Red Oleander



In Closing: Slippery slope; Empire in decline; ok sure, have some NSA, Snowden, spying, and bonus Homeland Security links; Yellen at nothin; deny it all you like; yeah right, it might result in a very nasty bit of commentary but populist revolt??; it’s almost like math teachers get bored and try inventing new ways to add and subtract (and places like Kumon and Sylvan make more money….); and better figure it out, Eric.

Music Monday: Not Worried about the Sequester

It isn’t like I can do anything about it. By the way, did you know that the budget deficit is getting smaller?


In Closing: Lightning strikes twice at the AAP; Lack of devils in the details; How the rich avoid taxes; Don’t cry for Kenny; 15th Amendment; Ha!; Bad idea; Good question; and cat cafe.

Sign of the Bankpocalypse

Praise Sandy Weill, for he hath told the truth — and delivered you from Shorties.

Seriously, I thought I’d have to resort to Shorties today until I saw this little gem: Sandy Weill, the same man who had a giant game of “chicken” with Congress, forcing them to pass laws that allowed his company to become a huge “financial supermarket” now says that we should go back to the way things were after the Great Depression and break up “too big to fail” banks “so that the taxpayer will never be at risk, the depositors won’t be at risk, the leverage of the banks will be something reasonable, and the investment banks can do trading… they can make some mistakes, but they’ll have everything that clears with each other every single night so they can be mark-to-market.” He goes on to drop a second bomb: “There should be no such thing as off balance sheet.”

Really, Sandy? Why the change of heart? Has it suddenly occurred to you that if We The People don’t have any money, we don’t put it in the bank and we don’t buy things? Perhaps you realized that Japan never got out of it’s doldrums until the “zombie firms” were allowed to fail? Have a “spiritual” moment where fair play and the bigger picture somehow seemed important? Don’t get me wrong, glad you joined the “common sense” bandwagon. Just wish you’d popped aboard in the 90s instead of pooh-poohing sensible and necessary banking laws as “archaic” and “not reflecting the needs of the next century.

Too Big To Fail simply must become Too Big To Exist. Seriously.

In Closing: 1 in 5 companies misrepresents freaking lies about their profits; a conservative would probably say they need to get jobs!; two must see video clips; outlawing abortion kills women; what’s retirement?; wasn’t expecting that one; no wonder the “news” doesn’t say anything anymore; what a coincidence [you don’t want to get me started about Pyschiatric Institutes of America and why you’ll never ever get mental health care parity]; Give a big LOL to the State Department Anti-Terror Troll Team; and neither will I.

What IS the Matter with Kansas?

So Kansas wants to make it perfectly legal for a doctor to lie to a dumb bitch pregnant woman. Let me provide my own commentary on the ACLU’s points:

It would provide legal protection to a doctor who discovers that a baby will be born with a devastating condition and deliberately withholds that information from his patient because he doesn’t want her to seek an abortion. That means a doctor could decide to lie about the results of a woman’s prenatal test so that she won’t have information that she needs to make the best decision for her circumstances.

In other words, a doctor can make a woman give birth to a baby with birth defects that she can’t provide for financially or emotionally. Sorry, the days of “put the abomination in an institution” are long over. I’ve already discussed that this is fraud.

The bill attempts to scare women by forcing doctors to tell patients about a supposed link between abortion and breast cancer — a risk that the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and other medical experts roundly reject .

Doctors are not only allowed to lie to patients, they are forced to lie to patients.

This bill would also require public hospitals to turn away a woman who desperately needs an abortion to prevent serious harm to her health. The extremists pushing this bill would have a hospital tell a very sick woman that she should come back when her pregnancy is about to kill her, even if that risks her future fertility or causes organ failure.

I’m not sure what the definition of “public hospital”  is here: hospitals owned by government entities (rather than corporations or charitable organizations) or just hospitals open to the public. Nevertheless, this is like telling someone with chest pains to come back when they are sure it’s a heart attack.

Now here’s the thing. Where are the doctors on this? Why aren’t doctors screaming that this law puts women in danger? Why aren’t doctors pointing out that this bill requires them to lie to patients? Why am I the one pointing out that even with this fig leaf of a bill it’s going to bite doctors on the ass to tell a patient that everything is fine when it isn’t?

AMA? AOA? ACOG? This is the second state that wants to say it’s acceptable to conceal important medical information. I don’t even know how many states require doctors to lie about breast cancer. At least one state requires expensive, medically unnecessary procedures before an abortion, and more states are considering it. Where’s your statement on this? How does this square with your legal and ethical requirements to do the right thing for patients?

How long before employers decide they just can’t do business in a state where their female employees face obstacles to sometimes (regrettably) medically necessary care, and where a routine pregnancy can mean losing employees who must become full time caregivers for a baby with severe birth defects?

In Closing: Ninja; that resume can go in the trash; on J.P. Morgan; how did we get to a lunch revolution?; and NAFTA vs. China.

Mulholland Shorties

Was I Wrong About Rahm?: He’s not even sworn in yet, and he’s announced that something he wants to do is enlarge a good old-fashioned public works project! Granted, it’s just bike lanes, but it will put people to work and help other people get around when it’s done.

Food Insecurity is just a fancy word for Going Hungry: Here’s a viewpoint from somebody who once had to endure it. It turns out there are a lot of issues in play.

So You Want to be a Revolutionary: This man wrote a book about non-violent revolution. There’s a link to the PDF, which is credited with change around the world.

Income Inequality: When people in other nations notice it, it’s bad. If that has too many words, this one has lots of pretty pictures. Here’s more.

Release the Hounds: An Indiana Deputy Attorney General suggested using live ammunition on protesters in Wisconsin. Thankfully, he didn’t have the authority to order such a thing. But sanity did prevail: he is now unemployed on the grounds that a man in his position must demonstrate civility.

Speaking of Shafting the People who Teach Your Kids: Providence just sent lay-off notices to each and every teacher. They will decide later who actually gets the axe. Way to promote morale! And just a reminder, the average teacher in Wisconsin makes less than the Wisconsin median income.

Your Insurance Company Believes in Global Climate Change: Because 2010 was one of the worst years for climate disasters ever! That would include things like storms. Oh, and I sure hope those of you in San Francisco enjoy the expected snow.

Too Big to Fail is Too Big to Exist: Seriously, even people from the Fed say so.

Making the Situation Worse: Banks are moving branches from poor neighborhoods to wealthy ones — despite laws requiring them to serve the entire community. In this vacuum, payday lenders and check cashing businesses spring up out of need. And did you know that one in nine banks is in danger of collapse?

Some People Have Never Heard of the First Amendment: Some people think you can outlaw “shariah.”

Who Knew: It turns out Americans like having clean air and water.

Priceless: It turns out you can download sheet music of the classics for free. Mozart’s copyright rights are long since expired.

Truth in Comics: Drew and Bors.

Can we Stop Calling it the Party of Lincoln?: It turns out President Lincoln would disagree with almost everything the current Republican party stands for.

They Really Would Prefer All Women were Pregnant: No word on whether they think we should be allowed to wear shoes.

Plastic Tubes and Pots and Pans, Bits and Pieces: Kids need to do more science.

Batshit Crazy: Qaddafi.

The Only Evidence that I am “Moderate”: I’m clearly somewhere between these two crazy extremes. Honestly, I think of myself as left of center. You know I think that the banks are the root cause of much of our current economic woes, but it would be childish to assert that “Wall Street causes all bad things.”

Placebo: Dogs just want to please their masters. That’s why drug sniffing dogs only have an accuracy rate of 44%. That rate drops to 27% when the person in question is Hispanic.

Lily the Pink: Or, Who Knew Moldovans Drank So Much?

Advice for Democrats: Stop using the Republican’s terminology! I want to scream every time i hear one of you talk about the “death tax” or “tax reform” or “Obamacare” or “Social Security reform.” For pity sake, all these things have names that don’t admit that their way of looking at it is correct!

What Happens When This One Pops?: College textbook price bubble.

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.


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.

On One Hand We Have GDP; On the Other We Have Reality

Steve Sack

Last month we were told that “Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 1.6 percent in the second quarter of 2010, (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 3.7 percent.” Sure it did. The government says so and they would surely never tell us something that wasn’t true!!

Meanwhile, in Realityland, the FDIC took over 6 banks Friday afternoon. Canadian news sources are writing about the decline and coming fall of the United States as a “superpower.” This week we learned that the poverty rate rose to a 15 year high, with a 51 year high in the number of people actually living in poverty, 3,800,000 more than last year, including just under 1 in every 5 children who contrary to what some people think have no control over their circumstances.  Despite the passage of a new health insurance reform bill, the number of people with health insurance dropped for the first time ever. The net worth of Americans has dropped roughly $12,300,000,000,000 since 2007. The small businesses that are vital to creating jobs both now and in future decades can’t get loans, and the new law that was supposed to “help small businesses” will likely do nothing of the sort. Big businesses are hoarding cash. Some people are calling it a “lost decade.”

Meanwhile millionaires are whining about the very idea that they might have to pay more taxes (when they aren’t screaming about the federal budget deficit) and admitting that they have had illegal immigrants working in their homes (rather than hire an unemployed American).

And the experts wonder why more Americans think a “third party” might be just the thing we need.

Next time, unless I am otherwise distracted, The BAMTOR Principle.

In Closing: let’s hear it for Elizabeth Warren!; “that guy who agrees with me is an expert, that other guy who doesn’t is a quack”; Senator Reid mad at Republicans blocking food safety reforms; “Sorry soldier, you’re too fat for this exercise program”; new rules to make it harder for banks to hide debt (like that will stop them).

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.