get real

Will they endlessly argue about the market and the state?

The question facing world leaders today is not what to do. It is whether to do it.

There are two goals to meet: full employment and sustainable energy. That’s technically complex. But the complexities are complexities of engineering, organization and politics. They are not complexities of economics or finance.

Mark Thoma asserts, “Congress ought to have the same urgency in dealing with unemployment as it had when banks were in trouble.”

said when dead

Alexander HaigAlexander Haig:
“Those who get to the top are usually prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to get there.”

Reagan was a cipher.”

James Baker, Edwin Meese, Michael Deaver. “These men were running the government.”

do oh do waste money

Gene L. Dodaro, GAO Comptroller General:

While the DOD represents a big share of the federal budget, it cannot accurately account for its spending or assets … cannot pass the test of an independent audit … a system in which key processes and incentives are better at saying ‘yes’ than ‘no’ to programs that fail to measure up.

For more than a decade, DOD has dominated GAO’s list of federal programs and operations at high-risk and vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.

In fact, all the DOD programs on GAO’s High-Risk List relate to business operations, including systems and processes related to management of contracts, finances, the supply chain, and support infrastructure, in addition to weapon systems acquisition. inefficiencies and other long-standing weaknesses in these areas lead to challenges in supporting the warfighter, billions of dollars being wasted annually, and missed opportunities to free up resources for higher priority needs.

another daily beast

Five pages with background on Glen Beck. The Good Beck, The Bad Beck, a window into his personal life:

Beck was channeling the decade of excess, doing cocaine, driving a DeLorean, and cultivating a collection of thin ties.

Beck’s mood swings were alienating colleagues; one remembered him as “a sadist, the kind of guy who rips the wings off flies.”

“Every day I prayed for the strength to be able to drive my car at 70 mph into that bridge abutment.”

He isn’t even a Republican but an independent conservative—a former Top-40 radio DJ, self-described “borderline schizophrenic” and recovering drug addict turned Mormon convert with a taste for confrontation and confession. He presents a manic mix of politics and religion, loftily billed as “the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment.”

One thing is certain: The man is crazy like a fox. The best way to get a sense of where Beck might steer the conservative debate in 2010 is to study his past—it’s a story of ambition and addiction, mixing politics and religion. He recycles old fears with apocalyptic urgency, polarizing for profit, making himself the Pied Piper for a new generation of angry, anxiety-ridden, and alienated Americans.

you might be right

Mark Morford’s colorful rant:

There was a poll, a fairly significant one but also fairly plain, saying things you already suspected but perhaps hoped were getting better, even though you suspect they are not.

Part of what this poll revealed is that a mere eight percent of Americans want the current members of Congress to be re-elected. Which appears to be another way of saying a whopping 92 percent of the country wants Congress gone.

All of them, each and every one. Because, as noted, nearly all of them are ruthless schizoid madhouse freaks. And not in the good way.

a few minutes

Joe  the Plumber aka Samuel WurzelbacherWhatever has happened to Joe the Plumber aka Samuel Wurzelbacher? He said he doesn’t support Sarah Palin anymore.

“McCain was trying to use me. I happened to be the face of middle Americans. It was a ploy. I don’t owe him shit. He really screwed my life up, is how I look at it.”

About 200 politicians have asked for his support this year!

He likes Obama, in some ways, but stumps for the Teabaggers.

united in the belief

February 18 – Rasmussen Reports national poll:

  1. Nearly half of all voters believe that people randomly selected from the phone book could do as good a job as the current Congress.
  2. Just 27% believe their own representative in Congress is the best person for the job.
  3. Moderate and conservative voters say the government lacks the consent of the governed. Liberals are evenly divided.
  4. Seventy-one percent (71%) of all voters now view the federal government as a special interest group, and 70% believe that the government and big business typically work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.

global fuming

Last, but certainly not least, Donald Trump wants Al Gore to give back his ill-gotten Nobel Prize on account of it snowed a whole lot on the East Coast.

Which brings up a sore point. I really wish the architects of the International Socialist Global Warming Hoax had been a bit more alert to the possibility that a couple of big snowstorms would come along and destroy all our carefully laid plans. I’ve been promising my comrades down at the Birkenstock factory that we’d see the Dictatorship of the Proletariat by Halloween, at the very latest.

What the hell am I supposed to tell them now?

spectrum of gender

What gender is SNL's Julia Sweeney as Pat?Confounding us all, Julia Sweeney as Pat could hide her sex identity. She might be the tip of the iceberg. For instance, women with many sex partners have higher masculine traits. “They’re not less attractive and they don’t come from bad families if that’s what you were thinking.”

Testosterone or estrogen plus a slurry of compounds influence gender. To be precisely men or precisely women, we must each have precisely the same dose…

rationale for extraction

How and why do people transform into brigands and pirates?

Maybe the best way to lie to others is to first lie to yourself.

When something doesn’t quite fit the script, you very rarely tear up the entire story and start from scratch. What you do, instead, is to deny or confabulate in order to make the information fit the big picture.

Fix The System, Don’t Blame the Individuals:

This does not mean that we should not pursue those guilty of fraud. But merely pursuing instances of fraud without fixing the incentive system in place will get us nowhere.

It is misguided to focus on greedy bankers and incompetent or compromised regulators. Bankers and regulators are merely adapting to the incentives presented to them by our current economic and political system.

In fact, the real question is why so few economic actors indulge in fraud or milking taxpayer guarantees when they have every incentive.

The answer is that our ethics prevent us from exploiting the situation. But our ethical standards do not remain constant. They can and will erode if a perverse system is in place for too long.

now you know

  1. Their average daily income is $945,000.
  2. Their income taxes are at a record low.
  3. Since 1992, the bottom 90 percent of Americans have seen their incomes rise by 13% compared with an increase of 399% for the top 400.
  4. Most of the income going to the top 400 is from capital. In 2007 the top 400 taxpayers had an average income of $344.8 million, up 31 percent from 2006.

The annual top 400 report was first made public by the Clinton administration. George W. Bush shut down access to the report. Its release was resumed a year ago when President Obama took office.

It’s not socialism if wealth is redistributed up?

Mick Arran flushes a bit extra:

Conservatives are always complaining that Obama is a socialist and wants to redistribute the nation’s wealth. They say this as if it’s a Bad Thing, yet they didn’t complain about the way the Bush & Clinton Admins redistributed the nation’s wealth.

That wasn’t ‘socialism’ because it went to the top instead of the bottom.

And boy, did it ever!

newly minted hopelessness

Eric Hoffer’s classic study of mass movements, The True Believer, 1951.

Eric Hoffer's classic study of mass movements, The True BelieverThere is a tendency to judge a race, a nation or any distinct group by its least worthy members. Though manifestly unfair, this tendency has some justification. For the character and destiny of a group are often determined by its inferior elements.

The inert mass of a nation, for instance, is in its middle section. The decent, average people who do the nation’s work in cities and on the land are worked upon and shaped by minorities at both ends — the best and the worst.

The superior individual, whether in politics, literature, science, commerce, or industry, plays a large role in shaping a nation, but so do individuals at the other extreme — the failures, misfits, outcasts, criminals, and all those who have lost their footing, or never had one, in the ranks of respectable humanity. The game of history is usually played by the best and the worst over the heads of of the majority in the middle.

The reason that the inferior elements of a nation can exert a marked influence on its course is that they are wholly without reverence toward the present.

Stuart Staniford at Early Warning:

It appears to me that the Tea Party movement places us on notice that conditions in the United States now support mass movements of the kind Hoffer is talking about.

Such movements are not known for having good ideas for how to run society.

They don’t need to have ideas that make sense to the elite, such as abolishing the Federal Reserve. They just need to have ideas good enough to appeal to the unbearably disappointed and frustrated, the failed and the failing…

prostivotion

For votes:

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) voted against the Recovery Act twice, but then touted the job-creation and economic development potential of a stimulus-funded high speed rail project in Virginia.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voted against the Recovery Act twice but then touted a military project in Kentucky funded by the stimulus as “a source of significant employment.”

They can’t really have it both ways.

glocalism

Greed to Green, by Charles DerberCharles Derber recounts the terrible difficulty he had realizing with despair the seriousness of climate change, in dealing emotionally with the prospect of mass death.

“More difficult than dealing with my own personal death.”

“No sane person would wish it to be the scientific truth.”

conservative brains

This just in. Spanking states are Republican:

Spankers tend to see the world in stark black-and-white terms, perceive the social order as vulnerable or under attack, tend to make strong distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and emphasize order and muscular responses to threats.

Extra commentary:

Conservatives may be more responsive to health reform, he suggested, if it is framed as a national security argument. For example, American companies complain about the difficulty of competing with foreign companies that don’t have to pay for employee medical coverage. In that sense, our existing health care system leaves us vulnerable…That foreign threat might make conservatives sweat so much that maybe, just maybe, they’d consider revisiting the issue.

a stereotype-consistent way

Before you start, think about the stereotype of someone who excels at what you’re attempting.

Specifically, we demonstrate that being primed with the stereotype increases both knowledge or activity.

Source: Think of Capable Others and You Can Make It! Self-Efficacy Mediates the Effect of Stereotype Activation on Behavior from the journal Social Cognition

Hmmm.

various frauds

Jesse at Crossroads Cafe:

The notion is that by ‘saving the banks’ they will be able to support the real economy with loans to spur economic activity.

It is the same mindset that provides for huge tax cuts to the top end of the income chain, the very group that benefited from the latest bubble. Its a variant of the ‘trickle down’ theory popularized by the Republicans under Reagan.

The banks prefer to take the Fed and Treasury money and guarantees at near zero percent cost, and loan it back to the public (after all it is their money) in revolving credit (credit cards) at 18%.

It’s a sweet setup…

the robbery gap

What could be accomplished with this money is almost beyond common comprehension.

  1. 1970, CEOs made $25 for every $1
  2. 2000, CEOs made $90 for every $1
  3. 2004, CEOs made $500 for every $1

During Reagonomics, the richest 1% of America tripled their percentage of our nation’s total income.

“Between 2002 and 2006, it was even worse: an astounding three-quarters of all the economy’s growth was captured by the top 1%.” Bush and Cheney.

The economic top one percent of the population now owns over 70% of all financial assets, an all time record.

Since the crisis began, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans increased to more than the combined net worth of 50% of the US population.

Just to make this point clear, 400 people have more wealth than 155 million people combined.

Follow the complete report by David DeGraw:

I: Causalities of Economic Terrorism
II: The Rise of the Economic Elite
III: Exposing Our Enemy: Meet the Economic Elite
IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat
V: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy
VI: How to Fight Back and Win: Common Ground Issues That Must Be Won