Friday, December 2, 2011

Last Call

And we have now reached the absolute bottom of American political significance.

Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump will play the role of moderator at a Republican debate in Des Moines, Iowa on Dec. 27, according to reports published Friday.

The debate, being staged by conservative magazine Newsmax, will be the first ever in presidential-level politics to be run by a reality TV show host, whom President Barack Obama not long ago referred to as a “carnival barker.”

“Our readers and the grass roots really love Trump,” Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, told The New York Times. “They may not agree with him on everything, but they don’t see him as owned by the Washington establishment, the media establishment.” 

Donald Trump.  Moderating a GOP debate.  Sponsored by Newsmax.   Entirely new branches of mathematics will have to be discovered in order to quantify just how sad, awful, and pathetic this is.  It's like The Joker moderating a supervillain debate sponsored by LexCorp, only that would be far more amusing and would have more realistic job creation and foreign policy plans as they discuss enslaving humanity.

Does anyone else hear the carnival music at this point?  I'll go ahead and call the winner of this debate right now:  President Obama.

Technology Used To Do Good

I'm in total agreement with Jezebel's Dodai Stewart:  Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin is neutronium hardcore for live-tweeting her first mammogram at 41...and getting (and sharing) some devastating news.

Xeni Jardian, the founding partner and co-editor of Boing Boing — who has contributed stories to NPR, Wired, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Guardian — embarked on a nerve-rattling journey yesterday as she went for her first mammogram. She took her more than 49,000 Twitter followers with her, as she live-tweeted the process, and her results.

In many ways, the fact that she Tweeted her very personal experience is a sign of How We Live Now. Many consider it tragic how much we rely on technology — everywhere you go, heads are down as people walk, talk and dine transfixed by smart phones, texting and checking in and liking and tweeting. But Jardin's decision to update her followers as she went for her breast exam highlights a positive aspect of public sharing: The ability to reach out of a community, and have that community embrace you, in turn. The gadget becomes a life line. Replies from people you have never met offer a much-needed human touch in a moment of need. On the other hand, there's a false intimacy: We're going through it with her… except not really. She's the only one in the robe.

And she's the one who got the gut-churning results. After her very first mammogram, the 41-year old was diagnosed with breast cancer.

That's a hell of a thing, and yes, the internet is always, always, always a double-edged sword.  But you have to give Xeni both support and respect for doing this.  You don't get much more in the "breast cancer awareness" department than this.

Here's to a swift recovery, Xeni.


Good news and bad news on the unemployment front.  First, the good news.

Unemployment in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped in November to a two-year low, while employers added fewer workers than projected and earnings eased, indicating the labor market is making limited progress.

The jobless rate declined to 8.6 percent, the lowest since March 2009, from 9 percent, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Payrolls climbed 120,000, with more than half the hiring coming from retailers and temporary help agencies, after a revised 100,000 rise in October. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey called for a 125,000 gain.

Now the bad news.

The unemployment rate, derived from a separate survey of households, was forecast to hold at 9 percent, according to the survey median. The decrease in the jobless rate reflected a 278,000 gain in employment at the same time 315,000 Americans left the labor force.

The labor participation rate declined to 64 percent from 64.2 percent. 

The way the job numbers work, 278,000 new jobs plus 315,000 out of the labor force is a nearly 600,000 job swing, accounting for the drop to 8.6% on the U-1 figure.  That's not good news at all.  People are leaving the labor force and they're not just disappearing.  Granted, adding 278,000 jobs is a good, good thing.  But the labor force drop is bad news and that's been going on for a couple of years now.  The U-6 figure is down to 15.6%, but again that doesn't include the people leaving the labor force as the 99-ers continue to fall off the cliff.  Thanks for blocking job creation measures, Republicans!

Also, job losses continue in the government sector.  Also unnecessary.  Also, thanks GOP.

The better news is that the U-6 number has dropped from 17.0% to 15.6% in one year.  The bad news is most of that drop is people leaving the labor force completely.

We're still in trouble and have a long path to tread.

The better news?  Nick Wilbur over at ABLC is 100% right:  If the public sees the economy as improving (which it is) then President Obama will win in November.  Which probably explains why FOX News covered the employment news like this:

Fox unemployment graphic

Just a rounding error, you see. 8.6% unemployment, 9% unemployment, what's the difference when the President is a black Kenyan anti-colonialist socialist agitator?

Bachmann Has Yet Another StupidiLeak

When it comes to stupidity and a complete unawareness of how dense a human can be, Michele Bachmann is the gift that keeps on giving.

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann says gay people do have the right to get married -- so long as they're planning on tying the knot with a member of the opposite sex.

The Minnesota congresswoman was campaigning in Iowa Wednesday addressing a group of high school students when Jane Schmidt, president of Waverly High School's Gay-Straight Alliance, confronted her on same-sex marriage rights.

Bachmann had just finished explaining that the purpose of government was to ensure that the civil rights of all Americans are protected.

"We all have the same civil rights," Bachmann said, according to the Des Moines Register, providing an opportunity for Schmidt to press her.

"Then, why can't same-sex couples get married?" Schmidt asked.

"They can get married," Bachmann responded. "But they abide by the same law as everyone else. They can marry a man if they're a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they're a man."
Bachmann later went on to clarify her belief that "there are no special rights for people based upon your sex practices. There's no special rights based upon what you do in your sex life."
She is blind to the irony that she is talking about protecting everyone's rights.  Then she implies that same-sex couples are asking for special rights.  They're not.  They're asking for basic rights, such as to be recognized by law, and protected from discrimination.  Those aren't special rights.

But then we get to the root of the problem.  You only deserve protection if Bachmann approves of you.  She has no respect for voters or peons.  She does not understand that she would be elected to work for all Americans, not just the ones she likes.  She actively fights to restrict the rights of citizens and wants to lead the country.  Please God, tell me people see through this crazy bitch.

Woman Forced To Marry Rapist

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday pardoned an Afghan woman serving a 12-year prison sentence for having sex out of wedlock after she was raped by a relative.

Karzai's office said in a statement that the woman and her attacker have agreed to marry. That would reverse an earlier decision by the 19-year-old woman, who had previously refused a judge's offer of freedom if she agreed to marry the rapist.

Her plight was highlighted in a documentary that the European Union blocked because it feared the women featured in the film would be in danger if it were shown.

More than 5,000 people recently signed a petition urging Karzai to release the woman. She had the man's child while in prison and raised her daughter behind bars, which is common among women imprisoned in Afghanistan.

I'm just horrified. How can this ever have been pushed through a court? I'm also grossed out that the headlines for most papers focus on her pardon, not the fact that she was imprisoned for being a victim of sexual assault. The article goes on to explain there are hundreds of women in prison for moral crimes like leaving their husbands.

This has to stop. Around the world, a basic minimum respect must be shown to all people.


Right before this goes out, I see an alternative report from BBC News saying she does not have to marry her attacker, and this was corrected by the President's office.  The link above takes you to a Huffington Post article that says she does have to marry her attacker.  I will assume the correction stands, but did not edit HuffPo's quote.

It still doesn't change the fact that she was in prison, but it makes the conditions of her pardon far more acceptable.

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Part 44

Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, still a massive problem, still under-reported by our Village betters, still every data point we get on the extent of the disaster is "worse than previously thought."  And now some eight months plus after the accident, we get a clearer picture.

Molten nuclear fuel at Japan’s Fukushima plant might have eaten two thirds of the way through a concrete containment base, its operator said, citing a new simulation of the extent of the March disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said their latest calculations showed the fuel inside the No. 1 reactor at the tsunami-hit plant could have melted entirely, dropping through its inner casing and eroding a concrete base.

In the worst-case scenario, the molten fuel could have reached as far as 65 centimetres (2 feet) through the concrete, leaving it only 37 centimetres short of the outer steel casing, the report, released Wednesday, said.

Until now, TEPCO had said some fuel melted through the inner pressure vessel and dropped to the containment vessel, without saying how much and what it did to the concrete, citing a lack of data.

“Almost no fuel remains at its original position,” TEPCO said in the report.

And we'll find out of course eight months from now that this "worst case scenario" was exceeded by reality.  This stuff doesn't cool off overnight, folks.  Remember, we took TEPCO's word that there was no meltdown originally, then a partial meltdown, now yeah, this stuff ate through two feet of concrete possibly and enough has gotten out into the Japanese countryside to seriously poison the surrounding area.  Yeah, this is the nightmare that just will not stop.

Meanwhile, 8% of Japan's land mass is contaminated by radiation.  That's just what they're admitting to.

That trillion dollar estimate of mine still stands.

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter Part 81

Foreclosuregate is now officially in the courts as the state of Massachusetts is suing five of the big mortgage banks over robo-signing.

The lawsuit named Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc., and GMAC. It was filed in Massachusetts by Attorney General Martha Coakley.

“We have two clear goals with this lawsuit — one is to provide for real accountability for the role the banks have played in unlawful and illegal foreclosures, and secondly to provide for real and enforceable relief for the harm that the misconduct has caused,” said Coakley in a press conference to announce the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also named Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc. and its parent company as defendants. The company, a mortgage registry database, has been accused of shoddy record-keeping in large numbers of foreclosure proceedings.

The complaint claims the banks violated Massachusetts law with “unlawful and deceptive” conduct in the foreclosure process, including unlawful foreclosures, false documentation, robo-signing, and deceptive practices related to loan modifications.

The lawsuit comes as talks have been dragging on for more than a year between major banks and the attorneys general from all 50 states over fraudulent foreclosure practices that drove millions of Americans from their homes following the bursting of the housing bubble.

With Massachusetts breaking from the pack, expect more states to do the same. Of particular note is hitting MERS with a lawsuit: if they are found liable (or if any of the banks are) the floodgates open and the banks are going down.  The issue could very well go before the Supreme Court as well.

On the other hand, the way Europe is going and given all five banks are majorly exposed right now to European bond markets, none of them may be around if the euro implodes.


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