Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Call Of The Decade

And the decade ends on a perfect note:  FOX and Time Warner are both refusing to budge, and if nothing happens by midnight, no New Year's Day bowl games on FOX stations here in Cincy.

The FCC has decided to step in and say "Hey look, guys..."

And the free market screws over the American consumer:  your microcosm of the last ten years.  The next ten?  Not looking much better.

Have a good night and a safe New Year, folks.

Not A Bang But A Whimper

And the charges against the Blackwater Five have been thrown out.
A federal judge dismissed manslaughter charges Thursday against five Blackwater security guards in the 2007 deaths of Iraqi civilians in a Baghad square, finding that prosecutors wrongly used the men's own statements against them.

The September 2007 shootout in Baghdad's Nusoor Square left 17 Iraqis dead and two dozen wounded. The killings led Iraq's government to slap limits on security contractors hired by Blackwater, now known as Xe, and other firms.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina found that the government's case was built largely on "statements compelled under a threat of job loss in a subsequent criminal prosecution," a violation of the Fifth Amendment rights of the five men charged.

"In their zeal to bring charges against the defendant in this case, the prosecutors and investigators aggressively sought out statements the defendants had been compelled to make to government investigators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and in the subsequent investigation," Urbina wrote in a 90-page decision.
Federal prosecutors "repeatedly disregarded the warnings of experienced, senior prosecutors assigned to the case" in doing so, he found.

Urbina also sharply criticized prosecutors and federal agents who developed the case, calling their explanations for using the guards' statements "all too often contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility."
So that's it then.  17 dead and there's not enough evidence to even convict on manslaughter charges.  Of course it's not like it mattered...they're just Iraqis, after all.  Why would anyone think that would matter?

Gosh, it's almost like the Bushies put together such a terrible, incompetent case in 2007 that it was destined to fail, then handed it to Obama.

Now, where have I seen that play before?

Recycled Tags

Shorter entire PUMA Nation/Firebaggers:

"We were right all along about the utter failure of your Magical Black Man.  We expect the Republican Congress in 2010 we help to bring to power will convince you to drop him for Hillary vs Sarah in 2012." 

It's the formal return of my dusty ol' Palinocrats tag, but I expect it to get plenty of use in the new year.

Going Five For '10

Via Barry Ritholtz, here's Joseph Stiglitz's look back on the global economy in 2009 and what we should have learned:
1. Markets are not self-correcting, and without adequate regulation, they are prone to excess.
2. There are many reasons for market failures. Too-big-to-fail financial institutions had perverse incentives: Privatized gains, socialized losses.
3. Keynesian policies do work. Countries, like Australia, that implemented large, well-designed stimulus programs early emerged from the crisis faster.
4. There is more to monetary policy than just fighting inflation. Excessive focus on inflation meant that some central banks ignored what was happening to their financial markets. The costs of mild inflation are miniscule compared to the costs imposed on economies when central banks allow asset bubbles to grow unchecked.
5. Not all innovation leads to a more efficient and productive economy – let alone a better society. Private incentives matter, and if they are not properly aligned, the result can be excessive risk taking, excessively shortsighted behavior, and distorted innovation.
Stiglitz ends with this warning:
We will soon find out whether we have learned the lessons of this crisis any better than we should have learned the same lessons from previous crises.

Regrettably, unless the United States and other advanced industrial countries make much greater progress on financial-sector reforms in 2010 we may find ourselves faced with another opportunity to learn them.
Amen to that.  We're going to be right back in the 2008 hole sooner rather than later.

Epic Reading Is Fundamental Fail

The problem with Wingnut bloggers is that given only part of a story about Barack Obama, they'd rather make complete fabrications up than actually go looking for the real answers.  They also assume you're just as lazy and stupid.  To whit, Jesse Taylor's takedown this morning:
The new New World Order is afoot!

Barack Obama signed an Executive Order amending one of Ronald Reagan’s executive orders, which rescinded the exclusion INTERPOL would otherwise have from American tax laws.

Short version: INTERPOL employees are no longer liable for American taxes.  That’s about it.
Now, the great part is where the Wingers go with this:
Predictably, the fact that Barack Obama has allowed the World Police to operate within our borders and given them all of West Virginia to use as concentration camps (READ BETWEEN THE LINES, PEOPLE) is setting off alarms among the most vigilant of our civilian security forces.  The Anchoress is worried that this is the beginning of Kristallnacht, and that INTERPOL and ACORN are somehow going to join forces to form the ultimate acronym, CLARINET PORNO.  Confederate Yankee is pretty damn sure that they still have actual Nazis running INTERPOL, and that somehow these tax regulations will allow them to kidnap American soldiers for gay sex in Amsterdam.

The Astute Bloggers believe Barack Obama has empowered INTERPOL to capture George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for war crimes.  Protein Wisdom is pretty sure that Obama plain hates the constitution and was a shitty law professor, which burns most of all.
It doesn't really matter what the truth is to these jagoffs.  They just make it up and then spread it around.  They are not interested in facts, just destroying Obama.  That's all that matters, and the end justifies the means.

Facts are for pussies because you can't prove Obama's not really the Kenyan Usurper Muslim Antichrist who will destroy the country and sell our nubile blonde women to the 12th Imam, can you?

Yeah, take that, facts!  EPIC FAIL!

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

From TPM:
A new Rasmussen poll finds that voters want to go to great lengths against Flight 253 bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, with a majority saying he should be waterboarded to extract information.

The poll asked: "Should waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques be used to gain information from the suspected bomber?" The result was 58% yes, to only 30% who said no.
Just a little reminder that this truly awful decade ending or not, the problems this country still has will take a very long time to fix.  In just ten years we have gone from a reasonable people to a bloodthirsty, fanatical mob that believes torture is justified.

More Bill Killing

Politics Daily's Matt Lewis and radio host/blogger Taylor Marsh present Useful Idiots Are Useful theater on MSNBC.

Bonus points as Cap'n Crunch plays the "Even the Liberal Taylor Marsh wants to kill Obamacare" card.
It’s the end of the year, and we should focus on what unites us, right? Increasingly, ObamaCare has begun to fill that role. Matt Lewis of Politics Daily debates Taylor Marsh, but only in the narrowest sense of “debate.” They may have different reasons, but they both agree that ObamaCare is a disaster and should be killed by the Senate at the earliest possible moment.
Keep up the good work, gang!  I'm sure the GOP will thank you in November 2010.

[UPDATE 11:30 AM]  And Kevin K. beats me to this two days ago.

Dear America:

"If Martha Coakley wins Ted Kennedy's former seat next month by anything less than forty points, it's Excellent News For Republicans in 2010."

--Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics

Bonus Verbatim Stupid: "Nevertheless, in the absence of any polling done in the past month, I embarked on a little thought experiment."

Yes, it's called "pretending the GOP has a chance to win Ted Kennedy's seat."

[UPDATE 11:24 AM] As the Rumpies note, GOP candidate Scott "Big McLargeHuge" Brown has errm....bigger...problems.

In Retrospect, That Journalism Major Back In 94 Wasn't A Great Idea

Went into computers instead, but I was at one point I was a budding newsie.

chart of the day, newspaper employment 1

I'm kinda glad I stuck with the IT stuff and became a dirty f'ckin hippie blogger instead.

Zandar's Thought Of The Decade

Really, there are two kinds of Americans:  those who believe America was destroyed soon after January 20, 2001, and those who believe America was destroyed soon after January 20, 2009.

Political Cartoon Of The Decade

Jen Sorenson's Slowpoke is as usual, right on the money.

The '09 Rooties

Over at B&P, Media Czech has the 2009 Rooties Awards winners up for the year in Kentucky politics.

Just go already. Also, Rand Paul is still creepy as hell.

One Of These Is Not Like The Others

As Digby notes, Gallup's most influential man of 2009 was Barack Obama, who got 30% of the vote.  The problem is, in a poll where Obama, Nelson Mandela, the Pope and yes, even Dubya are rubbing shoulders, there's one guy in there who should scare the hell out of you.

Glenn Beck got fourth.
Nelson Mandela only gets one point higher than Beck --- who's tied with the pope?

No Limbaugh, no Hannity, no O'Reilly. Beck.

That actually freaks me out a little bit.
You're not the only one.  Dubya I can understand.  Even Dick Cheney I can see getting a percentage point or two. Limbaugh?  Sure.

But Glennsanity?  Really, America?  Of all the living men on Earth, he ranked number 4?

Oh, and if you're keeping score at home, Zandar's with Zandardad on this one:  Dr. Steven Hawking.

Sticking It To Dick

The White House is not taking Dick Cheney's nastiness lying down.
"It is telling that Vice President Cheney and others seem to be more focused on criticizing the Administration than condemning the attackers," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House's official blog. "Unfortunately too many are engaged in the typical Washington game of pointing fingers and making political hay, instead of working together to find solutions to make our country safer."
Ouch.  Oh, but Pfeiffer works his way inside Cheney's reach and goes for the body blows:
"To put it simply: this President is not interested in bellicose rhetoric, he is focused on action," Pffeifer writes. "Seven years of bellicose rhetoric failed to reduce the threat from al Qaeda and succeeded in dividing this country. And it seems strangely off-key now, at a time when our country is under attack, for the architect of those policies to be attacking the President."

Pfeifer also takes issue with the former vice president's contention that Obama "pretends we aren't at [war]," saying the president and members of his administration have referred to being at war with al Qaeda several times.

"There are numerous…public statements that explicitly state we are at war," writes Pfeifer. "The difference is this: President Obama doesn't need to beat his chest to prove it, and – unlike the last Administration – we are not at war with a tactic ("terrorism"), we at war with something that is tangible: al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies. And we will prosecute that war as long as the American people are endangered."
Pfeiffer's completely salient point aside (Sorry Dick, you and Dubya blew it for seven years) I'm liking this new Democrats Now With Spines thing.  They've finally figured out that no matter what they do, the Republicans will punch them in the mouth for it.

It's long past time to punch back.

If It's Thursday...

Jobless claims actually down to 432K.  People are making noises like there's going to be a positive jobs number for December next week.

Keep in mind however that until that positive number is +200K or more per month, we're in trouble.  We have a long way to go.

Epic Time Compression Win

Lee Camp gives us the decade in about 3 minutes of EPIC FAILS.

Zandar Versus The Decade

Looking back on my predictions for this year, I went out on a limb and fell off the tree.  Two for care hasn't passed yet and the stimulus did.

So, here's my ten for '10:
  1. Democrats maintain control of the House and Senate.  The teabaggery is just too much for the middle to take and Republicans filibustering the jobs bill is just too much. Harry Reid and Chris Dodd lose however.
  2. Thompson Prison in Illinois gets some Gitmo inmates.  The plan to close Gitmo proceeds...slowly.
  3. Health care reform passes, but gets tied up in court immediately by Republicans and threatened by state efforts to nullify the law.
  4. Cap and Trade dies.  It will however be the major fight in 2011.
  5. Unemployment in 2010 will hit 11% at some point.  It won't be pretty.
  6. Apple releases the iTablet...and nobody cares.  Also, the iPhone will be released on other networks besides AT&T.
  7. Tim Geithner gets fired.  Yeah I know, I said this last year, but c'mon.
  8. The stock market will turn back down again and the Dow will close under 10k on Dec 31, 2011.
  9. Obama will sign another stimulus for states facing massive budget holes.
  10. This blog will roll on for another year.
We'll see how I do this year.

StupidiNews, Last One This Decade Edition

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