Sunday, December 30, 2012

No surprises

It appears that the Republicans simply won't pass anything. Boner wants to keep his Speaker's gavel, so a deal is out of the question. If you thought the Dems were going to go for chained CPI that has been ruled out as Republicans offered that as a 'compromise' they could live with. Grandma can't, but they don't care.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

3-D Ludus latrunculorum (see footnote)

Initial unemployment claims dropped to a five year low last week, but save the champagne for New Years. Holiday weeks always end up being adjusted, usually upward when the disruption is straightened out. It is good news anyway since it didn't actually skyrocket upward as the right had predicted would be the result of the fiscal 'cliff' panic. The Republicans seem oddly concerned about the cuts to government spending that will kick in, with Boner narrowly squeezing through a bill that put off the cuts for a month. You would think they'd see any cuts as a good thing as it is their stated philosophy, but they're predicting the collapse of Western Civilization instead.

In another of his 3-D chess moves, Obama had his Treasury Sec announce unexpectedly that the debt ceiling has already been reached. They had put out that it wasn't coming until March based on juggling the government's books. The Republicans had refused Obama's request to end the unconstitutional limit on borrowing to pay for expenditures. Expenditures that the very same Congress has already mandated by law. It appears that he is simply going to call their bluff now, rather than allow them another go round in the Spring. He may choose to simply defy the weakened and foolish looking Republicans and let them sue him over the 14th amendment's requirement that Federal debts be paid, period. That's if they have the cōleī. (latin profanity)  

Incredibly, the Republicans view of the negotiations is to sit and wait for the Senate Democrats to send them a bill that they like. They say that they won't write a bill of their own, that's another lie of course. Boner put out a bill, the fabulous Plan B, but couldn't find enough votes with the tea baggers against it. The House could vote on the Senate bill they keep insisting doesn't exist. He had planned to vote that down at the same time as his Plan B was voted in, but the Senate bill being reasonable might pass, so that vote won't happen.

So it appears likely that we will go off the 'cliff', at least briefly. It's possible that Boner will pass the Senate bill in the final hours of the year, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Most likely he will only allow anything to happen after his own re-election as Speaker. If he does it before, they will all gather for the symbolic 'dagger in the back' caucus, and make Cantor the new Speaker. (et tu Cantor?) So the dirty work of raising taxes on the rich will be done by Boner and he gets to keep the laurel wreath, at least until they can find some other excuse to perforate his toga.

Footnote - From the Wikipedia: Ludus latrunculorumlatrunculi, or simply latrones (“the game of brigands”, from latrunculusdiminutive of latromercenary or highwayman) is a strategy board game played by the ancient Greeks and Romans. It is said to resemble chess or draughts, but is generally accepted to be a game of military tactics.





Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We know

Preliminary sales figures show a very low growth rate for retailers this Christmas season that is likely to be the lowest since 2008. It's not too hard to figure out why this is so, people are getting lower wages and so have less to spend despite increased consumer debt.

It's not that there isn't enough business activity, corporations are showing record profits and the rich are swimming in cash, they just keep it for themselves. In the old days, when cash hoarding really started to tank the economy, people called this occurrence a 'cash shortage'. Today economists call it a recession when it meets their arbitrary standards of decline.

When it got bad enough people would start stuffing their savings under the mattress which caused a 'bank panic', we call those depressions. Rich people would then take the cash they'd been hoarding and start buying things for 10 cents on the dollar. The Koch brothers fortune was created that way.

The far right business bloggers are pushing the notion that the billionaires are all bailing on the stock market, and so you should expect a 90% correction. (10 cents on the dollar) If I didn't know better (snort), I'd say they are trying to gin up an old fashioned bank panic. They mostly want you to buy gold or a Mayan doomsday shelter. Gold is down by the way. If you bought it a couple of years ago at its peak you've lost about $200/ounce. That was back when righties were saying that I was crazy for telling people not to buy any gold. Every time anything bad happens, the USD goes up, not down. That's why rich people are invested in 'cash'.

Not that I'm saying that they are, 'for certain', wrong about the stock market. It is just a Ponzi scheme after all. Wall Street banks and the high frequency traders have taken trillions out of the markets over the years, and the only new money coming is from the suckers who want to get in on the easy money to fund their retirement. Pssst! Cat Food stocks are a good bet, lots of boomers coming into retirement soon.

Banks aren't really at risk in the sense that you can lose your FDIC insured account, the Fed can just replace the money by printing as much as is needed. This is why we can't turn into Greece, we don't really borrow money from foreigners. Have you seen any government checks payable in Chinese Yuan?

The old time radio show said, "What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows." Actually is pretty much just greed, lust for power, and a total disregard for anybody they can take advantage of. And they do these things at every possible opportunity without exception.

Under the heading, the further decline of America's status in the world: China has opened another high speed rail line, the world's longest, and it operates at 185mph. It covers the distance in a third of the time of the old train it replaces. The old train ran at nearly double the speed Amtrack averages on route of similar length. Why does Amtrack do so poorly? Am 'track' doesn't own any of its own track. It exists in the Republican world of funneling money into the pockets of private rail lines who deliberately cause problems for Amtrack as they in fact get paid more that way. Hey Republicans, The Shadow knows, and we do too. www.prairie2.com

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Math challenged

One of the 'leading' suppliers of high capacity magazines claims that they've sold 3.5 years worth of them in the 72 hours since the latest massacre. Yeah, no, as the kids say. The math for that simply isn't believable. The only way that is possible is that there was almost no demand for them to begin with, that I could believe. But of course the far right will make what ever fantasy of that they care to. Reality has a liberal bias. In Germany, clip size is limited to 3 rounds.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Underwear

That magic underwear must be fireproof. This from the Boston Globe, “He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,” said Tagg, who worked with his mother, Ann, to persuade his father to seek the presidency. “If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside.

Who are these people kidding? He's been running for President for 30 years. Not to mention the savage attacks he put out against fellow Republicans in the primary. Granted none of them were qualified to be President either, and he did the nation a service by getting Obama re-elected. But, how about just going away without all the whining.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A blast from the so far distant past


U.S. Letter of Resignation Sent By Bush to Rifle Association. NY Times (1995): Following is the letter of resignation sent last week by former President George Bush to the National Rifle Association: May 3, 1995
Dear Mr. Washington,
I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as "jack-booted thugs." To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as "wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms" wanting to "attack law abiding citizens" is a vicious slander on good people. ...
Both John Magaw and Judge Freeh were in office when I was President. They both now serve in the current administration. They both have badges. Neither of them would ever give the government's "go ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law abiding citizens." (Your words)
I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.'s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.
However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.
You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre's unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a Life Member of N.R.A., said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list. Sincerely, [ signed ] George Bush

A new Troll, everybody say "HI!"

We have a brand new Troll who can actually write in complete sentences. He's still full of crap, but I thought I'd work through his talking points. I saves writing anything new on a Saturday night. 


"The reality is that Obama has already made big cuts to the budget taking us back to 1952 spending levels." The big lie always works best. on Their lips were moving, that's always a dead giveaway  - The thing about numbers is that you can look them up, they have a liberal bias that way.

Limousine liberals have all the answers. They know what is best for the masses. "Hey, boy. Could you polish and shoes?" on You can dock your billions anywhere you want to - Okay, this one doesn't make any sense.

"John Boner" see when you write that, it is very hard to take the rest of your nonsense seriously. Are you 14 years old? Grow up. on Their lips were moving, that's always a dead giveaway - I'm making fun of him because that is how his name is pronounced. There is no language where the combination of letters is pronounced 'bayner', he's just too vain or insecure to admit it. Of course given his orange skin color, maybe he's not from this planet. Hmmm, the leader of an alien invasion bent on our destruction... That's a theory that makes sense. If you can name the medical condition that makes your skin turn that color, I'll apologize.  (it has to be a disease from this planet)  His heavy drinking could cause Sclerosis of liver that will turn you yellow, but not orange.

Per IRS numbers, the top 1% of earners pay 40% of income taxes. Bottom 20% pay nothing. We are all in this together. Except some folks have no skin in game. While other pay a lot. ... How many poor people are job creators? Oh, right. None. Stop singing the praises of the poor. They are friction on the economy. Might not be politically correct to say it. But, in my world, it is called "drug addict" not "chemically dependent". Soft pedal don't fly here. I wouldn't blame all the 1% if they moved to the Caymans. Then who would pay for the welfare state? Poor people? LOL on You can dock your billions anywhere you want to  - Actually the bottom 47% don't pay income taxes, weren't you paying attention during the election? But seriously you could read the last few hundred posts and get some understanding of why everything you said there is stupid crap. 

Is it my money? Or is it the govt's money to pass around as they please? I work, they take. Robin Hood has $16T in debt. But, no matter, just steal more money from citizens to pay for all these wondefulr social welfare/nanny state programs that just get bigger and bigger and never go away. The madness beat goes on. on Plan B fails - No it isn't your money, notice it has the government seal on it?. The purpose of money is to make the economy work, that's why you only get taxed on your income and other transactions. There is no 'wealth' tax, there is no tax on things you actually do on your own like having a garden. Everything else you do depends on the rest of us, so all of the rest of us get to decide how much you pay for the privilege of using 'our money'. 'The government' isn't an independent body, well except for the guys who write your talking points who are pretty much running the government for their purposes, which you are okay with. 

As I predicted 6 weeks ago, we are going over the Fiscal Cliff. No doubt in my mind. It fits the democrat agenda. More taxes, more money to spend. More debt. More welfare/nanny state. More sucking on Uncle Sammy's tit. Merry Fiscal Cliffmas to all. on Plan B fails - Your side created this 'cliff', and you act like it was everybody else's fault. You lost the election. 

Time for the liberals, ur, progressives to drive us right into the dirt. $16T in debt. .. next stop $20T. ... The more they tax, the more they spend. on Time for a new Calender - The deficit is going away, go back and read the explanation as to why. It's just math. 

If you are 65 and have to eat cat food, well, what the hell were you doing for the 1st 65 years of your life to get in that situation? Obviously, you messed up big time. But, heck, Uncle Sammy will throw you a $200 a month food stamps bone. That should cover a few big bags of Friskies for those that squandered 65 years of life and have nothing to show for it. on Time for a new Calender - Sounds like somebody was born third base with a trust fund, and thinks he hit a triple. Work at minimum wage until you die, that's your answer for the rest of America. And I'll bet you think the minimum wage should be zero.





Friday, December 21, 2012

Time for a new Calender

The Tea Baggers 'saved' Social Security by refusing to take any compromise that Obama was rumored to be willing to accept on taxes, even if they had to pass on the chance to put even more seniors on cat food. If you want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, he certainly knew these hard right wackos would never go along, and he was just setting Boner up. In a worst case scenario the cuts based on 'chained' CPI would have taken many years to have any real effect, and in the meantime the economy could be put back on track.

Obama has to have these people on the ropes if Grover Norquist was willing to endorse the compromise but the baggers wouldn't. The fact is that the Dems only need to pickup a relative handful of votes to pass their own bill. It's not impossible that you'll see such a coalition in the new Congress. If Harry Reid doesn't get out maneuvered by a handful of Democrats in the Senate we are likely to see sufficient reform to the Filibuster rules to start getting things done in the Senate.

Economists are increasingly optimistic about the likelihood of a hiring boom in the new year. The bad news is that wages are likely to be at the peasant class level instead of the middle class rate we tend to associate with economic 'booms'. On the other hand, boom times tend to favor union organizing and a general feeling of well-being that fuels reform movements. The only two things you need for genuine reform is the will to do something, and the knowledge of what needs to be done. Time has ended for the Mayans, time is about to end for the Teabaggers. Time for Progressives to launch the next age of 'liberal enlightenment'. www.prairie2.com  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Plan B fails

As I predicted Boner didn't have the votes to pass his plan B farce. Have your lift ticket ready we're going down the Bunny Slope.

Plan B would have raised taxes on the 1 million plus earners, except on their dividends and capital gains, where the big money is.

You can dock your billions anywhere you want to

There's only one shopping day left to get your Mayan calendars before they are gone for good. The layoff of calendar makers helped drive up initial unemployment claims by 17,000 from the week before. Total claims are down 21,000 compared to a similar week last year.

If you were concerned about people losing Federally extended unemployment benefits if we start down the Fiscal Bunny Slope, it turns out not to be a widespread problem. According to today's ETA press release only NY state is still getting Federal extended benefits. You see the Republicans made off with that during the last phony crisis by severely limiting eligibility state by state. The needs of actual people don't matter of course.

There are unconfirmed rumors that Obama is willing to give into the Republican demand for 'chained' CPI for calculating Social Security and veterans benefits. This is the most cruel approach to CPI they've come up with yet, as increases will depend on lifestyle choice rather than actual prices.

As people on Social Security are confronted with higher prices and adjust their lifestyle accordingly, the CPI will reflect their lower spending rather than the price increase. In simple terms, if grandma spends a dollar on chicken instead of two dollars on beef because beef has doubled, this shows as no increase. If she stops buying meat in favor of cat food, would that show as a decrease in prices? Probably. As rents increase and seniors are pushed into cheaper housing or no housing, this doesn't show in the CPI. Over time benefits will be squeezed more and more as a comfortable lifestyle in old age becomes 'chained' by ever lower means.

The truth is that this isn't new policy, just a new wrinkle. The CPI has been counting the increased power of personal electronics as price decreases for a long time, this is just one of many point shavers put in place by Reagan. Clinton built factors into the food stamp calculation that steadily cut benefits to the point that even Bush was shamed into increasing them. It was actually Bush that was the 'food stamp President', not Obama.

By some calculations benefits should be 70% higher than they are today. This would not only improve the lives of seniors and the disabled, but stimulate the economy as well. How to pay for it? If today's workers received the wages that their grandfathers enjoyed there would be no shortfall in funding future benefits even without lifting the cap on rich people's Fica contributions.

The simple fact is that working people should make double what they currently are paid on average. This doesn't even factor in the remaining union workers who still get full pay. Once that there are only 'second tier' union workers left the average of wages will be even lower.

Employers are constantly whining that they can't get skilled workers, but they don't pay skilled worker wages for new hires. The average factory worker in the US gets maybe $28/hour (it's probably gone lower since this number was calculated). Second tier workers are lucky to get half that, and increasingly employers are 'locking out' workers to eliminate benefits for the second tier. A 'lock out' is where the employer goes on strike for lower wages even if the employees are willing to accept the status quo. The math is simple, a 'half pay' worker pays half the Fica contribution. It's a 'flat tax', except for rich people, they pay hardly anything. Low wage workers are also part of Romney's 47% who pay no income tax and are 'takers' getting government 'handouts' like Medicaid and child credits.

But golly, the rich are the job creators. Not so much, according to the IRS only 3% of the 0.1% of top earners could be in anyway classified as entrepreneurs. The rest invest very 'conservatively', they don't hire anybody and engage in behavior that costs jobs. Even the actual job 'creators' in this group 'create' most of their jobs in China so that they can 'off shore' the profits and pay no taxes.

Economists studying international banking estimate that between 20-30 Trillion USD are residing in tax haven countries. There aren't huge money bins there of course, the transactions are handled from here as 'foreign' investments, and the money flows freely around the world including into the US. Just without those pesky taxes. Just because the 400 foot 'yacht' is registered in the Caymans, doesn't mean it can dock in Miami. You got to show 'job creators' respect, or else they'll leave. So goes the rightwing talking point ala Ayan Rand's novels. Sounds like they already left. We need to start treating them as foreign nationals, 'that green card will cost you $20 billion'.  www.prairie2.com



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Borked into eternity

Today Robert Bork crawled back into what ever slime pit right wing hacks come from. Perhaps he died from a broken heart as the list of neo-cons he drew up as Mitt Romney's  judicial adviser will never serve on the Supreme Court.

He was known as an economic libertarian back in the 50s when Dwight Eisenhower was calling those people 'crazy'. He switched to being a 'law & order' conservative in the 60s. This is really a polar opposite position, if either group actually believed what they say. But 'law & order' bloviating was just the ticket to get a plum job in the "I'm not a crook!" Nixon Administration.

Bork rose from Solicitor General to AG as a result of the 'Saturday night massacre' when the serving AG and his Deputy refused to commit the illegal act of firing the Special Prosecutor who was closing in on Nixon. By law the Special Prosecutor could only be fired for cause such as misconduct, in this case that was getting the goods on Nixon. In case you don't know how that all came out, every senior Nixon White House official save the Press Secretary went to prison. To be fair the VP was only convicted of corruption as governor prior to becoming VP. Oh, and the AG and his Deputy that quit had just recently replaced the ones who were on the way to prison themselves.

Bork was rewarded by Reagan with an Appeals Court appointment, and then nominated for the Supreme Court. The corporate media blames Ted Kennedy for 'Borking' his nomination for purely political purposes. The right has made his name into a synonym for rightwing martyrdom. The fact is that not even all Republican Senators voted for him when it came down to it. He resigned from the Appeals Court to write a string of rightwing screeds, and to resume bloviating about there being no right to privacy, civil rights, women's rights and so on, in the Constitution. He was also obsessed with the decline of American civilization, you know not enough rightwing religion, women getting rights, brown peoples' rights, that sort of thing.

In other words the right has lost one of their heroes today. While he is in line for Sainthood (a minor saint after Reagan),  he was no doubt baffled that Romney lost running on Bork's principles. The miracle just didn't happen.  www.prairie2.com








  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Their lips were moving, that's always a dead giveaway

I guess we should know by now that when Republicans talk about being reasonable and compromising with the President that they would be lying. Obama gave ground to set the threshold of the Bush tax cut roll back at $400,000 instead of $250,000. He even threw in some cuts to Social Security for no reason other than to make the Republicans feel good about screwing old people.

John Boner immediately pivoted after agreeing to these terms and invoked 'plan B', as if naming it gave it some sort of real world legitimacy. His plan will kick in at a million of taxable income and preserve other breaks for the rich as well.

Boner is just putting on a show to convince the tea bag base he's really one of them. He knows this won't pass the Senate even if Obama approved of it, and he doesn't. In fact the little orange man doesn't even have enough Republican votes to pass it in the House. He needs Democrats to pass any tax increase as the 'screw the country' wing of the Republican caucus won't vote for anything that resembles sound fiscal policy. They are still fantasizing about starving the Federal Government to death, so that the Confederacy can return.

The reality is that Obama has already made big cuts to the budget taking us back to 1952 spending levels. Once the war ends the shortfall will be small enough that when the economy picks up to the speed it should be operating at, the deficit will go away. This also requires the additional revenue from ending the Bush tax cuts. It's just math.

To really get the American Dream back the Reagan tax cuts need to be ended, and well, repeal everything the Republicans have pushed through since 1947. Then we can start seeing the kind of growth they have in China. We have the technology to reshape civilization for the better, we just need to wrestle the economy away from the plutocrats who want it all for themselves.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Fiscal Bunny Slope, riding the rope tow

There's been a lot of chatter about the Republicans actually giving in to most of what Obama wants in terms of taxes in exchange for relatively small benefit cuts for the elderly. The very wealthy will get the full tax increase, and low income seniors will be exempted from cuts. This might be something Obama would take, and not the worst that could happen. Programs would stay intact and age of eligibility remain the same. The new Democratic Congress in 2015 can fix this pretty easily.

Economists have been crunching the numbers and it seems that the current budget deficit will evaporate with the end of the Bush Wars, the Medicare reforms included in Obamacare and the tax increases that seem likely. That is if the economy recovers. It adds up to serious money in terms of the additional revenue that we been missing since the Bush Depression began along with safety net spending on the unemployed.

The economy is moving in the right direction, if Obama can keep the Republicans in line there is a real possibility of those 'happy days being here again', actually happening. John Boner's purge of Tea Baggers from critical House committees makes this seem like a real possibility. The only downside is that the Republican Party probably won't go extinct. Democrats are going to need to work on the education of voters to make that happen.   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

rightwing fantasy


Here's what the right wants to cling to in the face of reality: "Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, says he wishes Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, was armed with an M-4 assault rifle when she confronted Adam Lanza, the shooter who killed 20 children.
“I wish to God she had an M-4 in her office locked up so when she heard gunfire she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” Gohmert said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”"
The rightwing fantasies don't jibe with reality. The 'compound' mentality, where everyone is considered a 'shooter' until identified doesn't work in reality. We need a 'reality' where the truly mentally ill are treated and if necessary confined. The problem is that we need an overwhelming majority to do this, or it becomes an other talking point for the billionaire right.   

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Guns

It's really easy to say 'if there were no guns', but it didn't keep it from happening in Norway. The reality is that things like this happen. Japan has no guns, and almost no gun deaths, although some people claim that they simply don't acknowledge shootings. That would fit the Japanese way of doing things.

The reason that these shooting have steadily increased since 1981 is fairly obvious. Ronald Reagan closed all the insane asylums and didn't create the halfway houses he promised. Republican crony developers made billions off of the real estate that was held by these institutions. Often created by 'land grants', many had a square mile of what had become over a hundred plus years, very valuable land.

Ordinary day to day gun violence is largely a product of the inequality that Reagan and his disciples have brought us.

We need to take seriously the treatment of the mentally ill, and the confinement of those who need it. Electronic monitoring might even be an option, as long as no 'for profit' corporation was involved.

It would be a good idea to force the media to stop glorifying these killings. When they stopped covering people jumping from buildings, that ceased to be a big problem. It didn't actually reduce the suicide rate, but it was safer on the sidewalk. The same would apply here.

Gun control? We'll have that when Blackwater goons going door to door seizing guns like they did under Bush in New Orleans.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Oh Neville..."

The number of Initial Unemployment Claims fell by 29,000 to 343,000 which is the second lowest number for the year. It seems the total collapse of the US Economy that the right proclaimed was ensured by Acorn's rigging of the Presidential election has been put off. Same for the Fiscal Cliff. New polls show 2/3 of Americans support the President's position of raising taxes on the rich.

It has been speculated that Speaker Boner was putting off a deal with Obama until his own re-election as speaker on January 3rd, but this may not be the case. Boner has demoted four tea bag Congressmen from the Banking and the Appropriations Committees down to sorting hangers in the cloak room.

These were plum positions that made campaign fund raising (and bribe taking) a simple matter of holding open a large bag with the dollar sign on the side while the cash poured into it. A Tea Bag Congressman may find it difficult to get re-elected if he must actually raise funds from the 'Tea Party' instead of Wall Street. Outraged Right-wing groups have pledged to support the Bagger Congressman, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will actually want to share their own ill-gotten gains with them.

Just to indulge in 'wild speculation', I wonder if the exit of the Tea Bag Senator Jim DeMint was actually organized by mainstream Republicans just to get rid of him. There is a general belief that he's joining the Heritage Think Tank to take the 'think' out of the operation. What if it's just a tar baby? Once he leaves the Senate, he'll be stuck to it somewhere out in Brer Woods never to be heard from again. One can't assume we've completely out maneuvered the Billionaires, they aren't simply going to give up when they're this close to owning the entire country. It's very possible that the Tea Party will be gone by the next election. You can't really expect an astro-turf roots organisation to live long once the money guys shake the etch-a-sketch. I wonder what they'll call the new 'grass roots' movement, after they create it down at the 'think' tank. It seems impossible that they could re-invent themselves, but what we've just been through should have been impossible.

The Federal Reserve announced this week that they will keep interest rates at zero until unemployment drops below 6.5% or 'projected' inflation rises above 2.5%. They said 'projected' so even if inflation should spike from gasoline for example, they can continue to 'project' a lower rate. This is the first time since the Fed was given a new mandate by Congress in 1977 to do something about unemployment as well as inflation, that they (the Fed) have actually done anything. For the decades that Alan Greenspan ran the Fed, he read the Congressional mandate to mean that it was his job to control 'wage inflation', in other words drive down wages and break unions.

In reality there isn't much they can do. They will begin printing money again, this is QE(guess the number). This newly created out of thin air money will be used to buy bank held Treasury bonds and mortgage bonds to keep interest rates down. The important thing is that they are keeping us from dipping into deflation. The rich and their corporations are sitting on trillions in cash just waiting for an asset price collapse to buy up stuff for pennies on the dollar. Ironically most of the $3 trillion that corporations hold is really borrowed money that they got at these near zero interest rates. The Rich guys trillions are the result of 30 years of no taxes. They want to buy up the country, the riff-raff have owned it long enough. To use the words of  Ann Romney, for them, 'it's our turn'.

If the Fed were to cook up some real inflation these people might be provoked into actually putting their money to work rather than see inflation eat it up. The problem is that they simply have so much money that they aren't intimidated even by the Fed. "Oh Neville, tell one of the servants to do something about that yapping dog".  www.prairie2.com






Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Drowning the American Dream in the sludge holding pond

Gasoline prices are expected to plunge to under $3/gallon across much of the US by year's end. Since when was that considered a bargain? Since getting screwed by rich people became the new normal, that's when. Gasoline is nothing but oil refinery waste that we've been trained to think of as precious. We've always exported millions of barrels of the stuff through every period of 'shortage' at the pump.

We're really swimming in the stuff since Obama eliminated the gas guzzling incentives put in place by Bush and previous Republican administrations. Fully 30% of refined fuel is currently exported which makes that our largest 'manufactured'  export. Although... that has a lot to do with us simply not making much of anything here anymore.

A report from The Head Spy, the Director of National Intelligence, estimates that we will be energy independent in 20 years, of course that has a lot to do with another big bullet point of the report. We won't be a major economic player in the world anymore with China in full ascendancy. Well hell, they will have passed us by after their next 'five year plan'. Are you old enough to remember when the Communist 'five year plan' was a big joke? That was 32 years ago, before we elected the man who made it possible for Republicans to send us down the path to third world status.  

Back to the price of gas, why is it going down now? The corporate media says it's because the supply is so high. But the supply has always been high, that didn't keep them from running up the price. Gasoline prices are set by the Commodity Futures market with 90% of the trading done by Wall Street banks. That is ever since this practice was decriminalized with the creation of the Enron loophole. Remember Enron screwing us on electricity? They didn't get bailed out like Wall Street did after doing the same thing. They went to prison, but that was another time.  

What we do have a large supply of is Senator Elizabeth Warren. Gasoline started down the same day it was revealed that she would be joining the Senate Banking Committee. This is unheard of for a freshman Senator, so is a real decline in the price of gasoline.

If the price of gasoline stays down, and that appears a real possibility, as the Dodd-Frank Act forces banks out of the gasoline business. If it is finally enforced we could see a real economic upturn with an additional million new jobs in 2013. This would be above the previously predicted 3 million new jobs according to Moody's. Consumer prices that have already been adjusted to allow for gasoline in excess of $4/gallon could fall sharply adding to consumer demand.

Given this rosy outlook for the economy, Obama has no reason to panic about the Fiscal Bunny Slope, and it appears that he is well aware of it. Republicans have set upon a strategy of dismantling the economy at the state level by pushing for Right to Work for Less laws. Not reported in the corporate media is that the real union killer in these laws are provisions that require Unions to provide expensive representation for non-union workers in their 'union shop'. Companies can simply nickel and dime the union local by bringing 'unjust' actions against workers that cost the union $2000-$3000 a pop to resolve. As the costs go up, the dues go up and dues paying members become scarce. Forget about striking, a lock-out is more likely as the company knows that the union can't afford a strike. This drives down wages and having a union begins to seem pointless.

Obama just appeared at a Union plant in Michigan and made it clear that these right-to-work laws are all about politics and not economics. Becoming a low wage state to compete with southern states for European car factory jobs just means even lower wages in the south. Forget about owning the modern equivalent of Ford's Model T on the wages Republicans want to pay, you can walk to work from the shanty town down by the sludge holding pond. But hey, you can have a bucket of sludge for free.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Can't we get real?

The corporate media is pushing the meme that Democrats are super hot for Hillary Clinton in 2016. WTF? She's been an acceptable Sec of State because she does what Obama wants. Her policies when the was candidate Clinton weren't acceptable. She's not good policy maker, mostly because she really doesn't have grasp of what's going on, or doesn't care.

The corporate media want a good corporatist as President. The corporations have been very, very good to Bill and Hillary. Broke when they left the WH, they are now worth 200 million plus. In simple terms we want somebody they don't want. My vote is for Elizabeth Warren. Smart, informed and a sworn enemy of the big banks. Everything Hillary is not.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Labor shortage?

Get this, Texas has a shortage of construction workers now that building has picked up. Texas has increased significantly in population in the past few years, and is still growing, so there is a demand for new housing.

The construction workforce in Texas is down by 30% since the Bush collapse. That's right, even with high unemployment the building contractors can't find enough help. Why so few 'qualified' workers? They went back to Mexico. Of course for 'qualifications', you have to be willing to work for less than minimum wage and take your chances with no Workman's Comp insurance. So if you're a legal resident, don't bother to apply.

If Republicans get their way, nobody will have that Nanny State required Workman's Comp (that's so early 20th century), and the minimum wage won't exist. That way they can hire Americans to build their mansions. In reality they still won't hire Americans, they might get uppity, it's all just an excuse to drive down wages still further for the brown people that they bring in.

Set them free

Having a problem with Tea baggers in your neighborhood? Print out these talking points and leave them around.


- Those safety guards mandated by the 'nanny state' on your power equipment, take those off. Run free.

- The warnings on your medication are just liberals trying to take your freedom, ignore them. Take as many as you like. Wash them down with alcohol. 

- The High Voltage sign on that green box in the back yard, that's a UN plot. Break in and have free electricity like God intended.

- Not only is Global warming a hoax, but those CO detectors that keep you from burning charcoal in your living room are just liberals stealing your heritage. Pull the batteries and light the grill next to the TV.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Polishing the rotten Apple

More jobs were created last month than were expected with 147,000 created in the private sector and 1000 public sector jobs lost that need to be subtracted from the number. The unemployment rate continues to fall as that is based on a large household survey, and is down to 7.7%. While the number of people that reported working didn't change, the rate that the boomers are retiring is picking up. Some economists estimate that we need as few as 75,000 new jobs per month to keep up with the growing millennium generation. The underemployment rate continues in the high teens with nearly one million reporting that they are not looking for work as no jobs exist for them.

Super Storm Sandy has been determined by the Labor Department to not be the the big job killer that it was feared to be. 'Super Storm', another new word to describe the 'new normal' we are living with. Why don't we just call them 'interesting times' after the Chinese curse? Everything else is made in China.

With Steve Jobs gone, the new Apple management has been embarrassed into actually bringing a token number of jobs back to the US. They won't say how many exactly, only bragging about how much money they will spend to build a US plant. Most likely the bulk of the $200 million they will 'invest' will be spent on robots and other high tech equipment made outside the US. We just don't make it here anymore. Apple's move is about trying to polish its image, as the cache of buying the latest 'i' product is beginning to dull with Asian designed products starting out compete them in technology innovation.

Applebees and other mega-food chains who's right-wing billionaire owners shot their mouths off about Obama care 'forcing' them to eliminate jobs, cut hours, and raise prices are back tracking on these new 'policies'. This comes as consumer polling showing that their brand images are dropping through the floor. One of the biggest loudmouths actually drove his brand rating all the way to zero.

In reality, Obamacare is one of the few positive drivers for economic growth. Better healthcare means fewer sick days for employers, and higher productivity. It means fewer consumer bankruptcies as 60% of them are currently from being sick, and half of those people had insurance. Hospitals don't need to sell thousands of unpaid bills for pennies on the dollar. Doctors can spend more time treating patients instead of fighting with an insurance clerk in India to authorize treatment. Consumer confidence will get a boost without the fears instilled by going without medical care, or the stress of trying to get care authorized by an insurance company, and on and on. It's not single payer, but it's like moving up to a team of horses from a dead mule.

The fiscal 'bunny slope' looms ever closer with a large number of Americans willing to take the plunge rather than give in to the billionaires. The only problem is that the corporate media continues conflate the 'fiscal cliff' with the deficit as if going over the edge would make the deficit worse. It would do exactly opposite by slashing spending and raising taxes.

There is a very real risk however that cutting spending would do real harm to the economy. This is the opposite of what conservatives say constantly, except that these cuts are heavily focused on the military. The constant screaming from the right about how many 'jobs' these cuts will cost is deafening, it seems the government creates jobs after all. They also create a lot of sprawling estates around Washington DC where defense contractors and their lobbyists live.

The Republicans have become so disorganized and out of touch that Mitch McConnell thought he could badger the Democrats by calling for a vote on Obama's proposal to eliminate the debt ceiling. When Harry Reid called for a voice vote, McConnell was forced to filibusterer his own motion. The 'debt ceiling' has only been around since the 50s, and is in fact un-Constitutional as the President is obliged to spend money Congress appropriates even if he must borrow to do so. Republicans never object to raising the ceiling no matter how spend-thrift Republican Presidents are, only when the Democrats are in power of course.

The fact is that the government can borrow money currently at near zero interest as the rich are swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck, thanks to historically low taxes. If they pay any taxes at all. www.prairie2.com




  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Blue! Blue 218! HUT, Hut-hut

While John Boner is down at the sports bar drowning his sorrows over the collapse of his Tea Bag offense, Nancy Pelosi is calling the plays on the House gridiron. She only needs to pickup 25 yards (er, Republicans) to make it across the goal line carrying the Senate Middle-class Tax Cut Bill on a discharge petition.

In fact, unless all of the Republicans in the House are ready to risk the end of their careers with the next election, she should be able to deliver middle class tax relief to the President's desk on Christmas eve. The Republicans will take credit for it anyway, after all they are the silent majority. (snort) It turns out that after counting all of the provisional ballots that the Republicans weren't able to kill, that Democratic House candidates across American received one million more votes than did the Gerrymandered Republican pretenders.

Just 218 votes are needed to pass a bill, and Democrats are 192 strong. This margin will become closer in the 113th Congress at 200 for the good guys. The Republicans probably aren't going the way of Whigs just yet. They are desperately trying to re-invent themselves with Tea Bag Congressmen being unceremoniously dumped from critical House Committee chairmanships.

Another group that is heading rapidly toward the dust bin of history are the Blue Dog Democrats, once a force with 54 votes they will be lucky to claim 14 members in the new year. It would be nice to say that they were all replaced with Progressives, but a lot of them have been replaced by Republicans who grabbed the more conservative areas they represented during the Census driven re-districting. Still the math favored the Democrats in the end with a more Progressive delegation over-all.

The question is can Democrats keep the campaign going for the next two years and pick-up the additional seats? Gerrymandering doesn't give you a 'permanent' edge, that's why the Republicans have to keep doing it. With 49% of Republicans believing that Acorn stole the election even though it doesn't exist, and 25% of them in favor of secession, it's possible that they can act crazy enough to drive more than enough moderates to the Democrats. The number of people who self-identify as Democrats is in fact climbing, while those who will admit to a pollster that they are a flat-earth Republican is continuing to go down. Odds are that Democrats can beat the spread in overtime.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Record profits, lower wages, fewer Republicans

Corporate profits for US companies hit a new record high of $1.75 Trillion for the past quarter. (compare this to the total GDP of $16 trillion) This headline didn't keep Republicans from claiming that Obama has been killing business, and they're saying that 200,000 jobs have already eliminated by the threat of the 'fiscal cliff'.

If you wonder where they're getting these profits, consider that wages have fallen to only 43.5% of US GDP. Historically wages were more than half of GDP, and they were at 49% as recently as the beginning the Bush reign of terror. You also need to keep in mind that the wage total includes astronomical salaries paid to the one percent. Although the really big earners structure their income as capital gains or dividends that aren't counted in this total.

Capital gains, dividends and that favorite of Wall Street, 'carried interest', get taxed at a maximum of 15%, which makes all the noise about a 3 point tax increase on 'earned' income seem rather silly. If the rich were taxed at normal rates and you eliminated their special deductions, that would bring in $1.1 trillion in additional revenue. That's every year, not over ten years as the fiscal bunny slope numbers are calculated.

We don't have an 'entitlements' problem, we have a problem with those who feel entitled to take it all. This isn't about the income of the rich, it's about the rich taking literally everything. Not just the lions share of the money, but the very means of making money for anybody but them. 

Basically this amounts to cash hoarding. In the 19th century the popular name for what we call a recession was a 'cash shortage'. People couldn't do business because there wasn't enough cash in circulation, because the rich would hoard it. Foreclosures were the inevitable consequence, and the rich got richer.

Income taxes were invented to deal with the problem. This is what it's all about with the Republicans hated of income taxes. It keeps them from taking it all for themselves. Of course most people who call themselves Republicans aren't on the 'taking' side of the equation, they just think they'll magically get rich if they help make more poor people.

You can't get through to most conservatives to explain what's really happening to them, they just won't give up their fantasy. It's not hopeless though, you'll notice that there are fewer Republicans every year.




Sunday, December 2, 2012

Late Sunday, US time

Far East stocks are up on news that China's economy is stabilizing. This positive activity is viewed in those markets as being 'capped' by the US budget impasse.

The so-called 'world' market is dependent on what the US does or doesn't do. The fact is that China is a oligarchy based on the Communist Party. They don't care what the US does other than what damage the US can do to them. China is not a slave to the illusions that the West chooses to live by. This doesn't predict an outcome over the long term, only a sign post to read.

Ha ha ha ha ha, roll on the floor

George Stephanopoulos came very close to making Timothy Geithner burst into laughter on network TV Sunday morning by asking him about the possibility that Obama would replace him with Wall Street banker Jamie Diamon. After Wall Street spent hundreds of millions to put Romney into the Presidency, Obama will put the head pirate into the Treasury Department?  Ha ha ha ha ha....

George also asked if Senator McConnell actually laughed out loud when Geithner presented the President's tax plan. Geithner's response suggested that the Republicans are on the ropes and ready to compromise. In fact we should not 'compromise' with the people who have been stealing out wealth. Success will require having enough Americans aware of who the bad guys really are. Keep putting the truth out there. We will win, if we don't give up.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cleaning up after the Trolls

A new Troll came through today, so I got out the shovel and wheelbarrow and waded in:

"The more the govt. taxes, the more it spends. ... starve the out of control beast." on We are warm blooded, we are legion Except that the Federal Government is the smallest its been since 1952. The Billionaires want it small enough that they can kill it, then they will be the government, and the peasants will learn what the lash can teach them.

"'China graduates twice as many engineering students every year as we do.' So why does China steal our technology if this is true?" on The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them No capitalist re-invents the wheel, or develops technology that he can steal from its rightful owner. You righties would call him a fool to do otherwise.

"Hoping the fiscal cliff starts on Jan. 1 .. have lots of cash to buy as others panic and run for the hills. .. Repeat of 2008-09, ... buy low, sell high." on The fiscal gentle slope Only a rightwinger would wish for catastrophe as a business opportunity. This dovetails with their belief that creating more poor people will benefit them. The only possibility of their being another 'bank panic' as in 2008 (Bush) would be from the collapse of the 'too big fail' banks again. This is a real possibility, but not from the Fiscal Bunny Slope.

"I say get rid of Walmart and all overseas merchandise. Made in America for all Your cheap underwear from Indonesia will now cost 5 times as much when made in USA. ... Sweet." on The Real Takers I guess he's trying to be sarcastic with this. Small problem, the cost of labor is only in the single digits in any manufactured product. If you think about it, it can't be more than that. Who would pay for everything else in the retail price of a product? It was never about making it cheaper, or making more money. They were doing incredibly well making products here. It's about destroying the middle class, capturing all the wealth for a handful of people, and consolidating absolute power for them. And that doesn't mean you, rightwing troll. If we liberals don't prevail, in the end you won't own your underwear, it will belong to your master.

"'The right-wing Elf of the Senate, John McCain, came out of his tree on Fox Sunday' ... I saw that lefty cockroach Harry Reid right behind him." on Don't eat his cookies  I don't know how he even thinks this makes any sense.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

We are warm blooded, we are legion

Some people on the left are alarmed that Treasury Sec Timothy Geithner is leading negotiations to deal with the Fiscal Cliff (or the Fiscal Bunny Slope) being held between the Obama Adm and the Congress. Okay, he wouldn't be my pick, but he does have the expertise and the staff to deal with it.

Let's clear up a couple of things, Geithner never worked for a Wall Street bank. He was Governor of the NY Fed, which is largely responsible for riding herd on the the Wall Street banks, but that business was completely out of control before he got the job.

Now this doesn't prove anything one way or another, but Geithner was simultaneously on the board of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS). It was this body that pulled the plug on the Wall Street banks transferring money between banks in 2008 over their involvement in the selling of a quadrillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000,000) worth of un-backed derivatives. This effectively froze the US banking system overnight. John McCain was caught completely flat footed by this move. He said when reporters asked him about the imminent end of Western Civilization, "the fundamentals of the economy are sound". Obama was not caught off guard, even though Obama has no experience or training in banking or economics. He seemed completely comfortable talking about it, just like he had been briefed. He did make Geithner Sec of the Treasury, typically a plum appointment given to an ally.   

Okay, even if Geithner can't be trusted, Obama's Chief of Staff Jack Lew is himself an economist with experience in banking. He's also worked at the State Department, the Council of Foriegn Relations, Office of Management and Budget, and several other jobs that suggest that he's nobody's fool. He is also expected to replace Geithner in Obama's second term.

Anything that happens over the budget negotiations will be with Obama's full understanding. Even if Obama "gives in" to Republican demands for cuts, it's the timing you need to look at. If the 'cuts' are put in far down the road, they are like no cuts at all. Anything done now can be undone by any future Congress, good or bad. Since the Republicans are just a bunch of dinosaurs waving their tiny arms in the air as the asteroid approaches, we liberal mammals need not panic. If we stick together we will prevail.



The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them

"The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them", normally attributed to Lenin, maybe he said it, maybe not. However, the founder of the Koch dynasty made his fortune selling American oil technology to Stalin, and that allowed him to win WWII.

Prat & Whitney Inc. has admitted selling software to the People's Republic of China that allowed them to develop the the Z-10 Attack Helicopter. Equal to if not superior to American helicopters it advances China into the 21st century in a big way. Not that it gives China a head to head advantage over America, it's really just an example of American capitalists selling our only edge to China. Can you say 'treason'. Probably not, since you didn't hear it on the corporate news channels.

Let's be clear, this sort of super helicopter is the 'edge' that turns tank battles, or suppresses the rebellion that a repressive regime wants to put down. More disturbing is the fact that China was actually able to build them at all. It's not just propaganda, they've been demonstrating them in public. A helicopter that can do a four point roll at combat speed while carrying more ordinance than an F-18 is nothing to trifle with. 

It shouldn't be any surprise, China graduates twice as many engineering students every year as we do. When you say one in a million, with four times our population, China knows how to use that to their advantage. The US doesn't make any real effort to recruit 'the best and the brightest'. China does this to perfection. In the US, math wiz students are recruited to develop algorithms that 'beat' the stock market. In China they are developing the next generation... of well, everything. Thirty years ago they were building steam locomotives, now they put people into space with ease. They are capable of shooting down our spy satellites, they can sink our aircraft carriers from 5000 miles away. They have more and better nukes than we have, and they are concealed them in a vast underground system we know little about.

Why are we in this position? Republicans believed in their arrogance that they would always be superior to the non-whites. They thought they were taking advantage of the little yellow people by selling the egg-head stuff they couldn't possibly understand. In fact they were just kidding themselves. In an effort to consolidate power away from the Middle Class, they gave it all to China. Is this position hopeless? With the defeat of Republicans in this election, it is isn't insurmountable. That doesn't mean the road ahead will be easy, it just means we have a chance. www.prairie2.com




 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The fiscal gentle slope

The right is trying to gin up fear for the 'fiscal cliff'. It's not a cliff in any sense of the word. Tax rates will go up only slightly to Clinton levels. Mitt Romney won't be to happy as his taxes will increase by about 50%. The middle class will take a hit, but compared to what the Republicans had in mind to do to them, the tax increase is a warm bath. Even at that, the middle class can be taken care of anytime between now and April 2014 when the taxes will actually be due. The spending cuts are another matter, but even they aren't really all that draconian. The cuts the Republicans claim to want would be far worse.

Oddly they claim the loss of defense spending will torpedo the economy. Doesn't that mean the government has been creating jobs? I thought that didn't ever, ever happen.

The right keeps saying that the real problem is the deficit, but when adjusted for inflation and the increase in population, the Federal debt is no bigger now then it was when Reagan left office, if not smaller. They keep comparing it to the GDP, but the GOP tanked the economy, the GDP should be much larger.

The Republicans want Obama to 'compromise' and adopt the Romney 'plan'. Bush never actually won an election, yet he claimed a mandate and 'political capital'. Obama has won two elections by landslide margins, and the exit polls indicate that 70% of voters support his plan to raise taxes, but he needs to do exactly what the Republicans want as a 'compromise'?

The Romney plan calls for closing loopholes and rate cuts for the rich. The plan is to be 'revenue neutral', meaning it doesn't do anything to cut the deficit. That is except they claim this would result in more revenue by magically growing the economy. Historically the opposite happens, cutting taxes on the rich tanks the economy.

In fact you could balance the budget by closing loopholes on the rich. Eliminating all their deductions, tax deferments, special rates on capital gains and such would raise exactly enough to balance the budget. This isn't in their plan, when they say, 'close loopholes', they mean your 'loopholes', not theirs. Forcing the rich and corporations to pay US taxes instead of hiding money offshore would generate another 500 billion on top of that.

Producing goods here and reducing oil imports would ad trillions to the GDP, and generate still more tax revenue. We could have the sort of booming economy that they have in China, but that's not in the Republican compromise. You can build a third world oligarchy that way.






Monday, November 26, 2012

The Real Takers

Selected numbers appear to show consumer spending is way up thanks to the 'black' days, cyber day and on and on with the hype. A closer looks suggests it's really more like a one or two percent increase for the quarter, it's really all about building up a shopping frenzy. Are consumers really spending more at all? Or are they simply desperate to stretch their ever declining incomes to meet pent up demand to replace worn out consumer goods.

Then there is the gnawing need to provide the American dream for yourself and your family. It's not that people really feel the need to buy more junk from China, it's that they know deep down that they're in trouble. And they want so badly to kid themselves that they are still middle class. The evidence for this is that consumer debt is way up. The business channel folks actually point to this increase in debt as proof the economy is turning around, and there is a certain amount of truth to that, in the same way a soap bubble is new house.

Down at the Big Box Store the Typical Fox Viewer is pushing through the doors chasing a bargain that isn't really there. Like 'trickle down economics' the super low price prize the right-wing shopper is expecting to receive is just a lie. The Wall Street Journal surveyed the 'bargains' that were advertised and found that fully a third had been advertised previously at lower prices. This was just the ones they could track. Big ticket items are often given unique model numbers to disguise their true worth, which always less than what they are being sold for. The practice of manufacturing stripped down models using inferior parts that closely resemble the item shoppers think they are getting results in what are called 'derivative' models. These are much like the Wall Street 'derivatives' that resemble something of value, but have none.

Facing the mob of low information 'voters' (I mean shoppers) is the people who are the end result of this business model. Wearing thrift store clothes and a cheap vest is the big box employee, he/she can't even afford to shop there, they frequent the dollar stores, thrift stores, and food pantries. They aren't even referred to by name by the company, the computerized tracking system requires them to enter their 'social' at every turn. That's their Social Security number, how ironic, since they have no security. They are dependent on food stamps, medicaid, state child care, public housing assistance, Earned Income Tax Credits, their own family's support and charity to survive. They are seldom full time workers since that isn't company policy, but constant schedule changes make having GW Bush's uniquely American second and third jobs difficult. No matter how long they work they will never get a significant enough raise to make a living.

The right is chortling that the Black Friday worker walkout had little effect on Walmart. After all, creating more and more poor people is the American way. Mitt Romney may not have won the election, but by God the Billionaires will keep the 47% in it's place. Indeed of the 47%, the 'takers' Willard derided, 60% are in the 'working poor with children' group. Another 25% are low income elderly of which the majority voted for Mittens anyway. The remaining 15% are unemployed, because everything in the Big Box Store is made in China.

The fact is that Walmart only makes $9000 per employee. Well, that's what's on paper. Their accountants are well paid. Even so, if Walmart were required to pay decent wages and benefits they wouldn't be profitable. The small businesses that they drove under were profitable. How does that work? For one thing 'economy of scale' is largely a myth. Like a battleship, it's not cheap to run, but destroys the competition with ease.

For another thing, the Big Box model is self defeating. When you cut wages you destroy the very economy you need to operate your business. This matters not to the Walmart Billionaires, the five Walton heirs have more personal wealth than the bottom 40% and climbing. It's not about making a profit, it's about taking wealth. These are the real takers.










Sunday, November 25, 2012

Don't eat his cookies

The right-wing Elf of the Senate, John McCain, came out of his tree on Fox Sunday to continue his demand for a Select Committee on Benghazi-gate. A so 'no story there, there' story that Fox has stopped covering it. The only reason McCain wants this committee is that he would be ranking member and could hog the spot light. There are so many long serving Republicans in the Senate (longer than him), that he can't get a plumb committee. The Ranking Member (that's the minority equivalent of chairman) has great sway with budget negotiations, appointments, and most importantly gets to hold press conferences and act important.

He has exactly zero chance of making this happen, in fact the more the far right talks about this 'no story...' the sillier they look. The Fox Sunday Panel even gave Susan Rice tacit support to be Secretary of State, (while beating up on the President at the same time). Why do they 'like' her? She's always advocated for a heavier hand in the Middle East, as opposed to John Kerry who they characterize as being opposed to all US involvement anywhere for any reason.

John McCain also has a personal ax to grind with Susan Rice, as an expert on foreign relations she left the Brookings Institute to be the 2008 Obama campaign's face on the 'John McCain is talking out his ass' team. John McCain, who thought a small market sportscaster 'who could see Russia from her house' was competent to be a heart beat from the Presidency, and Dr Rice, a Rhodes Scholar with decades of experience is not competent to be Sec of State. Fox would probably not even have a joke like McCain on anymore, but the bulk of Republicans they can pick from come across as even more stupid.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkeys & Whigs

The Republicans, still smarting after losing badly to Obama are casting about for their new 'hero'. Willard ended up with just over 47% of the popular vote, that's Karma for you. The truth is, that if Obama were all white, it would have been a blowout. If you gave Obama the 8 million votes the Republicans claimed they were going to suppress, Mittens would barely be breaking 40%. This doesn't even take into consideration that potential Democratic voters in the Red States don't even bother to vote.

The Whigs (I mean Republicans) are the minority party, and they know it. The contenders to be the new 'great white hope'? Marco Rubio has started campaigning already, of course he's brown, and lied about his family being refugees. So there is noise about Jeb Bush, he's married to a brown person and can speak fluent Spanish (reportedly he can, but these reports are often wrong, he is a Bush).

The problem for Republicans is that the majority of Hispanics could give a crap about either of these far right pretenders. If it were all about race as the Republicans seem to think it is, why would they vote for a Black man? Hispanics in the US are in general not into 'black people'. They didn't vote for Obama because he was non-white, they voted on the 'community' values that Obama espoused. Values that Republicans have been trying to destroy for the past century. The Whigs just don't get it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

There is no free turkey lunch

In case you were suspicious or cynical about Black Friday sales. The Wall Street Journal did a little digging and found that fully one third of Black Friday "Specials" have in fact been offered previously at lower prices.

As for the rest of them, don't kid yourself. There are all manner of tricks to make an item appear 'cheap'. A favorite of the 'we won't be undersold' big box stores is to have the manufacturers create unique model numbers for them. You can't find it cheaper because nobody else sells it.

Most of the really cheap items you'll see today and tomorrow are simply cheap crap you don't want. If it is something worth having, it's not really their best price, or at least no better than you can pay Monday when the next shipping container from China is unloaded.

If you want to work off the turkey play football with the kids. If you want to simulate the mall experience, just give them each a bat and let them chase you around the yard. This first one to land a solid hit, gets you wallet.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Load the Blunderbuss with bird shot

The Pilgrims brought turkeys with them to the Plymouth Colonies since they had no idea that they had been introduced to Europe by the Spanish from the 'New' World. This is what comes from having no knowledge of history or science, but you feel empowered by your belief in your destiny as  the prophetic will of God.

Willard Romney believed he was the White Horse Prophecy, since he had be told all his life that he was a miracle and god in his own right. The photo of him pumping gas in what appears to be clothes he slept in for a couple of days suggests that reality is a bitch for Mittens.  

Some history: the Pilgrims didn't flee England to the New World for religious freedom. They were living in tolerant Holland. They had been run out of England for being bloodthirsty zealots. The Native Americans would find that out first hand. The 'Indians' showed kindness and compassion, as the the good Christians would have all perished from their own stupidity. In turn, at the first opportunity the Pilgrims slaughtered the natives, man, woman and child, for profit.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Science is the Devil's hand maiden

The new face of the Republican Party kicked off the 2016 Presidential race with a visit to Iowa. The New Face, Same as the Old Face. When asked during the event 'how old is the Earth?', he didn't disappoint. While trying to double-speak the question he made it clear he's out for the 'far right' vote exclusively. He declared he isn't a scientist so he wouldn't know, and even theologians don't agree on the age of the planet, so we should teach creationism alongside the other opinions on the age of the Earth so kids can make their own choice.

When he said he wasn't a scientist (well duh), he wasn't really being humble, he was bragging. To the right-winger, it's a virtue to not be one of those Satan worshiping sciency guys. The fact is that they would still be claiming the world is flat and un-moving (like is says three times in the Bible), if they could figure out how to make money off of it. It is only common sense after all. We can't be spinning west to east at  1000 mph, that's just crazy, and gravity is just a theory after all. Try to explain to one of them that gravity is really the warping of space-time and not an attraction.

As long as we're talking about science, how about the Iron Dome Propaganda System  (oops) Iron Dome Missile Defense System. The fact is that it's impossible to hit a missile with a missile. Especially against the short range rockets the Palestinians are building. They never were successful, they simply don't have enough of them, and they aren't very good quality. In fact they've been more successful in the recent attacks then before Israel put up a missile defense. It's all about the propaganda. Israel wants it to seem like a big enough threat to justify a cruel response. With people off the streets, the decline in traffic deaths will more than offset Israeli casualties.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A few numbers

Home prices are up, housing starts are up, consumer confidence is up, and the stock market is way up today.

Oh yeah, and Obama's approval rating is way up. Now that the public isn't being flooded with negative ads from the rightwing noise machine they're starting to look around, and they've decided things aren't that bad, or at least they're getting better.

All the talk about the fiscal cliff isn't having much impact. The majority realize that these are problems that can be fixed, and they've decided that Obama has their back. Woe be it to Republicans if they don't go along.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Little Petraeus

Unlike most other civilian employees of the government, the Dir CIA is forbidden to engage in sexual impropriety for one single reason. He has a set of personal codes that allow him to accept possession of the Nuclear Football should those further up the chain of command become 'unavailable'. It's an old fashioned rule, but with a program that was started in the 50s and the reality that you're talking about ending civilization, maybe not that dumb. On the other hand why was this guy ever put in such a position, deliberately. The POTUS is sometimes a person who shouldn't have sharp things, but even he needs a second 'key man' to do a launch. That person could have been the little Petraeus.

Twinkies are Forever

The 'pirate' equity company (or as Romney pronounces it 'private' equity company) that owns the Hostess brands has asked a bankruptcy judge for permission to liquidate the company after workers refused to take yet another 30% cut in pay. The corporate media played this all up as being the fault of the unions of course.

The fact is that a company like this makes money hand over fist, and a succession of men like Mitt Romney simply carried all the money off. Purchased with nothing but debt, that was transferred in full to the company, as per the usual manner of such pirates. So began the process has made untold millions for the men in pin striped suits. This sort of thing was completely illegal until Ronald Reagan de-criminalized it, Letters of Marque as were: "The bearer may upon his discretion take all property of the enemy (the American people in this case) and suffer no penalty under the law. May God bless you and all the officers of your enterprise, and reward you handsomely. (and sniff, don't forget my cut)".

The pension plan alone was worth on the order of $2 billion, it's now in a pirate's chest buried in the Cayman Islands. The workers are down to the point where losing their jobs is not important anymore. If an actual baking company buys the assets it's possible they will be better off. This isn't the kind of operation you can move to China.

As for getting your Twinkies fix, fear not. During the height of the Cold War, a sprawling complex of caves in Missouri were filled with enough creamy treats to see the nation through decades of no food production that would be caused by the fallout. It's only been 50 years, that leaves another 950 years until the expiration date is reached. The expiration estimate is purely hypothetical, no laboratory technique was ever developed to simulate aging on package Twinkies. It's too bad Democracy isn't so enduring.





Thursday, November 15, 2012

The little fish fry, the sharks cruise onto their next meal

BP has pleaded guilty to 11 Federal felonies and a 4.5 billion in fines, this sounds like a big deal, if you don't compare it to the damage that they have done, or the profits that they continue to make. Two low level executives have been thrown under the bus and will be charged with manslaughter for the killing of 11 workers on the platform. Their punishment will probably be little or nothing.

We know that the people working there were well aware of how they were being put in harms way. The equipment manager on the rig put his affairs in order before returning to the drill site, and the reports are that he died at his post trying in vain to stop the blowout. The safety equipment simply didn't work, and his supervisors knew that it would not. 

Once the inadequate well casing gave way, the extreme pressure simply drove the drilling mud out of the drill pipe. Hydraulic valves intended to shear the well pipe at the sea floor and seal it refused to respond to commands from the drilling control station. The equipment was jury rigged, poorly designed and known to not be in functioning condition. Then came massive amounts of high pressure methane pouring onto the drilling deck. This was in turn sucked into the air intakes of the huge diesel engines that drove the drilling operation. The multi-thousand horsepower engines began to run at speeds several times what they are designed to handle after the computer actuated throttles become useless as the air intakes became fuel intakes. The white hot steel that erupted from the explosion of these engines sealed the fate of the men put in this death trap. Men who were trying to run from the well head were overtaken and cut to pieces in the initial blast followed by a steel melting inferno. 

The knee jerk reaction is to blame the Obama Administration for not doing more, for not putting these real rat-bastards into prison. The truth is that BP has more resources than the Justice Department, it's either take the pittance they offer, the sacrificial lambs they put up, or get nothing. Republican appointed judges are not likely to rule in the government's (or rather the people's) favor after years and years of litigation. BP is simply throwing a small bone to end the matter, and the government as it stands has little choice but to take it.

It seems likely that the settlement has come out now only because Obama won the election, a Romney win would have almost certainly meant an apology to BP for putting them to so much trouble. If that seems far fetched, refer back to the Republican lawmakers who got down on their knees and satisfied BP in every way possible after Obama slighted them so badly. He showed incredibly bad taste to suggest even while oil was still gushing into the Gulf that BP might be in some part to blame for what happened.

Yeah, Obama is no Harry Truman, but he's definitely no Mitt Romney.

You want something to do to save your nation?

Call Harry Reid's office and the offices of your two Senators and tell them you want Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Senate Banking Committee. I mean, it looks like this is going to happen, but don't leave it to chance.

Can you say Madame President Elizabeth Warren? Somebody who is even smarter than Obama.

Santa Claus used to be the good guy

Mittens is bitter about the 'gifts' that Obama gave out to get votes.

Free interest on student loans: (huh?) What Willard is referring to is that banks are no longer allowed to make Federally guaranteed student loans. This was a Republican practice that gave the banks 2% per year from a trillion dollars of student loans for doing exactly nothing. The government takes all the risk.

Free birth control for women: (the sluts, women are property after all) Insurance companies are getting paid by these women, it's not 'free'. Insurance companies routinely provide Viagra, enough said.

Kids stay on the insurance of their parents until age 26: (how awful) again, the insurance companies are getting paid by families that have insurance. It's not free, it's just good policy.

Free insurance for poor people: not providing health care doesn't really save money. They end up in the ER, etc. I wonder if Willard tests his servants for TB, our Republican healthcare system has created drug resistant strains. (cough, cough) The servants who recorded the 47% comments that made it impossible for Mittens to pretend he wasn't really a Republican, they know exactly how things are.

In fact is that there are a lot more 'free' things that Obama is providing the 'poor' to get votes. That 99% tariff that he slapped on Chinese tires has created tens of thousands of American jobs. And the auto industry? Those 'poor' auto workers all voted for him too.

Retroactively

Big headline on Drudge, "JOBLESS INFLATION POVERTY RECESSION". They don't do actual writing at Drudge, 'JOBLESS' is just a link to a Reuters article. You don't have to read very far to see that the 78,000 jump in claims was from Sandy, and not for the reason that springs to mind. Unemployment offices were closed in the states affected, so you had two weeks worth of claims at once. In fact you will see jobs numbers pick up in the affected area as previously unemployed construction workers are hired to do repairs.

The 'INFLATION' links to an article that says that there were slight increases in rents and food prices, offset by falling gasoline prices.

'POVERTY' links to an article about how the Census Bureau has found another 700,000 poor people. Not because there are more, but because they are doing a better job of finding them. Remember how the Republicans tried to do away with the Census Bureau? (this is why, "numbers bad") 

'RECESSION' links to an article about a possible recession in Europe, not in the US. Why is Europe in trouble? From doing the very things that Republicans advocate, things that Obama warned them not to do.

You can bet this headline will trumpeted across the right-wing screamer outlets to 'prove' that Obama is destroying the economy. They aren't big on facts, actually they never use facts. Reports of crazed right-wingers doing really stupid things based on this sort of nonsense are starting to pile up.


Then there's the poor losers -

Mittens is having a hard time coming to grips with reality. He believed that he was winning even after Fox told him that he'd lost. Now he's attached himself to the ridiculous notion that Obama bought his votes by giving away free stuff to certain interest groups.

Paul Ryan, the zombie eyed granny starver has emerged from the ether to push the talking point that the massive turnout of 'urban' voters was why they lost. Never mind that Obama won handily in many counties in Ryan's state of Wisconsin that are lily white, including the small town where Ryan lives. Well, they know him personally. The same problem that Willard had, he lost every state that he ever lived in, the longer he was there, the worse the loss.

Okay Romney did win Utah, but he swore under oath that he never lived there. He had to claim he was living in Massachusetts to run for Governor. He filed his state income taxes 'retroactively'. He claimed he was 'living' in Massachusetts because he was running Bain, he then quit that job 'retroactively' when it became awkward to be tied to a pirate equity company. 

He told Republicans yesterday that he won't be running again. Really? I bet they'd like to retroactively run somebody else.