Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last Call

Your call cannot be completed as dialed, AT&T.  Please try again.

The decision by US authorities to challenge AT&T's $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile is a bitter blow for the US telecoms giant, but it could benefit consumers, analysts said.

As it filed a lawsuit to block the takeover on Wednesday, the US Department of Justice said the takeover bid -- which would give AT&T a daunting 39-percent share of the US wireless market -- was anti-competitive.

Shares of AT&T plunged 4.6 percent on Wall Street after the DoJ's move was announced, even as the company vowed to contest it in court.

"There are really no good options for AT&T at this point," said Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge, a digital-rights advocacy group in Washington.

I'd have to agree.  It's either a lengthy court battle that could take years, or abandon the deal altogether.  Either way, Sprint and Verizon have to be licking their chops knowing that they can continue to expand at AT&T's expense.

Here's the question:  can anybody buy T-Mobile and not exceed that 39% market share mark and still remain competitive?

Eye Of The Hurri-Cantor

Me, last week on Eric Cantor's trial balloon to hold Hurricane Irene relief money hostage to federal spending cuts:

Boy, if I lived in Cantor's district, I'd be thrilled to know that if Irene went through my hometown and wrecked power, traffic, water and city streets, that Eric Cantor's office was more interested in scoring political talking points than helping people in need And if I were one of Cantor's Virginia delegation colleagues, I'd be ringing up his office and saying "Look, pal, my constituents are going to need this money.  Don't be pulling this nonsense."

And lo and behold, now Cantor has quite the revolt on his hands from Virginia Republicans, including Gov. Bob McDonnell:

Virginia GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell, breaking with Cantor, on Tuesday suggested that deficit-spending concerns should not be a factor as Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) respond to the hurricane.
“My concern is that we help people in need,” McDonnell said during his monthly radio show. “For the FEMA money that’s going to flow, it’s up to them on how they get it. I don’t think it’s the time to get into that [deficit] debate.”

Yeah, and here's the kicker:

But Cantor hasn’t always believed that disaster aid should be contingent on budget cuts. In fact, in 2004, he requested federal aid following Tropical Storm Gaston, saying that “the magnitude of the damage suffered by the Richmond area is beyond what the Commonwealth can handle,” without a word about offsetting cuts being necessary.

So when Cantor's district needed disaster relief, he was all for it.  You know, when Bush was President.  When a Republican is President, deficits don't matter, you see.

Giving The People A Choice

It's no coincidence that today the White House announced that President Obama will be addressing a joint session of Congress the same night as a scheduled GOP candidate presidential debate on September 7, a week from today.  In fact, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that if the Republicans had a problem with it, they should reschedule.  Hey, it's good being the President.

"There were a lot of considerations," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters today. "And, obviously, one debate of many that's on one channel of many was not enough reason not to have the speech at the time that we decided to have it."

Politico and NBC News are sponsoring the debate, one of three among the GOP presidential candidates scheduled for September. The organizers have not yet announced what they intend to do about the President's request for airtime during their debate.

Carney suggested the organizers could move it.

"The network could make a decision to alter of timing of the debate by an hour if it so decided," Carney said. "There is no perfect time."

"There has not been a time in my short period of time of this job where I called the networks and said, 'How about now for, does this time work for the president to speak?'" Carney added. "There is always, 'well, it works for two of us but not the other three.'"

It'll be interesting to see what kind of pushback the White House gets on this.  It'll be even more interesting to see what the Republicans have to say, and if the Village goes along with it.   But we'll see what happens.

Oh, and I like this new White House going after the GOP.  Like I said, this was absolutely not a coincidence.  Meanwhile, Orange Julius says the President needs to move his address to preempt next Thursday's NFL season opener, because the Republicans you know, hate the President enough to publicly disrespect him like this.  When's the last time a Speaker of the House told the President "hey, just reschedule, we're too busy trying to ruin you to deal with you speaking to us."

Nice guy.

Steven Seagal Stars In Lawsuit - Maximum Overkill

Seagal, along with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has been served with an official notice of claim from Jesus Sanchez Llovera -- who contends Seagal and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department performed an "unfounded" raid on his home because they believed Jesus was operating an illegal cockfighting farm. Jesus denies the allegation -- insisting he only raises the roosters "for show."

Jesus claims Seagal arrived to his home on March 9 with a TANK -- and rammed into a gate on his property. Seagal was backed up by an MCSO Tactical Operations Unit -- armed in full riot gear -- which stormed the house. The entire incident was captured by a camera crew taping for Seagal's reality show, "Steven Seagal Lawman."

Jesus claims his 11-month old puppy was shot and killed during the raid -- and his home sustained "substantial damage." He also claims the cops killed more than 100 roosters that belonged to him.

The notice of claim is the first step towards a lawsuit -- and Jesus' lawyer tells us his client is demanding $100,000 for the damage and he wants Seagal to issue a "formal written apology" to his children "for the death of their 11-month old puppy, a beloved family pet.

Technically, these allegations have not been proven.  Let us hope this guy is blowing it out of proportion and angling for a settlement.  Because if somebody comes on my property and threatens my pet, I would shoot them with a smile (if you don't believe me, ask Zandar, who has witnessed my love for my pets and my shotgun).  Destroying property, killing an innocent animal and terrorizing citizens for reality TV is way beyond the line.  And how does killing the roosters actually help them?  Can anyone explain that?

I hope more comes out about this, in the meantime I can't help but feel a little sickened.  I know I am way softer about animals than most, but life is life and suffering is suffering, whether it is ours or another's.  Taking life should never be easy, and certainly never done for something as ridiculous as ratings on a show for a has-been trying to stay tough.  Making a statement about cockfighting should not come at the death of the roosters and an innocent animal that was just home with his family.

Taking Plug And Play To Exciting New Levels

We can't help but project our humanity onto devices.  Our phones were a failure when they just made calls.  Computers were lame when all you could do was data entry and peck out letters.  Even television was ho-hum when it was programmed by someone else.  When the Internet revolution came and porn flooded the web, it became obvious that adding a sexual side to devices cemented them with the population.  Now we have webcam shows, sexting and on-demand adult programming that has added spice to technology.

That means the following article shouldn't be much of a surprise, but boy was it (at least to me!).

There is now a USB vibrator (yes, you read that right).  It comes with 8 or 16 GB of storage, like anyone cares. It now "discreetly" gives users a way to keep their fun... ahem... portable.  I thought it was a joke at first, but CNET assures me it is not.  Adult or not, I had to get an initial giggle attack out of the way, then I began to write this.

Christmas gift? I think not.  Gift for the geek who has everything (except a boyfriend)?  I suppose so.  At any rate, this was one of the most amusing tech articles I've written in a while.  Enjoy!

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter Part 77

So, turns out Bank of America had plenty of notification that AIG was going to sue them.  Like seven months worth of warning.  And no, they didn't tell shareholders.

Top Bank of America Corp lawyers knew as early as January that American International Group Inc was prepared to sue the bank for more than $10 billion, seven months before the lawsuit was filed, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Bank of America shares fell more than 20 percent on August 8, the day the lawsuit was filed, adding to worries about the stability of the largest U.S. bank. It wasn't until Warren Buffett stepped up with a $5 billion investment that those fears were eased, though hardly eliminated.

The bank made no mention of the lawsuit threat in a quarterly regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission just four days earlier. Nor did management discuss it on conference calls about quarterly results and other pending legal claims.

The SEC's rules for litigation disclosure are murky, and some lawyers said Bank of America may have been justified in not revealing AIG's lawsuit before it was filed. The bank's litigation disclosures are in line with those of many rivals.

But other lawyers said banks have an obligation to disclose legal threats that could have major consequences.

"Publicly owned companies are supposed to disclose material threatened litigation under generally accepted accounting principles," said Richard Rowe, a former director of the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance, who was commenting generally and not specifically about Bank of America.

The odds of this little tidbit becoming an even larger headache for Bank of America this week is pretty high, especially since shareholders are already suing the bank to block the settlement deal with New York State.  Something tells me this injunction will be carried out in all due haste.

The wolves are circling the tree, and Bank of America is running out of branches to hold on to.  Because it gets even worse for the company.

The attorney general of Nevada is accusing Bank of America of repeatedly violating a broad loan modification agreement it struck with state officials in October 2008 and is seeking to rip up the deal so that the state can sue the bank over allegations of deceptive lending, marketing and loan servicing practices.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in United States District Court in Reno, Catherine Cortez Masto, the Nevada attorney general, asked a judge for permission to end Nevada’s participation in the settlement agreement. This would allow her to sue the bank over what the complaint says were dubious practices uncovered by her office in an investigation that began in 2009.

In her filing, Ms. Masto contends that Bank of America raised interest rates on troubled borrowers when modifying their loans even though the bank had promised in the settlement to lower them. The bank also failed to provide loan modifications to qualified homeowners as required under the deal, improperly proceeded with foreclosures even as borrowers’ modification requests were pending and failed to meet the settlement’s 60-day requirement on granting new loan terms, instead allowing months and in some cases more than a year to go by with no resolution, the filing says. 

And if this is granted, I just don't see how the bank survives.  The Nevada complaint accuses Bank of America ,among other things, of actually punishing their loan modification staff if they spent more than ten minutes trying to help a single customer.  Their job was to get them off the phone in such a way that they wouldn't call back and would basically give up on getting a loan modification.  These guys are pretty much toast.

And B of A is the largest bank in the country.  You do the math as to what that will do to the markets when the hammer drops on them.

I fear we'll find out pretty soon.

Still Furious, Not Particularly Fast However

Republicans looking for their Pentagon Papers to use on President Obama have managed to claim another administration scalp as ATF chief Ken Melson got a "lateral" promotion.

US authorities Tuesday named a new chief for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) after a scandal in which the agency lost track of weapons that ended up in the hands of drug cartels in Mexico.

B. Todd Jones, a federal prosecutor in Minnesota, was appointed acting director of ATF, while the current acting director Kenneth Melson was named a senior adviser to the agency on forensic science.

So what's this "Fast And Furious" mess all about, anyway?

The shakeup comes weeks after a congressional report showed an estimated 2,000 weapons smuggled into Mexico as part of a US sting operation -- and then lost -- have been linked to numerous killings, including that of an American federal agent.

The report found that ATF lost track of the weapons after allowing them to be smuggled into Mexico under an operation called "Fast and Furious," which drew harsh criticism in Congress after the revelations.

At least 122 of the weapons were used in crimes in Mexico, according to the report.

Two of the weapons were found at the scene of the killing of Brian Terry, a border patrol agent who was shot and killed in Arizona December 14 while trying to apprehend armed men preying on illegal immigrants.

The ATF program, which angered Mexico when it came to light, allowed hundreds of weapons to be smuggled into Mexico between 2009 and 2010 as part of a plan to capture major arms traffickers.

Good idea, terrible execution.  You tag weapons for a sting and then they get smuggled into Mexico, you lose them, they end up being used to kill a Border Patrol agent.  That's reaching a Bush-era incompetence level right there and frankly I'm not sad to see Melson get shuffled off to Buffalo.  Even worse, we kinda didn't tell the Mexican government, and those weapons ended up being used in dozens of criminal acts.

Yeah, somebody's head had to roll here, no question.

Still A War Or Three Going On, Folks

Remember Afghanistan, people?  You know, that whole war for nearly a decade thing?  Just hit a new monthly record for US troop deaths in August.

Sixty-six American troops have died this month, topping July 2010 when 65 troops died, according to a CNN tally.

Almost half the August troop deaths took place on August 6 when insurgents shot down their helicopter in the eastern central province of Wardak. The Taliban claimed militants downed the helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Thirty U.S. service members - including 17 Navy SEALs - were killed in that attack, the single largest loss of life for U.S. troops since the Afghan war began in late 2001.

In contrast, 36 U.S. service members were killed in all of July. Prior to the August attack, the most U.S. troops killed in a single month this year was 47 in June.

A "surge" of 33,000 additional troops in 2009 - in response to increased insurgent attacks - led to an uptick in U.S. deaths over previous years, with 499 killed in 2010. Prior to the surge, the most U.S. troops killed in a single year was 155 in 2008, according to CNN figures.

More troops in the combat theater equals more casualties.  Whocoodanode?  You know what I'd like to see observed on September 11th this year as we approach ten years since 9/11?  Bringing our friggin troops home.  All of them.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Last Call

Looks like Mitt Romney's brilliant strategy of "lay low until everyone else in the GOP Clown Car self-destructs" isn't working too well in South Carolina as Governor Goodhair pulls ahead.

The fact that Perry is now dominating in South Carolina, a conservative state, is probably not news to campaign watchers. The PPP survey shows him with 36 percent of the potential vote, followed by Romney with 16 and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) at 13, the second poll in five days to show Perry with a big lead. But the crosstabs show that Romney, the presumed "moderate" candidate (or at least more moderate), cannot even defend his own turf in the middle of the GOP electorate in a conservative state. He faces an implacable right wing of the party, which is fully in Perry's column, and moderate sect that is willing to support Perry despite his more strident views.

OK see, here's the thing:  what Republican moderates?  Can you really consider anyone flocking to Rick Perry's banner a moderate at this point?  Can you consider a Republican in South Carolina to be a moderate at this point, even?  Let's take a look at the PPP poll a little more closely.

Only 25% of SC Republicans believe in global warming and 61% said no.  Even more staggering, only 32% believe in evolution while again a majority, 57%, say they don't believe in it.  Of the Republicans who do believe in global warming, some 51% have a favorable view of Rick Perry.  Of those who believe in evolution, 60% have a favorable view of Rick Perry.  They aren't bothered in the least by the fact Perry has publicly denied either exists.  So again I say, what moderates?

And when it comes to those voters who like the Tea Party, Perry dominates, one of many examples in the data showing he's sewing up the conservative vote in the early going. South Carolina GOP voters like the Tea Party at 71 percent clip, against only 13 percent who don't, so it's an enormous cross section of voters in the primary. Perry is viewed favorably by those who like the Tea Party (73 - 9) and spilts fairly evenly with those who don't (42 - 46), thus locking up his base. But Romney actually has higher unfavorable ratings among voters who also see the Tea Party negatively, 40 percent, than he does of those GOP voters who actually like the conservative movement, 33 percent. Perry then builds an insurmountable lead among the large sample of Tea Party supporters, of which he is the first choice of 41 percent, versus Romney's take of 27 percent of the Tea Party haters. Even among those who aren't fans of the Tea Party, Perry manages to come in second, with 16 percent.

If 71% of South Carolina Republicans like the Tea Party, they're not moderates in any way shape or form.  Rick Perry is doing well precisely because he is an anti-science, anti-choice knuckle-dragger, and that plays in the Palmetto State, period.

Anyone who expected Mitt Romney to do well in South Carolina needs their head examined.

But He Has A Blimp

Hey America?  Can we stop pretending that Ron Paul is anything other than a Republican anti-science conservative who likes pot and hates central bankers?

Yes, Ron Paul doesn't believe in evolution. Yggy:

As I’ve been saying, a lot of progressives seem to be slightly confused as to who Ron Paul is. They think he’s like that one rich uncle you have, shares a lot of your basic values but hates paying taxes and seems to take a dim view of poor people. The reality is that Paul is much closer to Pat Buchanan, a socially conservative nationalist whose idea of nationalist foreign policy is to withdraw troops from South Korea and deploy them to the Mexican border. Given what a strong force nationalism is in American life, I do wish that we had more nationalist isolationism and less nationalist enthusiasm for global contrast. But Paul’s view is that the quest to ban abortion is “the most important issue of our age,” his signature economic policy idea (“End the Fed!”) is a crank slogan that has nothing to do with free market economics, etc. Fortunately, in Paultopia there won’t be any public schools, federal funding of scientific research, etc., so it probably doesn’t matter what he believes in evolution.

And please don't get me started on Ron Paul's views on civil rights, either.  He's exactly like his son Rand in a number of respects.  Compassionless Conservatives, you can call them.  The only difference between Ron Paul and the rest of the GOP Clown Car field is that Paul has been playing the firebagger game for a far longer period of time.

Go Big Or Go Home

There are two schools of thought on what President Obama should do for his jobs program announcement next month:  One, that he should announce a major new jobs initiative to help the millions of long-term unemployed and dare the GOP to block it (and they will and nobody will receive any help at all), or two, that he should announce a smaller program though the aegis of the executive branch.  The GOP will attack the President anyway and call the measure a failure, but some people will get some help.

Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post is all about Option One here.

Obama and his advisers know very well that this is the wrong time to cut government spending. They know that using federal money to seed big new initiatives — to upgrade the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, jump-start the “clean” energy industry, retrain the unemployed so they can compete in tomorrow’s job market — would give the economy a much-needed boost. They know, too, that federal action to buoy the housing market would help revive consumer spending, thus giving corporations a reason to invest the estimated $1 trillion they’re sitting on.

Such ambitious proposals would demonstrate that the president is willing to think big — that he is not willing to accept the Republican narrative of massive retrenchment and, by implication, inevitable decline.

So Obama should go big, not small, with his jobs plan. It is hard to overstate how apprehensive most Americans are about the future. Boldness from the president may or may not get the nation’s mojo working again. Timidity surely won’t.

On one hand, Robinson has a real point.  Pushing the Overton Window to the left is long, long overdue. Reframing the argument as President Obama's decisive, strong plan to create American jobs through a major public works initiative would help combat the conservative rhetoric that all government jobs are theft bordering on immorality.   It would also draw a huge, stark contrast between the Democrats and Republicans heading into 2012.  But Republicans would kill the measure instantly, and therein lies the problem.

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives would immediately declare any such ambitious program dead on arrival. The president should welcome their opposition — and campaign vigorously against it. He can offer voters a choice between a pinched, miserly vision of the country’s prospects on the one hand and an optimistic, expansive view on the other. He needs to demand what’s right, not what the other side is willing to give.

We know Obama can be rational, realistic and eminently reasonable. Right now, he needs to be anything but. 

And here's where I disagree with Robinson.  A plan doomed from the beginning will help with the battle of rhetoric, but it will not help the tens of millions out of work right now put food on the table.  Like it or not, the President's job is to steward the country, not tilt at windmills.  In a perfect world, President Obama dropping a new Public Works Administration proposal would be the right thing to do.  But if the plan is destined to fail immediately, and for the President to spend political capital defending it, how does that help people who are out of work now and need help now in order to help their families?

But couldn't the President do both, then?  Immediately enact executive branch measures through the departments of Labor and Commerce to help the country and push for a new PWA?  That I think would be much more effective in the short and long term.  A combination of both approaches is what is needed, because if there's anything Robinson and I agree on, it's that any jobs proposal taken before Congress will be blocked by the Republicans, period, end of line.

In that respect, anything that President Obama does propose to put forth in front of Capitol Hill must be a doozy, Robinson is right on that.

We'll see what happens.

Debate Is A Good Thing

After two wars, the Arab Spring, and the death of Osama bin Laden, is it finally time to end the war on terror?

Four days before the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, a group of homeland security and terrorism experts will tackle this very question in a live Oxford-style debate in New York City. CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen and Homeland Security expert Juliette Kayyem will argue for the motion that "It is time to end the war on terror." Former Deputy Homeland Security Adviser Richard Falkenrath and former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden will argue against the motion.
I voted yes, and see that I am with the majority (at the time of writing, 82% said yes, it is time to end the war on terror).  However, I am willing to listen to what the other side has to say.  A good reason may come to light, or a laundry list of things that we should have in check before ending the war.  My reasons include lack of faith in our government (I think the Patriot Act and other actions have been allowed only because of the war on terror), realization that thanks to the diligence of our protectors we have so far been safe from many attacks, and suspicious that a catchphrase has taken over common sense.  I am glad to see debates like this give us a chance to listen and take in new information.  Regardless of which side wins, this is a major victory for people who dream of reform.  It starts here, with debates like this.

What say you?  I am curious what you all have to say about this.

The Apology Of The Year

I have a warped sense of humor, this is a fact.  But I was not the only one laughing when Andy Levy apologized to Chris Brown for their Twitter war.

Seriously, I agreed with everything he said here.  He beat the crap out of her, not just a single slap or a melodramatic arm grab.  He beat her.  Then he tried to deny it.  Then he just shut up.  Why the hell is this punk still on our radar at all?  Because he's a modestly talented ass, and we have yet to see him get his due.  He claims momentary lapse of judgement, a one-time step off the righteous path.  Bullshit.  That type of behavior doesn't leap to the surface, it simmers over time.  One semi-public incident couldn't be covered up, so he has been forced to answer for his actions.  Was Levy's response in poor taste?  You betcha.  Was Brown's sin more offensive?  No contest.  Which incidentally, is his stance on the whole beating the hell out of a 110 lb. woman.

150 Years Later, Things Haven't Changed Much

The Department of Justice would apparently like to have a word with GOP Gov. Nikki Haley about the state's new Voter ID law.

On Friday, the state Senate's Democratic caucus filed an official objection to the law with the Justice Department.

"This is just wrong," said state Sen. Gerald Malloy. "With all the problems we have in this state relating to the economy, and we end up having a partisan bill that would disenfranchise poor and primarily African-American voters -- this is not where we want our state to go."

Haley has insisted the law isn't meant to discriminate against any group and that showing a photo ID at the polls is common sense.

"If you can show a picture to buy Sudafed, if you can show a picture to get on an airplane, you should be able to show a picture to make sure that we do what is incredibly inherent in our freedoms and that is the ability to vote," Haley said.

That's a talking point that Democrats have been pushing back against in recent months.

"You wanna know something? Getting a video from Blockbuster is not a constitutional right. Getting liquor from the liquor store is not a constitutional right," Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) said at at news conference on Capitol Hill in July.

And there's what Democrats across the country need to be responding with.  Voting is a right under the Constitution, and Voter ID laws are designed by conservatives to put barriers in front of that right for certain groups, based on time and money constraints.  The laws were passed to make voting more difficult and to reduce the number of people who have their vote count, period.

It doesn't get any simpler than that.  We should be making voting easier to accomplish, so that more people can exercise their right to vote, not less.  But Republicans do not believe that, and that's all you really need to know about the truth behind these laws.

Voting really is the most sacred duty a citizen can perform in our country, and doing so should be as painless as possible, not made more difficult in order to restrict it to the "right" people.

What Irene Left Behind

Rain, and lots of it.  The state of Vermont has been particularly hard hit by flash-flooding along the state's many tributaries off Lake Champlain and Gov. Peter Shumlin says more damage is all but certain.

"It's just devastating," Gov. Peter Shumlin said Monday. "Whole communities under water, businesses, homes, obviously roads and bridges, rail transportation infrastructure. We've lost farmers' crops," he said. "We're tough folks up here but Irene ... really hit us hard."

Hundreds of people remained trapped Monday in communities cut off by raging floodwaters that washed out or otherwise damaged 263 roads and bridges, Shumlin said. Exactly how many were stranded remained unclear, he said.

"It's hard for us to know, frankly, because it's hard for us to get into the communities we need to get to," he said.

Highlighting the transportation problems, the Vermont National Guard had to travel through neighboring Massachusetts to get rescue crews to the small, cut-off town of Wilmington, the governor said.

With many of the state's bridges and roads damaged, getting help to where it is needed is the problem.  Even worse, nearly half the state's cell phone towers are offline right now.  Here's hoping things get better soon.

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter Part 76

If you thought Bank of America was out of the woods after their deal with Warren Buffet for $5 billion, it seems the financial giant is still in need of liquid capital as it has sold its stake in China's Construction Bank for another $8.3 billion.

A group of investors is buying 13.1 billion CCB shares from Bank of America, with the deal expected to close in the third quarter. The U.S. bank declined to name the investors but two sources said Singapore state fund Temasek was among the buyers.

Bank of America needs to boost capital by some $50 billion in the coming years to meet new global rules, according to multiple analyst estimates.

CCB is the second-largest bank by market value in the world, and Bank of America's ties with the Chinese bank are seen as an important source of future growth, particularly as economic growth in the United States is likely to be tepid for now.

Bank of America's willingness to sell part of its CCB investment as soon as it was contractually able to shows how far it must go to meet new capital requirements, analysts said.

"Bank of America's decision to sell that stake is wrong strategically in the long run, but they need money," said Josef Schuster, founder of Chicago-based IPO research and investment house IPOX Schuster.

It looks very much like the company's stock price is still a major concern, trading at just uder $12 a share in June to fall off a cliff and hit the $6 mark...a 50% drop, mind you, last week.  It's up above $8 as a result of this deal and the deal with Buffett, but that may not last.

The larger concern of course is the fact the bank was sued by AIG for $10 billion earlier this month for foreclosure fraud.  That opened the floodgates and Bank of America has been struggling ever since, rapidly trying to come up with fresh capital in any way possible.

The even bigger concern is that the bank is leveraged to the hilt anyway, so the change in stock price has all but floored it.  And the Fed doesn't seem particularly eager to help out very much.

And the largest concern?  The bank's settlement with states is now being objected to by the FDIC.  The company now has a sword of Damocles the size of tens of billions hanging over it, because if you think AIG is the only company that will file suit after the settlement deal collapses, well you've not been paying attention to the other 75 posts in the Fraudclosuregate series here.

Hell of a ride shaping up here.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Last Call

Michele Bachmann is just basically devoid of any awareness of societal norms.

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann told voters in Florida Sunday that Hurricane Irene and the recent East Coast earthquake were just God’s way of telling politicians to reign in government spending.

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians,” Bachmann said during the speech in Sarasota.

We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

Awesome.  Bachmann's camp now says this was a joke:

 "Obviously she was saying it in jest," campaign spokesperson Alice Stewart told TPM in a statement.

So if you actually believe what she said, you should be pretty angry at her, and if you think she told that joke in poor taste, you should be pretty angry at her too.   But what should really piss you off is that Bachmann's camp doesn't think there was anything wrong with suggesting that God killed 21 people with the express purpose that Michele Bachmann could make a political point on the campaign trail in Florida, and that if we don't listen to Michele Bachmann, it'll happen again.

Lovely woman, our Michele of the Praying For Natural Disasters So I Can Win.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Today's Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama on Monday plans to nominate Princeton University's Alan Krueger to be chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, a White House official said.

If confirmed by the Senate...

And you can end the story right there, because Senate Republicans will simply block the nomination as part of whatever hostage scenario they are planning next.  In fact, the RNC is already on the attack:

Within minutes of the announcement, Republican National Committee Research Director Joe Pounder flagged 2009 remarks by Krueger during his tenure as an assistant secretary at the Treasury Department in which he touted the benefits of a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions.

“New WH Chief economist: ‘The proposed cap-and-trade program holds the promise of creating new industries and jobs,’ ” Pounder said on Twitter Monday.

Pounder’s comments shed light on Republicans’ plans to undercut Krueger’s nomination. 

So six months from now when Kreuger still isn't confirmed and primary season starts up, you'll know why.  The Republicans assure government remains broken in the middle of a massive economic downturn and blame Obama for it, and it works perfectly.  It will keep on working because if the Democrats complain, Republicans can simply say "The American people aren't interested in blame, they're interested in results" and they'd be right.

And there's basically nothing President Obama can do that doesn't play right into GOP hands.  If somebody can suggest something, that would be great.  Pour political capital into this fight and the Republicans will say "Boy if only you spent that much efforts on job creation!"  Do nothing and the GOP wins by default.  The political reality is to hope that the GOP ignores this and moves on, but that's already a problem.

But there is something we as voters can do:  just keep in mind that it's Republicans who have broken the system and vote accordingly.

The Kroog Versus Anti-Science Republicans

Paul Krugman gets his stuff together long enough to point out  the real problem in Washington and the economy has to do with anti-science Republicans driving away any semblance of innovation and even rational analysis of America's financial woes.  Rick Perry has problems with evolution.  Mitt Romney will pretend to have problems with evolution to win the nomination.  Jon Hunstman will call the entire GOP out on that and as a result, has no chance in the Neo Know Nothing party.

So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.

And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.

Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?

Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

But then again, leveraging the power of ignorance is the GOP's greatest strength.  It's a terrifying prospect to be sure, but for the growing millions drowning in the sea change of the information economy, passed over by the dizzying speed of technology or locked out of the digital frontier by cost or unavailability in a world where internet access is as important a utility as power, water, and phone, the power of the GOP message remains strong.

"You don't need to be smart to be in charge" is a route that rarely loses.  We spent eight years under its aegis and nearly wrecked our country.  The lowest common denominator mob is a force to be reckoned with, and for the large part of the country where technology has failed to bring advances past the next gaming system because the cost of wiring the country for the latest technology is prohibitive for telcos and impossible for our austerity-crazy government, it's exactly the prescription they are looking for.

Conservatism, in the classic definition, is hesitant to embrace technology.  Why is anyone surprised that the GOP answer to the 21st century is the replay the 19th?

Mobile Wallet Bad Idea... For Now

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. and T- Mobile USA plan to invest more than $100 million in their joint venture that lets consumers pay for goods with mobile phones, people with knowledge of the project said.

The investment sets up a showdown between the venture, known as Isis, and rivals like a mobile-payment service from Google Inc. The amount of funding depends on how successful Isis is at attracting banks and merchants, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the financing is private.

The carriers have created the alliance to grab a piece of the market for mobile commerce, which lets consumers buy things by tapping devices against a reader at checkout. The market may reach $670 billion by 2015, Juniper Research says. The carriers may invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the venture if it gains followers, one person said, helping it catch up with Google, which unveiled its own mobile-wallet service in May.

This is from the guys whose devices "accidentally" keeps your information. Where you go, what you read, what you buy. Your texts are logged and your phone calls are listed. All of this is accessible under the handy dandy Patriot Act. What they can view, they can control. Eventually, this will lead to tracking even more invasive information, and right now there is nobody to answer to when private information is leaked or just filed away for eternity.

This is why we need privacy laws to be refined and enforced. The potential here for commercial and criminal exploitation is incredible.

Bono, Not Again!

Chaz Bono toned up for his big debut on "Dancing With The Stars" by hitting the gym in West Hollywood Saturday.

TMZ broke the story ... Chaz will be a celebrity contestant on the show and will be paired with a female dancer ... a stroke of genius on the part of the producers.

Don't get me wrong, I have no objections to Chaz competing as man. He is a man now. He also needs to get in shape, something he was unable to do on Celebrity Fit Club. Chaz will be a great spokesperson and competitor. I'm just shocked ABC is allowing this. I mean... they're ABC.

The reason for my title is a private joke. There is a certain person who will remain unnamed who is a dead ringer for Chaz, at least in this pic. [No, it's not me, I'm taller. -- Z]

Iowa Wonder What The Hell Is Wrong With Them

One year after 1,900 people were sickened and a half-billion Iowa eggs were recalled, government inspectors continue to find unsanitary conditions and inadequate protections against salmonella on Iowa's egg farms.

None of the violations has resulted in penalties from state or federal agencies, and Iowa's egg producers still aren't required to tell state officials when they find salmonella.

Records obtained by The Des Moines Register under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that some of Iowa's major egg producers aren't meeting minimum federal standards intended to protect consumers from salmonella enteritidis — a potentially fatal bacterial infection that triggered a nationwide egg recall last August.

Critical elements in the Food and Drug Administration's reports — such as the size of rodent infestations, the brand names under which the eggs are sold and even the names of diseases documented at the egg farms — are blacked out and withheld from the public.

Wha-wha-whaaat? Can someone explain to me how these massive gaps are happening? Eggs are a major kitchen item, you can find them just about anywhere, and certainly anywhere that prepares food. Our number one producer not only has failed on an epic level, but nobody cares or is taking action.  I mean, it's not like they are running a lemonade stand or anything like that.

Insert Your Own Flushing Meadows Joke Here

At least one event today is scheduled to start business as usual after Hurricane Irene, and that's the US Open Tennis Championships in New York.

The U.S. Open tennis tournament will begin on schedule tomorrow at 11 a.m. after the National Tennis Center in New York sustained “minimal damage” from Tropical Storm Irene.

The final Grand Slam tournament of the season will begin with nine matches, including Ryan Harrison of the U.S. playing 27th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia in Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Mardy Fish, at No. 8 the highest-ranked of 14 American men in the singles, meets German Tobias Kamke in the first match in Arthur Ashe Stadium at 1 p.m. New York time. Russia’s Maria Sharapova, the women’s No. 3 seed and 2006 U.S. Open winner, follows against Heather Watson of Britain. 

If only the state of US men's tennis was as resilient as the crews running the event are.  When your only serious hope for a home country win is Mardy Fish, you know you're in trouble. Andy Roddick did it in 2003, but we've been skunked since, including Roger Federer's insane five in a row (including that heartbreaking pounding of Andre Agassi in 2005).

The Williams sisters have come through as recently as 2008 with Serena's win over Jelena Janković, but this year it's looking dicey at best.  Here's hoping.

Governor Luthor Mails It In

Rick Scott, the Lex Luthor of GOP governors, has a bit of an e-mail problem down in Florida.

Florida Governor Rick Scott says he only learned within the past two weeks that emails from the transitional period between his election last fall and his swearing-in as governor had been irretreviably lost.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, however, the Texas company that set up the email accounts notified Scott's transition team by mid-March that emails from 44 out of 47 accounts, including Scott's own, had been permanently deleted.

Now here's the problem with that.  Those transitional team e-mail accounts?  Florida law prohibits those records from being deleted.  Ricky here may actually be in a world of trouble:

The deletions represent a violation of Florida public records law, which provides for penalties ranging from a $500 fine up to impeachment for an official who "knowingly violates" the law.

Which means if Scott was informed by the hosting company that his accounts would be zapped and the Scott team did nothing to preserve the e-mails anyway, then somebody's head could roll.  Wouldn't it be amusing to see Mr. Free Market here get taken down for outsourcing his team's email to another state?  Hey, they got Capone on tax evasion.

The Pain In Spain, Part 3

Spanish protesters are taking to the streets in Madrid, Barcelona, and other cities to voice opposition to the government's planned major austerity cuts, which go to a vote in parliament on Wednesday.

Hundreds of Spaniards demonstrated Sunday against a constitutional reform plan aimed at capping budget deficit.

"No to the reform of the constitution. No to a step back," read a large banner as the demonstrators marched towards Madrid's Puerta del Sol, the hub of months-old protests by the "indignant" youth movement.

Several similar demonstrations were due to be staged in other Spanish cities to demand the constitutional reform be submitted to a popular referendum.

The ruling Socialist and conservative opposition Popular Party have struck a deal on an amendment that would include a budget deficit cap in the country's constitution.

Hmm, a deficit cap in Spain's constitution.  That line of reasoning sound familiar?   Republicans here want to cap deficit spending at 0% of GDP, not the 3.0% that the EU is asking for.  The biggest losers in Spain's austerity budget?  Education and health care.  There's a good way to grow yourself out of recession, more uneducated sick people.

Keep an eye on how Europe is handling this mess.  The GOP here wants to do the same thing, only much worse.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Last Call

The latest numbers from Irene put over 4 million Americans without power tonight, stretching from South Carolina to Maine.

Nearly 4.2 million homes and businesses along the U.S. East Coast were without power Sunday evening as Tropical Storm Irene, downgraded from a hurricane as it hit New York early Sunday, continued to wreak havoc on power grids in New England even as the storm weakened, according to reports from power companies.

New York City avoided the extensive damage and power loss that had been feared.

While Irene's visit took less than a day, work to restore power will likely take weeks and cost millions.
As skies cleared and high wind retreated, some utilities along the Eastern Seaboard were able to begin sending out workers to assess damage. Utilities normally spend the first hours after a storm looking at overall system damage so that proper equipment and workers can be dispatched when restoration work begins in earnest.

"With the passing of the storm, the damage assessment has begun," John Bruckner, president for National Grid's Long Island transmission and distribution services, told reporters.

Utility line crews and tree trimmers from around the country will converge on storm-damaged areas. Many customers will see power restored in the first 24 to 48 hours, but full restoration is likely to take weeks, utility officials warned, due to flooding.

Hopefully help will be directed to where it needs to go and fast.  But the reality is that the storm has caused billions of damage across the mid-Atlantic and New England, and the Republicans have already signaled that paying for the cleanup will be the next hostage situation they plan to force when Congress is back in session after Labor Day.

Hopefully the Democrats are ready to fight on this.

Liberating Libya, Part 2

Meanwhile, Tripoli has descended into chaos as the true extent of the butchery in Libya becomes clearer.

Residents of Tripoli dug makeshift graves to bury the dead as evidence emerged of widespread summary killings during the battle for the Libyan capital.

A week after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, the stench of decomposing bodies and burning garbage hung over the city as it faced a major humanitarian crisis due to collapsing water and power supplies, shortages of medicine and no effective government.

In a sign of continuing instability in the city, bursts of heavy machine gun fire could be heard overnight.

The rebels now in control of most of Tripoli vowed to take Gaddafi's home town of Sirte by force if negotiations with loyalists in one of their last strongholds there failed.

As the fighting ebbed away in the capital, more and more bodies were found. Some were Gaddafi soldiers who perished, while others appeared to have been executed. Still more were found in the grounds of a hospital abandoned by its doctors.

The charred remains of around 53 people have been found in a warehouse in Tripoli, apparently opponents of Gaddafi who were executed as his rule collapsed, Britain's Sky News reported on Saturday.

Sky broadcast pictures of a heap of burned skeletons, still smouldering, in an agricultural warehouse, where the victims were apparently prisoners.

And this will continue as the world finds out you can't stop a ground war with air power alone.  At some point outside troops are going to have to impose order.  Maybe it will be the African Union, maybe the UN, maybe NATO.  But someone's going to have to go in.

Hope somebody's working on that.  We're not done in Libya, not by a long shot.

"Weather" Or Not It's Ridiculous

Gotta hand it to FOX News, they never pass on any opportunity to attack the notion that the federal government has any business helping Americans making less than six figures.  The latest stupidity thanks to Hurricane Irene:  this FOX Nation hit piece on, believe it or not, getting rid of the National Weather Service courtesy of the Randian think tank brotherhood at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

While Americans ought to prepare for the coming storm, federal dollars need not subsidize their preparations. Although it might sound outrageous, the truth is that the National Hurricane Center and its parent agency, the National Weather Service, are relics from America’s past that have actually outlived their usefulness. 

No, seriously.  That's the argument.  It gets worse.

As it stands today, the public is forced to pay more than $1 billion per year for the NWS.  With the federal deficit exceeding a trillion dollars, the NWS is easily overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. It may actually be dangerous.

Relying on inaccurate government reports can endanger lives. Last year the Service failed to predict major flooding in Nashville because it miscalculated the rate at which water was releasing from dams there. The NWS continued to rely on bad information, even after forecasters knew the data were inaccurate. The flooding resulted in 22 deaths.

Private weather services do exist, and unsurprisingly, they are better than the NWS. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the National Weather Service was twelve hours behind AccuWeather in predicting that New Orleans would be affected. Unlike the NWS, AccuWeather provides precise hour-by-hour storm predictions, one of the reasons private industry supports them.

You know why AccuWeather and the Weather Channel stay in business?  Because they take the basic weather data that the National Weather Service provides and they refine it.  They are provided raw meteorological data provided at the public domain level by, you guessed it, that barbarous and outdated relic known as the NWS.  Otherwise, we need to abolish the NWS because they're not 100%, and the Magic Of Liberty Free Market power will make forecasts more accurate...if you are willing to pay for them.  The weather service providers take a public service and make it better.  If anyone's guilty of corporate welfare here, it's AccuWeather and the Weather Channel, who take the free data provided and then make money off of it

That of course is not mentioned in this idiotic tirade where meteorologists are added to the list of government evil that must be drowned in Grover Norquist's Bathtub Of Liberty.  Because the NWS doesn't have enough funding, they are dangerous and should be eliminated so that, why exactly?  We live in a world where weather forecasts are only available to those who can afford it?  As global climate change makes weather patterns more erratic and dangerous, are these morons really saying that we need to cut the NWS and privatize all weather prediction, so that the rich survive and the ignorant poor are literally washed away?

But why should anyone be surprised by this nonsense?  We've turned teachers, police officers, firefighters, public safety employees, and bus drivers into evil, parasitic unionized cancers on American society that must be expunged.  Why should the weather guys get a pass?

Let's put the NWS on the block and put them in the unemployment lines too.  Hey, it's a "jobs program."

Now That's A Rock!

An international team of astronomers, led by Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology professor Matthew Bailes, has discovered a planet made of diamond crystals, in our own Milky Way galaxy.

The planet is relatively small at around 60,000 km in diameter (still, it’s five times the size of Earth). But despite its diminutive stature, this crystal space rock has more mass than the solar system’s gas giant Jupiter.
Radio telescope data shows that it orbits its star at a distance of 600,000 km, making years on planet diamond just two hours long. Any closer and it would be ripped to shreds by the star’s gravitational tug. Putting together its immense mass and close orbit, researchers can reveal the planet’s unique makeup.

It’s “likely to be largely carbon and oxygen,” said Michael Keith, one of the research team members, in a press release. Lighter elements, “like hydrogen and helium would be too big to fit the measured orbiting times”. The object’s density means that the material is certain to be crystalline, meaning a large part of the planet may be similar to a diamond.

SETI has been spared, at least for now.  This is a cool discovery.  I hate to see funding diverted (I know it's necessary, I'm just saying I hate it).  We could be on the edge of a world-changing discovery, and lose that because we can't afford the space programs.

That's Nuts

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- The Mesa County Sheriff's Office says a deputy who grabbed a man's testicles to subdue him was reasonable, even though it was unorthodox.
Sheriff's Deputy Hassan Hassan wrote in an arrest affidavit that Samuel Fazio, 22, quit resisting after the deputy grabbed Fazio's genitals for a few seconds. Hassan said the grab happened Monday when Fazio fought attempts to be handcuffed.

Gee, if you are being subdued by a bunch of manhandlers (literally!) I can imagine putting up a bit of resistance. This isn't an acceptable way to treat a person, the fact that they are in custody doesn't change that whatsoever. Supporting it is disgusting.

Hard Coring The Apple

If you can beat them, join them.

A 19-year-old who is probably the world's most noted iPhone hacker said Thursday he's been hired by Apple, the very company whose products he's been hacking into.

"It's been really, really fun, but it's also been a while and I've been getting bored," Nicholas Allegra, who's better known by his pseudonym Comex, posted on Twitter. "So, the week after next I will be starting an internship with Apple."

Apple did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment on Comex's internship at the company.

Forbes writer Andy Greenberg revealed Comex's identity this month, calling him the "iPhone uber-hacker who keeps outsmarting Apple."

In the story, he noted that Comex was looking for an internship, and he suggested that Apple give him one.

"Now it has," he wrote Friday.

Yeah, I'd hire the kid too if I were Apple.  Kid's been making a mockery of your product's information security, you white hat him and have him show you how to make it better.  Very smart move on Apple's part, and one I applaud.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Last Call

It's arguably one of the worst jobs in the world I can think of right now, and it's about to become vacant:  Japan's Prime Minister.

The race to pick Japan's sixth leader in five years appeared on Friday to be shaping up as a battle between the most popular contender and a rival backed by a party powerbroker, although with five candidates in play, the outcome was hard to call.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who came under fire for his response to the massive March tsunami and the radiation crisis it triggered, stepped down as ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader, clearing the way for the Democrats to pick a successor on Monday.

"I want to make every effort to realize a society that does not rely on nuclear power," Kan told a news conference. Kan's proposed energy policy shift is backed by most voters, but he was unable to parlay that public support into popularity.

Six Prime Ministers in five years?  C'mon, that's not just unstable, that's ridiculous.  Japan's economic problems aside, the Fukushima Daiichi plant disaster is still ongoing, and the next PM is going to have to be the one stuck with quarantining a healthy chunk of the northern part of the country for the next hundred years.

I don't see how the next PM will last more than a year, frankly.

Weighing Down The Elephant

A new Associated Press poll shows that Americans aren't happy with Congress (and in no way is this news) but they're really upset with Republicans in Congress in particular.

Only 12 percent approve of the way Congress has been handling its job, matching a historic low in the poll.

But the poll shows signs that Americans are increasingly blaming Republicans for congressional gridlock. While 68 percent disapprove of congressional Democrats, 75 percent disapprove of congressional Republicans. And 50 percent of the country strongly disapproves of Republicans in Congress, up from just 39 percent in June.

The full poll breakdown is here (PDF) and it's an interesting read.  By Rasmussen math, where we subtract the strongly disapprove number from the strongly approve number, President Obama was around -21 during the same time period as this poll.  Congressional Republicans by comparison are at -45.  Oh, but it gets worse for the GOP:

Only 29 percent of those polled have a favorable view of Boehner; the Republican leader won just a fifth of independent support.

Among the most troubling signs in the poll for congressional Republicans was the sentiment that voters were holding their own congressmen accountable, rather than just the Congress as a whole.

Traditionally, pollsters find that while Congresses might suffer bouts of unpopularity, most people continue to support their own representatives. But the AP-GfK poll showed that only 38 percent want to see their member of Congress reelected — a tough sentiment for House Republicans who are defending their majority in that chamber.

And there's the bombshell.  The numbers now are as bad or worse than in 2010 when voters gave the Republicans 60+ seats in the House.  America is already completely regretting that action and the GOP has only been in charge of the House for seven months.  Now granted, the numbers for the Democrats are not much better...but they are better.

How This Particular Game Is Played

There are rules to the Obama Derangement Syndrome game, folks.  The forms must be followed in American political Kanly, and a perfect demonstration is taking place this weekend.  Step The First, we have this tweet, courtesy of pro golfer and ESPN analyst Paul Azinger:

Facts: Potus has played more golf this month than I have: I have created more jobs this month than he has:

Now working for ESPN and not FOX News, the Zinger was told by his employer that this sort of thing was probably not a good idea.  He's not paid for his political analysis but his golfing analysis, and it's not like he's the first guy to get reigned in by a network or even the first analyst to get checked by ESPN for making public comments on Twitter.  That was Step Two, the response:

On Friday ESPN 'reminded" Azinger his venture into political punditry violates the company's updated social network policy for on-air talent and reporters.

"Paul's tweet was not consistent with our social media policy, and he has been reminded that political commentary is best left to those in that field," spokesman Andy Hall told Game On! in a statement.

Once again this shows how pervasive Twitter and Facebook have become in the social fabric of America.  In 2011, major corporations have social networking policies.  This goes especially for media companies.

But the way ODS works is to ignore all that logic stuff and go straight for the Obama Hate...and that means Dana Loesch at Big Lie, (and CNN too) who then says this proves Obama is controlling the liberal media bastion of ESPN because Kenny Mayne said something mean on Twitter about Sarah Palin, who is not President of anything and wasn't immediately flayed alive.  Step Three, The Faux-reakout.

Now the right wing blogs have picked up on this and are demanding that True Real American Patriots boycott ESPN (and watch FOX Sports, right?)  Step Four, The Growing Controversy.

Step Five, How Will Obama Handle This Mess He Created? is of course demanding that the White House "respond to this major controversy" when this "breaking story" is picked up by the rest of the Village.  ESPN analysts will be called in.  You will see Zinger on the TV talking politics.  Sports guys will become talking heads.

Step Six, We Declare Victory Over Obama is I don't know, a golf summit between Obama and Azinger, and then the RWNM attacks Obama for playing golf again (and POTUS has just proven that all he does is play golf!)

You see how this idiocy works, and yet it's the predictable news cycle and has been for three years plus now.  Every time.  More than cleaning out Washington of idiot politicians, we need to clean out idiot Villagers.

Rick Perry Signs Pact With Devil

WASHINGTON -- Republicans who support gay rights have seen their brief hopes for Rick Perry's candidacy dashed as old quotes surface, new pledges are signed and news of his forthcoming campaign events and associations emerges.

The Texas governor and leading presidential candidate briefly gave hope to the increasingly influential group of Republican LGBT advocates when he expressed his support for the rights of states to pass their own legislation governing marriage. Since then, however, he has said he would back a constitutional amendment banning the practice, while quotes from an old book surfaced in which he compared homosexuality to alcoholism. On Friday, meanwhile, Perry signed the National Organization for Marriage's pledge that would, among other things, commit him to support sending a federal marriage amendment to states upon becoming president.

It gets worse. This self-righteous bastard has decided to take it upon himself to define what families are, what marriage is, and what lifestyles are protected by the federal government. He has now committed to warfare on the rights of the very people he wants to lead. How can someone who does not understand or believe in freedom ever protect it? How does someone who goes back on their word and flip on a moment's notice dare claim to be strong and honest?  If moral differences are enough to ignore someone's rights, then who is next?  We're not talking about the general disdain that has become the stance of the Republican party, but a rabid attack on a gay citizen's right to function in society as a legal and equal adult.  That's above and beyond the call of discrimination, which you can tell because it is setting off alarms.

"It is unfortunate Governor Perry decided to turn to a big government, anti-conservative position by signing the National Organization for Marriage’s pledge," said R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans. "This pledge is out of step with America and the general electorate the GOP needs to win the White House."

"Recent comments by David Barton about the bipartisan achievements made in advance of civil marriage equality is a devise position and not helpful for Republicans to win in 2012," Cooper added. "Achievements made by former RNC Chairman, and Log Cabin member, Ken Mehlman actually strengthen our party and bring back voters in support of the pro-economic growth agenda advanced by Republican leadership. The 2012 election cycle is an opportunity to expand the Republican victories among younger voters, centrists and independents who remain critical for winning any election... Current RNC Chairman Reince Priebus just stated today, 'We need to provide a clear and articulate alternative to Obama.' Obama can be beat, however, the Republican path to victory is compromised when gay Americans are perceived as being attacked for just being how God created them."

Don't fall for that song and dance,either. I have no doubt their support of the gay population would die upon election. They are just courting them to avoid alienating a demographic that has developed quite a voice. I am not encouraged. It all comes back to beating Obama. Not leading the country, doing good for the people, or improving our economy. They just want to win, that's all.  Jackasses like Perry will flip and flop and go back on their word to win.

And if they do win (heaven forbid), we're boned. That's all there is to it. Republicans show no effort to uphold the Constitution, they just want to claim victory and tell people how to live. The fact that we are supposed to be able to chose for ourselves is not even a factor. We have a fundamental right to build and  choose our families and live how we please. While some people may say families can't be chosen, I disagree. I haven't seen my biological family in nearly 20 years, but I am surrounded by loving nieces, nephews, and in-laws. If I had chosen a woman instead of my furry half, I would expect the same rights and treatment under law.  If I lived with a woman, how would I be different in the eyes of the court?  What legal system holds someone as second class based upon a choice that is legal and is none of their damn business?  The legal system that we'd have if someone like Rick Perry's vision comes true.  What an asshole.

Will You Be Having The Crow, Mr. Nixon?

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new Missouri law prohibiting teachers from having private online conversations with students suffered a double setback Friday. First, a judge blocked it from taking effect because of free speech concerns. Then the governor called for its repeal.

The law limiting teacher-student conversations through social networking sites such as Facebook had been scheduled to take effect Sunday. But Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued a preliminary injunction blocking it until at least February, saying the restrictions "would have a chilling effect" on free speech rights.

A couple of hours later, Gov. Jay Nixon said he would ask lawmakers to repeal the restrictions during a previously scheduled special session that starts Sept. 6. Nixon's request goes even further than the judge's order, which was confined to private conversations on non-work-related websites. The governor also wants lawmakers to reverse new restrictions on work-related websites and abolish a requirement for schools to develop written policies by January on teacher-student communications.

Jay Nixon should have had his ass ripped off and handed back to him the minute he started down this.  Now he's taking a step back, not because he realized it was a mistake but because he saw the possible political consequences of holding his ground.  Nixon has ambition and this could be a pebble in his shoe years from now, when he tries to convince us that he cares about the common fella.

It is up to the parents to allow or not allow Facebook access and monitor their children.  At a time when the state is making drastic cuts, the last thing we need is to take on a responsibility that clearly belongs to someone else.  Nice try, jackass.

Your Political Cartoon Of The Moment

Jim Morin of the Miami Herald:

Won't it be fun when Republicans block relief money for the Northeast in order to demand Social Security and Medicare cuts?

Ron Paul Says "Let Them Eat Hurri-Cake"

Hey folks back home in North Carolina, when you're digging out from Hurricane Irene this weekend, remember that under President Ron Paul, you wouldn't be getting a lick of help from the Feds.

"We should be like 1900. We should be like 1940, 1950, 1960," Paul told a reporter for NBC News after a lunch-time speech in Gilford, N.H. "I live on the Gulf Coast; we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district.”

"There's no magic about FEMA. They're a great contribution to deficit financing and quite frankly they don't have a penny in the bank. We should be coordinated but coordinated voluntarily with the states," Paul said. "A state can decide. We don't need somebody in Washington."

This isn’t the first time the libertarian-leaning Texas Congressman had made controversial remarks regarding FEMA. In a May 13 interview with CNN, Paul called for the elimination of the agency.

“Why should somebody from the central part of the United States rebuild my house? Why shouldn't I have to buy my own insurance and protect about the potential dangers,” Paul said. “Well, the reason we don't have market insurance is it's too expensive. Well, why is it expensive? Because it's dangerous. Well, so why should - why should we take money from somebody else who don't get the chance to live on the Gulf and make them pay to rebuild my house?”

It's your stupid fault for being North Carolinians.  You should pay the insurance market premium for living in a dangerous area.  Hurricanes are all about the freedom to have your entire town wrecked and you rebuilding it.  Telling the less fortunate to "deal with it" is the American Way.

On the other hand, President Ron Paul would give us interstate pit fights.  Probably actually taking place on actual interstates.  American exceptionalism through elimination of the weak and poor!  I'll tell ya, Thomas Jefferson totally put that in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence.

Just because Ron Paul is Lex Luthor and not Godzilla doesn't make the cities any less destroyed when he's done, folks.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Last Call

With Qaddafi in no position to defend his broken regime, the most urgent matter in Libya is now ending the fighting among pockets of pro-Qaddafi forces and restoring order to the war-torn country as the attention shifts from Tripoli to the UN.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had talked with heads of such organizations.

"All agreed that the crisis in Libya has entered a new and decisive phase," he said. "All agreed, as well, on the importance of a smooth transition."

That transition must be based on inclusiveness, reconciliation and national unity, he said.

"Fighting goes on in many parts of the country," Ban said. "There is an urgent need to put an end to the conflict and restore order and stability. All agreed that, if the Libyan authorities request, we should be prepared to help develop police capacity, bearing in mind that the country is awash with small arms."

The effect of the fighting has been profound, he said. "There are widespread shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies. Reports on the ground suggest that the water supply to the capital and surrounding region may be in danger, putting several million people or more at risk."

Friday's meeting participants agreed that the international community "must come together with an effective, well-coordinated program of action," Ban said.

Over the longer term, they emphasized early support for elections, transitional justice and policing, and help in social-economic recovery, rule of law and institution-building, Ban added.

He called Thursday's action by the Security Council in unfreezing $1.5 billion in Libyan assets "a welcome step" but said Friday's participants agreed that more must be done to ensure a stable transition of power.

So the question is who will be running Libya now?   Traditionally, temporary power-sharing arrangements among several disparate factions that are only united in order to overthrow a dictator rarely last, and almost always end bloodily.  The real question is ultimately, who will fill the power vacuum?

I honestly haven't heard much other than "the rebel council" so any information on who would be nice.

Brooks And Undone

I didn't think it would take very long, but just a month after ripping into the Tea Party over holding the country hostage on the debt ceiling, it looks like David Brooks has returned to form, chasing the shiny object known as Rick Perry's Inconsequential America.

The events of 2009 and 2010 also concentrated the Republican mind. It used to be that there were many themes in the Republican hymnal. Now there is only one: Government is too big, and it needs to be brought under control. It used to be there were many threats on the horizon. Now there is only one: the interlocking oligarchy of politicians, academics, journalists, consultants and financiers who live along the Acela corridor want to rip America from its traditional moorings.

Perry is benefiting from these shifts. He does best among the most conservative voters. He has a simple and fashionable message: I will bring government under control. His persona is perfectly tuned to offend people along the Acela corridor and to rally those who oppose those people. He does very well with the alternative-reality right — those who don’t believe in global warming, evolution or that Obama was born in the U.S.

So, yes, it is time to take Perry seriously as a Republican nominee and even as a potential president. Until a few weeks ago, Perry trailed Obama in general election matchups. But as Perry’s name recognition has increased, that has changed. He and Obama are neck and neck in a recent Gallup poll.

The question is, what are his rivals going to do about him? Right now, the Romney camp is passively hoping he implodes. That seems unlikely. The gaffes that create media frenzies are unlikely to bother Republican primary voters. Perry’s campaign message is so simple it doesn’t take Einstein to keep repeating it from now until Election Day. 

Boy, where to begin...really, the entire column boils down to David Brooks admitting that Rick Perry may very well end up our next President, and then completely ignoring the role of Villagers like himself in creating the Republican "alternative reality right" monster in the first place.  Even worse is that he freely admits the issue and then chooses to do nothing to correct it, he just accepts the fact that Rick Perry could get elected because he pisses liberals off and is from Texas, which is all that matters in the end.  It's simply a given in Bobo's world.

If there's such a thing as criminal lack of self-awareness, Brooks wins the title.

The Race From Here

Everything you need to know about Pew Research's pretty detailed 2012 poll comes from these two charts, first the party/demographic breakdown chart of President Obama's approval ratings:


Whites and people 50 and older really, really do not like President Obama, at about the same rate, mid 30's for, mid 50's against.   But a funny thing happens when you ask them to actually choose a Republican to vote for:


Mitt Romney has the smallest albatross around his neck with 42% of voters saying they'd never vote for the guy. The rest of the Republican field is basically completely unelectable. The best Rick Perry could hope for is 50% of the vote and change.

So no, right now I'm still not worried about President Obama losing.

Well Isn't That Ironic

A recent CNN article says that the divorce rate is higher in the Bible Belt than in the Northeast.  Thank goodness they kept gays from marrying, because that's the real threat to marriage, right?  It surely can't be that now that people have options about choosing their spouse that adults might change their minds.  Despite the fact that some groups want to keep the gay population hidden from view, that hasn't stopped successful marriages from shrinking in number.

I know.  Let's give the holy rollers what they want.  Let's outlaw divorce altogether, so people have to stay married until they die.  I wonder how many of the righteous would be happy with that.
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