"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." --Bishop Desmond Tutu

Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm not sure Mahatma Gandhi would agree...

Nor would Martin Luther King, Jr. Nor would anyone committed to non-violence. But then Wayne LaPierre is dedicated to the propagation of violence through his role at the NRA. Here he is at CPAC pimping for his masters in the armaments industry.

"Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary."

The world is what we make it. Do we model our world based on the violence and umbrage of a Wayne LaPierre? Or do we want a world built around the peaceful vision of a Gandhi?

The Cohen Brothers take on "Clean Coal"


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kenneth Responds!

ROFL Funny!

Being a useless tax-dodging fraud actually hurts book sales

As "Joe" the (not)"Plumber" discovered on a recent trip to Our Nation's Capitol, being a lying sack of shit has it's drawbacks. At an event at the huge downtown Boarder's Bookstore yesterday, a whopping 11 people showed up to have "Joe" sign copies of his new book.

Joe the Plumber (no longer a plumber; first name actually Samuel) popped into our town yesterday evening to sell his new book and to remind people that he's still a plain and simple guy. Mission accomplished, on at least one of his missions.

About 11 people wandered into the rows of seats set up hopefully in the basement of a downtown Border's bookstore to hear Joe speak. Joe addressed them from behind a lectern and with a microphone, but that seemed unnecessarily formal.

Buhwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!! But wait, it gets better.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Social Security and the so-called "unfunded liability"

Angry Bear is quickly turning out to be my favorite economic blog. In this coherent and insightful analysis, Bruce Webb explains why there is no such thing as an "unfunded liability" in Social Security. It's an illusion. A trick of the light, as it were.
Seen properly 'unfunded liability' is just a fictive artifact stemming from the Trustees having to assume current law. If they are able to pay full benefits they are obligated to do so, to that extent there is a liability. But it is limited, if Congress decides to fund that liability it will be paid, if Congress deliberately decides not to the liability goes away.

It is useful and even crucially important to understand the gap between projected revenue and projected cost at the point of Trust Fund depletion. It is equally useful but not particularly important to examine that gap in some future year. What is not useful is to sum up those amounts and hang them like the Sword of Damocles over our heads. The summed gaps are not legal liabilities because Congress is free to eliminate them. Now some might consider them moral liabilities and potentially the needed changes would lead to some political liabilities for that future Congress, but the notion that every child born in America automatically inherits $150,000 in unfunded debt is hooey. Because before 2041 actions will be taken to either fund that debt or write it off and poof that 'Unfunded Liability' vanishes.

Quite right, sir!

Paul Krugman is one smart cookie!
And leaving aside the chutzpah of casting the failure of [Jindal's] own party’s governance as proof that government can’t work, does he really think that the response to natural disasters like Katrina is best undertaken by uncoordinated private action? Hey, why bother having an army? Let’s just rely on self-defense by armed citizens.

The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.
The GOP really need to learn the meaning of "cognitive dissonance."
Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The "ideas" or "cognitions" in question may include attitudes and beliefs, and also the awareness of one's behavior. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

The falacy of a "liberal media"

In yet another blow to the old wingnut mathom that the media is biased to the left, two IU professors have published a book that shows definitively, when it comes to electoral coverage during Presidential election campaigns, the Republicans are given the edge.
A visual analysis of television presidential campaign coverage from 1992 to 2004 suggests that the three television broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- favored Republicans in each election, according to two Indiana University professors in a new book.
They don't regard this as some kind of "conspiracy," but rather a natural reaction to the drumbeat of "liberal bias" pouring forth from the right-wing media.
"We don't think this is journalists conspiring to favor Republicans. We think they're just so beat up and tired of being accused of a liberal bias that they unknowingly give Republicans the benefit in coverage," said Grabe, who also is a research associate in political science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. "It's self-censorship that journalists might be imposing on themselves."
Thanks for providing more data to support what the reality-based community knew already: Corporate-owned media skews right. Always has, always will.

The book is available on Amazon.

Some reactions to Jindal's FAIL


F(au)x News

Obama's Address to Congress

The address begins at around 17:20 of this stream. Here's a link to the text.

Here's the GOP response delivered by Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana and a "rising star" in the Republican Party.

Sad... Very sad...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Alan Keyes - Lunatic-in-Chief

There's not much more to say about this one...

Why Robert Reich is one of my economic heroes!

Becuase he cuts through the BS with statements like this during a discussion of whether or not the New Deal helped America.
The Second World War pulled the nation out of the Great Depression because it required that government spend on such a huge scale as to restart the nation's factories, put Americans back to work, and push the nation toward its productive capacity. By the end of the war, most Americans were better off than they were before its start. Yes, the national debt ballooned to 120 percent of GDP. But the debt-GDP ratio subsequently declined -- not just because post-war spending dropped but because the economy continued to grow as war production converted to the production of consumer goods. Lesson: The danger isn't too much stimulus, it's too little stimulus.
The War was just an extension of the New Deal. Government spending driving the creation of jobs.

Was the bible written in "Christian?"

The reason I'm asking is because former United States Senator Rick Santorum made the following claim yesterday regarding the Koran:

Santorum said he believes Muslims’ religious views cannot be changed or altered, so Middle Easterners reject American, democratic ideals.

“A democracy could not exist because Mohammed already made the perfect law,” Santorum said. “The Quran is perfect just the way it is, that’s why it is only written in Islamic."

Now far be it from me to chide someone for a little verbal slip, but when you're putting yourself up as an expert on the Middle East and you make this kind of fundamental goof that you fail to correct, you've eliminated your credibility. Completely.

Santorum is passing through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a part of his college campus tour on which he describes to students what he believes are the dangers in not knowing what is going on in the Middle East.

Heh... Someone needs to teach Mr. Santorum that Islam is a religion. Arabic is the language of the Koran.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cat Fud

Like Gary Larson's hopeful dog in the cartoon, I really hope these Republican governors do reject the stimulus money. I really hope they put ideology ahead of necessity. It won't be long until the torches and pitchforks come out.
A handful of Republican governors are considering turning down some money from the federal stimulus package, a move opponents say puts conservative ideology ahead of the needs of constituents struggling with record foreclosures and soaring unemployment.
Living in the Conservative echo chamber has deafened these idiots to the pain of their constituents. How arrogant to put ideology ahead of the people they're supposed to be helping.
[The] governors of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, South Carolina and Idaho have all questioned whether the $787 billion bill signed into law this week will even help the economy.
Of course, they all have reasons to consider rejecting the money. Selfish, narrow-minded reasons. But I suppose they're reasons...
U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the No. 3 House Democrat, said the governors — some of whom are said to be eyeing White House bids in 2012 — are putting their own interests first.

"No community or constituent should be denied recovery assistance due to their governor's political ideology or political aspirations," Clyburn said Wednesday.
If these governors truly believe that this money won't help their states, then I say they should "man up" and reject it. Don't be a chickenshit, reject the money that you doubt will help anything. Come on, don't dither about it. Turn it down.

I dare you... I double-dog dare you...

"Where did you get them?"

A Happy American Family

Question asked by a TSA screener of a gay couple with two babies going through security. How special is that? I'm a divorced Dad and my kids live in another state and I frequently have to pick them up from and take them to the airport. Nobody has ever asked me to "prove" that my kids are my kids. I've traveled with my kids on numerous occasions, nobody has ever asked me for a birth certificate. This is shocking. Although I expect you would get the same thing if an African-American couple were travelling with a caucasian child. That's just how we roll in America.
I want to talk about the underlying responsibility of being a gay dad. We're trying so hard to fit in. We're trying to get married and share insurance policies and we're trying to go on typical family vacations to see Grandma and Grandpa. I even did my best to describe the normal madness of traveling with small ones. But there's nothing normal about turning the car around when you're half way to the airport because you forgot your daughters birth certificate. That's right. Having Rose and Evan's original, authenticated birth certificate was the other thing this baby roadie had to have on his person. It mattered as much as infant Zantac and warm hats and clean diapers. Keep in mind, we were two men traveling with two little girls. If you look at it with a crooked eye you can make yourself see things. Can you imagine if you had to deal with indignity of having to explain your family? Even worse, proving that your biological daughter was yours?
Prejudice and bigotry are not family values.

Good news on the Arctic Ice front

Looks like the group responsible for the panic about an ice-free arctic actually had a sensor failure. Things are not as dire as originally predicted.
As some of our readers have already noticed, there was a significant problem with the daily sea ice data images on February 16. The problem arose from a malfunction of the satellite sensor we use for our daily sea ice products. Upon further investigation, we discovered that starting around early January, an error known as sensor drift caused a slowly growing underestimation of Arctic sea ice extent. The underestimation reached approximately 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) by mid-February. Sensor drift, although infrequent, does occasionally occur and it is one of the things that we account for during quality control measures prior to archiving the data.
This is good news and should revise the estimates for the speed of global warming. It means it may not be too late to halt the climate shift we're experiencing. The issue with their sensor was confirmed when they compared their data to another data collection instrument and realized their error.

The Face of Homophobic Hate

Meet Utah State Senator Chris Buttars. In a recent interview he revealed how his twisted hateful mind works. Here's what he thinks about our LGBT brothers and sisters:
  • To me, homosexuality will always be a sexual perversion. And you say that around here now and everybody goes nuts! But I don’t care.
  • They say, I’m born that way. There’s some truth to that, in that some people are born with an attraction to alcohol.
  • They’re mean! They want to talk about being nice — they’re the meanest buggers I ever seen. It’s just like the Moslems. Moslems are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it’s been taken over by the radical side. And the gays are totally taken over by the radical side.
  • I believe that you will destroy the foundation of American society, because I believe the cornerstone of it is a man and a woman, the family. … And I believe that they’re, internally, they’re probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of. Yep, the radical gay movement.
Hate! It's what's for dinner!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What healthcare crisis???

E tu Donald?

Even the Donald is having trouble in this economy. His Trump Entertainment Group filed for bankruptcy protection. Donald, you're fired!

Republican economic talking point FAIL

You know the conservative talking point that The New Deal under FDR didn't help? Or, sometimes you hear that the New Deal made things worse? Of course it's a fantasy. In the reality-based, fact-based world where there is actual data to discuss instead of just ideological posturing and posing, you can see from this chart that the New Deal had a profound effect on the US economic situation during the 1930s.

Notice how when FDR took office and began to implement the policies of recovery through the New Deal that the economy began to rebound? See that line in the GDP going up? That's called a recovery. And how was that achieved? By economic stimulus through spending. Not through the fantasy of tax-cuts or other non-functional means, but through good old-fashioned government spending. If Obama is to be faulted for anything, he should be faulted for not spending enough on the recovery plan.

But conservatives don't want you to see this chart because it exposes the absolute stupidity of statements like this:
On Christmas Eve, the conservative pundit Monica Crowley argued on Fox News that instead of rescuing America from the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt’s spending on public works made it worse. She insisted that this bizarre claim was confirmed by “all kinds of studies and academic work.”

The show’s host backed her up. “Yes,” said Gregg Jarrett, “I think historians pretty much agree on that.”
Of course it's F(au)x News so who's really surprised? No references, no citations, just bloviation. But when you live in a land populated with unicorns and concern trolls, facts don't matter. Only what you believe matters. Facts only get in the way of ideology.

So when a conservative spouts off something like this:
The New Deal prolonged the Great Depression. In fact, if anything it was the New Deal itself that made the Great Depression "Great."
You can point them to the chart above, pat them on the head, and remind them to take their meds. Reality is back in charge. Get over it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bonuses for EVERYONE!!!

It amazes me that many of these firms are paying out performance bonuses. How can I get a piece of that action?


more fail, owned and pwned pics and videos

Big Government Sucks!

There! That'll show 'em. Read more here.

Americans would LOVE them some o' that Socialized Medicine!

Not too shocking to those of us who are awake and paying attention to the pain suffered by the American people due to a lack of comprehensive healthcare. But Americans support the notion of "socialized medicine" by an overwhelming majority.

It's amazing, isn't it? It's only the wingnuttiest of the wingnuts that still preach "private insurance" as the solution to our healthcare train wreck. Note that 59% of Americans favor some kind of government managed care, while 49% favor 100% coverage.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Get it over with and nationalize the banks

That's the case being made by Martin Wolf over at The Financial Times
Assume that the problem is insolvency and the modest market value of US commercial banks (about $400bn) derives from government support (see charts). Assume, too, that it is impossible to raise large amounts of private capital today. Then there has to be recapitalisation in one of the two ways indicated above. Both have disadvantages: government recapitalisation is a bail-out of creditors and involves temporary state administration; debt-for-equity swaps would damage bond markets, insurance companies and pension funds. But the choice is inescapable.

If Mr Geithner or Lawrence Summers, head of the national economic council, were advising the US as a foreign country, they would point this out, brutally. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF managing director, said the same thing, very gently, in Malaysia last Saturday.

The correct advice remains the one the US gave the Japanese and others during the 1990s: admit reality, restructure banks and, above all, slay zombie institutions at once. It is an important, but secondary, question whether the right answer is to create new “good banks”, leaving old bad banks to perish, as my colleague, Willem Buiter, recommends, or new “bad banks”, leaving cleansed old banks to survive. I also am inclined to the former, because the culture of the old banks seems so toxic.
It's so crazy it might just work! Or not...

Visualizing the Stimulus Package

The Washington Post has an excellent diagram showing the breakdown of the stimulus package.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Lies about minimum wage

Over at Angry Bear, there's a fascinating quickie study of the correlation between teenage unemployment and hikes in the minimum wage. As we know. our conservative friends tell us that every time there is a hike in the minimum wage, teenage unemployment rises. Turns out that's not entirely true (I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that conservatives were making stuff up again!).

What Spencer found was that the teenage unemployment rate correlates much more strongly with the rate of adult unemployment than it does to hikes in the minimum wage.
So I ran a simple regression of the teenage unemployment rate as a function of two variables. One was the adult (over 35) unemployment rate and the second was the minimum wage. This is based on the premise that the adult unemployment rate captures the bulk of the business cycle impact on the teenage unemployment rate.

What I found was that the adult unemployment rate accounted for about 87.5% of the teenage unemployment rate and the minimum wage accounted for only 12.5%.
Facts can be such pesky things when they disagree with your assumptions. Another in a long run of CONSERVATIVE FAIL.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Deaths in Australia directly tied to Global Climate Change

Parts of Australia are on fire. Outside of Melbourne, they are burning, burning, burning. Record heat and record dryness along with brushfires have combined to create "hell on earth."

The death toll from the deadliest bushfires in Australia's history could reach into the hundreds as the devastation is uncovered in the burning and blackened ruins of towns, the authorities warned last night.

Described as "hell on earth", the fires left at least 108 dead, but police in Victoria said the final death toll would be much greater.

"I think it [the body count] will be up into the 100s ... 200," acting Sergeant Scott Melville, who has the job of dragging bodies out of charred vehicles and homes, told the Melbourne Age. "It's like a friggin' war zone up here, it's like a movie scene."

Victoria has roasted in extreme temperatures for a fortnight. The bushfires which worsened last Saturday were driven by hot winds of more than 60mph, and record temperatures of 46.4C in Melbourne, the highest in 70 years.

Australia's fragile ecology has been tipped on it's side by global climate change. Who's next?

A Nation of Fools

The United States is 2nd only to Turkey in disbelieving evolution. I'm so ashamed.

Rachel calls out the GOP for their "Bull puckey"

From her show on Friday, Rachel Maddow lines the GOP up against the wall and fires the truth weapon at them. The carnage is spectacular.

"Cutting food-stamp funding [which represents the single best use of stimulus funds from an economic perspective, you get $1.73 in value from every $1.00 spent] to attract Republican support is proof-positive that the Republicans are not trying to come up with an effective stimulus here. If your house is on fire, and you call your fire department, and your fire department tells you to pour gasoline on the flames, they're not actually making a good-faith effort to help you put out the fire. They're not a good fire department.

"If you're working up policy to fix an economic crisis, which is characterized by there being no spending in the economy, and someone in that debate says, 'OK, but cut the spending out of the rescue plan,' they're bad at making policy.

"And you know what? It matters when you're wrong. A whopping proportion of the Republican rhetoric about stimulus is wrong.... It's just wrong. The time is now to take the radical step, as Americans -- as civic-minded Americans concerned about our future -- it's time to take the radical step of privileging correct information over incorrect information....

"If you are wrong, from here on out, you should lose the argument and you should lose your political potency. Form a flat-earthers club or something, where you talk enthusiastically to each other about your made-up economic ideas that aren't based in reality. But get out of the way of the people who are actually trying to save the country."
Well said.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Chinese Steel

Angry Bear has an excellent summary of the ongoing trade war over steel we're having with China. The article details the nature of a command economy and the control over critical industry. Well worth the read.
China has the world’s largest steel industry. Indeed, in 2005, China made more steel than the next four largest producers combined. From 2000 to 2005, China’s steel production increased by over 170 percent, as the Chinese industry added capacity at a furious rate. Between 1998 and 2005, China’s steel exports more than quadrupled, as China established itself as one of the world’s leading exporters. This explosive growth in both production and exports would not have been possible without the support of the Chinese government.
Like the old Soviet-era of "amateur" athletics (remember Lake Placid in 1980? The Miracle on Ice?), Chinese "companies" are really just extension of the government.

Another wardrobe malfunction

No, not when Bruce Springsteen slid into the camera crotch-first (OUCH!)

But rather an isolated incident in Tuscon, Arizona.

Shortly after 7.30pm, with less than three minutes to play in a tightly fought final, the Cardinals had taken the lead with a crucial touchdown. Fans watching in Arizona would have been forgiven for scenting a victory for their team against the odds. Then the pictures from Tampa disappeared.

Instead, viewers in the Tuscon area were astonished to see a woman unzipping a man's trousers to reveal "full male nudity" followed by what was described as "a graphic act" between the couple. Somehow, the feed from Super Bowl XLIII had been mixed up with a 30-second excerpt from Club Jenna, an adult cable TV channel featuring Jenna Jameson, one of America's most famous porn actresses.

(insert shock and awe here) Apparently this was a no-holds-barred interaction between Jenna and her partner.

Once the pictures from the Super Bowl returned, Cardinals fans did not get the climax they were looking for. The Steelers pipped them 27-23, scoring with only 35 seconds left on the clock.


Favorite Superbowl Ad

Yes, I know it's tacky to like ads, but this one cracks me up...