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KY Tea Party vendor sells ‘Yup, I’m a Racist’ tee-shirt
07.05.2011
11:51 am
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Happy 5th of July! I hope everyone had a nice weekend. We certainly did, but then again, we weren’t anywhere near Lexington, Kentucky and this idiotic vendor of (patriotic?) racist tee-shirts.

The other tee this Tea partier sells reads: “INFIDEL: Everything I Need to Know About Islam I Learned on 9/11.”  Charming.

Here’s what Wonkette had to say about this gentleman and his wares:

This is how serious the birth control situation is in Kentucky, because broken condoms result in tragedies like this man, selling apparel to people who want to honor America’s founding dressed like hobo Klansmen.

This photo works on so many levels. It deserves a Pulitzer prize. So heavy meta. Someone who lives in the area should do a documentary about this guy. He’s such a ONE-MAN SYMBOL OF AMERICA TODAY.

I wonder how many of these tee-shirts he sold?
 

 
(With apologies to Wonkette for heisting their post, but this one is too good not to reblog.)

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.05.2011
11:51 am
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The U.S. Is a Kleptocracy
06.29.2011
01:04 pm
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A guest essay from Charles Hugh Smith, cross-posted from his Of Two Minds blog:

If we dare look at the plain facts of the matter, we have to conclude the U.S. is a kleptocracy not unlike Greece, only on a larger and slightly more sophisticated scale.

Yesterday, I noted that Greece Is a Kleptocracy; the U.S. is a kleptocracy, too. Before you object with a florid speech about the Bill of Rights and free enterprise, please consider the following evidence that the U.S. is now a kleptocracy worthy of comparison to Greece:

1. Neither party has any interest in limiting the banking/financial cartel. The original Glass-Steagal bill partitioning investment banking from commercial banking was a few pages long, and it was passed in a few days. Our present political oligrachy spends months passing thousands of pages of complex legislation that accomplishes essentially nothing.

As Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas Hoenig recently noted (in a rare admission by an insider—I wonder how long it will be before he “resigns to pursue other opportunities,” i.e. is muzzled):

The problem with SIFIs (“systemically important financial institutions,” a.k.a. too big to fail banks) is they are fundamentally inconsistent with capitalism. They are inherently destabilizing to global markets and detrimental to world growth. So long as the concept of a SIFI exists, and there are institutions so powerful and considered so important that they require special support and different rules, the future of capitalism is at risk and our market economy is in peril.

Do you really think Dodd-Frank and all the other “fooled by complexity” legislation has accomplished anything? Hoenig cuts that fantasy off at the knees:

As late as 1980, the U.S. banking industry was relatively unconcentrated, with 14,000 commercial banks and the assets of the five largest amounting to 29 percent of total banking organization assets and 14 percent of GDP.

Today, we have a far more concentrated and less competitive banking system. There are fewer banks operating across the country, and the five largest institutions control more than half of the industry’s assets, which is equal to almost 60 percent of GDP. The largest 20 institutions control 80 percent of the industry’s assets, which amounts to about 86 percent of GDP.

In other words, nothing has really changed from 2008 except the domination of the political process and economy by the financial cartel has been masked by a welter of purposefully obfuscating legislation. This is of course the exact same trick Wall Street used to cloak the risk of the mortgage-backed derivatives it sold as “low risk” AAA rated securities: by design, the instruments were so complex that only the originators understood how they worked.

That is the current legislative process in a nutshell. Much of the 60,000 pages of tax code are arcane because they describe loopholes and exclusions written specifically to exempt a single corporation or cartel from Federal taxes.

The U.S. is truly a kleptocracy because its political leadership actually has no interest in limiting the banking/financial cartel. When questioned why their “reforms” are so toothless, legislators wring their hands and bleat, “Honest, I wanted to limit the banks but they’re too powerful.” Spoken like a true kleptocrat.

2. Our stock markets are dominated by insiders. It is estimated that some 70% of all shares traded are exchanged in private “dark pools” operated by the TBTF banks and Wall Street, and the majority of the remaining 30% of publicly traded shares are traded by high-frequency trading machines that hold the shares for a few seconds, or however long is needed to skim the advantages offered by proximity to the exchange and speed.

If that’s your idea of an “open market,” then you’re the ideal citizen for a kleptocracy.

3. The rule of law in the U.S. has been divided into two branches: one in name only for the financial Elites and corporate cartels, and one for the rest of us mere citizens. Between corporate toadies on the Supreme Court who have granted corporations rights to spend unlimited money lobbying and buying legislators as a form of “free speech”—ahem, how can something that costs billions of dollars be “free”?—and vast regulatory brueacracies that saw nothing wrong with MERS and the complete corruption of land and mortgage transfer rules, the U.S. legal system is now a perfection of kleptocracy.

As economist Hernando de Soto observed in The Destruction of Economic Facts, the ForeclosureGate mortgage mess is not just a series of petty paperwork mistakes—it is the destruction of the entire system of trustworthy transfer of property rights for non-Elites:

Knowing who owned and owed, and fixing that information in public records, made it possible for investors to infer value, take risks, and track results. The final product was a revolutionary form of knowledge: “economic facts.”

Over the past 20 years, Americans and Europeans have quietly gone about destroying these facts. The very systems that could have provided markets and governments with the means to understand the global financial crisis—and to prevent another one—are being eroded. Governments have allowed shadow markets to develop and reach a size beyond comprehension. Mortgages have been granted and recorded with such inattention that homeowners and banks often don’t know and can’t prove who owns their homes. In a few short decades the West undercut 150 years of legal reforms that made the global economy possible.

The results are hardly surprising. In the U.S., trust has broken down between banks and subprime mortgage holders; between foreclosing agents and courts; between banks and their investors—even between banks and other banks.

Frequent contributor Harun I. summarized the reality of this political and financial coup by kleptocrats:

As described by Georgetown University bankruptcy expert Adam Levitin, in testimony to subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee, “If mortgages were not properly transferred in the securitization process, then mortgage-backed securities would in fact not be backed by any mortgages whatsoever, [and] could cloud title to nearly every property in the United States.” It would also raise the question of the legality of the resulting millions of foreclosures on American homeowners, since the banks cannot prove “ownership” of the foreclosed property.

The statement above gets to the elemental issue that apparently is lost on many otherwise intelligent people. This is not about frivolous claims based on technicalities. This is about securities fraud (theft) on a ludicrously massive scale. These so-called securities were sold to governments, pension funds and other financial institutions globally. Trillions were made by banks selling what is becoming clearly understood to be worthless pieces of paper and when the jig was up, which ultimately led to the destruction of economies globally, they made ordinary citizens the losers by sliding their worthless pieces of paper to the balance sheet of taxpayers worldwide.

And while some are quibbling over whether someone should get a free house, those who have perpetrated the greatest swindle in the history of mankind are about to get away with it, because they are “systemically important”, code for TBTF (too big to fail).

You think money laundering and tax evasion is a specialty only of Caribbean island “banking centers”? Think again; we have corporate oversight equivalent to that of Somalia. U.S.A. a haven for corporate money laundering: A little house of secrets on the Great Plains:

Among the firm’s offerings is a variety of shell known as a “shelf” company, which comes with years of regulatory filings behind it, lending a greater feeling of solidity. “A corporation is a legal person created by state statute that can be used as a fall guy, a servant, a good friend or a decoy,” the company’s website boasts. “A person you control… yet cannot be held accountable for its actions. Imagine the possibilities!”

“In the U.S., (business incorporation) is completely unregulated,” says Jason Sharman, a professor at Griffith University in Nathan, Australia, who is preparing a study for the World Bank on corporate formation worldwide. “Somalia has slightly higher standards than Wyoming and Nevada.”

The U.S. was declared “non-compliant” in four out of 40 categories monitored by the Financial Action Task Force, an international group fighting money laundering and terrorism finance, in a 2006 evaluation report, its most recent. Two of those ratings relate to scant information collected on the owners of corporations. The task force named Wyoming, Nevada and Delaware as secrecy havens. Only three states - Alaska, Arizona and Montana - require regular disclosure of corporate shareholders in some form.

4. Just as in Greece, taxes are optional for the nation’s financial Elites. In Greece, you don’t mention your swimming pool to avoid the “swimming pool tax.” Here in the U.S., that sort of tax avoidance is against the law (smirk). Here, you hire a Panzer division of sharp tax attorneys and escape taxation legally (well, mostly legally—whatever it takes to win).

If you are unfortunate enough to be a successful small entrepreneur who nets $100,000 a year, you pay 15.3% self-employment and 25% Federal tax on the bulk of your income, a combined rate of 40.3%, and a combined rate of 43.3% on all income above $82,400.

Those who net millions pay less than half that amount, somewhere between 17% for the top 1/10th of 1% and 21% for the top 1%: Citizens for Tax Justice, which looks at all taxes paid including federal, state and local taxes, said that in 2010 the top 1 percent of earners will pay 21.5 percent of taxes.

Note that the 21.5% paid by the top 1% includes all state and local taxes. Here in California, the small businessperson earning $100,000 pays between 5% and 9% state tax, so their combined state and Federal tax burden on their highest earnings is a whopping 50%. Then there are property taxes and the 9.5% sales tax, and endless junk fees skimmed from small business. Add all that together and the total taxes paid rises to the 60% level, or roughly triple what the top 1% pay.

(Bitter note from a tax donkey: To all those tax-and-spenders who whine that California has “low taxes,” please pay my “low” property tax bill, will you? It’s “only” $11,000 a year.)

Super Rich See Federal Taxes Drop Dramatically:

The Internal Revenue Service tracks the tax returns with the 400 highest adjusted gross incomes each year. The average income on those returns in 2007, the latest year for IRS data, was nearly $345 million. Their average federal income tax rate was 17 percent, down from 26 percent in 1992.

Eric Schoenberg says to sign him up for paying higher taxes. Schoenberg, who inherited money and has a healthy portfolio from his days as an investment banker, has joined a group of other wealthy Americans called United for a Fair Economy. Their goal: Raise taxes on rich people like themselves.

Schoenberg, who now teaches a business class at Columbia University, said his income is usually “north of half a million a year.” But 2009 was a bad year for investments, so his income dropped to a little over $200,000. His federal income tax bill was a little more than $2,000.

“I simply point out to people, ‘Do you think this is reasonable, that somebody in my circumstances should only be paying 1 percent of their income in tax?’” Schoenberg said.

Do you really think you don’t live in a kleptocracy? Why? Because the truth hurts?

A guest essay from Charles Hugh Smith, cross-posted from his Of Two Minds blog:

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.29.2011
01:04 pm
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The answer is ‘free gay porn’ & ‘God,’ but what’s the question?


 
As Wonkette ever so drolly points out (so blame them, disgruntled Mississippians, not me):

[E]ver since the nation’s poorest, most obese and reliably Republican-voting state got Internet access last year, the main thing the people of Mississippi have been looking for, on the ‘puter, is “free gay porn” and “God.”

In that order.

Make of that what you will…

See the full chart at Calamities of Nature

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.24.2011
04:45 pm
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Miss USA contestants sound off on Darwin being taught in the classroom
06.21.2011
01:26 pm
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As I was watching this clip of the 2011 Miss USA pageant contestants sounding off about the issue of whether or not evolution should be taught in schools, I had the reaction that I think most intelligent people would also have: “Who gives a shit what these pretty pinheads think? Why am I watching this?” (Maybe someone at the pageant has an offbeat sense of humor?)

Not all, but nearly all of them equivocate furiously on the matter. They basically say nothing at all, in other words, but even THAT often comes out in a garbled logic word salad that’s somewhat amusing to watch. Nearly all of them sound just like Sarah Palin!

Beauty and no brains = not very attractive in my book. Only two of the contestants said they believed in evolution, winner Alyssa Campanella from California and Alida D’Angona from Massachusetts.
 

 
Via Nerdcore

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.21.2011
01:26 pm
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If evolution is true, then…


 
Caption THIS…

My entry is:

“What Would Jethro Do?”

Via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.20.2011
09:37 pm
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Evil Liberal overlord Van Jones challenges Glenn Beck to debate
06.20.2011
02:17 pm
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Van Jones, the former White House green jobs adviser and activist, is the lefty Boogeyman that Glenn Beck returns to again and again and again. To hear Beck tell it, Van Jones is some Darth Vader-type evil overlord behind the dark forces of Liberalism, right up there with George Soros hisself. Jones gave a fantastic speech at the Netroots Nation convention last week, where he first called Beck out:

I issue a personal challenge to my beloved brother Glenn Beck. I will debate you anytime, anywhere, at any point. I’ll give you an hour, you give me five minutes. And I will stand up for our values. But you would have to stop talking about us and start talking to us.

You got one week left before your show goes off. My phone is ringing. Call me! Call me, Glenn Beck! And let’s have this fight. Let’s have this discussion. Let’s have this argument. Let’s have this battle of ideas. Battle of ideas. And let’s fight for liberty and justice for all.

It was Beck more than any other conservative mouthpiece who hounded Jones into resigning from his White House post, but now Jones is challenging Beck to a debate. MoveOn is trying to raise money to air this 30 second spot during the final days of Beck’s Fox News program.

Fantastic, this is a debate I’d LOVE to see. If you’d like to see this, too, you can donate to MoveOn here.

A debate of IDEAS? I wonder if Beck will accept the challenge?
 

 
Take a look at Jones’ inspirational Netroots Nation speech and see if he lives up to Beck’s characterization of him as an evil Commie or not.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.20.2011
02:17 pm
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Donald Trump viciously pisses on Republican party in new video
06.10.2011
01:38 pm
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Don’t pass this by because it’s an item about Donald Trump, this clip is totally worth watching. No matter what your political persuasion—or even what you think of the messenger—Donald Trump makes several good and valid points here. There is probably very little else that he and I would agree on, but his assessment of the GOP is deadly accurate, here. It’s downright vicious, too, which is why it’s so much fun to watch.

He who only recently sought the Republican nomination. Fascinating.

Furthermore, I (more or less) believe Trump’s reasons, as stated in the video, for getting himself out of the mess the Republicans have made for themselves. Sure he took some body shots when he flirted with running in the Spring, but the abject stupidity on offer this year from the Republicans has been absolutely staggering. Too much, apparently for even a prominent birther like Donald Trump. Soon even Orly Taitz will abandon the GOP!

Of course, the coda, where Trump hints bluntly tells viewers that he’s pretty much ready, willing and able (once the new season of The Apprentice is in the can, natch) to jump into the race if the GOP can’t get it act together, is the money shot here.

Since Trump’s burning his GOP bridges with such gusto—and we can be 100% certain that he’s not asking for the Democratic nod—that would leave an independent run. (A third party doesn’t seem like his style, plus who would want him?)

I sincerely hope Donald Trump does a Ross Perot and runs. If he really wants to inflict some damage on the GOP—and from what he says here, who’d doubt that?—an independent run would be the most effective way to go about it. Plus, it would just be such an insane, surrealistic spectacle. I was sad when he got out of the race so early, weren’t you?

Run, Donald, run! And here’s hoping that Sarah Palin is your running mate!

Do it for the good of the country! Pretty please?
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.10.2011
01:38 pm
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Palin dissed by Margaret Thatcher confidante: ‘Sarah Palin is nuts’
06.07.2011
06:01 pm
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Sarah Palin would like to meet Margaret Thatcher when she’s in England next month. Palin told the Sunday Times:

“I am going to Sudan in July and hope to stop in England on the way. I am just hoping Mrs Thatcher is well enough to see me as I so admire her.”

Hey, not so fast there, snowbilly grifter! Palin’s plans for something to rub off on her (or at least a photo op that will drive Michele Bachmann green with envy) will be most likely be “thwarted” with the excuse that Baroness Thatcher is seldom seen in public anymore and in poor health, as Wintour and Watt report at The Guardian’s website:

It would appear that the reasons go deeper than Thatcher’s frail health. Her allies believe that Palin is a frivolous figure who is unworthy of an audience with the Iron Lady. This is what one ally tells me:

“Lady Thatcher will not be seeing Sarah Palin. That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts.”

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.07.2011
06:01 pm
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Sarah Palin on Paul Revere: The idiots are coming! The idiots are coming!


 
A history lesson, courtesy of Sarah Palin…

Wonkette said it best:

“[E]very time Sarah Palin speaks in public, the nation’s collective IQ drops another point.”

I love how she seems PISSED-OFF to be put on the spot over something that a fourth grader would know… Run, Sarah, Run!!!
 

 
Via Wonkette

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.03.2011
02:27 pm
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The GOP’s ‘useless eaters’ solution: No more food for you, poor people!


 
Let them eat… nothing!

There is currently a record number of Americans—14%—relying on federal food stamp assistance programs and that number is probably not going to shrink, but grow, in the near term, as more and more desperate Americans exhaust their unemployment benefit extensions. The number of recipients has risen 11% since last year and over 61% since 2007. At present there are an incredible 45 million people (21 million families) who depend on this assistance to put food in their bellies. So that they and their children do not go to bed hungry. (My parents run a food kitchen for the poor out of their church basement in West Virginia, the stories I’ve heard are sad and pitiful.)

If the evil Republicans get their way, these poor families, school-age children, veterans of foreign wars and disabled people can just… starve… Via ABC News:

The Republicans’ 2012 budget plan proposes changing SNAP [“Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program”] from an entitlement to a block-grant program that would be tailored for each individual state, much like their proposal for Medicaid. States would no longer receive open-ended subsidies and the aid would be contingent on work or job training. It would also limit funding for the program.

“Limit funding”? In certain states (see New Mexico, Florida, Michigan) they’d just eliminate it entirely.

Why should poor people think they have some kind of a right to eat?

Rand Paul would tell you this himself: Food, like healthcare, is not a right! If some Americans have to starve to death, this is what it takes to preserve our freedom!

It amazes me that Republicans think stirring up these kinds of vicious class resentments somehow helps them politically. I mean, sure, the very, very poorest people tend not to vote, but this stuff is just so nasty that I can’t help wondering what is really going to happen if/when these sorts of cuts go into effect. Do they really expect that these folks will simply STOP EATING AND DIE?

Well, judging from the GOP’s behavior, maybe they do! How else do you explain away this particular aspect of “compassionate conservatism”? Well… now that you mention if, it would certainly help balance the budget if a ton of poor people died. Why just think of the tax cuts for the rich!

Will the Republicans finally be happy when we’re all living in a country that resembles Mad Max far more than it does Leave it to Beaver? Is this what the Republicans want? It sure seems that way to me. If not that, then what? What am I missing???

But the thing is, right, is it actually good for them, too? Think of the shitty karma the Republicans unleash by skull-fucking the poor and indigent?

It’s a very black and white situation: Vote a certain way and millions of people go hungry. Vote a certain way and INSURE an increase in misery for the weakest members of society (just like Jesus would want!).

Would you want that stain on your karma? There is a special place in Hell for someone so cruel and ugly.

It’s not really any kind of grand “thought experiment” to imagine another member of Congress being shot—a Republican this time—not by some lunatic like Jared Lee Loughner, but by a broken man who’s completely lost his shit because he can no longer feed his family. Some sad guy, completely depressed walks into a town hall meeting or a political appearance with a gun and decides to confront the cold-hearted bastard who he blames for fucking his life up and shoots him. It’s not difficult to imagine at all. But again, it won’t be a professional lunatic next time, it’s going to be a destitute, desperate John Q type-situation. It’s gonna happen, it’s just a matter or when.

For the record, I’m not a big fan of violence, but it does have its place, historically, in the class war that’s raged since human society began. Admittedly the image of say, Rep. Paul Ryan, being forced to fellate a Colt .45 in front of news cameras and having to beg for his life by a once-proud middle-class father reduced to moving his family into a car is something I’d really enjoy seeing. (I think whoever did that would go down in history as a folk hero and at least THEY FEED YOU IN JAIL)

The Republicans think that they can cut entitlements for the poor with impunity because the poor don’t vote. But they are not immune from the laws of karma: What if a new front in the class war opens up that doesn’t involve the ballot box?

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.01.2011
01:07 pm
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