Saturday, March 31, 2012

Food For Thought

This by way of "Crooks And Liars" -- please follow link to original

More Spain

Spanish Rampage: General strike erupts in street violence

Riot police took to the streets of Spain as protesters burned bins, vandalized shops and attacked officers during a one day nationwide general strike. Spaniards angry with having the eurozone's highest unemployment rate refused to go to work in protest at further crushing austerity measures being brought in by the new center-right Popular Party government.

Jerry Garcia and David Grisman - Drink Up and Go Home ( Studio)

Having worked as a bartender -- I understand this very well.

Dear, Sweet, Wonderful, Spain - where the "wonders of austerity" are available for ALL to see

Of course, things are just fine in Spain -- what with the wonders of austerity --

etc., etc., etc.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Ink Spots - That Cat Is High (1938)

"The Java Jive" (Ink Spots, 1940)

Frank Sinatra - September Song (Reprise 1965)

Lean Baby

Peggy Lee - Goody Goody

Catholic bishop forces school to rescind commencement invite to Ted Kennedy's widow

Golly-gee, the Roman Catholics are at it again. Will they EVER learn? How many THOUSANDS of years have they been making fools of themselves, denying science, supporting old, insane, useless, beliefs? How many times have they done an aboutface on various points of dogma when some Pope or Cardinal had an upset stomach? What about all those folks damned to HELL "for eternity" for eating FISH on Friday? Have they had their sentences commuted -- or is it AL just a load of BULLSHIT!!

This from AmericaBlog News - please follow link to original

Catholic bishop forces school to rescind commencement invite to Ted Kennedy's widow
By John Aravosis on 3/30/2012 08:30:00 PM
4 Comments | Retweet | Facebook | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
It must an election year. The Catholic church is again turning Democratic politicians away. It's like clockwork. Every four years there a presidential election, and suddenly the Catholic church starts kicking out Democrats. They get a tax break for this?

A small Catholic college that invited Victoria Reggie Kennedy to speak at its spring commencement has rescinded the offer under pressure from the Worcester bishop, who described her apparent political views as out of line with Catholic teachings.

Anna Maria College in Paxton, west of Worcester, released a statement today placing the decision at the feet of Bishop Robert J. McManus and saying it still believes Kennedy is an appropriate choice.

However, the statement continued, “after hours of discerning and struggling with elements of all sides of this issue, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees decided with deep regret to withdraw its invitation.”

I'm sure they can replace her with a pedophile priest who's more than palatable to the church leadership.


The Huntington National Bank, Columbus, Ohio, Assumes All of the Deposits of Fidelity Bank, Dearborn, Michigan

March 30, 2012
Media Contact:
LaJuan Williams-Young
Office: 202-898-3876

Fidelity Bank, Dearborn, Michigan, was closed today by the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with The Huntington National Bank, Columbus, Ohio, to assume all of the deposits of Fidelity Bank.

The 15 branches of Fidelity Bank will reopen on Saturday as branches of The Huntington National Bank. Depositors of Fidelity Bank will automatically become depositors of The Huntington National Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage up to applicable limits. Customers of Fidelity Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from The Huntington National Bank that it has completed systems changes to allow other The Huntington National Bank branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Fidelity Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of December 31, 2011, Fidelity Bank had approximately $818.2 million in total assets and $747.6 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, The Huntington National Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

Customers with questions about today's transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-523-8177. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., EST; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., EST; on Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., EST; and thereafter from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., EST. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $92.8 million. Compared to other alternatives, The Huntington National Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Fidelity Bank is the 16th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the first in Michigan. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Community Central Bank, Mount Clemens, on April 29, 2011.

Santorum tells young man not to use pink bowling ball ‘on camera’

From "Raw Story" - of course, follow link to original.

Rick, Rick, Rick, are you THAT insecure? And YOU actually think YOU are "presidential material"?

Oh Rick -- SHAME ON YOU!!

Santorum tells young man not to use pink bowling ball ‘on camera’

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Wednesday told a young man not to use a pink ball at a bowling alley in Wisconsin.

“You’re not gonna use the pink ball. We’re not gonna let you do that. Not on camera,” he said, according to Reuters reporter Sam Youngman.

“Friends don’t let friends use pink balls,” he added.

Santorum was bowling with the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse College Republicans. Wisconsin holds its presidential primary next Tuesday.

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group in the country, blasted Santorum for his comment.

“This is another example of Rick Santorum intentionally making ignorant statements that have a real impact on LGBT people,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “Whether he’s comparing our marriages to inanimate objects, saying our children would be better off with a parent in prison as opposed to two loving same-sex parents, or calling open military service a ‘tragic social experiment;’ he’s proven that he thinks LGBT people are second-class citizens not worthy of dignity or respect.

“In this case, he’s advancing tired gender norms by implying a boy should be ashamed or embarrassed to use a certain color bowling ball.”

Whose Recovery?

The very latest from Robert Reich -- please follow link to original

Whose Recovery?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Luxury retailers are smiling. So are the owners of high-end restaurants, sellers of upscale cars, vacation planners, financial advisors, and personal coaches. For them and their customers and clients the recession is over. The recovery is now full speed.

But the rest of America isn’t enjoying an economic recovery. It’s still sick. Many Americans remain in critical condition.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the economy grew at a 3 percent annual rate last quarter (far better than the measly 1.8 percent third quarter growth). Personal income also jumped. Americans raked in over $13 trillion, $3.3 billion more than previously thought.

Yet it’s almost a certainly that all the gains went to the top 10 percent, and the lion’s share to the top 1 percent. Over a third of the gains went to 15,600 super-rich households in the top one-tenth of one percent.

We don’t know this for sure because all the data aren’t in for 2011. But this is what happened in 2010, the most recent year for which we have reliable data, and there’s no reason to believe the trajectory changed in 2011 or that it will change this year.

In fact, recoveries are becoming more and more lopsided.

The top 1 percent got 45 percent of Clinton-era economic growth, and 65 percent of the economic growth during the Bush era.

According to an analysis of tax returns by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Pikkety, the top 1 percent pocketed 93 percent of the gains in 2010. 37 percent of the gains went to the top one-tenth of one percent. No one below the richest 10 percent saw any gain at all.

In fact, most of the bottom 90 percent have lost ground. Their average adjusted gross income was $29,840 in 2010. That’s down $127 from 2009, and down $4,843 from 2000 (all adjusted for inflation).

Meanwhile, employer-provided benefits continue to decline among the bottom 90 percent, according to the Commerce Department. The share of people with health insurance from their employers dropped from 59.8 percent in 2007 to 55.3 percent in 2010. And the share of private-sector workers with retirement plans dropped from 42 percent in 2007 to 39.5 percent in 2010.

If you’re among the richest 10 percent, a big chunk of your savings are in the stock market where you’ve had nice gains over the last two years. The value of financial assets held by Americans surged by $1.46 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2011.

But if you’re in the bottom 90 percent, you own few if any shares of stock. Your biggest asset is your home. Home prices are down over a third from their 2006 peak, and they’re still dropping. The median house price in February was 6.2 percent lower than a year ago.

Official Washington doesn’t want to talk about this lopsided recovery. The Obama administration is touting the recovery, period, without mentioning how narrow it is.

Republicans would rather not talk about widening inequality to begin with. The reverse-Robin Hood budget plan just announced by Paul Ryan and House Republicans (and endorsed by Mitt Romney) would make the lopsidedness far worse – dramatically cutting taxes on the rich and slashing public services everyone else depends on.

Fed Chief Ben Bernanke – who doesn’t have to face voters on Election Day – says the U.S. economy needs to grow faster if it’s to produce enough jobs to bring down unemployment. But he leaves out the critical point.

We can’t possibly grow faster if the vast majority of Americans, who are still losing ground, don’t have the money to buy more of the things American workers produce. There’s no way spending by the richest 10 percent – the only ones gaining ground – will be enough to get the economy out of first gear.

Iceland: Recovery and reconciliation

For quite a while now, Prof. Paul Krugman has been looking at the way Iceland handled their financial crisis, as opposed to the way the Eurozone has been handling theirs. One of his comparisons has been Latvia vs. Iceland. In every case, it appears Iceland has done much better.

Why Latvia? Well, because the VSP's (Very Serious People) have held up Latvia as the shining example of the wonders of austerity. Actual FACTS seem to make little (if any) difference.

Tn fact, even the verdict of history means little to VSP's. Just because the policies they support, policies that "heal" the economy on the backs of the 99%, have never worked, means nothing. This is the triumph of ideological economics. An economic theology embraced by our "conservative" economists.

Dr. Krugman pointed to an article at where "policy makers" worldwide are now looking at Iceland.

I guess they are beginning to understand that beggaring (buggering?) the huge majority of their populations is not a plan for long term stability.

Here is an excerpt from the FT article -- please follow link to the original.

Iceland: Recovery and reconciliation

By Michael Stothard in Reykjavik
The crisis-hit country’s improving outlook is being studied by policy makers worldwide

A visitor seeking a sense of how Iceland’s clique of powerful financiers saw themselves before their empire came tumbling down need look no further than Reykjavik’s Harpa concert hall. The extravagant steel and glass structure, which has more seats than London’s Royal Opera House, looks like a futuristic beehive glowing above the grey buildings that make up most of the capital.

It was commissioned by Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, one of the “Icelandic oligarchs” who exploited cheap credit following the aggressive financial deregulation of the early 2000s to create a billion-dollar empire. He set out in 2007 to build a cultural venue to match the country’s new found wealth – but when the global financial crisis hit the next year, and Iceland’s overleveraged banks collapsed, he went bankrupt, leaving the state to complete the project.

The Harpa finally opened last May amid grumbling about the cost to overburdened taxpayers. But nearly a year on, like Iceland itself, it is proving surprisingly successful. A source of growing national pride, it has played host to musicians including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Bjork and Yoko Ono, as well as half a million visitors.

Now, in a month where the country has put on trial Geir Haarde, the former prime minister, begun legal proceedings against its once almighty bankers, and received a steady stream of good economic news, many in government and beyond argue that the Harpa should serve not as a symbol of hubris but as a monument to a nation putting the past behind it.

Iceland’s recovery from the shock of the crisis matters more than its small size and 320,000 strong population would suggest. Formerly one of the richest nations in the world in terms of income per head, it won the dubious honour of being the first and among the most calamitous victims of the crisis, a prime example of the risks of financial deregulation. Today Iceland is not only the first country to put its political leader on trial for the crisis but it also offers a test of the advantages of indebted nations simply letting their banks collapse and default on their loans. ........................................... go to original for the rest.

Break Up The Big Banks, Says the Dallas Fed

Robert Reich has a new post. He also makes sense. Read - follow link, go to original, read more -- it's good for you.

Break Up The Big Banks, Says the Dallas Fed

Thursday, March 29, 2012

As the Supreme Court shows every sign of throwing out “Obamacare” and leaving 30 million Americans without health insurance, another drama is being played out in the quiet corridors of the Federal Reserve system that may affect even more of us.

Taxpayers will be on the hook for another giant Wall Street bailout, and the economy won’t be mended, unless the nation’s biggest banks are broken up.

That’s not just me talking, or the Occupier movement, or that wayward executive who resigned from Goldman Sachs a few weeks ago. It’s the conclusion of the Dallas Federal Reserve, one of the most conservative of the Fed’s regional banks.

The lead essay in its just released annual report says a cartel of giant banks continues to hobble the recovery and poses an ongoing danger to the economy.

Wall Street’s increasing power remains “difficult to control because they have the lawyers and the money to resist the pressures of federal regulation.” The Dodd-Frank act that was supposed to control Wall Street “leaves TBTF [too big to fail] entrenched.”

The Dallas Fed goes on to argue that the Fed’s easy money policy can’t be much help to the U.S. economy as long as Wall Street is “still clogged with toxic assets accumulated in the boom years.”

So what’s the answer, according to the Dallas Fed? It’s “breaking up the nation’s biggest banks into smaller units.”

Thud. That’s the sound the report hitting the desks of Wall Street executives. They and their Washington lobbyists are doing what they can to make sure this report is discredited and buried.

When I spoke with one of the Street’s major defenders in the Capitol this morning he snorted “Dallas represents small regional banks that are jealous of Wall Street.” When I reminded him the Dallas Fed was about the most conservative of the regional banks and knew first-hand about the dangers of under-regulated banks — the Savings and Loan crisis ripped through Texas like nowhere else — he said “Dallas doesn’t know its [backside] from a prairie gopher hole.”

So as Republicans make the repeal of “Obamacare” their primary objective (and Alito, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and perhaps Kennedy sharpen their knives) another drama is taking place at the Fed. The question is whether Bernanke and company in Washington will heed the warnings coming from its Dallas branch, and amplify the message.

Broccoli and Bad Faith

Here is Dr. Krugman's latest column. You can always depend on him to make sense.
Please fo0llow link to original

Broccoli and Bad Faith
Published: March 29, 2012

Nobody knows what the Supreme Court will decide with regard to the Affordable Care Act. But, after this week’s hearings, it seems quite possible that the court will strike down the “mandate” — the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance — and maybe the whole law. Removing the mandate would make the law much less workable, while striking down the whole thing would mean denying health coverage to 30 million or more Americans.

Given the stakes, one might have expected all the court’s members to be very careful in speaking about both health care realities and legal precedents. In reality, however, the second day of hearings suggested that the justices most hostile to the law don’t understand, or choose not to understand, how insurance works. And the third day was, in a way, even worse, as antireform justices appeared to embrace any argument, no matter how flimsy, that they could use to kill reform.

Let’s start with the already famous exchange in which Justice Antonin Scalia compared the purchase of health insurance to the purchase of broccoli, with the implication that if the government can compel you to do the former, it can also compel you to do the latter. That comparison horrified health care experts all across America because health insurance is nothing like broccoli.

Why? When people choose not to buy broccoli, they don’t make broccoli unavailable to those who want it. But when people don’t buy health insurance until they get sick — which is what happens in the absence of a mandate — the resulting worsening of the risk pool makes insurance more expensive, and often unaffordable, for those who remain. As a result, unregulated health insurance basically doesn’t work, and never has.

There are at least two ways to address this reality — which is, by the way, very much an issue involving interstate commerce, and hence a valid federal concern. One is to tax everyone — healthy and sick alike — and use the money raised to provide health coverage. That’s what Medicare and Medicaid do. The other is to require that everyone buy insurance, while aiding those for whom this is a financial hardship.

Are these fundamentally different approaches? Is requiring that people pay a tax that finances health coverage O.K., while requiring that they purchase insurance is unconstitutional? It’s hard to see why — and it’s not just those of us without legal training who find the distinction strange. Here’s what Charles Fried — who was Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general — said in a recent interview with The Washington Post: “I’ve never understood why regulating by making people go buy something is somehow more intrusive than regulating by making them pay taxes and then giving it to them.”

Indeed, conservatives used to like the idea of required purchases as an alternative to taxes, which is why the idea for the mandate originally came not from liberals but from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation. (By the way, another pet conservative project — private accounts to replace Social Security — relies on, yes, mandatory contributions from individuals.)

So has there been a real change in legal thinking here? Mr. Fried thinks that it’s just politics — and other discussions in the hearings strongly support that perception.

I was struck, in particular, by the argument over whether requiring that state governments participate in an expansion of Medicaid — an expansion, by the way, for which they would foot only a small fraction of the bill — constituted unacceptable “coercion.” One would have thought that this claim was self-evidently absurd. After all, states are free to opt out of Medicaid if they choose; Medicaid’s “coercive” power comes only from the fact that the federal government provides aid to states that are willing to follow the program’s guidelines. If you offer to give me a lot of money, but only if I perform certain tasks, is that servitude?

Yet several of the conservative justices seemed to defend the proposition that a federally funded expansion of a program in which states choose to participate because they receive federal aid represents an abuse of power, merely because states have become dependent on that aid. Justice Sonia Sotomayor seemed boggled by this claim: “We’re going to say to the federal government, the bigger the problem, the less your powers are. Because once you give that much money, you can’t structure the program the way you want.” And she was right: It’s a claim that makes no sense — not unless your goal is to kill health reform using any argument at hand.

As I said, we don’t know how this will go. But it’s hard not to feel a sense of foreboding — and to worry that the nation’s already badly damaged faith in the Supreme Court’s ability to stand above politics is about to take another severe hit.

UK GDP fell faster than previously estimated in fourth quarter, ONS says

So, I guess the VSP (Very Serious People) of the UK will eventually have to admit that austerity leads to a shrinking economy. Of course, the VSP's tend to be members of the 1% so they don't feel it, and don't give a damn. In their world, if austerity doesn't work - double down. They're sure MORE austerity will do the trick -- either that, or they will have strikes and possibly rebellion -- though I'm sure they will be able to keep the lid on -- they have more cameras in more places than anyone else.. Good luck folks -- we oldsters are rooting for you (that's about the best I can do). This from The Guardian - please follow link to original.

UK GDP fell faster than previously estimated in fourth quarter, ONS says

• UK GDP fell 0.3% rather than 0.2% in fourth quarter
• Economists had expected no change
• Disposable incomes fall 1.2% – worst since 1977

Britain's economy was even weaker than expected at the end of last year, underlining the country's struggle to avoid another recession.

GDP fell 0.3% in the fourth quarter, more than the 0.2% drop previously estimated by the Office for National Statistics. The downgrade was mainly prompted by weakness in the country's dominant services sector.

Economists had not been expecting any change to the 0.2% fall, and the news that Britain's economy went into the new year in an even worse state will raise fears it could notch up a technical recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.

The pound fell to a two-week low against the euro on the surprise downgrade, which left growth for the year as a whole at just 0.7%, down from 0.8% pencilled in previously.

"Sterling hit the deck on the back of this downward revision. And it could be a long count before it gets back up on its feet," said Jason Conibear at foreign exchange group Cambridge Mercantile.

"What this revision to the fourth-quarter data reinforces is that the UK economy is febrile at best. The consensus appears to be that we will avoid a technical recession due to an improvement during the first quarter of this year but there's still a very recessionary feel to the current climate."

The signs from business surveys and much of the official data so far for this first quarter have been taken as evidence of at least a small new-year bounce-back. But there are widespread doubts over whether that can be sustained. Economists cite many headwinds facing the UK economy, including high oil prices, a government austerity drive and the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone.

The outlook for households remains tough. Underscoring fears that consumers are being squeezed by high inflation and strains from government cuts and high unemployment, disposable incomes in 2011 slumped at their fastest pace for more than 30 years, the ONS said. They were down 1.2%, the biggest fall since 1977.

In the fourth quarter household spending picked up to grow by 0.4%, offsetting the 0.3% fall in the previous quarter, but that came as people ate into their savings.

The breakdown of the GDP data also showed that while service sector weakness prompted the downward revision, the overall drop was led by a fall in industrial production as manufacturing shrank. There was also a fall in construction output as well as a dip in service sector output.

Government spending, exports and household consumption grew, but economists warned that pattern had little chance of holding up.

"The government purse strings are being tightened, growth is deteriorating in key export markets, with the eurozone now likely to be in another recession, and revised retail sales data have signalled a far weaker start to the year than previously thought, raising concerns that households are continuing to retrench amid worries about the economy, jobs and rising prices," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

Williamson said the closely watched purchasing managers business surveys (PMIs) so far for 2012 pointed to "a meagre 0.3% expansion, which would merely make up for the lost output in the final quarter of last year".

Other economists echoed that prediction of a small recovery at the start of this year, albeit weak and hard to sustain.

"It looks as though the economy has managed to expand in the first quarter. Nonetheless, we still think that there are a number of reasons to doubt that the recovery can maintain the recent acceleration," said Vicky Redwood, chief UK economist at Capital Economics.

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, said the revision was "very worrying news". "It's now even clearer that last week's budget not only made the wrong choice by asking millions to pay more so millionaires could pay less, it also made the wrong choice in sticking to policies that are failing on jobs, growth and the deficit," he said.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

[ HiFi ] Will The Circle Be Unbroken Vol.2/Nitty Gritty Dirt Band/

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band 1989,
Jeff Hanna,Jimmie Fadden,Bob Carpenter,Jimmy Ibbotson
,Johnny Cash
,Roy Acuff
,Bruce Hornsby
,Paulette Carlson
,Michael M.Murphey
,Earl Scruggs
,Roy Huskey Jr.
,Randy Scruggs
,Ricky Skaggs
,Chris Hillman
,Jimmy Martin
,Levon Helm
,Emmylou Harris
,John Hiatt
,Roger McGuinn
,Bela Fleck
,Sam Bush
,Mark O'connor
,Rosanne Cash
,Jerry Douglas
,Chet Atkins
,Marty Stuart
,Vassar Clements
,the Carter Family

Linda Ronstadt - Desperado (Simple Dreams Tour - Atlanta 1977)

Linda Ronstadt & Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Hey Goodlookin'

Flatt and Scruggs - Lonesome Road Blues

Flatt & Scruggs - Take This Hammer

Wabash Cannonball - Flatt & Scruggs

Flatt & Scruggs - You are my flower

Flatt and Scruggs - Wildwood Flower

Flatt & Scruggs - Old Salty Dog Blues

Flatt & Scruggs- Roll In My Sweet Baby`s Arms

Earl Scruggs And Lester Flatt - Cripple Creek


Flatt and Scruggs - Mountain Dew

Banjo innovator, music pioneer Earl Scruggs dies at 88

We lost another GREAT ONE -- Earl Scruggs is gone. Amazing banjo player, Bluegrass legend, and part of the group that introduced me, and a whole lot of other folks to Bluegrass.

This from Yahoo News ---

Banjo innovator, music pioneer Earl Scruggs dies at 88

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - Banjo innovator and bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died on Wednesday at a Nashville hospital at age 88.

He had been in failing health for some time, according to his son, Gary Scruggs, who played bass guitar with his father. Talking about his father's death, he said with a cracking voice: "He‘s 88 and it's a slow process."

A four-time Grammy winner, Scruggs was perhaps best known in popular culture for "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," the theme song for "The Beverly Hillbillies" television program, and for "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," a Flatt & Scruggs classic which was used in the 1967 classic film, "Bonnie and Clyde."

While he dabbled in all forms of music, and was at home in the company of all creative musicians, he was among the first to popularize what his former boss, Bill Monroe, referred to as bluegrass music.

After breaking with Monroe, Scruggs and his guitar-playing friend, Lester Flatt, formed Flatt & Scruggs with the Foggy Mountain Boys.

Scruggs' style of banjo playing set him apart. Rather than flailing at the banjo strings, as most of his contemporaries did, he delicately hit the strings with three right fingers, coaxing the instrument to produce precise melodies.

His style influenced the likes of The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia and others who took up the banjo because of the playing of Scruggs, a native of Shelby, North Carolina.

The "Scruggs picking style" was saluted in a statement released after his death by Recording Academy President and Chief Executive Neil Portnow, who said that he "helped popularize the banjo and helped change country music."

Those who played with the banjo wizard mourned his loss.

"I will miss my friend," Mac Wiseman, an original flattop guitarist with the Foggy Mountain Boys, said from his Nashville home. Wiseman, 86, said his own maladies will keep him from Sunday's funeral at the Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry in downtown Nashville.

"I'm not getting around too well," said Wiseman. "I'll remember him as he was when we were together."

Marty Stuart, who broke into bluegrass music as a child prodigy with Flatt, was performing on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. But his wife, classic country singer Connie Smith, said Scruggs will be missed.

"It leaves a hole in your heart," she said. "He's just a part of our life." She said her husband would perform at the funeral.

Dixie Hall, a longtime friend of the Scruggs family and wife of Tom T. Hall, the great storyteller and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, said Scruggs "was a dear friend and Louise was too."

Louise Scruggs, who helped guide her husband's career, died in 2006. "It's good to know they are together," said Dixie Hall.

Tom T. Hall teamed with Scruggs on what many consider among the best bluegrass albums, "The Storyteller and the Banjoman" in 1982.

"You know there's a lot of people out there, a lot of others. There's one Earl," Hall said.

Scruggs is survived also by a second son, Randy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

CROSSROADS 2010 - Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band - Space Captain

Buddy Guy with Ron Wood & Johnny Lang - Five Long Years 'Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010'

There is only one Buddy Guy, but that Lang person ain't half bad.

Paco De Lucia, Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin - Mediterranian Sun Dance Live

Jimi Hendrix & John McLaughlin jam

John Coltrane - Equinox (Original)

John Coltrane - Blue train

In a sentimental mood - Duke Ellington and John Coltrane

It’s Always Time For Austerity

This from Prof. Krugman -- go to his blog (follow link), follow his links, it's good for you.

It’s Always Time For Austerity

Jonathan Portes makes a nice catch: when the rating agencies upgraded the UK outlook, the Cameron government hailed this as proof that austerity was working; when they downgraded it due to poor economic performance, the Cameron government declared that this showed the need for even more austerity.

Meanwhile, Adam Posen (pdf) very judiciously and carefully makes the case for why Britain has done worse than the US: it’s the austerity, stupid. (Or let me put that in Parliamentary style: does the right honorable gentleman not realize that it’s the austerity, stupid?)

Oh, and via Mark Thoma, Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert make a remarkable observation: US austerity — which mainly takes the form of layoffs at the state and local level — is largely concentrated in states where Republicans took control in 2010, plus Texas. So that’s why our recovery, though better than Britain’s, isn’t stronger.

Calling All Black People: NOM Wants to Use You

This from "The Southern Poverty Law Center" by Mark Potok. Please read. Follow link to original.

Calling All Black People: NOM Wants to Use You
Posted in Anti-LGBT by Mark Potok on March 27, 2012

Black folks, this is a message for you: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the country’s preeminent group fighting against same-sex marriage, really, really likes you. They even want to make some of you famous!

Have NOM’s principal leaders, former president Maggie Gallagher and current leader Brian S. Brown, stood up for African Americans before? Well, not so much. But it turns out that they’ve decided that you’re actually very important.

That unexpected revelation came out yesterday, when the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign publicized the contents of some previously confidential 2009 documents outlining NOM’s strategies for winning the national battle for “traditional marriage.” (The documents were just unsealed in a Maine court case over NOM’s refusal to identify its donors there, as required by state law.) “The strategic goal of this project,” NOM said, “is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.”

Translation: Let’s get people who support marriage equality to denounce black opponents, making them look like evil racists. Maybe that’ll make people forget that the vast majority of black civil rights leaders support same-sex marriage.

Could this be something more than simply exploiting black people — folks who NOM figures would be hard for Democrats to criticize without splitting their base — for the cynical uses of opponents of same-sex marriage?

No, NOM’s pretty transparent about that. The “project” to which its call for a wedge strategy refers carries this title in the newly released document: “Not a Civil Rights Project.” They couldn’t make it much clearer than that, could they?

The newly released documents are remarkable, in part, because NOM has made much of keeping its battle, as well as its propaganda, both civil and factual. But as we say in a story published today— an article on NOM originally scheduled to be published in the forthcoming May issue of the Intelligence Report — NOM can be less than honest in its use of propaganda. Among other things, we point out that although NOM says it has no evidence that gay men molest children at higher rates than straight men, it frequently links to websites of others who claim to. We also point out that NOM, despite its claims, keeps bringing up the subject of children and sex.

Turns out that’s part of the plan, too. In one NOM documents entitled “Sideswiping Obama,” the group urges activists to raise “such issues as pornography” and “the protection of children.” “We will put a special focus on exposing those administration programs that have the effect of sexualizing children,” along with other “policy threats to children.”

What do pornography and sexual threats to children have to do with same-sex marriage? Well, nothing really. But as another NOM document points out, the object isn’t so much to appeal to rational argument, but rather “a new, more emotionally powerful set of messages.” You know, like gay men molesting your kids.

Let’s get back to using certain racial and ethnic groups to battle same-sex marriage for a moment. NOM points out that the Latino vote in America is “a key swing vote” and suggests a good way to appeal to that constituency: “[G]ather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous noncognitive elites.” And they’ve already talked to a former Mexican beauty queen! Because Latinos apparently are into those “glamorous noncognitive elites.”

NOM isn’t the first organization to use such cynical marketing ploys, schemes that seem to have little do with the interests of the people they claim to represent, and it certainly won’t be the last. But the revelation of its bald attempt to exploit black people and Latinos should help end the idea that NOM is an honorable group that would never engage in race-baiting. Because that is precisely what it has done.

Boys, men, patriarchy, and privilege

Here is a MUST READ post. It's from "Feministing" and is a guest post on that site by Cara Hoffman, author of the critically acclaimed novel So Much Pretty, about violence and retribution, a New Yorker Books Pick, So Much Pretty is now out in paperback from Simon and Schuster.

Please follow link to original.

Boys, men, patriarchy, and privilege

Women’s issues have dominated the news these past few months with reproductive health becoming the cornerstone of an argument many of us thought had been put to bed decades ago. We’ve seen Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem calling for Rush Limbaugh to be booted off the airwaves for his sexist hate speech against Sandra Fluke and sat in front of our televisions while the Republican candidates debate the use of birth control as if it is solely a women’s issue. And throughout all of this we’ve been hearing one very obvious statement. Sexism is bad for women.

But there is a crucial factor in this conversation about gender and women’s rights that continues to be ignored; how boys and men are negatively impacted by aberrant anti-social masculinity, how it ties them to violence and helps enforce institutional exploitation of all people, not just women.

Boys and men are constantly inundated with portrayals of members of their gender as violent and irrational; as sick, crazed people who engineered attempted genocides. For women there is the everyday threat of violence, the objectification, the sheer numbers of us who are murdered. But we don’t have the burden of being associated constantly with criminality. There are no images in the media of women setting Vietnamese villages on fire with zippo lighters. One in fifty of us is not a rapist. Images of men as heroes dominate fiction and entertainment, but images of men as slightly better than animals dominate the news and historical documents. That can’t be easy. Especially given the biological risk factors associated with testosterone that predisposes a person to violence and to particular kinds of cognitive difficulties.

We know the burden of living in the same kind of body as people who are the victims of honor killings, genital mutilation, staggering rates of spousal and sexual abuse and denial of basic human rights is a heavy one. But we rarely think about the burden of living in the same kind of body as people who kill, rape, exploit, crash economies and start wars.

Boys do not have it easy growing up seeing the shameful brutality that is associated with their sex. We’ve seen toll it takes on our children, friends, partners, and husbands. It’s hard and embarrassing and infuriating. Young men are terribly exploited and indoctrinated when it comes to committing and accepting violence. Men suffer at the hands of hyper-masculine men just as women do. Men are raped by men just as women are. And worst of all is how the most violent impulses driven by testosterone are cultivated and instrumentalized for political purposes like wars and state repression, without regard to men’s lives.

We need to understand that we are in this together; to get over the idea that we are on some kind of sex-based teams and understand that we have a common enemy and that aberrant anti-social masculinity has a clear physiological basis. We need to be able to discuss the reality of violence against women from a broader social biological perspective instead of some manufactured war between the sexes which makes the average man feel he needs to take sides.

That’s not what I call freedom or privilege or an easy time. That sounds like a lot of weight and fear and confusion and shame to be carrying through the world.

This is not what we want for our sons, our brothers, our fathers, ourselves. It’s time to look at the full scope of the damage and see the incredible victimization of men by misogynists, only then will we be able to work together to fully address the social biological causes of hyper-masculinity and begin to work toward a solution.

Republicans are causing a moral crisis in America

From "The Washington Post" - please follow link to original.

Republicans are causing a moral crisis in America -- By Katrina vanden Heuvel

There is moral crisis afoot! So say the Republican candidates for president, their pals in Congress and in state houses. Abortion, gay marriage, contraception — contraception, for Pete’s sake — things that so shock the conscience that it’s a wonder The Washington Post can even print the words!

Here’s something I bet you wouldn’t think I’d say: They’re right. There is a moral crisis in the United States. The only thing is — they’re wrong about what it is and who is causing it

The real crisis of public morality in the United States doesn’t lie in the private decisions Americans make in their lives or their bedrooms; it lies at the heart of an ideology — and a set of policies — that the right-wing has used to batter and browbeat their fellow Americans.

They dress these policies up sometimes, give them catchy titles like Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity.” But they never cease to imbue them with the kind of moral decisions that ought to make anyone furious. Ryan’s latest budget really is case in point. It’s a plan that says that increases in defense spending are so essential, that massive tax cuts for the wealthy are so necessary, that we must pay for them by ripping a hole in the social safety net. The poor need Medicaid to pay for medicine and treatment for their families? We care, we really do, but the wealthy need tax cuts more. Food stamps the only thing standing between your children and starvation? Listen, we feel your pain. We get it. But we’ve got more important things to spend money on. Like a new yacht for that guy who only has one yacht.

It’s hard to point to a single priority of the Republican Party these days that isn’t steeped in moral failing while being dressed up in moral righteousness. This week, for example, they are hoping the Supreme Court will be persuaded by radical (and ridiculous) constitutional arguments to throw out some or all of the Affordable Care Act. Sure, you could argue that it’s really nice to make sure 31 million people who didn’t have health care can get it. Sure you could make the case that lifetime limits are a bad thing, that women shouldn’t have to pay more for health insurance just because they’re women, that the United States shouldn’t be a country where you die because you lost your coverage when you lost your job. But then again, liberty. Let’s not forget liberty. Also, freedom.

It is a very strange thing that the people who lecture most fervently about morality are those who are most willing to fight for policies that are so immoral. They watch Wall Street turn itself into the Las Vegas strip, take the economy down and destroy people’s lives and livelihoods. To that they say, “By God we need less regulation. Get me the hose, I have things to water down!” They see a CEO of a bank or a corporation, someone who passed off all of the risk and took on all of the reward, and they say, “Get that man a bigger bonus! In fact, get him two!”

They see corporate interests flood the political system with unfathomably large sums of money, they see lobbyists defining the terms of debate, and they say, “Now this . . . this is what democracy should look like.”

They see an environmental crisis spinning out of control, the effects of climate change being felt already, the possibility of the biggest natural disaster in modern human history. To which they ask, “Anyone know if we can drill this hole any deeper?”

So yes, Rick Santorum. Yes, Mitt Romney. Yes, Paul Ryan and Republican politicians all over this nation. You are right, as right as you’ve ever been. There is a moral crisis in this country. A horrifyingly, back-breaking, bankrupt-the-core-of-this-nation style crisis. But it isn’t women or the poor or the middle class or the gay community or health-care advocates or environmentalists that are causing it.

It’s you.

NOM and the Death of Marcellus Andrews

This from "Pam's House Blend" on "FireDogLake", written and reported by Scott Rose. Please read this -- then follow link to original, and read further.

Just another sign of how insane and desperate the anti-gay, anti-marriage-equality forces have become. They are ACTIVELY promoting violence against "different" people. They WANT you to INJURE, or even KILL LGBT folks -- even those PRESUMED to be LGBT -- now, you don't even seem to need proof. No "homosexual panic" needed -- just ATTACK!

We are going through a horrible time in the USA. The forces of darkness pretend to be "righteous" and "religious". If there is anything like an "anti-christ" around -- THEY are it.

Again -- please follow link to original.

NOM and the Death of Marcellus Andrews
By: Scott Rose Wednesday March 28, 2012 12:00 pm

Before the National Organization for Marriage set off on its 2011, Summer of Anti-Gay Hatred all over Iowa, it sponsored an anti-gay hate rally in the Bronx in May where a NOM-approved speaker told a mob of gay-bashers that homosexuals are “worthy to death.”

All summer long, NOM fanned the flames of anti-gay hatred, while getting major Republican presidential candidates to sign the maliciously anti-gay NOM pledge. Carried out in full, the NOM pledge would have a president forcibly annulling the marriages of all married gay and/or lesbian American couples, stripping them of their state-level legal protections with no regard for the well-being of any eventual children they might be raising.

NOM consistently disseminates psychopathic heterosupremacist gay-bashing propaganda claiming that acceptance of, and equality for gay human beings leads to the end of civilization. NOM also portrays gay human beings and equality supporters as mortal enemies of religious people and of God, (without ever acknowledging the validity of religious people who favor equality).

Having poisoned people’s minds against gay human beings in such ways since 2007, NOM undertook its deadly gay-bashing Summer of Anti-Gay Hatred, 2011 tour of Iowa.

On August 19, 2011, in Michele Bachmann‘s hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, the gay African-American 19-year-old Marcellus Andrews was beaten to death by anti-gay bigots who yelled “Faggot!” at him, as well as “Mercedes,” a feminization of his first name. A witness who was friends with Marcellus tried to pick him up, but one of the attackers came back and kicked Marcellus the “Faggot!” in the face. Marcellus was out to friends, but his family adamantly refused to accept that he was gay. They refused to cooperate with any eventual investigations into his brutal murder as a hate crime, and that was one reason authorities local, state and federal never investigated it as one. Remember; NOM’s mastermind Princeton Professor Robert George thinks that 1) gays should be jailed for their intimacy; 2) gay-specific hate crime legislation and anti-bullying policies should not exist, and; 3) if gays won’t pray to Jesus to be magic-poofed into heterosexuals, they deserve whatever bad thing happens to them. A vigil held in Marcellus’s name in Iowa, with his gay-bashing family present, did not even mention that he was gay, or that his murders yelled anti-gay slurs at him as they were beating him to death. This is precisely what NOM wants; for gay people’s own families not to acknowledge still less to accept that they are gay, or to think that they deserve civil rights as gay human beings. In its evil, scheming documents, NOM even details the means by which blacks are to be encouraged to feel that gays are the enemy, and vice-versa.

Recently released internal NOM documents do indeed state that important goals of the anti-gay hate group have included driving a wedge between gays and blacks, and fanning the gay/black hostility in the wake of Proposition Hate in California. NOM’s resident bigot pig (Oink! Oink!) Maggie Gallagher has even had the nerve to say that those creating a wedge between blacks and gays are “white liberals,” though African-American pastors have condemned NOM for its anti-gay bigotry. It isn’t expedient to NOM’s gay-bashing political goals for NOM to acknowledge that gay blacks exist, and that black hetero supporters of gay rights exist; so NOM simply doesn’t acknowledge their existence.

At the very least, NOM shares in having intensified hateful gay-bashing social conditions that led to Marcellus Andrews’s murder and his family’s extremely aggressive, denial-laden non-acceptance of him as a gay, African-American human being. It isn’t just that NOM wants to drive a wedge between African-Americans and a “white elite;” it’s that NOM’s bigot Schwein loose no sleep when they intentionally pit African-American families against their own LGBT family members. If instead of all of its hate-mongering against gays since 2007, NOM had been organized to push for acceptance and equality, Marcellus’s own African-American family might have been accepting of him as the whole person that he was. Moreover, thanks to what would have been the resulting, generally more accepting and humane social climate, his attackers might not have even have attacked, and certainly would have been less inclined to scream “Faggot!” and “Mercedes” at him.

The phrase “Blood on their hands” has a meaning. NOM’s 2011 Summer of Anti-Gay Hate was book-ended by 1) a NOM-approved speaker telling a mob of gay-bashers that homosexuals are “worthy to death,” and 2) the August beating death of the 19-year-old gay African-American Marcellus Andrews, by attackers yelling “Faggot!” at him

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Medeski Martin and Wood, Crosstown Traffic

John Scofield / Medeski, Martin & Wood - 'Hottentot' - North Sea Jazz 2007

Joe Pass & Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen - Oleo [1992]

Oscar Peterson Trio - Soft Winds [1985]

Oscar Peterson - Piano
Joe Pass - Guitar
Niels-Henning Örsted Pedersen - Bass

Oscar Peterson Trio - Sweet Georgia Brown [1985]

Oscar Peterson: Take the "A" Train (Duke Ellington)

Cat Anderson (Duke Ellington Band)

Sophisticated Lady - Duke Ellington and his orchestra

Hunger Games: What do you mean, the black girl was black?

Have you ever had enough? Have you ever despaired for the human race to the point you just want to give up? Has the current insanity ever gotten you to the point you don't give a damn what these fools do to THEMSELVES?

What have we become in the last 30 years? What has happened to ANY promise America ever had?

Racism totally out of control, greed, meanness beyond belief. Uneducated, ignorant people holding some of the "reins of power".

People willing to injure both themselves and their children just to deny someone an equal share, an equal opportunity.

This a blurb from "Feministe" -- follow link to original, read -- then weep for America.

Hunger Games: What do you mean, the black girl was black?
By Caperton on 3.27.2012

After The Hunger Games was released in the U.S. on Friday, “fans” who hadn’t seen a lot of advance materials got the shock of their lives to see a black character depicted by a black actress. Rue, played by the adorable Amandla Sternberg, was described as having “dark brown skin and eyes”–thus the ruination of the film at the hands of a dark-skinned, dark-eyed actress. And where else would enraged moviegoers turn but Twitter? -- please go to original

A little something that's both "safe for work" and too cute

Healthcare Jujitsu

Here's an interesting post from Robert Reich - please follow link to original

Healthcare Jujitsu

Monday, March 26, 2012

Not surprisingly, today’s debut Supreme Court argument over the so-called “individual mandate” requiring everyone to buy health insurance revolved around epistemological niceties such as the meaning of a “tax,” and the question of whether the issue is ripe for review.

Behind this judicial foreplay is the brute political fact that if the Court decides the individual mandate is an unconstitutional extension of federal authority, the entire law starts unraveling.

But with a bit of political jujitsu, the President could turn any such defeat into a victory for a single-payer healthcare system – Medicare for all.

Here’s how.

The dilemma at the heart of the new law is that it continues to depend on private health insurers, who have to make a profit or at least pay all their costs including marketing and advertising.

Yet the only way private insurers can afford to cover everyone with pre-existing health problems, as the new law requires, is to have every American buy health insurance – including young and healthier people who are unlikely to rack up large healthcare costs.

This dilemma is the product of political compromise. You’ll remember the Administration couldn’t get the votes for a single-payer system such as Medicare for all. It hardly tried. Not a single Republican would even agree to a bill giving Americans the option of buying into it.

But don’t expect the Supreme Court to address this dilemma. It lies buried under an avalanche of constitutional argument.

Those who are defending the law in Court say the federal government has authority to compel Americans to buy health insurance under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which gives Washington the power to regulate interstate commerce. They argue our sprawling health insurance system surely extends beyond an individual state.

Those who are opposing the law say a requirement that individuals contract with private insurance companies isn’t regulation of interstate commerce. It’s coercion of individuals.

Unhappily for Obama and the Democrats, most Americans don’t seem to like the individual mandate very much anyway. Many on the political right believe it a threat to individual liberty. Many on the left object to being required to buy something from a private company.

The President and the Democrats could have avoided this dilemma in the first place if they’d insisted on Medicare for all, or at least a public option.

After all, Social Security and Medicare require every working American to “buy” them. The purchase happens automatically in the form of a deduction from everyone’s paychecks. But because Social Security and Medicare are government programs financed by payroll taxes they don’t feel like mandatory purchases.

Americans don’t mind mandates in the form of payroll taxes for Social Security or Medicare. In fact, both programs are so popular even conservative Republicans were heard to shout “don’t take away my Medicare!” at rallies opposed to the new health care law.

There’s no question payroll taxes are constitutional, because there’s no doubt that the federal government can tax people in order to finance particular public benefits. But requiring citizens to buy something from a private company is different because private companies aren’t directly accountable to the public. They’re accountable to their owners and their purpose is to maximize profits. What if they monopolize the market and charge humongous premiums? (Some already seem to be doing this.)

Even if private health insurers are organized as not-for-profits, there’s still a problem of public accountability. What’s to prevent top executives from being paid small fortunes? (In more than a few cases this is already happening.)

Moreover, compared to private insurance, Medicare is a great deal. Its administrative costs are only around 3 percent, while the administrative costs of private insurers eat up 30 to 40 percent of premiums. Medicare’s costs are even below the 5 percent to 10 percent administrative costs borne by large companies that self-insure, and under the 11 percent costs of private plans under Medicare Advantage, the current private-insurance option under Medicare.

So why not Medicare for all?

Because Republicans have mastered the art of political jujitsu. Their strategy has been to demonize government and seek to privatize everything that might otherwise be a public program financed by tax dollars (see Paul Ryan’s plan for turning Medicare into vouchers). Then they go to court and argue that any mandatory purchase is unconstitutional because it exceeds the government’s authority.

Obama and the Democrats should do the reverse. If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate in the new health law, private insurers will swarm Capitol Hill demanding that the law be amended to remove the requirement that they cover people with pre-existing conditions.

When this happens, Obama and the Democrats should say they’re willing to remove that requirement – but only if Medicare is available to all, financed by payroll taxes.

If they did this the public will be behind them — as will the Supreme Court.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lobbyists, Guns and Money

The latest from Prof. Paul Krugman -- please follow link to original.

Lobbyists, Guns and Money
Published: March 25, 2012

Florida’s now-infamous Stand Your Ground law, which lets you shoot someone you consider threatening without facing arrest, let alone prosecution, sounds crazy — and it is. And it’s tempting to dismiss this law as the work of ignorant yahoos. But similar laws have been pushed across the nation, not by ignorant yahoos but by big corporations.

Specifically, language virtually identical to Florida’s law is featured in a template supplied to legislators in other states by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed organization that has managed to keep a low profile even as it exerts vast influence (only recently, thanks to yeoman work by the Center for Media and Democracy, has a clear picture of ALEC’s activities emerged). And if there is any silver lining to Trayvon Martin’s killing, it is that it might finally place a spotlight on what ALEC is doing to our society — and our democracy.

What is ALEC? Despite claims that it’s nonpartisan, it’s very much a movement-conservative organization, funded by the usual suspects: the Kochs, Exxon Mobil, and so on. Unlike other such groups, however, it doesn’t just influence laws, it literally writes them, supplying fully drafted bills to state legislators. In Virginia, for example, more than 50 ALEC-written bills have been introduced, many almost word for word. And these bills often become law.

Many ALEC-drafted bills pursue standard conservative goals: union-busting, undermining environmental protection, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization.

What this tells us, in turn, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is deeply misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.

And in case you were wondering, no, the kind of privatization ALEC promotes isn’t in the public interest; instead of success stories, what we’re getting is a series of scandals. Private charter schools, for example, appear to deliver a lot of profits but little in the way of educational achievement.

But where does the encouragement of vigilante (in)justice fit into this picture? In part it’s the same old story — the long-standing exploitation of public fears, especially those associated with racial tension, to promote a pro-corporate, pro-wealthy agenda. It’s neither an accident nor a surprise that the National Rifle Association and ALEC have been close allies all along.

And ALEC, even more than other movement-conservative organizations, is clearly playing a long game. Its legislative templates aren’t just about generating immediate benefits to the organization’s corporate sponsors; they’re about creating a political climate that will favor even more corporation-friendly legislation in the future.

Did I mention that ALEC has played a key role in promoting bills that make it hard for the poor and ethnic minorities to vote?

Yet that’s not all; you have to think about the interests of the penal-industrial complex — prison operators, bail-bond companies and more. (The American Bail Coalition has publicly described ALEC as its “life preserver.”) This complex has a financial stake in anything that sends more people into the courts and the prisons, whether it’s exaggerated fear of racial minorities or Arizona’s draconian immigration law, a law that followed an ALEC template almost verbatim.

Think about that: we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population.

Now, ALEC isn’t single-handedly responsible for the corporatization of our political life; its influence is as much a symptom as a cause. But shining a light on ALEC and its supporters — a roster that includes many companies, from AT&T and Coca-Cola to UPS, that have so far managed to avoid being publicly associated with the hard-right agenda — is one good way to highlight what’s going on. And that kind of knowledge is what we need to start taking our country back.

Greek Bailouts and Default


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Death By Cop Video Shot By Police NYPD Racism Police Brutality

Auto Show

We went to The Dallas Auto Show today. Saw some really lovely cars. Various Hyundai, VW, Ford, Chevrolet, Audi, Mercedes, Fiat, etc., etc., vehicles. Cars are so much better than they were even 15 years ago when I last sold cars.

We were looking at the Fiat 500 Cabriolet -- CUTE, CUTE, CUTE!!! Then some Texas guy, Pretty big Texas guy looked and said, "What if you get hit by a big truck?". We responded -- "If a big truck hits you -- you're most likely dead, even in your Escalade". He mumbled, and left.

Afterward we were talking, and wondering why so many of these BIG Texas guys seem so afraid of damn near everything. They're afraid of little cars and big trucks. They are frightened of supposedly RAMPANT crime. Illegal immigrants scare the living crap out of them. They are worried about wild eyed radical feminists, abortion (even though they can't get one), and terribly worried that they will BE FORCED, FORCED I TELL YOU, to eat HEALTHY FOOD by a black woman in The White House.

So much seems to scare these (just ask them) independent, self reliant, true-blue-red-blooded-American MEN. Why? Why are they so scared? What caused this irrational fear?

Do you think they know everything is sliding into total crap? Perhaps they realize the day of the white man is coming to an end - slowly but surely. Perhaps some part of them understands that, no matter how hard they yell, how much they deny, global climate change (global WARMING) is just grinding on in its quest to destroy the human species. Do you think they are frightened by the reality of educated, polished, upwardly mobile brown and black people?

What is it? Why are these self appointed "individualists" frightened by damn near everything?

I'd really like to know.

Oh yeah -- while looking at the Chevrolet Volt another BIG Texas guy said it's a piece of junk, said these batteries are no damn good, questioned American Technology, etc., etc. What was that about? I'll bet he sees himself as a "Patriot" -- but only buys foreign cars, pines for "the good old days", and is a mass of contradictions -- like so many of these "Patriots".


World's largest Christian TV channel 'funds owners' exorbitant lifestyle' Lawsuit brought by family members claims Trinity Broadcasting Network founder and his wife bought their jets with sham loan

Oh dear -- here's a story about unbridled greed - not on Wall Street, but on the part of ALL the parties involved. I guess the kids want to be filthy rich, as is Grandpa.

Note the wife of Paul Crouch Sr. -- his own PERSONAL "Christian Skank". This is the type of woman who will thrive when women are reduced to "baby machines", obedient "servants", and stereotypical male fantasy figures.

This from "The Guardian". Please follow link to original.

Brittany Koper with her grandparents Janice Crouch (far left) and Paul Crouch Sr (far right) at her wedding. Photograph: AP

The world's largest Christian TV channel, the California-based Trinity Broadcasting Network, has become embroiled in a multimillion-dollar financial scandal after members of the family that founded it alleged widespread embezzlement.

The claims – by Brittany Koper, whose grandfather Paul Crouch founded TBN, and by Joseph McVeigh, another family member – describe exorbitant spending on mansions in California, Tennessee and Florida, private jets and even a $100,000 (£63,000) mobile home to house the dogs of Crouch's flamboyant wife, Janice.

The network, which claims to broadcast in every continent except the Antarctic and has 18,000 affiliates, was set up by Crouch in the 1970s and preaches a "prosperity gospel" which promises material rewards to those who give generously.

Two years ago it declared a net worth of more than $800m, although in recent years it has faced increasing financial problems. Details of the claims are contained in cases filed with the California courts by McVeigh, who says he was targeted by the network, and 26-year-old Koper, who was fired in September.

According to the lawsuit, reported in US newspapers, Paul Crouch Sr obtained a $50m luxury jet for his personal use through a "sham loan", while church funds – many of which come from donations during events like its "Praise-a-thons" – paid for the dogs' mobile home.

McVeigh's lawsuit makes the most damning allegations, claiming "unlawful and unreported income distributions to Trinity Broadcasting's directors" with "multiple jet aircraft, including a $50m Global Express luxury jet aircraft purchased for the personal use of the Crouches through a sham loan … as well as an $8m Hawker jet aircraft purchased by Trinity Broadcasting for the personal use of director Janice Crouch".

It also describes the purchase of "multiple motor vehicles, including a $100,000 motor home purchased by Trinity Broadcasting as a mobile residence for director Janice Crouch's dogs".

Directors of the network are also accused of misusing funds to cover up sex scandals, including the alleged "cover-up and destruction of evidence concerning a bloody sexual assault involving Trinity Broadcasting and affiliated Holy Land Experience employees; the cover-up of director Janice Crouch's affair with a staff member at the Holy Land Experience; the cover-up of director Paul Crouch's use of Trinity Broadcasting funds to pay for a legal settlement with Enoch Lonnie Ford (a former TBN employee who said he had a homosexual affair with [founder] Paul Crouch)".

Brittany Koper, the network's former finance director, claims she was fired after she discovered the extent of the financial wrongdoing.

Her lawsuit follows one by the church against her – later dismissed – which alleged that Koper and her husband used forged documents to embezzle funds to buy cars, jewellery and a fishing boat.

"She blew the whistle and got terminated," Koper's lawyer, Tymothy MacLeod, told the Los Angeles Times. "Brittany has done the right thing. It's admirable that someone on the inside of TBN has come forward and is revealing to the world exactly what is going on behind those closed doors."

"These large ministries, they do become family enterprises… and in many ways that can be a most precarious problem for them," David E. Harrell, a professor emeritus of American religion at Auburn University, who has written about well-known televangelists told Associated Press. "Business squabbles, if they're complicated with family squabbles, can get nasty indeed."

TBN is no stranger to outside scrutiny. In 1998, the elder Crouch secretly paid an accuser $425,000 to keep quiet about allegations of a homosexual encounter which he has consistently denied, saying he settled only to avoid a costly and embarrassing trial.

In 2000, after a five-year battle, a federal appeals court overturned a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that found Crouch had created a "sham" minority company to get around limits on the number of TV stations he could own.

The network's lawyer has denied allegations accusing McVeigh and the Kopers of working together to steal from the ministry. He said the Crouches travel by private jet because they have had "scores of death threats, more than the president of the United States".

Man pulls a gun on Arkansas news team

I'm a shooter and a gun owner. I support our second amendment rights.

Actually, I support RESPONSIBLE gun ownership. Stuff like this should NEVER happen.

First -- safety is paramount. Second -- NEVER pull a weapon unless you intend to use it. NEVER use a deadly weapon just to "threaten" someone -- people get killed that way, and sometimes it's the person brandishing the weapon.

If gun owners can not be responsible -- our rights will be severely curtailed, or lost. That's not a good thing, but it's better than having fools like the guy in the video running around.

Friday, March 23, 2012

That big mess, Lindsey Graham is busy spouting off about health care reform

This from "America Blog News" - please follow link to original

That big mess, Lindsey Graham is busy spouting off about health care reform
By John Aravosis on 3/23/2012 06:30:00 PM

Now that the threat of a DADT investigation has passed, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham sure is talking like a tough guy. He's also talking nonsense. From Yahoo:

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham celebrated the second anniversary of President Barack Obama's health care law by calling it "a big effing mess," alluding to Vice President Joseph Biden's comment when the bill was signed in 2010.

"Two years ago at the Obama health care bill signing the Vice President was overheard telling President Obama, 'This is a big 'effing' deal,' Graham wrote on his official Twitter account, referring to Biden's profanity about the law's passage. "Unfortunately for them, two years later, the vast majority of Americans believe this has become a big 'effing' mess."

Speaking of big messes, Lindsey.

Well, of course the majority of Americans think it's a mess. That's because the majority of Americans have no idea what health care reform even does, nor do the majority of Republican opponents of health care reform. They've bought the GOP propaganda, as that Newsweek poll from last year showed. The majority of Americans don't like health care reform until they find out what it's in it, then they love it overwhelmingly.

When asked about Obama's plan (without being given any details about what the legislation includes), 49 percent opposed it and 40 percent were in favor. But after hearing key features of the legislation described, 48 percent supported the plan and 43 percent remained opposed.

The NEWSWEEK Poll asked respondents about eight health-care-reform provisions that Obama and many Democrats in Congress have generally supported. It found that the majority of Americans supported five of those provisions, three by particularly large margins. Eighty-one percent agreed with the creation of a new insurance marketplace, the exchange, for individual subscribers to compare plans and buy insurance at a competitive rate. Seventy-six percent thought health insurers should be required to cover anyone who applies, including those with preexisting conditions; and 75 percent agreed with requiring most businesses to offer health insurance to their employees, with incentives for small-business owners to do so.

So, correct, the public thinks it's a mess. And, correct, the public has no idea what's in it so they have no basis for deciding whether it's a mess.

The GOP lies. But the Obama administration doesn't do nearly enough to defend itself. It's doing more now, finally, and thankfully, but they need to get a lot better at this.

15 -- 3rd in Illinois

International Bank of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, Assumes All of the Deposits of Premier Bank, Wilmette, Illinois

March 23, 2012
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez (202) 898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922

Premier Bank, Wilmette, Illinois, was closed today by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – Division of Banking, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with International Bank of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, to assume all of the deposits of Premier Bank.

The two branches of Premier Bank will reopen during their normal business hours beginning Saturday as branches of International Bank of Chicago. Depositors of Premier Bank will automatically become depositors of International Bank of Chicago. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage up to applicable limits. Customers of Premier Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from International Bank of Chicago that it has completed systems changes to allow other International Bank of Chicago branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Premier Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of December 31, 2011, Premier Bank had approximately $268.7 million in total assets and $199.0 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, International Bank of Chicago agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

Customers with questions about today's transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-591-2767. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time (CDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., CDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., CDT; on Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., CDT; and thereafter from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., CDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $64.1 million. Compared to other alternatives, International Bank of Chicago's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Premier Bank is the fifteenth FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the third in Illinois. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was New City Bank, Chicago, on March 9, 2012.

#14 - 4th in Georgia

Stearns Bank, National Association, St. Cloud, Minnesota, Assumes All of the Deposits of Covenant Bank & Trust, Rock Spring, Georgia

March 23, 2012
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez (202) 898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922

Covenant Bank & Trust, Rock Spring, Georgia, was closed today by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Stearns Bank, National Association, St. Cloud, Minnesota, to assume all of the deposits of Covenant Bank & Trust.

The two branches of Covenant Bank & Trust will reopen on Monday as branches of Stearns Bank, National Association. Depositors of Covenant Bank & Trust will automatically become depositors of Stearns Bank, National Association. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage up to applicable limits. Customers of Covenant Bank & Trust should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Stearns Bank, National Association that it has completed systems changes to allow other Stearns Bank, National Association branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Covenant Bank & Trust can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of December 31, 2011, Covenant Bank & Trust had approximately $95.7 million in total assets and $90.6 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Stearns Bank, National Association agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

The FDIC and Stearns Bank, National Association entered into a loss-share transaction on $71.6 million of Covenant Bank & Trust's assets. Stearns Bank, National Association will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit:

Customers with questions about today's transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-537-4048. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., EDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., EDT; on Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., EDT; and thereafter from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., EDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $31.5 million. Compared to other alternatives, Stearns Bank, National Association's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Covenant Bank & Trust is the fourteenth FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the fourth in Georgia. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Global Commerce Bank, Doraville, on March 2, 2012.

War On Women

I've posted some items about the current War on Women. I've put up some commentary also.

Right now, I do not think any commentary is necessary -- the news items and their male supporters speak for themselves.

The level of anti-woman insanity being demonstrated tells me how terribly frightened men are. I'd say "white men" -- but, they are not the only ones. Take a look at some of the uber-patriarchal black men out there.

Look at the fear of women every race, religion, every ethnic group promotes.

Heck, even Israel, where equality of the sexes was once a basic belief has now become insanely anti-woman.

Anti-woman bills are being proposed in state after state. ALL MALE panels are attempting to limit birth control.

I would really like to hear anyone say, "there is no patriarchy" today. They claimed women were almost "too equal" a few years ago -- I guess the MRA morons have won some converts - or, too many "lawmakers" have been caught screwing around, and their EX-wives have won some decent settlements.

It's time for men to grow up, and become MEN!

Paranoia Strikes Deeper

This from Dr. Paul Krugman - please follow link to original.

Paranoia Strikes Deeper
Published: March 22, 2012

Stop, hey, what’s that sound? Actually, it’s the noise a great political party makes when it loses what’s left of its mind. And it happened — where else? — on Fox News on Sunday, when Mitt Romney bought fully into the claim that gas prices are high thanks to an Obama administration plot.

This claim isn’t just nuts; it’s a sort of craziness triple play — a lie wrapped in an absurdity swaddled in paranoia. It’s the sort of thing you used to hear only from people who also believed that fluoridated water was a Communist plot. But now the gas-price conspiracy theory has been formally endorsed by the likely Republican presidential nominee.

Before we get to the larger implications of this endorsement, let’s get the facts on gas prices straight.

First, the lie: No, President Obama did not say, as many Republicans now claim, that he wanted higher gasoline prices. He did once say that a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions would cause electricity prices to “skyrocket” — an unfortunate word choice. But saying that such a system would raise energy prices was just a factual statement, not a declaration of intent to punish American consumers. The claim that Mr. Obama wanted higher prices is a lie, pure and simple.

And it’s a lie wrapped in an absurdity, because the president of the United States doesn’t control gasoline prices, or even have much influence over those prices. Oil prices are set in a world market, and America, which accounts for only about a tenth of world production, can’t move those prices much. Indeed, the recent rise in gas prices has taken place despite rising U.S. oil production and falling imports.

Finally, there’s the paranoia, the belief that liberals in general, and Obama administration officials in particular, are trying to make driving unaffordable as part of a nefarious plot against the American way of life. And, no, I’m not exaggerating. This is what you hear even from thoroughly mainstream conservatives.

For example, last year George Will declared that the Obama administration’s support for train travel had nothing to do with relieving congestion and reducing environmental impacts. No, he insisted, “the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.” Who knew that Dagny Taggart, the railroad executive heroine of “Atlas Shrugged,” was a Commie?

O.K., this is all kind of funny. But it’s also deeply scary.

As Richard Hofstadter pointed out in his classic 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” crazy conspiracy theories have been an American tradition ever since clergymen began warning that Thomas Jefferson was an agent of the Bavarian Illuminati. But it’s one thing to have a paranoid fringe playing a marginal role in a nation’s political life; it’s something quite different when that fringe takes over a whole party, to the point where candidates must share, or pretend to share, that fringe’s paranoia to receive the party’s presidential nod.

And it’s not just gas prices, of course. In fact, the conspiracy theories are proliferating so fast it’s hard to keep up. Thus, large numbers of Republicans — and we’re talking about important political figures, not random supporters — firmly believe that global warming is a gigantic hoax perpetrated by a global conspiracy involving thousands of scientists, not one of whom has broken the code of omertà. Meanwhile, others are attributing the recent improvement in economic news to a dastardly plot to withhold stimulus funds, releasing them just before the 2012 election. And let’s not even get into health reform.

Why is this happening? At least part of the answer must lie in the way right-wing media create an alternate reality. For example, did you hear about how the cost of Obamacare just doubled? It didn’t, but millions of Fox-viewers and Rush-listeners believe that it did. Naturally, people who constantly hear about the evil that liberals do are ready and willing to believe that everything bad is the result of a dastardly liberal plot. And these are the people who vote in Republican primaries.

But what about the broader electorate?

If and when he wins the nomination, Mr. Romney will try, as a hapless adviser put it, to shake his Etch A Sketch — that is, to erase the record of his pandering to the crazy right and convince voters that he’s actually a moderate. And maybe he can pull it off.

But let’s hope that he can’t, because the kind of pandering he has engaged in during his quest for the nomination matters. Whatever Mr. Romney may personally believe, the fact is that by endorsing the right’s paranoid fantasies, he is helping to further a dangerous trend in America’s political life. And he should be held accountable for his actions.

Public Outcry and Pressure May Kill Idaho Forced Ultrasound Bill

As I said, these men are INSANE. They seem to want to turn the clock back to 900 BCE. A far cry from the 1880's and 90's I thought they wanted to return to.

It's as if they want us to be in some future dystopia where fighting is done with swords - but we have rockets, cell phones, teleportation, and scantily clad "slave girls".

Oh dear, the fantasies of old white men are on parade.

Please follow link to original

Public Outcry and Pressure May Kill Idaho Forced Ultrasound Bill

Despite ultrasound theater and overwhelming senate support, a mandatory ultrasound bill that would have forced women seeking abortion to pay out-of-pocket for an additional and unnecessary medical expense, while also trying to trick them into visiting crisis pregnancy centers, may not even make it to the House floor for a vote.

The bill became a political hand-grenade after bill sponsor Sen. Chuck Winder admitted that his sole reason for introducing it was to stop women from having abortions by whatever means necessary. Criticism of Winder began to escalate as he used his closing remarks during the senate vote to claim women with "rape issues" might lie to get abortions.

Facing national outrage, Winder then explained that he was merely trying to advocate for a "rape test" to ensure a woman who claimed she was rape was sure she was raped, and wasn't "accidentally terminating" a pregnancy resulting from consensual sex instead.

The bill debate then turned into a literal circus as one anti-choice advocate began using the capitol to do "ultrasound demos," providing "baby testimony" and purporting to show just how "un-intrusive" the abdominal version of the procedure it.

According to Betsy Russell at the Spokesman Review, Republican legislators then ended up in a drawn-out, closed-door caucus, while sources in the capitol began announcing that the hearing, which was planned for tomorrow, was canceled.

"House Assistant Minority Leader Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, said 10 minutes ago, House State Affairs Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, came to her office and told her that tomorrow morning's hearing on the pre-abortion ultrasound bill, SB 1387, has been canceled and the committee won't hear the bill - which would mean it's dead," Russell reported.

Republicans are saying there is no firm decision on whether or not the bill will be heard. But the end of the legislative session is looming and the agenda is still full. Advocates fighting the legislation say that if the hearing isn't held by Friday, it is highly unlikely the bill has time to come to the floor for a vote.

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest Legislative Director Hannah Brass is cautiously optimistic.

"While we welcome the news, the session is not yet over and we will continue to make sure that legislators know that the ultrasound mandate does nothing for women's health and is not right for Idaho. Our hope is that the Idaho Legislature has finally realized that they have no place in the exam room and that these decisions should be based on medicine, not politics."

"Women in Idaho are watching to make sure lawmakers focus on jobs and education, not legislating women's health care."

The legislature is expected to adjourn on Wednesday, March 28th.