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Friday, April 30, 2010

M.I.A. is behind a crazy video about fascist invasion

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Witch Hunt, a great documentary about false prosecution

Witch Hunt follows the story of zealous prosecutor by the name of Ed Jagels ruins lives and is able to remain in office. Out of 26 child molestation prosecutions 25 were reversed and the county paid out nearly $10 million to settle claims made by the former prisoners and the alleged victims.

He was unapologetic about the false convictions in the 1980s sex abuse case, and was re-elected six times as district attorney, before announcing his retirement in 2009.

Here's a bit of the story:

"Jackie Cummings fled Bakersfield with her husband and two sons in October 1984, when plainclothes police started casing their house looking for members of molestation rings. The family moved from campsite to campsite for a year, terrified that sheriff's deputies would arrest them because they knew a couple on trial for alleged child abuse.

When investigators tracked down the Cummings at a motel, they seized the children, arguing the couple were devil-worshipping molesters. After a year in foster care, their sons were pressured to testify against them in custody hearings."

Popular Mechanics dispels 9/11 myths

Popular Mechanics has a great piece that dispels common 9/11 myths and allegations.

See here.

U.S. to build hypersonic strike weapons

Crazy stuff!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

South Park gets censored, freedom of speech takes a hit

Nothing short of absurd, Comedy Central censored a South Park episode over fear of offending religion.

South Park rips on every religion, and no religion should get a free pass from criticism. I fear radical Christian groups attempting to creep on our separation of church and state daily.

Let's be realistic, we should separate divinity from human interpretations of it.

Here's the group's website that made the threat, it has apparently been taken down.

JUST TO BE CRYSTAL CLEAR. According to the LA Times, this is what Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee posted on one of his Twitter accounts: "May Allah kill Matt Stone and Trey Parker and burn them in Hell for all eternity. They insult our prophets Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses."


Jon Stewart weighs in and rips on every religion.

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Here's the original clip, uncensored.

So just for fun, here are entire episodes of South Park dedicated to ripping on particular religions:

On the Mormon Church

On Scientology

On the Catholic Church

On Atheism

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Explaining what OTC Derivatives are and how they're dangerous

The New York Times has thrown a great graph up explaining what derivatives are and how they work. I put a piece up about this a little while back explaining how these puppies helped to cause our banking sector to collapse.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Yes Sarah, we like that hope'y' change'y' very well thanks for asking!

Yes Sarah, we like that hope'y' change'y' very well thanks for asking!

Via Bumper Stickers:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rand Paul, not knowing about social mobility

Barefoot illustrates some teabagging nonsense

Barefoot has a nice piece on the teabaggers/Paul'bot's.

Here it is.

A few stats on the teabaggers that strike me as ironic:

-52% say "too much been made of the problems facing black people."

-25% say "the policies of the Obama administration favor blacks over whites."

-57% have a favorable opinion of George W. Bush. (i.e., this entire flare up is built on a lie).

-59% have a favorable opinion of Glenn Beck.

-62% say "the benefits from government programs such as Social Security and Medicare worth the costs of those programs".

Obama to lay smack down on Wallstreet/GOP

Give 'em hell Mr. President!

Rand Paul says, no federal funding for colleges

Friday, April 16, 2010

More Rand Paul at the University of Kentucky

I decided to start tagging these videos, least the Paul'bots' start stealing my videos for their own agenda!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tea Party Circus

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Um, can we please have financial reform?

Ok, haven't blasted the Democratic leadership in a while but now's the moment. Democrats you'd better get your head and your a&% wired together because the last thing we need is Republican-lite policies.

From Time:

In a floor speech this morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water on the prospects of detente, establishing a hard line of attack against the Dodd bill, and indelibly marking the party line: "We must not pass the financial reform bill that's about to hit the floor."

The crux of his criticism is that the bill "institutionalizes... taxpayer-funded bailouts of Wall Street banks." He knocked the expansion of power at the Fed and Treasury, while sounding the alarm on Wall Street accountability. If the outline of his speech sounds familiar, it's because it is the exact argument pollster Frank Luntz urged Republicans to make earlier this year in a widely publicized memo. Compare the excerpts below (emphasis mine):

Luntz: "The single best way to kill any legislation is to link it to the Big Bank Bailout."

McConnell: "We cannot allow endless taxpayer-funded bailouts for big Wall Street banks. And that's why we must not pass the financial reform bill that's about to hit the floor."

Luntz: "Taxpayers should not be held responsible for the failure of big business any longer. If a business is going to fail, not matter how big, let it fail."

McConnell: "[The Dodd bill] gives the government a new backdoor mechanism for propping up failing or failed institutions.... We won't solve this problem until the biggest banks are allowed to fail."

Luntz: "Government policies caused the bubble and its ultimate crash. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve, and the Community Reinvestment Act all had a role in the catastrophe. The government inflated economic bubbles with easy credit policies."

McConnell: “It also directs the Fed to oversee 35 to 50 of the biggest firms, replicating on an even larger scale the same distortions that plagued the housing market and helped trigger a massive bubble we'll be suffering from for years. If you thought Fannie and Freddie were dangerous, how about 35 to 50 of them?"

Read more:

Democrats are up again in the generic congressional ballot?

Yep the Democrats are up by 4 points, the world is a strange place, because two weeks ago another poll found Republicans leading by four points.

Dire news from Council on Contemporary Families Conference Report

Here's some of what was found:

-The Congressional Budget Office estimates that thousands more jobs would have disappeared and the growth rate would have been 1.2 to 3.2 points lower in the third quarter of 2009 without the Recovery Act's stimulus package, but even so the official unemployment rate remains around 10 percent. When economists take into account discouraged workers that rises to almost 18 percent, the highest figure since the 1930s.

-As of March 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 44 percent of jobless workers had been out of work for six months or more. This is more than double the number recorded in December 2008.

-A December 2009 survey found that 44 percent of families had experienced the job loss of one or more members, a reduction in hours, or a cut in pay over the past year.


The Gallup Household Wellbeing Poll shows that between in the final quarter of 2009, 18.5 percent of households reported that they had not always had enough money to buy the food they needed during the year. Another poll found that one in 5 low-income New York City residents had the gas, electricity, or telephone turned off for nonpayment or late payment.

A study released by the House Committee on Ways and Means in November found that 78 percent of the nation's food banks had been forced to reduce the amount of food they gave to each client. Fifty-five percent had to turn people away because the agency didn't have enough food.

A December 2009 New York Times/CBS News poll of unemployed adults found that more than half of the unemployed had cut back on medical treatments or doctors' visits, and a similar number had to borrow money from friends or relatives to get by.


A recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper looked at the mortality rates of men who had lost their jobs in earlier recessions and found a 15 to 20 percent increase in death rates during the next 20 years. A man who lost his job at age 30 was on average likely to die a year-and-half earlier than a man who was steadily employed. A study of plant closures in Sweden reported a 44 percent increase in the mortality risk among men during the first four years following the loss of a job.

Suicide hotlines across the country have seen a spike in calls, from 39,000 in January 2009 to 57,000 in July, with 30 percent of the increase directly related to the economy, according to Richard McKeon, lead adviser for suicide prevention for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Even among workers who retain their jobs, pay cuts and fears of job loss take a huge toll. The Families and Work Institute's ongoing National Study of the Changing Workforce shows that economic insecurity is the number one predictor of overall health problems, more frequent signs of depression, sleep difficulties, and stress among employed workers. Unemployment takes an even more severe toll on people's health. In the NYT/CBS poll, 55 percent of laid-off workers reported that their unemployment triggered insomnia. Almost half said that it had led to conflicts with family members or friends. Women were more likely than men to admit to anxiety or depression as a result of job loss, but men were more likely to report feeling ashamed most of the time.


Men have born the brunt of the recession so far, accounting for more than three-quarters of job losses. And men are more likely than women to experience job or income loss as a fundamental threat to their identity. But the wives of laid-off men also suffer: Unemployed men are more likely to exhibit hostility towards their partners than unemployed women. Not surprisingly, female partners of unemployed men have higher level of depressive and anxious symptoms than do male partners of unemployed women.

As with previous economic crises, domestic violence has risen. Last year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reported that calls were up by almost 50 percent over the previous year. A 2009 poll found an increase in domestic violence distress calls at 75 percent of the centers surveyed, most of them related to "financial issues," "stress," and "job loss."

The lower rates of unemployment among women relative to men disguise a crisis for single mothers and their children. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released March 5, 2010, the unemployment rate of single mothers is now 68 percent higher than at the start of the recession. Many single mothers are now struggling to avoid foreclosure, since low-income women, especially women of color, were more likely to be targeted by predatory lenders for subprime mortgages.

Even when they did not take on a mortgage and have not lost their jobs, such women are at risk. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that 40 percent of families facing eviction because of foreclosure are renters, many of them single-mother families.

Unemployment, poverty, and housing insecurity have also risen sharply among married couples with children. As of December 2009, one in seven children was living with a parent who had lost his or her job.


Children of economically stressed families often stop looking up to their parents and instead find identity in their peer group. Their motivation to succeed in school and in life can plummet. Teachers reported that children of economically distressed parents are more likely to have behavioral issues. A Chicago study found that children whose mothers experienced unstable employment showed declining levels of self-esteem and proficiency in school.

Children who become homeless are especially at risk, because they tend to miss more school days, which leads them to fall behind academically, and to change schools more often. School relocation is more closely associated with delinquent behavior and academic failure among teens than is family structure.

On average, living through a parent's unemployment increases a child's chance of being held back in school by 15 percent.

Data compiled from The Panel Study of Income Dynamics in the recessions in 1973-1975 and 1980-1982 show that children who fell into poverty during these recessions were three times more likely to be poor as adults than were children who did not experience poverty. They also had worse health as adults than those whose parents remained solvent throughout the recession.

Other studies show that the chronic stress associated with homelessness, poverty, and school relocation in childhood significantly impairs short-term memory - a key factor in academic success and personal competence -- by the teenage years.

The current recession has also put pressure on young people who are trying to complete their college education. Just as they or their parents are facing income losses, financially strapped states are cutting back on support for higher education and further raising tuition, which was already rising much faster than family income.

In 2009, 37 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds were unemployed or no longer looking for work, and a Pew Survey that year found that 10 percent of people aged 18-34 had moved back in with their parents because of the recession. One national longitudinal study found that people who were unemployed for substantial periods in their teens or early 20s were far more likely to develop depressive symptoms and/or to become heavy drinkers by the time they were middle-aged, regardless of their prior psychological history or drinking patterns.

Young adults who recently graduated from college are not out of the woods, even if they get job offers. Yale economist Lisa Kahn studied the careers of white men who graduated from college between 1979 and 1989. She found that graduates who entered the job market during the 1981-82 recession not only made 25 percent less in their first year than graduates who entered the job market in better times, but continued to earn less than their more fortunate peers even 17 years later.

African-American men face even worse prospects. While the rate of long-term unemployment has grown for all demographic groups, it has grown most sharply for African-American men, who by January 2010 made up just 5.5 percent of the labor force, but 13 percent of the long-term unemployed.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Europe outdoes the United States again, even with more regulation they send less to their landfills

Imagine that: News from Denmark. Those dirty communists must have stolen super efficient energy technology from some awesome private American company, because it's obvious that nothing good can come out of that continent known as the European [Communist] Union. Their populous if far too equitable, their minimum wage is too high, their economy deters innovation because the government offers so many programs and provides far too much to their people who all vote in their elections.

Obama, would you please stop trying to destroy America for say 5 minutes so that private American companies can come in and fix everything that's wrong with the United States? Everyone knows that the government can't do ANYTHING right...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Robert Fisk at the University of Kentucky

Highly critical of western media coverage, Robert Fisk a Middle Eastern correspondent lays out criticisms against western policy and media coverage of the Middle East.

Here's his blog at the Independent.

I'll post the videos as they upload.

9/11, U.S. policy in the Middle East, Israel.

Bad journalism on the tier of propaganda.

Middle East coverage

Invading Iraq, Iraqi Oil, US Military bases across the world, Marriott Islamabad bombing.

AGM-114 Hellfires to Israel, civilian casualties, Apache AH-64 attacks on civilians, American weapons kill civilians.

Iraqi democracy, Israeli Iran conflict.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Newt Gingrich goes after Obama's armed reduction treaty, Stewart hammers Newt Gingrich, Obama reduces nuclear weapons by a 3rd as Reagan wanted

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Inequity is on the rise and has been since Reagan.

Business Insider published a disturbing article. This situation is unsustainable.

"The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Cliché, sure, but it's also more true than at any time since the Gilded Age.
The poor are getting poorer, wages are falling behind inflation, and social mobility is at an all-time low.

If you're in that top 1%, life is grand."

If you think less government and lower taxes are going to fix this situation you should look into getting getting psychiatric help. Good thing Obama is going after the inequity.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

So I went to Rand Paul's University of Kentucky Rally pt 2...

That Rand... Oops! Wrong libertarian Rand, this is Ayn Rand, same political views though. Rand Paul UK stuff is below.

What about the states that aren't as wealthy as others? I love how these two agree until this conservative professor highlights studies that have concluded there is very little class mobility in the United States. This is pretty much the basis of the libertarian argument, most will deny it but it's a sad truth the economic system they advocate attempts to revoke 100 years of progress that we have fought and died for in this country. While it might be highly efficient, we pay for it with human suffering.

David Adams, Rand said he couldn't stay and had to run to Louisville. I'm perplexed at his facebook political views, "Capitalism".

Crowd view, I did this to ensure there was an accurate count of people who were there.

Don't get sick, or if you do have lots of money.

Terrorists hate 'Merica.

I followed him to his bus, I was honestly just trying to connect with him on the nuclear issue, as I'm a proponent of emissionless power. Guess the camera freaked him out. I did get a signed campaign sign which is currently sitting on my mantle...

More to come as I break some of the larger files down.

So I went to Rand Paul's University of Kentucky Rally...

The University of Kentucky is my school, so when a politician comes to my school advocating 19th century norms and values I figured it should be captured on tape.

Rand Paul came on 4/7/10 and I was there. Here are the videos with a few thoughts:

No federal funding for higher eduation? Because the proof is in the pudding that federal funding has benefited EVERYONE in the south (that's us Kentucky), and if you live in the south you'd better support the Democratic agenda because you take in more federal tax dollars in than you put out.

Kentucky, we don't have all that much oil. And I can tell you this, conservative policies of increasing domestic oil exploration/production while driving prices higher with speculation makes no sense. Companies like Exxon-Mobile have managed to dodge American taxes altogether in 2009 while making massive profits.

What makes currency valuable? Our trust in it, do you really think there is any value in gold beyond the fact that it's a shiny metal? There isn't, the idea that a metal that backs up paper is any more valuable than plain paper is beyond batty.

"[Gold] gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head. -Warren Buffett"

Seriously Rand? Aren't you aware of Kentucky coal slurry ponds? They are devastating to Kentucky's environment.

Yeah, America's global imperial interests are jacked, there are states that are more capable than others. Are we Americans, or should we relate to what state we live in like we did before and during the American Civil War?

So... here's where I step into the debate about guns. For those of you who aren't aware, Rand spoke at a gun rally at our state capital. Militia leaders were there speaking about civil war and hanging journalists who didn't write what they wanted. And there will be more video as they continue to upload.

Guns fall under "Private propety"?, really, I promise you this, I'll ask one of the most pronounced historians in the country about this issue, I doubt the 2nd amendment was about property rights...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Poor oil companies were charged extraordinary taxes in 2009?

Why do we have high oil prices? Because the American government is taxing these oil companies to deat... Wait a second, turns out Exxon didn't pay any U.S. tax last year!

So what gives? I thought the energy companies were complaining about high taxes?

From Forbes:

"Exxon tries to limit the tax pain with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. No wonder that of $15 billion in income taxes last year, Exxon paid none of it to Uncle Sam, and has tens of billions in earnings permanently reinvested overseas."

From Motherjones:

"The most hilarious part is ExxonMobil still finds a way to bitch about its lot in life. The corporation's website includes an issues page on "industry taxes," which threatens that energy innovation is already on the ropes because of excessive taxes, and it will be forever consigned to the dustbin by any new taxes on windfall profits (or, we'd assume, plans like President Obama's to close the offshore earnings loopholes that saved ExxonMobil from the IRS this year). "While our worldwide profits have grown, our worldwide income taxes have grown even more. From 2004 to 2008 our earnings grew by 79 percent, but our income taxes grew by 130 percent," ExxonMobil's flacks wrote, presumably while playing the world's smallest—and most expensive—violin."

And if they couldn't look any worse, they released a statement trying to defend their no tax policy:

"Though Exxon's financial statement's don't show any net income tax liability owed to Uncle Sam, a company spokesman insists that once its final tax bill is figured, Exxon will owe a 'substantial 2009 tax liability.' How substantial? 'That's not something we're required to disclose, nor do we.'"

Are people still really trying to push the idea that American corporations are crushed by high tax rates? Really? I'm really not the only one who thinks we need to put the reigns back around corporate lobbying power, give someone a bullhorn big enough and they'll drown out reason and have people believe anything.

Here's Exxons page on taxes it's forced to pay, and below there's some fuzzy math to convince people that Exxon is under attack from a tyrannical government bent on taking it's profits.

Here are their talking points:

-In 2008 ExxonMobil's worldwide tax expenses amounted to over $120 billion, equating to nearly $4,000 per second, and significantly more than twice our earnings in the same period.

-ExxonMobil's worldwide effective income tax rate for 2008 was 46 percent. For the first three quarters of 2009 our worldwide income tax rate increased to over 48 percent and our total tax obligations exceeded $59 billion.

-While our worldwide profits have grown, our worldwide income taxes have grown even more. From 2004 to 2008 our earnings grew by 79 percent, but our income taxes grew by 130 percent.

-Additional taxes would raise prices and reduce supplies.

-In the past, windfall profit taxes have undermined capital investments in the oil and gas industry and reduced domestic energy supplies. "Backdoor" windfall profit taxes would be no less damaging. Imposing punitive taxes on American energy companies, which already pay record taxes, would discourage the sustained investments needed to safeguard U.S. energy security.

-According to a report of the Congressional Research Service, the windfall profit tax of the 1980s reduced domestic oil production as much as 6 percent, and increased imports as much as 16 percent.

-Industry projects span decades, require massive investments, and utilize cutting-edge technologies that evolve throughout project lifecycles. Under these circumstances, long-term planning — which relies on stable legal, fiscal and regulatory frameworks — is critical.

Awww... poor oil companies. This reminds me of 8 year old who breaks a window and is inventing the most elaborate explanation of how they saw it happen, but it wasn't their fault so therefore they shouldn't have their allowance taken to pay for it.

Remember back in '08 when they were making insane amounts of profit?

Seriously people 1+1 still equals 2. These companies have gotten away with murder for far too long, it's time they paid their fair share. Let's regulate that industry and cut down on the egregious excess and influence they hold over our country economically and politically. We sure didn't invade Iraq with a pro-oil president over WMD's.

The real story of ACORN, the tapping of Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) office phone and illegal rightwing extremism gone wild without consequence

Hopefully you're going to jail James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, for this exploitive stunt and for attempting to tap Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) telephone.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jon Stewart's awesome 15 minute Glen Beck impersonation, awesome....

Jon Stewart's awesome 15 minute Glen Beck impersonation......

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The right had better chill out... Death threats won't help at the polls, things are out of control.

These death threats are getting out of control people.

From Washington state:

Prosecutors: Enraged by health reform, man threatens to kill Murray

A central Washington man was so enraged by the passage of federal health care reform that he threatened to kill U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, prosecutors charged Tuesday.

"I want to .... kill you," court documents say Charles Alan Wilson of Selah said in one of his foul-mouthed calls to Murray's office.

"Kill the .... senator! Hang the .... senator! I hope somebody puts a .... bullet between your .... eyes," court documents say he said in another call.

Let's remember that Obamacare is in fact Romneycare and is a healthcare idea that was endorsed by The Heritage Foundation. The Republican Party is doing nothing but stoking the flames of this insanity and violence is likely to follow this nonsense. Here in Kentucky we have Rand Paul speaking to militia groups who are convinced civil war is coming, this dialog isn't just irresponsible and hypocritical it's dangerous.

This same sort of "black helicopter" big government/Waco nonsense is part of what set Timothy McVeigh off, he blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 people in the deadliest terrorist attack before 9/11. 19 of the victims were babies and children.

Here's Glen Beck after 3 shows finally dismissing the FEMA concentration camp theory. This man has a few million viewers who believe what he says.

Erick Erickson threatened to: "pull out [his] wife's shotgun" if a census worker came to try to jail him for not filling out his census form.

And this started after the bill passed:

Stewart takes on insurance companies over denying children with preexisting conditions

"Why would you look for a loophole for that? Are you worried when you go to hell, you'd only be taking the local and you want make sure you're going to be on the express?"

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Friendly fire in Iraq

I hate to post this, but this is the consequence of war:

Monday, April 5, 2010

The results of deregulation: Enron, The California energy crisis, high oil prices and The economic collapse of 2008

"We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -FDR 1936

So, if we minimize government and leave things to the private sector things go right, right? Well, evidence says otherwise.

The Commodity Futures Act of 2000 was the legislation that led to out of control energy speculation. This piece of legislation led to both high gas prices and the Enron crisis that gave the state of California rolling blackouts and crippled it's economy.

For simplicity I'll refer to the legislation as CFA2000 from now on.

So what is a future? A future is an agreement on a commodity (gas, electricity, grain, ect) to be delivered on a specific price up to a certain time. The idea behind this is to stabilize prices, consumers would be a little upset if they went to a gas station on Monday to pay $3.25 a gallon only to return that Friday and find that the price was down to $2.25 a gallon.

Ok, let's break this down. How did the California energy market work before the Commodity Futures Act of 2000? Electricity was sold much as it is in the rest of the nation, we utilize private power companies or power co-ops who are heavily regulated and must apply for rate hikes.

What did the new rules mean? The new rules allowed a company like Enron to buy and sell energy on a privately owned and operated market. And this trading was immune from regulation by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), a federal watchdog that looks for price gouging and price manipulation.

The "Enron loophole" in the bill was in Section 2(h) which listed 2 exemptions from the CEA2000: "oil and other 'energy' products." were excluded. And this addition in the legislation sealed the deal.

Here's footage of the CFA2000 before the House.

And it wasn't even 6 months later when things began to quickly unravel, as you can see below.

When the Enron trader tapes surfaced, you had energy traders talking about these sorts of things:

Trader: “If you took down the steamer [from a generating unit], how long would it take to get it back up?”
Supervisor: “Oh, it’s not something you want to just be turning on and off every hour. Let’s put it that way,” another says.
Trader: “Well, why don’t you just go ahead and shut her down.”

Here's another:

Trader 1: “They’re fucking taking all the money back from you guys? All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?”
Trader 2: "Yeah, Grandma Millie man. But she’s the one who couldn’t figure out how to fucking vote on the butterfly ballot."
[Laughing from both sides]
Trader 1: "Yeah, now she wants her fucking money back for all the power you've charged right up, jammed right up her ass for fucking $250 a megawatt hour."
[Harder Laughing]

Watch CBS News Videos Online

::::GASP!:::: This means there is evidence with less regulation private entities will in fact gouge consumers? My heart be still! I've heard all of my life that the government is the bad guy has no place in the economy, does this mean that a corporation can exert force against people and shut down an entire state's economy?

One of my lifelong mentors and I have conversations/discussions about the government's role in the marketplace, he feels as if the government should be minimized in the marketplace. When I bring up things like Enron, his response his something along the lines of "well that's an extreme example, what about all the times that companies don't fraud consumers?" Yeah, and my response to that is this, if one company is able to commit a level of fraud so large that it cripples the world's eighth largest economy and sends it into a major economic crisis we better rethink how much power individual corporations have over our lives, the fraud perpetrated on California cost the state in between $40bn to $45bn. That's the equivalent of saying "well look at all the nuclear weapons we've produced and only used them twice." Yeah, and when we used those weapons, the consequences became so apparently awful we did everything within our power to make sure we didn't have to use them again.

Want to go a step further and add insult to injury? This same piece of legislation also deregulated and relaxed restrictions on over the counter (OTC) derivatives.

They were behind the 2008 Financial collapse and there was criticism of this deregulation from the beginning. These derivatives are basically bets against a default. The scenario I'm about to set up would be equal to an insurer selling fire insurance to a fire prone area with no ability to pay the insure when their building burns down. So in our model, when the housing market began to burn down in 2007, our fire insurer started to pay on those policies but when the a great deal of the fire spread the insurer couldn't cover all of the building policies and the government had to step in and loan the fire insurance company money to cover all of the buildings it didn't have the money to insure. Sound kidda nutty? Yeah it really should.

Here's a simple model from one of my favorite movies, Ocean's 11 (the new one). Remember, the team knew there would be a certain amount of money in the casino's vault, Nevada state law told the casino for every chip you have in your house and table there has to be a corresponding amount of cash in your vault to cover it in case the you're forced to cash out. The problem with OTCs was there was no regulation forcing the banks to follow the same sane rules. Then, when the players at the casino "Wall Street" bet against the Lehman Brothers collapse cashed in, AIG didn't have the money to cover the Wall-Street winnings.

Can we get even crazier? WHY YES! We can! Under current law (as of April 4th 2010) there has been no reform requiring transparency to the holders of OTCs, to the government, or the general public.

Let's go just a step further down the path of psychosis, those who placed bets against Lehman Brother's demise actually made money.

That's right folks, we've invented and fostered a system in which people were lured through fraud (so said the FBI) into houses they couldn't afford: "The FBI investigates Mortgage Fraud in two distinct areas: Fraud for Profit and Fraud for Housing. Fraud for Profit is sometimes referred to as "Industry Insider Fraud" and the motive is to revolve equity, falsely inflate the value of the property, or issue loans based on fictitious properties. Based on existing investigations and Mortgage Fraud reporting, 80 percent of all reported fraud losses involve collaboration or collusion by industry insiders."

They were then evicted from those houses because they couldn't pay, the banks who backed those mortgages (ie Lehman Brothers) failed because they couldn't carry the massive amount of defaulted mortgage debt (toxic assets), the insurance banks (AIG) that were there to save the investment banks couldn't pay because they didn't have the leverage against their OTCs, basically there were too many chips out on the table and not enough money in the vault. So to save the stock market and the toxic mortgages-OTCs the federal government (you and I) stepped in to prop this clearly broken system back up and make a bunch of rich people even richer.

And if nothing is done in regards to reform, this will happen again. I for one think we have a President who is smart enough to see this system needs a massive overhaul, we went through this once before in the 1930's.

PBS' Frontline has a great piece below called "The Warning", there were those in the Clinton administration who saw trouble on the horizon and tried to warn us; Brooksley Born, the head of an obscure federal regulatory agency -- the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC] tried to raise a red flag but was silenced by those who advocated deregulation and less government interference.

So, when people scream about "big government" ask them to pick a history book up and instruct them to find the 'boom and bust' economies, they didn't exist under a regulated market.


Here's a great graph which illustrates how OTC's currently work, and the danger they pose.

In honor of the 2010 census, here's SNL's 'The Census Taker'

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The History of Easter

A wikipedia article.

Finally some good news about the economy

Jobs are jobs, government or private sector.

Cheers to Keynesianism and Obamanomics.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Disturbing: friends of Rand Paul say civil war is unavoidable

From Barefoot.

Disturbing: friends of Rand Paul say civil war is unavoidable.

Quote: "History it seems is ready to repeat itself. After a long and costly civil war that is eminent, and sure to be forced upon us, we are taking note of those who are responsible for the treason, and they will be held accountable. I advise the press to start getting it right from this moment on, and stop aiding and abetting un-American activities. Like the Tories of old, the worst shall be hung, most will be exiled, and I’m a contractor so I have a little bit of tar and feathers for those who are only partially guilty."

Paul's speech at that rally is above.

The right is getting pretty desperate, and we've seen this pattern before. Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building, the rightwing pundits of the 1990's helped to foster that political climate.

Remember, there are terrorists here in the United States too, and they're just as willing to use violence against their own countrymen to achieve their means.

Clinton's speech at the Oklahoma City Memorial Service. Clinton starts around 25:50.

Above Democrat's call for investigation into the Oklahoma City tragedy.
Krugman in 2003, speaking against Bush's taxcuts.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I hate it when I'm right.......

McClatchy posted a piece on Wallstreet driving up oil prices right after I wrote a piece on speculation, thanks Wallstreet you collection of rapists.