Kuttner: "The Goons of August"

The Goons of August

Let us face the momentous truth: The United States has been rendered ungovernable except on the extortionate terms of the far-right....

Cool idea

A President in Reverse | Truthout

Mr. Obama has taken to the habit of abject retreat with such gusto that he should be outfitted with one of those beeping devices they put on trucks to alert people when they go in reverse.

Finally, something useful

A Victa-ry for mathematics - The Age Education Resource Centre

The grass is long, and guess whose job it is to cut it? Confronted with this tedious chore, a Maths Master has only one possible course of action: he must immediately retire to his office, to determine the mathematically best way to mow the lawn.


TSA tries nice

Pregnant woman files complaint after TSA confiscates insulin | Raw Replay

“We are sensitive to the concerns of passengers who were not satisfied with their screening experience."

Another triumph for sex ed

The administration’s wise decision to cover contraceptives - The Washington Post

Nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, according to the Guttmacher Institute...

The recovery: Jobs

Credit: Krugman, here

A new approach to economic forecasting

Analysis: Recession II? Probably not, staffing execs say | Reuters

(Reuters) - A sequel to the Great Recession in the United States just two years after the downturn is not likely because demand for temporary workers, a leading indicator of both upturns and downturns, remains steady, staffing industry executives say.

Probably not because maybe yes or maybe no, I think this means.

Movie rule

Any movie with a title including the words "legend of" is almost certainly a very bad idea.

"Take that, Pot," Kettle says

Analysis: World economy wobbles as markets push policymakers | Reuters

"People have just become spooked by a crass failure of political leadership," said George Magnus, senior economic adviser at UBS in London.


"Scruitiny" is such a useful word

Donation to Romney-Tied Group Draws Scrutiny - NYTimes.com


What it sells, buys, or makes is a mystery. It has no known shareholders, nor does it have a chief executive.

One thing that is known about W Spann LLC: In late April, it gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, a so-called Super PAC founded by allies of the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney...


Even gold lost

Stock markets take a beating worldwide - chicagotribune.com

The rout, which had no single catalyst, began in Europe and plunged the U.S. into near-panic selling. By day's end, the Dow had suffered its biggest one-day point loss — 512.76, or 4.3% — since the mortgage meltdown in 2008 triggered a worldwide financial crisis.

So the question of the hour is, how much of that money that left the stock markets wound up in U.S. Treasury bonds? It would be interesting to know, not that I'd be very sure what it meant.


Bank has too much money, can't deal with it all

BNY Mellon imposes fee on rapidly growing deposits | Reuters

(Reuters) - Bank of New York Mellon Corp said it is being overwhelmed with deposits from investors fleeing risky markets, and said it will begin charging for above-average deposits.

Wait. Risky markets? What happened to the confidence?

Let's you and them fight!

Time for book publishers to fight dirty - chicagotribune.com

Why hasn't America's publishing industry launched an ad campaign as seductive and aggressive as the Kindle's? Not to market front-list titles or authors, but to market the paper book form itself? In other words, sell consumers on the exclusive pleasures and qualities traditional books offer that e-books cannot. That's exactly what Kindle's TV commercials have been doing, saying here's what we can do that regular books can't.

I'm all for book wars. But I would be even more for book wars if lower prices were one of the strategies put forth. It's not. It never is. It's all about the marketing, that's all. 

Wait! What about the confidence fairy?

Analysis: Obama, Bernanke out of ammo to boost jobs, growth | Reuters

(Reuters) - The United States has a jobs problem and there's not a lot President Barack Obama or Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke can do about it.

The morning after

Obama's new fundraising speech: 2008 was really bad, so I need a second term - latimes.com

Obama's literally still saying "Yes, we can." But he doesn't say why we haven't. No explanation for why the economy's still so bad despite all of his plans and spending and Joe "The Stimulus Czar" Biden's job growth promises. How unemployment is back up to 9.2% with economic indicators softening and GDP growth anemic.

He says politics in Washington has a way of getting in the way of progress, as if he's not the politician who spent two years and $745 million to get there too.



Sez The Onion

Obama: Debt Ceiling Deal Required Tough Concessions By Both Democrats And Democrats Alike | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

WASHINGTON—A day after signing legislation that raised the government debt ceiling and authorized steep budget cuts, President Obama thanked Democrats as well as Democrats for their willingness to make tough, but necessary, concessions during negotiations....

Book notes and other book notes

We're going to re-boot the reading list next week. Barnes & Nobel and Google's affiliates program are parting ways so the buy-book links will no longer be good as of the 9th. I haven't decided if I want to move to B&N's new selling service (I am personally connected to B&N for now because I use a nook but all the books can be purchased from any book seller, as far as I know) or get involved with another one, or none of the above. So the easiest solution is simply to delete all the books that link back to B&N through Google and let the list re-fill itself with new books over time. Free books will continue to be linked to gutenberg.org (or another source as appropriate); the others possibly to a bookseller or possibly to a good review, whatever. We shall see.

Meanwhile, here are a few short pieces that are well worth a look. Via gutenberg.org, Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King, the story that inspired the terrific movie starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine, and The Real Dope, a Ring Lardner yarn about a hapless doughboy in France during WWI; from Outside Online, The Storm, Sebastian Junger's story that became The Perfect Storm, and from Esquire, The Perfect Fire, by Sean Flynn.

They're all free reads. Lie back and chill.

When even Larry Summers is unhappy with the so-called deficit deal...

A debt deal that solves the wrong problem: Summers | Reuters

Among all the machinations ahead, two issues stand out. First, the single largest and easiest method of deficit reduction available is the nonextension of the Bush high income tax cuts. The President should make clear that he will not accept their extension on any terms hahahahahaha...

Well, OK, I elaborated a little bit there at the end. But still...

Right. This is a joke. Isn't it?

Obama Will Embark on Mid-August Bus Tour to Talk Jobs

Dude, nobody talks about jobs in August. Even people who have jobs don't talk about them in August. And even fewer people do jobs in August. Who's gonna drive that bus?

Amy Goodman on Obama's Eat Your Peas Committee, and much more

Amy Goodman: War, Debt and the President - Truthdig

“This year is the 50th anniversary of [Dwight] Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex speech,” William Hartung of the Center for International Policy told me while the Senate assembled to vote on the debt ceiling bill. Speaking of the late general turned Republican U.S. president, Hartung said: “He talked about the need for a balanced economy, for a healthy population. Essentially, he’s to the left of Barack Obama on these issues.”

Consumers will have saved $1.7 Trillion!

President Obama Announces New Fuel Economy Standards | The White House

Oh wait. Will have. By 2025. So don't go out and spend it just yet.

I didn't check them all


SBA 100 features one hundred businesses that have created at least 100 jobs since receiving SBA assistance.

Come on. I don't have patience enough to read 100 of these. But as far as I went I couldn't find a single example of a business that received SBA funds in this century. See if you can.

Very cool

Space Shuttle Discovery - 360VR Images

This is a 360º view of the space shuttle Discovery's flight deck. It runs in Flash, so if your device doesn't play Flash, sorry.

Thanks to Charlie from Wisconsin.

Everybody wins

Senate fails to fund FAA, leaving 4,000 on unpaid furlough - latimes.com

Airport safety inspectors, who enforce compliance with federal rules and are considered essential, have been asked to keep working and put expenses on personal credit cards.


MasterCard profit jumps 33 percent | Reuters

(Reuters) - MasterCard Inc's second-quarter profit rose a better-than-expected 33 percent as the company processed more card transactions and revenue increased.

Yes, Bunky, we are doomed

With Debt Fight Behind Him, Obama Promises Action on Jobs - NYTimes.com

“Growing the economy isn’t just about cutting spending.” [Obama said]

National man of mystery

American Extremists - National man of mystery

National man of mystery


So you only thought you won

Coin tosses don't really give you fifty-fifty odds

The coin toss, the great equalizer of all odds, is not as random as it seems. When flipped by a human being, the odds are slightly stacked towards one side.

The new buzzword

Obama says debt bill not only step to economic recovery | Reuters

In a Rose Garden statement, Obama made clear he expects tax reform to emerge from deliberations around a new joint bipartisan committee...

"Tax reform" in the Tea Party (Norquist) lexicon emphatically does not mean added revenues. Tax reform is to be revenue neutral, these guys say. Just so you know. I'm thinking we'll be hearing a whole lot about tax reform in the coming months and nearly all of it will be pure BS.

And this time he means it too!

Debt Compromise Is Just 'First Step,' Obama Says - NYTimes.com

Issuing a fresh challenge to an exhausted Congress, Mr. Obama said the two parties would need to work out a second set of deficit-reduction measures that must include both spending cuts and new tax revenue.

Elite flunk

Macroeconomic Folly - NYTimes.com

...what we’ve witnessed pretty much throughout the western world is a kind of inverse miracle of intellectual failure. Given a crisis that should have been relatively easy to solve — and, more than that, a crisis that anyone who knew macroeconomics 101 should have been well-prepared to deal with — what we actually got was an obsession with problems we didn’t have. We’ve obsessed over the deficit in the face of near-record low interest rates, obsessed over inflation in the face of stagnant wages, and counted on the confidence fairy to make job-destroying policies somehow job-creating.

Welcome to the new normal

Boehner to Dems: Either Cave, or No FAA Til September | Transportation Nation

(Washington, DC) House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Republicans have backed Democrats into a corner: Surrender Tuesday or the FAA stays shut for the rest of the summer.

So now we can get back to jobs

Undernews: Meet the chair of Obama's jobs council

Hawaii News Daily - Jeffrey Immelt, the head of Barack Obama’s highly touted “Jobs Council”, is moving even more GE infrastructure to China. GE makes more medical-imaging machines than anyone else in the world, and now GE has announced that it “is moving the headquarters of its 115-year-old X-ray business to Beijing“. Apparently, this is all part of a “plan to invest about $2 billion across China” over the next few years.

I don't know about you but this Obama guy is definitely not on my side.

So not everybody in Minnesota is nuts, it turns out

Budget Crisis Decisions Now Up To ‘Super Committee’ « CBS Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — To avert a future debt ceiling and budget crisis, Congress has appointed a commission; a group of 12 to hammer out a deal the other 523 members of the House and Senate could not, and did not.

The “dirty dozen” debt commission, also known as the Super Committee, will have six Democrats and six Republicans. Their epic task is to cut $1.5 trillion from the budget. And the House and Senate get one vote: Up or Down.

“What’s the goal?” asked former Minnesota Republican United State Senator David Durenberger....

He’s concerned the Super Committee is a fig leaf for a dysfunctional Congress.

No kidding, eh?

It's touching, really, the way these guys always seem to be so surprised

Consumer spending falters, but inflation eases | Reuters

(Reuters) - Consumer spending dropped in June for the first time in nearly two years and incomes barely rose, signs the economy lacked momentum as the second quarter drew to a close.


iPhone photo: Phil Compton

And you thought there were no mysteries left

Pfizer profit rises, buoyed by animal products | Reuters

(Reuters) - Pfizer Inc reported higher second-quarter earnings, as booming sales of animal health products that company aims to divest helped offset falling sales of its core pharmaceuticals business.



Can this be doubletalk?

Unemployed Ignored In Debt Ceiling Deal

WASHINGTON -- The long-term unemployed have been left out of a deal between congressional negotiators and the White House to enact massive spending cuts and raise the nation's debt ceiling before its borrowing limit is reached on Tuesday....

Asked Sunday night why spending to help the unemployed had been left out of the deal, a White House official said, "because it had to be part of a bigger deal to be part of this."

No, it's more like quadrupletalk, I think.

Hulu! You are forgiven!

Well, Hulu is still where bad movies go to die but here is an absolutely excellent exception: A Royal Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, produced in 1996 and distributed by Mirimax. No doubt you can find this in other places as well, Netflix, your local vidstore, whatever, but wherever you get it, if you like Shakespeare at all, you really ought to see this film. (And it's presented on Hulu with no commercials, or at least it was this evening.)

Ah, now here's a sobering thought


Grover Norquist is now positioned exactly in the center of American politics

In the meantime, well, tough luck

Health insurers must cover birth control with no copays - chicagotribune.com

The Obama administration says health insurance plans must cover birth control for women with no copays.

...Breast pumps for nursing mothers, an annual "well woman" physical, counseling on how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and other services will also be covered at no cost to the patient.

The new benefits won't take effect for at least another year...


What Would I Have Done? - NYTimes.com

It’s much, much too late for Obama and co. to say “Trust us, we know what we’re doing.” My reservoir of trust is now completely drained.

Sure, but obviously now that we're going to be cutting government expenditures...

Factory growth slows, casts shadow on economy | Reuters
(Reuters) - Manufacturing grew at its slowest pace in two years in July as new orders contracted....
...wait. New orders? Huh?

A headline for our time

The President Surrenders



Or how about WarWorld?

Former Bush NSA director calls for ‘digital Blackwater’ | Raw Replay

“We may come to a point where defense is more actively and aggressively defined even for the private sector and what is permitted there is something that we would never let the private sector do in physical space… Let me really throw out a bumper sticker for you. How about a digital Blackwater?” he suggested.


My Get-Rich Scheme - NYTimes.com

Please, just let me play poker with President Obama.


Compromise In The Works | ThinkProgress

Obama has successfully transformed massive debt ceiling hostage taking from an act of breathtakingly irresponsible brinksmanship into a proven effective negotiating tactic.


Obama adviser Sperling sees no double dip recession | Reuters

(Reuters) - White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said on "Fox News Sunday" he was "not worried the U.S. will have a double-dip recession"...