Friday, April 30, 2010

Halliburton, Disaster Maker

As if their disastrous involvement in the "war against terrah" wasn't enough, Halliburton is also involved in the "war against Terra", given their possible involvement in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, in the wake of a similar explosion off the coast of Australia last year. But hey, let's continue giving them government contracts.

Lunatic Drudge

Jason Linkins of The Huffington Post explains what Hurricane Katrina and "Obama's Katrina" have in common. Exactly nothing.

Spill, Baby, Spill!

This one goes out to the idiotic and pernicious "Baby Drillers", like Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, John McCain, Sean Hannity, Steve "Douchy" Doocy and all the idiots that ever uttered the Repuglycan mantra with a smirk on their face.

(video via

Unfortunately, as Stephen Colbert pointed out with classic wit in last night's episode of the report, others have gotten on board the offshore drilling juggernaut of idiocy.

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Christopher Monckton, Lord Crockofshit, Global Warming Denier

I gladly link to this post, A Christopher Monckton Reality Check, because quite a few people, including--alas--some close to me, have bought into some of the despicable and disingenuous rhetoric propagated by the likes of "oh Lord" Monckton.

Christopher Monckton is a hack, a shill for the worst element of the energy industry, he talks out of his ass, and is a dangerous participant to the global warming/climate change debate.

If you are thinking of reading anything he published, or watching anything he is in, do yourself a favor: do a one-eighty and read Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, which--incidentally--covers some of the fake controversy instigated by our Lord Crockofshit.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Supreme Cross

Adam B at the Daily Kos has a very interesting post about Salazar v. Buono, a case that has been heard by the Supreme Court recently, concerning an unofficial memorial to the Veterans of WWI in the form of a cross somewhere in the Mojave Desert.

It is a very interesting read, with some excellent highlights of what various Justices have written in their opinions.

Nine Myths About The Deficit That You Cannot Afford to Believe

The excellent New Deal 2.0 has a post you must read about 9 commonly used (and, alas, believed) myths about the deficit.

Is The Cure Worse Than The Disease?

That is the question that the father of American psychopharmacology, Jonathan Cole, asked in a paper by the same name that focused on the real effectiveness and dangers posed by meds prescribed for psychiatric illnesses.

Now award-winning Boston Globe investigative reporter Robert Whitaker reprises the question in a book titled Anatomy of an Epidemic, which looks at 50 years of studies on the effectiveness of psychodrugs.

The American Way to Profits

Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Two Staggering Facts.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Insane Comparisons

People who seriously compare Fox News and MSNBC are nuts.
People who say Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann are liberal equivalent to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Back are nuts AND ignorant.

On another note, Bill Moyers is an intellectal giant, a fantastic journalist, a fantastic person, and an example to follow. After this Friday, he will be dearly missed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Robert Reich's Brief and Crystal Clear Suggestions for WSR

Robert Reich is a redoubtable source of simple to understand, direct and excellent commentary on all things financial and economic. One of his latest posts summarizes the necessary steps to right the American financial ship.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Republicans Do The Only Thing They Do Well... Again

Republicans do only one thing well: they vote in block. Never mind their complete lack of (good) ideas to solve the nation's problems,

When Bush was president, they steamrolled over Democrats to enact some of the most regressive policies in the nation's history, their stated goal being the piecemeal dismantling of New Deal and Great Society Policies.

Now that Mr. Obama is President, they vote in block against anything, literally anything, the President supports.

Take for example Wall Street Reform: You would think that no politician would dare vote to block reform aimed at reining in one of the two most unpopular industries at this point in history, i.e. the banking industry (the insurance industry being the other). But no, even this time Republicans were steadfast in their resolve to block the President's agenda, no matter what.

The only thing more disgusting than Repuglycans voting unanimously to prevent Wall Street reform from even coming to the floor of the Senate for debate is the Democrat who joined them: Ben Nelson, already a thorn in the President's side during the health care reform debate. That is why it is really important to elect true progressives to Congress, and not career politicians who only have their own best interest in mind, instead of the nation's.

On a related note, you might want to read The Cover-Up, posted on, written by James Kwak, co-author with Simon Johnson of the book 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. Read it, and read it to the end. Focus particularly on the last paragraph, and then ask yourself: Whose bidding are Republicans doing when they vote uninanimously to stop Wall Street reform from being debated on the floor of the Senate? Ours? Think again.

One last thought: While the Republicans who are working to stop regulatory reform are despicable, because they always do the bidding of the powerful and the wealthy while filling their mouths with words like freedom, free-market, the will of the American people, etc, too many Democrats are now squeaky-clean when it comes to their ties to the banking industry and its mindless deregulation.

In fact, as former New York Governor Spitzer suggested over a year ago, the problems that have beset our financial industry (and have had such disastrous domino effects on the lives of many people, here and around the world) could have been prevented by good people willing to use existing regulations (which also raises the question of why President Obama picked Tim Geithner and Lawrence Summers to fill in important posts rather than people like Elizabeth Warren, William K. Black and Paul Krugman, for example).

In other words, no laws will ever do the job unless there are principled individuals willing to enforce them. So the current regulatory impulse may be driven more by a desire to shield political accomplices from blame than by a serious desire to fix the system.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Secession To End All Regression

Good Sunday to all!

A while ago, I wrote a post titled Let Them Idiots Secede. I do not bring it up to apologize for it. To the contrary: I just found out that David Michael Green of Hofstra University recently wrote a similar piece that comes to the same conclusion.

I feel vindicated.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Will Black on the Journal

Last night Bill Moyers had Will Black on the Journal.

Black is professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missoury, Kansas City, and author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry. He is an expert on banking fraud, having being the director of litigation of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, deputy director of the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC), senior vice president and general counsel of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and senior deputy chief counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision. He was deputy director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement.

In the wake of the recent SEC decision to file charges against Goldman Sachs for fraud in structuring and marketing of CDO (collateralized debt obligations) tied to subprime mortgages, Black was the right man for Moyers to invite to the Journal to explain to Americans (at least those who care) what happened, how it happened, and how it could have been prevented. Watch the video here.

While talking about the Supreme Court's recent Citizens United decision, Black offered this suggestion:
[I]f corporations are going to be just like people, let me tell you my criminologist hat. Then let's use the three strike laws against them. Three strike laws, you go to prison for life, if you have three felonies. How many of these major corporations would still be allowed to exist, if we were to use the three strike laws, given what they've been convicted of in the past?

And in most states, they remove your civil rights when you're convicted of a felony. Well, let's take away their right to make political contributions that they're found guilty of a violation.

Simple, imaginative, effective. Pure genius.

The fact that Black is not working for the Obama Administration, and that Tim Geithner and Larry Summers are, says a lot about the President's real priorities when it comes to taking on powerful interests and white collar crime.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jerry Coyne Explains Evolution

Over at The Nation, Jerry Coyne writes:
Imagine for a moment that a large proportion of Americans--let's say half--rejected the "germ theory" of infectious disease. Maladies like swine flu, malaria and AIDS aren't caused by micro-organisms, they claim, but by the displeasure of gods, whom they propitiate by praying, consulting shamans and sacrificing goats. Now, you'd surely find this a national disgrace, for those people would be utterly, unequivocally wrong. Although it's called germ theory, the idea that infections are spread by small creatures is also a fact, supported by mountains of evidence. You don't get malaria unless you carry a specific protozoan parasite. We know how it causes the disease, and we see that when you kill it with drugs, the disease goes away. How, we'd ask, could people ignore all this evidence in favor of baseless superstition?

But that's fiction, right? Well, not entirely, for it applies precisely to another "theory" that is also a fact: the theory of evolution.

Thus begins Coyne's compelling defense of evolution in his review of Richard Dawkins's The Greatest Show on Earth against Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini's What Darwin Got Wrong.

Must read.

Truly a National Shame

Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a cruel and stupid bill that may very well be struck down as unconstitutional even by the currently conservative Supreme Court. As President Obama rightly said today, "failure to act responsibly at the Federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others." In other words, the Administration and Congress need to come up with reasonable and equitable laws to prevent the freaks that live in the nation's woodwork to usurp federal powers and come up with insane laws like the one Gov. Brewer signed today. Amen.

The debate leading up to today's signing ceremony has been accompanies by some of the most insensitive, stupid and racist remarks in memory, such as Rep. Bilbray (R-CA) saying that illegal immigrants can be identified "just by looking at their clothes."

And, as Kos at the Daily Kos says, it will lead to an explosion of lawsuits.

But while Kos anticipates that "that within a year, virtually every town and county in the state will be getting sued by xenophobic teabaggers" (because, as Kos explains, the law "allows residents to sue their municipalities if they believe local cops aren't doing enough to target and jail undocumented immigrants"), I hope that there will be a torrent of lawsuits by Hispanic citizens whose Fourth Amendment rights (against illegal searches) and Fourteenth Amendment rights (equal protection) will undoubtedly be violated when overzealous law enforcement agents ask them for proof of citizenship. In a country where there there is no federal law mandating that individuals are required to provide proof of citizenship, as Mark Evans of notes, it will be interesting to see how Arizona's law enforcement agencies go about trying to enforce an unenforceable law. You know someone royally f***ed things up when Gov. Huckabee is the voice of reason on the right.

For an analysis of the many ways in which Arizona SB-1070 is a gigantic discriminatory cockup, read the ACLU of Arizona's section by section take-down of the bill. (PDF reader required).

Understanding Climate Change

In honor of Earth Day, I have dug up a few interesting sources on the impact of energy use and the planet that supports our life. Take a gander.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Correcting Ignorance and Deceit

The Christocratic blogosphere is abuzz with misinformation regarding a case which will be heard by the Supreme Court tomorrow. The case is Christian Legal Society v Martinez and concerns the right of public institutions to deny certain forms of support to ANY group or association of individuals that engage in discrimination that clashes with the institution's non-discrimination policy.

If you want to get past the misinformation that the pseudo-Christian loonies are peddling to anyone who will swallow it, you can read the post I published yesterday by clicking this link; or, better yet, you can read this lucid analysis by Gabriel Arana on the American Prospect's website.

Sunday Reading/Watching

Sundays are good days to kick back, relax, and enjoy a selection of good writings from the week that was. Here are few.

Devilstower, from the Daily Kos, has an astute analysis of the difference between real libertarians and conservatives who are ashamed of calling themselves Republicans so they hide behind the libertarian label.

Yasha Levine's article, The Roots of Stalin in the Tea Party Movement, analyzes the link between the Kock family fortune, which is the biggest single funder of activities of the Tea Party movement, and the old USSR, and takes a look at the ways in which the Kock family amassed its fortune.

On PBS, I just found a gem of a program called Justice with Michael Sandel. It is a series of lectures that you can view online about "the right thing to do" in a series of circumstances and different topics.

The Sky Is (Not) Falling

Mr. Groothuis of The Constructive Curmudgeon can always be counted on to make unnecessarily inflammatory statements; like this one:

"On April 19, The Supreme Court will decide whether campus Christian groups, such as Navigators and InterVarsity, can exist as official groups when in light of the fact that they require certain beliefs and behaviors of their members. This is another choice between liberty and tyranny."

It's not that I don't believe what Mr. Groothuis says, it's that I have learned not to trust him. So I went and checked the facts of the case and--not surprisingly--liberty and tyranny live only in Chicken Little Curmudgeon's head.

The scare-mongering post on the Curmudgeon's blog refers to Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which will be heard by the Supreme Court next Monday. The gist of the case (as I understand it) is this: Can a public institution refuse to officially recognize an organization that prevents those who do not share its religious and moral values from becoming voting members? More specifically, in the case at hand, can Hastings College of Law, a publicly-funded school, deny the use of its funds, official logo, and other privileges to an entity, specifically Christian Legal Society, which practices discrimination as a requirement for membership (a student club, for example)?

It is important to note that lack of official recognition does not equate the prohibition to exist or to operate on school grounds, or to communicate via certain channels provided by the institution.

If you are interested in the facts of the case, and the implication of the possible rulings I recommend that you click on the preceding links. I also recommend that you read Prof. Volokh's detailed considerations on the case, expressed in various posts of his. Then you can decide for yourself if Mr. Groothuis is right in suggesting that CLS v Martinez is a choice between tyranny and liberty. I don't, and I offer this piece of advice to the tragicomical Curmudgeon:

When a party is sure of the force of its reasoning and of the legal validity of its viewpoint it does not need to resort to hyperbole and fear to secure support for its position.

A choice between tyranny and liberty? Only in Chicken Little's Curmudgeon mind.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day Has Come And Gone, Unlike Ignoramuses, Rich Opportunists and Liars

I filed my taxes. Finally. At the very last possible minute, like the procrastinator I am.

It's never a happy process, and I can't say I love the idea of parting from money I worked so hard to earn, particularly when the money I pay to the federal government buys so little of what I need most (like guaranteed basic health care, commercial free and impartial TV and radio programming, affordable higher education, rational, affordable and efficient public transportation, and so forth) and so much of what I loathe (ginormous "defense" spending, corporate welfare, bailouts to those who almost totally bankrupted us, handouts to states represented and inhabited by a majority of idiots who spend their lives condemning federal handouts, etc.) The good news is that the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress are (too timidly) reversing some of these policies. The bad news is that the asylum is still run to a large degree by the inmates (lobbyists and their political butlers.)

Nevertheless, I am not one of the wingnuts and/or liars who would have you believe that the Federal Income Tax has gone up this year for most Americans, when in fact the opposite is true.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

A Lesson In Civics

From the pages of the Daily Kos: Running After Happy. It is a rare lesson in civics and what the Founding Fathers might have wanted for the United States, had they had more of a say in the current state of things than the conservative pundits who hijacked their thoughts.

I made a similar point, not too long ago, in the context of the health care reform struggle. It is not nearly as eloquently as exmearden on the Daily Kos, but certainly as heartfelt.

Friday, April 02, 2010

A Stroke of (Repuglycan) Genius

Dr. Jack Cassell, a Florida urologist, has posted the following sign on the door of his practice: "If you voted for Obama ... seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your health care begin right now, not in four years."

Congressman Grayson (D-FL), often too quick to bash Repuglycans, wasted no time to bash the good doctor for being a sore loser, and a cruel one at that.

Actually, I wished all doctors who harbor the same feelings against "Obamacare" would be as explicit as Dr. Cassell. In fact, I wish all corporations were so blatantly idiotic. Then we could take our money elsewhere, instead of unwittingly fattening the idiots' wallets.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Obama's Not A Socialist. And The Heritage Foundation Lies About HCR.

Tea partiers and Repuglycans like to attack the President by accusing him of being a Socialist. As any proud Socialist will tell you, you have to be pretty ignorant or intentionally deceitful to make that claim.

Also, surprise surprise, the Heritage Foundation keeps spreading disinformation. According to an HF spokesman, the United States is a right-of-center country and Obama's health care reform is a massive takeover of one sixth of the economy. (How could that be, when there is no public option and the best Demo-chrytes could come up with is an individual mandate to buy health insurance?)

The Heritage Foundation would also have you believe that President Obama's claim that the health care reform bill that he just signed into law incorporates ideas from the Heritage Foundation is false. Unfortunately for the Heritage Foundation, you are entitled to your own opinion, not to your own facts. Why, as recently as 2003 Stuart Butler, Ph.D, laid out many of the ideas that have now become law, including the individual mandate that HF now rails against, in Congressional testimony.
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