Monday, December 31, 2012

SAR #12365

Interesting fictions: justice, accounting, economics...

This Just In: “We need to take CPI off the table -- that's not part of the negotiations -- because we can't win an argument that has Social Security for seniors versus taxes for the rich.” John McCain for the Republicans. Took 'em long enough.

Painful Truth: Those who say the government has to curtail its out of control spending do not understand the causes of the deficit (and the debt). The deficit has been declining as a percentage of GDP for the last three years, and would have dropped more without the Bush tax giveaway. The economic slump is the principal cause of the deficit. The whole deficit panic is fundamentally a result of bad economics insisted on by dishonest politicians. It is a scam, against which the individual is helpless. What is needed is not spending cuts (sequestration, austerity) but sufficient spending to put people back to work, earning money they can spend, which creates demand, which creates production, which creates jobs. A stimulus. Not cutting unemployment, not cutting what little welfare is left, not cutting old folks' pittance. What part of stimulus don't you understand? It's about putting people back to work.

Close Second: India is rated the worst place to be a woman, followed closely by Hobby Lobby.

Anti-American: Iowa (named for the Ioway Indians) has joined Michigan (From the Chippewa Indian word "meicigama") , Nebraska (Oto Indian word meaning “flat water”) and Arizona (probably from the Aztec) in denying licenses or identification cards to the children of undocumented immigrants even though the federal government has accepted their presence.

The End of America. If you think the welfare system is too generous, read this: Most of the social-service systems in the United States function not to help people get back to where they once were, but simply to reduce the chances that they will starve.

Hush Money: Dick Armey justified taking $8 million from FreedomWorks by explaining that he “couldn't leave with empty pockets.” Of course not, he never has.

Context: Big headlines report that Chicago had recorded 500 homicides in 2012, more than NYC's 414, and NYC has three times the population. Scary, but not nearly as bad as twenty years ago, when Chicago had 928 homicides. Maybe it's something in the water.

Datapoint: In 2000 there were 31 million Americans living below the official poverty line. Now there are more than 46 million. The recovery continues.

The Old One – Two: Just as Congress was extending the secret Bush warrantless wiretaping regime for five more years (secret because we the citizens are not allowed to know how the government interprets the law that 'regulates' this ongoing violation of the Fourth Amendment), we learn that the FBI coordinated surveillance and harassment of the Occupy movement throughout the country.

Essay Question: Why, when they know that grinding misery will result, are both Democrats and Republicans trying to dismantle our social safety nets and betray America's promise? Note: "Their master's voice" is not an acceptable submission, accurate though it may be.

The Parting Shot:


The sun also rises.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

SAR #12363

Peace has become an euphemism for dominance.

Tradition: The generation of homeless Vietnam veterans is being replaced by a generation of homeless veterans of the Oil Wars. The number homeless of Iraq and Afghanistan vets – and those at risk of homelessness – has doubled in the last two years. What have we achieved that was worth this?

Path Of Least Resistance:Given the choice between regulating guns and establishing some big-brother monitoring system to cull through the population and identify potential mass murders, regulating guns is a lot easier. It won't work, but it is at least politically viable. No one wants to deal with crazy people; too many of them vote.

Two Things: Do we let Russians adopt US orphans? Why do these people want to adopt Russian kids instead of American orphans?

Wilder Wild West: Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County's Avenger, says he will send “armed volunteer posse to protect Valley schools”.  The school system doesn't plan to go along with him. Next door the Pinal County Sherriff wants to arm all the teachers and principals. What he's got against the school janitors wasn't explained.

Soul/Company Store: People who have underwater mortgages are more likely to accept poorly paying jobs than those who are at least breaking even.

Too Late The Dawn: Within the next few years there will be more than 30,000 drones deployed domestically over the United States. FBI, Homeland Security, ICE and such, as well as state and local police agencies. Some will be Raptor and Predator sized, but many will be smaller, much smaller and equipped with cameras and microphones instead of missiles. Think hummingbirds. Think of them looking in your windows or perched near you, listening as you talk with your co-conspirators friends. Don't think of protesting; protests will be monitored by drones that will call in bigger drones designed for crowd suppression and dispersal drones. No riot police necessary - the cops'll know who you are and where you are and will pick you up at their leisure. They call it "full spectrum surveillance".

Hard Of Hearing: After 52% of Michigan voters rejected Governor Snyder's emergency manager law, he had the legislature pass another one.

The Long Arm Of the Law: Israel has vetoed Chuck Hagle's chance to become Secretary of Defense. Okay, so it wasn't really Israel but the neoconservative Republicans - the difference is marginal.

Fact: The US Government has more information on US citizens than any other government ever. It collects – and stores – every phone call, purchase, email, text, and internet search made. It tracks your browsing history, your health records, your employment, your friends and your travels. It knows where you are – or at least your cell phone is – 24/7. It probably knows more about you than Google does.

Warning! The supply of million dollar homes in the US has reached an alarmingly low level, get yours while they last.

The Map Is Not The Territory: Inflation was once calculated by periodically measuring the increase in price of a basket of goods and services. The same goods and services. Then, after decades of perfectly fine service, that model was replaced with one that gave different weight to various parts of the basket. That lowered the inflation rate, but after a while even more cosmetics were needed, so the formula was changed to put more weight on the things that were stable and less weight to the things that went up in price – think food and fuel. This also lowered the reported rate of inflation enough so that over the last decade or so, the adjustment in purchasing power of Social Security - among other government programs that are keyed to the CPI inflater - has been cut by about 30%.

But wait, there's more: Next came 'hedonic adjustments', in which the BLS imputes the "increased pleasure the consumer derives" from purchasing 'new & improved' items. That new refrigerator didn't really cost 20% more, because the pleasure you get from admiring it is worth the extra $175. Ditto for the TV, which lets you see the advertising even better than before. Especially the political advertising. The costs of EPA regulations are not inflationary, because you get to live to enjoy cleaner air.

The last tweak to reported inflation is 'intervention analysis" which says that there is no increased inflation when the price of food goes up, because you will eat cheaper stuff, hamburger instead of steak, catfood instead of hamburger and so on. If you can't afford gasoline, you'll walk everywhere. If you can't afford the rent, you can sleep in the street. It is no longer a measure of inflation, it is no longer a cost-of-living adjustment. It is a reduction-of-living adjustment. And you don't want to know about chained-CPI, which is fraud on steroids.

The Parting Shot:


Better days.

Friday, December 28, 2012

SAR #12362

After promise, performance.

No Problem: The 'Fiscal Cliff' is a non-starter. It is, unsurprisingly, a joke played on the public by the Republicans, with the willing connivance of the major media. There is no fiscal cliff. There will not even be a fiscal slope. Avoiding a compromise now (which would involve Republicans voting in favor of a tax hike for the rich) will let both the Rs and the Ds vote in favor of tax cuts for the rest of us sometime in January. And avoiding a grand compromise now means there does not have to be a vote to curtail Social Security benefits. As for the rest of the social programs, Congresscritters from both sides of the aisle will take credit for "saving" them. And no one was ever going to chop the Defense Department down to size anyway. Move along, nothing to see here.

Drain, Circling The: Spain's Bankia has a net worth of -4.2 billion euros. Its parent company, BFA, is worth a negative 10.4 billion euros. The government will bail them out. Who will bail out the government? The EU/IMF/ECB? Germany? Nah, eventually the taxpayers.

The Real Deal: Never mind the raucous but misplaced attention being focused on the 'fiscal cliff' and pay attention to this: The US will bounce off the debt ceiling on Monday. While the Treasury can play accounting games for a while, maybe a month or so, but once the tricks run out, a default on its obligations by the United States of America is not just a possibility, it is a sure thing. There are all sorts of things the Congress can do to make the fiscal cliff go away, but raising the debt ceiling is the only solution that will let the US avoid defaulting like the banana republic it has become.

Relativity: Initial unemployment benefit claims, at 350,000, is good news. Really.

Aide de Memoire: The inequality between the rich and the peasantry that gave rise to the 1905 Revolution in Russia was nowhere near as vast as the gap today between the rich and the rest in the United States, China, and - appropriately - Putin's Russia.

Is Growth Over? Yes, pretty soon, unless we come up with another planet to plunder.

Duh? Suddenly people are coming to the conclusion that forcing vast numbers of people to skip eating regularly etc. "may lead to an explosion of violence." Really? didn't the technocrats (and Germans, but I repeat myself) in Europe know that austerity measures like those imposed on Greece, Portugal and Spain would have... consequences?

Act II, Scene 3: Hamas is calling for a 'third intifada', which is just what Israel seems to have been looking for.

Case Study: In 2008, parking at Chicago's meters went for 25 cents an hour. Then the city “privatized” the parking meters. Now the cheapest meter is $2.00 an hour, up to $6.00 an hour inside the Loop. And if a meter is out of service, the city has to pay up. And if there's a holiday... well, the meters never go on holiday. Privatization.  Much better than having the government in the parking business, right?

The Revolting Masses: One way to understand America's love for low taxes and the Tea Party and silly things like California's Proposition 13 limiting real estate taxes and places like Tennessee repeatedly rejecting a graduated income tax is this: maybe the general population does not think that what it gets from the government is worth the price of admission. They've looked at the minimum wage, the lack of universal health care, deteriorating schools, roads, bridges, the complete lack of public transportation and have concluded, correctly, that they're getting screwed.

Porn O'Graph: Recipe.

The Parting Shot:


Thursday, December 27, 2012

SAR #12361

The labor movement is our main defense against predatory capitalists. Or was.

Don't Blame Me, They Were Crazy When I Got Here: Is John Boehner crazy enough to crash the economy for 'principle' – the principle being that the leader of a bunch of suicidal fanatics has to at least pretend to be a true believer? Of course he'll say that Obama made him do it. The fanatics are in charge. What if they refuse to budge and hold out for no tax increase at all for anyone until major cuts are made in Medicare and Social Security? Do we join them in seppuku?

Housing Bloom: The Case-Shiller house price index is now off about 30% from the peak and up 5% from the apparent bottom. Hooray, Hooray: That house with the $100,000 mortgage is now worth $7o,000 instead of the $66,600 it was before the recoveryTM.

Inquiring Minds: For the moment, let us assume that the shale-oil enthusiasts are right and the country will be able to eventually produce 3 or 4 million barrels a day. Put that next to the anticipated world-wide decline in production from current fields to 23 million barrels a day by 2030. That will leave a shortfall of about 60 million barrels a day. That's five or six new Saudi Arabia's that we're missing. Anybody seen 'em?

Fun With Guns: During 2010, there were an average of 85 gun deaths in the US every day. Two were accidents.

Journey's End: Increasing numbers of elderly Germans are being resettled in retirement and long-term care facilities in Eastern Europe and Asia because of the growing costs of caring for them in the Homeland. At least they are not been shipped off in cattle cars.

Noted: As an indication of how severely the US deficit and the national debt are viewed by investors, US Treasuries continue at record lows. Remind me why we're going to starve the peasants and reward the rich while throwing the economy back into another recession. Oh, right. Government is bad and must be shrunk; sorry, I forgot for a moment.

One Day In The War: The surviving relatives and friends of the 11 people – including a woman and a 7 year-old child – who were killed when the pickup they were riding in was blown up by a terrorist bomb are angry and seeking justice. Or at least revenge. No, not Newtown. In Yemen, where al-Qeada recruiters in the area are reported to be doing a brisk business following yet another US killing spree.

Fun With Math: Egypt's new constitution, which half the people hate, passed with over 63% of the votes. Only one-third of eligible voters showed up at the polls, which is a comment of some sort.

Prophets & Loss: Promising teachers a bonus if their students do better is not nearly as effective as giving them a smaller bonus and telling them they'll have to give it back if student scores do not improve. Seems a bird in the hand is more motivating than whatever is hiding in the bushes. Psychologists say we hate to lose more than we like to win, which explains a lot more than student scores.

Watt's Wrong With This Picture: Electric utilities in Germany, rather than shutting down their fossil fuel-fed plants during times of low demand, are paying commercial customers to use the excess power. They're doing this to accommodate the fluctuation in solar and wind generation, which rather defeats the point of having solar and wind generation.

Porn O'Graph: Excitement builds.

The Parting Shot:


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

SAR #12360

We elected these people, most of them more than once.

Silver Lining: Obama wants to cut Social Security because he's sure that if you can't afford chicken you'll buy catfood – the idea behind chained-CPI - and your poor nutrition will shorten your life which will cut the cost of Medicare. Win win.

When You're Right, You're Right: Berlusconi claims that Deutsche Bank lead the effort to replace him with Goldmanite Mario Monte. Well, 'claims' isn't the right word.

Anticipation: Nearly every coral reef in all of earth's "slowly souring seas" will be dead or dying by 2100 if we keep on keeping on, and we're keeping on keeping on.

In The Beginning: “The top American commander for the US military in Africa, General...” Really, we have enough troops and enough treasure to expand our wars to yet another continent? How much 2-4-D will this take, how many drones, how many civilian lives?

Your Mileage May Vary: The prices you get online depend on where your ISP is located, your browsing history, the personal stuff the site can lift off your computer and quite possibly the phases of the moon, along with the platform you are using and how much the website thinks they can get away with. Sort of like the car salesman looking at your shoes.

You've Been Warned: In the US you are never more than 110 miles away from a McDonalds. Never.

Liar's Poker: "Iran has reserves of nearly 600 billion barrels of petroleum," , Petroleum Minister Rostam Ghasemi said with a straight face. He also said Iran has enough petroleum to last for 150 years, assuming the US sanctions last that long. Note: The EIA says Iran has about 137 billion barrels of proven reserves. Jumped from 59 to 92 in 1986 with no new discoveries, then in 2001 jumped from 99 to 130, again with no new reported discoveries and in 2010 its reserves once more increased, this time to 151 and now suddenly it claims "nearly 600". Define ‘near’.

Any Day Now: The deficit hawks have been threatening us with inflation, if not hyper-inflation, for over four years now. When are they going to start being embarrassed? If evidence does not matter to them, they should not matter to us.

Trail of Tears: In the last three years, 260 Chicago school kids have died from gunshot wounds. No round-the-clock news coverage. No national address from the President with tears. No rush to pass legislation. Business as usual.

No, Really? The FBI investigated the Occupy movement as if they were criminals or domestic terrorists. And they said the spirit of J. Edgar was dead.

Goal Seeking Behavior: If the conservatives really wanted to reduce the deficit they would be open to tax increases. They are not. What they want to reduce is not the government's deficit, it's the government. Period. They can't get the citizenry to go along with killing off Social Security and Medicare and the rest, so they plan on whittling, whittling, whittling and eventually there won't be anything left to save. And austerity is their preferred path.

The Last Shall Be First: The very coldest corners of our planet are heating up the quickest, which doesn't portend well for low-lying islands and seacoast cities.

Essay Topic: Does drug-testing welfare recipients increase the crime rate?

The Parting Shot:


A river runs through it…

Monday, December 24, 2012

SAR #12358

The problem isn't the safety net, it's the whole economy. Laura Clawson

Easy Does It: Gun control works. Check with Australia, Canada, Scotland... each of which experienced mass gun deaths and each of which passed laws strongly restricting guns, and the result has been... no mass outpourings of grief after some nut kills a bunch of children. And don't give me that Second Amendment protect-yourself-from-the-government bullshit: Haven't you seen what the professional army can do and what it is equipped with? So let's just outlaw the assault-type weapons and their high-volume clips. Let's start the slow but necessary march to sanity. Let's put it to a vote.

The Millennium Redux: The world didn't end then, it won't end January 1st, either. No cliff, not even a steep slope, just another cobbled together make-do that will let them pretend to be heroes while solving nothing.

In These Times: At Christmas, think about 'goodwill toward men' this way: In Chicago there are these two guys who both work for McDonalds, one makes $8.75 million a year, the other $8.25 an hour – minimum wage in Illinois). And only 17% of fast food workers are teens – these are adults, struggling to get by. Recovery? Well, in the last two years the number of restaurant jobs – for which read minimum wage – grew twice as fast as other areas of the economy. And 26.9% of them still qualify for food stamps. But not that guy out in suburban Chicago at MackyD's headquarters.

Double, Then Nothing: The West Antarctic Ice Sheet has warmed 2.4ºC (4.3ºF) in the last half-century – twice as fast as previously thought. Sort of the poster buoy for global warming.

Chain Of Fooling Us: Ignore the hand-waving and footnoted hoohah; chained CPI indexing for cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security and many other federal social network programs is not a way to better measure the effects of inflation, it is just a way to understate inflation and chip away at simple decency.

Got Milk? What's wrong with an agricultural system that cannot produce milk at a price people can afford? Almost everything.

The Odds: With 90% of all new mortgages backed by the US taxpayer for the benefit of the same banks that committed fraud and forgery for years, has anybody got a plan for how this ends? Are investors going to line up to earn bupkis on MBS? Are the banks willing to let go of the golden goose? I didn't think so.

Datapoint: One in three US households have a smart meter. Many have nothing to measure.

Starting Over: On whose backs should we balance the federal budget? Higher taxes? Spending cuts? Deficit reduction? Balanced budget? Why, when the record shows that periods of budget balance and budget surpluses to pay down the debt are followed – quickly – by severe recessions/depressions? Income leads to spending which creates demand, which in turn spurs investment and more jobs and more spending and that's what we need to do. It's called 'stimulus spending'. Think about that & get back to me.

Investment Strategy: Over 55% of the energy generated in the US is wasted.

Right, To Work: After 10 years without any trouble, a dental assistant was fired because her boss' wife found her to be too sexy. And the husband, wisely, agreed. So she was fired and has no recourse because Iowa is a right-to-work state, which means employment is essentially 'at will' and her boss didn't have much.

The Parting Shot:


Happy Holly Days.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

SAR #12356

It used to be crime & punishment, but they seem to have gotten a divorce.

Speaking Up: Boehner's inability to muster a passing vote in a House his party controls raises the question of how much of the House he speaks for and whether he'll be Speaker come January. To win the job he'll need an absolute majority of the House. He doesn't have one now. Now if we could get Obama to stop negotiating with himself...

Send In The Clowns: Mario Monti has resigned from his position as Italy's EU-appointed Prime Minister. Elections - if the EU feels it cannot simply appoint another PM - will be held in February and will be focused on the austerity programs he has initiated at the behest of his masters. Odds now suggest that former communist Pier Luigi Bersani's Democratic Party will win with about 30% of the vote and form a coalition government, perhaps with Berlusconi's PDL or the group led by the other professional comedian Beppe Grillo.

The Brotherhood of the Flagellants: With no coherent threat of scourging from the right, House Democrats are working on a plan that would cut Social Security benefits, plus reduce the benefits of about 50 other federal programs that are keyed to cost of living adjustments.

Aw, Really? The bandwidth caps that the big internet service providers insisted were essential to help them give users reliable fast service, actually only give the companies faster profits.

Infield Error: It is not clear what Obama gains (other than an easy confirmation) from the Kerry nomination. What the Democrats may well lose is a Senate seat. Doesn't seem like a fair trade, but then Good Deals are not exactly Obama's forte.

To Be Continued: The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has ruled that Ghana “shall forthwith and unconditionally release” the Libertad, an Argentinian ship which was seized last October as part of an attempt by a hedge fund that stupidly lost money investing in Argentinean bonds reverse the notion that a bankrupt country can declare bankruptcy. Think of the precedent. Think of Greece. Don't think this is over.

Hit Parade: November was the 5th warmest on record. Ten of the warmest Novembers have happened in the last 12 years. The last time global temperatures came in below the 20th-century average for the month of November was in 1976, and the last time any month came in below the average was February 1985.

Keep On Trucking: For months US auto makers have been stuffing dealerships with unsalable cars and citing them as 'sales'. Now, just to get rid of pickup trucks, GM is offering deals with up to $9,000 off, Ford and Chrysler up to $4,500. Get 'em while they're stuck with 'em.

The Little Engine That Can't: One of South Carolina's elected yahoos wants state officials who comply with Federal health laws to be jailed for two years and fined $1,000. For Federal officials (presumably SC elected congresscritters who vote for health legislation) it'll be five years and $5,000.

Porn O'Graph: The ups and downs of shale oil.

The Parting Shot:



Friday, December 21, 2012

SAR #12355

If you can't field anyone, not one single person, who can seriously run for president, you're not a serious American political party, and you don't get to raise your voice at the table. Ilargi

Workers' World: Initial unemployment claims were up 17,000 at 361,000, as new claims have essentially leveled of over the last year. Over 2 million long-term unemployed former workers will run out of benefits on December 30th, officially becoming un-people', as Congress celebrates Christmas and the New Year.

Notice To Mariners: Has Boehner's ship sailed? Does Cantor replace him?

Actions, Not Words: For four years and counting, Obama has worked to find a way to make premature and unnecessary cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Don't look at his words, he's a politician. Look at what he's done, especially the repeated and unnecessary concessions to the Republicans. It's not about the deficit, at least the chained-CPI COLA planned for Social Security, because the program is not a part of the deficit. So there must be some other explanation.

Care & Feeding: House Republicans, ever compassionate, are trying to cut the federal government's aid to those stricken by Superstorm Sandy to less than $24 billion, even though both NY and NJ each suffered far more losses than that and certainly more than the $60 billion being discussed in the Senate. According to the GOP, the US cannot afford to rebuild. They want to completely sever the relationship between the people and their government.

Piece Talks:Israel's increased building in East Jerusalem is clearly intended to prevent a two-state solution. The alternative is more conflict, more bombings, more deaths – and Netanyahu knows it.

Rationing Medical Care: Last year, 1 in 3 Americans skipped getting medical attention because they couldn't afford it. A decade ago it was only 19%. And it's not just the uninsured; 21% of those with Medicare/Medicaid forgo treatment due to cost.

Lights, Camera, Military Aid: As the US continues to build its defenses against China, it is undertaking ‘nascent steps’ to open up military ties with Myanmar. That usually means an arms deal. Will the US 'forget' the brutal human rights record of the military leadership? You betcha.

Dirty Laundry List: Conservatives who parade around talking about the sanctity of life and the abomination of abortion are uniformly in favor of: Gun violence, war, drone attacks, Torture. Executions, tainted food, poorly tested drugs, miner's deaths, mountaintop removal coal mining, global warming, corporate personhood, nuclear plants, unsafe workplaces, polluted air, polluted water, infrastructure collapses, lack of health care, poverty, starvation, natural disasters, global warming. Extinction.

Big Yawn: Half of sleeping pills' effect is the placebo effect.

On Site: So you go a US hospital and get the right surgical procedure done (20 times a week someone's not so lucky) on the right appendage (also missed 20 times a week. So far so good. Did they leave something extra behind when they closed up? (Yep, 39 times a week.) These totally preventable events lead to death 6.6% of the time and permanent injury 32.9% of the time. Take a buddy, it might help.

Clarification: Reports that American Electric Power – the country's largest coal customer – is being forced to close its coal-fired Big Sandy power plant because of “strict new environmental regulations” are absolutely not true. The 'new' regulations are the 40-year old Clean Air Act, and the expiration of the grandfathering that let AEP continue to pollute for decades. Celebrate.

You Can't Go Home Again: When the US wanted Diego Garcia as an outpost of the empire, Great Britain forcibly removed the 1,500 natives. After 40 years of trying to return to their homeland, the European Court of Rights has said they have no right to do so – at least none that could possibly prevail against the US.

Porn O'Graph: Chain, chain, chain...

The Parting Shot:


Thursday, December 20, 2012

SAR #12354

The NRA has only 4.3 million members. Why does the tail wag the dog?

Omission: Boehner, under the mistaken impression that he has backing from his own party to pass his 'Plan B', says that President Obama will have to sign it or veto it. Mr. Boehner seems to forget that the Senate would have to pass his ridiculous plan, which ain't gonna happen.

Assignment: Define and describe how the children in Newton, CT differ from the children routinely killed by the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, in Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia and other places. Why is it that they have no names, no pictures, no candles or flowers or teddy bears? Why do we feel no sorrow, no guilt? Maybe the scope of gun control discussions should be widened.

Fraud Alert: Those who insist on including Social Security in any deficit reduction discussions are con men. Social Security is solvent for many years to come thanks to its Trust Fund. The fact that Bush and the Republicans took those moneys and gave them to the rich via tax cuts does not invalidate the bonds held by the Trust Fund. If they will not raise taxes to pay that money back, they are committing theft and should be jailed.

Kick 'em While They're Down: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac appear to have lost over $3 billion through the big banks' manipulation of Libor interest rates. Now that USB has agreed to pay a $1.5 billion fine, it would seem like a good time to sue the bastards.

Noted: According to the Agriculture Department, in 2010 20% of households receiving food stamps had no cash income.

Failure Succeeds: QE's I-III and doing The Twist While Quantitatively Easing did not perk up the economy or increase jobs (it decreased the unemployment percentage by driving away portions of the labor force), so the Fed is going to do more easing, indefinitely. Just be glad it wasn't castor oil and beatings. And don't worry about inflation when (and if) the Fed has to dump all those overpriced assets. It's pretty sure it can do so without higher inflation, economic collapse, civil strife and … oh, wait.

He's Baaack! Former Italian PM Berlusconi, warming up to be the power behind the throne come Spring, said: "If Germany doesn't accept that the ECB must be a real central bank, if interest rates don't come down, we will be forced to leave the euro and return to our own currency in order to be competitive."

Guns & Butter: Here's what at steak stake as Obama joins the Republicans in undermining Social Security via “chained-CPI': the cost of living increases will assume that when prices go up, retirees will switch from all-meat catfood to the cheaper grain-based, meat-flavored brands. This will let the country Congress divert even more Social Security funds to the arms industry.

Repeat: Another Al Qaeda 'second in command' has been captured, this one in northern Algeria where he supposedly oversaw activities in the Maghreb.

In The Beginning: The New Orleans school board, in open defiance of Bobby Jindal's efforts to completely pervert education in Louisianna, has banned both textbooks and teachers that "present creationism or intelligent design as science," as well as textbooks based on the strange version of history ( the Trail of Tears was God's way of bringing Christ to heathens) mandated by the esteemed Texas legislature. It's a start.

Porn O'Graph: Housing recovery, the view from over there.

The Parting Shot:


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SAR #12353

Surrender is not a generally recommended negotiating position.

Short Version: 'Chained-CPI' is code for “let's really impoverish some women in their 90s.” It is a bad policy. Someone should remind Obama that he won.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does: Tennessee wants every school to have as many gun-toting teachers as possible, as does Oklahoma and Texas' Rick Perry.

Asked & Not Answered: UK Prime Minister David Cameron was asked: ”Are the British public now being asked to accept that, despite incontrovertible evidence of multiple criminal acts by bankers, including money-laundering, drug-money-laundering, Libor rigging, multiple frauds and assorted Ponzi schemes, bankers are considered to be immune from prosecution?” Hint: UBS is being fined $1.5 billion for manipulating the Libor interest rate for several years, but no one is going to jail.

Low Price Guarantee: With a $52,000 bribe, Wal-Mart was able to evade Mexican law. Their motto: "Always the low bribe, always."

Junk Yard Dogs: ”In a move that prompted a swift and angry response from China, the US has reportedly agreed to substantially increase its military presence in the Philippines”. 'Substantially' is nicely vague, and the US 'military presence' has lately been extremely low key.

Scroogeism: Just in time for Christmas, House Republicans want to put an anti-gay provision in the defense spending bill. They're not big on elves, either.

Looks, Walks, Quacks: Israel and its apologists react in fury when anyone likens the oppression of Palestinians to South Africa’s white supremacist system of apartheid toward blacks, but the comparison is growing harder and harder to dispute, because Israel's oppression of Palestinians is a supremacist system of apartheid.

Chain of Fools: You'll be hearing a lot about “chained CPI”. Here's the short form: It is a less-than-covert way of cutting Social Security. Any questions?

Vive la différence: Beginning next year, young women in France between the ages of 15 and 18 will have access to birth control free of charge, and without parental notification.

Porn O'Graph: Gentle Ben doubles down up.

The Parting Shot:



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SAR #12352

There's little to suggest that the good guys win.

Hidden In Plain Sight: The NRA crowd is never going to vote Democratic, so why don't the Democrats quit trying to curry favor with them and their specious arguments?

Noted: Wouldn't Obama's Newton speech be a tad more tolerable if he extended the same concern shown there to the families of the children oour drones have killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen or Somalia?

And Justice For All Some: How is it that HSBC gets to pay a fine for financing terrorists, while a Somali contributing to a Muslim charity get sent to jail?

Timing: As part of their ongoing and deeply held concern for the well-being of Americans, the House of Representative (for which read “Republicans”) want to reduce food stamp funding by $16 billion, even though a record 47.7 million Americans are currently receiving assistance from the program, with no decrease in the number or the need predicted until employment approaches normal levels.

Word Choices: Social Security does not need to be 'fixed' because: a) there is nothing wrong with it, and b) cats get 'fixed' and it involves serious cuts.

Merry Christmas to You, Too:McDonald’s has told its franchise holders that if they approach scheduling properly, by Christmas enough of their employees will be so desperate that they will work on Christmas without asking for overtime pay – a concept that McDonald's does not acknowledge as applying to any of their employees. Ever.

Sign Of The Times: The NRA has taken down its Facebook page.

Inconvenient Truths: Saying we have a budget deficit in the US today is the same as noting that we are in a severe recession. In recessions tax revenues plummet while social safety-net expenditures rise. Viola, a deficit. compound that with a egregrious tax cut for the rich and presto! the current deficit. Abolishing the tax cuts will help. Promoting economic growth via stimulus spending - say on infrastructure that we're going to have to fix pretty damned soon anyway - and the economy will pick up as the people get jobs and start spending. And, glory be, in a rising economy the tax revenues will grow and the social safety-net spending will fall and the deficit will become pocket change. As for the debt – well, single payer healthcare would pretty much solve that one.

Just Say No - And Mean It: Following the 1966 Port Arthur murders, Australia adopted sweeping gun control laws. Since then there have been no mass shootings in the country, and gun violence has diminished significantly. So don't say it can't be done.

Porn O'Graph:Mirror image.

The Parting Shot:


Monday, December 17, 2012

SAR #12351

It is not that it happened, it's that we let it keep happening.

Assignment: Define 'hypocrisy”.

Piece Process:Israel – under one or another peace deal – collects about $100 million a month in duties that belong to the Palestinians. It's a result of the strange netherland in which Palestine exists, not quite a state, but still somewhat of one. But in another display of its essential meanness , Israel is withholding these funds. Not pretending they are not owed and due, just withholding them. Because they can.

Conditions: The death rate for those who are uninsured is 40% higher than those who have insurance. How many people will die if the Medicare age is increased to 67? How many under the Republican plan that leaves 44 million uninsured?

Suspicions Confirmed: Now even the establishment media agree that big banks are criminal enterprises. Big criminal enterprises. After all, “The system is set so that even if you’re caught, the penalty is just a small number relative to what you walk home with. The fine is just a cost of doing business. It’s like a parking fine. Sometimes you make a decision to park knowing that you might get a fine because going around the corner to the parking lot takes you too much time.” - Joseph Stiglitz

Without Comment: Silvio Berlusconi announced he was engaged to his girlfriend, who is 50 years his junior, and now feels "less lonely".

Porn O'Graph: Coincidences happen.

The Parting Shot:


Saturday, December 15, 2012

SAR #12349

Right to work laws have nothing to do with rights and little to do with work. They encourage freeloaders to benefit from the efforts of others without contributing to the group effort, and to do so in ways designed to destroy the group, to the benefit of the owners. They are an attack on the common good.

Guns: If not now, when? How many more children do we have to sacrifice to the NRA? To the right wing nuts? Yes, it could have been a knife, but it wasn't. And don't tell me fewer would have died if 4th graders carried Glocks in their backpacks.

Red Rover, Red Rover: After long and strenuous negotiations, EU leaders reported they had agreed on further steps - beyond taking over the continents banking system - to contain or resolve or something the ongoing crisis. High on their list were plans for a common EU-wide unemployment insurance scheme and raising funds to use in smoothing over bank failures. As soon as they turned in their homework, Chancellor Merkel graded it with an "F" and told them to start over. Why doesn't she give them a copy of the answer sheet?

All I Want For Christmas.... Is Another War. The US is sending 400 soldiers and a bunch of Patriot missiles to Turkey, just in case we get a chance to get into another Middle-Eastern war.

Sun Rises In East: The Senate intelligence committee, after a long and thorough examination of the evidence, concluded that torture has not produced any significant intelligence. What it did accomplish was to make us a nation of torturers.

Wordplay: Who gets 'assured' by the Farmers Assurance Provision of the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill? Monsanto, of course. They get a guarantee that the USDA, EPA, and all the rest of the federal government will not interfere in any way with introducing 'new and better' (eye of the beholder) GMO seeds. And they also get immunity from any court actions either to prevent their profiting from the seeds or paying for any damage they do to children and other living things.

Constituents: The Republicans, led by Eric Cantor, are refusing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women act because he wants a provision included that would prevent white men from being tried by tribal courts for the rape of Indian women. Understandable; pickup driving white guys who rape Indians are one of the few cohorts that still reliably vote Republican.

Grapevine: Word is that the Republicans have repeatedly refused to identify a single spending cut they want, or a specific loophole they want closed. It's the party of no ideas, just ideals. Unrealistic, otherworldly ideals. But the reports of their demise are premature.

Yes We Have No Bananas: Relapse: Seizures of foreclosed homes are once more on the rise, up 5.4% last month as mortgage portfolios at major banks turn increasingly sour. Only 85% of BofA's mortgage loans are current and 4.8% are in foreclosure. JPMorgan is foreclosing on 5% of it's homeowners. Why? Because the lenders once again think they have figured out a way "to play the foreclosure game". That doesn't mean they're playing by the rules, just that this time they think they will get away with it.

Noted: The GAO says that "spending is not out of control... Social Security and Medicare are rising gently... All other spending.. with the notable exception of interest on the debt” is falling. Interest, they say, will eventually eat up the entire budget if "revenue is not permitted to rise..."

One Stop Shopping: After its non-medical employees began unionizing because they make so little they have to use the local food bank to supplement their wages, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center agreed to begin paying a living wage set up a food bank just for them.

The Parting Shot:


Friday, December 14, 2012

SAR #12348

There are no final victories.

Cows At Home: Bernanke asserts that the new QE effort - printing $85 billion in new money every month - won't dilute the value of the existing money stock. Did somebody change the definition of the verb 'to dilute'? If it doesn't work and the TPTB fail to redefine unemployment down to 6.5%, will these floodgates remain open indefinitely?

Bank On It: Eurozone finance ministers have agreed on a 'legal framework' (sic) that will put Europe's 200 largest banks “under the direct oversight of the ECB, which will act as chief supervisor of eurozone banks.” The idea is to allow eurozone banks to be recapitalized directly, without making their national governments liable for the debt. The ECB will also be able to intervene in smaller banks, pretty much at will. No one asked the voters of any of these countries if they wanted their banks controlled by Germany the ECB.

The Rich Are Different: A new club – focused on bondage and sado-masochism - has been accepted by Harvard University campus administrators.

Inquiring Minds: If the Trans-Pacific Partnership is going to be such a marvelous thing, why are the negotiations being held in such tight secrecy? Maybe because of things like the TPP demand that signatory countries “shall conform their domestic laws, regulations and administrative procedures” to the terms of the agreement. In other words, unknown and unelected people are agreeing to force a number of countries – including the US – to cede sovereignty to the TPP on matters of trade. Like Nafta. Whoopee.

Quoted: “Republicans have run out of persuadable white voters.” Might have something to do with their continued stupidity and relentless attacks against women.

Power of Positive Wishing: Bernanke is convinced that when the Fed wants to dump its immense store of low-interest mortgage-backed securities, the fools'll line up 3 deep. He's also sure that a couple of trillion dollars worth of them won't dampen appetites, even though the Fed would sell them into rising inflation.

Bipartisanship: While the administration and House Republicans can barely tolerate each other's fiscal policies, they are agreed on the need to continue and expand the government's 'targeted killing' program, and the absolute lack of a need for any supervision of same. Anyway, if they told you, they'd have to kill you.

Depends On Who You Know: The Administration asked for $210 million in aid to Israel for its 'Iron Dome' anti-missile system. The Senate approved $420 million and the House Republicans upped that to $680 million. Deficit, what deficit?

Laundry List: HBSC, fined $1.9 billion for laundering drug money. Standard Charted of NY, $327 million, money laundering. UBS, fined $1 billion for manipulating Libor. Barclays, $450 million, ditto. RBS is up next. US and EU banks launder nearly a trillion dollars every year; think these piddling fees are going to stop them? Ha, “the entire financial sector has become an organized criminal entity.” Steal $63.48 from the local store, go to jail for four years. Fair's fair, right?

Progress, Slowly: The US deficit has decreased from 10.1% of GDP in 2009, to 7.0 % in 2012. And Social Security has no effect on the deficit.

Why Is This News? Everyone is scandalized that Google - just like The Mitten - is defending its tax avoidance as a routine exercise of capitalism, which it is. This is not “morally bankrupt” as some allege, it's just business. Last year, Google had £2.5 billion in sales in the UK but paid £6million in taxes, and hid £10 billion in Bermuda, saving £2 billion in taxes. 

Porn O'Graph:Primarily easing.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

SAR #12347

We worry more about the cost of health care than we do about health care, and more about health care than about health.

Again: Bernanke, acknowledging that QE1, QE2, QE3 and QE3 with a Twist did not work, is doubling down and says that the Fed will now dump $85 billion a month into the economy until the participation rate drops below 50% bringing the unemployment rate to 6.5% or inflation expectations exceeds 2.5%. He figures another $2 trillion will do the trick.

Famous Last Lost Words: "There is light at the end of the tunnel ... confidence is returning ... we need to stay the course." Olli Rehn, EU economics commissioner, 1211. Also Olli Rehn, 2012. "They make a desert and call it peace." Tacitus (Agricolo c.98 AD).

Symptom: The battle over right-to-work in Michigan isn't over right-to-work laws or even over unions. It is another front in the war of the rich against the rest of us and the rest of us are losing. Its about the shredding of the American Dream and the dissolution of the idea of equality. It is not the last battle we will lose as we retreat to penury and lifetime indebtedness, just one more in a growing tide of defeats for the middle class. Those of you who thought the struggle between capital and labor was a thing of the past have not been paying attention.

Austerity: Keep taking the medicine, it'll work any day now. Poverty and social unrest are just side effects.

Clip & Save: Bank of America says the price of WTI - US crude oil - is going to fall sharply, perhaps to as little as $50 a barrel in the next two years. Maybe they see a really, really severe recession ahead.

Clueless: Walmart CEO Mike Duke, who took home $18.7 million last year, says he sees no problem in paying his 1.4 million US employees an average of $8.81 an hour, which he defines as "fair wages."

All The News, In Fits: Consensus among journalists is that coverage of the 2012 campaign was "a calamitous failure"because the biggest and most important story of the year - that Republican candidates and their apologists are habitual liars completely divorced from reality - was not and could not be covered. They had to be "fair and balanced" even if one side was fairly unbalanced.

Labor Law 101: “'Right to work' sounds like a law guaranteeing you a job, or at least protecting your job once you’ve got it. ... In fact, it’s the opposite. The main effect of right-to-work laws is to outlaw regulations of employment and allow your boss to fire you without cause.”

Follow The Money: Paul Krugman has jsut now figured out that the rich get richer because they are... rich. Which leads him to wonder if ownership of (Das) Capital might have something to do with it.

Ducks And Roses: Before you get too smug about the US becoming the world's biggest oil producer you should understand that when the IEA said that they were counting both conventional oil (crude and condensate as it's known in the oil patch) and natural gas liquids, and pretending the two were the same thing. They are not. You cannot run your car on the liquid made from natural gas. And at least 30% of the predicted US glut will be natural gas liquids, not petroleum. The US may, downhill with a good tail-wind, make it back to the level of crude production it had in 1990, but that was 20 years after US oil output peaked. It doesn't walk like a duck, and calling it oil doesn't make it oil.

Vocabulary Test: In the sentence: “Mario Monti's exit is the only way to save Italy.” what does save mean?

The Parting Shot:


Snack time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SAR #12346

Nine out of 10 people in finance don’t have your best interest at heart.

Geography Lesson: Workers protesting government denial of their basic rights have been trampled by mounted police, while other officers pepper sprayed a former member of the national legislation who was protesting the anti-labor government putsch. In Michigan.

And So It Goes: Internal emails show that BP knew the enormity of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout much earlier than they claimed when maintaining that they had provided prompt and complete information to both the public and the government. In fact, they did neither.

I Heard It On The Grapevine Grey Line: Across the US, government officials are installing listening devices on public buses. Go ahead, speak out. That's what they're looking for, and like Santa, they're making a list.

Quote: “The City of London, in recent years, has become a criminal sink, populated by a criminogenic community of spivs and wideboys made wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice, by the ludicrous pay schemes and bonus awards, made possible in an environment where all sense of worth, value, and ordinary law-conformity, has been jettisoned, in return for vast sums of money far and beyond anything that might normally have been paid only a few years ago. The entire financial sector has become an organized criminal entity.” He's upset that HBSC and Standard Chartered are only paying fines, not going to jail for laundering drug money for the cartels.

Betrayal: Executives at Hostess Brands looted the workers pension fund and paid themselves $1.8 million in bonuses. No one knows how much money was "diverted", but lawyers agree that there is no remedy available - which means they get away with it, and with blaming it on the 18,000 union employees who have been thrown into the street.

Reality Check: Green power will, by 2040, play an increasing role in the US energy mix. Two percent more than today, according to the US Department of Energy. Maybe three percent.

Without Comment: The family of an American subjected to indefinite detention without trial, without formal charges and without legal representation is asking for international rights organizations to intervene. It is becoming ever harder to tell who the good guys are, but

Eye On The Prize: Walmart employs about 11.4 million Americans, paying the average full-time worker $12 an hour - $25,000 a year. Walmart itself made $27 billion in operating profit last year. They could have given each employee a $5,000 raise and cut their profits to a measly $20 billion. The same general data would apply to many (most?) other gigantic American corporations that are so diligent in finding ways to cut costs and fire people.

Passing In Review: After 10 years and over $20 billion, the US Army has managed to bring one of Afghanistan's 23 combat brigades to a level of proficiency that would permit it to operate without US hand-holding.

This Little Piggy: Increased production from the oilfields of West Texas and North Dakota's Bakken Shale has resulted in production capacity that overwhelms the transmission capacity of existing pipelines. That in turn has driven down the prices paid by about $10 a barrel. Canadian oil sands production is also running into similar problems. The lower prices may cut the enthusiasm (and profitability) for many of these undertakings. Sort of a self-hoisting petard.

Theme Song: Enormous amounts of US funds provided to Afghanistan continue to be stolen and flown out of the country. At least $4.5 billion in 2011 and at least that much again this year. It would be easy to stop, but our boy Karzai isn't interested.

Wink As Good As A Nod: Ohio's Republican Secretary of State, who did everything possible to place roadblocks in the path of voters, now admits that voter fraud is "very rare." Republican political consultant Scott Tranter acknowledged that long lines at polling places and the voter ID requirements helped the Republican candidates, as intended.

The Parting Shot:


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

SAR #12345

We ought to try kindness, it is almost always the right thing to do. Ian Welsh

Codetalker: When Obama says he is ready to compromise “a little bit” what he means is he's ready to cut Medicare and Social Security, kiss extended unemployment benefits goodbye and let the payroll withholding tax 'holiday' end. so the rich will pay a tiny bit more in taxes and the rest of us will get austerity. And, of course, we'll get to say "Thank You, Sir."

Over, Over There: The Bundesbank forecasts German GDP to grow, if that's the word, a miserly 0.4% next year, down from it's 1.6% prediction six months ago. The bank did suggest that things will be better if the eurozone debt crisis doesn't get worse. If.

Working For The Man: Following a decades long trend, wages have risen less than inflation for the last 22 months. Tell me how we can have a recoveryTM if workers don't have the money be consumers? Yet corporate profits are at record levels. A neat trick, accomplished by taking ever increasing amounts from the workers' wages - best summed up by the antiquated phrase "monopoly power". A term you should learn: rentier, as in"We are becoming a rentier society." If that doesn't work, try "robber barons".

Efficiency: The Republicans say we have to deprive those 65 to 67 years old of Medicare coverage, even though they've paid for it for decades, because we are too poor to keep our promises. But the real costs come in the last year of two of life, so wouldn't it make more sense to throw the older folks, say those over 85 or so, off the program?

Taedia: Please contribute.

Annals of Religion: Why, in the face of countries full of evidence that austerity ruins economies and impoverishes citizens without any appreciable benefit to anyone but the looters who profit from privatization, do the EU leaders continue to insist on economic suicide? Oh, wait...

Our Gang: Five of the CEOs behind the “Fix the Debt” charade have over $150 million in their retirement accounts. They also, together, have overseen the elimination of over 100,000 jobs in the last 5 years while claiming $48 billion in tax credits. Those are the credentials that qualify them to tell the rest of us to suck it up.

Talking Points: Conservatives are less likely to accept ideas based on scientific evidence than they are the assertions by a consensus of those they view as authorities. This does not mean they are non-thinking conformists, easily led. They are, but this doesn't prove the case.

Reality Check: In August and September over a million more Americans signed up for food stamps - three times the number of new jobs crated during the same time. That 47.7 million are now receiving benefits is, of course, a record. In the 1970's about 1 out of 50 Americans received food stamps. Now it is about 1 out of six. Republicans maintain that people avoid going to work just so they can draw the average $134.29 a month. Living high.

Misunderestimating: The IPCC, fifth report - based on data collected a few years ago and already published in the journals - will begin published in 2013. And like the previous four, it will be out of date when printed and will consistently understate the impacts that global climate change will have. And the climate deniers will claim it is being alarmist.

Unmentioned & Unmentionable: The war on terror has lasted longer than the Civil War. Longer than World War I. Longer than World War II. Longer than all three together. And has cost immensely more – over $2 trillion so far - plus the loss of international prestige and the destruction of civil rights at home. Perhaps this would be a good time to stop. It would help with the deficit.

Senatorial Immunity: Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who wants to cut Medicare and Social Security, says that the President is a "small ball guy" who is afraid of "manning up". Ah, an enlightening and well-reasoned argument.

Porn O'Graph: More, or less.

The Parting Shot:


Monday, December 10, 2012

SAR #12344

When the world as we know it ends another will begin, without us.

Privatizing Medicare, 2 Years At A Time: Raising the Medicare eligibility age - the current favorite Republican camel's nose - would lower the deficit 5.7 billion (out of trillions) and cost taxpaying citizens who paid Medicare premiums for years and years $11.4 billion in insurance costs - mostly profit for the insurers. This is not a new idea, just a bad one.

The Good and The Bad: The good news is that the Doha round of the ongoing UN global warming negotiations ended in an agreement. The bad news is the agreement - which is to eventually re-ratify the totally ineffective Kyoto accord, which covers only 15% of global warming emissions. The largest emitters either never have been signatories (China and the US) or have withdrawn from the agreement (Russia, Canada, and Japan). The rest of the "accomplishment" of this effort - which started in 2010 - is to agree to try to come to an agreement in 2015 which would be ineffectively and toothlessly in effect in 2020.

Thought Experiment: What happens to the cornucopian forecasts for Middle Eastern oil production when the intercine warfare between Shia and Sunni begins dissolving the pretend countries the West drew on their maps a century ago or so.?

Inquiring Minds: If a soldier must disobey illegal orders and the president tells him to torture someone, must he do it? Or to conduct murder of civilians by drone? If he does, is he liable under the law? Is the president liable for the consequences of his authorization of illegal acts? Even if he's no longer president? Or if he still is?

For Howard Zinn: In the last four years alone, in its war on terror, the United States has used drones to kill people in six predominantly Muslim countries (probably more), repeatedly annihilating entire families, dozens of children at a time, targeted and killed people rescuing and grieving for victims of previous killings, and deliberately (or recklessly) killed its own citizens. The US continues to support the world's worst tyrants and unashamedly embraces moral double standards in overlooking the worst behavior of its client states. It has a global network of prisons where caged people are kept indefinitely with no charges and no rights. It has declared itself exempt from the same international justice systems which it insists must punish the leaders of small weak states that have annoyed it. Less than a decade ago, it created a worldwide torture regime and then launched an aggressive war that destroyed a nation of 26 million people, one that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings. Now it is turning its attention to its own citizens.

Dibbs: China is upset that India is showing interest in exploring for oil in the South China Sea. Also with Japan and Vietnam and anyone else anywhere else that thinks they can filch "China's" oil.

Benefits: In the last 30 years, tax rates for the poor dropped 5%, for the 1% they dropped 14.2%. The poor haven't had a raise in those 30 years because all of the productivity profits went to the top. Only in Lebanon, Russia and Ukraine is wealth more unequally distributed than in the USA.

Frills: Multimillionaire Tom Coburn (R-OK) says Social Security and Medicare should be cut becuse "we don't absolutely need" them. Who's we, rich guy? Meanwhile Bob Corker (R-TN) says the R's can let taxes on the rich rise now because next year they can take the government hostage over the debt ceiling and force the Dem's into cutting Medicare and Social Security, "like we did last time." The country has a lot of real problems without the make-believe 'the debt ceiling is falling' malicious Tomfoolery.

Porn O'Graph: Men at work. Or not.

The Parting Shot: