••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

roots of the crisis

Sen. Phil Gramm (R, Texas), Rep. Jim Leach (R, Iowa),
and Rep. Thomas J. Bliley, Jr. (R, Virginia), the
co-sponsors of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act.

Many believe that the Act directly helped cause the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis. President Barack Obama has stated that GLB -- led to deregulation that, among other things, allowed for the creation of giant financial supermarkets that could own investment banks, commercial banks and insurance firms, something banned since the Great Depression. Its passage, critics also say, cleared the way for companies that were too big and intertwined to fail.[24] Economists Robert Ekelund and Mark Thornton have also criticized the Act as contributing to the crisis. They state that "in a world regulated by a gold standard100% reserve banking, and no FDIC deposit insurance" the Financial Services Modernization Act would have made "perfect sense" as a legitimate act of deregulation, but under the present fiat monetary system it "amounts to corporate welfare for financial institutions and a moral hazard that will make taxpayers pay dearly."[25]
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has called Senator Phil Gramm "the father of the financial crisis" due to his sponsorship of the Act.[26] Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has also argued that the Act helped to create the crisis.[27] An article in the liberal publication The Nation elaborated on how GLB was responsible for the creation of entities that could make the “too big to fail” rationalization.[28]

Saturday, August 27, 2011

from aclu eml
This Monday, the Justice Department will make a big decision. And, we need you to act immediately so that it will be a decision that protects voting rights.

The ACLU has been sounding the alarm about a wave of laws passed across the country aimed at throwing roadblocks in the path of people trying to exercise their right to vote. One particularly offensive voter ID law was recently enacted in South Carolina — a state with a history of racial discrimination in voting. That state's voting law changes must be approved by the Department of Justice before they can take effect.

A decision is due on South Carolina's highly discriminatory voter ID law by August 29th. There are 178,000 people — a disproportionate number of them low-income and African-Americans — registered to vote in South Carolina whose right to vote is under threat because they don't have government-issued photo IDs.

Urge Attorney General Holder to enforce the Voting Rights Act and refuse to clear South Carolina's outrageous effort to make it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote.

The South Carolina decision will tell us just how aggressively the Department of Justice intends to protect one of our most fundamental freedoms — the right to cast a ballot for the candidates of our choice.

This wave of voter suppression laws is a thinly-disguised effort to shape the electorate for the critically important 2012 elections. Purposely making it harder for some segments of the voting population to cast their vote is a cynical political strategy that can never be tolerated.

In the months ahead, we're going to have to fight in state after state to protect voting rights. But, it all starts with the impending South Carolina decision.

Urge the Justice Department to take a strong stand in defense of voting rights by refusing to clear the way for South Carolina's outrageous effort to suppress the vote.

Remember, this key decision could come at any time in the next few days. So, please urge the Attorney General and the Justice Department to actively protect voting rights today.
i put the 4th paragraph from the bottom into bold type. it's a key analysis of the hypocritical right wing strategy of voter suppression.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


...I’ve pointed out that World War II ended the Great Depression. Then critics say, how could war, a destructive activity, do anything good? I answer that when the economy is in a liquidity trap, there are a lot of perverse consequences. And then the critics declare that I’m a warmonger.

You have to assume that this kind of argument is made in deliberate bad faith — although I suspect that many of these people don’t remember what it is to make an argument in good faith. [more]
click on this:

Think snail mail is too slow? Imagine if it got slower.

The U.S. Postal Service could save about $1.5 billion a year if it relaxed its two-to-three-day delivery schedules for first-class and Priority Mail deliveries by a day, according to a new study. [more]
yeah, right, assuming slower deliveries don't cost them so much business that they lose even more money.

then again, fewer letters would speed up deliveries.

but wait! that would mean they lost revenue for nothing!

par for the course.

what a country.

really good sports bra?

i've just discovered how entertaining my inbox can be.

you know the ads in the sidebar? the one about going back to school, with the female runner?

well, i just happened to move my mouse pointer over it, and she started to move REALLY FAST.

of course it's just a loop, so she really only takes two steps and they repeat endlessly, but the animation gives the illusion that she's running hard for as long as you want her to.

but here's what i find so fascinating (& i admit this likely says more about me than about anything else): every part of her, even her head, moves round like crazy, but her boobs don't bounce at all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


In a stunning upset victory for common sense, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a lawsuit against a high school history teacher brought by one of his students who complained the teacher said in class that Creationism is “religious, superstitious nonsense.” [more]
forgive me for editing your headline, but i couldn't restrain myself....
my tax philosophy

we should tax the rich for the same reason willie sutton robbed banks:
because that's where the money is!

simple as that.

it has nothing to do with class warfare or punishment or any of that RWNJ nonsense.

Judging from the furious reaction of some of the gilded-class crowd and their Republican protectors, billionaire Warren Buffett struck a nerve with his plea to Congress to "stop coddling the super-rich." Former American Express CEO, Harvey Golub and tea party sugar daddy Charles Koch were quick to protest respectively "the unfair way taxes are collected" and that "my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington." Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor attacked President Obama's "efforts to incite class warfare." [more]
psychology today

Monday, August 22, 2011

city paper
Cash and Carry
Why are your tax dollars feeding the pro-life machine?

The receptionist says a "counselor" will speak with me over the phone, and leads me into a private room. I tell the woman on the other end that I'm considering an abortion, mostly because I'm young and not yet financially secure. She is tender but stern. She says that if I have an abortion, "Psychologically, you're never going to forget. You're taking a life."

She tells me that abortion often leads to depression — a claim that has been refuted by the American Psychological Association, which concluded in 2008 that a single abortion is "not a threat to women's mental health," and in fact, poses no greater a risk than delivering a baby.

She also informs me that "proven facts" show that abortion can "interfere with having other children," another theory rejected by medical science. The Guttmacher Institute reported in 2007 that the "overwhelming scientific consensus" is that an early abortion "poses virtually no long-term risk of infertility." [more]

Sunday, August 21, 2011

the ticket

well, he doesn't want to go back to the articles of confederation like some "conservatives," but close enough.

he'd just castrate rule of law, the presidency, and the american people by ending judicial independence, forcing the government to rely on regressive forms of taxation, and taking away popular election of US senators.

of course it goes without saying that he'd abolish gay marriage and abortion.

here's a summary:

1. Abolish lifetime tenure for federal judges by amending Article III, Section I of the Constitution.

The nation's framers established a federal court system whereby judges with "good behavior" would be secure in their job for life. Perry believes that provision is ready for an overhaul.

"The Judges," reads Article III, "both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office."

Perry makes it no secret that he believes the judges on the bench over the past century have acted beyond their constitutional bounds. The problem, Perry reasons, is that members of the judiciary are "unaccountable" to the people, and their lifetime tenure gives them free license to act however they want. In his book, the governor speaks highly of plans to limit their tenure and offers proposals about how to accomplish it.

"'[W]e should take steps to restrict the unlimited power of the courts to rule over us with no accountability," he writes in Fed Up! "There are a number of ideas about how to do this . . . . One such reform would be to institute term limits on what are now lifetime appointments for federal judges, particularly those on the Supreme Court or the circuit courts, which have so much power. One proposal, for example, would have judges roll off every two years based on seniority."

2. Congress should have the power to override Supreme Court decisions with a two-thirds vote.

Ending lifetime tenure for federal justices isn't the only way Perry has proposed suppressing the power of the courts. His book excoriates at length what he sees as overreach from the judicial branch. (The title of Chapter Six is "Nine Unelected Judges Tell Us How to Live.")

Giving Congress the ability to veto their decisions would be another way to take the Court down a notch, Perry says.

"[A]llow Congress to override the Supreme Court with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate, which risks increased politicization of judicial decisions, but also has the benefit of letting the people stop the Court from unilaterally deciding policy," he writes.

3. Scrap the federal income tax by repealing the Sixteenth Amendment.

The Sixteenth Amendment gives Congress the "power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." It should be abolished immediately, Perry says.

Calling the Sixteenth Amendment "the great milestone on the road to serfdom," Perry's writes that it provides a virtually blank check to the federal government to use for projects with little or no consultation from the states.

4. End the direct election of senators by repealing the Seventeenth Amendment.

Overturning this amendment would restore the original language of the Constitution, which gave state legislators the power to appoint the members of the Senate.

Ratified during the Progressive Era in 1913 , the same year as the Sixteenth Amendment, the Seventeenth Amendment gives citizens the ability to elect senators on their own. Perry writes that supporters of the amendment at the time were "mistakenly" propelled by "a fit of populist rage."

"The American people mistakenly empowered the federal government during a fit of populist rage in the early twentieth century by giving it an unlimited source of income (the Sixteenth Amendment) and by changing the way senators are elected (the Seventeenth Amendment)," he writes.

5. Require the federal government to balance its budget every year.

Of all his proposed ideas, Perry calls this one "the most important," and of all the plans, a balanced budget amendment likely has the best chance of passage.

"The most important thing we could do is amend the Constitution--now--to restrict federal spending," Perry writes in his book. "There are generally thought to be two options: the traditional 'balanced budget amendment' or a straightforward 'spending limit amendment,' either of which would be a significant improvement. I prefer the latter . . . . Let's use the people's document--the Constitution--to put an actual spending limit in place to control the beast in Washington."

A campaign to pass a balanced budget amendment through Congress fell short by just one vote in the Senate in the 1990s.

Last year, House Republicans proposed a spending-limit amendment that would limit federal spending to 20 percent of the economy. According to the amendment's language, the restriction could be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both Houses of Congress or by a declaration of war.

6. The federal Constitution should define marriage as between one man and one woman in all 50 states.

Despite saying last month that he was "fine with" states like New York allowing gay marriage, Perry has now said he supports a constitutional amendment that would permanently ban gay marriage throughout the country and overturn any state laws that define marriage beyond a relationship between one man and one woman.

"I do respect a state's right to have a different opinion and take a different tack if you will, California did that," Perry told the Christian Broadcasting Network in August. "I respect that right, but our founding fathers also said, 'Listen, if you all in the future think things are so important that you need to change the Constitution here's the way you do it'.

In an interview with The Ticket earlier this month, Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said that even though it would overturn laws in several states, the amendment still fits into Perry's broader philosophy because amendments require the ratification of three-fourths of the states to be added to the Constitution.

7. Abortion should be made illegal throughout the country.

Like the gay marriage issue, Perry at one time believed that abortion policy should be left to the states, as was the case before the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. But in the same Christian Broadcasting Network interview, Perry said that he would support a federal amendment outlawing abortion because it was "so important...to the soul of this country and to the traditional values [of] our founding fathers."

the full title of perry's book is Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington.

i wonder if his presidential campaign is really a book tour in disguise. i wish!
science mag
Rapid Range Shifts of Species Associated with High Levels of Climate Warming


The distributions of many terrestrial organisms are currently shifting in latitude or elevation in response to changing climate. Using a meta-analysis, we estimated that the distributions of species have recently shifted to higher elevations at a median rate of 11.0 meters per decade, and to higher latitudes at a median rate of 16.9 kilometers per decade. These rates are approximately two and three times faster than previously reported. The distances moved by species are greatest in studies showing the highest levels of warming, with average latitudinal shifts being generally sufficient to track temperature changes. However, individual species vary greatly in their rates of change, suggesting that the range shift of each species depends on multiple internal species traits and external drivers of change. Rapid average shifts derive from a wide diversity of responses by individual species.

not convinced by retreating glaciers and melting sea ice? how about animals and plants migrating toward cooler climates at an average of more than a mile a year?

i thought the bugs biting me looked different....

Friday, August 19, 2011

la times
Invasion of the idiocrats

Is "Idiocracy," the 2006 sci-fi comedy set in an utterly dysfunctional nation 500 years in the future, really a vision of 21st century America?

Meghan Daum

You may not have seen "Idiocracy," the 2006 sci-fi comedy set in an utterly dysfunctional nation 500 years in the future, but chances are you've heard it mentioned lately. References to the film seem to be everywhere, and not just in op-eds penned by cranky columnists (I mentioned it in a column last year about public spaces being sold as advertising space). The latest issue of the Economist has an article about the business-sabotaging effects of the battles in Washington, headlined "American Idiocracy."

A recent blog post on the Psychology Today website was headlined "Idiocracy: Can We Reverse It?" Meanwhile, it's popping up in causal conversations, Internet comments and, most notably, on Twitter, where it often appears as a hashtagged topic (and if you don't know what that means, you're not an idiot; you probably just have a full-time job).

The premise of "Idiocracy" is that a guy named Joe, with a "perfectly average IQ," is selected — along with a prostitute — for a hibernation experiment that inadvertently keeps him asleep until 2505, when he awakes to a world where, as the prologue explains, evolution "began to simply reward those who reproduced the most and left the intelligent to become an endangered species." The result is a trash-strewn society in which crops are watered with a sports drink called Brawndo, people have names like Frito and Mountain Dew, and the most popular form of entertainment is a reality show called "Ow, My Balls," which consists of footage of a man repeatedly getting whacked in the groin. Meanwhile, Costco is where you go for toilet paper and a university education, and IQs are so low that "average Joe" is considered a genius.

Judging by popular culture in 2011, it's hard not to wonder if 500 years was a too optimistic prediction, since "Jersey Shore" just might make "Ow, My Balls" look like "Masterpiece Theater." But mainstream entertainment has been the domain of idiocrats for a long time. A bummer of more recent vintage is the way our political system has followed suit.

How else to account for a former vice presidential candidate who sees reality-TV stardom as a road to the White House? Or a congressman who tweets photos of his underwear-clad genitals? Or a two-term governor of the most populous state in the country who fathers a child with his housekeeper and, when his wife files for divorce, goes out in public wearing a T-shirt that reads "I Survived Maria 1977-2010" (that refers to the years of their courtship and marriage, and, yes, this is true; it happened last week)? How else to account for a Congress that gets the nation's credit rating lowered thanks to toddler-like stubbornness over an issue that many of its members barely seem to grasp?

The list goes on and on, of course, especially as the 2012 election season opens and the 24-hour news cycle expands into the millions-of-page-views-per-day blog cycle and the 10,000-tweets-per-minute cycle. But depressing as the idiocracy label is, a cursory analysis suggests a glimmer of hope in its usage: finally, something that can transcend partisanship.

Put simply, fearing idiocracy isn't a matter of being liberal or conservative. It's a matter of not being an idiot. At least in theory. A recent op-ed by Erik Rush on the right-wing World Net Daily website noted that the movie "hit altogether too close to home." Granted, Rush ultimately put the blame on liberals for encroaching idiocracy, but was his dismay over "increasingly sophomoric marketing messages" and "the Orwellian bent of political rhetoric" all that far removed from that of leftie folky Jackson Browne, who was quoted this month saying that "Idiocracy" was "a great societal barometer"?

Maybe it's naive to think that ideological opponents can be brought together by a common fear of mass stupidity: Call it idiocraphobia. After all, the downfall of society is in the eye of the beholder; for every progressive who sees the "tea party" as the equivalent of Costco U., there's someone waving a Gadsden flag who earnestly believes Michele Bachmann emerged from a time capsule to protect babies from being named Frito.

But as the word continues to catch on, we can at least be grateful for the parts of the movie that haven't come true, yet. For instance, no one's watering grass with Brawndo. That is, unless Arnold has volunteered to help Maria with her yardwork.

Yeah, we're doomed.
la times
U.S. will review cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants in deportation proceedings

The Obama administration said it will review the cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants currently in deportation proceedings to identify "low-priority" offenders — including the elderly, crime victims and people who have lived in the U.S. since childhood — with an eye toward allowing them to stay.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the review as the Obama administration has sought to counter criticism that it has been too harsh in its deportation policies. By launching the case-by-case review, officials said they are refocusing deportation efforts on convicted felons and other "public safety threats." [more]

Thursday, August 18, 2011


just a few suggestions, mr president:

& it won't even cost your campaign much:

one guy says he did his 30 ft RV with $140 worth of cheap acrylic enamel. he tells of another guy he heard of who spent $600 on paint.

why should a million dollar bus remind us of darth vader? surely you can come up with a few grand to hire some union painters to make it colorful and friendly-looking.
ny times
All My Old Haunts
Belgrade Lakes, Me.

For someone who does not believe in ghosts, I’ve encountered more than my fair share of them over the years in my parents’ house in the Philadelphia suburbs. The first day I set foot in the place, I saw, or imagined I saw, an unseemly blue mist drift through the dark basement.

Just a few months ago, one of my mother’s neighbors, who had come over to check on her, saw it, too; the mist came down the hall, paused to consider him, and then curled into the room where my mother lay dreaming.

He told me about it after she died last month. “It didn’t seem malicious exactly. More like it was just checking up on her.”

My mother, an evangelical Lutheran and a private, dignified lady, thought that talk of specters was ridiculous. “There’s no such thing as ghosts,” she told me. “There’s the Holy Ghost, of course, but that’s different. We call that the Holy Spirit.”

As a transgender teenager in the 1970s — a boy in body, a girl in spirit — I remember lying in my bedroom, up on the third floor, thinking that I heard footsteps creaking in the attic. I would whisper, “You’re not real. I don’t believe in you.” To which I always imagined the ghosts replying: “That’s all right. We don’t believe in you, either.”

What I’ve learned over the years is that you can be haunted by lots of things; actual ghosts can be the least of them.

I’m haunted, for instance, by memories of my smart and loving parents in that beautiful old house, by the dining room, with its long Winterthur table, where my father held forth from the southern end, an L&M King filter elegantly positioned between his second and third fingers.

My father, Dick Boylan, was a charming combination of medieval history professor and trust banker. While he helped mastermind the merger between Philadelphia’s Provident Bank and Pittsburgh National to create PNC, his true passion was for the Middle Ages, with a secondary interest in debate, or as he liked to call it, “forensics.”

My parents were Republicans of a variety that we will not see again. They adored Gerald Ford (“The Healer,” as my mother, Hildegarde, mistily called him). On plenty of social issues, she was a liberal, not that she’d have used that word. But she only voted for a Democrat once — in 1936, when she supported F.D.R. and jilted Alf Landon.

In those days, before we surrounded ourselves only with those who already agreed with us, my parents delighted in assembling people of divergent opinions over our dining-room table to argue about the Equal Rights Amendment or the Gary Hart campaign. At a certain point, my father would ding his fork against the side of his glass and command everyone present to begin arguing “the reverse of their earlier position.”

He would get me to play our piano with my left and right hands in different keys. “It’s good for you,” he would say, gently. “It makes you open-minded.”

This kind of thinking seems almost quaint in the current political landscape, where it’s commonplace to call people with whom you disagree “traitors” or “un-American.”

In the wake of the recent debate over the debt ceiling, I imagined my father’s solution. If the goal were to cut $4 billion from the deficit, he’d have suggested that the Republicans be put in charge of coming up with $2 billion of tax increases and the Democrats with finding $2 billion of cuts in services and entitlements. “Only when you try to argue your opponents’ point of view,” he’d have said, “does your own begin to make sense.”

There was plenty of that in my mother’s view of the world, too. When I finally came out to her as transgender, just after I turned 40, my conservative, religious mother put her arms around me, and said, without hesitation, “Love will prevail.”

My father died in that house on Easter Sunday 1986; my mother passed away this summer on the day after the Fourth of July. I went through the old place at dawn after the funeral, turning out lights and preparing to take my leave.

I paused for a moment in the dining-room doorway, filled at that hour with long shadows. There at the head of the table was my father, his L&M King in hand; my mother at the other end looking at us all adoringly; and in between them my sister and me, teenagers still, all the tragedies and wonders of our lives unrevealed. I thought of a line from Thornton Wilder: “Oh earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”

For a moment they flickered like ghosts, that family, the voices echoing in the empty house. And then they were gone.
ny times
Heroes, Until They’ve Arrived

A little Rick Perry goes a very long way.

That was one lesson of the last few days, when this proud cowboy, whose stride into the presidential derby had been as lustrous and neatly styled as his mane, began to show more than a few split ends.

He fantasized aloud about the “ugly” justice that Texans might administer to the Federal Reserve chairman, whom I’d advise to connect through Chicago instead of Dallas for the time being. He questioned President Obama’s love of country, perhaps presenting a fallback position for birthers frustrated by that pesky certificate. He carped that a specific licensing requirement for tractors was “idiotic,” which it absolutely would be, except for one teensy, party-spoiling detail. It doesn’t exist.

And thus did a candidate who appeared so fearsome on the horizon — and who, for now, rides high in polls — come to look somewhat frizzier and patchier in the barnyard upon closer inspection. The hair is always thicker on the other side of the trough.

In politics, as in life, we romanticize what we don’t yet have, and once Republicans officially had Perry, the doubting flowered, each day bringing fresh worry about the blemishes on his record, like his chatter about secession.

The drumbeat within the party for more, better candidates has already resumed, with Karl Rove on the tom-toms, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page on the snare and the Web site Politico on the conga with this headline, stripped across the top of the screen late Tuesday: “GOP eyes new 2012 candidates.” The accompanying photos were of Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan and ... Rudy Giuliani? Some Republicans never learn.

The party’s (and news media’s) yearning is understandable — and reassuring. Perry and Michele Bachmann, with their particular evangelical fervor, frighten many Republicans as much as they do Democrats and could be general-election arsenic. Mitt Romney has all that mighty morphin’ to explain, in addition to a passion deficit as striking as Perry’s and Bachmann’s surpluses.

But Christie, Ryan and Marco Rubio — to take three objects of idealization — aren’t dream candidates, either.

Christie, who reiterated Wednesday that he’s not planning to run, had great success muscling his agenda of pension reform and fiscal restraint through a New Jersey Legislature controlled by Democrats. But he hasn’t logged even two years as governor, and his prior experience in elective office is negligible.

Because his opponent in the governor’s race was the rich, relentless Jon Corzine, he has been vetted, but only in the context of a state job. Ask Republican leaders what his foreign policy positions are. They don’t know because he’d be producing them from scratch.

And then there’s the matter of his health. Although a Quinnipiac poll released on Wednesday found that only about one in five New Jersey residents was concerned about it, the intense focus on his recent asthma attack suggests that the news media, at least, would be ever braced for the worst. That’s a potential distraction from whatever message he’s putting out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

no more mr nice guy

mr president:

mcconnell and boehner are bullies.

every time you offer to compromise they think you're giving in so they can get more by pushing you round more.

they're bullies.

you can't conciliate 'em.

they're bullies.

they want to humiliate you.

they're bullies.

but "don't get mad, get even."

they're bullies.

put 'em on blast, call 'em out.

then bloody their nose.

& THEN you can befriend them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

yes, RWNJs do drive me crazy

i know. i know. i'm admitting they've done what they've been trying to do.

at least that's what the aim of 365 ways to drive a liberal crazy claims to be. i think it may be a book, but it's also a series of daily emails i've been getting for the last couple months. (actually it's barely over a month, but it seems like forever.)

i'm not going to quote from them. if you're really interested you'll find out for yourself. so far i've seen very few that entertain me at all and even fewer that aren't based on ignorance.

and that's what's so maddening about them: apparently their intended audience doesn't realize how uninformed they are, and the way they're written leaves little doubt that the creators of the nonsense wouldn't listen to reason even if it showed up at their door.

this video, tho it's about another subject, sort of explains what i mean:

political animal
There’s nothing ‘puzzling’ about jobless aid
By Steve Benen

One of the top stories on Fox Nation this afternoon features this headline: “Amazing White House Discovery: Unemployment Creates Jobs.”

Readers are told, “President Obama has lately been pushing a number of policies that he says will create jobs, including extending unemployment benefits. This is puzzling, since new benefits obviously will not create jobs for unemployed people, who after all are the ones who need work.”

It’s troubling how often the right considers this “puzzling.” I know the right has been struggling with the argument for quite a while, but it’s really not that difficult to understand.

We’ve been over this a few times, but let’s briefly recap for Fox’s benefit. Paul Krugman had a column the Republican network might find helpful.

When the economy is booming, and lack of sufficient willing workers is limiting growth, generous unemployment benefits may keep employment lower than it would have been otherwise. But as you may have noticed, right now the economy isn’t booming — again, there are five unemployed workers for every job opening. Cutting off benefits to the unemployed will make them even more desperate for work — but they can’t take jobs that aren’t there.

Wait: there’s more. One main reason there aren’t enough jobs right now is weak consumer demand. Helping the unemployed, by putting money in the pockets of people who badly need it, helps support consumer spending. That’s why the Congressional Budget Office rates aid to the unemployed as a highly cost-effective form of economic stimulus. And unlike, say, large infrastructure projects, aid to the unemployed creates jobs quickly — while allowing that aid to lapse, which is what is happening right now, is a recipe for even weaker job growth, not in the distant future but over the next few months.

Krugman wrote that a year ago, and fortunately, benefits were extended a few months later. With Fox’s friends now in the House majority, the jobless probably won’t be as fortunate this time.

The basic concept here is quite simple: unemployment benefits are good for the economy. People who receive the aid aren’t sticking it in a mattress or a money-market fund; they’re spending it and doing so immediately because it’s their main source of income. This injects demand and capital into the economy quickly, helping the beneficiaries and the rest of us.

Fox finds this “puzzling” — or at least pretends to in order to play a stupid game for voters who don’t know better.

Fixing the economy: We got it wrong

Our economic issues are worse than expected, and our solutions haven't worked. We need to start anew.

James K. Galbraith
In early January 2009 two White House-bound economists — Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein — predicted that if the stimulus bill were passed, unemployment would peak at 8% by midyear and then start coming down. If there were no stimulus, they said, joblessness might hit 9% and not peak until 2010.

Romer and Bernstein had the risky job of hyping policy, but they weren't alone in their optimistic views. Forecasters at the Congressional Budget Office, the Federal Reserve and most private banks all thought that the economy had a natural tendency to right itself, sooner or later. What it needed, the activists urged, was a push.

Well it's now obvious that the push didn't do the job. Even with it, unemployment is higher than the Romer-Bernstein worst case. The optimistic forecasts now look embarrassing, ranking right up there alongside Irving Fisher's 1929 comment that stocks had reached "a permanently high plateau."

About the time Romer and Bernstein issued their assessments, I wrote a cover essay for Washington Monthly attacking predictions of early recovery. The "return to normal" would not happen, I wrote, because the effects of a financial collapse could not be reversed. But though this fact was obvious and in plain sight, somehow many economists missed it. Let's examine that epic failure.

First, the economic models in use were obviously faulty. Why? Because they had assumed a "natural rate of unemployment" to which the economy will return whatever happens. This idea originated with Milton Friedman as part of his attack on John Maynard Keynes — who had argued, based on the stark evidence of the Great Depression, that mass unemployment can persist indefinitely. An economist who builds the natural rate into a model is like a doctor who assumes that her patient will always get better eventually, even without treatment. No such doctors exist, of course; that so many economists think this way is just strange.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

rwnj repetition

got these two emails a week apart:
Dear Supporter,
Democrats are blaming the historic U.S. credit rating downgrade on everyone but themselves, including Americans just like you: they say it’s your fault... not theirs.
Who do Democrats think they’re kidding?
Instead of addressing the problem, President Obama and Washington Democrats continue to blame the downgrade on you, the Japanese earthquake, the European debt crisis, or House Republicans' insistence to cut federal spending without raising taxes to address the budget deficit. We all know the real reason the markets are dropping is because of the Democrats' spending addiction and refusal to stop borrowing from countries like China.

Dear Supporter,
Did you know, according to House Democrats and Vice President Joe Biden, conservative Americans like you are "terrorists"?
That's right, the Vice President said in a meeting of House Democrats that Americans pushing for Congress to cut as much spending as possible were acting "like terrorists".
Democrats seem to think they’re entitled to spend your hard-earned taxpayer money. And when you, the taxpayers, say “enough,” Democrats call you "terrorists." Democrats are trying to pretend that the 2010 election -- when Americans roundly rejected Washington’s big-spending ways -- didn’t happen.
one was signed "Guy Harrison, Executive Director, NRCC" and the other "Pete Sessions, NRCC Chairman." it doesn't matter which. they're obviously written either by the same hand or by two pols who don't know how to separate paragraphs and think exactly alike.

but what concerns me is that both use one rhetorical device. they repeat that the democrats are to blame for what goes wrong and pass the buck, primarily to "americans [just] like you".

i shouldn't be surprised. NRCC means "national republican congressional committee."

the gop has with some success passed the buck for the economic crisis to obama and the dem congress elected in 2006 and 2008, tho the recession that started in december 2007 was triggered by the housing bubble that burst in 2005 and 2006, when bush was still in the white house and the gop still held majorities in both houses of congress, and when the economy had been softened up by two protracted wars started by bush and the gop.

how do they manage to convince so many people that dems are to blame?

repetition, repetition, repetition!

common dreams
We are approaching the ten-year anniversary of some of our darkest days - September 2001 - when the “shock doctrine” kicked into high-gear. Bush started his global “War on Terror” by attacking Afghanistan with his cynically named “Operation Infinite Justice.”

We soon saw sweeping infringements to basic rights from the PATRIOT Act in the US to random round ups of thousands of “terror suspects” across the globe. Rendition, torture, Guantanamo, Blackwater, Abu Ghraib, drones and ‘collateral damage’ filled our headlines. Consumerism became a patriotic duty.

We saw the rise of a war machine beyond even the wildest dreams of the cold war era combined with huge giveaways for the financial elite. The basis was created for the dramatic austerity measures gutting investments in our future and devastating our social safety net today.

Bush’s Iraq War led to the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority and was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s excellent best-seller “The Shock Doctrine.”

Klein argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

And all signs indicate this pattern is not ending anytime soon.

But if there is hope -- and we are all optimists around here -- the progressive voices demanding that we push peace and pursue justice must be heard.
that's an excerpt from a fund-raising email from commondreams.org.

click on the link. it's worth checking out.

Friday, August 12, 2011

how poets bug me 
not all poets
but a lot
don't write
the way they want
their work read 
take the new
poet laureate
philip levine 
one of his
best-known pieces
what work is 
listen to him read it 
it's not
the same 
you can't read it
the way he reads it 
because he's a great poet?
because he's a great reader? 
not because of
how good he is
because of
line breaks 
he doesn't always
break lines
the way he reads them
so when you read
what you see
you get it
too many poets
do that 
as that

see why you need a public option?

ATLANTA — A federal appeals court panel on Friday struck down the requirement in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul package that virtually all Americans must carry health insurance or face penalties.

The divided three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the so-called individual mandate, siding with 26 states that had sued to block the law. But the panel didn’t go as far as a lower court that had invalidated the entire overhaul as unconstitutional. [more]

Monday, August 08, 2011

oh, it's obama who's doing the attacking, is it?

thanx for cluing me in, mitt. i never would've noticed without you.

no "friends"

somebody i decided to follow on twitter sent me a direct message and asked me to add him/her as a friend on facebook.

nothing personal, but i don't do that stuff.

this was my reply:
tx. i dnt trust facebk,prefer f2f 2 "friends",meet kindrd spirits@libry,poetry reads,socrates cafe,etc,use web 4 info,ntrtainmnt,eml,ads.
had to cut a fair amount but found i can get quite a bit into 140 bytes.

used internetslang.com for some abbreviations, common sense for others. at least i hope it's common.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


Standard & Poor's


Credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor's have been subject to criticism in the wake of large losses beginning in 2007 in the collateralized debt obligation (CDO) market that occurred despite being assigned top ratings by the CRAs.
Credit ratings of AAA (the highest rating available) were given to large portions of even the riskiest pools of loans. However, on August 6, 2011 US credit rating has fallen to AA+ from AAA, reported The News Tribe [6]. Investors, trusting the low risk profile that AAA implies, purchased large amounts of CDOs that later became unsellable. Those that could be sold often took staggering losses. For instance, losses on $340.7 million worth of CDOs issued by Credit Suisse Group added up to about $125 million, despite being rated AAA by Standard & Poor's.[7]
Despite common perception, Standard & Poor's didn't rate the two major Icelandic banks, Kaupthing and Landsbanki.[citation needed]
Companies pay Standard & Poor's to rate their debt issues. As a result, some critics have contended that Standard & Poor's is beholden to these issuers and that its ratings are not as objective as they should be.
In April 2009 Standard & Poor's called for "new faces" in the Irish Government, which was seen as interfering in the democratic process. In a subsequent statement they said they were "misunderstood".[8]
Some critics have pointed out that the S&P and other rating agencies were part of the cause of the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, for example rating Enron higher than it should have been. With the US downgrade some have accused the S&P of causing further damage for their own agenda. Also "A judgment flawed by a $2 trillion error speaks for itself,"[9] said a spokesman for the United States Department of the Treasury.
Standard & Poor's acknowledged making a USD$2 trillion error in its justification for downgrading the U.S. credit rating,[10] but stated that it "had no impact on the rating decision".[11]
Another issue that has concerned commentators is that a Standard & Poor's rating - for example, of the United States government or any other world government - can have, and has had, a distinct effect on a truly global scale. But the decision on these ratings are made by employees of Standard & Poor's who are not elected by the public, and are not accountable for their decision making process. Importantly, there is no appeals process against credit rating decisions made by Standard & Poor's.

[edit]Antitrust Review

In November 2009, ten months after launching an investigation, the European Commission formally charged Standard & Poor's with abusing its position as the sole provider of international securities identification codes for U.S. securities by requiring European financial firms and data vendors to pay licensing fees for their use. "This behavior amounts to unfair pricing," the European Commission said in its statement of objections which lays the groundwork for an adverse finding against S&P. "The (numbers) are indispensable for a number of operations that financial institutions carry out — for instance, reporting to authorities or clearing and settlement — and cannot be substituted.”[12]
S&P has run the CUSIP Service Bureau, the only ISIN issuer in the United States, on behalf of the American Bankers Association. In its formal statement of objections, the European Commission alleges "that S&P is abusing this monopoly position by enforcing the payment of licence fees for the use of US ISINs by (a) banks and other financial services providers in the EEA and (b) information service providers in the EEA." It claims that comparable agencies elsewhere in the world either do not charge fees at all, or do so on the basis of distribution cost, rather than usage.[13]

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

media matters
Glenn Beck thinks he can spew his hateful rhetoric, take a few days of heat, and then dance away from accountability for what he's done.

Last week, we brought your attention to Glenn Beck's comparison of the young, innocent victims of the Norway mass murders to "Hitler youth" and his attempt to escape responsibility for that outrageous claim -- and you responded en masse with more than 10,000 petition signatures asking radio stations to drop Beck for his indefensibly hateful statements.

One radio station informed us that it had already made the decision to cancel Beck's show, which is a reflection that Beck's vitriol is bad for business and a testament to how grassroots power can help restore responsibility to our public airwaves.

But we need to keep up the pressure on other radio station managers across the country, so they won't be able to defend providing a platform for such hateful and profoundly disturbing intolerance for very much longer. [more]

Monday, August 01, 2011

can't believe i'm only the 303rd viewer...

the prez seems happy to get a deal, but, frankly, i don't know why the dems couldn't just hold out for raising the ceiling with no strings attached.

guess politics has some nuances too subtle for me to grasp.

maybe i better read this carefully:
What the Debt Deal Does
  • Removes economic uncertainty surrounding the debt limit at a critical time and prevents either party from using a failure to meet our obligations for political gain.
  • Makes a significant down payment to reduce the deficit -- finding savings in defense and domestic spending while protecting critical investments in education and job creation.
  • Creates a bipartisan commission to find a balanced approach to continue this progress on deficit reduction.
  • Establishes an incentive for both sides to compromise on historic deficit reduction while protecting Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and programs that help low-income families.
  • Follows through on President Obama's commitment to shared sacrifice by making sure that the middle class, seniors, and those who are most vulnerable do not shoulder the burden of reducing the deficit. As the process moves forward, the President will continue to insist that the wealthiest Americans share the burden.
For more about the nuts and bolts of the debt agreement: