Friday, July 23, 2010

Last Call

We passed the 100 mark in failed banks in 2010.
Community Security Bank of New Prague, Minn., was the 101st in a string of small, regional banks to fail this year. While conditions have improved for many of the nation's largest banks, the lingering effects of the financial crisis continue to take a toll on local lenders across the country.

The FDIC expects the wave of bank failures that started in 2008 to peak sometime this year. Lending activity has picked up in some areas and many troubled firms have found new sources of capital.

FDIC spokesman Andrew Gray said the agency expects the number of failed banks to exceed last year's total of 140, though he added that failures this year will not approach the historic levels seen during the savings and loan crisis. In 1989, a record 534 banks were closed by regulators.

Still, banks have been failing at a rapid pace this year. At this time in 2009, regulators had closed a total of 57 banks.
Won't exceed that level this year, no.

Your New Normal Kinda Sucks

White House projections are 9% plus unemployment for, oh, the next couple years.
The White House said Friday it expects that unemployment will stay at or above 9% until 2012, but at the same time forecast that the economy will grow by at least 4% in 2011 and 2012.

It also revised its long-term deficit estimate under President Obama's proposed 2011 budget: The administration now believes the 10-year deficit will be $58 billion less than projected in February when the budget blueprint was first released. 
Really?  Four percent growth and still 9% unemployment?  How does that work?  Oh yes, that 4% growth I guess goes to the top 1% again.  Rest of us?  Well, not so much.

And this is the optimistic projection.  Reality is more like 11 or 12% unemployment and the next leg of the depression.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

The ethics violations facing Charlie Rangel must be pretty gruesome indeed if he's already apologizing to Luke Russert for snapping at him yesterday.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has apologized to NBC reporter Luke Russert over berating him for asking whether ethics charges will force Rangel out of his job.
After the charges dropped Thursday, Rangel became angry when Russert asked the question in the Capitol. The veteran congressman called it a “dumb question” and asked if Russert was “trying to make copy.”
“It doesn’t really sound like NBC asking these dumb questions, but it just shows what has really happened to a channel that did have some respect,” Rangel said. 
At a news conference on Monday, Rangel said he called the reporter to apologize.
“I had a very good conversation with Luke Russert [this morning] and apologized for the way I treated him on television,” he said. 
Translation:  Charlie is in real, real trouble here and he's been in the game long enough to know he who controls the news cycle, controls the universe.  Next week should be really interesting if he's already sucking up to NBC's Junior Villager In Training.

And So It Begins

The D-D-D-Dee Word is here.  No, not Depression.  That's next after the current one:  Deflation.
During the height of the U.S. recession, grocery stores embarked on a price war to keep consumers. Now as the economy improves slightly but unemployment remains high, food manufacturers are backing aggressive price cuts to woo back shoppers they lost to lower-priced store labels.

Safeway executives said the strength of that push on pricing caught them by surprise.

"Deflation continues in price per item and is not expected to significantly improve until the fourth quarter," said Chief Executive Steve Burd, who oversees supermarkets including Safeway, Vons and Dominick's.

Burd acknowledged that retail deflation was much greater than expected in the second quarter and drove a decline in identical-store sales.
Remember, there is no deflation.  We must cut trillions in government spending and tighten our belts.  Homeowners must be made to pay back their underwater mortgages in full.  We must deregulate everything to allow the innovation of Big Casino.  We must cut taxes to create jobs because supply creates demand. And why hasn't Obama fixed the economy yet?

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

How does Pat Buchanan continue to have a job at MSNBC when he writes idiotic, outright racist drivel like this?
Where the erosion is taking place is in white America, among working- and middle-class folks who voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries but took a chance with Obama in the fall. Now, every time some new incident erupts, these folks are being tarred.

Opposition to affirmative action is racist. Supporting the tea party gives aid and comfort to racists. Opposing health care puts you in league with folks who used racial slurs on Rep. John Lewis. To raise the issue of the New Black Panther Party is to play the race card.

One understand the bitterness of tea party folks who carry signs that read: "What difference does it make what this placard says. You'll call it racist anyway."

As the National Journal's Ron Brownstein has been reporting, white America is increasingly alienated and distrustful of all our major economic and political power centers -- the banks, big corporations, the government.

And, for the first time in our lifetimes, outside the South, white racial consciousness has visibly begun to rise
Poor White America, it's been so terribly victimized by those mean old black people for what, 400 years now?  If only we would stop electing so many black Presidents, race wouldn't be at the forefront of the political argument. White people I guess are going to have to stick together before the Man comes to take away their rights.

Or, to put it more succinctly, with President Malcolm Shabazz X there, who will finally stand up for white people in our system?

Ai-ya.  I need booze.

Unimpeachable Character

Expanding on my post from earlier today, you'd better 100% believe impeachment of Obama is coming if the GOP gets back in control of Congress.  The Teabaggers will demand it, and so will the nutbars in GOP politics that the Republicans refuse to disown, like Tom Tancredo.  Tancredo is already building his "case" against Obama and he clearly expects the rest of the Republican Party to follow through on this.  First, Obama must be convicted in the court of public opinion.
Yes, Mr. Obama is a more serious threat to America than al Qaeda. We know that Osama bin Laden and followers want to kill us, but at least they are an outside force against whom we can offer our best defense. But when a dedicated enemy of the Constitution is working from the inside, we face a far more dangerous threat. Mr. Obama can accomplish with the stroke of his pen what bin Laden cannot accomplish with bombs and insurgents.

Mr. Obama's actions, not just his words, show the threat he poses. A level of government deficit spending unheard of since World War II and trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see represent an unacceptable threat to our economic security and our children's future. Mr. Obama could be the first president to guarantee that the next generation of Americans has a lower standard of living than their parents.

Mr. Obama's most egregious and brazen betrayal of our Constitution was his statement to Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, that the administration will not enforce security on our southern border because that would remove Republicans' desire to negotiate a "comprehensive" immigration bill. That is, to put it plainly, a decision that by any reasonable standard constitutes an impeachable offense against the Constitution. For partisan political advantage, he is willfully disregarding his obligation under Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution to protect states from foreign invasion.
No really, that's Tancredo's entire plan.  Obama told Sen. Jon Kyl to back off, so IMPEACH THE SEEKRIT MUSLIM WHO IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN AL-QAEDA.  You'd better believe this kind of crap is dead serious too.  They will spend all their waking moments going after Obama on pointless crap like this, and they will never rest.

That's what you can look forward to with a Republican Congress trying to "keep Obama in check" all the time. That and defunding every Obama agenda item they can find, starting with health care reform.

Yes, I still stick by my prediction that a Republican House will go for all three before 2012: endless hearings, a government shutdown, and impeachment proceedings.

Sin Of Admission

Greg Sargent catches the Politico guys telling the truth again.
A striking admission by Politico's John Harris and Jim VandeHei in their big piece today on the new media reality:
At POLITICO, we have an unusual vantage point on this new reality. We are both an enabler (in the eyes of some critics) of the deterioration of political discourse, and a target of it (as we try to defend our values as neutral journalists amid constant criticism from activists who think we fail at neutrality or are disdainful of the goal in the first place).
There is some truth on both counts. Like all news sites, we are aware that conflict clicks. More traffic comes from an item on Sarah Palin's "refudiation" faux pas than from our hundreds of stories on the complexities of health care reform or Wall Street regulation.
This is actually an important concession: Frivolous items about Sarah Palin do degrade our discourse, but we need to do them, because the simple fact is that people click on them in droves. 
Well no kidding, Greg.  Politico's in the infotainment business, not the news business.  At least they are admitting the fact that they exist to get clicks, not inform people.

What, you thought they were a news outfit?  What, like FOX?  That's funny.  Despite FOX and Breitbart and Politico around, it's the Liberal Media that has the agenda.  Right.

When In Doubt, Punch Those Hippies

With any serious climate bill completely dead even while the worst environmental disaster in American history continues during the warmest June on record, it's nice to know that you can always count on Politico to find some Dirty F'ckin' Hippies to punch over it, and Obama too.
One exasperated administration official on Thursday lambasted the environmentalists – led by the Environmental Defense Fund – for failing to effectively lobby GOP senators.

“They didn’t deliver a single Republican,” the official told POLITICO. “They spent like $100 million and they weren’t able to get a single Republican convert on the bill.”

But many say it was Obama who didn’t do enough to make the climate bill a big enough priority, allowing other monster big-ticket items like the economic stimulus, health care and Wall Street reform to suck up all the oxygen and leaving environmentalists grasping for straws too late in the game – well past the expiration date for other big accomplishments during the 111th Congress.

“The absence of direct, intense presidential leadership doomed this process,” said Eric Pooley, author of “Climate War,” a just-published book that chronicles the past three years of debate on global warming. “We did have a window there, and now the window is shut. It’s more about prying it back open than anything else.”

Going back to Day One, Obama never turned his campaign proposals into formal legislative text, leaving lawmakers to shoulder the load. And when Obama spoke publicly about the issue, it was only with a vague call for “comprehensive energy and climate” measures that did little to help win votes.

Obama’s hands-off approach didn’t matter as much in the House, where Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and, later, Speaker Nancy Pelosi built their winning coalition region by region to scrap out a 219-212 vote just before the July 4, 2009 recess. But it was another story with his former colleagues in the Senate, where carbon caps had never topped 48 votes on the floor.
Here's the real reason why there's no climate legislation:  the Republicans blocked it because they're not interested in helping the environment.  They are however very interested in helping big companies escape costs of cleaning up their pollution and winning political power.  There's nothing Obama, Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid can do if all 41 Republican Senators say no.  Blaming Obama or environmental groups is pointless here...Obama has to get legislation on his desk to sign it.

Well there is, but that would mean getting rid of the filibuster, and the Dems don't have the balls to do it.

Epic Meanwhile At The Hall Of Justice Win

For some inexplicable reason, Fred Phelps and his crew of "God Hates Fags" assholes from the Westboro Baptist Church is protesting...the San Diego Comic-Con.  My views on Comic-Con in general?  Right now we have a bunch of delusional fanboys who dress funny and will violently attack anyone who doesn't agree with their twisted, fanatical views.  No wait, that's Fred Phelps and his inbred morons.  The Comic-Con counter protest is awesome sauce.
They've faced down humans time and time again, but Fred Phelps and his minions from the Westboro Baptist Church were not ready for the cosplay action that awaited them today at Comic-Con. After all, who can win against a counter protest that includes robots, magical anime girls, Trekkies, Jedi and...kittens?

Unbeknownst to the dastardly fanatics of the Westboro Baptist Church, the good folks of San Diego's Comic-Con were prepared for their arrival with their own special brand of superhuman counter protesting chanting "WHAT DO WE WANT" "GAY SEX" "WHEN DO WE WANT IT" "NOW!" while brandishing ironic (and some sincere) signs. Simply stated: The eclectic assembly of nerdom's finest stood and delivered. 
Freddie picked the wrong batch of cosplayers to mess with.


An Oily Response

When safety becomes an operational liability to a company rather than the chief goal, you get a climate where reporting safety violations only makes you responsible for causing them.  Case in point:  Deepwater Horizon.

A confidential report on safety conditions aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, conducted about one month before the rig's explosion, points to widespread fear of reprisal for reporting employee mistakes that could undermine safety aboard the rig.

"There was a stated fear of reprisal related specifically to the reporting of dropped objects," states an executive summary of the report obtained by CNN.

"Only 46.3 percent of participants felt that, if their actions led to a potentially risky situation (e.g., forgetting to do something, damaging equipment, dropping an object from height), they could report it without any fear of reprisal," the report states.

Transocean, the rig operator, commissioned the survey of about 40 employees, about half its staff aboard the Deepwater Horizon.

The report concluded, "Deepwater Horizon was relatively strong in many of the core aspects of safety management." But it also uncovered fear among workers of suffering reprisal for reporting conditions that could lead to a "risky" situation onboard the rig.

The study also found some Transocean employees entered fake data to try to circumvent a safety system, according to a person familiar with the full report.
But remember, there's no evidence that the kind of safety violations and institutionalized denial that produced a toxic catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is in anyway widespread to any other rigs, and there's no reason to worry whatsoever about the safety records at other drilling locations and wells.  No reason to enforce that mean ol' moratorium on drilling.  Give us a second to lock it down.  Everything's fine here.  How are you?

It's not like we should be asking "Who else is hiding safety violations on these rigs because they fear reprisals?" or anything smart like that while Tropical Storm Bonnie threatens to plow into all that surface oil and Corexit dispersant and carry it possibly hundreds of miles inland smack into the heart of the Great Plains states.  Instead, we should drill baby drill!

The Future Of Republican Politics

Shamelessly stolen from the Rumpies, it's Tennessee Republican Basil Marceaux, running for Governor.  I guess.  Somehow.

Run. Just run. Now. Get to the choppa.

If you'll excuse me, my frontal lobe just rebelled violently through my skull and I'm going to need to find a clean towel.

The Race For The God Particle

A lot of attention has been paid to the Large Hadron Collider out in Switzerland, but here in the US a smaller atom smasher called Tevatron has been steadily working on the issue of finding the elusive Higgs boson, and the Illinois-based machine looks to be getting a new lease on life to find it.
The Tevatron accelerator could now remain operational until 2014, as physicists there now think the Higgs boson is within their reach.

The elusive Higgs boson is a sub-atomic particle considered crucial to the current theory of particle physics.
Scientists gave details of the discussions here at a major physics conference in Paris.

The International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP) runs from 22-28 July.

The Tevatron, based in Batavia, Illinois, is operated by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab).

The accelerator is the principal US rival to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is located on the French-Swiss border.

Both machines aim to be first in the hunt to find the Higgs.

Extending the lifetime of the US accelerator is a potential game-changer.

Some physicists say the LHC may not be in a position to detect the Higgs for 2-3 years.

The European machine will continue its current science run at around half its design energy until 2011. It will then be shut down for up to a year for maintenance work.

An extension to 2014 could give the Tevatron an advantage in the Higgs race.
And that would certainly put the US back on top of the particle physics world...if the Tevatron can find the staffing and the funding needed to keep going into 2014.  Something tells me however that getting either is going to be almost as hard as finding the Higgs boson.

Forever And Ever, Amen

Via BooMan, Michele Bachmann gives away the plan should Republicans retake the House and/or Senate in November: endless investigations of Obama.
Should Republicans take back the House in November, Rep. Michele Bachmann said she wants the GOP to focus all of its attention on issuing subpoenas and holding hearings investigating the Obama administration and Democrats.

I think that’s all we should do,” Bachmann said at the GOP Youth Convention in Washington on Thursday. “I think all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another and expose all the nonsense that has gone on."

Bachmann said that Republicans have all their chips on the table in November. “This is the year — this is it,” she said.
Clinton's second term all over again.  Just what we need:  these idiots fiddling while America burns.  Think of it, endless Birther hearings, endless subpoenas on everything the GOP disagrees with, press conferences daily about how "concerned" Republicans are, the White House guest list, the Shirley Sherrod firing, and all that building up to a critical mass that will absolutely end in impeachment.  And that's just for starters.  Meanwhile, don't expect the GOP-led House to try to move any legislation other that constant attempts to repeal everything Obama has done and then shut down the government over the deficit.  That'll help the economy.

They're giving the game away because they're confident you'll let them do it.  Won't it be fun with the Republicans back in charge?

There's a choice to make in 2010, folks.  Ask yourselves if Bachmann's vision of endless hearings is what you want, because that's what the GOP is offering as a "solution".


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