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.