Friday, January 2, 2009

Headlines - Friday

2008: Bush's last year by the numbers
– Number Of U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq: 322.
– Number Of U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan: 151.
– Number Of Jobs Lost: 1.9 million.
– Number Of Banks Federal Government Now Owns Stock In: 206.
– Number Of Uninsured Americans: 47.5 million.
– Change In Housing Prices: declined 18 percent.
– Change In Health Insurance Premiums: increased 5 percent.
– Change In Number Of Delinquent Mortgages: increased 75 percent.
– Change In Use Of Food Stamps: increased 17 percent.
– Change In Dow Jones Industrial Average: declined 35 percent.
– Change In Bush Approval Rating: declined 9 percent to 29 percent.

And that's just ONE year.

Happy New Year

Or is it?

Real estate prices are going to go down by another 20% or so in 2009, as foreclosures continue at all-time highs. We're going to hit bottom somewhere around September 2009. Right now the dollar is being propped up by folks overseas grabbing dollars in order to repay debts denominated in dollars, but that's going to end and shortly the dollar is going to resume its plunge, causing imports - everything we use to live on, nowdays - to become outrageously expensive. Unemployment is going to continue to increase because we're a nation of real-estate salesmen selling ourselves our own real estate over and over again, and that's spinning down like a friggin' turd down a toilet bowl. Plenty of down left to happen, and I don't expect any "up" to start happening until early 2010.

Like a turd down a toilet bowl. That was 2008. And 2009, the swirling is going to slow down a bit, but it ain't gonna be until early 2010 that the final "Flush!" happens and the water starts rising back in the bowl again. At least, that's my predictions for 2009, and I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt it. - Badtux the Snarky Penguin



What would George Washington think about Nancy Pelosi's love affair with Rahm Emmanuel? 

The first time I read a transcript of Nancy Pelosi's speech to AIPAC (one of Apartheid Israel's many mouth pieces in America) a few years ago, I thought that Pelosi should not be the House leader, instead I thought she should be tried for treason. In fact I think our entire Congress is in need of civics lesson. I think George Washington's farewell address should be required reading for our loyalty challenged Congress.

The father of our country offered this:
So likewise, a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

Could this statement be more relevant over 200 years after the words were spoken?
Tzipi Livni, rejecting a proposal for a truce to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza: "There is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce." So that's okay then.

I'm so sick of Congress I could vomit

Seriously, could they fail any harder?

Harry Reid (who called convicted felon Ted Stevens a "distinguished colleague" and stood by while the Senate gave him a standing ovation) has sworn to use his mastery of Senate procedure to block the Burris appointment and protect the integrity of that very exclusive club, which nonetheless warmly embraces Joe Lieberman.   

If only he had been so Johnny-on-the-spot when Bush was appointing Supreme Court Justices, ramming through telecom immunity, FISA and the Military Commissions Act, and otherwise trashing the country.

I think this may be my favorite part, however:

Should Roland Burris show up Tuesday for duty in the Senate, armed police officers stand ready to bar him from the floor.

This cinematic showdown is among an elaborate set of contingencies that Democratic leaders are planning if, as expected, the Illinoisan shows up with newly elected senators pressing his claim that he is the legitimate replacement for President-elect Barack Obama after the disputed appointment of Burris by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

Would that by any chance be the Sergeant-at-Arms, who oversees the Capital police, who was never deployed to enforce congressional subpoenas when the Bush administration refused to comply?

So many powers at their disposal!  Who knew?

Blago could actually show up himself on Tuesday -- as a sitting governor he would have to be allowed on the Senate floor, even if they won't allow Burris.

It would be quite fitting.  Not that they needed any help, but Blago has done a damn good job of making the Democratic leadership look absolutely ridiculous.

This is the fight that Dingy Harry has chosen to get up for. Roland Burris, who while he's always come off as kind of a self-aggrandizing douchebag with a huge ego, isn't even in the neighborhood of the list of Top Ten Senate Douchebags that includes not only ponces like Lieberman but people like Brownback, who think high school bathrooms are full of predatory lesbians, and Cornyn, who has impure thoughts regarding reptiles.

Think what you will of Blagojevich, but he is innocent until proven guilty, and he is the duly elected Governor of Illinois. Until he is removed from office, he still has all the powers the office brings. Sorry, but those are the facts. 



A bit of tone-deafness from an anonymous source for a
New York Times article about curtailed bonuses in the financial industry:

In a conference call on Dec. 19, Tim Sloan, a Wells Fargo executive who will head the global markets and investment banking unit, told a group of Wachovia bankers that they would not receive big bonuses. Instead, their allocated bonus money will be returned to shareholders.

He also said there would be no retention packages....

But some employees complained that the rules were being changed late in the game. One employee who identified himself as a third-year vice president said the bank's decision was putting its employees in "financial extremis" and, in some cases, at risk of not making their mortgage payments.

What?! Rendered unable to make mortgage payments? It would be unthinkable for a bank to do that to someone!

(Oh, and if you're wondering what the bankers' mortgages in question look like, go


The US economy lost $6.9 trillion in 2008, $8.4 trillion in bailouts have been promised, and the Treasury Department (who never saw the problem coming in the first place) comes out with a report that says the US rescue averted financial collapse, and that the bailout is working.  


John Roberts, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court is whining about judges' salaries.  Congress gets a pay raise, but they don't, and all he gets is $217,400/yr - a salary which, as the linked article helpfully points out, "pales in comparison to what top lawyers earn in private practice."

I feel for the guy, I really do.  He's had a hard road these last few years, what with nasty Senators making his wife cry and all the work he has to do making decisions for all of America's women.  If Roberts decides that he's just not cut out for government service and resigns, I won't hold it against him.


Everything you need to know about the interview conducted by the Washington Post with two of George Bush's top aides, Josh Bolten and Stephen Hadley, is summed up in this quote from Bolten:

"He's a good decision-maker," Bolten said.

Yes, the man who brought down the U.S. economy and destroyed our reputation in the world is viewed by his staff as "a good decision-maker." If you really want to hurl, read the last two paragraphs of the article:

Bolten said another of his goals when he took over was to try to get the country to see the likable boss he and other aides saw in private, convinced that would boost Bush's popularity. "I failed miserably," he conceded. "Maybe in the beginning of the sixth year of a presidency, that's a quixotic task. . . . But everybody who has actual personal exposure to the president, almost everybody, appreciates what a good leader he is, how smart he is and, especially, how humane he is."

Hadley invoked Bush's 2000 campaign theme in summing up the president's personal qualities. "He has got this great compassion which was not just a slogan, 'compassionate conservative.' It is who he is. It is one of the great things he brought to this office," Hadley concluded. "This is the one thing that just drives me crazy, that somehow this is an arrogant administration, an arrogant president running an arrogant policy. This guy -- one thing he is not is arrogant."

We'll see a lot of this pablum over the next couple weeks. But, we know all we need to know about George Bush. He is the worst president EVER. And, Bolten, Hadley, Cheney, Rove, Hughes, Fleischer, Bartlett...the list goes on and on...they all had a role in the worst presidency EVER.


More news from Gaza:

Israel on Thursday killed a senior Hamas political leader in an air strike in the Gaza Strip, along with nine other people, including his wife and three children. 

Now, it goes without saying (assuming these reports are accurate) that Rayyan, as a man who advocated further suicide bombings against Israel, was a murderous cretin, and, as suspected, the usual suspects are thrilled. It goes without saying Rayyan will be replaced, and probably with someone just as angry and just as hateful and radicalized by the death of his friends/family/lover, killed in this week's raids (folks who we here in the States and in Israel will only obliquely reference as "collateral damage.") 



Palestinian mourners carry the body of Haya Hamdan during her funeral in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip on December 30, 2008. A fresh Israeli air strike on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip today killed Haya and her sister Lama, aged four and 11, Palestinian medical sources said. Lama and Haya Hamdan were killed in a raid targeting a donkey cart in Beit Hanun, the sources said. Warplanes pounded Gaza for a fourth day as the Palestinian death toll rose to at least 414.

We're still doing airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Pakistan too.


What's wrong with the U.S. car industry in a nutshell
CNBC recently ran a program called Saving GM, which focused on the development of a new version of the old Chevrolet standby, the Camaro, for 2010.
It seems to me that when a company tries to revive an old brand name from an era radically different from today (cheap gas, plentiful jobs), this is the essence of what is wrong with the U.S. car industry.

Instead of going full-bore with developing the next generation of transportation that does not rely on the petroleum-fueled internal combustion engine, General Motors is looking back to the 1960's and focusing on restyling an old car so they can market it as "If you just buy this car, we can turn back the clock." Swell. Yes, they have the Volt being hyped for a 2010 release, but frankly, we do not have the luxury of expending automotive R&D dollars on revamped muscle cars.

So while General Motors is trying desperately to turn back the clock to 1967, Toyota is looking way, way ahead into the future:
Toyota Motor Corp. is secretly developing a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy in an effort to turn around its struggling business with a futuristic ecological car, a top business daily reported Thursday.

According to The Nikkei, Toyota is working on an electric vehicle that will get some of its power from solar cells equipped on the vehicle, and that can be recharged with electricity generated from solar panels on the roofs of homes. The automaker later hopes to develop a model totally powered by solar cells on the vehicle, the newspaper said without citing sources.

The solar car is part of efforts by Japan's top automaker to grow during hard times, The Nikkei said.
Perhaps there are enough baby boomers in midlife crisis to buy this misbegotten beast that GM is betting enough of the ranch on to pay Dale Earnhardt Jr. to test-drive it. But if this is what GM's vision is for turning the company around, then we just wasted $7 billion on them.

And you can't for one minute blame this boondoggle on the UAW.
This is somewhat encouraging:

The US government has seized control of Citigroups staff Christmas party budget and set tight restrictions on the use of its corporate jet in exchange for its $45bn bail-out. There are also restrictions on executive pay and bonuses. 



AWOL phoning soldiers on Christmas from Camp David

Fun fact: The Commander Guy vacationed at his fake Crawford ranch 77 times during his presidency, or 490 of his 2,922 days in office; there were 132 visits to Camp David (or 421 days); and 10 visits to the BFEE in Kennebunkport, or 39 days.

At least 2 1/2 years of his presidency were spent on vacation.

Imagine how much more damage he could have caused if he hadn't been on vacation all the time. 


10 days ago, the Obama transition team notified about 90 of the Pentagon's 250 Bush political appointees that their services would no longer be needed after Inauguration Day.

Loyal Bushie Jim O'Beirne is crying foul


4,221 soldiers killed in Iraq; 630 in Afghanistan.


Charles Barkley just blew his chances on running for the governor in Alabama.





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