Thursday, December 25, 2008

Clean Coal? How does Harriman, TN feel about that word?

George Orwell must be smiling upon the spinmeister who came up with this oxymoronic sound bite. Here's a great video about the eco-disaster in Harriman.

This ecocide is not getting enough media play around Chattanooga; however, the New York Times Front Page is covering it:

KINGSTON, Tenn. — What may be the nation’s largest spill of coal ash lay thick and largely untouched over hundreds of acres of land and waterways Wednesday after a dam broke this week, as officials and environmentalists argued over its potential toxicity.

Federal studies have long shown coal ash to contain significant quantities of heavy metals like arsenic, lead and selenium, which can cause cancer and neurological problems. But with no official word on the dangers of the sludge in Tennessee, displaced residents spent Christmas Eve worried about their health and their property, and wondering what to do.

The spill took place at the Kingston Fossil Plant, a Tennessee Valley Authority generating plant about 40 miles west of Knoxville on the banks of the Emory River, which feeds into the Clinch River, and then the Tennessee River just downstream.

Holly Schean, a waitress whose home, which she shared with her parents, was swept off its foundation when millions of cubic yards of ash breached a retaining wall early Monday morning, said, “They’re giving their apologies, which don’t mean very much.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gift wrapping ala Palm Beach Style

Even if you can't afford to spend much this holiday season, you can still make your gifts look beautiful and expensive. Here is one way to impress without spending big bucks on the bling, bling, bling.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Farewell Kiss to Bush from an Iraqi reporter

Ha. Ha. Security carted the journalist off (probably to Gitmo). Bush is a globe trotting embarrassment, he needs to stay out of the public light. Soon the nightmare, er, Bush's term will end and this will be his legacy:
worst disaster to hit US

No SEC oversight of Madoff

Anyone surprised by this? Nah, didn't think so. From

Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Bernard Madoff’s investment advisory business, alleged to be a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $50 billion, was never inspected by U.S. regulators after he subjected it to oversight two years ago, people familiar with the case said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission hasn’t examined Madoff’s books since he registered the unit with the agency in September 2006, two people said, declining to be identified because the reviews aren’t public. The SEC tries to inspect advisers at least every five years and to scrutinize newly registered firms in their first year, former agency officials and securities lawyers said.

Last week, just hours after Corker and the Republicans destroyed the US automakers by denying them a loan for $15 billion, the news broke that Bernard Madoff's ultra-elite, market maker Wall Street securities firm was nothing but a 48 year long Ponzi scheme. Madoff had lost $50 billion and no one noticed. Or did they notice and just quietly went along with it?

Over at Mike Shedlock's Mish's Global Economic Analysis blog: " Madoff Madness: "I knew he was cheating that is why I used him".
He has a great perspective on the whole affair. It is worth the trip over to read the whole thing, all you have to do is click on the hyperlink.

“Whenever a fund had money with Madoff, it raised a red flag,” said Konig [chief investment officer for Artemis Capital Partners LLC in Aventura, Florida, which invests with hedge funds], who said he rejected at least 20 funds of funds as potential investments for that reason alone. “It means that they didn’t do their due diligence they were supposed to and were chasing those returns.”

So if firms that did due diligence knew this, why did this escape the SEC's oversight?

Yeah, the SEC couldn't see that coming. Uh huh.

Never mind that they were apparently warned several years ago in written communications that Madoff's "returns" were highly abnormal given the published strategies he was using and the numbers he was posting.

Investigate? What's that? Why, that's unamerican!

Now we have $50 billion in fraud and, apparently, $17 billion that is just plain old-fashioned missing. And Madoff's company, just so we're all in the know here, is a market maker on Nasdaq, which means that a lot of other people's money (and shares) pass through his hands.

Finally, let us never forget that there is never only one cockroach. Who knew, who was and is complicit, and how many more cockroaches are behind the wall?

No truer words ever spoken. Time for some house cleaning at the SEC. Time to stop this Milton Friedman style of economics. Time for stiff regulations and oversight. Time to get rid of all the cockroaches.

Friday, December 12, 2008

American Democat "Socks" is gravely ill

Sad News:
Democat Socks
US News reports:

We have some bad news today on the presidential pet front. Socks the cat, probably the most photographed presidential kitty in history, has cancer and isn't expected to live. "His days are numbered," says Barry Landau, a friend of Socks' master, Betty Currie. Landau, a presidential historian and author of The President's Table, tells our Suzi Parker that the Currie family could have put Socks on feeding tubes, but decided against it. "They fear he is too old," adds Landau, who is writing a book on presidential inaugurations. And a second source told us that Socks is gravely ill.

I remember about 15 years ago or so, Anna (my stepdaughter) was 6 or 7 years old and wrote a letter and sent a drawing to Socks. She received a thank you note with a photo of President Clinton and Vice President Gore. The White House appreciated her drawing and note. Evidently lots of kids did this because someone wrote a book about all the letters the cat received from children.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Obama considering Neuro-Surgeon for Surgeon General

surgeon general

She seems like a great choice. Mental health and neurological issues have suffered from lack of awareness and funding for far too long. Over the last 8 years, the government and CDC has done very little to address neurological disorders. All of us know of someone suffering with a neurological disorder ranging from autism, strokes, paralysis, dementia, schizophrenia, brain tumors to rare ones like ALS or Chiari Malformation. Stem cell research has shown promise for many of the most insidious neurological diseases.

Dr. Gail Rosseau is a mother, registered nurse and a neuro-surgeon. These qualifications bring practicality, compassion, hard work, sensibility and brilliance. Read more about her here .It is a stark contrast to the homo-phobic, abstinence only, Dobsonite of Bush's Surgeon General choice.

From the Chicago Tribune

Chicago neurosurgeon Gail Rosseau, an early supporter of President-elect Barack Obama, is being considered to be the next U.S. Surgeon General, according to sources close to the talks.

Rosseau, 52, of west suburban River Forest is one of only 300 female neurosurgeons nationwide and currently chief of surgery at the Neurologic and Orthopedic Institute of Chicago and an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Rush University Medical Center, the giant teaching hospital on Chicago's West Side. She has a daughter, 14, son, 12 and her husband is an othopedic surgeon.

The U.S. Surgeon General is a high-profile post and often seen as an administration's bully pulpit when it comes to health issues that range from combating obesity to curtailing smoking. Rosseau has been quoted widely and been published on topics related to neurosurgery and women's health issues, evaluating ways to boost the number of women in medicine and address looming doctors in a variety of medical fields. She is also unique in that she is both a medical doctor and a registered nurse.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wall Street Journal: Chambliss race is a victory for civility. Huh?

The Wall Street Journal gets the history revisionist award for today. From the WSJ:

This year, Democrats hoped to exact revenge for Cleland's 2002 loss by defeating Chambliss. Had Martin prevailed, there's little doubt his fellow Democrats would have claimed vindication for their McCarthyite effort to smear Cleland as a man whose patriotism is in question. Chambliss's win therefore should be seen as a victory for civility and decency in politics.


Chambliss's victory assures the GOP of at least 41 Senate seats. It also lays to rest one of the nastiest McCarthyite smears of recent times: the repeated assertion by Democrats and the media that former senator Max Cleland's patriotism is in question.

Not only did Chambliss smear Cleland, he did the same to Martin with the ad about Martin's failure to protect children. Jim Martin's own child had been abducted once. Chambliss's voting record showed he voted to cut school lunches for poor children, cut programs for children such as Head Start, and children's health care. Chambliss is the one who is no help for our children. Something even worse about Chambliss after voting to cut programs for our kids, two days later he voted to pass tax cuts for millionaires.

Chambliss's ad which paired Osama bin Laden and Cleland in the same ad and questioned Cleland's national security abilities marked a new low. Chambliss never served in the military. Senator Saxby Chambliss got four military deferments to skip out of Vietnam. Cleland served and lost both legs and an arm to that war. Max Cleland once said:

“The Bible tells me that no greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friends. ... There is no greater act of patriotism than that.”

Wall Street Journal and Saxby Chambliss may do their best to erase the past, but with the internet, they won't get away with it. Saxby Chambliss will always be remembered for his lack of ethics and morals. He won because Georgia, like Tennessee, is a red state. There is still plenty of work to do before it turns blue. It will be a rough road getting there but look at both North Carolina and Virginia. If it happened in the Old Dominion and Tar Heel State, it can happen here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Citibank takes bailout money and spends $10 billion on construction firm in Spain

Everyone seems focused on trashing the auto industry and unions these days, but lets look at Shiti-Bank, excuse me- Citibank, for a moment.
After receiving the federal money, Citibank went through with a deal with the new Shea stadium to re-name it Citi-bank stadium for $400 million; and, now it is using the money to purchase a debt-laden construction firm in Spain for $10 billion dollars.

Also, just two weeks ago, in true holiday spirit, Citicorp laid off 52,000 workers. Nice.

Here is what Pastor Agnostic from the Church of Ineffable Stupidity wrote about Citicorpse:

Just weeks after begging for and receiving many billions in US federal taxpayer dollars, it spent $10 Billion buying part of a Spanish construction company.

MADRID, Spain — Debt-laden Spanish construction company Sacyr Vallehermoso said Monday it has agreed to sell its highway-operating unit, Itinere, to a Citigroup Inc. fund in a deal valued at nearly euro7.9 billion ($10 billion).

What is even more mind boggling, flabbergasting, shocking, even startling, is how Sacyr went into debt. It invested in quite possibly the only oil company in the world that was not making billions. - - -

Here is a reminder of what Paulson and Bernake did to us just two weeks ago on November 23, 2008 the Federal Reserve and Treasury issued the following statement:

As part of the agreement, Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will provide protection against the possibility of unusually large losses on an asset pool of approximately $306 billion of loans and securities backed by residential and commercial real estate and other such assets, which will remain on Citigroup's balance sheet. As a fee for this arrangement, Citigroup will issue preferred shares to the Treasury and FDIC. In addition and if necessary, the Federal Reserve stands ready to backstop residual risk in the asset pool through a non-recourse loan.

In addition, Treasury will invest $20 billion in Citigroup from the Troubled Asset Relief Program in exchange for preferred stock with an 8% dividend to the Treasury. Citigroup will comply with enhanced executive compensation restrictions and implement the FDIC's mortgage modification program.

Reminder to everyone: Sen. Corker sits on the Banking and Finance committee and was eager to give Paulson, Bernake and Wall Street our taxpayer money. Saxby Chambliss, Lamar! Alexander and Zach Wamp all went along with it. This week, Ford's CEO will drive a car to Washington to beg for help for the auto industry and will be ridiculed. None of the GOP will notice the blatant abuse by AIG, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, and the rest of these socialist firms. But then again, Wall Street doesn't employ unions. The real anger and hatred is directed at our hard working Americans who want a share of the pie.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Finally, declared: Recession is here. Chambliss is not sure what that word means.

Georgia, please, do not let Saxby return to Washington unless you want more of the same stupid know nothings you have endured these last 8 years. Please vote for Jim Martin. He knows the problems the middle class and poor face today. He is aware of what is going on and will deal with the financial recession which started one year ago, but was finally declared today. Story on the Bush caused global recession is here in the New York Times.

Here is Senator Putz-by Chambliss telling everyone he doesn't know what a recession is:

In other news about stupid Republicans, Sarah Palin campaigned for Chambliss today in Georgia. She wore her RNC purchased jacket from Nieman Marcus. Guess one of these days she will return it, probably after she has spilled moose stew on it. Won't hold my breath on the Wasilla Hillbilly to keep her word though. Hope the IRS audits them next year and she has to pay for her little perks.

Krugman: why deficit spending is necessary now

A great piece in today's New York Times:

But right now we have a fundamental shortfall in private spending: consumers are rediscovering the virtues of saving at the same moment that businesses, burned by past excesses and hamstrung by the troubles of the financial system, are cutting back on investment. That gap will eventually close, but until it does, government spending must take up the slack. Otherwise, private investment, and the economy as a whole, will plunge even more.

The bottom line, then, is that people who think that fiscal expansion today is bad for future generations have got it exactly wrong. The best course of action, both for today’s workers and for their children, is to do whatever it takes to get this economy on the road to recovery.

Paul Krugman states that deficit spending is not always wrong when faced with extraordinary times such as the one we are in right now. If we do nothing, we will only exacerbate the problem and end up with worse problems.

There is an upside to the deficit spending Obama is proposing, it will bring about much needed improvements in our nation's infrastructure. Everyone benefits. A sharp contrast to the bank bailout spending where AIG, Citibank and the rest of the rotten lot gave themselves bonus payments, frivoulous trips and stadium naming rights. Or worse yet, spending for a needless war to make Haliburton and Bush's oil buddies richer. Remember both of these ghastly mistakes cost more than $700 billion.

Krugman's piece is a worthwhile read. Highly recommended.