Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Last Call

Steven D. can see the mountain of garbage all the way from here.
That is standard operating procedure for Republicans: make any outrageous statement you can and just hope enough gullible people will believe it. Like Glenn Beck predicting Democratic "revolutionaries" will take to the streets in protests like those which occurred in the 60's after the GOP wins back control of the House and Senate.

Or Tea Party activists carrying signs claiming Obama is for "White Slavery".

And how about the the remarks of Brendan Steinhauser, a "director of campaigns for FreedomWorks" Dick Armey's Tea Party astroturf organization, in which he said the following about the NAACP's proposed condemnation of the Tea Party Movement's racist elements:

"I just don't see racism in the tea party movement. Racism is something we're absolutely opposed to."
Meanwhile, over at Free Republic posters that same day were calling the NAACP "The klan with a tan. Yes, the NAACP is just like the Klan. They have a history of killing and lynching white people and burning crosses on their homes and blowing up their churches and killing little white girls. Oh wait. That's not true at all is it. It's a flat out bunch of bull puckey. Just like Mr, Martin's lie that Obama and his opponent, Rep Russ Carnahan don't want you to get religion. And by religion Martin means specifically the Christian religion in which belief in Jesus provides you a one way ticket to Heaven, and keeps you from burning in a fiery lake in Hell for all eternity.

Martin can't tell you why or how Obama and Carnahan are working for Satan and against Jesus, but that doesn't really matter, does it? All that matters is that Martin scares someone into believing Obama hates Jesus and works for the Devil
All Republicans have is what they had in 2008:  an irrational hatred of Barack Obama that would be borderline psychopathic, only it's crossed over into full-blown schizoid insanity.

It's the same damn thing.  Whenever you call these jackasses out on playing the race card, you're the only racist.  And you'd better believe the next 28-29 months are going to be all about how Barack Obama is going to destroy America, white people, and your immortal soul.  The Republicans don't actually have any better ideas to offer than they did since 2000, but they sure hate them some Barack Obama.

Specifically Not Feelin' Randy, Part 10

Rand Paul keeps trying to make this a close race in Kentucky by pissing off as many people in the state as he can.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul says the poor in America are "enormously better off than the rest of the world," citing an old Cold War film that showed even impoverished homes had color televisions.

Paul's recent remarks at his first forum with Democratic opponent Jack Conway stirred some anger in impoverished pockets of Kentucky, where as many as a third of residents live in poverty.
The libertarian-leaning Paul addressed the issue of poverty by alluding to a decades-old, anti-American propaganda film by the Soviet government designed to criticize the free-market system.
"They filmed a building in the poorer section of New York with some broken windows and they said, 'Oh, this is how the poor in America lives,'" Paul said at last week's forum. "But it backfired on them because the Soviet citizens looked at that video closely and they saw flickering color television sets in all those windows."
Paul went on to say that "the poor in our country are enormously better off than the rest of the world. It doesn't mean we can't do better. But we have to acknowledge and be proud of our system of capitalism."
Conway did not respond directly to Paul's comments about poverty, but told the audience he thinks Kentucky's best days are ahead. He said he supports small business tax credits and other measures to boost job creation.

Charles Hardin, a Democratic judge-executive from eastern Kentucky's Magoffin County, said Monday that Paul's comments rubbed him the wrong way and he criticized Paul for relying on "anecdotal tales."

"I think it reflects a dogmatic belief in free enterprise and limited government," said Hardin, who argued that government should reach out to assist those who can't help themselves.

Kentucky ranks among the poorest states in the country. The state tied for second poorest nationally with 17.3 percent of its residents living below the poverty level, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau figures.
Yeah, see, going after the poor in Kentucky's hardest-hit counties isn't going to endear people to vote for Rand there, but then again it's not like he gives a damn.  15 million unemployed, 3 million available jobs...clearly the problem is the unemployed are too lazy to find work, right?

That's the fundamental difference.  At some point you have to accept that there are times and places where government is necessary.  That's why I always find it to be hysterical whenever a Libertarian aspires to national office.

You know what, Rand?  In some places, poor people even have things like PCs and cell phones.  What they don't have is jobs.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day


We now have 15 million unemployed and just 3 million job openings.  This has been going on for over a year now.

Do we understand the fundamental f'ckin problem with our economy yet, people?

Home, Home I'm Deranged Part 6

Over at NakedCap, Yves Smith has a great piece on the coming "jingle mail" hell.  The next leg down in the housing market will stoke a flood of people simply mailing their keys back to the bank and walking away from their mortgages, the "strategic default".  When you're $20,000 or $50,000 or $100,000 underwater on your mortgage and it's getting worse, and your mortgage payment is going up through no fault of your own because you took out a mortgage you could afford on a $300,000 home and the home is now worth $200,000, and the penalty rates have jacked your mortgage up to twice what it was...why do you continue to pay the house off, especially when you know further reductions in the price of your home are coming?

Now that we know it's the wealthiest Americans with the largest mortgages who are walking away, why can't Americans with smaller mortgages do so?  The answer is Fannie and Freddie are cracking down on this practice...something they can't do on million-dollar mortgages because they don't have any:  Fannie and Freddie are limited to mortgages that are less than $729,750, by federal law.  The folks with the million-dollar jumbo mortgages?  They don't have any huge government agency threatening them.

Yves explains why this is:
So why all this hysteria about strategic defaulters? If I were conspiracy-minded, I’d say this is a very clever push to stoke jealousy among what is left of the middle class to keep the focus off the way the banksters wrecked the economy, got lots of cash and prizes, and have every reason to repeat that profitable exercise. So focus public ire instead about the commies in our midst, um, the new welfare queens, aka various forms of alleged housing deadbeats. The immediate reason is that the more people are made to resent the breaks they fantasize their neighbors are getting, the more they will oppose deep principal mods, which historically is what banks always did when they had a borrower get in trouble who still had a remotely viable income.
Why would the banks oppose principal mods? It will force an end to extend and pretend, and when THAT happens, a lot of financial firms will be shown to be undercapitalized and in need of rescue or resolution (as we and others have pointed out repeatedly, Mike Konczal’s conservative analysis of second mortgage portfolios at the four biggest US banks, Bank of America, JP Morgan, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo, shows that they probably need another $150 billion in equity among them, and others contend the writedowns on seconds should be much more aggressive than Konczal assumed).
This push could also be an effort by the GSEs to shift blame, Whocouldanode 2.0: “whocouldanode prime borrowers would default at such high rates?” It wasn’t our crappy procedures and unduly optimistic assumptions, it was the black swan of a change in values!
Now let us say I am wrong and the banks and GSEs are about to embark on new tactics versus defaulting borrowers, say by getting more aggressive in trying to garnish wages when recoveries fall short. That has the potential to backfire massively.
Backfire massively all over President Obama, that is.  If you made a bad investment in your summer home, you can walk away from it.  If you are six figures underwater on the only place you've got, Fannie and Freddie are going to make sure you drown there or die trying.

The rich?  They're not like you and me. And so help me, I don't even think Obama's even aware of just how much of a disaster this is going to be very very soon.

One Big Fat Serving Of Crow, Please Part 2

Several million negative points for GOP nimrod Tom Emmer on the whole "waiters make $100k a year, let's cut their wages" flap, but the guy at least tries to earn a few of those points back with his mea culpabeing a waiter for a day.
Minnesota state Rep. Tom Emmer, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, made an interesting campaign stop over the weekend as part of his damage control efforts for having supported policies that would effectively lower the minimum wage for waiters: He became a waiter for a day, serving tables at a Mexican restaurant.

In the Emmer campaign's Web video of the event, the Republican declared his solidarity with waiters against people who criticize them: "Some guy on the radio today was saying how it's unskilled labor. I'll tell you what. I dare him to try and carry a tray with 25 pounds of hot, steaming dishes on top of it, be able to know which ones they're going to, be able to run back and pick up the next table and be smiling and happy for the third. You know, this is not an easy job, this is hard work, and the servers get exactly what they put into it. The good ones get rewarded very well. It's just a good reminder, it's not as if we didn't know that. It's just a good reminder -- it's good to walk a mile in someone else's shoes."
On one hand, it takes some balls to put your comfortable shoes where your mouth is and suck it up to sling orders for a day.  That puts Tommy here miles ahead of most Republicans to at least admit he was wrong and then suck it up and do the work he disparaged.

On the other hand, ol' Tommy Boy here gets to go back to his cushy politician job and will continue to run for Governor, it was an obvious and cheap political stunt, and I'm betting there are a lot of folks in Minnesota who would like a job waiting tables considering we're still dealing with 4.7 job seekers for every job available.  Oh, and Tom's still a scuzzbag who wants to sock it to poor people.

In other words, I'm betting Minnesota voters are smarter than that.

Hot Enough For Ya?

NASA climatoligists have compiled the numbers for the first six months of 2010 and found that world-wide, 2010 is the hottest year on record so far.
Following fast on the heels of the hottest Jan-May — and spring — in the temperature record, it’s also the hottest Jan-June on record in the NASA dataset.

It’s all the more powerful evidence of human-caused warming “because it occurs when the recent minimum of solar irradiance is having its maximum cooling effect,” as a recent must-read NASA paper notes.
In other words, despite the sun being at a solar radiation minimum in the cycle, this is still the hottest January-June temperature period recorded so far.  If humans didn't cause global warming, then this should have been one of the coolest years on record, right?  It's all controlled by the sun is the theory and humans have nothing to do with it.

Except the evidence is now overwhelming that it does.

"Climategate" was huge news, only now that the whole report has been debunked, nobody seems to care now.  Meanwhile, we continue to destroy ourselves and our environment and pretend that the notion that six billion of us can cause damage to the Earth is arrogance, because God will protect us.

Funny thing, free will.

Yankees' Owner George Steinbrenner Dead at 80

Say what you will about the Yankees as a team and Steinbrenner as the owner...the man redefined baseball in the modern era, especially the last 20 years.
Known as "The Boss" for his tempestuous style, Steinbrenner was loved by Yankees fans and hated by his rivals. He resurrected the most successful franchise in U.S. sports from a period of decline, returning it to glory in the 1970s. 
His family and baseball club announced his death but did not give a cause. Media reports said he suffered a massive heart attack at his home in Tampa and was rushed to hospital.
Steinbrenner demanded results and got them as the Yankees won seven World Series titles and 11 American League pennants since he bought the fabled club in 1973.
He was twice suspended from baseball -- once for making illegal campaign contributions to President Richard Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign and then for hiring a private investigator to dig up information on one of his players.
"Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing," he once said.

Steinbrenner handed over daily operations of the club to his sons in recent years. His Yankees empire, which he bought for $10 million, is now worth $1.6 billion, nearly twice as much as any other team in baseball, Forbes magazine estimated.
The guy knew how to play the biggest game of all.  I may not agree with a lot of his decisions and his actions...but the man got results.  The New York Yankees are the most famous pro sports team in the US and pretty much the world. He was a powerhouse.

Baseball will be a smaller place without him.  Maybe he'll find some peace out there.

Harry Reid Puts Ben In The Full Nelson

Harry Reid has called Ben Nelson's bluff on derailing the financial regulation bill and to Reid's credit, Ben Nelson has tossed his cards on the table and walked away.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will turn back to the Wall Street reform bill later today, after finally clinching 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. The question now is when it will finally pass, and be shipped over to the White House for a signing ceremony.

The legislation itself is at this point unamendable -- it's an up or down proposition. Still unknown at at this point is whether Republicans will use the Senate rules to eat up hours floor time, and delay a vote, or whether they'll allow a vote right away. Aides at this point expect Reid to file for cloture this afternoon, which would delay passage until at least Thursday. But as always during pivotal stages of the legislative process, things move, and change, quickly. 
My goodness, this thing might actually pass now.  It might actually become reality.

About damn time.  It also means Ben Nelson is more of a team player for the Dems than Russ Feingold.  That should tell you all you need to know about how far Russ Feingold has fallen into the useful idiot category for the GOP.

Iran To Safety

An Iranian nuclear scientist has surfaced in Washington DC, saying he was kidnapped by US intelligence agents.  He has made his way to the Pakistani embassy and is requesting a trip back to Iran.
An Iranian nuclear scientist Tehran claims was abducted by US intelligence agents has taken refuge in the Islamic republic's interest section in Washington, state media reported on Tuesday.

"Shahram Amiri, the abducted Iranian expert, took refuge in Iran's interest section in Washington hours ago," state television's website said.

In a separate report, Mehr news agency said Amiri who was "abducted by Americans went to Iran's interest section... and asked for a quick return to Tehran."

Iran's interests in the United States are managed by the Pakistan embassy as Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic ties for more than three decades.

Iranian officials have long maintained that Amiri was kidnapped by US agents from Saudi Arabia last year where he had gone for a Muslim pilgrimage.
The problem is the Pakistani Embassy in Washington says they don't have the guy according to Spencer Ackerman at Danger Room.
As if the story of Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri wasn’t weird and complicated enough. Both the Pakistani and Iranian governments claimed this morning he’s taken refuge in Pakistani’s Washington embassy and is trying to get home. But a spokesperson at the Pakistani embassy flatly denies to Danger Room that Amiri is there.

Amiri, you may recall, was abducted by U.S. spies last year during a trip to Mecca (at least, according to Tehran). Or perhaps he defected, and is now studying for his Ph.D. of his own free will in the States (according to American press accounts). Last month, a pair of videos surfaces supporting both versions of Amiri’s tale.

The embassy is a pretty ideal location for intelligence-borne intrigue. It’s tucked away in a tony, bucolic area behind the University of the District of Columbia off of Connecticut Avenue NW. After Washington and Tehran severed ties following the 1979 revolution and hostage crisis, the embassy maintains a section representing Iran’s interests, so it’s a logical place for an allegedly-kidnapped Iranian to go.

But a Pakistani embassy official tells Danger Room that the reports of Amiri turning up in the embassy are ”incorrect information” and “we have no one here” matching his description. That’s from an individual at the press office who didn’t identify herself and said she could not speak for the record. She added she couldn’t explain why a spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry in Islamabad told reporters that the scientist is at the embassy’s Iranian interest section, about two miles away from the main facility in D.C.’s Glover Park neighborhood. But she also didn’t split hairs: “He’s not in the embassy at all.”
So, this is getting really weird, almost as if Pakistan is trying to not get involved in this matter between Iran and the US and don't want to anger either side.  It's turning into a huge mystery.

Tent Pitching

More than six months since that massive earthquake and Haitians are still living in massive tent cities, and now hurricane season is upon us.
Vladimir Saint-Louis is glad to be back in business months after January's devastating earthquake in Haiti shut down his large athletic complex in the heart of Port-au-Prince.

Although he was unharmed, his father nearly lost his life when cement blocks fell on his car, injuring and trapping him for hours.
On this particular afternoon six months after the quake, customers worked out at Saint-Louis' main gym, some hitting the weights, others at the Ping-Pong table, a welcome break from all that still plagues Haiti.
Still, just footsteps away, stands a tent city erected by 7,000 homeless Haitians on the complex.
"This is a 400-meter track, and this is my soccer field; it's my land; it's part of the same property," Saint-Louis told CNN.
He said that on the night after the quake, desperate Haitians climbed over collapsed walls and found refuge on his land. At first, it was understandable, he said. But six months later, it's clear he has become frustrated.
"All the government officials we sent letters to, all the letters went unanswered," Saint-Louis said.
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive says the government is working on a resettlement plan, not only to solve land disputes, but also to provide housing for all displaced. But he says the government's hands are tied until billions of pledged funds for Haiti come through.
And thanks to Austerity Hysteria, everyone else has decided that Haiti is no longer a priority issue.  Sorry guys, we can't even get together the billions needed to keep Americans out of tent cities, much less worry about Haitians.  Parts of Hawaii are looking like parts of Port-au-Prince, for instance.
The strip of land is bounded by Waipahu High School on one side and the calming waters of Pearl Harbor's Middle Loch on the other, where the Navy's mothball fleet sits idle. It's the most visible portion of an enormous homeless encampment that stretches five miles over approximately 50 acres of city, Navy and state land that serpentines around Waipio Point Access Road, the Ted Makalena Golf Course and the city's Waipio Soccer Complex and back down to Pearl City in the opposite direction, said Beth Chapman, who uncharacteristically lost a suspect in the swampy brush last year after five straight days of searching the area with her husband, Duane "Dog" Chapman, and their bounty hunting family.
But the deficit's more important.  After all, the homeless in their Hoovervilles are invisible anyway, and it's not like they count as Real Americans.  Haitians in tent cities count even less.

Nuclear Melt-Up, Part 4

There is no bad news in the financial markets anymore.  Stocks now shrug off primary evidence that Europe is collapsing into a debt crisis.  Portugal was downgraded two steps to A1...and nobody cared.
Investors do not see Portugal's rating downgrade by Moody's as an event that will shake the markets, but it confirms the fact that the outlook for some economies in the euro zone is still cloudy, economists and market analysts told CNBC Tuesday.

Moody's slashed Portugal's credit rating by two notches to A1, citing a deterioration of the country's debt ratios and weak growth prospects.

Portugal's debt-to-GDP and debt-to-revenue ratios have risen rapidly in the past two years, Anthony Thomas, vice president and senior analyst in Moody's Sovereign Risk Group, said in a statement.
That should at least affect European stocks, right?  Nope.
European stocks rose, shrugging off the downgrade with investors optimistic after Alcoa's positive start of the US earnings season. US stock index futures were also up.

"It's a blow to Portugal but it’s not a major shock," Ken Wattret, chief euro-zone economist at BNP Paribas told CNBC.
Everything's fine!  We're all great here!  Here's the bigger question:  why is Portugal's credit rating being slashed, and why are Greek bond interest rates increasing after My Big Fat Greek Bailout?  Doesn't this mean the trillion bucks thrown at the Euro Zone isn't working, and that like the US bailout, it was too small?

And stocks are up worldwide.  There is no rationality anymore.  We're in the Melt-Up.

Republicans Should Maybe Not Order That Case Of Party Favors Yet

A new WaPo poll shows that while a majority of voters have little or no confidence in President Obama to make the right decisions and two-thirds feel the same way about Dems in Congress, almost 3 in 4 have little or no confidence in Republicans in Congress.
Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Four months before midterm elections that will define the second half of his term, nearly six in 10 voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country, and a clear majority once again disapproves of how he is dealing with the economy.

Regard for Obama is still higher than it is for members of Congress, but the gap has narrowed. About seven in 10 registered voters say they lack confidence in Democratic lawmakers and a similar proportion say so of Republican lawmakers.

Overall, more than a third of voters polled -- 36 percent -- say they have no confidence or only some confidence in the president, congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans. Among independents, this disillusionment is higher still. About two-thirds of all voters say they are dissatisfied with or angry about the way the federal government is working.

Such broad negative sentiments have spurred a potent anti-incumbent mood. Just 26 percent of registered voters say they are inclined to support their representative in the House this fall; 62 percent are inclined to look for someone new.
That's bad news for both sides.  People still hate the Republican Party and trust them even less than Obama.  The problem for Democrats is despite their accomplishments, the economy and unemployment is all that matters to voters right now.
Democrats nationally remain on the defensive as they seek to retain both houses of Congress this fall. Registered voters are closely divided on the question of whether they will back Republicans or Democrats in House races. Among those who say they are sure to cast ballots in November, 49 percent side with the GOP and 45 percent with Democrats.

Overall, a slim majority of all voters say they would prefer Republican control of Congress so that the legislative branch would act as a check on the president's policies. Those most likely to vote in the midterms prefer the GOP over continued Democratic rule by a sizable margin of 56 percent to 41 percent
And that right there is going to drive a stake through the Obama presidency unless the Dems get to work here in the next six weeks. If financial reform and jobs legislation doesn't pass and soon, the GOP has an excellent chance of getting the House back...and that means endless gridlock.


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