Friday, January 21, 2011

How Goldman Sachs Games The System: The Month That Never Was

Do you remember, back at the end of 2008, when Goldman Sachs switched its status from investment bank to commercial bank? This provided it with various benefits that allowed it to avoid imminent destruction, and as long as they were doing it, the Goldman partners decided to switch their fiscal year from one that starts on December 1 to one that starts on January 1. Because of that, December 2008 was part of no fiscal year at all, and Goldman cleverly booked huge losses that month that never showed up on any of its annual reports.

But that's not all. The New York Times reported today on a vast trove of stock options that Goldman granted recently to its partners, and guess when they were granted? Felix Salmon:

There’s much more to be said on this matter. For one thing, the monster option grant took place during Goldman’s notorious orphan month, meaning that it would never appear in an annual report. And for another thing, it was very expensive even at the time....Add it all up, and the various stock-related grants given in one month of 2008 (we’re not including annual bonuses here) were worth $1.9 billion at the time, and are worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.6 billion now.

Remember that December 2008, when Goldman made these grants, was the worst month in the company’s history: it lost $1.3 billion, and was mired in the depths of the financial crisis. Yet many partners will have received stock and options awards that month which are worth hefty eight-figure sums today. Not bad for a month’s work.

Ain't life grand? It sure is if you work on Wall Street, where planet-annihilating financial crises are a problem only for the little people.

Wonder who was President in November 2008? Obama was sworn in January 2009.

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Exactly? Do You Know What That Word Means?

utnereader:    “Barack Obama won’t show us his birth certificate,” says Steve, a  Connecticut resident and small-business owner, while he’s shoveling his  walk. “He’s a Muslim terrorist. And you know what really bothers me? He  is doing exactly what Hitler did.”  A hardworking fellow and family man in a postindustrial factory town of a  blue state, Steve does not come across as fanatical. Yet his adherence  to raw belief—a position unassailable by factual counter-data—is more  than an inherently dangerous American mind-set. It is a deadly challenge  to the aim of humanism.


“Barack Obama won’t show us his birth certificate,” says Steve, a Connecticut resident and small-business owner, while he’s shoveling his walk. “He’s a Muslim terrorist. And you know what really bothers me? He is doing exactly what Hitler did.”

A hardworking fellow and family man in a postindustrial factory town of a blue state, Steve does not come across as fanatical. Yet his adherence to raw belief—a position unassailable by factual counter-data—is more than an inherently dangerous American mind-set. It is a deadly challenge to the aim of humanism.

Exactly what Hitler did? No hyperbole here. Proceed.

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“You’ve got to shoot them in the head.” - Glenn Beck

“You’ve got to shoot them in the head.” - Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck video surfaces from six months ago. Violent rhetoric on Fox. How redundant can you get?

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If Sarah Palin Were Black

"If Sarah Palin were black, her daughter’s out of wedlock, “baby daddy drama” would have been presented as an example of both pathological behavior and a dysfunctional family that is symbolic of the social problems in that community. If Sarah Palin were black, never would the poor decision making by the Palin family be marked off as challenges overcome, or deeds to be valorized. If Sarah Palin were black, her neo-secessionist husband would have been the death knell for her political career, because as we all know you can’t trust “those people.” If Sarah Palin were black, her lack of intellectual curiosity, willful and cultivated ignorance, and lack of grace both written and spoken, would not be taken as “folksy.” Instead, Palin would be viewed as unqualified for any public office. If Sarah Palin were black she would be tarred and feathered as an “affirmative action baby."

If Sarah Palin Were Black (via azspot)

Just goes to show how far Palin’s whiteness can take her. Zero intellect, two high school drop-outs, an unwed teen mother, a quitter of the one major job she had. Master of hateful coded language targeting opponents as not “real Americans”. Belongs to a church outside of the mainstream.

Still a top GOP candidate.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

9 Things That Make You an Asshole on Evolution

1. You talk openly about how diseases are becoming stronger. You found a way to argue that disease has become more resistant to penicillin yet you also claim there isn’t solid proof of evolution. Bravo! That alone takes talent.

2. You eat corn. This may be hard for many of you to believe but corn is completely man-made. It DOES NOT occur in nature and never has. Without humans, corn would cease to exist in only a few years. Even the smartest of you might not even be aware that corn isn’t a “Natural” food. Please look this up. 

3. You own a dog or at least acknowledge that dogs exist. I know you might not be aware of this, but dogs were also created by man. They do not occur in nature. Wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes do but they aren’t the same thing as a household pet. I know you like to imagine little herds of teacup poodles roaming the lands in packs but it just never happened. 

4. You think that people believe that man came from monkeys. To keep it simple: No. It didn’t happen and funny enough, at no point in the history of mankind has anyone claimed this other than people trying to debunk human evolution. The Scopes “Monkey Trial” is probably a big reason this idea took off. We came from apes. How do we know? Because Human Beings are apes. An ape is not an animal itself but a classification of Hominoid. If you are an adult and don’t know and understand this you should be ashamed. 

5. You think that walking upright proves something. It doesn’t. It is learned. If you could leave a baby on an island and come back 20 years later, it almost certainly wouldn’t be standing. The process of balancing on 2 legs not only needs to be learned but also (concerning the method in which we do it) takes some brain power and evolution to even allow its possibility. Our physiological sense of Equilibrioception went in a different direction compared to other apes. 

6. You have a skewed idea of time. Imagine a friend missed your birthday by one day. How about one week or a month? What if they had your age wrong? These things can happen right? What about if they missed it by 100 years? 1000 years? 100,000 years? What if they missed by one million years? You have to agree that it is virtually impossible for someone to make this error. Over 60 million years happened in between the end of the Dinosaurs and the beginning of what would become modern Humans. So, it isn’t as simple as saying that humans and dinosaurs didn’t live together. Even the consideration of it as a possibility should show just how horribly uneducated and wrong someone can be. It is also very hard to grasp gradual change over time. Aside from average height (more because of improved diet) and foot size (diet & possibly better footwear), you cannot notice anything different between Humans today and thousands of years ago. 

7. You use air quotes when saying that evolution is only a “Theory” and not proven. This can also fall in with thinking evolution is a “belief” as well. Do you believe in gravity? That is a theory. Do you talk about climate change? That is also a theory (barely). What about thinking that germs are what cause disease? Theory. A theory has been tested and virtually proven. I say virtually because it can be expanded. If an idea was proposed and not tested, it would be a hypothesis which is an unproven theory. Calling Creationism a hypothesis is almost a stretch. It does not even have the ability to be tested. It is a belief. 

8. You don’t understand that Darwin wrote The Origin of Species and not the Origin of Life or Man. Darwin stayed away from speculating at all at how man came to be or about how life began. If you picked up the book and read it the possibility that you might begin to understand it increases. From knowledge like this, you could attempt to form valid ideas and opinions. 

9. You missed the memo that every person on Earth is not identical. I know you may think that I am oversimplifying this but hear me out. Imagine every single person on Earth was raised the same, experienced the same exposure to nature, ate the same food etc. They would not look the same as they grew older. They would still maintain variations in skin color, eye and hair color, epicanthic folds (eyes) as well as many other racially defining characteristics. A no-brainer right? If there is no evolution, how do we explain individuality? How could there be any difference from person to person at the genetic level? How could those simple things converge or diverge at all without evolution?

To be honest, it makes me a little sad that even one person could have a viewpoint which counters anything on this list. I like the idea of at worst, those people researching these things in an attempt to prove me wrong. Research is the path to understanding. 

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Weiner Gives ‘Half Time Report’ In Debate Over Health Care Repeal

Weiner Gives ‘Half Time Report’ In Debate Over Health Care Repeal (via AskAnthonyWeiner)

“The Republicans first start by making things up, you kind of have to wonder if any of them actually read the bill…’130,000 new agencies’ - NOT TRUE…’New IRS Death Panels’ - NOT TRUE…’Members aren’t covered’ - NOT TRUE…’No Torte Reform in it’ - NOT TRUE…

You know, I want to just advise people watching at home playing that now popular drinking game of ‘you take a shot whenever Republicans say something that is not true’, PLEASE assign a designated  driver, this is going to be a long afternoon!” ~ Anthony Weiner  (D-NY)

Weiner is a bad-ass. Calling out Republicans is a full-time job.


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Denying Access

An Unshakable Persecution Complex

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), a freshman, railed against the individual mandate provision -- which was a Republican idea, by the way -- which he considers unconstitutional. "As Virginians, we did not accept the chains of George the Third," Griffith said. "Nor will we accept the chains of Obamacare."

This is obviously very silly rhetoric from a right-wing politician who's trying too hard, but it fits nicely into a larger pattern of Republicans with a deep-seeded persecution complex. Greg explained that GOP officials have a "comical" tendency to "compare their current situation to that of history's leading victims of oppression, persecution, and genocide."

After noting several recent examples from prominent far-right voices -- including the "blood libel" and "pogrom" incidents from last week -- Greg added, "It's hard to know what motivates this kind of thing. It's almost as if these folks are suffering from what you might call a world-historical inferiority complex. They're desperate to imagine themselves as actors in an ongoing drama that rivals the most momentous struggles and conflicts in human history. So they just play-act the part.... It's all so pathetic and adolescent."

It's the Glenn Beck style of cherry picking tidbits from ancient Rome, WWII Germany, a little Herbert Hoover from 1931 or Woodrow Wilson from 1918, all of which have little in common with the complexities of a global 2011, and weave a dubious narrative of how old white people are fucked.

King George III, living in the 1700's, has what to do with modern health insurance options? Exactly.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lawrence O’Donnell Thoroughly PWNS (R) Rep.Trent Franks

The "children of god" robot talking point is the dog whistle for the Right because you know god and Jesus would want you to have unlimited bullets.

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Obama's Bump Is Real

Just in time for the GOP House to feel the power of real leadership.

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The Elite Media Criticizing The Media

The author of two best-selling books, a highly-sought after and paid speaker, a reality show star, Facebook / Twitter addict, and commentator that got a news network to build her her own studio in her house, defiantly says she will not be silenced!

…There’s no form of communication your views don’t come from! I’m afraid to turn on my HAM radio! Or watch your new semaphore show! In fact, from what I can tell, not only do people want you to show up and talk, they’re begging you to show up! You’re the one who refuses to go on all these (news) outlets that keep asking you to join them for a conversation!

JON STEWART, on Sarah Palin loudly proclaiming “They’re not going to shut me up,” on The Daily Show.

Even though she has a third-grader's intellect, Palin is elite among the TV and media personalities. To then target elites, while at the same time, promote to cut programs for the less fortunate, takes a special kind of evil, dysfunctional person.

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Define "Respected"

In a piece on the health care fight, the New York Times tells readers today, "As floor debate on the repeal measure opened on Tuesday, Representative Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the Budget Committee, who is a respected voice on fiscal issues, declared that the health care law would 'accelerate our country's path toward bankruptcy.'"

There's a couple of problems with the sentence, most notably the fact that the second half helps debunk the first half.

Obviously, a law that's projected to reduce the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars in the first decade, and a trillion dollars in the second decade, necessarily can't move the country closer to "bankruptcy." Anyone who thinks this way probably shouldn't be "a respected voice on fiscal issues."

Which is precisely why it's irksome when major news outlets make assertions like this. It creates a hard-to-shake public image, widely embraced by reporters, based on nothing but bogus perceptions.

"Ryan voted for then-President Bush's tax cuts in 2001, then argued for extending them last year. Those tax cuts have had rather significant fiscal consequences. Is Ryan deserving of this praise because, though he fights for tax cuts that lead to massive deficits, he acknowledges (but doesn't do anything about) the fact that not all tax cuts pay for themselves? Ryan supported the Iraq war and voted for Bush's Medicare prescription program, too, both of which contributed significantly to deficits." - Jamison Foser

The Right Wing fantasy continues: Increase deficits, cut taxes for the rich, never name a spending cut.

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"To paraphrase Julian Sanchez, though, if the only way for you to respect others is to believe that someone wielding omnipotent powers is constantly watching you, then you probably aren’t a very good person to begin with. Still, if you are that kind of person, I’m glad you’ve found religion."

Adam Serwer on Atheism And Morality. (via Instapaper)

(Source: misterjt)

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1/1000th of 1%

"Speaker Boehner’s proposed Congressional Budget Cuts amount to 1/1000th of 1% (.001%) of the total Budget. Hoping to close the Budget Deficit with a 5% cut in House Office Cuts is like planing to buy a new mansion in Aspen by digging for change in your couch cushions."

Chris Hayes (in for Rachel Maddow)

Republicans deliver nothing, their base unblinkingly approves.

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I Can See It In Your Eyes

"Mika, you need to buck up. I know you think this story has no purpose other than keeping Sarah Palin’s name in the headlines for another news cycle.I know you think she has nothing to offer the national dialogue and that her speeches are just coded talking points mixed in with words picked up at random from a thesaurus.

I know you think Sarah Palin is, at best, a self-promoting ignoramus, and at worst a shameless media troll who’ll abuse any platform to deliver dog-whistle encouragement to a far-right base that may include possible insurrectionists.

I know you think her reality show was pathetically un-statesmanlike, and at the same time I know you think it represents the pinnacle of her potential, and that her transparent desperation to be a celebrity so completely eclipsed her interest in public service so long ago, that there would be more journalistic integrity in reporting on one of the lesser Kardashians’ ass implants.

And I know, I know that when you arrive at the office each day, you say a silent prayer that maybe, just maybe Sarah Palin will at long last shut up for ten fucking minutes.

I know ‘cause I can see it in your eyes!"

- Stephen Colbert, offering words of encouragement for MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski after she nearly refused to read a story on Sarah Palin, on The Colbert Report.


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hospital Visitation Regulations Go Into Effect Today

"There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital.  In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean – a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them."

With those words on April 15, 2010 President Obama directed HHS Secretary Sebelius to initiate rulemaking to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors.  The President further advised that the rule should ensure that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges based on factors including sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Today the new Hospital Visitation Regulations go into effect. 

This policy impacts millions of LGBT Americans and their families.


Today, new hospital visitation regulations go into effect—a policy that will impact millions of LGBT Americans and their families.

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Vatican Warned Irish Bishops Not to Report Child Abuse

A newly disclosed document reveals that Vatican officials instructed the bishops of Ireland in 1997 that they must not adopt a policy of reporting priests suspected of child abuse to the police or civil authorities.

The document appears to contradict Vatican claims that the hierarchy in Rome never determined the actions of local bishops in abuse cases, and that the church did not impede criminal investigations of accused child abusers.

Abuse victims in Ireland and the United States quickly proclaimed the document to be a “smoking gun” that would serve as important evidence in lawsuits against the Vatican.

The top Cardinal in charge of handling sexual abuse at that time, Joesph Ratzinger, is now Pope, Benedict XVI.

That whole "infallible" claim is a complete joke. What moral authority could you possibly have?

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Frist: Health Care Bill Is Law Of The Land

"It is not the bill that [Republicans] would have written. It is not the bill that I would have drafted. But it is the law of the land and it is the platform, the fundamental platform, upon which all future efforts to make that system better, for that patient, for that family, will be based. And that is a fact.

I know the discussion of Washington is repeal and I’m sure we will come back to that discussion…[The bill] has many strong elements. And those elements, whatever happens, need to be preserved, need to be cuddled, need to be snuggled, need to be promoted and need to be implemented."

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist: Health Care is ‘Law of the Land,’ GOP should drop repeal and build on it. (via corruptpolitics)

They always have to leave office to speak some truth. While in office, it’s talking points and mindless rhetoric.

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Lieberman To Not Seek Re-election

NYT NEWS ALERT: Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut Will Not Seek a Fourth Term

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Obama's Bump

1120a2 Politics-1

It seems real enough now after several impressive weeks from the president, as the Tea Party suffers a big jump in unfavorable ratings to Palin levels. From Obama's tax cut deal to repealing DADT to ratifying START and the South Korea free trade agreement followed by his flawless performance in the wake of the Tucson shootings ... Americans are warming to him.

Gallup now has him back up at 48 percent with disapproval at a year's low; ABC News has him at 54 percent. The ABC poll also showed a sharp shift in the right/wrong direction numbers, which have been headed in the wrong direction for a long, long time. The right track just jumped from 27 to 38 percent in the past three months and the wrong track dropped from 71 to 60. Obama is more trusted on every major issue than the GOP, including the budget deficit, except healthcare where they're tied. By 44 - 35 percent, the public would prefer the country go in Obama's direction rather than the GOP's.

True leadership.

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Right Sees No Irony In Tucson

"We learn that the Right doesn’t even recognize the irony of its claim of being unfairly blamed for the violence of others, when it has spent the last several years doing exactly that to Muslims — particularly American Muslims. We also learn that the Right can simultaneously insist no political party or inclination can be blamed for Tucson — while it itself blames the Democratic Party and the left, for Tucson…

And ultimately we learn… this template of what the Right would do in an actual open-and-shut slam dunk case in which a partisan of the Right attempted to kill one of the Left. The Right would blame that victim, blame him or her for not having brought enough security. Or for not having brought a gun." - Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment, January 17th, 2011

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62% Want Health Reform And More

Americans want more “Job-Killing Health-Care.”

62% is the will of the people, Mr Boehner.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Money Talks

Jimmy Margulies / The Record (N.J.)

As with the Supreme Court ruling this past election, corporate and lobbyist money is speech and trumps "we the people".

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Gabbie Giffords' Update

As of yesterday, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' (D-Ariz.) condition had been upgraded, from critical to serious. She is also now breathing on her own.

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A King and a President

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rush Limbaugh’s Billboard In Tucson

A billboard advertising Rush Limbaugh’s radio show with the slogan “A straight shooter” in Tucson has been taken down by Clear Channel because of the shooting which recently occurred in the city.
The company commented that although the billboard had been up for a number of weeks, it was no longer appropriate to keep it up because of the recent sad events that took place.
This was in Tucson! The Right Wing uses bullets and guns to intimidate, then play “dumber” when their acolytes follow through on their coded messages.

WikeLeaks And The 2,000 “High Net Worth Individuals"

The offshore bank account details of 2,000 “high net worth individuals” and corporations – detailing massive potential tax evasion – will be handed over to the WikiLeaks organisation in London tomorrow by the most important and boldest whistleblower in Swiss banking history, Rudolf Elmer, two days before he goes on trial in his native Switzerland.

British and American individuals and companies are among the offshore clients whose details will be contained on CDs presented to WikiLeaks at the Frontline Club in London. Those involved include, Elmer tells the Observer, “approximately 40 politicians”.

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Jared Loughner's Crazy Views Mirror Those of Glenn Beck and Dana Rohrabacher

The media has portrayed alleged Arizona rampage shooter Jared Loughner as holding such politically jumbled views--his top three grievances center on government mind control, returning to the Gold Standard and political correctness--that it is impossible to find any Left or Right direction in him.

But a military veteran who posts political humor from a liberal bent has discovered a televised conversation between conservatives espousing similar views. Who are today's mystery guests? None other than anti-P.C., return-to-gold pusher Glenn Beck and his congressional doppelgänger, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Fairview Hospital).

Read Rack Jite's full post here. (And, for more on the shooting, check out our sister paper Phoenix New Times and its ongoing blog coverage.)

Send in the clowns: Glenn Beck and Dana Rohrabacher.
​Here's how Jite introduces a July 30, 2009, transcript from FOX News' Glenn Beck show:

After reading this transcript of the Glenn Beck show below, I want the media to tell me that Glenn Beck and Dana Rohrabacher are only expressing a jumble of political beliefs with no Left or Right direction to it. My God, man, this entire interview is about an extreme right-wing-conspiracy screed against government mind control by two of the craziest right-wing loons in the world.

Birds of a feather.

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Bill Maher: Tea Baggers Are The "Anti-Founding Fathers"

Comedian Bill Maher took issue with the Tea party’s identification with America’s “Founding Fathers’ at the end of the season premiere of his cable show Friday night.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the Founding Fathers would have hated your guts, and what’s more, you would have hated them,” he said, seemingly speaking directly to the followers of the right-wing astroturf group.

He continued, “They were everything you despise. They studied science, read Plato, hung out in Paris, and thought the Bible was mostly bullshit.”

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

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