TLP: WikiLeaks Suspect in New Prison, Allowed to Wear Clothes, Amazingly Ready for Trial

manning wikileaks
If only they'd thought of this sooner, this whole WikiLeaks thing might be over.

The Associated Press:
The intelligence analyst suspected of illegally passing government secrets to the WikiLeaks website has been found competent to stand trial, the Army said Friday.

Army spokesman Gary Tallman says a panel of experts completed its medical and mental evaluation of Pfc. Bradley Manning on April 22, and informed Army officials Friday of the conclusion.

Tallman says no date has been set yet for the initial court hearing, and added that the evaluation board's findings "have no bearing on the guilt, innocence, or any potential defenses of the accused."

Manning's case is under the jurisdiction of the Army's Military District of Washington.

The Army private is suspected of obtaining hundreds of thousands of classified and sensitive documents while serving in Iraq and providing them to the website. He faces about two dozen charges, including aiding the enemy. That charge can bring the death penalty or life in prison.

Manning was transferred from a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., last week to a new facility at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas.
The explanation seems to be that the Marines had to keep Manning isolated and take his clothes away because of the severity of his case. The longer his confinement dragged out, of course, the worse it looked for the Pentagon. And a "brig" apparently isn't the right kind of facility, they say after eight months. Too many outbreaks of scurvy, I guess.

Leavenworth is a real prison. For real criminals. The Army even gave a tour to reporters to show how much it's not like Quantico. Things are much better for Manning now.

He's already got his mind right.

You Know We're Screwed When Wal-Mart Says We're Screwed


pic credit: L'Hibou via Flickr

That's right, folks, even the Wal-Martyrs are running short on cash, not that they had huge stashes of $100 bills to begin with.

CNN Money:

Wal-Mart's core shoppers are running out of money much faster than a year ago due to rising gasoline prices, and the retail giant is worried, CEO Mike Duke said Wednesday.

"We're seeing core consumers under a lot of pressure," Duke said at an event in New York. "There's no doubt that rising fuel prices are having an impact."

Wal-Mart shoppers, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, typically shop in bulk at the beginning of the month when their paychecks come in.

Lately, they're "running out of money" at a faster clip, he said.

"Purchases are really dropping off by the end of the month even more than last year," Duke said. "This end-of-month [purchases] cycle is growing to be a concern.

This comes on the heels of comments by Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon, who said "inflation is going to be serious" earlier this month.

Who shops at Wal-Mart besides the People of Wal-Mart? Maybe not Mike Duke, who has been caught at Target in Rogers, Arkansas just down the street from the exclusive gated community where many Wal-Mart big wigs live.

You've been warned, people.

Sketchy White House Calls the SF Chronicle a Bunch of Liars


Yesterday, TLP wrote about San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci, who was blacklisted from future White House press pool events for catching and sharing an anti-Obama protest on video.

As if that weren't bad enough, now it appears as though the White House is calling the Chronicle a liar.

Said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a released statement:

"The San Francisco Chronicle violated the coverage rules that they -- and every other media outlet -- agreed to as part of joining the press pool for that event. If they thought the rules were too restrictive they should have raised that at the beginning. However, no reporters have been banned from covering future presidential events and the White House of course would have no problem including any reporter who follows the rules in pool-only events."

Chronicle editor Ward Bushee had a response to that response, of course:

Sadly, we expected the White House to respond in this manner based on our experiences yesterday. It is not a truthful response. It follows a day of off-the-record exchanges required by key people in the White House communications office who told us it would remove our reporter, then threatened retaliation to Chronicle and Hearst reporters if we reported on the ban, and then recanted to say our reporter might not be removed after all.

The Chronicle's report is accurate.

If the White House has indeed decided not to ban our reporter, we would like an on-the-record notice that she will remain the San Francisco print pool reporter.


It sounds to us like the White House is saying that particular reporter is not welcome at any future events since, in their mind, she violated the rules and Bushee's statement confirms that. Remember, we all love Obama here, Big Brother doesn't like it when you make him look bad.

See the rest of Chronicle blogger Debra J Saunders' report here.

Who looks really stupid now?

TLP: White House Spanks News Reporter for Reporting Actual News

press pool
Nothing makes a flak freak out faster than a reporter who won't follow the rules. Which, of course, is one of the reasons reporters love to break them. (Full disclosure: TLP did this as much as possible when he was a reporter. Especially with flaks who used to be reporters. Fun!)

This stunt by the Obama press office was pure asshattery. Phil Bronstein of the San Francisco Chronicle was happy to call them out for it on HuffPost:
The hip, transparent and social media-loving Obama administration is showing its analog roots. And maybe even some hypocrisy highlights.

White House officials have banished one of the best political reporters in the country from the approved pool of journalists covering presidential visits to the Bay Area for using now-standard multimedia tools to gather the news.

The Chronicle's Carla Marinucci — who, like many contemporary reporters, has a phone with video capabilities on her at all times — pulled out a small video camera last week and shot some protesters interrupting an Obama fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel.

She was part of a "print pool" — a limited number of journalists at an event who represent their bigger hoard* colleagues — which White House press officials still refer to quaintly as "pen and pad" reporting.

But that's a pretty Flintstones concept of journalism for an administration that presents itself as the Jetsons. Video is every bit a part of any journalist's tool kit these days as a functioning pen that doesn't leak through your pocket.
OK, so some rules for pool reporters make sense. Like sharing. The whole point of the pool system is for reporters at a restricted event to share with their colleagues. This keeps every event from becoming a roving clusterfuck and besides, sharing is nice.

But busting a reporter for covering breaking news at an event in the most practical way — ("Protesters started singing? I wonder what that was like.") — is dumb. If only because it looks dumb. And guess what, more and more reporters are being forced to become one-man bands — writing, tweeting, blogging, shooting video — so get used to it.

Of course, this is the White House that banned Twitter. And got laughed at.

* Psst, Phil. The word is "horde." (I still love fucking with editors.)

Gallup Poll: Americans Feel Worse About the Economy Now Than Ever



No commentary necessary:

Nearly half of Americans rated current economic conditions "poor" during the week ending April 24 -- the highest level of negativity on this measure so far this year. This is also somewhat worse than the 42% "poor" rating found in the same week a year ago.


Remember that we have a faith-based economy, meaning confidence is really the only thing that matters. Not fundamentals or output or any of this other bullshit so-called experts blabber about. Faith.

It's not too late to repent, America, keep going.

An Estimated 5 Million Chickens Dead in Alabama




For any of you in the DC metro that aren't government operatives or psychotics, you're welcome to stop by JDA's backyard chicken farm (dubbed "The Chicken Ranch" after the whorehouse in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas - inspired by the recent Gay Men's Chorus of Washington's production of the show) where you'll find all manner of poultry madness. You'll even find a Polish that strangely resembles me named Adrian, who is "special" just like his namesake.

But I digress. For 5 million chickens in Alabama, the suffering is over.

WSJ:

Alabama officials estimated that up to 25% of the poultry houses in the state were destroyed or damaged Wednesday by the tornado outbreak, likely killing millions of birds.

Government officials in Alabama, the No.3 chicken-producing state behind Arkansas and Georgia, said Thursday that preliminary reports indicate that about 200 poultry houses were destroyed and another 180 were damaged by the fierce storms.

It's a good thing we don't burn chicken blood to run our cars like we do corn or else we'd really be hurting.

Chicken prices have been low through spring due to low demand but this could change things unless we get moving on our chicken breeding plan and somehow crank out a few million birds by summer. So far we've hatched 20 this spring, with another 30 eggs ready to hatch any day now. Getting there!

TLP: Maybe John King Always Wanted to be a Stay-at-Home Daddy

burnett cnn
As long as Erin Burnett has been at CNBC, she's been compared with Maria Bartiromo. Can two women work together on teevee and it not be a catfight? Down to the stupid nicknames ... "Money Honey" is apparently a Bartiromo trademark, and Vanity Fair claims that "Street Sweetie" is Burnett's nickname. I listen to the droning of CNBC and never heard that one, but then again, I'm lazy. (I will admit to paying special attention to the "Closing Bell" for reasons that have nothing to do with Wall Street.)

Anyway. It seems Burnett may be headed to CNN. Or so says the NYT:
The signing will represent a shift to general news anchoring for Ms. Burnett, who has shown interest in branching out beyond business news, CNBC’s specialty. It is unclear what time slot she will occupy at CNN.

Ms. Burnett, who was considered a rising star within CNBC and its parent, NBCUniversal Media, held talks with two broadcast networks, ABC and CBS, before deciding to join CNN, according to two of the people. They insisted on anonymity because the deal had not been made public.

A spokeswoman for CNN, a unit of Time Warner, declined comment on Wednesday night.

Ms. Burnett has been an anchor at CNBC since 2005. Before then, she worked at Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bloomberg Television. Currently she is a co-anchor of “Squawk on the Street” on weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. Eastern Time, and the sole anchor of “Street Signs” from 2 to 3 p.m.

That means that CNBC, the country’s dominant business news channel, will have a lot of air time to fill without her.
While it might be cute to suggest that Burnett would leave because she was never going to be the Queen B, maybe she just got sick of being leered at and patronized by Peacock perverts. Donny Deutsch nearly got bitchslapped (by Willie Geist, WTF?) for trying to link Burnett with Donald Trump. She's been told not to talk sports because OMG, she's a girl! And Chris Matthews skeezed everyone out by practically leaning into the camera to ogle her.

Is CNN any better? Larry King's gone. Howard Kurtz appears to lust only after himself. But then there's Eliot Spitzer to keep an eye on.

AP: Only a Big Rise in the Price of Oil Can Derail the Economic Recovery




I'm not 100% sure who these 42 leading economists were that the AP surveyed but apparently they feel that only oil can stop us now. Well shit, we must be doomed then because the way I see it, as long as oil continues to be denominated in dollars, I'll keep cursing every time I shove the nozzle into my Mazda.

Too bad the Fed can't drill for oil (thanks for that lesson, Bernanke!).

AP:

The American economy is now strong enough to withstand Middle East turmoil and the Japanese nuclear crisis. Only a big rise in the price of oil could stop it now.

Those are the findings of an Associated Press survey of leading economists, who are increasingly confident in a recovery that is nearly two years old. They expect the economy to grow faster every quarter this year.

Here are a few of their other predictions. Remember that it was leading economists that felt the housing bubble was not a bubble and that house prices would continue to rise indefinitely.

— The economy will grow at a 3.2 percent annual rate in this quarter, then 3.4 percent from July through September and 3.5 percent from October to December. That would be stronger than the expected 2.2 percent pace for the first quarter.

— Employers will hire more. The unemployment rate, now 8.8 percent, will drop to 8.4 percent by December. That's more optimistic than the economists' view three months ago, when they predicted unemployment would be 8.9 percent by year's end. The economists think employers will create 2.1 million jobs this year, more than double last year's 940,000.

— Average hourly pay, which has not increased fast enough over the past year to keep up with inflation, will rise. A majority of economists think pay will consistently exceed inflation beginning next year at the latest.

— Consumer spending will grow 2.8 percent this year. That's a bit weaker than economists predicted three months ago. But it's more than last year's 1.7 percent increase, when many Americans were still feeling the effects of the recession. The downturn wiped out $7 trillion in wealth and eliminated 7.5 million jobs.

— Inflation will come in at 2.8 percent this year, higher than predicted three months ago, mainly because of costlier energy and food. But 2.8 percent would still be lower than the average 3.2 percent inflation over the past 30 years. Last year, it was 1.5 percent.

It's probably also prudent to point out there that these are likely the same leading economists who expected U.S. GDP to run 3%+ instead of the pretty sad 1.8% we got this morning.

Not to fear, America, the experts are totally on this.

DUI Lawyer Sues Strip Club For Getting Him Drunk and Making Him Spend $19,000




Attention Gold Rush: I'm not sure what sort of liquor you were giving this guy but please deliver 14 cases of it to my Secret Lair immediately. Go ahead and put it on my credit card.

Fox:

An attorney who specializes in drunken-driving offenses is suing a Florida strip club, claiming it got him so drunk he spent almost $19,000 on his credit card, Courthousenews.com reports.

Mark S. Gold reportedly is suing the Gold Rush strip club in Miami-Dade County Court, saying he became "temporarily unconscious" during a drunken night at the club in November 2010 and racked up $18,930 in charges.

Let's all hope for his own sake that he didn't drive home.

Here's Mark starring in a commercial for his Traffic Clinic firm... we're guessing he'll be representing his own interests against the Gold Rush. Good luck with that, sleazeball.

OMG! Trump Congratulates Himself For Pressuring the White House Into Releasing the Birth Certificate



I'm about this close to banning the mention of Donald Trump on this website. The Paperboy can consider himself forewarned.

Andrew Malcolm in the always entertaining LA Times:

Donald Trump took an unusual victory lap Wednesday after President Obama released his long-form birth certificate by praising himself.

"I am so proud of myself because I've accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish," the boisterous billionaire bellowed in Portsmouth, N.H., regarding a freshly earthed document that none of his team of sleuths in Hawaii have come forward to take credit for.

Trump stoically and single-handedly assumed responsibility for inspiring the president to release the more detailed document that so many "birthers," including the real estate mogul himself, said either didn't exist or contained information that Obama didn't want to see the light of day.

And yet he still questioned its validity.

"I want to look at it, but I hope it’s true so we can get onto much more important matters, so the press can stop asking me questions. I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue," Trump said. "We have to look at it, we have to see is it real, is it proper, what’s on it, but I hope it checks out beautifully. I am really proud; I am really honored."

...

"If you look at what he's doing in Libya, which is a total disaster. Nobody even knows what’s going on in Libya. If you look at what's happening with gasoline prices where he said he has no control over prices, which he does," Trump said.

He advised that Obama "gets on the phone or gets off his basketball court or whatever he is doing at the time" and pressure OPEC to lower gas prices.

Obviously Donald Trump has absolutely no idea what is going on or he would tell Ben Bernanke to get out of the press conference room and do something (or is that do nothing?) about this. But there's no explaining that to people like this.

FOMC Acknowledges Inflation Concerns, Lunges Forward Into It Anyway




I wouldn't expect the Fed to openly acknowledge that their moronic plan to save the economy by imploding it is causing the commodity "concerns" they recognize but it might be nice to get an acknowledgment all the same.

Anyone surprised by any of this?

Via the Board:

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in March indicates that the economic recovery is proceeding at a moderate pace and overall conditions in the labor market are improving gradually. Household spending and business investment in equipment and software continue to expand. However, investment in nonresidential structures is still weak, and the housing sector continues to be depressed. Commodity prices have risen significantly since last summer, and concerns about global supplies of crude oil have contributed to a further increase in oil prices since the Committee met in March. Inflation has picked up in recent months, but longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable and measures of underlying inflation are still subdued.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The unemployment rate remains elevated, and measures of underlying inflation continue to be somewhat low, relative to levels that the Committee judges to be consistent, over the longer run, with its dual mandate. Increases in the prices of energy and other commodities have pushed up inflation in recent months. The Committee expects these effects to be transitory, but it will pay close attention to the evolution of inflation and inflation expectations. The Committee continues to anticipate a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization in a context of price stability.

To promote a stronger pace of economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate, the Committee decided today to continue expanding its holdings of securities as announced in November. In particular, the Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings and will complete purchases of $600 billion of longer-term Treasury securities by the end of the current quarter. The Committee will regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings in light of incoming information and is prepared to adjust those holdings as needed to best foster maximum employment and price stability.

The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period.

The Committee will continue to monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and will employ its policy tools as necessary to support the economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate.

Nothing to see here, move along now.

Wait, there is something to see here, there's that lame Bernanke press conference on its way.

Like a fucking press conference is going to do anything.

Chase Takes Away Disney Dollars




No, that headline doesn't mean Chase stopped issuing phony but somewhat real-looking alternative currency ("Liberty dollars" for amusement park goers), they're taking back their reward points on Disney credit cards in response to legislation sponsored by Senator Dick Durbin that would cut into their profitable credit card business.

This shows how gullible the American credit consumer is. They trade a shitty 10% off on overpriced family vacations and other "perks" for annual fees and then complain when this is taken away. Until said American credit consumer gets real and seeks treatment for its credit Stockholm Syndrome, banks like Chase may be able to pull the threat card enough to defeat any proposed legislation that would screw their fees. While the natural reaction to this might be to say "oh terrible Chase for capitalizing on this fact," we find it far more reasonable to absolve them of any wrongdoing. The system is built so they can manipulate it, and as far as I am concerned they can charge all the fees they want. Customers will either put up with it or move on, as long as they are still making money we can opt in or out of this unjust system.

Which we didn't get to do with, say, TARP.

Point being, it's not financial rape if your financial condition is asking for it. Don't get surprised when Chase keeps taking it.

HuffPo:

Chase bank, one of the largest issuers of debit cards, has begun telling its customers that as a result of legislation sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) the company will no longer be able to offer Disney Dream Reward Dollars.

Wall Street has been lobbying furiously the past few weeks to push legislation through the Senate that would delay what is known as “swipe fee reform," which requires the Fed to write rules that would reduce the fee merchants must pay for using debit cards to a “reasonable” amount.

Chase's claim comes amid a dramatic behind-the-scenes fight in the Senate that pits Democrats against Democrats, Republicans against Republicans and Wal-Mart against Wall Street.

“I’ve tackled the big boys, but there’s nothing like Wall Street banks to show you muscle power,” Durbin told HuffPost.

Did you also know that JP Morgan Chase is the largest issuer of food stamp cards in the United States?

And - OMG! The big bad banks! - they use Indian call centers:

Michele Brown has seen Americans' struggles with jobs first hand. She lives in hard-hit Florida, spent 20 years in the real estate business and recently had her days as a nanny cut back after her boss had his own hours reduced.

But nothing prepared her for what happened one day when she called a toll-free line to inquire about her food stamps.

"The woman who answered the phone -- it's not like she wasn't nice or anything -- but it was kind of evident that she wasn't in the States," Brown said.

It turns out the woman was at a JP Morgan Chase call center in India.

"That really put me over the edge," said Brown, 52, of Jupiter, Fla. "It's not right because we need the work here. People are in a bad way here."

Again, the system is set up to allow - worse, encourage - this. So get outraged all you like, Chase's behavior is but a symptom of the larger problem.

According to PayScale, these Indian call center workers can expect to make around 220,000 rupees a year (including benefits). That's a little under $4950 for the year. I'm not sure how many American employees are willing to work for that but chances are they are the same ones who refuse to work retail.

So Are CMKM Shareholders Still Waiting By the Mailbox?



Back in January, we shared the news that way past due CMKM shareholder checks were in the mail. Whatever happened to this?

But let's forget about that and focus on the payout - according to a known CMKM troll who sends along all kinds of good news, the check is in the mail as of December 31st. Which means you'd think at least a couple of CMKM's "tens of billions" of shareholders should have gotten something by now.

No really, the check's in the mail we swear. Let's do the math... shareholders are supposed to get .80 a share initially and might expect $5 - $7 a share in the second payoff, which can only happen if they get the first one and, well, they still haven't. Surprise! With an estimated 10 billion shares or more out there (no one knows), we're obviously talking about $50 - $70 billion, which CMKM doesn't really have. I guess there's always the "trust" that holds the trillions owed to shareholders from the SEC or whatever it is they believe. The actual number of shareholders could be closer to 700 billion, with trillions of "counterfeit" stock allegedly out there floating around as well. Is this for real?

Well let's see, it is now the end of April so surely some of these "checks" have actually made their way into shareholder hands? It should come as no big shock to anyone to hear that no one has made any reliable reports of payments. But wait, it gets weirder.

According to a completely unreliable news source, Al Hodges, the lawyer supposedly fighting to get CMKM shareholders their precious "justice," has apparently been exposed as a fraud and killed in a shootout. We're not making this up (but obviously someone got creative when they did) but we get the feeling this is as "real" as those 80 cent payment shareholders were waiting for in January... and February... and March:

Al Hodges has been verified to actually be Abu Hadif Laikim of Nepal. The website with the only known picture of the man purported to be Hodges was a setup and he really isn't a lawyer. That one picture of him is really a stock photo from an advertising agency. Those that have claimed to talk to him and see him are also operatives and will soon be arrested and charged under International Law with various flonoious acts. Laikim was killed Fri. while trying to cross the Canadian border back into the U.S. He got into a shootout with border guards near Niagra Falls. His death has sent shockwaves through the D.O.J. as he was an operative of theirs, or so they thought. He was actually a double agent working secretly for the W.T.O. Below is the whole story.

Wow, really? Here I thought there was absolutely no way to make this story any stranger than it already is.

Back to somewhat reasonable information. CMKM has responded to a shareholder letter which contained all manner of nonsense (we can only guess) thusly:

The board at this time finds that the request to pursue action against Mr. Hodges to be misguided and unwise. The case before the court as mentioned above was dismissed. The company has asked for evidence and received none. There is no meritable action that we can find to take at this time There are simply no accounts, trusts, funds and settlement damages that the company can find to pursue. We have stated and restated this several times in the past. We are hopeful for all shareholders and this company that a compensation fund of some type does exist and that Mr. Hodges is successful in the pursuit of this matter based on the information he possesses and wishes to keep confidential. If the company can assist in that endeavour it stands ready to assist Mr. Hodges and his shareholder clients.

Demanding that we pursue something that does not appear to exist would be irresponsible and would cause the company to expend valuable resources in the process. We have instructed management to obtain a copy of any trust agreement holding funds for shareholder regardless of the source, this management has not found evidence any agreement has ever been in existence. In response to the accusation that the Board is in breach of its fiduciary duty, please see the financial statements posted on our company website.

This is after CEO Kevin West resigned in February. While CMKM is actively seeking a new CEO (payment may include stock, according to their website), I can't imagine there are many people lining up for that set-up. But hey, guess it doesn't matter if the company is a fraud and this guy Al really some dude from Nepal.

What.
The.
Fuck.

Here's the latest on the SEC case against CMKM. At this rate, we should know what actually happened some time in 2035.

Background reading: CMKM: The Greatest Financial Statements We've Ever Seen. Ever.

Can the U.S. Cure Its Fiscal Malaise? Yes. Will It? No.



Worthwhile Canadian Initiative reflects on our fiscal malfeasance:

[T]he United States indeed has the wealth and ability to resolve its fiscal problems with a set of tax and expenditure policies that are not outside the range of the global fiscal experience. Will this happen? Likely not. As mentioned before, American political culture is rooted in tax aversion and many Americans believe their federal government’s fiscal dilemma is only a spending problem and not also a revenue problem. However, balancing the budget on expenditure cuts alone would mean nearly a 40 percent drop in expenditures. Moreover, the American political debate right now is not about taking responsibility for their fiscal dilemma but about politically deferring the problem in the hopes that it might go away. Fixing any problem requires taking responsibility and when it comes to American federal public finances, they are not there yet.

Click on over to WCI for some hot chart porn.

Are we still sitting around waiting for normal to come back from vacation? Ain't happenin' in our lifetime, people.

TLP: Some Things Really Ought to be Left to Professionals

trump letters
Now, I have nothing against letter-writing. In fact, it's possible I may be a little obsessive about old school hand-written communication. Consider it me being patriotic, trying to keep faith with Benjamin Franklin and his postal experiment. Plus, they keep making new stamps.

But this is fucked-up.

HuffPost looks at Donald Trump's curious habit of writing letters to reporters (or scrawling on their articles about him) any time he's unhappy.
Trump has mastered the art of media criticism through a patented technique: he prints out something on the internet, doodles his critique on it, signs it, and -- I guess? -- sends it in the mail to the author. He did this to Gail Collins of The New York Times, then to Juli Weiner of Vanity Fair a few weeks ago, and now he's done the same to Salon's Justin Elliott, in response to his article, "How Trump could run and still hide his net worth." His doodle, which refers to the financial disclosure form he would have to file if he did, in fact, run for president, reads:

Justin --
I have no problem -- I would, in fact, file early -- you will be very surprised.
Best wishes,
Donald Trump


By sending around these notes, Trump is not just being critical, he's also being generous. As soon as he signs them, they immediately become the most valuable pieces of media criticism in the world.
The letters are great fun to read, strictly for the display of pettiness and sheer childishness. Plus, they demonstrate an amazing ability to hold a grudge. Trump's letter to Collins recalls an old article and he calls out Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter for mocking Trump as editor of Spy magazine back in the '80s. ("Short-fingered vulgarian" ring a bell with anyone else?)

Perhaps the best was Trump's snap at Jerry Seinfeld, who withdrew from a charity appearance organized by Trump's son because the comedian wasn't amused by Trump's rabid birtherism. Seinfeld quietly made a donation to the charity anyway. Burn.

Aside from demonstrating behavior that's anything but presidential, Trump is showing that he just doesn't get it. When you write a letter, it's supposed to be about the person you send it to. And Trump's are all about him.

Texas Governor Rick Perry Tells Texans to Pray For Rain


When in doubt, pray.

Our friend in Revelation, Fox News:

Gov. Rick Perry, a devout Christian, is calling on all Texans to pray for rain as most of the state battles an extreme and exceptional drought.

Perry has proclaimed a three-day period, from Friday to Sunday, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the state.

"I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal way of life," he wrote in the proclamation.

May 5 is already a National Day of Prayer so we hope Texans get their wishes in early before St Peter is inundated with all kinds of tedious bullshit like "please can I have a pony?" and "Dear God, make my wife stop being such an intolerable bitch!"

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is already beating off heathen lawsuits in a direct response to her Arizona Day of Prayer in 2009 and 2010, as well as a day of prayer set aside on Jan. 17, 2010 for the state budget. Like God has nothing better to do but magically fund Arizona state employee pensions.

JDA is all for freedom of religion and may be a bit of a closeted religious nut herself (higher power, not the shiny white hippie most of us identify with Jesus Christ, nor the vengeful asshole some call "God" who strikes you down for jerking off even though He gave us opposable thumbs and loathes gay people even though He created them) but is also for freedom from religion. When politicians start talking about praying for the budget, we have a problem.

Want to take it a step further? The group opposing Brewer's Day of Prayer is offering debaptismal certificates for those looking to proudly renounce their unwilling participation in organized religion. The certificate, from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, reads:

“I, having been subjected to a Christian baptism before reaching an age of consent, or having submitted to baptism before embracing freethought and reason, hereby officially renounce that primitive rite and the Church that imposed it. I categorically reject the creeds, dogmas, and superstitions of my former religion, particularly the pernicious doctrines of ‘Original Sin’ and damnation.

“I further denounce as an affront and defamation to humanity the false and demeaning belief that any baby is born with ‘Original Sin’ and must be cleansed of it by baptism. From this day forward, I wish to be excluded from any claims of religious affiliation or membership based on baptismal records.”

The FFRF makes no claims as to consequences in the hereafter but we have it on good authority that when Jesus comes back he is going to be pissed. You've been warned.

I'll pray for y'all.

America Politely Declines a Fifteenth Serving of Kool-Aid



The NYT surveyed 1,224 Americans to see how they feel about the state of affairs here at home, here's what they got:

Americans are more pessimistic about the nation’s economic outlook and overall direction than they have been at any time since President Obama’s first two months in office, when the country was still officially ensnared in the Great Recession, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Amid rising gas prices, stubborn unemployment and a cacophonous debate in Washington over the federal government’s ability to meet its future obligations, the poll presents stark evidence that the slow, if unsteady, gains in public confidence earlier this year that a recovery was under way are now all but gone.

Capturing what appears to be an abrupt change in attitude, the survey shows that the number of Americans who think the economy is getting worse has jumped 13 percentage points in just one month. Though there have been encouraging signs of renewed growth since last fall, many economists are having second thoughts, warning that the pace of expansion might not be fast enough to create significant numbers of new jobs.

Finally! Do you get it now, America? There are no jobs. They are gone. You all didn't want to work in factories or get your hands dirty or grab a fucking mop, you all wanted to get liberal arts degrees (everyone deserves an education! Even if they can't afford it and don't know the difference between you're and your by the time they are 19) and office jobs. Now the factories have been shipped off around the world and there aren't even enough low-paid retail gigs to get by. Don't cry to me, you did it to yourselves.

The survey reveals that 57 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy while a whopping 75 percent do not approve of how Congress is handling its job. See what happens when you vote with your hearts, morons? They're all idiots, throwing out the last bunch only put different idiots in there.

The price of a gallon of gas is up 99 cents for the year already and summer hasn't even hit - I guess that's still Libya's fault somehow?

Keep on keepin' on, kids, it doesn't get any better from here.

Still Waiting for That New $100 Bill...



In October of last year, we found out the new $100 bill release was delayed due to printing problems (of all hilarious things).

To date, its debut is still TBA, according to our friends at the Board.

Guess we're stuck with stacks of old $100 bills in the meantime. We'll let you know as soon as we hear anything.

Lobbying for Central Bankers




Sorry for the hiatus the last few days, kids, I've been recovering from a nasty stomach bug that apparently has been making the rounds on the East Coast (news to me, never got it in California, maybe that good green cloud keeps us healthy). I'm not surprised, being so close to the nexus of the infectious black hole of doom that is our federal government can be hazardous to your health. But I was recovered enough to spend yesterday doing what I love to do more than anything (that'll stay between me and the Paperboy, tyvm) so apparently I'm on the mend and will survive.

Anyway, now that I live in DC, I've had the pleasure of sitting in the front row for a live lobbying meeting, er, Capitol Hill hearing and I have to say it's really no different than getting pestered by candy girls pimping cigarettes and premium vodka shots at the club. This whole press conference plan feels a lot like that too, except there will be no premium vodka shots to go with Bernanke's best puppet lines.

Anyone else smell the desperation? First the guy goes on 60 Minutes, then he goes on 60 Minutes again, now this. What next? Bernanke's Road Trip across America in a big fancy Fed bus? I'd pay good, almost-worthless FRNs to see that.

WSJ:

Next Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will do something no Fed chief has done before: Stand before a room full of journalists after officials conclude a policy meeting and answer questions about the central bank's decisions.

Washington churns out press conferences the way Kansas cranks out wheat. But this briefing will carry more import than most: Mr. Bernanke has been on a campaign since taking the helm of the Fed in 2006 to make it more transparent and consensus-driven. The financial crisis severely shook public confidence in the Fed, the economy has recovered unevenly since then, and Mr. Bernanke faces disagreement on his own policy-making committee.

So wait... puppet media meets puppet Fed chairman for a post-FOMC Q&A? This doesn't smell like desperation after all, more like staged set-up.

Let the bloggers have at Bernanke for three hours and then maybe we can talk.

Hold on, hold on, it gets really funny.

In February, on the sidelines of a meeting of financial officials in Paris, Mr. Bernanke quizzed Mr. Trichet and other European central bankers on how they manage their press conferences. He'll do dress rehearsals, with staffers peppering him with questions, as the briefing nears.

Mr. Bernanke's staff, meanwhile, has spent weeks scripting the mechanics of how the press conference will work.

Dress rehearsals! Now that's funny. Who at the Board is going to play Jon Hilsenrath asking Bernanke questions he already knows the answer to?

Timmy the Tax Cheat is a Bazillion Percent Sure Congress Will Raise the Debt Ceiling




Here's a surefire way to eliminate all this talk about a debt ceiling and default: just raise it permanently. There's no way out except default, as anyone who has gotten buried in payday loans can tell you, and since they aren't about to default, their only option is to say fuck it and go balls out towards Armageddon. Everyone knows they're just going to keep raising it, let's just save ourselves a whole lot of trouble and forget about the debt ceiling, it's a joke anyway.

Of course default is the reasonable option but they'd never have the guts to do it and suggesting it would presume that we are dealing with reasonable people, which we obviously are not.

Now would be the time to default since the Fed is going AIG with Treasury puts, it would fuck them on the money we owe them and fuck them on their position since they are the only ones who actually want to buy Treasurys to begin with. That's a win-win if you ask me but I'm no White House economic adviser (call me, Obama!).

ABC:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says he is certain that Congress will raise the debt ceiling, saying leaders are "not going to play around with it" and risk the "catastrophic" consequences of defaulting on the nation's debt obligations.

"I want to make it perfectly clear that Congress will raise the debt ceiling," Geithner said in an interview with ABC News "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour. When asked if he was sure, Geithner responded, "absolutely," adding that Congressional leaders made clear they understood the importance of the matter when meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House last Wednesday.

"I sat there with them, and they said, we recognize we have to do this. And we're not going to play around with it," Geithner said of last week's White House meeting. "We know that the risk would be catastrophic."

Catastrophic to whom, Mr Geithner? To the major holder of U.S. debt? Fuck them.

OMG! Obama Wants Fancy Buttons



Silly President, don't you know tricks are for kids who can afford them?

ABC:

“You know the Oval Office always thought I was going to have like real cool phones and stuff,” Obama said last night, “You know, we can’t get our phones to work! I’m like ‘come on guys, I’m the president of the United States.’ Where’s the fancy buttons and stuff, and the big screen comes up? It doesn’t happen.”

OMG! I'm sorry but fancy buttons and big screens cost money. Speaking of, how's that whole budget thing working out?

USPS Accidentally Delivers the Wrong Statue of Liberty to Stamps


la Liberté éclairant le monde, or maybe just Vegas (via Toy-A-Day)

USPS issues are nothing new (here are some great ones) and we've certainly ripped the mailmen more than one new asshole over here on JDA but how's this for a fubar?

CNN:

When the U.S. Postal Service printed 3 billion stamps last year, it thought the image was of the Statue of Liberty, the iconic symbol of freedom keeping watch over huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

But a sharp-eyed stamp collector uncovered the truth. The image on the 44-cent stamp was of a replica of the Statue of Liberty more than 2,000 miles away, keeping watch over throngs of sweaty Vegas tourists yearning to get rich.

The U.S. Postal Service on Friday confirmed that the image was of the statue at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino, a fact that was made known to them by a stamp collector a few weeks ago.

The funniest part about this is that the USPS, like a somewhat drunk girl who just ate sidewalk in front of her friends, tried to say they would have picked the picture anyway. What better way to celebrate the Statute of Liberty than with a somewhat realistic replica of her in the middle of a God-forsaken desert den of sin?

God I love this fucking country.

TLP: A Few Less Cars on the Freeways Won't Hurt, Either

california budget
Cutting back on the number of cell phones issued to California state employees was a no-brainer for Jerry Brown when he took office as governor. And stopping the purchase of new cars by state agencies was another win-win — saves money and looks good, since there's little that taxpayers hate paying for more than perks for public workers.

Next up, California lawmakers. The NYT runs down this ballsy move:
With Gov. Jerry Brown still unable to get agreement on cuts to the state budget, California legislators now have to endure a cut of their own: their vehicles.

The California Citizens Compensation Commission voted to take state-owned cars away from lawmakers this week, instead offering a $300 monthly stipend for gas. The move is expected to save more than $2 million over five years by cutting in half what the state pays towards legislators’ transportation.

Amid a state budget deficit that has already led to tens of billions of dollars in cuts, leasing cars to lawmakers no longer made financial sense, some commissioners said.

“It’s very important to lead from the top down,” Commissioner Scott David Somers said. “Governor Brown is attempting to get 10 percent reductions in numerous departments. We have to make sure compensation is appropriate relative to what it is in other states and other offices in our own state.”
Some of the lawmakers, who are the best-paid in the country with a $100k base salary, complained, saying it's hard to get around a big state like California without a state vehicle. Boo-fucking-hoo. Three Benjamins every month for the gas pump should help.

If he keeps this up, Brown could end up being a real bargain. What the fuck, he's a retread himself.

Fed's Yellen: Defending the Fed (Again)


pic credit: Married to the Sea

It gets old, quick, and this shtick of Janet's has been old for several months if not years. It's obvious that the empirical evidence she refers to is nothing more than the FOMC Ouija board pointing to "no" when they ask it "is inflation going to kick our asses?"

Check out her comments last Monday to the Economic Club of New York:

Increases in energy and food prices are, without doubt, creating significant hardships for many people, both here in the United States and abroad. However, the implications of these increases for how the Federal Reserve should respond in terms of monetary policy must be considered very carefully. In my remarks today, I will make the case that recent developments in commodity prices can be explained largely by rising global demand and disruptions to global supply rather than by Federal Reserve policy. Moreover, empirical analysis suggests that these developments, at least thus far, are unlikely to have persistent effects on consumer inflation or to derail the recovery. Critically, so long as longer-run inflation expectations remain stable, the increases seen thus far in commodity prices and headline consumer inflation are not likely, in my view, to become embedded in the wage and price setting process and therefore are not likely to warrant any substantial shift in the stance of monetary policy. An accommodative monetary policy continues to be appropriate because unemployment remains elevated, and, even now, measures of underlying inflation are somewhat below the levels that FOMC participants judge to be consistent, over the longer run, with our statutory mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability.

While I continue to anticipate a gradual economic recovery in the context of price stability, I do recognize that further large and persistent increases in commodity prices could pose significant risks to both inflation and real activity that could necessitate a policy response. The FOMC is determined to ensure that we never again repeat the experience of the late 1960s and 1970s, when the Federal Reserve did not respond forcefully enough to rising inflation and allowed longer-term inflation expectations to drift upward. Consequently, we are paying close attention to the evolution of inflation and inflation expectations.

Instead of trying to defend a destructive position that is putting a lot of Americans in an even more uncomfortable situation than before (you know, when they lost their jobs, their homes and their self-respect), perhaps Janet should spend some time shaking hands with the dirty populace so she can somehow reconnect with reality. I had big hopes for her move to DC since we all know the magnetic field in San Francisco is a bit off but I guess it's the field in her brain that's fucked up, not that of wherever she lays her head.

Here's the great part, she then defends core inflation, offending us further by implying that they don't mean to make it appear that they don't care:

I want to emphasize that this focus on core and other inflation measures that may exclude recent increases in the cost of gasoline and other household essentials is not intended to downplay the importance of these items in the cost of living or to lower the bar on the definition of price stability. The Federal Reserve aims to stabilize inflation across the entire basket of goods and services that households purchase, including energy and food. Rather, we pay attention to core inflation and similar measures because, in light of the volatility of food and energy prices, core inflation has been a better forecaster of overall inflation in the medium term than overall inflation itself has been over the past 25 years.

And by volatility I'm sure she means "the inflationary shit storm that is about to hit the fan," since she's such an expert on these things and all.

Just stop, Janet. Please.

You Might Be a Terrorist If You Don't Like the TSA



Apparently it is un-American to dislike being harassed, visually molested and made to feel like a common criminal.

CNN:

Arrogant complaining about airport security is one indicator Transportation Security Administration officers consider when looking for possible criminals and terrorists, CNN has learned exclusively. And, when combined with other behavioral indicators, it could result in a traveler facing additional scrutiny.

CNN has obtained a list of roughly 70 "behavioral indicators" that TSA behavior detection officers use to identify potentially "high risk" passengers at the nation's airports.

Many of the indicators, as characterized in open government reports, are behaviors and appearances that may be indicative of stress, fear or deception. None of them, as the TSA has long said, refer to or suggest race, religion or ethnicity.

But one addresses passengers' attitudes towards security, and how they express those attitudes.

It reads: "Very arrogant and expresses contempt against airport passenger procedures."

"I was confused," said 8-year-old Spencer Sheahan, who was groped by TSA agents on his way to Disneyland. "I did not know what they were going to do to me."

San Jose Cops Use Social Media to Capture Prolific Graffiti Artist



A long time ago, when I was just a little San Franciscan, there was a graffiti artist about town who used the tag DAVe, presumably because that was his name. Dave would leave stickers all over Muni buses and newspaper boxes with bizarre faces and his name colored in, not to mention huge posters glued up on the abandoned storefronts left when dot com imploded.

One night, wandering the Mission way past my bedtime, I actually caught him in the act and excitedly asked him to sign my sketchbook because, well, he was a famous San Francisco artist. And even though he littered the town with stickers and posters, which could be considered graffiti and a blight on the city by some, he's also participated in legit art projects such as Hearts in San Francisco. Meaning he is an artist, just as he was then when I busted him slapping a sticker on a Muni shelter over a decade ago.

Girafa, however? Apparently not art, according to the San Jose authorities.

SJ Mercury News:

A 32-year-old man who spray-painted cartoon giraffes all over San Jose and was considered one of the most prolific graffiti artists in the Bay Area will pay the city and local property owners $38,000, a judge has ruled.

San Francisco resident Steven Free -- known on the street as "Girafa" -- will also serve three years' probation after pleading guilty to two felony counts of vandalism and a pair of misdemeanor vandalism charges, San Jose police said Thursday.

...

Two officers in the San Jose police graffiti unit were able to hunt down Free using software that tracks tagging patterns. Later, they found thousands of pictures of Girafa tags on several of his social network sites. He was also suspected of tagging in San Francisco and the East Bay.

Police said the capture was especially significant because they subscribe heavily to the "broken windows" crime theory.

Did you all catch that? He tweeted about his crime, or plastered it all over Facebook. Funny how human beings put fame over reason sometimes, don't you think? But at what point do we accept street artists as real artists?

I miss DAVe.

How's that broken window theory working out for everyone?

TLP: Can't Blame This One on Sleeping Air Traffic Controllers

inhofe flying
Maybe if he spent less time obsessing over naked cartoons of Al Gore and the minutiae of bank examination, Jim Inhofe could pay a little more attention to his flying. Airport construction workers probably would appreciate it — and not have to change their Dickies.

The Smoking Gun:
Newly released Federal Aviation Administration documents and audiotapes shed a scary new light on a bizarre incident late last year during which U.S. Senator James Inhofe landed his Cessna on a closed runway at a south Texas airport, scattering construction workers who ran for their lives as the politician’s plane hopscotched over them and six vehicles.

The FAA material, provided in response to a TSG Freedom of Information Act request, details how Inhofe, 76, chose to land on the main runway at the Cameron County Airport on October 21 despite being aware that it was closed and had a large ‘X’ on its threshold.

The politician, the FAA investigation determined, “still elected to land avoiding the men and the equipment on the runway.” In a bid to avoid “legal enforcement action,” Inhofe, who has a commercial pilot’s license, agreed to “complete a program of remedial training,” according to an FAA letter sent in January to Inhofe, a third-term Republican senator from Oklahoma.

Shortly after Inhofe landed, Sidney Boyd, who was supervising construction on the closed runway, called the FAA to report that Inhofe’s plane, a twin-engine six-seater, initially touched down on the runway and then “'sky hopped' over the six vehicles and personnel working on the runway, and then landed.”

During the call, which was recorded by the FAA, Boyd said Inhofe’s antics “scared the crap out of” workers, adding that the Cessna “damn near hit” a red truck. Referring to the vehicle’s driver, Boyd added, “I think he actually wet his britches, he was scared to death. I mean, hell, he started trying to head for the side of the runway. The pilot could see him, or he should have been able to, he was right on him.”

Boyd also said that Inhofe showed little contrition following the close call. “He come over here and started being like, 'What the hell is this? I was supposed to have unlimited airspace.'”
Sounds like every drunk or speeding __________ (mayor, judge, congressman's wife, police chief's son, you-name-it) who gets pulled over by a cop and asks, "Don't you know who I am?" Pitiful.

Anyway, Inhofe, who took a four-hour class of remedial flying instruction to atone for the matter, isn't as mouthy now as the airport workers found him to be then. The senator said in a statement that, “This is an old story, and the F.A.A. and I have long considered the matter closed.”

As long as he doesn't try to land at Reagan National Airport.

Jobs I Still Don't Envy: IRS Snitches




I didn't envy this job over a year ago and I don't now.

Apparently it is a good gig if you are out of work, says Sovereign Man:

Recently, a small town accountant tipped off the IRS that his employer was shorting the government on taxes. He was rewarded with a big fat check for $4.5 million (minus a 28% federal tax withholding, of course).

I’m sure the government thinks this reward is money well spent– it represents 22.5% of the $20 million in taxes that were recovered in the case, which at face value looks like a sound investment.

Consider, though, that the recovered tax was enough to keep the wheels on the bus going round and round for 2 minutes 18.4 seconds under the US government’s $3.82 trillion budget.

I'm not sure which number is more irritating.

Chinese Man Arrested in LA For Creating a Fake Army




When I first read this headline, I assumed this was like Bernard Von NotHaus trying to bypass our corrupt monetary system. But then I actually read the article and realized this guy was a genuine asshole, not simply paraded out as one to keep the real assholes looking legitimate.

Reuters:

A Chinese man was arrested for creating a fake U.S. Army unit and convincing immigrants that joining the squad was a path to citizenship, authorities said.

Yupeng Deng, 51, allegedly gave his recruits military uniforms, had them parade in a Los Angeles suburb and took them to the decommissioned USS Midway aircraft carrier, which is a museum in San Diego.

Deng charged more than 100 fellow Chinese nationals a fee of between $300 and $450 to join the fake Army unit, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.

Haven't these people heard of Executive Order No. 13269? All it takes is a green card to join the military and become a citizen... and the good news is even if you die in battle, you still get to die an American!

God bless America!

For the Last Time, GE Didn't Actually Get a Tax Refund




It is our understanding that GE just doesn't pay taxes, which is not the same as getting a refund. A refund, of course, would be really offensive whereas a zero tax bill for a company that made $5.1 billion in U.S. operations last year is just regular offensive.

It doesn't help that the NYT got all pissy about the situation earlier this week, nor that Obama has tapped GE CEO Jeff Immelt to help him figure out how to fix this whole economy problem. "He understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy," our OMG-in-Chief said about Immelt in January. Right. Is that called competing?

Fast forward to yesterday, when a fake press release fooled even the sharp eyes at the AP, who naturally put their faith in the goodness in each and every human being and bought it.

Of course, the following four paragraph AP story made the rounds, as news tends to do:

Facing criticism over the amount of taxes it pays, General Electric announced it will repay its entire $3.2 billion tax refund to the US Treasury on April 18.

GE uses a series of foreign tax havens that the company says are legal and that led to an enormous refund for the 2010 tax year.

The company earned $11 billion in 2010 on revenue of $150 billion.

The company, based in Fairfield, Conn., plans to phase out tax havens over 5 years and said it will create one job in the US for each new job it creates overseas.

The fake press release in question may be found via US Uncut here. Bonus points to AP for using "enormous" in this context, whether or not the story was actually true.

The prank clipped $3.5 billion off GE's market cap in a matter of hours, not bad for a bunch of activists sick of this shit.

GE's response? “It’s a hoax and GE did not receive a refund.” Right. It's not a refund. We get it. That should have been AP's first clue (everyone knows the Treasury can't afford cutting that kind of check these days) but without GE's team of tax rocket scientists on their team, it's easy to see how they may have been confused.

The question now, of course, is will the SEC investigate these Yes Men and pursue charges in retaliation for the $3.5 billion hit GE took?

Does anyone else find it only slightly ironic that tax shelters were mentioned and GE is audited by - wait for it - KPMG? Of course, Francine McKenna already pointed out the cozy GE/KPMG relationship that goes back to 1909. Just sayin.

One Solution to the Deficit Problem: Default



NYT decided to look at the numbers that make up a "Republican budget plan," whatever you'd like to think that is, in its opinion section:
Here are two numbers to keep in mind when thinking about the House Republicans’ budget plan: They want to cut spending on government programs over the next decade by $4.3 trillion. And they want to cut tax revenues over the same period by $4.2 trillion.

Government spending needs to be brought under control. But slashing vital services just to pay for more tax cuts is bad public policy and bad economics.

It won’t fix the deficit, no matter what the Republicans claim.

We’ve seen this play before. President Ronald Reagan promised that tax cuts would spur more economic growth and pay for themselves. During his tenure, the deficit hit what was then a peacetime high of 6 percent of gross domestic product, and he eventually decided that he had no other alternative but to raise taxes to try to close the gap.
Or there is Budget fights are a lose-lose proposition from Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post if that's more your flavor:
It all began in December with the bipartisan deal on extending the George W. Bush tax cuts, followed by a series of continuing resolutions setting spending for the fiscal year that is already half over. The latest came Friday night, just minutes before a looming government shutdown. But even before the details of that compromise were released, the the brinkmanship began over the next crisis, a threatened default by the U.S. government sometime in early July. Republicans now threaten that they won’t authorize an increase in the debt ceiling unless it includes promises of even deeper spending cuts next year and beyond.

However disruptive a government shutdown might have been, it would be a mild tremor compared with the global financial tsunami that would ensue if the world’s biggest and most trusted borrower were unable to repay its debts when they come due. Among the many disastrous consequences would be a big spike in U.S. government borrowing costs, which when you’re carrying $14 trillion in debt has pretty dire implications for the deficit that Republicans say they are trying to reduce. Every one percentage point increase in interest rates would add $140 billion to interest payments every year, more than offsetting the beneficial effect of all those spending cuts that the Republicans have worked so hard to achieve.
And what would be so bad about defaulting? Who is the largest creditor of the United States? Here's a big fucking hint, I hope some of my favorite sleazy Congressmen are reading this as we speak so they get this: we pay a fuckload of interest on the "money" we have to borrow from the Fed, including our very own "money" (if you can call pieces of paper with their name on it money) which they don't even print and yet somehow we pay them to be able to use their branded cash. And they're fucking us on the deal. Actively. As in this very second. And repeatedly.

All under the guise of helping.

So why not just default on their asses? We could fuck them back since a lot of what they are holding is Treasurys - everyone knows those are worthless if we can't sell more to the Fed so we can keep paying our interest on them. It's almost too simple, really, no need to make this complicated. It would immediately eliminate all unnecessary government programs, no need to keep bitching back and forth about what we should cut and how until Congress gets another debt ceiling increase. Why not just make it permanently infinity + a bazillion? There's no getting out of payday loans if you keep taking out new ones to pay the old ones.

Here's the extra-genius part: the Fed is fucked anyway, regardless of whether we keep making timely interest payments or not.

News flash: unemployed people don't demand very much money. Employed people do. Employed people also cost employers money, which causes additional money demand. What do you think happens to this very simple formula when employees cost even more money and more taxes are demanded of those employees? The Fed knows it can't give the government a two-handed hand job through buying up Treasurys and feeding in all this money to employed people so the government can swoop in and take large amounts of it. The Fed can't afford to manufacture and distribute that much street money without unleashing rampant inflation. They're stupid but they're not that stupid.

Meanwhile, let's keep thinking the decisions in Washington are actually made on the Hill and not nearby in a more secluded part of town.

Even Richard Fisher Thinks the Fed Has Overstayed Its Welcome...




...at least when it comes to encouraging the easy money machine to keep on a-chuggin'.

Check out 'Is America's Decline Exaggerated or Inevitable?' The Role of Monetary and Fiscal Policy before the Society of American Business Editors and Writers 2011 Annual Conference, April 8th:

Personally, I felt the liquidity needed to propel our economy forward was sufficient even before the FOMC opted last November to buy $600 billion in additional Treasuries on top of the committee’s pledge to replace the runoff of our $1.25 trillion mortgage-backed securities portfolio. I argued as much at the FOMC table. I considered the risk of deflation and of a double-dip recession to have receded into the rearview mirror. In fact, I gave an interview to my introducer here, Mr. [Brendan] Case, that was published under his byline in the Dallas Morning News on Aug. 26, 2009, in which I said the recession was over and the long slog of recovery from the Great Recession had begun.[6] Last November, I felt the problem was not the lack of liquidity in the economy, but that regulatory and fiscal uncertainty―the handiwork of fiscal authorities and lawmakers, not the Fed―was inhibiting the deployment of that liquidity into job creation. I also worried that these simultaneous programs would have the effect of buying up—of “monetizing”—the equivalent of most all of the U.S. government’s issuance of new debt through June of this year, a dangerous course for any central bank to embark upon.

The majority of my colleagues on the FOMC felt differently, and the committee voted to initiate the program now known as QE2. Whether you feel that we are providing a prudent amount of liquidity, as they do, or too much, as I do, I think you would be hard-pressed to dispute that there is now plenty of fuel in the tanks of American businesses to finance expansion and put unemployed and underemployed Americans back to work.

Having done our job, I see many risks to the Fed overstaying its welcome.

There are perceptional risks, for example. Our duty is most distinctly not to monetize―or even be perceived as monetizing―the debt of fiscally imprudent government. Throughout the history of nations, monetizing the budgetary excesses of governments has proven to be a direct path to economic perdition. Having already peeked inside that door, I feel strongly that we must now shut it, lock it and throw away the key.

Sorry, my dear favorite Fedhead, but it is a bit to late to repair the perception of monetization, that precedent has already been set and it is clear that the easy money whores have won. That kind of bad press can't be fixed, even by former Enron PR tramps.

JDA continues to be a one-woman Fisher cheering section, now if only someone at the overly excessive mahogany table would join me.

This Somewhat Self-Respecting 30 Year Old Humbly Disagrees, Mr Tretton




Sony America President and CEO Jack Tretton seems to think Nintendos are for babies (Consumerist):

Our view of the 'Game Boy experience' is that it's a great babysitting tool, something young kids do on airplanes, but no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those. He's too old for that.

Well that's probably true since it's kind of difficult to get your hands on a working Game Boy worth playing considering the plethora of options out there, including emulators that work just fine on the DS. I should know, I'm one of those old ass gamers who you will see sitting on an airplane with my Nintendo.

Tretton continues:

They're starting to run out of steam now in terms of continuing to be relevant in 2011 and beyond. I mean, you've gotta be kidding me. Why would I buy a gaming system without a hard drive in it? How does this thing scale? Motion gaming is cute, but if I can only wave my arms six inches, how does this really feel like I'm doing true accurate motion gaming?

Obviously Tretton doesn't actually play any video games, especially the ones he's trying to push here.

I own a PS3, of course, because I don't have the hand/eye coordination to enjoy Wii. But I also own a trusty Nintendo DS Lite, which has accompanied me on every single flight I've taken in the last two years and I'm not at all embarrassed to play it in public. Sure, little kids cuddle up to me in the airport and want to check out my awesome R4 card (there's nothing like sharing the NES games of my youth with kids who weren't around when 8 bit Super Mario was the best we had) but I don't leave home without it if I'm taking a long trip. My DS may not have a hard drive but who needs one? One cartridge carries all of my games plus all of my favorite NES titles such as Yo! Noid, Super Mario Bros 3, Excitebite, Metroid (yes, original Metroid!), Rampage, Contra, TMNT, etc... suddenly PSP doesn't seem so awesome, does it?

Personally I don't want full motion portable gaming, why would I want to elbow the businessmen sitting next to me on the plane?

This really makes Tretton look like an asshole more than it makes Nintendo players look like losers. Maybe that's why PSP sales have never and will never come close to embarrassing Nintendo DS sales?

Everyone knows grown ups like using a stylus, duh.

I'm Shocked Janet Yellen Would Say This




Not:

Current U.S. economic conditions are not strong enough for the Federal Reserve to reverse its monetary policy stance, a top Federal Reserve official said on Saturday.

Government Accounting Makes a "Budget" Deal Sound More Like Circus With Our Bread


pic credit: more new math


The very basis of government accounting dictates that it doesn't matter if the money actually exists, all that matters is if the money set aside is spent. So what does this "budget" deal in the Capital Wasteland actually mean for the entire foundation of its accounting system?

USA Today:
President Obama plans to outline a fresh multiyear plan to cut the federal deficit by raising taxes on the wealthy and limiting government health benefits for the poor and elderly in what the White House says will be a major speech to the nation Wednesday.

"Every corner of the federal government has to be looked at," White House senior adviser David Plouffe told CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, two days after Obama and congressional leaders struck a down-to-the-wire deal over spending cuts for the remainder of this budget year, which ends in September.

That agreement, which averted a partial government shutdown, would cut $38.5 billion. Many of those cuts involve money that was allocated but had not yet been spent. More details are expected to be released today as Congress prepares to vote on the agreement later this week.
Notice how the things a government spends money on aren't called credits, because no one's account gets credited until the project is actually billed. $2 trillion should be in the Social Security "fund" but somehow it has been stuffed with IOUs that are, essentially, worthless. Is there actually even a deficit? WTF is going on?

WaPo:
Obama is committed to doing more to slash the fast-rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid, to roll back George W. Bush-era tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 and to even discuss changes to Social Security.

For Obama, the political stakes are high. He will be trying to convince voters concerned about the growing debt that he is serious about cutting government spending and Democratic allies that he will protect key government programs, while also working to ensure spending is not cut so much that it impairs economic recovery.

In a speech scheduled for Wednesday, Obama will present his most extensive response to date in the debate over controlling federal spending. White House advisers have been discussing for months whether he should take the lead on deficit and debt reduction, concluding that his best approach for beating back Republican proposals for much deeper cuts would be to put forward his own vision.
We could solve this problem very easily by eliminating the number #1 Debt Pusher and the funniest part is Congress even has the power to do this but chooses not to, so I guess we'll keep dealing with this same bullshit over and over for as long as there is still a shred of integrity to keep the Debt Pusher in business.