Shorties Horizon

Dead Zombie Horse: a few thoughts on health insurance reform. And Immaculate Infection.

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree: you make a fine fish habitat.

Laughing all the way to the bank: Only $3 billion? Pshaw! Let me get my checkbook.

Speaking of Banks: FDIC may sue executives of failed banks to try and get some of their money back. Oh and if we won’t do anything about too big to fail, Europe will.

Just Call Him Phoenix: a real life superhero in Seattle.

Nice: The Westin St. Francis washes every coin it receives.

Nuts: the rift between environmentally conscious Christians and nutjobs who think Jesus will just fix the environment.

The Dude Abides: Well no, it’s really just Jeff Bridges.

Obligatory January Weight Items: most Americans think their weight and dietary habits are just fine, thank you. Here’s the 8 worst diet and fitness fads of 2010. And for the motivated, a kick-start workout guide (don’t forget to eat healthy foods in moderate quantities!)

On Poverty: officially and in reality. At least it’s creating jobs at Dollar General, for what it’s worth.

Nevertheless: I hope you never need to know this information.

On Republicans: Go ahead and read the Constitution. How do they get away with telling the same lies so much we start to believe it’s true? Three Cups of Tea (tell ’em, Howard!). Hey big businesses, what laws do you want to not follow anymore? Guide to Governance. The sane people are concerned. And an open letter.

On all the other parties: Ha! Seriously though, I’d like to see a big, televised debate between party leaders of all these “third parties,” live during prime time. It would be a great laugh (have you ever read some of the published party platforms??), and the few good ideas will get picked up by someone who can run with it.

Delicious: Bison.

Oops: I mean oats.

Immigration Reform: it’s more complicated than putting up a fence.

Images: ranging from merely amusing to mind-blowing.

Welcome to 2011.

No Santa! Don’t Do It!

Today’s post courtesy of my neighbors. On a serious note, though, you have got to read this. No wonder Santa’s thinking of jumping. Please remember those in need this holiday season, and please help if you can.

In Closing: “The world’s biggest banks are still hugely overextended” (but heaven knows we can’t do anything about it); don’t tell the Republicans, but hundreds of thousands of unemployed people are applying for thousands of low-paying jobs; and Reaganomics Redux.

Looks Like Rain

Most people don’t carry around an umbrella unless they think there’s a good chance of rain.

That being said:

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board approved interim guidelines to help clarify its procedures for liquidating complex financial firms [edit: that is, “too big to fail” firms] when they collapse, including permitting better treatment for some creditors when it benefits the estate or broader economy.

More:

However, in the event of an impending implosion, the statute authorizes the FDIC to use U.S. taxpayer dollars to make partial payments to “healthy” counter-parties of the failing firm so that they wouldn’t go down with it. Once economic disaster is averted, the law requires the government to recoup the costs of the bailout by selling the bank’s assets and by collecting fees from big financial institutions with $50 billion or more in assets.

So then, the question as I see it is simple: which big bank does the FDIC expect to collapse? My money is on the one that declared last week that they were halting all foreclosures in all 50 states.

In closing: Mankiw is an idiot; what made them think that was a good idea??; I would rather take my chances with the slot machines; in denial; she can raise money but can she stop being crazy?; epilogue to cholesterol story; “I don’t know if he’s qualified to be on the Federal Reserve Board. He’s only got a Nobel Prize in Economics“; This Angry Season; and recovery.

Follow-Up and Vegas Miscellany

In a way I wish I had waited until today to write The BAMTOR Principle. By some weird coincidence a bunch of other people have also noticed that Banks Always Make Their Own Rules that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the law. It turns out that many people knew that Wall Street was selling mortgage backed securities that were destined to fail. But what HuffPo didn’t bother to point out is that what those banks and brokerages did was in violation of the law. This blatant double standard — “laws are for little people” — will continue until the Feds start putting people in jail, levying huge fines against individuals who signed off on breaking the law, and states sue for the right to prosecute violations of state law.

In light of this, the banksters have the chutzvah to say that breaking up “too big to fail” institutions would create more risk. Yeah, more risk for their jobs.

As far as the economy goes, it turns out that 74% of Americans agree with me that regardless of what the government says about GDP, we are still in a recession. It’s getting more obvious that the numbers are being gamed. But don’t expect any administration in the near future to start talking about what inflation, unemployment, and GDP really are, because then we would all understand what deep doo-doo we are standing in and probably vote a lot of bums out.

Of course you need to be careful about voting bums out, as Christine O’Donnell and Nevada’s own Sharron Angle illustrate. Congruent Angle? Sorry I’m running out of Angle jokes.

And that brings me to an armload of local interest items. Let’s start with the spectacular view from the Cosmopolitan. Down the Strip a little bit, be careful about sitting by the pool at CityCenter’s Vdara, or you may experience their unique “death ray.” If you are planning on getting off the Strip, you will want to at least look over these amusing tips. One of the restaurants I visit regularly has been reviewed again, and I only recognize two of the things they were served. I haven’t talked a lot about it, but I am keeping an eye on the case of Erik Scott, killed in broad daylight by Metro in front of a Costco in one of our most yuppified neighborhoods. By the way, last week’s CSI did a great job of addressing it and not addressing it.

In Closing: electromagnetic spectrum; lies your teachers told you; cheap food costs dear; abortion does not have dire emotional consequences; Israel cannot have its cake and eat it too; people don’t like health insurance reform because it didn’t go far enough!; True Mud; a few words on taxes; Professor DeLong nails the Republican view of America; have we tried the simple stuff first?; Jack LaLanne is 96 (was I the only one who noticed Drew Carey’s homage in the blue “speed suit”?); and medical ignorance.

The Girl who Played with Shorties

And They Wonder Why the Peasants are Revolting: Even the market news pundits at Marketwatch get it: “In one America, one in 10 of those able to work are unemployed. In the other, Wall Street’s America, bonuses are set to increase.”

Social Security Round Up: I thought about doing a Social Security post, but so many people have already said what needs saying. To whit, most of us have small enough “savings,” “home equity,” and/or “market gains” that we expect to depend at least partly on Social Security (some people depended on it before they even fully appreciated what it was). Social Security needs to be the issue in November, because “saving,” “privatizing,” and all those other words mean nothing more than “destroy.” All those people talking about how “broke” Social Security don’t understand how it works and have an ulterior motive for “reforming” (again, synonym for “destroying”) it. Don’t look at Chile without seeing the whole picture.

Speaking of the Reid vs. Angle race: If this weren’t a race with truly nationwide implications, I wouldn’t spend so much time on elections in an entire state with a population lower than the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. But Senator Reid is the Majority Leader, and Sharron Angle is one of the highest profile teabaggers running. The press is rightfully all over it. Anyway, it’s a tight race.

The Party of Personal Responsibility: Oh! And our other Senator is blaming a “liberal organization” for his woes: namely that he had an adulterous affair and then tried to cover it up by making sure his mistress’s husband was, ahem, taken care of monetarily. Right. ‘Cause his “can’t keep it in his pants” problem? That’s totally the fault of liberals.

Everybody has seen this by now, right?: How dare unemployed people not accept low paying jobs or opportunities that require them to move halfway around the world, ungrateful wretches. Meanwhile, first time unemployment insurance claims are up.

China Knows Better: They know they can’t make do with a Latte Economy. There’s more to a vibrant economy than egg rolls and laundromats. They build stuff, and when they don’t know how to build it they make the West teach them how.

Chuck is Right: Seriously, he’s just a tweak more conservative than I, but this is spot on: “If the number of illegal aliens in this country is something like 20M, you can be real sure that drugs and other criminal activities isn’t what needs addressed. The job picture is what needs [to be] addressed. Enforcement of the pissant employment laws is virtually non-existent, employers know that the chance of getting caught out is tiny and the fines small enough to cover with their illegal hire profits.” Fewer fences, more crackdowns on employers who like workers that don’t stand up for any rights.

They like to call it an “Emergency Department” now: At least there are fewer uninsured people showing up in the ER.

Oh just come out and call Abe Lincoln a damn Liberal: “The genius of Lincoln — and it’s really the greatest historical legacy of the Republican Party — is that all individuals were to be treated based who they are, not who their parents were.” The 14th Amendment is brilliant in its simplicity. It does not need to be repealed, revised, or “interpreted“. Speaking of which, screaming over Anderson Cooper on national television is not a way to be taken seriously.

Priorities: when you think Jimmy Carter outranks Tim McVeigh, the Rosenbergs, John Wilkes Booth, and Benedict Freaking Arnold as worst person in American History, you have some truly messed up ways of thinking. Where’s Lee Harvey Oswald? Oh right, he killed a liberal so that makes him a hero I guess. I’m guessing the criteria included that they be American, which is why Osama and Emperor Hirohito are left out.

This one’s for you, JP: Hal Turner is guilty.

Popularity Counts: Over 25 most popular things. Take it for what it’s worth. I’m glad my car isn’t a “popular” color. I had a devil of a time finding that silver Civic on a parking lot!

I don’t intend to discuss Ground Zero again: Barbara lays it out.

What were they thinking?: No, you can’t legally prevent people from talking to one another at the mall.

Listen up, Ladies: a new “morning after” contraceptive is now approved by the FDA, and is good up to 5 days later.

Things are tough all over: Kroger is expanding their selection of store brand beauty products.

Blame the GOP: So says a Reagan Insider!

Are… Are World Leaders Supposed to Look Like That?: The caption makes the image even stranger.

Senate Republicans Acting Like Toddlers

Or, Senate Decides its Just Fine to be a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of the Fortune 500 and Special Interests.

Seriously. The Senate voted 57 to 41 on largely party lines to defeat what Harry Reid called “a bill whose principles both parties once supported and that 9 in 10 Americans want us to pass,” despite the fact that none other than the Supreme Court encouraged Congress to clarify the law on required disclosure of political donations.

Color me disgusted. They are in effect saying “NO! I want candy for dinner and you can’t stop me!”

Now don’t get me wrong, I think the disclosure requirements shouldn’t have loopholes for the NRA or unions. Then again, I honestly think you should have to demonstrate that you can actually legally vote for a candidate to give them money! Still, this act was a lot better than nothing. And as for Senator Snowe’s criticism that it was written too fast? How quickly she forgets how fast the mammoth pile of legislation known as the PATRIOT Act was passed. Where were her objections to swift legislative answers to problems then? Oh yeah, buried under a blanket of largely unfounded fear that the terrorists were going to try to get us again any moment now.

Got a Republican Senator? Remember come November.

In Closing: Goldman shows us where the money went; next time somebody talks about how great it would be to gamble invest Social Security money in the stock market, remember these 10 stock market myths from, of all places, the Wall Street Journal; No, I do not want bacon in my martini!; Susie‘s right again; “The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says the US Department of Defence is unable to account properly for 96% of the money.”; employees becoming as mercenary as their bosses (no wonder); housing consolidation; “Document Leak May Hurt Efforts to Build War Support” (no really? D’ya think??); open letter to Lindsay Lohan from the ACLU; Angle Update; health insurance and small business; and a pile of big yellow dinosaurs that won’t die.

Don’t Make This Hard

Just about everybody thinks that Elizabeth Warren would be the absolute best qualified and most knowledgeable person to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Everybody except Timmy Geithner and the big financial institutions that got us into our current mess and stand to be regulated by the bureau, of course. After all, she might do things that are better for the hundreds of millions of us who do business with financial institutions, instead of the institutions themselves.

So it boils down to this — and by this we will know where President Obama stands. Does he nominate the best person for the job and ask the Senate to confirm Elizabeth Warren? Or does he nominate some crony who will do whatever the banksters want? And is he brave enough to commit one way or the other before November 2?

In closing: Sharron Angle is at it again; bank profits are worse than they look, which may explain why we’ve had over 100 bank failures so far this year; a real public option could save the Feds $68,000,000,000 in the next 10 years (how can they rationalize not doing it?); insurers push plans that even further limit our choices (and may put an end to all but the biggest medical practices); just a few words about Social Security; if the economy is getting better, where are the jobs and why is the White House predicting no appreciable change in unemployment until 2012?; on education reform; on cocoa (and why is this legal?); “VitaminWater” is not healthy; roughly 1 in 5 Americans suffered a significant economic loss last year, part of rising economic insecurity; but investors demand revenue growth or else!; we’re cutting back on little things; rape is just fine with 92 House Republicans, as long as it’s not white women; the middle class is vanishing, and an oligarchy is in charge; and a little science fiction.

Shorties Saga: Eclipse

Ok, the title was kinda a cheap one.

Solar Airplane!: “The organizers said the flight was the longest and highest by a piloted solar-powered craft, reaching an altitude of just over 28,000 feet above sea level at an average speed of 23 knots, or about 26 miles per hour.” The biggest problems were drinking water that froze and an iPod battery that ran out. Maybe he could have used a solar powered MP3 player!

How to reduce unemployment, Republican style:
Ed Stein

Susie’s Right: Maybe paying attention to the base instead of the cash, the cash and the votes will take care of themselves.

Comrade E.B. Misfit is right too: on Declining Sales and Spying on Americans (which seems to me a colossal waste of resources).

Roman Treasure: Amateur with a metal detector stumbles on thousands of rare old coins.

Well, I guess I’m willing to give up on ever being on MSNBC too: No really, a female employee was once found dead on the floor of then Congressman Joe Scarborough’s office. It’s true! And then the strange part happened.

Shoppers are back, but they’re picky: 10 months of retail gains, but things aren’t improving as fast as experts thought they would (or as fast as retailers would like).

Another Cartoon About Republicans (Because I Feel Like it):

Rob Rogers

Yeah, but you have to do business with Chase: Chase is offering discounted interest to small businesses that borrow money and then hire new employees. Interesting that they are trolling for “qualified” borrowers. I wonder how hard it is to actually qualify for the program.

This is going to be a mess: New reporting rules that were stealthily placed into the health insurance reform bill would require small businesses to report and file a form 1099 on any vendor from whom they bought more than $700 of goods or services. For example, I will have to report my office rent, my cell phone bill, and probably my office supplies. I might be able to get around reporting my NAR membership because the money gets split between national, state, and local organizations. Sounds like the “Put IRS Agents and Accountants To Work Act”. Hat tip to Jukkou-san, sorry it took so long to find an authoritative source.

Raise interest rates?: That’s what Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig says. His reasoning is that the economy is growing and rates are too close to 0% now. I agree, but for different reasons.

And Finally: Look out for sub-standard olive oil. I honestly don’t know what to tell you other than to make sure you trust your supplier, sniff it before you use it, and hope.

Knitting Things

There was a witch who knitted things:
Elephants and playground swings.
She knitted rain,
She knitted night,
But nothing really came out right.
The elephants had just one tusk
And night looked more
Like dawn or dusk.

–Karla Kuskin

So much stupid has been committed by various Republicans in the last day that I thought about adding to yesterday’s post. But then I realized that things had merely come full circle.

Oh sure, it’s easy and fun to figure out how many chickens you should take with you to the doctor’s office for various services! Just punch it into the Lowden Plan Chicken Calculator! But please don’t forget to scroll all the way down. The amazing thing is that she’s not backing down one inch from her chicken-barter statement. She could have said she merely meant that we need to be flexible and think outside the box for solutions, anything other than suggesting it was really desirable to show up at Doc’s place with a truckload of chickens.

Of course it’s almost obligatory to point out that if the Democrats have a single functional brain cell, they will line up behind Senator Dodd and insist that every Republican choose to stand either with reform or with corruption on financial services reform (heck, we may have to make the Democrats do it too).

I suppose I did gloss over GOP Chairman and token “black man” Michael Steele admitting that African Americans really have no reason to vote for the Grand Old Party today. Why did I put “black man” in quotes? Because if he were either one he would have told *ahem* people like these where to shove their signs.

Right there is where we start knitting. We’re in the process of transcending mere Stupid Republican Tricks and tying them back to the racist, sexist claptrap that I railed about — with some resistance I might add — a few weeks ago. Racism? Check! Sexism? Huh, let’s see… sexism, sexism….

Oh here! I personally think it’s pretty freaking objectionable to send out a newsletter to your base suggesting “Let’s take [Congresswoman] Betty Sutton out of the House and put her back in the kitchen.”

Yeah. Since her previous job was not as a chef, that is offensive as hell. Can she at least keep her shoes, or would they like to see her barefoot and pregnant too? And [expletive] them for trying to make it somehow acceptable to say this. Oh, says the local official who approved the mailing, we haven’t gotten any complaints! And so, then, the donations are rolling in on that crap? What do his wife and daughters think of that rhetoric? Are they proud of what Daddy said?

Obviously this man doesn’t speak for the entire party. There are women Republicans. Former Secretary of State Condi Rice for example. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Senate Candidate Sue Lowden of Nevada.

Here’s some free advice to the Republican Party. You can’t continue to alienate the 51% of Americans who are women and the 12% of Americans who are black and actually keep winning free and fair elections. If they continue on their current path, they will more and more resemble a misshapen toy elephant made of yarn scraps, with only one tusk.

In Closing: on airlines; surely nobody expected the SEC to investigate anybody; I hope this movie doesn’t suck; speaking of movies, Food, Inc. streaming free for a limited time; Orcas are more than one species; what part of the Americans with Disabilities Act didn’t the school understand?; Japanese mechanical dolls; and Worst Person in the World, 33 AD.

Stupid Republican Tricks

Seriously, there has been so much stupid that I don’t know where to start.

I could start close to home with Senate candidate Sue Lowden, who thinks we should be able to barter with our doctors and pay with, for example, chickens!

I could go down the road a bit to Arizona’s new racial profiling illegal immigration law, which “requires state and local police to determine the status of people if there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ that they are illegal immigrants and to arrest people who are unable to provide documentation proving they are in the country legally.” By the way, “reasonable suspicion” means the cop doesn’t like you and/or you’re brown. I don’t think most people appreciate that most people don’t carry proof of citizenship in their pockets — NO a Driver’s License is NOT proof of citizenship! Never has been, shouldn’t ever be.

But wait, maybe that’s what Senator McCain was getting at when he said that illegal immigrants are deliberately causing car accidents! I certainly can’t think of any rational reason that anybody — particularly someone here illegally — would cause accidents. Insurance fraud?? What a dangerous way to make money!

It’s OK though, because Representative Bilbray says a cop can tell if somebody is illegal just by looking at their clothes! So tell me, what exactly is the difference between the shirt I buy at Target and the shirt that an illegal immigrant buys at Target? I don’t want to accidentally get the wrong one. And certainly you’d better not dress up for any ethnic festivals in Arizona without sticking your birth certificate or naturalization papers in your pocket!

Then again I could go to the horse’s mouth — Washington D.C. — and examine the party of NO!’s “Just scrap it and maybe start over” strategy on almost every initiative. Oh, and let’s not forget that it is at least partly thanks to the Republicans that the newly passed health insurance reform bill still allows rescission and still has no way to control wild increases in premiums.

Not that the Democrats are innocent, but certainly no wonder people are “fed up with political incivility.” Anybody who wants to be re-elected had better pay attention to public sentiment now.

In Closing: Freezing a 787 for science; look, putting twins in different homerooms to see which one learns to read better doesn’t prove that reading skills are 82% genetic, just that the teacher and classroom aren’t 100% to blame/praise for the results!; Homelessness, it’s not just for addicts and the mentally ill anymore (sadly, for some people, it’s what’s for dinner); a scathing truth about “successfully” parenting a crowd; high schools preparing kids for college without a thought of preparing them for work; if the Fed is going to print money, do you suppose they could send some my way?; congrats to GM on paying back the TARP money to the Feds; green Navy vessels on the ocean blue; the various watch lists and no-fly lists aren’t just an annoyance, they divert attention from real threats; on long term unemployment; oh waah, companies are having a hard time raising prices; let’s see how far the rotten banking practices extend; and school lunches have officially become a matter of national security.