Mitt’s SOTU Rebuttal

Inveterate flip-flopper and political windsock Mitt Romney criticizes Obama for his “extraordinary… detachment from reality” in terms of his words and actions; all the while being completely oblivious to his own extraordinary detachment – from irony!

Romney is now claiming to be “someone who says what he means and means what he says”… this coming from an empty suit whose positions on any given issue are more changeable than the weather.

Aside from that, Romney really has to stop LYING about the economy.


Congress in Action!

While the U.S. economy is verging on the brink of another recession, unemployment is mired at 9% (the actual rate being much higher), multiple wars are still being waged around the world costing billions of dollars per day, and with a national debt of $14 trillion looming ever more forebodingly over global bond markets, what’s the Congress up to?

Yep, they’re assigning honorary names to local post offices across the country.

That U.S. representatives in Congress spend one iota of their limited time (you know, when not out shamelessly fundraising for their next election campaign) on such frivolous nonsense is completely insane.

Going Rogue?

Matt Taibbi talks to David Shushter about the latest banking scandal.

Swiss financial services company UBS has admitted that a “rogue” trader has run up a loss of $2 billion dollars in unauthorized risky trades. The 31 year old trader Kweku Adoboli who worked in the bank’s London exchange as director of the now ironically named Global Synthetic Equities Trading team, was arrested yesterday morning at his apartment.

It seems Adoboli has since retained the law firm of Kingsley Napley, which previously advised Nick Leeson, the hot shot derivatives broker whose fraudulent, unauthorized speculative trading caused the collapse of Barings Bank in the 90’s.

Taibbi takes issue with the characterization of a “rogue trader” as a reason for this latest crisis, arguing that it’s indicative of a systemic problem. According to Taibbi, “`rogue traders’ are treated like bad accidents… But rogue companies are protected at every level of the regulatory structure and continually empowered by deregulatory legislation giving them access to our bank accounts.”

The root of the problem, he explains in Rolling Stone, is that investment banker’s brains are not wired for dull commercial bank business of taking consumer deposits and making conservative investments.

In fact, investment bankers by nature have huge appetites for risk, and most of them take pride in being able to sleep at night even when their bets are going the wrong way. If you’re not a person who can doze through a two-hour foot massage while your client (which might be your own bank) is losing ten thousand dollars a minute on some exotic trade you’ve cooked up, then you won’t make it on today’s Wall Street.

At one time commercial banks and investment banks had to remain separate entities as mandated by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. Today, however, because of Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1998 they can be combined. In Taibbi’s view, this marriage of investment banks and commercial banks has proven to be nothing short of disastrous.

“The influx of i-banking types into the once-boring worlds of commercial bank accounts, home mortgages, and consumer credit has helped turn every part of the financial universe into a casino,” he writes.

The Terror Industrial Complex

Great story from CBC’s The National about the insane amount of money that has been spent post-9/11 on the secretive intelligence and policing apparatus to make America safe from demented cave-dwellers in Afghanistan, inept lunatics with explosive underwear, and suchlike “threats” to the so-called Homeland.

More on the WP’s investigation “Top Secret America” here and a PBS Frontline piece on the same project here.

Update: An interview with investigative reporter Bill Arkin from Democracy Now! about this issue…

Lifestyles of the “Job Creators”

Donald Trump has a winsome spokesmodel show off all the creature comforts of his luxurious new jet…

Isn’t it nice to know that the U.S. Department of Transportation uses taxpayer money to provide interest-free loans for the purchase of corporate jets? Even better, the draconian tax code right-wingers are forever decrying, allows Trump to write off the entire cost of his new jet, gold-plated sinks and all, in just 5 short years!

Yessir, life is a wonderful thing in our fabulous new “Gilded Age”…

Correction: As part of Obama’s Stalinist “stimulus plan” businesses are now able to write off 100 percent of “capital investments” (yes, including corporate jets) in the first year, rather than expensing the deduction over five years.

Fox & Fiends

Generally reviled former Vice-President Dick Cheney hit the “curvy couch” of Fox’s most unctuous right-wing sycophants this morning to promote his new book, In My Imagination

Unsurprisingly, Cheney believes it imperative for the U.S. government to continue wasting a TRILLION dollars per year on the military, preferring instead to tackle the country’s troubling deficit problems by slashing entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. This from a man who when in office, cavalierly told former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, that “deficits don’t matter.”

God’s Stimulus?

Contrary to Michele Bachmman’s belief that last week’s “Hurriquake” was a sign from God to curb federal government spending, it would seem that tens of billions of dollars will now be required to fix the widespread damage to infrastructure along the eastern seaboard caused by storm surges and flooding.

Who knows, perhaps this is the Almighty’s way of signalling that a job-creating stimulus program is required, as opposed to counterproductive “austerity” measures…