Friday, July 30, 2010

Dear Mr President,

If you're looking for a Democrat with some balls, check out Mr Weiner from NY.

Maybe the Great Minds working in the Whitehouse put him up to it, but I've seen this guy before, and I'm thinkin' he knows how and when to do this all on his own. And I'm thinkin' this level of frustration is partly a result of some weakass shit from Raum Emmanuel and the Dem leadership.

Also too, this is exactly what you and Reid and Pelosi need to do; you need to make the Repubs stand up and vote NO every fucking day on every fucking thing you can come up with.

You ran on some pretty specific issues, and you got elected because 53% of us agreed with a lot of your positions. Put the whole agenda forward and make 'em all vote against every item.

PS) I mentioned that you won the office with 53% support - I need you to stop trying to dig into the numbers to see if that support is hard or soft; or if it can be parsed into so many subsegments or whatever. I'm not Blanche Lincoln or Ben Nelson or any of those Congress Critters - you don't have to check with me 4 times a day like some 13-year-old on Facebook to be sure I'm with you. Just do the fucking job we sent you there to do, will ya!?!

Crock Of The Week

And then, there was Part 2:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Brawn vs Brain

Contrast And Disconnect

Some politicians make lots of noise about how we shouldn't be in the business of nation-building, and that government just fucks it all up whenever it tries to do something to help straighten out a tough economy, so we should just sit tight and let nature take its course, etc. But somehow these are usually the same guys who're in favor of borrowing billions of dollars and sending that very expensive money to places like Iraq and Afghanistan in attempts to build those nations by investing in their markets and beefing up their infrastructures.

Why do we keep votin' for these guys?

US can't account for $8.7 Billion.
The failure to properly manage billions in reconstruction funds has also hobbled the troubled U.S.-led effort to rebuild Afghanistan. About $60 billion have poured into Afghanistan since 2001 in hopes of bringing electricity, clean water, jobs, roads and education to the crippled country.
The U.S. alone has committed $51 billion to the project since 2001, and plans to raise the stakes to $71 billion over the next year — more than it has spent on reconstruction in Iraq since 2003.
An Associated Press investigation showed that the results so far — or lack of them — threaten to do more harm than good. The number of Afghans with access to electricity has increased from 6 percent in 2001 to only about 10 percent now, far short of the goal of providing power to 65 percent of urban and 25 percent of rural households by the end of this year.
As an example of the problems, a $100 million diesel-fueled power plant was built with the goal of delivering electricity to more than 500,000 residents of the capital, Kabul. The plant's costs tripled to $305 million as construction lagged a year behind schedule. The plant now often sits idle because the Afghans were able to import cheaper power from neighboring Uzbekistan before the plant came online.

War is Theft (Juan Cole):
The reason is that in the chaotic days after the fall of the Baath government and the collapse of the old economy, Paul Bremer & Co. attempted to jump-start the Iraq market economy by giving out large sums in brown paper bags with no questions asked. They did not understand that the Iraqi market had been killed by decades of government control and that no magic hand any longer existed, so they might as well have taken that money and buried it in the ground. (Actually some of it probably was buried, in back yards in Fairfax County, Va.)
So maybe these two instances seem to illustrate the viewpoint of "conservatives" that
'government is bad', but of course, those same "conservatives" never say that the Military part of the government sucks - it's just all those civilian bureaucrats blah blah blah. Anyway.

Now we get to sift thru a little controversy over dueling estimations of how the Bush Bailouts and the Obama Stimulus either have or haven't saved us from an even worse outcome here at home. Intervention Helped Avert a 2nd Depression is an article in NYT that describes a study by a couple of econ brains.
The paper, by Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton professor and former vice chairman of the Fed, and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, represents a first stab at comprehensively estimating the effects of the economic policy responses of the last few years.
“While the effectiveness of any individual element certainly can be debated, there is little doubt that in total, the policy response was highly effective,” they write.
The article (of course) includes a quote or two from a guy at The Hoover Institution who questions their conclusions - he's "surprised" at their findings. Imagine my surprise at his being surprised.  And imagine my surprise that NYT felt the need to find somebody to disagree with the Blinder and Zandi article.

There's something really unhealthy about all this. It's like we're all in this defensive crouch, and that our default mode is Counterattack. We have to figure out what our shared basic assumptions are, and then we have to start getting back to them before our little experiment in self-government blows up in our faces.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Great Flood Of Aught 10

Here's the first look at photo evidence of the near catastrophe.  Had we been another day or even several hours later getting home, it could've been a lot worse.

As it is, we have a bunch of carpeting that's been ripped up - pad removed - fans blowing under the rug in an attempt to "save it".  So far the net affect is that now the whole house smells of wet crappy carpet, while we wait for a few days to let the claims adjuster guys figure out what to do next.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ten Years Of Hell

Ian Walsh observes:
Note that rates being so high is a classic case of market failure. The banks are charging more than they need to in order to make a profit. In an actual free market other banks are supposed to step in and undercut them, but that isn’t happening. We could argue about why (they’re a collusive oligopoly or they’re broke being the most probable causes), but in the immediate term, it doesn’t matter, what matters is fixing it.
I think there prob'ly won't be any real effort to fix the underlying problems.  If there's any possible way to spin the fix as an attempt to "set up the government to compete against the banks", the Big Bank Lobbyists will squawk, and their pet politicians will fold under the pressure like a buncha lawn chairs.

Friday, July 2, 2010

They're Pretty Smart, Those Harvard Guys

With Repubs refusing to change their tune even in the face of major rebukes in the last two election cycles, I think we're seeing the usual throes of a governing philosophy that may not be dead or dying yet, but one that's certainly not too healthy.  The effect is pretty much the same as we hear whenever some ideology or another gets pushed aside - "the system didn't  fail; our leaders failed the system."

From Nieman Watchdog:
As we approach another political season one question stands out. Why in the aftermath of the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression are the Republicans advocating precisely the same policies that spawned the disaster in the first place? If they were to succeed in promoting these policies again, do they expect a different result?
It is hard to imagine a more important or relevant question. What is so strange is that no one is asking it. It is as though the very question has been banished from public discourse. It is almost impossible to imagine, for example, David Gregory on “Meet the Press” asking a Republican leader how their present positions differ from those that have gotten us into trouble. And God forbid anyone suggest these policies might get us into trouble again.
Here's the political message the Dems can ride to some big wins:
"Don't vote for Republicans - they're all fucking crazy"

Tea Party Jesus

Who would Jesus hate?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

An Alternative Perspective

Click it now and then tell me we're not fucked.
Olbermann gets a little nuts, so I don't follow him closely, but I think he's articulating something here that has to be taken seriously. When part of the economic equation is out of balance, we can expect lots of real trouble. For a good 35 years, we've seen a steady erosion of people's ability to earn a decent living - we certainly needed to beat labor costs back into shape, but we've tipped back out of balance again in the other direction. People are finding it harder and harder to earn just the few bucks it takes to buy even the cheapest goods we can import from the lowliest sweatshops in the world. Demand shrinks enough and you won't be able give your shit away.

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

I'm Shocked - Shocked...

Why does this come as some kinda news to anybody?  I think the real story here is probably that somebody decided that somebody needed to take a fall and Cramer's the lucky winner.

From The Daily Beast.
Jim Cramer single-handedly created the concept of Dykstra-as-financial genius. Known mostly for his willingness to crash his body into walls or his cars into trees (nickname: "Nails"), the former New York Met and Philadelphia Phillie became an investment columnist for in 2005, after sending Cramer an unsolicited email. For the next four years, Dykstra made stock picks, focusing on "deep-in-the-money calls"—a way to buy leveraged options—for tens of thousands of followers on Cramer's website.

Here's the basics of how "The Stock Market" works.
1) Some Wall Street guys get together and buy a bunch of shares in some company they really don't give a damn about - and sometimes one that nobody's ever really heard of - and they pay a nice low price.

2) Their networks of Brokers and Dealers spend the next several days on the phones pimping "this hot new issue" to the rubes, saying (essentially) the price of the stock is going to make real progress.

3) Meanwhile, they tip off their buddies in "The Financial Press" that something pretty big might be about to happen - and guess what?  The Money Bunnies on CNBC and Bloomburg et al go on TV and feed the rubes a load of crap about how they've uncovered this possibly fantastic opportunity that the rubes then take as confirmation that the broker guy was right.

4) If it works this time the way it's worked every other time for the last century or so, the rubes rush in; they buy lots of shares; and surprise surprise - the price of the stock goes up.  Wow.  Whooda thunk dem guys was so smart?

This is obviously a very crude sketch, and with the rise of Day Trading and the preponderance of Institutional Investors and Mutual Funds and Hedge Funds, etc, there are now many more layers of complexity, as well as a lot more complicity.  It becomes not just a corrupt system, but a system of legalized corruption.  So when everybody's in on the scam, how do you tell who the bad guys are?

And BTW: It's not possible to practice Free Market Capitalism when the markets are all captive to a few very powerful controlling interests.  What we have here now is called Oligarchy.

Pic Of The Day

Technology can give us a productivity boost. For communities struggling with budget problems, a few surveillance cameras have a force mutiplier effect by putting eyeballs in more places than they can afford to put actual cops.  Generally, I don't have any problem with passive surveillance - Red Light Cameras, Speeder Cams, Street Watch Cams, etc.  It's within the reasonable limits and expectations of government power for the police to see what I'm up to when I'm out in public.  If you don't like getting ticketed, maybe you should try following the rules instead of bitchin' about getting caught.

I do worry a little about the infamous slippery slope tho'.  I don't know if the rest of the world has this trouble, but Americans have a great knack for misunderstanding certain things.  Vince Lombardi says, "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing", and we end up with an attitude that we can get away with anything as long as we're winning.  Maybe it's just the natural inclination for humans to rationalize - I dunno.  I do know that there's a big bunch of people who don't quite get it when it comes to our system of justice.  These folks will tell you, "If you're not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide; so it's OK for government to know everything".  And what's really weird is that most of the people who'd say that are the same ones who'll make all the noise about how you can't trust the government.

So anyway, I saw this picture and it reminded me that's it a good idea to think about what I think about things, and then decide where I should draw this particular line, and then to write it all down.