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Cephalo Solstice

December 21, 2009

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65 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    December 21, 2009 8:43 am

    Maybe our vast Italian readership can help out here. Now there is a claim making the rounds that Belusconi getting whacked in the head was a hoax, or at least that he greatly overstated the extent of his injuries. Can’t really follow the Italian commentary on the video at the link, but I bet Putin the manly man got a chuckle out of all this.

    • Stemella permalink*
      December 21, 2009 10:14 am

      Ecco means “look” tranquila means “calm” the rest was too damn fast.

      Here’s what I could make of the printed text

      “Strangely enough the camera that was supposed to have shot this mob at the moment of aggression was reviewed or checked and it is a coincidence that the position of the camera near the launch, the assailant’s arm was turned and clearly visible – a generic maneuver by a profession without many mistakes, when there is no motive to change the film shot. ”

      I’ve not studied Italian, but here’s the gist.

      Basically they are questioning the film angles and shots used in the filming of the flinging and flying projectile tourista trinket.

  2. Stemella permalink*
    December 21, 2009 9:33 am

    Look at ’em go!

    Investors buy into health care sector as Senate moves on bill

    Shares of insurers Cigna Corp. (CI 38.00, +2.20, +6.15%) and Aetna Inc. (AET 34.37, +1.86, +5.72%) both gained about 6%, helping make health-care the best performing sector among the S&P 500’s (SPX 1,115, +12.87, +1.17%) 10 industry groups.

    As an industry, the health care plan sector is up four and a quarter percent today overall.

    All in the nick of time for St. Nick to dump bags of cash down those corporate chimneys in bonuses.

    The industry has been given a whole new arsenal with which to bleed and kill the plebian classes. Thanks so much Obama. Thanks so much Democrats. Bastards, all.

    • cometman permalink*
      December 21, 2009 9:53 am

      Truly sickening to watch this fiasco unfold. Those who still defend Obama and the Democrats seem to have blinders on when it comes to following the money. If this “reform” is really such a boon, then why are insurance stocks hitting all time highs? Obviously this is a huge giveaway to the insurance industry and yet so many still have their Obama pom-poms out. I just don’t get it.

      • Stemella permalink*
        December 21, 2009 10:26 am

        For some, to have to admit their hopes were misplaced and that they were hoodwinked is too difficult. Others are willfully bombastic, dividing and conquering because they can take advantage of the confusion. Others seem to be simple minded groupies who don’t care about issues, only about the team and the celebrity. The rustle of the pom poms will eventually diminish as more open their eyes.

        • cometman permalink*
          December 21, 2009 10:44 am

          Here’s one who isn’t afraid to admit his hopes were misplaced – the Hofstra guy is is pissed off again.

          Here’s a guy who was supposed to actually do something with his presidency, and he’s turned into the skinny little geek on Cell Block D who gets passed around like a rag doll for the pleasure of all the fellas with the tattoos there. He’s being punked by John Boehner, for chrisakes. He’s being rolled by the likes of Joe Lieberman. He calls a come-to-Jesus meeting with Wall Street bank CEOs, and half of them literally phone it in. Everyone from Bibi Netanyahu to the Japanese prime minister to sundry Iranian mullahs is stomping all over Mr. Happy.

          And he doesn’t even seem to realize it.

          • Stemella permalink*
            December 21, 2009 11:12 am

            When isn’t this guy pissed? I started to laugh as soon as I read the title.
            I think he is channeling Mr. T at one point! haha awesome.

            His questions at the end are one’s I’ve asked too. At this point it does seem they are shooting for a one term run, dumping the ball back in the Repub court. Either that or they really believe their own hype and think they can spin their way to creating more pom poms.

  3. cometman permalink*
    December 21, 2009 10:01 am

    Interesting post via zerohedge which has Micheal Hudson’s rebuttal to Krugman’s criticism of the article Hudson reposted from 30 years ago which we mentioned last week. Still agree with Hudson about economics not being an empirical science. I think he’s right on with his critique about modern economics being a convenient tool for ideologues that has little basis in actual fact and that fails to take into account how the world actually works.

    …my book describes the “intellectual engineering” that has turned the economics discipline into a public relations exercise for the rentier classes criticized by the classical economists: landlords, bankers and monopolists. It was largely to counter criticisms of their unearned income and wealth, after all, that the post-classical reaction aimed to limit the conceptual “toolbox” of economists to become so unrealistic, narrow-minded and self-serving to the status quo. It has ended up as an intellectual ploy to distract attention away from the financial and property dynamics that are polarizing our world between debtors and creditors, property owners and renters, while steering politics from democracy to oligarchy.

    Adam Smith merely described what he saw happening in the economic world, he made no insistence that things should or must be that way. I remember reading the passage in The Wealth of Nations where he describes the concept of rent and offers no explanation for why it developed the way it has.

    • Stemella permalink*
      December 21, 2009 11:03 am

      Great discussion in that piece. I lived with an economist for several years who practiced micro-economics. His work compared and contrasted the benefits and externalities in the use of labor vs chemicals in controlling pests in the forest industry. His work had immediate application that made a difference in terms of environmental impact and workforce issues. Most of his work was mathematical. I came to see the utility of economics in specific cases like this with limited timeframes.

      Macro economics is what I follow, however, in the work that I link to here, from the usual blogs and other publications. If the timeframe is extended far enough with historical analogy for comparison, the macro can provide a useful framework for analysis of current events. Like history though, there is much that is subjective and the data can be colored and manipulated to suit the orientation of the writer. It can be full on propaganda voodoo econ for the right or green roots for the neo-libs or disaster capitalism for we on the rive gauche, depending on that subjective stuff, with all kinds of shades and variations in between. That is what makes it a social science and a potential tool for the marketing teams in power.

  4. cometman permalink*
    December 21, 2009 11:10 am

    Glenn Greenwald has a good post up today. He discusses the recent attacks ordered by Obama on another country which killed dozens of women and children (but not the “terrorist” they were aiming for), this time Yemen.

    Even more noteworthy than that was his mention of a law passed last year which requires the president to report to Congress on what has been happening for the benefit of Israel. WTF?!?!?!?!?!

    “America’s commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge was codified directly into U.S. law via 2008 legislation backed by AIPAC. This legislation requires the president to report to Congress periodically on actions taken by the administration to ensure Israel’s advantage.”

    I have to confess that I didn’t realize that a law was enacted last year making it a legal requirement for America to maintain “Israel’s qualitative military edge,” and — even more amazingly — that the President of the U.S. is required to report regularly to the U.S. Congress on the steps he’s taking to ensure Israel’s superiority. That’s a rather extraordinary law, and the administration seems to be fulfilling its requirements faithfully.

    • Stemella permalink*
      December 21, 2009 1:23 pm

      Pukeworthy. Obama has his hands permanently stained with blood of innocents and it pisses me off that it is still in our names. With Rahm and Clinton guiding the policy it is no wonder we are more firmly entrenched in Israel’s bed than ever. Thank goodness Greenwald is sleuthing it out and documenting it all.

  5. cometman permalink*
    December 21, 2009 11:27 am

    The Pope gets patented or copyrighted or something. Not supposed to use any Popey symbols, or make Popish songs, or have any fun at the Pope’s expense without checking with the Pope first. But it looks like the Vatican hasn’t yet taken down my favorite video.

    So sue me Holy See!

    • Stemella permalink*
      December 21, 2009 12:55 pm

      Or my favorite popey pic

      Patented pope. Ridiculous!

      • cometman permalink*
        December 21, 2009 1:28 pm

        Eeeeeeewwwww. I might have to sue you for posting that one :)

  6. cometman permalink*
    December 21, 2009 11:33 am

    Ha! Here’s some holiday cheer. We wish you a bloody squidmas!!

    • Stemella permalink*
      December 21, 2009 12:57 pm

      Haha! Gross! :-D

  7. Stemella permalink*
    December 21, 2009 1:30 pm

    Naomi Klein has a new article at the Nation, which summarizes his screwups in handling Copenhagen as well as the economy.

    For Obama, No Opportunity Too Big To Blow ,

    • cometman permalink*
      December 21, 2009 1:38 pm

      Looks like we were reading the same article at the same time since I just posted the same link! Once is probably enough though. I’ll delete the one I posted, but that was a very good summation from Klein of what could have been done.

  8. artemis54 permalink
    December 21, 2009 1:35 pm

    Happy Holidays from the Deli

    • artemis54 permalink
      December 21, 2009 1:37 pm

      Hmm . . . .

      My card wouldn’t display

      • cometman permalink*
        December 21, 2009 1:41 pm

        Ha! Thanks for the seasoned greetings! I like it even more know that I realize that wasn’t Markos’ face on the model. At first glance I thought it was.

      • triv33 permalink
        December 21, 2009 6:10 pm

        Happy Holidays, Melvin!

  9. artemis54 permalink
    December 21, 2009 1:42 pm

    Monbiot:

    And, ominously, we now have the head of the UN process, Yvo de Boer, saying we are going to move the talks to Mexico; it will all be fine there.

    You probably remember this, Amy, but in 2001, the world trade talks collapsed in Doha, and the head of the World Trade Organization said it’s all fine; we’re going to move the talks to Mexico, and it’ll all be resolved then. And they moved to Cancun and were never seen again. And I wonder—I’m beginning to wonder if Mexico is the diplomatic equivalent to the Pacific Garbage Patch, the place where failed negotiations go to die.

  10. artemis54 permalink
    December 21, 2009 2:06 pm

    Air Jelly

    • Stemella permalink*
      December 21, 2009 3:20 pm

      Here’s a youtube – Happy holidaze to you too Melvin

  11. cometman permalink*
    December 21, 2009 2:15 pm

    Paul Krugman’s latest column calls for changes to Senate procedures regarding the filibuster. He gives some history of the practice and notes that it has been used more and more frequently over the years and is currently being used about 70% of the time. I don’t think Krugman goes quite far enough though.

    Nobody should meddle lightly with long-established parliamentary procedure.

    In this case why the hell not? Here’s a little more history of the filibuster. It has been used in the past to defend the practice of slavery and to fight against civil rights. It’s an archaic practice with very little beneficial use that I can see. Getting rid of it would be a great start in fixing our broken political system. Then maybe we can work on getting rid of the goddamned Senate too.

    This part of Krugman’s column I don’t like at all. Regarding the health care “reform” legislation:

    It’s a seriously flawed bill, we’ll spend years if not decades fixing it, but it’s nonetheless a huge step forward.

    And we’re just supposed to take it as a given that this is some giant leap for mankind I guess. Krugman and everyone else who is using this milquetoast defense of this anathema of a bill should be ashamed of themselves. Please give me one example of legislation that wasn’t so hot to begin with that was improved upon in recent years. I seem to remember a few candidates mentioning that changes needed to be made to the NAFTA legislation that has been a disaster for labor in this country, but we’ve had this for 15 years now and rather than improving it absolutely nothing has been done and Obama has made it clear that since he’s not on the campaign trail anymore he has no intention of doing anything about it now.

    I’ve mentioned before the Dirigo health care that passed in Maine a few years ago that was supposed to be a “first step” towards real universal health care. Right now it’s withering on the vine and insurance companies have done everything they can to make sure it doesn’t succeed. Now the governor who touted it so highly a few years ago won’t even mention it anymore.

    So all the apologists for Obama and the slatternly Dems better get it through their heads. If you don’t do it right the first time, better not to do it at all or otherwise we’ll just be stuck with this piece of shit legislation. because that is the way it works.

    • artemis54 permalink
      December 22, 2009 2:48 pm

      Can I get an Amen?

      Your “slatternly” is just about right. Talking to a friend yesterday, I found myself groping for a word to describe the dry rotted whorehouse that the US Senate has turned itself into.

  12. Stemella permalink*
    December 21, 2009 3:25 pm

    Another surreal combination of squids and christmas and – – butter!

    • triv33 permalink
      December 21, 2009 6:20 pm

      Now, I could tell you a story about along buttered hallway, a smokey dining room full of adults playing cards and a bunch of kids finding out that sugar sprinkled liberally on a kitchen floor just makes things zippier rather than making traction, but Aunt Sara had a hand to play after all, she only had time for a quick fix and a quick cuss-out. Ah, memories!

      • Stemella permalink*
        December 22, 2009 9:32 am

        Reminds me of the time when a friend and I decided to have fun with five pounds of baking flour in the middle of the kitchen before we had a water fight. My mother, needless to say, was NOT amused.

  13. Stemella permalink*
    December 21, 2009 3:35 pm

    Turn the volume up real high for this one! bwahahaha

    too fucking weird

  14. Stemella permalink*
    December 21, 2009 3:42 pm

    Hey, check out the image at the 22 second mark! :P

    • cometman permalink*
      December 22, 2009 8:46 am

      Enjoyed all those videos! So, when do you start getting royalties for the one above? :)

      • Stemella permalink*
        December 22, 2009 9:16 am

        I wish. Considering I ripped off the two pictures used to make the Hankpire squid before modification, I think my payment is the satisfaction that it is getting spread around. :)

  15. Stemella permalink*
    December 21, 2009 6:09 pm

    Proof of the second coming heh

    • cometman permalink*
      December 22, 2009 7:18 am

      Bwahahahaha! Thanks for starting my day off with a laugh!

  16. Stemella permalink*
    December 22, 2009 9:13 am

    Apparently today is Cephalopodmas

    Who knew?

    And here is a cute squidtivity set

    and a less cute Cthulhu Goatse

    By the way, there is some nice cephalo art on the site of the tow links above

  17. Stemella permalink*
    December 22, 2009 9:22 am

    Very nice Minoan octopi vessel at link here

    Another good site on all things octopi

    • cometman permalink*
      December 22, 2009 10:33 am

      Nice website. Have to look around and see if there are any good pics there that need recycling.

      I’m going to be a stickler and quibble with one thing in that post about the Minoans.

      …there was no oppressive priesthood…

      The conventional wisdom on the Minoans has been that they were a bunch of peaceniks waltzing around in flowing robes and picking flowers. This is due in large part to the reconstructions that Sir Arthur Evans did when he excavated the site, but he took a lot of artistic license when doing so. Since his excavation a lot of new discoveries have been made like these which show evidence of human sacrifice.

      Those Minoan priests likely were not all hippy granola peace and love. None of them anywhere ever are.

  18. Stemella permalink*
    December 22, 2009 9:28 am

    Here’s a fun site to put the beast in your belly Kraken Rum

    I think this is a must have ingredient for the sacred grog

    • artemis54 permalink
      December 22, 2009 1:58 pm

      My you are on a roll today! Make that a squid roll.

  19. cometman permalink*
    December 22, 2009 2:02 pm

    I’ll have to read this ray McGovern piece in its entirety later – Break the CIA in Two. Breaking them up would be a good start. Getting rid of the know nothing spooks altogether would be a great finish.

  20. cometman permalink*
    December 23, 2009 8:50 am

    More lawlessness in the US. The Nation reports that there are almost 200 secret facilities being used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain immigrants – America’s Secret ICE Castles .

    Worth noting this bit at the end:

    An attorney who had a client held in a subfield office said on background, “The president released in January a memorandum about transparency, but that’s not happening. He says one thing, but we have these clandestine operations, akin to extraordinary renditions within the United States. They’re misguided as to what their true mission is, and they are doing things contrary to the best interests of the country.”

    • Stemella permalink*
      December 23, 2009 11:10 am

      You know, it really pisses me off when reality starts to make people like sockrat and their conspiracy theories sound sane. Disgusting and sickening. The jack boots keep on getting louder, even with the neo-cons out of power.

      • cometman permalink*
        December 23, 2009 1:55 pm

        Speaking of conspiracy theories, check out what Jesse the Body has been up to lately.

        Jesse “The Body” Ventura, the erstwhile professional wrestler, Navy Seal, motorcycle gang member, and governor of Minnesota, has embarked upon yet another career: investigator of nefarious plots. This month, Ventura launched a show called “Conspiracy Theory” on TruTV which claims to shine light on “the most frightening and mysterious conspiracy allegations of our time.” So far Ventura has explored whether 9/11 was an inside job (he doesn’t buy the 9/11 Commission’s official explanation) and whether the government is testing mind-control weaponry at a secret base in Alaska. (Conclusion: “I learned that radio waves really can get inside your head. They got inside mine.”) And in another recent episode, he takes on “the global warming scam.

        I actually kind of like Ventura in some weird inexplicable way. Every once in a while he has some good ideas and he’s willing to speak his mind to anyone. But I have a big problem when those who claim to want to get to the bottom of things just muddle the picture even more, just like the whackjob you mentioned. There is a story here and there is a conspiracy, or plan, or agreement or scheme or whatever you want to call it that would allow an elite few to profit heavily from carbon trading. But it certainly doesn’t follow that because of that global climate change is some made up hoax. I didn’t see this program and from the article it sounds like Ventura stops short of claiming climate change is a total hoax. But why even insinuate that it might be by interviewing a bunch of skeptics paid by the oil industry while failing to talk to reputable scientists? And if you’re going to do the program, why not show where the conspiracy really is? Instead we end up with a bunch of garbage like this and then when somebody does come along to explain what’s really going on they’ll be written off as a “conspiracy theorist” too, even though conspiracies and plots and treachery and connivance go on every single day, always have and always will.

      • triv33 permalink
        December 23, 2009 4:52 pm

        Don’t say that. Please, don’t. No matter what comes to light or is ever revealed, nothing and I mean nothing makes that guy sound sane. Maybe a sentence here or there, but if you take his body of work as a whole, then no.

  21. cometman permalink*
    December 23, 2009 9:04 am

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!! Not only are the Bushies not in the slammer where they belong, now they are getting a show on PBS.

    The George W. Bush Institute — the “action- oriented think tank” that is part of Bush’s Presidential Center — will co-produce a public television show hosted by its executive director, Ambassador James Glassman, in a rare convergence of public broadcasting and a partisan research organization.

    “Ideas in Action” will premiere in February and will be co-produced by Andrew Walworth, who produces PBS’s “Think Tank.” Glassman, the former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy under President Bush and one-time moderator of CNN’s “Capital Gang Sunday,” will lead a discussion on public policy issues in front of a live audience at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He will remain executive director of the Institute.

    The show will be distributed by Executive Program Services (EPS) to public television stations nationwide, including many PBS affiliates. Beginning in January, EPS will also begin distributing repeats of “Think Tank,” currently distributed by PBS.

    This part could have used a little more information.

    The first episode, a discussion on pay for performance in education, includes one panelist from the George W. Bush Institute and panelists from the Economic Policy Institute and the Progressive Policy Institute.

    ~snip~

    The Bush Institute has a special focus on education policy…

    Would have been very appropriate to mention that the W Institute’s focus on edumacation just might have something to do with the fact that his brother Neil has an edumacational software company called Ignite which has been involved with some shady sounding deals. That was the company that battleaxe Babs Bush so generously donated to when she wanted to “help” the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

    So now Moyers is leaving and PBS is becoming the home for republican infomercials. Can this country get any dumber?

    • Stemella permalink*
      December 23, 2009 11:06 am

      This is horrible. PBS is my only commercial free sanctuary on the teevee besides escape into movies. This country can and will get dumber without doubt. Perhaps it will fail quickly since W’s audience won’t know how to switch to anything but Faux and if they do manage to click there, their heads will explode watching “public” tv.

      I guess I better buy some more shoes to throw at the idiot box.

      • triv33 permalink
        December 23, 2009 4:57 pm

        Okay…I take it back. PBS is just acting for the public good and sockrat is as right as rain! La-di dah… lah-di di-dah…

  22. Stemella permalink*
    December 23, 2009 11:27 am

    Joe Biden has criticized Russia’s decline, noting “a shrinking population base; they have a withering economy,” and added, “It’s a very difficult thing to deal with, loss of empire.” He didn’t have to look so far. One could say the same right now of parts of Ohio, Michigan, and parts of nearly all of the western and southern states.

    McClatchy has a good article describing the fallen state of Russia these days. I expect after our continued stay in Afghanistan and with the continued demise of the middle and lower classes, this country will look the same before too much longer.

    Rural Russia is dying of poverty, neglect

    • cometman permalink*
      December 23, 2009 1:29 pm

      Good article. I thought it was interesting to see how much it concentrated on the drinking problems in Russia. Seems like we’ve been hearing about how they’re drinking themselves to death for decades, well before the collapse of the USSR.

      The part about the new church being unfinished because the money ran out was interesting too. In my travels through Greece I’ve seen lots of unfinished buildings where the first couple stories were built and then the roofs all had rebar sticking out all over the place waiting for new floors to be added. When I’ve asked about it before, I remember hearing that one reason was because the builders had run out of money but also that some may have been deliberately left unfinished because the property taxes wouldn’t be so high that way. Not sure which explanation is the most accurate. Anyhow, it just strikes me as interesting because you don’t see that much in the US. While other countries stop when the money runs out, in the US things get built regardless and the debt just gets collateralized and sold. I’m still staring at that goddamned brand new completely empty four story office building in my town that I’ve mentioned here before. They built the damn thing without having anyone who actually wanted to move into it. Note to self: go to city hall and see if the owners if this stupid hunk of concrete have actually been paying the property taxes on it.

      And I bet many of not most in the US could say as well:

      “If you read the newspapers and listen to our leaders’ propaganda, you get the feeling that everything is OK,” Peshekhonov said. “But I don’t believe that.”

      • Stemella permalink*
        December 24, 2009 8:14 am

        I’ve seen the same around Mexico. The town of Mazatlan used to be full of unfinished hotels right on the beach that soon became crash pads with a view for squatters. Concrete shells with colorful sheets and blankets as privacy curtains. No plumbing, but hey, it was on the beach. The ocean made the perfect flushing system.

        And no you don’t see that here. Instead you see the realtors for lease signs in front of spanking new completely empty buildings. Then the weeds come, then the graffiti, then the broken windows. Such a waste of resources. It’s the American Way.

  23. cometman permalink*
    December 23, 2009 1:38 pm

    Not surprising housing data – New sales down 11%.

    From that article it sounds like a lot of what is being sold currently is because of government subsidies to new buyers. But most homes being sold aren’t new ones.

    New home sales accounted for just 5 percent of total sales last month, down from a peak of more than 16 percent in summer 2005.

    Buyers have been able to find better prices searching for previously occupied homes, especially among foreclosed properties, which made up about a third of sales last completed month.

    Clearly this country had vastly overbuilt so the reduction in inventory isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But the fact that so many sales are purchases of foreclosures is definitely not a good sign. An economy dependent on bottom feeding can’t be good in the long run. Just like the Russian guy I quoted above, I don’t believe the hype I’m hearing at all.

  24. cometman permalink*
    December 24, 2009 7:26 am

    The US spends billions of dollars on weapons systems but they can still be hacked into using software from a Russian Radio Shack. link

    Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

    Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes’ systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber — available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet — to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

    ~snip~

    The militants use programs such as SkyGrabber, from Russian company SkySoftware. Andrew Solonikov, one of the software’s developers, said he was unaware that his software could be used to intercept drone feeds. “It was developed to intercept music, photos, video, programs and other content that other users download from the Internet — no military data or other commercial data, only free legal content,” he said by email from Russia.

    • Stemella permalink*
      December 24, 2009 8:18 am

      Rachel Maddow covered this recently, showing how simple the technology was to do this hacking. She interviewed someone in the know who said it would take billions and years to correct the problem. America is not too big to fail.

      • cometman permalink*
        December 24, 2009 10:33 am

        Here’s even more stupid from our “intelligence” services. This time some charlatan was able to convince the Bushies and the CIA that he was able to predict terrorist attacks using some super secret method that he wouldn’t disclose. He was put on the government payroll and still has government contracts even after his scam was exposed. Good clip of Maddow interviewing the author at the end.

  25. Stemella permalink*
    December 24, 2009 8:19 am

    Merry Christmas Cephalophiles. May you all have squidlicious treats and only good times with loved ones during the holiday.

    • cometman permalink*
      December 24, 2009 9:47 am

      Merry xmas to you and yours and a happy festivus to all the readers of our little squidly blog!

    • triv33 permalink
      December 24, 2009 1:10 pm

      Merry Christmas! Hope you guys have a great one.

  26. cometman permalink*
    December 24, 2009 9:52 am

    Kudos to Jane Hamsher and Firedoglake for sticking to their guns and telling it like it is on healthcare reform.

    Today’s vote in the Senate to pass their health care reform bill was a big win for many people. It was a big win for the drug companies, the biologics industry, the hospital companies, and the for-profit health insurance corporations. They will all get billions of government dollars piled on to their ledgers, and and millions of Americans now forced to buy their products. The vote was also a huge win for the lobbyists who just saw their profits jump thanks to this great opportunity to show their clients just how powerful their hold on Washington really is.

    This vote was also a political win. It was a big deal for politicians–like Barack Obama, Max Baucus, Rahm Emanuel, and Harry Reid–who cared more about putting up a “W” on the scoreboard than about the policy. It was also a big day for senators like Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, and Joe Lieberman. The incredibly broken rules of the Senate gave them an absurd amount of anti-constitutional power that allowed them to hold reform hostage for pork and industry favors.

    It was loss for the country. Our broken health care system will remain broken and costs will continue to rise at an alarming rate. Things like drug re-importation and a robust public option, which would have helped bring down prices for millions of Americans, were stripped from the bill at the request of powerful industry lobbyists.

    ~snip~

    This is not progressive reform. This is a perverse Democratic version of Reagan style trickle down economics. Hundreds of billions will be given to poorly regulated private health insurance companies in the hope that they spend roughly 80% of that money on actually providing people with health care. It forces millions of people to buy very expensive insurance that they cannot afford to get actual health care, so that Democrats can proudly say millions more people are “covered.” Private health insurance companies are what have ruined our current system and are dramatically less efficient than public insurance programs, yet Democrats will use them almost exclusively. It is a massive reward for a history of terrible performance. Instead of reining in the insurance companies, it only enriches, empowers, and entrenches them further. The only “check” on the industry will be new regulations, but with extremely weak to practically non-existent enforcement, it is basically no check at all.

    • triv33 permalink
      December 24, 2009 1:18 pm

      Well, apparently I’m a Kool-Aid drinker who can’t grasp complex concepts because after someone said some were just determined to blame the Dems for all that was bad in this Bill, I dared to ask the question, “If there was no Republican input on this Bill, who is responsible for what is bad in there?” Silly me! Obviously, the Bad Bill Fairy came down and sprinkled it with shit when nobody was looking.

  27. cometman permalink*
    December 24, 2009 12:52 pm

    Who’s been buying all those US Treasuries? Quite possibly nobody, despite the claims of the Treasury and the Fed. Via Zerohedge – Sprott Calls The Fed “A Ponzi Scheme” As Half A Trillion In Treasury Purchasers Are Unaccounted For.

    So who was the third large buyer? Drum roll please,… it was “Other Investors”. After purchasing $90 billion in 2008, this group has purchased $510.1 billion of freshly minted treasury securities so far in the first three quarters of fiscal 2009. If you annualize this rate of purchase, they are on pace to buy $680 billion of US treasuries this year – or more than seven times what they purchased in 2008. This is undoubtedly the group that made the US deficit possible this year. But who are they? The Treasury Bulletin identifies “Other Investors” as consisting of Individuals, Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSE),Brokers and Dealers, Bank Personal Trusts and Estates, Corporate and Non-Corporate Businesses, Individuals and Other Investors. Hmmm. Do you think anyone in that grouphad almost $700 billion to invest in the US Treasury market in fiscal 2009? We didn’t either. To dig further, we turned to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors Flow of Funds Data which provides a detailed breakdown of the owners of Treasury Securities toQ3 2009.

    Within this grouping, the GSE’s were small buyers of a mere $5 billion this year;

    Broker and Dealers were sellers of almost $80 billion;

    Commercial Banking were buyers of approximately $80 billion;

    Corporate and Non-corporate Businesses, grouped together, were buyers of $11.6 billion, for a grand net purchase of $16.6 billion.

    So who really picked up the tab? To our surprise, the only group to actually substantially increase their purchases in 2009 is defined in the Federal Reserve Flow of Funds Report as the”Household Sector”. This category of buyers bought $15 billion worth of treasuries in2008, but by Q3 2009 had purchased a whopping $528.7 billion worth. At the end of Q3 this Household Sector category now owns more treasuries than the Federal Reserve itself.

    ~snip~

    Amazingly, we discovered that the Household Sector is actually just a catch-all category.It represents the buyers left over who can’t be slotted into the other group headings. For most categories of financial assets and liabilities, the values for the Household Sector are calculated as residuals. That is, amounts held or owed by the other sectors are subtracted from known totals, and the remainders are assumed to be the amounts held or owed by the Household Sector. To quote directly from the Flow of Funds Guide, “For example, the amounts of Treasury securities held by all other sectors, obtained from asset data reported by the companies or institutions themselves, are subtracted from total Treasury securities outstanding, obtained from the Monthly Treasury Statement of Receipts and Outlays of the United States Government and the balance is assigned to the household sector.” (Emphasis ours)

    So to answer the question – who is the Household Sector? They are a PHANTOM. They don’t exist. They merely serve to balance the ledger in the Federal Reserve’s Flow of Funds report.

  28. Stemella permalink*
    December 24, 2009 10:59 pm

    There may be a God. And I’m surely going to hell. I have had a great deal of Italian wine tonight and when I checked the news before crashing I saw this story and can’t stop laughing. Fuck me. This is awesome!!!! Merry merry bwahahahahhahaha

    Pope knocked down by woman at Christmas Eve Mass

    I do believe a sainthood is in order!

    At the Vatican, witness video obtained by The Associated Press showed a woman dressed in a red hooded sweat shirt vaulting over the wooden barriers that cordoned off the basilica’s main aisle and rushing toward the pope before being swarmed by bodyguards. She grabbed the pope’s vestments as she was taken down, with Benedict seemingly falling on top of her.

    And now for the visuals

    • artemis54 permalink
      December 25, 2009 11:48 am

      It turns out this ia an annual thing with her. Some people go caroling, some eat Chinese food, she tackles the pope.

  29. triv33 permalink
    December 25, 2009 3:06 am

    That Pope was asking for it. Change Midnight Mass to 10 pm ? Harumph!

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