Friday, January 25, 2013

Check their skin for zipper seams

Initial jobless claims are down again to another five year low. The stock market is at five year high and closing in on an all time high. The talk on the business pages is that money is flowing into the markets like green beer on St. Pat's Day. Not that I recommend putting your pot of gold into that Ponzi scheme. December housing numbers were down sharply but pretty good for the year. If banks start loosing up on loans the pent up demand could clear the over supply fairly quickly.

President Obama has named a hard nosed prosecutor to run the SEC. Mary Jo White as US Attn for the Southern District of New York is known for prosecuting terrorists of the Bin Laden variety and the really dangerous Wall Street terrorists. We'll see if Harry Reid's new stance on filibusters and nomination holds has any effect when it comes to Obama's nominations to fill appointments. At first blush Reid's reforms fell flat after eight Blue Dog Democrats supposedly panicked over the possibility of gun control, or maybe they are just Republicans wearing human skin. In reality there are things Reid can do while still operating under the arcane rules of the Senate to make the Republicans take the blame for their obstruction, and this could give the Democrats the edge in 2014.

The billionaires have reached out from the crypt to compel the DC Federal Appeals Court to strike down Obama's recess appointments to the Labor Relations Board. Incredibly they've found a new interpretation to the Constitution because of the word 'the' used in front of the word 'recess' to mean that the Congress is only in 'recess' for about a minute every two years between the old and new Congress. A regular run of the mill 'recess' preceded' by the letter 'a' in the Constitution does't count for recess appointments. This would make null and void everything the commission has done in the last two years and make them cease operation for lack of a quorum. This would also apply to every such appointment over the past 225 years, how many of Lincolns appointments would this affect, did the South therefor win the War of Northern Aggression after all?  However, the Supreme Court could rule that the opinion should stand, but carry no precedent just like in Bush v Gore.

Unions are one of the last impediments to the oligarchs solidifying their power, and they may well make such a ridiculous ruling stand. Bush v Gore was the most absurd thing the Court could do and nobody seemed to care, so there is no limit. Obama's appointments to the Court not withstanding, that's if the Senate were to confirm any of them, they haven't confirmed most of his lower Court appointments. Obama took his latest oath on the Lincoln Bible, he said words that sounded like he's become an actual Progressive. Let's see if he fights like a Progressive.

From the 1861 ballad, We are Coming

If you look across the hilltops that meet the northern sky,
Long moving lines of rising dust your vision may descry;
And now the wind, an instant, tears the cloudy veil aside,
And floats aloft our spangled flag in glory and in pride;
And bayonets in the sunlight gleam, and bands brave music pour,

CHORUS: We are coming, we are coming our Union to restore,
We are coming, Father Abraham, 300,000 more!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Coming to your mailbox, economic recovery?

Remember when the credit card offers came in your mail by the handful? Those days maybe about to return. Credit card debt backed securities (they call them bonds now) are now the hot investment with tens of billions being issued by the big banks. The reason these new bonds are so popular is that investors are suddenly seeing credit card debt as a safe again. In fact they are so popular that they aren't paying returns all that much better than government bonds that don't pay hardly anything at all.

The reason for this that's being given by the business news is that consumers are newly reliable since all the 'bad risk' accounts have already gone bankrupt since 2008. But that would have been true last year and the year before that. The reason consumer bankruptcies are now seen an acceptable risk is that prior to Obamacare coming online fully two thirds of bankruptcy filings listed medical debt as the primary cause. Health insurance companies are now required to pay the bills with no annual or lifetime caps and rescission is prohibited. That's where you think you have insurance until you actually need it, half of medical debt driven bankruptcy filers had insurance.

The impact on the economy is obvious, more credit means more spending and that means more jobs, then more spending, more credit, more spending, the housing market picks up, more jobs, more spending, on and on. Of course a lot of the money will end up in China, and more importantly, in the Cayman Islands where corporations divert all their profits by over pricing the imports that they buy from their own off shore divisions.

The government on the other hand will not need to spend money on safety net programs, and tax revenue will start to climb again. Not that the government could be said to be drowning in such spending. Numbers available from the Federal Reserve shows that government spending at all levels has largely flat lined since Obama came into office. That massive expansion of government that the righties constantly chant about, it just didn't happen. By any rational comparison we are at 1952 spending levels, right before Ike started several massive infrastructure building programs. In fact we need three trillion dollars worth of maintenance and modernization done right now. This doesn't include any of things we need to make us into a first world country like China or Brazil. 

We need to bring the billionaires to heel before we can begin to come back into the industrial age. To that end we are starting to have a fairly large contingent of Progressives in the Senate. Four new bona fide Progressives, Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Chris Murphy and Mazie Hirono join
Sherrod Brown, Sheldon Whitehouse, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley and Al Franken to form a block that can't be ignored. More importantly they actually know what they're talking about and can bring other Senators on board for real reform.

The foreign land where President Obama was born, you know, Hawaii. Their new Congressional delegation is entirely non-christian.  It's not like the first Congress in 1789 when almost none of them were christians. They called themselves deists, but I suspect that was just a cover story for actual atheists in order to avoid those witch burning mobs that they knew full well could return at anytime. There is a chance we could actually get out of the nightmare without anybody being burned at the stake.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Good news, the Bad news, and the really really F'n bad news

There is a lot of 'new' talk going around Washington as we experience yet another peaceful transfer of power to our new duly elected government.

Obama is talking like FDR when he says '...that doesn't make us takers'. In a direct slap to Congressman Paul Ryan (or more accurately a beat down...) the President of the United States made it clear he works for the people and not the billionaires that tried to install Romney-Ryan as the mouth piece for their Oligarchy.

President Barack H. Obama, "We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other - through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security - these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great." Take that 'granny starver'.

Harry Reid is talking 'Constitutional Option', that is he's saying that 50 votes plus the VP should be enough to pass any bill in the Senate. While this isn't explicitly stated in the Constitution, it does list five exemptions from a simple majority, such as the 'veto override with 2/3 vote' and one can only conclude that the Framers meant a simple majority, and not 60 votes to do anything.

Nancy Pelosi is doing the 'real' talking as the de facto Speaker of the House. The 'fiscal cliff' bill was passed by Democrats and a minority of Republicans. The same as with the bill to avoid default on the expenditures that the Republicans have already made, also know as raising the debt ceiling.

That was all the good news, now for the bad news, the Koch brothers funded state legislatures are moving toward an Apportioned Electoral College in 'blue states' that the Republicans have captured through gerry mandering. In these states that would normally go for any Democrat running for President, the Republicans would cleave off the electoral votes in any Congressional District that they have managed to carve out for Republican domination (assuming that district was made to vote for the Republican). The end result would be a Republican becoming President with millions of fewer votes than a majority. Language in the Bush v. Gore ruling from the Supreme Court that establishes that there is 'no Constitutional right' for citizens to 'vote' for the President sets the stage for this abomination.

The way Gerrymandering works is that Republicans create as many districts as possible that contain a bare a majority of Republican voters, and as many districts as possible that contain nearly 100% of Democrats in liberal voting ghettos. Often distant pockets of Democrats are linked by block wide corridors that can be a hundred miles long and include few voters.

In practice a the 'Republican' district may contain only one third Republicans, that is if sufficient voter suppression is applied. Either through simple negative advertising that disgusts enough 'normal' people that they don't bother to vote while Conservatives goose-step down to the polls to vote against their own self interest based on their irrational fears and prejudice. Or through out right suppression of Constitutionally eligible voters who are kept from voting by any number of 'illegal' means, ranging from 'voter caging' where people are illegally stricken from the registration list, to selective denial of voter access to the polls.

If you live in a 'Democratic' precinct  any number of means, including but not limited to an 'insufficient' numbers of voting machines to literal 'voter intimidation' by the use of goons to scare voters away, to the use of misleading mailers from official and bogus sources to confuse voters. The possible ways to make this happen is endless, the depths of their deceit bottomless, and the evil in the hearts unlimited by time or space.

The 'really, really bad news' is the current push through the same Koch Brothers controlled state legislatures is to have a Constitutional Convention. Ostensibly this is just to pass an amendment to require a 2/3 majority to enact any increase in the income tax. This would not include peasant taxes like sales and excise taxes that would pass with a simple majority. All profits for the rich, all taxes for the poor. That would be bad enough, but a Constitutional Convention is not limited to a preset agenda once it's in session. Any number of really nasty 'reforms' could be put in place that would be pre-loaded with language that would allow the conservative Supreme Court to carve out anything they were ordered to produce. 

That's not to say that the Supremes can't sing any tune at anytime, but with the tiny minority that the conservatives actually have, they must maintain the fiction that this is all the 'will of the people'. The only thing that can stop this is that 'the people' become fully aware of the difference, and enforce their will instead.