Open Thread

- Seriously, BackPage, just do photo ID.

– Rick Perry seems to have given up on the book he wrote last year.

– Sad to say, I didn’t know much about Jack Layton (h/t) or Nick Ashford in life.

The liquor initiative sure has a lot of money on both sides.

Best bike rack ever!

– Even as things are going well, I’m much more skeptical about Libya than Lee. But there is still a lot of uncertainty.

I think we should care about this wasp not because it has utilitarian value to us, but because it is another example of the amazing evolutionary history and diversity of life on earth.

Comments

  1. 1

    Michael spews:

    Didn’t all the haters call McGinn’s stance on this quixotic and point to it to show him as isolated and pushing his own agenda?

  2. 2

    spews:

    A stupid degenerate right wing moron farted some orders one day:

    Don’t bring up Wall Street and Republicans again.

    Heh. Wall Street and…

    REPUBLICANS:

    Dozens of Wall Street executives who supported President Obama in 2008 have donated to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign this year…

    One of the donors is Joshua Harris of Apollo Management, who recently bought the Philadelphia 76ers. Others include Oscar Schafer of OSS Capital Management, David Solomon of Goldman Sachs, Barry Sternlight with the Starwood Capital Group and David Blitzer of the Blackstone Group.

    One Wall Street executive, who requested anonymity, said he and some of his colleagues feel betrayed by Obama.

    http://thehill.com/homenews/ca.....src=nl_fix

  3. 3

    spews:

    The knee jerk stupidity of Puddydope is exposed – AGAIN:

    When it comes to national security policy, Sunstein is a particularly strong example of Bush-Obama continuity. Though sometimes identified as a liberal, from early on he defended the expansion of the national security state under Cheney’s Office of the Vice President, and he praised the firm restraint with which the Ashcroft Justice Department shouldered its responsibilities. “By historical standards,” he wrote in the fall of 2004, “the Bush administration has acted with considerable restraint and with commendable respect for political liberty. It has not attempted to restrict speech or the democratic process in any way. The much-reviled and poorly understood Patriot Act, at least as administered, has done little to restrict civil liberty as it stood before its enactment.” This seems to have become Obama’s view.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....30260.html

    The only malleable Homer Simpson idiot is Puddydope – made malleable by countless hours of right wing mind conditioning.

  4. 4

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Hmm, so Rick Perry is backpedaling away from his version of Mein Kampf? (Oh, okay, that’s not quite fair — but when is politics fair?)

  5. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 Apparently puddy is the last person in the U.S. to learn that Wall Street paid for Obama’s super-expensive 2008 campaign, and Obama has staffed the economic posts in his adminisration with Wall Street types (see, e.g., Bernanke and Geithner), and Obama is pretty much a Wall Street lackey. But then, when was the last time we had a president who wasn’t?

  6. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Considering Wall Street’s popularity on Main Street, Romney getting Wall Street’s endorsement is the best thing that can happen to Obama.

  7. 7

    Steve spews:

    Donations are over $1.2 million and still climbing, and now includes a donation from a little girl, Sienna, who didn’t want to receive presents on her birthday yesterday so she could instead donate to Charity:Water on behalf her older sister, Rachel Beckwith.

    http://www.mycharitywater.org/.....n_id=16396

    The Czech Republic,

    Josef Muller $100 08.23.11 Just read your story in a popular magazine in the Czech Republic. I hope more people will try to find out more about your story and decide to donate. Will try to spread the word. Thank you for the inspiration. RIP

  8. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Guns Don’t Kill People Dep’t

    In today’s Mass Shooting of the Day (TM), six people were wounded — one critically — when a lone gunman opened fire on spectators watching a basketball game in Philadelphia. Police recovered an unregistered gun and shell casings, but the suspect got away.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44.....nd_courts/

  9. 9

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Having made asses of themselves, and demonstrated their lack of foreign policy experience, several GOP candidates are backpedaling their criticism of Obama’s Libya policy.

    http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com.....k-on-libya

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: Heh — these idiots have just realized they came across as terrorist-huggers.

  10. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 I think the outpouring of support for Rachel’s charity drive from all over America and even the entire world demonstrates the basic goodness of ordinary people and their desire to bring good into the world.

  11. 12

    rhp6033 spews:

    So, Rick Perry’s trying to back-pedal on his views on Social Security (he thinks it is unconstitutional), as he had expressed in his book which was published only a couple of years ago. Mostly, he’s just avoiding the topic, by shoving food in his mouth and claiming he couldn’t talk with his mouth full.

    But there’s more going on in the background. I really don’t know where or how Republicans meet to plan how they are going to destroy the American middle class, but we see signs once the plan is in operation. Kind of like an intelligence officer tyring to deduce the enemy’s intentions by watching where he is moving his resources, and the initial positions he takes as a prelude to an offensive.

    What’s really at stake, among other things, is the Republican plan to take over Social Security and give it’s reserves to Wall Street to “invest” on our behalf. Of course, Wall Street never invests anything on our behalf without first making sure they take a substantial cut of the assetts in various fees and commissions, which they take as profit regardless of how well they do their jobs, or whether the market is up or down.

    In the past decade, the first attack was by George W. Bush in 2005, as he attempted to use the (temporary) rise in the market as a justification for turning Social Security retirement funds into individual accounts invested in Wall Street. That plan became side-tracked as the Bush administration was surprised at how unpopular the idea was, as well as the loss of credibility and loss of attention he gave to the campaign due to his mis-management of Katrina, Iraq, and Afganistan. The big drop in the stock market in 2008 marked the end of that offensive.

    The second offensive was a brief one, marked by Paul Ryan’s budget plan to privatize Social Security and replace Medicare and Medicaid with a voucher system. It met with a decided thud in the polls. But the problem was that Paul Ryan jumped the gun, the ground hadn’t been properly prepared yet, although efforts were already being made to do so.

    The second offensive was marked by a more careful strategy, which only now is beginning to be seen. Their attempt to force the federal government into default, and the dip in the federal government’s credit rating, is part of that plan. They know that the surplus funds in the Social Security researve fund (accumulated to pay for baby-boomer’s retirements) must, by law, be invested only in treasury certificates. By keeping the economy in the doldrums with their idiotic deficit-cutting in a time of rescession, and by blocking in Congress every one of Obama’s economic recovery plans, they keep the Fed’s interest rates near zero. The attempt to force the federal government into default, and the resulting downgrade in the U.S. credit rating, made treasury certificates even less valuable. So now they can claim that Social Security is severely underfunded, and requires a complete “remodel”.

    This became apparant when the Obama administration proposed a one-year extension on the payroll tax break for working people. This tax break, which shows up in every paycheck as a smaller deduction for FICA taxes, puts a small amount of money in the hands of consumers each payday. But it has a price, in that it reduces money used to fund the Social Security retirement fund surpluses which will be needed shortly as more baby boomer’s retire.

    So the Republicans, who never met a tax they didn’t hate, are all for the renewal of this tax break, right? After all, they wouldn’t want to be seen as having been in favor of raising taxes on the working class, while at the same time fighting tooth and nail to preserve tax loopholes protecting corporate CEO’s from using luxory jets they have their company buy for them, right?

    Couriously, however, Republicans have announced their intention to fight the plan, despite the fact that it’s a tax break, and despite the fact that their hypocracy is laid bare. It’s clear that they only care about tax breaks for the rich, not for everyone else.

    But when asked about why they oppose the extension of the payroll tax cut, they only speak in vague statements, saying that it needs to be replaced with some “long-term plan” to “restructure the system”. To me, that’s Republican-speak for “It’s time again to try to privatize Social Security”.

    Given their tactics of the last year, I expect that they will try to hold the payroll tax reduction hostage to a much bigger plan which, if it doesn’t replace Social Security with some form of privatized system, will at least provide for drastic cuts in benefits. They will probably try to push this through the “Super Congress” so they can deny any personal responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

    But their friends in Wall Street will be very happy with them. Not because the market rises – brokers and bankers make money either way, as long as there is movement in the market. They will simply rejoice in the flood of fees and commissions they will recieve courtesy of the Republicans turning over yet more public assets for their personal enrichment.

  12. 13

    Michael spews:

    Here’s a chance to put some folks to work!

    Those fierce floods on the Missouri River continue to hamstring travel and farming along the I-29 corridor through Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.
    While farmers scramble to get crops in and harvested – and nervous officials continue to watch the levees – the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers faces an “epic repair job” in both the Missouri and Mississippi River flood plains.
    http://harvestpublicmedia.org/.....r-levees/5

  13. 14

    Michael spews:

    HA, The Stranger, & the WA Dems, could learn something from Obama.

    Barack Obama recognized something in 2008 that few Democratic presidential hopefuls before him had: Rural voters matter. And the best way to cultivate their support is on the farm.

    A continued courtship appears to be well underway for 2012. It was clear with President Barack Obama’s bus tour through the nation’s breadbasket and the new White House report touting its economic achievements in rural America.

    But Obama won’t win the traditionally conservative rural vote. He doesn’t need to. He only needs to keep Republican support low enough that the traditionally left-leaning urban vote can put him over the top.
    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/s.....z1VsM4f1St

  14. 15

    Michael spews:

    And yeah, I do diss on Ohio a bit but, truth be told, I’m pulling for Cleveland. I’d love to see the old rust belt city’s up and running again and employing all sorts of folks.

    A lot of times, I sit at my house in Cleveland and think of the people whizzing by a few miles away, rushing home to their “paradise” in the suburbs or the country, escaping “urban problems.” A word comes to my mind, to describe these people, so desperate to escape the traffic and crime and smog of the city.

    That word, my friends, is suckers.
    http://rustwire.com/2011/08/15.....s-left-it/

  15. 16

    Michael spews:

    @15
    Continued…

    The Avengers is being filmed in Cleveland! It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

    Hollywood has come to Cleveland to shoot scenes of destruction and people scattering. I venture to say the extras in this particular case aren’t.

    The Avengers are here. The film will entertain, no doubt. The site location of Cleveland as a scene of settings that needs to be saved by men coming down from the sky will only make the movie better—the script more believable. There will be folks in theaters from Ames to Asheville that are nobodies other than who they are and how they live: modest, real, frill-less—in jeans and t-shirts and working because their kids are hungry and because they sleep better after having worked—and they will recognize themselves in us.
    http://rustwire.com/2011/08/18.....-superman/

  16. 17

    Steve spews:

    I’ve rooted for Cleveland for a long time. I have no association other than having friends who attended the Cleveland School of the Arts. They love the city and the school. I root for Detroit to get back on its feet too. Again, just because I have friends from there and, like Cleveland, that city could use a break.

  17. 18

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    I’m ambivalent about the liquor privatization initiative. The current channel for the distribution of alcohol provides a ready-made system for the delivery of cannabis to our citizens who choose to enjoy that substance. Why not use the state liquor system to handle the eventual legalization of cannabis, too?

  18. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @12 “regardless of how well they do their jobs”

    I’ve been speculating in stocks for over a quarter century now, and trust me, the only thing these guys are good for is executing trades. All I want from them is to match my order to a buyer or seller on the trading floor and do the accounting right.

    When it comes to analyzing markets or companies, and picking stocks, they’re amateurs like the rest of us. The average “professional” money manager is no better at running a portfolio than a monkey throwing darts.

  19. 22

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 20: When my wife worked at a major brokerage firm (not as a broker, but as a staff assistant), we got quite an education in the brokerage business.

    You see, they can easily hire analysts to put out all sorts of opinions. You can pick and choose whatever opinion you want to fit your recommendations. But the real drivers in the brokerage business aren’t “stock wizards”, they are the guys and gals who spend most of their time in country clubs and on the golf courses, getting the big money and corporate accounts.

    If a trainee couldn’t bring in a million dollars of new assets for the firm to manage, EACH AND EVERY MONTH, then they were out the door with only a couple of month’s warning. Their goal was not only to bring in new people, but to bring “in house” every asset and financial instrument they own: checking and savings accounts, mortgages, credit cards, retirement funds, college savings accounts, company accounts, etc. – and to expand it to EVERY MEMBER OF THE FAMILY. Those trainees who come from more humble backgrounds have a very difficult time meeting those requirements, their familys have modest assets and once that network is exhausted, then they don’t have anything more to contribute – and they are out the door (oh, and leave your family’s accounts here, or we will sue you for breach of the non-compete agreement).

    Secondly, the mutual funds make regular marketing trips to the brokerage firms, treating the entire firm (brokers and staff) to an expensive lunch along with a short presentation on the mutual fund’s products. Much of their presentation would be devoted to the generous commissions they would pay brokers who steer their clients into those funds.

    Obviously this has an effect on the broker’s recommendations – if it didn’t work, the mutual funds wouldn’t be doing it. But more importantly, neither the mutual fund nor the broker pays for these lunches, or golf tournaments, or fishing trips, or carribean cruises – the individual investor in the mutual fund does, through the annual fee which is deducted each year from his total balance (usually around 1% of the total balance, plus or minus 1/4 of a percent).

    So, Roger, I agree with you completely, that someone buying stock should do so based on their own research, and not rely upon a broker making those decisions for you.

  20. 23

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    @22,

    The general rule-of-thumb is the “Two out of Three Rule” – if the broker/dealer made money and the stock sales guy made money, but the client lost money, then two out of three ain’t bad!

  21. 24

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 21: I don’t know, Roger.

    It seems to me that the Republicans I know personally, and many of those on the state and national level, suffer from an “insular derangement syndrome”. They hear from their contributors, lobbyists, tea party activits, etc., all telling them that there is a great groundswell of support for the Republican agenda which the media isn’t covering because it’s “left wing”.

    They get used to this, and eventually they believe only what they want to believe, and disregard everything else as being lies or the rantings of a handful of “extremist liberals”. They even pick and choose which polls they want to look at, disregarding those which show they don’t have a prayer, and believing in those which show them within reach of achieving their goals.

    Note that even in Wisconsin they were initially surprised by the outpouring of anger over their agenda, but recovered and then passed it off as a bunch of “union thugs and outsiders”, not the “good Republican voters in Wisconsin”. Heck, they even convinced themselves that losing two seats in conservative districts in the recall elections was some sort of “mandate” for the Scott Walker Agenda!

    But don’t discount their ability to dismiss non-Republican voters as being those who can be manipulated, or simply “don’t count” in the grand scheme of things. They figure they can distract them with shiny objects (“Look – over there – a terrorist!”), or dis-enfranchise them at the polls through de-registration, ID requirements, moving voting machines or locations around, tinkering with electronic voting software, etc.

  22. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @22 “So, Roger, I agree with you completely, that someone buying stock should do so based on their own research, and not rely upon a broker making those decisions for you.”

    One simple statistic tells you everything you need to know about mutual funds: 80% of mutual funds underperform the market averages. In other words, mutual fund customers pay these people to lose their money.

    Anyone who is still tempted to trust Wall Street should go back and re-read Standard & Poor’s AAA ratings of junk mortgages.

  23. 26

    rhp6033 spews:

    Roger, I heard you were ill last week, how did you make out with the recent stock-market roller coaster, without being actively involved?

  24. 27

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 25: Yep, as I’ve mentioned before, my 401(k) offers only a handful of mutual funds as selections.

    I added up everything I paid in over the past 17 years, then added up the employer’s contribution, added the two sums together, and I came up with – 93% of the current value of my 401(k) plan. Checking the other funds I could have invested in, and I don’t see enough difference in the results to make it worth the effort to do the math.

    I would have done slightly better simply by stuffing the mattress with cash.

    At the beginning, I had figured that if I contributed 15% of my salary into the 401(k), plus the employer’s share, and if the markets rose 6% to 10% (as the fund managers claimed was the national average), then I would have a modest nest-egg with which to fund my retirement. At this point it should be roughly double my contributions over the ten-year period. But with things as they are, and with only another fifteen years until retirement, I’m going to have to make some major changes in the way I invest.

  25. 28

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @23 It seems every decade brings its own Wall Street scandals. It’s pretty simple, when old scams don’t work anymore, they invent new ones. What never changes is Wall Street’s dishonesty.

    It’s surprising they have any customers left. In fact, a large portion of the retail trade has already fled. Nowadays 80% of the trading is computers selling stock to each other.

    How to profit from this is pretty simple. Sure, institutional investors spend millions on computers and data crunching, but it doesn’t do them a damn bit of good. When their customers pull money out, they have to sell stocks. They know they shouldn’t be selling those stocks at those prices, but they have no choice. You take the stock off their hands at a discount and give them the cash they need. Then, when money flowing back into the funds forces them to buy those stocks back from you in a rising market, you give them the stocks they need and take their cash. You get a markdown when you buy it from them and a markup when you sell it back to them. They know you’re doing this, but they can’t do a damn thing about it.

    So, yes, a small investor can make money in the stock market even though it’s crooked and rigged, and no, all the advantages the big traders have over you don’t put you at a disadvantage. If you do this right, you have them by the balls.

  26. 29

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @26 I didn’t do anything last week, because this isn’t the bottom yet. I’m sitting on about $70,000 of cash right now and I’m waiting for premium blue-chip stocks to lose another 15% to 25%. No, I can’t time markets or call bottoms, I’m just making an educated guess that the market will go lower when things fall apart in Europe. And I feel about 98% certain that things WILL fall apart in Europe.

  27. 30

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @26 Yeah, I’ve had a raft of health problems this year, and was back in surgery again last week.

  28. 31

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    In case you haven’t heard, Washington D.C. was hit by a 5.8 earthquake this afternoon.

  29. 32

    Michael spews:

    @17
    They’ve done a hell of a job cleaning up the river since it caught fire. Not sure if I’d take a swim in it or eat fish caught in it, but the Cuyahoga’s cleaner than a lot of other rivers out there.

    Cleveland’s urban core is actually gaining population as the rest of the city and state of Ohio are losing population. I think Cleveland’s a case were it could thrive or tank based on how well its contraction is managed.

  30. 33

    What is best in life? To crush your enemies -- See them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women spews:

    5. Darryl spews:
    Orb @ 1,

    Still fucking nuts, huh Orb? Inslee has had public appearances ALL OVER THE FUCKING PLACE!

    It might help to wipe that elephant shit off of your glasses….

    well cmon darryl, tell all about these many inslee public meetings “all over the fucking place”

    where? when? or are you just making this shit up?

    ya, thats what I thought.

  31. 34

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @27 401(k)s are awful. You have little or no choice about who manages your savings, and you can’t hold them accountable for lousy performance. They get paid for losing your money.

  32. 35

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    In today’s stock market, you can assemble a conservative income-oriented portfolio of dividend-paying stocks in well-known companies will yield about 4%.

    Now let’s assume you start out with $100,000, reinvest dividends but never put in additional money, and the companies raise their dividends 4% a year, but the stocks never go up in value.

    What you would own 17 years from now is a portfolio worth $233,800 producing dividend income of $17,516 a year. That’s the same as an interest rate of 17.5% on your savings.

    But if you put that same $100,000 in bonds paying 3% a year, if interest rates remain stable and the bonds neither go up nor down in value, what you will own 17 years from now is $100,000 worth of bonds producing $3,000 of interest income a year.

    Oh, and did I mention that dividends are taxed at half the rate that interest income is taxed?

    So, where would you invest your retirement savings, in stocks or bonds? What’s happening right now is millions of people are fleeing the stock market and putting their money into bond funds.

  33. 36

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Picking stocks for a retirement portfolio in the current environment isn’t rocket science. Here’s a list I work from:

    Telecoms — AT&T, Verizon. (Yields above 5%)

    Food & beverage — Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Heinz, Campbell Soup, General Mills, Kellogg’s. (Yields 2.8% to 3.8%)

    Consumer staples — Coglate Palmolive, Procter & Gamble, Unilever. (Yields 2.7% to 3.7%)

    Diversified Manufacturing — 3M Company, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric. (Yields 2.9% to 4.0%)

    Restaurants — Darden, McDonalds. (Yields 2.8% to 3.8%)

    Technology — Automatic Data Processing, Intel. (Yields 3.1% to 4.3%)

    Utilities — Avista, Unisource. (Yields 4.7%)

    There’s nothing exotic here. No cyclicals, no oil stocks, no drug stocks, no retail stocks, no defense stocks, no financial stocks, no pipeline limited partnerships, no REITs.

    You can juice a portfolio by taking more risk. Defense stocks are cheap and high yielding right now; my picks are Elbit Systems and Raytheon. In oil, I like Chevron best. In cyclicals, I’d buy Dow Chemical and Nucor Steel. In financials, I like Aflac Insurance, Bank of New York Mellon (which gets 80% of its income from fees, only 20% from lending), and Hartford Insurance Group. In retail, I like Lowe’s and Walgreen.