Part two: Cartoons and more…Cartoons

And away we go…

This first cartoon made me think of Harvey.  Cagle Post » GOP Real Election Fraud

GOP Real Election Fraud © Jeff Parker,Florida Today and the Fort Myers News-Press,Republican, GOP, elections, voter, fraud, registration, drive, laws, rules, ethics, false, signatures, Democrat, ID

Some of these cartoons were from early in the week, this one is from Sept. 26th:

Mitt Mouthed – Political Cartoon by Steve Artley, Artleytoons – 09/26/2012

Cartoon by Steve Artley - Mitt Mouthed

I wonder if you all get this one: Cagle Post » An Honest Man

An Honest Man © Bill Schorr,Cagle Cartoons,honest,man

Of course you would…just like many of you would get the Harvey connection up top.

Cagle Post » Trevor in the Middle of Nowhere

Trevor in the Middle of Nowhere © Dwayne Booth,Mr. Fish,election, republicans, democrats, obama, romney

I think that there should be a large group of elephants trampling Trevor down…then a single donkey comes along and shits on him.  Seems like it would fit, don’t ya think?  All these damn GOP nuts running us over with there right wing christian jesus freak beliefs…and all the Dems do is sit there and pile on more bullshit responses.

This next one is for BB: Replacement Refs – Political Cartoon by Don Landgren Jr., TelegramTowns – 10/05/2012

Cartoon by Don Landgren Jr. - Replacement Refs

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Phil Hands, Wisconsin State Journal – 10/05/2012

Cartoon by Phil Hands -

One on the Spain situation, coming up: AAEC – Political Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez, El Nuevo Herald – 09/30/2012

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -

Hey, with such a big bull, I think he needs a set of bigger balls! Don’t you?

And, for the last funny: AAEC – Political Cartoon by Charlie Daniel, Knoxville News Sentinel – 09/30/2012

Cartoon by Charlie Daniel -

Okay, that is all folks….tomorrow is the big ass KKK rally here in Banjoville. I will not be going downtown to see these assholes parade around in their white sheets. As it is, the sheriff office has an additional 35 Georgia state troopers coming in to keep the peace.

KKK will rally Saturday in Blairsville

I will be sure to post links to this crap in my Sunday post. Honestly, I would be afraid to go see who supports this Hate Group, something tells me many of our local friends may be hiding under those hoods.


The Cantor Cartwheel On Insider Trading

While our eyes and fury were directed on the birth-control-is-evil crowd and the ludicrous threats of the National Razor coming to a town near

This is Eric Cantor

you, the insider trading bill wended its merry way through Congress.  Only a provision in the Senate version of STOCK [Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act] was stripped from the House version. The bill will return to the Senate, and then most likely go into conference committee to iron out differences.

The deletion of the provision is curious since it would have required Washington insiders, those who sell political intelligence to corporate America [financial institutions], to register in advance like any lobbyist, thereby making their identities and purpose transparent.

One senator reacted to the provision’s removal this way:

It’s astonishing and extremely disappointing that the House would fulfill Wall Street’s wishes by killing this provision. The Senate clearly voted to try to shed light on an industry that’s behind the scenes. If the Senate language is too broad, as opponents say, why not propose a solution instead of scrapping the provision altogether? I hope to see a vehicle for meaningful transparency through a House-Senate conference or other means. If Congress delays action, the political intelligence industry will stay in the shadows, just the way Wall Street likes it.

That would be a Democrat complaining, right?


That would be Republican Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa protesting House member Eric Cantor for removing the provision [Grassley’s add on], ultimately making the bill substantially weaker than it could have been.

And ‘political intelligence industry?’  Sounds like something straight out of an Ian Fleming novel.  Turns out this shadowy practice is a $100 million industry, employing 2000 people who sneak around Congress to pick up investment tips for Wall Street.

You cannot make this stuff up!

I am a weasel

In any case, it was Eric Cantor who tabled the original effort to suspend insider trading back in December.  Also removed was a bipartisan amendment by Senators Patrick Leahy [D VT] and John Cornyn [R TX] made to crack down on officials ‘self-dealing,’ that is, enriching themselves through their positions.

The question is: why the not-so-clever foot dragging on this bill, something that makes perfect sense to the American public?  Why ditch Grassley’s provision or the Leahy/Cronyn amendment, which would have added additional teeth?

As in, make it better.

According to initial comments, Cantor claimed the language too broad and the additional provisions ‘needed more study.’  Seems to me the study-until-we-drop reason was cited back in December.

But Cantor did add a touch of his own that would restrict legislators from participating or benefiting from IPOs.  This addition quickly became tagged the ‘Pelosi provision,’ inspired by the suggestion that Pelosi’s husband had taken advantage of insider information when he bought into a VISA public offering, making a tidy profit [230% increase, by some accounts]. Pelosi has denied this accusation, insisting that her husband’s buys were directed by a traditional Wells Fargo broker.

Wish my broker was that good!

I am a happy weasel

Cheap political tricks and posturing happen all too frequently but why would Cantor be so adamant in weakening a bill the public and a surprising number of Congressional members favor?

Republic Report suggests we look at Cantor’s history, specifically the issue of mortgage cram down in 2009.

Eric Cantor led the Republican refusal to consider the mortgage cramdown proposals in 2009, a measure that would have permitted homeowners to negotiate lower interest rates and avoid foreclosure.  However, what was not common knowledge [see Open Secrets. org] was that Cantor’s personal wealth was heavily involved in the mortgage industry itself.  From RR:

Cantor invested in several mortgage banks, and owned a portion of a Cantor-family run mortgage company. According to Cantor’s 2009 personal disclosure, Cantor owned up to a $500,000 share of a mortgage company called TrustMor run by his brother.

While Cantor blocked a fix to the foreclosure crisis, his wife Diane Cantor served as the managing director of a bank with a high foreclosure rate. Diane Cantor at the time worked as a managing director to New York Private Bank & Trust, a major mortgage bank and TARP recipient. SNL Financial reported that Cantor’s bank was among the top three banks in the mortgage business “with thegreatest percentage of family loans in the foreclosure process.

There was also the dustup during the debt ceiling debate last year when a revealed fund Cantor was invested in, stood to make a sizeable profit if the US actually defaulted on its debt.  If the country tanked, Cantor stood to win.

Such loyalty!

Personally, I liked Cantor’s chest thumping after wicked storms savaged the South and East Coast last spring [my house and property suffered nearly $20,000 in damages with 1600+lbs of debris dragged from the front and back yard].  For his Tea Party audience, Cantor tried bucking disaster relief until expenses [like unemployment checks and food stamps] were cut elsewhere.  But then amazingly, Cantor made a sharp pivot and complained FEMA was far too slow in addressing damage relief in his own Virginia district.

Consistency is a beautiful thing!

So, we have the Pelosi Provision and the Cantor Cartwheel, anything to stall a DC scrub down, the disinfectant treatment that the American public demands [at the very minimum] from their representatives–abiding by the laws, standards and a sense of ‘doing the right thing.’ You know, those principles that presumably apply to everyone.

BTW, the Sunlight Foundation has provided the House/Cantor Version of the STOCK bill with edits [strikeouts] included.  Most instructive!

Don’t you love the Internet???  Bet Cartwheel Cantor doesn’t.

I am a warrior weasel

And though I would have nominated Eric Cantor for Sellout of the Week, Republic Report has chosen President Obama, primarily based on his recent decision to embrace Super PAC money [though I suspect we could all come up with other examples].  However, the President opened himself up to this chastising because he warned about unlimited campaign spending in 2008:

Let me be clear — this isn’t just about ending the failed policies of the Bush years; it’s about ending the failed system in Washington that produces those policies. For far too long, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, Washington has allowed Wall Street to use lobbyists and campaign contributions to rig the system and get its way, no matter what it costs ordinary Americans.

That was then, this is now.

Did you know that one of the collective nouns used to describe a group of weasels is . . . SNEAK.  How perfect is that?

We are all well-heeled weasels

Saturday Reads: Taking Aim and Hitting the Target

Good Morning!

I have some juicy links for you this morning…so go get your cup of coffee, cause it’s gonna be a long post.

There is a lot going on in Egypt…Egypt new PM claims more powers than predecessor – Yahoo! News

 Egypt‘s military rulers picked a prime minister from ousted leader Hosni Mubarak‘s era to head the next government in a move quickly rejected by tens of thousands of protesters, while the United States ratcheted up pressure on the generals to quickly transfer power to a civilian leadership.


Kamal el-Ganzouri, 78, served as prime minister between 1996 and 1999 and was deputy prime minister and planning minister before that. He also was a provincial governor under the late President Anwar Sadat.

In a televised statement, he said the military has given him greater powers than his predecessor and he wouldn’t have accepted the job if he believed military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi had any intention of staying in power.

“The powers given to me exceed any similar mandates,” he said, looking uncomfortable, grasping for words and repeatedly pausing as he spoke. “I will take full authority so I’m able to serve my country.”

He also spoke about not being able to form a government in time for elections that were scheduled for Monday. The US issued a statement:

“We believe that Egypt’s transition to democracy must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation,” The White House said in a statement. “Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible.”

The stance is significant because the Egyptian military has over the past 30 years forged close relations with successive U.S. administrations, receiving $1.3 billion annually in aid.

El-Ganzouri’s appointment was announced by state TV following a meeting late Thursday between him and Tantawi. Tantawi was Mubarak’s defense minister of 20 years and served in el-Ganzouri’s earlier government.

Almost forty people have been killed in the last five days as protest turned violent against the military’s actions regarding a formation of a government. The generals apologized for the deaths, but their choice of prime minister angered the Egyptian people whose uprising earlier in the year brought about the ouster of dictator Hosni Muburak. Many believe that Egypt’s military has hijacked the revolution…by placing a member of Mubarak’s regime in control. Protestors have vowed not to leave Tahrir Square until the military resigns and is replaced by a civilian presidential council.

But not all of Egypt is angry at the military, it seems a bit like perfect timing. Egypt’s military leaders are bringing their own show of support.  Egypt Military Tries to Woo Wider Public Beyond Protesters –

Some call it the silent majority. In Egypt these days, the preferred term is the Party of the Couch. And in that ill-defined constituency, sometimes more myth than reality, Egypt’s ruling military has staked its credibility as it seeks to fend off the greatest challenge yet from protesters seeking to force it from power.

Drawing on sentiments pronounced Friday in the grittier parts of Cairo, even just a few blocks from the protests in Tahrir Square, and in a defiantly nationalist rally near the Defense Ministry, the military is offering either a canny read of Egypt’s mood or yet another delusional estimation of its popularity, a mistake that has bedeviled so many autocrats. With a mix of bravado and disdain, it has hewed to a narrative first pronounced after it seized power from President Hosni Mubarak in February: It bears the mantle of Egypt’s revolution.

“Egypt is not Tahrir Square,” Maj. Gen. Mukhtar el-Mallah, a member of the 20-member military council ruling since February, said in a news conference this week. “If you take a walk on other streets in Egypt, you will find that everything is very normal.”

In much of Cairo, and elsewhere in Egypt, the military has found a receptive audience for that message in a country buckling under a stagnating economy and a lurking insecurity. Even as it promises to surrender power by June, it has deployed all the platitudes of authoritarian Arab governments: fear of foreign intervention, fear of chaos, and fear of the rabble. One doctor quipped Friday that the sole change since the revolution was an extra digit added this year to cellphone numbers.

The concern seems to fall on who will lead Egypt’s government,  if not the military…then who will it be.

“They think they can fill up a square?” asked Marwan Helmy, a 65-year-old high school teacher at a boisterous pro-military rally that convened Friday in Abassiya, a few miles from the far bigger antimilitary demonstration in Tahrir Square. “We will fill all the streets of Egypt and support the military. We can’t be silent any longer, the country is unraveling. Who gave them the right to represent us? Tahrir is not Egypt!”

Thousands turned out for the Abassiya rally, waving flags, chanting slogans more visceral than meditated and crowding overpasses and the square below. In its ardor, it seemed to manifest a militant nationalism that added a new wrinkle to all the divides in Egypt pitting Islamist against secular, rich against poor, and city against countryside.

It is going to get more contentious in the coming weeks. When Mona Eltahawy writes up her experiences being arrested and assaulted by the police and Ministry of the Interior…I am sure the truth will eventually come out.

Next up are some articles about present day slavery. First is a link to an Al Jazeera video report: The Al Jazeera slavery debate – Slavery: A 21st Century Evil – Al Jazeera English

Why, hundreds of years after it was legally abolished, does slavery persist? The last episode of Slavery: A 21st Century Evil is a televised debate in which this question, among others, was posed to a panel of those who direct or seek to influence government policies on slavery across the world.

The debate was held at Decatur House on Washington’s Lafayette Square – the site of the only remaining physical evidence that African Americans were once held in bondage within sight of the White House – as an iconic venue for the debate on a trade that refuses to die.

Moderator Rageh Omaar was joined by: Luis C d’Baca from the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Kevin Bales, the president of Free the Slaves; David Batstone, the president of Not for Sale; and Joy Ezeilo, the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons.

This next link is to the State Department Blog, as it connects us to modern day slavery in a very personal way.  One Million Footprints on the Path to Freedom | U.S. Department of State Blog

Screenshot of Slavery Footprint website, as seen on November 22, 2011. [State Department image]

Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca directs the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Two months ago, the Fairtrade Fund launched Slavery Footprint, a web- and mobile-based application that allows users to understand how their lives intersect with modern slavery. Through a grant from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, the Fairtrade Fund developed this tool to help more people understand the way their lifestyles and consumption habits fuel the demand for forced labor and sex trafficking.

The app works by asking users to complete a quick survey about where they live and what they buy and eat. That information is processed in an algorithm that analyzes the 400 most common consumer items and determines the likelihood that those items were tainted by modern slavery somewhere along the supply chain.

The goal announced at the time of the launch was to register 150,000 people having taken the survey by September 22, 2012, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Twelve months to get 150,000 people engaged. What’s been revealed instead in the last two months is that people care about this issue, and aren’t going to wait on our timetable to join the modern abolitionist movement. On November 11 , only six weeks after the site launched, the millionth Slavery Footprint survey was completed. And it’s not just Americans — people from a hundred different countries have taken the quiz.


By taking the survey, they have learned that human trafficking doesn’t just affect people in faraway parts of the world. We touch this crime in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the technology upon which we rely — and we can do something about it. Slavery Footprint and its partners like MTV have made it possible to take action by letting companies and universities know that you care about modern slavery and that you hope they do as well.

The road to freedom is long and hard, but there are now millions of footprints on that path. I encourage you to visit, take the survey yourself, and join us as we seek to deliver on the promise of Emancipation.

I took the survey and here was my results:

That figure is shocking, my numbers were higher than an average single person because I included my two kids in the survey. This really puts the issue of slavery directly on me, and how my family is connected to the modern slave trade. I urge you to take the survey, it will make you think about things from a different perspective.

Moving on from slavery to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Here is Hillary Clinton on the importance of eliminating violence against women.

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 25, 2011

Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we are reminded of the horrific acts of violence against women that take place every day around the world and pledge to recommit ourselves to changing attitudes and ending all forms of violence against women and girls.

Gender-based violence is a global pandemic that cuts across all borders and impacts all peoples and societies – regardless of ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, or religion. One in three women around the world will experience some form of gender-based violence in her lifetime. The medical, security, and legal costs to countries are incalculable. It dampens economic development and tears at the fabric of societies. The health costs to women includes not only the detrimental impact on their physical well-being, such as increased susceptibility to HIV infection, but also mental health costs for both women and their children.

We need to improve our efforts to prevent and respond to this crisis. When women are afforded their rights and given the chance to pursue education, employment, and political participation, they drive social and economic progress. They lift up themselves, their families, communities, and their nations. But to build this future girls must be able to learn without fear and women must be able to make decisions about their own lives and the future of their families.

Prevention, protection and prosecution are essential to combating this violence. But we must add a fourth “P” as well – Priority. Empowering women and girls is already a priority of the United States, but we need more countries to step up and take on this challenge. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the 16 days Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence is an opportunity to renew the commitment to free women and girls from the nightmare of violence, because the future safety and security of our world depends on it.

Geez, I can’t help but think just how much better off we would all be if she was in the White House.

You probably have to go get another cup of coffee, so go ahead…there is more after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Reads: Cleaning up and being taken to the cleaners…

Good Sunday Morning!

Well…did you enjoy your extra hour of sleep this morning?  I love when we fall behind, springing ahead is just to difficult for night owls like myself.

BP is in the news again…trying to clean up their greasy image, and it looks like they aren’t doing a good job of it.  BP’s bid to clean up its act dealt blow by revelations in Russia case | Business | The Observer

BP‘s attempt to rebuild its public image after the worst oil spill in US history has been dealt a blow by court documents showing it was willing to do a major deal with Russian billionaires whom it regarded as “crooks and thugs” to gain access to the country’s vast oil wealth.

The damaging allegations have come to light at a critical time for BP, which faces a criminal investigation by the US justice department while preparing to fight a massive legal case in New Orleans over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

North American rival Norex Petroleum is seeking $1bn damages in its case at the New York supreme court as it argues that BP and its Russian business partner, TNK, have benefited from oil assets that were seized in the late 1990s. Russia is important to BP – its joint-venture, TNK-BP, produces a quarter of its oil. At the heart of the dispute is the alleged misappropriation of the Yugraneft oilfield in Siberia, which Norex claims has generated $1bn in oil revenues in the past decade.

BP had a deal with Tyumen Oil (TNK), which was funded by a consortium, Alpha Access Renova (AAR), made up of the four richest businessmen in Russia.

A BP internal briefing, obtained by Norex and published through the New York court procedure, says: “Sources close to TNK believe [that the] local oil industry [has] been infested with criminal elements long before Alfa took over TNK.”

Some kind of organized criminal activity behind all this? Nah…/snark.

When BP formally teamed up with TNK, it asked for a clause to be written into the contract that would remove it from any liability in the event of a successful action by Norex. The Canadian company believes this is a “smoking gun”, as it says it shows BP realised that the Yugraneft field could resurface as an issue. Norex’s chairman, Alex Rotzang, said BP made a “deal with the devil” by striking the TNK deal in 2003.

An official spokesman for AAR declined to comment on the affair, while BP argued that there was “no merit” in the Norex suit and said it had moved to have it dismissed.

“The allegations made by Norex all involve conduct that predates the formation of TNK-BP and had nothing to do with BP,” said a spokesman from the oil company’s London head office. He went on to rubbish the idea of a “smoking gun” and said that the special clause was “to protect itself against exactly the kind of meritless claims Norex is bringing”.

The article ends by discussing the difficult time BP has had in cleaning up its reputation since the Gulf Macondo disaster. (Of course, as Dakinikat has posted time and time again, they haven’t done a good job of cleaning up the spill either.) Even with the Macondo well still leaking in the Gulf, BP has been approved by the Obama Administration for another deep water well in the Gulf of Mexico.

As if the main stream media not reporting the real story on the various Occupy protest throughout the nation was bad enough, now we have yet another rich luxury car running down Occupy protesters. This time in DC: Exclusive Video: #OccupyDC Protesters Hit by Driver…Who Police Let Go | Crooks and Liars

…the Occupiers chanted and “occupied” most exits while some of the attendees were at pre-scheduled free screening of Atlas Shugged. (No joke, inside they have a booth set up where you can literally put on a Reagan mask and have your picture taken. If this isn’t a metaphor for how the Right’s odd relationship with a President who tripled the national debt and yet still raised taxes almost every year he was in office – I don’t know what is.)

The worst thing to happen to the Koch-funded event attendees last night was that they had to get chanted at while walking a block to catch a cab or use the Metro inside the convention center. “If we made some rich guys use the Metro tonight – we won!” I overheard an Occupier say.

The opposite corner from where I was standing – a full block away – a silver Lexus sedan hit three protesters in the street. The reports were that he actually sped up “like he was playing chicken” according to eye witnesses. The video above is when the police let the driver go. Then the crowd became angry at the police. You can hear an Officer Walsh on the tape saying, “They shouldn’t have been in the street.” The Metro Police have said they released the driver because he had a green light. This contradicts the report or tweet from DC Councilman Tommy Wells who claimed the driver was apprehended blocks away and was in custody.

Okay, so there are some discrepancies in the story when it comes to whether the driver was in police custody…but remember, this is the second time a car, and let’s be honest…a luxury car, has run over protesters. The incident in Oakland involved a Mercedes…and that driver was also let go by the police, even when he tried to “drive away” from the scene of the “accident. “As far as the OccupyDC plow down…

The injuries are described by the Washington Post as “non-life threatening” but they were still taken away by ambulances. I’m not familiar with DC laws – but I’ve always been under the impression that when pedestrians are in the street they automatically have the right-of-way. I can understand the frustration of the demonstrators which led to at least two arrests last night.

Yeah, interesting…pedestrians vs. two tons of metallic 1% on wheels…guess we see just what percent matters to the cops.

Let’s move on to a new Wall Street investing trend that may be a mini follow-up to all those crappy bundled mortgages that hit the fan back in 2008.  ‘Buy Here Pay Here’ Auto Companies Assault Working Poor; Setting Up Another Economic Crisis | Crooks and Liars

Okay, here is the story, a reader sent an email to Kenneth Quinnell, one of the writers at C&L, describing a horrible experience with a vehicle repossession…that never should have happened in the first place. You can read the letter at that link above. Then Quinnell did some digging and found out the old “Buy Here Pay Here” car lots are getting lots of new investors…we are talking big banks, Toronto Dominion big…Check it out:

The details are even more disturbing. The wife’s illness included a brain tumor and the purpose of the extension was to deal with the illness, not out of any irresponsibility. On top of that, the account was not in default and the repo man was belligerent and entered locked and gated property without permission. Luckily — and no thanks to Chrysler — the reader’s wife is still alive and still fighting her illness

Others report similar experiences with cars financed through Chrysler Financial. Chrysler Financial was a recipient of a $1.5 billion bailout via the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2009. In 2010, Chrysler Financial was bought out and their name was changed to TD Auto Finance. It isn’t clear if Chrysler Financial/TD Auto Finance is what is known as a “Buy Here Pay Here” company, but their repossession practices are in line with that emerging industry.

He goes on to cite a series of articles at the LA Times that are looking into the fast growing scheme. (Scheme is my word for this crap.)

Wall Street is investing heavily in the profitable industry:

Investor money is pouring into the industry from several sources, helping Buy Here Pay Here dealers expand their reach and raise their profile.

In addition to private equity firms such as Altamont, several payday lending chains are moving into Buy Here Pay Here and have acquired dealerships.

Stock investors are snatching up shares in Buy Here Pay Here chains and other publicly traded companies in the business. Two of the biggest, America’s Car-Mart Inc. and Credit Acceptance Corp., have seen big gains in their share prices this year, outpacing the market.

Buy Here Pay Here is also being boosted by one of the sophisticated financial strategies that drove the nation’s recent housing boom and bust: securitization.

Loans on decade-old clunkers are being bundled into securities, just as subprime mortgages were a few years ago. In the last two years, investors have bought more than $15 billion in subprime auto securities.

Although they’re backed mainly by installment contracts signed by people who can’t even qualify for a credit card, most of these bonds have been rated investment grade. Many have received the highest rating: AAA.

That’s because rating firms believe that with tens of thousands of loans lumped together, the securities are safe even if some of the loans prove worthless.

Some analysts worry that the rush to securitization could lead to careless lending by dealers eager to sell more loans, as happened with many mortgage-backed bonds.

“We think that investing in such companies is a ticking time bomb,” said Joe Keefe, chief executive of Pax World Management, which steers its investments into businesses it deems socially and environmentally responsible. “It has ethical as well as systemic risk implications.”

Wow, you know, Toronto Dominion, or TDBank is the largest bank in Canada… TD Auto Finance is one of their many companies, or divisions. My husband used to work for TDWaterhouse before it became TDAmeritrade…they seem to have their fingers in all sorts of pies.

I just find it interesting that when it comes to the greedy Banksters, taking people’s homes illegally just wasn’t enough for them.

Yet another reason for the Occupy movement to press on and fight for the 99%.

Just a few more links for you all this morning, Cuba is now prepared to Allow Buying and Selling of Property  (Uh…with a few restrictions.)

Cuba announced a new property law Thursday that promises to allow citizens and permanent residents to buy and sell real estate — the most significant market-oriented change yet approved by the government of Raúl Castro, and one that will probably reshape Cuba’s cities and conceptions of class.

The new rules go into effect on Nov. 10, according to Cuba’s state-run newspaper, and while some of the fine print is still being written, the law published on Thursday amounts to a major break from decades of socialist housing. For the first time since the early days of the revolution, buyers and sellers will be allowed to set home prices and move when they want. Transactions of various kinds, including sales, trades and gifts to relatives by Cubans who are emigrating, will no longer be subject to government approval, the new law says.

“To say that it’s huge is an understatement,” said Pedro Freyre, an expert in Cuban-American legal relations who teaches at Columbia Law School. “This is the foundation, this is how you build capitalism, by allowing the free trade of property.”

Cuban officials would disagree; they argue that they are carefully protecting socialism as they move toward economic reform, and the new law includes some provisions that seem aimed at controlling both speculation and the concentration of wealth. Owners will be limited to two homes (a residence and a vacation property) and financing must go through Cuba’s Central Bank, which will charge fees, which have not been determined. And a tax of 8 percent will be split by the buyer and seller.

Cuban Economist are hoping this new property law will jumpstart the island’s economy. Spurring renovations and in turn…jobs. Many Cubans are leery about the new law, and are worried it may leave them homeless.

Yet on the other hand, there are also significant social concerns. Mario Coyula, Havana’s director of urbanism and architecture in the 1970s and ’80s, said that wide-scale buying and selling would lead to a “huge rearrangement” in Havana and other cities as the wealthy move to better areas. He and others said it would inevitably exacerbate class conflict.

And because the island has a shortage of housing — with many families and even divorced couples continuing to live together for lack of a better option — critics say that any displacement could raise the prospect of homelessness. For example, if two families are sharing a home and one holds what currently amounts to Cuban title with limited rights, the new law says that the titleholder can sell and the tenant family will eventually have to move.

There are a lot of unknowns that come with property ownership in Cuba, it is going to be something to watch as the laws take hold. I’ll keep you posted on this.

From Minx’s Missing Link File:  Many of you know that I am a fiber artist, being a weaver and a spinner gives me a “connection” to a group of insects that also spin and weave…the spider. Here is one little spider that spins up a huge web, it is so cool: Tiny Spider Spins World’s Largest Spider Web | Geekosystem

While it may not be the biggest spider in the forests of Madagascar, the Darwin’s bark spider — so named as it was described 150 years after the publication of The Origins of Species — has a pretty big claim to fame. According to researchers, the 18mm spiders not only have the toughest thread, but use it to spin webs some 75 feet wide. This quite easily makes them the creators of the largest spider webs in the world. The process by which the tiny weavers go about their work is surprisingly straightforward.

The spider finds itself a river, and then a branch or a bush on the river’s bank. From there, it lets out a line of thread that is blown in the wind — hopefully across the river. Once it lands an anchor on the opposite bank, the spider reinforces this lengthy line of thread and begins spinning an orb web over the river itself.

Though scientists have now cracked how the webs are built, they still aren’t sure why the webs are built. During their observations, scientists wondered if perhaps the massive webs were for the catching of massive prey. But when nothing larger than a beetle or dragonfly materialized in the web, they decided to employ some experimental biology and simply threw larger prey at the web to see what would happen. Despite their highly scientific chucking, frogs and larger insects escaped the web unscathed.

I keep telling myself that my next tattoo is going to be a spider, spinning up a little nest of eggs…a mama spider.

Mama spider, with a big booty too!

Okay, I’m getting a bit loopy, let’s take a look at the last two links for you today.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  If anyone has ever watched wild birds hunt or work together to get food, you know that these birds are really clever creatures.  BBC Nature – Clever Eurasian jays plan for the future

Experiments with Eurasian jays have shown that the birds store food that they will want in the future – “planning” for their impending needs.

The study revealed that birds would stash more of the foods that they knew would be unavailable to them on forthcoming foraging trips.

Jays are not the first birds to show that they might have the capacity for what is known as “mental time travel”.

But previous claims that birds “plan” in this way have been controversial.

The findings are published in the journal Biology Letters.

Eurasian jay (c)

To find out if the jays thought about the future, the scientists exploited the birds’ habit of hiding or “caching” food for later.

The article details the studies results, fascinating.

Lastly, this article from the NY Times. I love this story about the sheep…check it out.

Sheep Lawn Mowers, and Other Go-Getters –

Randy Harris for The New York Times

In Ohio, Eddie Miller and two of his Jacob sheep, Panda and Nerd, walk to their truck after a mowing job. Customers pay $1 per sheep per day.

So Miller ties his sheep up in someone’s yard and they eat the grass and weeds.

IN this verdant lawn-filled college town, most people keep their lawn mowers tuned up by oiling the motor and sharpening the blades. Eddie Miller keeps his in shape with salt licks and shearing scissors.

Mr. Miller, 23, is the founder of Heritage Lawn Mowing, a company that rents out sheep — yes, sheep — as a landscaping aid. For a small fee, Mr. Miller, whose official job title is “shepherd,” brings his ovine squad to the yards of area homeowners, where the sheep spend anywhere from three hours to several days grazing on grass, weeds and dandelions.

The results, he said, are a win-win: the sheep eat free, saving him hundreds of dollars a month in food costs, and his clients get a freshly cut lawn, with none of the carbon emissions of a conventional gas-powered mower. (There are, of course, other emissions, which Mr. Miller said make for “all-natural fertilizer.”)

That just makes me smile…gotta love the sheep!

Well, I hope you enjoyed the reads this morning. For the next two weeks the SDB Evening News Reads will be posted between 6:30pm and 7:30pm EST. I’ll be busy painting and getting our new hovel in shape during the day, so its easier to post later in the day.

What are you all doing today? Catch ya later in the comments.

SDB Evening News Reads for 100511: Declaration of Occupation, Hungry Muppets and Forget Sex, Pass Me a Stick of Celery!

Good Evening

There is an interesting study out that explains quite a lot actually, just think of the title of this post as the tease. Anyway, here are the news items I found for you this evening.

A big H/T to Lambert over at Corrente, for this link to the Declaration of Occupation for New York that was an accepted by the New York General Assembly on September 29th, there have been a few minor updates and changes but it is posted on the Occupy website: Declaration of the Occupation of New York City | NYC General Assembly

Here it is in full:

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

I thought this was interesting…Wall Street To Occupy Wall Street: We Get It | Mediaite

From the New York Stock Exchange this morning, CNN’s Alison Kosik reports that Wall Street’s workers “truly empathize and understand” Occupy Wall Street’s frustrations because they too are are feeling the effects of gridlock in Washington and a down economy. ”They’re equally frustrated as the folks out there on the park are right now” Kosik says.

“The traders I talked to, they want the protestors to understand they’re getting hit hard in this economy as well,” she continued. “They’re facing layoffs in the tens of thousands in the financial industry.”

As Kosik describes it, traders understand that they are not Occupy Wall Street’s target, despite being the face of Wall Street. “They understand that the New York Stock Exchange is the symbol of American capitalism,” Kosik reports, adding that, “The traders say they understand the protesters need a place to go to air their grievances.”

According to Herman Cain, these protesters should just get over it and get their asses gainfully employed! Cain on #OccupyWallStreet: Get a Job | Mother Jones

Here’s what Cain said when asked about the #OccupyWallStreet movement:

I don’t have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself! It is not someone’s fault if they succeeded.

Cain added that the banks “did have something to do with the crisis in 2008, but we’re not in 2008, we’re in 2011! Okay?”

To put it bluntly: Cain really doesn’t have any facts to back him up. The protests were initially organized by Adbusters, which is hardly an organ of the Obama administration. As my colleague Andy Kroll reported this morning, organized labor has made a push to get behind the movement, but they’re piggybacking on a movement that has already taken off.

More on the Occupy movement: The Origin and Future of the Occupy Wall Street Movement – Truthdig

Salon reporter Justin Elliott sat down with Adbusters co-founder and editor-in-chief Kalle Lasn to talk about the formation of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began in print with a poster published in Lasn’s “culture-jamming” magazine in mid-July.

The conversation turned to the question posed at the top of the poster: “What is our one demand?” Three weeks into the demonstration, no single order has materialized, for which protesters are suffering harsh criticism from pundits and bloggers.

This I find interesting since the Declaration has stated more than a few things  the protesters want to see change…here is the interview in Salon:

The origins of Occupy Wall Street explained –

Originally we thought that the idea of one demand was very important. There’s been a debate going on between the one-demand vision and this other vision that is playing itself out right now on Wall Street. I think it’s a wonderful debate and there are good pointers on both sides. Currently this leaderless, demandless movement — that is still growing in leaps and bounds — I think it is fine the way it is. After these assemblies have been conducted and debates have been had in cities all around America, demands will emerge. These demands will be specific things like reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act or a 1 percent tax on financial transactions or the banning of high-frequency trading. We will get into specifics, just give us time.

I think this whole thing will stay fairly amorphous through the next big event on Oct. 6 in Washington. Then it will gain global momentum on Oct. 15 when the Europeans have their big moment in the sun. I think the big global catalytic moment may well happen on Nov. 3 or Nov. 4 when the G-20 is meeting in France. In the month following that these demands of ours will emerge and we may well find millions of people marching around the world.

While the Declaration does not specifically make a “demand” I do appreciate Lasn reply to this next question:

Can you speculate about how these demands will emerge? Do you see leaders or spokespeople emerging? How do you see it playing out as a process?

The political left has always had problems with this. All my life I’ve been sitting in meetings where loony guys get up and talk, and eventually very little happens. This is the kind of weight that is dragging the political left down. We don’t seem to have the clarity of vision that for example the Tea Party has. This may be our undoing again. This whole movement may fizzle out in a bunch of loony lefty kind of bullshit.

Then again, at the same time, I’ve been in daily touch with dozens and dozens of people in cities all around the world who are involved in this. And I have a feeling that because of the Internet and a different kind of mentality that young people have, a horizontal way of thinking about things, this movement may not just come up with some really good demands and put incredible people pressure on our politicians, but a more beautiful thing may come out of this movement: a new model of democracy, a new model of how activism can work, of how the people can have a radical democracy and have some of their demands met. This new model may well be a new kind of a horizontal thing that in some strange way works like the Internet works.

We have had discussions about the liberal lack of focus, unlike the batshit crazy right-wing GOP and Tea Party members, who seem to have an abundance of focus that borders on obsession…I am encouraged by the amount of other cities getting involved in the #Occupy movement.

In another Sign of the Times: Sesame Street Creates Muppet To Discuss Food Insecurity | Crooks and Liars

Sesame Street was created to assist children–particularly from low-income families–with basic letter recognition and other cognitive skills before they entered kindergarten. Over the intervening 40 plus years, Sesame Street has modified its initial mission statement to introduce the concepts of tolerance, social diversity, conflict resolution and handled some really big picture ideas like the death of a loved one, coming back after natural disasters, marriages, births, adoptions and even September 11th.

This year, the good people of the Sesame Workshop have decided that they need to address another issue affecting Americans: food insecurity.

The iconic kids show is set to unveil a new impoverished puppet named Lily, whose family faces an ongoing struggle with hunger issues. Lily will be revealed in a one-hour Sesame Street primetime special, Growing Hope Against Hunger, which is being sponsored by Walmart. The special will star country singer Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams Paisley, as well as the Sesame Street Muppets.

“Food insecurity is a growing and difficult issue for adults to discuss, much less children,” said the Paisleys in a statement. “We are honored that Sesame Street, with its long history of tackling difficult issues with sensitivity, caring and warmth asked us to be a part of this important project.” The special will share the stories of real-life families to raise awareness of hunger issues in the United States, as well as strategies that have helped these families find food. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 17 million American children — nearly 1 in 4 — have limited or uncertain access to affordable and nutritious food.

Let me repeat this: ONE IN FOUR CHILDREN are hungry. This is not some third-world, banana republic nation. This is not some resource- and agriculturally-poor country dependent upon foreign aid. This is the wealthiest nation in the world. This is unacceptable.

I think it is very telling that there is a homeless and hungry muppet on Sesame Street. This is good for kids to see this reality, for both the poor ones who can relate to little Lily, and those kids who come from a more privileged background.

The American Autumn may be influencing other protest. The latest involves a pumpkin patch, happy gay couples, and a paranoid GOP candidate.  Guess who? Scooby Doo And The Paranoid Godsmacked Homohater | TBogg

Soon-to-be-former candidate for President and recreational pharmaceutical consumer Michele Bachmann was in her home state of Iowa Tuesday night to make an appearance at a Satanic Halloween pumpkin patch and maybe scare up some quick cash in an effort to keep her campaign afloat. And she might have slipped into town and gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling college kids:

Representative Michele Bachmann is committed to crisscrossing Iowa to personally impress as many voters as possible, but it is a good bet she won’t be returning to this college town any time soon.

Some 50 students from Grinnell College showed up at Carroll’s Pumpkin Patch on Tuesday evening, where Mrs. Bachmann had scheduled a fund-raising event on behalf of a conservative Christian group, the Family Leader. Soon after, police officers arrived and threw a cordon sanitaire around the students while Mrs. Bachmann toured the baby goat corral and pumpkin-washing station.

A few students, who had been alerted to the visit by an e-mail from the campus Democrats, unfurled signs protesting Mrs. Bachmann’s opposition to gay rights (“Pumpkins are the Gayest”). But there was no chanting and no heckling. Most students said they had come to hear her speak and to ask a question or two.


But Mrs. Bachmann skipped a planned appearance in a hayloft festooned with her campaign banners, where students filled many of the seats. Instead she met privately in the home of the farm’s owners, Joy and Danny Carroll, along with supporters who had contributed to the Family Leader. Earlier this year Mrs. Bachmann was one of only two presidential candidates to sign the Family Leader’s Marriage Pledge opposing gay marriage, abortion and “Sharia Islam.”

Asked why she was avoiding the students, Mrs. Bachmann said, “This was never intended to be a big public event.”

Mr. Carroll, a former state representative, said the event was hastily re-organized so that donors to the Family Leader “had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Congresswoman Bachmann.’’

Quality time, oh what joy…this woman avoids “outed” gays like the plague, but when it comes to “closet” homosexuals, she just marries them. (Oops, did I say that out loud?)

And now we get to the tease I mentioned up top…Women Think About Diets Over Relationships And Sex, Study Says

Women on diets spend more time worrying about what’s on their plate than their relationship, says a new study by Atkins.

After surveying 1,290 women in the U.K., the weight-loss company found 54 percent thought about food more than sex and a quarter felt dieting was more important than their relationship, reports the U.K. Press Association.

The survey even found that women feel more guilty about cheating on their diet, than they do about cheating on their significant other…

But what about the opposite sex? Though men weren’t invited to take part in this survey, another study out of Ohio State University mentioned in Live Science found men thought about food and sleep as much as sex .

Like we need a study to verify that fact…

Well, that is it for me today, fortunately for me I do not have any worries about what is on my plate…just as long as there is plenty of pasta and cheese and hot buttered bread. I know, I know carbohydrates are evil, but they are my weakness.

Anyway, I will check in later…after I stuff that hot bread in my mouth and fiendishly enjoy a thick slice of cheesecake. Catch ya later in the comments.

Wednesday Reads: Get the vote out of MTV, Crimes and Punishment…of the Jesus Kind

Good Morning…

Last night Boston Boomer had a post about the recent change in diet for those Texas prisoners on death row.  So I thought I would start this morning’s post of with a story about another prisoner, this time in Alabama.

Alabama Inmate Sues to Read Southern History Book –

Last Friday, Mark Melvin, who is serving a life sentence at Kilby, filed suit in federal court against the prison’s officials and the state commissioner of corrections, claiming they have unjustly kept a book out of his hands.

The book, which was sent to him by his lawyer, is a work of history. More specifically, it is a Pulitzer Prize-winning work of Southern history, an investigation of the systematically heinous treatment of black prisoners in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mr. Melvin, 33, alleges in his suit that prison officials deemed it “a security threat.”

Melvin was charged when he was 14 for helping his brother commit two murders. He works in the prison’s library. A year ago, his lawyer sent him a few books, including the Pulitzer Prize winning non-fiction, “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” by Douglas A. Blackmon.

The book chronicles the vast and brutal convict leasing system, which became nearly indistinguishable from antebellum slavery as it grew. In this system, people, in almost all cases black, were arrested by local law enforcement, often on the flimsiest of charges, and forced to labor on the cotton farms of wealthy planters or in the coal mines of corporations to pay off their criminal penalties. Though convict leasing occurred across the South, the book focuses on Alabama.

Mr. Melvin never received the book. According to his lawsuit, he was told by an official at Kilby that the book was “too incendiary” and “too provocative,” and was ordered to have it sent back at his own expense.

He appealed, but in his lawsuit he says that prison officials upheld the decision, citing a regulation banning any mail that incites “violence based on race, religion, sex, creed, or nationality, or disobedience toward law enforcement officials or correctional staff.” (Mr. Melvin is white.)

So he sued.

Blackmon, the book’s author, says his book has never banned before, and that the last convicts of the forced labor coal mines were moved out in 1923.  They were sent to Kilby, the very same prison that Melvin is being held at.

Of course, there is no comment from the Alabama Department of Corrections.  However, when you consider that Alabama’s criminal punishment practices were also in the news this past week, when it was reported that in one Alabama town, you must choose between iron bars or Jesus. Here is an article, with commentary, on Operation “ROC” written by George Mathis: Alabama criminals sentenced to time in church | News To Me with George Mathis

The separation between church and state has narrowed a bit in Alabama, where judges are now sentencing criminals to time behind bars or in a church pew.

City Judges in Bay Minette have begun a new program to non-violent criminals,

“Operation Restore Our Community,” which could be called “Operation We Lock Up More People Than We Can Afford,” will save the town of 8,000 a lot of cash, if offenders choose to get right with Jesus (or Allah).

Lawbreakers get to pick the church of their choice, but must check in with the pastor once a week for a year to get off the legal hook.

Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland told WKRG it costs his department about $75 per inmate per day to feed, house and delouse criminals.

So far, 56 churches in North Baldwin County are participating. I bet none are Wiccan.

Rowland says the program doesn’t violate separation of church and state issues, but must not have run across any scorned atheists or ACLU lawyers, who are already considering a legal assault.

“This policy is blatantly unconstitutional,” said Olivia Turner, executive director for the ACLU of Alabama in an article in the Mobile Press-Register. ”It violates one basic tenet of the Constitution, namely that government can’t force participation in religious activity.”

As you all know, I recently attended the funeral of one my very good friends.  Derrick was not one of those Baptist that went to church on Sundays…but at his funeral, the Sheriff’s Chaplain made sure to let all those people know that Derrick had been “saved.” The Chaplain said he was going to used Derrick’s death to “guilt” the sinners who came to the funeral into accepting Jesus as their savior.  (Cause you know, if you aren’t reborn you ain’t getting to heaven.) I almost walked out…I was so upset that this “preacher” was using Derrick’s death to “save the sinners.”  But there was one thing he said that I agreed with…He started the sermon with this statement, “Christians can be hateful people.” Yes, they certainly can be.  Especially when they are exploiting the sorrow of a community for their own fundamentalist gain.  Damn, I hate organized religion!

Oops, went off on a tangent there.

Sticking with the crime and punishment theme…

Wisconsin’s Voter Rewards Programs Under Investigation | Crooks and Liars

The subpoenas are flying fast and furious in Wisconsin. This time, the story is over the “voter rewards” programs mounted during the recalls.

Via JSOnline:

Details of the secret investigation are sketchy, but it is clear the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office is investigating charges that Wisconsin Right to Life offered rewards for volunteers who signed up sympathetic voters in the recall races. Several people familiar with the investigation said subpoenas were being distributed “like candy.”

Prosecutors had earlier acknowledged that they also were looking into complaints about get-out-the-vote block parties sponsored by a liberal group, Wisconsin Jobs Now.

There’s a little false equivalence in this article, at least, that’s how it appears to me. Yes, there are two investigations, but let’s compare and contrast the specific voter rewards programs, which in some cases were a lot like the benefits you get for signing up for a new Visa card at the low, low interest rate of 23 percent per year.

Here’s the Wisconsin Right to Life Voter Rewards program:

During the recall races, the group had sent an email that described the elections as putting “a pro-family, pro-life state Senate at stake.”

It then offered “rewards for volunteers who make an impact over the weekend by educating and encouraging family and friends to vote by absentee ballot.”

Those who signed up 15 “pro-life/pro-family voters” by July 5 would get a $25 gift or gas card as a reward. The person signing up the most people in each Senate district would win a $75 gift or gas card.

Awesome. Nothing says vote integrity like a $25 gift card. You might also recall this group as the one who sent out the phony absentee ballot notices to registered Democrats so they’d mail in their ballots a day late.

It looks like the Wisconsin Republican Party has hired big guns, James Bopp to get to the bottom of all this…Bopp is one of those who orchestrated the Citizens United, corporations are people too, lawsuit.  Back to the C&L article:

Turning the snark off for a moment, there is a real problem here; indeed, across the nation. Our voting system is being corrupted by Voter ID laws and hackable voting machines. As silly as I think it is to offer voting rewards programs, I also think we have a far deeper and more serious problem. Sending mailers with bogus dates on them is a far more egregious problem than having a barbeque or even handing out payola for voter quotas.

I’m not sure how this is all going to turn out, but I hope people start realizing how precious their votes are, and how easily they can be corrupted.

Have you noticed the sound of crickets coming from many of the main stream media outlets when it comes to the Occupy Wall St. protest?  From what I understand, NPR has avoided it as if the people occupying Wall St. were lepers. Why Establishment Media & the Power Elite Loathe Occupy Wall Street | The Dissenter

The organizers, who pride themselves in being “leaderless,” have sought to bring together a diverse crowd of various political persuasions. They have rallied behind the slogan, “We are the 99%,” to show they will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the top 1% in America. They have rallied against banks that engage in tax dodging while at the same time foreclosing on Americans’ homes and charging exorbitant interest rates on student loans putting young citizens in deep debt. They are rising up against increased unemployment and war against the poor in America. And they have used what is known as the General Assembly process to make decisions, which democratically gives all people present an opportunity to influence the continued organization of Occupy Wall Street.

Traditional media have characterized the plurality of voices and the number of issues the occupation is seeking to challenge as a weakness. Establishment media has been openly condescending. Ginia Bellafante’s report in the New York Times has generated significant attention for her focus on the fact that some “half-naked woman” who looks like Joni Mitchell to her is the leader of this movement of “rightly frustrated young people.” Bellafante accuses the protesters of lacking “cohesion” and “pantomiming progressivism rather than practice it knowledgeably.” NPR reiterated NYT’s focus on the “scattered nature of the movement” in its coverage of the occupation (and tellingly used a photo of a man holding a sign that reads “Satan Controls Wall St”). Local press have treated the occupiers as if they are a tribe or a group of nomads focusing on occupiers’ behavior instead of trying to understand the real reason why people are in the park.

Liberals have shown scorn, too, suggesting the occupation is not a “Main Street production” or that the protesters aren’t dressed properly and should wear suits cause the civil rights movement would not have won if they hadn’t worn decent clothing.

(photo: David Shankbone )

The latest show of contempt from a liberal comes from Mother Jones magazine. Lauren Ellis claims that the action, which “says it stands for the 99 percent of us,” lacks traction. She outlines why she thinks Zuccotti Park isn’t America’s Tahrir Square. She chastises them for failing to have one demand. She claims without a unified message police brutality has stolen the spotlight. She suggests the presence of members of Anonymous is holding the organizers back writing, “It’s hard to be taken seriously as accountability-seeking populists when you’re donning Guy Fawkes masks.” And, she concludes as a result of failing to get a cross-section of America to come out in the streets, this movement has been for “dreamers,” not “middle class American trying to make ends meet.”

Granted, some of the images of bare breasted women smiling for the cameras are annoying to me for obvious reasons, but the protest has gotten some momentum.

Ellis conveniently leaves out the fact that Occupy Wall Street is inspiring other cities to get organized and hold similar assemblies/occupations. Second, if the protesters did have one demand, does Ellis really think that would improve media coverage? Wouldn’t pundits then be casting doubt on whether the one demand was the appropriate singular demand to be making? Third, so-called members of Anonymous are citizens like Ellis and have a right to participate in the protest. It is elitist for Ellis to suggest Occupy Wall Street should not be all-inclusive. And, finally, there is no evidence that just “dreamers” are getting involved. A union at the City University of New York, the Industrial Workers of the World, construction workers, 9/11 responders and now a postal workers and teachers union have shown interest in the occupation.

You can read the rest at the link, it is a long post…so check it out if you can.  I wonder how many of those protesters voted for Obama?

Did you all catch the news that MTV has ditched Obama’s Get Out the Vote campaign? MTV Scratch | Get Out the Vote | Says They Can’t Help Obama Campaign | Mediaite

I remember these hipsters and young voters fawning over Obama…like he was the golden boy of the cool millennial crowd.

MTV told Obama‘s re-election campaign that they’re going to have to go it alone this year. According to a New York Post “exclusive,” the President’s Get Out the Vote campaign-within-a-campaign was declined service by MTV’s internal ad agency, MTV Scratch, which does not engage in political work. If they need to know what the kids want, they are going to have to figure it out themselves.

Get Out the Vote — a campaign run by Deputy Director of Public Engagement Buffy Wicks and aimed at increasing participation among young voters — is hoping to win back the affections of the millennial generation who helped elect Obama in 2008 but have since become discouraged by high unemployment rates. “The youth initiative is having trouble with big donors and youth votes,” says the Post‘s source. “They asked, ‘Can you tell us how we should be talking to them?’ ”

MTV Scratch apparently does know the millennial “speak” and can reach this pocket of the population, but what they don’t know…

…is politics. And so, several weeks after they’ve submitted their application, Get Out the Vote has been turned down. MTV has a long history of political involvement, running campaigns to get young voters registered and informed and hosting hard hitting town halls, and will likely find another way to be involved this cycle. Their involvement, however, has typically been non-partisan, and they have not, so far as I can tell, directly engaged with a particular campaign as this Post item suggests Get Out the Vote was hoping they would. Direct engagement between a Viacom property and a presidential re-election campaign sounds complicated for both parties.

With Obama losing the black vote, the Jewish vote and the small donor vote…this is a clear signal that he is losing the hipster-doofus vote. (Of course I jest about the doofus part.)

That is it for me, 2 am and I am beat, so I will stop here…but I’ll catch ya later in the comments!

Thursday Reads: S & P, the New Madrid Fault, the Gaddafis, and Obama in the Eye of Hurricane Irene

Good Morning!! I think I have some interesting reading for you today, so let’s get right to it.

Last night I wrote about Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein possibly being in trouble with the feds. Interestingly, on Monday another high-profile exec announced he’ll be stepping down. I’m referring to S&P president Deven Sharma. From The New York Times:

The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said late on Monday that its president, Deven Sharma, who has become the public face of the firm in the wake of its historic downgrade on the United States’ long-term debt rating, will step down and leave the company by the end of the year….

The management change had been in the works for months and was unrelated to either the Justice Department’s inquiry or to the emergence of the activist investors, Jana Partners and the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, according to people briefed on the matter.

Oh really? Kind of a strange coinky-dink, then, isn’t it?

The ratings agency’s decision to downgrade the United States’ long-term credit rating to AA+ from AAA on Aug. 5 set off a storm of controversy, including criticism by President Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. The decision contributed heavily to the worst drop in American stocks since the financial crisis three years ago, as well as volatility that continues to whipsaw the markets weeks later. The other big ratings agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, maintained their top-tier rating on United States debt.

At the same time, the agency is being investigated over whether it improperly rated mortgage securities in the years leading up to the financial crisis. Standard & Poor’s, along with the other major ratings agencies, gave their highest ratings to bundles of troubled loans that appeared less risky during the housing boom, but have since collapsed in value.

Since the financial crisis, the agencies’ business practices and models have been scrutinized by Congress, and Standard & Poor’s is also being investigated by the Justice Department, people briefed on the matter have previously said. At issue is whether the agency’s independent analysis was driven by profits. The Justice Department inquiry, which began before the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the United States’ debt, is centered on whether analysts’ decisions to assign securities a low credit rating on subprime mortgage loans were overruled by business managers.

Right. I’m sure none of that had anything to do with the president of the troubled company stepping down. /snark

The Financial Times has a piece on the incoming president, Douglas Peterson.

As head of Citigroup’s Japanese operations in 2004, Mr Peterson dramatically bowed in apology before Tokyo regulators after they shut down Citi’s private banking operations there.

Now, as he takes over the embattled ratings agency just weeks after its unprecedented downgrade of US credit, Mr Peterson is likely to find himself before regulators in the US, who are looking into the downgrade and reportedly investigating S&P’s ratings of mortgages before the financial crisis.

Yet, it is Mr Peterson’s experience in Japan, and his more recent turn running Citibank, the retail banking arm of Citigroup, that has given S&P’s owner McGraw-Hill confidence that he is the right man for the job.

Seven years ago, Mr Peterson was given the tricky task of mending relations with Japanese regulators and rebuilding Citi’s tarnished reputation after the US bank’s private banking unit was found to have illegally amassed large profits and was ordered to close down.

By all accounts, the affable Mr Peterson, who is widely described in Tokyo as “nice” and “sincere”, succeeded in reassuring the Financial Service Agency and the Japanese public alike that Citi could once again be trusted with the considerable financial assets of one of the largest economies in the world.

IOW, Peterson has been hired because of his pleasing personality and his ability to make friends and influence people.

But Sean Gregory at Time argues that “A New Leader Won’t Save S&P.”

It’s tempting to read the resignation of Deven Sharma, who stepped down as president of S&P Monday night, as an admission that the rating agency goofed in downgrading the United States’ sovereign rating from AAA to AA+, even as Fitch and Moody’s maintained America’s top grade. Warren Buffett said the U.S. should be rated “quadruple A.” The Treasury department complained that S&P overestimated the nation’s future debt by $2 trillion. Timothy Geithner said that the S&P decision shows “a stunning lack of knowledge about basic U.S. fiscal budget math. And I think they drew exactly the wrong conclusion from this budget agreement.”

Guess Sharma and Geithner won’t be hanging out at any holiday parties. If the S&P downgrade was indeed a mistake, it was an expensive one. In the week after the Aug. 5 S&P downgrade, according to Bloomberg, the market value of global stocks tumbled by $7.6 trillion. Sharma, a former Booz Allen Hamilton consultant who has headed S&P for the past four years, might not be trumping this fact on his newly-polished resume. So you’re the guy who cost the world $7.6 trillion in wealth? You’re hired!

Like FT, Gregory points out that S&P has been shopping for a new leader for months, mostly because Sharma has failed the company in a number of ways. So will a new president make a difference? No, because the ratings agencies simply aren’t qualified to evaluate the credit of sovereign states.

There’s a frightening earthquake story at The Daily Beast: The Quake We Should Fear. Apparently it’s the Midwest that is due for a big one–not the east coast.

Early in the morning of May 16, while most of America was being titillated and transfixed by the appearance in court of the then-suspect Dominique Strauss-Kahn, an urgent message was suddenly received at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, D.C.

Reports were streaming in of a catastrophic earthquake, magnitude 7.7, that had struck the Midwest near the town of Marked Tree, Ark. First reports were alarming: phenomenal property damage; casualty figures were unprecedented; transportation links were severed; and cities like St. Louis, Memphis, Little Rock, and Cincinnati had been thrown into utter turmoil. Eight states were believed to have been directly affected, and it was thought the death toll would be in the thousands.

A gigantic federal relief mission swung into action. Nine thousand National Guardsmen were ordered to be deployed. Triage centers were opened in all the affected cities—a list that grew longer as a secondary magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck close to the city of Mt. Carmel, Ill. The Red Cross deployed emergency teams. Power companies were given priority to restore electricity and gas supplies. Heavy equipment was sent in to clear highways and railway tracks.

Within 72 hours some kind of order was restored. Hospitals found themselves more able to cope with the vast number of patients suffering injuries. Refugees fleeing in panic were being assembled into special camps. Temporary tent cities were set up along the main refugee routes.

Huh? Oh wait. That was a FEMA exercise. But it was based on the real possibility of a major earthquake on the Madrid fault. It’s happened before and is due to happen again.

This year marks the bicentennial of the great swarm of earthquakes that afflicted New Madrid between December 1811 and February 1812—hundreds of them, day after day, but punctuated by four enormous ruptures, two occurring on Dec. 16, and one each on Jan. 23 and Feb. 7. These caused spectacular effects all across the then young, sparsely settled United States—toppling church steeples in South Carolina, ringing church bells in Boston, causing the Mississippi to reverse it course, and sinking numerous properties deep into the liquefied earths of the prairies.

Yikes! But I’m still worried that Boston hasn’t had a major earthquake since 1755–so we’re probably due also.

Yesterday I came across a couple of interesting stories on Muammar Gaddafi and his son Saif that you might want to check out.

From Scientific American: Egotist Rex: Are a Dictator’s Defiant Statements Indicative of Self-Delusion? It’s an interview with George Washington University Professor of Psychiatry Jerrold Post.

The interviewer asks Post about the many bizarre statements that Gaddafi has made since the rebellion began. He seems out of touch with reality. Is he delusional? Post discusses the circles of sycophants that surround every world leader–this may make it difficult for the leader to see what is really happening outside this protective bubble of supporters.

They can have a very unrealistic understanding and believe, as Qadhafi stated again and again, “My people, they all love me.”

I found this language of his quite remarkable. And with Qadhafi as an exaggerated example, this is true of any of the other leaders, too—namely, they believe they have widespread support. If there are public demonstrations against them, that must reflect outside agitators. This was true with [ousted Egyptian president Hosni] Mubarak as well. He spoke of outside conspiracies.

But it is particularly true of Qadhafi. There is an interesting kind of almost syllogism for him: “My people all love me, and therefore if there is anyone protesting against me, they are not really my people, and that must be a consequence of outside provocation.” And one of the points that he made early on was that this was crazed youth who were on hallucinogens with which their Nescafe had been laced, which I thought was rather creative, really.

I found Qadhafi’s language in general very striking. And what is most interesting about it is it is entirely in the first person singular: “My people all love me. They will support me. My people, they love me.” It was very “me” centered.

Next the interviewer asks whether narcissism is a characteristic of many national leaders? The response could perhaps be applied to someone a little closer to home, if you know what I mean. Check it out.

Vanity Fair has a new article up about Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi. It’s rather long, but here’s the introductory paragraph:

Saif al-Islam Qaddafi—son of Muammar, and long regarded as his heir—was subjected to an arrest warrant months ago by the Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Libyan rebels in Tripoli reported that he was in custody, but Saif soon appeared in public, rallying what’s left of pro-Qaddafi forces. As NATO bombs fell on Libya, the distinguished international lawyer Philippe Sands sat down with those who know Saif Qaddafi best—a London professor, his Libyan mentor, and the prosecutor who may decide his fate. Saif Qaddafi may claim that he was merely an intermediary, or a force for moderation, or perhaps even a victim. But whatever the claims, according to the prosecutor, he was deeply complicit in his father’s crackdown this year.

Hurricane Irene could become a category 3 sometime today. It’s still predicted to go right up the coast to New England. States all along the east coast are preparing for the worst. Will it hit the Cape and islands? The LA Times suggests President Obama might have to be evacuated.

First, President Obama’s golf game was interrupted by an earthquake. Now, it appears that Hurricane Irene is beating a path toward Martha’s Vineyard, where the president is vacationing with his wife and two daughters.

The National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast shows Hurricane Irene reaching landfall in the Carolinas late Friday and early Saturday before raking its way up the East Coast and into New England. Coastal areas are urged to keep tabs on the storm’s path and remain alert for possible evacuation orders as the hurricane continues to grow in intensity.

It swelled to a Category 3 storm overnight with winds that could exceed 110 mph, and remains on track to gain in strength and ferocity to become a Category 4 hurricane.

Obama is supposed to be in Washington on Sunday to speak at the opening of the Martin Luther King Memorial and then return to the Vineyard. The storm is supposed to hit DC before moving up to Massachusetts.

The eye of the storm appears to be sticking to the coastal outlines, which could spell trouble for Martha’s Vineyard, an island accessible only by boat or plane. As it has done throughout the storm, the National Hurricane Center stresses that the projected path could change dramatically as weather projections come into sharper focus over the next several days.

Hmmm…. Perhaps Mother Nature is trying to send a message to our obtuse leader: Americans need jobs!! Or maybe not.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. What are you reading and blogging about?