Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bill O'Reilly's book Killing Lincoln appeared on Entertainment Weekly's "Worst Books of 2011" list. I'm sure Bill will slam the magazine with something like "written by a bunch of commie, socialist pinheads!" His usual brainy retort.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

  • Penn State, Paterno and cover-up. As with the Catholic Church scandal, protecting the institution came before protecting the rights of individuals. In this case, it was apparently protecting a football program and a coach's legacy that became priority #1. Beyond shameful. And my understanding is we've only heard about the tip of the iceberg, with much more to be divulged and surface....

  • With Rick Perry paying Fox $1 million for ads, one has to wonder to what extent this is a gift to Fox. Perry's campaign is flush with cash and yet he's been plummeting in the polls and for all intensive purposes is out of the race. So why the big cash outlay? Is it to perhaps insure favorable coverage in the future (as if there was any doubt)? Is it to perhaps convince Fox to offer him a job at some point down the road, if his popularity in Texas dries up?? Very odd.

  • Don't look now but the whack-a-mole game that is the GOP presidential race now has Gingrich rising in the polls. Yes, it's now Newt's turn to get a closer media look, which has not fared well for Bachmann, Perry and Cain and in the past has not been a good thing for Newt. But for now, he's failing upward and winning by attrition.

  • Don't we get a fair amount of food from China? This bit of news ain't good.

  • Many are beginning to wonder if natural gas fracking is causing earthquakes.

  • As for the Herman Cain escapades, I wish more serious-minded political commentators would stop discussing and even following this guy's campaign as it's a waste of time. Cain has no shot of becoming the GOP contender. As Rachel Maddow has been stating, he's been running a faux or fake campaign. Heck, they've all learned from Newt Gingrich, who figured it out long ago that running for president is a terrific business move. Newt does it every four years as it helps to boost his speaking fees, it keeps him "relevant" and in the public eye, it gives him supposed credibility, it boosts book sales, it channels much traffic to his web site (where he has stuff for sale). The bottom line is he very likely makes much more in return for what he puts into his "campaign." I believe Michele Bachmann learned to do this, and Rick Santorum has been doing this, and Sarah Palin sort of did it with her fake dance maybe/maybe not going to run -- and now we have Herman Cain. But alas, many Republican voters are clueless about it, believing many of these clowns are earnestly running for president. Both hilarious and sad.
  • Monday, November 07, 2011

    I've posted this graphic in the past, but I believe it's worth updating and re-posting. Keep this chart in mind the next time someone says "Obamacare" is going to destroy our private healthcare system. If that were true, these managed care stocks would not have crushed the market since the end of last October. Bottom line is investors as a group are typically not stupid and such massive stock outperformance indicates these companies will likely do better than ever (i.e. "Obamacare" didn't go far enough).

    Click on to enlarge

    Thursday, November 03, 2011

    Glenn Beck, Goldline and charges of fraud. Does this shock anyone?

    Tuesday, November 01, 2011

    As you may have noticed with the frequency of my updates, I'm not a professional blogger. My other life too often gets in the way. I do collect many news items, jotted-down thoughts, etc., meant to be posted up here fairly expeditiously but unfortunately instead they become quite past due. Rather than just tossing in garbage, I hope you don't mind when I post them anyway....

  • One of my favorite political writers ever, Jonathan Alter, recently wrote about the possibility of Obama switching Biden for Hillary for this upcoming election. Could this actually happen? Alter writes, "I’d say the odds are long -- but it’s definitely not impossible." Then almost as if on cue, Time releases a poll showing Hillary would trounce the Republican contenders if she were running for president, by margins larger than Obama. Admittedly such a poll can be a bit dubious given Obama has been in the #1 spot for 2+ years, receiving all the shrapnel and wounds in this difficult period, and it's always appealing to think "What if she had won her way into the White House, would things have been different...?" However, as the polls tighten up between Obama and Romney, I would assume Obama would do everything necessary to secure a victory. Biden has more or less been invisible in this term, esp. compared to VPs Cheney and Gore. Meanwhile, Clinton has been very high profile and I would say has received very positive reviews from both parties. With the GOP likely to use everything at their disposal to defeat Obama, trotting out all the usual beyond-the-pale campaign methods, there will be a need for an attack dog in the race, one who can land blows and yet do so tactfully, avoiding embarrassment. Hillary can do this better than Biden, who as we know often puts foot in mouth. In addition, it would be great to get Bill Clinton more overtly involved in working his magic to get Obama another four years -- he still remains one of the most amazing and gifted political minds and strategists that I've ever seen. And I would also mention, do not discount that woulda/shoulda mentality, "if only it were a Hillary/Obama ticket to win in 2008, would things be different...." It may be folly, but there's enough people (like myself) who originally wanted Hillary to go all the way and just the thought of her becoming #2 in charge and having more explicit influence over decisions and day-to-day operations could be enough to tip the scales in what is shaping up to be a close election.

  • Apparently the governor of California, Jerry Brown, is shocked at just how pigheaded and untrustworthy his Republican cohorts are -- where the hell has this guy been?! In the article we learn a few things about Republicans in California that hold true for the party on a national scale (proving that Republicans are a-holes no matter where they hold office). They refuse to accept facts, they believe that a 50/50 compromise is unfair and unacceptable, and they lie and don't honor their word. And yet reasonable people are expected to work with such clowns and actually attempt to get something accomplished for the sake of the people. It defines insanity, as per Einstein: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

  • Nearly 200 companies/special interests/lobbyists have registered to "influence" the 12-member congressional "Super Committee" which is expected to find many billions in spending cuts. So let me understand, after all the Tea Party-inspired BS we had to endure concerning the debt ceiling, this is what we get? Instead of the entire Congress getting "influenced" by lobbyists, now it will be fine-tuned to just 12, simply making the job easier for the lobbyists. Way to go Tea Party idiots! We're roundabout back to the original problem: $$$ in politics. Which is what the antithesis Tea Party -- OWS -- is highlighting, the root cause of the rot, not the symptoms.

  • I highly recommend reading this interview with economist Richard Koo. Many fear we're headed down the road of Japan, doomed to experience a "lost decade" of malaise and muddle-through. Koo has extensively studied the problems in Japan, becoming the go-to expert on it's "Great Recession." Along with several excellent suggestions and prescriptions, Koo concludes, "The Japanese government didn't do enough spending in the early 1990s and added another 10 years to the problem. If the U.S. avoids that mistake, maybe in a couple of years you will be out of this mess." And note, with regards to the recent impressive U.S. stock market rally, Japan has enjoyed more than a few 35+% rallies during its 20-year protracted bear market.

  • The John Podhoretz column in the NY Post is hilarious. It's as if one were to bake a cake, ice it with dog feces and then complain about the taste. John, your party has spent years carefully crafting a "master recipe" of what they like and dislike, ultimately producing this cast of nincomepoops. It's what the GOP deserves.

    More items to come....
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    I happened to watch the Republican debate tonight. It was like getting a broken nose reset.

    The verdict was clear: Romney won easily, Perry lost badly. And forget about the rest, they're inconsequential.

    RP needed to hit this one out of the park to have even a remote chance of climbing back into the race -- not going to happen. His wife can stop bitching about the way her hubby is being treated, he's toast.

    Let it be said one more time that the only reason Romney has been winning these debates is because his competition is hapless and inferior. He's winning due to relative superiority.

    Wait until he's up against Obama, one on one. It will be a stark contrast compared to this cast of kooks and yokels.
    I happened to watch the Republican debate tonight. It was like getting a broken nose reset.

    The verdict was clear: Romney won easily, Perry lost badly. And forget about the rest, they're inconsequential.

    RP needed to hit this one out of the park to have even a remote chance of climbing back into the race -- not going to happen. His wife can stop bitching about the way her hubby is being treated, he's toast.

    Let it be said one more time that the only reason Romney has been winning these debates is because his competition is hapless and inferior. He's winning due to relative superiority.

    Wait until he's up against Obama, one on one. It will be a stark contrast compared to this cast of kooks and yokels.
    I happened to watch the Republican debate tonight. It was like getting a broken nose reset.

    The verdict was clear: Romney won easily, Perry lost badly. And forget about the rest, they're inconsequential.

    RP needed to hit this one out of the park to have even a remote chance of climbing back into the race -- not going to happen. His wife can stop bitching about the way her hubby is being treated, he's toast.

    Let it be said one more time that the only reason Romney has been winning these debates is because his competition is hapless and inferior. He's winning due to relative superiority.

    Wait until he's up against Obama, one on one. It will be a stark contrast compared to this cast of kooks and yokels.

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    I must say I sort of saw (predicted?) OWS coming....

    Fortunately it has thus far remained non-violent. Let's hope it remains that way and doesn't eventually attract the "wrong" people as its sphere of influence expands.

    Wednesday, October 05, 2011

  • Buffett takes on Murdoch -- clash of the titans!

  • Surprise! Lobbyists "infiltrate" debt super committee.

  • The difference between Social Security and a Ponzi scheme.

  • Reagan increasingly looks better (more moderate) in relative terms than the GOP kooks of today (who would most likely cast him out as too liberal).

  • "Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales." Imagine if Soros did this....

  • As the planet warms, forests die, and as they die = less trees to absorb CO2 and pollutants, and with less trees to absorb CO2 and pollutants, planet warms even more -- repeat.

  • Clarence Thomas must go. If he can't figure out how to complete a form, what does that say about him ruling on some of the most complex and important issues that face this nation?

  • Remember when Mr. Tea Party, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), was going to shake up Washington, change how it's done down in DC....?? Yeah, right. More BS eaten up by naive supporters.

  • "Every day, more than 100 million cubic feet of natural gas is flared this way — enough energy to heat half a million homes for a day. The flared gas also spews at least two million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, as much as 384,000 cars or a medium-size coal-fired power plant would emit, alarming some environmentalists."

  • Bloomberg: continued high unemployment could lead to expanded rioting.

  • "Congress spent over $120 billion to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. Tell them it’s time to rebuild America."

  • How many investigations on Solyndra, four? And amounting to $500 million, it's the only failure of close to $40 billion invested in green energy, or about 1% of funds. What an outrage. Meanwhile, how many investigations were assigned to the $18 billion in cash missing in Iraq under GW's reign??
  • I saw these two headlines as consecutive emails in my inbox:

    "Sarah Palin Says She Will Not Seek the Presidency"

    "Steven P. Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple, Dies"

    Oh, how to describe the chasm between the two regarding importance....

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    This Boston Globe story speaks volumes. The average percentage of uninsured working adults in this country is 22%, the average for Massachusetts is 7% and the average for Texas is 32%. For children ages 18 and under, 10% on average are uninsured in the U.S., compared to 17% for Texas and just 3.5% for Massachusetts.

    So Texas has 10% more uninsured adults and 7% more uninsured kids than the national average. Meanwhile, Massachusetts has 15% fewer uninsured adults and 6.5% fewer uninsured kids than the national average. Yet Perry pats himself on the back for the healthcare in Texas while Romney can't run fast enough away from the good he did in this regard as MA's governor -- huh?

    This country is insane. Up is down, black is white, etc.

    From the article, "Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country - 24.6 percent - and the number of uninsured that has grown by 35 percent during Governor Rick Perry’s 11-year tenure.... And what is the price Texas pays for so many without insurance? A host of health problems, researchers have found. Overall health care quality for Texas is poorer than in every other state, especially when it comes to preventive, acute, and chronic care, as well as care for diabetes, heart, and respiratory diseases, according to the 2010 report of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.... Texas ranks third to last in the country for the percentage of adults with a regular source of medical care, according to Commonwealth Fund data on state health system performance.... [I]n a state where 16.8 percent of children are uninsured, more than all but one other state, only half of Texas children have a medical provider who knows them and coordinates their care. More than a third of them have not received recommended medical and preventive care within the year, and immunization rates are low as well. Texas also ranks last in the country in the percent of children who receive needed mental health care.... Doctors recount horror stories of uninsured patients who die of treatable diseases because families delay seeking medical help or must endure long waits for appointments with specialists."

    Some Texas miracle....

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Let me understand, Intel is smart enough to realize that with interest rates this low, it pays for them to float debt and use the proceeds to repurchase their stock. In other words, issue debt at an average of say 3% interest and buyback stock which will net 4+% in gains. A no-brainer for the corporate world.

    Then why is it in a near-zero interest rate environment (real rates are actually negative) for the nation that we're not likewise taking advantage of cheap (free?) borrowing rates to increase debt in order to stimulate the economy, increase employment and frankly invest in our country literally via infrastructure projects? Studies show we need to invest trillions of dollars in bridge repair, etc., and these projects only get more expensive with delay. Best to take them on now while borrowing is very cheap, and it would serve to meaningfully boost employment.

    It all just makes too much sense -- what's the catch? Oh right, Republicans don't want Democrats to do well next year. Party first, f*ck the country.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Proof that Republicans have been more intransigent and uncompromising towards Obama than the Democrats were towards GW.

    It's not even close -- which shouldn't surprise anyone.

    Wednesday, September 07, 2011

    Maureen Dowd's recent column received much (deserved) attention. So many have grown so frustrated with Obama -- if he's not already, he should be sweating. As much as the GOP appears to have an exceedingly weak field, he's not invincible.

    I will quibble with a line Dowd wrote: "[Obama] is now just a guy in a really bad spot."

    Not true. I bolded "now" because Obama has been in a bad spot ever since he took office. As Dowd stated in the first line of her column, no thanks to GW.

    The problem isn't as much that he's been in a bad spot, but rather that he hasn't followed through on promises and stated solutions to address these problems. Although Obama and his advisers often treat his supporters as if they have the IQ of a birch tree, the fact is if Obama simply did what he said he was going to do, even if he didn't solve the problem his supporters would be fully by his side today, emphatically praising him.

    Unfortunately, his behavior and actions have been less than what he promised us in 2008. He was going to be different, and yet he's just the same.
  • Perry makes GW look like the second coming of Einstein.
  • Yes, maybe we should've went with Hillary after all.
  • Robert Redford is beginning to doubt Obama when it comes to the environment.
  • Is Obama Bad for the Environment?
  • Obama's EPA catering to big industry.
  • Monsanto could very well be the scariest company on the planet.
  • Even CEOs are getting fed up with the partisan divide in Washington. I'm sure they're leaning on their Republican buddies to cut the crap, stop working against the Democrats on everything and start to give in and compromise. Yeah, and oh look, a pig just flew over my house....
  • Sunday, September 04, 2011

    Worse than Bush.

    I just have to wonder when it comes to many issues where Obama has raised the proverbial middle-finger to his supporters, would Hillary have been this bad? Would she too have caved so often on positions she had campaigned on/for? Or would she have shown much more spine and vigor when it came to standing firm for what she believed in and more so, what she had promised those who voted for her??

    Where does it end with Obama? Just when you think he's all but morphed into Republican-lite, he does something else that makes the "-lite" questionable.

    Does he believe he is that much of a lock in 2012, that many of us will have no choice but to hold our noses and vote for him (yes, the HNV (Hold Nose Vote) strategy)? Someone should tell him that many may just stay home, fed up and disgusted by his lack of follow-through on so many things.

    Oh, and those of you on the right who still think Obama is a pinko socialist, at this point you're simply insulting all actual pinko socialists.

    Friday, September 02, 2011

    At this point, it should be apparent to most non-Tea Baggers that the stimulus was not big enough given the scope of our economic problems. Krugman has been saying this forever. Meanwhile, we've been put into a fiscal straight-jacket thanks to ignorant Republicans (who as Kevin writes, argue that WWII got us out of a similar situation not too long ago).

    The fact is with an election year around the corner, Republicans will not go along with anything that might have a chance of working to improve the economy. Partisanship before country is their rule.

    However, it's no coincidence that riots have sprung up all over, in unrelated places like Philadelphia, London, Chile, Egypt, Libya, etc. The Tea Bag faction did hold the entire country hostage during the debt-ceiling "debate" and their shenanigans played a big part prompting the S&P downgrade. If social unrest continues to spread and escalate due to high unemployment, food price inflation, and increasing wealth disparity, to name a few reasons, one has to wonder if the GOP will stick with their staunch austerity positions.

    Whereas Tea Baggers used blackmail to get what they wanted in the form of spending cuts and no taxes, if the economy remains weak or worsens, there's a good chance more outbreaks of unrest will occur due to dire frustration and anger. Will such unfortunate and threatening acts serve as reverse-blackmail, provoking action from Republicans?

    Look, of course no one wishes to see violence erupt -- duh. But while we constantly hear about how 1% own 40% of the wealth or similar such stats, need I remind that 1% of the approximate 300 million people in this country amount to just 3 million. In other words, the super-wealthy are outnumbered 297 million to 3 million. I have a feeling this notion is not lost on many of the 3 million and could make them very nervous if conditions in this country, or elsewhere, truly get ugly.

    Again, let's pray it doesn't happen, that it doesn't come to this and things do improve, but foolish, misguided decisions frequently have consequences.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    I spent a few days away with family and friends. Needless to say, many are Republicans and worse yet, Tea Baggers.

    I'm sure many of you can sympathize (empathize?) with this situation, looking to spend some R&R time away, visiting loved ones, catching up with old acquaintances, and yet knowing all the while the political leanings of those you will meet and that there's always the chance of something being said -- whether it be by them or you -- where if not handled delicately could domino into a full-blown squabble. On the one hand, you simply want to meet/greet/converse and keep things light, not because you want to but rather because you have to. Been there, done that, and past occurrences have dictated that's the way it has to be (unfortunately).

    On the other hand, if something is said politically, you do not want to just let things go with a nod and grin, wanting instead to respond to whatever was said. Odds are it was something about Obama, or the deficit, or the woeful economy. Whatever was said, you know it was likely something paraphrased from FOX News and is either based on fiction or incorrect assumptions, or both.

    Do you dare say something that undoubtedly will be perceived as "elitist" (code word for factually correct AND liberal-leaning)? Or do you just suck-it up, not wanting to risk having a brief statement mushroom into an ugly scene?

    You never know which way things will go. Republicans and esp. Tea Baggers seemingly by nature harbor much inner-anger and are quick to jump all over you if they sense they're not discussing something with like-minded-thinking folks.

    I have a tendency to try and go half way, perhaps injecting some facts into the dialogue (without mentioning sources up front since too often if you say NY Times or the like, it's immediately dismissed as leftist dogma), but stopping well short of giving a fleshed-out basis for my thoughts on the matter. I must say though that at times even this brief attempt at introducing something other that what Rush or Hannity might say does ignite some sparks. I must then make a quick decision: do I look to change the subject, if not for anyone else than for the sake of the kids if an argument ensued, or do I gingerly but forcefully rebuff the stoked-up incitement? Do I want to be another wet noodle? Another spineless liberal ala Harry Reid? Or do I do what Republicans and Tea Baggers do best, meet their intimidation and anger head-on with a dose of my own??

    Again, for the sake of the kids, you want to avoid what could easily become an embarrassing spectacle. But also I am frequently outnumbered by this crowd and they appear to be fully aware of this and use it to full advantage, pressing their views while knowing they have numbers in bodies and can bully thanks to children being present.

    Fortunately this time around, I was able to make some brief comments unscathed, deftly side-stepping any openings or possibilities for eruptions. Whew.

    A relief, yes. But still it never ceases to amaze me the things I hear uttered by someone only to later hear something else said by the same person that contradicts or conflicts with what he or she said just a short time earlier.

    For example, someone mentioned an article in the latest National Geographic magazine that informs of the women in Brazil having fewer babies thanks to their educating themselves about birth control alternatives. This person felt the article was very interesting and understood that in part Brazil's success over the last several years is due to their population becoming more developed and progressive in their thinking. However, this person is very much against abortion, actually he's against all forms of birth control, and also has a personal situation involving a teen pregnancy -- will leave at that, but I don't believe it was lost on him that education and birth control could have prevented that teen pregnancy.

    Conflicting logic and dare I say hypocrisy is the norm when one is with Republicans and Tea Baggers. Yet as I mentioned, it's always amazing to observe their lack of realizing or acknowledging these many conflicts, that they live their day-to-day lives with so much incongruence, denial and (willful?) blindness.

    Some other examples of topics that surfaced which I either elected to briefly offer comments and keep fingers crossed heated debate didn't follow, or I just let it go without comment (have to conserve energy, can't risk entanglement at every turn):
    * Weather. Irene was obviously a subject of discussion, but so also was the torrential rains this summer coupled with parts of the country experiencing consecutive days of excruciating heat (e.g. Austin had 70 straight days of 100+ degree heat). You'd think maybe climate change would receive a mention as a possible factor in all of this -- nope. Instead, the usual babble about how weather is cyclical, this admittedly strange weather is no different than times in the past, it's just Mother Nature "getting angry", etc. Please. I did state that in fact the trends are not cyclical, that the charts all show the direction of heat and CO2 heading in one direction: up. Cyclical infers an up/down pattern -- over time, it's just not there. I also asked my favorite question, "where do you think the CO2 and pollutants go, into outer space?" and as per usual, never received a response.

    * Riots in Philadelphia. I heard accolades given to the mayor of Philly, saying finally that city gets a good mayor, tough on "hoodlums" and enforcing curfews. I didn't think establishing something close to martial law in a U.S. city was a good thing, and was certainly a worrisome development to say the least, not so much warranting congrats to one individual but rather demanding analysis. Why is this happening? What are the root causes and how can those be addressed? I had to remind it's not likely just a coincidence that similar riots had been occurring elsewhere in the world (London, Chile, Egypt, Libya, etc.). The non-rich and non-elite are growing increasingly weary and frustrated with the state of things, whether it be high unemployment, rising food prices, ballooning wealth disparity, entrenched corruption, to name a few. People are getting pissed. Extending unemployment insurance is not just the right thing to do, it may also help to prevent further civil unrest -- but the GOP and Tea Baggers are too short-sighted to recognize such an act as a wise "investment."

    * Stock portfolios. There was much chatter about the stock market. Will it go up from here or continue to go down? Do I have too much in stocks? Should I buy gold? Any advice?? No mention about how the stock market began its descent right after the Tea Party debt ceiling victory, effectively initiating a massive austerity program which leaves the economy sputtering on its own, with the government in a fiscal straight-jacket, not able to help. The stock market decline simply reflected the fragile state of the economy but more so it being sent out alone on the high-wire with no balance pole, no net, no nothing. S&P literally stated their downgrade was due largely to the Tea Party hostage-taking maneuver, and according to Sen. Mitch McConnell it will be used repeatedly in future. Heck, even Bernanke strongly hinted that the economy could use more help than just what the Fed could offer in monetary cures. But all of this was lost on this Tea Party crowd, who simply wanted to blame Obama, period.

    * Libya/Gaddafi. Much grousing about why are we there at all. Oh boy. So it's OK for GW/Cheney to invade another oil-rich country that had nothing to do with 9/11, spending over $1 trillion to do so, using "shock and awe" methods to both scare and impress the world, and heavily reward a company called Halliburton -- and yet it's not OK for Obama to spend very little regarding Libya, doing so quietly, and obviously getting good results...? Gads, I just let this one go....
    You get the point. It went on and on over several days. Some retired folks who were proud government workers for many years (decades), and yet recited more than a few anti-government GOP talking points. Mind you these same people had stated they loved their Medicare (when I asked) and even enrolled their name/address/phone# on a government website to receive robo-calls about Irene. I even heard one person seemingly slip up and tell me that in his town children attending a Catholic school receive busing to that school on the town's dime, via the public school bus system. I asked how could this be, why should the local public there pay for transportation to a non-public school -- never received a coherent answer.

    As much as I love vacations and seeing family and friends, this aspect of the visit never changes and serves to spoil what should be an enjoyable time. I have no problem with differences of opinions, as long as the arguments involved are based on facts, reason, logic and non-conflicting beliefs. As you can see, rarely do I encounter any of this. A shame.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Michael Tomasky recently wrote a piece that exposes not only the true culprit behind our deficit (nothing surprising on this front), but also exposes the Tea Baggers as crazed hypocrites.
    The Boston Globe ran a chart (see below) last Sunday that I’d buy billboard space to reproduce in every decent-size city in America, if I were running the Democratic National Committee. The premise of it was very simple: It showed how many trillions each president since Ronald Reagan has added to the nation’s debt. The debt was about $1 trillion when Reagan took office, and then: Reagan, $1.9 trillion; George H.W. Bush, $1.5 trillion (in just four years); Bill Clinton, $1.4 trillion; Obama, $2.4 trillion.

    Oh, wait. I skipped someone. George W. Bush ran up $6.4 trillion. That’s nearly half—44.7 percent—of the $14.3 trillion total. We all know what did it—two massive tax cuts geared toward the rich (along with other similar measures, like slashing the capital gains and inheritance taxes), the off-the-books wars, the unfunded Medicare expansion, and so on. But the number is staggering and worth dwelling on. In a history covering 30 years, nearly half the debt was run up in eight. Even the allegedly socialist Obama at his most allegedly wanton doesn’t compare to Dubya; and Obama’s debt numbers, if he’s reelected, will surely not double or even come close as we gambol down Austerity Lane.

    In percentage terms, the case is even more open and shut. This table (below) tells the sad tale. The percentages in question here are debt as a chunk of the GDP. It was more than 100 percent after World War II ended, for defensible and obvious reasons having to do with financing the war effort (the government buying all those tanks and planes from GM, and everything else). But after it went back down, it had tended to hover in the 40 to 50 percent range during good times. Well, Reagan raised it 20 points, to 53 percent from 33 percent. Bush Sr. a gaudy 13 points more. Clinton lowered it by 10 points, back down to 56 percent. Bush Jr.? Up 28 points, to 82 percent of GDP. Obama has raised it nine points. Once again: In a 30-year increase from 32 percent to 93 percent of 61 points, nearly half, 28 points or 46 percent, happened under Bush.

    When I haven’t had to leave the room to avoid smashing the television, I can only laugh when I hear Tea Party conservatives avow today, with all the credibility of Larry Craig explaining his wide-stance technique, that they have no love for Bush. Nonsense. What did they have for him in real time? Were there protest marches, mass donnings of tricorn hats, nullification threats from states regarding federal legislation? Of course not. In real time, there was a little polite caviling, but in the end they voted for all this debt. After all, Bush was defending freedom.

    It is truly an incredible record when you stack it up. First, the party fought tooth and nail against every single move Clinton made that ended up putting us in surplus. Then it got power—and let’s not get into how that happened—and ran up completely unprecedented debts and deficits. Then it put the foxes in command of the henhouses at the SEC and OTC and brought the world to the very brink of total economic collapse. (The economic “growth” rate in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to recently revised Commerce Department figures, was negative 8.9 percent; even during the Depression rates were typically higher.) Then a guy from the other party got back in, tried to do what the vast majority of economists would say should be done in such a situation (the government should spend money while the private sector couldn’t), and they fought him tooth and nail. And now they’ve forced him into a deal (which he should not have agreed to) that will help ensure that the economy remains stuck in neutral until, oh, November 2012, to pick a date out of the air. Next, that guy will identify tax cuts to spur job growth, and they will invent reasons to oppose these measures, just as they once invented reasons why “deficits don’t matter."
    Well, there you have it, succinctly put. The exploding deficit was not a problem as long as one of their own was in the White House. But with a Democrat winning fair and square to take up residence there, all hell breaks loose, they throw a sh*t fit. And it doesn't help that this Dem is 50% not white, further driving them over the edge.

    The key charts are below. In the first graphic, note that almost 50% of Obama's contribution ($2.4 trillion) is comprised of stimulus measures that 1) had to be implemented due to the Great Recession that Obama inherited and 2) which worked.

    Click to magnify
    In his NY Times op-ed, Warren Buffett sums up today's America:
    Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent....The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes.
    This country has been reduced to one word: greed. How else to explain the utter silence on this matter? Despite the fact Buffett generously writes, "I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people....Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes," why is he the only super-wealthy person to regularly speak out about the unfairness in the tax code? Where are all the other "decent" folk of which he speaks, who seemingly hide in the shadows and avoid making such an impassioned plea to raise taxes on their brethren?

    Reminder: there were many super-wealthy people on the Titanic.... Rich, poor, there's no difference at the bottom of the ocean.

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Newsweek's front cover of Michelle Bachmann has received much coverage, with the photo apparently depicting her not as herself but rather as a crazy woman.

    Of course, there's no chance that she actually looks that way in real-life. I mean after all, it's never been said before or written anywhere that she has a crazy-eyes look. No, it has to be that liberal rag Newsweek simply out to get her, to make her look silly.

    Oh boy. Anyone with half a brain would know that odds are extremely low that her people did not see the cover photo before it went to press. I'm sure it was OK'd by the Bachmann folks, and I'm sure they felt that's just how she looks when photographed.

    But what is frightening is it's my sense that those who first stirred up the controversy and made it into a national crime are Bachmann's supporters, not Bachmann herself or her people. Her die-hard fan base cried foul, clamoring for justice, believing it was another evil, liberal plot.

    It's one thing to be an enthusiastic supporter for a given candidate, but many a Tea Bagger goes beyond to what can only be regarded as cult-figure followers. Anything that is perceived to be a slight against their leader(s) is immediately called out and admonished in the most forceful manner -- never mind if there's any truth to their presumption.

    Recall when Sarah Palin made incorrect statements about Paul Revere. It was reported then that her followers quickly bombarded Paul Revere's Wiki page, attempting to change the correct facts there to match Palin's wrongness. To me this was horrific. People were more than willing to modify the truth in an effort to "please" or "honor" their glorified leader. It was something right out of Orwell's 1984 -- bone-chilling.

    In my opinion this behavior is unsettling to put it mildly and could conceivably devolve into something more dangerous. History shows that followers of cults can get so caught up in their beliefs and so removed from reality that unfortunate actions can result.

    It's something to be aware of and keep a watchful eye on.... Nothing good can come from zombie-like hero/heroine worship.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    "Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?" -- Steve Benen

    A timeline well-worth memorizing.

    It's really incredible to take in what's happened in the last 30 some odd years. From Reagan + $2 trillion in debt, to Clinton amassing a surplus, to GW/Cheney with "Deficits don't matter" and +$5 trillion in debt, to Obama inheriting all the debt and Great Recession and getting shat on for not fixing everything in two years, to most recent S&P "Tea Party" downgrade.

    Is this the road to ruin we always hear about, in real-life?

    And Einstein's quote keeps coming to mind, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

    Unfortunately, we have devolved into an insane asylum with the inmates running the place. And I give you a senior wacko in charge, along with the Puppet Master.

    Monday, August 08, 2011

    Anyone or anything most responsible for the S&P downgrade? According to S&P, blame the Tea Party and Republicans. Also click here.

    Friday, August 05, 2011

    What I would like to know is how many of the 82% voted for Tea Party schmucks last year? And they're going to complain now??

    Tuesday, August 02, 2011

    Krugman makes a good point (one of many). Obama's tactics may work when you're dealing with a conventional foe, but when the opposition is far beyond the norm, well into crazy and nonsensical terrain, then one likewise must operate in an unconventional manner. It's similar to fighting cleanly when your foe is pulling out all the cheap shots to pummel you bloody. I believe anyone would expect in that situation for the person fighting cleanly to toss off his/her gloves and get down and dirty.

    Yet Obama continues to live in this delusional world as if today's Republican Party is the GOP of yesteryear. As crazy as Republicans were under GW/Cheney, they're (incredibly) much worse now. And as Kevin Drum wrote today, we're basically being held hostage by about 10% of elected politicians -- how is this possible? As Krugman states, polls show even the average Republican voter is to the left of these Tea Bagger folks in Congress.

    How is this happening? One big reason is because one side is functioning on steroids, ripping apart flesh and just going hog-wild nuts to get what they want, while the other side is populated by meek, overly-cautious Democrats who refuse to see the ugly reality of the situation and/or just can't muster an equal-in-force response.

    We've always known the Dems to be wet noodles and spineless, but if they remain this way given the piranha-like opposition, there will be nothing left of them but their bones and their dignity.

    But then again maybe my prior post will be right, maybe the American public will come to the rescue of the hapless Dems and finally put a stop to this. As Keith Olbermann ranted last night, like the cavalry, it will be up to us since our elected reps are just not up to the fight.
    Today will come and go and fortunately it won't be the end of the world as we know it. The Tea Party put a gun to the country's head and the saner in Washington had no choice but to cave, to give in to their demands.

    Many will say that Obama should've fought harder from the start, or better yet he should've taken control of the dialogue to prevent the proverbial train from leaving the station. To allow Republicans to win another fight via intransigence just continues to feed the beast and encourage their unyielding ways.

    However, I venture to say that with this debt ceiling fiasco, the infantile sect of the clueless have finally pushed too far, with most Americans (including even some lucid, less-crazed Tea Baggers) fully realizing that such acts of brute force without reasonable compromise is no way to run a this country. Maybe a third-world, developing country can have a small faction apply extreme pressure to effectively attain their demands, but not a mature, fully-developed democracy like the United States. Bringing our nation to the brink of an economic meltdown was far more of a treasonous act than the so-called anti-American acts of daring to criticize GW/Cheney post-9/11.

    That said I almost encourage the radical right-wing nutbags in the GOP to ratchet things up even further the next time they're itching for a fight. I have to think the next time will be their last. This most recent charade will not be forgotten easily, and they should count their blessings given what they got out of the deal. If they were smart, they'd take their winnings and lay low for a long while. But I have a feeling we'll be hearing from them again soon -- like a junkie hooked on crystal meth or a successful bank robber who doesn't know when to retire.

    I have little to no faith that Obama will stand up to these hoods next time as I haven't the empirical evidence to support such a notion. Yet I do believe it will be most Americans next time that will prove to be the difference, as they'll quickly recall this nightmare as fast as one recalls the name of a restaurant responsible for wrenching food poisoning. The memory will be all too real and next time things will go very differently.

    If not, if I'm wrong, God help America.

    Saturday, July 30, 2011

  • Tea Bagger Joe Walsh has said many times that he doesn't want to burden his kids with this country's debt. Little did we know that he is a deadbeat dad. Apparently he doesn't want to burden his kids with income either. Another family values blowhard where you just knew the hypocrisy was there, it was just a matter of time....

  • McCain went on Hannity's show to try and walk back criticism he leveled at the "hobbit" Tea Party folks and we got to hear Sean lead off with, "The Tea Party didn't cause the debt crisis we have. The Democrats and Obama did. They didn't spend all this money to bring us on the brink of default losing our credit rating, the Democrats, the president brought us to this point." Really? There's been several versions of a chart like this one floating around for many months now, showing with facts & numbers that most of the debt is due to GW/Cheney, not Obama. What's worse is McCain, a U.S. senator, agreed with Hannity.

  • Michele Bachmann is apparently anti anti-bullying. This on the heels of a number of teen suicides in her district, many suspected to be due to bullying. Could it be her opposition stems from homosexuality being mentioned as a reason for the bullying? After all, boys will be boys....

  • “In 1985, the top five percent of the households – the wealthiest five percent – had net worth of $8 trillion – which is a lot. Today, after serial bubble after serial bubble, the top five per cent have net worth of $40 trillion. The top five per cent have gained more wealth than the whole human race had created prior to 1980.” -- David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director

  • 102 Things NOT To Do If You Hate Taxes

  • Leave it up to Graucho Marx to concisely sum up today's Republican Party stance when it comes to anything Obama and the Democrats propose or support.
  • Will this be the overdue crackup of the Republican intransigence? With Boehner losing control of his factions and hearing word that tempers have flared intra-GOP, will things come to a boil prompting change? Can we expect many of the less-insane Republicans to have finally learned that enough is enough and look to reign in the very vocal, and clueless, minority that makes up the Tea Party wing of their party? Or will they kick the can down the road in establishing a sense of adulthood within, putting off what needs to be done until the next occasion comes along for the Tea Baggers to embarrass themselves?

    The country can't take much more of this asinine behavior.

    Friday, July 29, 2011

  • Absolute scoundrels: "With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House of Representatives are loading up an appropriations bill with 39 ways — and counting — to significantly curtail environmental regulation." These a-holes would rob your wallet if the lights were to go out in a store. Diversion is their friend. And they actually believe the EPA is to blame for the dismal economy....

  • McCain once tirelessly courted those "hobbits." Sleep with dogs and you get fleas.

  • Regarding his comments about the Norway tragedy, Glenn Beck asked aloud, "I mean who sends their kids to a political camp?” Yeah, I wonder who would do that....

  • Another Sarah Palin quote straight from Bizzaro World, "Scaring the American people is exactly what President Obama is doing in that bizarre speech he gave last night.... He’s getting pretty good at this fear mongering." She would know, and GW/Cheney only did this for seven years. Incredible.

  • GW/Cheney would have alerted all media outlets to this story, and it would have been huge 24/7 news. But instead it came and went with hardly a mention.
  • Monday, July 25, 2011

    Someone forgot to tell the stock market that "Obamacare" was going to put an end to our health care system as we knew it, turning it into a socialist's dream.

    The chart (click on it to make larger) shows price returns since last October for the S&P 500, the health care sector (XLV ETF), and six major U.S. health care provider companies. Note that the stock market in general (S&P 500) is up 15% and the health care sector has appreciated by about 17% in that time, and then you have the stocks of the health care providers.

    These are the companies that collectively fought hard to defeat Obama's reform efforts, spending many, many millions to distort the truth and spread a campaign of disinformation and propaganda. Since October, the stock prices of these six companies have far exceeded the return of both the stock market and the health care sector in general. Wellpoint's stock turned in the worst performance at +37% -- which is still a whopping 20% above the HC sector and 22% ahead of the S&P 500 index! The other five stocks all surpassed the +40% level, with Coventry topping out at near +80%, a percentage more than 5 times greater than the S&P 500's return.

    I know a thing or two about the stock market and one thing investors are very good at doing is discounting the future prospects of companies and industries. Market players look a few years down the road when assessing companies and price the stock accordingly today. If the fortunes and fate of companies like Aetna, Humana and Cigna were truly in trouble, were certain to be significantly compromised given the massive "pinko" changes to come from "Obamacare," then you could bank on the fact that the respective stock returns of these companies would've severely trailed the stock market since last October. But instead we have quite a different picture, to say the least.

    What does this mean? It means Wall Street investors -- hardly a naive and/or dumb crowd -- have known for quite some time that all the crap hoisted against health care reform has been a bunch of hooey and lies. It also means that Obama's health care reform measures are hardly comprehensive or possessing much "teeth" -- again, not a surprise, something we've unfortunately known all along to be the case. Yet the blabbering hysterics from the opposition would have you think Obama succeeded in pushing through extraordinary, far-reaching provisions. Nonsense.

    You may not like Wall Street, the stock market, the world of high finance, etc., but make no mistake, when it comes to seeing through all the BS and representing reality and facts, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better vehicle representing this than stock price behavior.

    The bottom line is investors have been voting with their hard-earned $$$ that these companies are going to do just fine over the next several years.

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

  • Yes, Keith Olbermann is better than ever, his new show on Current actually superior to what he did at MSNBC.

  • $1 trillion (trillion with a "T") for a fighter plane we likely don't need? But what about the deficit? Tea Baggers where are you -- not a peep? But a $1.6 billion cut to the EPA's meager $10 billion budget, now that's a top priority and will do wonders to resolving the deficit problem....

  • What a shocker, all the trumped-up, baseless hysteria concerning supposed rampant violence near the U.S.-Mexico border is just that -- trumped-up, baseless hysteria. The USA Today conducted a study and concluded that "rates of violent crime along the U.S.-Mexico border have been falling for years — even before the U.S. security buildup that has included thousands of law enforcement officers and expansion of a massive fence along the border. U.S. border cities were statistically safer on average than other cities in their states. Those border cities, big and small, have maintained lower crime rates than the national average." And you thought you'd get the truth from Republicans on this subject? Why should it be different from any other subject? Lies, distortions and fabrications, that's how they roll, keeping their base misinformed, very afraid and ultimately in their control, compliant zombies.

  • “New rule: Republicans have to stop thinking up intricate psychological explanations for why liberals don’t like Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann. Let me save you all some time — are you ready? — (it’s) because they’re crazy people. People who are not that bright and full of awful ideas — pretty much the same exact reasons we didn’t care for George Bush and made jokes about him. So trust me: it’s not because they have breasts — it’s because they are boobs.” -- Bill Maher, on HBO's 'Real Time'

  • More Reagan truths, this time from Dana Milbank, "100 years after Reagan’s birth, it’s clear that the Tea Party Republicans have little regard for the policies of the president they claim to venerate. Tea Party Republicans call a vote to raise the debt ceiling a threat to their very existence; Reagan presided over 18 increases in the debt ceiling during his presidency. Tea Party Republicans say they would sooner default on the national debt than raise taxes; Reagan agreed to raise taxes 11 times. Tea Party Republicans, in 'cut, cap and balance' legislation on the House floor Tuesday, voted to cut government spending permanently to 18 percent of gross domestic product; under Reagan, spending was as high as 23.5 percent and never below 21.3 percent of GDP." The reality is the modern-day GOP would despise someone like Reagan; they've succeeded in fictionalizing his eight years in office, which is what they do: manufacturing a reality they can approve of.

  • Obama's grassroots effort is past history. This time around he's going big-time conventional. Good luck with that, but his biggest benefactor remains the cast of hapless losers opposing him.

  • Yeah, Rick Santorum is right, Obama blows because his stimulus only created 240 million jobs, not the 280 million he promised (to think this dope wants to be president, frightening).
  • The following graphic is extremely enlightening:

    Summarized by one of the study's authors:
    As you can see from the figure, participants rather badly estimated the current state of wealth disparity! Furthermore, they offered an ideal wealth distribution (under a “veil of ignorance”) that was even more different (and more equal) relative to the current state of affairs.

    What this tells me is that Americans don’t understand the extent of disparity in the US, and that they (we) desire a more equitable society. It is also interesting to note that the differences between people who make more money and less money, republicans and democrats, men and women — were relatively small in magnitude, and that in general people who fall into these different categories seem to agree about the ideal wealth distribution under the veil of ignorance.
    In reality, the top 20% own about 85% of the wealth. Most people guessed it was between 55%-60% -- way off. And they thought the ideal number should be about 35%, a figure much lower than their 55%-60% guess, and far, far lower than the factual number of 85%.

    I suppose most of the ultra-wealthy in this country are heartened to learn of these results, that the average American believes income distribution is more equally distributed than it actually is. It's difficult to fuel class warfare when most of classes don't have a clue as to what's reality versus fiction. Ignorance is bliss, and who better to keep "catapulting the propaganda" than the likes of the GOP, Fox News, corporate special interests, etc.

    Until most Americans get their heads out of their arses, this disequilibrium will continue to widen.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Classic stuff from Bill Maher. "Yee Haw! Jesus take the wheel!" Must see.

    Saturday, July 09, 2011

    The following is a segment of an interview with NPR's Terry Gross and Lester Brown. Brown recently wrote an article entitled, "The New Geopolitics of Food" appearing in Foreign Policy Magazine, and he founded both the World Watch Institute and the Earth Policy Institute.

    Given the fact that Brown has been fighting the good fight since the early '70s, Gross asks him the following question:
    GROSS: So you haven't given up. Not much has changed for the better, you say. But you haven't given up. Do you consider yourself a man who is constantly frustrated by what you see?

    Mr. BROWN: You know, I probably should be. But sometimes you're asked if you're an optimist or a pessimist, and someone answered that question recently and said it's too late to be a pessimist. And I think that sums it up well. But one of the things I do is go back and look at the economic history of World War II, and realize that we totally restructured the U.S. industrial economy almost overnight.

    The attack on Pearl Harbor came on December 7th, 1941. It was extraordinarily successful in military terms, sinking, you know, sinking a large part of the U.S. Pacific fleet that happened to be at anchor there.

    But then a month later, January 6th, 1942, President Roosevelt gave his State of the Union address in which he laid out arms production goals. He said we're going to produce 45,000 tanks, 60,000 planes, thousands of ships. And people just couldn't relate to that because we were still in a Depression mode economy at the time.

    But what Roosevelt and his colleagues knew was that the largest concentration of industrial power in the world at the time was in the U.S. automobile industry. So after his State of the Union address, he called in the leaders of the industry and said because you guys represent such a large share of our industrial capacity, we are going to rely heavily on you to help us reach these arms production goals.

    And they said well Mr. President, we're going to do whatever we can. But it's going to be a stretch producing cars and all these arms too. He said you don't understand. We're going to ban the sale of automobiles in the United States. And that's exactly what we did. And we'd been producing three million a year even during the Depression.

    We banned the sale of automobiles. So from early 1942 until the end of 1944, there were essentially no cars produced in the United States and we exceeded every one of those arms production goals. In the end, we didn't produce 60,000 planes, we produced 229,000 planes.

    I mean, even today, it's difficult to visualize how we could do that. But the encouraging thing is that we did that and it didn't take decades to restructure the U.S. industrial economy, it didn't take years. We did it in a matter of months. And if we did that then, then certainly we can restructure the energy economy much more rapidly than most people think and thus, be able to stabilize climate before it spirals out of control.
    Real change is possible, and yet so many behave as if it's a lost cause, that we're doomed. They don't say this aloud, nor do they probably admit to it privately. Rather it's more likely an indirect admission that occurs subconsciously, with a good dose of cynicism and more so a whopping helping of selfishness. It's much easier to silently cave to the belief that we as a country, much less we as a planet, simply do not want to sacrifice those comforts and routines comprising our day-to-day lives. Needless to say, I suspect a much larger percentage of these folks are conservative and/or Republicans (see the John Kenneth Galbraith quote at the masthead of my blog).

    But it's refreshing to read Brown's words of hope. Not platitudes or empty sentiments, but a documented example of a prior time not long ago when we were faced with an emergency and rose to the occasion.

    The one problem is a tragic event like Pearl Harbor was a clarion wake-up-call, one with sudden and forceful impact. It literally changed the course of events at the time and ultimately history. Climate change is much slower moving and in effect more of a silent killer, like carbon monoxide poisoning. Before you know it, it's too late.

    Sadly we're not treating the effects of climate change as we would if they collectively equated to a singular attack on our soil, ala Pearl Harbor or 9/11, two events that we know catalyzed significant actions for change.

    By the time we realize as a nation that we need to take drastic steps, it may be too late, irregardless if we stop everything and come together to solve the problem.

    Wednesday, July 06, 2011

    And once again Kevin Drum sums it up quite succinctly:
    Republicans got the tax cuts they wanted. They got the financial deregulation they wanted. They got the wars they wanted. They got the unfunded spending increases they wanted. And the results were completely, unrelentingly disastrous. A decade of sluggish growth and near-zero wage increases. A massive housing bubble. Trillions of dollars in war spending and thousands of American lives lost. A financial collapse. A soaring long-term deficit. Sky-high unemployment. All on their watch and all due to policies they eagerly supported. And worse: ever since the predictable results of their recklessness came crashing down, they've rabidly and nearly unanimously opposed every single attempt to dig ourselves out of the hole they created for us.

    But despite the fact that this is all recent history, it's treated like some kind of dreamscape. No one talks about it. Republicans pretend it never happened. Fox News insists that what we need is an even bigger dose of the medicine we got in the aughts, and this is, inexplicably, treated seriously by the rest of the press corps instead of being laughed at. As a result, guys like Marco Rubio have a free hand to insist that Obama — Obama! The guy who rescued the banking system, bailed out GM, and whose worst crime against the rich is a desire to increase their income tax rate 4.6 percentage points! — is a "left-wing strong man" engaged in brutal class warfare against the wealthy. And Rubio does it without blinking. Hell, he probably even believes it.

    We are well and truly down the rabbit hole.

    Sunday, July 03, 2011

    House and Senate Republicans have become so extreme in their ideology, so far beyond the comprehension of anyone who thinks rationally, that we've recently observed many surprising voices speaking out:
    "In short, this is quite possibly the stupidest constitutional amendment I think I have ever seen. It looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin. Every senator cosponsoring this POS should be ashamed of themselves." -- Former Reagan official Bruce Bartlett, commenting on the Republican's balance budget amendment.

    "It's very dismaying to see that 30-year descent into the kind of nihilism, know-nothingism that is represented by the Republican Party today." -- Former Reagan official David Stockman

    "Of the 400 richest people in America, they pay a 16-percent average income tax rate. Grover Norquist, in another couple of years, is going to be irrelevant. You can’t save America without some kind of revenue. You can’t fight two wars and not have something to support it. You can’t run a country that way.... I remind him that Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times.” -- Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson

    “I think that the Republicans ought to identify a very significant amount of so-called tax expenditures which in fact are misclassified. They are expenditures. They are outlays, and many of them are subsidies. And subsidies are not the type of thing that you want for an efficient market system. There are a lot of them. My view is that I was in favor of the Bush tax cuts on the grounds that it was the dissipation of a surplus. As soon as it became obvious that the surplus disappeared, I no longer supported that." -- Alan Greenspan
    Finally, and to me most shocking to the point where I still think he's joking:
    "I am in favor of greatly raising the taxes on very wealthy people, millionaires and billionaires. I wouldn't raise the taxes on people making $250,000 a year. Look, it's a basic arithmetic thing; it's not an ideological thing. We are spending an enormous amount of money that we're not covering with tax revenue; we're borrowing it. At some point we're going to have so much debt that there's going to be a crisis and there will have to be austerity measures here just as they were in Greece. A simpler way would be tax people who have a great deal of money, tax them more, let them help pay down the debt." -- Ben Stein
    This chart, from Tim Noah at Slate via Ezra Klein, speaks volumes:

    Under Democratic presidents, nearly all income levels have done equally well. However under Republican presidents, the skew of top income earners doing better than the lower earners is striking. Under GOP presidents, the 95th percentile saw their incomes grow by almost 5 times the growth rate of the 20th percentile -- that's enormous.

    Oh, and don't forget to notice that the growth rates for all income buckets are higher under Democrats than Republicans.

    One has to wonder just how worse off we'd be if Republican McCain had been running the show for the last 2+ years.

    Monday, June 27, 2011

  • "Mountaintop coal mining raises birth defect risks" -- how shocking.

  • Tea baggers and the Taliban have many things in common.

  • Soon in the not-so-distant future we will have lifeless oceans. Based not on fear-mongering but rather facts (unfortunately).

  • Man robs a bank so that he can obtain health care in prison. Why doesn't he just go to an emergency room each time he needs health care, as GW advised....?

  • Several good suggestions from Bill Clinton re job creation.

  • Take a good look at this chart. Notice the three big dips prior to the current one? See what they have in common...? Wars. I wonder if the Iraq & Afghanistan wars have added much to our deficit (click here).

  • The headline in Sunday's Boston Globe, "‘RomneyCare’ — a revolution that basically worked." I think it speaks volumes about today's GOP when they have a presidential candidate who by all accounts has one clear success to his credit as governor, and yet he is forced to run away from it as if it was a failure. Complete and utter Orwellian insanity.
  • The epitome of penny wise and pound foolish:
    When congressional Republicans cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget 16 percent as part of a deal with President Obama in April to keep the government running, they hailed it as a blow to a federal bureaucracy that had overreached in its size and ambition.

    But now that the agency has detailed how it is making the $1.6 billion cut for fiscal 2011, the reality is somewhat different. Because the EPA passes the vast majority of its money through to the states, it has meant that these governments — not Washington — are taking the biggest hits. Already constrained financially at home, state officials have millions of dollars less to enforce the nation’s air- and water-quality laws, fund critical capital improvements and help communities comply with new, more stringent pollution controls imposed by the federal government.
    The EPA was a central target for Republicans during the spring budget battle, as they tried to curtail its authority to curb greenhouse gases, mercury and other pollutants. Although lawmakers failed to secure those provisions, they limited the agency’s activities through budget cuts.
    Can someone tell me how Tea Partiers and the like do not see how such moves by Republicans in office are detrimental to their well-being? Our deficit amounts to trillions of dollars and yet Republicans cravenly decide what needs to be done to save some money is cut a measly $1.6 billion from the EPA's already miniscule budget (about $10 billion total). It's obvious the move is a gift to corporate polluters, however Republicans dress it up as curtailing run-away government regulation and the idiotic Tea Party folks just lap it up, gladly accepting the insult to their intelligence. No protest or angry criticism from them, not a peep.

    Why pound foolish? Many studies show the added health care costs stemming from soot, toxins & other pollutants released into our air and water amount to well over $50 billion per year, not to mention the thousands of premature resulting deaths. In effect, the EPA's meager budget is an absolute bargain both in costs and lives saved.

    But again, Republican constituents are seemingly too stupid to realize this simple fact, choosing instead to allow their emotions to rule over rational thinking -- and no one is better at playing on fear and anger than the GOP. Until people wise up to what's truly behind Republican motives, this country will continue to suffer.

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    But I thought Tim Pawlenty was going to be this voice of courage, willing to make hard choices and candidly speak his mind? With his now infamous ObamneyCare-dodge, guess not. Just another spineless wimp.

    I love this take from Michael Tomasky, on Pawlenty's laughable economic plan:
    One hardly knows where to start with it. Probably with the assumption that we can reach 5 percent growth for 10 straight years—when from 1947 to 2010, the average has been 3.3 percent. This is a contemptible piece of nonsense, but at least it’s not really harmful. What would be harmful are Pawlenty’s tax proposals, which soak the poor and reduce the burden on the rich more nakedly than any Republican plan I have ever seen. He would eliminate—completely!—the capital gains tax and the estate tax. Of course he’d massively lower income-tax rates. Oh, and he’d get rid of loopholes. (Yeah, sure.) Of course the little schlubs would keep paying those payroll taxes, but I suppose he hopes they can be distracted with some Jesus talk.
    [T]he bilious idiocy of Pawlenty’s numbers shows just how far removed from economic reality this country is getting to be. The Republicans have lost any connection to earth, and the Democrats are afraid (with a few noble exceptions) to tell the American public the truth. In such a context, erstwhile conservative Republican Ben Bernanke emerges as a courageous truth-teller for saying something as simply and obviously true as that enacting sharp spending cuts now will hurt the economy. Time was when Republicans listened to the Fed chairman. But these days I guess he’s a socialist, too.
    And at least some Minnesota residents (and TIME readers) believe Pawlenty was anything but a terrific governor:
    Your article on ex-governor Tim Pawlenty left me flabbergasted and angry ["Mr. Nice Guy," May 30]. As a Minnesota resident, I can assure you his appeal is not in "the middle" here. The poor, the old, veterans and schoolchildren all suffered under his stewardship, and the "fees" imposed to generate revenue (Pawlenty didn't call them taxes) didn't help. Pawlenty is an aw-shucks, smooth-talking panderer whose regular-guy image masks craven opportunism.

    Kimberlee Remus, WOODBURY, MINN.

    When Pawlenty took office, Minnesota was prosperous and comfortable. It is now broke and angry. It's not true that he "cut taxes and reined in spending." He just created a massive tax shift from income taxes to property taxes, while spending down every savings account and rainy-day fund the state had. Pawlenty couldn't get elected dogcatcher here. Please don't wish him on our country.

    Peter Hill, MINNETONKA, MINN.
    According to Republicans, our deficit is #1 priority and yet Pawlenty was pretty abysmal on this front while governor. Not surprising.
  • Confirmed: $6 billion in hard-earned taxpayer money stolen in Iraq, under GW's watch. Imagine the GOP outrage if occurred under Obama. But then as we know with Weiner's resignation (versus Vitter, Ensign, Craig, Sanford, etc.), it's OK as long as one is a Republican.

  • By putting Rick Scott into the governor's mansion in FLA, it just confirms the wackiness of FLA voters. See here, here and here. And to think these voters may be key (again) in deciding our next President in 2012 -- ugh.

  • Shouldn't Clarence Thomas just resign or step down? I know he won't but it's beyond embarrassing at this point -- and that's saying something given his past....

  • Republicans continue to trot out lies, not facts, re the environment. Another example: the EPA's proposed rules to clean the air will cost oodles of jobs. Fact: not true. In fact, the rules will actually create jobs while saving many billions in $$$ per year in health costs. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “We
    may be of different opinions at different times but let it be said we both
    remain on the side of the truth.” Too bad today his respectful sentiment no longer applies since one side is clearly not for truth.

  • OMG! A banker sentenced to prison! It's a start.

  • I recently read T.R. Reid's "The Healing of America" and I highly recommend it if you wish to learn more about how our health care system compares versus other developed nations. Reid obliterates much of the fiction and scare-tactics used by the "death panel" folks. Truly eye-opening revelations. It's astonishing when you realize what other nations have compared to our dysfunctional, nonsensical and wasteful way of doing things. France, Canada, England, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and Taiwan all have better health care systems than our own, cheaper with better outcomes, and all of these nations are very market-oriented. Yet a big reason why they succeed where we fail is they realized a successful healthcare system cannot be market-driven. In fact, Switzerland was fairly recently on our course with regards to a failing system, however they made the necessary reforms away from a for-profit system and lo/behold things have dramatically turned around for the better. When will we learn?
  • Tuesday, June 07, 2011

    Erasing facts and replacing them with lies. Hello Orwell's 1984. These folks are beyond scary. We're talking cult, not fans. And they celebrate ignorance in the name of patriotism. The Founding Fathers deserve light years better than this.

    Saturday, June 04, 2011

  • It's OK, the planet will continue to absorb all that carbon like a sponge, no problem. And don't worry about all of the toxins associated with such emissions, cancer shmancer.... And I'm sure all of these deadly tornadoes (now in Massachusetts?!) have nothing to do with global warming affecting the climate....

  • Running out of scapegoats, the Vatican is now blaming Woodstock for the sexual abuse committed by priests.

  • Palin screws up again when it comes to basic U.S. history. Oh yeah, let's definitely get her in that White House to straighten things out and make us all proud.... Further proof that at least 20% of the voting public are complete, utter morons.

  • The goons are paying their minions to attack Elizabeth Warren. This alone should tell you just how effective she would be in her job as head of the CFPB. The financial lobby wants a go-along stooge.

  • Taxes are lower under Obama than Reagan ("And Reagan knew that taxes were an important part of the budget equation. After all, he 'raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office,' including four times in just two years"). But that was then this is now, right? 35% is the new 50%, and in 10 years 20% will be the new 35%. Meanwhile the deficit climbs (thanks to GW tax cuts, Iraq war, economic decline). But all of this is just too confusing to Tea Baggers, or perhaps it has to do with having a dark-skinned guy in the White House....
  • Monday, May 23, 2011

  • From PolitiFact: "[T]he truth is that there are an awful lot of similarities between the plan he signed in Massachusetts in 2006, often called "RomneyCare," and the one that President Barack Obama signed in 2010."

  • "Senate Republicans Introduce Bill To Abolish The EPA" Yes, abolish, eliminate, rid the U.S. of environmental regulations. Insanity.

  • Fracking panel is stacked.

  • From Kevin Drum:
    Put this one (chart below) up on your refrigerator along with the last one. Then, if a friend comes over after watching Glenn Beck and insists that we're doomed, just point to the chart. If you want to save America from a crushing future debt burden, you need to repeal the Bush tax cuts, get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and stop pursuing austerity policies that will slow down economic recovery.

    Once we've done that, then it's time to talk about Medicare. But the other stuff comes first.
  • Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Gingrich surprised me. I thought he'd enter the race and proclaim to all his followers and fellow Republicans what they'd want to hear -- mainly GOP talking points with a bit of a variant spin to give it that Newt touch (i.e. to say something slightly different than the printed talking points to perpetuate the myth that he's original and a heavy-weight intellectual). Instead we see him go on Meet The Press and actually try to say something reasonable, or at least something far beyond conventional Repub-speak. And of all topics, Newt decides to be provocative, unique and/or profound by criticizing GOP golden-boy Paul Ryan.

    Well, we know what happened then, with the right doing their go-berserk thing, and Newt back-pedaling and blaming the media ala Sarah Palin. But the very fact that Newt would dare to utter something that could get his folks in a tizzy tells me he's more serious about running this time around than in the past. Many of us believe that he gets into these races to play up his name which in large part is how he makes a very comfortable living. To do what he did and cause a stir amongst his peeps means he either wished to say something that was well-meant and justified, i.e. that the Ryan plan is not as serious or courageous as Republicans like to believe, OR Newt just made an off-the-cuff response that he would later regret (not the first time that happened).

    In any case, it's hilarious to watch Newt scramble and squirm in an effort to quell the backlash and satisfy the kooks that comprise his party. Better still, we are likely to see him do this awkward dance many times before finally dropping out.
    It appears Camping may have been saved, but I assume the rest of us (or 99.99999999% of the planet's inhabitants) who remain here on Earth are reprehensible sinners and are doomed.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

  • Newt Gingrich running for president is very dangerous. Why? Because to the ill-informed, he comes across as serious, credible and to be trusted. Yes, we know nothing could be further from the truth. However, compared to Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly -- who most people realize are laughable and living cartoons -- Newt appears to be Abe Lincoln. There are so many nutballs and kooks in the conservative wing these days that someone like Newt is able to pull off sounding as if he's given things considerable reflection and thought, expounding in his professorial tone with great certitude and confidence. And folks on the right just lap it up, believing his crazy statements without question, despite the fact most are as riddled with distortion and non-facts as Beck's or O'Reilly's. It's all in the delivery, style over substance.

  • FCC head Meredith Baker resigns to take an SVP position at Comcast/NBC. Baker was appointed to the FCC by GW Bush and she was a strong supporter of the Comcast/NBC merger. But I'm sure no revolving door shenanigans are involved, after all Baker denies it....

  • Not sure where this John McCain has been for the last few years, but it's refreshing to see him return. Given how far to the right McCain has gravitated, for him to go on record and strongly slam the BS that has recently been peddled by GW's band of mad men about torture and finding bin Laden belies just how false all of it is.

  • I can't get enough of this chart, showing the factual blame for the deficit. By far the bulk of it is due to GW's tax cuts and wars, and then the Great Recession (which can't be tagged to Obama). But don't tell that to the Tea Party folks, who continue to think it's all the fault of the dark-skinned fella and that the road to surpluses is through budget cuts to NPR, the EPA and Planned Parenthood.

  • Jon Stewart: Why Is Bush Administration Taking All the Credit for Killing Osama bin Laden?

  • As I've written here before, re fracking, be very afraid.

  • Earth is running out of food, and it will increasingly provoke violence.

  • Trillions? Really House Speaker Boehner?? Where will those trillions come from?? To get to trillions means cuts in Social Security, Medicare, or defense spending -- not unemployment benefits, environmental regulations, or "waste" in government. Please be more specific (I dare you). Apparently selective defense spending is off the table.

  • Blackwater hired John Ashcroft as its ethics chief. Yes, really.

  • If possible, yes, Osama should've been captured and not killed. But I have no idea what truly went down in the heat of the moment during the encounter, so I will hold off on judging what should have happened. Better to have killed him then to have a Tora Bora occur. That said I continue to be confident that we'll stop any attacks. We have since 9/11 due in large part to increased intel, however I maintain that our intel apparatus was pretty darn good prior to 9/11. Recall we did have enough info pre-9/11 to prevent the attack but due to incompetence and.... So let's not make too much of the killing vs. capture thing. Besides, you don't think a captured Osama, for years held before trial, would serve as a martyr??

  • We’re not Broke. We’ve been Robbed!

  • I've said this all along, Obama is more of a moderate Republican than the far right would have you believe.
  • Saturday, May 07, 2011

    "Yes, paranoia, greed and racism are fun, but…"

    Bill Maher says it all (as per usual), must-read stuff, transcript courtesy of Political Ruminations:
    Now that it's become clear that the Republicans, the fiscally conservative, strong on defense party are neither fiscally conservative nor strong on defense ….they have to tell us what exactly it is they're good at. Because it’s not defense – 9/11 happened on your watch, and you retaliated by invading the wrong country.

    And you lost a 10-year game of hide and seek with Osama bin Laden.

    And you’re responsible for running up most of the debt, which more than anything makes us weak.

    You’re supposed to be the party with the killer instinct, when it was a Democrat who put a bomb in Gaddafi’s bedroom and a bullet in bin Laden’s eye like Moe Green.

    Raising the question, “How many Muslims does a black guy have to kill in one weekend before crackers climb down off his ass?”

    Let’s look at some facts. Now for you FOX News viewers feel free to turn down the sound until the flashing “FACTS” light at the bottom of the screen disappears.

    When Bill Clinton left office in 2001 the Congressional Budget Office predicted that by the end of the decade we would have paid off the entire debt and have a $2 trillion surplus. Instead we have a $10.5 trillion public debt, and the difference in those two numbers is mostly because Republicans put tax cuts for the rich, free drugs for the elderly and two wars on the layaway plan and then bailed on the check. So much for fiscal responsibility.

    But hey, at least they still have the defense thing, right? The public still believes Republicans were tougher when it came to hunting down dark-skinned foreigners with funny sounding names. But Bush had seven years to get Osama. He didn’t. He got Wesley Snipes.

    Only six months after 9/11, Bush said he didn’t spend that much time on bin Laden, that he was no longer concerned about him. Just as he wasn’t before 9/11, when he blew off that mysterious, inscrutable memo entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack INSIDE the U.S.” In under a year, Bush went from “who gives a shit?” to “wanted dead or alive” and back to “who gives a shit?”. Why focus on the terrorists who reduced Wall Street to rubble when you can help Wall Street reduce the whole country to rubble?

    In 2008, the candidates were asked if they knew for sure that bin Laden was in Pakistan would you send our guys in without permission to get him. McCain said no, because Pakistan is a sovereign nation. Obama said yes, he’d just do it, and McCain called him “naïve”. Who’s being naïve, Cain?

    And why can’t you just admit that Barack Obama is one efficient, steely nerved, multitasking, black ninja gangsta, President?

    In one week he produced his birth certificate, comforted disaster victims, swung by Florida to say “hey” to Gabbie Giffords, did stand-up at the correspondents dinner, and then personally rappelled into bin Laden’s lair and put a Chinese star through his throat without waking up any of his 13 wives. That’s how it went down….I saw it on MSNBC.

    Look, 30% of this country will always vote Republican. I’m just asking “why?” Yes, paranoia, greed and racism are fun, but…it’s… it’s like when you see someone driving a Mercury. You think, “did that person really wake up one day thinking ‘you know what car I want to drive?”
    A Mercury Mariner “. No, no, you assume he knows someone who sells them or he was molested by a Kia dealer as a child.

    And I know this all sounds like harsh truth, but Republicans are supposed to be the party of harsh truths. Like “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”.

    And speaking of lunch, Obama just ate yours.