Fountain Square (Cincinnati) flash mob

Deck the halls!

Obama-GOP Tax Cut Bill Turning Into 'Christmas Tree' Tinseled With Gifts For Lobbyists, Lawmakers

WASHINGTON — In the spirit of the holiday season, President Barack Obama's tax-cut deal with Republicans is becoming a Christmas tree tinseled with gifts for lobbyists and lawmakers....

The tax deal, reached behind the scenes and still informal, now includes ethanol subsidies for rural folks, commuter tax breaks for their cousins in the cities and suburbs and wind and solar grants for the environmentalists – all aimed at winning votes, particularly from reluctant Democrats.


In case you were needing a little boost

I'm doing 'God's work'. Meet Mr Goldman Sachs - Times Online

So, it’s business as usual, then, regardless of whether it makes most people
howl at the moon with rage? Goldman Sachs, this pillar of the free market,
breeder of super-citizens, object of envy and awe will go on raking it in,
getting richer than God? An impish grin spreads across Blankfein’s face.
Call him a fat cat who mocks the public. Call him wicked. Call him what you
will. He is, he says, just a banker "doing God’s work"

And where will the Freak work now?

Goodbye to Old Coney Island -- Opinion - Interactive Feature - NYTimes.com

One by one, the venerable institutions of old Coney Island are vanishing. Ruby’s, the last of the boardwalk-facing bars, has served its final drink; Shoot the Freak, one of the most popular game booths, won’t reopen in the spring.

Click the link for cool pictures.

You can not make this stuff up

Feds dismiss need to recall lead drinking glasses - Yahoo! News

LOS ANGELES – A federal agency reversed itself Friday and said lead-laced Wizard of Oz and superhero drinking glasses are, in fact, for adults — not children's products subject to a previously announced recall....

The CPSC has no limits on lead content on the outside of adult drinking glasses.



Assange's Lawyer: He's Upbeat, Surprised By Cyber-Attacks (EXCLUSIVE)

Since he first landed in a London jail upon his arrest on Tuesday, the only thing that WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange has been requesting is access to a computer.

Dude. Is it still OK to laugh? Sometimes I'm not sure.

And what do you bet the price of cake goes up too?

White House: Tax deal helps poor - POLITICO.com Print View

Larry Summers, the president’s outgoing chief economic adviser, conceded that families earning less than $20,000 a year will pay more in taxes next year, after President Barack Obama agreed with Republican demands to replace the expiring Making Work Pay tax credit with a one year cut in the payroll tax used to fund Social Security and Medicare.

Or undoubtedly malarkey, take your pick

More WikiLeaks Surprises: Putin Applauds, Hitchens Derides « Failed Empire

And such is undoubtedly the case with most observers:  disciples of authentic democracy and freedom respect and uphold the WikiLeaks agenda, while those who despise democracy abhor it.

Here's where I always get confused in the whole WikiLeaks discussion (if one call anything where both sides are so far over the top a discussion - shouting match, more like): How is WikiLeaks a champion of democracy? I don't recall an election with Assange's name on the ballot. I don't recall voting for any WikiLeaks thing, or against it. I don't recall any elected official appointing anybody at WikiLeaks to decide what should be secret and what not, or illegal or not, or whatever. What's so democratic here?


Oh this is just wrong

A remake of True Grit? I love the Coen brothers but True Grit can not be re-made. True Grit is just fine the way it is. 

Why am I not feeling the joy here?

Obama seeks ex-President Clinton's "candid advice" - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facing a battle over a tax-cut package that has prompted a backlash within his own party, President Barack Obama on Friday is turning to one of his predecessors, Bill Clinton, for advice.

But they're around here somewhere, we're pretty sure kind of

FAA loses track of 119,000 aircraft | Raw Story

About 119,000 of the aircraft on the U.S. registry have "questionable registration" because of missing forms, invalid addresses, unreported sales or other paperwork problems, according to the FAA.

But don't worry, Bunky!

Home Prices Falling Fast, Eroding American Wealth And Threatening Recovery

Worse, home prices are forecast to drop an additional 10 percent next year, according to a recent report from Fitch Ratings, a major credit ratings agency.


Why are wall street bonuses rising? - The Curious Capitalist - TIME.com

Investment banks and financial firms are reportedly planning on handing out fatter paychecks and bonuses this year than in 2009.


Everybody needs a retirement plan

C&L Opening Bell: Still, Nobody Cares About the Deficit Yet Again | Crooks and Liars

One of the most depressing features of our modern democracy is that politicians aren't really even scared of being voted out of office anymore. What seems to actually frighten them is the thought that they won't get a plum job on K Street or Wall Street once they leave. This is why they're so eager to cut taxes for the rich while pushing for Social Security cuts: They know it makes a nice little bullet point on their résumé that their prospective employer will see as a mark of class solidarity.

Expensive gas for the Hummer; Wall Street frolics; we are screwed

Experts expect gas prices to continue to rise through 2011 | Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/10/2010

As he pumped $60 of regular unleaded into his H3 Hummer Thursday, Chuck Miller anxiously calculated how much he's blown since gas prices, suddenly and sharply on the rise again, hit $3 a gallon....

A weaker U.S. dollar may be only part of the story, said Michael Greenberger, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, where he teaches a course about futures markets and complex investment vehicles.

"The overriding cause of this," Greenberger said Thursday, "is excessive speculation by Wall Street types."


Running out of degrees here

We only had one left at 6:00 this morning. I don't have to work today so I went back to bed. Where it's warm. Apparently now that the sun is up we have found three more.


Welcome to the club

Europeans Criticize Fierce U.S. Response to Leaks - NYTimes.com

PARIS — The United States considers itself a shining beacon of democracy and openness, but for many Europeans Washington’s fierce reaction to the flood of secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks displays imperial arrogance and hypocrisy, indicating a post-9/11 obsession with secrecy that contradicts American principles.

The reaction to the WikiLeaks promulgating the leak of U.S. State Department documents on both sides is way over the top, as far as I can see. 

This is got to be perfect, right?

A "todo" app for your iPhone (or iPad or Touch) called "Put Things Off."


Photo: Phil Compton

Never having to say you're sorry

Falling Off the Bandwagon - NYTimes.com

“This is beyond politics. This is about justice and doing what’s right,” said Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana as she slammed “the almost, you know, moral corruptness” of tax cuts for millionaires.

It was a stirring statement, and would have been even more so if Landrieu had not been one of the few Democrats who actually voted to put the tax cuts on the books in the first place in 2001.



There'll always be a Minnesota too, I guess

Midwest phrase, Come with - chicagotribune.com

John Spartz, assistant professor in the department of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth, explored the famous phrase ["come with"] in his PhD dissertation: "Do You Want to Come With?: A Cross-dialectal, Multi-field, Variationist Investigation of With as a Particle Selected By Motion Verbs in The Minnesota Dialect of English."

But not with me

White House Privately Pushing Data Showing Bush Tax Cut Extension Politically Popular

WASHINGTON -- Hoping to build support for the tax-cut deal that the president reached with Congressional Republicans, the White House has begun pressing Hill Democrats with polling data showing that extending the tax rates for the rich is politically popular.

1905, woohoo!

From Wikipedia...

Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer are banned from the Brooklyn Public Library for setting a "bad example."

I'm reading another book about Teddy Roosevelt. More later.

Nobody in Ohio is average

Pass the Caribou Stew - NYTimes.com

“My dad has taught me that if you want to have wild, organic, healthy food,” she pontificated, “you’re gonna go out there and hunt yourself and fish yourself and you’re gonna fill up your freezer.”

Does Palin really think the average housewife in Ohio who can’t pay her bills is going to load up on ammo, board two different planes, camp out for two nights with a film crew and shoot a caribou so she can feed her family organic food?


OK kids, you gotta admit...

U.S. State Department Hilariously Announces ‘World Press Freedom Day’

The United States, which is currently engaged in a complete war against some weird guy with a website, is going to host “World Press Freedom Day,” the Department of State announced....

...this is funny.

Whatever it is

Whatever It Is, I’m Against It: Obama press conference: It’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers

WHAT SOME WOULD HAVE PREFERRED: “Now, I know there are some who would have preferred a protracted political fight, even if it had meant higher taxes for all Americans, even if it had meant an end to unemployment insurance for those who are desperately looking for work.” The assumption here is that he would have lost the fight. It’s pretty much always Obama’s working assumption that he will lose any fight. And then, funnily enough, he does.

I hope I do not have to explain to you...

Obama facing tough sell in own party on tax deal - Yahoo! News

"This country was founded on compromise," the president said.

...the irony of this statement by Barack Obama. 



Giving It Away - First Draft

I sympathize, I do, with the argument that Obama couldn't win here, with the crap-ass Congress he has and his own inherent bent towards being concilatory. Trouble is, his job at that point wasn't to win. It wasn't to compromise in the hopes of winning even just a little.

It was to sharpen his teeth and lose, HARD.

The way we're all going to be losing, year after year after year, because we keep avoiding the argument.

Republicans are not afraid to drive the bus off the cliff and Democrats are, and that's why the Republicans will always win.


Well, hey, if it makes Wall Street analysts happy it certainly makes me happy

Oil prices hit $90 milestone - Yahoo! News

NEW YORK – Oil prices on Tuesday jumped above $90 a barrel for the first time in more than two years, a key milestone for Wall Street analysts who say tightening supplies will eventually drive prices above the $100 mark next year.

Although it means my heating cost will go up (or would, if my thermostat setting didn't go down) and WTF, the government in its infinite wisdom has cut the fuel assistance fund in half because, you know, if you're out of luck you're out of luck and you might as well be cold too. 


"A date which will live in infamy"

USS Shaw explodes after being hit by bombs - Yahoo! News Photos

Pearl Harbor Attack: Dec. 7, 1941

I didn't need the peanut butter really...

...I have enough here to get through the rest of the week, at least. But damn, I had it on my list and then I made the mistake of deleting it from the list before I actually picked the peanut butter off the shelf and right there, in that split second between deleting and picking, I was distracted by a donut and the rest is history.

A very good donut, true. But still. Maybe I need a minder of something. I don't know.

So is he going to blow us all up now?

Judge denies WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange bail - Yahoo! News

LONDON – A British judge denied Julian Assange bail on Tuesday after the WikiLeaks founder told a London court he would fight efforts to extradite him to Sweden to face a sex-crimes investigation.

I thought the news over the weekend was that Assange and his merry band of WikiGeeks had posted a giant, encrypted file of really, really scary super-bad secrets online and intended to dump all these secrets (a "poison pill") if Assange was arrested (a nice Hollywood touch: Take one more step and ze bomb goes off). So now he's arrested (I just assume you can't be held without bail if you're not arrested). Ka-boom?

Meanwhile I'm just thinking about all the geeks running around in the blacknets and firing off their encrypted emails (Oh wait, you didn't think all this passion for transparency and openness extended to them too, did you? Silly, silly. No, that only applies to State.) What to do, what to do?

Yay! Tis the season for more Al Gore jokes

South Florida cold weather: Fort Lauderdale breaks cold record for Dec. 7 - South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

In Fort Lauderdale, a low temperature record of 42 degrees for Dec. 7 that had been in place for 169 years was broken, said Dan Gregoria, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami.

Because, obviously, duh, how can you have global friggin' warming if it's 42 degrees in Ft. Lauderdale? Just tell me that. Ha!

Also what is the Carleton College swim team doing there? I have no idea, and the photo caption is no help. Of course anybody from Minnesota who doesn't want to be in Florida this time of year is flat-out nuts, but aside from that.

Happened two years ago, Yglesias says

Yglesias » The Real Tax Cut Sellout

And I agree.


No kidding, you really can not make this stuff up

‘Obama must answer’ for UN spying: Assange | Raw Story

President Barack Obama should resign if it can be shown that he approved spying by US diplomatic figures on UN officials, the founder of WikiLeaks said in an interview published Sunday.

"The whole chain of command who was aware of this order, and approved it, must resign if the US is to be seen to be a credible nation that obeys the rule of law. The order is so serious it may well have been put to the president for approval," Julian Assange told Spanish daily El Pais.

Hey, look, I'm not a big Obama fan so it's OK with me if he resigns, we can have Biden for a president. Would that be all right with Assange? Will somebody ask him if he approves of Biden? And soon - because if he doesn't like Biden either let's get this done while Pelosi is still third choice. Otherwise we could wind up in real trouble here.


Forty years?

For Europe, WikiLeaks offers cyberdrama with Julian Assange as main character - CSMonitor.com

The Australian founder of WikiLeaks is in the midst of publicizing 251,287 secret US diplomatic cables dating from the past four decades.

So "dump" is really the accurate word here.


There is an upgrade to VMWare Fusion, the virtualization software I use to run Linux on my Mac (yes, I know, there is absolutely no reason for me to do this but gimme a break, I do it anyway) and it's fast. As in you hardly know it's there.

But he won't

Let’s Not Make a Deal - NYTimes.com

So Mr. Obama should draw a line in the sand, right here, right now. If Republicans hold out, and taxes go up, he should tell the nation the truth, and denounce the blackmail attempt for what it is.


GOP, Dems nearing deal on taxes, jobless benefits - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – An outline of a bipartisan economic package is emerging that would temporarily extend the Bush-era tax rates for all taxpayers, while extending jobless benefits for millions of Americans.

This so-called bipartisan package has been in the cards for quite some time now and all the drama in the Congress last week was just a warm-up act. The R's hold the middle class and the jobless hostage to get their fat cat tax cut extension and - no surprise here - get away with it. My guess is the only remaining detail under discussion is who gets this whole thing to run on again in 2012. The detail is the timing and the D's will take a dive. Again. Because gee, those R's are sooooo mean. 


Wow, Bears go 9-3

Bears Game Day: Cutler TD pass wins it, 24-20 - Chicago Breaking Sports


How could you have Christmas dinner without a dirk?

Pushing a Right to Bear Arms, the Sharp Kind - NYTimes.com

...the recent lifting of a ban on switchblades, stilettos, dirks and daggers in New Hampshire, has given new life to the knife rights lobby...

In fact, knife advocates contend that the Second Amendment applies to knives as well as guns. They focus their argument elsewhere, though, emphasizing that knives fill so many beneficial roles, from carving Thanksgiving turkeys to whittling, that they do not deserve the bad name they often get.


A worthy note

UNDERNEWS: Morning line

The Obama administration has, in its assault on Wikileaks, launched the greatest government censorship since World War II. It, along with some private institutions such as Columbia University, has threatened citizens if they even read matter in media that is constitutionally protected.

Part of the problem is that the Obamites are control freaks, but beyond that we suspect they greatly fear the content of future releases since nothing published so far explains their hysterical reaction.

(Note that my disapproval of the WikiLeaks leaks does not translate to approval of all the over-the-top reaction they've encouraged. That is another subject for, perhaps, another day.)

Ah, the nostalgia

Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » Historical document


And more

Obama isn’t about compromise | Ian Welsh

Until folks get it through their skulls that Obama is not and never was a liberal, a progressive or left wing in any way, shape or form they are going to continue misdiagnosing the problem.  That isn’t to say Obama may or may not be a wimp, but he always compromises right, never left and his compromises are minor.  He always wanted tax cuts.  He gave away the public option in private negotiations near the beginning of the HCR fight, not the end.  He never even proposed an adequate stimulus bill.  He bent arms, hard, to get TARP through.

He’s a Reaganite. It’s what he believes in, genuinely.  Moreover he despises left wingers, likes kicking gays and women whenever he gets a chance and believes deeply and truly in the security state (you did notice that Obama administration told everyone to take their objections to backscatter scanners and groping and shove them where the sun don’t shine, then told you they’re thinking of extending TSA police state activities to other public transit?)


Yeah ,wolf

Mounting State Debts Stoke Fears of a Looming Crisis - NYTimes.com

The State of Illinois is still paying off billions in bills that it got from schools and social service providers last year. Arizona recently stopped paying for certain organ transplants for people in its Medicaid program. States are releasing prisoners early, more to cut expenses than to reward good behavior. And in Newark, the city laid off 13 percent of its police officers last week....

“It seems to me that crying wolf is probably a good thing to do at this point,” said Felix Rohatyn, the financier who helped save New York City from bankruptcy in the 1970s.

So you don't have to read Dickens any more?

Victorian Literature, Statistically Analyzed With New Process - NYTimes.com

The titles of every British book published in English in and around the 19th century — 1,681,161, to be exact — are being electronically scoured for key words and phrases that might offer fresh insight into the minds of the Victorians.

WikiLeaks something something blah blah

Look, I drank the Kool-Aid on the subject of classified documents many years ago so don't expect me to be all yippee about leaking the secrets in the diplomatic pouch. WikiLeaks can squeal all it wants about Australian porn filters or miscreant bankers but, as I've said before, as far as I'm concerned this leaking of State Department documents is a leak too far.

It is also, as far as I've been able to see (if you expect me to read all 200,000 documents you need to refill your meds) a lot of fuss about not very much at all. It's got the newspapers clucking for a few days but hey, Paris Hilton can do that all by herself.

What the present leaks appear to reveal is that the State Department is supporting U.S. policy around the globe. Which is exactly what they're supposed to do. This is not to say I agree with the policy, but simply that the place to wrestle with it is not at State.

Take, for example, the "revelation" (yes, those are sarcastic quotes) that the Obama administration pressured Spain to drop a legal proceeding against Dubya Bush. So what? Obama has never made any secret of his disinclination to prosecute the Bushies, his "Justice" (ditto) Department has appeared in defense of thugs, and to all appearances he has not only continued but extended some of the least savory Bush policies. Yeah, I think all that needs to change too. But I do not give a fig about what happens in Spain.

Nor am I outraged that diplomats report the government of Afghanistan is corrupt - I'd be outraged if they didn't - or that the Saudis have more than one iron in the fire, or that the leaders of China are unhappy with what they find on Google. Something something blah blah. Not much. You see what I mean.

But listen. I continue to believe that in the case of our differences with Iran a diplomatic solution would be preferable to a war. Ditto North Korea. Ditto Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, here and there - mostly, wherever. And to the extent WikiLeaks has made diplomatic solutions less likely - even just a little - and war more, I think the WikiGeeks, no matter how passionately they believe they're really living in the Matrix (and no matter how cool it is to have servers in a cave), have done us all a big disservice.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

But just so you know, I am also in favor of reinstating the draft.

And you can consider yourself lucky if you get to keep the pot

Noted by our Midwest bureau:

All the President’s Captors - NYTimes.com

We’re now at the brink of a new economic disaster that will eventually yank a chicken out of every pot.

(And, may I add, from the same opinion piece...)

Obama should have pounded home the case against profligate tax cuts for the wealthiest before the Democrats lost the Senate. Even now Warren Buffett — not a socialist, by the way — is making the case with a Christie-esque directness that usually eludes the president. “The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we’ll all go out and spend more, and then it will trickle down to the rest of you,” he told Christiane Amanpour on “This Week” last Sunday. “But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.”

(The only problem I have with that is...wait, the Democrats lost the Senate? Dude, the Democrats haven't even lost the House yet. They may be lame ducks but they're still ducks. Or maybe just quacks.)