Monday, October 31, 2011

Last Call

And finally, should you need to get rid of your pumpkin this year, the Cincinnati Zoo recommends giving it to your baby aardvark, should you have one on hand.

Gave that aardvark a pumpkin.  Aardvarks love pumpkins.  Who knew, right?

Tebowed, But Not Tebroken

Should you still need a last minute Halloween outfit for tonight, might I suggest Tim Tebow?

Tebowing: (vb) to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different. 

Oh, and he's still a lousy QB.

Obama To The Rescue! Drug Shortages To Be Addressed

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Obama is directing the Food and Drug Administration to take steps to reduce drug shortages, an escalating problem that has endangered patients and raised the possibility of price gouging.

Patient deaths have been blamed on the shortages, which tend to affect cancer drugs, anesthetics, drugs used in emergency medicine, and electrolytes needed for intravenous feeding. Hospitals have been forced to buy from secondary suppliers at huge markups. Surgeries and cancer treatments have been delayed.

A White House official said Obama planned to sign an executive order Monday instructing the FDA to take action. The order would be the latest in the president's campaign to move on initiatives that do not require congressional approval.

Obama also will announce his support for House and Senate legislation that would require drug makers to notify the FDA six months ahead of a potential shortage, the official said. Under current regulations, drug manufactures are only required to notify the FDA if medically necessary drugs are being discontinued. Notification of shortages is strictly voluntary.

Of course, I'm curious to see how the GOP will turn this into a hostile act towards citizens, but seriously... this should have been done some time ago, and thank goodness he's stepping in and doing it now. People are dying to protect the bottom line, and that should never be. Hand mixing sterile solutions should never be what we are reduced to because the sterile version isn't available. The rules of the marketplace should not extend to life-saving treatment, period.  I've been following this for a while, reading cases of people who are dying or facing painful delays in treatment because the medicine they need is just not available, or insurance companies are balking at new prices.  In a word: unacceptable.

Up In Smoke - Legalize It Already

WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress are calling on the Obama administration to end the federal crackdown on marijuana dispensaries in California, citing Attorney General Eric Holder's past promise to maintain a hands-off approach toward pot clinics operating in compliance with state law.

Although most of the nine signatories on a Friday letter to the White House were California Democrats -- including Reps. Barbara Lee, Pete Stark, Lynn Woolsey and Sam Farr -- the group also contained a California Republican, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who is an outspoken medical marijuana advocate, and a Tennessee Democrat, Rep. Steve Cohen.

"We write to express our concern with the recent activity by the Department of Justice against legitimate medical cannabis dispensaries in California that are operating legally under state law," the lawmakers said.

Should marijuana be available to patients it can help? Hell yes. I think it should be available to anyone over 21, but particularly so in the case of patients who need the effects or the relief. There are many helpful benefits to marijuana under the right circumstances, and the people who need it most should have access.  Like any other restricted drug, when a benefit is found for an ailing patient, concessions are made.

I can vouch personally for how much it helped a friend of the family who died of cancer. It was a brutal and painful process, and the man had never so much as watched a Cheech and Chong movie. When he was given marijuana he resisted, but finally took it out of desperation. His appetite improved, he regained some strength, his mood improved and his final weeks were much improved. He died about a week after composing a letter to our governor stating how much medicinal marijuana had helped him.

It's time we separate science from myth. People don't smoke pot and disappear into the night talking to imaginary elves. It's more stable and less harmful than alcohol, and could be a cash crop for the U.S. as well as taking the rug out from under foreign drug empires. We have more money to make from sales than from the prosecution process. But if they are going to be so damned stubborn, at least allow it as a mercy to peole who are suffering. People that could be helped if they would allow it.

It's time to put an end to this stupidity once and for all.

Republicans Gaming The Stimulus And The System

Next time when you hear Republicans attack "Obama's failed stimulus" or any federal aid to states in general, remember that whenever federal money is given to the states, it's up to the states themselves to use the money as intended.  Not all of them do, particularly states under GOP control.  Take Kansas Republicans and the money they received for loans for home weatherization projects, for example.

The weatherization program, known as Efficiency Kansas, began with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the federal government’s stimulus package to get Americans back to work.

The state planned to use $32 million in federal energy efficiency funds to create the revolving loan fund. State officials promised to lend most of that to Kansans to repair their homes within three years.

The program was expected to create 1,150 jobs, such as weatherization auditors, and heating and cooling, roofing, insulation and window workers, according to the KCC.

But the KCC did not get the loan program moving quickly. In the first six months of Efficiency Kansas, only 13 people had taken out loans.

When concerns were raised last winter that all the money would not be lent by the March 2012 deadline, Brownback, a supporter of the biofuels industry, reallocated $20 million from the loan fund to grants and gave the money to two organizations in that industry.

Banks didn't want to make the program loans in the first place, and when Republicans came into power halfway through the program's lifespan, they stonewalled the program from ever really going anywhere, allowing Brownback to raid the fund to give to corporate biofuel producers instead.  Due diligence on the part of Democrats to make sure the program wasn't abused or defrauded turned into deliberate sandbagging by the Republicans who gleefully dismantled the program instead.

The same "set up to fail" scenario has already been put into motion by Gov. Brownback for the state's health insurance exchanges.  Brownback's not the only GOP governor to reject funding grants for setting up health insurance exchanges either, as Republicans are counting on enough states refusing to implement health care reform so that the entire Affordable Care Act collapses regardless of whether the law is repealed by the GOP or not.

As I've said before, this is why wresting state control away from Republicans is as important or more so than at the federal level.  It doesn't matter what federal reforms you want Democrats to pass in Washington if blood red states simply ignore the laws or refuse to implement them.

Cain Unable, Part 6

And the Cain Train just derailed all over the Monday morning headlines as claims of sexual harassment are coming forward from Cain's days as head of the National Restaurant Association lobbyist outfit in the 90's.

Politico reports “at least two” women working at the NRA when Cain ran it “complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior” by the man who is now the national frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures.
Details on the incidents described in Politico include “conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature” and “descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.”

Ever notice that anybody who gets close to/ahead of Mittens in the primary polling suddenly gets a "bombshell revelation" dropped on them that reveals the clearly obvious fact that they are a grifter lunatic that couldn't operate a paper bag correctly, a trenchant observation apparent to anyone who isn't a Tea Party mouth-breather and has a functioning frontal lobe?

First it was Ron Paul, then Shelly Bachmann, then Rick Perry, now Herman Cain.  The Tea Party wants anybody other than Mitt to win this thing so badly it hurts, but the real people in charge of the GOP won't let that happen.

(More after the jump)

A Poor Student Of Debt

Glenn "Instawrong" Reynolds gets to play in the NY Post's sandbox with this whopper of a false analogy that of course absolves the GOP of all responsibility for the student debt crisis.

The problem is, “college” isn’t an undifferentiated product. Companies can’t hire enough mechanical engineers, but there’s no bidding war for majors in Fine Arts or Women’s Studies, degrees that cost just as much, but deliver a lot less in terms of employment. In an economically rational market, it would be harder to borrow money to finance fields of study that were unlikely to produce enough income to pay back the loans. But since the federal government subsidizes everything -- and makes student loans un-dischargeable in bankruptcy -- there’s no incentive for lenders to care, and even less incentive for colleges and universities to care. They get their money up front, after all -- just like the people who wrote the subprime loans that fueled the housing crisis.

Got that?  Not only should the price of your major in higher education be subject to the whims of the  free market, but if you can't afford the price, tough crap.  If you're not willing to fill the "needs of the market" then why should you be taking up valuable educational resources, since the only goal in life is to make money?

Even worse, Reynolds argues, why should we "subsidize" education at all?  Short of the meritocracy of scholarships, education should only go to those who can A) afford it and B) who can then use that education to become Our Precious Job Creators.  No more room for lotus-eating ivory tower academics in our hypercapitalis,t globally-competitive society, no sir.

And you have to admit, the narrative is tailor-made for the Tea Party.  "We're paying our tax dollars to subsidize all these egghead underwater basket weaving graduate parasites who think they are smarter than we are!"  (Did I mention Glenn here is a law professor and "an author (writing An Army of Davids), a columnist, and a writer for academic journals" too?  No?)

Reynolds does see the next debt bubble here in student loans, but let's not forget that this "subsidization" he complains about as he calls the Occupy Together movement the "Hoovervilles of our age" was as much a subsidy bonanza for -- you guessed it -- the same banks in the heart of subprime loans mess (which, by the way, President Obama put an end to last year) as well as the for-profit colleges that follow the economic model that Reynolds champions.

Also, let's not forget that the main reason why students have to borrow more is that states are slashing the budgets of colleges and universities because we can never, ever raise taxes and anything that tax dollars go to that aren't tax cuts for Our Precious Job Creators is impeachable generational theft or something.  I know, let's fire all the government university professors (Hi Glenn!) and close down state schools and save taxpayer money.  I'm sure that won't raise the price of tuition at the remainder of the private schools or anything due to supply and demand (and hey, if God wanted you to go to college, you'd either be smart enough to earn a full scholarship or rich enough to pay for it.)

The larger problem is like voting, political power, socioeconomic power, and moral authority, today's Tea Party conservatives think the more we limit higher education to the truly deserving few (or education in general for that matter) the better off America will be.  That their criteria for who is "truly deserving" happens to always be themselves is just coincidence, especially when that power they derive comes at the expense of the dupes they have suckered into believing that they fall into that category too, or at least that by voting to exclude everyone else, they'll be handsomely rewarded with the share that once went to "those people."  The reality is of course that the super-rich will take that share too and laugh, but the dupes aren't supposed to know.

But to do that they need folks like Glenn Reynolds writing op-eds in the NY Post equating Occupy Wall Street protesters to the people that caused the financial crisis (and then absolving the people that actually caused the crisis.)  It's good work if you can get it.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Last Call

Greg Sargent notes that Obama 2012 campaign pointman David Axelrod finally, finally gave voice to the GOP Plan to sabotage the economy.

I think this is something — something different going on right now. When you have the leader — the Republican leader of the Senate say, our number one goal — in the midst of this economy, our number one goal is to defeat the president, and they’re acting like it.
They don’t want to cooperate. They don’t want to help. Even on measures to help the economy that they traditionally have supported before, like a payroll tax cut, like infrastructure, rebuilding our roads and bridges and surface transport. These — so you have to ask a question, are they willing to tear down the economy in order to tear down the president or are they going to cooperate?
And, listen, there’s a reason why the Congress is at 9 percent in some polls, approval, lowest in history. Because this is different than we’ve ever seen before.

Sargent goes on to say that Team Obama is taking a page from Elizabeth Warren's populism playbook and that given the near total demise of their jobs legislation, that the gloves are now off. That was evident this morning.

Anyone who's read this blog for the last year has known that the GOP Plan to wreck the economy and to make sure it stays wrecked has always been the case, that was never in doubt. But to see David Axelrod finally admit as such on a Sunday show is something of a big step, one that was long overdue.

It's good to see it happen.  Now we need the White House to do something about it.  So far the President is taking executive action to help the economy while the GOP is doing exactly nothing about it.  Actually pointing it out is something that needed to have been done in March or so, but there is the valid argument that the President had to make every effort to work with the GOP before they could move on and make this point.  They've accomplished that.

Now we're seeing a strategic change in the White House approach.  Nobody believes the GOP wants to work with the President on anything right now.  President Obama knows that, his campaign people know that, the country is now painfully aware of that, but the forms had to be followed.  Now the game is really on.

This Week's WTH - Boy Scouts Edition

Reprinted in its entirety from Yahoo! News:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Confidential records show Boy Scout officials in the U.S. and Canada not only failed to stop an admitted child molester in its ranks, but sometimes helped cover his tracks.

A Los Angeles Times and Canadian Broadcasting Corp. investigation ( finds scout leader Rick Turley molested at least 15 children, most of whom he met through American and Canadian Scouting beginning in the 1970s.

Records show Boy Scouts of America officials didn't call police after he admitted molesting three boys. Turley then returned to his home country of Canada, where he signed on with Scouts Canada, and continued his abuses for at least a decade.

Now 58, Turley says he is surprised at how often he got away with it.

Turley is one of more than 5,000 suspected child molesters named in confidential files kept by the Boy Scouts of America.

What the hell? He admitted to it and they did nothing? And yet they don't want gays near the kids because that puts them in danger.  Meanwhile, look at the damage one man was able to do after telling them he was doing it.  And they did nothing.  Actually, that's not correct.  They helped him cover it up so he could keep going.

I feel sick.

Blackberry Resists Sharing User Information With Indian Government

Citing anonymous sources, the Journal says that RIM has a "small" facility in Mumbai that was set up earlier this year to field surveillance requests from the Indian government. The Journal's sources say that the government must provide RIM with enough legal justification for the company to hand over an individual's "decoded messages," including BlackBerry Messenger chats.

But Indian government apparently wants more. For example, the Journal's sources say, the government still cannot intercept corporate e-mail messages, which has long been its goal. The government would also like to put a law enforcement official in RIM's headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, to more securely present surveillance requests to the company. Those terms, however, have not been accepted by RIM, the sources say.

RIM and India have been engaged in a bitter battle over government access to information for over a year now. And so far, RIM has balked at giving in to all of the government's demands, even though it has faced deadlines that, if not met, would result in the country shutting down its service. As each deadline passed, however, no such shutdowns occurred.
I'm glad to see them holding out on the most important things, such as email and messenger correspondence.  It's disturbing that the Indian government is so determined to intercept and read the private conversations, and that they are trying to establish a system where the citizens have no rights.

Blackberry's doing something right, I figured it deserved as much attention as their many mistakes.

Hot Dog! A Happy Ending

Daniel was slated to die along with several other dogs, who were perfectly healthy and waiting for a rescue that would not come.  At an animal shelter in Florence, Alabama his time had run out.

Except it didn't.  

For unknown reasons, though the other dogs were killed, Daniel (named after the biblical character who survived the lion's den) not only survived, he was completely unaffected.  His celebrity status has several wanting to adopt him, and the workers at the animal shelter hope to bring attention to the plight of innocent animals who aren't as lucky.

The Limited Government States' Rights Party

And the "Washington should let the states run things!" people have the perfect candidate in Rick Perry.

Texas Governor Rick Perry pressed a conservative social agenda at an appearance in New Hampshire, calling for the repeal of the state's 2009 law legalizing same-sex marriage.

Perry also praised efforts in the state to end funding for birth control and health services for low-income women provided by Planned Parenthood in the state.

The comments were made late Friday at an event in Manchester sponsored by conservative activist group Cornerstone Action.

Washington should let the states determine things, unless conservatives don't like it in which case it's a moral imperative to interfere.

A poll from the University of New Hampshire this month showed that 62 percent of residents oppose repealing the same-sex marriage law -- including a plurality of likely Republican primary voters -- while only 27 percent support repealing it.

Regardless, Republicans who swept to power in both state chambers of the state legislature in 2010 have this year introduced a bill to repeal.

"I applaud those legislators in New Hampshire who are working to defend marriage as an institution between one man and one woman," Perry said, adding that he supported the "sanctity of traditional marriage."

Even New Hampshire Republicans support the same-sex marriage law in New Hampshire, but apparently the will of the citizens of the Granite State doesn't actually matter to President Perry.  For a group that constantly complains how their rights are being systematically destroyed, Republicans sure are keen to revoke rights from as many groups as possible to keep them in their place, you notice?

Just About Done

At this point Michele Bachmann's all but wrecked campaign is relying on outright falsehoods in order to generate momentum.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is a candidate for President and a tax attorney, as she is fond of saying. Her website describes her experience as “five years as a federal tax litigation attorney, working on hundreds of civil and criminal cases.” However, that fact didn’t seem to help her in on the campaign trail in Iowa on Saturday.

The Des Moines Register reports that Bachmann, speaking at a campaign appearance in Ottumwa, said “The average amount of taxes that the average family (paid) was 5 percent overall,” in 1950, as way of saying that the tax burden in America has gone through the roof.

There was only one problem with that argument: the overall tax rate in 1950 was five times that much, and that rate is only a little over three percent higher now.

Yes, she thought nobody would bother to check or to question her, because in the Age Of FOX News, facts are whatever Republicans want them to be at the time.  It wasn't the only thing she lied about in Iowa this weekend, either.  Of course it's not like anyone really likes to fact check Republicans, because then you get called all sorts of names, so it's just a "miscalculation" on her part and not a deliberate lie:

The Bachmann campaign responded this afternoon that the 5-percent figure comes from the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, and that Bachmann has cited it for several years.

This evening, a campaign spokeswoman provided two documents that she said were the sources Bachmann relied on when making her comments. The spreadsheets, which contained no information identifying their source, show federal, state and local tax receipts as a percentage of the United States’ gross domestic product over the last several decades.

So of course she's magically correct by comparing "tax burdens" to GDP (which is like comparing apples to 18th century Hungarian cabinetmaking) and if you challenge her numbers, you're a horrible person and SHUT UP THAT'S WHY.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Last Call

No, the kids are not alright under GOP rule in Michigan.

City fire marshal investigators plan to inspect every Detroit Public Schools classroom after receiving complaints this week about overcrowded classes with more than 50 students.

Detroit Fire Department representatives met Thursday with district officials to determine the maximum number of students for every classroom in the district, said Assistant Fire Marshal Osric Wilson.

The fire marshal issued a violation this week at Nolan Elementary-Middle School after receiving a tip that a kindergarten class had 55 students.

Other complaints followed and investigators visited other schools, Wilson said. "This issue is not going to go away; people are going to continue to complain."

Best part is you already can see the GOP solution to the problem of twice as many kids in classes because of half the needed teachers and wrecked schools:  sharp cuts in fire marshal inspections because of "unnecessary government interference when these societal parasites should be out stopping fires like we pay them to do" followed by taking a orbital cannon that shoots chainsaws at the state's education budget because "our schools are clearly failing students."

Besides, if the little drains on taxpayer dollars took up a trade to contribute to the economy instead of wasting time and money pretending like an education would ever get them out of the urban hellholes of America, they'd be better off in the long run or something, right?

The War Against The Stupid Wages On

From the You Saw It Coming Files:

NEWARK, N.J. -- A baggage screener who left a note saying "Get your freak on girl" inside a woman's suitcase that contained a sex toy will be fired, the federal Transportation Security Administration said Friday.

"TSA views the handwritten note to be highly inappropriate and unprofessional and apologizes for this unfortunate incident," spokesman Kawika Riley said in an emailed statement.
You gotta admit, it's a little bit funny.  It's also creepy to think of what people pack, and what TSA agents see on a daily basis.  A necessary evil, but if you pack something like that, you must also allow for the possibility that a "Get your freak on, girl" is warranted.

Not to be outdone, we have Cigar Man. Rumor has it he is trying a hostile takeover of
Conroe police responded to an assault incident early Thursday morning after a man tried to run over Walmart employees at 18700 Texas 105 W.
The man went into the store to buy cigars around 1 a.m., but employees declined to sell to him because he did not have an ID and looked young, Sgt. Joe Smart said.
After yelling at employees, the man was escorted outside and attempted to run over several workers before fleeing the scene, Smart said.

And folks, I never thought I would have to say this, but if you can't spell the word "south" then making highway signs is not the job for you.  But if it takes more than 5 seconds to see the typo, then driving may not be your bag, either.

Happy, Hollow Weenies

Meet the Buffalo law firm of Steven J. Baum, where the specialization is helping banks with foreclosure law and the annual Halloween costume party shows just how the employees feel about the "home ownership society" as I give Joe Nocera a second chance after last week's Bork idiocy.

Let me describe a few of the photos. In one, two Baum employees are dressed like homeless people. One is holding a bottle of liquor. The other has a sign around her neck that reads: “3rd party squatter. I lost my home and I was never served.” My source said that “I was never served” is meant to mock “the typical excuse” of the homeowner trying to evade a foreclosure proceeding.

A second picture shows a coffin with a picture of a woman whose eyes have been cut out. A sign on the coffin reads: “Rest in Peace. Crazy Susie.” The reference is to Susan Chana Lask, a lawyer who had filed a class-action suit against Steven J. Baum — and had posted a YouTube video denouncing the firm’s foreclosure practices. “She was a thorn in their side,” said my source.

A third photograph shows a corner of Baum’s office decorated to look like a row of foreclosed homes. Another shows a sign that reads, “Baum Estates” — needless to say, it’s also full of foreclosed houses. Most of the other pictures show either mock homeless camps or mock foreclosure signs — or both. My source told me that not every Baum department used the party to make fun of the troubled homeowners they made their living suing. But some clearly did. The adjective she’d used when she sent them to me — “appalling” — struck me as exactly right.

These pictures are hardly the first piece of evidence that the Baum firm treats homeowners shabbily — or that it uses dubious legal practices to do so. It is under investigation by the New York attorney general, Eric Schneiderman. It recently agreed to pay $2 million to resolve an investigation by the Department of Justice into whether the firm had “filed misleading pleadings, affidavits, and mortgage assignments in the state and federal courts in New York.” (In the press release announcing the settlement, Baum acknowledged only that “it occasionally made inadvertent errors.”) 

It seems Nocera can at least spot some of the bad guys when they are on his regular NY Times business beat, but he still has problems with the politics of it all, not really mentioning the banks that are of course the real source of all the arrogance and misery that he chides the Baum firm for.  He also ends the piece with the standard "you should look at the pictures and judge for yourself" cop-out.

For an opinion piece, Nocera is certainly careful not to have too much of an actual opinion, lest he anger the corporate overlords he normally deals with as a business reporter.  Funny how that works.

And You Shall Know Them By The Trail Of Dead Bankers

FOX News has gone well beyond "Occupy Wall Street has cooties!" and is now firmly into "It's only a matter of time before these people will kill everyone you know and care for!" territory.

Fox News is on a roll with their latest round of polling — the news network has been releasing bits of data over the week, and on Friday they released some new gems. Those crazy kids braving the cold in Zuccatti Park certainly are something…..but what exactly? Fox wanted to find out, so they asked the following question: “How concerned are you that the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations will eventually turn into street riots?”

Apparently a lot of people are. The answers — 16 percent are very concerned, 31 percent are somewhat concerned, 28 percent not very concerned, and 23 not at all. So only a near majority of Americans in the Fox poll think that the protest aimed at Wall Street and income inequality will turn into a violent mess.

While you're at it, FOX should ask "the people" how many of them are concerned that the Obama's thugocracy armies of New Black Panthers are going to eviscerate their grandmothers with a rusty hacksaw and display the remains as performance art.  I'm sure you could hit 27% on that too.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to transmit the latest secret order from Dear Leader.  After all, FOX isn't the only folks interested in seeing Occupy Together break out into more "deadly violence".

John Wayne Gacy "Victim" Found Alive

For 33 years, his family feared the worst – that he might have been a victim of Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Turns out Harold Wayne Lovell was just living in Florida.

Lovell, 53, was reunited with his family this week after police finally tracked him down, decades after he failed to return from a construction job, Chicago's NBC affiliate reports.

Lovell says he didn't know his family thought he was dead. "It's very emotional, it still is," he said of the reunion. "It's been two days, and I'm still crying."

Though I'm not sure how one can disappear for 33 years and not think you may be considered dead, it's surprising that it happened. Gacy apparently tried to get Lovell to come into the house a few times, and he did not.  I'm not clear if he was assigned as one of the bodies recovered, which may mean that some physical remains have been misidentified.

Do not confuse this with the mother who is having her son exhumed to verify with DNA that he is truly her son.  As of this time there is no follow up on that, which hit the headlines on October 6.  When I read that article, I remember thinking surely not, the investigators would have been more thorough, right?

Now I read about Lovell and I realize that it could happen.

Defenders Of The Universe (Or At Least Your Neighborhood)

This was a nice Halloween costume built here by a loving dad for his daughter.  And no, she didn't want to be a My Little Pony or a witch or a fairy princess, she wanted to be Voltron, dammit.

And so he made this.  It lights up at night, even.  You will give Voltron candy, or you will get a face full of BLAZING SWORD.

Five Bucks, Chucked

After being rightfully pegged as the poster child of Wall Street greed in a lousy economy, Bank of America is reconsidering that whole $5 a month debit card fee for its customers.

Bank of America is considering softening its controversial policy of charging some customers for making purchases with their debit cards, according to a person familiar with the bank's plans.
In September, the bank announced that it would begin charging most customers $5 a month if they used their debit cards to make purchases.
The fee, which would begin in January, set off a barrage of public outrage at the bank.
Now, under proposals being considered by the bank, Bank of America would offer customers new ways to avoid having to pay the fee.
Currently, only customers with certain premium accounts would be exempt from the fee.

Unless one of the ways B of A is planning to have customers avoid the fee is "are you a customer?" then the damage is already done.  The whole concept of knifing people in the back for $5 a month was the best thing to happen to efforts like the Move Your Money project since the financial crisis, and hey, let's remember that a week from today is Bank Transfer Day.

They must be scared if they're backtracking already on the plan.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Last Call

Here's your chart of the day showing what Americans are and are not spending money on anymore:

More frozen veggies, fixing the cars we have, distractions and pets, much much less eating out, big ticket items like furniture, appliances and cars, and less clothes. The American consumer is no longer consuming, and that's putting US manufacturers of stuff -- especially big ticket items -- out of business. This has been going on for four years now and it's now the new normal economic landscape of America. It will be for some time.

Passing The Political Football

Once again my senator Mitch McConnell continues to show America that Republicans are focused like a laser on the most important issue facing the country right now: jobs the economy abortion national security screwing with college football conferences.
Earlier this week, the Big 12 conference appeared ready to admit West Virginia into the league—a move so certain that university officials began tipping off members of their current conference, the Big East. But on Tuesday, the Big 12 abruptly backed off its overtures to the Mountaineers, leaving school officials in limbo and wondering what had happened.
On Wednesday, West Virginia received a key clue. The New York Times' Pete Thamel reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had lobbied officials at two Big 12 schools on behalf of his alma mater, the University of Louisville, which also is vying for a spot in the conference.
Everything Republicans do is about personal gain.  That's the point of political power, one leads to another in a cycle.
Not surprisingly, McConnell's alleged lobbying prompted anger among the two senators from West Virginia, Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, who are both Democrats. They have called on the Senate to investigate whether McConnell inappropriately interfered in the football drama.
"The Big 12 picked WVU on the strength of its program--period. Now the media reports that political games may upend that," Rockefeller, who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and has jurisdiction over college athletics, told reporters. "That's just flat wrong. I am doing and will do whatever it takes to get us back to the merits."
Manchin, a West Virginia alum, went further, questioning McConnell's ethics.
"If a United States senator has done anything inappropriate or unethical to interfere with a decision that the Big 12 had already made—then I believe that there should be an investigation in the U.S. Senate, and I will fight to get to the truth," Manchin said in a statement. "West Virginians and the American people deserve to know exactly what is going on and whether politics is interfering with our college sports."
So yes, it seems now that while the country is busy having a gut check over the direction of the country, over social equality, economic fairness, over the role of government in America and the true power of the wealthy, the most august deliberative body in the world is out back behind the outhouse fighting over the size of each others' "conferences" and Republicans are abusing their power because they can.  Meanwhile, the one thing that gets Joe Manchin pissed off enough to fight back isn't the economy or Republican intransigence on jobs but the fact that Mitch is messing with the Mountaineers.

Can we just Occupy Congress already?

Michele Bachmann, Meet My Friend "Reality"

Michele Bachmann is at it again.  This time she is criticizing Obama's plan to help ease student loan debt.  Of course we all know Bachmann is no fan of education, saying she would "do away with" the Department of Education if elected, even going so far as to call the DOE unconstitutional.  It's to the Tea Party's advantage that the future voters have no fancy learnin' so they can see through their copious bullshit.

Let us begin.

Bachmann starts by calling Obama's decision to move the action up by two years as an "abuse of power" and goes on about how he is dooming taxpayers.  Well, not quite.  This was already passed and slated to take place in 2014.  The only change is with the date it takes effect.  So which is a greater abuse of power, moving up aid for young people who desperately need it (freeing up money to put back into the economy) or overruling that aid if elected? 

She then warns of dire repercussions for taxpayers.  Another load of Tea Party BS.  Taxpayers will not shoulder the burden, and the loans still must be repaid in full.  The point is to lower required payments from 15% of income to 10% that must be paid, which allows graduates in a struggling economy to have money to put into housing and other necessities.  Taxpayers won't be footing any of the costs, so that's a direct lie, either out of malice or ignorance on her part, I don't know.  The Huffington Post verifies this as well.

Bachmann has also gone on record saying she would lower minimum wage to compete with overseas labor.  In a different interview she said she would consider eliminating it altogether.  For someone with so little respect for education, she doesn't seem to understand that she is dooming young graduates to choose between an education they can't afford and a job that won't keep them fed and sheltered.  I know, let's have her try to exist on the current minimum wage and see how well she holds it together.  Let's see how $250 a week feeds her family and what kind of home she would be able to afford.  I want to know how her financial expertise helps her when there is no money.

She then goes so far as to call Obama's assistance a "moral hazard" because "there is a morality in keeping our financial promises, and I don't think we should push that off onto the taxpayer.  The individual needs to repay and be responsible for repaying their student loan debt."  Umm... except the students will be paying their debt, and taxpayers will not be responsible for anything.  So where is the moral hazard?  I think it's the idiot talking out of her ass without checking the facts.

Dance, puppet, dance.  Or better yet, somebody get this clown off the stage already.

O Canada, Thou Art So Bland

Canadians aren't known for being wild to begin with (unless you count Alanis Morissette, but then again she left for a reason).  Still, two elementary schools have taken boring to another level, saying kids can only come to school wearing "caring" costumes at Halloween.

CALGARY — Children wanting to wear scary, violent or blood-drenched costumes will have to trade them in for more caring and community friendly outfits at two public elementary schools this Halloween.

The principal of Colonel Walker and Ramsay schools said her staff has chosen to use the day normally known for scares and frights as an opportunity to teach community values.

But some parents say it’s political correctness gone too far.
Teachers say they want to be considerate concerning other cultures that don't celebrate Halloween.  Bullshit, by dear.  By that reasoning  you wouldn't celebrate any holidays, because there is always a section of the public that chooses not to.  How about teaching the historical significance of the holiday, and the many cultures that do celebrate it (and why they do it differently)?  What is the wrong with a little safe roleplay and candy?


Concerned Mom Banned From McDonald's

Back in July we ran a piece about a mother who discovered dangerous conditions in McDonald's play areas.  From four different types of staph to gonorrhea, in fact.  She also used science to show the dangers weren't potential, but real.  There is a video embedded that is sound and logical, and explains the what and why behind her investigation.

McDonald's finally gets around to replying.  Their answer? Ban her, of course.  She is no longer allowed in any McDonald's establishments that have a play area.  All of them.

Dr. Erin Carr-Jordan, a mother of four, started recording and posting videos of trashy playgrounds, and quickly built an international following. Her lab tests, which revealed dangerous bacteria on the equipment, have been featured on network broadcasts and in major national newspapers.

This week, Carr-Jordan was notified by an East Valley franchisee's attorney that she is no longer allowed in any of his McDonald's restaurants that have playgrounds.

"Rather than have someone come into the playgrounds and do the right thing and make them clean and safe, they told me not to come in anymore," Carr-Jordan said.

I'm with her. This is serious. Consider how many kids play in those environments and how many of them are travelers passing through. If you did want to start an epidemic you are talking about prime breeding grounds right here to cover the nation's population in a matter of days. One dangerous playground would have the ability to infect the whole country, let alone the fact that there are dozens if not hundreds that are lacking. Then you have kids, who don't really understand the dangers lurking on those surfaces. Kids aren't known for their detailed hygiene going in to eat food. How many illnesses could have been or be avoided in the future by taking a few steps to clean?

A McDonald's spokesperson said "We remain committed to working with an internal team on ensuring that our PlayPlaces are clean and safe for all customers."

Don't tell us, lady. Show you care by doing something.  I said it in July, I'll say it again: a little suds and spraying can go a long way.

The Hillary Wedge

It's really kind of sad how desperately the media wants there to be a huge split between Hillary Clinton and President Obama for them to cover, so apparently they'll do anything to "make" it happen.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would trounce Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney in hypothetical head-to-head matchups for the presidency, a new poll shows.

Clinton would beat former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 17 points, 55 percent-38 percent, according to Time magazine. And the former first lady would blow away Texas Gov. Rick Perry by 26 points, 58 percent-32 percent.

In contrast, that same poll shows that Obama leads Romney by only 3 percentage points and Perry by 12 points.

The Secretary of State has repeatedly said “no” when asked whether she would run for president, in 2012 or 2016. Asked on NBC’s “Today” two weeks ago whether she would consider running for president again, Clinton said unequivocally, “no.”

So of course the only people that the Village wants to see in the race more than Chris Christie is Hillary. And they'll continue to try to divide and depress the Democrats until the schism actually happens (Oh, and as a bonus, their corporate masters in the GOP win power.)

More and more our political media tries to create the story, not report it.  The companies that own them want their money's worth.  That's not how the country should work, but what do I know, I'm just a dirty effin' hippie blogger.

Michele M. Bachmann Will You Please Go Now?

The party's over for the Bachmanniac as the floundering Republicans eat their own ahead of January's primaries.

"It's time for Michelle [sic] Bachmann to go," reads the first line of a statement from American Majority President Ned Ryun. His group operates in seven states, trains thousands of tea party supporters and is "liked" by over 371,000 people on Facebook.

"Bachmann, the leader of the so-called tea party caucus in the House and the most vocal about her affiliation with the Tea Party than any other Presidential candidate, has consistently presented herself as a champion of the movement and its values," Ryun's statement continued.

"Bachmann has ridden her tea party credentials from obscurity to a national platform like no other."
Bachmann campaign manager Keith Nahigian responded in a statement.

"The strength of the Tea Party is all individual's opinions are valued but the no single leader speaks for it. Mr. Ryun, who supports Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is entitled to his own opinion. And that's exactly what he is expressing. Michele Bachmann enjoys strong support from Americans across party lines and that certainly includes the Tea Party. She will continue to be a strong advocate for the values and principles reflected by the Tea Party as works toward a victory in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses as she seeks to win the Republican nomination."

Ryun denies he supports Perry, telling CNN: "I liked his plan that he came out with earlier in the week. And I said as much in a blog post. But I have not, and neither has American Majority endorsed anybody."

American Majority's rebuke of Bachmann marks the first time a well-known tea party group has turned on one of its own in the presidential race – a candidate who so frequently pushes tea party values it's become a key underpinning of her White House bid.

Republicans are quickly realizing that the media smokescreen about the "conventional wisdom that President Obama is doomed" is so much bullpucky, and that the President's numbers remain steady while the Republicans are falling on their faces.  President Obama continues to lead head to head match-ups with any Republican, time and time again.

Bachmann's own numbers have dropped off a cliff.  Republicans are clearing the decks of the crazies because they're realizing if one of them is allowed to win the primary, they lose to Obama.  The problem of course is all of them are crazy.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Last Call

The NY Times gets this one right.  Go figure.

I've long said the notion that black voters' support for President Obama was somehow "wavering" was complete garbage.  Certainly the right is trying to sell that idiocy, most notably Dick Morris.  But now the NY Times has found that the president's support among the black community continues to be massive and overwhelming.

Outside Washington, however, the story is markedly different. Mr. Obama’s support among African-Americans appears strikingly strong, even among many who are out of work, who might be expected to complain the loudest.

In a recent Pew Research Center poll, black voters preferred Mr. Obama 95 percent to 3 percent over Mitt Romney, “which is at least the margin he got in 2008,” said Michael Dimock, associate director for research at Pew. “There’s no erosion at all.”

Even more noteworthy, less than 10 percent of black voters in a New York Times/CBS News survey taken last month said that Mr. Obama had failed to meet their expectations as president, while nearly 3 in 10 said he had exceeded expectations. Among nonblack voters, 4 in 10 said he performed worse than expected, while only 5 percent said he had done better.

For many African-Americans, the main reason to support Mr. Obama is easy to cite. They argue that the modern Republican Party protects the rich at the expense of the poor, is hostile to social programs and thinks the way to fix the economy is solely through a trickle-down approach.

“We already know what the Republican Party is offering,” said Mr. Bennett, 57, the former Cooper Industries employee, a plant supervisor before he lost his job. “And we don’t want that.”

Mr. Hart said, “Look at the choice we got with those Republicans.” 

Sometimes reality is so simple and easily explainable, it absolutely dumbfounds the pundits.  It's almost as if the approach by the GOP to assume black voters are "too stupid to know the Democrats are keeping them on the Plantation" is not only completely incorrect (and not to mention absolutely insulting) but that it's backfiring.  I'd say that it also meant that the GOP's rancorous stupidity is driving black voters back to the President, but the larger point is we never left him.

The GOP is completely invested in saying otherwise, of course.  Almost like they have a healthy fear of people exercising their right to vote.

Oil's Well That Ends Well, Epilogue

And we come full circle for BP's offshore drilling.

BP won approval from the Interior Department to drill its first exploratory oil well in the Gulf of Mexico since the blowout of its Macondo well a year and a half ago touched off the country's worst offshore environmental disaster.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said that BP met more stringent safety requirements devised by the federal government in the aftermath of the disaster. The company also planned to follow even tougher voluntary standards that exceeded the government's rules.

"This permit was approved only after thorough well design, blowout preventer and containment capability reviews," said bureau director Michael R. Bromwich.

At more than 6,000 feet, the proposed well would be in deeper water than the Macondo well. It is part of the company's Kaskida prospect located in an area called the Keathley Canyon about 250 miles south of Lafayette, La. The company submitted the application to drill in January.

Everything's going to be fine, just fine.  Nothing to see here.  Please continue to drill baby drill, ignore climate change, trash green energy, and wreck the planet.  It'll heal itself, that's what complex systems and invisible sky deities do.

Besides, if you can't trust a company like BP, who can you trust, right?

Oops! We Did It Again!

An autistic girl was asked to leave a store in Canada, due to a misunderstanding regarding her service dog.  There was no misbehaving, it seems an employee made a mistake and was a little enthusiastic about keeping order in the store.  The little girl was cool, her mom was good about it, and the store sent her a $25 gift card and an apologetic letter.

Sounds okay, right?  It was, until she went back and was asked to leave the store again.

On Sunday, Emily, Levi and her mother visited the store to use the gift card when they were told by store staff that Levi, whose harness identifies him as a service dog, was not allowed into the store.

"We were asked to leave the store," she said. "My child's service dog was not permitted in their establishment anywhere. And if that's true, then that includes my child because there is no separation between the two of them."

Emily said leaving the store made her sad.

"I was disappointed that I didn't get anything from the store, even my dress that my mom picked out nicely for me," she said.

Ainsworth described the incidents as uneducated and unfounded bullying.

"It's demoralizing," she said. "It's demeaning."

Ainworth doubts the sincerity of the store's apology.

"Had they taken it with seriousness, then I think their staff would have become educated," said Ainsworth.

She's got a point. If the store had actually wanted to correct the problem, they should have taken steps to make sure that employees were made aware of the mistake so it did not happen again, least of all to the same child.

The parent company of Winners says allowing service animals in its stores is standard policy.

"We are looking into the particulars regarding this customer's experience and will reach out to her directly, as well as take whatever actions we believe are appropriate," said Doreen Thompson, TJX spokeswoman.

For those who do not speak corporate-ese, that's just a fancy way of saying, "Holy crap, you saw that, did you? Okay, okay. We'll do something this time."

Stupidity sale, 50% off! Though I don't think anyone's buying it this time.


A new tag for an emerging problem.  It seems some people are confused about what it means to be responsible for their children, and who is responsible for the kids when they are out of sight (hint: it's still you, dummy).

Police have received multiple complaints from parents saying their children owe money after placing bets.

There have also been reports of money, DVDs and PlayStation games going missing from homes to pay off debts.

Police are taking action over growing fears that children could be pushed into shoplifting or fights.

Letters warning about the dangers of gambling have been sent to parents through Mayflower Primary School.

He said on dry evenings groups of up to 40 people aged from five to teenagers have been gathering around drains to play Pits.

The game involves lifting the covers on water meters outside properties and flicking marbles into the hole.

"Over recent weeks we have been approached by parents telling us that their kids are asking for money to pay back debts owed to other children," PCSO Amador continued. "I have also heard that money has been taken out of purses and things round the house have gone missing like DVDs and Playstation games."

He said officers have been told of several children, as young as seven, owing £20 or £30 to other children.
Blink. Think. Read it again. That's right, kids as young as five years old are racking up gambling debts.  Parents are worried?  How about not letting your kindergarten aged child wander the streets and be taken in by this type of scam?  I cannot imagine my little nephew being out of sight for more than five minutes at that age, let alone enough time to fall prey to other kids trying to scam his money.  The blame doesn't belong to the kids, it belongs to the idiotic parents of all kids involved.

He also asked parents to visit the following websites: and
Great idea.  While they do that, I'm going to recommend they go to and see if the results are helpful.


Breaking Stupidity: Michael Lohan Jumps From 3rd Floor To Escape Cops

Michael Lohan was just arrested AGAIN in Florida after allegedly contacting his GF Kate Major -- and law enforcement tells TMZ, he tried to escape by jumping off a 3rd-story balcony ... and plummeting 34 feet to the ground.

According to law enforcement sources, Tampa police responded to a call early this morning from Kate, who claimed Michael had been trying to contact her by phone and wouldn't leave her alone.

We're told officers interviewed Kate at her apartment after she made the call -- the same apartment where Michael allegedly bruised her up earlier this week -- and while they were there, Michael allegedly called again.

According to law enforcement, officers believed Michael was a "threat" -- so they rolled up to his hotel to arrest him.

Uh, guys... I think you can take the quotes off the word threat. It's no longer theoretical. He's what my grandma would call batshit crazy, and the only person not in danger is his coke dealer. Seriously, if he can't recognize this is rock bottom then Darwinism is about to prevail.

On a final note, I would very much like to take TMZ's web authors to punctuation school. Thank you, that is all.

Brilliant Solution For Prosthetics

Fifty-year-old Brit Trevor Prideaux is an ordinary man with an extraordinary idea that could make it easier for others who are missing limbs to use smartphones--embed a phone dock right into your prosthetic.

It's worked for him.

The catering manager from Somerset, England, who was born without a left forearm, came up with the idea to integrate a smartphone into his prosthetic after using an iPhone.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Prideaux admits " became clear that this piece of technology was not ideally suited to be used with only one hand. When testing an iPhone, with the thoughts of purchase, I had to balance it on my prosthetic limb to text."

All I'm going to say is, with all the brilliant minds in today's world, how did this take so long to emerge?  I'm impressed and disappointed at the same time.

Hell Is Oakland

And Oakland is Hell.

Meanwhile, Oakland Police spokeswoman Cynthia Perkins told CNN that the department is investigating how protester Scott Olsen, a former Marine and two-time Iraq war veteran, suffered a skull fracture in Tuesday evening's clashes.

A vigil was scheduled Wednesday for Olsen, 24, outside Oakland City Hall, organizers said.
Olsen, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, was in serious but stable condition Wednesday afternoon at Highland General Hospital in Oakland, said Dottie Guy, a member of the veterans group who told CNN by phone that she was visiting Olsen at the hospital.

He sustained a skull fracture after allegedly being shot in the head with a police projectile, according to the veterans group. Among a growing number of war vets participating in the Occupy movement, Olsen was marching from a downtown library toward City Hall in an effort to reclaim an encampment that had been cleared out by police, the veterans group said.

The violence between police and protesters escalated after demonstrators allegedly pelted officers with bottles, rocks and paint, authorities said. Police then fired tear gas into the downtown streets to disperse the crowd.

The violence I was afraid of in NYC in Zucotti Park about three weeks ago has finally happened in Oakland.  Enter a new and very serious stage for the Occupy Together movement.  The class war is now under way.  Much more on Scott Olsen here at the Oakland Tribune.  He survived two tours in Iraq only to get his skull cracked like a ripe melon by a tear gas canister to the side of the head...but Oakland PD.  There isn't a god above or below capable of that level of abject hatred, only humanity could ever accomplish that particular feat of irony.

Super Committee Super Collider

Here's everything you need to know about the latest proposal by Democrats to reduce the national debt by $3 trillion, half of it cuts (including Medicare), half of it revenue increases, and it's the second paragraph of the Reuters story:

Republicans rejected the Democratic initiative.

Any questions? 

Poll after poll shows Americans want a combination of tax increases and spending cuts to rein in the national debt.  Republicans refuse.  Maybe that's why Congress has a 9% approval rating.  Go figure.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last Call

McClatchy's Steven Thomma notes the much larger picture with all the GOP Clown Car Kids and their nifty tax plans:  every single one of them would shift the federal tax burder to the middle and lower class, cut taxes for the wealthy, and destroy revenues, necessitating more cuts in social programs when Americans need them more than ever.

The flat tax — so called because it offers one flat rate for taxpayers in all income groups while taking away many or all deductions — would simplify taxes. It also would almost certainly give big tax cuts to wealthy Americans. Republicans believe that cutting taxes, especially on the wealthy, helps to spur investment, economic growth and hiring.

At the same time, most of the Republican candidates are proposing other changes that also would mean big tax cuts for high-income Americans, such as eliminating taxes on dividend income or capital gains, and eliminating the estate tax, called the death tax by Republicans.

Their push comes at the same time that Democratic President Barack Obama is pushing to raise taxes on higher-income Americans. He's proposed raising taxes on those making more than $200,000 and has endorsed a push by Senate Democrats to raise taxes on incomes above $1 million.

The debate comes as new data show that the very wealthiest Americans have greatly increased their share of U.S. income in recent decades. The richest 1 percent claimed 17 percent of American income in 2007, more than double their 8 percent share in 1979, according to a report this week from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Protest over growing income inequality is also among the motive issues driving the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations around the country.

Polls show that a solid majority of Americans favor raising taxes on the wealthy. But that's anathema in the Republican Party, where tax cuts, particularly for higher incomes, are popular. Seven in 10 Americans say that policies of Republicans in Congress favor the rich, according to a New York Times poll published Wednesday.

There's little doubt the Republican presidential candidates' proposals would cut taxes on the wealthy.

And now even Mittens is lining up to join the Flat Tax flatheads. Herman Cain's real purpose was to get Republicans excited about voting against their self-interests, with now all of the major candidates in the GOP offering different ways to destroy Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid and transfer even more wealth and income to the super rich at the expense of everyone else.

But then again, that's the point of the entire GOP, isn't it?

Introducing Zandar's Law

You know the right wing is painfully desperate and terrified right now when they play the ACORN card on Occupy Wall Street.  Steve Benen:

About a year ago, there was an unintentionally amusing survey from Public Policy Polling that found 23% of Republicans nationwide feared ACORN may help Democrats steal the election.

ACORN, of course, permanently closed its doors in March 2010, six months before the poll was taken. Groups can’t steal elections if they don’t exist.

Here we are now, more than a year and a half later, and ACORN is but a memory. But Fox News would have its audience believe the non-existent group is still up to no good. Today’s Fox News headline reads: “EXCLUSIVE: ACORN Playing Behind Scenes Role in ‘Occupy’ Movement.”

I hereby propose Zandar's Law:  whenever the right pulls out ACORN to try to discredit anything, they have automatically lost the argument.  It's literally all they've got left at this point, after calling OWS supporters racists, bigots, anti-semites, soshulists, parasites, anarchists, criminals, mobsters, thugs, terrorist sympathizers, potheads, Soros puppets and welfare queens for the last month and some change and Americans still support the movement, we've finally arrived at minions of Sauron ACORN.

Awesome.  You lose, Entire Right Wing Full Of Douchebags.  Good day.

The Lohan Family Portrait

Michael Lohan is cooling his ass in a Tampa jail this morning after getting arrested on suspicion of domestic violence charges.

Tampa Police arrested Lindsay Lohan's dad at 1:10AM ET after they responded to reports of a fight between Michael and a live-in girlfriend. Law enforcement sources confirm it was Lohan's on again-off again GF Kate Major.

Now this part is classic Lohan: We're told Michael complained of chest pains when he was taken into custody -- so police took him to a hospital. We're told Michael was treated, and then was attempting to slip out of the hospital on his own -- until an officer spotted him, hauled him down to jail and booked him for the alleged domestic violence.
Not since the days of Michael Jackson have we ever seen parents exploit their children to this degree.  Both parents have shamelessly pimped out their daughter, denied she had a drug problem, enabled her nearly to the point of death, and then sell a book about the drug abuse and profit from her misfortune.

I hope they both rot.  It will be better than they deserve.

Follow-Up: School Shooting Arrests

(CNN) -- Two students were in custody Tuesday in connection with a shooting outside a North Carolina high school in which another student was injured, police said.

The incident occurred Monday on the grounds of Cape Fear High School in Fayetteville. A high school student was shot in the neck. She was in stable condition at a hospital Monday afternoon, according to school spokeswoman Theresa Perry.

Ta'Von McLaurin, 18, and a 15-year-old boy were arrested at their homes Monday night, Cumberland County sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said Tuesday. The juvenile's name was not released because of his age.

Authorities were led to the boys after they reviewed surveillance camera video that showed them walking in a hallway with a rifle, Tanna said. A .22-caliber rifle was recovered inside the school, she said.

I'm glad to hear the victim is stable.  One has to wonder if she was chosen intentionally or if she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I'm also wondering how two students walk down a hallway with a rifle and nobody notices.  The footage is certainly helpful, but how did they get that far in the first place?

As always, updates to follow as the news catches us up on the facts.

What Happens To Real Heroes

JOPLIN, Mo. -- By all accounts, Mark Lindquist is a hero, an underpaid social worker who nearly gave his life trying to save three developmentally disabled adults from the Joplin tornado. Both houses of the Missouri legislature honored Lindquist, the Senate resolution calling him "a true hero and inspiration to others."

But heroism doesn't pay the bills. The tornado's 200 mph winds tossed Lindquist nearly a block, broke every rib, obliterated his shoulder, knocked out most of his teeth and put him in a coma for about two months.

Lindquist, 51, ran up medical expenses that exceed $2.5 million, and the bills keep coming. He requires 11 daily prescriptions and will need more surgery.

But he has no medical insurance. Lindquist couldn't afford it on a job paying barely above minimum wage. He assumed workers' compensation would cover his bills, but his claim was denied "based on the fact that there was no greater risk than the general public at the time you were involved in the Joplin tornado," according to a letter to Lindquist from Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, his company's workers' comp provider.
132 worker's compensation claims were filed, and only eight were denied.  Lindquist is among those denied.  He went above and beyond the call of duty, risking his life to protect those who could not protect themselves.  He nearly died for his efforts, and deserves better than "at least you have your health."  It's a bitter smack in the face to those who take their duty as caregivers seriously.  His life will be forever ruined because of his act of greatness, and before the tornado he was like so many who cannot afford health insurance.  On one end or the other, this poor guy deserves a break.  However, he isn't likely to get one.  And that, friends, is the reality of a hero in today's world.

Greek Fire, Part 43

German lawmakers are expected to approve the latest maneuver to save the euro's butt this week, but only after putting a limit on the price tag.

German lawmakers are set to back a planned increase in the European rescue fund’s capacity, removing one hurdle in the path of Chancellor Angela Merkel as she prepares for a summit on tackling the euro-area debt crisis.

Merkel is due to address lower-house lawmakers on the crisis at about noon in Berlin today before the government puts plans to bulk up the 440 billion-euro ($612 billion) backstop to a vote. The coalition ensured cross-party support after persuading the main opposition Social Democrats and Greens to sign up to a motion that includes a cap on German guarantees.

“This greatly strengthens the negotiating positions of the government and the chancellor” as she heads to the summit in Brussels from the lower house, or Bundestag, Volker Kauder, the floor leader of Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc, told reporters in Berlin yesterday after the CDU caucus met.

German backing to increase the effectiveness of the European Financial Stability Facility is one piece in the crisis-fighting jigsaw puzzle being assembled in Europe’s capitals. Agreement is still missing on how to bolster the EFSF, reductions in Greece’s debt load and recapitalizing banks. 

It's a start, and I still think it's more or less too late to save the eurozone at this point, but Europe is going to give one last try to stopping the ever-burning Greek Fire before it immolates the continent and the global financial community...oh and the US as well.

Still, it's necessary for Germany to lead the way here.  Nobody else in the EU is going to at this point.  But I have to wonder how large the German appetite for schisse truly is.

Bringing Home The Bacon

Here's your chart of the day, courtesy TPM:

And the best part of Reaganomics tripling the income of America's wealthy? This was *before* the economy fell apart and the numbers for the vast majority of the rest Americans plummeted over the last four years.

So yes, trickle-down economics trickled down and ate the foundation beneath your feet. Enjoy the hole we're in, for we've been digging it since 1980.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Last Call

Looks like Gov. John Kasich's union-busting bill is about to go down in flames with just two weeks to go until the election.

The campaign to save Senate Bill 5 is taking on water, with a new poll showing voters favor a repeal of the collective bargaining crackdown on Ohio’s public workers by a 57-to-32 percent margin.

The findings in the Quinnipiac University poll also show Gov. John Kasich’s popularity is in the same neighborhood as the S.B. 5 measure he has been campaigning to save. The survey of 1,668 registered voters found them disapproving of the governor’s job performance by 52-36 percent, up from a 49-40 percent negative rating in late September.

Oops.  With the measure at -25% and falling (along with Kasich's approval ratings) it's hard to imagine the bill passing at this point.  Such a massive rebuke to Kasich would basically be the end of his relevance as Governor.

Oh, but look who picked today to jump on the pro-SB5 bandwagon?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign Communications Director Ray Sullivan sends along the following statement on former Mass Gov. Mitt Romney’s failure to endorse conservative efforts to keep SB 5, Ohio’s new anti-union law.

“Mitt Romney’s finger-in-the-wind politics continued today when he refused to support right-to-work reforms signed by Ohio Governor John Kasich – reforms Romney supported in June. Americans are tired of politicians who change their beliefs to match public opinion polls. Mitt Romney has a long record of doing this on issues like government-mandated health care and the Obama stimulus. Mitt Romney needs to realize that when you try to stand on both sides of an issue, you stand for nothing.”

Hey Rick?  The measure you support is about to get trashed by the people of Ohio.  What does that say about Perry's judgement, to back a measure so universally reviled by "WE THE PEOPLE"? You might want to worry more about Texas than the Buckeye State, dig?

In fact, national Republicans are piling on Romney for not supporting a ballot measure that is most likely going to lose by 20 points or more.

But that's today's Republican Party for you.  In touch with the heartland!

Beating Three Nines With A Hand Full Of Jokers

Not to be outdone by Herman Cain's awful 9-9-9 plan, Rick Perry shuffles the deck and draws an even more regressive mess of a tax scheme to transfer wealth to the top.  K-Drum takes a look at Perry's cards.

The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents....My plan also abolishes the death tax once and for all, providing needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses....To help older Americans, we will eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits....We will eliminate the tax on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains to free up the billions of dollars Americans are sitting on to avoid taxes on the gain.

It's a "flat tax" that keeps many of the same deductions that the flat tax is supposed to get rid of.  Perry can't even get that part right, it seems.  The choice of the old tax code or the new one is of course a terrible idea, assuring massive tax breaks for the rich and nothing for the poor.  It's a propaganda tool.

What can you even say about this? It sounds less like a tax plan than a big ol' stew pot of right-wing applause lines, all the way up to the inane insistence that eliminating the estate tax has nothing to do with rich people and is only designed to provide "needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses." Should we laugh or cry? Perry has actually managed to combine two separate conservative memes (the estate tax is all about family farms, uncertainty is hobbling the economy) into one single sentence that makes even less sense than either of them separately. It's hard not to be impressed.

Although the choice part will assure that if "you dumb broke liberals want to raise taxes dur hurr" why we can take Perry's Hobson's choice and pay more!  It gets Perry back in the game for a few more weeks heading into the end of the year and of course assures Romney will have his own awful "flat tax plan" soon, which is the real point of the measure.

Either way, the 1% wins by stacking the deck.
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