Time flies and it does not matter whether or not you are having fun or grief. Seems like it was just a while ago that i set a rather large firework out on the street at midnight, lit the fuse and got the hell away.
I think that was last year but I'm a bit cloudy on that with all the hospitalization and all. Oh well.
I haven't bought a firework in at least five years but today I did find a pack of small bottle rockets, somewhere around here is another cube shaped monster, I think, and also somewhere there is a plastic bag with 2" mortar doo-dads in it, and I do know where the mortar is.
Tomorrow I'll get serious about setting up and finding this shit, not only to celebrate the end of 2008 but also to celebrate the end of the shrub administration. It's about time.
2009? Who knows.
I leave you with one of my favorite firework displays.
I'll fix some coffee tomorrow, I'll need it to make it past pumpkin time.
And with the money gone, Obama's reforms evaporate. Remember Bill Kristol on Colbert saying it was fine if the Dems took the White House in 2004 because they could be left holding-bag-when-shite-hits-fan? Well. Plan B. And all in time for the glorious End Time, 2012.
Wonder. Have any Theocratically EnRaptured Churches lost their shirts?
Was the 'Credit Crunch' a Myth Used to Sell a Trillion-Dollar Scam?
[...] Of course, no one disputes the fact that as the economy has tanked, the number of new loans being issued to American families and businesses has plummeted. But is because credit has dried up for qualified borrowers?
Economist Dean Baker doesn't think so. He explains the situation in simple terms: The media, he argues, "are blaming the economic collapse on a 'credit crunch' instead of the more obvious problem that consumers just lost $6 trillion of housing wealth and another $8 trillion of stock wealth." It's a commonsense argument: much of the economic growth of the Bush era existed on paper only, built on the rise of a massive bubble in real estate values rather than growth in productive industries. When all that ephemeral wealth vaporized -- and with the economy shedding jobs like a dog with dermatitis -- consumers stopped buying, and businesses, anticipating a long slowdown, stopped seeking the loans that they might have otherwise tapped to expand their operations.
Getting old is positively stunning, in the true sense of the word---as in being knocked sideways by a gun of the stun variety. You look in the mirror every day of your life for years, taking for granted that when you do so, you will see yourself, and you do; so you feel pretty secure about the process. And then one day, without any warning whatsoever, you look in that same mirror, expecting to see that same face, and what do you find? You find this old person looking back at you with a baleful state. Upon closer inspection, you discover it to be you----in an old-lady suit, which has apparently permanently affixed itself to your person.
You've got old-lady hair. It's going gray and the texture of it is no longer hair like but more like string or perhaps straw that the cat has seen fit to suck on all day. Your skin has turned against you somehow; indeed, it seems it would crawl completely off your frame if possible. It feels like snakeskin actually. If only it might split open and allow you to crawl off in a shiny new skin, leaving the old dried-up husk to crisp in the sun. But no, in it you just remain.
You gaze in horror at some formerly familiar body part----your arm, for instance---and notice with a shudder that when you bend it as you have done a million times a day for your entire life with no ill effect, the skin ripples and wrinkles in a bizarre fashion. Whose arm is that hanging from your body? You ask. And have you looked at your knees lately? Don't even bother. Just trust me---it's bad.
Moles have started to reproduce themselves at will all over your body but show a particular fondness for your chest, neck and back. One might be considered a "beauty mark"; one thousand and you've moved past overkill----it's distracting, at best. And, I note happily, moles now come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. I'd have to say that skin-tag types are my favorites.....right up there with the ones that overnight grow a six-to-seven inch hair smack in the middle of 'em.
And, of course, your eyesight is so bad you might easily go several entire days before you realize you have got this long------usually black---hair sticking straight out of the side of your face. You normally don't see it yourself; someone else---a small, very loud child in the checkout line or your ex-husband's new child-bride or possibly, the worst-case scenario, your very own boyfriend will notice it and give it a little tug.
One of the reasons your eyesight is so poor is that your upper eyelids are spending most of their time hanging down into your actual line of sight instead of perching up there about your eyes displaying eye shadow, the way nature intended.
There seem to be two choices (or rather destinies for who would actively choose either one); You turn out to be one of those stringy, beef-jerky-looking old ladies or you're fat.
Let me address the under forty readers here for just a moment. First of all, you should know that, in my humble opinion, you are mere lava. It's a wonder you even have all your hands and feet. You really can't fathom this right now----I know because I remember......but you are a baby and you should not be out loose running around unsupervised. Trust me, nearly every choice you're making today is the wrong one, but take heart. Crazy as it sounds, it's apparently what you are supposed to be doing----nobody does it any different. And the consequences of all the stupid crap you are doing today, which you will regret, will make you a fabulous woman is just a few short years!
Go look in the mirror right this second. I know, you think you're a mess. But hey, listen to me! If you are under forty, you are a precious, darling girl, and you should put on the skimpiest garment you can legally wear in public and commence prancing around in it night and day because I promise that in about ten years, you are going to look back at photographs of yourself and say, "My Gawd---I was perfect!" What was I thinking? If I looked like that today, I would rule the world! I was thinking about that just the other day. If I had had any sense of how very adorable I was back then, I would have run naked down the middle of the street. So, honeychile, you ain't never gonna look this good again in your life, and you'd better be making that hay while the sun is shining 'cause I am here to tell you that a change is gonna come!
Now, while you're appreciating your current cuteness, run out and have your picture taken---the one you will want used in your obituary, especially if you plan on living a whole lot longer. You see it all the time in the paper; an obit with a picture of a winsome lass with a fetching smile and a devilish twinkle in her eye---a sweet young thing. When you read the obit to find out how someone so young was snatched from this good earth in such an untimely fashion, you learn that she was actually ninety-seven years old when she died. Trust me, you could drag your picture behind you car and leave it out in the rain and sun for two years, and it would fare better than you will in the aging process. Getting old is the rudest awakening you will ever have: It is the ultimate slap in the face with a wet squirrel.
You are probably anticipating aging with some degree of humor and.....denial. Oh, I know all about that. My best bud, Jana O'dell, and I used to plan ---when we were fifteen---how we would dye our hair blue. We would wear cinnamon-colored hose with reinforced heels and toes and roll them down at the knees. We would wear polyester short-sleeved, round-necked dresses that we had made ourselves. Mine was to be "a lovely shade of turquoise with patch pockets of royal blue" (all this is from an actual note we exchanged in the he ninth grade, which I still have). Our shoes would be those stretchy gold metallic things with the toes that curl up, which come in a bag in the sock department. We would take up smoking and keep one cigarette burning in an astray and one hanging off our lower lip at all time, especially while we're taking it would kind of flop up and down and sling ashes all over. We would have deep raspy, whiskey-sounding voices and we would yell a lot and be real crabby all the time and scream at the neighborhood kids to get out of your yards. We would have our hair ratted up professionally once a week and never comb it otherwise, and wrap our heads in toilet paper and put on big hair nets at night. We would wear glasses---thick, ugly ones----whether we needed them or not, with silver chains attached to keep them hanging around our necks when not in use. Our homes would be filled with ugly ceramic souvenirs and brightly painted statues of children with big eyes and small dogs. We would find useless items made from two-liter Coke bottles, coat hangers, and yarn to be wildly irresistible, and we would cover our furniture with clear plastic to "save" it.
Yes, we planned to do all this when we turned the ripe old age of forty.......knowing, as we did with the infinite wisdom that is the exclusive domain of the the incredibly young, that life would be completely over by then, anyway, so why not? My fortieth birthday was.....well, it was a some years back and I don't feel any different from the way I did at fifteen when I wrote that note to Jana. That's what's so madding about getting old: You still feel young and cute!
You know all those songs that exhort you to "shake your money-maker"? Listen to'em and shake while the shaken' is good because your entire body will turn into a veritable money pit before you can say "bilateral blepharoplasty" or even "eye job," for that matter. My advise to you is to go out and buy the cheapest clothes---- don't waste a penny on cosmetics. Oh, Lord, pre-forty, you can wash your face with Tide and use Vaseline for moisturizer, toss on a little mascara and lip gloss, and you look like you're a friggin' cover girl. Those of us on the slippery slope that is the Other Side of Forty can testify-----those days days are so over. Save your money. Consider it a trust fund for your old self, because trust me, it cost the proverbial shitload of money to maintain an old lady. Course there is an upside to getting older: You stop taking yourself so gawd-darn seriously.
Did the Wall Street Journal just call Gore smart? It's amazing how when you don't like someone new you can wax poetical about someone you disliked many years ago.
Mr. Obama's troops palpitate with excitement at the prospect of $1 trillion in "stimulus," though any net benefit to the economy likely will be incidental. Al Gore has thrown out the window any unpopular carbon taxes in favor of direct subsidies to his green energy investments. He sees the moment for what it is -- alarm about global warming has degenerated into a pretext. Billions will be diverted from useful purposes to create "green jobs" that deliver no meaningful impact on climate or the accumulation of atmospheric carbon.
And Malkin said that Bush allowed the subprime crisis to fester on national Fox TV? The world is definitely changing if these two examples are any example. See what happens when you stop drinking the Kool-Aid? If only it had been sooner. Like eight years ago. Unfortunately, it's more likely they changed the flavor for the new guy.
I have always loved Eartha Kitt. From the first time I saw her playing Catwoman on Batman to hearing her sing "Santa Baby", she was always a favorite of mine. I even used to have part of "Santa Baby" as my outgoing answering machine message durin the holidays, at least until Madonna screwed it up. Eartha you had a long life, if not a particularly happy one, but I will miss you and your talent. If I could sing I would say you were my inspiration. Rest in peace and thank you for all the happy memories.
Pull a prank, get sent to jail. That's where kids now get to learn the really good stuff like how to steal cars, break into homes and how to set up a successful street drug operation. Just as every crime is not the same, neither is every criminal. And now states that didn't want the rich to suffer by paying a few taxes that they wouldn't even notice, we will all suffer the results of kids learning to be hard core criminals instead of learning how to compete in the global market. As if there was nothing wrong with the economy that a little jail time couldn't fix. But those criminals are too busy spending their bailouts on things that will do nothing to improve the economy of the have nots and much more to insulate themselves as the have mores.
CNN.com has released the polling results of a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey taken during the period from Friday, December 19 through Sunday, December 22, 2008. Those taking the poll were asked questions that included one about their opinion of Vice President Dick Cheney's performance in office relative to others who had held the position. The results are graphically depicted below.
As the illustration shows, about 23 percent of those surveyed think Mr. Cheney is the "worst" Vice President, while another 41 percent rate him as "poor"; 34 percent judge him as "good," and one percent think he is the "best." The poll has a sampling error of approximately three percent.
The Dark Wraith should probably ask readers here what they think of Mr. Cheney's performance in office (just to feel the love one last time before Dick fades into the sunset).
How can you tell the difference between a drummer who is a conspiracy theorist and a drummer who is a cynic?
Answer: The cynic doesn’t show up.
Uh... why not?
Answer: The cynic already knows there won’t be an audience.
So, why does the conspiracy theorist show up?
Answer: He just pretends to play for the audience; he’s really there just to hear himself.
But the cynic could do that, too.
Answer: Yes, but if he’s really a cynic, he won’t even listen to himself.
At 6:00 p.m. on Friday, December 19, 2008, Michael Connell was killed when the single-engine Piper Saratoga he was piloting crashed on approach to the Akron-Canton Airport in northeastern Ohio. The plane was about 2.5 miles out when it went down, hitting the ground between two houses in the Stark County city of Uniontown, 10 miles southeast of Akron.
Michael Connell was the information technology expert some activists allege was the mastermind behind the rigging of the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. Mr. Connell was about to testify in Ohio, where his consulting business is based, about aspects of his vote rigging work in the Buckeye State. The non-profit group Velvet Revolution claims that a "tipster close to the McCain campaign" warned an investigator for the group last Summer that Connell's life was in danger and that he should not fly his plane because of the possibility of sabotage.
In late October of 2002, the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air A100 carrying liberal Minnesota Democrat Paul Wellstone crashed on approach two miles from Eveleth-Virginia Airport in Minnesota, killing Sen. Wellstone, his wife Sheila, their 33-year-old daughter Marcia, and five others people. The 58-year-old Wellstone was campaigning for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat. His death paved the way for his Republican opponent, St. Paul mayor Norm Coleman, to win the election. The National Transportation Safety Board ultimately ruled that pilot error caused the plane crash that killed Wellstone.
On October 16, 2000, then-Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, his son, and an aide were killed when the plane in which they were flying, a Cessna 335, crashed just weeks ahead of the election in which Mr. Carnahan was vying for a U.S. Senate seat against the incumbent Senator, John Ashcroft. Although dead, Carnahan went on to win the election against Ashcroft, whom President George W. Bush would subsequently appoint as United States Attorney General. Jean Carnahan, Mel Carnahan's widow, was appointed to take her late husband's seat in the Senate until a special election in 2002. Carnahan's wife lost the special election to Republican Jim Talent. The National Transportation Safety Board ultimately ruled that the primary cause of the accident that killed Mel Carnahan was disorientation of the pilot, Carnahan's 44-year-old son Roger, who had not long before the crash taken special training to handle flight emergencies involving the Cessna 335.
How can the cynic still call himself a 'musician' if he hates what he does so much?
Answer: Because music is his life, man.
And now, for some audio levity:
The Dark Wraith encourages readers to always be prepared for the occasional interruption.
The mother of the boy who got Bristol Palin, the daughter of 2008 Republican nominee for Vice President Sarah Palin, pregnant has been arrested on drug charges. Sherry Johnston, seen at left in trailer trash chic motif, is the mother of Bristol's 18-year-old fiancé, Levi Johnston. The elder Johnston was taken into custody by Alaska State Highway Patrol troopers this morning on six felony drug counts related to possession and production of a controlled substance.
While police have not provided extensive details as of the dateline of this article, the types of charges filed against Ms. Johnston have fueled speculation that Levi's mother was running a meth lab.
Because Sherry has now been released on $5,000 bail, she will be able to join her son and Bristol, along with Sarah Palin and the rest of Bristol's family, in celebrating the delivery of Bristol's baby, which might be born as early as this weekend.
Hospital personnel have not indicated if Sherry will be providing homemade pharmaceuticals to help Bristol with labor pains.
UPDATE: Police now say that the charges against Sherry Johnston relate to the opioid OxyContin, a Schedule 11 controlled substance known as "hillbilly heroin" because of its powerfully addictive properties and its presumed popularity among lower-class American Caucasians, although it was this drug for which the wealthy Right-wing extremist talk-radio personality Rush Limbaugh was busted in 2003.
Aimed at protecting customers and enhancing public confidence in financial institutions, Federal regulators adopted "sweeping" new credit card rules, approved Thursday morning by the Treasury Department's Office of Thrift Supervision.
The kicker: These new rules won't go into effect until July 2010.
So those lenders (the biggest ones are: Discover, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, American Express and HSBC Holdings) will continue to get their additional $10 billion a year in interest payments from consumers for a little while longer.
I have no attribute for this video other than that it was sent to me by BlondeSense blogger Peter of Lone Tree, who writes that it was sent to his significant other's sister-in-law. I would be offended by this show on more than one level were it not some of the best video editing and light choreography I have seen recently. If an attribute is known to anybody, please let me know so I can update this post with credit where credit is due.
Turn up the volume on your speakers and enjoy this relatively brief but very worthy show.
Update: With thanks to Foiled Goil for the citation, the above video is by [url=http://holdman.com/christmas/]Richard Holdman[/url].
I've always been an obituary junkie. If there's a long, fabulous obit accompanied by a picture obviously taken at least forty years earlier while wearing a sailor hat, then I'm hooked. If there's a nickname in quotes, say, Red, Zeke, or simply, Buddy, then my entire day is made.
I don't like obituaries that don't list the cause of death. Even if the newly dead was ninety-six, one can't assume. I crave details. I must know whether death resulted from accident, disease, or simply an unfortunate tuna casserole.
I don't like obituaries that don't list charities. Not long ago, I read about a mother of six who died at seventy-one and specified that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to any organization supporting the impeachment of President Bush. You just know she died with her little fists all curled up, mad as a mule chewing bumblebees.
I don't like obituaries that just list the bare facts: name, age, place of death, relatives, funeral details. No, no. I want to know that the deceased love the Kansas City Chiefs, Reese's Pieces, Dale Jr, and going to Mr. Tang's Imperial Wok on all-you-can-eat crab legs night. People, is this too much to ask?
Occasionally, readers are rewarded with a list of survivors that includes beloved family pets: "Al is also survived by his faithful standard poodle, Rhett, and a somewhat sickly betta fish he purchased at Wal-Mart only a week before he died and had named Stumpy for reasons unknown to anyone else."
I like obituaries that aren't afraid to let loose a little bit. "Crossing Jordon," "racing into the arms of the Almighty," and "leaving all earthly cares behind" (including, perhaps, an unpaid Sears charge card and that nagging thumpa-lump-lump noise that had been coming from beneath the hood of the LeSabre for a couple of months now) are powerful descriptions, all.
I love obituaries that take the time to point out that the deceased died "peacefully, surrounded by his entire family." Celebrities appear to be especially good at this. Not only are they rich and famous, but their families can assemble dutifully and peacefully around the globe on a moment's notice. I hate them.
Still, it's a tremendous accomplishment for any family to be assembled in one room and peaceful. But, unlike the Christmas table, in which all manner of grievances tend to spill out over the creamed onions, deathbed etiquette demands that Aunt Pearl refrain from calling Uncle Earl "that lying apostate of hell who cheated on me back in '57."
Course, I'm waaay to young too be talking about death and dying. I guess, but it's a redneck thing to obsess over these matters. Funeralizing is second only to hospital visitations in occasions that call for you to dress in your best Jaclyn Smith for Kmart Collection.
I did an inordinate amount of hospital-visiting when my dear friend Leona was admitted. the best part of our visits was listening to this wiry little redneck woman who was her roommate on the other side of the curtain.
Here's something you need to know: Little old redneck women are always pissed off. They can't help "themselves." Maybe it's from a lifetime of living with a man who thinks a talking bass plaque is a suitable fortieth anniversary gift. Leona's roommate was one of the most hardcore little old rednecks I've ever encountered, so naturally I just pulled up a chair and listened while Leona just scowled.
Annabelle had started firing questions as soon as Leona got settled into her bed. "What're you in for?" she snapped. "Oh," said Leona, "we thought it was my heart, but it turned out to be my gall bladder, so I'm going to be just fine." "Hmmmmph!" Annabelle snorted. "Don't you let'em tell you you didn't have no heart attack, honey. When I had my first heart attack, they tired to tell me it was just indigestion. They don't know nothing! Damn thing like t' have blowed the whole back of my heart off!" Leona gasped. "That was almost as bad as the time I had to call 911 on account of my backbone was a-poking outside of my skin. They said it wasn't, but they don't know squat. You don't believe me? Just feel this scar on my back ratch'ere. Go on! Feel of it, honey. You know, I've lost all the feeling in my arms and laigs ever since I got the sugar.. ( Redneck vocabulary tip: A good redneck doesn't know about diabetes. It's always the sugar. They also call Alzheimer's old-timer's and don't know that's funny. (In a related vocabulary note, redneck old people always call SUVs SOBs, and they really don't know what they're saying. You haven't lived until you've hear old Aunt Bettisue say, quite innocently, "That there SOB's gonna run right over us, he's so big.")
Redneck women of all ages love to dress up any ailment, no matter how minor. My redneck friend Vera Lynn is particularly blessed with a colorful vocabulary when it comes to her "ladies time." "I swear I'm flushing clots the size of a London broil," she announced one day at lunch. Check, please.
Elderly redneck women will go to dramatic lengths to get attention. My friend's mama used to look both ways down the street before carefully lying down in the shrubbery near her front door with just her legs showing from the kneecaps down. The first time I saw this, it was naturally quite upsetting, and I raced to help. My friend stopped me. "Oh, hell, hon, that's just Mama's way of getting attention. She's forever hiding the the shrubbery and pretending to have blacked out. Come on in and borrow that casserole dish you needed; she'll crawl out directly." I tell you this so you'll have a bit of context when you consider Annabelle's conversations.
During a break in a long discussion about her latest bout of hemorrhoids ("I swanee they're as big as sofa cushions"), I notice a spit cup surface from under Annabelle's bedcovers. For a few moments, all you could hear in the hospital room was the sound of an old woman's spit hitting the side of a East Jesus 1992 National Champions mug. The relative peace was disrupted, as it always is when the redneck woman has company in the hospital. A friend had dropped by to visit but confessed he was nervous. "I haven't been in a hospital since my brother shot himself in the leg on account of trying to commit hare Krishna."
Somebody brought fried chicken.
Leona and I, bored by the Falcon Crest reunion that was taking place on the TV overhead, just soaked it all up, including a lengthy visit from Annabelle's preacher, a thunder-voiced Pentecostal who sold double-wides by day. He'd come straight from his weekly visit counseling all the lost sheep in the "pentenchurary."
"Did you see my Edwin?" Annabelle asked. "Shore did. He said he didn't rob that Quick Stop, and he can prove it." "Course he can! My baby's innocent as the day he was born. Which like t've killed me. He weighed damn near sixteen pounds, ya know. They had to remove all my internal organs just to prize him out. They say you can't live without a liver, but I been doin' just fine. I knew they didn't put everything back. Saw it sittin' on the counter just like it needed some fried onions with it." "Merciful heavens," Leona half groaned.
The next day, rolling out of Annabelle's life forever more, Leona waved good-bye. Annabelle, not a sentimental sort, just yawned. "On your way out, tell that boney little hank' o' har out at the desk I need the pan. Did I tell you about my hemorrhoids?"
As in I told you so. Yesterday. I didn't to mention the lack of jobs because it wasn't necessary. How can you have a job if your boss is unemployed or all the companies in the area have either gone bankrupt, moved to another country or the founders died and the family took the money and ran?
This would be funny if it wasn't so doggone stupid. And how was it missed for so long?
The same way everything else over the last eight years was missed until it was so obvious that every blind man knew it was a white elephant in the room. At the very least it was because it was determined to be somebody else's problem. The victim, name known now as Obama. instead of the real perpetrators.) It's the only way the almost never right can live with themselves. Mattresses are going to look mighty attractive soon.
Looking for a job in California? Don't look here unless you want to know which ones are laying off workers at the year's end. If the CSAA in Elk Grove is laying off 346 workers, does that mean they are closing the office? And then the list disappeared. You don't think they're hiding anything do you?
Of, God I will pray, I will plead, I will grovel, I will even begin to believe in smiting one's enemies if you would please, please make these people go away. Preferably with their vile (appalling, bad, base, coarse, contemptible, corrupt, debased, degenerate, depraved, despicable, dirty, disgraceful, disgusting, evil, filthy, foul, horrid, humiliating, ignoble, immoral, impure, iniquitous, loathsome, low, mean, miserable, nasty, nauseating, nefarious, noxious, perverted, repellent, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, shocking, sickening, sinful, sleazy*, stinking*, ugly, vicious, vulgar, wicked, worthless, wretched) wishes unfulfilled. Resorted to using a thesaurus, because I couldn't come up with enough words to express the disgust I felt upon reading the article, much less them using their Lord's name in vain. I seem to remember that is also a sin, one that even comes before murder or having sex with someone else's wife. And I think we can tell they completely missed the one about false witness.
In the Woo Hoo! not surprised position. Net neutrality, more smoke drifting past the on the part I sit on. Too bad it's the kind of smoke that leaves ashes in its wake instead of the kind that leaves stashes fondly remembered.
Know what happens when no one lives in foreclosed homes and has to live in a tent city? Oh well, at least the cleaning bill goes down.
I said I would and I've been trying to remember this as best I can, it comes from the late great Justin Wilson, the cookin' Cajun.
I ain't no cajun or no great cook but on occasion I can come up with something, with some help from friends.
This is Turnips Au Gratin, from the gourmet and gourmand book, if I can remember it right.
Equal amounts of the following,
Taters, slicers, whatever kind you like.
Turnips, best after a good frost.
Onions, big slicers, whatever type you prefer.
Cheese, Parmesan, Romano and Cheddar.
A few eggs, real ones from a friend if you can.
Some white wine, whatever kind you like.
Louisiana sauce (I prefer tepatio), black pepper and Greek spice if you can find it.
Slice them veggies about 1/4" thick and then quarter them.
Grease up a cassarole pan with motor oil (not really) and layer the indredients in any order you want, but I suggest taters on the bottom, followed by onions and turnips, with the Parmesan and Romano cheeses (shredded) in between in an alternating pattern. Continue this until your casserole pan is almost full.
Then take a deep drink of the white wine if you are so disposed, get a bowl and go out back to prepare the final. Take two fresh eggs, crack 'em and add some of that white wine (don't bogart that my friend) and the other spices to your preference. Whoop the shit out of it until reasonably homogeneous and then , Oops!
Should have said to preheat the oven to 350*, shit.
Slice the Cheddar cheese and have it ready, now that the oven is ready so am I, where is the rest of that wine?. Pour the whopped up batch of stuff over the mess in the casserole and quickly place into the oven. After about 45 minutes, take it out and add the sliced Cheddar, covering the top with the slices of cheese. This way the cheese will brown but not blacken, I hope.
When the cheese on top has browned the veggies should be done too. I have not dome this for many years so for anyone attempting this realize that this is on your nickle. I wish you good fortune and great luck.
May the great spirit bless all of you, and thanks for all this.
It has been my experience that dogs will fight over this, so I have to be careful. Done even reasonably right it is pretty damn good. Screw the cholesterol.
Listened to a show this AM on NPR about Charles Dickins, my multiple great uncle. So to all I wish the best, and I hope not to hear strange sounds tonight. Mostly I wish I had inherited some of his writing skills.
Bah, humbug! Debtors prison, that's for me. Surplus population.
A piece of bird and some sweet taters, I'll make it for a week or so.
It's Sunday and I couldn't resist using the title. I'm not known for using ghetto jargon but this time I can't resist. Nigga pleez! Did I spell that right? It isn't my normal language.
For eight years I've been asking how dumb the crew without a clue thought Americans were. And everyday reveals even more stupidity. Well, we weren't born this morning, we didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday and some of us were able to count all the train tracks, left and right turns and the bridges that fell down to get us to this point. And by the way, Iraqis didn't want him to come over for a hello or goodbye visit.
Add to the fact that the report was never published about the corruption in Iraq, just like every other report that Bush and Cheney have swept under the Presidential seal because they truly believe that our ignorance is bliss and theirs is by divine right and you have a Presidency that is more inept than anybody who lived through the Nixon years would ever thought could be worse. Obviously they didn't want Joe the Plumber to know how badly they had screwed up the clusterf*ck that is known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, aka Mission Accomplished, which is turning out to be the fruitcake everyone passes around at Christmas hoping to never see again. For a group of idiots determined not to relive the debacle of the Vietnam War, they've managed to repeat everything except the napalming of innocent citizens. And I'm pretty sure that story will come out eventually. They haven't missed anything else so far so why should that be an exception.?
Have you noticed how the immigrant problem hasn't been in the news as much? How can there be a problem when even people from impoverished countries don't consider America as a place of pride where you can improve your families lives by pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Not only do we no longer make boots in this country, we use Velcro because the people in charge think that the average citizen might find that bootstraps are too difficult to operate and besides some of those people not on game shows just might make a success of themselves and that can't be allowed to happen under any circumstances. If Americans start filling in the dots, crossing the t's and dotting the i's, the curtain is going to come off the whole shebang and all the people of Emerald City will see that it was just a group of inept puppet pulling the wrong strings.
Meanwhile we have 36 more days of revelations. Not eight days of lights or twelve days of Christmas or the couple of days of that Kwanzaa thing I don't understand the purpose of. No, not even the kind from the last chapter of the Bible where the world comes to an end and only the good people go to heaven that the crew without a clue has been so earnestly working for. These are the kind of news stories that should make you want to make to pull your head out of the sand and cry tears of pain that our country has fallen so far from its ideals.
You remember the ideals our forefathers fought for don't you? Freedom from tyranny, security in one's own home, a whole bunchh of others that have disappeared and the ability to work for a living that would support your whole family instead of the whole family trying to support the one room travel trailer that is all that is left of their years of hard work and expensive schooling. That kind of thing.
It isn't so much that our pride in being Americans is losing its luster, it's that now we have to depend on other countries to give us our buffing. We'd just better hope they decide to use aluminum oxide grade instead of ceramic or we can forget sitting down for a very long while.
It seems President-elect Obama's transition team clashed with the head of NASA last week about how much the space agency can cut from its budget. According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel Obama's people want to cancel the Ares rocket and Orion capsule program, which would eventually return Americans to the moon and then, later, take our space travelers to Mars. NASA Administrator Mike Griffin wants nothing to do with axing the Ares/Orion work, and rumors are swirling that a meeting last week between Griffin and Obama's transition member for space-related matters, Lori Garver, got pretty ugly.
It is worth noting that Lori Garver used to be an Associate Administrator at NASA. Her stint at the space agency consisted for the most part of being nothing more than a "public affairs officer." She was not involved in engineering, planning, budgeting, or any other hands-on work there. Once she had done her time on Uncle Sam's tab, she started her own "consulting firm" called Capital Space LLC, which is rather hard to track down but seems to be involved in sucking up public funds for private entrepreneurial endeavors related to space transport. One of her consulting gigs involves DFI International, where her job is to "...assist DFI's senior management in strategic planning and business development activities related to the firm's corporate space practice."
Yes, Obama's Lori Garver is a corporate shill of the worst kind: she's a "consultant."
Read that: "lobbyist." Just like countless others, she parlayed a stint in public service to start a "consulting" business so she could rent her little Blackberry of access to government insiders; and given that she now makes her dime with paychecks from the private sector, she has every incentive to interfere with NASA's public space programs because she's a point person for private companies that want to take over what is going to be a hugely lucrative business for the rest of the 21st Century.
Space transport? There's going to be way too much money in that business to let the public sector do it.
Anyway, the folks at NASA really shouldn't be worried about its future manned space program getting canned. The way Barack Obama is promising to spend money like there's no tomorrow, federal budget deficits that are already staggering thanks to years of Bush Administration madness will now go so high that we can just strap astronauts on them and make it to Mars in no time. As Buzz Lightyear would say, "To infinity and BEYOND!"
Oh, yes, one more thing. Obama and his people want NASA Administrator Griffin out. This is the same Obama cabal that has no problem with the likes of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and FBI Director Robert Mueller staying in their positions. Robert Gates, whose unbelievably appalling history is a disgrace to this nation, and Robert Mueller, a man who has shredded any right to privacy Americans might once have enjoyed, get to stay; but the head of NASA has to go.
Yeah. Right. That makes sense.
No, really, it does. But only if you stop thinking Obama's presidency is something other than the Bush Administration with every bit of the arrogance, a whole lot of the corruption, a good dose of the viciousness, more than a hint of the short-sightedness, but not one shred of the incompetence.
Dec. 12: Air America Radio’s Thom Hartmann joins MSNBC’s David Shuster to explore the political ramifications of perceptions that the GOP position on the auto bailout is about punishing American labor.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the state Supreme Court today to declare Governor Rod Blagojevich "unable to service," setting in motion a process that could force him out of office by the end of the day. A spokesman for the Governor told ABC News that Blagojevich has no plans to resign, "at least today."
The nature and severity of the allegations" in the federal complaint should force the court to "stop the Governor from performing his duties," said Madigan. She said the court should allow Lt. Governor Patrick Quinn to temporarily assume the Governor's duties, under a state law that has never been used.
The attorney general said the court, at the very least, should prevent Blagojevich from filling the U.S. Senate seat he is accused of trying to sell to the highest bidder.
The Illinois attorney general today asked the state's top judges to strip Gov. Rod Blagojevich of any government powers, saying corruption charges make it impossible for him to serve.
At a televised news conference, Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan said her office had asked the state Supreme Court to grant a temporary restraining order, the first step in a lawsuit. She said the court cannot remove Blagojevich from office, which requires action by the Legislature, but it can decide that he is unable to serve and that the lieutenant governor should exercise the powers of the state's chief executive.
"The impeachment process will take time," she told reporters. "In the interim, state government is paralyzed by a governor who is incapable of governing.
"The Illinois Constitution gives the Illinois Supreme Court the ability to determine whether the governor has the ability to serve," she argued.
It was unclear when the court would issue a ruling on Madigan's request, but she said she hoped it would be within five to 10 days. The state Legislature is scheduled to meet next week, but impeachment proceedings could take weeks.
"The pervasive nature and severity of these pending charges disable Mr. Blagojevich from making effective decisions on critical, time-sensitive issues," the attorney general's office argued in its pleadings. At the news conference, Madigan cited such issues as state borrowing that could be hampered by the charges against the governor.
Sign warning of rats in Blagojevich's alley taken down
Earlier this week, John White, the Chicago Sun-Times Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, shot a picture of the governor ducking out of his Ravenswood Manor home and into a black SUV driven by his bodyguards to avoid passing through a news media gauntlet.
The photo showed Blagojevich next to a city sign that said, "Warning" and "Target Rats" with a picture of a rat inside a red bulls-eye.
The delicious irony of an alleged political rat being photographed next to the warning sign about actual rats was apparently not lost on the governor, his family or staff. [snip]
The problem is, the sign was posted for safety reasons. It states: "This block has been safely baited where needed as of 10/6/08 "Rat bait has been buried where rats can find it, but where it's unlikely to be found by children and pets. If you do suspect that the bait has been ingested by person or pet, immediately contact your physician or the poison control center."
Emanuel: I'm Getting Death Threats Over Blagojevich Scandal
Obama's Chief of Staff Refuses to Go to Work Because of Media Stakeout
The President-elect's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said today he won't go to the Chicago Presidential transition offices in order to avoid reporters seeking to ask him whether he had contact with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich about the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama's election.
Emanuel appeared "beet-red," according to an ABC News cameraman who was invited inside by Emmanuel to use his bathroom this morning.
"I'm getting regular death threats. You've put my home address on national television. I'm pissed at the networks. You've intruded too much, " Emanuel said, according to the cameraman.
Emanuel has refused to comment as to whether he is the un-named Presidential advisor cited in the FBI affidavit filed in the Blagojevich case.
What a Corker! And the right hand said to the left hand "I don't need your help to jerk myself off, I'm going to show you how to be a fiscal conservative again. We won't even need tissue paper." Meanwhile, what's left of the American Automobile industry is flushed down the toilet. And why don't the Republicans in Congress care? That's way too easy to answer.
Because they have a salary that's way too high for the job they aren't even trying to accomplish; they have health care for when their ulcers (that they might not be reelected or any other physical problems that affect "normal" people and then the taxpayer so nicely pays it for them without ever seeing a bill to make sure they aren't being overcharged!) goes bad; because they really don't realize that it is their constituents who are the ones in major financial trouble (and who gives a flying fig about them since most of the Senators aren't up for election for the next two to four years and they know American memories are short, name the last 10 Presidents in under ten seconds) and they know that after the inauguration they will still be able to go on a junket vacation on the taxpayers few remaining dimes. Because we all know that the solution to this problem is to cut back everyone's wages and eliminate all pensions except for those in government and the problem will magically solve itself using the free market system. Of stupidity. Whatever happened to making government so small it could be drowned in a bathtub? Or did Katrina show that little plan wasn't going to work?
As I sit here and watch the country I was willing to bleed and die for, I wonder why it took me so long to realize that my country truly is apple shaped and that we are well on our way to a fatal heart attack or stroke. Then I realized that the people currently in power think all those stories about soup lines (great link with pictures and everything!) and The Grapes of Wrath were just brilliant works of fiction to make the have nots not feel so alone and that it really was never that bad, will never be that bad and it was probably made up in the first place to give the photographers something to do. Methinks that sometime soon the crew without a clue will finally realize what the Second Amendment was really about...and that it had nothing to do with owning guns just because you wanted to.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
It has everything to do with making sure that once again the have mores will understand that the have nots have had about as much not as they can take and still call themselves men and women instead of slaves. We may not have taxation without representation, but we certainly have had representation without repercussions to the perpetrators of our current mess.
If we all work together, we just might get both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights back into the positions of authority that they held for hundreds of years before this bunch of bozos decided to drive the Escalade over the Grand Canyon to see if it could fly.
Without wings, a pilot or parachute for anyone other than the owners.
The sidebar feature "Quoth the Dark Wraith" over at The Dark Wraith Forums affords me the opportunity to feature brief commentary on current news events. One week ago, on December 3, 2008, the installment read as follows:
If Blagojevich appoints himself to complete Obama's term in the Senate, he could then leave Illinois and rightly declare that he did so of his own free will and not because of a mob chasing him out with pitchforks and torches. The only downside to this deal is that Washington would then be saddled with the likes of a useless, incompetent legislator. Then again, in Washington, who would notice?
On December 9, 2008, federal authorities arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on charges related to his alleged efforts to trade cash and favors for his appointment of the person to complete President-elect Barack Obama's current term in the U.S. Senate.
The federal prosecutor overseeing the investigation is none other than Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois, perhaps best known as the special prosecutor appointed under Attorney General John Ashcroft (who recused himself in the matter) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the leak of the name of the CIA non-cover operative Valerie Plame because of her husband's outspoken criticism of some of the Bush Administration's lies to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq. That work by Fitzgerald led to one individual, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, being indicted and convicted on five counts. None of Fitzgerald's charges against Libby were related to the leak: the indictment was not the result of what Scooter did, but instead about him lying to Fitzgerald about what he did. Libby, an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, did not serve his prison sentence; it was commuted by President George W. Bush.
U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald spent approximately one million dollars on the investigation. The concluding paragraphs of this article will revisit in a most unflattering way the matter of Patrick Fitzgerald; but the topic of the hour is Rod Blagojevich and the amazing crater he has just made of his career, and so it is to that grim but altogether fascinating spectacle that attention must first be turned.
Rumors abound about how Blagojevich's pay-to-play gambit was discovered by the feds. Although some of the Governor's more vociferous detractors simply declared in conversations (at least with me) that he was going to extract some benefit for the appointment of Obama's successor in the Senate, a relatively new theme centers around the role of President-elect Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, in ratting on the Governor. While this angle might be nothing more than spin from Obama operatives ensuring that no one hangs the corpse of Blagojevich around their guy's neck, it is certainly not outside the realm of possibility that Emanuel did, indeed, tip off the feds. Rahm is a hard-ball player in the old Chicago tradition. Blagojevich is swirly bait in the old high school tradition. The eventual conclusion of their relationship has an almost Kant-like categorical imperative of final suffering for the twerp end of the incipient Hegelian dialectic.
To go anywhere in Illinois politics, a certain greater or lesser degree of association with shady characters (the word "mobsters" is harsh and archaic) is absolutely necessary, and both Rahm Emanuel and his new boss must exercise the time-honored skill of keeping a perfectly straight face when talking about ethics and other such matters dear to gooey New Age airheads who pontificate about business and public life. That having been noted, political corruption is an art: get it wrong and go to jail; do it right and rise to your level of incompetence. Getting it wrong involves one or more of the following: sloppiness, stupidity, and/or playing a hand without permission of major components of the rest of the machine. Blagojevich made all three mistakes.
Men like Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama stick pretty well to the rules. The gang to which they belong is seasoned, refined, and long on the genius of combining group wisdom with gut reactions. Those traits were and remain important qualifications Obama and Emanuel share, and their king makers knew that about both of them from the young men's early days in public life. They are smart, savvy, and generally careful.
Their styles differ vastly, however. Emanuel actually cultivates his bad-boy image: lest anyone forget his more famous forays into the outrageous, like bellowing "DEAD!" while stabbing a steak knife into a table as he named fellow Democrats he didn't like, Rahm will not be shy in offering a reminder. Obama, on the other hand, does his dirty work through proxies, as when he kept personal distance from the "scandal" involving his opponent Jack Ryan, who was politically destroyed during the 2006 senatorial campaign by stories that his ex-wife had accused him in divorce papers of soliciting her to go into swingers' nightclubs where women were known to publicly give their male partners oral sex. (For those not up on celebrity vitae, Ryan's ex-wife is Jeri Ryan, most famous for her role as "7 of 9" in the science fiction TV series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, wherein she played the role of an alien who wore a uniform that can be described as little more than a latex spray paint job on her generously endowed, exceptionally undulating body.) In Chicago gangland terms, Rahm Emanuel is a fist in the face (with his own ring's mark leaving the permanent scar), while Barack Obama is a knife in the back (with someone else's fingerprints on the handle still protruding from the kidney region). As a cautionary note, run like Hell from the successful bad boys living on the East Side; run even faster from the successful good boys living in the better part of town.
Concerning bad behavior by public officials, rumors, accusations, and even the occasional brush with law enforcement personnel will always be necessary annoyances on the up-hill climb. For political survivors, nothing will stick, friends will outnumber enemies, and the majority of people who matter in one way or another will be clueless, understanding, or less than willing to engage in a pissing contest with a water-swilling rhino.
Although once part of a strong, understated Chicago gang that featured his wife's father, Richard Mell, Rod Blagojevich cast his lot with the wrong side of the dirt track, aligning himself ever deeper with now-convicted money man Tony Rezko. That relationship, along with other things, alienated Mell. Blagojevich's wife, Patricia, got heavily involved with Rezko, too, earning considerable percentages of her annual income through business relationships with Tony and his operations. Had the Blagojeviches stayed in the good graces Patricia's dad, Rod would have had a better chance of a solid, long career that would have been more than adequately rewarding financially. He chose otherwise, though, and by the end he had no one to do his dirty work for him; that's why he, himself, was on the horn hustling that Senate seat instead of keeping personal distance from the sleazy work of hawking his merchandise. In one conversation the feds taped, Patricia can be heard harping obscenity-laced encouragement to egg Rod on as he did his hustle. From up-and-coming insider backed by heavy-hitters of the Chicago Democratic Machine, Rod Blagojevich had, in his final days of glory, been reduced to a phone salesman with a foul-mouthed harpy serving as his quality control manager.
Blagojevich became the Governor of Illinois like most have in the past: "downstate" voters (those not in Chicago, its suburbs, and its exurbs), do not have much of a say in what happens, even though the state capitol is in Springfield, more than halfway from Chicago to St. Louis. Downstate, conservative and Right-wing values are far stronger as a rule, and Blagojevich was, to some extent, nothing more than the most recent pick of people the downstaters knew little about, although he did come into office on a wave of annoyance with his immediate predecessor, George Ryan, Sr. (no relation to Jack Ryan), who was convicted in 2006 of corruption in office. Interestingly, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald spearheaded that investigation, too, but that is no indication whatsoever that Fitzgerald is politically ambiguous. George Ryan was so incompetent that even Right-wingers and conservatives at the Chicago Tribune were glad to see him taken out like the trash. That's the way it is in Chicago: politics is politics, but trash removal is an essential public service.
On a more personal, professional level as a college teacher, I became aware of Rod Blagojevich when he used his new office as Governor of a Midwestern state to score political points with a public speech about education, making a spectacle of himself by waving around an enormous stack of what he described as rules and regulations created by the Illinois Department of Education, declaring, "This is a nightmare of biblical proportions," as he made his case for some kind of take-over of the state regulatory agency that oversees elementary and secondary education. His speech immediately generated controversy because, for one thing, the huge stack of papers he had in his hand apparently included many that were either blank or had only a few lines of print. A little more substantively, while serving as a legislator, he supported the abomination of No Child Left Behind and similar "reforms" that were the well spring that had forced states to build the detailed, complex, and voluminous operational regulations that consumed so many pages of bureaucratic paperwork. Moreover, conservative observers made a valid point in claiming that Blagojevich's demand for a take-over of the state's education agency was nothing other than a means by which he could have control of an agency into which he could insert incompetents, academic theoreticians, and other useless sorts from the teachers' union that had helped him become Governor.
By the time "Blago" (as newspapers came to label him in width-restricted headlines) was pounding the phones like a caffeine-gulping boiler room telemarketer, he had few supporters and no prospects for a long political career, even if he were to have appointed himself to complete Obama's term in the Senate. He was disliked with an unusual intensity in the downstate (which, as mentioned above, does not really matter all that much most of the time), and he had outlived any usefulness to Illinois power brokers, considering they now have an enormously more worthy and worthwhile friend about to move into a big white house in Washington, D.C.
In his own way, though, with no prospect for a notable life in public service, Rod Blagojevich did the one and only one thing he could: he played a high, risky card for his own, personal welfare; and, in the process, he pole-vaulted over just about every other corrupt politician cranked out of the Chicago Democratic Machine to claim the title of The Most-Stupidly-Corrupt Politician in Illinois History. The prison term he will eventually serve is a modest price for such a distinction. In an era when just about anyone with any sense at all knows that law enforcement agencies are watching everyone with the passion of old church ladies peeking out their windows at 10 o'clock, a Democrat in Chicago thinking he could use regular phone lines over and over again to hawk an illegal deal on the scale of selling a United States Senate appointment is simply mind-boggling. The feds do thousands of sneak-and-peek hits with virtually no probable cause other than phony "tips" they make up, themselves; those feds, as well as adventuresome local police, set up all kinds of phony al-Qa'ida-type recruitment Websites to catch idiots just wandering around the Internet surfing for something weird, and they pose as under-aged tarts to bring out the latent pervert in not-so-latent losers; the feds have legal license to use creepy technology to look at the naked body of anyone who wants to ride in an airplane; the feds even have technology to look through solid walls of buildings so they can see what's going on without having to go through the inconvenience of obtaining a warrant from a court. Furthermore, Blagojevich was working in the jurisdiction of a U.S. Attorney appointed by the most ideologically driven presidency in modern American history. What could possibly have possessed the Governor of Illinois to think he was somehow not subject to this nation's brutal dismissal of rights to privacy that used to be afforded the innocent and the mendacious alike?
That question's easy to answer: Rod was dumb. If evolution really were an unassailable theory, he would have been removed from the human gene pool before he bred. As it is, his two little daughters, 10 and 4 years of age, will have to live not just with the humiliation of a convicted felon for a dad, but also with the legacy of what could very well be hereditary stupidity. Thankfully, President-elect Obama supports stem cell research that may one day give them hope of gene rectification therapy.
And now, this story would not be complete were Patrick Fitzgerald not brought forth as the object of unmitigated castigation, scorn, ridicule, and disrespect. Among other articles I have written, some of which I cite below, is "One Thousand Fifteen," published in late April of 2006, in which I take the opportunity to provide a link between the fortunes and follies of Blagojevich and Fitzgerald; as such, the current article is something of a fulfillment of my version of fair and balanced disdain for and disgust with just about everything about the public norms of our times and the political figures who exemplify the various faces of those disgraceful norms.
The U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois, like every U.S. Attorney who has served under the Bush Administration, is nothing other than a partisan hack, notwithstanding the perennial drum of PR casting Mr. Fitzgerald as some kind of square-jawed Man O' Law. The ranks of the U.S. Attorneys under the Bush Administration were filled under the strict watch of ideologically obsessed people like Monica Goodling, who virtually single-handedly vetted every federal prosecutor, judicial nominee, and significant Justice Department job applicant on grounds that even the Justice Department, itself, later concluded were beyond the pale. Only "loyal Bushies" (as Goodling was alleged to have called them) were drawn to the cause of "justice." The toxic results in federal law enforcement efforts across the nation have been staggering: from 2001 to 2006, the Bush Administration's Justice Department prosecuted seven times as many Democrats as Republicans at the local level; anti-terrorism legislation like the Patriot Act, especially Section 213 (the "sneak and peak" provision), and its successors have been pressed into contorted service in matters ranging from drug trafficking to pornography; so-called National Security Letters administrative subpoenas prosecutors can use to gather evidence with no judicial oversight have become so abusively over-used that the Office of Inspector General of the Justice Department, itself, finally criticized the Bureau for its actions.
Patrick Fitzgerald is the fruit of a poison tree, and that poison cannot be ignored and most certainly cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to any given federal prosecution effort. Fitzgerald led a worthless, transparently outrageous investigation into the outing of a CIA spy by White House officials. He did not even compel President George W. Bush to testify under oath before a grand jury; instead, he conducted a private "interview" with Mr. Bush and allowed Vice President Dick Cheney, the man at the very center of the outing of the spy, to be right there beside the President during the conversation. Furthermore, Fitzgerald did not seem at all perturbed that his own Department of Justice obstructed efforts by Congress to obtain a transcript of the interview.
Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation totaled somewhere around a million dollars maybe two by the time the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is added in. Compare that with the staggering sums of tens of millions of dollars congressional Republicans spent on prosecutorial witch hunts of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, those wild goose chases ending up with nothing more than a single incidence of backing Clinton into a corner to get him to lie under oath about a chunky bimbo playing "Hail to the Chief on his flute made of beef."
While liberal and Leftist bloggers were virtually squealing with delight as they chanted "Go Fitzy!" during his investigation, I was already tearing the man up one side and down the other for his prosecutorial record, his prosecutorial conduct in the outing of Valerie Plame, and his history of prosecutorial bullying that was so over the top that he once went after a sitting judge who dared to rule against him.
The whole investigation into the outing of Valerie Plame, which I covered in Parts 1, 2, and 3 of my series "The Valerie Plame Scandal," got so bizarre that, at one point, a "journalist" named Jason Leopold, who had been kicked out at The Wall Street Journal, popped up at a Leftist news site called truthout, unabashedly claiming that Fitzgerald had secured a secret indictment against White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove. I quickly wrote and published "The Gaming Game" in which I thoroughly dismissed Leopold's gullible delusions. In a subsequent article, "The Woodshed," I sharply criticized those who had believed in con men like Jason Leopold and Patrick Fitzgerald. Finally, in my last two major pieces on the Valerie Plame scandal and the investigation, "The Color of Whitewash" and "A Brief Reminder about the Color of Whitewash," I again made my best effort to point out the utter folly of believing that the rule of law has anything whatsoever to do with the era of the Bush Administration and its law enforcers and administrators of "justice."
Subsequent to the investigation led by Patrick Fitzgerald, he warned that he would have little to offer Congress were he called to testify about what he had found, despite the fact that he eventually disclosed some stunning things he had discovered, like the fact that millions of e-mail messages from the White House had been deleted or destroyed, and that many of those messages, some of which might have been incriminating, had gone through private servers of the Republican Party, in direct violation of federal law. Although members of the Senate Judiciary Committee rumbled mightily about getting Fitzgerald under oath to tell the American people everything he had discovered, in the end the legislators knew very well that the square-jawed Man O' Law was not going to give them what they wanted, and he had told them as much when he indicated that it would be the job of Congress to pursue any charges of criminal wrongdoing by the Bush Administration. Presumably, that meant congressional investigators would have to gather their own evidence since Fitzgerald and his DoJ were not about to show the Senators the fruits of what taxpayer money had been used to find.
In essence, then, without saying it in so many words, Mr. Fitzgerald told the Senate, which had by that time come under nominal control of the Democrats, "Not only are you spineless Democrats too gutless to force my full and complete testimony, but you're too gutless, involved, culpable, and weak to go after Bush and his inner circle, yourselves, you pathetic cowards."
He was right, of course.
Unlike Rod Blagojevich, Patrick Fitzgerald is the real deal: whereas corruption in public office will lead to ruin of the stupid servant, corruption of public purpose will take the mendacious servant to new heights of praise and admiration. Blago served the master of his own intemperate greed. The master Fitzy serves, if no more admirable, is certainly far riskier to condemn and considerably more dangerous to stop in its capricious, politically tainted path of destruction born of ideological extremists and fed by the simpering cowardice of worthless legislators.
President-elect Obama should take heed, just in case Rod Blagojevich was nothing more than U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald's warm-up act on the gangs of Chicago. It's one thing for the Chicago boys to see to it that one of their own failed nerds gets taken out; it's quite another to shut down a racket like the Bush Administration's version of "justice."
New claims for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week, exceeding even gloomy expectations for an economy stuck in a recession that seems to be deepening.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial applications for jobless benefits in the week ending Dec. 6 rose to a seasonally adjusted 573,000 from an upwardly revised figure of 515,000 in the previous week. That was far more than the 525,000 claims Wall Street economists expected. [snip]
The number of people continuing to claim jobless benefits also jumped much more than expected, increasing by 338,000 to 4.4 million, the Labor Department said. Economists expected a small increase to 4.1 million. The figure for continuing claims lags initial claims by one week.
As a proportion of the work force, the number of people continuing to receive benefits is the highest since August 1992, when the U.S. was recovering from a relatively mild recession. The increase in continuing claims was the largest jump since November 1974, the department said.
Economists consider jobless claims a timely, if volatile, indicator of the health of the labor markets and broader economy. [snip]
Also Thursday, the U.S. trade deficit rose unexpectedly in October as a spreading global recession dampened sales of U.S. products overseas and the volume of oil imports surged by a record amount, the Commerce Department said.
The trade deficit rose to $57.2 billion in October, from an imbalance of $56.6 billion in September. Analysts had been looking for the deficit to decline to $53.5 billion on lower oil prices.
Jobless claims jump to 573,000, a 26-year high
Continuing claims spike by 338,000 to 4.43 million
The U.S. labor market weakened further last week, with the number of first-time filings for state unemployment benefits jumping by 58,000 to a 26-year high of 573,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The number of people collecting unemployment benefits rose by 338,000 to stand at 4.43 million, also the highest since late 1982. The increase in continuing claims in the week ended Nov. 29 was the most since 1974.
The jobless claims report shows businesses are laying off workers at a rapid pace, and finding employment is ever harder for those who've lost their jobs. Read the full jobless data report.
Last week's new unemployment applicants highest in 26 years
The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits surged to a 26-year high last week, Labor Department data showed on Thursday, as a deepening recession forced employers to cut back on hirings.
Bush and his GOP allies sure did a number on American workers. What a legacy. Can we finally put to rest the idea that the GOP knows anything about the economy? (And, can Democrats agree to never cave in to the GOP on economic issues?)
After months of no phone calls, either initiated or returned, I must assume that my brothers are dead, my nephews forgot they had a grandmother and mom is all I have left. And more than likely, not for much longer.
One son has made no attempt to talk to his mother since Mother's day and the other one is probably still pissed that I finally pointed out the obvious. He wishes she was gone, that it was all over and everyone could just get on with their "exciting" lives since the parents who treated us better than most, made sure that we got to see more than just the United States and didn't have a dime to leave us because they worked for a living, are finally no more.
And people worry that two members of the same sex getting married to each other will break up the fabric of the family.
The riches and spoils go to...no one that most of us know personally. Bail out the automakers and taxpayers will foot the bill for more years than the average Detroit cars run. Don't foot the bill and let the automakers go under and everyone pays. From lower tax revenues to unemployment claims for the almost under the water states. Don't worry, they'll get rid of pensions next and then whole families will have many opportunities to spend time together discussing what used to pass for an economy in this country while they all wait on the bread line. Together. Too bad nobody is bailing out the taxpayers since the money would probably go farther and be spread more equally around. To the people who really need it.
Duh! Of course I watch Simon Baker, I mean the Mentalist. Easy on the eyes (no wonder he's on CBS), relatively interesting stories and you can learn how to catch people in a lie. What's not to like? Plus, my family would have loved if I brought him home to dinner as Something New instead of the nothing I've brought home in the last 15 years.
California is finally equal to Louisiana. At least in bond ratings. California hasn't had one of those devastating hurricanes but the next earthquake should cause at least, if not more, damage. And that will be film at 11, 12, 1, etc. By everyone who has a camera. Which are most of the people in California. Jobs won't suffer too much since we barely have any that aren't related to the prison system or have been shipped off as National Guard to countries so they can be well trained for the stone age they'll find when they get back.
Obama wants the Illinois governor to resign but doesn't give a crap about Bush and Cheney lies, the lives they've cost, the military they've destroyed, the countries they've ruined, the deliberate outing of a CIA officer for political gain, not to mention the very suspicious firings and replacements of the US Attorneys for political reasons, or those little niggling facts about crimes against humanity. I smell change all right. From cow dung to bull shit.
While three Illinois Governors have gone to the Big House (just not the one they were elected for) did you know that three out of four (Madeline Albright, Condeleeza Rice and more than likely Hilary Clinton) of the last Secretary's of State have been women? I guess one could draw their own conclusion on how important the position is any more.) And so far they have all managed to stay out of jail even though Colin Powell (the token guy in the group who has manged to avoid most of the mudslinging about his false testimony on those WMDs that were hidden so well that the Road Runner couldn't find them.) No matter how hard Ken Starr tried to ruin the Clintons, she's still standing.
I have a friend that lives in the area and I haven't heard from her. I'm worried because as unlucky as I am, she has the unfortunate luck to be in the wrong place most of the time. I really hope she's all right.
The White House is sending a two-page memo to Cabinet members “and other high-ranking officials” with official talking points meant to bolster President Bush’s legacy. The memo, obtained by the L.A. Times, is called “Speech Topper on the Bush Record” and looks at Bush’s presidency through distinctly rose-colored glasses:
Titled “Speech Topper on the Bush Record,” the talking points state that Bush “kept the American people safe” after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, lifted the economy after 2001 through tax cuts, curbed AIDS in Africa and maintained “the honor and the dignity of his office.”
The document presents the Bush record as an unalloyed success.
Bush has been working diligently to create a picture of a successful presidency, from a Karl Rove-directed “Bush Legacy Project” to a series of farewell interviews in which Bush has been unable or unwilling to admit a single mistake.
"One of the things important about history is to remember the true history."
~ George W. Bush, Washington, DC, June 6, 2008
A three-year federal corruption investigation of pay-to-play politics in Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration has expanded to include his impending selection of a new U.S. senator to succeed President-elect Barack Obama, the Tribune has learned. [...]
See more discussion on this in Bob Johnson's diary.
According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired.
What an ass.
Update II: The allegations are detailed here.
Federal authorities took Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and his chief of staff John Harris into custody this morning on federal corruption charges. Before the arrest, the Chicago Tribune had reported that a “three-year federal corruption investigation of pay-to-play politics in Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration has expanded to include his impending selection of a new U.S. senator to succeed President-elect Barack Obama.” According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office:
A 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife. At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining:
– a substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;
– placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;
– promises of campaign funds – including cash up front; and
Sometimes people's names reflect their personality. Michael Savage is one of them. Instead of taking on the attributes of his angelic first name, he prefers reveling in the negative qualities of his last. The safest place for him is Arkham Asylum.
SAVAGE: Then we got into the dominatrix (he wishes!) issue. I don't understand that part of it. I truly don't understand it because any heterosexual woman today over the age of 25 who grew up in America is basically a dominatrix. You ask any heterosexual guy. Within a short period of time -- what do you think it's going to last? Ehhh -- 90 days and after that you're living with a dominatrix anyway, so what's the difference? Why do they have to go to a professional? What does a professional dominatrix do that an ordinary woman doesn't do in America today? Half the women look like post-op transvestites to begin with, trying to look like they're gay or keeping up with the mores of the society. You ever see what they look like? They thin themselves down, they're on some kind of diet pill. The lipstick looks like it was applied by, what's her name, Joan Rivers when she was high. They all have a mouth on them, and the guy is, like, pushed into the background. It's any wonder I'm in talk radio. The safest place for a man to be today is in talk radio and listening to it.
Perhaps a little time reading the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, a name that has been tossed around quite a bit lately, would help him on his so far fruitless quest for humanity.
Better to be silent and thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.
But that would require reading, knowledge of history and logical thinking and those qualities do not go very well with the diarrhea of the mouth that Savage, and his companion toddler Limbaugh, spew when their gags diapers are removed. The sad part is that these two burbled and babbled about how civility is practically nonexistent in the Democratic party. As opposed to being completely nonexistent from the last remnants of the I need my daddy to make it all better party.
Every once in a while the Supremes remember what their job is supposed to be (clue, they're not kingmakers) and refusing to review Obama's birth is one of them. Accidents of birth happen all the time. Let's use Paris Hilton as an example. She may have been born into wealth on American soil but anyone with half a brain knows she isn't qualified to be President much less a garbage collector. I, and my two brothers, were not born in the contiguous United States. We were, however, born on American ground while my father served his country when we still had bases that were located outside the continental US to protect us from the Red Menace, by virtue of being born in a United States hospital and are considered natural born citizens. Period. McCain was born while his father was overseas defending his country and that should not be considered a penalty. Obama was born in Hawaii after it became a state and that should be the end of the matter. At least it would be for thinking people, but it appears others escaped Arkham along with the potty mouths.
Over the last few weeks my friends have been having a difficult time and I've tried to support them as much as possible. My friend, we'll call her Lin, ruptured the maxillary artery on the left side of her face. It started as a simple nosebleed and with Kaiser's wonderful efficiency they sent her home twice in one day. On the third trip to the ER, one of the ER people finally noticed that the blood was spurting and not leaking. By the time they had admitted her she had lost half of her blood volume and it was five days before she was strong enough to survive the surgery to repair the aneurysm. This vibrant woman, who hapens to be a psychiatric nurse, lost over 20 pounds and a lot of the oomph from her personality.
My next door neighbor, we'll call him Dale, had his beloved dog die the other night. I would have a picture of Tycho but it was scheduled for the day after he was gone. All the dogs in the neighborhood knew something was up. Losing one's best friend is devastating, Especially for those of us who treat our dogs as our surrogate children.
On an even stranger note, every since Sarah Palin hit the airwaves my keyboard keeps dropping the g. Very frustratin.
Oh yeah, are we human or are we dancer? I must be old because I don't know what that means, but my signs are still vital and my hands are warm.
Militants in Pakistan have attacked two transport terminals in Peshawar, destroying more than 160 military vehicles that were to be used by United States and NATO forces. The successful raids indicate that the militants are keen to keep the Kyber Pass, which is important for efficient movement of Taliban and allied forces, from falling under the control of the U.S. and NATO.
The Pentagon called the effect of the attack "minimal" to anti-insurgency efforts in the region.
"Minimal"? The enemy wipes out 160 military vehicles at two separate transport facilities, and the Pentagon calls that "minimal"?! And this happened in Pakistan, which is (according to unsubstantiated rumors) supposed to be one of those "partners" of ours in the Global War on Terror?
Call me an alarmist, but I say we need better friends. That, or we need better fire retardant on our trucks.
When Japan attacked Pear Harbor, 67 years ago today, eighteen U.S. Navy ships were sunk or heavily damaged. The California, Nevada, West Virginia (which were rebuilt), the Oklahoma (raised but scrapped) and the Arizona were five, of the eight U. S. battleships in port, that sank.
Pearl Harbor commemoration to focus on U.S. response
Sunday's commemoration will feature a performance by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, morning colors, a Hawaiian blessing, a rifle salute by the U.S. Marine Corps and a recognition of those who survived the attack.
At 7:55 a.m., when the attack began 67 years ago, a moment of silence will be observed. The destroyer USS Chung-Hoon will render honors to the USS Arizona, which still lies beneath the harbor with its dead.
Almost 2,400 Americans were killed and nearly 1,180 injured when Japanese fighters bombed and sank 12 naval vessels and heavily damaged nine others on Dec. 7, 1941. The Arizona, which sank in less than nine minutes after an armor-piercing bomb breached its deck and exploded in the ship's ammunition magazine, lost 1,177 sailors and marines. About 340 of its crew survived.
Other major installations on Oahu, such as Wheeler Field and Kaneohe Naval Air Station, also were attacked.
'Never Forget.' As Pearl Harbor's Witnesses Slip Away The National World War II Museum Vows to Preserve Their Memories.
"Never forget." Those two words serve as both a remembrance and a call to action as America commemorates the 67th anniversary of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor this Sunday, December 7th.
The surprise air and submarine attack by Japan on the U.S. naval fleet stationed in Hawaii that early Sunday morning more than six decades ago shattered American neutrality in World War II. Pearl Harbor launched the country and its fledgling army headlong into a global conflict; it led to the invention of the atomic bomb; it created institutions, ideas and technologies that hold sway over us today.
It is impossible to overstate the significance of the "day that will live in infamy." [snip]
Though World War II was the most pivotal event of modern times, the memory of the valor and sacrifice of America's Greatest Generation grows harder to summon as the men and women who fought its battles both around the globe and on the Home Front are passing away. Veterans are dying at the rate of 900 a day, and vanishing with them: the personal stories of epic battles and deeds of sacrifice and heroism that museums and historians must keep alive.
Recognizing the importance of saving these stories for posterity, The National World War II Museum is committed to preserving veterans' histories. Museum historians have recorded more than 2,500 personal accounts from every branch of service and theater -- including more than 500 video accounts recorded in high definition. [snip]
The National World War II Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world -- why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America's National World War II Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front.
Employers axed payrolls by a shocking 533,000 in November for the weakest performance in 34 years, government data on Friday showed, as the recession inflicted a mounting toll on the U.S. labor market. ~REUTERS/Graphics:
The U.S. economy hemorrhaged more than half a million jobs in November, data showed on Friday, underscoring the depth of a global recession that this week prompted historic interest rates worldwide.
U.S. employers last month axed 533,000 jobs, the most for any month since 1974 and nearly 200,000 more than economists had expected, pushing the jobless rate to 6.7 percent.
Market reaction was swift, with global stocks tumbling and the U.S. dollar hitting a six-week low against the yen.
"These are horrendous numbers ... This is an economy that is in absolute free-fall right now. Confidence has collapsed," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at Global Insight.
Neighboring Canada also got some grim labor market news as data showed the country registered more job losses in November than in any other month since June 1982.
With many developed countries either in recession or heading that way, major central banks have cut interest rates sharply in the past week and attention is now starting to focus on what happens if they get to zero.
U.S. interest rate futures leapt after the monthly jobs data on Friday, moving to price in a half percentage point rate cut when the Federal Reserve meets later this month, which would take the federal funds rate to 0.5 percent, lower than it has ever been.
The weak U.S. economic data foreshadowed a bleak holiday shopping season, stoking worries of slower consumer spending.
"There are less people working, and so less people buying," said Michael Kastner, head of taxable fixed income at Sterling Stamos Capital Management in New York. "We're in the holiday season and it means sales will be below expectations. The season will be awful."
U.S. job losses worst since 1974 as downturn deepens
U.S. employers axed payrolls by 533,000 jobs in November, the most in 34 years and far more than expected, government data on Friday showed, as the year-old recession hammered every corner of the U.S. economy.
U.S. stock markets opened lower, oil prices and the dollar weakened and U.S. government bond prices rallied as the data showed the U.S. downturn was deepening.
"You can't get much uglier than this. The economy has just collapsed, and has gone into a free fall," said Richard Yamarone, chief economist at Argus Research in New York.
The Labor Department said the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent last month, the highest since 1993, from 6.5 percent in October. It would have been even higher except for an exodus of Americans who became discouraged in their search for work and left the labor force.
"This is a clear employment blowout. Firms are reacting as dramatically as they can to make sure they have cost structures they can survive the recession," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.
The dismal data sparked calls for aggressive government action to shore up an economy that appears to be facing its deepest downturn since the early 1980s.
"This jobs picture painted today is staggering, and it should be all the evidence Washington needs to act swiftly and decisively to shore up this economy," said Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat who chairs the congressional Joint Economic Committee. [snip]
U.S. job losses in November were the steepest since December 1974, when 602,000 jobs were shed, and were much worse than the consensus on Wall Street for a 340,000 reduction.
In addition, job losses in recent months turned out to be worse than previously reported. October's loss was revised to show a cut of 320,000, originally given as a 240,000 loss, while September's drop was revised to 403,000 from 284,000.
That meant 199,000 more jobs were lost in September and October than previously thought and the total reduction in U.S. nonfarm payrolls for the last three months was 1.256 million, with almost 2 million shed in the year so far.
"It's just a disaster," said Stephen Stanley, chief U.S. economist at RBS Greenwich in Greenwich, Conn.
Late mortgage payments and foreclosures hit record
Late mortgage payments and the rate of home loans in foreclosure rose to record highs in the third quarter, threatening to escalate as the recession erases jobs and further strains homeowners, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Friday.
The number of loans entering the foreclosure process would have been even higher without various programs halting them in favor of loan modifications.
A spiking unemployment rate in the midst of what many economists fear to be a deep recession, however, points to rising mortgage delinquency and foreclosure rates next year, the trade group said.
"We haven't gone into past recessions with a housing market in as bad of a shape," Jay Brinkmann, chief economist and senior vice president for research and economics, told Reuters in an interview.
The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates 2.2 million home mortgages will start the foreclosure process this year, before sweeping national efforts to stem the tide take effect.
"The bigger issue is going to be the underlying economy," Brinkmann said. "As much as any of the overbuilding issues, poor lending or speculative issues, as these job losses spread to some of the rest of the economy ... That certainly doesn't speak to a foreclosure rate coming down."
Last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis held its annual event for professors. This is the two-day affair when professors are invited to a big get-together where they can hear the District Bank President, himself, speak, and they can listen to the heavy-duty Fed economists talk to them at length about the economy and all things having to do with the Federal Reserve. The question-and-answer session follows the chief economist's talk.
Last year, the head of the division at my college suggested that I attend with the other economics professor, who always goes to these annual events. Fortunately, the subject of my going this year did not come up when the registration period was open. I would have declined the opportunity, and that would have led to an uncomfortable exchange about matters I would rather not discuss anymore within the halls of academia.
You see, I cannot afford to drive clear to St. Louis, much less can I afford a hotel room. I am sure the school would have offered to pay my way, but I find that untenable: I would be taking money from taxpayers who finance the school; and, far worse, I would be taking money from tuition and other fees students pay. Having the school foot the bill for "professional" trips and other benefits doesn't seem to bother any college teacher I know, but the very thought deeply offends me. I am paid about $24,000 a year to teach courses at a level of quality that won me recognition as Faculty Member of the Year a few years back. My salary is the direct and fair compensation for what I do, and that salary already comes from the wallets of taxpayers and students. I feed at the bloated hog trough of public funds, which come from people who produce goods and services of great and small incremental values to the economy. I provide a derivative service, and I choose to do that where I am protected from the harsh pricing-for-value of free and private markets. That I would expect even greater rewards from the public treasure is, in my judgment, not just unethical, it is immoral. My academic colleagues who have no problem with taking a little extra here and there from department funds might want to take a good look in the parking lots at their schools to see the oceans of beat-up, barely drivable cars kids have; or maybe my fellow professors might want to try the mass transit system some students have to use so they can stand in the freezing cold or the sweltering heat just for the privilege of getting packed into rocking, nauseating buses with all manner of people by day or with the assortment of gang-bangers and mental cases that roam the aisles or sit in menacing silence on the buses at night.
Money for "professional development" comes from somewhere, and that somewhere is mostly from the pockets of people who can ill afford to pay for the fun masquerading as professional expenses of self-indulgent academics whose contributions to society are marginal at best.
Besides, were I to have gone to the meeting in St. Louis, I would have been compelled to cancel two days of classes. I need not watch the Weather Channel to know that Hell is not going to freeze over, so I'm not going to cancel a single class, much less two days of them. As I have told my students on many occasions, even if the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, were to return in a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning, I would tell Him to shut up and sit down until class was over. His rapture can wait; my lecture cannot.
Having taken that much-needed aside to storm about the hog trough of public higher education, my fellow economics professor, a conservative fellow still ranting about the outcome of the presidential election, assured me that I would be in his thoughts while he was in St. Louis. I told him that I would like to go because I had some questions for the people at the Fed. He told me that's why, if I did go, he would be sitting on the other side of the room. Although he and other conservative economists frequently tell me I just don't "get it," he avoids discussing economics with me. He knows very well that I am a fierce critic of the Federal Reserve Board and its monetary policy wing, the Federal Open Market Committee. He does not dispute my basis of criticism, although his reserve might be evidence of nothing more than his unwillingness to have me start whipping out charts showing how the Fed single-handedly created the so-called "credit crisis" by trying to prop up the failing economic policies of Bush and his Republican Congresses. I think he also doesn't want to hear me tear down one of his favorite icons, Alan Greenspan, a man so obsessed with politicizing his chairmanship of the Fed that he tried to derail President Clinton's successful economic policies and cover for Bush's catastrophically failed ones before they even began to fail, just to protect the Federal Reserve's power to manipulate the economy through open market operations that had been rendered impossible to carry out when the government stopped running budget deficits.
The Federal Reserve uses Treasury debt securities as the instruments to move money into and out of the banking system to alter the money supply. No Treasury debt securities being issued means no effective instruments the Fed can trade for money with banks. That means the end of the Federal Reserve as a source of economic policy, which it should not have, anyway, considering it comprises a body of unelected, unaccountable individuals who should be dedicated only to the tasks of maintaining aggregate price level stability (preventing inflations and deflations) and regulating and supervising member banks. In his day, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan bitched to Congress in the 1990s about "irrational exuberance" of the stock markets so he would have an excuse to start ratcheting up interest rates to kill the economic boom. He was convinced that the federal budget deficits were narrowing largely because of enhanced tax revenues from capital gains earned in the stock markets (a theme even some of my more astute friends seem to take as gospel, these days), so he figured that killing the stock market boom with a historically unprecedented string of discount rate increases would do the trick. All it did, instead, was kill the dot-com boom. Once George W. Bush got into office, Greenspan jumped on board a huge Republican-led tax cut package to deal with a "recession" that actually was not a recession by technical measures (see my article, "The Gospel for Impending Doom" about this and other points I make in this article). That one did the trick: federal tax revenues plunged under government expenditures, and so the Bush era of massive federal budget deficits was born, and that meant the U.S. Treasury was once again pouring out hundreds of billions of dollars in debt securities that the Federal Reserve could then buy up by printing money like there was no tomorrow to cart to the Treasury auctions. Thus was the Federal Reserve back in business as an unelected body with more short-term and long-term control over the U.S. economy than the President and the Congress put together.
Were I to have gone to St. Louis and participated in that very exciting question-and-answer session with the top Fed economists there, I would probably have prefaced my first question with the narrative of that last paragraph, above. It's not that those economists don't know exactly what's been going on, it's just that I would want to make sure they did not think I was too stupid to know how ugly the politicization of the Fed had become during the Bush era. In fact, a former fellow grad student who now works for one of the Federal Reserve district banks told me a few years back that the name "John Maynard Keynes" is not to be mentioned at his office. I thought the guy was joking, but he assured me that he was not. I asked him if he grasped the irony of a cabal of economists who all want to pretend they're conservative, strict monetarists when they're working under a Federal Reserve Board that has turned the Keynesian economics of aggregate demand management into a train wreck exercise in monetary stimulus gone mad. He did, indeed, see the irony, but he's not a man given to humor, so he didn't think it was nearly as funny as I did.
Were I to have been at that question-and-answer session at the St. Louis Fed, having made it past the formalities and preface as outlined above, I think I would have restricted myself to one, albeit multi-part and long-winded, question:
Sir, you let the broad monetary aggregate M3 grow at an increasing rate ever since you declared an end in mid-2004 to accommodative monetary policy. In fact, that measure of money, which includes M2 and M1, grew at such an alarming rate that, by the end of February of this year, it was approaching 20 percent growth on an annual basis. You were doing this in the very same period that you were holding the M1 monetary aggregate the kind of money everyday people and businesses use at a growth rate virtually indistinguishable from zero. In other words, the real economy of working people and productive enterprises was slowly being strangled for actual cash-money to conduct transactions because the real economy was growing at maybe around three percent, which was faster than the growth rate of the money they needed to provide liquidity for their transactions. Yet, at the same time, the monetary aggregate M3, which includes highly illiquid money that only huge financial institutions can turn into liquidity, was skyrocketing. (And, of course, M3 includes both M1 and M2, meaning that the top-end money Eurodollars, massive time deposits, and all of that pseudo-money was growing at a rate even faster than M3, itself, indicates.) So that means, not only was the base economy of the United States being starved of liquidity, but the very top end of the banking system was veritably swimming in a highly illiquid form of it.
So, then, how could all those inordinately large, very sophisticated financial institutions use that highly illiquid form of money that was growing at such a breath-taking rate? Ah, yes: they would have to use it as collateral for something more liquid, sort of like using the title on a car (something very illiquid) as collateral for a cash loan (something very liquid) at one of those quick-and-easy loan stores on the bad side of town. Right? Yes, right.
Oh, my goodness! So, that's why we had this sudden "crisis" in the credit markets with all those bad, bad derivative instruments! Those were the means by which the financial institutions could turn that sea of highly illiquid pseudo-money into real cash-money! And there the Federal Reserve was, letting M3 just grow and grow and grow at an accelerating rate.
And how did you people deal with this madness? Why, you stopped publishing the M3 monetary aggregate numbers in early March of 2006! You stopped publishing M3! By the Spring of this year, the situation was so ridiculous that a few rogue economists, myself included, were screaming our bloody heads off that this madness was about to take the economy down into a death spiral of inflation and recession. Shortly after that well, lo and behold! you Fed folks started ratcheting down the M3 growth rate and started pumping up M1. M3 is still growing at a rate well above 10 percent, though; but hey, at least you answered the phone call from Clueville. Unfortunately, by the time you started to stir from your let-the-banks-have-fun slumber, it was too late: now, we have a full-blown credit crisis in the financial services industry; we have a notional value of maybe $63 trillion in credit derivatives in the toilet that hardly anyone has even mentioned, yet; we have trillions of dollars in greenback overhang that will inevitably come back to bite us as rampant inflation; and now we're going to have a new President who will want the Fed to print money at an even more wildly out-of-control rate to pay for his New-and-Improved New Deal plans.
And as if all of this weren't enough, that President-elect has named the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as his Secretary of the Treasury, and we all know that the Empire Bank is the only district bank with a permanent voting seat on the Federal Open Market Committee, and it's that same New York district bank where the Domestic Trading Desk resides, the DTC being the actual place where the Fed executes its open market operations to alter the nation's money supply. That means our President-elect has put in charge of the United States Treasury the Federal Reserve Board's very own bagman!
Okay, so here's my question, sir: Are you guys cool or WHAT?
If I, a normal citizen, were to have caused hundreds of trillions of dollars of irreparable damage to something I was in charge of protecting; if I, a normal citizen, were to have then tried to cover it up; and if I, a normal citizen, were to have then gone to Congress and said that what I had been responsible for protecting that I instead wrecked must be rescued and that I must be trusted with all the power I had before and more on top of that; if I, a normal citizen, had done all that, I would be sent to prison for the rest of my natural life. In fact, any normal citizen can do a couple thousand dollars worth of damage and go to prison under federal minimum sentencing guidelines. But you guys! you can blow away hundreds of trillions of dollars of economic value by letting huge financial institutions go bananas with pseudo-money you allowed to grow like a wildfire, and here you are sitting pretty down here in old St. Louie preaching your gospel of Federal Reserve propaganda to a bunch of fat-assed, over-paid, academic economists who got their trip here paid for by students and taxpayers.
Again, sir, I ask you: Are you guys cool or WHAT?
Given that security in the Federal Reserve district banks is top-notch, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten halfway through that rant before big men with lots of weaponry would have been called. These are all civilized people, and there's really no room for some malcontent who obviously doesn't understand the Big Picture, much less who's in charge when it comes to managing the U.S. economy.
The economist who went without me came back with all kinds of glowing stories about how great the whole affair was. He said that the chief economist looked like the very epitome of dork, and he said that the Bank President's speech was inspiring. He also said that the Fed economists who spoke were all very honest and had a lot to say about how much better the Fed has reacted to the current economic crisis than it did to the one that started in 1929.
That sort of got my attention. The Fed economists were comparing the economic crisis happening right now to the events that heralded the coming of the Great Depression?! That's sort of like going to my doctor about a headache and having the fellow start talking about my condition relative to having brain-eating worms. I wouldn't care if he had a favorable prognosis for me: he's finding his basis for assessing my problem in terms of worms eating my brain, for God's sake!
That point escaped my fellow economist. He was intent on telling me about the all-you-can-eat smorgasboard of incredible food the Fed provided for all the attendees at that conference. Apparently, it was simply awesome. They even had a huge selection of alcoholic beverages, including some of the great beers brewed right there in St. Louis. Food and booze for every economist there; and all the back-slapping camaraderie any academic could possibly hope to get with the big dogs of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
How could any self-respecting economist come away from a deal like that with anything other than glowing praise for the Federal Reserve system and the dedicated men and women who serve it?
My colleagues are right: I really don't get it. I certainly didn't get the food, the booze, and the free trip to St. Louis; and, most importantly, I didn't get my chance to rip those incompetent, self-serving, destructive Federal Reserve automatons up one side and down the other.
I should have gotten the money together to go to that conference. I could have used my car to get a quick title loan at one of those quick-and-easy loan stores on the bad side of town. Maybe the government would have bailed me out when I couldn't repay. Then again, I think that $700 billion isn't supposed to go to irresponsible people like me.
After all, I can't even afford to drive to St. Louis for an all-you-can eat buffet of delicious food and fabulous propaganda. That makes me irrelevant.
Just like all of you who have read this article.
Welcome to the 21st Century. It's going to be a lot like the 20th Century, except that it's going to get bad a lot faster before it doesn't get any better a lot sooner.
The Dark Wraith will now go to the kitchen to prepare an all-you-can-eat buffet of Ramen noodles with fried Spam. Bon appétit.
Lame Duck and Cover: They have now begun fabricating the platform on the White House steps on which that inauguration will be conducted. Meantime, inside -- in our fifth story on the Countdown -- the current President, having long argued that history would vindicate him, evidently no longer leaving that to chance... Now personally fabricating the story of his eight years of rule.
Bush’s legacy of delusion:
Dec. 2: As the nation continues to fight wars on two fronts and now a recession, President Bush continues to avoid taking the blame for any of the damage the U.S. has endured during his eight years in office. Newsweek’s Howard Fineman discusses.
In an interview with the conservative online publication Newsmax, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the GOP must broaden its appeal to avoid becoming “the old white-guy party,” and recommended that Republicans create a “shadow government” to work on its own agenda.
Jeb Bush: GOP 'can't be the old white guy party'
Former Fla. gov says create 'a shadow government,' focus on policy
There are, however, a couple of problems here. For one thing, Republicans don't have a policy agenda. For the GOP to engage in a "loftier debate about policy," the party would have to care about substance and have specific policy alternatives. Since Republicans have neither, Jeb's recommendation seems a little silly.
For another, there's the minor detail that Democrats purportedly hope to govern by reaching out to Republicans to build consensus. As Digby noted, "[I]f only one side sees the system as being fundamentally a partisan activity and the other side doesn't they end up working at cross purposes."
Which means that if the GOP takes Jeb's advice, the two sides will, once again, be playing by different rules.
Once upon a time in a village, a man appeared and announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10 each. The villagers, seeing that there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.
The man bought thousands at $10 and as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort. He further announced that he would now buy at $20. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.
Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms. The offer increased to $25 each and the supply of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it!
The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now buy on behalf of him.
In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers; "Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when the man returns from the city, you can sell them to him for $50 each."
The villagers rounded up with all their savings and bought all the monkeys.
They never saw the man nor his assistant, only monkeys everywhere!
Now you have a better understanding of how the market works.
Hear that humming sound? That's the printing presses at the United States Treasury running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, churning out an ocean of green paper to bail out the billionaire bankers, brokers and assorted brigands who are responsible for the economic disaster that's befallen us.
They're busy running off $3.7 trillion in bailout money for those who don't deserve it. It's a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas to the very pirates whose greed got us, and them, in all the trouble.
Isn't capitalism grand?
We're daily treated to the spectacle of the fading remnants of a Republican administration working 24/7 to dump the tax money of hard-working Americans into the leaky coffers of the robber barons.
These are the same Republicans who've been telling us for eight years that we needed to get government out of the business of big business. Let the market decide, they crowed; it's more efficient. Get rid of all those pesky federal regulators, by hook or by crook, and everything will come up roses.
Well, the market decided. It decided that the whole thing was a Ponzi scheme, worth about as much as a three-legged mule. It decided that those who'd cooked up all these derivatives based on bundles of bad mortgages were broke. Likewise for all the poor suckers worldwide who'd bought those bundles of joy.
Suddenly all those free market barons are pushing and shoving to get into the line for a government handout — the corporate equivalent of food stamps and welfare checks.
We're treated to the spectacle of a treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, whose statements and declarations are no longer operative by the time they leave his lips. [snip]
One day when the burden of that debt comes home to roost, when it takes a wheelbarrow full of printed green paper to buy a Happy Meal at McDonald's, ordinary Americans are going to wonder how free enterprise and the American way of life permitted so many incompetent, corrupt, thieving robber barons to rise to the top, take their companies to the bottom and be richly rewarded for that.
Those ordinary Americans may even have time, standing in the bread lines, to ponder how the good old rock-ribbed Republicans, the stand-on-your-own-two-feet conservatives that we elected and re-elected, led them down the path to ruin.
American International Group Inc., the insurer that said yesterday it scrapped bonuses for top executives after a U.S. bailout, will still pay 130 managers “cash awards” to stay with the firm, including $3 million to retirement services chief Jay Wintrob. [snip]
“The expectation from the public and Congress was that they weren’t getting bonuses, not that they’d be pushed off by several months,” said David Schmidt, a consultant at executive pay firm James F. Reda & Associates. “That clearly violates the spirit of AIG saying they’ll forgo their bonuses.”
Writing at a Website called "Campaign for America's Future," self-described journalist and former Democratic Beltway insider David Sirota recently published an article entitled, "Emails from Wingnuttia," in which he re-published an e-mail message he received from a detractor who took exception to Sirota's television confrontation with perennial Republican gadfly Grover Norquist. Mr. Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, once described Barack Obama as "John Kerry with a tan" and has the dubious distinction of being a former associate of convicted influence peddler Jack Abramoff.
While few would mistake Norquist for anything other than an opportunist who uses the worn out cry for "tax relief" as an excuse to eviscerate the federal government of its capacity to function as anything other than a military and law enforcement agency serving the wealthy and powerful, David Sirota offers little more from an opposing ideological base. Watching the two of them argue economics principles was downright painful for me, an economist who has little patience for stupidity of any political stripe.
Sirota's article quoting a detractor's e-mail message was something of an exercise in running home to tell one's family about what a mean bully had said. Sadly, the e-mail message Sirota received, although relatively well written, really was little more than a bully's mean words. Sirota's subtext was that this critic's lack of specifics somehow establishes the superiority of Sirota's own economic analysis.
Of course, it does not, and I wanted to say as much in the comments section for Sirota's article. Unfortunately, I could not. When I was writing as a harsh critic of the Bush Administration, I was a registered commenter in good standing at Campaign for America's Future. Sometime over the course of the past few months, I lost my good standing there. Perhaps it was a technical matter, although I received no response when I requested a resolution of the login problem.
It is better, though, that my message to David Sirota be published here, anyway. While Mr. Sirota would certainly not read, much less benefit from, my comment to him, the content of the message is intended for a much larger audience, particularly those who continue to support the policies of President-elect Barack Obama even as he lays in a presidential administration laced with troubling appointments and Bush hold-overs, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General Eric Holder, Middle East adviser Dennis Ross, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, to name just a few of his neo-cons, has-beens, and otherwise unseemly choices.
Without further belaboring in preface this or that minor aside, the following is my comment to David Sirota on his article of November 25, 2008, published at Campaign for America's Future.
Good evening, Mr. Sirota.
Yes, the gentleman who wrote to you was certainly thin on details concerning why your analysis contained "absurd comments," but that does nothing to establish your credentials as someone well enough informed about economics to be pontificating about marginal tax rates (or much of anything else in theoretical economics, for that matter).
You really do not have sufficient formal training in economics to inform your representations about economic matters. You are, as that writer noted, a political hack, a propagandist just like those who endlessly touted the absurdly wrong economics of the Bush Administration. Truth be told, you strike me as the kind of student I see in my econ classes until right around the week of the first exam, when those who cannot cut the rigor beat a hasty path to the drop window at the registrar's office before heading over to hang out with their equally dull friends at the campus coffee house to talk about how much more they know than their profs.
That's harsh, isn't it? You're a flak for an incoming President who's getting way too much slack cut for him by the mainstream media, which has for the past eight years magnificently demonstrated what happens when journalists cut Presidents way too much slack.
Fair is fair, however: the so-called conservatives had their opportunity to wreck the economy, and they did so with the all the efficiency and every bit of the grace of a hail of cluster bombs; now, it is the turn of the liberals to further imperil the long-term stability of the American economy, although my hope that Democrats would be innovative in their approach has been taken asunder. I am now convinced that President-elect Obama will do just what his predecessor did: he will spend money like there's no tomorrow, and it will be money we simply do not have. Just like the Republicans during the reign of George W. Bush, the Democrats will borrow from foreigners, and what they cannot raise through external debt they will acquire through accommodative monetary policy pursued by the Federal Reserve. ("Accommodative monetary policy," by the way, is a fancy means of saying that the Federal Reserve will simply print money and use it to buy government debt at the regular auctions held by the United States Treasury.)
This is exactly what the Bush Administration did, and it has led to disaster. Barack Obama will do the same thing, except that the federal budget deficits his Congresses will run are going to make those of the Bush era look pale by comparison.
Moreover, the same promises of tax cuts as far as the eye can see that propelled Bush's overall economic policy implosion are right there on Mr. Obama's table of solutions that pander to the greed of this or that constituency. For Republicans, it has always been the wealthy to whom the tax cut song must be howled; for Democrats, it has been the so-called "middle class" and "working poor" who were one campaign after another's intended audience. Same product, different target market. Same results, too: underfunded government that will have to rely on huge trade deficits to accumulate greenbacks in foreign central banks that will then lend those dollars back to the fiscally reckless leaders in Washington who do not know how to control themselves when it comes to either taxation policies or spending priorities.
Candy for everyone; and what the Chinese, the Arabs, the Japanese, and other lenders cannot cover, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke will, just like he did for the Bush Administration. In the end, that massive overhang of money that continues to grow far in excess of the real growth rate of the economy will lead to one and only one end: inflation. And it will not be some mild little rise in the aggregate price level; it will instead be a raging fire that will take an ever more draconian contractionary monetary policy regime to rectify the longer the irresponsible over-printing of money continues.
Rock-solid economics training really does matter. I deal in it every day as a college teacher. I cannot let fantasies, hopes, wishes, ideology, and philosophy stand in the stead of applying the well-understood principles of economics to the problems, proposals, and policies of any given President, political party, or era. It is because I have no stake in the sentimentalities of politics that I can state with a fair degree of objectivity that George W. Bush has been the worst President in American history, bar none, and his economic policies have been what I described in no uncertain terms as "The Economics of Wreckage" in my series by that title.
However, until President-elect Obama stops talking the same language of Keynesian economics gone wild, he will garner no more favorable coverage by me than did his failed predecessor.
I shall leave trust in a new President's judgment to those who cannot see past their party affiliation; I shall leave fantasy economics to poli-sci and journalism majors of the Right and the Left; and I shall certainly leave reserve in judgment and understatement in tone about a new President's economics policies to those who still think the American experience may continue with platitudes, promises, and money we have not earned and very likely do not deserve.
Now, let me quickly address one more matter. During the time when my analytical articles and editorials were taking sharp, harsh, and unrelenting aim at Republicans, I got my fair share of hateful, often irrational, e-mail messages from extremist, disturbed thugs on the Right, and I even took a few shots from Right-wingers on blogs. Ever since I turned my analytical attention to Mr. Obama, I have enjoyed the equally low viciousness that underlies the "Hope and Change" rhetoric of Obama's Leftist supporters. Whereas the Right-wingers use a rather eclectic assemblage of nonsense words for name-calling, the Obamabots are pretty much stuck on the word "racist" to describe anyone who does not crawl with sufficient fealty to their messiah. I certainly did not support John McCain, but because I did not have any more use for Barack Obama, I was a racist. I lost a few Leftist friends who could not bring themselves to stand up to their fellow Leftists who spewed venomous hate. I must stipulate, however, that those fellow bloggers chose correctly: silly claims to the contrary notwithstanding, far more battles will be won in alliance with a violent mob than with a lone dissenter.
To be quite honest with you, Mr. Sirota, my concern with the Right-wingers has always been that I consider them generally at least somewhat informed about quality firearms; my concern with Leftists is more along the lines that I fear they will go tell their mommy Democrats in Washington, who will then, instead of seeing to it that dozens of Bush Administration officials go to prison, propose another bonanza of "economic stimulus" just to make that pain radiate down my left arm again.
On the other hand, maybe Mr. Obama really would send some of his friends from Chicago to kick my butt. At four feet eleven inches, Obama's thuggish chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, probably couldn't reach much higher even with his best Zionist cheerleader kick.
I think I'm going to like the Obama era. I can use the same economics principles to accurately predict the disaster of the new President's policies, and I have a whole new crowd of knuckle-draggers to infuriate. Not that I've given up entirely on the Right-wing authoritarian followers, mind you; it's just that Obama apologists like you, Mr. Sirota, are just so darned worthy of disrespect, especially when you get that smirk of superiority as you talk about economics with ignorance every bit as thunderous as that of Mr. Bush and his cabal of imbeciles.
Be well, Mr. Sirota.
The Dark Wraith will be seeing you around the Internets.