Saturday, August 27, 2011

The 10 States With the Best Economies in America

Not all states have experienced the same kind of economic pain since the Great Recession began.
August 26, 2011

The best local economy in the United States, by far, is the DC metropolitan area. Average incomes in the region top $150,000, more than triple the national average. The reason for Washington's affluence (or parts of Washington's affluence – the Capitol also has abundant poverty) is clear: while the rest of the economy is facing a crisis in demand as a result of high unemployment and stagnant wages in the private sector, the Capitol, in classic Keynesian style, is making up for it with plenty of public spending, which has skyrocketed since 9/11 – defense and homeland security contractors, and other firms providing goods and services to the government are flush.

It's the same model that got us out of the Great Depression, but in this age of austerity, Washington isn't spreading enough public dollars around to help those of us living in the 50 states. Even so, not all states have seen the same kind of economic pain since the Great Recession began. Here are 10 that are doing pretty well, with relatively low unemployment, fewer homes in foreclosure, decent wages and a large share of their populations enjoying health insurance. It's not a comprehensive analysis of the thousands of economic metrics one might examine, but it does provide a handy snapshot of some of the states that are weathering the storm fairly well.

"Age of Greed" Author: The GOP's War on the Poor Could Very Well Backfire

On last night's Countdown, Keith Olbermann had on Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Age of Greed author Jeff Madrick to talk about the GOP's ongoing war on poor Americans. As Madrick notes, Republicans are pushing to raise taxes on low- and middle- income citizens who can't afford even their current taxes; although 46% of Americans are too poor to pay income taxes, they are still paying regressive Social Security taxes. As we know, Republicans have misrepresented that figure, telling voters that close to half of Americans don't pay taxes -- something Madrick calls "deliberate" and "an outright lie." Read more

Maddow on How Americans Dislike the Tea Party More Than Gay People, Muslims, Atheists, and Liberals

Last night, Rachel Maddow took a look at data from a recent poll, which found that the Tea Party is the single most unpopular group in America -- more unpopular than Muslims, atheists, gay people, liberals, and conservatives. This is something you'd think the Republican Party would take to heart. As Maddow noted, "If you were the Republican Party, and you were going to give one of these groups of Americans veto power over who was going to be your presidential nominee...which of these groups would you [choose]? I mean, really? You'd give that power to the one at the very, very bottom, underneath the atheists? Really?" Read more

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Coulter Goes All Science-y in Bid to Disprove Evolution

In her latest syndicated column, Ann Coulter launched an attack on Darwin's theory of evolution. She argues that "[m]odern science has disproved Darwinian evolution" because biologists now know that many features of organic life, such as complex cell structures, DNA, blood clotting, molecules, and "the cell's tiny flagellum and cilium" are extraordinarily complicated. From this, Coulter makes the leap that such things couldn't possibly have evolved through natural selection and random mutation, claiming this shows that evolution is "mathematically impossible."

Not only is that false, it's yet another example of Coulter's longtime war on science.

The concept Coulter is describing -- originated by intelligent design proponent Michael Behe -- is called "irreducible complexity." The basic idea
is that "that there are in organisms 'irreducibly complex' systems that cannot be explained by random mutation and natural selection. These 'irreducibly complex' systems would cease to function if any one part fails -- which Behe claims rules out evolution and leaves only design."

Coulter devoted a significant portion of her 2006 book Godless: The Church of Liberalism to an attempt to disprove evolution. She similarly touted Behe and his "irreducible complexity" theory, claiming it "disproved evolution." Media Matters thoroughly addressed the issue at that time,noting several deep flaws in her reasoning:

Nice! Perry Sought to Make Money from Insurance Scheme Speculating on Retiree Death

Now this is what I call constituent service --- if your constituents are wealthy Wall Street donors:

Two weeks before Thanksgiving in 2003, top officials from Texas Governor Rick Perry's office pitched an unusual offer to the state's retired teachers: Let's get into the death business.

Perry's budget director, Mike Morrissey, laid out a pitch that was both ambitious and risky, according to notes summarizing the meeting provided to The Huffington Post.

According to the notes, which were authenticated by a meeting participant, the Perry administration wanted to help Wall Street investors gamble on how long retired Texas teachers would live. Perry was promising the state big money in exchange for helping Swiss banking giant UBS set up a business of teacher death speculation.

By Digby | Hullabaloo
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 @ 07:45 PM


Why Rick Perry Would Put the World on a Fast Track to Total Meltdown

From calling the BP disaster an "act of god" to responding to his state's drought with prayer, Perry's anti-environmental resume is extensive.

August 25, 2011

Burned trees, charred wildlife, destroyed homes — Texas has endured more than 16,000 wildfires since January, which have consumed over 3 million acres of land. With little rain, the state has become a tinderbox. Bloomberg reports that drought in Texas has resulted in $5.2 billion of agricultural losses ... and still counting. The state climatologist pegged the drought as the “worst single-year dry spell in 116 years,” according to the San Antonio Express-News. The town of Robert Lee in West Texas has seen its water supply dwindle to 1 percent and West Kemp is out of water.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, the new darling of the GOP presidential field, leapt to action. His response to catastrophe?


Polar Bear in strange new surroundings where there used to be snow and ice.

Some Of Your Taxpayer Assets Will Be Sold Off To 'Vulture Funds,' In Case You Were Interested

Jason Linkins
Jason Linkins Become a fan of this reporter

Hey, everybody! Time now to check what's going on with that giant portfolio of foreclosed-upon homes that we, as taxpayers, own. Did you forget that we owned a giant portfolio of foreclosed-upon homes? Because we do. Anyway, the good news is that we may not have this portfolio for much longer. The bad news is that we'll be relieved of it in one of the worst deals possible.

At any rate, Ken Layne points us to some recent news on that front:

The largest transfer of wealth from the public to private sector is about to begin. The federal government will be bulk-selling the massive portfolio of foreclosed homes now owned by HUD, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private investors -- vulture funds.

These homes, which are now the property of the U.S. government, the U.S. taxpayer, U.S. citizens collectively, are going to be sold to private investor conglomerates at extraordinarily large discounts to real value.

You and I will not be allowed to participate. These investors will come from the private-equity and hedge-fund community, Goldman Sachs and its derivatives, as well as foreign sovereign wealth funds that can bring a billion dollars or more to each transaction.

In the process, these investors will instantaneously become the largest improved real estate owners and landlords in the world. The U.S. taxpayer will get pennies on the dollar for these homes and then be allowed to rent them back at market rates.

See, what's happening is that the Treasury Department, acting in concert with some other federal agencies, has submitted a "Request For Information" about this big pile of sad homes we "won" in the financial inferno of 2008. As the article notes, the point of an RFI is to stage a private sector consultation about the best way forward. However, the private sector interests here have already come up with the plan -- the federal government just has to go through these motions to make whatever comes next technically legal, while hoping that taxpayers don't loudly object. If there's no massive protest, the federal government will proceed to make a bargain-basement offer for this housing portfolio.

Back to the article:

Rick Perry Struggles to answer Question on Abstinence

Uploaded by thecentristword on Aug 15, 2011

Rick Perry Struggles to answer Question on Abstinence - what seems to be a rather simple question turns into a bit of a confusing mess. Give this guy the nuclear button? I wouldn't suggest it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Toneey in Texas Reminds us...

"The banks knew what the mortgages were worth, otherwise how could
they have fooled the investors by putting the good ones on the top and
bottom and the bad ones in the middle of the pack?"

Hmmm... Could that have happened by accident or coincidence?
If not, then how can they say that betting against these things,
was somehow done without their knowledge? No wonder the stock is
dropping so fast.

Goldman Sachs CEO Hires High-Profile Criminal Lawyer...Shares Drop Sharply

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 03:00 PM PDT

Weingarten is a very heavy legal hitter, so it looks like old Lloyd really is worried. Geeze, Lloyd, haven't you noticed bankers don't go to jail? (h/t odd man out.)
Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein has hired high-profile Washington defense attorney Reid Weingarten, according to a government source, as the Justice Department continues to investigate the bank.

Blankfein, 56, is in his sixth year at the helm of the largest U.S. investment bank, which has spent two years fending off accusations of conflicts of interest and fraud.

Generation Opportunity is a Right Wing Front Group

Posted: 24 Aug 2011 06:00 AM PDT

Fellow blogger over at has just released an expose on what has been said to be one of the fastest rising political youth organizations in the country. As it turns out - the group is a front group for ultra-conservative economic policy, spinning fake or cherry picked polling data, and running one of the largest AstroTurf 2.0 operations ever seen!

While the GOP has made gains with young white males(though just how much is in question do to an oversampling of the south in the cited report) since the period those surveys were done, overall the ethnically diverse Millennials have not drastically changed,
with the majority of disappointment in Washington coming from the left...

4 Desperate Ways the Hardest Hit Are Coping with Economic Crisis

People have to make difficult choices during tough economic times. Here are four frightening ways people are coping with the ongoing recession.
August 18, 2011

As the economy continues to tank in the wake of congressional budget showdowns and stock market crashes, stories of those hardest hit remain hidden from view. The unemployed and underemployed, the homeless and the hungry have all been relegated to the back pages of our local newspapers; that is, if they are reported on at all.

As America's economic disaster continues its destructive rampage throughout our communities, leaving behind record levels of unemployment, home foreclosures, mounting debt and unaffordable bills, how are those on the edge of the economy coping?

1) Skipping Meals: Not Just for Adults Anymore

Mitt Romney: Corporations Are People, My Friend

A better one...

That’s right. Corporations are people. They’re born, they live, they dream, they love. And that’s not all…

Soylent Green is people. Corporations are people. And don’t even get me started on Depeche Mode.

It’s about time somebody stood up for the downtrodden multinationals. When will society treat them fairly and allow them to marry and to serve in the armed forces? While they can’t vote, at least they can manipulate elections with their riches because the Supreme Court has ruled that money is speech. And since corporations have more money than “ordinary” people, they get more speech.

Aint Democracy grand? Way to go, Mitt.

GOP and Tea Party Mobs Determined to Raise Taxes -- On the Poor

High-profile members of the right-wing like to claim that "half the country doesn't pay taxes." It's a straight-up lie.
August 22, 2011

America’s Republican/Tea Party contingent, who are defined by their dogmatic devotion to lower taxes as a panacea for everything, have finally found a sector of society they can comfortably saddle with a higher tax burden: the poor.

That’s right. These antitax zealots have concluded that fairness cannot be achieved in the country’s tax code as long as there are disadvantaged freeloaders who are allegedly not paying into the system. While they fight tooth and nail to protect wealthy individuals and corporations from contributing even modest amounts to the nation’s recovery, the rightist brigade is marching lock-step in favor of soaking the poor in order to heal the malaise on Wall Street and the misery of long-suffering bankers. Their battle cry goes something like this: “Half of the Country Doesn’t Pay Any Taxes At All.” Fox News has been pushing that theme for quite a while. For the past two years they headlined it on Fox Nation right at tax time.



The GOP Demand for Higher Middle-Class Taxes Reveals They Want Tax Breaks Only for the Rich

President Obama has been increasingly vocal in recent months about his support for an extension of the payroll tax break approved late last year, hoping that it would help boost economic demand. Congressional Republicans have also been increasingly vocal about their opposition -- in effect, the GOP is pushing for a middle-class tax increase to kick in early next year.

I argued the other day that Republicans are probably bluffing -- they want the same cut as Obama, but will only approve it if they can trade it for something else. I was promptly told by a variety of people that I'm wrong, and that the GOP is genuinely hostile to any tax breaks that don't benefit the wealthy almost exclusively. I'm beginning to think those who called me out on this have a compelling point.

Compassionate Conservatism at Work: GOP Candidate Compares Welfare Recipients To Donkeys In Ad

Former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams is running for Congress on a staunchly anti-Obama, anti-government platform. He recently came out with a new video ad called “The Donkey Whisperer” that’s raising a lot of eyebrows for conflating Democrats with welfare recipients and comparing them to donkeys.

In the video, Williams is interacting with donkeys and chastises them with words like, “All these guys want is more shelter, more feed. [...] You want a handout.” At one point Williams says, “They keep thinking that Obama is going to take care of them, Obama is going to feed them.” “These donkeys don’t live in the United States of France,” he exclaims, “they live in the United States of America!” Read more

How to Party Like a Billionaire Financier With a 15% Tax Rate

While their fellow Americans face blown-up 401Ks and fruitless job searches, financiers are embracing our current feed-the-rich/screw-the-rest mentality with renewed zest.

August 22, 2011

A full moon rises over the Hamptons as the crocs come out to play.

While the world economy trembles and their fellow Americans face blown-up 401Ks, foreclosure threats, and fruitless job searches, financiers are embracing our current feed-the-rich/screw-the-rest mentality with renewed zest.

The NYT reports that last Saturday night, in the fabled NYC frolicking ground of Southampton, billionaire financier Leon D. Black threw himself a jaw-droppingly expensive 60th birthday bash. Two hundred well-heeled guests reclined on cushionsSatyricon-style nibbling seared fois gras as Sir Elton John — earning a cool million bucks — sang ‘Crocodile Rock.’ Joining this Reptilian Cotillion were Martha Stewart and fashion designer Vera Wang, who partied alongside some of Wall Street’s most notorious denizens, including junk-bond pioneer Michael Milken, Blackstone’s buyout king Stephen A. Schwarzman (who became a symbol of greed when he threw his own $3 million b-day bash back in bubblicious 2007), and Lloyd “God’s Work” Blankfein of Goldman Sachs.

The Founding Fathers Believed in Redistributing Wealth -- Why Do Tea Party Heroes Like Perry and Bachmann Vilify It?

Redistributing the wealth is a defining function of the modern state, just like defending its borders or maintaining a judicial system.
August 24, 2011

American conservatives have lurched so far to the right they're now trying to re-litigate questions about the role of government that have been settled for hundreds of years.

The redistribution of wealth is a perfect example. Listening to today's Republicans, one would think it is some kind of pernicious and un-American leftist principle – an idea only embraced by foreigners, socialists and assorted freaks.


Media Malpractice: CBS Pins Bush Debt on Obama

I've often compared various administration's fiscal records. The honest way to do so -- the only honest way -- is to consider budgets that a president requested from Congress and then signed into law. Budgets are passed during the prior year, so while Reagan entered office in 1981, his first budget was in 1982. Reagan's fiscal record therefore spans the 1982-1989 budgets, George H Bush was responsible for 1990 through 1993, Clinton's first budget was for fiscal year 1994, and so on.

George W. Bush sent Congress a budget request in 2008 for fiscal year 2009. He then signed the 2009 budget into law. At the end of the 2009 fiscal year, our public debt stood at $11.87 trillion. According to the latest figures released by the Treasury Department, it now stands at $14.639 trillion. So, under Obama, the debt has increased by $2.769 trillion.

But that's not what CBS says! Reporter Mark Knoller basically offers a case-study in how the American people are so poorly informed by our media:

National debt has increased $4 trillion under Obama

The latest posting by the Treasury Department shows the national debt has now increased $4 trillion on President Obama's watch.

The debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. The latest calculation from Treasury shows the debt has now hit $14.639 trillion.

It's the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president.

Totally inaccurate. But wait, it gets even better.

The national debt increased $4.9 trillion during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. The debt now is rising at a pace to surpass that amount during Mr. Obama's four-year term.

The first budget Bush signed was for fiscal year 2002. At the end of FY 2001, the national debt stood at $5.777 trillion. His final budget was for fiscal year 2009, which ended with a public debt of $11.876 trillion. So, during Bush's presidency, the debt rose by $6.099 trillion. CBS took the $2 trillion in debt run up during Bush's final budgetary year and pinned it on Obama.

Finally, as if our intellects weren't bruised enough, Knoller takes basic facts that absolutely nobody disputes, and turns them into a classic 'Democrats say' passage:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Obama was not "elected to fix Americas problems", anymore than you "hire" a doctor to cure you! First of all, the doctor must find the problem, before he can figure out if there is a possible cure. So, when Obama was running for office, we knew that something about the Bush administration was wrong! We knew that McCain had supported and voted with the then President and flacked for more of the same.
He denied that Bush had done anything wrong and he too avoided answering questions about the solutions he'd offered.

Now, remember, Bush ran the most secretive White House in the history of the nation.
So, how could Obama, or anyone else know what was wrong with the country? How could they know what the "cure" was, if they didn't know what the problems would be?

The answer is, Obama was elected to TRY to fix the problems. Neither he, nor anyone else, outside the Bush insiders, knew what had been done, or what would be required, or even whether the damage could be fixed. For example, we just learned a few days ago, via a Bloomberg freedom of information act request, that the bailout, which we were told was 800 million, had a secret component that was 1.2 trillion dollars in size. Bringing the real bailout to a whopping 2 trillion dollars, and it still fell short of "fixing" anything at all. Now, does anyone think that Obama was able to learn about this secret money before he took office?
Of course not! If Bush had let this be known, McCain would have had no chance of winning at all.

Now that Obama is trying to put money into the hands of the middle class and the poor, who will quickly spend it, and drive some demand into the economy, which businesses would then have a reason to chase. We have Republican obstructionism. Because the Republicans want the middle class and the poor starved, so that the economy continues to fail, in the hope that Obama will be blamed, giving them a chance to return to power. Americas needs be damned! Hardly a wonder then, that such insanity so willfully engaged, has run off any suitable candidates who might seek the Republican nomination. This has left them offering the nation a candidate who doesn't even know that the U.S.S.R. collapsed 20 years ago.


Oil Companies Plan Quick Return to Libya

The collapse of Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya may help reduce US gasoline prices. (photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP)

By Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers

23 August 11

With the regime of Moammar Gadhafi on the verge of collapse, international oil companies began preparing Monday for what they hope will be a quick return to production in Libya, a move that's expected to reduce the global price of crude and help drive down US gasoline prices.

Companies, most of which withdrew their expatriate staffs when fighting began in February, said that Libya's oil installations appeared largely undamaged from months of warfare and that once peace was restored, production and exports should resume quickly.

"Our people are ready to go back to work when the conflict is resolved. From that point forward, they can return to production in four weeks or less," said Carmen Herrero, a spokeswoman in Madrid for the Spanish oil company Repsol.
Go to original article

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people;

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the
government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people
to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our
lives and interests”. - Patrick Henry -

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18
year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified!
Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in
1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones , etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took
1 year or > less to become the law of the land...all
because of public pressure. I'm asking each addressee to forward this email to a
minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn
ask each of those to do likewise.
In three days, most people in The United States of America
will have the message. This is one idea that really
should be passed around.
Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. No Tenure / No Pension.
A Congressman collects a salary while in office and

receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in
Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement
fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All
future funds flow into the Social Security system, and
Congress participates with the American people. It may not
be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just
as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and
participates in the same health care system as the
American people.
6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on
the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are
void effective 1/1/12.

The American people did not make this contract with
Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for
Serving in Congress is an honor, not a
career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen
legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go
home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people, it
will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to
receive the message.
IT IS TIME to take back our country.

Pass it on... Again and again until Congress is reformed.

Corporations Receive Unequal Protection From Risk

(Image: JR / t r u t h o u t)

Thom Hartmann, Berrett-Koehler Publishers: "When corporations gained the protections that had been written for persons in the United States, a substantial shift began in who bears what risk, resulting in an imbalance that now affects virtually all parts of the world. Most companies handle risk responsibly, but many corporations are legally allowed to avoid responsibility in ways that would never be permitted for an individual."

Corporations are neither physical nor metaphysical phenomena. They are socioeconomic ploys—legally enacted game-playing—agreed upon only between overwhelmingly powerful socioeconomic individuals and by them imposed upon human society and its all unwitting members.
—R. Buckminster Fuller, Grunch of Giants
Read the Article

Maxine Waters: "Tea Party Can Go Straight to Hell"

California Rep. Maxine Waters attends a Middle Class Task Force event to announce new initiatives to help middle class and low income families secure their legal rights. (photo: Getty Images)

Nia-Malika Henderson, The Washington Post
Nia-Malika Henderson reports: "Rep. Maxine Waters has four words for the Tea Party: Go straight to hell. At a community summit on Saturday, the California Democrat, who has been increasingly critical of President Obama, as well, had tough words for the other side."

Attorney General of NY Is Said to Face Pressure on Bank Foreclosure Deal

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman gestures while giving a speech. (photo: Frank Franklin II/AP)]

Gretchen Morgenson, The New York Times
Gretchen Morgenson reports: "Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, has come under increasing pressure from the Obama administration to drop his opposition to a wide-ranging state settlement with banks over dubious foreclosure practices, according to people briefed on discussions about the deal."

Welfare Reform Leaving More In Poverty

First Posted: 8/23/11 07:59 AM ET Updated: 8/23/11 09:34 AM ET

Sasha Mandel says she never imagined going on welfare. But her plans for a career and the independence she craved ran headlong into a pair of unforeseen developments -- an unplanned pregnancy at 18, and the worst job market since the Great Depression.

In April 2009, freshly unemployed and devoid of savings, Mandel reluctantly walked into a state office in Phoenix to apply for welfare. Her caseworker was sympathetic, swiftly arranging emergency food aid along with cash assistance. But she was also clear on the limits of that relief: Under the terms of Arizona’s welfare program, Mandel could draw a welfare check for no more than three years.

That timeframe was about to get shorter. This April, cash-strapped Arizona tightened the limit on welfare payments to two years. Mandel learned about the change when she received a letter from the state in June. She was only a few weeks away from exhausting her benefits.

After Bruising Political Fights, Two Governors Alter Their Tones

Monica Davey, The New York Times News Service: "After Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican in his first months in office, announced early this year that he wanted to cut collective bargaining rights for public workers, relations between political parties in his newly red State Capitol fell into a long, deep frost. But after six months of bruising partisan fights, Mr. Walker seemed to issue an utterly different message this month. He said he wanted to meet with Democrats and to find shared agenda items - an invitation that has been met with polite acceptance and deep skepticism."
Read the Article

Billionaire Koch Responds to Buffett, Refuses Call for Shared Sacrifice

Lee Fang, ThinkProgress: "Warren Buffett penned an op-ed last week declaring that America's super-rich have been 'coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.' Lamenting the numerous tax loopholes and special breaks afforded to billionaire investors, Buffett noted that in his entire career, even when capital gains rates were as high as 39.9 percent, he never saw anyone 'shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.' Charles Koch, head of the massive petrochemical, manufacturing, and commodity speculating Koch Industries corporation, has responded to Warren's call for shared sacrifice: 'No Thanks.'"
Read the Article

Standard & Poor's and the Bilderbergers: All Part of the Plan?

A monitor tracks stocks on the trading room floor of the New York Stock Exchange on August 8, 2011. (Photo: Benjamin Norman / The New York Times)

Ellen Brown, Truthout: "What just happened in the stock market? Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose or fell by at least 400 points for four straight days, a stock market first. The worst drop was on Monday, August 8, 2011, when the Dow plunged 624 points. Monday was the first day of trading after US Treasury bonds were downgraded from AAA to AA+ by Standard & Poor's (S&P). But the roller coaster actually began on Tuesday, August 2, 2011, the day after the last-minute deal to raise the US debt ceiling - a deal that was supposed to avoid the downgrade that happened anyway five days later."
Read the Article

Republicans: "Dream a little dream of me!"

After the damage they've done, it's hardly a reasonable proposition to expect the people to cross the aisle for them. Their "Tom Delay'ed" gerrymandered districts, in search of the "permanent republican majority" have managed -- after the first shock of the economic disruption wore thin -- to kick in and give them back the House. They took the House and tried to use it, to overtly steer the ship of state onto the shoals. So sure were they that Obama and his progressives would be blamed, for whatever damage they managed to cause. Fortunately that has not been the case, and they're smarting under the weight of their own impending accountability at the polls.

Remember, when the people turned to Obama to turn the tide of economic disaster, he could only offer to "try to fix it", there was no guarantee that he could! Even now we're still just learning of the inside deals and in-place operatives who were standing in the way of recovery.
While Obama found that he had to steer clear of further polarizing the nation, because that's the same stuff his opponents had successfully used, to take power and get us into these messes.

I'm sure he assessed that if he'd have tried to act the dictator, in putting through his "fixes", he'd have made matters much, much worse for the very people who are counting on him to fix it. We still have a two party system, and we still have some shreds of "checks and balances", that should make one party rule untenable.

It is mainly in times of trouble, that we need a leader who has the courage to stick for unity and make compromises to maintain it. Lest we collapse into authoritarianism. The rule of democracy has always been; let those who propose take results of their advocacy. So, rather than put something out there, that requires cooperation to work, or else fall prey to sabotage. Obama made the compromises needed to gain time! Time for the American people to see who's doing what, to or for them! Thereby putting pressure on the other side to change. Change so that he has a real partner for the real changes needed to govern properly. Not rabid ideologists pushing insane, foamy mouthed and unyielding agendas on the nation at large. But these things take time to accomplish. Will we run out of time? That depends on how long it takes for the American people to get the message: The conservative agendas will ruin the nation!

They are pushing "Christian Nation" which at the same time subverts and promises to take away our freedom of religion. They are trying to convert the military into a religious organization, that doesn't portend well for it's ability to successfully complete it's missions worldwide, in fact that would make it quite objectionable, both to the world and to the American Public as well.

They want to wreck our social contract with our young, old and infirm, a plan that weakens the fabric of the nation. They want to shrink gov't and the middle class! Shrinking gov't leaves the people exposed to ministrations of corporations who have no sense of community. While by shrinking and disempowering the middle class, makes the mass selling of products -- needed for many an industry to survive -- impossible. As these manufacturing chains break, many other mfg's find themselves unable to complete their own production, so they fail, launching another cascade on the downward spiral. In short, all they've offered is sheer lunacy, offered by candidates and elected officials who do not know even the most basic information about the world, the nation, the science, or it's people. Nor have they shown that they are not capable of brazenly lying to gain office. Once there, to implement plans, never once discussed during their run for office. Allowing the public to "hold it's nose" and vote for them, thinking "they'd never do that which their opponents accuse them!", when in fact, they do it every time they gain office.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bank of America and Citigroup, Rolling in Cash, Also Got Trillions in "Secret Loans" from the Fed

Chief executive officers from eight of the largest U.S. banks receiving government aid testify at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C on Feb. 11, 2009. Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg

You know how Bernie Sanders released a list of ten corporations barely paying any taxes, and Bank of America and Citigroup were both on it? Well, it seems like the Fed thinks the behemoth banks aren't getting enough help, even after trillion-dollar bailouts by the Fed. Today Bloomberg reports that the banks—which the business/financial outlet calls "Wall Street Aristocracy"—received $1.2 trillion in "secret fed loans," just as the housing market started to collapse. Read more
Here's the Bloomberg video, please excuse the commercial lead in.

Trickle-Down Economics: The GOP's Hostility Towards the Middle Class

There are certain 'teaching moments' when the Republicans do something so transparently hostile to average people and so obviously in the service of wealthy people (at everyone else's expense), that you can actually use them as an example that can be quite convincing in recruiting people away from the party.

This article provides one of those moments. The issue is taxation. Specifically, the issue is a proposed extension of the payroll tax holiday. I'll let the article do the talking.

Mitt Romney, Mid-Fundraising, Decides to Quadruple Size of His $12 Million California Beach Mansion

View from the beach of the 3,009-square-foot Romney home in La Jolla , which the GOP contender plans to demolish and replace with an 11,062-square-foot home. — Meg Roussos

Austerity? GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney feels the need to expand his $12 million mansion in La Jolla, California, even though it was only purchased three years ago. Here is a photo of that mansion.

A campaign official told the Washington Postthat Romney will “enlarge their two-bedroom home because with five married sons and 16 grandchildren it is inadequate for their needs. Construction will not begin until the permits have been obtained and the campaign is finished.”

Oh, so Romney recognizes it's gauche to completely bulldoze a $12 million home and rebuild another, bigger one on top of it while he's fundraising and preaching about the economy. Thanks for holding off, Mitt. But once the campaign is over, let's get crazy! Perhaps he should bury some of the money underneath the foundation of the new home, just because he can. Read the rest here.

By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd | Sourced from AlterNet
Posted at August 22, 2011, 7:51 am

10 Faux Progressive Companies ... With Some Dirty Secrets

Many of these companies have earned credibility among progressives, despite having a poor track record with the environment, sexism, union busting, monopolizing, and more.
August 16, 2011

What makes a company "progressive"? A CEO's lefty politics? A dedication to people over profits? A solid environmental track record?

Many companies have earned credibility among progressives by marketing themselves as "different" (Apple), "green" (Seventh Generation), or "anti-sweatshop" (American Apparel), despite having a poor track record with the environment, sexism, union busting, monopolizing, and more. These companies are boosting revenues by tapping into the growing demand for socially-conscious products and businesses, especially among the wealthy, well-educated sub-set of progressive consumers.

I rounded up information on ten of the best-known companies that should be a disappointment to progressive consumers:

Why Is the Military Spending Millions on Christian Contractors Bent on Evangelizing US Soldiers?

Why do Christian contractors play such a prominent role in our military?
August 21, 2011

When the average American thinks of military spending on religion, they probably think only of the money spent on chaplains and chapels. And, yes, the Department of Defense (DoD) does spend a hell of a lot of money on these basic religious accommodations to provide our troops with the opportunity to exercise their religion while serving our country. But that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the DoD's funding of religion. Also paid for with taxpayer dollars are a plethora of events, programs, and schemes that violate not only the Constitution, but, in many cases, the regulations on federal government contractors, specifically the regulation prohibiting federal government contractors receiving over $10,000 in contracts a year from discriminating based on religion in their hiring practices.

5 Reasons Capitalism Has Failed

The root cause of our recent turmoil is the failure of the dominant economic paradigm -- global corporate capitalism.
August 21, 2011

We live in interesting times. The global economy is splintering. U.S. voters hate all politicians and there's political unrest throughout the world. The root cause of this turmoil is the failure of the dominant economic paradigm -- global corporate capitalism.

The modern world is ruled by multinational corporations and governed by a capitalistic ideology that believes: Corporations are a special breed of people, motivated solely by self-interest. Corporations seek to maximize return on capital by leveraging productivity and paying the least possible amount for taxes and labor. Corporate executives pledge allegiance to their directors and shareholders. The dominant corporate perspective is short term, the current financial quarter, and the dominant corporate ethic is greed, doing whatever it takes to maximize profit.

Perry Made a Million on Land While in Office

19 Aug 2011 Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has never been paid a government salary of more than $150,000, became a millionaire while in public office through well-timed sales in the Texas real estate market. The Republican presidential hopeful bought property from friends and political allies and sold to Texas businessmen, such as computer magnate Michael Dell, and in the process made more than $1 million. Perry's income also was supplemented by stock sales, according to his tax returns and county land and tax records.

National Archives: SEC wrongfully destroyed records

--National Archives says SEC violated federal laws in past 18 Aug 2011 The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission violated federal rules when it destroyed investigative records over a 17-year period, the agency that safeguards federal documents said on Thursday. "The SEC did not have the authority to dispose of them per the Federal Records Act," the National Archives said in a statement to the press. The findings by the National Archives come after Darcy Flynn, a 13-year-veteran of the SEC, decided to blow the whistle after learning the SEC had destroyed over 9,000 "matters under inquiry," or MUIs.

War costs may top $3.7 trillion

21 Aug 2011 Congress has allotted $1.3 trillion for war spending through fiscal year 2011 just to the Defense Department. In a recent speech, President Barack Obama assigned the wars a $1-trillion price tag. But all those numbers are incomplete. Besides what Congress appropriated, the Pentagon spent an additional unknown amount from its $5.2-trillion base budget over that same period. According to a recent Brown University study, the wars and their ripple effects have cost the U.S. $3.7 trillion, or more than $12,000 per American.

Is Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in trouble in the US? (photo: AP)

It's Not Phone Hacking That Will Kill News Corp in the US

By Emily Bell, Guardian UK

20 August 11

Barring a Milly Dowler-type revelation Stateside, Murdoch will weather the recent scandals - but he has other reasons to worry.

he news that the News of the World's former Hollywood reporter James Desborough is the latest person to be arrest in the hacking case, raises the possibility that transgressions happened in the US too. But however much every liberal, competitor and Murdoch-sceptic is willing the wildfire of the phone-hacking case to ignite public outcry in America, the dampening influence of geography, distraction and incomprehension has eased the pressure on New Corp HQ.

Those with an interest in the outcome want to know the same thing: what will cause the centre to give? What can bring down Murdoch in his most important territory? Without the final implosion, it seems, there is no closure, no adequate finale to a gripping tale. "Hackgate" is a media studies thesis waiting to be written, on space, time and impact in news reporting. The physics of the case are straightforward; the further from the centre of the event, the weaker and more diffuse the shockwaves. The US market has moved swiftly on from the jumbled narrative involving the image of a murdered girl, a terrible invasion of privacy and a closed newspaper followed by the impromptu fringe show of parliamentary pie throwing. For a moment it refocused on the connections between the disgraced News International editorial management team and a Brit chat show host called Piers Morgan. But he and his employer, CNN, sat tight too.

The Media Just Doesn't Get Today's Religious Right

In case we were wondering why the Religious Right often seems to get such uncritical, or at least misguided coverage from so much of the mainstream media -- we need look no further a recent segment from CNN's Situation Room. It is the single most startlingly frank admission of ignorance on the part of major figures in journalism I have ever seen.

You could probably hear my dropping jaw hitting the floor when I heard Jack Cafferty and Wolf Blitzer say they had never heard of dominionism until they read Michelle Goldberg's article onThe Daily Beast. They apparently had never heard of Christian Reconstructionism or the New Apostolic Reformation either. Goldberg's article on Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann's relationship to all of this was certainly well done. But it is amazing that no other journalist of any prominence had looked into it before these Goldberg's revelations. There are many, and ever-more prominent pols with similar ties. And the failure of our national media and political culture to come to grips with this has been astounding. At least to me. As someone who has written about the Religious Right in its various dimensions for about 30 years, I've watched with horror as too many (but not all) mainstream media missed or misreported the stories of one of the most significant political movements of our time.

Blitzer and Cafferty et al have had plenty of opportunities to learn about dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism. They could have read Michelle Goldberg's New York Times best-selling book Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. in 2006. They could have read my 1997 book, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, or Sara Diamond's 1989 classic, Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right. -- to name but a few that deal specifically with dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism. We were all widely in the media, including national broadcasts talking about this stuff. They could also read material from such well established and well known organizations that study and counter the American right, as Americans United for Separation of Church & State and People for the American Way, and Political Research Associates. (PRA published my studyof Christian Reconstructionism in 1994.) Religion Dispatches reports on these things all the time as well. They have been discussed in wider context in books by such scholarly best selling authors as Gary Wills, Harvey Cox, Jeff Sharlet and Kevin Phillips, to also name but a few, and in major articles in magazines as diverse as Reason and Mother Jones. (I even discuss Christian Reconstructionism on camera in the 2007 Hollywood film documentary on the politics of abortion, Lake of Fire. Watch it for free, here.)


Paul Ryan's Office Calls Cops On Jobless Protesters

Staffers for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called police on Thursday evening to disperse unemployed protesters staging a sit-in at his Kenosha, Wis., office, according to the protesters and police.

Two protesters told HuffPost they're unhappy with Ryan's proposals to gut social programs and also his new policy of not holding free public meetings with constituents during the congressional recess.

During the summer of 2009, Ryan hosted some 17 town halls. Admission to Ryan's one town-hall style event in his district this summer will cost $15, according to the Whitnall Park Rotary Club, which is hosting the Milwaukee-area event on Sept. 6. Read more

Top 10 Great Works of Nuclear Cinema

The public needs to watch these 10 movies to fully comprehend the threat of nuclear power.
August 18, 2011 |

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Despite the maddening lack of mainstream coverage, Fukushima remains a ticking time bomb, according to physicist Michio Kaku, who said Northern Japan was almost wiped off the map. In other words, there's really no good news.

The only positive outcome of the Fukushima clusterfuck is that nations around the world have now seriously considered abandoning their nuclear programs altogether. Germany and Switzerland announced they're finished with nukes, although not until 2022 and 2034, respectively. Italy is of a similar mind, and of course so is Japan, which is ready to scrap the Fukushima plant, along with its nuclear ambitions in general, if it can ever get close enough to the its still-lethal meltdowns without being irradiated to death.

Hopefully, those promises will hold once peak oil wreaks global havoc and Japan's irradiated seawater and fallout stops allegedly killing babies in the Pacific Northwest. Japan in particular, in light of all that has happened, has zero excuse. It's sitting on top of a gold mine of geothermal energy.

"Japan doesn't even need nuclear power," pioneering environmentalist and author Lester Brown told AlterNet two weeks after the disaster. "It's ironic that the same seismic threats to Japan are indicators of the country's enormous amount of geothermal energy. Japan has something like 10,000 natural hot baths, all using geothermally heated water. Any country with that many hot springs can tap geothermal energy for electricity. So the question has to be asked: Why hasn't Japan developed this indigenous renewable resource? Why did they even bother with nuclear power?"


Sarah Palin's Husband Admits on Video That His Wife Quit Being Governor So She Could Make More Money

The Rachel Maddow Show staff dug up a video yesterday that shows an interesting moment of candor by Sarah Palin's husband Todd. In the video, Palin is arguing with a woman who says she's an Alaska resident and disapproves of how his wife quit the Alaska governorship and "sold out." Palin doesn't disagree with the Alaska woman; he just says, "What would you do" with "thousands and thousands of dollars a day?" The Palins had "all this debt," he says. Well in that case...

As Maddow points out, this clip is actually "key to understanding why a lot of the people who are running for president right now are in fact running for president." Public service!

Sarah Palin's Husband Admits on Video

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Fox Viewers Overwhelmingly Think We Should Prepare for Alien Invasion Before Fighting Climate Change

Fox Viewers Overwhelmingly Think We Should Prepare For Alien Invasion Before Fighting Climate Change

By Alex Seitz-Wald on Aug 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm

A new (supposedly) NASA-funded study postulating that aliens may attack humans over climate change had all the ingredients for a perfect Fox faux controversy — it bolstered their anti-science narrative, painted their opponents as clownish radicals, and highlighted wasteful government spending on a supposedly liberal casue. Fox reported the “news from NASA” several times several times today, presenting it as official “taxpayer funded research.” A chyron on Fox and Friends read: “NASA: Global warming may provoke an [alien] attack.”

But as Business Insider pointed out, they’re “wrong” — “That report was not funded by NASA. It was written by an independent group of scientists and bloggers. One of those happens to work at NASA.” NASA distanced itself from the report as well, calling reports linking the agency to it “not true.” Host Megyn Kelly finally corrected the record this afternoon, saying, “I was making that up.”

SEC No Evil

Keith Olbermann and Matt Taibbi, Countdown With Keith Olbermann/Current TV
Summary: "In this 'Countdown' exclusive interview, Keith sits down with Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi to discuss breaking the story about the Securities and Exchange Commission destroying the records of promising cases in the years leading up to the financial meltdown."

Economic Myths: We Separate Fact From Fiction

Michael Grabell, Pro Publica
Michael Grabell reports: "With the recent Iowa straw poll and President Obama's bus tour, Americans are hearing a cacophony of arguments about the wobbly economy. So, here's our guide to the most prevalent economic myths."

Organizer of Perry's Prayer Event Pushing For 5 Million Conservative Christian Voter Registrations

I'm sure that evangelical Christians who believe God wants them to do whatever they have to do to take control of the government would have no problem lying to people about the political nature of Rick Perry's prayer rally:

AUSTIN - The organizer of The Response, the massive Aug. 6 prayer rally initiated by Gov. Rick Perry, is calling on attendees to help register millions of conservative Christians, prompting questions about the group and Perry's claims the event was not political.

Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association, sent an email Thursday thanking recipients for registering for The Response, which drew thousands of people to Reliant Stadium.

"Today, I want to introduce you to Champion the Vote (CTV), a friend of AFA whose mission is to mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012," Wildmon wrote.

The email does not mention any candidate or party, and experts said it appears to keep on the right side of the law governing nonprofits.

Mark Jones, political science professor at Rice University, said tax-exempt nonprofits can engage in voter registration, education and turnout drives. He added of the email, however, "It certainly highlights the political nature of The Response."

Perry's office and political advisers have insisted The Response was not a political event.

Perry launched a bid for the Republican nomination for president last week and is counting on a base of support among conservative Christians who play a key role in early voting states.

Eric Bearse, who was spokesman for The Response, stood by the idea that it was not a political event.

"The Perry campaign hasn't used any of the data from the event for any type of political purpose," said Bearse, who now is with the Perry campaign but said he was not responding on its behalf. "The AFA sending out an email to register people - if that is political, then I guess so is the activity of the secretary of states' offices in all 50 states."

A secretary of state's office, however, is unlikely to say, as Wildmon did, "The Response was just the beginning of a nationwide initiative to return America to the principles on which she was founded, with God at the center of our nation."

Inside Tripoli's Rixos hotel as rebels close in

By Matthew Price BBC News, Tripoli

Then I noticed the translators we have been working with for months now had also left. So too the state television staff who have worked out of here since their headquarters were bombed by Nato.

These were ominous signs of the battle to come.