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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Romney Once Again Proves How Different the Real World is from His World

Here’s the “gaffe”.

“We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack,’  ” [Mitt Romney] said as he offered more hints as to what he would put in place of “Obamacare,” which he has pledged to repeal.

“No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.”

He pointed out that federal law requires hospitals to treat those without health insurance — although hospital officials frequently say that drives up health-care costs.

[full story]

Here’s the reality.

A 24-year-old Cincinnati father died from a tooth infection this week because he couldn’t afford his medication, offering a sobering reminder of the importance of oral health and the number of people without access to dental or health care.

According to NBC affiliate WLWT, Kyle Willis’ wisdom tooth started hurting two weeks ago. When dentists told him it needed to be pulled, he decided to forgo the procedure, because he was unemployed and had no health insurance.

When his face started swelling and his head began to ache, Willis went to the emergency room, where he received prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medications. Willis couldn’t afford both, so he chose the pain medications.

[full story]

Again…reality and Mitt Romney’s version of reality differ a great deal.  He says what happened never happens…but it did.

So the question remains…is he ignorant of reality or lying about it?  It has to be one or the other.

$200,000/yr = Mitt Romney’s conception of where the middle class starts

The Associated Press: Romney: ‘Middle-income’ is $200K to $250K and less

“No one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is (to) keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers,” Romney told host George Stephanopoulos.

“Is $100,000 middle income?” Stephanopoulos asked. “No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less,” Romney responded.

No wonder this guy makes $10,000 bets at the drop of a hat. Everyone knows that’s like a normal two-week paycheck for middle class folks.

Post RNC-Mid DNC Desktop Clearing Link Dump

Let’s get this stuff out of here…another backlog of articles that were interesting but didn’t find the time…

First up, we start in conservative media fantasy-land.

THR: Does the media tie mistakes made by Democrats to President Obama as readily as they tie Republican mistakes to Romney?

Wallace: Yes, the mainstream media is terribly unfair to Obama, and they have to stop their bias in favor of Romney.

[Note: the funny part…Wallace was joking…and doesn’t consider the network that got the highest ratings for the RNC to be part of the mainstream media.]

Next up we see what is driving ratings for Fox News.

From : Fear of a Black President

Obama is not simply America’s first black president—he is the first president who could credibly teach a black-studies class. He is fully versed in the works of Richard Wright and James Baldwin, Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X. Obama’s two autobiographies are deeply concerned with race, and in front of black audiences he is apt to cite important but obscure political figures such as George Henry White, who served from 1897 to 1901 and was the last African American congressman to be elected from the South until 1970. But with just a few notable exceptions, the president had, for the first three years of his presidency, strenuously avoided talk of race.

Next we move onto folks in black-face being using as political props…

WASHINGTON, D.C. — When GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited an Ohio coal mine this month to promote jobs in the coal industry, workers who appeared with him at the rally lost pay because their mine was shut down.

The Pepper Pike company that owns the Century Mine told workers that attending the Aug. 14 Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid, a top company official said Monday morning in a West Virginia radio interview.

We need to develop a “canary in the convention” that falls over dead when the b.s. gets too deep.

Speaking of b.s. at the convention, here’s the Rolling Stone piece that looks a bit deeper into how Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital made its start, and how it was saved in the early years by a taxpayer bailout.

And this is where we get to the hypocrisy at the heart of Mitt Romney. Everyone knows that he is fantastically rich, having scored great success, the legend goes, as a “turnaround specialist,” a shrewd financial operator who revived moribund companies as a high-priced consultant for a storied Wall Street private equity firm. But what most voters don’t know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America’s top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829#ixzz25c4gDbu1

In the background, quietly crying, you’ll find our environment.

Yesterday was August 28th 2012. Remember that date. It marks the day when the world went raving mad.

Three things of note happened. The first is that a record Arctic ice melt had just been announced by the scientists studying the region. The 2012 figure has not only beaten the previous record, established in 2007. It has beaten it three weeks before the sea ice is likely to reach its minimum extent. It reveals that global climate breakdown is proceeding more rapidly than most climate scientists expected. But you could be forgiven for missing it, as it scarcely made the news at all.

It also appears that Paul Ryan is quickly creating lots of jobs in various fact-checking departments…

•Accused President Obama‘s health care law of funneling money away from Medicare “at the expense of the elderly.” In fact, Medicare’s chief actuary says the law “substantially improves” the system’s finances, and Ryan himself has embraced the same savings.

•Accused Obama of doing “exactly nothing” about recommendations of a bipartisan deficit commission — which Ryan himself helped scuttle.

•Claimed the American people were “cut out” of stimulus spending. Actually, more than a quarter of all stimulus dollars went for tax relief for workers.

•Faulted Obama for failing to deliver a 2008 campaign promise to keep a Wisconsin plant open. It closed less than a month before Obama took office.

•Blamed Obama for the loss of a AAA credit rating for the U.S. Actually, Standard & Poor’s blamed the downgrade on the uncompromising stands of both Republicans and Democrats.

And there’s more….

The next statement Ryan made was that in 1980 “330,000 businesses filed for bankruptcy. Last year, under President Obama’s failed leadership, 1.4 million businesses field for bankruptcy.”

This is not true. According to American Bankruptcy Institute, under Carter 331,264 businesses and non-businesses filed for bankruptcy. That number includes not just businesses, but personal bankruptcies as well. In 1980, there were 43,694 business bankruptcies and 287, 570 non-business bankruptcies.

Ryan also got it wrong with regard to the number of business bankruptcies last year. In 2011, there were 1, 410, 653 total bankruptcies. Of that number 47,806 were business bankruptcies and 1,362,847 were non-business bankruptcies.

and just to keep it in perspective, Paul Ryan is being sold as the gold standard in Republican honesty and integrity when it comes to numbers.  Really.

Here’s a bit of the “liberal” media conspiracy…in that we have an actual liberal calling out the media for keeping certain things from the eyes of the public.

When Mitt Romney walked down the aisle toward the stage Thursday night, among the people whose hands he shook was the conservative billionaire and major political donor David Koch. But it was a moment missed by the tens of millions of viewers at home. While Democracy Now! was there on the floor and captured the handshake on video, the networks cut away just before the handshake to show footage of two enthusiastic young women supporters and then an overhead shot of the convention center.

You can even see Mitt’s face light up when he sees the Koch.

Heading back to that Rolling Stone story about how firms like Bain avoid paying taxes on their income…the NY State Attorney General (the one after the whore-monger) is now looking into the practice of treating wealthy and connected people’s labor as if it were capital (and thus getting a 20% tax break, from 35% down to 15%).

The New York attorney general is investigating whether some of the nation’s biggest private equity firms have abused a tax strategy in order to slice hundreds of millions of dollars from their tax bills, according to executives with direct knowledge of the inquiry.

The attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, has in recent weeks subpoenaed more than a dozen firms seeking documents that would reveal whether they converted certain management fees collected from their investors into fund investments, which are taxed at a far lower rate than ordinary income.

According to financial statements, Bain partners saved more than $200 million in federal income taxes and more than $20 million in Medicare taxes.

[full story]

Thus goes the “secret to his success”.

And finally we see a Business Insider story that hits the nail on the head.

Lots of things are wrong with the economy, but the main problem can be summed up with two simple facts:

  • Corporate profits as a percent of the economy are at an all-time high
  • Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low

The following charts clearly illustrate that problem.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-ford-salary-increase-2012-8#ixzz25cGRYdou

I repeat…

  • Corporate profits as a percent of the economy are at an all-time high
  • Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low

This is the natural results of 30+ years of supply-side economics.

History of Supply Side Experiment

Here we see the real world effect of “supply side” economics.

And there you have it.  Links dumped.

Oh…one final note…it appears that some of the rich, if eaten, might actually sustain us for a while.  Just a thought…

Just in case you were beginning to think rich people were deeply misunderstood and that they feel the pain of those who are less fortunate, here’s the world’s wealthiest woman, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, with some helpful advice.

“If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain,” she said in a magazine piece. “Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working.”

Yeah, let them eat cake.

Rinehart made her money the old-fashioned way: She inherited it. Her family iron ore prospecting fortune of $30.1 billion makes her Australia’s wealthiest person and the richest woman on the planet.

 

If you believe in Net Neutrality, you must stands against the GOP

Patexia.com | GOP opposes net neutrality, internet piracy | Patexia.com

Receiving considerably less attention was the downright Orwellian naming of the “Internet freedom plank,” which opposes net neutrality. Unsurprisingly, the Republicans are looking to remove regulations in the telecommunications industry. Specific regulations are not mentioned.

Perhaps more surprisingly, particularly from the party of the USA PATRIOT Act, is a promise to protect your private data from the prying eyes of Big Brother. The Obama Adminsitration’s stance in favor of net neutrality is derided as “frozen in the past.”

The party that brought us the “series of tubes” we call the “internets” now plans to turn the tubes over completely to corporate America. This is not a good thing.

For those that don’t know or have been misinformed, “Net Neutrality” is the concept that all traffic on the Internet gets treated the same.  What many Telecoms and ISP’s want to do is filter traffic to allow those that pay more to have their content delivered faster and more reliably.  This has the obvious effect of slowing down and degrading the content of those who don’t pay the piper…or “tuber”.

It is the founding principle of the Net, and now Republicans are officially dead-set against it.

Yo, I heard you like hot summers and droughts, so I added hot summers, melting sea ice, droughts and wildfires to your hot summers and droughts

Arctic Sea Ice Hits Record Low—Extreme Weather to Come? 

Arctic sea ice is thawing at a historic rate, scientists say. In fact, a recent analysis of satellite data “utterly obliterates” the previous record, set in 2007.

The chief culprit? Global warming. The potential upshot? Longer and more intense extreme-weather events such as heat waves, cold spells, and droughts.

On Monday, researchers at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said the rate of Arctic sea ice decline is now the highest that has ever been observed. In August, the sea ice disappeared at an average rate of about 39 square miles (a hundred square kilometers)—or about twice as normal, NSIDC scientists say.

Moreover, the area of Arctic sea ice around the North Pole had shrunk to 1.58 million square miles (4.1 million square kilometers)—the smallest measurement since 1979, when satellite observations began.

It’s a sick situation when science predicts something will happen, gets it wrong….but gets slammed because they were too conservative in their predictions.

Double irony…”conservatives” actually reject the entire notion this happening at all.

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.

The Syrian Situation from Russia’s Eyes as interpreted by the Chinese

MOSCOW, June 9 (Xinhua) — Russia was completing its air defense contracts with Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday. The contracts were signed and paid for long ago, and the systems could be used “only if” Syria faced foreign attacks, Lavrov told reporters.

Russia would not ship anything to Syria outside of these contracts, the minister said, adding it was not providing the Syrian government with any weapons against “peaceful demonstrators.”

The minister slammed what he said were outside forces who were fueling the violence in Syria by “openly providing” support to the armed groups and the opposition in Syria. He warned the country was on the brink of a “full-scale civil war”. Russia had decided at the very beginning of the Syria turmoil not to provide it with arms that could be used to “suppress domestic unrest,” Lavrov said.

For those that haven’t been watching, it is Russia and China who are holding back the U.N. from greenlighting a mission much like the one in Libya. There is also a much greater chance of arming an opposition group that is far more hardline against U.S. interests and still fully aligned with Iran’s interests as well.

Hopefully the formal end of this contract will help push Russia to allow some intervention.

China is a tougher nut to crack, as they are cracking down on a Tibetan resurgence fueled by multiple self-immolations…I.e. how true warriors of peace fight). The recent incontrovertible evidence of Syrian atrocities is also slowly moving the world to action. Election season worldwide doesn’t help.

Russia completes air defense contracts with Syria
Xinhua | English.news.cn http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-06/09/c_123259276.htm

One again, time will tell…but this looks like yet another Foreign Policy Homerun for the Kenyan Muslim Usurper

WASHINGTON –  North Korea raised hopes Wednesday for a major easing in nuclear tensions under its youthful new leader, agreeing to suspend uranium enrichment at a key facility and refrain from missile and nuclear tests in exchange for a mountain of critically needed U.S. food aid.

It was only a preliminary step but a necessary one to restart broader six-nation negotiations that would lay down terms for what the North could get in return for abandoning its nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang pulled out of those talks in 2009 and seemingly has viewed the nuclear program as key to the survival of its dynastic, communist regime, now entering its third generation.

via North Korea Says It Will Halt Nuclear Activities | Fox News.

The agreement, as per, includes the verification step so necessary to make this stuff happen.

It also opened the way for international nuclear inspections after years when the North’s program went unmonitored.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the agreement, which was announced at separate but simultaneous statements by the long-time adversaries, was a modest step but also “a reminder that the world is transforming around us.”

“We, of course, will be watching closely and judging North Korea’s new leaders by their actions,” Clinton told a congressional hearing.

I’m all for giving the new kid a chance to be decent and get NK back to being part of the human race.

Climate Scientist stoops to using Denier tactics (i.e. lies) to expose Heartland Institute conspiracy against Climate Science

“At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate programme strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it,” Gleick wrote.

“Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues.”

It is sad he did this.  It’s worse that such a conspiracy exists.  It’s much, much worse that so many people have fallen for it, and scientists have to deal with so much crap for presenting data and research that challenges powerful industries.


m.guardian.co.uk
http://m.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/21/peter-gleick-admits-leaked-heartland-institute-documents?cat=environment&type=article

Iran, Oil, Israel, the NDAA, and the 2012 Election : A Primer

Let’s start this off with a curious conjunction of news articles as presented by the Google News algorithm.

That's why they do it

That's why they do it

And I also ran across this article over on Juan Cole’s site.

Will his New Sanctions on Iran Cost Obama the Presidency?

Posted on 01/03/2012 by Juan

A sharp drop in the value of the Iranian currency as a result of new American sanctions may sound like good news to hawks in the US. But actually this development may signal ways in which Americans will also be harmed, and Obama may have put a second term in jeopardy, cutting off his nose to spite his face.

An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama this past weekend will seek to slap third party sanctions on countries and enterprises that deal with Iran’s central bank. It will go into effect this summer. In effect, the law says that if you buy Iranian petroleum, you cannot do business with American financial institutions. Since the United States is still over a fifth of the world economy, and most institutions with capital need to deal with it, the hope of Congress is that Iran will be left without customers.

The measure, pushed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on behalf of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, might well be a trap for Obama. In an election year, he could not refuse to endorse new sanctions against Iran (the Republican candidates in Iowa are practically running on promising that if elected they will launch a war on Iran; and they are lambasting the president as weak on this issue).

[full story]

There’s a couple of interesting things about this line of thinking and Cole explores the direct results on this in his post.

Those two factors, the likelihood of rising Asian demand for petroleum in 2012, and investor nervousness about how tensions with Iran will play out, will probably keep petroleum prices at historically high levels in 2012, and some analysts believe that there could be a return to the overheated pricing of 2008 before the crash.

It would be much better for the American economy if prices sank back down to the levels of only a few years ago, of $50 a barrel or less.

If the Congressional sanctions actually worked, and took Iran’s roughly 2.5 million barrels a day in exports off the world market, that would take out 80% of Iran’s export income and deeply hurt the regime. But it would also send world petroleum prices through the stratosphere, deeply harming Western economies already teetering on the edge.

The NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012) which has people all a-twitter about the AUMF made real, also includes the language that essentially declares economic warfare with Iran.  You know how all those little dollars say “Federal Reserve Note”…well…when it comes to being the one that redeems property, one tends to have some control over who gets to officially use it for business.   The NDAA (of FY 2012) essentially says that anyone who uses our money, can’t use it to buy their oil (or anything else they sell).

This was added to the NDAA by a flake.  Literally, Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

Washington, D.C., Dec 9, 2011 – Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona’s Sixth District, today along with 22 House Members sent a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R, CA) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D, WA) urging them to retain during conference negotiations with the Senate provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would levy sanctions on the Iranian financial sector, including the Central Bank of Iran, in an effort to severely limit the funding sources available to the Iranian regime for use in developing nuclear weapons.

You will be unsurprised to find out that Flake was one of the 81 Congressmen (only 21%) who did, in fact, take an all expense paid weeklong [edit 9 day] vacation to calm and relaxing Israel during the summer break.

Don’t worry though, no taxpayer money was (directly) used to pay for this.  Lobbyists covered the whole thing.

Sponsor(s) – American Israel Education Foundation
Dates – August 18, 2001 – August 26, 2001 (9 days)
Location(s) – Israel 

Purpose – Educational mission
Notes – Spouse Cheryl Flake accompanied. Other costs not specified.

Travel Cost – $7,183.20
Lodging Cost – $2,023.70
Meal Cost – $1,391.30
Other Cost – $986.00
Total Cost – $11,584.20

Additional family members – Yes

[full data on the Flake]

And just so you get an idea of how much of a flake this Flake guy is…

Flake was first elected to what was then Arizona’s 1st congressional district in 2000, after Republican incumbent Matt Salmon stepped down in honor of a self-imposed term limit. The district was then renumbered to the 6th district as Arizona gained two Congressional seats due to the results of the 2000 census.

In his campaign in 2000, Flake had pledged to serve no more than three terms in Congress, leaving no later than January 2007, but in early 2005, shortly after being elected for a third time, Flake announced that he had changed his mind and would in fact run for re-election in 2006. “It was a mistake to limit my own terms,” Flake said.

[from the wiki]

So…long story short…get ready for much higher gas prices this summer and the Republicans constantly blaming Obama for it.   There’s a decent chance that the actual reason for the rise in prices will not be a constraint in supply, but instead an increase in middleman costs caused by the sanctions leading to a run-up in the price of oil…if not a full-on closing of the Straight of Hormuz by Iran (if the sanctions work too well  and they realize they are fucked either way.)

Whatever the reason, higher oil prices (even if only caused by the threat of increased hostilities…raising risks raises prices) will slow the already crawling economic recovery in the U.S., leaving it, most likely, continuing to sputter along like an old car running low on…well…gas.

What I find really funny here (funny in an ironic way), is that while Obama will be in actuality taking a political hit from the slowing economy from increased oil prices, he’s also going to continue to be hit for “throwing Israel under the bus” even while taking the economic hit that comes with directly targeting the money supply of Iran.

Pretty funny, if you think about it.

I still don’t think it’s going to be enough to convince more Americans to vote for Romney than Obama, however.

The election is going to be literally a Wall Street Tycoon vs a Community Organizer.

Ask your average Tea Party member which one of those they support (using those labels), and do it while they are community organizing for even greater lulz.

Dallas Cowboys Release Jerry Jones

IRVING, TEXAS—In an attempt to cut the franchise’s losses and “move forward in a positive direction,” the Dallas Cowboys severed ties with controversial owner Jerry Jones Monday, ending their tumultuous 20-year relationship with the divisive figure.

According to sources within the Cowboys organization, the decision to release Jones was influenced by the lack of any playoff victories in more than 12 years, the owner’s distracting sideline antics, and his selfish, “me first” attitude, which many said was having a cancerous effect on the clubhouse.

“We value Jerry’s contributions to the Cowboys over the past two decades, but it has become painfully clear that we just don’t share the same priorities,” Cowboys public relations director Richard Dalrymple said. “This wasn’t an easy choice to make, but we’re confident it is a decision that can only make our team better.”

via Dallas Cowboys Release Jerry Jones | The Onion Sports Network.

Nice article, brings us a much needed smile this week.   We note on this blog various societal distortions brought about by the great wealth disparity in this country, and how they imbalance things by disproportionately rewarding assholes….like Jerry Jones.   This is another one.