Month: July 2011

It Looks Like There is a Debt Limit Deal

And it looks like it sucks.

I’m still digesting it, but it appears mandate cuts, and not taxes, and it gives the Republicans to pivot away from their disastrous vote to kill Medicare, and accuse Democrats of doing the same.

I guess that’s what serves as bipartisanship in Obama’s mind.

About the only bright spot is the possibility that House Democrats may desert this bill en mass, which has the possibility of changing the dynamic in a positive way.

And the Clusterf%$3 in Libya Goes Into High Gear

Normally, this would not start happening until after a successful foreign backed revolution, but with a stalemate on the ground, I guess it’s time that the various factions of the Libyan rebels have decided to start killing each other to determine who gets the spoils.

The first head on a stake is that of their chief of staff Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis:

The chief of staff for rebel forces fighting to overthrow Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi was attacked and killed Thursday, according to the rebels’ leadership council.

In a terse announcement that left many questions unanswered, the president of the council said Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis and two other commanders were killed as they returned from the eastern front near Port Brega to Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital.

Reading haltingly from a brief communique, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, president of the Transitional National Council, said pro-Kadafi gunmen had infiltrated rebel-held areas, but he did not specifically blame them for the killings. Abdul Jalil refused to take questions from reporters.

In response, the council has ordered all militias to stand down, and to integrate into the formal security forces.

This was foreseeable. This is a group with no real leader, and no credibility beyond the support that it receives from NATO, so it was inevitable that we would see this.

Of course, this means that NATO will feel compelled to escalate in order to show their credibility, so I expect to see British and French troops on the ground as “advisers” in the not too distant future.

It’s kind of like Vietnam writ small.

Looks Like Someone Was Bankrolling the Christofascist Terrorist in Norway

I would note that the source is not the most reliable, Justin Raimondo has a a truly peculiar history, he’s an antiwar activist who is gay and who endorsed Pat Buchanan, but he has followed the money on Anders Behring Breivik, and it indicates that Mr. Behring Breivik:

  • Accumulated well over 100 Grand in savings.
  • Never held down a real job that would imply that level of savings.
  • Lived a lavish lifestyle.
  • Had his money in opaque offshore accounts.

Assuming that Raimondo’s thesis bears up to scrutiny, and it did to my 10 minutes of Goggling, then there are really just two possibilities here, either he was a relatively successful professional criminal, or he was being bankrolled by the Christofascist right in the same way that Scott Roeder was by Operation Rescue and their ilk.

Needless to say there was some fairly explicit support of these fanatics on our side of the pond, Pam “I Would Be in Jail If I Were Muslim” Geller, for instance, published a letter from Norway that sounds suspiciously like Breivik’s manifesto, while scrupulously preserving the author’s anonymity a few years back.

One hopes that the Norwegian authorities are more diligent in their pursuit of right wing terrorists than Barack Obama and Eric “Place” Holder have been, because the ties between Operation Rescue and the Tiller assassination have at this point elicited nothing by way of a credible investigation.

More Like The Bush Administration Every Day

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Case in point, punishing scientists who speak the truth even when big oil wants lies:

It was seen as one of the most distressing effects of climate change ever recorded: polar bears dying of exhaustion after being stranded between melting patches of Arctic sea ice.

But now the government scientist who first warned of the threat to polar bears in a warming Arctic has been suspended and his work put under official investigation for possible scientific misconduct.

Charles Monnett, a wildlife biologist, oversaw much of the scientific work for the government agency that has been examining drilling in the Arctic. He managed about $50m (£30.5m) in research projects.

Some question why Monnett, employed by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, has been suspended at this moment. The Obama administration has been accused of hounding the scientist so it can open up the fragile region to drilling by Shell and other big oil companies.

“You have to wonder: this is the guy in charge of all the science in the Arctic and he is being suspended just now as an arm of the interior department is getting ready to make its decision on offshore drilling in the Arctic seas,” said Jeff Ruch, president of the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “This is a cautionary tale with a deeply chilling message for any federal scientist who dares to publish groundbreaking research on conditions in the Arctic.”

There could be some completely innocent explanation for this, and I could be the rightful heir to the house of Saud.

I think that both are equally likely.

Just Mint the Damn Coin Already!

I haven’t said much on the solutions on the debt ceiling debate, I’ve been more focused on the source of the problem, which is that Obama, in his eagerness to find a way to gut cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in order to feed his own ego by burnishing his self image as a bipartisan compromiser who brings people together because he’s just so damn awesome.

At this point, it would be good to have a plan B, and while there are a number of ways to work around this, though to my mind is the use of the Treasury’s explicit statutory authority to mint platinum proof coin of arbitrary value, which they could be deposited in the Federal Reserve account and used to keep the debt below the ceiling.

So if they mint a few trillion dollar coins, deposit them in their “checking account”, and it’s off to the races.

But it won’t happen, because Obama still wants to find a way to gut cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Well, This Might Explain the Bank Failure Spike

It appears that the economy is slowing, with the last two quarters GDP disappointing.

1st quarter GDP was revised down from a 1.9% annual rate to an 0.4% annual rate, and the 2nd GDP disappointed, coming in at a 1.3% annual rage, below the 1.6% forecast.

So, as the (already grossly inadequate) stimulus has run out, the economy has sputtered to a halt.

No worry though, austerity will create growth by:

  1. Collect Underpants
  2. ?
  3. Profit

What this has to do with bank failures?

The fact that they are a lagging indicator.

You see banks become insolvent when too many of their loans go bad, and those loans go bad following the economy tanking, not before.

We are in a double dip recession in all but the NBER ruling.

It’s Bank Failure Friday!!!!

 And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.

  1. Virginia Business Bank,Richmond, VA
  2. BankMeridian, N.A., Columbia, SC
  3. Integra Bank National Association, Evansville, IN

Full FDIC list

It’s been a busy week.

In fact, it’s been a busy past 4 weeks.  There have been 13 banks closed after what had been a bit of a lull.

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

When Joke Line Calls Out Republicans, They Have Jumped the Shark.

This is one big shark that they jumped.
One With Frikken Lasers!

In fact, this is an indication that they are jumping C. Megalodon.*

Because Time Magazine‘s Joe Kline, the man who has made a career of hating on liberals and sucking up to Republicans, to the degree that he wrote a bio of Woody Guthrie that treated his politics (“This machine (his guitar) kills fascists”) as a sort of an idiot-savant phenomenon, has finally been forced to find the current behavior of Republicans to be beyond the pals:

And so, here we are. Our nation’s economy and international reputation as the world’s presiding grownup has already been badly damaged. It is a self-inflicted wound of monumental stupidity. I am usually willing to acknowledge that Democrats can be as silly, and hidebound, as Republicans–but not this time. There is zero equivalence here. The vast majority of Democrats have been more than reasonable, more than willing to accept cuts in some of their most valued programs. Given the chance, there was the likelihood that they would have surrendered their most powerful weapon in next year’s election–a Mediscare campaign–by agreeing to some necessary long-term reforms in that program. The President, remarkably, proposed raising the age of eligibility for Medicare to 67.

(emphasis mine)

Joe Klein has made a career out of saying that both sides are wrong, and when you’ve lost him, it says that you not only crossed a line, but you crossed that line a very long time ago.

*The largest shark, and likely largest predator fish ever. It died out some 1.5 million years ago. The Genus is still in dispute, between either Carcharodon (Great White) or Carcharocles (broad toothed Mako). But in either case, you are jumping C. Megalodon, you have jumped the biggest shark ever.


A federal appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling and ruled that patents of genes are legal:

A federal appeals court affirmed the right of Myriad Genetics to patent two genes linked to breast cancer, overturning a lower court ruling that threatened a key element of the biotech business.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in a ruling on Friday backed Myriad’s right to patent two “isolated” human genes — BRCA1 and BRCA2 — that account for most inherited forms of breast and ovarian cancers.


The appeals court said the genes isolated by the company can be patented because Myriad is testing for distinctive chemical forms of the genes, and not as they appear naturally in the body.

One member of the three-judge appellate panel dissented, saying that despite Myriad’s process of isolating a human gene it still could not be patented.


The appeals court also said that Myriad’s method for screening potential therapies was patentable.

The judges did, however, agree with the district court that Myriad’s method of analyzing DNA sequences did not involve sufficient transformation, and thus could not be patented

I’m not surprised. This is the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a body that was created specifically to rule on patents, and they, under the “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” theory, are insanely pro patent.

How insanely pro patent? They are assuming patently false facts to justify their ruling:

Bruce Wexler, a patent expert at the law firm Paul Hastings, said the ruling means the appeals court has recognized that DNA takes on a different molecular structure when it is isolated and removed from the body.

“That is a very significant result that is very important to the biotech industry,” Wexler said.

This is scientific bullsh%$. DNA is DNA is DNA is DNA, whether in vivo or in vitro.

Here’s hoping that the Supreme Court or the full appeals court (unlikely, see my hammer nail argument), and it gets slapped down.

SCOTUS has issued a number of “what are you smoking?” rebukes of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit regarding patents over the past few years, so there is some hope, but such a ruling would be highly disruptive to the industry, and the Roberts court has been very pro-industry, so I think that it is a small one.

Background here.

Guess Who Loses If There Is a Default?

Surprise, surprise, it won’t be the Banksters, because the bond holders will get priority over the people who will actually suffer as a result:

The U.S. Treasury will give priority to making interest payments to holders of government bonds when due if lawmakers fail to reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, according to an administration official.

The official requested anonymity because no announcement has been made. The Treasury has said about $90 billion in debt matures on Aug. 4 and more than $30 billion in interest comes due Aug. 15. Overall, more than $500 billion matures in August.

The $90 billion in six-month Treasury bills maturing Aug. 4 pared losses after the comments. Obama administration officials will brief the public no earlier than after financial markets close tomorrow on priorities for paying the nation’s bills if the $14.3 trillion limit isn’t raised, a Democratic Party official said earlier.

“The announcement is reassuring, but there’s really no alternative to favoring the bondholders,” said Christian Cooper, head of U.S. dollar derivatives trading in New York at Jefferies Group Inc., which as one of the 20 primary dealers is obligated to bid in Treasury sales. “The alternative would point to a default”

The alternative would be children not going to bed hungry, uninspected meat poisoning people, and old people not eating cat food, but no one in Washington, DC gives a crap about them.

Teabagger Family Values

The Teabagger Congressman who defeated Melissa Bean (no great loss, she was a horrible Dino) is being sued for $117,000 in unpaid child support.

He’s claiming poverty, but he loaned his congressional campaign $35,000, so I’ll just put it down to his being a sleaze ball:

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of McHenry owes more than $100,000 in child support and interest to his former wife, she alleges in a Cook County Circuit Court filing.

The dispute, set out in a court filing last December, remains unsettled. Walsh’s ex-wife says he is $117,437 behind in payments.

Walsh, 49-year-old Republican, entered Congress in January, swept into office with help from tea-party activists. He often appears on television demanding the country drastically cut its spending and pay its bills.

John Kenneth Galbraith nailed it when he said, “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

It Sucks to be John Boehner

I guess we already knew this, but today, it sucked even more than usual to be John Boehner.

You see, John Boehner had to postpone the vote on his debt ceiling plan because he didn’t have the votes to get it passed:

Despite a days-long push to force their conservative members into line, and sneak Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) debt limit bill through the House of Representatives, GOP leadership has postponed a scheduled vote on the legislation — a sign that their efforts have thus far failed.
TPM SLIDESHOW: Debt Negotiations At The White House

This evening, members were alerted that Boehner and his leadership team were delaying the vote, which had been scheduled for 6 p.m.

“Members are advised that the House GOP Leadership has postponed the votes on the motion to recommit and final passage of S. 627 – Speaker Boehner’s Short Term Default Act (amending the Faster FOIA Act of 2011),” reads a notice from Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s (D-MD) office to his whip team.

You would think that as speaker of the house, he would be able to get his own caucus to vote for him, or at least he would be able to count votes, but this is apparrently beyond the Congress’s orange avenger.

He’s the most incompetent Speaker of the House ever.

This is a good thing, because he’s an evil son of a bitch, it’s better when evil people are incapable of doing evil well enough.

I expect the Todal to so totally Gleep his ass.*

*The Todal is, “an agent of the Devil, sent to punish evildoers for having done less evil than they should.”   It Gleeps said unfortunate souls.  Go read James Thurber’s magnificent book, The 13 Clocks.

It Looks Like the 50-State Foreclosure Fraud Coverup May be Unraveling

First, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said yesterday she will not release banks from liability incurred through fraudulent paperwork:

Three states conducting their own probes of residential mortgage practices are resisting broad liability releases sought by banks to settle a nationwide foreclosure investigation.

The banks, in settlement talks with state and federal officials, are seeking releases that would protect them from future legal liabilities. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said yesterday she won’t endorse a deal that includes certain releases. New York and Delaware have raised similar concerns over terms of a possible deal.

All three states are conducting investigations tied to mortgage operations of banks. Delaware and Massachusetts officials say a settlement shouldn’t release banks from some claims, including those related to bundling mortgages into securities, while the inquiries continue.

“We’re not prepared to do a broad liability release for either securitization issues or for MERS until we’ve completed that piece of investigation,” Coakley said in a telephone interview yesterday. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., or MERS, is a national mortgage database used by banks.

Basically, Coakley is saying that if there is a release on securitization fraud, she will not sign onto the deal, and the banks know that if they are ever effectively pursued on securitization fraud, they are dead, so no deal.

To the rest of the AGs, get off your ass, and convene a grand jury, the rest of the AGs, and stop letting yourself get strong-armed by Obama, Holder, and company to go easy on the banks.

H/t Naked Capitalism.

You Have to Love the Bait and Switch that Obama Pulled on the CFPB

As you know, Barack Obama decided not to appoint Elizabeth Warren as the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), but instead chose to nominate their current head of enforcement, Richard Cordray, former Ohio Attorney General, who had filed lawsuits against predatory banks.

It was better than the alternative, Raj Date, but it seemed to me that it was a worthless gesture to the Republicans, since they promised to filibuster anyone, because they want the bureau gutted.

Obviously, this screams “Recess Appointment,” but Obama is having none of that, not because he’s weak, but because this creates paralysis which he can exploit to effectively make a banker the head of the agency.

Raj Date has been elevated to adviser to the Treasury secretary for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren’s old position, and I guarantee that there will be no pressure from the Obama to administration to get an up or down vote on Cordray.

They give a nod to the people who want the CFPB to work with their nomination, and then they put a bankster in charge of running the bureau.

Seriously, Obama has his tongue so far up the bankster’s asses that he tastes tonsils.

Who is Date? He’s the current associate director of research, markets and regulations, and he’s a f%$#ing bankster, having been the, “senior vice president for corporate strategy and development at Capital One and a managing director in the financial institutions group at Deutsche Bank.”

So now, Date can emasculate the CFPB while Cordray waits for a vote on his nomination that will never come.

If You Were Wondering How Evil the Banksters Were………

The fact that they are threatening to drop millions of customers because the law may require them not to F%$# them over quite so badly might give you an inkling:

Brokerage firms may drop millions of individual retirement account holders if a proposed U.S. Labor Department rule takes effect, a lobbying group said today.

The Labor Department wants to expand the scope of fiduciary responsibility to protect those saving for retirement from conflicts of interest, such as recommending investments with higher fees. The rule would require investment professionals who advise employers and workers with retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s or IRAs to act in the best interest of their clients.

The change may cause financial firms to offer fewer investment options in retirement accounts and shift to a fee- based model used by investment advisers, which will raise costs, Kenneth Bentsen, executive vice president for public policy and advocacy at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said at a Washington hearing before the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.

He’s circumspect, but what the lobbyist from the lead financial services organization in the country just said was, “If you don’t let us f%$# our customers without lube, we’ll kick them to the curb.”

Why aren’t these guys going to jail?

H/t Naked Capitalism.

The Koch Suckers are Flooding the Zone in Wisconsin

No, I do not mean boots on the ground, the Kochs don’t work that way.

I mean money, and lots of it:

If you want to get a good sense of what’s really happening in the Wisconsin recall wars, keep an eye on the right wing money that’s now flooding into the races, in a last ditch effort to keep the state senate in Republican hands.

Club for Growth Wisconsin has dumped at least $1.5 million into the recall races, according to the progressive group One Wisconsin Now, which tells me it got the information from its ad tracker.

Even more tellingly, the Club has poured a surprising $400,000 into the battle to recall state senator Alberta Darling, who was once viewed as safe, One Wisconsin Now’s executive director Scot Ross tells me. Ross adds that his media tracker found that the Club sank the money into the race right after a Dem poll found that Darling is getting edged by her Dem recall challenger, Rep. Sandy Pasch.

If true, this is significant. If labor and Dems can knock off Darling, it would be a major coup: She is the co-chair of the legislative committee that passed Scott Walker’s union-busting proposals. Of all the GOP state senators targeted for recall, she’s been in office the longest. And Dems privately admit that they think the chances are slim that she can be defeated. But if the Club is pouring massive cash into an effort to prop her up, this could mean Dems have succeeded in widening the playing field beyond the most vulnerable GOP recall targets, meaning that cash being spent on Darling could have otherwise been spent elsewhere.

Obviously, the fact that they have lots of money to throw around is not good, but the fact that they feel compelled to throw it at what should be slam dunks is good.

If the Democrats want to win this, they need to focus on boots on the ground, and I mean locals, not hired guns, because the ‘Phants will have more money for the foreseeable future.

Oh My God…

And I am left listening to this with an expression resembling a cow that has stepped on its own udder

This is a day for insane bigoted people to leave me stunned at their evil.

Case in point, Glenn Beck compared the murdered Norwegian campers to Hitler Youth:

Glenn Beck, the rightwing US broadcaster and Tea Party favourite, has compared those who were massacred on the Norwegian island of Utøya to the Nazi party’s youth wing.

“There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like the Hitler youth, or, whatever. I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics. Disturbing,” said Beck on his syndicated radio show.

The comments were condemned by Torbjørn Eriksen, a former press secretary to Jens Stoltenberg, Norway’s prime minister.

Seriously, what is wrong with him?

More importantly, what the f%$# is wrong with the people who watch his show, and what the f%$3 is wrong with his sponsors?

BTW, when I was at school, I remember some of the right wing ratf%$#s on the SGA Senate (some of whom were later caught up in the Abramoff scandal) talking about conferences, summer internships, and similar activities, so the idea of some sort of  “political camp” is not foreign to the ‘Phants.