Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London - Live Acoustic, 2000 (HD)

Europe's oldest prehistoric town unearthed in Bulgaria

I was recently talking to some "preppers", some folks fearful of a SHTF event that might trigger TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it). During the conversation I mentioned SALT. Regular table salt. One of the simple things required to maintain life. I was met with blank looks. Met with snorts and derisive snickers. Now, this from BBC News -- notice, "hoard of gold", etc. Follow link to original.

 Archaeologists in Bulgaria say they have uncovered the oldest prehistoric town found to date in Europe. The walled fortified settlement, near the modern town of Provadia, is thought to have been an important centre for salt production. Its discovery in north-east Bulgaria may explain the huge gold hoard found nearby 40 years ago. Archaeologists believe that the town was home to some 350 people and dates back to between 4700 and 4200 BC. That is about 1,500 years before the start of ancient Greek civilisation. The residents boiled water from a local spring and used it to create salt bricks, which were traded and used to preserve meat. Salt was a hugely valuable commodity at the time, which experts say could help to explain the huge defensive stone walls which ringed the town. 'Extremely interesting' Excavations at the site, beginning in 2005, have also uncovered the remains of two-storey houses, a series of pits used for rituals, as well as parts of a gate and bastion structures. A small necropolis, or burial ground, was discovered at the site earlier this year and is still being studied by archaeologists. "We are not talking about a town like the Greek city-states, ancient Rome or medieval settlements, but about what archaeologists agree constituted a town in the fifth millennium BC," Vasil Nikolov, a researcher with Bulgaria's National Institute of Archaeology, told the AFP news agency. Archaeologist Krum Bachvarov from the institute said the latest find was "extremely interesting". "The huge walls around the settlement, which were built very tall and with stone blocks... are also something unseen in excavations of prehistoric sites in south-east Europe so far," he told AFP. Similar salt mines near Tuzla in Bosnia and Turda in Romania help prove the existence of a series of civilisations which also mined copper and gold in the Carpathian and Balkan mountains during the same period. BBC Europe correspondent Nick Thorpe says this latest discovery almost certainly explains the treasure found exactly 40 years ago at a cemetery on the outskirts of Varna, 35km (21 miles) away, the oldest hoard of gold objects found anywhere in the world.
If Romney - Ryan elected -- Cat or Senior Citizen? You make the choice.

Chris Matthews calls climate change deniers ‘pigs’

 This from "Raw Story"  --  please follow link to original

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” said that Hurricane Sandy is proof that climate change is real and called its deniers “pigs” in a highly charged segment on Tuesday.
President Clinton, Matthews said, was the first major public figure to call attention to Romney’s stance on climate change in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  The host then rolled a clip from Clinton’s speech on Tuesday regarding the subject.
“He ridiculed the president,” said Clinton with regards to the recent presidential debates, for fighting for renewable energy and attempting to curb carbon emissions.  “‘Oh, you’re going to turn back the seas,’” quoted the former president.  “In my part of America, we’d like if somebody could have done that yesterday,” he said, meaning the incredible damage and flooding in New York City.
“In the real world,” Clinton said, “Barack Obama’s policies work better.”
Matthews asked whether the wildfires, droughts and now, giant hurricanes are proof that not only is climate change real, but that its results are being felt right now.
The host was joined by Professor Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), both climate change believers.
Markey opined that Hurricane Sandy “frames the election next Tuesday,” a competition that will ultimately boil down to a battle between “Mother Nature” and “the Koch brothers.”
Matthews asked Oppenheimer who he thinks, at this point, could look at the kind of devastation the world is seeing, and deny that anything is going on.
Oppenheimer said that people who deny climate change have “different motivations.”  Some, he said, don’t want to hear about global warming because because it’s just more bad news that they feel they can’t do anything about.  Some people don’t want to hear about it because “it gets in the way of their economic interests.”  Others, he said, are skeptical and mistrust “experts.”
“Well Professor Oppenheimer, back in the ‘60s, we called such people pigs,” Matthews said.  “Pigs. No, really. They don’t care about the planet, they don’t care about the destruction of war. All they want is what they got, their stuff, and they want more of it.  Is that what we’re facing here, just greed? I’m not talking about the guy at the coal mine—that’s hard work. I’m talking about people who won’t listen to you, won’t listen to science because they want more stuff.”
Oppenheimer demurred, “I’m not into name-calling here.”
“Well, I am,” said Matthews.
Oppenheimer countered that there is a lot of work to be done, that U.S. emissions are down slightly, but that cooperation between consumers, the government and big business is going to be essential.
“Everybody has to get involved,” he said.

Audience roars in laughter when Bachmann claims she doesn't do political speeches

These people are truly insane!

Romney’s Latest Lie, His Former Lies, and Why We Must Not Put Liars in the White House

From Robert Reich - follow link to original

Romney’s Latest Lie, His Former Lies, and Why We Must Not Put Liars in the White House

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Over the weekend, Romney debuted an ad in Ohio showing cars being crushed as a narrator says Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job.”
In fact, Chrysler is retaining and expanding its Jeep production in North America, including in Ohio. Its profits have enabled it to separately consider expanding into China, the world’s largest auto market.
Responding to the ad, Chrysler emphasized in a blog post that it has “no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China.”
“They are inviting a false inference,” says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on political advertising.
This is only the most recent in a stream of lies from Romney. Remember his contention that the President planned to “rob” Medicare of $716 billion when in fact the money would come from reduced payments to providers who were overcharging — thereby extending the life of Medicare? (Ryan’s plan includes the same $716 billion of savings but gets it from turning Medicare into a voucher and shifting rising health-care costs on to seniors.)
Remember Romney’s claim that Obama removed the work requirement from the welfare law, when in fact Obama merely allowed governors to fashion harder or broader work requirements? 
Recall Romney’s assertion that he is not planning to give the rich a tax cut of almost $5 trillion, when in fact that’s exactly what his budget plan does? Or that his budget will reduce the long-term budget deficit, when in fact his numbers don’t add up?
And so on. “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” says Neil Newhouse, a Romney pollster. It is not even being dictated by facts.
There are two lessons here. First, lies financed by deep pockets are hard to refute, but they must be refuted. Otherwise, there is no accountability in our democracy. So far, the American media have not adequately refuted Romney’s lies. They seem to believe that dissembling is permissible, or that pointing out this extraordinary lying machine is itself an act of partisanship.
Second, anyone who tells or countenances such lies cannot be trusted to hold the highest office in our land, because he has no compunctions about feeding false information to the public. In recent memory we’ve had a president who told us there were “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, when in fact there were none. We dare not risk another George W. Bush.

Hampton Hawes Quartet 1956 ~ Jordu

Hampton Hawes - Piano
Jim Hall - Guitar
Red Mitchell - Bass
Eldridge Freeman - Drums

Louis Smith Quintet 1958 ~ South Side

Louis Smith - Trumpet
Cannonball Adderley - Alto Sax
Duke Jordan - Piano
Doug Watkins - Bass
Art Taylor - Drums

DUKE ELLINGTON: " Blues to be there "

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


There are some things only government can do.  Coordinating a massive relief effort over many states and regions REQUIRES some measure of central planning.  It also requires that we ALL pull together  --  it will cost every one of us MONEY to set this straight.  That's why we have governments, agencies like FEMA, etc.

Let us now ALL help ALL of our fellow Americans, no matter who or where.  Prove to yourself (and others) we are all citizens of ONE COUNTRY!

Bayville, Long Island, New York

I fear the town I once lived in  --  Bayville L.I. is in VERY bad shape after this latest hurricane/storm/nor'easter/massive storm.  I truly hope everyone is safe, alive, and looking forward. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Medicaid on the Ballot By PAUL KRUGMAN

Prof. Paul Krugman's latest column - please follow link to original

There’s a lot we don’t know about what Mitt Romney would do if he won. He refuses to say which tax loopholes he would close to make up for $5 trillion in tax cuts; his economic “plan” is an empty shell.
But one thing is clear: If he wins, Medicaid — which now covers more than 50 million Americans, and which President Obama would expand further as part of his health reform — will face savage cuts. Estimates suggest that a Romney victory would deny health insurance to about 45 million people who would have coverage if he lost, with two-thirds of that difference due to the assault on Medicaid.
So this election is, to an important degree, really about Medicaid. And this, in turn, means that you need to know something more about the program.
For while Medicaid is generally viewed as health care for the nonelderly poor, that’s only part of the story. And focusing solely on who Medicaid covers can obscure an equally important fact: Medicaid has been more successful at controlling costs than any other major part of the nation’s health care system.
So, about coverage: most Medicaid beneficiaries are indeed relatively young (because older people are covered by Medicare) and relatively poor (because eligibility for Medicaid, unlike Medicare, is determined by need). But more than nine million Americans benefit from both Medicare and Medicaid, and elderly or disabled beneficiaries account for the majority of Medicaid’s costs. And contrary to what you may have heard, the great majority of Medicaid beneficiaries are in working families.
For those who get coverage through the program, Medicaid is a much-needed form of financial aid. It is also, quite literally, a lifesaver. Mr. Romney has said that a lack of health insurance doesn’t kill people in America; oh yes, it does, and states that expand Medicaid coverage show striking drops in mortality.
So Medicaid does a vast amount of good. But at what cost? There’s a widespread perception, gleefully fed by right-wing politicians and propagandists, that Medicaid has “runaway” costs. But the truth is just the opposite. While costs grew rapidly in 2009-10, as a depressed economy made more Americans eligible for the program, the longer-term reality is that Medicaid is significantly better at controlling costs than the rest of our health care system.
How much better? According to the best available estimates, the average cost of health care for adult Medicaid recipients is about 20 percent less than it would be if they had private insurance. The gap for children is even larger.
And the gap has been widening over time: Medicaid costs have consistently risen a bit less rapidly than Medicare costs, and much less rapidly than premiums on private insurance.
How does Medicaid achieve these lower costs? Partly by having much lower administrative costs than private insurers. It’s always worth remembering that when it comes to health care, it’s the private sector, not government programs, that suffers from stifling, costly bureaucracy.
Also, Medicaid is much more effective at bargaining with the medical-industrial complex.
Consider, for example, drug prices. Last year a government study compared the prices that Medicaid paid for brand-name drugs with those paid by Medicare Part D — also a government program, but one run through private insurance companies, and explicitly forbidden from using its power in the market to bargain for lower prices. The conclusion: Medicaid pays almost a third less on average. That’s a lot of money.
Is Medicaid perfect? Of course not. Most notably, the hard bargain it drives with health providers means that quite a few doctors are reluctant to see Medicaid patients. Yet given the problems facing American health care — sharply rising costs and declining private-sector coverage — Medicaid has to be regarded as a highly successful program. It provides good if not great coverage to tens of millions of people who would otherwise be left out in the cold, and as I said, it does much right to keep costs down.
By any reasonable standard, this is a program that should be expanded, not slashed — and a major expansion of Medicaid is part of the Affordable Care Act.
Why, then, are Republicans so determined to do the reverse, and kill this success story? You know the answers. Partly it’s their general hostility to anything that helps the 47 percent — those Americans whom they consider moochers who need to be taught self-reliance. Partly it’s the fact that Medicaid’s success is a reproach to their antigovernment ideology.
The question — and it’s a question the American people will answer very soon — is whether they’ll get to indulge these prejudices at the expense of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

Golden Dawn MPs Are Taking The Nazi Comparisons To A Whole New Level In Greece

As always, they come back to THE JEWS! - follow link to original

Greek MP Ilias Kasidiaris, the extremist Golden Dawn party's spokesman – who in July physically attacked a female lawmaker on live TV – is really starting to live up to the party's reputation as a "neo-Nazi" group.
The group has taken to the streets, terrorizing immigrants, and the police are reportedly colluding with them.
Meanwhile, Golden Dawn is surging in popularity among the Greek electorate – it now polls as the third-biggest political party.
In the latest disturbing episode to emerge from the chambers of the Greek parliament, Kasidiaris read aloud a passage from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic propaganda piece circulated and mandated in classrooms by the Nazis during that party's rise to power in 1930s Germany. It was also one of Hitler's key "justifications" for the Holocaust.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz has the story:
Ilias Kasidiaris, a spokesperson for Golden Dawn, read out Protocol 19 from the book: "In order to destroy the prestige of heroism we shall send them for trial in the category of theft, murder and every kind of abominable and filthy crime," according to Panayote Dimitras of the Greek Helsinki Monitor.

Kasidiaris was addressing parliament on October 23 at a discussion on lifting his immunity in connection with suspicions of assault. “There was absolutely no reaction” to this in parliament, Dimitras said, which, makes “all parties held as accomplices.”

Just Label It: Let the People Decide by Jim Goodman

This from "Common Dreams"  --  please follow link to original

I've farmed all my life and I have to tell you, all food is not the same. No food or farming system is perfect, but as farmers, as citizens, we should not be forced to accept a globalized, industrialized, genetically modified system of agricultural production.
I have farmed with pesticides, chemical fertilizers and livestock hormones, and was lucky enough to jump off that ship before it went completely under the waves. I experienced the shortcomings and failures of pesticides, antibiotics and the system in general. I was concerned for the health of my family, my livestock and the soil, so I got out.

I dropped out of the conventional farming system (seeing organic production as a better, safer and more productive alternative) just as the revolution of genetic modification (GM) and its “promise” to feed the world was being forced upon the world.

When I say forced, I mean just that.

People were never given a choice (not in the U.S. anyway) as to whether or not their food would contain GM ingredients, or if they had a right to know. If you eat food with processed ingredients, you are eating GM ingredients.

Despite clear indications of health risks, our government maintains that food with GM content is substantially equivalent to non-GM, therefore labeling is not required.

When GM crops resistant to the weed killer Roundup were introduced, farmers were promised that one application of the herbicide was all they would ever need. Dream on. I watch spray rigs running across neighboring fields from April to November. Roundup is no longer doing the job; the promise of less chemical application was a false promise.

Some farmers still grow non-GM crops but it is increasingly difficult to get non-GM seed. If GM pollen contaminates their non-GM crops, it's their fault their crops got in the way. And of course, since that crop now has GM genetics, GM kingpin Monsanto et al. can sue them for stealing patented crop varieties.

Our current food system, dominated by intensive farming practices (notably GM crops), is a system that is failing in so many ways.

It is a system that has destroyed rural economies worldwide.

A system that contributes to an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, food allergies, heart disease and cancer for some, while at the same time allowing hunger to persist for others.

A system that that is controlled by multi-national corporations whose interest is profit, not healthy food, not land stewardship, and certainly not fair prices for farmers.

Peter Rosset tells us, food is different. “It is not a typical commodity because it affects so many people and the environment in such intimate ways”.

Food production and food choice should be controlled by farmers and those who eat, not corporations, and not politicians.

While some feel that the cheapest food is the best food, people are not stupid, they want to be able to make choices about the food they buy. This is why California Proposition 37 is such a critical ballot initiative. It's so simple, food with GM content should be labeled as such so people can make a choice.

If GM is so safe, so necessary, so full of promise, why are corporate interests so opposed to labeling it?

If it is the answer, why, as a technology, does it need special treatment from government regulators?

California voters have a short time, as Ferlinghetti might say “a time of useful consciousness”, to decide if they are entitled to make choices about their food -- time to decide if their right to know is more important than Monsanto's bank account.

As California goes, so goes the nation, just label it.

Whedon On Romney

America - land of inequality J. Bradford DeLong

This from "The San Francisco Chronicle"  --  please follow link to original

A third of a century ago, all of us economists confidently predicted that America would remain and even become more of a middle-class society. The wealth inequality of the 1870-1929 Gilded Age, we would have said, was a peculiar result of the first age of industrialization. Transformations in technology, public investments in education, a progressive tax system, a safety net and the continued decline in discrimination on the basis of race and sex had made late-20th century America a much more equal place than early-20th century America and would make early-21st century America even more equal - even more of a middle-class society - still.
We were wrong.
America is at least as unequal as, and might be more unequal than, it was back at the beginning of the 20th century when Republicans, such as President Theodore Roosevelt of New York condemned the power wielded by "malefactors of great wealth," and Democrats such as perennial losing presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska denounced shadowy conspiracies that had somehow manipulated the financial system to rob the typical family of its proper share in America's prosperity.
Four major factors have driven rising inequality over the past 35 years:
Waning progressivity of our tax system: We no longer tax the rich a significantly greater share of their income than we tax the middle class. The idea behind the cut in relative tax rates on the rich was that it would release blocked entrepreneurial energy and trigger a burst of more rapid economic growth.
It did not: Economic growth overall has been slower since President Ronald Reagan began waves of tax cuts for the rich.
Decline in our willingness to invest in education: A generation ago, we were the best-educated country among the rich nations of the North Atlantic; today we rank 14th. Add in the relative decline in the minimum wage and globalization, and the upshot is that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that the typical white American male with just a high school diploma earns less today than his predecessor of the late-1970s, even though the country as a whole is 70 percent richer per capita. Of the four, two factors have widened inequality between the top fifth of America and the 1 percent.
Transformation to a winner-take-all society: The information revolution now allows the most-skilled and luckiest to leverage their skills and luck across immense customer bases. In earlier centuries, Charles Dickens and Enrico Caruso were superstars but not super-wealthy. Today Stephen King and Placido Domingo and Oprah Winfrey are super-wealthy indeed. We saw this a century ago whenever luck and economies of scale in production and a continentwide market all came together: Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller became superrich. But our Bill Gates is, and Sam Walton was, superricher.
Economic shift to industrial sectors that subtract value: Three percent of the American economy today is excessive private health care administrative costs, which produces nothing useful but transfers money away from insurance customers and doctors. Some 4 percent of the American economy today is excessive financial services: less-informed savers and borrowers who should not be buying or selling sophisticated financial products they do not understand are losing their money to those better able to judge risks and values. We can see the impact of these last two factors in the Romney family dynasty: Former American Motors President and Michigan Gov. George Romney typically made $300,000 a year in the early 1960s, roughly 40 times the typical income of Americans of his day. Bain Capital President and Massachusetts Gov. W. Mitt Romney typically makes $20 million a year today, roughly 400 times the typical income of Americans now - and relative to those he regards as his Wall Street peers, W. Mitt Romney is a poor man

A more equal economy would be a happier economy. The time and energy and work devoted to making, toasting and serving a $40 bagel at the Four Seasons Hotel on 57th Street in Manhattan would, in a more equal America, buy a full dinner for four at Sizzler Steakhouse for a family to whom going to Sizzler is a once-a-month treat - and thereby produce more human happiness.
A more equal America would be one in which claims that America has equality or is approaching equality of opportunity would be less of a sick joke.
A more equal America would be one in which economic catastrophes like the 2007-whenever Great Recession that robs 1 in 12 usually working Americans of his or her job would be less likely and less destructive. Those who see themselves as falling behind their peers are inevitably prone to take extra risks as they gamble for resurrection. This is a very human drive: It applies to those who go double-or-nothing repeatedly and lose $5 billion for the investment bank they work for as well as those who commit 50 percent of their income to mortgage payments in the hope of grabbing some equity for themselves in a housing boom. This drive also produces an economy in which there is too-much-too-risky debt around. The borrowers then cut their spending because they must pay it down. But the creditors don't dare increase their spending because they fear they will never be paid. An economy in which nearly everybody is trying to spend less than they earn is one prone to depression.
What can be done to make America a land of more real equality of opportunity?
We don't want to restrict globalization. America is still a rich country in a poor world, and we have a moral obligation not to use our economic weight to close off others' roads to prosperity.
We do want an America with higher taxes on the rich: When market income is more unequal, taxes on the rich should be higher to equalize prosperity and voice in a political system where money talks.
We can't do anything about changing technologies that have produced the winner-take-all economy.
We can tax and regulate our health care and financial systems to shift the resources of the 7 percent of the American economy that is subtracting from our national prosperity into something useful.
The road to a better tax system now looks like it will take at least a generation and, after the Citizens United ruling, require substantial turnover of the Supreme Court before it can even begin.
And we could strive to once again make America - and not Germany or South Korea or someplace else - the country where education and thus roads to upward mobility are the most comprehensive, best and cheapest.
But - and I hope this is just the growing pessimism of the middle-aged - I don't think that we will.
J. Bradford DeLong is a professor of economics at UC Berkeley

The War on Objectivity

From Dr. Krugman's blog.  Follow link to original

Brad DeLong points me to this National Review attack on Nate Silver, which I think of as illustrating an important aspect of what’s really happening in America.
For those new to this, Nate is a sports statistician turned political statistician, who has been maintaining a model that takes lots and lots of polling data — most of it at the state level, which is where the presidency gets decided — and converts it into election odds. Like others doing similar exercises — Drew Linzer, Sam Wang, and Pollster — Nate’s model continued to show an Obama edge even after Denver, and has shown that edge widening over the past couple of weeks.
This could be wrong, obviously. And we’ll find out on Election Day. But the methodology has been very clear, and all the election modelers have been faithful to their models, letting the numbers fall where they may.
Yet the right — and we’re not talking about the fringe here, we’re talking about mainstream commentators and publications — has been screaming “bias”! They know, just know, that Nate must be cooking the books. How do they know this? Well, his results look good for Obama, so it must be a cheat. Never mind the fact that Nate tells us all exactly how he does it, and that he hasn’t changed the formula at all.
This is, of course, reminiscent of the attack on the Bureau of Labor Statistics — not to mention the attacks on climate science and much more. On the right, apparently, there is no such thing as an objective calculation. Everything must have a political motive.
This is really scary. It means that if these people triumph, science — or any kind of scholarship — will become impossible. Everything must pass a political test; if it isn’t what the right wants to hear, the messenger is subjected to a smear campaign.
It’s almost besides the point to notice that the whole notion that Nate Silver is somehow serving Obama’s interests by skewing the results is bizarre. This race is going to be decided by actual votes, not perceptions of “momentum”. But then posturing and bragging seems to be central to the right’s theory, for reasons I don’t get.
Anyway, it’s another disgraceful episode. And the fact that the National Review ran with this tells you all you need to know about the publication.

Romney: 'Some Gays Are Actually Having Children. It's Not Right on Paper. It's Not Right in Fact.'

This from Michelangelo Signorile. Follow link to original at Huffington Post. ---------------------------------------

We've witnessed many Mitt Romneys, but the one unearthed by the Boston Globe's Murray Waas yesterday is perhaps the most vicious and cruel: a zealot who, as Massachusetts governor, became hellbent on stigmatizing the children of gay and lesbian parents, labeling these kids as outcasts and causing them to suffer hardship throughout their lives.
Waas reveals how, after gays and lesbians in Massachusetts won the right to marry in 2003, Governor Romney wouldn't allow the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics to revise birth certificate forms for babies born to same-sex couples. The plan was to have the box for "father," for example, relabeled "father or second parent." But according to documents obtained by Waas, Romney rejected the plan, demanding the agency continue using old forms. Romney then demanded hospitals get permission from his office each time a child was born to a same sex-couple in order to cross out, with a pen, the label "father" or "mother," and write-in, with a pen, "second parent." (Romney also required gay male parents to get a court order before any birth certificate was issued.)
Those children would then go through life with birth certificates that marked them as strange, abnormal, less than everyone else, punished because Romney didn't approve of their parents. As a Department of Health attorney warned Romney, the children would be disadvantaged and would have trouble applying to school or getting drivers licenses as adults, particularly in a post-9/11 world where they might be considered security risks, having birth certificates that appeared altered. It was a "violation of existing statutes," the attorney warned Romney. But Romney waved off the warnings, not caring about the the legal, psychological or personal ramifications.
Romney hadn't even previously fathomed that gay people had children. Boston Spirit magazine reported last month that when gay activists met with him in his office in 2004, as Romney was backing a failed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in the state, Romney remarked, "I didn't know you had families." Julie Goodridge, lead plaintiff in the landmark case that won marriage rights for gays and lesbians before the Supreme Judicial Court, asked what she should tell her 8-year-old daughter about why the governor would block the marriage of her parents. According to Goodridge, Romney responded,"I don't really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don't you just tell her the same thing you've been telling her the last eight years."
Romney's retort enraged a speechless Goodridge; he didn't care, and by referring to her biological daughter as "adopted," it was clear he hadn't even been listening. By the time she was back in the hallway, she was reduced to tears. "I really kind of lost it," says Goodridge. "I've never stood before someone who had no capacity for empathy."
Months after his battle with the Registry of Vital Records began, as Waas reports in the Globe, Romney spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington:
He outlined his misgivings about the request from the Registry of Vital Records. "The children of America have the right to have a father and a mother,'' Romney said in his prepared remarks. "What should be the ideal for raising a child? Not a village, not 'parent A' and 'parent B,' but a mother and a father.'' Romney also warned about the societal impact of gay parents raising children. "Scientific studies of children raised by same-sex couples are almost nonexistent,'' he said. "It may affect the development of children and thereby future society as a whole.''
The following year, 2005, Romney spoke to conservative voters in South Carolina, as he trained his eye on the presidency. "Some gays are actually having children born to them,'' he said. "It's not right on paper. It's not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and father.''
Does it really matter whether his actions and statements were motivated by Romney's authoritarian Mormon faith or were a pander to evangelicals as he sought the presidency, or both? That he could be so zealous, cold-hearted and cruel should alarm everyone about the prospect of Mitt Romney becoming president.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Cold shot (Live in Texas)

Stevie Ray Vaughan-Pride And Joy

the thrill is gone - B.B. KING

John Mayall with Albert King - Stormy Monday

Freddie King - Sweet Home Chicago - Stockholm 1974


FDIC Approves the Payout of the Insured Deposits of NOVA Bank, Berwyn, Pennsylvania

October 26, 2012
Media Contact:
LaJuan Williams-Young
Office: 202-898-3876

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) approved the payout of the insured deposits of NOVA Bank, Berwyn, Pennsylvania. The bank was closed today by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, which appointed the FDIC as receiver.
The FDIC was unable to find another financial institution to take over the banking operations of NOVA Bank. The FDIC will mail checks directly to depositors of NOVA Bank for the amount of their insured money. As a convenience to depositors, the FDIC has made arrangements with National Penn Bank to accept the failed bank's direct deposits from the federal government, such as Social Security and Veterans' payments through January 25, 2013. The seven National Penn Bank locations designated to service NOVA Bank's customers receiving federal government direct deposit payments are as follows: One Penn Center; East Falls; Norristown; Wynnewood; Paoli; Wayne, and Lionville.
Customers with questions about today's transaction, including those with accounts in excess of $250,000, should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-830-3256. 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 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 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
Beginning Monday, depositors of NOVA Bank with more than $250,000 at the bank may visit the FDIC's Web page "Is My Account Fully Insured?" at to determine their insurance coverage.
As of June 30, 2012, NOVA Bank had approximately $483.0 million in total assets and $432.2 million in total deposits. The amount of uninsured deposits will be determined once the FDIC obtains additional information from those customers.
The FDIC as receiver will retain all the assets from NOVA Bank for later disposition. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.
The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $91.2 million. NOVA Bank is the 47th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the second in Pennsylvania. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was American Eagle Savings Bank, Boothwyn, on January 20, 2012.

Donate for an Actual Cure By Caperton

This from "Feministe"  --  please read.  Follow link to original

It’s October, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the U.S. is awash in a sea of bubblegum pink. The most recognizable, of course, is that of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and their ubiquitous pink ribbon, pink t-shirts, and potentially carcinogenic co-branded pink products.
In recent years, and particularly in light of their defunding and subsequent re-funding of Planned Parenthood earlier this year, Komen has come under increased scrutiny for their fundraising and fund-distributing efforts. Despite fighting to trademark the phrase “for the cure” and declaring a goal of “ending breast cancer forever,” in 2011 SGK devoted less than a quarter of their funds to research and 7 percent to treatment. Administrative and fundraising costs accounted for 17 percent.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to help “end breast cancer forever”–catch it early, treat it effectively, and discover and eliminate the reasons it occurs in the first place–without going through SGK. The simplest way is just to go straight to the source.
Breast cancer screening
The National Breast Cancer Foundation. The NBCF’s National Mammography Program has established partnerships with health facilities in 49 states to offer free mammograms and patient navigation. A $100 donation will fund one free mammogram. Donate to the NBCF (and check them out on Charity Navigator)
Planned Parenthood. Public response to Komen’s defunding of Planned Parenthood was outrageous, with more than $3 million in donations coming in within days of the announcement. Planned Parenthood has directed those funds into their Breast Health Initiative, which will allow PP providers to give referrals and grants for followup care for women who can’t afford it. Donate to Planned Parenthood (and check them out on Charity Navigator)
Causes of breast cancer
The Sister Study. The NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the NIH) Sister Study looks at environmental and familial risk factors for breast cancer. The Sister Study itself follows 50,000 women whose sisters have had breast cancer, and the subsequent Two Sisters Study follows participants and their sisters and living parents in cases where the sister was diagnosed before age 50. The study began in 2004 and is expected to last 10 or more years, assessing risks from genetics to diet to environmental exposures. Donate to the NIEHS (direct funds to support the NIEHS Sister Study)
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The FHCRC is doing extensive research into all kinds of potential cancer causes including cadmium exposure, hormone replacement therapy, Depo-Provera, and environmental exposures like radiation, pollutants, and electromagnetic fields, as well as investigation into cancer health disparities. Donate to the FHCRC
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. While the BCRF is, itself, a charity, it’s one that devotes 88 percent of public support to research grants. They divide their donations into “research on cancer formation” and “research on cure and prevention,” and they further divide the former into inherited susceptibility, external effects, and irregular cellular activities. Donate to the BCRF, or look at their lists of grantees and donate to any of them directly. Donate to the BCRF (and check them out on Charity Navigator)
Targeted treatment
The University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center. UAB researchers leading a phase 2 clinical trials of a monoclonal antibody that shows promise in targeting a “death receptor” in tumor cells while sparing normal cells. Combined with chemo and/or radiation, this could be a major advance in treating aggressive and deadly triple-negative breast cancer. Donate to the UABCCC
UAB also is participating in phase 1 clinical trials for 9cUAB30, a synthetic retinoic acid analogue (derived from vitamin A) that shows promise in reducing the chance of breast cancer in high-risk women as effectively as the most frequently used methods, but without the toxicity.
The University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center UC researchers are studying population variants to determine whether genetics influences response to chemotherapy drugs–both in effectiveness and in toxicity–and how to use that information to find the best treatment for any given patient. Donate to the UCCCC
Breast cancer vaccines
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Researchers at Johns Hopkins are in clinical trials for a treatment vaccine designed to induce the immune system to attack cancer cells. The vaccine has shown promise in trials with patients with advanced breast cancer, and results from phase II trials of the vaccine in combination with chemotherapy drugs are awaiting publication. Donate to Johns Hopkins (designate your gift for the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center; directing your gifts specifically to the breast cancer SPORE isn’t available as an option)
MD Anderson Cancer Center. Researchers at MD Anderson are in phase II clinical trials for a vaccine with the potential to reduce recurrence in breast cancer patients. The vaccine induces the patient’s immune system to recognize and attack the HER2 protein. Donate to MD Anderson
And a few research keywords to look for (if that sort of thing is important to you)
Comprehensive. An NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center performs basic-science, population, and clinical research, along with evidence-based education and outreach. Research efforts are interdisciplinary, collaborative, and frequently multi-center and cover prevention to diagnosis to treatment to survivorship. Currently, 41 cancer centers hold the “comprehensive” designation.
SPORE. A Special Program of Research Excellence holds a five-year NCI grant for translational research based around cancer of a specific organ. The focus in on finding new and better methods for preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer with an emphasis on getting those methods into use–a SPORE is required to have human application by the end of the grant. The NCI currently is funding 11 breast cancer SPORES.
Translational research. “Bench-to-bedside” translational research takes basic-science discoveries from the lab and turns them into practical therapies for patients in a clinical setting. Scientists and clinicians work in close contact (and sometimes are the same person) to advance treatments and best practices.

From our DEAR, SWEET, "The Rude Pundit"

Follow link to original

Any Lead Romney Has Is Because White People Are Comfortable Again With Their Racism:
Drunk on good beer and stuffed with shitty bangers at an EPCOT-worthy fake Irish pub in deepest, suburbanest New Jersey this past weekend, one of the people at the Rude Pundit's table decided to start talking politics. "I talk to people, union guys, who say they're not going to vote for Obama," the man said, asserting that while he wasn't necessarily an Obama voter, he found this odd. Or, more precisely, "It's fucked up. I tell them, 'Look, you should be voting for him. Obama has done more for unions than any president since FDR.'" It was a major overstatement, but there was much beer involved, with Irish coffees on the way, so one can let such things slide. "For instance, you know Scott, right? He's a cop, in the union. When I asked him, he just said, 'Oh, Obama's the worst. I can't vote for him.' That makes no sense for someone like him."

The answer was obvious, of course, and the Rude Pundit stated it: "It's because they're racist."

"No, no," he insisted. "They're not. They'd have said the same thing about Clinton. Well, Clinton back before he was president." Ah, the hedge. Always look for the hedge.

"Sorry, man," the Rude Pundit said. "But it's because they're racist. Scott is racist. There is no other reason."

The virtual disappearance of the race factor from mainstream media coverage of this election belies the obvious stench of it floating just below the surface. There's a large number of whites in this nation who voted for Obama last time, drawn in by the high of being part of a movement, who are relieved that Obama hasn't been too great a president so that they have an excuse to not vote again for the black guy. Resurgent racist impulses don't get polled, but shifts in voting trends in states like North Carolina have to have some reason other than Romney's charm and grasp of the issues and desire to do exactly what George W. Bush did to the economy.

What's the evidence of this? Let's get into implications rather than demographics. There's no need to go through the litany of what Obama has accomplished (you know it: ending the Iraq war, saving the economy, that shit). Instead, ask yourself, dear, dear doubtful reader, and ask it honestly: Why would anyone who isn't rich and greedy vote for Mitt Romney?

As The Daily Show, among many others, pointed out, at the final debate (aka "The Debate That Didn't Matter Because Romney Had His Ass Handed to Him on a Paper Plate"), Romney blatantly contradicted virtually every position he had held on foreign policy, and he did so in a way that had him agreeing with Obama on nearly everything the current administration has done, despite beating his chest for months prior to that debate. Now, say what you want about the importance of the economy and jobs, but a big part of what a president does is dealing with other nations and Commander-in-Chief type of shit. If you take that out of the equation, then what's left is hoping Congress will work with you on the domestic front.

When we get to the domestic front, we're talking about just a couple of differences beyond social issues (so calm down, rabid anti-abortion nuts who wouldn't have voted for Obama anyways): repeal of Obamacare and the small hike in the tax rate for income over $250,000. There's a few other tax issues, but these are the ones that affects the vast majority of Americans. In other words, Obama did or wants to do more or less what he campaigned on the first time. When it comes to Romney, the only thing that he seems to have a clear, consistent opinion on is tax cuts, especially cutting corporate and capital gains taxes (aka "Those Things That Will Make Me Richer").

This ain't about people who voted for McCain who now support Romney. It ain't about Americans who aren't voting for Obama who have a principled disagreement over Obama's use of drones to execute people without charge or trial, as well as his extension of Bush's surveillance program. This is specifically about Obama voters who have turned to Romney. How could you do so?

For, truly, is Mitt Romney a man you could see yourself entrusting the nation to for any reason other than he looks white and successful? Has he really convinced you that Obama doing most of what he said he was going to do when you voted for him before is that much of a threat that you'd shift your vote to the shifty candidate? C'mon. There's no logic there. You just can't bring yourself to vote for the black man again. You tried it. It didn't magically change the world, so now you can comfort yourself by giving into your prejudices.

Either that or you just really hate gays.

Nina Simone - Mississippi Goddam

Mitt Romney stays silent on Sensata as he lies about Jeep jobs going to China by Laura Clawson

From "Daily Kos" - follow link to original

This is ... some nerve. Mitt Romney is lying about one set of American jobs going to China in order to scare people into thinking that electing him is the way to keep those jobs here. All the while, he's profiting from another set of jobs actually being sent to China, and claiming he has nothing to do with it.
Let's untangle the levels of nerve here. Romney is claiming that the way to keep Chrysler from moving Jeep production to China is to elect Mitt Romney. In fact, not only is Chrysler not moving Jeep production to China, it's expanding Jeep production in Michigan and Ohio. But don't worry, if you vote for Romney, he'll fight for every one of those jobs to be kept right here in America.
Meanwhile, Sensata Technologies is closing an American plant and sending 170 jobs to China. That's happening right now. People are losing their jobs. Sensata is controlled by Bain Capital, the company Romney founded and ran. Romney has large personal investments in Sensata and has already reaped significant tax breaks by giving Sensata stock to his own charitable foundation, the one he uses to support things like "pray away the gay" groups. When it comes to this thing that's actually happening, that he's profiting from, Romney has a million excuses for how he's not responsible, has nothing to do with it, can't even speak out against it, and oh, by the way, did you know that President Barack Obama has as much as $11 of a pension he doesn't control that's related to Sensata?
This is Mitt Romney in a nutshell: lying, promising to fight job losses (that aren't happening) if he can pin them on Obama, refusing to talk about job losses (that are happening) if he's profiting from them.
This is why it's so important to get the word out about who Romney really is.

Justice Department lawsuit says arrests in Meridian, Miss., schools violate students’ rights

Gee-gosh-golly, aren't you all happy we live in a "post-racial society"??

Follow link to original.

JACKSON, Miss. — Authorities in east Mississippi run a “school-to-prison pipeline” that locks up students for infractions like flatulence or wearing the wrong color socks, a policy that mainly affects black and disabled children, the U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday in a federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Jackson says officials in the city of Meridian and Lauderdale County have policies that allow students to be arrested and shipped 80 miles to a juvenile detention center without probable cause or legal representation. The defendants in the lawsuit are the city of Meridian, Lauderdale County, the two Lauderdale County Youth Court judges, the Mississippi Department of Human Services and DHS’s Division of Youth Services.
The Meridian Public School District is not named as a defendant, but the lawsuit says incarceration is used as a “medium for school discipline.”
“For example, some Behavior Intervention Plans prepared by the district for students with disabilities have listed ‘Juvenile Detention Center’ as a consequence for student misbehavior,” the lawsuit said.
A DHS spokeswoman said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation. The mayor of Meridian, the governor’s office and the youth court judges didn’t immediately respond to messages. The police chief referred questions to a city attorney, who didn’t immediately return a call.
The lawsuit claims Meridian police routinely arrest students without determining whether there is probable cause when a school wants to press charges, and the students are routinely jailed. The lawsuit says the students are sent more than 80 miles to the Rankin County youth detention center because the one in Lauderdale County closed earlier this year “because of longstanding legal battles over the conditions of confinement.”
Once arrested, the students end up on probation, sometimes without proper legal representation, according to the lawsuit. If the students are on probation, future school violations could be considered a violation that requires them to serve the suspension incarcerated in the juvenile detention center.
That means students can be incarcerated for “dress code infractions such as wearing the wrong color socks or undershirt, or for having shirts untucked; tardies; flatulence in class; using vulgar language; yelling at teachers; and going to the bathroom or leaving the classroom without permission.”
Roy Austin Jr., deputy assistant attorney general, said Wednesday that other areas around the country have “school-to-prison pipelines,” but this is the first time the civil rights division has filed a lawsuit based on these allegations. He said Shelby County, Tenn., is another example of a problematic area, but he said officials there are working with the Justice Department to fix the problems.
Mississippi officials have not been cooperative, he said.
“What we are trying to do is fix the problem and not affix blame. Unfortunately the defendants didn’t feel the same way,” Austin said.
The Justice Department said Lauderdale County Youth Court Judges Frank Coleman and Veldore “Vel” Young denied the agency access to court hearings and information and directed the city of Meridian to withhold files concerning children. The Justice Department’s investigation began in December 2011.
The school district has about 6,000 students, with 86 percent being black and 12 percent being white. From 2006 to the first semester of the 2009-2010 school year, all the students referred to law enforcement or expelled were black and 96 percent of those suspended were black, the lawsuit said.
In a letter to Mississippi officials in August, the Justice Department threatened to sue if the problems continued. The lawsuit said officials denied the problems existed or failed to properly address them.
"Mostly black and disabled"  --  MISSISSIPPI GOD DAMN!!

Hurricane Sandy

Has anyone else noticed that the photos of Hurricane Sandy meeting up with the cold front approaching the East Coast of the USA look like something from the disaster movie, "The Day After Tomorrow"?

Just wondering.

Some Are More Unequal Than Others By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ

Here, an op-ed from today's New York Times - from Joseph Stiglitz.  Please follow link to original

 Joseph E. Stiglitz , a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and a former chief economist of the World Bank, is University Professor at Columbia University. His most recent book is “The Price of Inequality.”

This election has rightly been characterized as one that will deeply affect the future direction of the country: Americans are being given a choice with potentially large consequences. One arena in which there are profound differences that has not been adequately debated is the future course of inequality.
Mitt Romney has been explicit: inequality should be talked about only in quiet voices behind closed doors. But with the normally conservative magazine The Economist publishing a special series showing the extremes to which American inequality has grown — joining a growing chorus (of which my book “The Price of Inequality” is an example) arguing that the extremes of American inequality, its nature and origins, are adversely affecting our economy — it is an issue that not even the Republicans can ignore. It is no longer just a moral issue, a question of social justice.
This perhaps provides part of the explanation for why inequality and poverty should suddenly appear as part of the Romney-Ryan makeover, as they attempt to portray themselves (to use a phrase of some 12 years ago) as compassionate conservatives. In Cleveland on Wednesday, Paul Ryan gave a speech that might lead one to conclude that the two Republican candidates were really concerned about poverty. But more revealing than oratory are budget numbers — like those actually contained in the Ryan budget. His budget proposal guts programs that serve those at the bottom, and little could have done more to enrich those at the top than his original tax proposals (like the elimination of capital gains taxes, a position from which he understandably has tried to distance himself). Every other advanced country has recognized the right of everyone to access to health care, and extending access was central to President Obama’s health care reform. Romney and Ryan have criticized that reform, but have said nothing about how or whether they would ensure universal access. Most important, the macroeconomic consequences of the Romney-Ryan economic program would be devastating: growth would slow, unemployment would increase, and just as Americans would need the social protection of government more, the safety net would be weakened.
We’d all do well to pay a bit closer attention. That American inequality is at historic highs is undisputed. It’s not just that the top 1 percent takes in about a fifth of the income, and controls more than a third of the wealth. America also has become the country (among the advanced industrial countries) with the least equality of opportunity. Meanwhile, those in the middle are faring badly, in every dimension, in security, in income, and in wealth — the wealth of the typical household is back to where it was in the 1990s. While the recession has made all of this worse, even before the recession they weren’t faring well: in 2007, the income of the typical family was lower than it was at the end of the last century. While Obama may not have done as much as he should to counteract the steep downturn he inherited from George W. Bush upon taking office — and he underestimated the depth of the problems that had been passed along to him — he did far more than his predecessor. And he could have done far more, as the dimensions of the problem became clearer to everyone, had he not faced such strong opposition in Congress.
There are many forces giving rise to this high and rising inequality. But the fact that America’s inequality is greater than other advanced countries’ says that it’s not just market forces. After all, other advanced countries are subjected to market forces much like those confronting us. Markets don’t exist in a vacuum. Government policies — or their lack — have played a critical role in creating and maintaining these inequities.
Inequality in “market incomes” — what individuals receive apart from any transfers from the government — has increased as a result of ineffective enforcement of competition laws, inadequate financial regulation, deficiency in corporate governance laws, and “corporate welfare” — huge open and hidden subsidies to our corporations that reached new heights in the Bush administration. When, for instance, competition laws are not enforced, monopolies grow, and with them the income of monopolists. Competition, by contrast, drives profits down. What is disturbing about Romney and Ryan is that they have done so little to distance themselves from the economic policies of the Bush administration, which not only led to poor economic performance, but also to so much inequality. Understandably, perhaps, Romney has not explained why those, like him, in the hedge fund and equity fund business should be able to use a loophole in the tax law to pay 15 percent taxes on their earnings, when ordinary workers pay a far higher rate.
Our government does less to correct these inequalities than we did in the past, or than other countries do, and as disparities in “market” incomes have increased, its efforts have diminished. It’s not just a matter of redistribution, as some suggest. It’s in part a matter of ensuring that those at the top pay a fair share of their taxes. And it’s in part a matter of ensuring that those at the bottom and in the middle get a fair start in life, through access to education, adequate nutrition and health, and not being exposed to the environmental hazards that have come to plague many of our poor neighborhoods.
But Romney’s campaign likes to play tricks with numbers. When he unleashed a tirade against the bottom 47 percent of supposedly freeloading Americans (for which he has since apologized), he failed to note what should have been obvious and has been pointed out repeatedly since he made that remark:  those Americans do pay large amounts in taxes. These include (and I’m hardly the first to point this out) payroll taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, excise taxes, and even part of the corporate income taxes that our major corporations manage to pass on to their customers. He failed to note, too, the many older Americans barely above poverty who receive social security payments, for which they contributed through a lifetime of work. Yes, the rich may pay a high and increasing share of the country’s total tax revenue, but that’s only because they have a high and increasing share of our national income— not because their rates have gone up.
Many of the very rich, like Romney, are avoiding taxes because of numerous loopholes that favor the rich, and capital gains taxes that are taxed at less than half the rate of other income. The 14 percent rate Romney reportedly paid on his income last year is well below that of Americans of comparable income who worked for their money doing things like creating a real business. Tax havens like the Cayman Islands (condemned by the Group20 and all economic experts) facilitate another level of tax avoidance. That the practice is legal is not an economic justification — the loopholes that allow it were put in place by the rich and the bankers, lawyers and lobbyists who serve them so well. We can be sure that the money is not in the Cayman Islands just because it grows faster in the bright sunshine there.
Putting all this together isn’t the politics of envy, as Romney’s camp likes to complain, or even about shaking a finger at the country’s real freeloaders. It’s about cold, hard economics. Tax avoidance and low rates on capital gains — and the inequality they amplify — are weakening our economy. Were the rich paying their fair share, our deficit would be smaller, and we would be able to invest more in infrastructure, technology and education — investments that would create jobs now and enhance growth in the future. While education is central to restoring America as a land of opportunity, all three of these are crucial for future growth and increases in living standards. Tax havens discourage investment in the United States. Taxing speculators at a lower rate encourages speculation and instability — and draws our most talented young people out of more productive endeavors. The result is a distorted, inefficient economy that grows more slowly than it should.
We can be sure that the money is not in the Cayman Islands just because it grows faster in the bright sunshine there.
The Romney campaign, however, has defended inequality or brushed it aside. To do so, it has employed a handful of economic myths. Here are a few of the most important:
(1) America is a land of opportunity. While rags-to-riches stories still grip our imagination, the fact of the matter is that the life chances of a young American are more dependent on the income and wealth of his parents than in any of the other advanced countries for which there is data. There is less upward mobility — and less downward mobility from the top — even than in Europe, and we’re not just talking about Scandinavia.
(2) Trickle-down economics works (a k a “a rising tide lifts all boats”). This idea suggests that further enriching the wealthy will make us all better off. America’s recent economic history shows the patent falsehood of this notion. The top has done very well. But median American incomes are lower than they were a decade and a half ago. Various groups — men and those without a college education — have fared even worse. Median income of a full-time male worker, for instance, is lower than it was four decades ago.
(3) The rich are the “job creators,” so giving them more money leads to more and better jobs. This is really a subset of Myth 2. But Romney’s own private sector history gives it the lie. As we all know from the discussion of Bain Capital and other equity firms, many made their money not by creating jobs in America but by “restructuring,” “downsizing” and moving jobs abroad, often using debt to bleed the companies of money needed for investment, and using the money to enrich themselves. But more generally, the rich are not the source of transformative innovations. Many, if not most of the crucial innovations in recent decades, from medicine to the Internet, have been based in large measure on government-financed research and development. The rich take their money where the returns are highest, and right now many see those high returns in emerging markets. It’s not a surprise that Romney’s trust fund invested in China, but it’s hard to see how giving the rich more money — through more latitude to escape taxation, either through low taxes in the United States or Cayman Islands hide-aways — leads to a stronger American economy.
(4) The cost of reducing inequality is so great that, as much as idealists would like to do so, we would be killing the goose that lays the golden egg. In fact, the engine of our economic growth is the middle class. Inequality weakens aggregate demand, because those at the middle and bottom have to spend all or almost all of what that they get, while those at the top don’t. The concentration of wealth in recent decades led to bubbles and instability, as the Fed tried to offset the effects of weak demand arising from our inequality by low interest rates and lax regulation. The irony is that the tax cuts for capital gains and dividends that were supposed to spur investment by the wealthy alleged job creators didn’t do so, even with record low interest rates: private sector job creation under Bush was dismal. Mainstream economic institutions like the International Monetary Fund now recognize the connection between inequality and a weak economy. To argue the contrary is a self-serving idea being promoted by the very wealthy.
(5) Markets are self-regulating and efficient, and any governmental interference with markets is a mistake. The 2008 crisis should have cured everyone of this fallacy, but anyone with a sense of history would realize that capitalism has been plagued with booms and busts since its origin. The only period in our history in which financial markets did not suffer from excesses was the period after the Great Depression, in which we put in place strong regulations that worked. It’s worth noting that we grew much faster, and more stably, in the decades after World War II than in the period after 1980, when we started stripping away the regulations. And in the former period we grew together, in contrast to the latter, when we grew apart.
As I have explained in detail elsewhere, the cost of these myths goes far beyond the damage to our economy, now and in the future. The fabric of our society and democracy is suffering. The worry is that those at the top are investing their money not in real investments, in real innovations, but in political investments. Their big contributions to the presidential and Congressional campaigns are, too often, not charitable contributions. They expect, and have received, high returns from these political investments. These political investments, exemplified by those the financial institutions made, yielded far higher returns than anything else they did. The investments bought deregulation and a huge bailout — though they also brought the economy to the brink of ruin and are a source of much of our inequality.
Such political investments undermine and corrupt our democracy. But there are other manifestations: America is fast becoming a country marked not by justice for all, but by justice for those who can afford it. (Just one of many examples is that no banker has been prosecuted, let alone convicted, for banks’ systematic lying to the court regarding the fraudulent practices that played so large a role in the 2008 crisis.) And with the increasing influence of money, especially notable in this election, the outcomes of our political process are becoming more like one dollar, one vote than one person, one vote. It’s even worse, because political inequality leads to economic inequality, which leads in turn to more political inequality, in a vicious spiral undermining our economy and our democracy.
Recognizing all this is not class warfare. It is simply acknowledging the realities of life in the United States, which Romney has not done. That should be cause for concern: if you don’t recognize that there is a problem, and if you don’t understand the sources and consequences, you will never work to solve it.
Obama has at least touched on key elements: his education policies, from “the race to the top” to the reforms of student loan programs, will enhance opportunity. His tax proposals will do a little bit about the extremes at the top. His jobs and investment programs will expand growth now, and in the future, and these will be of enormous benefit to those in the middle. Romney and Ryan have tried a hard tack to the center in their rhetoric in recent weeks. But let no one be deceived: their tax policies will lead to even more inequality at the top, the continued hollowing out of the middle, and more poverty at the bottom. Worst of all, they will lead to a more divided society that endangers our future — our economy, our democracy and our sense of identity as a nation.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Visit To "Some Assembly Required"

A Visit to "Some Assembly Required" - follow link to original

 "Sick and Twisted": Richard Mourdock, Republican candidate for the US Senate from Indiana, says that pregnancy resulting from rape “is something that God intended to happen.” He went on to insist that this did not mean that rape was preordained – only those rapes that resulted in pregnancy are God's idea.

"L'état, c'est moi!" The PA legislature has passed a bill (as a favor to Oracle) that will let corporations that hire at least 250 new employees within the state keep 95% of the state income tax collected from these employees owe – passing only 5% on to the state. At year's end, will employees due refunds will have to file two tax returns, one with the state and one with the company?

Busy Bees: Hyatt Hotels puts electronic leashes on their housekeepers, to make sure they are keeping busy. Shake your head all you want, the future is here.

Misunderstanding the Problem: An article on liquid metal batteries asked “Can we invent our way out of climate trouble?”, which presumes there is an 'out'. Nope, we've already baked in about 4ºC, which is going to beat anybody's definition of 'climate trouble.' 

Americans still have situational freedom of speech.

Go there  --  a lot more to see and follow

Stalingrad at 70

This from Bradford DeLong  --  lest we forget.

Please follow link to original

Stalingrad at 70

Perhaps we should turn our historical-memory attention here a little bit away from the Cuban Missile Crisis at 50...
Our Debt to Stalingrad by J. Bradford DeLong - Project Syndicate:
BERKELEY – We are not newly created, innocent, rational, and reasonable beings. We are not created fresh in an unmarked Eden under a new sun. We are, instead, the products of hundreds of millions of years of myopic evolution, and thousands of years of unwritten and then recorded history. Our past has built up layer upon layer of instincts, propensities, habits of thought, patterns of interaction, and material resources.
On top of this historical foundation, we build our civilization. Were it not for our history, our labor would not just be in vain; it would be impossible.
And there are the crimes of human history. The horrible crimes. The unbelievable crimes. Our history grips us like a nightmare, for the crimes of the past scar the present and induce yet more crimes in the future.
And there are also the efforts to stop and undo the effects of past crimes.
CommentsSo it is appropriate this month to write not about economics, but about something else. Seventy-nine years ago, Germany went mad. There was delinquency. There was also history and bad luck. The criminals are almost all dead now. Their descendants and successors in Germany have done – and are doing – better than anyone could have expected at grappling with and mastering the nation’s unmasterable past.
Seventy years ago, 200,000 Soviet soldiers – overwhelmingly male and predominantly Russian – crossed the Volga River to the city of Stalingrad. As members of Vasily Chuikov’s 62nd Army, they grabbed hold of the nose of the Nazi army and did not let go. For five months, they fought. And perhaps 80% of them died in the ruins of the city.
On October 15 – a typical day – Chuikov’s battle diary records that a radio message was received from the 416th Regiment at 12:20 PM: “Have been encircled, ammunition and water available, death before surrender!” At 4:35 PM, Lieutenant Colonel Ustinov called down the artillery on his own encircled command post.
But they held on.
And so, 70 years ago this November – on November 19 to be precise – the million-soldier reserve of the Red Army was transferred to General Nikolai Vatutin’s Southwestern Front, Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky’s Don Front, and Marshal Andrei Yeremenko’s Stalingrad Front. They went on to spring the trap of Operation Uranus, the code name for the planned encirclement and annihilation of the German Sixth Army and Fourth Panzer Army. They would fight, die, win, and thus destroy the Nazi hope of dominating Eurasia for even one more year – let alone of establishing Hitler’s 1,000-year Reich.
Together, these 1.2 million Red Army soldiers, the workers who armed them, and the peasants who fed them turned the Battle of Stalingrad into the fight that, of any battle in human history, has made the greatest positive difference for humanity.
The Allies probably would have eventually won World War II even had the Nazis conquered Stalingrad, redistributed their spearhead forces as mobile reserves, repelled the Red Army’s subsequent winter 1942 offensive, and seized the Caucasus oil fields, thus depriving the Red Army of 90% of its motor fuel. But any Allied victory would have required the large-scale use of nuclear weapons, and a death toll in Europe that would most likely have been twice the actual World War II [European theater] death toll of perhaps 40 million.
May there never be another such battle. May we never need another one.
The soldiers of the Red Army, and the workers and peasants of the Soviet Union who armed and fed them, allowed their dictatorial masters to commit crimes – and committed crimes themselves. But these crimes fall short by an order of magnitude of the great service to humanity – and especially to western European humanity – that they gave in the rubble along the Volga River 70 years ago this fall.
We are the heirs to their accomplishments. We are their debtors. And we cannot repay what we owe to them. We can only remember it.
But how many NATO leaders or European Union presidents and prime ministers have ever taken the time to visit the battle site, and perhaps lay a wreath to those whose sacrifice saved their civilization?

The Republican Party Rape Advisory Chart

This from "Pam's House Blend" - as always, please follow link to original -------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

He's Got it Right - Obama for America TV Ad

Mitt Romney’s Question-Mark Economy

The following from Robert Reich  --  please follow link to original

Mitt Romney’s Question-Mark Economy

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
As we close in on Election Day, the questions about what Mitt Romney would do if elected grow even larger. Rarely before in American history has a candidate for president campaigned on such a blank slate.
Yet, paradoxically, not a day goes by that we don’t hear Romney, or some other exponent of the GOP, claim that businesses aren’t creating more jobs because they’re uncertain about the future. And the source of that uncertainty, they say, is President Obama — especially his Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Dodd-Frank Act, and uncertainties surrounding Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy.
In fact, Romney has created far more uncertainty. He offers a virtual question mark of an economy
For example, Romney says if elected he’ll repeal Obamacare and replace it with something else. He promises he’ll provide health coverage to people with pre-existing medical problems but he doesn’t give a hint how he’d manage it.
Insurance companies won’t pay the higher costs of insuring these people unless they have extra funds — which is why Obamacare requires that everyone, including healthy young people, buy insurance. Yet Romney doesn’t say where the extra money to fund insurers would come from. From taxpayers? Businesses?
Talk about uncertainty.
Romney also promises to repeal Dodd-Frank, but here again he’s mum on what he’d replace with. Yet without some sort of new regulation of Wall Street we’re back to where we were before 2008 when Wall Street crashed and brought most of the rest of us down with it.
Romney hasn’t provided a clue how he proposes to oversee the biggest banks absent Dodd-Frank, what kind of capital requirements he’d require of them, and what mechanism he’d use to put them through an orderly bankruptcy that wouldn’t risk the rest of the Street. All we get is a big question mark.
When it comes to how Romney would pay for the giant $5 trillion tax cut he proposes, mostly for the rich, he takes uncertainty to a new level of abject wonderment. “We’ll work with Congress,” is his response.
He says he’ll limit loopholes and deductions that could be used by the wealthy, but refuses to be specific. Several weeks ago Romney said he’d cap total deductions at $17,000 a year. Days later, the figure became $25,000. Now it’s up in the air. “Pick a figure,” he now says.
Make no mistake. Wall Street traders and corporate CEOs are supporting Romney not because of the new level of certainty he promises but because Romney promises to lower their taxes.
Meanwhile, many of Romney’s allies who are attacking Obama for creating uncertainty are themselves responsible for the uncertainty. They’re the ones who have delayed and obfuscated Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and any semblance of a federal budget.
“Continued uncertainty is the greatest threat to small businesses and our country’s economic recovery,” says Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been funneled tens of millions of dollars into ads blaming Obama for the nation’s economic woes.
That’s the same Chamber of Commerce that’s been using every legal tool imaginable to challenge regulations emerging from Obamacare and Dodd-Frank — keeping the future of both laws as uncertain as possible for as long as they can. The Chamber even brought Obamacare to the Supreme Court.
At the same time, congressional Republicans have done everything in their power to scotch any agreement on how to reduce the budget deficit. Because they’ve pledged their fiscal souls to Grover Norquist, they won’t consider raising even a dollar of new taxes. Yet it’s impossible to balance the budget without some combination of spending cuts and tax increases — unless, that is, we do away with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, or the military.
Business executives justifiably worry about January’s so-called “fiscal cliff”, requiring sudden and sharp tax increases and spending cuts. But they have no one to blame but Norquist’s Republican acolytes in Congress, including Paul Ryan, all of whom agreed to the fiscal cliff when they couldn’t agree to anything else.
Average Americans, meanwhile, face more economic uncertainty from the possibility of a Romney-Ryan administration than they have had in their lifetimes. Not only has Romney thrown the future of Obamacare into doubt, but Americans have no idea what would happen under his administration to Medicare, Medicaid, college aid, Pell grants, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and many other programs Americans rely on. All would have to be sliced or diced, but Romney won’t tell us how or by how much.
Romney is casting a pall of uncertainty in every direction — even toward young immigrants. He vows if elected he’ll end Obama’s reprieve from deportation of young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally when they were children. As a result, some young people who might qualify are holding back for fear the information they offer could be used against them at later date if Romney is elected.
Conservative economists such as John Taylor of the Hoover Institution, one of Romney’s key economic advisors, continue to attribute the slow recovery and high unemployment to Obama’s  “unpredictable economic policy.”
In truth, Romney and the GOP have put a giant question mark over the future of the economy and of all Americans. The only way the future becomes more certain is if Obama wins on Election Day.