Saturday, June 30, 2012

Take an extra breath

You had a long day today, so you deserve a break. The people in charge of Astrophysics decided that it was appropriate to add an extra second to the year, and today got the honor of being a second longer. It's because the moon drags on the earth, you know, that tidal forces thing. This is the kind of science right-wingers like to pretend doesn't exist. The "round earth" theory is in dispute after all.

We have a serious "village idiot" problem, they cluster together and make a lot of noise. This convinces people who are working too hard to pay attention, that they, the idiots, have something meaningful to say. This wouldn't be a problem if not for massive amounts of money poured into the right-wing talk machine. Eisenhower belittled these people, none of this is new, but in his day they didn't have the kind of money to throw around that billionaires have now.

Lincoln had to deal with these people, so did the founders of this country. It's a fundamental belief that they are chosen by god to control the rest of us. Or as is more common, those individuals who grasp that people who believe that can be controlled by clever language.

The only antiseptic that works against this infection is knowledge. (feel free to buy a subscription, or at least get off your ass and spread the truth yourself).


Friday, June 29, 2012

A Mid Summer Night's Dream

The stock market surged today, apparently they’ve already forgot all about Obamacare crashing the economy. That was of course a fantasy that only exists in the fevered minds of tea baggers. In fact Obamacare is great for business, and a real boon for the economy in general. It’s only short coming is that it still allows the big insurance corporations to skim at least 10% off the top for themselves, but they had been taking 30% or more.

They are now required to pay 85% of premium money out in healthcare under Obamacare. There was no limit before, and they were doing good at 60%, keeping 40% for Death Panel bureaucracy, CEO salaries, stock dividends and bribes to Congressmen. Medicare pays out 97% of what it takes in, you do the math.

Actual net profits probably won’t decline by all that much, but all those boiler room operations in India that were dedicated to denying claims, those will become unnecessary, saving billions. Add in the savings to society by having sick people treated right away for a few dollars, instead of paying for 3 weeks of intensive care on the public dime while they died of something that could have been prevented, and we all win. This will drive the baggers nuts, “those uninsured people were cursed by god and deserved to die!”

Back to the stock market, the Dow just had its best June since 1997. When Obama said, “the private sector is doing just fine”, he was right. That would be of course Mitt Romney’s share of the private sector that is doing just fine.

Romney ‘doth protest too much’ about his virtue when he speaks of the unemployed. Although if he were a Shakespeare character, doesn’t he make you think of the two idiots in Hamlet, Hamlet’s two school chums from Cranbrook, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? You could combine them like a Hollywood couple and get Romneystern, or actually, that would be more like Frankenstein. If he’s stitched together from rotting parts, that would explain his appearance and inhuman mannerisms. Igor found a defective brain, like in Young Frankenstein.

Back to the stock market, what really has everybody in such a cheery mood down at the exchange is that the EU has decided to start pumping cash directly into the banks in Spain and Italy, instead of making the individual countries borrow the money. This was driving bond interest rates through the roof, and it should give them a chance to get away from the austerity nonsense. Now they can begin an actual growth driven recovery. Not that they will admit they were dead wrong about all this. Now the talking point from Europe is that they will have “both” growth and austerity. It’s really, “Alas poor Austerity, I knew you well”.

Now that 5 of the 9 witches have agreed on the recipe for Obamacare, perhaps things will start going in the right direction for a change (I guess that would be “Forward”). That is if Roberts and his coven can avoid being burned at the stake.

 In the caldron boil and bake;
    Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
    Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
    Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
    Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
    For a charm of powerful trouble,
    Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fungus is predictable, it grows from rotten things

Markets Crash as the Obamacare Tax Increase is Approved by the Liberal Court, this was the screaming headline on the so-called news from the right. The markets did take a big plunge before clawing back, but it probably had to do with it leaking out that JP Morgan’s losses aren’t $2 billion as reported. Current internal estimates put the losses at $9 billion, and there’s no guarantee that is even close to the actual size of this cash hemorrhage. When we say “too big to fail“, that’s not what we mean exactly.

The rightwing lie machine is running full speed on the tax angle, and since they seemed to have the talking points already in line that might explain why Roberts went that way. There was no question that the Commerce Clause argument was sufficient, the Righties on the bench have had no problem using it to justify their rulings in the past. Rush is spouting the talking point that it‘s “biggest tax increase in history”.

This new tax is not even close to the tax increases Reagan pushed through, but those were only on the middle class. This tax increase is 3 points on capital gains over 250,000, that would be a tax on the very, very rich. Capital gains currently tops out at 15% and is even less with the loopholes. Romney paid just 14% on the only tax return he’s deigned to show us.

This Obamacare tax will add $30,000 for each of Romney’s $22 million of income or a cool $660,000 in additional taxes. The talking point is that this will be a Federal Sales Tax on selling your house. Yes, if you make more than $250,000 profit on the sale, and don’t offset it with the purchase of a new house. After the Bush crash it will be long time before any houses break even, let alone show a capital gain.

There is a conspiracy theory going around that Roberts switched sides at the last minute based on the reading of the “dissenting” or rightwing opinion, the Justice writing refers to the actual “majority” opinion as the “dissenting opinion” some 15 times in the first few pages. Lawyers who like to read these opinions as if they are tea leaves say this was done deliberately and not a mistake based on senility. They have the best clerks, and they do the actual writing. They are sending the message that Roberts betrayed them.

Rumors of “immense political” pressure being placed on Roberts are popping up like mushrooms on a rotten log. You can’t put political pressure on a guy who already has the big chair at the Supreme Court, and has it for life. The talking point is that Obama “forced him” somehow. How, a video tape of him with a dead girl, or a sheep? The only people who could put pressure on him would be his corporate masters. They control the perks that a person of his refined taste uses to live like he still makes $2 million a year as a corporate lawyer.

Under Obamacare the corporations will still make tons of money, they’d rather make more. But, Roberts already gave them Citizens United, so they can just bide their time. Profits will come, like mushrooms after the rain.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How are the Mandarin lessons coming?

Retail home prices are up, building starts are up, new building permits are higher than in 2008. This is all good news in the segment of the economy that has been holding back the recovery. The only problem with this is that one quarter of the new sales have been from foreign buyers snapping up choice properties. They see these selling for a fraction of what similar investments cost back home. Still there is money changing hands, and this is a good thing.

Why do foreigners have money to spend, and Americans don’t? It could have something to do with the top 1% in this country capturing all of the income growth since 1980 (they saw growth in the hundreds of percent) and the rest of us have actually declined. For a big chunk of America it has been an actual descent into poverty.

Prior to Ronald Reagan we were the most upwardly mobile country in the world, after 30 years of doing things his way we now rank at the bottom of the developed countries in class mobility. There are third world countries where a poor person has a better chance of getting ahead. In America you can expect your kids will as adults be worse off than you are.

Another factor in the influx of foreign cash is that there are trillions of USDs in circulation worldwide from the all the outsourcing, and even more so from the tax dodging by so-called US corporations. There is over $3 trillion in un-invested corporate cash overseas, plus who knows how much concealed by rich Romney-ens in their secret bank accounts. All of this money is subject to US taxes, but past Republican Presidents de-criminalized this sort of tax evasion.

Efforts by the IRS to tax Romney-ens under Obama have produced little fruit, and they aren’t even allowed to tax the corporate money as long as it remains stashed in foreign banks. This “hot” money produces real-estate bubbles overseas as the banks there need to put it into something, anything. So now it begins to trickle back into this country buying up assets here. This is as close as “trickle down” economics ever gets to actually working.

This isn’t new of course, it’s been going on for 40 years, but really took off under Reagan. Foreign interests own the bulk of US mining assets, as well as entire so-called US companies. China has been shy about investing in the US but has shelled out for a major Texas oil field. Mostly the Communists prefer to buy up copper mines and such in other countries. But they also build infrastructure projects and factories that benefit their trading partners.

The Chinese are rapidly becoming as respected in the rest of the world as Americans think we are. Then again, their country is run by people who want to build China into a super-power, where as we are ruled by a collection of Romney-en pirates, and Darrel Issa like mob arsonists who will burn it all down for a quick buck. We must either learn Alexander Hamilton progressive economics, or Mandarin Chinese.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Do we believe in "rule of law", or what makes us feel good?

Some disturbing, but not surprising revelations have come to light in the wake of the Sandusky trial as the jurors begin to give interviews. It seems the one thing that swayed them to find him guilty on most but not all of the counts was the consistency of the victim statements suggesting a pattern of predation. This served to make their stories believable. A small problem with this “consistency” of testimony, the cops who made the victims’ statement tapes inadvertently taped themselves. Between “recording sessions” they were coaching the victims on what to say in order to seem consistent with other statements. These cops lied under oath that they did not do this, prior to the tapes being played in court. I’m not clear on whether the jurors actually heard this evidence or not.

The only, and I stress the only “eye witness”, the assistant coach whose Grand Jury testimony about the shower incident is supposed to have been critical to the investigation (according to the media coverage), the jurors didn’t find his testimony credible. Basically the jury found Sandusky guilty only on police coached testimony. A ninth “victim” testified that while he spent years with Sandusky, nothing ever happened. He testified that the police didn’t want to accept his version of events and “expected him to agree to a lie”. As a non-conforming “victim” he will not by the way, be eligible to cash in on the 1.5 billion in assets the University has available to pay out.

Sandusky is creepy looking, and says creepy things on the TV, at least in the  edited version the media presented, and we trust that implicitly. This version was played for the jury instead of the un-edited tapes, and is grounds for appeal. The media is of course labeling it as a “harmless” mistake, likely to be ignored by the appellate court. They are probably right in the current “reality”.

We know that Sandusky is guilty because the cops who lied under oath say so. We know he’s guilty because the young men who stand to become multi-millionaires after being coached by these cops have said so. We know he’s guilty because everybody who says he isn’t, doesn’t get much media coverage. We know he’s guilty because this dim witted guy was able to violently rape boys for decades, at his home, at the university where anybody could walk in, and in hotels on road trips where anybody could have caught him; but nobody did.

Well you might say the university behaved just like the Catholic Church who hid pedophiles, really, is it the same? The church is a cult of pedophiles, but university people by and large have families and aren‘t tied to that particular university for life, and there is no University “pope” to dictate policy. Is the power and privilege that great, that corrupting? Or, do just wish it to be?

The only physical evidence was some creepy “love letters” Sandusky sent to some of the boys. The defense psychologist testified that Sandusky had “an excessive need for approval”, and the judge instructed the jury that this would in fact explain the letters, but was no defense for rape. Well, duh. But, it would explain all of his creepy behavior, if he didn’t actually rape anybody. And again, the jury was convinced that he raped the boys only because of witness statements that were at least modified, if not outright fabricated by cops. The cops who we know for a fact lied under oath about doing it. They should be in jail, but will likely get promotions and commendations.

We live in a society that doesn’t care about “rule of law“ any more (that was so 1776), we live where Dirty Harry is a “good cop” because the system is broken and the bad guys get away if you follow the rules. We live in a society where we believe the media’s portrayal of a guy as a horrific predator, a guy who may just be a flawed, pathetic individual. If they can make him look guilty enough with pictures and words taken out of context, we are all too willing to believe. It makes us feel good about ourselves. Maybe Sandusky really is guilty and the cops were just out to frame a guilty man. If you’re happy with that “reality”, so be it.

On a larger note, we can feel safe tonight because Jack Bower is on the trail of Emanuel Goldstein. We saw it on TV, and justice is done. We can all feel safe in a paranoid, fearful sort of way.