Friday, January 7, 2011

Last Call

Rep. Anthony Weiner goes up against the Bachmanniac on Social Security, and utterly decimates her.

In one characteristic exchange about Social Security, Bachmann said that "all the surplus in Social Security is a big vault stuffed with IOU notes, there's not one dime sitting in there."

Weiner shot back: "Are you surprised to learn, Congresswoman Bachmann, that we don't have a room filled with dimes?"
And it only gets worse for Bachmann from there.  Keep in mind this is Weiner going on Hannity the Manatee's show on FOX News and making her look exactly as foolish has she needs to be portrayed as.

More of this, please.

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 57

An avalanche begins with a few small pebbles.

US Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co. lost a foreclosure case in Massachusetts’s highest court that will guide lower courts in that state and may influence others in the clash between bank practices and state real estate law. The ruling drove down bank stocks.

The state Supreme Judicial Court today upheld a judge’s decision saying two foreclosures were invalid because the banks didn’t prove they owned the mortgages, which he said were improperly transferred into two mortgage-backed trusts.

“We agree with the judge that the plaintiffs, who were not the original mortgagees, failed to make the required showing that they were the holders of the mortgages at the time of foreclosure,” Justice Ralph D. Gants wrote.

Foreclosuregate has now officially become a Major Problem for the banks, ladies and gentlemen.  Bank stocks got hammered today as a result. 

Now things get ugly.

The Mask Slips Again

And Republicans show their bigotry towards Latinos, this time in Missouri.

One of the five planks of House Speaker Steve Tilley’s Show Me Solutions Initiative priorities list is to end new driver testing in languages other than English.

In the section of his speech to the House calling for more accountability in government yesterday, Tilley said the state had the duty to require anyone wanting a Missouri driver’s license to pass it in the state’s official language.

You'd think you want people to fully understand the driving laws of the land so that they don't hurt people while driving, but apparently that's not the public safety issue here.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol conducts written tests of would-be drivers in 12 languages, including English, said Capt. Tim Hull, director of the public education and information office. The languages include major European languages such as Spanish, French, Italian and German, as well as Chinese, Greek, Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, Japanese and Bosnian.

If a driver cannot pass the road test, they may hire, at their expense, an interpreter from a state-approved list, Hull said.

With road sign colors and symbols based on an international standard, Hull said, the patrol sees no safety issues for drivers who are not well-versed in English.

So even the Missouri state troopers agree with this.  They want people informed of the laws, and the whole point of shapes and colors on road signs is to make them recognizable without having to read them.  In fact, part of the written test in just about any state is to recognize the signs without lettering on them, so Tilley's legislation is a moot point from a public safety issue.  And let's not pretend everybody driving a car in Missouri (or any state for that matter) is 100% literate, either.  That's why the signs are shaped and colored like they are.

Again, this is a moot point.  So what's Tilley's real game here?  The mask slips again thanks to a fellow Republican:

Rep. John Cauthorn, R-Mexico, said he likes the idea and thinks his constituents will, too.

The average guy on the street hates Spanish, and it is everywhere,” Cauthorn said. “To the average guy, that is important. We are almost to the point of losing our identity as a nation.

If folks are going to come here and work, they need to work toward learning the English language,” he said.

Ding ding ding!

In State Rep. Cauthorn's world, the average guy "hates Spanish" and presumably hates those who speak it, too.  Those who speak other languages than English are robbing America of its identity, according to him.  They're not American.  They don't count.

Cauthorn seems to think the average Missourian is a nationalist racist asshole...and he's proud of this.  Fascinating.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

If this is the new normal for the Tea Party right (and every indication that these inmates are indeed well ensconced in administration and day-to-day affairs of the asylum) then the next two years are going to be awesome.

An apparent member of the birther movement seated in the gallery of the House of Representatives on Thursday interrupted a reading of the Constitution. The woman yelled out "Except Obama, except Obama, help us Jesus!" as Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) read the "natural born citizen" clause of the Constitution.

The woman screamed out from the House Gallery as Pallone read Section 1 of Article Two of the United States Constitution, which reads that "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President." 

Steve M. has much more on this particular World Nut Daily all-star, Theresa Cao, Professional Birther.

The monster the wingers created is now quite loose in DC.

Bon's List Of Things To Track In 2011

Everyone has their favorite topics and points of view.  I plan to do some lengthy follow-ups on a few things, and some patterns have emerged.  I see a lot of things going on, but they all come back to civil rights and the way fear is being used to coerce citizens into giving up their rights.  For this, I am going to introduce a new tag: Civil Stupidity.

Here are some things you may see referenced under this tag:

Privacy -  We are losing our right to privacy and our freedom to make decisions for ourselves.  Some of this started with Bush's failures by allowing calls to be tapped without a warrant, and has continued with Obama.  Internet privacy is going to become a hot topic while ISPs fight for customers.

Women's rights - Over the past few years, women have had some successes with equal treatment, but they are the exception to the rule.  Equal pay in the workforce was killed by Republicans, and recently it was suggested that women may not be guaranteed protection and equality in the Constitution.  The latter was in contradiction to a unanimous ruling, but the fact that it was even uttered is cause for alarm.

LGBT issues - Dont Ask Don't Tell, gay marriage, the ability for two consenting adults to live how they please.  Why is this anyone's business?  Why does anyone feel they have the right to dictate how others should live?  I proudly performed my first same-sex wedding ceremony, and I hope to report some breakthroughs on this front in 2011.

On Facebook and in the comments, readers are always welcome to throw in their two cents.  Please feel free to chip in your opinions, and if you see an article that you think is of interest to to Civil Stupidity, please drop me a line here, or at my site (

Rudy Awakening For 2012

Here's my question about this:

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) denied on Friday reports he is rounding up staff to explore a run for president in 2012.

Giuliani, the former 2008 presidential candidate, denied a New York Post report that he was gearing up to run again in 2012. 

"I haven't done that. I haven't rounded up my political advisers," Giuliani said on MSNBC.

He said that a coming trip to New Hampshire, a key primary state, came without political intentions, too.

"I go to New Hampshire a lot; I don't have anything scheduled right now," he said.

Why would anyone even consider that Giuliani, after his complete freakin' disaster of a run in 2008, would ever try again in 2012? Exactly what has changed between now and then for Rudy in particular to be even remotely considered a viable candidate for President?

Nothing.  The guy's a joke.  I actually consider him a rung down the 2012 GOP list from people like Gingrich and John Bolton's mustache, for crying out loud.

Go away Rudy, nobody cares.  I don't even have a tag for your useless ass.

Environment For Deconstructing An Agency

House Republicans are wasting little time in immediately going after the EPA's energy company pollution rules.

That didn't take long. On the first day of the 112th Congress, a group of Republican members—and one Democrat—offered a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating planet-warming gases under the Clean Air Act.

E2 Wire flagged a note in the Congressional Register that Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) yesterday introduced a bill to amend the Clean Air Act, though the description didn't include much detail. A spokesman for the representative confirmed to Mother Jones that the new bill is exactly the same as HR 391, which Blackburn and others filed in January 2009. She's introduced a measure just like it, though the new text isn't posted yet.

The measure is just over one page in length, and would alter the Clean Air Act to specifically exclude greenhouse gases from regulation. It goes so far as to specify that carbon dioxide should not be considered pollution at all. "The term 'air pollutant' shall not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride," the bill states.

In case that wasn't enough, it goes on: "Nothing in the Clean Air Act shall be treated as authorizing or requiring the regulation of climate change or global warming." The measure has 45 Republican co-sponsors and one Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma.

Once again, any legislation that the House passes here has to get by a Presidential veto.  I'd also like every co-sponsor of this bill to submit themselves and their families to one hour per day in a room filled with carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride since these aren't pollutants.

Let's see how long that lasts.  Both the judicial and the executive are on the side of the environment here, and that the EPA has the authority.  This question is settled law.


October and November job gains revised upward 70K and a 103K job gain in December dropped the unemployment rate to 9.4% last month, but of course Helicopter Ben will keep his hands on the throttle.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks on the economic outlook before the Senate Budget Committee at 9:30 a.m.

Analysts say the Fed's focus is on unemployment and expect it to complete the bond-buying plan.
"Gains in payrolls won't be enough to spark a change in Fed policy until the gains either accumulate for many, many months or are accompanied by gains in inflation expectations," said Tony Crescenzi, a strategist at bond fund PIMCO.

The economy usually needs to create at least 125,000 jobs a month to keep the unemployment rate from rising, but a faster pace might be needed now since so many discouraged workers are sitting on the sidelines. As job growth picks up, these workers could re-enter the labor force, keeping upward pressure on the jobless rate.

Employment gains in December were led by the private services sector, which saw payrolls rising 115,000 after gaining 84,000 in November. Retail jobs increased 12,000 after a surprise 19,400 slump in November when retailers reported their best sales in years.

Temporary hiring, seen as a harbinger of permanent employment, increased 15,900 after 31,100 in November.

The U-6 number is down to 16.7%, and we're headed in the right direction, but that just means we're breaking even instead of losing jobs.  We'll need a almost a decade of 250K job growth months just to get back to 2007 employment highs, let alone to improve on them.

The Price Of Moral Hazard: $450 Million And Counting

Simon Johnson has an excellent point:  why are taxpayers backstopping Goldman Sachs' $450 million investment in Facebook?

On the face of it, this might seem just like what the financial sector is supposed to be doing – channeling money into productive enterprise. The Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly looking at the way private investors will be involved, but there are more deeply unsettling factors at work here.

Remember that Goldman Sachs is now a bank-holding company – a status it received in September 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, in order to avoid collapse (see Andrew Ross Sorkin’s blow-by-blow account in “Too Big to Fail” for the details.)

This means that it has essentially unfettered access to the Federal Reserve’s discount window – that is, it can borrow against all kinds of assets in its portfolio, effectively ensuring it has government-provided liquidity at any time.

Any financial institution with such access to such government support is likely to take on excessive risk – this is the heart of what is commonly referred to as the problem of “moral hazard.” If you are fully insured against adverse events, you will be less careful.

Goldman Sachs is undoubtedly too big to fail – in the sense that if it were on the brink of failure now or in the near future, it would receive extraordinary government support and its creditors (at the very least) would be fully protected.

In all likelihood, under the current administration and its foreseeable successors, shareholders, executives, and traders would also receive generous help at the moment of duress. No one wants to experience another “Lehman moment.”

In other words, because Goldman is too big to fail, and can borrow as much money as it wants to in order to play Big Casino games, it's busy creating the next bubble to try to profit from:  Dot-Com, Part 2.

Take a look at stocks like Netflix and Apple.  Apple stock has nearly quadrupled since its March 2009 lows, from $85 to almost $340.  Netflix has gone from $20 a share two years ago to nearly $200 in the last month or so.  Now Goldman Sachs may make a nearly $2 billion investment in Facebook in order to keep the social networking's potential profits all to itself as a private company.

It's the biggest Big Casino game in the world, and Goldman just bought the high rollers room all to itself.  And in case this new rush in internet companies goes south again, guess who's picking up the check?

Gotta love it.


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