous economic predicament not as some incidental fallout from vigorous free-market competition, but as an egregious, systemic injustice with political, moral, even spiritual implications? They were being held back, exploited, and even ruined by a monopoly on money and credit. And unlike today's populist right, founding-era Americans did not imagine that government's simply leaving markets alone would create new and exciting opportunities for them. They believed their governments should make laws to restrain the overwhelming power of the creditors' metal and protect those who labored and produced goods from those who planned dynasties of descendants living in luxurious idleness.

And remember: unless people had property in excess of certain amounts, they couldn't vote. Whig elites — the ones who became patriot leaders, lionized today — axiomatically equated the right of representation with property. It took even more property to run for office. Legislatures erected counties to ensure that representation favored the rich and the cities. They placed cash fees on every imaginable transaction, paralyzing working people's efforts to pursue legal recourse and enriching lawmakers' friends and families appointed as collectors and administrators. Roads and other infrastructure built at public expense (and by coerced labor taxes) served the merchant interest, not the people's. Hardly an embryonic American democracy, representative colonial governments were monopolized by forces that small-scale debtors and tenant farmers could only view as a creditor conspiracy to exploit their labor, prevent their participation, and take what stuff they had.

So they organized in vociferous protest. "Mob" is a loaded term; "crowd" is perhaps more fair, and early American crowd action should be understood as a tactic, in the absence of access to the franchise, for pressuring and even changing government. One of the most famous outbreaks occurred in the 1760's in North Carolina, when ordinary people briefly had a few champions in the legislature. They forcibly closed courts, tore down corrupt officials' homes, and finally went to war against the provincial government. Royal Governor William Tryon put that rebellion down — but the King's appointee was more sympathetic to the people's plight than upscale American legislators and merchants were.

Crowds could be flamboyantly scary and even violent, but they did not run amok, merely venting. In carefully organized disruptions, people moved en masse into courthouses where debt cases were heard, shutting down a judicial process they considered unjust. They felled huge trees across roads to prevent sheriffs from repossessing homes. They enforced no-buy covenants when foreclosed property went up for auction. They staged daring rescues of prisoners held on debt charges. Serving on juries in debt cases, they refused to convict. Well before the famous Stamp Act riots and other acts of resistance to new British trade laws, American life involved orchestrated crowd actions to prevent financial injustice and push government to act on behalf of ordinary people. After the Revolution, the event known as Shays' Rebellion became only the most famous of the debtor uprisings that continued the people's struggle in a new political context.

While emulating Shaysite and other debtor crowd actions today would pose an interesting counter-demonstration to Tea Party efforts, the question this history really raises has to do with what Americans want from their government. Do we really want to roll back "nanny state" protections like RESPA, for example, under which an ordinary citizen like Patrick Rodgers was able to interrogate his bank? RESPA is but one detail in a program — and a power — that our ancestors painfully lacked.

Tea Party history insists ordinary, hard-working Americans of the founding era wanted nothing more than to reduce government and keep it out of economic markets. But what those Americans really wanted can be gleaned from their terminology. The rich called them rioters. The people called themselves regulators.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jones: We don't know how to protest

Some of you may recall -- who am I kidding? of course you don't remember -- how back in Jan. 2007 I criticized the way liberals do protest rallies. Lame and disorganized.

And I was not a fan in any way of the Rally to Restore Lameness organized by Jon Stewart. If Seinfeld was a show about nothing, then that was a protest rally about nothing. Likewise it was supposed to be funny. But the joke was on liberal losers for being so lame and self-conscious and afraid to commit to anything that could possibly be labelled extreme or uncool in retrospect.

An effective protest should be explicitly threatening. (Yeah, I know, I could end up on Glenn Beck's chalkboard 20 years from now for talking wild-eyed anarchist lunacy like that.) The threat could be of violence. Or it could be of massive work disruptions or civil disobedience. A threat not to vote for somebody is usually a lame threat, because in most cases the voters protesting are written off by the other side's politicians as unwinnable, just like the public sector unions protesting now are written off by Republicans, who don't seek to win them over, but rather destroy them as an organized group.

(Actually Jones argues that conservatives don't know how to protest either. But I don't think it's in their nature to threaten the existing order from the street. If they're p.o.'d about the country then they start forming an escape plan, or organizing militias and hoarding guns and supplies....)
By Eileen Jones
February 27, 2011 | The eXiled

MB360: U.S. economy still built on debt, TBTF banks

Posted by mybudget360
February 26, 2010 | My Budget 360

The too big to fail problem is still an issue that needs to be dealt with even though many would like to ignore it like a big dark secret. The FDIC is holding up a system with $5.4 trillion in deposits and no deposit insurance fund. I know a lot of Americans have a hard time believing this but this is a cold hard fact. The entire banking edifice of our nation is held up on pure faith combined with the backing of our largest banks and government. This wouldn't be such an issue if banks operated as responsible stewards of the economy but instead they have used the taxpayer wallet as some kind of endless buffet piggybank. What is even more troubling is based on the latest data, the top 10 bank holding companies in the United States are reporting $11 trillion dollars in assets. Now why is this a problem? The FDIC insures 7,657 banks with $13 trillion in assets. In other words, over 84 percent of all banking assets are in the hands of the big ten banks. This is a modern day oligopoly. Take a look at this chart for the top 10 banks:

top 10 bank holding company rankings

As of Q4 2010

This sort of distribution does not bode well for our economy. We have witnessed what happens when giant banks fail because they were allowed to grow too large for their own good. A sort of disequilibrium occurs and if things collide as they usually do the taxpayer is left holding the bag of junk debt. Every week one or two smaller banks fail almost without any news. This is really how our economy should work. Banking assets should be distributed in a more even fashion where if the biggest bank failed, there would be enough banks with enough assets to make up for the lost services provided by the one bank. It would not be a systemic problem. But many of the too big to fail incur large amounts of leverage so are in debt to even more than the face value of their assets. It is a thinly veiled method of speculation with the implicit support of the American taxpayer. As the gambling gets more intense, so does the wealth evaporation in the real economy.
These kinds of distributions create incredible amounts of problems. Take for example how financial wealth is distributed in the U.S.:


Source: William Domhoff

The top 1 percent in the United States control 42 percent of all financial wealth
. But breaking it down further we realize that the top 10 percent control 93 percent of all financial wealth. This kind of imbalance was last seen in the United States right before the Great Depression hit. It is a historical irony that during the Great Depression many people started feeling wealthier because they were getting into massive amounts of consumer debt (nothing like today) and had the ability to speculate in the stock market on margin. While it was estimated that only 1 million Americans dabbled in the stock market at that time, most of the wealth again was aggregated at the top as it is today. The vast majority where only spectators buying a lottery ticket for the get rich show. Most Americans are leveraged to the hilt with debt while true unencumbered financial wealth keeps trickling to a very small segment of our economy. While some would argue this is the end result of unfettered capitalism the reality is the wealth is being siphoned off from the productive public by this elite class buying off politicians and creating a system favorable to those with means and not with the best or most innovative idea. It is a plutocracy and these kinds of systems do not last. Right now the growth of the plutocracy is occurring on the backs of the dwindling middle class.

Take a look at the raw number of assets at these top banks:

top 10 bank holding companies

Bank of America is the leader with $2.2 trillion in assets followed by JP Morgan Chase at $2.1 trillion. CitiGroup has $1.9 trillion and Wells Fargo has $1.2 trillion in assets. It is surprising that Goldman Sachs has $911 billion even though it isn't even a traditional bank like the first four. But no bank at these levels is really traditional anymore. All of these banks have mixed commercial and investment banking together and that is why you see Morgan Stanley right behind Goldman.

The problem with these "assets" is that many of these banks are claiming
commercial real estate and residential real estate at inflated values. A loan to a bank is an actual asset. For example, say an investor purchased $100 million in commercial real estate out in Las Vegas and borrowed the money with Bank of America. $90 million of this was on a loan. Bank of America can claim a $90 million asset. Say this was purchased at the peak and the value of the investment is now $40 million (or less). How is it possible that Bank of America can still claim that this piece of land is worth $90 million just because of the face value of the loan? This is what is going on everyday in America. A large pretend game that everything somehow hasn't lost its value. But it has.

Many of you can see the absurdity in this kind of accounting. Simply using artificially high values to claim assets at peak levels. In reality, how much of the above asset list is really worth what they say it is? Hard to say but it is likely a lot lower and banks know this so they are systematically leaking out properties onto the market now that they have shored up their capital balance sheets with trillions of taxpayer dollars. The Federal Reserve is content with the public having the wool pooled over their eyes. This is similar to when gold was confiscated during the 1930s banking crisis yet those that managed to hold onto gold or other valuable commodities did well as the U.S. devalued the dollar during the Great Depression. Bottom line is the government is not going to tell you what is good for you. Even now after a 10 year rally, bubble, or whatever you want to call it you still have Wall Street and government insiders talking ill of commodities. The reason? They cannot print at will when they have to back money with something that is tangible.

The fact that these banks leverage and borrow from the Federal Reserve and consequently devalue the US dollar of Americans, results in a bad ending for most. The concentration of wealth at the top both in society and with banks is a cautionary sign that we are not out of the woods.

There is an enormous amount of debt still out there in the economy
. Just look at household debt:

household debt

Sure household debt has fallen from the peaks but $13.4 trillion in debt via mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, student loans, and other debt is still attached to
average Americans. Interestingly enough the FDIC insured banks have $13.3 trillion in assets. You can do the math here but this is a country largely built on debt and the quality of debt outstanding is questionable at best and you need only look at the millions of foreclosures that will happen this year for that confirmation.