Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beat the Press | The Media Continue to Ignore Welfare for Citi Shareholders:
"The article even includes a bizarre statement to discourage those who oppose welfare for the super-rich: 'Nationalizing Citigroup outright would be a huge challenge, given the company’s size and international sweep. In countries like Mexico, for instance, a state-controlled bank might run afoul of local ownership regulations.'

This could almost be a line in a comedy routine -- Mexico is going to keep the United States from putting a bankrupt bank in receivership. It's too bad that the NYT didn't identify anyone who made such a statement, we all could ridicule this person until they faded from public life."

God bless Dean Baker! Righteous indignation when it is called for. Why isn't HE running the Treasury?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Senators to be grounded until tax bill OKd:
"The budget agreement contains nearly $16 billion in cuts, $11 billion in borrowing and more than $14 billion worth of temporary tax increases that all but a few Republican lawmakers have criticized as the deal killer. But as the budget impasse hit day 103 on Monday, state finance officials said they would have to pull the plug on the public works projects that have been allowed to continue thus far. In December, state finance officials said the state's fiscal crisis was so dire that they needed to halt financing for 5,600 construction projects across the state. Then last month, they agreed to exempt 276 projects that were either too far along in construction or would cost the state too much to halt and restart later. Now, those projects would have to be halted as well, Genest said."

Okay, enough. California needs to amend the 2/3 majority rule for budget passage, and to eliminate propositions from impacting the budget directly. I don't like taxes either, but they are a necessary evil if you want an orderly, functioning society. And believe me, try making money in a chaotic, dysfunctional society and see what good it does you to have your precious low tax rate.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Martz: 'People are determined to keep me out' - NFL- nbcsports.msnbc.com:
"“Maybe at some point in time he had a reputation of being arrogant or whatever but when we had him here, I worked with him, we had a lot of conversations and I felt very comfortable with him,” says Singletary. “We spent many hours together. You hear about Mike: ‘The guy’s arrogant. He’s tough to work with. He wants to throw ball all the time ... bottom line for me is he really tried to do what I asked him to do. My approach with him was I didn’t come at him as ‘I’m head coach around here.’ When you come at Mike Martz, you have to do it in a respectful way. Mike can be a very nice guy. But if you ask 10 people, you may get 10 different answers.”"

Lazy journalists love labels. It's shorthand for a story. And the laziest sports journalists work in television. Every time Mike Martz's name is mentioned on a football chat show, or during a game, the word "arrogant" is used. Never, NEVER have I heard an explanation or a basis ever explained. Even in print, they often just repeat the phrase without any backup whatsoever. To get to be a head coach in the NFL, you need to believe in yourself. This, in Martz's case, is called "having a big ego". Believing in your abilities and philosophy is called "arrogance". Now I ask you, why isn't Mike Singletary called arrogant when he demands that the offense by run-oriented? Why isn't that called run-happy?

Mike Martz is smart, knows how to be a head coach, players really like him. The current vogue in the NFL is for unproven head coaches. Hopefully Mike will be back soon.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Playing God in the Garden - New York Times:
"A few days later, once the slips of potato stem have put down roots, they're moved to the potato greenhouse up on the roof. Here, Glenda DeBrecht, a horticulturist, invited me to don latex gloves and help her transplant pinky-size plantlets from their petri dish to small pots. The whole operation is performed thousands of times, largely because there is so much uncertainty about the outcome. There's no way of telling where in the genome the new DNA will land, and if it winds up in the wrong place, the new gene won't be expressed (or it will be poorly expressed) or the plant may be a freak. I was struck by how the technology could at once be astoundingly sophisticated and yet also a shot in the genetic dark.

''There's still a lot we don't understand about gene expression,'' Stark acknowledged. A great many factors influence whether, or to what extent, a new gene will do what it's supposed to, including the environment. In one early German experiment, scientists succeeded in splicing the gene for redness into petunias. All went as planned until the weather turned hot and an entire field of red petunias suddenly and inexplicably lost their pigment. The process didn't seem nearly as simple as Monsanto's cherished software metaphor would suggest.

When I got home from St. Louis, I phoned Richard Lewontin, the Harvard geneticist, to ask him what he thought of the software metaphor. ''From an intellectual-property standpoint, it's exactly right,'' he said. ''But it's a bad one in terms of biology. It implies you feed a program into a machine and get predictable results. But the genome is very noisy. If my computer made as many mistakes as an organism does'' -- in interpreting its DNA, he meant -- ''I'd throw it out.''

You really have to read the entire article, and then try to figure out a way to deal with your overwhelming rage. Monsanto is so completely unconcerned about anything other than making money it's almost a parody. Unfortunately, it is an all too real beast in the world and a very effective one at that. It is to the biotech industry what Enron was to the energy industry. Yeah it's that bad.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Daschle withdraws as nominee for HHS secretary:
"'It really sets us back a step,' said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. 'Because he was such a talent. I mean he understood Congress, serving in the House and Senate; he certainly had the confidence of the president.' Said White House spokesman Gibbs: 'We're looking for a new nominee, but the problem has existed for quite some time and the work toward a solution to make health care more affordable won't stop or won't pause while we look for that nominee.'"

The only talent Daschle has is for sleazy schmoozing. He is on the payroll of the health insurance industry! How Obama could seriously think (and all indications are he still does) that this man was the solution to health care issues is beyond me. Look, this is not that difficult. The TRUE solution is ridiculous simple. The complications come in when you are beholden to private industry that has fed off the miseries of millions of Americans for so long they see it as their right to continue their craven, cruel ways. As I've said before, the best answer is Medicare for all. Single payer health insurance coverage is the only way to go. We already pay more than enough to cover it, and it is dead simple and THE most efficient way by any measure you care to use.
Obama budget official withdraws for tax reasons - Yahoo! News
"'I recognize that your agenda and the duties facing your Chief Performance Officer are urgent,' Killefer wrote in the letter to the president, asking for her nomination to be withdrawn. 'I have also come to realize in the current environment that my personal tax issue of D.C. Unemployment tax could be used to create exactly the kind of distraction and delay those duties must avoid.'"

WTF? Is it that difficult to find competent individuals that HAVE paid their taxes like most people? And it doesn't appear these are minor issues like a missing receipt for charitable contributions but serious violations regarding payroll taxes, etc. Things that a lot of people would go to jail for. This is a serious problem.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Saboteur (1942)**
The script is not up to the challenge of sustaining a 2 hour chase film. Hitchcock tries his best to liven things up with imaginative scenarios like a circus trailer, and the climactic sequence in the Statue of Liberty is still thrilling, but it takes a long time to get there and the implausibility of it all is hard to dismiss.