Saturday, March 21, 2009

Um, no ...

As you know, the Mrs. and I travel all over the place. This ain't on the itinerary in the near future:


The first officially sanctioned Western tour group since 2003 is visiting Iraq in the latest sign of improved security.


The tour was arranged by a British organization and included stops in the semiautonomous Kurdish region and the ancient ruins of Babylon and Ur.


If I wanna go to Iraq, I'll reenlist.

I'll go to Egypt and Saudi before I drag the Mrs. through a war zone.

Cross-posted at Worlds.

Rejection ...

To all those governors who are rejecting stimulus money (but only the portion of it that could help the people who really need it); why don't you reject all the money you get from the federal tax system too, since you're so worried about federal spending and shit:

Pic glommed from John Perr.

Gord touched on this a couple weeks ago. These motherfuckers' (Palin, Jindal, Sanford, Barbour) states live on the federal dole as it is. If they're gonna get all sanctimonious, they shouldn't take any of it and support their-damn-selves. Until then, they should shut the fuck up and help their people. You know, the ones who put them in office.

Saturday Tickle-Linda's-Ass-With-A-Feather Music Blogging

Emmylou, Linda, & Dolly ~ High Sierra

What's Behind Cheney's New Attacks?

Bobby Ghosh at Time via Yahoo!News

Several observers think Cheney may be starting to feel the heat from Democrats' efforts to investigate the Bush Administration's counterterrorism policies - policies Cheney advocated, and for which his proteges allegedly provided the legal basis. But if he was trying to deflect attention from Bush-era policies, Cheney's aggression will likely have the opposite effect. "If his goal was to tamp down talk of a truth commission, he has probably exacerbated the problem," a veteran Republican told TIME.

Keep talkin'. Dick.


Juan Cole on what The Dick 'accomplished' in Iraq:

Cheney avoids mentioning all the human suffering he has caused, on a cosmic scale, and focuses on procedural matters like elections (which he confuses with democracy-- given 2000 in this country, you can understand why). Or he lies, as when he says that Iran's influence in Iraq has been blocked. Another lie is that there was that the US was fighting "al-Qaeda" in Iraq as opposed to just Iraqis. He and Bush even claim that they made Iraqi womens' lives better.

The real question is whether anyone will have the gumption to put Cheney on trial for treason and crimes against humanity.

Perhaps The Dick will see that the end is near and do the right thing for the first time in his life: poison himself in der Dickebunker and have his minions burn his corpse in the courtyard. If he'll do that, I can live with being cheated out of revenge justice.

Friday, March 20, 2009

If ya double nothing ...

It's still nothing:

... The Times needs good ideas, not bad ones, on its op-ed pages. There are none to be had in the modern conservative movement, which is not the same as saying that all good ideas are liberal and progressive ones (although most are). Therefore, neither Kristol nor Douthat nor any other rightwing nut deserves regular access to the Times op-ed pages.

Thank god for Krugman and Daddy Frank.

Who says ...

There are no black Republicans? There are couple of them and they're all on TV:


4 out of every 100 African-American votes went for the GOP ticket, FOUR!

Yet, it appears that virtually every African-American under 40 who voted Republican is a commentator on one of the three cable news networks.


For all you M*A*S*H* fans: "But first, a number."

The Republicans would be funny if they weren't so obvious and the issues weren't so serious.

Question ...

Why is it, when a woman gets an order of protection against a man, it's like signing her death warrant?

We had another woman on Long Island killed by a former lover yesterday. Somehow, our authorities are misunderstanding a key word in the phrase "order of protection". It's become painfully obvious the only thing the cops will do is put up yellow tape around the place where they found your body.

Ladies, if you fear for your life after dumping some abusive asshole, buy a gun. Seriously. Take out an order of protection and then buy a gun and learn how to use it, proficiently. If the motherfucker comes back, kill him and deal with the consequences later. It's not worth your life, and the lives of your kids, to wait for the cops to come when your ex shows up with murder on his mind.

Brain bleach!!!!!


... Hot, steamy lesbian sex. As read by Bill O'Reilly.

God, it's too early in the morning for that picture ...

Advice ...

Fred the Cat voices what I've wanted to blog about since we heard about the tragic, untimely death of Natasha Richardson.


So the reason I, Fred the Cat, am sharing this with you is just to remind you about the old saying, Make every minute count. Don’t take anything for granted. Hug your honeys.


Indeed. You never know when you'll meet up with the proverbial bullet-with-your-name-on-it. Live every day like it might be your last.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Headin' out...

Me an' Mrs. G are headin' out to the coast for a few days just for fun. I will stay in touch but blogging will be minimal. See yas.

Obama abandons veterans' private insurance plan

After reading yesterday's post, President Obama has seen the light.

Raw Story

After today's meeting between veteran advocacy leaders and the Obama administration, the White House announced that it will be abandoning a plan to make veterans use private insurance for war-related injuries.

The 11 leaders of veterans advocacy groups left today's meeting feeling relieved that veterans' health care wasn't going to be further jeopardized. Journalists caught up with Norbert Ryan, president of Military Officers Association of America, after the meeting. Ryan told reporters, "Our voices were heard. They made the right decision on this."

Yes, they did.

Crossposted at The American Patriot Institute.

Not trying ...

To pee on Barry's sunshine, but over the past few weeks, it's becoming evident his financial folks might be in a bit over their depth. Either that, or they've been trying to protect their pals on the Street:


Anyway, I guess no one could have predicted that Geithner and Summers would screw the pooch, except for everybody who was horrified that Obama put Geithner and Summers in such sensitive positions. Should've left 'em out in the wilderness where they belonged. And now they're even lying about the position and lying about whose fault it is. Creeps. They should be fired immediately.


Because I'm pretty sure they had a hand in this:


Dodd did not indict the administration in his comments today. He didn't name any names and he said that he didn't think AIG was on the radar at all at the time. He was being a good soldier, as he was when he agreed to the changes thinking he was compromising. But at some point he may have to name names since somebody in Washington is determined that he take the fall for these bonuses and the press is on the hunt to prove that the Obama administration has been lying about when they knew about it.


I'm sorry, but the minute AIG accepted taxpayer funding, the board and all the officers should have been out and the books laid bare. A lot of bad shit's been hidden in this big deal and the bonuses could be just the beginning.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This is for MandT

Like any good college radio station, we do our best to play requests, but the Emmylou Harris tune you asked about, 'High Powered Love', which I posted on November 22 of last year, and which was here at YouTube by neddysea, has been 'removed by the user', probably at the 'request' of a phalanx of attorneys. Sorry.

The real 'outrage'


The AIG debacle is a slap in the face to American labor, which was asked to sacrifice so automakers could survive.

What we're essentially being asked to believe is that employment contracts involving hardworking men and women on Detroit's assembly lines are somehow less legally binding -- less "sacred" in the current rhetorical argot -- than those protecting a bunch of cowboy securities traders living in Connecticut. When Larry Summers, Obama's chief economic advisor, piously tells us that the administration's hands are tied because we all must abide "by the rule of law," perhaps it's time to ask: What rule and for whom?

For years, the smart guys on Wall Street have convinced a growing number of Americans that organized labor is an impediment to economic progress, an unacceptable "cost" in a globalized system of production, a quaint social fossil from the era of mills and smokestacks. If there's a lesson to be gleaned from the current crisis, however, it's that when the chips are down, organized labor is a far more responsible social actor than the snatch-and-run characters who fancy themselves financiers.

Please read the rest.

Plan to bill insurance for combat injuries criticized

WaPo via LATimes

An Obama administration proposal to bill veterans' private insurance companies for combat-related injuries has prompted veterans groups to condemn the plan as unethical, and powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill have promised to oppose it.

The proposal -- intended to save the Department of Veterans Affairs $530 million a year -- would authorize the VA to bill private insurance companies for treatment of injuries and medical conditions related to military service, such as amputations, post-traumatic stress syndrome and other battle-related conditions. The VA already pursues so-called third-party billing for non-service-related conditions.

Veterans groups said the change would abrogate the government's responsibility to care for the war-wounded. And they expressed concern that the new policy would make employers less willing to hire veterans for fear of the cost of insuring them, and that insurance benefits for veterans' families would also be jeopardized.

Veterans groups described the plan as a puzzling political misstep by the new administration in its relations with the 25 million Americans who have served in the military. Obama heard firsthand about such objections Monday when he met with leaders of the groups at the White House. a traumatically amputated limb suffered in service to one's country a 'pre-existing condition' worthy of denying benefits? Sounds like a can o' worms to me. Among other things.

Quite simply the most ridiculous and mean-spirited cockamamie idea I have heard yet from this administration. It must not happen, and I have faith that it will not.

C'mon, you guys, this is a misstep worthy of the Repugs' "no pull trigger, no get food, make 'em pay for their own rides home and their meals in a roach-infested moldy chow hall" mentality.

Crossposted at The American Patriot Institute.

Words to live by

The photo accompanies a story about Carpinteria (CA) High School's recent internecine strife about using Native American images for its football team, but I like the message.

Many spectators waved signs that read, “Warrior Spirit Never Dies!” The crowd cheered 76-year-old Evangelina Diaz, a Carpinteria resident of Yaqui descent, who proclaimed she was “a warrior — not a victim!”

Fuckin' A, lady!

Just as a meaningless aside, when you're in Carp check out El Taco Grande. They have an al pastor plate that is simply to die for!

Quote of the Day drei


What President Obama should have said to the blood-sucking bums at A.I.G., many of them foreigners who were working at the louche London unit, was quite simple: “We stopped the checks. They’re immoral. If you want Americans’ hard-earned cash as a reward for burning up their jobs, homes and savings, sue me.”

Even though there are no 'checks' at that level, I still like it. 'Direct un-deposit' doesn't have the same zing.

Quote of the Day deux

Arianna Huffington in a post emtitled "What If Jon Stewart, Instead of John King, Interviewed Dick Cheney":

Until the Jon Stewart Journalism Deprogramming Center opens for business, all TV interviewers should ask themselves a simple question right before the camera goes on: What would Jon Stewart do?

Pure fantasy, but fun to think about. I have a few other fantasies about Arianna, but none of them involve Jon Stewart. In them I do my own comedy, thank you.


Go read The Rude One:

Cheney may as well have been talking to a John King puppet. More precisely, he may as well have been jacking off with a John King puppet on his hand. Because, apparently, challenges and follow-up questions are to John King what boric acid is to ants. He dare not even step near it.

John King's approach to Cheney was like a cat in heat's approach to an alley tom. He put up his haunches and let the ex-VP go to town. [...]

Taking one in the ass for the team seems to be the watchword these days for what used to be called 'journalism'.

Quote of the Day



What kind of a man is this that he can't even defend his daughter against personal insults from the likes of Laura Ingraham? He doesn't even have a political motivation, as low and cynical as that might be. He won't be running for president again. He's never been a favorite of the right wing and has no reason to curry favor with them now and everything we know about him would suggest that he thinks right wingers like Coulter are political poison. They sure aren't friends of his.


Thank god he ain't President. Late for work ... obviously.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Question ...

Why does Rick Santelli still have a job?

A little St. Paddy's Day humour

Well, so much for my retirement heaven...


Oh, please, please, please don't steal the money back from all those good Repugs who stole it from us in the first place!

Normally, I wouldn't link to Jonah "Jizz 'n Cheetos" Goldberg, but this time he's unusually outlandish. He doesn't think it's right to go for clawback on the big bonuses. What a dork. You can actually go leave him a comment.

And here's a general rule of life: When you buy an elephant, you can't refuse to buy the manure that comes with it. You can try, but, soon enough, you'll be knee-deep in problems anyway. And they'll continue to pile up no matter how loudly you complain that "this isn't what I paid for."

Yeah, J 'n C, you oughta know. You been mainlining elephant shit for years.

We should have learned from the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac what dangers lie ahead: The rule of law and political manipulation of the economy don't mix well. Liddy -- the front-line sweeper behind the AIG elephant -- has already warned the administration that letting politics dictate salaries and bonuses will make it difficult for the firm to hold on to talented staff.

'Talented staff' my ass. Is he referring to the 'talented staff' that wrecked the joint and are now giving themselves our money?

The New York Times reports that the administration is worried about a coming "populist backlash." It's right to be worried. But further blurring the lines between politics and the market isn't the answer. That's how we got in this mess in the first place.

We got into this mess because your 'politics' let these bastards rape, pillage, and steal from the rest of us, you dumb little shit.

Banned hyperlinks could cost you $11,000 a day

Sydney Morning Herald (Oz)

The Australian communications regulator says it will fine people who hyperlink to sites on its blacklist, which has been further expanded to include several pages on the anonymous whistleblower site Wikileaks.

Online civil liberties campaigners have seized on the move by ACMA as evidence of how casually the regulator adds to its list of blacklisted sites. It also confirmed fears that the scope of the Government's censorship plan could easily be expanded to encompass sites that are not illegal.

How much is 11,000 roobucks in real money? Fixer who? Never heard of 'im, mate!

Anybody seen Bush lately? Could he have headed Down Under to shred another Constitution?

Logo Change-o

Go see some revised corporate logos. Heh.

Will Canuckistan man up and arrest Bush?

BuzzFlash asks the question:

George W. Bush: Should Canada detain him and arrest him for war crimes?

The short answer is 'YES!' but they go into it in detail.

If the thought of arrest, like the Chimp has ever had a thought, deters him from going, it will be enough. If Bush is under de facto protective custody as long as he doesn't leave our borders, it will send him a message. The message is 'you screwed the pooch big time, boy, and you have to stay here or go to prison and you might end up in prison anyway if there's any real justice in this supposed nation of laws.'

Busting him and the other war criminals in his regime is ours to do. It's getting closer all the time, but whether our government has or will ever have the stones to actually do what needs to be done is mighty iffy.

Gov't reaction to Wall Street meltdown like ''punishment'' of Prescott Bush for hiding Nazi money

Professor Smartass deftly connects the Bush family, the Nazis, Wall Street fraud, the OCs, and terrorism.

It seems that something similar is going on with Wall Street today. Can anyone doubt that Wall Street's concerted effort to get themselves deregulated, their Rube Goldberg maze of shell corporations and off-shore accounts, and intentional defrauding of ordinary investors, mortgage holders, and retirees has done more damage to our economy than Tim McVeigh, Osama bin Laden, and all the other terrorists to ever blow up anything in the US combined?

And in fact, the connection to terrorism is not just by analogy, but literal. To the degree that we face a legitimate terrorist threat, it is because business interests demand to be put ahead of human rights, democracy, and even the national security of the United States.

Worse, business is a direct cause of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Bush administrations failure to bring a quick conclusion to the War on Terror. Those in the Islamic world do not hate us for our freedom, but because we take theirs away to ensure that our oil companies have compliant governments to deal with, from overthrowing the democratically elected secular government of Iran in the 1950s to backing the oppressive Saudi government for decades. Oddly, even though the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 found direct involvement of the Saudi government in the attacks nothing was done about it. Whether this was done because we didn't want to jeopardize business ties with Saudis or because the Saudis were doing the Bush administration a favor with the attack, neither is acceptable.

And yet, the punishment of the wealthy who endanger and loot us like this will be much like Prescott Bush's. The public will use our taxpayer dollars to clean up their mess, and they will continue to live lives of leisure and be free exercise their power as ''masters of the universe'' even though they are masters of nothing but moving our money into their pockets.

I have no problem with capitalism in theory, but in practice, we can no longer afford a financial elite that not only ignores the law, but buys our politicians and makes the indefensible legal.

Any solution to this current problem has to involve putting the fear of God or at least fear of the wrath of the American people into these spoiled sociopathic trust fund babies, the likes of which no financial elite has felt since the Russian or even French Revolution.

I agree, but Americans aren't very good at 'getting involved' and the Masters of the Universe are well aware of it.

Quote of the Day



There's no need for Twitter.

Blogging is bad enough.

Indeed. Going to work ...

The outrage ...

Da Tube stolen from Oliver Willis.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ron Silver dies

So long, asshole.

The Freeman Affair - 'killing a chicken to scare the monkeys'

This will be of interest to those who care about the effects of the Israel lobby and the new Likudnik Israeli government. It's at TomDispatch, so take a lunch. Many links.

[...] On withdrawing from his nomination as director of the National Intelligence Council, Charles Freeman, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a rare provocative thinker in Washington, let loose with a broadside against his enemies. Of accusations from the generally right-wing groups and individuals who claim to represent the Jewish community in official Washington, he wrote:

"There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government -- in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel... This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States."

Freeman put it more metaphorically to me: "It was a nice way of, as the Chinese say, killing a chicken to scare the monkeys." By destroying his appointment, Freeman claimed, the Israel lobby hoped to intimidate other critics of Israel and U.S. Middle East policy who might seek jobs in the Obama administration.

In his interview with me, Freeman noted the propensity members of the Israel lobby have for denying the lobby's existence, even while taking credit for having forced him out and simultaneously claiming that they had nothing to do with it. "We're now at the ludicrous stage where those who boasted of having done it and who described how they did it are now denying that they did it," he said.

"For all of you out there who may have questioned whether there was a powerful 'Israel lobby,' or who admitted that it existed but didn't think it had much influence, or who thought that the real problem was some supposedly all-powerful 'Saudi lobby,' think again."

This new attention to the lobby's work comes at a critical moment, which is why the toppling of Freeman might be its Waterloo.

Perhaps most important of all, Israel is about to be run by an extremist, ultra right-wing government led by Likud Party leader Bibi Netanyahu, and including the even more extreme party of Avigdor Lieberman, as well as a host of radical-right religious parties. It's an ugly coalition that is guaranteed to clash with the priorities of the Obama White House.

Any right-wingers, in any countries anywhere on this planet are not good for anybody. Period.

The last paragraph:

So here's the reality behind the Freeman debacle: Already worried over Team Obama, suffering the after-effects of the Gaza debacle, and about to be burdened with the Netanyahu-Lieberman problem, the Israel lobby is undoubtedly running scared. They succeeded in knocking off Freeman, but the true test of their strength is yet to come.

Just one more plate full o' right-wing crap for Obama to deal with. We'll be watching.

Pablo's gone fishin'...

Paul 'Pablo' Wilsbach of Pablo On Politics has closed up shop after six years of some of the best photo-toons we're likely to see.

Pablo, you did some great work and we'll miss you. Best of luck.

The Twit gets a little payback. From a safe distance.

[A big welcome to Jim Yeager's readers at Skippy's. - F]

Think Progress

Yesterday on CNN, former Crossfire co-host Tucker Carlson ripped The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, calling him a “partisan hack” and an operative for the Democratic party who only took on Jim Cramer and CNBC only because they criticized Obama’s budget. “I would like to see somebody have the stones to come out and say, Jon Stewart is kind of a pompous jerk, actually,” Carlson added.

Kindly remember, Repug operative Twit boy, that Stewart came on your show and called you a dick to your face. He's got more stones than you ever had in your wildest dreams.

Quote of the Day

Think Progress, with video:

Meghan McCain Tells Laura Ingraham: ‘Kiss My Fat Ass!’

Ladies, please! Please keep it up! I suggest a big tub of Jello...

Ooooh! This is getting so good!

"CNBC...has the time horizon of a fruit fly"

Today's 'recommended read' by James Poniewozik in Time:

To watch CNBC today is to enter an alternative universe, where élites are populists, Wall Street is Main Street and bank executives are the oppressed. It's not surprising that a voice of opposition to the new Administration would emerge. But who would have thought it would be on a channel not owned by Rupert Murdoch?

CNBC's reaction is colored by its stressed-out day trader's focus on the short term. When ordinary people think about the economy, they think about jobs, college, retirement. Sure, the stock market affects them in the long run — but so do job security and the threat of getting wiped out by health-care bills. When CNBC considers the economy, it means Wall Street's numbers that day, that hour, that minute. CNBC may pay lip service to the long term, but it has the time horizon of a fruit fly.

This means that CNBC looks at everything, particularly politics, in terms of how it will affect "the Market." The commentators on CNBC murmur about the Market as if it were the Island on Lost: a mystic force that must be placated, lest it become angry and punish us. "The Market doesn't like ..." "What the Market wants to see is ..."

And, oooh, is the Market cranky at Obama! The Market doesn't like raising taxes on the wealthy (even if Buffett does). The Market doesn't like government health-care reform or cap-and-trade environmental policy or big budgets or limiting bonuses at bailed-out banks. And don't get the Market started on bank nationalization. That ticks the Market off!

I hope everybody noticed that as soon as the talk of 'nationalization' got serious, all of a sudden those banks reported they were making plenty of money and don't need nationalized, thank you very much. Feelin' fine, don't need none o' that stinky medicine!

It is as if — between MSNBC and CNBC — NBC News were trying to own the liberal and conservative voices of cable news. But CNBC's is a much different strain of conservatism from Sarah Palin's or Bill O'Reilly's: it is urban, club room and Mammon-oriented rather than small town, VFW hall and God-oriented. It's an ideology not exclusively beholden to party (Cramer voted for Obama), but it's an ideology nonetheless.

It's also an ideology that you'd think, given the track record of trusted financial institutions, people would be a little wary of crowing in public nowadays. But ratings are up. As the rest of the country stews over the mismanagement of insurers and banks, there's still a small, demographically appealing niche for talking heads fulminating against the "demonization" of business and being in favor of laissez-faire government.

Hey, somebody's gotta stick up for the little guy. Even, or especially, when he's the big guy.

Especially if it makes the network money. That's what it's all about.

There are some good financial reporters out there who saw and reported on what was going on that led the economy into the mess it's in. Just like there were those who saw the truth about Iraq. The people and agencies that could have done something about it either didn't want to listen or were told not to. More likely the latter, in my opinion after eight years of watching the Bush regime wreck this country.

All I know about economics is that the richer I get, the lumpier my mattress is. I'm thinkin' of taking some of those rolls of nickels inta town and trading them in for paper money.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Pollution Has Dimmed Skies Over Last 30 Years
NASA releases chart (right) of trackable objects in space.

China's Premier “Worried” About U.S. Debt
Mulls dispatching 300 million debt collectors.

Fermilab Scientists Closer to Finding “God Particle,” They Say
Immediately prior to being struck by lightning bolt.

Shuttle Delivers New Urine Recycling System to Space Station
Astronauts had been complaining about the Tang

Bad News: More 10th-Graders Smoking Marijuana Than Cigarettes
Good news: more 10th-graders smoking marijuana than cigarettes.

Cheney Says He, Bush “Not to Blame” For Current Mess
“We had nothing to do with it,” he adds.

Musta been all Clinton and Obama's fault.


Does Dick "dick" Cheney get a platform after helping to run this country into the ground over the last 8 years? I was painting yesterday when I got to hear John King fellate the former Presi Vice-President for a half hour. And then CNN flogged it all day like it was news. What the fuck did they think he'd say; that he supported the new President? That Scooter Libby deserved what he got and more? That President Obama is doing the best he can with the mess they left him?

No, all he had to say was "stuff happens".

If they have anything it's chutzpah, Cheney and CNN both. Much as Wolfie annoys me, I wish he'd be back on Sunday mornings. John King was disgraceful when he should have gone all Jon Stewart on Beelzebub. Shoulda watched Little George's hair.

Figures ...

Today's losers losing their homes are Republican districts. At least according to the Center for Responsible Lending, who has just issued a new report that shows nine of the top ten districts with the most [foreclosures] are Republican and most likely to receive the bulk of any homeowner bailout, and thus, at least according to one On Air editor of a major cable network, fit the definition of "losers" ...

Maybe the Rethugs should just STFU*, being at every level of government, everything they've touched has gone to shit.

Leave us not forget, this is the same 'moral values' crowd who have the highest divorce rate and the highest level of teenage pregnancies and pregnancies out of wedlock.

Seems the party of 'fiscal responsibility' can't get that house in order either.


In other words, "Since the Rick Santelli's of the world have been complaining about how the people who would be helped by this bill are so 'irresponsible' and are really just a bunch of 'losers.' .... Rick Santelli's 'losers' may turn out to be the people who are supposedly his ideological fellow travelers."

*Great thanks to Susie Madrak for the link.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Quote of the Day



At least give credit to Cramer for facing his critics and addressing (and even acknowledging the validity of) the criticisms. By stark contrast, most of our major media stars simply ignore all criticisms of their corrupt behavior and literally suppress it (even if the criticisms appear as major, lengthy front-page exposés in The New York Times).


Talking Merchant Marine

I've just always liked this guy.

He must have been the first cowboy-folk-rap artist. He plays that Martin D-28 with a beat-jazz attitude. A true American original. -- Tom Russell on Jack Elliott

Some sample lyrics:

Ship loaded down with TNT
All out across the rollin' sea;
Stood on the deck, watched the fishes swim,
I'se a-prayin' them fish wasn't made out of tin.

Gonna blow them fascists all to hell!
Win some freedom, liberty, stuff like that.

I'm just one of the merchant crew,
I belong to the union called the N. M. U.
I'm a union man from head to toe,
I'm U. S. A. and C. I. O.

Gee, pretty commie stuff - doing his duty as a merchant sailor, liberty & freedom, union man - I'm guessin' he's not a Repuglicant.

Ramblin' Jack Elliott ~ Talking Merchant Marine (W. Guthrie)

Thanks to peglegsam.

My Give A Damn's Busted

I could watch this gal for hours. Until my arm gets tired, anyway.

Thanks to limpnjen.

The Culture Warriors Get Laid Off

Do not miss Daddy Frank's column today. It will make you feei good! Apparently our nation's slide into the Dark Ages has been halted. Links at site.

What has happened between 2001 and 2009 to so radically change the cultural climate? Here, at last, is one piece of good news in our global economic meltdown: Americans have less and less patience for the intrusive and divisive moral scolds who thrived in the bubbles of the Clinton and Bush years. Culture wars are a luxury the country — the G.O.P. included — can no longer afford.

I think it's a stretch to call what the religious whackjob wingtards have been trying to do to us a 'luxury', but it's certainly one we can do without.

Once again, both the president and the country are following New Deal-era precedent. In the 1920s boom, the reigning moral crusade was Prohibition, and it packed so much political muscle that F.D.R. didn’t oppose it. The Anti-Saloon League was the Moral Majority of its day, the vanguard of a powerful fundamentalist movement that pushed anti-evolution legislation as vehemently as it did its war on booze. (The Scopes “monkey trial” was in 1925.) But the political standing of this crowd crashed along with the stock market. Roosevelt shrewdly came down on the side of “the wets” in his presidential campaign, leaving Hoover to drown with “the dries.”

Much as Obama repealed the Bush restrictions on abortion and stem-cell research shortly after pushing through his stimulus package, so F.D.R. jump-started the repeal of Prohibition by asking Congress to legalize beer and wine just days after his March 1933 inauguration and declaration of a bank holiday. As Michael A. Lerner writes in his fascinating 2007 book “Dry Manhattan,” Roosevelt’s stance reassured many Americans that they would have a president “who not only cared about their economic well-being” but who also understood their desire to be liberated from “the intrusion of the state into their private lives.” Having lost plenty in the Depression, the public did not want to surrender any more freedoms to the noisy minority that had shut down the nation’s saloons.

Frum was contrasting Obama to his own party’s star attraction, Rush Limbaugh, whose “history of drug dependency” and “tangled marital history” make him “a walking stereotype of self-indulgence.” Indeed, the two top candidates for leader of the post-Bush G.O.P, Rush and Newt, have six marriages between them. The party that once declared war on unmarried welfare moms, homosexual “recruiters” and Bill Clinton’s private life has been rebranded by Mark Foley, Larry Craig, David Vitter and the irrepressible Palins. Even before the economy tanked, Americans had more faith in medical researchers using discarded embryos to battle Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s than in Washington politicians making ad hoc medical decisions for Terri Schiavo.

Perkins is now praying that economic failure will be a stimulus for his family-values business. “As the economy goes downward,” he has theorized, “I think people are going to be driven to religion.” Wrong again. The latest American Religious Identification Survey, published last week, found that most faiths have lost ground since 1990 and that the fastest-growing religious choice is “None,” up from 8 percent to 15 percent (which makes it larger than all denominations except Roman Catholics and Baptists). Another highly regarded poll, the General Social Survey, had an even more startling finding in its preliminary 2008 data released this month: Twice as many Americans have a “great deal” of confidence in the scientific community as do in organized religion. How the almighty has fallen: organized religion is in a dead heat with banks and financial institutions on the confidence scale.

History is cyclical, and it would be foolhardy to assume that the culture wars will never return. But after the humiliations of the Scopes trial and the repeal of Prohibition, it did take a good four decades for the religious right to begin its comeback in the 1970s. In our tough times, when any happy news can be counted as a miracle, a 40-year exodus for these ayatollahs can pass for an answer to America’s prayers.

Halle-fuckin'-lujah! Much, much more.

Look in the mirror ...

Being I live in NY, I've gotten to hear more than my share of Bernie Madoff's victims (most of them lived here) whining on my TV about how screwed they are.

Listen to me, those of you who invested your "life savings" with this asshole on the promise of 46% returns. You have no one but yourselves to blame. Forty-six percent???!!! If it weren't for your own greed, you wouldn't be scraping for every dime now. Nobody asked the hard questions of Madoff or they would (should) have taken their money and run for the hills (the mattress at the least).

Which brings me to an interesting article in the Times I found via Dday:


And yet, just about anybody who actually took the time to kick the tires of Mr. Madoff’s operation tended to run in the other direction. James R. Hedges IV, who runs an advisory firm called LJH Global Investments, says that in 1997 he spent two hours asking Mr. Madoff basic questions about his operation. "The explanation of his strategy, the consistency of his returns, the way he withheld information — it was a very clear set of warning signs," said Mr. Hedges. When you look at the list of Madoff victims, it contains a lot of high-profile names — but almost no serious institutional investors or endowments. They insist on knowing the kind of information Mr. Madoff refused to supply.


A little due diligence would have saved many people from ruin*, but the same impulses that inspired people to buy houses that common sense said were way out of their league were at work here.


I suppose you could argue that most of Mr. Madoff's direct investors lacked the ability or the financial sophistication of someone like Mr. Hedges. But it shouldn't have mattered. Isn’t the first lesson of personal finance that you should never put all your money with one person or one fund? Even if you think your money manager is "God"? Diversification has many virtues; one of them is that you won't lose everything if one of your money managers turns out to be a crook.


My 'financial guy' is someone Mrs. F used to babysit for and not everything is with him. I trust him, but only so far. You also have to know something about money, your money, especially if you're trusting someone else with your future dreams. I am, by no means, qualified to invest on my own but, by golly, I know where all my investments are.

When I saw what was happening in the mortgage world (4 years ago), a phone call to my guy made certain everything we had in mortgage-backed securities was liquidated and put somewhere else. I could have made more, probably, but I thought the crash would happen earlier. It is our life savings (it's gonna buy us our retirement home in Paris and allow us to live our "golden years" in a place we both love) and I ain't taking unnecessary chances with it.

If some idiot comes up to me and says I could make 46% on my money I'd laugh and ask him what drugs he's taking, because even the most profitable investments don't return half that (unless you're a loan shark). These folks just saw dollar signs and refused to consider the reality (or refused to educate themselves enough) that shit doesn't work that way unless you're doing something illegal. Many of Madoff's investors (I've seen too many interviews with them) had an inkling he was trading on insider information, but didn't want to ask questions so as not to rock the boat and derail the gravy train. If you don't investigate what's being done with your money, you can't bitch when you get taken for a ride (hey, people still fall for those Nigerian email scams), and you'd better not come looking to me for a 'bailout'.


And that’s the point. People did abdicate responsibility — and now, rather than face that fact, many of them are blaming the government for not, in effect, saving them from themselves. Indeed, what you discover when you talk to victims is that they harbor an anger toward the S.E.C. that is as deep or deeper than the anger they feel toward Mr. Madoff. There is a powerful sense that because the agency was asleep at the switch, they have been doubly victimized. And they want the government to do something about it.


The only thing the government owes these people is a refund of the taxes they paid on the ersatz 'profits' they earned through Madoff. It's one thing to help out the folks who got in over their heads with a mortgage (it affects my property value if my neighbors go into foreclosure), but I'll be damned if any of my tax money goes to people who engaged in willful ignorance when they should have known better.


But why? What happened to the victims of Bernard Madoff is terrible. But every day in this country, people lose money due to financial fraud or negligence. Innocent investors who bought stock in Enron lost millions when that company turned out to be a fraud; nobody made them whole. Half a dozen Ponzi schemes have been discovered since Mr. Madoff was arrested in December. People lose it all because they start a company that turns out to be misguided, or because they do something that is risky, hoping to hit the jackpot. Taxpayers don’t bail them out, and they shouldn’t start now. Did the S.E.C. foul up? You bet. But that doesn’t mean the investors themselves are off the hook. Investors blaming the S.E.C. for their decision to give every last penny to Bernie Madoff is like a child blaming his mother for letting him start a fight while she wasn’t looking.


Yes, Madoff is a crook, but if these folks want someone to blame, they should look in the mirror. And let that be a lesson to the rest of you out there. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research and pay attention to what your money is doing and make sure it's doing what you want it to do. That's what the quarterly statements are about. It's your money and if someone swindles you out of it, nobody's gonna give a shit but you.

*Those who invested with Madoff indirectly through "feeder funds" may have some recourse suing the funds themselves, but those who invested directly, with Ol' Bernie himself, are probably fucked.