Monthly Archives: March 2012

Bill Moyers addresses the paralysis of regulation of Wall Street.

Wall Street greed nearly wrecked our entire future, and still nothing much has been done about it, basically due to corruption of the electoral system. The two main guests of the program are former Senator Byron Dorgan, and former Citigroup Chairman John Reed. They don’t mince words. The fact that naked credit default swaps are still legal, that the too-big-to-fail banks are even bigger than before, and that one of our two political parties is about to nominate a vulture capitalist who argues that the regulations on Wall Street are too strict, is a sign of just how deeply rotten to the core the political system in this country has become.

But instead of this issue, we spend our time debating whether global warming is actually real, how much Social Security should be cut to please Standard and Poors, and how much birth control women should allowed to take.

Completely, totally dysfunctional.

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Republican idea of freedom: domination by corporations and Christian religions

David Atkins at Hulaballoo deconstructs what “freedom” really means to Republicans. After reading it, google “fascism”:

… when Republicans speak about “freedom” as their leaders did last night, they mean only two things: 1) the “freedom” of the super-rich to tilt the deck even farther in their favor while contributing nothing to the social supports that made them rich; and 2) the “freedom” of religious bigots to enforce their version on morality on everyone else. When they argue that President Obama is removing their freedoms, they refer not to his actual infringements on American freedoms, but rather his innocuous efforts at universal health insurance and 1990s era tax rates on the wealthy.

American conservatives don’t care about individual liberty. They arguably never have. The care only about preserving the right of private wealth and religious authority to abuse and oppress the rest of us without interference or intervention. The federal government is the ultimate restraint, elected by the people of this country, placed on their otherwise absolute authority, and they want it gone. They want the freedom to employ anyone they choose at any wage and at any age that they wish, and then cast them aside once they’re no longer useful. They want the “freedom” to stuff women back into the kitchen, minorities back into shantytowns, and gays back into the closet. That’s “freedom” to the conservative mind.

“Freedom” for them isn’t about everyone in this country having the opportunity to live life as they see fit. It’s about making sure that the most powerful private individuals, be they CEOs or church leaders, get to make the rest of us live the lives they see fit.:

I might add “freedom” to them is for corporations to be free to degrade and pollute our living spaces and our planet, achieved by starving our government through tax cuts.

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Sanford FL: Game on….

Image

Trayvon Martin, stalked and murdered, dead at age 17.

Seeing that the Sanford, Florida, police don’t care to protect children from stalker murderers, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if parents started arming their children with firearms. Either that, or move out, I’d say. Gun battles may ensue. But that’s what Florida wanted when they passed the “stand your ground” law, that’s what the NRA wanted, that’s what racists wanted, that’s what Republicans wanted, and they should get what they want. I expect by next year the legislature will vote to make automatic weapons and hand grenades freely available at convenience stores, to anyone who wants them. That should make the process more exciting, more like a John Wayne movie, more efficient.

Of course, to sane people, it may seem like a horrendous nightmare

ABC News was there exclusively as the 16-year-old girl told Crump about the last moments of the teenager’s life.

“He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man,” Martin’s friend said. “I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run.”

Eventually he would run, said the girl, thinking that he’d managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin.

“Trayvon said, ‘What, are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again and he didn’t answer the phone.”

The line went dead. Besides screams heard on 911 calls that night as Martin and Zimmerman scuffled, those were the last words he said.

Trayvon’s phone logs, also obtained exclusively by ABC News, show the conversation occurred five minutes before police first arrived on scene. The young woman’s parents asked that her name not be used, and that only an attorney could ask her questions.

Martin’s father, Tracey Martin, and mother, Sybrina Fulton, listened to the call along with ABC News, ashen-faced.

“He knew he was being followed and tried to get away from the guy, and the guy still caught up with him,” Tracey Martin said. “And that’s the most disturbing part. He thought he had got away from the guy and the guy back-tracked for him.”

The teen was killed by Zimmerman while walking back to his father’s fiancés home after stepping out to buy Skittles and some iced tea during the NBA All-Star Game. After weeks of relentless pressure, the Sanford Police have decided to release emergency and non-emergency calls placed during the incident.

But what are the concerns of friends, parents, families, when compared with the racist gun-toting fantasies of white men?

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Hamakaze Restaurant in Los Angeles: Japanese tapas and traditional

blackboard menu at Hamakaze

Located at 13327 Washington Blvd. Friendly and casual atmosphere, excellent and interesting food, no parking problems, reasonable prices. Tempura, sushi, Octopus balls, yum!!

see the food at their great website: Hamakaze

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There will be art: The Getty Villa and Getty Center in Los Angeles

Getty Villa

Getty Museum Courtyard

The late oil tycoon J. Paul Getty rather off-handedly created two massive monuments to himself in Los Angeles: The Getty Villa and the Getty Center, which are probably the leading tourist attractions for grownups (I would say “for adults,” but “adult” seems to mean “porn” these days). A much better use of massive oil profits than, say, spreading ignorance about anthropogenic global climate change. Although they are both billed as art museums, the architecture is what knocks your socks off.

The Villa, on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, requires reservations, which you can usually get online a day in advance in the winter, but more advance planning would be advisable at other times. Admission is free, but they do charge 15 dollars/vehicle for parking. The collection features antiquities of Greek, Roman and Etruscan origin. They are housed in a “campus” of buildings loosely based on the architecture of ancient Pompeii. Tours and films (and occasional lectures and symposia) are available free of charge and are listed in a little handout “Today at the Getty Villa”; early arrival is recommended to get the best selection. Flocks of docents, guards, and other staff are constantly at hand. The cafe is nice and the gift shop well-stocked.

Getty Center, which includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, is roughly ten times the size of the Villa. It is located in LA on the 405 just north of Sunset Blvd. Reservations are not required, admission is free, though there is a charge for parking. Closed Mondays and major holidays. The architecture (by Richard Meier), location and views are spectacular. A brief orientation film is shown continuously in the Museum entrance hall. The collections include a wide variety of art including photographs, sculpture, paintings and furniture. The modern era is under-represented. While the Impressionist collection is impressive, it is really in the medieval and religious collections that the Getty is unique among large American museums. Tours, lectures and other events are listed in “Today at the Getty Center”, available free in the Museum entrance hall. Audio devices are available to rent for $5, but are not necessary for the average tourist; the exhibits are largely self-explanatory. Food and beverages are available all over the campus. As for the Villa, the ideal plan would be to arrive at the Center early, have a pleasant and scenic lunch after a couple of hours, and wander about as long as the feet hold up, finishing at the gift/book shop. You can’t see it all in a day, unless that is your goal.

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Santa Clara: the little city that could…go bankrupt. [updated]

The joke is on Santa Clara

In spite of a citizen’s group protest, it appears that the San Francisco “professional” football “team,” the “49′ers”, with the cooperation of a few less than intelligent city council members (who will undoubtedly get seating priority), have hornswoggled the citizens of the tiny city of Santa Clara, CA, to go into debt to the tune of some 850 million dollars (or more, who can guess the final bill?), in order to build a stadium for said “team”  (which is actually a small group of spoiled millionaire trust funders). This, notwithstanding the experience of Cincinnati and other cities, or the fact that no benefits will accrue to said citizens. The name of the team will not change to the “Santa Clara 49′ers”. (although the owners did strike gold there). The only jobs that will result will be hourly parking lot attendants and hot dog hawkers. Meanwhile, the city will have to pay overtime to police and sanitation workers; drunken jerks will wander the streets, accosting citizens, urinating in alleys, vomiting on lawns, and tossing refuse from their vehicles; and the traffic will paralyze and pollute the area for 8 hours at least on every game day.

I hope that for the coming year, the city council will authorize a similar amount for the public schools, community colleges, public transit, street repair, updating the water supply and sewage treatment plant. Because, those would contribute to actual employment and opportunity, and quality of life for its citizens…

Oh, wait…

March 14, 2012: from the San Jose Mercury News, it appears that the city is skating on thin ice. Exact figures were not given but the city is on the hook for something around 800,000,000. If the interest rate is 3.5%, then the lease payments will almost exactly match the payments on a 40 year loan. However, if the interest rate is higher or the debt load is higher, the city will have to make money on other aspects of the deal, such as naming rights, seat licensing, and concerts, in order to come out even. Apparently they are planning on making several million on naming rights and about the same on concerts. Got news: naming rights will probably not go for more than a million, and concerts? who is going to play that venue? the Beatles? oh wait….
The city could easily lose a million dollars a year and 5 million a year is not out of the question. Not much you say? Tell that to the teachers, police and firemen who will get laid off by the city so they can go work as hot dog vendors and parking lot attendants? So this stadium deal may well COST jobs instead of creating them.
Unless the Oakland Raiders use the stadium (and why would they?), Santa Clara is in the jackpot.

obtw: Stockton.

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Yes, gasoline costs more, because easily-obtainable oil is depleted.

Get yourself a Chevy Volt; this isn’t going away.

The simple truth of the matter is this: most of the world’s easy reserves have already been depleted — except for those in war-torn countries like Iraq. Virtually all of the oil that’s left is contained in harder-to-reach, tougher reserves. These include deep-offshore oil, Arctic oil, and shale oil, along with Canadian “oil sands” — which are not composed of oil at all, but of mud, sand, and tar-like bitumen. So-called unconventional reserves of these types can be exploited, but often at a staggering price, not just in dollars but also in damage to the environment.

In the oil business, this reality was first acknowledged by the chairman and CEO of Chevron, David O’Reilly, in a 2005 letter published in many American newspapers. “One thing is clear,” he wrote, “the era of easy oil is over.” Not only were many existing oil fields in decline, he noted, but “new energy discoveries are mainly occurring in places where resources are difficult to extract, physically, economically, and even politically.”

Further evidence for this shift was provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in a 2010 review of world oil prospects. In preparation for its report, the agency examined historic yields at the world’s largest producing fields — the “easy oil” on which the world still relies for the overwhelming bulk of its energy. The results were astonishing: those fields were expected to lose three-quarters of their productive capacity over the next 25 years, eliminating 52 million barrels per day from the world’s oil supplies, or about 75% of current world crude oil output. The implications were staggering: either find new oil to replace those 52 million barrels or the Age of Petroleum will soon draw to a close and the world economy would collapse.

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Toola the sea otter, dead at 15.

Toola and one of her foster babies

link.

She taught mankind how to help her species, while she taught orphan sea otters how to live.

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Montana judge sent dirty joke about Obama’s mother because he disagrees with Obama’s policies

guess he didn't have the guts to include the joke?

Hmmm.

The guy Richard Cebull is a Republican, I take the racism as a given.

But the fact that he hates Obama’s policies so much that he was willing to jeopardize his job, tells me that he shouldn’t be hearing cases that involve Obama’s policies. Obama is the president, and his policies and his law enforcement policies are important factors in many federal cases, if not all of them, particularly when such hostility is present. 

Oh wait, this guy is a federal judge.

Are we clear?

is he going to recuse himself from all federal cases? how would that work? all his cases are federal.

In the letter, he says he doesn’t know what more he could do, aside from referring the matter to his Republican pals who will obviously giggle and do nothing…Here’s what more he can do:
Step the fuck down, assclown. Get yourself a real job, like a good Republican who deigns to suck off the federal teat.

 

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