Archive for April 7, 2010

Why Isn’t Fox Going Wall-to-Wall With the Denver “Shoe Bomber?”

BREAKING NEWS (per Fox, below):  “Air Marshals Reportedly Stop ‘Shoe Bomb’ Attempt on Jet from D.C. to Denver.”

So why isn’t Fox going to breathless, hyperventilating wall-to-wall BREAKING NEWS, this is a FOX NEWS ALERT-type stuff?

UPDATE:  Could it be because the “suspect” turns out to be a Qatari ($$oil$$) diplomat?

April 7, 2010 at 9:50 PM 2 comments

Tweet of the Day — Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) and Jews

From David Corn:

Don’t get it?  Here’s a hint.

April 7, 2010 at 9:38 PM Leave a comment

Rupert Murdoch: Greta Van Susteren “Doesn’t Do Many Political Stories”

Rupert Murdoch attended a gig at the National Press Club last night.  During the Q & A he was asked to name a single Democrat who worked for Fox.  After a long pause, he threw out Greta Van Susteren’s name:

She doesn’t do many political stories. She is just a great journalist… but people who have been involved in Democratic politics and so on, yeah we have people…

You know, Murdoch is spot on.  Van Susteren “doesn’t do many political stories” when Republicans are in office.  Back in 2007,  “The Words ‘Libby Trial’ Never Pass Van Susteren’s Lips.

April 7, 2010 at 8:34 PM Leave a comment

I Thought Republicans Were Opposed to Isolationism

Rush Limbaugh today:  “What are we doing having relationships with the Muslim world, anyway?”

April 7, 2010 at 6:54 PM Leave a comment

The Market’s Rising Too Fast? Ever Hear That When Bush Was in Office?

My local (Denver) NBC station  — 9News –  just went to a break with this promo:  “Is the market rising too fast?”

Gosh golly gee.  I don’t ever remember hearing a comment like that when the Bush administration was in power (and the financial crisis we’re experiencing right now was on the boil).

April 7, 2010 at 6:31 PM Leave a comment

Michele Bachmann Gives Chris Matthews an Orgasm

Chris Matthews on Hardball tonight, commenting on this:  “I was absolutely dazzled by Michele Bachmann’s development.”

I think the guy was having an orgasm right there on the set.

April 7, 2010 at 6:11 PM 1 comment

Porn Star Joins the Republican Party — Impressed By Voyeur Party in L.A.

Stormy Daniels, the porn star who has been flirting with a run for the senate from Louisiana for as long as I can remember, thought that the GOP’s decision to party at the Voyeur night club in Los Angeles was such a great idea, she switched parties:

“While this decision has not been an easy one, recent events regarding Republican National Committee fundraising at Voyeur, an L.A.-based lesbian bondage-themed nightclub, finally tipped the scales,” she said in a statement. “For me, this spirit can be summed up in the RNC’s investment of donor funds at Voyeur. As someone who has worked extensively in both the club and film side of the adult entertainment industry, I know from experience that a mere $1,900 outlay at a club with the reputation of Voyeur is a clear indication of a frugal investment with a keen eye toward maximum return.”

She added: “As is the case with so many of my fellow Louisianans, I have been a registered Democrat throughout my life. But now I cannot help but recognize that over time my libertarian values regarding both money and sex and the legal use of one for the other [are] now best espoused by the Republican Party.”

So woohoo!  The GOP is now the party of porn stars!!

April 7, 2010 at 6:05 PM Leave a comment

Unemployment Benefits Blocked — Republicans Who Did it Are Proud

Wow.  Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), the guy who blocked a vote on extending unemployment benefits just before congress adjourned for its Easter recess, said yesterday,

The easiest thing in the world is to pass this bill unpaid for, but consider the millions of Americans whose financial futures would be damaged, versus the relatively small amount of people who will be affected by this delay. Now you tell me which vote takes the most courage.

Let them eat cake, huh?  But Coburn is wrong:

Providing unemployment benefits is one of the most effective steps that a government can take in terms of economic stimulus, and unless the economy starts moving again, long-term deficits (“financial futures”) will never be brought under control. As the National Employment Law Project’s Judy Conti explained, “every economist from every side of the political spectrum will tell you that unemployment benefits are most stimulative when they are not offset. In the history of the unemployment program, we have never offset these programs.”

And then there’s the human angle. Because of Coburn and the GOP’s obstruction, more than 200,000 people per week will lose their benefits. About one million are slated to lose their benefits this month. And this is taking place while 44 percent of unemployed Americans (about 6.5 million people) have been unemployed for six months or more. Plus, the same package that Coburn blocked included a renewal of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), while the Northeast United States has been hard-hit by flooding.

If you thought this whole sordid episode would prompt some soul-searching among the GOP, you’d be mistaken. They are, instead, circuling the wagons around Coburn and trying to blame House Democrats (who objected to their proposed offset) for preventing the extension. In fact, Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-AZ) takeaway is that the GOP should have lent more support to Bunning when he blocked the extension. “We didn’t give [Bunning] as much help as we probably should have,” Kyl said. “It took an act of courage like Sen. Bunning’s to perhaps jolt people into the awareness of how bad it had really gotten.”

This is shameful.

April 7, 2010 at 4:42 PM Leave a comment

First Photo Ever of a Rare Colombian Hummingbird

This is very cool:

The first ever photo of a living Santa Marta Sabrewing is the first confirmation of the continued existence of this spectacular hummingbird in over 60 years. Stunningly, the area where the bird was found – the El Dorado Bird Reserve in the Santa Marta Mountains of northern Colombia – had been slated for development in 2006 for vacation homes, but was spared by a last minute land purchase through funding from American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Conservation International (CI), in cooperation with the Colombian conservation organization Fundación Pro Aves who expertly manages several bird reserves in Columbia.

The photograph was taken at El Dorado on 24 March by Laura Cardenas at about 6,200 feet elevation. Cardenas was monitoring migratory birds in the 1,600-acre reserve as part of a research project. This particular bird was caught in a mist net, banded, photographed, and released unharmed.

The Santa Marta Sabrewing, classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Endangered, is endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and is at high risk of extinction.

There have been occasional unconfirmed sightings by birders visiting the reserve and its environs since 2000. These sightings were typically single birds feeding in the forest canopy.

What a wonderful story!

April 7, 2010 at 3:49 PM Leave a comment

Break Time

Here are some b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l pictures of insects covered in dew, like this one:

(Photo:  Microslaw Swietek/Solent.)

April 7, 2010 at 2:54 PM Leave a comment

Right-Leaning Richmond, Va Newspaper Rips Republican Governor

You may have heard that yesterday, Virginia’s new Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, declared April “Confederate History Month.”  Nowhere in the proclamation did McDonnell mention the word “slavery,” which he later explained by saying that slavery wasn’t a “significant” event in that time period.

Today, the Richmond Times Dispatch, which endorsed McDonnell last fall, calling him a “moderate,” ripped into him in a short, but scathing editorial:

Gov. Bob McDonnell has proclaimed April as Confederate History Month. Although his proclamation quite properly recognizes the sacrifices of those who fought on behalf of the Confederacy, a hole lies in the statement’s heart.

McDonnell speaks of shared history, yet does not cite slaves. Southern heritage includes not only those who supported the Confederacy but those who welcomed the Union armies as liberators.

McDonnell recognizes that the past must be interpreted within the context not only of its times but of ours. The inexcusable omission reduces the slaves and their descendants to invisibility once again.

Good.

April 7, 2010 at 1:27 PM Leave a comment

People Still Blame Bush for the Economy

Yeah America!  You aren’t as dumb as the GOP thinks you are:  Poll:  George W. Bush Still Blamed for Economy.

April 7, 2010 at 1:13 PM Leave a comment

Rupert Murdoch Touts “Good, Ethical Journalism”

Rupert Murdoch spoke at the National Press Club last night and well, the guy’s just delusional:

Sarah Palin’s role on Fox News is as a commentator, not a journalist, according to media mogul and Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch also said ratings leap whenever the former Alaska governor is on, and “we’re not adverse to high ratings.”

The Fox News chief made the comments at the National Press Club on Tuesday night for a taping of the “Kalb Report.”

Murdoch said that he is not a Republican nor a

conservative, but “maybe a radical.”

He also said he believes in change, and that “sometimes strong change can be good.”

Murdoch also took on suggestions that Fox is a biased news source.

“There’s no conscious angling of the news,” Murdoch said.

Asked to name a Democrat on his news network, Murdoch paused for a bit before naming Greta Van Susteren.

“Greta Van Susteren is certainly close to the Democratic Party,” he said.

And when it comes to Fox’s rival networks, Fox sets the centrist example, according to Murdoch. Rival networks “tend to be Democrats. Let’s be honest about it,” Murdoch said.

Murdoch claims The New York Times “clearly has an agenda.” When asked to clarify that agenda, Murdoch replied, “Anything Mr. Obama wants.”

Murdoch maintains, however, that if Obama were to go through with the education reforms he has talked about so often, Murdoch would definitely support him.

April 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM Leave a comment

Alan Greenspan Rewrites History

The “Financial Crisis Inquiry Committee” kicked off three days of hearings today in Washington, D.C. in an examination of the financial crisis and the housing bubble.   Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan was the star witness. The gist of his testimony?  Don’t blame me:

In his testimony, Mr. Greenspan again defended the Federal Reserve against criticism that it failed to crack down on subprime mortgages during his lengthy tenure, pointing out that the Fed warned about subprime lending and low-down-payment mortgages in 1999, and again in 2001. He also said the Fed warned about unfair or deceptive practices by state-chartered banks in 2004.

….Mr. Greenspan also said that while Congress gave the Fed the authority in 1994 to prohibit unfair, deceptive and abusive lending practices, lawmakers left those definitions murky. There was no “prevailing sentiment within the Federal Reserve — and it was certainly not my view — that entire categories of loan products should be prohibited as ‘unfair’ or ‘abusive,’ ” he said.

So there you have it. Interest rates? Not the Fed’s fault. Deceptive lending practices? Not the Fed’s fault. Amazingly, the Fed was apparently completely powerless to do anything.

Compare that to what Greenspan said in 2008:

Badgered by lawmakers, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan denied the nation’s economic crisis was his fault on Thursday but conceded the meltdown had revealed a flaw in a lifetime of economic thinking and left him in a “state of shocked disbelief.”

Greenspan, who stepped down in 2006, called the banking and housing chaos a “once-in-a-century credit tsunami” that led to a breakdown in how the free market system functions. And he warned that things would get worse before they get better, with rising unemployment and no stabilization in housing prices for “many months.”

Greenspan, 82, acknowledged under questioning that he had made a “mistake” in believing that banks, operating in their own self-interest, would do what was necessary to protect their shareholders and institutions. Greenspan called that “a flaw in the model … that defines how the world works.”

He acknowledged that he had also been wrong in rejecting fears that the five-year housing boom was turning into an unsustainable speculative bubble that could harm the economy when it burst. Greenspan maintained during that period that home prices were unlikely to post a significant decline nationally because housing was a local market.

The Nile denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

April 7, 2010 at 11:27 AM Leave a comment

Rupert Murdoch’s Devious Business Model

Here’s an interesting article from Crikey, an Australian website, about how owning a money-losing business — such as a strategically placed newspaper like the Wall Street Journal — is an acceptable trade-off for Rupert Murdoch because in the end, it brings him power and influence:

When people talk about the need to create a new “business model” to pay for journalism, the implied formula is one that makes a profit.

But there’s another prevailing funding model for journalism that, while it appears to lose a lot of money, is highly profitable in a different currency — the currency of power and influence.

This is the Rupert Murdoch “subsidy model”  for funding his global flagship newspapers — The Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and The Australian — which between them last year lost an estimated $300 million, or even more*.

It’s a unique business model crafted by Murdoch for Murdoch, combining his two professional passions: publishing printed newspapers and parlaying those newspapers into political and financial power.

The fact that News Corporation loses a great deal of money on its flagship newspapers doesn’t necessarily mean this is not a profitable formula. It just depends on how you measure profits.

Without doubt, there is immense value for News Corp in owning strategically positioned newspapers to influence government policies  — like media and broadcasting legislation, ownership limits, cross-media regulations, foreign ownership laws  —  which have a direct impact on the company’s profits.

Murdoch is the real Citizen Kane.

April 7, 2010 at 10:51 AM Leave a comment

Winning Hearts and Minds

Understandably, Iraqis are outraged at the images of their countrymen being slaughtered by U.S. forces as shown in that video released by Wikileaks on Monday.

Earlier this week Wikileaks, a whistleblower website that publishes anonymously sourced documents, released a video showing the US military firing at a group of civilians in Baghdad three years ago.

The shooting left 12 people dead, including two employees of the Reuters news agency.

The Pentagon said it had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the tape, but that two investigations into the incident cleared the aircrew of any wrongdoing.

But victims’ relatives have told Al Jazeera they want the military personnel responsible for the deaths to be taken to court.

Two young children whose father was killed in the attack could not understand why they were targeted.

“We were coming back and we saw an injured man. My father said, let’s take him to hospital. Then I heard only the bullets … Why did they shoots us? Didn’t they see we were children?” said Sajad Mutashar, who was injured along with his sister.

His uncle, Satar, demanded the pilot be taken to court.

“Nobody gave the children anything, their rights are gone and the Americans didn’t even compensate for the destroyed car. I sold it for $500 to spend the money treating them,” Satar told Al Jazeera.

The US army says it has authorised payments to the family.

Hey, I’d feel the same way.

April 7, 2010 at 10:29 AM Leave a comment

Say What?

I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to follow Science magazine on Twitter.  For the most part, I have no idea what they’re talking about:

April 7, 2010 at 9:49 AM Leave a comment

Dean Baker Rips the Media For Failing to Warn About the Housing Bubble

Dean Baker over at the American Prospect is my go-to guy for financial and business news.  He doesn’t mess around and he doesn’t protect anyone (namely, big business).  He has a column up today ripping the mainstream media for not informing the public about the housing bubble:

Yeah, it’s all really really complicated. Except it isn’t.

Nationwide house prices had diverged from a 100-year long trend, increasing by more than 70 percent in real terms. There was no remotely plausible explanation for this run-up. What is hard to to understand to about this? What is complicated? Third grade arithmetic was all that was needed. It’s simple, not complicated.

The run-up in house prices was driving the economy. This was also really easy to see. The government publishes GDP data every quarter. The data showed that housing construction had exploded as a share of the economy. You just had to look at the data. It’s simple, not complicated.

The data also showed that consumption was booming and savings had fallen to near zero. This was driven by the well-known housing wealth effect. It’s simple, not complicated.

It was also easy to see the explosion in subprime and Alt-A loans that people were using to buy homes they could not otherwise afford. These loans were sure to reset at higher interest rates. This works until house prices stop rising. It’s simple, not complicated.

And, it was easy to see that house prices would stop rising. Vacancy rates were running at record levels. There is a concept called “supply and demand” in economics and the data showed that we had serious amounts of excess supply. It’s simple, not complicated.

And when house prices started to fall, we knew that millions of loans would go bad, construction would plummet and consumption would fall back to more normal levels. This implied a really bad recession and serious financial problems. It’s simple, not complicated.

So, Pearlstein is badly misleading reading when he tells us that it is all very complicated. Obviously the buffoons and hacks who either could not see the bubble or deliberately misled the public about it have good reason to tell everyone that it is all very complicated, but it isn’t and was not. They did not do their job.

Conceivably, if the public had known what was going on, a lot of pain could have been avoided.

I was monitoring Neil Cavuto over at Fox during this entire period (2004 – 2008).  He not only didn’t sound any warnings, he cheered the increase in homeownership almost weekly as an indication that the economy and the country as the whole were doing just great.

April 7, 2010 at 9:28 AM Leave a comment


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