Trickle-down economics is the first cousin of austerity economics. Austerity is nuts when so many millions are out of work. And as we’ve learned before, trickle-down is a fraud. Nothing ever trickles down. - Robert Reich, "A Story for May Day"
...(You can safely ignore the remark about the plumbing, or read Palast to find out why plumbing is an issue to union-hating Mundell.) More on the euro and Mundell:
"It's very hard to fire workers in Europe," he complained. His answer: the euro.
The euro would really do its work when crises hit, Mundell explained. Removing a government's control over currency would prevent nasty little elected officials from using Keynesian monetary and fiscal juice to pull a nation out of recession.
"It puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians," he said. "[And] without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business.
He cited labor laws, environmental regulations and, of course, taxes. All would be flushed away by the euro. Democracy would not be allowed to interfere with the marketplace – or the plumbing.
In other words, power is centralized in Europe's wealthiest nations, and the rest (Greece, Spain, Ireland, etc.) can do little within the confines of the euro to avoid austerity programs, ineffective though they may be, forced upon them by the banksters of the euro. A nation without its own currency can find its back to the wall and no effective response. And this, according to Palast, is exactly what Robert Mundell intended the euro to accomplish. How about that... a real live conspiracy that may be more than just a theory!
Mundell explained to me that, in fact, the euro is of a piece with Reaganomics:
"Monetary discipline forces fiscal discipline on the politicians as well."
And when crises arise, economically disarmed nations have little to do but wipe away government regulations wholesale, privatize state industries en masse, slash taxes and send the European welfare state down the drain.
,,,His point, which is much like Palast's, is summarized in his post's title: "Iceland’s Lesson for the World: Control Your Own Currency and Help Your People".
But there’s another major reason that Iceland has fared better than its neighbors, one I didn’t get to talk about on the show. Iceland wasn’t in the euro. As a result, they had the ability to manage their own currency. And they predictably and smartly dropped the currency in value. Right now, the krona sits 20% below the euro, even as the euro has plummeted lately. And that makes Icelandic exports competitive, which includes tourism. They have not had to live with another country’s monetary policy.
Because of the archaic way the Supreme Court releases its decisions, there was lots of initial confusion about what the holding in the case was. We’re still awaiting the actual opinion, but the upshot is that the individual mandate survived under the taxing power of Congress, not under the Commerce Clause. ...Brian Beutler of TPM has details.
...The fat Catholic overgrown choirboy is getting everything he wants, and it isn't even Christmas.
The same Court that in January 2010 ruled with the Citizens United decision that corporations can spend freely in federal elections—enjoying the same avenues of expression as human beings—on Monday ruled that states no longer have the ability to guard against what historically has been seen as political corruption and the buying of elections.
The court’s 5–4 decision in the Montana case of American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock significantly expands the scope and reach of the Citizens United ruling by striking down state limits on corporate spending in state and local elections. “The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law,” the majority wrote. “There can be no serious doubt that it does.”
Translation: if Exxon Mobil wants to spend $10 million to support a favored candidate in a state legislative or city council race that might decide whether the corporation is regulated, or whether it gets new drilling rights, it can. But why stop at $10 million? If it costs $100 million to shout down the opposition, the Court says that is fine. If if costs $1 billion, that’s fine, too.
And what of the opposition. Can groups that represent the public interest push back? Can labor unions take a stand in favor of taxing corporations like Exxon Mobil?
Not with the same freedom or flexibility that they had from the 1930s until this year. Last Thursday, the Court erected elaborate new barriers to participation in elections by public-sector unions—requiring that they get affirmative approval from workers they represent (but who may not at the moment be union members) before making special dues assessments to fund campaigns countering corporations.
When the Supreme Court overruled almost a century of campaign finance laws in its 2010 Citizens United decision and opened the floodgates to outside money, it made two promises to keep things in check: It expected groups to disclose their donors and activists, and it sought to prevent groups from coordinating with candidates. Both restrictions have proven to be farces.
“The statu[t]e and the Supreme Court have been very strong on preventing coordination. But the FEC regulations have basically gutted the laws and given us very weak laws to prevent coordination between outside spenders and candidates,” veteran campaign finance watchdog Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 told Salon. This, “despite the fact that the Court’s entire decision in Citizens United is based on the notion that the expenditures are going to be entirely independent from the campaign,” he added.
Indeed, as Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation told Salon, “the FEC has a very narrow definition of what coordination actually is.” As long as a campaign and an outside group don’t directly communicate, and their use of a “common vendor” like Black Rock doesn’t meet several specific criteria, they’re fine. “It kind of boggles the mind, but that’s what the FEC has defined and there’s nothing illegal about it,” Allison explained.
... The heaviest rains of Debby affected the Tampa Bay region, where over ten inches were reported at several locations. The Tampa Bay airport picked up 7.11 inches on Sunday. It's a good thing this isn't the week of the Republican National Convention, which is scheduled for late August in Tampa! Minor to moderate flooding is occurring at three rivers near Tampa, and flooding has been limited by the fact the region is under moderate to severe drought.Dr. Masters never, as far as I know, mentions politics on his weather blog, but it seems to me that Mother Nature herself is pointing the finger at the party most responsible for so many mortgages underwater...
...Has the prosecution received a secret order, maybe from the Commander-in-Chief, to win this one at any cost? If so, the cost seems to be the protections traditionally afforded defendants in America's military as well as civilian justice systems.
Reports by the Associated Press, Reuters and other news outlets have suggested that official inquiries into the impact of WikiLeaks concluded that the leaks caused some "pockets" of short-term damage around the world, but that generally its impact had been embarrassing rather than harmful.
Such a finding could prove invaluable to the defence in fighting some of the charges facing Manning or, should he be found guilty, reducing his sentence.
Yet Coombs says the army prosecutors have consistently kept him, and the court, in the dark, thwarting his legal rights to see the evidence.
"It was abundantly clear that Oncix had some form of inquiry into the harm from the leaks – but the government switched definitions around arbitrarily so as to avoid disclosing this discovery to the defence."
The 4PM update shows a totally new track forecast with Apalachicola as the new target. The Warning for Louisiana has been discontinued. From the local wind I knew that the storm was to the East of my location, but it is moving slowly, indicating weak steering, so anything is still possible. The slow movement also impedes strengthening as cooler water is pulled to the surface which reduces available energy.And so it goes northward into Florida... unless something changes again. Hellooo, climate change denialists... are you ready to surrender yet?
After Friday’s Washington Post article detailing Bain Capital’s work with outsourcing during the time Mitt Romney was at the helm of the firm, the Obama campaign seems to think its point about Romney has been made.Then Rmoney will need to choose a veep candidate willing to tolerate the label, "outsourcerer's apprentice..." <ba_da_boom /> I'll be here all week, folks...
“People really have a fundamental choice in this election,” Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said on a conference call with reporters Friday. “The question is, do they want an outsourcer-in-chief in the Oval Office or do they want a president who’s going to fight for American jobs and American manufacturing and the American middle class.”
The US policy of using aerial drones to carry out targeted killings presents a major challenge to the system of international law that has endured since the second world war, a United Nations investigator has said.Someone please explain to me how America's ostensibly targeted drone warfare differs from Germany's W.W.II actions in lobbing rockets into London.
Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, told a conference in Geneva that President Obama's attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, carried out by the CIA, would encourage other states to flout long-established human rights standards.
“We’re out for scalps.” That’s what a senior Justice Department official told me when I asked what was behind the Obama administration’s unprecedented number of leak prosecutions. The “we” referred to federal prosecutors, but the official said the desire to see leakers punished extended to the White House, as well. The official, who also made it clear that reporters who talked to sources about classified information were putting themselves at risk of prosecution, asked not to be quoted by name.The use of the DoJ for manifestly punitive measures against the press, to an extent not pursued by any prior president (even Bush 43), should be grounds for concern by Americans who believe we have a right to know what our government is doing.
Over 120 CIA documents concerning 9/11, Osama bin Laden and counterterrorism were published today for the first time, having been newly declassified and released to the National Security Archive. The documents were released after the NSA pored through the footnotes of the 9/11 Commission and sent Freedom of Information Act requests.So tell me again... just how are Republicans better than Democrats at counterterrorism? It seems to me that Bush administration's truly terrible judgment allowed this to happen despite an effective initial effort by the intelligence community. And now we have Republican asswipes blaming Democrats for 9/11. What a large, steaming pile.
... Perhaps most damning are the documents showing that the CIA had bin Laden in its cross hairs a full year before 9/11 — but didn’t get the funding from the Bush administration White House to take him out or even continue monitoring him. The CIA materials directly contradict the many claims of Bush officials that it was aggressively pursuing al-Qaida prior to 9/11, and that nobody could have predicted the attacks. “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released, because they paint a picture of the CIA knowing something would happen before 9/11, but they didn’t get the institutional support they needed,” says Barbara Elias-Sanborn, the NSA fellow who edited the materials.
... The Pentagon approved the plan for surveillance purposes.
And yet, simultaneously, the CIA declared that budget concerns were forcing it to move its Counterterrorism Center/Osama bin Laden Unit from an “offensive” to a “defensive” posture. ...
Meanwhile, Ed Balls — who I gather was nearly forced out of a leadership position by the Very Serious members of the Labour Party — has been right all along, and now has a great term for the failed policy prescription: since it was advocated by Cameron, Merkel, and Sarkozy, he calls it “Camerkozy” economics. Well done.Well done indeed!
One of my favorite mathematicians is Richard Charnin, who on his website using readily available public information, calculates the odds of the so-called ‘red shift" occurring from the 1988 to 2008 presidential elections. The red shift refers to the overwhelming pick up of votes by the Republican Party in recorded votes over what actual voters report to exit pollsters. See Richard Charnin's article[.]In other words, there's no way in heaven, hell or earth that it happened as a result of ordinary voting patterns and ordinary exit polling in elections in the real world. Maybe a dozen of the "red-shift" elections could be explained that way... but 137 out of 300 [ADDED], 134 Republican and only 3 Democratic? Don't make me laugh.
In Charnin's analysis of exit poll data, we can say with a 95% confidence level – that means in 95 out of 100 elections – that the exit polls will fall within a statistically predictable margin of error. Charnin looked at 300 presidential state exit polls from 1988 to 2008, 15 state elections would be expected to fall outside the margin of error. Shockingly, 137 of the 300 state presidential exit polls fell outside the margin of error.
What is the probability of this happening?
"One in one million trillion trillion trlllion trillion trillion trillion," said Charnin.
Apparently, when discussing a medical procedure, it's not really appropriate to use medical words. Well not about lady bits anyway. It makes me wonder what euphemisms would be acceptable. "Will the representative get his hand out of the otter's pocket?" "Can the honourable gentleman refrain from trespassing in the lady cave?
...As so often happens here in America, the banksters in Europe are flinging poo like a great ape. Don't let it hit you! Use some judgment in how much credence you give to the self-interested emissions of northern European leaders.
On the other hand, many things you hear about Greece just aren’t true. The Greeks aren’t lazy — on the contrary, they work longer hours than almost anyone else in Europe, and much longer hours than the Germans in particular. Nor does Greece have a runaway welfare state, as conservatives like to claim; social expenditure as a percentage of G.D.P., the standard measure of the size of the welfare state, is substantially lower in Greece than in, say, Sweden or Germany, countries that have so far weathered the European crisis pretty well.
So how did Greece get into so much trouble? Blame the euro.
Insured damage from a massive 3-hour hailstorm that pummeled Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, June 13, may reach $2 billion, said the Southwestern Insurance Information Service (SIIS) on Friday. If true, this would be the fourth billion-dollar U.S. weather disaster of 2012. A cluster of three severe thunderstorms dropped hail the size of baseballs over a heavily populated area, damaging thousands of cars, puncturing skylights at a local mall, and shattering the expensive tile roofs of hundreds of homes. It was the second major hailstorm to hit the region this year; an April 3 event cost close to $500 million, and damaged 110 airplanes at the DFW airport. ...There's a photo with the post, of hail falling into White Rock Lake... and onto some rather pricey-looking boats. Individual hailstones are visible in the photo.
8.26pm: Samaras has just made his speech.
... [Main points of speech presented here; please read at The Guardian.]
He summarised his speech in English:
His party would honour commitments to the EU.
It was a victory for all Europe.
A call for all political parties that share objectives to form government.
Sacrifices of Greek people will be reflected.
Determined to do what it takes and do it fast.
8.16pm: Not a smooth start. Samaras is poised to make his speech but is having problems with the microphone.
8.13pm: Amid a busy press scrum New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras has arrived in Syntagma Square in Athens, ahead of a victory speech.
8.09pm: The parties in Greece it seems have accepted a win for New Democracy in Greece.
Alexis Tsipras from Syriza has reportedly called Antonis Samaras to offer his congratulations.
It seems that Syriza may be planning to mount a strong opposition rather than wait to see if New Democracy can form a coalition government. Even if it fails.
Greece pulled off an unexpected win against Russia in the European Championships.If you think sports obsession is a primarily American phenomenon... think again!
|Supposedly Secret Unmanned X-37B Shuttle|
|The Parthenon, or|
The Greek Economy
After Enforced Austerity
The race evolved into a bruising battle between [Jesse] Kelly and Barber, fueled by hundreds of thousands of dollars of outside spending in the campaign. The district will be redrawn for this fall’s election, slightly in Democrats’ favor. But Giffords first won accolades for her political resiliency in a district that Republicans have won in the previous three presidential elections.
Democrats focused their resources on painting Kelly as an extremist who would seek radical changes to Medicare and Social Security even well beyond what most House Republicans had voted for in Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s budgets the past two years.
It seems that Michigan politicians are hell-bent on making the cliché “when the country catches a cold, Michigan gets pneumonia” a reality.
For proof, look no further than the more than 50 pages that make up a three-bill package: HB 5711, HB 5712, HB 5713. This legislative behemoth is on a fast track in our State House of Representatives, and will make safe abortion services virtually inaccessible to Michigan women.
It always seemed obvious to me, but it is good to have someone formalize this notion. I'll try to link parts 2 and 3 when they're published. (Via Mark Thoma of Economist's View.)
... In the middle of this tightrope, the end of AIDS appears closer than ever because of new scientific discoveries that could dramatically reduce new HIV infections all over the world. But at the moment, there’s new danger of falling because political leaders in the United States as well as the developing world may have lost their sure-footedness for the way ahead, no longer talking about AIDS as a pressing matter of life and death and putting crucial funding in jeopardy.
Back in 2006, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, which abolished habeas corpus rights for noncitizens, among other things. This part of the law was overturned in 2008 by the Supreme Court in Boumedi[e]ne vs. Bush as unconstitutional.(Ryan Cooper offers examples after that.)
Today, it looks like the Supreme Court gave up on that line of reasoning. Marcy Wheeler reports:
SCOTUS has just declined to take all seven of the pending Gitmo habeas corpus petitions, including Latif and Uthman.The problem here, as Mother Jones’ Adam Serwer puts it, is that the “conservative judges on the D.C. Circuit have interpreted the law in a way that assumes many of the government’s claims are true and don’t have to be proven in court.” Or as the Center for Constitutional Rights puts it:
This effectively kills habeas corpus.
Today’s decision leaves the fate of detainees in the hands of a hostile D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has erected innumerable, unjustified legal obstacles that have made it practically impossible for a detainee to win a habeas case in the trial courts. The D.C. Circuit, the country’s most conservative court of appeals, has reversed every detainee victory appealed to it by the government, and as consequence, district courts in D.C. have ruled in favor of detainees in only one of the last 12 cases before them.
I don’t usually try to buttonhole strangers in parking lots, but I just returned from the market where I saw a vehicle with the bumper sticker:
For Obama then…
For Obama now
The driver was about to get into his car. I said to him (very politely), “Excuse me, I noticed your bumper sticker. I was wondering if you can tell me how you square the Obama of “then” to the Obama of “now” given what he’s done while in the Oval Office.”
The guy looked at me and said, “F**k you.”
Be assured of one thing: whichever candidate you choose at the polls in November, you aren’t just electing a president of the United States; you are also electing an assassin-in-chief. The last two presidents may not have been emperors or kings, but they -- and the vast national-security structure that continues to be built-up and institutionalized around the presidential self -- are certainly one of the nightmares the founding fathers of this country warned us against. They are one of the reasons those founders put significant war powers in the hands of Congress, which they knew would be a slow, recalcitrant, deliberative body.(More links available in original.)
Thanks to a long New York Times piece by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” we now know that the president has spent startling amounts of time overseeing the “nomination” of terrorist suspects for assassination via the remotely piloted drone program he inherited from President George W. Bush and which he has expanded exponentially. Moreover, that article was based largely on interviews with “three dozen of his current and former advisers.” In other words, it was essentially an administration-inspired piece -- columnist Robert Scheer calls it “planted” -- on a “secret” program the president and those closest to him are quite proud of and want to brag about in an election year.
ScienceDaily (June 8, 2012) — At the 25th International Conference on Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics in Kyoto today (June 8, 2012), CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci presented results on the time of flight of neutrinos from CERN to the INFN Gran Sasso Laboratory on behalf of four experiments situated at Gran Sasso. The four, Borexino, ICARUS, LVD and OPERA all measure a neutrino time of flight consistent with the speed of light.
This is at odds with a measurement that the OPERA collaboration put up for scrutiny last September, indicating that the original OPERA measurement can be attributed to a faulty element of the experiment’s fibre optic timing system.
“Although this result isn’t as exciting as some would have liked,” said Bertolucci, “it is what we all expected deep down." ...
...That's right... it's the Kreep‑Peed race for California District 34 judge. And what I've seen of politics in the past few days has left me Kreep‑Peed out!
Gary Kreep, the star of commercials questioning President Barack Obama’s birthplace and who has argued lawsuits challenging his eligibility for office, just might be California District 34’s new judge.
Kreep, who heads the California-based United States Justice Foundation, is currently beating Garland Peed, who has been a prosecutor in the San Diego County District for 27 years. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Kreep has 147,739 votes, or 50.01 percent, while Peed has 147,683 votes, or 49.99 percent. There are still about 135,000 absentee and provisional votes left to be counted in San Diego County.
The problems of Greece and the euro zone stem from an arbitrary set of rules that were entered into by agreement and can be changed by agreement. Where there is a will, there is a way. The problem is finding the will, particularly among the Eurocrat leaders holding the reins of power, who may not be looking for an amicable workout. In a June 3 article titled "Europe Moves Closer to Banktatorship," Mike Whitney maintained:
... Greece is a vivacious woman chained to a tyrannical old man. She can dance again if she can be free.These people are not interested in fixing the EZ economy. They are engaged in a stealth campaign to radically restructure EU society, to unravel the welfare safety net, to roll back the progressive gains of the last century, and to reduce much of the continent to 3rd world poverty. A banking union will further solidify the power of big finance over the individual states, and that is the main objective.
Before now, I had never really understood how the 1930s could happen. Now I do. All one needs are fragile economies, a rigid monetary regime, intense debate over what must be done, widespread belief that suffering is good, myopic politicians, an inability to co-operate and failure to stay ahead of events.Krugman then notes that the ECB has declined to take any action that might help matters, such as cutting interest rates; the result is an undesirable decrease in inflation. Krugman's conclusion:
I don’t think there’s any conceivable economic logic for the ECB’s decision. It can only, I think, be understood as some kind of refusal to admit, even implicitly, that past decisions were wrong.
Like Martin Wolf, I’m starting to see how the 1930s happened.
According to government lawyers familiar with a Milwaukee criminal corruption probe, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is now a "target" of the investigation.I wonder about Wisconsin law: can Walker govern from prison?
The legal sources, who are not involved in Wisconsin's recall, spoke on condition of anonymity. They said Walker faces "serious legal challenges," including "a possible indictment," regardless of the election results on Tuesday.
The sources indicate Walker's status was clarified more than a week ago, allegedly following a series of requests by Walker's legal team that prosecutors publicly clear him of any wrong doing before the recall election. Take Action News reached out to Governor Walker's spokesperson for comment on this story and received no response.
Walker, even as recently as Saturday, has denied that he is the target of any investigation and that his "high level of integrity" will be apparent when he is cleared. But that's not quite true. In fact, it's a pretty galling lie.It certainly sounds as if something is going on...
There is a code that US Attorneys follow that requires them to provide a letter to a person stating that they are not the target of their investigation. And word is, like they're supposed to, Walker's attorneys have been asking for such a letter for weeks. And if Walker had such a letter, he would be free to produce it and remove any doubt about his innocence once and for all.
But Walker has produced no such letter, basically because none exists.
Likewise, if Walker had done nothing wrong, he would not be required to withhold any of the 1,400+ emails that were found on the secret router. He could easily release those emails and clear his good name. But he consistently refuses to, saying that he can't, per the DA. We already know the only way he couldn't is if he had to appear before Judge Nettesheim and testified about his emails.
Interview with Seamus,
The Romneys' Dog, 1983
The Romneys are packed for their yearly vacation,
Their wagon is bound for a neighboring nation,
Stuffed full. What of Seamus? Now what is his station?
ROOF! - ROOF! - ROOF!
So Seamus, you rode on the roof of the wagon?
At eighty per hour, the wind had you gaggin'?
So what did it feel like... they're shaggin', you're draggin'?
ROUGH! - ROUGH! - ROUGH!
To ride on the roof while your daddy and mummy
Sit cozy inside... why, how thoroughly bummy!
Say, Seamus, that surely was hard on the tummy?
RALPH! - RALPH! - RALPH!
Vacation the next year; last summer's behind him,
And where is old Seamus... you think Mitt can find him?
Oh... what's with the rope, Seamus? where will you bind him?
ROOF! - ROOF! - ROOF!
- Steve Bates