Month: October 2010

I Hate The Onion

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Not only does the truth hurt, it leaves a nasty mark!

Their headline, “Democrats: ‘If We’re Gonna Lose, Let’s Go Down Running Away From Every Legislative Accomplishment We’ve Made’“:

WASHINGTON — Conceding almost certain Republican gains in next month’s crucial midterm elections, Democratic lawmakers vowed Tuesday not to give up without making one final push to ensure their party runs away from every major legislative victory of the past two years.

Party leaders told reporters that regardless of the ultimate outcome, they would do everything in their power from now until the polls closed to distance themselves from their hard-won passage of a historic health care overhaul, the toughest financial regulations since the 1930s, and a stimulus package most economists now credit with preventing a second Great Depression.

“There’s a great deal on the line, and we know it isn’t going to be easy for us,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), speaking from the steps of the Capitol. “But if we suffer defeat, we will do so knowing we cowered away from absolutely anything we produced that was even remotely progressive or valuable in any way.”

If you’ll excuse me, I will now hit myself in the head repeatedly with a hammer, because that is more pleasant than facing this reality.

Here is a hint for the Democrats: If The Onion is writing an article, and it describes your campaign strategy, you are being a f%$#ing moron.

Better Than I Expected

Elana Kagan just cast her first vote on the death penalty, and actually her very first vote as a Supreme Court Justice, and she voted to stay an execution:

Washington…Justice Elena Kagan cast her first recorded vote on the Supreme Court late Tuesday, joining the liberals in dissent when the high court cleared the way for the execution of an Arizona murderer.

The 5-4 ruling overturned orders by a federal judge in Phoenix and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that had stopped the execution by lethal injection of Jeffrey Landrigan.

His lawyers, in a last-ditch appeal, had raised questions about one of the drugs used in the execution. Since the only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental had suspended production, Arizona officials said they had obtained a supply of the drug from a British company.

A judge had put the execution on hold because she said she was “left to speculate” whether this drug was safe for its intended use.

Hopefully this indicates that she was not quite the squish that I thought she might be when Barack Obama nominated her.

Optimism Can Kill You

Barbara Ehrenreich looks at the cult forced optimism in the United States, and how it is both dangerous and prevents people from challenging real problems in society.

I was particularly taken by her observation about just just how much mandatory optimism was a part of the infrastructure of the totalitarian Soviet state as well.

Pass the Popcorn

The Federal Reserve has decided not to appeal the decision of the Federal Courts to turn over information on its sh%$pile for cash loans to Bloomberg News:

The Federal Reserve won’t join a group of the largest commercial banks in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let the government withhold details of emergency loans made to financial firms in 2008.

The central bank’s decision not to appeal makes it less likely the high court will hear the case, said Tom Goldstein, a Washington lawyer who has argued 22 cases before the high court since 1999 and whose Scotusblog website tracks the panel.

The Clearing House Association LLC, a group of the biggest commercial banks, filed the appeal today. Under federal rules for appeals, a lower court’s order requiring disclosure remains on hold until the Supreme Court acts. Kit Wheatley, an attorney for the Fed, confirmed that the central bank won’t join the appeal. David Skidmore, a spokesman for the central bank, did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment.

The bank group is appealing a federal judge’s August 2009 ruling requiring the Fed to disclose records of its emergency lending. Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, sued for the release of the documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

Obviously, the Supreme Court could still decide to hear the case, but the Fed pulling out indicates that they no longer see this sort of disclosure as a systemic threat, which in turn makes it less likely that SCOTUS will take up the case.

I think that it is now a question of “when” not “if” the data gets released, and I think that it should prove to be very interesting.

Background here.

Payback is a Bitch

When you look at the Democratic Party Congressional caucus, the people who are most threatened with losing their jobs are the Blue Dogs:

More than half the members of the Blue Dog Coalition—the organization of moderate to conservative Democrats in the House—are in peril in next week’s election, a stark indicator of how the balloting could produce a Congress even more polarized than the current one.

The author of the article says that this is worrying because the Blue Dogs are, “a kind of human bridge, connecting left and right in the House,” but my take is rather more positive: It’s these rat f%$#s that were in large part for blocking and weakening every serious policy initiative that the Democratic party, and it is this perceived lack of accomplishment that has put off voters.

Truth be told, it’s not that payback is a bitch, it’s that payback is making them it’s bitch.

People don’t want to vote for Democrats because they are perceived as timid, and the people who forced this are reaping the whirlwind.


If They Are Looking Into it, It’s Only Because They Need to Figure Out the Coverup

I am referring to the fact that the Federal Reserve has announced that it will investigate the foreclosure problems:

Raising pressure on banks, the Federal Reserve is wading into the investigation of whether mortgage lenders cut corners and used flawed documents to foreclose on homes.

Major banks are already under investigation by state officials with subpoena power, who could force them to detail how they handled hundreds of thousands of foreclosure cases.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke added weight to those efforts Monday by saying the central bank would look “intensively” at policies and procedures that might have allowed banks to seize homes improperly.

“We take violation of proper procedures very seriously,” Bernanke said in remarks to a housing-finance conference in Arlington, Va.

Call me a cynic, but I think that this is all about creating the appearance of investigating foreclosure fraud without actually finding any wrong doing, because they are the Federal Reserve, and that’s how they roll.

Holy Sh%$

Treasury has sold its inflation protected securities with a negative yield for the first time ever:

Inflation-protected securities sold at negative yields for the first time ever on Monday as traders anticipate that the Federal Reserve will start a new round of asset purchases.

Analysts said that asset purchases by the Fed would lead to a higher inflation rate and a positive return on the bonds.

The $10 billion auction of the five-year bonds sold at a negative yield of 0.550 percent, according to the Treasury Department. The results of the auction of the securities, known as TIPS, came as indexes on Wall Street edged higher, buoyed by recent strong corporate earnings and a rise in housing sales. The previous lowest yield for the TIPS was in the auction on April 26, when the yield was 0.550 percent.

“It is saying that there is a true demand for inflation securities, because people perceive the quantitative easing program is enabling a higher inflation rate in the future,” said Tom di Galoma, head of fixed-income rates trading at Guggenheim Partners.

Basically, this means that “the market,” a nebulous thing whose predictive powers I think are overrated, is nonetheless predicting deflation.

Time to break out those helicopters, Ben.


So the military commissions have secured another confession, Omar Khadr.

They shoot a 15 year old, torture and threaten confessions out if him, allow his confessions to be admitted anyway, and now they have coerced a confession out of him by throwing bogus charges at him:

This morning I sat in a U.S. military commissions courtroom in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and watched the first child soldier charged by a Western nation since World War II plead guilty to crimes he was never even accused of. If the guilty plea of Omar Khadr this morning was a face-saving effort by the U.S. government, it was a sad day for the rule of law in the United States.

Omar Khadr is the 24-year-old Canadian who’s spent a third of his life in U.S. custody without trial after being accused of helping his father’s al Qaeda associates build improvised explosive devices when he was just 15. He was taken to Afghanistan from Canada by his father at the age of nine. The lone survivor of a 2002 U.S. assault on an Afghan compound, Khadr was accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier.

But as he entered his guilty plea this morning — after the government agreed he’d serve just one more year at Guantanamo Bay, and an as-yet-unspecified number of years in Canada — it was clear that prosecutors had taken the opportunity to throw the kitchen-sink-full of charges at him – including far more crimes than he’d even been charged with. Most importantly, Khadr pled guilty to the murder of two Afghan soldiers who accompanied U.S. forces in the 2002 assault on the compound. The government has never presented any evidence whatsoever that Khadr was responsible for that.


This is more than morally repugnant.

This sort of treatment of a child forced into battle by adults is is a war crime, and everyone involved in the trial, up to and including the commander-in-chief, Barack Obama are guilty.

Of course, there will never be an accounting, for even the worst of them.

After all, the two greatest mass murderers of the 20th century, Stalin and Mao, died of natural causes while remaining in power.

A Welcome Change in City Planning

In Boston, in a new development, officials are pressuring developers to reduce the number of parking spaces at the complexes that they are building:


When Boston development officials recently handed permits to the developers of Waterside Place, they did so despite neighborhood concerns that the developers wanted to build far more apartments than parking spots. On A Street, the Boston Redevelopment Authority is close to green-lighting a 21-story residential tower. The tower’s developer had originally planned to build one parking spot for every two residential units, an abnormally low supply; BRA officials are pushing the developer to push that ratio even lower by replacing a whole floor of parking with innovative workforce housing units.

These permitting decisions are not happening in a vacuum. Government-imposed floors on the number of parking spots required at new developments are falling across the city, and beyond. Somerville, for instance, is increasing zoning density and lowering parking requirements along the route of the planned Green Line extension, with an eye toward spurring new transit-oriented development. But the change is especially pronounced in the Seaport, where developers are working with as close to a blank canvas as you’ll find in any major American city.

City planners are in the middle of an extensive re-thinking of Boston’s zoning codes. As they work, neighborhood by neighborhood, to update the code, they’re flipping the conventional thinking about parking on its head: Instead of mandating that minimum levels of parking accompany new developments, they’re pushing to establish maximum parking caps.


If you want a walkable and transit friendly cities, parking spaces are the enemy, because it creates sprawl.

IIRC, there is more ground taken up by parking spaces than is taken up by people in Montgomery County, which is why it is strip mall heck. (and Louden County, where I currently reside 3-4 nights a week, is strip mall hell)

If you make enough parking for people to drive in from the ‘burbs, then you create unacceptable levels of sprawl.

Barack Obama Can “Shove It”

So says Democratic candidate for Rhode Island governor, Frank Caprio will not get an endorsement from Barack Obama when he visits Rhode Island, because Obama appreciated the endorsement that Lincoln Chaffee, the Republican Senator turned independent candidate for governor, running against him.

What’s worse, the White House did not have the decency to tell him, and his campaign found out from a reporter who had been briefed on this:

President Obama will not endorse the Democratic candidate for governor, Frank T. Caprio, when he comes to Rhode Island to support other Democratic candidates, the White House said Sunday.

The president’s decision “is a victory for Linc Chafee,” the Republican-turned-independent who is Caprio’s opponent in the race for governor, said Chafee spokesman Mike Trainor, who said he was quoting Chafee’s own stated view. Former Republican Senator Chafee endorsed Mr. Obama for president in 2008.

Caprio was unaware that the president would not endorse him until his campaign was told by a news reporter, according to his campaign manager, Xay Khamsyvoravong. Khamsyvoravong said Caprio is not embarrassed that he did not get a courtesy call from the White House before the president’s decision was made public.

Caprio’s response, “He can take his endorsement and really shove it as far as I’m concerned.”

This is unbelievably stupid. It hurts the party and, in the long run, it hurts him, but because Lincoln is a “Friend of Barack”, party unity, and party morale, takes a back seat.

I have to invoke this when discussing the travails of anyone named “Kirk”.

I see a parallel in the Illinois Senate race, where Alexi Giannoulias is in a down-to-the-wire with Mark Kirk. …… In a state which is reliably Democratic …… Against a Congressman who has repeatedly lied about his biography …… And is the subject of ceredible allegations that he is a closeted gay …… who reliably opposed gay rights.

So, why is Alexi Giannoulias not running away with this? Well, it could be that he helped run his family bank which collapsed a few years later under the weight of its bad loans.

Of course, it has been know that the bank was in trouble since at least January of this year, when it entered into a consent decree with regulators, but Giannoulias got the nomination because he is Obama’s basketball buddy.

It is to be understood that a President will head his the party, and part of this is obviously rewarding allies, this is just politics, but there are limits, and this is little more than self-absorbed narcissism.

Needless to say, Mr. Caprio is now on my Act Blue page.

The Worst Medical Lecture Ever

Laurence Klotz relates what might be the worst mdeical lecture of all time.

You see, before there was Viagra, there was an injectible treatment for erectile dysfunction developed by Professor G.S. Brindley, and at the lecture where he revealed these techniques, he dropped trow to reveal that he was sporting an artificially induced erection:

Professor Brindley, still in his blue track suit, was introduced as a psychiatrist with broad research interests. He began his lecture without aplomb. He had, he indicated, hypothesized that injection with vasoactive agents into the corporal bodies of the penis might induce an erection. Lacking ready access to an appropriate animal model, and cognisant of the long medical tradition of using oneself as a research subject, he began a series of experiments on self-injection of his penis with various vasoactive agents, including papaverine, phentolamine, and several others. (While this is now commonplace, at the time it was unheard of). His slide-based talk consisted of a large series of photographs of his penis in various states of tumescence after injection with a variety of doses of phentolamine and papaverine. After viewing about 30 of these slides, there was no doubt in my mind that, at least in Professor Brindley’s case, the therapy was effective. Of course, one could not exclude the possibility that erotic stimulation had played a role in acquiring these erections, and Professor Brindley acknowledged this.

The Professor wanted to make his case in the most convincing style possible. He indicated that, in his view, no normal person would find the experience of giving a lecture to a large audience to be erotically stimulating or erection-inducing. He had, he said, therefore injected himself with papaverine in his hotel room before coming to give the lecture, and deliberately wore loose clothes (hence the track-suit) to make it possible to exhibit the results. He stepped around the podium, and pulled his loose pants tight up around his genitalia in an attempt to demonstrate his erection.

At this point, I, and I believe everyone else in the room, was agog. I could scarcely believe what was occurring on stage. But Prof. Brindley was not satisfied. He looked down sceptically at his pants and shook his head with dismay. ‘Unfortunately, this doesn’t display the results clearly enough’. He then summarily dropped his trousers and shorts, revealing a long, thin, clearly erect penis. There was not a sound in the room. Everyone had stopped breathing.

But the mere public showing of his erection from the podium was not sufficient. He paused, and seemed to ponder his next move. The sense of drama in the room was palpable. He then said, with gravity, ‘I’d like to give some of the audience the opportunity to confirm the degree of tumescence’. With his pants at his knees, he waddled down the stairs, approaching (to their horror) the urologists and their partners in the front row. As he approached them, erection waggling before him, four or five of the women in the front rows threw their arms up in the air, seemingly in unison, and screamed loudly. The scientific merits of the presentation had been overwhelmed, for them, by the novel and unusual mode of demonstrating the results.

It does sound like something that you would see on an HBO comedy, doesn’t it?

I Have Had It With These Motherf%$#ing Crocks On This Motherf%$#ing Plane!

We see yet another senseless crocodile disaster:

A stowaway crocodile on a flight escaped from its carrier bag and sparked an onboard stampede that caused the flight to crash, killing 19 passengers and crew.

The croc had been hidden in a passenger’s sports bag – allegedly with plans to sell it – but it tore loose and ran amok, sparking panic.

A stampede of terrified passengers caused the small aircraft to lose balance and tip over in mid-air during an internal flight in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The unbalanced load caused the aircraft, on a routine flight from the capital, Kinshasa, to the regional airport at Bandundu, to go into a spin and crash into a house.

A lone survivor from the Let 410 plane told the astonishing tale to investigators.

Ironically the crocodile also survived the crash but was later killed with a machete by rescuers sifting through the wreckage.

We live in a very strange world.

All Your Stonehenge Are Belong to Us

English Heritage, an organization that manages many of the historical sites in the UK has now sent cease and desist letters to image libraries claiming that they own all rights of all photographs of Stonehenge ever taken:

English Heritage, the organization that runs and manages various historical sites in the UK, such as Stonehenge, has apparently sent letters to various photo sharing and stock photo sites claiming that any photo of Stonehenge that is being sold violates its rights, and only English Heritage can get commercial benefit from such photos. In fact, they’re asking for all money made from such photos, stating: ‘all commercial interest to sell images must be directed to English Heritage.’ As one recipient noted, this seems odd, given that English Heritage has only managed Stonehenge ‘for 27 of the monument’s 4,500 year old history.

All this IP nuttiness is getting on menhir my nerves.

As a commenter noted, the rights to the photographs belong with the aliens what built the monument anyway.