It’s Not About JOBS, It’s About FRAUD


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If there’s one thing you can take to the bank, so to speak, in these times of political polarization in Washington it’s this-any bill that passes the House and Senate with margins like 390-23 and 73-26 isn’t, in the words of John Nance Garner, worth a warm bucket of spit. The recent passage of the so-called JOBS Act is no exception. The FRAUD Act would have been a more appropriate title. Facilitating Rampant And Unchecked Deceit.

(Just as an aside, giving bad legislation names with catchy acronyms like JOBS Act is a little trick the crooks in Congress have also learned. See PATRIOT Act.)

Under the pretense of being about making it easier for small businesses and startup companies to access capital, the JOBS Act is just another round of Wall Street deregulation that was such a rousing success leading up to the collapse of 2008. It weakens investor protection, eases SEC oversight and transparency rules, and guts much of Sarbanes-Oxley, which was passed in 2002 to prevent future Enrons from happening. Happy days are here again!

Here’s what Sen. Bernie Sanders had to say about it:

“At best, this bill could make it easier for con artists to defraud seniors out of their entire life savings by convincing them to invest in worthless companies. At worst, this bill has the potential to create the next Enron or Arthur Andersen scandal or an even worse financial crisis.”

Bloomberg has more. Lynn Turner, former SEC accountant:

“It won’t create jobs, but it will simplify fraud. This would be better known as the bucket-shop and penny-stock fraud reauthorization act of 2012,” he said, referring to practices banned under securities law.”

Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America:

“You don’t increase jobs growth by rolling back regulatory protections, and it’s frankly bewildering that the Democrats have been so willing to buy into the traditional Republican argument.”

Representative John P. Sarbanes of Maryland, one of 23 Democratic opponents in the House, warned colleagues in a letter that the bill could lead to an “Enron-Type fraud,” invoking the accounting scandal that led Congress to enact the law named for his father, former Senator Paul Sarbanes.

Bill Black:

“The JOBS Act is something only a financial scavenger could love. It will create a fraud-friendly and fraud-enhancing environment. It will add to the unprecedented level of financial fraud by our most elite CEOS that has devastated the U.S. and European economies and cost over 20 million people their jobs.”

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) proposed an amendment which would have limited corporations from making an end-run around SEC regulations, but the cowards in the Senate wouldn’t even go on the record against that, killing it with a voice vote.

Oh by the way, that amendment was opposed by the Chamber of Commerce and the American Bankers Association.

Guys are Guys, Regardless of Species


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I feel your pain, my little winged brother:

“They were young males on the make, and they struck out not once, not twice, but a dozen times with a group of attractive females hovering nearby. So they did what so many men do after being repeatedly rejected: they got drunk, using alcohol as a balm for unfulfilled desire.

Fruit flies apparently self-medicate just like many humans do, drowning their sorrows or frustrations for some of the same reasons, scientists reported Thursday.


Fruit flies as a rule will, like many humans, develop a taste for alcohol and, in time, a preference for the 15 percent solution. But the rejected flies drank a lot more on average, supping from the spiked mixture about 70 percent of the time, compared with about 50 percent for their sexually sated peers.

The researchers conducted several additional experiments to rule out other explanations. The flies were apparently using the alcohol as a way to compensate for their frustrated desire.”

FYI, fruit fly. A little country music also helps:

A bug in his margarita? Must have been a fruit fly.

Somebody’s Watching Me



The new National Anthem:

Because they are, or soon will be:

“Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.

The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.”

It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted.

According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”


[F]or the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.”

Who Cares If It’s True, It Sounds Scary


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At something called the American Heartland Forum, held just before the Missouri Republican primary in February, Rick Santorum made some incredible claims during an interview with James Dobson. Santorum alleged that people in the Netherlands wore bracelets that read, “Do Not Euthanize Me,” that 10% of all deaths in the Netherlands were the result of euthanasia, and that half of those were forced euthanasia. The point of these assertions was that “Obamacare” would lead America down the same road. From Right Wing Watch:

Sounds pretty scary, right? Never mind that none of it is true. Jonathan Turley debunks Santorum’s “facts”:

“Clearly people can wear bracelets with their blood type or other instructions like do not resuscitate — as they do in this country. However, such bracelets are not needed in the Netherlands and Santorum’s comments appear to come as a surprise to people in that country.

[T]he number of people choosing euthanasia remains small and less than 3%. In 2010, 136,058 people died in the Netherlands and only 3136 did so through euthanasia. That is roughly 2.3% of the total deaths…In 2009, the annual report on euthanasia showed 2,636 cases of euthanasia — or 2 percent of all Dutch deaths.

As for those 50% of cases dispatched against their will, the Dutch law is extremely strict. It now only requires consent but a waiting period. If a doctor dispatches someone without their consent or satisfying the tight controls, he is charged with murder.

The doctor must document that he or she confirmed that the patient requesting euthanasia or assisted suicide is making a voluntary and informed request. The record must also show that the patient was suffering unbearably and was fully informed about the prospects. Then a second doctor must examine the patient and supply a second written opinion on the satisfaction of the criteria.”

Oops. Santorum’s press secretary was asked recently by a Dutch television reporter to explain the remarks:

Well that clears that up.

You Know…Morons


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New York Magazine reports on Public Policy Polling results:

PPP asks Republicans in Alabama, “Do you think Barack Obama is a Christian or a Muslim, or are you not sure?” Guess how many say Christian? 14%! Among the remaining 86%, “Muslim” slightly leads “not sure,” 45%-41%.

But the Alabama Republicans are a thoroughly trusting lot in comparison with their Mississippi brethren. Among Mississippi Republicans, just 12% say Christian, 52% say Muslim, and 36% aren’t sure.

The poll also finds that two-thirds of the Republicans in both states do not believe in evolution. Two-thirds of Alabama Republicans also believe interracial marriage ought to be legal, compared with 54% of Mississippi Republicans.”

Why do I hear banjos playing?


Can We Leave Now?


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The Afghanistan quagmire just gets uglier and uglier:

“Stalking from home to home, a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan early on Sunday, igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility, Afghan and American officials said.

Residents of three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province described a terrifying string of attacks in which the soldier, who had walked more than a mile from his base, tried door after door, eventually breaking in to kill within three separate houses. The man gathered 11 bodies, including those of 4 girls younger than 6, and set fire to them, villagers said.


The officials said the suspect was an Army staff sergeant who acted alone and then surrendered…A senior American military official said Sunday evening that the sergeant was attached to a unit based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a major Army and Air Force installation near Tacoma, Wash., and that he had been part of what is called a village stabilization operation in Afghanistan…Another senior military official said the sergeant was 38 and married with two children. He had served three tours of duty in Iraq, this official said, and had been deployed to Afghanistan for the first time in December.”

Republican hawk and supporter of starting yet another war in Iran, Lindsey Graham, shrugged it off as ‘oh well, shit happens’:

“While this is tragic and will be investigated that soldier will be held accountable for his actions under the military justice system, unfortunately these things happen in war,” Graham said on ABC’s “This Week.” “You just have to push through these things.”

“The surge of forces have really put the Taliban on the defensive. The Afghan Army is better equipped and better trained than ever….I hope that the strategy partnership agreement between the United States and Afghanistan will stop the narrative we’re leaving,” Graham said on ABC. “We can win this thing. We can get it right.”

Yes, the Afghan armed forces are well equipped and trained, and are turning that equipment and that training on NATO forces at an increasing rate:

“Afghan security personnel have killed “around 70 members of the NATO force … in 42 insider attacks from May 2007 through January 2012,” Reuters reported, based on statistics provided by the US Department of Defense. Fifteen of the ISAF soldiers, or more than 20 percent, have been killed in the last seven weeks, according to press releases issued by ISAF.”

John McCain, advocate for military intervention in Syria, called the shootings just “one of those things”:

“It’s one of those things that you cannot explain except to extend your deepest sympathy to those victims and see that justice is done,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Cannot explain? Not to in any way excuse the actions of this sergeant, but this is the result of decade long wars requiring repeated deployments by an all-volunteer military. We seem to lose sight of the fact that our men and women in uniform are human beings, not robots. They are subject to human failings, like the psychological toll war takes on those who face death day after day after day, tour after tour after tour, and the actions that can result from that kind of constant stress.

Very few of us know because the burden of war is borne by a very small percentage of our population. Which explains things like this recent Pew poll showing 58% of Americans favor military action in Iran. Of course they do. It doesn’t cost the vast majority of them one dollar or one sleepless night worrying about the well-being of a loved one.
Two points. First, we need to get out of Afghanistan ASAP. Two more years or ten more years there won’t matter. Al-Qaeda is gone, bin Laden is dead. Mission accomplished, time to bring our soldiers home.

Second, a proposal for Sens. Graham, McCain and the 58% polled by Pew. Any US military intervention in any country from this point forward will be accompanied by a draft and a 10% income tax surcharge to pay for it. Let’s see how hot they are to go to war then.

Feckless? I Don’t Think So, Mitt


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As I was reading Mitt Romney’s saber-rattling, tough talking, op-ed on Iran in the Washington Post yesterday, what jumped out at me was where Romney called President Obama “America’s most feckless president since Carter,” Feckless. Unsure of the meaning I did what any self-respecting 21st century American would do–I Googled it. Here’s what I found:

1. Lacking purpose or vitality; feeble or ineffective.
2. Careless and irresponsible.

Careless and irresponsible. Maybe it’s just me, but I would consider the epitome of carelessness and irresponsibility in an American president to be rushing headlong into another war. Another war based on dubious claims from the usual suspects that if we don’t act immediately we face the imminent threat of seeing mushroom clouds over American cities. Haven’t we been here before?

President Obama properly addressed Romney, and the other Republican presidential candidates who have pretty much echoed Romney’s hawkishness, at his press conference yesterday:

“What’s said on the campaign trail, you know, those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities,” Obama said. “They’re not commander in chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war. I’m reminded of the decision that I have to make, in terms of sending our young men and women into battle, and the impacts that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy…“This is not a game,” Obama continued. “And there’s nothing casual about it.”

Careless and irresponsible. I don’t think so, Mitt.

One more thing about Romney’s op-ed. He closes with this:

“We can’t afford to wait much longer, and we certainly can’t afford to wait through four more years of an Obama administration. By then it will be far too late.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said much the same thing in his speech at AIPAC:

“Israel has patiently waited for the international community to resolve this issue. We’ve waited for diplomacy to work, we’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer,” he said.”

One thing to keep in mind when listening to the ‘we can’t wait’ crowd in Israel and in America. This ain’t the first time these boys have cried wolf:

1984: West German intelligence sources [say] that Iran’s production of a bomb “is entering its final stages.” US Senator Alan Cranston claims Iran is seven years away from making a weapon.

1992: Israeli parliamentarian Benjamin Netanyahu tells his colleagues that Iran is 3 to 5 years from being able to produce a nuclear weapon – and that the threat had to be “uprooted by an international front headed by the US.”

1992: Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres tells French TV that Iran was set to have nuclear warheads by 1999.

[I]n early 1992 a task force of the House Republican Research Committee claimed that there was a “98 percent certainty that Iran already had all (or virtually all) of the components required for two or three operational nuclear weapons.”

1995: The New York Times conveys the fears of senior US and Israeli officials that “Iran is much closer to producing nuclear weapons than previously thought” – about five years away – and that Iran’s nuclear bomb is “at the top of the list” of dangers in the coming decade.

1998:..Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reports to Congress that Iran could build an intercontinental ballistic missile – one that could hit the US – within five years.

‘Nuff said.

When Is an Apology Not an Apology?


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When it comes from a radio talk-show host who’s hemorrhaging sponsors and trying to cover his ample backside. After his feeble attempt at an apology on Saturday went over like a lead balloon, Rush Limbaugh began his show on Monday with another try. I suppose to his loyal followers and those who may have been listening for the first time after Slutgate blew up, it might have been acceptable and believable, but for those who have heard him before, not so much.

Rush began this version of his non-apology by saying that his major error was in descending to the level of those who are willing “to say anything or do anything to advance their agenda”–something that he would never ordinarily do (chortle, chortle). Then he repeated the phrase “those two words” five times:

“Against my own instincts, against my own knowledge, against everything I know to be right and wrong I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke.  That was my error.  I became like them, and I feel very badly about that.  I’ve always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program.  Nevertheless, those two words were inappropriate.  They were uncalled for. They distracted from the point that I was actually trying to make, and I again sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her.  I do not think she is either of those two words.  I did not think last week that she is either of those two words.”

So I guess the part about Ms. Fluke posting sex videos on the internet wasn’t out of bounds? OK then.

That was as close to an apology as he got. From there it became a diatribe against the “socialist agenda” of President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress who wanted to steer the direction of Darrell Issa’s Oversight Committee hearing away from its original intent of Obama’s unconstitutional attack on the Catholic Church, and make the hearing all about contraception. This was the goal because, according to Rush, “Obama is sorely hurting with women in preelect polls.” Not any more, Rush. Thanks to you and your Republican buddies:

“It’s looking like President Barack Obama may be back in the good graces of women. His support dropped among this critical constituency just before the new year began and the presidential campaign got under way in earnest. But his standing with female voters is strengthening, polls show, as the economy improves and social issues, including birth control, become a bigger part of the nation’s political discourse.

…An AP-GfK poll conducted Feb. 16-20 showed that on overall approval Obama has gained 10 percentage points among women since December, from 43 percent to 53 percent…In one-on-one matchups, Obama beats Romney 54 percent to 41 percent and tops Santorum 56 percent to 40 percent among women…”

Then Rush launched into yet another personal attack on Sandra Fluke. She may not be a slut and a prostitute, but she’s a liar:

“Sandra Fluke gave vague examples based on unnamed friends who she says couldn’t afford birth control to treat medical conditions they had, since Georgetown University wouldn’t pay for them. Georgetown paid for all of their other medical treatment, but it wouldn’t pay for the birth control pills that these doctors prescribed should they be necessary — or so she says. We still don’t know who any of these friends of hers are, these other women, and we don’t know what happened to them. Her testimony was hearsay, and it was unprovable.


So Sandra Fluke, a 30-year-old birth control activist gives unverified and inexpert testimony about how Georgetown’s long-standing and public policy has hurt her unnamed friends. And let’s be clear on something else. I haven’t called Georgetown to see if they pay for birth control pills when being used to treat her medical conditions. I have no idea if they do or don’t.”

A liar who should have gone to school somewhere else:

“Georgetown is a Jesuit University. It’s Jesuits, run by the Jesuits, which are a Catholic order of priests. Their policy on birth control is not exactly a secret. It’s not given to you in a sealed envelope after you sign up. It’s out there for everybody to see. It’s a Catholic university! Everybody that goes to there knows. Miss Fluke stated on occasion she went there specifically to change the policy. If birth control insurance is important to you as an enrolling student, and you find out that Georgetown doesn’t offer it, you might want to attend (or work at) a school that isn’t run by Catholics. I mean, just a thought.”

So by that logic, James Meredith shouldn’t have applied for admittance to the University of Mississippi. He knew their policy was ‘whites only.’ He should have just gone to a school that wasn’t run by racists. Just a thought.

Rush’s one-time lapse in judgment was also the fault of the Cybercast News Service:

“The story at the Cybercast News Service characterized a portion of her testimony as sounding like (based on her own financial figures) she was engaging in sexual activity so often she couldn’t afford it. I focused on that because it was simple trying to persuade people, change people’s minds.”

Then after 10 minutes of shirking responsibility and accountability, Rush closed with this:

“I am huge on personal responsibility and accountability…”

Nice try, big guy. I’m looking forward to Apology Part III. Coming soon to a radio station near you.


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