Iraq Libya Bush Obama Apples Oranges Fruit and War (and footnotes regarding freedom [x])

So it looks like we are at war again. 

Or in an unusual style I should say “we” [1] are at “war”[2] again [3].


[1] We, the United Nations, of which I, as a United States citizen, am kinda a member. 

[2] It’s more of a humanitarian effort cloaked in war robes.  Well, let’s not cut dice here…what do we call this?  I think using “war”, flat out, is a bit extreme, especially referring to only the U.S. and Libya, and forgetting Europe and the Arab League, all of which are part of this…action.  This is a different type of thing [7], and I prefer it much to the other.[4]

[3] The U.N. is also intervening in other places….link…that needs to be updated…[5] 

[4] Iraq.  This is not the same thing as Iraq.  This is not a year of build-up, a parade of fake evidence, a cascade of fear-mongering, 500,000 300,000 (after Rummy got a hold of it) troops, multiple fleets, U.S. tanks rolling across the sand…this is just not the same thing.   This is a place called Libya.[6] 

[5] It’s Wikipedia, do it yourself.

[6] Libya.  It’s right here.  Between Egypt and Tunisia.   You might think, hey, wait, it’s barely between Egypt and Tunisia.  Well…yea…it does hang down a bit.  You remember hearing about the vastness of the Sahara Desert?  Yea…that’s what’s hanging there. “Libya” the piece of land, is better understood as the trade route by the Mediterranean connecting Egypt and Tunisia.  Note the bright line in the same place here, right along the sea.  Benghazi, the city that Kwudaffee [sp], was about to destroy, is right on that curveback part of the Med, where you can take a shortcut over sea.

The Tunisian people, just rose up,  and overthrew their authoritarian dictator.

The Egyptian people followed suit, rose up, and the overthrew their authoritarian dictator.

The Libyan people rose up, and got bombed and sniped and who knows what else.

[7] This “action” as I mentioned, falls into what I consider the “just war” category.  It is war based on justice.  Which, in pretty much every case, calls for a great deal of restraint, which we have shown in this case.

I am greatly saddened in this regard by Iraq.  On the one hand, great, I’m very glad that everyone now (welcome to the club, Republicans) is concerned about the cost and validity [8] of war.   I think Iraq re-taught that lesson to a lot of people.   On the other hand, I think that lesson came with it the somewhat cynical notion that all use of force, particularly by the United States, is “war” of the same caliber and just-ness as the one in Iraq.

They aren’t.  That’s the entire point of “just war” theory.  The notion that there is a time to unleash the Hogs. [8]

 [8] The President of the United States through the War Power Act of 1973 gets to do so when, and I quote…

SEC. 2. (c) The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

That (2) up there, in this case, is the U.N. Security Countil resolution, adopted 10-0 by that body.  The U.S. is a signatory to the U.N. treaty, so here comes the Constitution..

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Emphasis mine.  BTW, we have veto power in the U.N., so it’s not like “they” could ever order us to attack anyone we didn’t want to.   So that’s how the President “gets” to do this.  When somebody takes a shot at us, Congress tells him to, one of our treaties authorizes it (i.e. an attack on a NATO ally), or if he’s feelin’ really dirrty, whenever he wants.   Here’s the rub…

It is important to note that since the War Powers Resolution’s enactment, over President Nixon’s veto in 1973, every President has taken the position that it is an unconstitutional infringement by the Congress on the President’s authority as Commander-in-Chief. The courts have not directly addressed this question.

Remember folks, the President controls the Army, the Congress controls the purse strings.  That *is* the check and balance.  The rest is largely show and politics (and we get to vote out either next time ’round).    Congress has told itself it can cut off fuding after 60 (or 90) days.   It takes Congress a lot longer to do anything in most cases, hence the wiggle room written into pretty much every law concerning this stuff (if you read the law technically, simultaneously assassinating every member of Congress in an inconspicuous manner would make it impossible for the U.S. to ever strike back, as it violates none of the rules specifically listed in [8 – Sec.2.(c)(3)].)

All that being said, comparing this entire situation, from start to [current], isn’t  anything like Iraq.  If, perhaps, the people of Afghanistan had risen up and overthrown the Taliban, and the people of Iran has risen up and overthrown their Theocracy (as they’ve tried a couple times), and the people of Iraq rose up…and got gunned down by Saddam Hussein…then…perhaps then, we’d be talking about the same thing (at least it would be closer goegraphically and geo-politically.)   

Hindsight gives us this insight, for if Iraq had been the just war it was claimed, we would have a) found the WMD, b) been welcomed and c) the mass killing would have stopped by now.  We didn’t, they weren’t, and they haven’t.  We’ll know this about Libya much sooner [it won’t take 3 years for everyone to notice that if it’s going to fester for another 1o], but as it stands one can’t say the rest.

Iraq was spoiled from the start, to use it as a template for judging all war is folly.   Here, we seem currently and to me at least, to be on the righteous path.   A priest should not stand by and watch a slaughter he could stop with little effort, I daresay I don’t understand how a President could either.  

In this sense the apples and oranges can be compared on their own merits and not just lumped into that big basket of fruit called “war”.

[x] It ain’t free, but it is very much worth fighting for.  Like oil.  Which, like freedom, makes life flow much more smoothly.   Take that as you will.   If the right wants to take up the “war for oil” mantra, things will go uber-bizaroo and Trump might actually win (and have an army to fire people with).

[we’ll see how long this goes on.  Obama doesn’t seem to get into fights unless he knows he’s going to win, and he pulled the trigger here just about as soon as the i’s were crossed and t’s dotted.

Late Friday Link Dump 3/25 (Turned into Intellgient Design Slam, Soon to be Illegal in Texas)

Couple quick ones to start off with…the Don’t Make Us Pay stuff is getting more exposure.  Here they go with “dazzling hypocrisy” and include some samples of the banner ads.   Over here they just call it “dishonesty“.   Both of those are moving up the search results lists, and this should help.

Speaking of the Fed and Big Banks, the Fed recently rejected a couple plans for dividend pay-outs.   The third comment (or so) there nails the reason why.. B of A still has a bunch of stuff on their books that nobody knows the value of, and the Fed is taking the safe route (having finally been burned massively by taking banks’ word for it).

A couple beautiful things before we get to the politics…a nice real-time view of huge charged-particle releases in the upper atmosphere and a slightly accelerated version of the stuff from last week [news story about the process].

Next we have the curiously accurate English sentence of ‘Newt deletes tweets‘.   I guess when you get hammered for such obvious hypocrisy, you have to do some serious white-washing before blatant hypocrisy becomes endemic to your campaign.   To be sure, this is the guy who used his overwhelming love of country as a rationalization for infidelity (yea, for reals), so I don’t doubt his wriggliness and this latest huge, obvious, contemporary, topical flip-flop won’t deter his most fervent supporters (if any ever materialize).

Steve Inskeep points out how NPR has an obvious liberal bias, citing their propensity to put themselves in harm’s way in order to accurately report on world events (I guess the alternative or “conservative” news gathering method is to sit in a studio and opine on the news gathered by others, while simultaneously slamming them for bias.)

Keep slamming hispanics, RepublicansIt’s political genius, I tells ya.

Keep slamming science, RepublicansREALLY SLAM THAT SHIT!!! It’s political genius, I tells ya.

Here is how stupid the guy who put this bill together is.  Yes, saying that might very well be soon against the law in Texas (it’s called “small government” or as it used to be known “Big Brother”).

Mother Jones: Are you a creationist?

Rep. Bill Zedler of Arlington [who authored the bill]: Evolutionists will go “Oh, it just happened by chance.” Today we know that’s false  [Ed noteYes, we know your understanding of evolution is false.  “It happened by chance” is not in any way, shape, or form, equal to evolutionary theory.  This is why these idiots hate evolution, they have no idea what it actually is.].

Today we know that even a single-celled organism is hugely complex. When was the last time we’ve seen someone go into a windstorm or a tornado or any other kind of natural disaster, and say “Guess what? That windstorm just created a watch.” [Ed Note: The “watch” is a reference to one and only “thought experiment” associated with “proving” Intelligent Design.   It goes thusly; break a watch into a bunch of pieces (or take a bunch of watch pieces), put them in the clothes dryer (or something else to randomly shake them up), turn the dryer on and leave it for an arbitrary amount of time.  Did the watch randomly re-assemble?  No.  Therefore evolution is false.   And yes, that is *all* the experiments behind the movement.]

MJ: Are you saying a windstorm is like the Big Bang?

BZ: It has to do with things occurring by chance. [Ed note: The “windstorm” is the clothes dryer in his thought example.]

MJ: Ok. [Long pause]. Is a windstorm analogous to a genetic mutation?

BZ: Well, not really. I don’t want to go that far. [Ed note: He can’t go that far as this is now beyond his own understanding of what he just said.   The ID “thought experiment” is not even an accurate metaphor for any of the well understood functions of evolution.]  Let me put it to you this way: When we talk about people with faith, there is no greater faith than that life began by chance [Ed note: This is where creationists fail horribly.  Two reasons.  First is the total fail of thinking that evolution theory is the same thing as “chance”.  Second, folks like this think people who understand evolutionary theory do so only on faith, not on the mountains and mountains of data that support and, over the year, have expanded the theory], with the amount of knowledge that we know now.

MJ: I thought people doing work on the science of evolution typically don’t weigh in on what caused the beginning of life.

BZ: I wonder why? [Ed noteEssentially because most of evolutionary theory deals with how existing life changes and adapts.  There is also a reluctance, in actual science, to draw big conclusions when one doesn’t have sufficient big data to support them.  Current frontrunners for where life came from originally, IMHO, include abiogenesis, and, along a similar vein, panspermia. These are, at most, small subsets of evolutionary theory, and ones where getting good data is hard as hell (but not impossible, we just have to scoop dust from comets to do it).

MJ: They say they don’t know the answer.

BZ: If somebody does decide to weigh in, why should they be discriminated against? [Ed note: Because if they “weigh in” on a big scientific question, with no data, no experiments, and no possibility of falsification, it ain’t science.]

MJ: Because they don’t have the scientific evidence to substantiate their views.

BZ: The debate ought to be: “How did it happen?” But we’re not gonna allow that one to be brought up! I don’t think they oughta be thrown off campus if they come up with it. [Ed noteThis is the really sad part, and where I’ll leave this…”the debate out to be”…is a political statement, not a scientific one.  This whole charade is about forcing religion*, through politics, into science.   This is just about the lowest of the low, as far as the intellectual honesty scales go.

* For those that are yet unaware, “Intelligent Design” is a re-branding of creationism, with the added bells and dog-whistle “watch” thought experiment I mentioned previously. Read this judge’s opinion for the full examination of this association.]

[you can read the rest here]

[here’s the text of the bill PDF]

BTW, and as a final note on this….the last sentence of the bill includes this phrase…”or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.”

This, as all pastafarians know, is a direct reference to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.   FSM was originally conceived (revealed) to be the actual creator a few years ago when it became clear that the physical evidence that FSM created everything was equal to the physical evidence that any other being/entity create everything.

If this bill passes….I’m pretty sure it’s going to be time to start teaching this FSM theory to everyone, and suing every private school that discriminate against me for trying to teach it by not hiring me to teach it.

Here we go again: GOP criticizes Obama inaction on Syria

Here we go again: GOP criticizes Obama inaction on Syria | The Cable.

Two GOP senators opened another line of criticism of President Barack Obama‘s approach to the Middle East on Thursday, this time calling on the administration to more strongly criticize the Syrian government for its deadly crackdown on popular demonstrations and begin engaging the Syrian opposition.

Government violence against protesters in Syria is escalating, with security forces reportedly killing 15 people on Wednesday during a raid on a mosque in the southern city of Deraa. Some reports put the night’s death toll at 37 or more. The State Department put out a statement condemning the deaths and issued a 90-day travel alert on Thursday that warned Americans about the violence surrounding the protests.

Take a deep breath before you read this next part, and sit down if your hypocrisy meter exploding makes you dizzy…

“The Syrian people must know that the United States stands with them against the brutal Assad regime.  We can ill afford another timid embrace of a democratic uprising,” the senators said in a Thursday statement. “We urge the President, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Ford to publicly condemn the murders committed by the Assad dictatorship and to demonstrate their support for the Syrian people.”

By invoking Ambassador Robert Ford, Kyl and Kirk are calling for the administration to make good on its argument that the United States needed an ambassador in Damascus to have maximum influence with the Syrian government. Kyl and others Republicans held up the Ford nomination for 10 months because they saw the appointment of any ambassador as a reward to the Syrian regime, and they wanted the administration to more clearly spell out its Syria policy.

The president used a recess appointment for Ford to circumvent the Senate confirmation process. Kyl and Kirk now want Ford to use his perch to condemn the Syrian regime’s crackdown.

“Ambassador Ford should begin a sustained campaign of outreach from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus to the Syrian opposition movement,” they said.

[full story]

So now that they gameplan is laid out (and Newt probably did it best, with a complete turnabout in two weeks time), here’s round 2….

BTW, did you catch that overload…stall the guy getting appointed, complain how the President did it, then quickly turn around and demand he be more effective at his job, which now seems to have turned from Ambassador to active Revolutionary.

I doubt Obama will do much on Syria at this point.  The international support won’t be there as quick, nor as obvious, and it won’t be a case where someone who was working toward democracy recently (Qadaffy [sp] and his brood  had been playing relatively nice since 2003) suffered such a dramatic backlash into violent oppression.

People ask a lot, “why not doing everything all the time?”  I really hope this isn’t a serious question, or that people realize there are very good and simple answers to it (the question is not the rhetorical genius many who use it think it is).  There are always limits on what one can do and what one can accomplish and what resources are on hand to accomplish it and how much time one has to work with.

In the Libya case, it seems pretty evident that the committment/reward ratio is relatively high (one would this point it appears that way…the rebels want democracy badly enough to fight and die for it and Khaddaffi’s [sp] forces can be stopped with little risk).  In Syria it looks far more like the Iraq version of the equation, requiring a much larger committment against a fully armed and ready foe, not a country already torn asunder by a people’s movement.

We’ll see how it plays out, but if these guys really want to go to war with Syria, how about playing it straight and sticking to your guns, if you will, for more than a fortnight?

Google/Sprint team up vs. AT&T/Everything

This is a good one, as it can be a potential game-changer in a business that needs some serious game changing.

Google announced the news, hot on the heels of a Sprint Nexus S 4G rumor, in a blog posting that starts by putting the move in context: “Over time we’ve worked to bring an integrated Google Voice experience to your mobile device by building mobile apps, introducing Google Voice Lite, and most recently number porting. But we felt that ultimately, the most simple solution would be to partner with carriers to seamlessly integrate Google Voice with your mobile phone.”

Then Google revealed the killer news: “Today we’d like to share that we’ve teamed up with Sprint to do just that.”

How can this be? Existing cell phone operators make money by owning (some may say “nickel and dime-ing”) the entire space that their consumers operate in in terms of mobile communications: They own the cell towers, they organize how your phone calls get connected, they charge you for SMSs (which effectively cost them nothing, and return huge profits), they tell you when peak call rates apply, they decide how much you’ll pay and how much mobile data you can access at what speed. AT&T is even getting clever right now with people who jailbreak their iPhone to sidestep an exorbitant “tethering” fee that’s incurred if you want to use your officially un-jailbroken iPhone with its new Wi-Fi hotspot powers.

Google’s Voice system threatens this entire business ecosystem.

via Sprint Embraces Google Voice | Fast Company.

GV is a good step as we move from the POTS (plain old telephone system) into a largely IP based one, and get the cost savings, efficiency, and innovation that come along with it.    Being able to make “phone” calls on your [insert mobile device name here] should be trivial as long as you have decent bandwidth.


Firefox 4 takes off as Microsoft blames and slams their own OS (XP) for their fail

The s0-called “browser” war heated up again, with the release of Firefox 4 and IE 9.   So far Firefox is blowing IE out of the water, and for a very good reason (bolded below)…

Firefox, in contrast, continues to support Windows XP. Mozilla knew coming in that it would have a built-in advantage, based on Microsoft’s choice to support only the newer Windows Vista and 7.

“That’s a decision that they get to make, but it sure did surprise us, because the best metrics that we’ve got say 40 to 50 percent of the web is still on XP. That’s too big for us to just leave them behind,” said Johnathan Nightingale, the Firefox engineering director, in a recent interview.

Why no IE9 on XP? Microsoft’s reasoning is that browsers “should require the modern graphics and security infrastructure that have come along since 2001.” The company says in a statement that “Internet Explorer 9 is intended to be run on a modern operating system in order to build on the latest hardware and operating system innovations.”

via Technolog – Firefox 4 soars, thanks to Microsoft’s Luddite customers.

Got that?  XP is not a modern operating system, with modern graphics or security infrastructure…which is true…when running IE.

Running Firefox or Chrome on XP is not only faster than IE, but much, much safer.    As a long-time MS OS user, there has been no real reason for me to upgrade from a patched and fully functional XP box.

Bad juju on MS for making a silly decision, with even worse logic behind it.

SCOTUS Rules *Against* Corporate Rights (But preserves market shenannigan)

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday favored investors seeking to sue companies for failing to reveal adverse information about their products in a 9-0 ruling against a drug company that did not disclose its cold medicine was linked to a loss of smell.

The case involved Matrixx Initiatives and its over-the-counter Zicam Cold Remedy, which had been sold as a nasal spray and gel, and, according to the high court, had accounted for about 70% of Matrixx’s sales.

via Court sides with investors on disclosing drug reactions –

I know, I know, I was pretty flabbergasted too.  So now investors can sue to get information about companies are hiding, corporations do not have a right to “personal privacy”, and drug companies can continue to pay generic manufacturers not to compete against their blockbuster drugs.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court let stand a ruling that drug companies can pay rivals to delay production of generic drugs without violating federal antitrust laws.

The justices refused to review a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the dismissal of a legal challenge to a deal between Bayer AG and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s Barr Laboratories. Bayer paid Barr to prevent it from bringing to market a version of the antibiotic drug Cipro.


The Federal Trade Commission has opposed such deals, saying they violate antitrust law and cost consumers an estimated $3.5 billion a year in higher prescription drug prices. It has supported legislation pending in Congress to prohibit such settlements, which it says have increased in recent years.

[full blurb]

So it looks like two steps forward and one step back.   I had always figured that competition from generics couple with the expiration of patent protection and mixing in twenty years would factor heavily in solving the “medicare crisis” (which is largely based on cost, which is increasingly coming from drugs).   Generics usually cost a small fraction of what the name brand drugs do.

Now the SCOTUS has essentially put its blessing on the idea that you can pay people not to compete with you…and that it’s not an anti-trust violation, despite the fact that a patent is itself a government approved monopoly (pretty much by definition).

I was hoping to see this business practice end  (since it seems very reminiscent of organized crime), but now I’d expect it to expand.

More Republicans doubt Obama’s Every Move

(Reuters) – A growing number of Republicans are criticizing President Barack Obama for failing to lay out a clear plan on Libya and mounting costly military operations at a time when America’s budget deficit is gaping.

Republicans largely backed Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan. But senior party figures including House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are questioning the Libya air assaults.

via More Republicans doubt Obama’s Libya action | Reuters.

Personally I’m surprised it took them this long into the news cycle.  I mean, that’s like nearly 24 hours.

Ros-Lehtinen expressed concern that Obama has not yet clearly defined for the American people what vital U.S. national security interests are at stake in Libya.

Good point.  I mean…WTF…seriously people??   We couldn’t celebrate Egypt freeing herself, for fear of a group that haunts Glenn Beck’s “happy” nightmares, and now we can’t even help out as a guy we’ve fenced with for 20 years opens fire on his own people….and they stand up and fire back?

C’mon folks.   Can we give this one a week before someone drops the quagmire bomb?   (I’m guessing no…the Palin/Bachmann rhetorical multiplier is in effect)

Regardless….glad the U.N. was able to pull the trigger…not sure how much it will really do.  Air power doesn’t win wars, it can execute or stop mass genocide pretty good, but a scalpal, a sword, and a spear it is not.   We  can’t really offer air support to a rebel offensive, so the lack of Kwadaphi’s [sp] air power doesn’t mean all that much to his defense.

Waiting him out isn’t very politically tenable either.    I’m PDS (pretty damn sure) Obama is going to do the wise thing here and hand this one off to someone in Europe, quickly.  The derp will rise anyway, but it will be less than if he tries to take over command personally (not his style at all, and this isn’t really our fight…Europe needs Libyan oil a lot more than we do.).

I don’t expect Kharfaldi [sp] to last nearly as long as S. Hussein.

PR Firm Fights Back, Calls RPN an A-Hole: Don’t Make Us Pay : Chapter 2

This started back here. {and continued here} You can read the back story on the who and the what there.

What happened since then…well…your humble host here on RPN is somewhat of a geek.    He’s pretty good with computers and what-not.   One of his part-time gigs, in college…now remember…this was back in the late 90’s…was doing what came to be called “SEO” for a small, very forward thinking firm.   It’s the concept of making certain websites appeal to search engines for certain search terms.    A couple years later, I blogged about a new search engine Google (this was right after a post about that new music search tool…Napster).  Later “SEO” and google became intertwined as a billion-dollar industry grew up around the practice.   Many of them PR firms…

Now…considering that RPN is something of an anti-PR firm, this is going to be a fun fight, should it continue.   Currently that first post I linked to above and the video which accompany it are the first non-b.s. pages (i.e. ones not done by the astro-turfing campaign) returned for search for their chosen astro-term on the bing/yahoo and the google respectively.  Note to others: bing/yahoo link to my blog post, google finds the youtube video a more compelling search result, take that with a ‘no evil’ grain of salt, if you will.

Which brings us to the whole “A-Hole” thing I mentioned in the title.   It’s a widely known fact that “random disinterested persons” on the internets are rarely that.  Especially on obscure blogs only the most enlightened of humans are barely aware of, if that.   But when one pops right up in the middle of the ointment like a nasty fly, things like this pop up to neutralize it.

Comment by Jack on March 21, 2011 6:20 pmRPN, you’re an a-hole. It doesn’t matter WHO is sponsoring the pushback. Eliminating the ability for credit card providers to charge decent rates on debit and credit card networks will result in rippling surcharges for consumers. Whether or not credit networks are making billions, they will always be seeking to increase their profits. If you cut their ability in one arena, they will seek to make it back in some other area, like the elimination of free checking (mostly at smaller banks). So basically, it’s governmental interference in a place where it’s not needed. The only “nutjob” in this arena is you.

Ouch, that one hurts “Jack”.   Curious points you’ve made here.  They all seem eerily similar to what the official Don’t Make Us Pay website says.

Let’s analyze this in detail, like I learned how back in the day (I’m like a Jedi that went Dark…only in the PR/Advertising world, those roles are reversed).

 It doesn’t matter WHO is sponsoring the pushback.

Yes, it does quite a bit.  ESPECIALLY when the word “us” is in the title.  Most PR campaigns want to set up an “us vs. them” dynamic, because “we” are always the good guys  (psychologically).

Eliminating the ability for credit card providers to charge decent rates on debit and credit card networks will result in rippling surcharges for consumers.

One PR firm’s “decent rates” are one RPN’s “obscene usury”.  How does it makes any sense at all to charge the same PERCENTAGE of a debit card transaction that is completely digital when the only difference between a $1,000 charge and $10 charge is the number of bits?   Yet nowadays, one of those nets the banks $10 and the other one $0.10.

That makes no sense.   Banks needs to play fair.  Not only that, but the current rates currently result in a “rippling surcharge for consumers” of about $450/family year, that proverbial “dollar a day”.   This is expected to double in the next five years as a rapidly increasing percentage of our economy goes digital, and people only want to spend their own money (debit) and not someone else’s (credit) money (a big and very important distinction).

“Rippling surcharges” will now reflect something close to the actual services offered by the banks.  Banks shouldn’t be trying to make billions of dollars just for giving you access to your own money.  That’s what they do as a bank, they aren’t a bank if they don’t do that.   Banks should be making money by making good loans, and good investments.   This is like a supermarket charging you more for charging you, having nothing to do with the service they actually offering (selling food/loans).  

 Whether or not credit networks are making billions, they will always be seeking to increase their profits.

Well, they currently are…making billions.  About $18 of them a year…in pure profit, just by charging people three times as much as it costs to access their own money.   Why do you think they keep paying out those huge bonuses?   They can lose a billion dollars a month on risky investments and still make a yearly profit.   Why do you think they were so willing to risk it all?   They had guaranteed profit.   A 1-2% tax on people accessing their own money.

If you cut their ability in one arena, they will seek to make it back in some other area, like the elimination of free checking (mostly at smaller banks).

It’s called “competition”.   Businesses offer varying services, and charge for them.   Giving you access to your own money is not a service banks should be charging for.  It’s highway robbery.  

So basically, it’s governmental interference in a place where it’s not needed.

No, this is “governmental interference*” precisely where it is needed.  As I’ll mention a third time, making billions of dollars by charging people to access their own money is not a sound, fair, or hopefully very soon legal practice.

* for those technical wonks, the Frank/Dodd Financial Reform Bill included a clause that ordered the Fed (of Ron Paul “End the Fed” fame) to set these debit interchange rates to something reasonable.  Seems some folks wanted banks to stop ripping them off, so that’s how it technically works.  BTW, the Fed also gives these same banks large loans from time to time, so they follow the rules, when told to do so.

Extra-Terrestrial Rain Clouds Observed on Titan

In 2006, Jonathan Mitchell and his team published a model for Titan’s methane clouds in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. His model predicted that tropical rainfall could occur after equinox, when the intertropical convergence zone passes over the equatorial region. The recent report in Science, by Elizabeth Turtle and her team, corroborates Mitchell’s model with observational evidence.

The Cassini’s Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) detected low-latitude clouds that persisted for several weeks in the equatorial region of Titan on April 2008 and September 27, 2010. In October 2010, Cassini’s ISS observed a darkening of greater than 10 percent in areas spanning roughly 510,000 square kilometers. The majority of the darkened areas lasted only until October 29, 2010, after which they reverted back to their original brightness.

via What do April showers on Titan bring?.

Glad to see science doing its prediction thing accurately on the climate of another planet.   Really sad to see that so many people think it’s impossible to do here.

CEOs tell Arizona; “Your constant derp is hurting business”

Dozens of major Arizona employers are urging state lawmakers to not pass additional legislation targeting illegal immigration, saying it would damage the economy and tourism industry.

document The CEOs’ letter to Russell Pearce

A letter signed by CEOs of major employers and several business and civic groups says Arizona should be pushing for federal action on immigration and border issues.

via CEOs urge Arizona to forgo immigration measures.

This is pretty much exactly what I predicted would happen. When you have a bunch of old white people (the Tea Party) pushing for harsher and harsher legislation against young brown people, folks who actually run the numbers realize something….old people don’t contribute much to the economy (although they do take quite a bit) …

Federal spending on the average person 65 or older will rise from nearly $17,700 in 2000 to more than $21,100 in 2010 (in constant dollars, which exclude the effects of inflation).

Federal spending per child will increase from about $2,100 in 2000 to about $2,500 in 2010 (or $2,500 and $3,000, respectively, if spending on parents that is solely attributable to having children is included).

[s0urce pdf]

The sad thing about this (for those who thought it was nice to see more pushback against the idiocy) is that the Chamber of Commerce is only asking Arizona to step back because the race-based wing of the Republican party is already stepping up to the plate and, literally, re-defining what makes a human an American.

We agree with you that our borders must be protected first, and now. We also believe that market-driven immigration policies can and should be developed by the federal government that will sustain America’s status as a magnet for the world’s most talented and hard-working people and preserve our ability to compete in the global economy.

If the Legislature believes it is worthwhile to debate the question of citizenship, we believe that debate is best held in the U.S. Congress. Already, Senators David Vitter of Louisiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky have introduced legislation aimed at amending the 14th Amendment to deny “birthright citizenship” to those born to individuals living in the U.S. illegally. Iowa Rep. Steve King has introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House.

[full letter from the CEOs]

Ultimately though, young brown people are cute, cuddly, the future, and people don’t like to see them tread upon (especially old rich brown people).  I see this ending pretty much one way, it’s just a matter of how much kicking and screaming goes along with it.

House votes to Increase Ignorance, Kill NPR (Bonus: We Still Pay for NASCAR)

The bill, passed 228-192 along mainly partisan lines, would bar federal funding of NPR and prohibit local public stations from using federal money to pay NPR dues and buy its programs. The prospects of support in the Democratic-controlled Senate are slim. Seven Republicans broke ranks to vote against the bill.

Other Republicans also denied that the measure was a vendetta against NPR…

[then quickly made themselves out to be hypocrites]

“Nobody’s on a rampage,” said Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who also asked “why should we allow taxpayer dollars to be used to advocate one ideology?”

via House votes to cut off federal funding for National Public Radio – The Washington Post.

Can we play “b.s. assumptions with Eric Cantor?   Yes we can.

For those of you that don’t know, just because you don’t bash on gay marriage, doesn’t mean you are biased.  It means you aren’t.

Just because you report on what the vast majority of scientists believe, it doesn’t mean you are biased.  It means you aren’t.

When you fire people who air their personal biases on national media, it doesn’t mean you are biased.  It means you aren’t.

When you consistently are shown to inform people about facts, and disabuse false notions, it doesn’t mean you are biased.  It means you aren’t.

But enough about that, the real reason Republicans hate NPR?

An informed populace is bad for them.

Hard to lie to boring people

UPDATE:  Here’s a bit more on this, and specifically targets the partisan hypocrisy here…

By eliminating the possibility of amendments, party leadership limits debate and ensures a straight up-or-down vote.

Democrats on the panel objected to a “rush to judgment” on NPR, especially after a failure to hold hearings on the justification and consequences of the ban. “This is a dangerous road we’re going down,” said Rep. James McGovern (D) of Massachusetts, a member of the Rules Committee. “This has become an ideological battle to the Republican Party. Going down this road will have a chilling impact on news organizations.”

To make the point, Congressman McGovern proposed banning federal advertising dollars from being spent on the Fox News network. “If you’re saying we should defund NPR because some people might not agree with the programming, what’s wrong with the idea that I don’t want my tax dollars to go to advertising on stations I don’t agree with?” he added. His proposal failed.

Just to be clear, it’s perfectly all right to spend federal money buying ads on private for-profit “news” networks, but horribly, horribly wrong to use that same money to help produce world-class news in a non-profit environment.

UPDATE2:  Wanted to put another one up here...just in case anyone thought this latest round of targeted budget cuts is anything other than partisan-based vendettas.

The U.S. House voted Friday against an amendment that would have banned military sponsorship of NASCAR teams, but the Minnesota congresswoman who introduced it vowed to continue fighting taxpayer-funded racing.

The amendment lost 281-148. Rep. Betty McCollum ( D-Minn.), who sponsored it, did not vote because she was traveling to the Middle East on government business. Her office, though, issued a statement that she “intends to introduce legislation to prohibit taxpayer funds from being used for sponsorship of race cars, dragsters, Indy cars, and motorcycle racing.”

– The U.S. Army pays $7.5 million to sponsor Ryan Newman’s team.

– The National Guard pays about $20 million in sponsorship fees – down 35 percent from last year – to be with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team.

– The U.S. Air Force pays $1.6 million in sponsorship fees to be with AJ Allmendinger’s team.

Tiger Blood vs. Pitbull With Lipstick: Who Wins…

In the totally improbable yet amusing match-up, Palin takes only 36 percent of independents to [Charlie Sheen’s] 41 percent, according to a Public Policy Polling survey out Thursday.

Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of Republicans — 84 percent — would choose Palin over Sheen if given the choice. But the poll underscores just how polarizing Palin has become, as she now sports astonishingly high negatives in most surveys.

President Barack Obama also has polarizing numbers, but would still swamp Sheen 57 percent to 22 percent among independents.

via Poll shows Charlie Sheen over Sarah Palin: Winning, duh! – Andy Barr –

I was *almost* hoping Palin would stick around long enough to make for some great lulz during the primaries, but now it looks like even that isn’t going to happen.