January 30, 2009 archive

Wall Street Bailout Costs More than US History.


Casey Research, of Vermont, has analyzed the costs of the government bailouts of the housing crisis, the credit crisis and others and has concluded that the total is $8.5 trillion, which is more than the cost of all US wars, the Louisiana Purchase, the New Deal, the Marshall Plan and the NASA Space Program combined. According to CRS, the Congressional Research Service, all major US wars (including such events as the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the invasion of Panama, the Kosovo War and numerous other small conflicts), cost a total of $7.5 trillion in inflation-adjusted 2008 dollars.


hat tip to Ilargi.


“Welcome back to the White House”

Smell that fresh air? A new breeze is blowing.

Ever since the Wagner Act legalizing unionization passed 74 years ago, right wingers have been trying to gut it. Corporations at first ignored it altogether until forced by the Supreme Court to surrender their opposition. With a post-Roosevelt Republican majority embedded in Congress, the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 was the first official move to make unionization tougher.

There have been a few bright moments in the decades since then, as when occupational safety and health laws were passed in the 1970s. But mostly, whether it was The Great Communicator delivering a nose-thumbing message to striking air traffic controllers, George Bush issuing executive orders favoring employers over workers, sophisticated covert union-busting efforts devised by well-paid professionals, or relentless Chamber of Commerce-promoted propaganda, the labor movement in the United States has been under constant attack.

Over the years, these attacks – together with the changing demographics of the workplace and, ironically, the movement into the middle class of more and more Americans that union activity made possible – have greatly weakened unions. Only 8% of private sector workers are now unionized. One effect of this lack of clout was made clear during the Cheney-Bush years when the Department of Labor that is supposed to protect workers shrugged off its duty. In fact, in 2006, the average penalty assessed employers for violations that “pose a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm” was $881.

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports U.S. economy falls at 3.8 percent rate at year’s end. In the steepest quarterly drop in the GDP since 1982, “new data from the Commerce Department released this morning show the U.S. economy shrank at a 3.8 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate from October through December, compared with the previous three months. The number is an initial estimate that might change as more information is collected.”

    The NY Times adds Steep slide in the U.S. Economy as unsold goods pile up. “American consumers, who took on home equity loans and large amounts of credit card debt to finance their lifestyles earlier in the decade, curtailed their spending for a second consecutive quarter. Consumer spending, which typically accounts for two-thirds of economic growth, fell 3.5 percent in the quarter, after decreasing 3.8 percent in the third quarter.” Maybe this is the beginning of the end of the consumer culture?

  2. Meanwhile, Bloomberg notest that Exxon and Chevron Top analyst earnings estimates. “Chevron’s refining earnings jumped 10-fold to $2.08 billion. Exxon Mobil had a gain of more than 6 percent to $2.41 billion as profit margins in overseas markets widened.”

    The NY Times underscores Exxon posts record 2008 profit despite slip in 4th quarter. Big oil isn’t hurting.

  3. In what may be a ‘too little, too late’ move, the Washington Post reports Vice President Biden to helm a task force on the Middle Class. “Biden announced that his chief economic adviser, Jared Bernstein, will be the executive director of the task force — a welcome announcement to more liberal economists and the labor movement, who regard Bernstein as one of their greatest allies within the administration. The task force also has its own web site — astrongmiddleclass.gov — that will not only post information but also solicit ideas, Biden said.”

    Great! Let us eat website! Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports Richest Americans’ income doubled under Bush tax cuts. 2006 marked the lowest tax rate for the richest 400 people living in the United States and “their average income doubled to $263.3 million… In all, the 400 wealthiest Americans reported a combined $105.3 billion of adjusted gross income in 2006, the most recent year for which the IRS has data.” (Hat tip bubbanomics )

  4. The LA Times reports U.S. DEA presence ends in Bolivia. “The last U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents left Bolivia on Thursday after having been ordered out by President Evo Morales… The departure in recent weeks of three dozen agents ends the DEA’s presence here after more than three decades. Senior law enforcement officials said it was the first time a DEA operation had been ordered out of a country en masse.”

Pick a Crime, Any Crime!

Ok, so I have been trying to write a mighty essay called something like….Portrait of a Criminal Administration. Something that truly spells out in the most shocking and impact full way possible just exactly how bad/criminal/rogue the Bush Administration was.

Should be pretty easy right?

But I just haven’t had the energy or concentration (going through a little relapse) to do the research and pull it together. Then it finally penetrated my thick head that this would be the perfect collaborative, epic piece….but I had just been asking for help in the wrong way. So…here is a different way!

Pick your favorite Bush crime and write about it. A couple of paragraphs or a full essay or even just a couple of sentences! Especially if you can tackle one of the lesser known crimes….other than the big three, Illegal Invasion of Iraq, Torture, and the Plame treason….but if you have something to say about those, let it out! Reworjing or just re-pub’ing something from your archives is perfectly acceptable, and much appreciated.

If you do want to contribute, just remember to put “Portrait of a Criminal Administration” in the tags. Then we can comb through and assemble something magnificent by editing all of them together or pub’ing them as a series. Either in timeline form, or a greatest hits kind of deal. An epic essay or a series we can put up to coincide/directly follow Holder’s confirmation. (Which looks like Monday, but who knows what those wily Repubs will pull next!)

What do y’all think?

For Iraqi Orphans: Artistic, Poetic Justice {UpDate}

Can we ever give them the real justice they deserve?

That of us bringing to accountability those who, like the dictator of their country we once supported, no questions asked,  gave the orders {on fixed intelligence} to destroy, kill, and torture their family members and fellow countrypersons!

Or will we once again bury our guilt in our apathy and arrogance and watch as others, hopefully, take that Moral Leadership?

Docudharma Times Friday January 30

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Wall Street Bonuses  

Friday’s Headlines:

Republicans lack a party line on economy

US overtures divide Iran’s policymakers

My terror as a human shield: The story of Majdi Abed Rabbo

Iceland to be fast-tracked into the EU

French demonstration: Sarkozy vs the street

Sri Lanka gives Tamil Tigers 48 hours to allow civilians through jungle

Zimbabwe sidelines currency as economy collapses

Recalling an audience with Congo warlord Lubanga

Mexico City braces for water rationing

Senate Passes Health Insurance Bill for Children

Immigrant Clause Opens Rift

By Ceci Connolly

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, January 30, 2009; Page A01

The Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation yesterday to provide health insurance to 11 million low-income children, a bill that would for the first time spend federal money to cover children and pregnant women who are legal immigrants.

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is aimed at families earning too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance, currently covers close to 7 million youngsters at a cost of $25 billion.

Lawmakers voted 66 to 32, largely along party lines, to renew the joint state-federal program and spend an additional $32.8 billion to expand coverage to 4 million more children. The expansion would be paid for by raising the cigarette tax from 39 cents a pack to $1.

China’s Solution for Unemployed College Grads: State Jobs in the Boonies

By Maureen Fan

Washington Post Foreign Service

Friday, January 30, 2009; Page A08

BEIJING — Liu Yongquan thought he was well prepared for China’s job market, with his degree in electromechanical engineering. But a long internship had provided no help in the way of connections, nor any real job experience. So after graduating in 2007, he headed for rural Laozhuanghu village in Xiji town, on the outskirts of Beijing, where he works as a librarian, passing out legal and health-care notices and conducting surveys.

“I’m not from the city, so this job can solve my residential permit problem. Second, the rural experience helps me in my civil service exam,” said Liu, who is from Shandong province and now hoping for the stability of a state job. “I’m forgetting all my engineering knowledge, but this work doesn’t need professional skill. It is enough if you are patient and careful.”



Obama Calls Wall Street Bonuses ‘Shameful’


Published: January 29, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Obama branded Wall Street bankers “shameful” on Thursday for giving themselves nearly $20 billion in bonuses as the economy was deteriorating and the government was spending billions to bail out some of the nation’s most prominent financial institutions.”There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses,” Mr. Obama said during an appearance in the Oval Office with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. “Now’s not that time. And that’s a message that I intend to send directly to them, I expect Secretary Geithner to send to them.”

It was a pointed – if calculated – flash of anger from the president, who frequently railed against excesses in executive compensation on the campaign trail. He struck his populist tone as he confronted the possibility of having to ask Congress for additional large sums of money, beyond the $700 billion already authorized, to prop up the financial system, even as he pushes Congress to move quickly on a separate economic stimulus package that could cost taxpayers as much as $900 billion.

“See” OPOL Live Tonight on WWL Radio

EDIT UPDATE: Here is the Link to BTR chat. You can use it to type in questions, or comments as we go along, for those too shy to call; or if the switchboard gets too busy.


This evening, at 6pm Eastern, join us at WWL BlogTalkRadio as we discuss:

1. Equal Pay – The Lilly Ledbetter Law gets signed!

Call in and let us know if this will effect you, or has effected you in the past.

2. Conyers vs Rove.. Holder vs The Right

Is accountability a pipe dream, or did someone just repack the bowl???

3. Stimulus Package… Is Keynesianism on the Rise, or is this just more Trickle down?

Speak your minds!

Our VERY Special Guest will be OPOL, of Docudharma!!!!

Nothing like One Pissed Off Liberal to discuss with us:

1.  we should have listened to the hippies

2.  we should cease making war on people for bogus reasons

3.  we should re-purpose the MIC to address environmental and energy issues

Tune in and Listen:

Listen to The Wild Wild Left on internet talk radio

Call in with comments or questions to:


The link to BTR live chat will be available on the WWL 15 minutes before the show!

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning
High Desert

Below the vast cerulean above

enlivening an endless

canvas of assorted browns

lies a short barrel cactus

crowned by a yellow flower

with red streaks

topping the cylindrical body

which wears

lethal looking spines

warning me

to keep my distance

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–August 1, 2008

Late Night Karaoke

Ah The Lounge



News Special

An Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Obama calls Obama calls $18B in Wall St. bonuses ‘shameful’8B in Wall St. bonuses ‘shameful’

By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer

29 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama issued a withering critique Thursday of Wall Street corporate behavior, calling it “the height of irresponsibility” for employees to be paid more than $18 billion in bonuses last year while their crumbling financial sector received a bailout from taxpayers. “It is shameful,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “And part of what we’re going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some sense of responsibility.”

The president’s comments, made with new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at his side, came in swift response to a report that employees of the New York financial world garnered an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses last year. The figure, from the New York state comptroller, drew prominent news coverage.

Yet Obama’s stand also came just one day after he surrounded himself with well-paid chief executives at the White House. He had pulled in those business leaders and hailed them for being on the “front lines in seeing the enormous problems in our economy right now.”

Obama Dismissing Yoo Torture Memo Case?

Politico reported yesterday that Obama’s lawyers are prepping to  defend John Yoo next week by moving to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Jose Padilla.  Padilla seeks a declaration that Yoo’s legal memos that purported to authorize torture were unconstitutional.  Obama presumably does not plan to support torture or the torture memos. Instead, Obama may argue that the case should be dismissed in order to protect governmental prerogatives, like immunity for government officials acting within the scope of their employment or state secrets.  While any of these defenses may have legal validity, what about protecting the public’s prerogative to the rule of law?  And, does the US want to continue shielding our government officials from torture liability while prosecuting foreign officials to hold them individually accountable?

Quotes for Discussion: John Updike

Via Andrew Sullivan and Joe Posnanski, two of the myriad reasons why John Updike was what he was, and why I feel so fortunate to have shared the earth with him for much of my life.

When I was a boy, the bestselling books were often the books that were on your piano teacher’s shelf. I mean, Steinbeck, Hemingway, some Faulkner. Faulkner actually had, considering how hard he is to read and how drastic the experiments are, quite a middle-class readership. But certainly someone like Steinbeck was a bestseller as well as a Nobel Prize-winning author of high intent. You don’t feel that now. I don’t feel that we have the merger of serious and pop — it’s gone, dissolving. Tastes have coarsened. People read less, they’re less comfortable with the written word. They’re less comfortable with novels. They don’t have a backward frame of reference that would enable them to appreciate things like irony and allusions. It’s sad. It’s momentarily uphill, I would say.

And who’s to blame? Well, everything’s to blame. Movies are to blame, for stealing a lot of the novel’s thunder. Why read a novel when in two hours you can just go passively sit and be dazzled and amazed and terrified? Television is to blame, especially because it’s come into the home. It’s brought the fascination of the flickering image right into the house; like turning on a faucet, you can have it whenever you want. I was a movie addict, but you could only see so many movies in the course of a week. I still had a lot of time to read, and so did other people. But I think television would take all your day if you let it. Now we have these cultural developments on the Internet, and online, and the computer offering itself as a cultural tool, as a tool of distributing not just information but arts — and who knows what inroads will be made there into the world of the book.

– John Updike in interview with Salon.com