Monday, February 8, 2010
Thank God we have Sarah Palin to help us make sense of the world.
Palin latest to walk back criticism of GOP leader Limbaugh
Sunday, February 7, 2010
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." Aristotle
Saturday, February 6, 2010
From How Obama got Keynes wrong by Shawn Tully:
While the Obama team is laying out huge sums of money, Meltzer says it's neglecting a key part of Keynes' plan: You can't run up a debt without a way to cover it.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
From James K. Galbraith: "There Is No Return To Self-Sustaining Growth" by Lars Schall:
The principal cause of the crisis was the dismantling of the system of regulation and supervision in the financial sector which had for much of the post-war period kept the most dangerous elements of that sector in check. In the absence of an appropriate system of effective supervision and regulation, what happens is that the actors in the system, who are intent upon taking the greatest degree of risk — including actors who are intent upon using fraudulent methods to increase their returns — come to dominate parts of the system. As they do that, the general methods of assessing performance in the market, specifically stock-market valuations, become counter-productive. That is to say, they invariably reward the worst actors, while they force more traditional actors, who are still respecting the old norms of conduct, into a competitively disadvantaged position. Thus the bad actors, the fraudulent actors, and the speculative extremists quickly take over.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
At a recent dinner party, I found myself in an awkward situation when the host, a devout atheist, sneezed between spoonfuls of his gazpacho. Without thinking, I said, "God bless you." He gave me a withering look and said, as if to a child, "Golly gee, I sure hope he does." The other guests exploded with laughter, while I imploded with humiliation. To avoid future embarrassment, what is the correct response when an atheist sneezes?
Troubled with ahchoo
First, a little background information. Saying "God bless you" following a sneeze is thought by some to have originated in the sixth century in order to protect the sneezer from falling ill to the bubonic plague. Another possible origin is that people once believed that the devil entered the body during a sneeze and saying "God bless you" could help ward him off. Since the plague has killed something like two hundred million people and the words "God bless you" have, in all likelihood, been said countless times to Glenn Beck, we can safely assume the phrase has no real power against germs or demonic possession. What it does contain is simple human courtesy -- a means by which we express concern for one another. As to how to respond to a sneezing atheist, well, that's easy. Simply say, "Sounds like you're coming down with something, I hope you don't die and rot in a box."
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Does this sound familiar?
From The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham:
The Bankers Securities Corporation was floated as an “investment trust” in 1928, in the heyday of financial legerdemain. Investors and speculators, who in those days were even more indistinguishable than they are now, were convinced that financiers could create values miraculously by merely forming a new investment fund or by shuffling old ones around. The miracles proved to be mirages. The disillusionment of the investors was a bitter thing, and it still shows itself in what we would style a wholesome mistrust of the ability of financiers to perform tricks with other peoples money.Here’s what gets me. You would think that anybody who is anyone in the financial world would have actually read The Intelligent Investor. Perhaps they just keep it on their bookshelves.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
“Women are psychos.” Glenn Beck
From Home sweet rental by James Altucher:
When making the decision to buy vs. rent, people usually consider several factors -- the rent vs. mortgage payment being the primary question. But there are other financial factors to consider, including:
* Your insurance premium.
* Property taxes (which are usually higher than any tax deduction you get from your mortgage interest).
* Maintenance (pipes break, electricity problems, etc.).
* Utilities (utilities and maintenance for renters is often reflected in the rental price, but it's not reflected in a mortgage when you own).
* Yard work, pest control, remodeling, etc. (again, rents usually have this built into the price, but mortgages don't).
And let's not forget those initial costs that always seem to add up to more than you expect:
* A down payment of at least 15 percent, which is $90,000 on a $600,000 home.
* Closing costs, usually 5 percent of loan amount, or another $25,000.
* Initial remodeling costs.
Friday, January 22, 2010
A song for you, just because I like it.
Ian McLagan and The Bump Band performing “Never Say Never” on the 06-19-09 Leterman Show:
Thursday, January 21, 2010
This is a quotation from Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887:From Supreme Court rejects corporate campaign spending limits by James Vicini:
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
Acton was preceded by William Pitt the Elder, who voiced a similar thought in a House of Lords speech in 1770:
"Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know, my lords, that where laws end, tyranny begins."
The Supreme Court struck down on Thursday long-standing limits on corporate spending in U.S. political campaigns, such as this year's congressional races and the 2012 presidential contest."ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
The 5-4 ruling was a defeat for the Obama administration and the campaign finance law's supporters who said that ending the limits would unleash a flood of corporate money into the political system to promote or defeat candidates.
The ruling by the conservative majority transformed the political landscape and the rules on how money can be spent in future presidential and congressional elections, which already have broken new spending records with each political cycle.
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS."
The corporate animal has the Supreme Court’s thumb on the scale, as well as its own. Democracy in the United States is a joke.
The libertarians and the tea party people are pissed off about being taxed. I’m more pissed off about the fact that some the money I spend to buy things goes to the buying of elections and the diminishing of the power of my vote.
Monday, January 18, 2010
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Yes, I think in the Haiti earthquake, ladies and gentlemen -- in the words of Rahm Emanuel, we have another crisis simply too good to waste. This will play right into Obama's hands -- humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their -- shall we say -- credibility with the black community, in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community, in this country. It's made-to-order for 'em. That's why he couldn't wait to get out there. Could not wait to get out there.Mr. Limbaugh says this as if there is something bad about being humanitarian and compassionate. I suppose Mr. Limbaugh would prefer that Obama follow the Bush Katrina plan. You know, if black people are involved in a disaster the best course of action is to do nothing. I do believe that he has some serious psychological problems.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Personally, I would rather see my tax dollars going to universal health care than to unnecessary and illegal wars.
From National Priorities Project Tallies Cost of War:
These new appropriations bring total war-related spending for Iraq to $747.3 billion and for Afghanistan to $299 billion, with total war costs of $1.05 trillion.It’s also upsetting to me to learn of another useless and illegal use of tax dollars.
From When prayers fly at Capitol, someone gets mad by Marc Hansen:
Those pesky atheists are at it again. First, they put ads on metro buses telling nonbelievers, "You are not alone."
Now, according to a letter sent to Iowa legislators, they want our elected officials to stop inviting clergy to begin each day of the 2010 session with an official prayer.
Besides violating the separation of church and state, the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers say, it costs too much. Clergy members receive $10 per prayer and mileage from the home district and back.
The group's president — quoting the House Financial Office — says the state spends $2,606 per session on the prayers. If it seems like walking-around money, even walking-around money is scarce these days.
What's more, during the prayers, the doors to the House and Senate close, meaning clerks, pages, and legislative staff members are held captive.
Easy question for Holder: "If torture is illegal, and it is clear that all these craven sociopaths authorized torture, why aren't you prosecuting?"
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
The reckless Citi executives of our day may not have given themselves interest-free loans, but they often walked away with the short-term, illusionary profits while their employees were left with shredded jobs and 401(k)’s. Among those Citi executives was Robert Rubin, who, as the Clinton Treasury secretary, helped repeal the last vestiges of Glass-Steagall after years of Wall Street assault.
Rubin has never apologized, let alone been held accountable. But he’s hardly alone. Even after all the country has gone through, the titans who fueled the bubble are heedless. In last Sunday’s Times, Sandy Weill, the former chief executive who built Citigroup (and recruited Rubin to its ranks), gave a remarkable interview to Katrina Brooker blaming his own hand-picked successor, Charles Prince, for his bank’s implosion. Weill said he preferred to be remembered for his philanthropy. Good luck with that.Read more here.
Among his causes is Carnegie Hall, where he is chairman of the board. To see how far American capitalism has fallen, contrast Weill with the giant who built Carnegie Hall. Not only is Andrew Carnegie remembered for far more epic and generous philanthropy than Weill’s — some 1,600 public libraries, just for starters — but also for creating a steel empire that actually helped build America’s industrial infrastructure in the late 19th century. At Citi, Weill built little more than a bloated gambling casino. As Paul Volcker, the regrettably powerless chairman of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, said recently, there is not “one shred of neutral evidence” that any financial innovation of the past 20 years has led to economic growth. Citi, that “innovative” banking supermarket, destroyed far more wealth than Weill can or will ever give away.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Gordon Brown seems to think that some people have the right to freedom of speech and some don’t.
From Brown irked by plan for antiwar demo:
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he is appalled by an Islamic group's proposal to demonstrate against the UK's continuation of war in Afghanistan.Personally, I find war to be appalling, not speech. I also never find anti-war rallies to be appalling.
In a Monday statement issued in response to calls by the Islam4UK group for a protest march in the country, Brown expressed strong dismay at the plan and said he was “personally appalled” by the group's bid to protest against the government's war policies in Afghanistan.
The statement came after the Islam4UK leader, Anjem Choudary, informed families of fallen British soldiers in Afghanistan about his plan to organize an antiwar rally on Wootton Bassett streets where there has recently been a cortege of a number of killed soldiers.
Choudary told the BBC about his intention to honor “Muslim victims” of the conflict in Afghanistan, mainly Afghan civilians.
“It's to highlight the real cost of the war in Afghanistan,” the 42-year-old lawyer of Pakistani descent noted, adding, “The sad reality of the situation is that if I were to hold it somewhere else, it would not have the media attention that it has now.”
“It is worth reminding those who are still not blinded by the media propaganda that Afghanistan is not a British town near Wootton Bassett but rather Muslim land which no one has the right to occupy, with a Muslim population who do not deserve their innocent men, women and children to be killed for political mileage and for the greedy interests of the oppressive US and UK regimes,” he added.
There is a comment to this news item that I find interesting:
The ones who should be ashamed are not those who stand for the Divine Principles of Truth & Justice, rather those who engage in the aggressive military invasions of other lands, oppressing and killing the innocents. In addition, each soldier, if he warrants the name, needs to look deeply into their conscience and ask if they are fighting a just war to defend their country or an oppressive, unjust one.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
When will the senseless killing stop?
From 'US drone attacks jeopardizing war on militancy':
Pakistan's president warns the US that its drone attacks, killing mostly civilians, will undermine the national consensus supporting the war on militancy.From Ex-Blackwater mercenaries charged with murder:
President Asif Ali Zardari said on Thursday that relations between Washington and Islamabad should be based on respect, mutual trust and mutual interest.
Zardari made the comments during a meeting with a US delegation in Islamabad on Thursday, a day after US drone attacks killed at least 13 people on the border with Afghanistan.
US drones carried out more than 50 such attacks on Pakistan's tribal areas last year, killing hundreds of people — mostly civilians.
Two former mercenaries of the notorious US security firm Blackwater (now known as Xe Services LLC) have been charged with the 2009 murder of two Afghan civilians in Kabul, the Justice Department says.
Justin Cannon, 27, of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Christopher Drotleff, 29, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, have been charged with second-degree murder after opening fire on the two civilians.
Blackwater changed its name to Xe after it was faced with international condemnation following an incident in which its mercenaries in Iraq opened fire on unarmed civilians in September 2007, killing more than a dozen people.These things do not make me feel safer. They do not make me feel more secure. They simply make me feel sick to my stomach.
The Blackwater Kabul Shooting Case: What Do We Know?
If we really are at war, as Dick Cheney claims, one might assume that an ex-Vice President of the United States would be able to put aside petty political posturing and offer support and experience. Not our Dick. Instead, all we get from him is lots of piss.
A mature person (who was also the former Vice President) would probably take any disagreement or concern that he has with Barack Obama’s foreign policy directly to Obama. Privately. Bitching about all of this in public is purely a political ploy on the Dickster's part.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
The Golden Rule states: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
I wish that our politicians had to follow the Golden Rule whenever they took action or passed legislation. The founders should have put it in the Constitution.
If this were so Bush may have thought twice before invading Afghanistan and Iraq. If he had to follow the Golden Rule then the Iraqis could have rightly unseated Bush from power and tried him and hung him.
If this were so Bush may have treated the citizens of New Orleans differently after Hurricane Katrina.
It’s interesting to note that it was Bush’s favorite “philosopher” that the Golden Rule is most often attributed to.
If politicians were required by law to follow the Golden Rule then perhaps Congress would give us the same health care plan that they have.
If politicians were to follow the Golden Rule then perhaps Barack Obama wouldn’t be bombing the shit out of the Pakistanis.
I suppose there are times when it is necessary to do unto others as they are doing to you. I simply wish that the Golden Rule was considered first and that this other “ungolden rule” was used only as a last resort.
Here is something you probably didn’t know. God won the Revolutionary War and he also wrote the Constitution.
From Idaho GOP gubernatorial candidate Rammell expands on controversial prophecy in YouTube video by Dan Popkey:
Idaho GOP gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell says saving the U.S. Constitution requires God's help. Rammell's thoughts are captured in a nine-minute excerpt from a recent news conference now available on YouTube.Bush, Palin, Rammell. Does GOP stand for God’s Old Party now?
"America would not exist if it wasn't for the divine hand of providence in not only intervening to win the Revolutionary War but in writing the inspired words of the Constitution," Rammell says in the video. "To think that we can save the Constitution without God's help when the government of the United States is corrupt is absurdity."
It’s interesting that God chose to start out the Constitution with: “We the People…” isn’t it? It’s curious that he chose to write: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” As well as: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? For someone that doesn’t exist, he’s pretty funny. Can’t say the same of Rex Rammell.
Let me get this straight. Whose God is Mr. Rammell talking about? Is there an American God? Is there an English God? Or was God fighting against himself during the Revolutionary War?
Is the God of the Church of England a false god? If so, why does God allow him to exist after he thoroughly kicked his ass more than 200 years ago? And why did God put such curious words in the Constitution that gives Americans the freedom to worship the god whose ass he kicked?
I wonder how much Rex Rammell believes what he says about God. If he truly believes that God plays a big part in all of this then I suggest that Rammell should simply get out of God’s way and not run for governor. I’d rather see God run the state of Idaho than Rammell.
Star Trek: The Next Generation. Liberal or conservative? It is amazing that things like this get argued about online. The conservative viewpoint of the world never ceases to amaze me. All I know is that I do not understand their logic. Or lack of it.
Personally, I always thought that The Next Generation was more liberal than conservative.
I do enjoy this exchange between Jean-Luc Picard and the god-like Q in the episode entitled Hide And Q:
Q: “Let us pray for understanding and for compassion.”
Picard: “Lets us do no such damn thing!”
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Where’s the Jim Crow section
On this merry go round
I just can’t find the back - Fred Neil
From Order on Interpol Work Inside U.S. Irks Conservatives by Charlie Savage:
Contrary to its portrayal in some movies, Interpol has no police force that conducts investigations and makes arrests. Rather, it serves its 188 member countries by working as a clearinghouse for police departments in different nations to share law enforcement information — like files on wanted criminals and terrorists, stolen cars and passports, and notices that a law enforcement agency has issued an arrest warrant for a fugitive.
In the United States, a bureau at the Justice Department staffed by American officials transmits information between law enforcement agencies and Interpol. If a foreign country issues an arrest warrant for a person inside the United States, it is up to the United States government, based on its own laws, to decide whether to apprehend the suspect.
“We don’t send officers into the field to arrest people; we don’t have agents that go investigate crimes,” said Rachel Billington, an Interpol spokeswoman. “This is always done by the national police in the member country under their national laws.”
That changed in 2004, when Interpol opened a liaison office at the United Nations in New York City. The office consists of five staff members, Ms. Billington said, and they have access to law enforcement information submitted by other countries with restrictions on who may receive it.Only five staff members? Also, why was there no office in the United States before 2004? Ah, the arrogance of the United States.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
The doctors say that Rush Limbaugh’s heart is fine, which leaves us with a paradox. How can a man with a heart have no heart?
From Rush Limbaugh Talks About His Health Scare by Mark Niesse:
"I don't think there's one thing wrong with the American health care system," Limbaugh said. "I got no special treatment other than what anybody else that would have called 911 and had been brought in with the same kinds of symptoms."Only an idiot would ignore this:
From Health Care Costs Will Increase at Double-Digit Rates in 2010 by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn:
Director of the Office of Management and Budget, believes that health costs are the #1 driver of America's long-term deficit. The inexorable increase of health costs are plaguing the Federal budget, Governors' state budgets, employers' bottom-lines and ability to compete globally, and household budgets.The cost of health care is perhaps the main reason why most Americans want a change in our health care system. Perhaps Mr. Limbaugh might agree with most Americans if he were not rich and famous. The complaint is not that the doctors suck, it is that many Americans do not have access to the doctors because of the cost. How dense is Limbaugh? How callous is Limbaugh? How out of touch with reality is Limbaugh?
Friday, January 1, 2010
To me, this is fairly easy even though I think that these Blackwater contractors were likely guilty. If the Bush Justice department broke the law in the course of their prosecution (probably on purpose, mind you) then the judge had no choice but to dismiss these charges. It's the way our system works. But the case brings up an interesting problem: what if the government doesn't really want to prosecute some criminals because they've employed them to commit the crime?