Here's to the friends we can trust
When the storms of adversity blaw;
May they live in our song
and be nearest our heart,
Nor depart like the year that's awa;
May they live in our song
and be nearest our heart,
Nor depart like the year that's awa.
A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.
The year is wearin' to the wane,
An' day is fadin' west awa;
Loud raves the torrent an' the rain,
An' dark the cloud comes doun the shaw.
But let the tempest tout an' blaw,
Upon his loudest winter horn,
Good night, an' joy be wi' ye a'-
We'll maybe meet again the morn.
President Kennedy once said "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." How quaint.
Despite all the action movies (the Die Hards, True Lies, Passenger 57, etc.) that Americans are so fond of, an incident that an individual person has a one in 10.4 million chance of being involved in has once again brought out the stupid and the fearful. The same people who vociferously scream and wail about how their Second Amendment right to bear arms must not be infringed upon are willing to give up what's left of their Fourth Amendment rights so they can occasionally fly in an airplane. Instead of training and using animals to sniff out explosives, expensive and invasive full body scanners will be used. As Petrillic tweeted:
TSA - Protecting you from yesterday, tomorrow.
It won't be long before terrorists find another way around the system, they always do and even more liberties will be lost.
Five year olds. Are you sure? Last time I checked five year olds didn't wear diapers. Unless they were developmentally delayed. Which might explain the self serving behavior of the almost never right. Once again the land of the free and the home of the brave is losing its collective shit, crying out for the government to save them from the bogeyman. This would be the same government that they accused during the "health reform" debate of intruding on their personal freedoms.
Once again America had the chance to be in the driver's seat, in a position of power. Instead, American media, and officials, chose the victim route and the cowering and scampering to get under tables began almost immediately. Suddenly, passengers became prisoners on flights, not able to move during the last hour, having to ask permission to go pee like in second grade.
The coverage and knee jerk reaction became too much for some, myself included, so it was back to holiday TV. Somehow in the afternoon we all found ourselves watching "The Tale of Despereaux" on cable; the story of an outcast mouse that uses bravery, courage and honor to help a princess (of course). But the movie spoke of Americans, not mice. In the film, Despereaux is an outcast because he's a mouse that refuses to be afraid. As flash cards are shown in his mouse class, when a cleaver appears, he doesn't hide and scamper like the others, and simply comments on how they are used to cook. His Peachie has doodles of cats because he thinks they're cute instead of fearful agents of death. The mouse council doesn't know what to do. What if he teaches other mice not to fear? After all, "he has to learn how to be afraid, after all, no one is born afraid..." says the mouse leader.
Mr. Bouley, thank you for pointing that out. Too bad the media would rather fan the flames of fear instead of nurturing the calm of reason.
Meanwhile, Jim DeMint decries the lack of a unified response while he holds up the confirmation of TSA nominee Errol Southers because he's concerned that Southers might let TSA employees join a union and then complains that the Obama administration isn't taking terrorism seriously.
The America that I grew up in, the one I was willing to die to protect, is long gone. In its place are sheeple led by politicians that only serve themselves and their corporate masters. We might as well call the nation Stepford instead of limiting it to a fictional town in Connecticut.
I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time --Don't Think Twice, It's Alright, Bob Dylan
Blogger Disaffected and It Feels So Good sardonically observed on his Christmas Day post that it was bankers that drove the Prince of Peace to violence. If He didn't trust the moneychangers, why should we?
A humorless Christian calling himself, modestly, "TRUTH" protested , "Jesus forgave the people that crucified him. I think forgiveness is a much better message for Christians to be spreading than Jesus is mad and will smite everyone that reads Disaffected and it Feels So Good ..."
Maybe, TRUTH, but He did not choose to forgive the moneychangers. An inconvenient truth, perhaps, but one I do not find difficult to reconcile. He may have been trying to introduce a New Way, but recognized the perfidy of those about him. People are wicked, and will not always accord the proper respect -- in those instances, outrage and banishment may be the proper response.
Thanks, TRUTH, but speaking for myself, were I to be crucified unjustly, I would not forgive those doing the nailing. While there's something to be said for accepting one's circumstances (pinned to a cross, there's not all that much else to do), there is also a good in righteous condemnation and rejection of abuse.
I am only human, and that is my preference. Let Jesus be the last martyr. It hasn't done much good in progressing humans, far as I can see. Right, we all feel a twinge of guilt and sadness when he see Him hanging there dolefully on the cross, then given the opportunity, pull a Tiger Woods ("15th hole, anyone?")
If JC's martyrdom hasn't shepherded in a Better Man, surely my personal martyrdom will do little to forestall anyone's impulse to villainy. Nope, I personally am done with martyrdom. Possible sainthood after flaying is not my cup o' tea.
Martyrdom -- it's what's not for dinner, if you want any respect.
If you're gonna go and get yourself a really noisy, nasty intestinal virus, it's always best to do it while visiting your kin for the holidays. That way, the entire extended family, which is staying overnight in a small brick house that your mother grew up in, can be treated to a cacophony of sounds that they will long remember.
And that way, one by one, they can step, in their bathrobes, to the closed door of the one full bath in the house and shout, with a mixture of pity and fear, "You doing all right in there?"
To which you scream a loving "Go away!"
Maybe I'll write about my Christmas night "song" one day in one of those tiny little volumes with treacly prose that sells so well during December. As I snuggled into my mother's girlhood bed mere hours before the attack on my innards was launched, I read five of these little books, all filled with misty-eyed memories of hearth and home and angels and snowmen. None offered a memory like the one I was about to generate for all the family to snicker about for years to come.
Hours later, my humiliation complete, I lay in bed and tried to ingonre the smell of frying country ham. My uncle timidly offered to bring me some breakfast, but I told him to just bypass the middleman and throw it directly into the toilet on my behalf. All morning long, I could over hear the conversation between aunts and uncles, cousins and grandchildren and so forth.
"I heard her at about four-thirty," said one.
"Naw, it was closer to two-thirty. You must've slept throught the first round."
Oh, sweet Jesus, make them stop.
It didn't take a genius to figure out that this was going to permanently scar the younger members of the family who, mere hours before, had happily been playing with a whoopee cushion brought by Santa himself. Now the sound wasn't all that funny.
"Do you think Ganny is gonna die? I heard my granddaughter ask.
"Sure sounds like it," another said solemnly.
A relative in Alaska called with holiday greetings, and I heard my mother cheerfully announce that I couldn't come to the phone because "she's busy at both ends!" Great. There's one less state I can show my face in again.
The rest of the morning, I heard the relatives leave, cheerfully reminding my Aunt Vonnie to "Lysol the doorknobs!" My mother's family believes that Lysol solves everything. I was deathly afraid they might sneak in and try to spray me from top to bottom while I slept. And dreamed of writing "Upheaval': A Christmas Song."
Yeah, that'll sell.
I'm not sure a flu shot would've helped in my case, but I couldn't get one anyway, because I was too young. I told everybody that and enjoyed it mightley. It's the most fun I've had since I told the nurse running the Bloodmobile that "I can't donate on account of I don't weigh enough."
Oh, settle down. I've signed away my organs and, frankly, the way that guy at the Optimist Club booth stared at me when I was signing away my dead corneas, I was a little scared he was going to take'em right then and there.
But give blood? Uh, not so much. SO instead of being the weenie that I am, fainting in front of an entire basement full of people, I said I didn't weigh enough.
Because this is East Jesus were people are civilized to your face, there were no follow-up questions such as, "Honey, your ass appears to need its own area code, so I'm guessing you do weigh more that ninety-five pounds."
She sure was thinking it, though.
When I took my mother to the drugstore to get her flu shot, I couldn't believe the crowd. The line snaked through eight.....count'em, eight-aisles. For the first hour it barely moved. When we finally saw one man walk by pointing to his arm and then making a V for victory sign, we burst into spontaneous applause.
The funny thing about getting in line for a flu shot is that if you are not of a certain age, you get dirty look. I was just there for moral support, but I could see the raise eyebrows: Hummm, she better be missing some kidneys or something.
I recognize the look because it's the same on I use when I see someone park in a handicapped space and then cheerily skip into the mall having figured out that sometimes it's cool to borrow Great'gran's Taurus.
"It's not for me, " I stammered. "I'm just here with my mother. I don't want a flu shot. In fact, I wish I could give back the one I got seventeen years ago so that others might be helped."
Ahhh. Their faces relaxed, and they put down their torches. I had been afraid that I was one step away from the old "witch test," where they would dunk me in a vat of NyQuil to see if I would sink.
When you're in a drugstore for that long, you gotta read something, so I selected Dr. Phil's weight-loss cookbook. It wasn't a great choice, because it's so big and heavy that I had to pretty much kick it ahead on the he floor with my foot like luggage while reading it. Dr. Phil's diet consists of meals like Lunch: Grilled salmon, steamed asparagus and leeks, and sweet potato soufflé. Dinner: Roasted chicken, steamed vegetable medley, and fat-free polenta cakes.
Yeah. Let me just call my personal chef and have her whip that shit up. Is Dr. Phil on the pipe?
Frankly, after a few hours in the flu line, I was convince that what we'd have for supper that night would be stackable Lay's, Altoids, and some stationery with kittens on it. Yum!
This winter there was such a flu-shot frenzy that I wondered why there wasn't a Flu Channel. ("All Flu, All the Time!") complete with Weather Channel studs wearing yellow slickers and reporting live from the scene of Joe and Joan's four-poster mahongany bed. I can just see'em clinging to the bedposts as they battle gale-force sneezes and wet hacking coughs while assuring us that "There's....not...much....time!"
It's seems a cruel irony that the flu season coincides with the busiest shopping season. At the mall, I desperately wanted to wear a surgical mask and gloves but I'm too chicken, fearful that shoppers will mistake me for the ghost of Micheal Jackson, who was a notorious germ-phobic ever since he was just a small nut job growing up in Encino.
There are now three types of antibacterial lotions in my pocketbook and, like the family, I've taken to spraying doorknobs with Lysol, sometimes while my guests are still touching them.
Even if I'd had a flu shot, there's no guarantee it would have been the right one. At least that's what everybody at the CDC (the Cootie Detection Center) down in Atlanta says. That's because every year there is a "new strain" of flu out there, mostly representing ominous sounding parts of the world like the Haiku Province, the Kung Pow Shrimp, and the Moo Goo Gai Pain. You never know which one's gonna strike.
So somebody at the drug company has to office pool or a lucky dartboard and finally picks one and bazillions of Moo Goo vaccines are shipped out. But just when you start to relax, you discover that, as it turns out, that guess was completely wrong. That this flu was more of a Bacon-Type A, and epidemiologist around the world were left with egg foo young on their faces.
I'd like to talk more about this, but I have to boil my mail. You just can't be too careful, darlings.
10. Up on the Mousetop
9. Have Yourself a Furry Little Christmas
8. Joy to the Curled
7. I Saw Mommy Hiss at Santa Claus
6. The First Meow
5. Oh, Come All Ye Fishful
4. Silent Mice
3. Fluffy, the Snowman
2. Jingle Balls
1. Wreck the Halls!
Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.
~Laura Ingalls Wilder
Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.
Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen - and kissed me there.
Have you seen the mistletoe, it fills the night with kisses
Have you seen the bright blue star, it fills your heart with wishes
Have you seen the candlelight, it shines from every window
Have you seen the moon above, it lights the sky in silver
Green is in the mistletoe and red is in the holly
Silver in the stars above that shine on everybody
Gold is in the candlelight and crimson in the embers
White is in the winter night that everyone remembers
Have you heard the boys outside, when all the girls are skating
Have you heard their sweet hearts cry for all this time they're waiting
Green is in the mistletoe and red is in the holly
Silver in the stars above that shine on everybody
Gold is in the candlelight and crimson in the embers
White is in the winter night that everyone remembers
Have you seen the children playing, tiny hands are frozen
Have you seen them hurry home, when suddenly it's snowing
Green is in the mistletoe and red is in the holly
Silver in the stars above that shine on everybody
Gold is in the candlelight and crimson in the embers
White is in the winter night that everyone remembers
Have you heard that bells are ringing, ringing at their story
Have you heard the choir singing, Glory, Glory, Glory
I'd like to buy the world a home
and furnish it with love
Grow apple trees, and honey bees,
and snow white turtle doves
--I'd Like to buy the World a Coke,
All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games
--Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
All through my school life I was appalled
by the fact that masters and senior boys
were allowed quite literally to wound other boys,
and sometimes very severely
File this under, "We promote diversity, not."
So I'm singing a rather jaunty version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, when suddenly, like the proverbial needle scratching across the record (remember those?), I was stopped in my tracks. Under this spirited and earnest tune lies a brooding indictment of our non-acceptance of Otherness. Does anyone else think about this stuff?
Rudolph seems like an entirely innocuous Christmas tune, one beloved by kids everywhere. Burl Ives sang it, for God's sake -- what could be more wholesome? And yet -- the lyrics. They just hit me like a thunderbolt. Has anyone ever really listened to them?
"All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names", presumably not nice ones. Until, that is, Santa finds a use for his anomaly: To be lead reindeer in pulling his sled. So now that Rudolph has been personally tagged by the head honcho to front the slaving part of the operation, everyone's his pal.
"Then how the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you'll go down in his-to-ry." O.K., so the moral is, if you are an outlier -- but can make yourself useful -- you, too, may join in the reindeer games and stop the torment suffered at the hands of your fellows. Who needs fair-weather friends like that?
Rudolph: The ultimate capitalistic morality tale. Because you really have to be a brown-noser to get by.
How did I miss this sad story? I'm glad somebody wants them and that they weren't put down for their owner's stupidity. Wanting to kill oneself is a personal decision, but how could he leave his pugs locked up with his body without food and water? How did he think they were going to survive? Especially since most pugs get their exercise jogging to the food bowl. It's sad that he left them with no other choice.
While dogs may not have memory exactly like people, Shai Shai has an incredible memory for food. When she was a puppy I used to take her to a middle school (known for its Jazz/Swing Band, these kids are really good!) at night so she could run around off leash. Santa Clara wasn't remotely dog friendly so I took advantage where I could. One night she found a McDonalds bag that had some fries, the remains of a bun and some ketchup. I couldn't get her away from it until she licked the area clean. As in spotless. She was quite adept at avoiding me and the leash while she made sure that there wasn't enough evidence for a forensic team to determine there had ever been anything there besides the concrete.
For one reason or another (someone started a fire during break so they put a fence around the school and locked it up nights and weekends) we didn't return to the area for six months. Shai headed straight for the same spot and could not be persuaded to leave the area until she was convinced that there was nothing edible on the sidewalk. She forgot she had eaten it all, not where she had eaten it.
Pugs own you, you don't own them. They were bred to be the lap dogs of royalty and besides expecting you to serve their every request and laugh at their antics, they will eat darn near anything. Shai loves asparagus, red bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and green beans, but has been known to eat jalapenos. Please note the plural.
I doubt that Harry and Sally have developed a taste for human flesh and as they will probably be spoiled by their new owners with every treat imaginable it's safe to let them back into a family situation. I just wouldn't fall asleep with beef ribs on my breath.
I admit it, I went to see Avatar. And I enjoyed it. Very much. Not as much as I enjoyed Friday night's episodes of Dollhouse, but they aren't the same. Or maybe they are.
Unlike some people who can't enjoy a movie and appreciate it as a chance to escape and lose oneself in another world without overthinking it, It never crossed my mind to see the movie as an expression of white man's guilt. Really? Some people need to get a life. What I saw were arrogant humans and a corporation that believed they were superior to all life forms that weren't them. Because they had money and what they perceived as the might. Not everything is about race, usually it's about money and who has it and who wants it. Who cares if the Na'Vi are blue and they believe that a Force runs through everything, it's not like this was the first time, is it ? After a few minutes they looked normal and "real life" looked rough and evil. From an acting standpoint Sam Worthington was more believable as an avatar than he was as a human being.
James Cameron has always been a visionary. Terminator rocked, The Abyss was tolerable, didn't bother with Titanic because I don't really enjoy watching stories I know the end (the boat sank with more victims than survivors, what more did you need to know?), but Avatar was the most visually stunning movie I have ever seen. It felt like being in an acrylic tunnel at an underwater zoo. Extremely pleasing and worth seeing more than once. Even with the 3D glasses, which thankfully were nothing like the days of yore. Besides, New Zealand always looks good.
Dollhouse, on the other hand, has the Rossum Corporation, a most evil group of people who believe they are entitled to whatever fantasy they desire. Like the politicians we currently have "representing" us, it's all about the bottom line. For them and whoever is pulling their strings. No matter what the cost, even if it's the end of civilization. At least for those humans who aren't worthy.
Eliza Dushku (who's come a long way as an actress since James Cameron's only comedy, True Lies) has been putting in much better performances since the beginning of the glacially slow first season and is as believable as Sam Worthington as a hero (every time I heard him do a voice over all I could think of was T4 and the disaster I thankfully never saw) fighting a much more likely scenario. Saving my ass from a corporation that views average people as means to an end. Which is becoming all too likely in today's political climate of making rich people happy.
As with Firefly, Joss Whedon is attacking a culture that is obsessed with obedience to the corporate mantra to the exclusion of all else. Including survival of a species. Ours. Happiness isn't big component.
The special effects in Avatar are absolutely spectacular, the best I have ever seen and well worth the price of admission. Twice. Dollhouse has a frightening premise and one we are much more likely to encounter given today's paranoia and disregard of personal privacy. Unfortunately this does not bode well for the human race. No matter who you think you are.
Mr. Reid, your Democrats in Congress will be decimated in the 2010 congressional elections.
Mr. Obama, who you really are will be revealed by what you do if the Democrats in Congress send you health care "reform" the way it looks like they will. If you do sign this disgraceful legislation that has become a corporatist dream-come-true, I will do everything in my power to see you defeated in the 2012 primaries; and if you manage to survive that battle, I will step back and watch you stagger to the end of a one-term presidency.
You want to force millions of poor and middle class Americans to buy the inadequate, over-priced mess offered as health care insurance without any significant reform of the industry and without even the slightest hint of putting that industry under antitrust law, much less modernizing the entire structure of American antitrust law? You want to fine me jail me, even, for God's sake if I choose not to buy defective, inferior goods from oligopolists?
Go straight to Hell.
We'll be joining you there when Palin and her Right-wing fringe of fellow ignoramuses swallow you whole because you haven't got the guts to stand up for anything.
This is no longer just about health care reform, Mr. Reid. This is no longer just about your dodgy promises to get into the White House, Mr. Obama. This is about the future of this country: you have cowered long enough. Stand up and act like leaders.
Just this once, act like leaders.
If you cannot, then grim, ugly people are waiting right behind you to do just that, and you will have no one to blame but yourselves for their triumph.
For my thirtieth birthday I traveled to Vancouver, BC for the 1986 World's Fair and had one of the best times of my life, so far. I attended the fair for two days before I decided I would rather travel around and enjoy the city. The fair itself was pretty boring, but Vancouver has a killer selection of restaurants, bars and pubs and the fair had additional choices.
Guinness is my favorite beer and fish and chips are one of my favorite meals (can you tell I was born in in the British Isles?), so I hung out in a few of the different pubs. One of the more memorable times was hanging out in the Scottish tent at the fair a little after eleven in the morning. They had a great band who taught the audience drinking songs, one of which was this:
Ring did diddle little laddie oh!
There were others, but Guinness has obscured the memories.
GOP Senators sent a letter to the President this week indicating that they could only support a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the Russians if the President agreed to build new unnecessary nuclear weapons. The ridiculousness of this was apparently lost on the signatories to the letter, which included all 40 Republican Senators, as well as Joe Lieberman (I-CT).
However, the letter raises concerns over the ease by which a new START agreement – that is set to be completed any day now – can be ratified. START is supposed to be the easy treaty to ratify. It is after all a Reagan-era initiative and has tremendous bi-partisan support. But this letter raises concerns that many GOP Senators, led by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), will seek to extract major concessions during that ratification process that would serve to undercut the President’s nuclear agenda.
The GOP letter calls for the building of a new nuclear warhead, which they argue, in the words of the Washington Times, is essential to “modernize” the “aging nuclear stockpile.” The GOP letter stated:
we don’t believe further reductions can be in the national security interest of the U.S. in the absence of a significant program to modernize our nuclear deterrent.
In one sense, this is easy because it is already happening – the US has a significant modernization program in place that costs more than $6 billion per year. However, the GOP is pushing the alarmist notion that our nuclear stockpiles are so decrepit that the only way we can modernize our nuclear arsenal is to build new nuclear warheads.
In a retread of the old Cold War “missile gap” claims, many GOP Senators are insisting that the Russians and the Chinese are “modernizing” their nuclear arsenals, while the US is falling behind. This puts forth a totally warped definition of modernization. To these conservatives, “modernization” is only happening if the US is building new warheads – yet in reality the US continuously refurbishes and upgrades its existing warheads, which by any definition is modernization.
The 16-to-7 vote, which came after flashes of the populist anger that has erupted amid a sluggish and highly uneven recovery, was not unexpected. But it represented a retreat from his near-unanimous approval by the committee four years ago. Neither party’s members voted en bloc, and even some of Mr. Bernanke’s supporters said they harbored reservations and might reconsider when the vote goes to the full Senate.
Even as Mr. Bernanke is widely credited for helping stabilize markets and averting economic calamity, outspoken critics, not all of them Republicans, have blamed him for enormously costly initiatives that have bolstered some Wall Street financial firms while leaving ordinary Americans staring at persistent double-digit jobless rates. [snip]
At a hearing earlier this month, Mr. Bernanke acknowledged mistakes by the Fed in the run-up to the financial crisis. He said the Fed had been slow in shielding consumers from high-risk mortgages and said it should have required banks to hold more capital in response to their growing appetite for risk.
But Mr. Bernanke adamantly defended the Fed’s response to the crisis, particularly its efforts to crack down on banks, subprime mortgages, credit card fees and executive compensation. Under his watch, the Fed has lent hundreds of billions of dollars to banks and businesses, brought interest rates to rock-bottom lows, and helped prop up the mortgage market by snapping up securities.
In doing so, Mr. Bernanke has often been forced to navigate the line between doing too much and too little, and he has faced the constant danger of pushing the economy into a deeper downturn if the central bank’s extraordinary measures were withdrawn too quickly.
At the hearing earlier this month, Mr. Bernanke bristled at proposals to strip the Fed of its power, saying the central bank had unique expertise and knew the inner workings of major financial institutions better than any entity.
Some critics charge that the new policies pursued by President Obama and the 111th Congress generated the huge federal budget deficits that the nation now faces. In fact, the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the economic downturn together explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years (see Figure 1).
The events and policies that have pushed deficits to astronomical levels in the near term, however, were largely outside the new Administration’s control. If not for the tax cuts enacted during the Presidency of George W. Bush that Congress did not pay for, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that began during that period, and the effects of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression (including the cost of steps necessary to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term.
While President Obama inherited a bad fiscal legacy, that does not diminish his responsibility to propose policies to address our fiscal imbalance and put the weight of his office behind them. Although policymakers should not tighten fiscal policy in the near term while the economy remains fragile, they and the nation at large must come to grips with the nation’s deficit problem. But we should all recognize how we got where we are today.
Republican lawmakers and far-right activists have suddenly discovered, after eight years of dramatic fiscal irresponsibility, that they care deeply about deficit reduction again. Worse, they're absolutely convinced that President Obama and those free-spending Democrats are responsible, putting a terrible burden on future generations.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report today, analyzing the existing deficit in detail, and what factors created it. Here's hoping Republicans and Teabaggers are paying attention. [snip]
This isn't just about pointing fingers for self-satisfaction or partisan vanity. It's important for the public to realize who's responsible, in large part because it's important for the public to weigh policymakers' credibility. If GOP lawmakers embraced policies that are almost entirely responsible for the deficit those same lawmakers are now complaining about, it's a relevant detail.
Let’s see if I got this straight. The current Senate Health Care bill passes. Ve MUSS buy insurance von za private companies or face an IRS fine, unlike ShittiGroup. The health companies are still allowed to raise prices, decrease services, deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and cancel plans for any reason.
There is also a “tax” on the whole thing that makes the buyer pay for being required by Barry and Congress to buy health insurance from a private firm. This tax is irrespective of the premiums. To compensate for the tax, the insured, me, can choose to lower the premiums to pay for the tax thereby losing coverage.
There are (may be) to be subsidies paid to those who can’t afford the insurance or can find a way to get them through loopholes. Out of curiosity I called my local, traitorous Blue Dog Democrat in Congress and asked if the subsidies were taxable. He said he wasn’t sure but thought so since they would be considered income! Whoopie!
So here’s a hypothetical.
If I have to pay $1000 per month for health care (just a low figure, not reality) then I would pay an additional tax to the health provider to allay their costs or something like that for the privilege of being required to buy something. But if the tax is, say, $100 per month and I can’t afford that extra, I can reduce my premiums and thus my coverage. Ok, that sounds really fair. I’m healthy from eating Monsanto generated veggies and FDA approved meat.
Now here’s the great part. If I make $30,000 a year and clear around $20,000, my insurance is about $12,000 (living on $8000 per year is a piece of cake. Just ask any one on the street!). What a deal! BUT…since there’s another hundred bucks a month tax tacked on, all I have to do is deduct it from my federal taxes! Sorry, my state won’t allow that deduction so there goes another $1200 to state tax, thank me very much. BUT…I don’t make enough to file a long form and it doesn’t pay me to itemize so that extra federal (and state) tax will be eaten by me. Umm, Umm. Good!
Now follow this. My good friend makes $60,000 per year, pays the same insurance premium for the same coverage I have and still has $35,000 to $40,000 clear per year (these are all hypo figures but realistically close - his wife told me what he clears). But he can itemize to save money and can claim the health tax on his return. That $1200 literally comes down to about $150 extra tax paid as opposed to my $1200! Sounds eminently fair!
Here’s the kicker, though. When the subsidies do kick in, my rep told me they might be on the order of $200 to $300 per year (more could break the budget and require him to buy his own health insurance!) So I’m stuck with paying an extra $900 to $1000 to the wonderful folks at “Suck ‘em Dry United Health” for the same coverage I now have at the same rate! Now that’s really a fair deal! Hey Congress, take a couple of Cohibas out of petty cash. Better yet, let me pay for them!
Even better, the $200 to $300 is taxable income to me and my buddy. But where he can write his off, I can’t afford to. The government (IRS) sends me a thank you card for contributing
I asked my DINO about this and he told me basically that concept was correct although the figures couldn’t be confirmed. I asked if they would be lower. He hedged a lot saying he didn’t know how it would come out, but this was definitely a good bill (but the health companies might want to recoup the money they wasted on lobbying). I asked for whom and he said for me and he had to go,thnxkbye! I’m not sure whether he meant for myself or him.
I love this deal so much I’m thinking of checking in to a secure, government owned facility for an extended period, maybe the rest of my life. I just haven’t decided the actual means to get invited, although I’m sure there are any number of ways. I only hope there’ll be enough room as others may have the same idea. Maybe I can make reservations...
A December 12, 2009, article here at Big Brass Blog, an online property of Dark Wraith Publishing, detailed a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives to overhaul the regulatory structure that oversees the financial services industry. Below I republish in expanded form my responding comments to that article.
While meaningful, penetrating financial reform is desperately needed, and has been needed for over a decade, given my deeply cynical tendencies, I am most decidedly not impressed by the work of the current Congress in this matter. Any attempt at "reform" that does not address the causes of the near-collapse that has led to the recognition of such need is doomed to failure. Far too much emphasis is being placed upon the failures of the private sector financial institutions and their principals, while far too little attention is being given to the public sector institutions and people who had within their power the means and authority to responsibly carry out their duties but did not.
First, members of Congress demonstrate no courage when, instead of first addressing the irresponsible policies of their own chambers, they pose to lead a populist mob against the private sector. This is not to say in any way that those financial institutions and their principals were not, in their own right, deeply flawed in their activities that led to the crisis. They were, and they rightly deserve a much firmer, far less accommodating grip of oversight; but that brings us to a deeper problem that regulatory reform refuses to address, and this is my second point.
To imagine that the benefits of a so-called "free market" are not tied to the power of a fiercely competitive industry structure is sheer folly. We have now and always have had a bias in public policy toward a substantial amount of freedom in enterprise. Regulations of all kinds are actually the primary evidence of this: containing the excesses, negative externalities, and other unfortunate consequences of market activity through legislation enforced by regulatory agencies is a means by which to give license to a free market environment while merely circumscribing its actions, but not prohibiting pursuit of profit gained for risks taken.
At what point the scale of individual companies within an industry becomes significant in terms of so-called "market power" is a matter of enduring debate, but it certainly depends upon the industry. To the extent that the prospect of scale economies encourages growth of individual companies, market concentration would seem to be favorable to cost efficiency in production and, theoretically, therefore to final prices of goods and services. Against this well-embraced argument, however, are the risks associated with big companies dominating an industry and a subtler possibility that those scale economies are gained at the expense of opportunity costs incurred by factor input markets, consumers, and prospective competitors facing prohibitive barriers to entry.
The first and most apparent risk of market concentration is that of failure of one or more of the huge firms. At some scale, a single firm falling apart can have not just microeconomic impact, but also macroeconomic consequences. A casual look at the financial services industry during last autumn's crisis gives evidence of a cascade effect, where the fall of several industry leaders induced destructive consequences upon other financial institutions and, in fact, upon firms beyond the industry. In current news, the potential default on debt of Dubai World, one of the largest holding companies on the planet, would have staggering consequences on countless large and small financial intermediaries and their stakeholders across the globe.
We cannot have a free market that remains in the grip of fiercely competitive firms that can succeed and fail inconsequentially to the macroeconomy while allowing that freedom to cabin scale that most decidedly can be consequential to the macroeconomy.
A second and more pernicious risk of big companies dominating an industry is the political power they can come to exert. When our government in all three of its branches considers the voices, expertise, and opinions of industry leaders to be co-equal with that of citizens ignorant or informed as they may be the concept of democracy has taken a gravely radical turn from any sense it might have had among the ancient Greeks to whom we so scrupulous refer when constructing our own ideals of what a democracy is or should be.
The current President, who campaigned on a platform of change, nevertheless draws to his inner counsel men and women from companies of scale and, in some cases, disrepute.
Members of Congress allow their votes to be influenced by lobbyists paid by powerful corporate interests.
The judiciary deems the concept of "personhood" to encompass both people of flesh and blood as well as business entities, recognizing for each group a certain set of rights as well as responsibilities, never resolutely establishing definitive judgment upon the problem of how natural law could possibly inhere to innate, conceptual constructs like corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies. (See my article, "Plain Language," for an overview of natural law and inherent rights.)
Returning finally to the matter of why the current posture of regulatory reform for the financial services industry is largely worthless in my judgment, I have no reservation in that assessment, again, because the failures of public sector institutions and personnel are being hidden behind the parade of righteous indignation and resolutions aimed at the private sector, altogether deserving of unrelentingly harsh criticism as it is.
From at least 2004 until around the time of the beginning of the noticeable part of the financial crisis last year, the largest monetary aggregate, M3, was spiraling upward at an annual rate that finally reached nearly 20 percent. The Federal Reserve, which has sole responsibility for the money supply, dealt with this by suspending publication of the M3 data. (See, for example, my May 11, 2008, article, "The Gospel of Impending Doom.")
At the same time this was happening, the monetary aggregate called M1 was barely growing.
Now, M1 is money that includes cash and checking account funds. M3 includes M1, but also includes highly illiquid (that is, not immediately usable) money like massive time deposits, Eurodollars, and the like. (Read about monetary aggregates in Part Three of my series, "The Economics of Wreckage.")
The growth rate of M1 was not sufficient to keep up with the real growth rate of the economy, which meant that a slow, choking throttle was being applied to the economy that uses cash and checking account funds. That's the economy of everyday people and businesses.
The rapid growth rate of M3 was flooding the financial system with a kind of money that the institutions comprising that system could not use directly. So, what does a rational economic agent do when it has an enormous amount of value that it cannot use but little in the way of cash that it actually needs? It will do what quite a few rational individuals in that position would do: it will pledge the highly illiquid assets against instruments that produce meager amounts of immediate money.
That's what people do when they have huge value tied up in a home but don't have money for their day-to-day expenditures. They'll use their homes as backing for lines of credit and other instruments. If that's not enough, they'll pledge the hard assets on bets that are sure things at first but become less and less so the farther out on a limb they go. If you have an investment that will pay off in six months, if you've got lots of wealth but little immediate income, you'll go long against your illiquid assets to buy in on the fast money makers. That's not "human nature": it's rational survival behavior, personal and institutional. (And save me the talk about how "responsible" people don't behave that way. Put just about anyone in the right circumstances, and responsibility goes from fiduciary to personal in no time flat.)
Hence, in the financial industry, we saw credit and other derivatives coming on line as financial intermediaries and other financial institutions utilized vast oceans of M3 money to squeeze out small amounts of liquid cash.
In retrospect, that's extraordinarily risky, of course, but retrospective wisdom is always in unlimited supply, and I dare say that a whole lot of liberal I-told-you-so types did not know beans about what was going on at the time, and they certainly weren't in the mood to knock off their Hey-Hey-Ho-Ho-George-Bush-Must-Go chants long enough to read the articles I was writing and publishing about what was going on and where it was going to lead.
Forward-thinking risk analysis is never particularly easy to come by, and that's why we have a regulator like the Federal Reserve. Whereas no one pays me to write about impending doom, the men and women at the Fed get paid very well at least to try a little bit of objective thinking once in a great while, like when the U.S. financial system is on a run-away freight train to a cliff.
The unfortunate part, though, is that the Fed could do nothing about the soaring M3 without the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Ben Bernanke, going to Congress during the Bush Administration and telling those Representatives and Senators, so many of them full of hubris and bereft of any knowledge of financial systems and economics, that the M3 money supply was spiraling upward out of control and all proportion, and the result was a financial system that was living on borrowed time and madly leveraged non-Tier 1 assets.
Were the Representatives and Senators to have asked how this looming M3 apocalyptic flood was happening, Mr. Bernanke were he to have the guts, which neither he nor his addled, pathetically partisan predecessor, Alan Greenspan, did would have explained that it was directly and inescapably the fault of the Congress and the Bush Administration because they were all keeping the U.S. economy going by leveraging off wildly huge trade deficits that were filling the coffers of foreign central banks with American dollars that those foreign central banks were then lending back to the United States government to finance its irresponsibly low taxes and irresponsibly high spending. (See, for example, articles I have written including Part 4 of my series, "The Economics of Wreckage," as well my prior articles about U.S. trade deficits, like "Foreign Trade and Debt," "Seven Principles of Macroeconomics," and "Exchange Rate Regimes," among others published over the past five years here at Dark Wraith Publishing online properties.)
And why were those trade deficits so ridiculously high?
Was it greed of corporations moving their operations overseas?
Was it expensive, slothful American union labor?
Was it ignorant American consumers who wouldn't just "Buy American"?
No, unfortunately for the finger-pointers on the Left and on the Right, it was considerably simpler: China, India, and several other countries were pegging their currencies at staggeringly low, out-of-line exchange rates against the dollar. (Nobel-Prize winning liberal economist Paul Krugman thinks this is just fine, which is why Dr. Krugman is on my all-time Lowest-of-the-Low list of liberals, right beside venture capitalist rich boy PowerPointer Al Gore.)
They, especially the Chinese, were bleeding us dry, wiping out tens of millions of American jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars of our industrial base, all while lending us back the money they were getting from us by virtue of selling their products at to us at artificially low prices that made the Blue Light Special at K-Mart pale by comparison.
Hence, the U.S. government (along with the private sector) lived beyond its means, M3 spiraled, M1 was being crushed by the Federal Reserve in a ludicrously inadequate attempt to counter-balance the spiral of the larger monetary aggregate, and the financial system was swelling like a balloon with illiquid money that it used as the backing for derivative swaps off which its member institutions could make what seemed like a fast buck until the leverage became so great that even a small pull on the fulcrum (as happened in 2008 on or about September 15) sent the whole teeter-totter into a great big flop off that flimsy fulcrum of trust in the system.
Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies spend like there's no tomorrow while they talk about reforming the tax system but do nothing whatsoever that would come even within a trillion dollars a year of closing our federal budget deficits, and they rely for an economic recovery on unemployment staying high so worker productivity will go up to pull us into a growth phase just like Keynesians for the past seven decades have been doing. (Part Three, linked above, of my series, "The Economics of Wreckage," explains the theory, and my recent articles, "Recession to Recovery: The Rough and Narrow Road Ahead" and "Favorable Signs of a Sustainable Economic Recovery," show how this theory is playing out in the real world of the current economic recovery.)
Financial reform does not impress me.
When the government (at all levels) stops spying on its citizens like every one of us is a criminal waiting to be caught, when the Obama Administration starts prosecuting Bush Administration officials from the top down, and when the members of Congress start educating themselves about economics and finance and stop drooling to every pathetic interest from AIPAC to the healthcare industry to the banks to the military and its failed commanders like Petraeus and McChrystal, then I'll be on board the reform efforts.
In other words, I shall remain now and permanently a cynic.
Electronic Messages Located after Previously Being Mislabeled, Two Nonprofits Say
Computer technicians have found 22 million missing White House e-mails from the administration of President George W. Bush and the Obama administration is searching for dozens more days' worth of potentially lost e-mail from the Bush years, according to two groups that filed suit over the failure by the Bush White House to install an electronic record keeping system.
The two private organizations - Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive - say there is not yet a final count on the extent of missing White House e-mail and there may never be a complete tally.
It will be years before the public sees any of the recovered e-mails because they will now go through the National Archives' process for releasing presidential and agency records. Presidential records of the Bush administration won't be available until 2014 at the earliest.
The tally of missing e-mails, the additional searches and the settlement are the latest development in a political controversy that stemmed from the Bush White House's failure to install a properly working electronic record keeping system. Two federal laws require the White House to preserve its records.
The two private organizations say there is not yet a final count on the extent of missing White House e-mail and there may never be a complete tally.
The White House has announced a settlement in a lawsuit filed by two good-government groups concerning emails that went missing over a two-and-a-half year period during the Bush administration.
Under the terms of the deal, 94 days of emails -- which could shed light on controversial topics that the Bush administration sought to obscure from public view, such as the Valerie Plame scandal and the run-up to the war in Iraq -- will be transferred to the National Archives, and eventually made public.
Republicans in Congress remind me of a bunch of 2-year-olds because it seems the only word they know how to say is, "No."
Bailout of the giant troubled financial institutions? "No."
Aid for America's ailing auto industry? "No."
A stimulus package to help states, local governments, educational institutions and private industry put people back to work? "No."
Health-care reform? "No! No! No! No!"
Even now as President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress offer additional plans (and money) to bring down the nation's unemployment rate, Republicans say we can't afford to do that.
They suddenly are worried about the budget deficit. The truth is, we can't afford not to do some of these things as the country battles against a depression-like economy, record unemployment and home foreclosures, sky-rocketing health-care costs and - dare I mention? - two wars.
The other unvarnished truth is that Republicans are hoping that things stay bad, at least for another year.
That is the only way they will be able to manage anything remotely resembling victory in next year's mid-term elections. They want unemployment high, which they think will translate into the president's approval numbers being low.
They want people hurting in hopes that voters will take revenge for their pain against Democratic officeholders in the House, Senate and state houses around the country. [snip]
These are tough times for this country, imperiled partly by the disunity that prevails from the halls of Congress to local neighborhoods. Americans should be able to expect better from their leaders than divisive rhetoric and the ability to throw out stumbling blocks to progress.
Certainly recent history has proved that such childish behavior can come from either major political party.
It just so happens that it is mostly coming from the Republican side of the aisle this time because they are in the minority and they are bankrupt when it comes to having progressive ideas.
So, as the president and his party struggle with some of the toughest problems facing this country in a generation, it looks like we can count on Republicans to remain on the sidelines (or in their playpens), continuing to hurl their one-word solution to everything: "No!"
The House passed the most ambitious restructuring of federal financial regulations since the New Deal on Friday, aiming to head off any replay of last year's Wall Street failures that plunged the nation deep into recession.
The sprawling legislation would give the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, create a new agency to oversee consumer banking transactions and shine a light into shadow financial markets that have escaped the oversight of regulators.
The vote was a party-line 223-202. No Republicans voted for the bill; 27 Democrats voted against it.
In a close vote, the House of Representatives Friday afternoon passed a financial reform bill intended to re-regulate Wall Street and increase protections for Main Street.
The bill, passed in a 223-202 vote, calls for the creation of a new federal agency dedicated to protecting consumers that would police consumer credit products like mortgages and credit cards. It also establishes new rules for the trading of derivatives and increases the transparency of the credit-rating process -- two previously under-regulated parts of the economy that played a large role in last year's economic collapse.
This comprehensive financial regulation reform bill will enact common-sense reforms including ending bailouts by helping ensure taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s risky behavior and bad bets; protecting families’ retirement funds, college savings, and homes and businesses’ financial futures from unnecessary risk by Wall Street lenders and speculators and high-paid corporate executives; protecting consumers from predatory lending abuses, fine print, and industry gimmicks; and finally bringing transparency and accountability to a financial system that has run amok.
More information about the legislation (.pdf files):
If we’re picked on as children; if we’re bullied or treated badly or beaten by parents or peers, when we grow up, if we grow up and make something of ourselves because of our own pluck or even through good fortune, do we forget what it was like when we were “not so well off?”
Now that we’re successful, do we remember those who treated us poorly or do we forget and live a "better" life?
What if some of us don’t forget; feel betrayed by the environment in which we grew up? Feel betrayed by the people around us that might have offered help, but didn’t when we needed it - when they could have?
What if that feeling goes deeper? That not only we but our parents and their parents were treated similarly, treated as second class citizens - ignored and forgotten by those around us - by those who could have made a difference?
Now that we’re successful and possibly in a position to control the lives of those who could have helped us when we needed help but chose not to, how do we treat them?
We could forgive and forget. That’s the “turn the other cheek” method. Or we might think of providing some “lesson” to those who we feel didn't care.
We might even consider retribution against some just to show that we won’t forget the treatment we got from them whether direct or indirect.
But what if others we grew up with had it worse - were treated worse - had less? Maybe they couldn’t afford clothes or food. What if most didn’t have the simple things those better off had? Would we think the "haves" better than we were? Would we feel animosity toward them possibly because they had a TV set or stocked refrigerator or a warmer house and we didn’t? Maybe. But do we remember that and if we do, does it bother us, do we feel betrayed?
Now we are in the position and have the power to treat “them” the way we were treated. Do we?
Imagine being in a position to be able to decide to use that power to “get even” with those we thought did such an injustice to us and our family. And not only our family, but friends and others like us who suffered because of the actions or apathy of the "haves!" We now have the power to effectively change the lives of those we hold responsible, regardless of who was at fault. Do we use it? And do we care if we use it?
Retribution or retaliation can certainly be vengeful things. Justifying their use because we suffered at other’s hands could be personally satisfying. Do we really want to get even with those who had it better than us even if they personally never wronged us but looked away when we walked by with our ripped pants and tattered shirts while they wore new, clean clothes, drove nice cars? Do we secretly hate that they had while we didn’t? Is it a driving force within us to "get even" now that we can for all those of us who suffered real and/or imagined at their hands?
Should we now seek that retribution, that retaliation against them?
I'm beginning to feel I know one...or more who thinks that way.
Reid gutted the ban on "annual limits" in the health care bill!
The amendment to "reimport drugs from Canada and other countries" has been "held" by Carper of Delaware at the insistence of the White House.
The Medicare Buy-In looks to be shot!
There are some people who need to move to the next plane of existence!
Through diligent investigation using the latest techniques of the 1950s, I stumbled across the medium the White house uses to communicate with certain Blue Dogs and New Dems. Due to the high security nature of this communiqué, it will self destruct 20 seconds after reading...or by 2012, whichever comes first! Anyone revealing the special information herein will be struck blind, deaf and dumb, never to be believed again, made impotent (except with members of the same sex) or in other words, turned into a Republican.
The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise the president on national security issues.
Such lawsuits ask courts to second-guess presidential decisions and pose "the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military's detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict," Justice Department lawyers said Thursday in arguments to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Other sanctions are available for government lawyers who commit misconduct, the department said. It noted that its Office of Professional Responsibility has been investigating Yoo's advice to former President George W. Bush since 2004 and has the power to recommend professional discipline or even criminal prosecution.
The office has not made its conclusions public. However, The Chronicle and other media reported in May that the office will recommend that Yoo be referred to the bar association for possible discipline, but that he not be prosecuted.
Dec. 9: The Department of Justice is asking an appeals court to dismiss the lawsuit accusing John Yoo for providing the Bush administration with a legal justification for torture. Prof. Jonathan Turley discusses. [ 6:08 ]
On the night of June 9-10 in 2006, three prisoners held at the Guantánamo prison's Camp Delta died under mysterious circumstances. Military authorities responded by quickly ordering media representatives off the island and blocking lawyers from meeting with their clients. The first official military statements declared the deaths not just suicides -- but actually went so far as to describe them as acts of "asymmetrical warfare" against the United States.
Law Professor Mark Denbeaux, who directed the study, said in an interview that "there are two possibilities here. Either the investigation is a cover-up of gross dereliction of duty, or it is a cover-up of something far more chilling. More than three years later we do not know what really happened." (Read a Q&A with Denbeaux: "'The Most Innocent Explanation Is That This Is Gitmo Meets Lord Of The Flies'".) [snip]
The study is the eleventh in a series of reports by the Seton Hall Law School examining issues related to the detention regime at Guantanamo and establishing that a number of Pentagon claims about Guantanamo and the prisoners held there are pure myths. One earlier report established that over 80% of the prisoners were captured not by Americans on the battlefield but by Pakistanis and Afghans, often in exchange for bounty payments. Another demonstrated that the Guantanamo Combat Status Review Tribunals consistently failed to follow their own rules and were frequently convened for purposes of overturning determinations made by earlier tribunals that prisoners were not enemy combatants. Another debunked Bush Administration claims denying the existence of tapes of prisoner interrogations, and demonstrated that 24,000 such tapes were made, together with extensive notes based on them.
This latest study comes shortly after the resignation of the Obama Administration's two top officials responsible for detainee issues: White House counsel Greg Craig and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Phil Carter.
A senior Pentagon official, asked about the report on Sunday, did not have an immediate response, but said one might be forthcoming. This post will be updated if and when the Pentagon has a statement.
Dec. 7: Columbia Law School adjunct Prof. Scott Horton discusses a study which looking at three alleged suicides at Guantanamo Bay prison, describing conditions as “GITMO meets Lord of the Flies.” [ 6:18 ]
The time for fear is over. Time for action. We have two choices:
Go totally alternate energy: solar, hydro or wind powered or
Get the fuck out of this country.
Since most of us don’t have the cash to eliminate our connection to the electrical utilities, I suggest cashing in everything and heading...anywhere but America (preferably somewhere warm...but soon enough, everywhere will be warm.)
The next generation of appliances will have snoop built in. Yep! You betcha! With electrical utility companies soon to probably require replacement of your current electric meter with a new “Smart Grid Meter”, they will have the ability to monitor AND control these new appliances. And Barry is forking over 3 billion to get it started. Those of you in Maryland sold your souls for a hundred bucks. Try buying them back!
Now I know what you’re thinking. Can this "Smart Grid Meter" be used to invade our privacy? Heck no! Well...no. Ok...maybe. Ummm? Yeah, you betcha!
With the new technology, they’ll be able to turn your appliances on or off if they are concerned that too much energy is being used. Of course, they say this is to help prevent rolling brownouts (instead of producing more power!)
But more startling than that is that they will be able to collect a phenomenal amount of data about how you live; what you do; when you do it and why they should control your life with something you are paying for. And that's what's really cool, that you will be paying to give out your private information...to anyone the electrical companies want, and you'll love them for it!
But it doesn’t stop there. Data that will be as secure as current credit card information, marketing collections and of course, FISA. That data can be shared with appropriate third parties, meaning anyone who pays the electrical utility for it.
Information can be made available to any Mayberry Sheriff should they ask and have the necessary funds (which Barry will give them!)
There isn’t enough space to tell you all about this. Read the article(s)! Try not to break anything during or after reading. Then make plans to get off the grid (go totally alternate energy) or plan on a new residence somewhere…out there…before someone decides you can’t go.
Phuk this country.
Read the stories here at Epic. There are a number of links. Do yourself a favor. If you never believed that the previous and current administration were out to subvert everything the founding fathers built, these articles should convince you.
“…Would you sign up for a discount with your power company in exchange for surrendering control of your thermostat? What if it means that, one day, your auto insurance company will know that you regularly arrive home on weekends at 2:15 a.m., just after the bars close?”
And the dogs are not happy about it. It's about 6-8 inches, all white, soft and fluffy. Sounds are muffled and the place looks like a postcard. I haven't lived in a snow area for almost thirty years and while I may think it's pretty now, that will quickly change. The roads will be plowed and salted, the snow will pile up by the curb and turn brown and slushy from car exhaust. At least is isn't going to be like when I lived in Germany. I would drive the ex to work, passing by numerous fields covered with pure driven snow and come back less than an hour later and those pristine fields would now be covered with neat rows of manure spread by the honeywagons. The offal fragrance would travel on the crisp air and overwhelm the senses until you were back home and safely indoors.
Several years later we lived off Route 209, between Kerhonkson and Kingston, NY, in a small one bedroom house that was heated by oil. If you had the money. During the winter heating oil was our most important bill. We were as frugal as possible, but when your pipes freeze for eight days and you're boiling snow to flush the toilet and taking ho baths in the restroom at work, one tends to think that the term "winter wonderland" is a tad overrated.
I loved snow when dad was stationed in Spokane. There was this marvelous thing called snow day and you didn't have to go to school, but then we were transferred to Puerto Rico and its beach weather and I've been a tropical girl ever since. Rarely do I think that it's too warm. Last night as I was shivering in bed I wondered where those personal summers were that some women complain about and then I covered my head with the covers and I warmed up enough to go to sleep.
Thermal underwear, gloves and a winter hat have greatly increased my tolerance to the cold, I wish I could say the same for the car. It sounds like a belt is being tortured and the sound goes away after it warms up, I hope nothing breaks. I bought a snow brush ice scraper thingy and some window de-icer but I'm not happy about my tires. One shouldn't slide when accelerating at 2 mph, I'm so glad they're new. It doesn't really matter since the car is snowed in and the maintenance guy locked up the shovels.
Meanwhile, back in the somewhat real world.
Off the deep end. While I may not like Obama, every little farting thing that goes wrong is not his fault and blaming him because regulations that have been in place for many years prohibiting animals from food establishments is a little over the top. As was banning the dog in the first place.
Why is everyone so surprised that there isn't going to be a public option? Congress has done very little over the last thirty years to help those people who don't put massive amounts of campaign cash in their pockets and everything that the corporations who do contribute have asked for. Making it harder and more expensive to file bankruptcy when all indicators showed that out of pocket expenses for health care were increasing and that a majority of bankruptcies were related to medical issues should have been a glaring warning sign. So of course it makes sense to add another mandatory expense to shrinking household budgets and babble about health care gulags or the wonders of employer based insurance when people don't have jobs and companies are eliminating benefits faster than the road runner evading a falling anvil.
"Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, and the Day After," by Kris Garrett
Yesterday, for the first time,
I was too tired to ride
I was afraid I would be hurt if I was thrown
I heard someone say my barn was too shabby
I let someone tell me I was too pudgy to ride
I realized I was old
I had to face that I could no longer keep up
I had to let go of my dreams
I felt my heart break
I turned my back on my friend
I knew I was done
Today, for the last time,
I felt warm, braided leather in my hands.
I ran my stirrups up so they wouldn't bang my mare's sides
I released the buckles on the girth and watched my girl sigh
I slowly dropped the bit so it wouldn't hit her teeth
I gave my mare a cookie to thank her for the ride
I buried my head in her soft, warm neck
I inhaled the sun and the dust in her long winter coat
I closed the gate and trudged to the muddy porch
I tracked hay and horse hair into my house
I pulled off my boots and felt the sting of warm blood returning to my
Today, for the first time,
I cried after my ride
I felt my hands shake as I set the saddle on its rack
I hugged my young trainer a final goodbye
I waited for the new owner's trailer to arrive
I set my boots in a box to go to the Goodwill
I sighed at the wear on my riding gloves
I had no hay in my hair
I did not hear nickering when I opened my back door
I felt worse leaving the barn that I did when I entered
I had no one to check on before going to bed
Tomorrow, for the first time,
I won't have to buy hay
I can stay in bed longer
I won't see the poop pile grow
I won't be able to fly on four legs
I will be sorry I listened
I will regret letting her go
I will be angry at God
I will be angry at myself
I will cry the day away
I will be glad to die
Day after tomorrow, for the first time,
I will awaken in tears
I will know I was wrong
I will defy all the judgment
I will ignore my old bones
I will return the buyer's check
I will bring my friend home
I will take my boots out of the box
I will be reborn
For the rest of my life,
I will have a horse in my yard
I will ignore the cruel judging
I will watch the poop pile grow
I will have hay in my hair
I will track mud in my house
I will bury my face in her soft neck
I will let my soul fly
The FDA is still trying to intimidate doctors into not prescribing strong pain medication for their patients by having drugmakers create risk management plans. Since I'm allergic to all of the drugs mentioned in the article I won't be affected, but many people who are in chronic pain will. I know what it's like to be in constant pain with no relief in sight and it isn't pretty. Too bad the FDA wasn't interfering when Rush Limbaugh was scoring oxycontin with his secretary's help. It might have saved him a few brain cells and then he wouldn't run around making stupid statements like the poor have no right to health care because they can't afford it.
I was thinking the same thing. It was okay for them to sleep with a married man, accept his gifts and travel on his dime but now they want money to keep quiet. Prostitutes have more class.
Oreo. He certainly made sure bankers can afford to live on their segregated estates while the help live under the bridge.
Aetna only made a 7% profit this year so they are going to raise their rates and eliminate about 600,000 people from their health insurance plans. What will it take for teabaggers to wake up and realize that the only death panels are located in insurance companies and while teabaggers are purportedly worrying about single payer health care killing grandma that corporations have been robbing the taxpayers blind? Or as commenter Chernynkaya so artfully put it:
I am so s!ck of hearing from the Right how we liberals are always looking for a government "handout." Heres what the government has the money to do for CORPORATIONS:
subsidies and other direct grants;
tax breaks, reductions, deductions, exclusions, write-offs, exemptions, credits, loopholes, shelters, and rebates even for profitable companies;
letting corporations be headquartered off-shore and pay no federal income taxes;
large government contracts of every imaginable kind; some on a cost-plus basis with every incentive to cheat and get more;
discounted user fees or subsidized use of public resources (land, water, airwaves,e¬tc.);
free government-funded R & D;
every program from the Department of Commerce, Agriculture and others underwrites it; the FDA for Big Pharma; the FCC for media and telecommunications firms; the FAA for the airlines, the Treasury and Fed for Wall Street;
individual tax breaks for the rich; billions offshored to tax havens; allowing corporate fraud and abuse
privatizing more - schools, highways, bridges, airports, prisons, public lands, utilities, parts of the military, mercenaries, and thus far a failed attempt to privatise the most important program for seniors and the disabled - Social Security;
But nothing for the basic right of LIFE (unless you haven’t yet had the nerve to be born).
Jim Bunning, the conservative junior Kentucky senator who will retire next year, landed a parting punch Thursday against Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Bunning, who has railed against Bernanke's performance during the nation's financial crisis, became the second Senator to put a "hold" on Bernanke’s confirmation for a second term. The procedural move by Bunning and Sen. Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent, could require a super-majority of 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to achieve Bernanke's confirmation.
"I will do everything I can to stop your nomination and drag out the process as long as possible," Bunning said during Bernanke's confirmation hearing on Thursday. "We must put an end to your and the Fed’s failures, and there is no better time than now."
"Your time as Fed chairman has been a failure."
"You have decided that just about every large bank, investment bank, insurance company, and even some industrial companies are too big to fail. Rather than making management, shareholders, and debt holders feel the consequences of their risk-taking, you bailed them out."
"In short, you are the definition of moral hazard."
I had large misgivings about Ben Bernanke before his hearings began. He's given credit for steering our economy to safe shores after we hit an enormous economic iceberg. First, I would argue we are nowhere near safe shores. Second, why are we rehiring the guy who steered the Titanic into the iceberg in the first place?
But despite all of that, I wasn't dead set against him. He does have Republicans and Democrats who believe in him. He obviously has the confidence of President Obama (though, so does Geithner and Summers, so that might not tell you much). He is an expert on the Great Depression. The problem is he was at least partly responsible for creating the situation that called for his expertise. His knowledge in handling depressions might not be so handy if he hadn't gotten us into one.
So, I was not predisposed to support him but I was not dead set against him, either. Until now.
He just said in his hearings that he would get more money by going after Social Security and Medicare. [snip]
He even has the nerve to quote famous bank robber Willie Sutton by saying that he would go after Social Security and Medicare because "that's where the money is." Well, give him points for honesty. He plans on robbing more of your money to give to his Wall Street friends - because that's where the money is. As if they haven't taken enough of our money. [snip]
Is Ben Bernanke the change we voted for? How can anyone believe that? What is the matter with Obama? Picking the same guy as Bush, and the same exact guy who was at the helm when the economy crashed, is definitely not change we can believe in. Ben Bernanke is the definition of the status quo. He is part and parcel of the Washington and Wall Street establishment that caused our economic problems in the first place. Why the hell would we put this guy back in charge?
WASHINGTON, December 2 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today placed a hold on the nomination of Ben Bernanke for a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.
“The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interests of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few,” Sanders said. “What the American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy.”
As head of the central bank since 2006, Bernanke could have demanded that Wall Street provide adequate credit to small and medium-sized businesses to create decent-paying jobs in a productive economy, but he did not.
He could have insisted that large bailed-out banks end the usurious practice of charging interest rates of 30 percent or more on credit cards, but he did not.
He could have broken up too-big-to-fail financial institutions that took Federal Reserve assistance, but he did not.
He could have revealed which banks took more than $2 trillion in taxpayer-backed secret loans, but he did not.
“The American people want a new direction on Wall Street and at the Fed. They do not want as chairman someone who has been part of the problem and who has been responsible for many of the enormous difficulties that we are now experiencing,” Sanders said. “It’s time for a change at the Fed.”
The Federal Reserve has four main responsibilities: to conduct monetary policy in a way that leads to maximum employment and stable prices; to maintain the safety and soundness of financial institutions; to contain systemic risk in financial markets; and to protect consumers against deceptive and unfair financial products.
Since Bernanke took over as Fed chairman in 2006, unemployment has more than doubled and, today, 17.5 percent of the American workforce is either unemployed or underemployed.
Not since the Great Depression has the financial system been as unsafe, unsound, and unstable as it has been during Mr. Bernanke's tenure. More than 120 banks have failed since he became chairman.
Under Bernanke's watch, the value of risky derivatives held at our nation's top commercial banks grew from $110 trillion to more than $290 trillion, 95 percent of which are concentrated in just five financial institutions.
Bernanke failed to prevent banks from issuing deceptive and unfair financial products to consumers. Under his leadership, mortgage lenders were allowed to issue predatory loans they knew consumers could not afford to repay. This risky practice was allowed to continue long after the FBI warned in 2004 of an "epidemic" in mortgage fraud.
After the financial crisis hit, Bernanke's response was to provide trillions of dollars in virtually zero-interest loans and other taxpayer assistance to some of the largest financial institutions in the world. Adding insult to injury, Bernanke refused to tell the American people the names of the institutions that received this handout or the terms involved.
“Mr. Bernanke has failed at all four core responsibilities of the Federal Reserve,” Sanders concluded. “It’s time for him to go."
What kind of creep do you have to be to break in to a family's home three days after they were killed in a car crash? It's bad enough that the parents and two kids were broadsided by a drunk driver who ran a red light at seventy miles an hour as they were returning from a family vacation in Hawaii, but it takes a real lowlife to break into their home and steal their possessions and their car before their bodies have been buried. Hopefully these morons will plead guilty because it's going to be difficult to find an impartial jury.
Protecting the institution of marriage by banning gays from being married is better than banning divorce, because it would be "impractical" according to the California Family Council. Two people of the same sex pledging their lives to one another is wrong but it's okay for people to get married in a drunken stupor and get divorced three days later. On the other hand, some people try marriage (and divorce) three times before realizing that they are gay. How is marriage protected when it can be undone at will? Maybe the 47.9% of heterosexual marriages that end in divorce should have been prevented?
I don't accept his apology either. I'm not his wife or child and it isn't any of my business so I don't need an apology. He deserves the apology for people intruding on his life. Everyone is entitled to privacy, even if they are in the public spotlight. It isn't like he's a Lohan, Hilton or Salahi who seeks fame for fame's sake or someone who sees an opportunity to grub for money. And since it didn't happen on the golf course, why should it affect his career? My senator was fooling around with his best friend's wife and he still has a job.
How can a female soldier die from being shot in the back of the head and it not be considered murder? That is happened on a "secure" base in Iraq is even more mystifying and why is it taking the military so long to solve the case? Don't they watch NCIS?
If it wasn't for mom's social security deposit, we would be unbanked also. Three weeks after B of A raided my account for the California government and charged me $100 for the privilege in addition to $105 for not paying my bills, I have yet to receive notification or any official paperwork. California isn't getting the disputed tax money and my bills aren't paid, but B of A made a couple of hundred dollars at everyone's expense. I'd rather pay three dollars to Wal-Mart to cash a check and then run around town and pay my bills in cash. I wonder if Arnold is going to have his bank account raided for his back taxes? Somehow, I doubt it.
Speaking of the IRS, they are trying to auction off lands that belong to the Crow Creek Indian Reservation using the pretext of back taxes. There must be undiscovered oil or gold. Considering that the land originally belonged to them before they were hunted down and forced to exist on land that barely supports insects, this is some real chutzpah.
Turn back the clock. It's 2005 or is it 2006? Whichever.
McChrystal's lackey Barry, is sending 30,000 more sheep to a battle they can't win. But it'll all be over in 6 more Friedman Units. I'm not sure how many dead soldiers are in 1 unit, but I guess that's irrelevant, eh? And injured and maimed don't count.
I asked before, why are we listening to the losers, the ones that got us into this? Westmoreland and McNamara aren't around? Calling Miss Cleo!
Advice accepted from Geithner, Summers, McConnell, McChrystal. et. al....but none from any progressives!I'm surprised he didn't ask Cheney or Rice or Kristol...at least we don't know if he did.
Maybe we need an Alan Grayson/2012 putsch?
More embarrassing than being a one term president and losing to a Republican would be to be replaced as your own party's leader trying for your second term.
"Millions for defense, but not one penny for tribute!" - Robert Goodloe Harper, way back when
(or healthcare, or homeless, or foreclosed, or unemployed, or immigrants, or abortion, or education, etc.)
Chickenhawks, It's YOUR war, Enlist or shut up!
Would a surge by another name smell as sweet? Billy Shakespeare(If Fox and the Republicans can rewrite history, so can I!)
I voted no. On what grounds is Tiger Woods' accident any of my business? Or yours? When, where, how or who applies only to the parties involved. It is none of my business if he was leaving the house at 2:25 am, nor is it any of my business where he was going. How the accident happened may be of interest but it isn't critical to our existence on the planet. No alcohol was involved and Tiger was the only one who was injured and if he doesn't want to speak about the accident, that is his business. Because he is a celebrity does not make his personal life my business. Honestly, with every day that goes by reality appears to drift further away from the news media as they get closer to the twilight zone. From balloon boy to gate crashers to single car accidents, infotainment (I can't believe the spell checker thinks that's a real word!) rules the news cycle. ABC wasn't content with gossiping about Tiger, they added another star and an ambulance chaser to make the story even more titillating.
I've tried reading Little Green Footballs off and on for the past five years but the vitriol and hatred for anyone who disagreed with their view was too much for me. I guess it was also too much for Charles Johnson. Over the last few months he has been bemused by the invective coming from the right and he has officially decided to part company. I'm adding him to my blogroll, some of his stuff is pretty interesting.
Wow, just wow. How can people live with themselves having that level of hatred? Somewhere between my teens and my forties the definition of Christian behavior changed. And not for the better.
As President Obama prepares to escalate the war in Afghanistan, staff members for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic majority prepared a report at the request of the chairman, Sen. John Kerry.
According to MSNBC, the report states categorically that bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora when the U.S. had the means to mount a rapid assault with several thousand troops. On or about Dec. 16, 2001, bin Laden and bodyguards "walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan's unregulated tribal area, where he is still believed to be based." The only assertion in the report that has ever been replicated in the media and other intelligence reports is that Osama bin Laden was cornered at Tora Bora in Dec. 2001. The rest is speculation.
The report, however, seems to overlook the fact that bin Laden was suffering from diabetes, Hepatitis C, and an "untreated lung complication" and would have had to have "walked unmolested" out of the rugged mountains of Afghanistan under the surveillance of "thousands" of special operations troops with at least one kidney dialysis machine in tow. The report also does not mention that electricity to power dialysis machines may be difficult to generate on the move through the mountains of Afghanistan.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta stated in Jan. 2002: "The sort of frosting of the appearance is something that people a lot of times associate with chronic kidney failure, renal failure, certainly someone who is requiring dialysis would have that."
Gen. Peter Bergen concurred on CNN on Feb. 1, 2002 that in bin Laden's Dec. 27, 2001 video, "he's barely moving the left side of his body. So he's clearly got diabetes. He has low blood pressure. He's got a wound in his foot. He's apparently got dialysis ... for kidney problems. I mean, this is a man who has a number of health problems, apart from the fact that anybody running around the Afghan mountains is not going to be in great shape." Other reports claimed bin Laden was wounded by shrapnel in his left hand and arm at Tora Bora in 2001 as well.
The latest report also ignores numerous reports in both mainstream U.S. media and international media that bin Laden is probably dead. In Jan. 2002, Pakistani president Gen. Pervez Mushharraf said in an interview with CNN, "I think now, frankly, he is dead for the reason he is a ... kidney patient." The BBC reported on July 18, 2002 that the FBI's counter-terrorism chief, Dale Watson, says he thinks Osama bin Laden is "probably" dead. Afghan president Harmad Karzai concurred when he said on CNN's Late Edition on Oct. 8, 2002, "I would come to believe that [bin Laden] probably is dead." Before Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, she also said bin Laden is dead. Janes reported in Dec. 2002 that "bin Laden was never on the annual list of Islamist extremists issued by the espionage and security services" of Israel. Read the rest.