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.


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.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Making reality for fun and profit

The billionaires that pass out the right-wing kool-aid are desperately trying to push the fantasy that they are going to act out Ayn Rand's novel, and leave us all to starve if we allow that Kenyan Socialist to raise their taxes by a couple of points. That's not what it's about of course. These people will still have more money than they could ever burn if they tried. They're really afraid that the middle class will realize they've been screwed and start wanting their country back.

Own a chain of mediocre restaurants that allow you to live in castle (literally) while you pay the help almost nothing? You might be paranoid about the peasants catching on that you aren't really entitled to do that. They are scared to death of Liberals because of the very meaning of the word. Liberal is short for Liberal Enlightenment, the idea that we all have a say in the society we live in. The idea that the rich and powerful aren't really the enlightened few who get all the rewards from our work because they are in charge.

The founders of the United States were all Liberals, it was a way of thinking that their grandfathers brought with them to America. It was why they dared to rebel against the British East India Company, they knew they were all 'enlightened', and thus able to make their own decisions.

Today's corporate titans see themselves as the only enlightened people, they are the job creators, the deciders, the Wall Street masters of the universe who can make money out of thin air. They desperately want you to not find out otherwise.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

There are no pictures of P2 with his shirt off (thank God)

A new study says that the US is poised to become world's largest single oil producer, passing Saudi Arabia and Russia. This sounds like a big deal, but it's not so much. The US is a big country and has always produced a lot of oil. Saudi Arabia is using up their reserves, and the Russians aren't in a big rush to use up theirs.

They're also predicting that the US could become self-sufficient in oil production in a couple of decades. This again is not such a big deal, we produce over 60% of our uses, and we export 30% of what we refine. I'm not sure exactly how those numbers should be reconciled, but we aren't that far off from producing our needs already.

If we made any real effort to get off of fossil fuels, it wouldn't take that long to stop importing oil, especially from the middle-east.

The 'we are the white majority' people think they're clever by pushing secession petitions on the White House website. Two states are supposedly over the 25,000 signature threshold. The thing is, these are all 'national' petitions and not limited to signers from each state or even from one petition to another. There may not be as many crazy people as it seems, unless they are too stupid to figure this out. (shhhh, don't tell them) Georgia has two petitions, I guess they intend to secede from the Confederacy as well.

The Petraeus scandal is actually becoming interesting, I never believed this was really about him fooling around. Word is that he perjured himself in front of Congress over the Benghazi attack. It seems the real target of this right-wing militia wasn't the ambassador, but a CIA dark sight prison. A small problem is that these prisons have been banned since 2009. This all came out as the result of a public speech by Petraeus's mistress Paula Broadwell that spilled the beans on the actual reason for the attack.

How exactly she was privy to this information isn't clear, but high ranking generals are dropping like leaves in a hard frost. I doubt is has anything to do with 'sexting'. This is likely to get far stranger before it ends.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"Have you stopped beating your wife?"

Logical thinking, this is something you never hear from the right. When you try to pin one down on a yes/no question they will sometimes throw out this gem, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" to justify their stonewalling, as in 'logically, there are no y/n answers'. The correct answer is "no", assuming you didn't ever start. You can see why they would assume you do beat your wife, assumptions always go to their benefit, not yours.

It's silly of course, since no poorly worded question needs to be answered y/n. That doesn't stop them from wasting your time explaining this to them. They will continue to stand there patting themselves on the back for beating your 'logic', while they pretend that the original question doesn't exist.

(not the lemonade kind)

"Social Security is not part of the budget", so says Harry Reid. The righties keep chanting 'it's going broke, it's going broke'. Social Security is an 'entitlement' program. The word is used to refer to the rights afforded to a particular class. Originally this was mostly applied to doctors and lawyers who were 'entitled' to practice because of the work they did to earn it. People who pay into Social Security are 'entitled' to the benefits they earned from their work. It's true that 1/3 of benefits go to widows, orphans and the disabled, but only to those who had someone work to earn this entitlement.

Aside from the $3T in the Trust Fund (expected to peak at around $4T), the system can't go bankrupt.  It has its own revenue stream and was originally intended to not even have a trust fund. This was a Reagan invention designed to double the taxes of the working class who had to pay for their parents, and themselves simultaneously  Republicans of course spent the money on battleships and never intended to pay back the Trust Fund who holds it's money as Treasury Bonds. George Bush posed before a filing cabinet declaring the paper "worthless". When he did that it was a violation of the Constitution as all government officials are forbidden to ever say the debt of the United States isn't valid. He wanted to put the money into the stock market, it was then at 14,000 he predicted it to go to 40,000. He would need Mr Ponzi as Sec of Treasury for that to work.

If nothing is done the worst case scenario would be that a some point benefit checks would need to be reduced to perhaps as low as 80%, but only until the number of Baby Boomers still alive dropped to an acceptable number. This makes a number of assumptions, first that the economy doesn't improve, that the new millennium generation (which out numbers the boomers) doesn't have any kids, and the cap on contributions is never raised more than the rate of inflation.

The right also falsely claims that the system is unsustainable because people are living so much longer. In fact average lifespan is not going up. The rich and upper middle class are living longer, but the workers who really need Social Security insurance are having their lifespans shortened as the union movement disappears.

Means testing is also a particularly stupid talking point that suckers in liberals. Falling for this would turn Social Security into a welfare program instead of an entitlement that you earn. People who don't really need the benefits should be paying taxes on their non-Social Security income, Republicans don't believe they should not, after all only peasants pay taxes.

If you expect people to 'live only on their savings' as the right advocates, this would be a disaster for the economy as anybody approaching, or in retirement (well really anybody) would be crazy to spend a dime on themselves or their children. The top two causes of death in the US before Social Security were the elderly freezing in the winter, and starving in the summer. This would completely cripple the economy if people started thinking this way. It would become a self reinforcing cycle as workers would become less in demand and paid less and less. This in-turn would make saving harder to do, and increasingly impossible for the kids to feed grandma either. Social Security was created because people a hundred years ago were actually beginning to live long enough to retire.

The right insists that they are the only people who understand economics, and they have the moral authority to make decisions for everyone else. They have the moral authority of a shady used car salesman, and the same view on economics. All the money for them, lemons for you. (not the lemonade kind either)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Republicans don't have wings, just Bull

After threatening us with the fiscal cliff all year, the voters have spoken to the Republicans, 'go take a flying leap'. Obama has seen the numbers, and he's ready to push them over. Not only did he win decisively, but the Democrats in Congress got far more votes than did the Republicans. Gerrymandering worked for the Republicans, they still have more House seats, but they don't represent the majority of Americans. Not that they actually care about that technicality, but they've suddenly realized that Americans do.

Their whine today is, "we need to do a better job on messaging", translated, 'we need to run more ads'. They claim Obama was able to paint Romney as something he's not by far outspending him, except that he didn't outspend him. It's just that Obama wasn't shy about playing Romney's own words in the ads. Obama successfully tied Romney to Republican policies, it never occurred to the right that the average American might not react well to that information.

Picking a VP that embodied those very policies didn't help. Anybody seen him lately? The zombie eyed granny starver disappeared well before election day. Did they think that getting rid of him would save their campaign, or did he bail on them? They seemed to think they were winning, even for two hours after Fox told them they had lost. Some of them still don't believe it, 'we're white, we're right, we're entitled to it'.

If Obama plays this aggressively, and there is every indication that he will, 2014 could be kind of bloodbath for Republicans that 2006 was. Gerrymandering doesn't stick, remember the Republicans do it every ten years. Every year there are simply less Republicans, the old ones die and aren't replaced as young people see their futures being stolen by Republican policies. Then there is the demographic shift to Hispanics, hard to believe they used to vote for Republicans. Even the majority of Cubans in south Florida voted for Obama. Race isn't as big a factor as the Republicans would like to believe, they say, 'if we could have just gotten more white people to vote'. Iowa went decisively for Obama, a state where you could spend your entire life, and never see a black man in person.

We can't assume any of this will be easy, Wall Street invested in Romney and lost, but they're still dangerous. The too big to fail banks are even bigger and even more dodgy. The only difference is that under Dodd-Frank they can be seized and liquidated if they even threaten the economy. We'll see how rough Obama really wants to play, he has the ball.

And for 2016, Marco Rubio is going to Iowa already.