Saturday, July 31, 2010

Are these guys ever going to jail?

Here's an interesting twist in the case against two judges in Pennsylvania who were caught in a bribery and kick-back scheme, where they received several million dollars for contracting with a private company to build a new juvenile detention facility, closing the current public facility, and then received bonuses for sending youthful offenders to ridiculous sentences for youthful transgressions. (I've written about this before) Federal prosecutors charged them in January of 2009 and got at least one plea bargain, with a sentence of 87 months.

No worrys about surging power of right wing

I have to admit I sometimes feel a bit despondent about the state of the world, especially when someone begins talking about upcoming hyper-inflation and the end of our financial system. How does one go about bartering for food when all of one's assets are tied up in the ATM?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Business, public service, or extortion racket?

There's an editorial in the Times this morning about a breast cancer drug for which the FDA wants to withdraw approval. Avastin(tm) was approved some time ago on an accelerated schedule, because it's only approved for people with advanced cancers (why hold back approval for a drug that may be the only hope of people who otherwise have no hope?) While Avastin has the benefit of slowing cancer growth, it's finally been shown in new studies to have no effect on extending life.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Class differences in mortgage foreclosures

In a New York Times article about the growth of mortgage defaults among the rich, the reporter states:
data suggest that the rich do not seem to have concerns about the civic good uppermost in their mind, especially when it comes to investment and second homes. Nor do they appear to be particularly worried about being sued by their lender or frozen out of future loans by Fannie Mae, possible consequences of default.

This is a restatement of the obvious. The article is interesting though, in its discussion of issues and attitudes regarding paying off loans (and financial obligations in general), and how they differ between the rich and the less well to do.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Overreacting to the Gulf oil spill?

It's hard to stay measured in my reaction to the Gulf oil spill. It's difficult to see the dead and doomed birds and aquatic life, and the people from the coast whose lives and livelihoods are devastated. Add to that the government enforced news blackout blanketing much of the area, and the obviously highly managed and tight-lipped response from BP at the epicenter of the disaster, and it's easy to see how one could overreact. We're getting symbols, but little context and very few facts. I can't tell if my reaction is over the top, because I have no evidence aside from what is being carefully managed through the corporate press.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

This is what Capitalism does...

Capitalism has only one purpose-- to make more money. It doesn't really care what the money is used for (gold dust sandwiches for Saudi princes are fine), it doesn't care whether the money comes from robbing the downtrodden (read up on sub-prime mortgages and who suffers the most), it doesn't care if the money comes with a terrible price tag (the entire coastline of the Gulf of Mexico? No problem!  (Note: I include 3 links, all from today, who price the cleanup at $200 million, $3.2 billion, and $1 trillion).

The most clear demonstration of this truth from today's financial news is here: (from Market Watch.com)
BP (BP 33.37, +0.18, +0.54%) shares jumped 8.7% to close at $31.91, up 18% gain since its closing low of $27.02 on June 25.

BP said Tuesday it won't issue new shares to cover the costs of the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. The announcement eased speculation that the company might need a white knight investor to help cover cleanup costs.

BP's gains coincided with reports that oil from the spill crept into inland waterways near New Orleans. Cleanup crews spotted the oil in Lake Pontchartrain, north of the city.
Yesterday Texas authorities announced the spill had reached Galveston, and today they're saying it's in Lake Pontchartrain, and it's oozing down the Gulf coast of Florida toward the Keys. The leak's still going strong (estimates say it could be approaching 100,000 barrels a day), it's hurricane season, and people are still bidding up shares in the company! I'm sorry to say this folks, but we're completely screwed. The ecosystem of the entire Gulf coast is in a cock-fight, and people are still slapping down bets against her!

Now I realize why the Tea Party and the conservatives want us to stop wasting money on the poor and powerless-- because they want us to spend it in tribute to the overgod... Capitalism. If we don't stop wasting our cash on education and roads and unemployment benefits, we'll have none to burn at the altar of the God of Money, and lo, truly shall He destroy us.

This explains a lot...

Monday, July 05, 2010

Did anyone else notice?

Did anyone else notice that the bill before congress a few weeks ago that would have stopped the previously scheduled automatic 20% pay cut to doctors receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, and also containing the unemployment benefit extension, was quickly split, so the doctors' "raise" could go through, even though there wouldn't be any benefit extension for the unemployed.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Even when they get it right, it's wrong

The chairman of the Republican Party, Mr. Steele, has been able to do an amazing thing over the last couple of days--while denouncing the war in Afghanistan as "un-winnable," he mis-characterized the war as "Obama's War." Not to be outdone, Ron Paul chimed in to say yes, it's Obama's War and Nancy Pelosi's war too. So there! And don't you forget it either. Damn it.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Crisis among conservatives: why can't they field credible candidates?

I've been predicting it for a couple of years now, that the conservative movement in the USA is faltering because of the quality of their candidates for public office. The simplicity and gravity of their issues and ideas are blinding them to a crucial problem, that of getting their candidates through the election process. In order to have an effect, they have to win, and yet the GOP, and especially the Tea Party, keep hauling out morons, throwbacks, and Sarah Palin as their choice for elected office.