Iraq records huge rise in birth defects, the Cost of War, Continued….

It played unwilling host to one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war. Fallujahs homes and businesses were left shattered; hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed. Its residents changed the name of their “City of Mosques” to “the polluted city” after the United States launched two massive military campaigns eight years ago. Now, one month before the World Health Organisation reveals its view on the legacy of the two battles for the town, a new study reports a “staggering rise” in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived in the aftermath of the war.High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiralling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded. Even more disturbingly, they appear to be occurring at an increasing rate in children born in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

via Iraq records huge rise in birth defects – Health News – Health & Families – The Independent.

There is “compelling evidence” to link the increased numbers of defects and miscarriages to military assaults, says Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the lead authors of the report and an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Similar defects have been found among children born in Basra after British troops invaded, according to the new research.

US marines first bombarded Fallujah in April 2004 after four employees from the American security company Blackwater were killed, their bodies burned and dragged through the street, with two of the corpses left hanging from a bridge. Seven months later, the marines stormed the city for a second time, using some of the heaviest US air strikes deployed in Iraq. American forces later admitted that they had used white phosphorus shells, although they never admitted to using depleted uranium, which has been linked to high rates of cancer and birth defects.

The Iraq War happened.  Even when many in this country can’t remember how Wall Street destroyed the economy four years ago and are now poised to vote for a Wall Street Tycoon, err, “Job Creator, we also forget about the nearly decade long occupation of Iraq.   There’s going to be more to this story.  I’ll write about it from time to time, but if anyone wants to dedicate their lives to solving a real and horrid problem…this is a good one.

You can also continue to advocate against offensive, BASED-ON-UTTER-BULLSHIT WARS!!

The problems they cause tend to last for generations.  Generations.

If you’re wondering why I fight for peace so hard, this is reason N!.

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Big Oil profits from high gas prices lead to attacks on Obama about high gas prices…sponsored by Big Oil

Fossil Fuel Industry Opens Wallet to Defeat Obama – NYTimes.com 

This year’s campaign on behalf of fossil fuels includes a surge in political contributions to Mitt Romney, attack ads questioning Mr. Obama’s clean-energy agenda, and television spots that are not overtly partisan but criticize administration actions like new air pollution rules and the delay of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

“Since Obama became president, gas prices have nearly doubled,” said one advertisement by the American Energy Alliance, a group financed in part by oil executives. “Tell Obama we can’t afford his failing energy policies.”

Wasn’t Citizens United AWESOME?

Now our most powerful and wealthy corporate “people” can dominate the political landscape in a truly Randian paradise. We’re almost there, just another few years of tax cuts, attacks on unions, and a few more years of high gas prices and the future residents of Galt’s Gulch will finally have the firm grasp on the reins of power they’ve always known they should have.

 

GOP Platform Chair: Rape (a.k.a a “method of conception”) A ‘Detail’ In The Abortion Debate

McDonnell: We’re affirming that we’re a pro-life party.The details certainly are left to Congress and, ultimately, to the states and the people on how they ratify such an amendment. More importantly, what they do at the state level.

Stephanapoulous: So is the party for a rape exception or not?

McDonnell: The party didn’t make any judgment on that. It’s a general proposition to say we support human life. The rest of the details are up to the states and the people respectively, George. That’s simply not covered.

via GOP Platform Chair: Rape A ‘Detail’ In The Abortion Debate | ThinkProgress.

On top of that we also get this wonderful euphemism for rape from none other than Paul Ryan.

Here’s the problem…Republicans want to somehow claim that giving into religious extremists on birth control, outlawing all abortion (even in the case of “illegitimate methods of conception”), and bashing Obama’s achievements in gender equality is somehow *in support* of women, and it’s really the Democrats who are waging a “war on women”.

(As a quick aside, I find it hilarious that the champions of the annual TV-event, the “War on Christmas”, take such umbrage about the usage of the term “War on Women” to describe the methodical nature of Republican’s attempts to limit the rights and freedoms of women.  It’d be more funny if it wasn’t so blatantly hypocritical…but I guess that’s why it *is* funny…so I’m left in something of a pickle in my not-so-quick aside.)

So, yea…there you have it.  Sure, publicly Republicans denounce Todd Akin as an outlier…but the reality of the party’s platform is that it is 100% aligned with the heart of Akin’s comments; “Rape ain’t no excuse, no abortions for anyone…life for all.”

Yes, folks, for a little while in Florida this week, as bizarro universe melds with ours as religious leaders keeping secular employees from getting birth control is called “religious freedom” (as is banning the building of non-Christian places of worship), and “small government” is all about controlling what the majority of the population can and can’t do with their reproductive organs.

GOP 2012…in a nutshell…

…and should probably be in a nuthouse…but they cut funding for those too, if you haven’t been able to tell by the number of mass shootings lately.

 States have cut more than $1.6 billion in general funds from their state mental health agency budgets for mental health services since FY2009, a period during which demand for such services increased significantly. These cuts translate into loss of vital services such as housing, Assertive Community Treatment, access to psychiatric medications and crisis services.

Modest increases in state general fund mental health spending fail to compensate for the loss in federal Medicaid revenues that hit states due to reductions in federal Medicaid rates implemented at the end of June 2011. Moreover, to make up for these lost federal Medicaid revenues, states such as Arizona and Ohio have shifted state general fund mental health dollars to Medicaid recipients, leaving many non-Medicaid recipients with serious mental illness without services.

Romney revives tax discussion with admission of tax avoiding history and expertise

Romney Says Corporations Familiar With ‘Low-Tax Havens’ – Businessweek 

The newly released Bain records show that Romney took advantage of investments with the firm that achieved a low tax rate, for example, by engaging in what are known as management- fee conversions or fee waivers. Bain Capital Fund VII LP disclosed in a 2009 report that the general partner in the fund had in the past waived management fees and converted those fees into an interest in the fund called a “priority profit share.” That had the effect of turning fees that would be taxed at ordinary income rates, as high as 35 percent, into capital gains, taxed at a rate of 15 percent.

So by using this loophole he is essentially cutting his tax rate from 35% to 15%.   A 20% reduction.   Considering he made $20M last year, 15% is $3m.  35% is $7M.   So he is getting a roughly $4m/yr tax loophole.

Multiple this by 10 years, and you find the $40M he used to run for President in 2008.  You’ll also find that the U.S. ran a budget deficit this whole time, so a good portion of Mitt’s tax loophole money was replaced with borrowed from China money.

The thing about this is…it only takes 300,000 people paying that extra $4M/yr to make up our $1,200,000,000,000/yr deficit.

300,000,000 million people in the country, divided by 300,000…is the top 0.1%.  I.e. the top 10% of the top 1%.

In 2005 (seven years ago), the top 0.1% averaged nearly $1.7M each.

So while closing this loophole doesn’t completely close our budget gap in and of itself, it closes a good portion of it…and does so in a responsible manner.

Right now we are borrowing from the wealthy to pay our bills rather than taxing them.  The same folks are then turning around and using that money to “job create….” in the sense that Mitt Romney is using that money to run for President…again (he took the $17m he spent in 2008 as a loss on a personal loan to himself on his 2009 tax returns…one would assume…since he is hiding them and it makes sense to do so).

Far from being the petty thoughts of small minds, wondering how much folks like Mitt pay in taxes, and how they have avoided them in a very relevant discussion in 2012…at least if anyone knows how math works.

Paul Ryan…actually a perfect fit for Mitt on the “Blatant Hypocrisy 2012” Ticket

After repeated denials, Paul Ryan has admitted he requested stimulus cash even after sharply criticizing the program.

Ryan had denied doing so as recently as Wednesday, when he spoke to ABC’s Cincinnati affiliate, WCPO, in Ohio.

“I never asked for stimulus,” Mitt Romney’s new running mate said. “I don’t recall… so I really can’t comment on it. I opposed the stimulus because it doesn’t work, it didn’t work.”

“I’m not one [of those] people who votes for something then writes to the government to ask them to send us money. I did not request any stimulus money,” the congressman answered.

In 2009, Ryan wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis asking for stimulus money to cover costs on two energy conservation projects in his home state of Wisconsin. In the letter, Ryan said the funds would help create jobs and reduce “energy consumption” in the state. At least one of the companies received the requested cash.


Thursday, Ryan responded to the questions himself.

“After having these letters called to my attention I checked into them, and they were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled,” Ryan said in a statement. “This is why I didn’t recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that.

“Regardless, it’s clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy, and now the President is asking to do it all over again.”

via Presented With Letters, Ryan Admits Requesting Stimulus Cash – ABC News.

[all emphasis added]

So you see…despite him claiming not to have requested funds…he actually did…and despite him claiming it was  failure…it actually helped create jobs in his district.

Then…he turns around and claims he didn’t remember doing this becausehe wrote those letters a regular, concerned citizen…not as a Representative of the United States.

See…ta-da!    Issue retroactively retired.

UPDATE: As suspected…he issued these “concerned, regular, citizen” requests on Congressional letterhead.

United States Total Employment By President 1977-2012 (Misleading Statistics Lesson)

I was recently going about my daily business when I was confronted on the Facebook with the following chart…

"Reason" Magazine Net Jobs Analysis...From the Mercatus Project of George Mason University*

Taking these raw numbers without any context leaves a bit to be desired on the “providing insight” part of statistical analysis.

During the ensuing discussion, I noted a couple of things…first that 5 months remain in Obama’s first term. At the current roughly 200K-job/mo pace we are gaining, that’s another 1M on his tally.  As we’ll see in a moment, looking at *how* these numbers came about can be quite enlightening.

As noted in the charts, all raw data is provided from here.

We’re going to start with Jimmy Carter.  In the following analysis, we are calling the inaugural month the first one they are responsible for, going through December of their last year.   A quick comparison shows this to be very close to how Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center* did the original chart.

Non Farm Employment under Carter, Seasonally Adjusted

Non Farm Employment under Carter, Seasonally Adjusted, 1977-1980

From here you can see something that will be a consistent theme in the following analysis…a stagnant job market causing issues for a sitting President.  Employment peaked in March, 1980, having moving little since the previous summer.  The long, hot year and rising unemployment was too much for voters, and a change was made.

Enter the Reagan…

Total Employment Reagan, Seasonally Adjusted, 1981-1988

Total Employment Reagan, Seasonally Adjusted, 1981-1988. One can see how Reagan faced initial skepticism, but has gained long-term respect.

Here we see Carter’s “malaise” lasting well into 1983.  The lowpoint in unemployment, to Reagan’s great fortune, came late in 1982.  By the time the election rolled around in 1984, everything appeared to be on track.  Employment continued to expand throughout the rest of his term.  Then we had to pay for it, and the business cycle shifted again.

Total Employment, Bush the Elder, Seasonally Adjusted, 1989-1992

Total Employment, Bush the Elder, Seasonally Adjusted, 1989-1992. Here we see Bush the elder’s problem, employment peaking two and half years prior to the election.

Bush the Elder saw the peak of the Reagan “what’s debt?” economic expansion, and watched as nearly 2M jobs evaporated after peaking in Jun of ’90. Economic recovery in job form came only in the last few months before the 1992 election, not nearly enough to stop the new kid on the block from stealing heart and minds and electoral votes.

Next we get to *see* what the longest and largest and most stable economic expansion in U.S. history like…in bar graph form.

Total Employment, Clinton, Seasonally Adjusted, 1993-2000

Total Employment, Clinton, Seasonally Adjusted, 1993-2000. It really is pretty impressive, standing there all big and growing like that, Mr. President.

Like all the other graphs, I’ve marked the low and high point in employment during Clinton’s term. That’s how it’s done, folks.  Really can’t ask for more.  Well…maybe a bit less disgracing the Office of the President.  He did, however, get impeached for that.  Not sure if it was the peace and prosperity or the blowjob that got him impeached, but something sure made the Republicans mad.  It didn’t stick in the Senate, but did doom his VP.

Regardless, after so much peace and prosperity, we decided it was time for a change.   And oh what a change it was.

Total Employment, Bush the Lesser, Seasonally Adjusted, 2001-2008

Total Employment, Bush the Lesser, Seasonally Adjusted, 2001-2008. Bush was all over the map. First losing 3M jobs, then finding 9M building houses, then losing 4M in a year after the bust.

Oh George.  What can we do about this one.  If you want to see what a bursting real estate bubble looks like?  Click on that one.  First we see the extended era of peace end on 9/11.  Then we see the prosperity depart as we marched to war, hitting the  low employment point just as the mission in Iraq was “accomplished.”    Then we went on an easy-credit mortgage-fueled home-building binge, topping out with the greatest number of working Americans ever reported, 138,023,000 in January 2008.

By the end of 2008, 4M of those jobs had disappeared, and the Great Recession wasn’t nearly done.

Total Employment, Obama, Seasonally Adjusted, 2009-2012

Total Employment, Obama, Seasonally Adjusted, 2009-2012. Here we see the second half the Great Recession, with 4M more jobs going away in Obama’s first year. Since then there’s been a steady grind upwards, as we work to recover lost ground.

And this brings us up to the present data (Jul 2012).  Here we see the graphic and dramatic employment results of the Great Recession.  Four Million Jobs gone in the first year, reaching Obama’s lowpoint in February of 2010.  Since then (as the “failed” Stimulus package was implemented) we’ve seen steady employment gains over the intervening two years, finally within grasping distance of where from we started.

To wrap the whole thing together…here’s the whole thing together…

Total_Employment_1977_2012

Total_Employment_1977_2012. All of it. Together.

Here we see each and every year laid out side by side.  Now longer term business cycles become more apparent, and we see the huge dip created by the crash of 2008.

All in all I wanted to provide this analysis because I found the original chart to be so incredibly lacking in context as to be misleading.

* the Mercatus Project is funded (to a noticeable degree) by the Koch Bros, who have used some of the $100M they pledged to unseat the current President producing graphs like this…which don’t tell the whole story.  Often telling so little of the story, they might as well be lying.

"Reason" Magazine Net Jobs Analysis...From the Mercatus Project of George Mason University*

Taking these raw numbers without any context leaves a bit to be desired on the “providing insight” part of statistical analysis.

I Guess That Makes It Official, Game On [WARNING: REALITY]

If you are wondering what the crowd is a gathering around when the government thugs use a flashbang, it’s this man.

Two tours Iraq, check.  One tour Oakland...

If you are wondering what kind of low-life scum sucking socialistic parasite he is to be attending such a protest, first up, fuck you, second, here you go.

Oakland’s independent police review body will examine the clashes between riot officers and protesters that left an Iraq war veteran in a critical condition as Occupy protestors prepare to rally at the same spot for a third night of protests.

Police battled protesters following an Occupy Oakland march to demonstrate against the closing of two occupations in the city in the early hours of Tuesday morning. More than 100 people have been arrested in Oakland since police cleared a camp in Frank Ogawa plaza.

Scott Olsen, 24, suffered a fractured skull and brain swelling after he was allegedly hit in the head by a police projectile during the clashes on Tuesday. A spokesperson for Highland hospital in east Oakland confirmed he was critically ill after being admitted on Tuesday night.

[full story]

One thing I generally know is that when people have nothing left, or very little to risk other than their own skin in the game, they tend to push toward extreme solutions.  There is a race on now, and that race is whether or not our society can change fast enough to keep itself relevant to the vast majority of the people in our society.  It’s dang near an article of faith around here.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

To be clear, I don’t think OWS is, as of yet, a full-on revolutionary movement.  But there is a stark difference in what is going on here and what happened with the Tea Party.

It’s evident now that “Tea Party” is really just code for “Hardcore Republican”.  I call them “Fox News Republicans” and their ultimate act of defiance culminated in the 2010 elections.  This hugely revolutionary act was to elect a bunch of…wait for it…hardcore Republicans to the House, and give control of that chamber back to the folks who had it under Bush. (they failed in the Senate, because Senate districts, known as “states”, are harder to gerrymander and get nutjobs elected on straight party votes than house districts).

So any comparison between the two “movements” is shallow at best, and more likely the result of lazy “left-right” thinking than any real analysis.

There’s a book that one needs to read to understand why I’m being so melodramatic (I’m not) about the situation, and throwing out big words and bloody pictures.   It’s here.  A very quick read, in it you will find a section about this.. (from the ‘pedia).

 To be successful, these mass movements need the adherents to be willing to sacrifice themselves and others for the future goals. To do so, mass movements often glorify the past and devalue the present. Mass movements appeal to frustrated people who are dissatisfied with their current state, but are capable of a strong belief in the future. As well, mass movements appeal to people who want to escape a flawed self by creating an imaginary self and joining a collective whole. Some categories of people who may be attracted to mass movements include poor people, misfits, former soldiers, and people who feel thwarted in their endeavors.

To put it simply, you fucked with the wrong Marine.

I’m not sure if you folks are aware, but our President (the one who won a Nobel Peace Prize) is ending wars left and right.  He’s going to end the one in Afghanistan before the 2012 election, bank on it.  That’s a whole lot less soldiers being needed, a whole bunch of which are going to get shafted by a government now focused on cutting spending (on them).

That’s, as they use to say in that commercial, two great tastes that taste great together, a purpose…and an army.

OWS isn’t going away.  A good portion of the 99% are paying attention, and now there’s blood on the ground.    Our blood, on our ground.

So yea…like I said…game on.

 

Idiot Billionaire Says Stupid Stuff, Makes Money Off It

News from The Associated Press http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TRUMP_2012?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-08-16-15-50-08

Trump also defended Perry’s suggestion Monday that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would be committing a “treasonous” act if he pumped more money into the economy. “It was a meaningless phrase, it was just rhetorical. He’s very emotional about how the country is doing,”

Trump said of Perry, pushing back on President George W. Bush’s former political director Karl Rove and other Republicans who have criticized Perry’s comment. “Karl Rove is an empty hat,” Trump said. “We ended up with Obama because of Karl Rove and George W. Bush.”

My apologies for even mentioning this asshat, but the whole “treasonous” thing is not meaningless*.

Calling the Fed Chairman a traitor for “printing money” is dumb on so many levels I can’t evem….words fail….I’m going to have to find a PhotoShop.

Regardless, what Perry is doing is VERY SMART politics.  That stock market rally/dump last week?   The main reason is wasn’t completely one-sided was that Bernanke left the door open to QE3.   It probably won’t happen, but it brought some calm to some very dangerous waters.

What Perry is doing is pre-emptively  attacking any move by *anyone* that may do *anything* to improve our economy before 2012 as a partisan political move.   “He’s only helping you find work so it’ll help Obama, that bastard!”

The Republicans are playing a dangerous game here.  Running on a “failed recovery” for 14 months can get tiresome, especially when there is some improvement.   Constantly saying “it’s been raining all summer” when it’s been over 100 degrees for 48 of the last 50 days eventually wear’s thin, one would think.

But as the Idiot Billionaire notes, by that time everyone will have forgotten that it was Bush’s policies, not his personality, that led to financial collapse.  And if they sell it hard enough, Republicans might even convince enough folks that TARP, and the Stimulus, and the bailouts actually *caused* the worst financial crisis in living memory.

You’d be surprised what a catchy slogan and a billion dollars can do to shape a culture’s perception.   Heck, it can even re-write history.

* check that Constitution you love so much, Rick, for that thing you like to do to people so much you don’t really care if they turn out to be innocent after all.   There’s a specific penalty mentioned for that thing you just accused the Fed Chairman of.   You hoping to pull the switch yourself?  Or just hire a buddy to do it on taxpayer dime?

Funny note: From the linked article…

Dozens of studies have shown that witnesses’ memories of events often change when they are supplied with new contextual information. Itiel Dror, a cognitive psychologist who has done extensive research on eyewitness and expert testimony in criminal investigations, told me, “The mind is not a passive machine. Once you believe in something—once you expect something—it changes the way you perceive information and the way your memory recalls it.”

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/07/090907fa_fact_grann#ixzz1VFBGPmVy

[ahem..although what one mind finds logical often has more to do with emotion, curiously enough]

Basic Economic Math for U.S. Americans (re: Taxes, Revenues, Debts, Deficits, and Defaults)

Remember when you were in the seventh, or maybe eight grade, and your teacher came in and said you were going to learn something called “Algebra”?   Remember how you were all like, “What could I possibly ever need to know this for?!  I’m never going to need to know this stuff!”.

Guess what?  This week is that week.  This is why you need to know this stuff.

We have some fairly important decisions to make in the near future as U.S. Americans on the direction our country needs to take.  I’m sure many of you have divergent opinions on what that direction is, or what we need to do to get there.  So do I.  This post isn’t about that.  This post is about math.  Basic economic math.

Without having this foundation in verifiable, repeatable reality (1+1 always equals 2 in basic math), it is difficult to build a framework of understanding for large and complex systems.  If you don’t know how much of something something else is, or if it’s becoming smaller or larger relative to that thing, it’s hard to make important decisions regarding how you would like things to change (and how to functionally make that happen).

I’ve touched on this subject before.  I think it is fundamental to the disconnect we are now experiencing in this country.  We suck at math.    So without further ado…let’s define terms.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT WORD?!

The two most important numbers in the debt equation are the Debt [D] and GPD [GDP].   Debt is *numerator*.  GPD is the *denominator*.   This gives us a debt-to-GDP ratio.   D/GDP = Debt Ratio.

The largely agreed upon goal for the U.S. economy, that is considered “stable” by pretty much everyone, is a 50-60% Debt to GPD ratio.  What this means is that at any given time, we are carrying a debt load that is slightly larger than one-half (.6 or 60%) of our yearly earning power.    Countries in such a balanced situation to do a few things easily…one, they can borrow quickly and cheaply to deal with crises; two, they can quickly pay down debt if need be to smooth out boom/bush business cycles and three, they aren’t as exposed to downturns in others markets (as opposed to a country with no debt that instead uses a “sovereign wealth fund“).

So…now we have the main component of this this quation…the D/GPD ratio.

You have probably heard a LOT a about “spending” over the past few months, and how it is “out of control”.   You may have even seen some folks cite *yearly deficits* as evidence that “spending is out of control.”

A deficit (and it’s alter ego the “surplus”) is simply the difference (negative for deficits, positive for surplus) between the amount of revenue the government takes in and the amount of spending it puts out.

Part of the disconnect that is happening right now is we are seeing huge deficits, focusing solely on the “spending” side of the equation, and don’t seem to be largely aware how badly *revenues* have dropped off during the recession.

To simplify:  Revenues [R] – Spending [S]= Deficit(-)/Surplus(+) [I]

HOW DO ALL THESE THINGS WORK TOGETHER?!

Remember how I mentioned how there would be Algebra?   Here’s where it all comes together…..(and perhaps, can all fall apart).

There are two final factors that need to be addressed before we can get a final equation that captures the situation.  The are interest rate (i) and growth (G).   Interest, in this case, is interest on our debt.   Growth, in this case, is the change in GDP.

This gives us a Debt-to-GPD ratio that looks like this:

(D+I)*i/GPD*G = Debt-to-GPD Ratio

Which read as  “Debt (D) plus income (I) times interest rate (i) divided by GPD times Growth.

Notice that last equation.  We’ve been hammered by folks that this whole problem is caused by a single thing *spending*.   However, when we look at the whole forest instead of that one tree, we see that spending is a part of the annual deficit/surplus which changes the debt which is the divided by GPD that has been multiplied by the amount of growth (both positive or negative).

When someone says spending “is the whole problem”, they are lying to you through omission.    The deficit/surplus isn’t solely created by spending, it is the *difference between spending and revenues*.     As I’ll illustrate in the next segment of this piece, a good portion of recent huge deficits have been created by corresponding huge drops in revenue.

When you understand that “spending” is one of that largest factors in GROWTH, you should start to wonder about what the point of cutting spending, and hampering growth, is going to do to *help* our overall fiscal situation (the GDP-to-Debt Ratio).

Cutting spending during a recession is like taking the foot off the gas and declaring, “We’ll coast up this hill!”

Coming in the next Part…

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RECENT U.S. AMERICAN HISTORY BY U.S. AMERICANS?! (these are actual responses to actual questions I’ve answered over the past few days…hopefully this covers yours as well)

LulzSec Calls It Quits

LulzSec Calls It Quits.

Arr, matey, seem the ship has sailed.  Torrenting the booty as we speak.  Having to see what fun stuff the lulz-machine generated this time around.  Here’s the official ascii-art press release.

booty/50 Days of Lulz.txt 2.64 KiB
booty/AOL internal data.txt 63.6 KiB
booty/AT&T internal data.rar 314.59 MiB
booty/Battlefield Heroes Beta (550k users).csv 24.67 MiB
booty/FBI being silly.txt 3.82 KiB
booty/Hackforums.net (200k users).sql 111.2 MiB
booty/Nato-bookshop.org (12k users).csv 941.8 KiB
booty/Office networks of corporations.txt 3.87 KiB
booty/Private Investigator Emails.txt 2.52 KiB
booty/Random gaming forums (50k users).txt 6.08 MiB
booty/Silly routers.txt 67.7 KiB
booty/navy.mil owned.png 240.51 KiB

Penis, Palin, and Policy

UPDATE: Near the end of the video I mention the Republican 2012 Presidential campaign strategy (alleged).  It seems to be working…

Unless shares rally, they are on track for a sixth straight weekly loss — longest losing streak since the fall of 2002. The market’s last seven-week stretch of losses began in May 2001, as the dot-com bubble deflated.

Stocks have suffered this month after a raft of weak economic news dampened hopes for a speedy recovery. Traders fear that weaker hiring, industrial output, and a moribund housing market are reversing a bull market that lifted the Dow Jones industrial average 20% the past year.

The Dow is down 5% since June began.

Shares bounced back Thursday after a report that U.S. exports unexpectedly hit a record in April.

[full story]

It’s almost like there’s some underlying “uncertainty” in the market about whether or not the U.S. will default on its loans that is causing everyone do do weird things just in case.   For example…

Treasuries are considered the safest and most liquid, investments in the world. The U.S. is the world’s biggest debt issuer. It has $14.2 trillion of debt outstanding, while marketable Treasuries total $9.7 trillion. Central banks and other overseas investors own $4.48 trillion, or 46 percent of marketable debt.

The negative position reflected trades that would profit from a decline in Treasuries. Cash and equivalents, the largest component of the Total Return Fund, rose to 37 percent from 35 percent in April, under the revised categories.

Gross has been betting against U.S. debt through short sales, in which the Total Return Fund would borrow and then sell government bonds, hoping to profit by repurchasing the securities at a lower price in the future. The fund’s annual report showed that, as of March 31, it had sold short about $2.2 billion of Treasuries that mature in about 10 years and $5.8 billion of agency debt that comes due in 2041.

[full story]

That’s a whole lot of technical finance talk, but what it amounts to is this…

While the swaps are costly for the fund, given that it must pay out more than it takes in under the contracts, Gross would reap profits from the trades should long-term rates rise, causing Treasuries to tumble. Conversely, a decline in long-term rates would punish the fund’s returns.

The bet here is that there is very little chance long term rates will fall.  An unattractive dollar has to have higher rates to be more attractive…this is especially true when there is an open question about default (and a goodly portion of the people tasked with answering that question don’t  seem to understand  it).   These kinds of bets, and positions, are how a small crack in a dam becomes a total failure.   They are essentially acting as a lever, just watching for an opening to stick  in, and break the whole thing wide open.

Of course, simple and responsible lawmaking would make bets like this complete folly…but if you haven’t noticed lately, simple and responsible lawmaking is not very high on certain folks agendas.

UPDATE2: Quick reminder of what happened…

And what happened the next day...

Imagine the firestorm that would be raging on Republican propaganda outlets right now if the stock market had dropped 2.2 percent within 24 hours after Democrats had voted unanimously not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

The entire right-wing noise machine — from Fox & Friends to Limbaugh, from Hannity to O’Reilly — would be singing the same refrain: The stock market has sent a clear message of disapproval over the Democrats’ irresponsible vote. Whether that assertion was true would not matter. They would make it true simply by unanimously agreeing that it was.

But because it was Republicans who voted irresponsibly, right-wing media sees no relationship between the vote and market drop.