The Aeration Zone: A liberal breath of fresh air

Contributors (otherwise known as "The Aerheads"):

Walldon in New Jersey ---- Marketingace in Pennsylvania ---- Simoneyezd in Ontario
ChiTom in Illinois -- KISSweb in Illinois -- HoundDog in Kansas City -- The Binger in Ohio

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Bachmann, the Welfare Queen

From DC Underground

Michele doesn't want you to have any government aid.
She wants it all for herself!

This is so not surprising:

Like many members of Congress, Rep. Michele Bachmann has been a fierce critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, blaming the government-backed loan programs for excesses that helped create the financial meltdown in 2008.

And like millions of other home purchasers, Bachmann took out a home loan in 2008 that offered lower costs to the borrower through one of the federally subsidized programs, according to mortgage experts who reviewed her loan documents.

Just a few weeks before Bachmann called for dismantling the programs during a House Financial Services Committee hearing, she and her husband signed for a $417,000 home loan to help finance their move to a 5,200-square-foot golf course home, public records show. Experts who examined the loan documents for The Washington Post say they are confident that the loan was backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Yes, she's been a fierce critic of these programs. But she and her pray-the-gay-away husband no doubt needed that extra government assistance to help them attain the American dream of home ownership, right?

The Bachmanns’ assets, according to her latest financial disclosure statement, range between $862,018 and $2 million.

For someone who hates government, Michele sure holds her hand out a lot. She hates Medicaid, too, but has no problem collecting payments year after year to fund her family's "Christian counseling" clinic. And then there are those farm subsidies she hates, except for the ones that go to her family's farm.

And of course she hates earmarks, too, except when they're for her district, in which case they should be redefined.

What next, Michele? Have you been living off food stamps too? Maybe you'd be interested in a breast exam at a government-subsidized Planned Parenthood? Perhaps you'd enjoy some heat subsidies for those cold Minnesota winters? Whatever you need from the American taxpayers, Michele, we're here for you, as long as you keep fighting to make sure there's no help for the rest of us.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Republican Party No Longer Has Its Country's Best Interests at Heart

Wednesday 27 July 2011

by: Cliff Schecter, Truthout Op-Ed

Once upon a time, in a land that now seems to have been populated by tooth fairies and unicorns, there was a political party that had a set of core beliefs to which they actually adhered.

Among them was that actually balancing the budget, as opposed to just talking about it, was sacrosanct. Slow change, while necessary, had to be balanced against the traditions of the United States, ones that had mostly served us well over two centuries.

Foreign military adventures should be limited to our national security interests. And one of the single most important components of diplomacy was protecting the economic interests not only of an elite few, but of the great many Americans who toiled in our factories and fields.

This party was known as the Republican Party, and while one might have disagreed with them on their policy prescriptions to cure any particular US ill, one could at least see some logic in their beliefs and understand that they - with some obvious exceptions from time to time (ahem, Joseph McCarthy, ahem) - were doing what they thought was right for the United States of America.

Today, this once respectable organization has turned into nothing so much as a collective id the size of a David Vitter Pampers shopping spree. When facing changes to this nation that make them uncomfortable, they choose national hate. When facing ideological worship versus the greatness of the US, the former always wins the day. When facing a choice of what is good for the US or their personal bank accounts, they inevitably go with the latter.

Every. Single. Time.

New Court Filing Reveals How the 2004 Ohio Presidential Election Was Hacked

Monday 25 July 2011

by: Bob Fritakis, The Free Press Report

from the site:

A new filing in the King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case includes a copy of the Ohio Secretary of State election production system configuration that was in use in Ohio's 2004 presidential election when there was a sudden and unexpected shift in votes for George W. Bush.

The filing also includes the revealing deposition of the late Michael Connell. Connell served as the IT guru for the Bush family and Karl Rove. Connell ran the private IT firm GovTech that created the controversial system that transferred Ohio's vote count late on election night 2004 to a partisan Republican server site in Chattanooga, Tennessee owned by SmarTech. That is when the vote shift happened, not predicted by the exit polls, that led to Bush's unexpected victory. Connell died a month and a half after giving this deposition in a suspicious small plane crash.

Additionally, the filing contains the contract signed between then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell and Connell's company, GovTech Solutions. Also included that contract a graphic architectural map of the Secretary of State's election night server layout system.

Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney in the King Lincoln case, exchanged emails with IT security expert Stephen Spoonamore. Arnebeck asked Spoonamore whether or not SmarTech had the capability to "input data" and thus alter the results of Ohio's 2004 election. Spoonamore responded: "Yes. They would have had data input capacities. The system might have been set up to log which source generated the data but probably did not."

Spoonamore explained that "they [SmarTech] have full access and could change things when and if they want."

Arnebeck specifically asked "Could this be done using whatever bypass techniques Connell developed for the web hosting function." Spoonamore replied "Yes."

Spoonamore concluded from the architectural maps of the Ohio 2004 election reporting system that, "SmarTech was a man in the middle. In my opinion they were not designed as a mirror, they were designed specifically to be a man in the middle."

A "man in the middle" is a deliberate computer hacking setup, which allows a third party to sit in between computer transmissions and illegally alter the data. A mirror site, by contrast, is designed as a backup site in case the main computer configuration fails.

Spoonamore claims that he confronted then-Secretary of State Blackwell at a secretary of state IT conference in Boston where he was giving a seminar in data security. "Blackwell freaked and refused to speak to me when I confronted him about it long before I met you," he wrote to Arnebeck.

On December 14, 2007, then-Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, who replaced Blackwell, released her evaluation and validation of election-related equipment, standards and testing (Everest study) which found that touchscreen voting machines were vulnerable to hacking with relative ease.

Until now, the architectural maps and contracts from the Ohio 2004 election were never made public, which may indicate that the entire system was designed for fraud. In a previous sworn affidavit to the court, Spoonamore declared: "The SmarTech system was set up precisely as a King Pin computer used in criminal acts against banking or credit card processes and had the needed level of access to both county tabulators and Secretary of State computers to allow whoever was running SmarTech computers to decide the output of the county tabulators under its control."

Spoonamore also swore that "...the architecture further confirms how this election was stolen. The computer system and SmarTech had the correct placement, connectivity, and computer experts necessary to change the election in any manner desired by the controllers of the SmarTech computers."

Project Censored named the outsourcing of Ohio's 2004 election votes to SmarTech in Chattanooga, Tennessee to a company owned by Republican partisans as one of the most censored stories in the world.

In the Connell deposition, plaintiffs' attorneys questioned Connell regarding gwb43, a website that was live on election night operating out of the White House and tied directly into SmarTech's server stacks in Chattanooga, Tennessee which contained Ohio's 2004 presidential election results.

The transfer of the vote count to SmarTech in Chattanooga, Tennessee remains a mystery. This would have only happened if there was a complete failure of the Ohio computer election system. Connell swore under oath that, "To the best of my knowledge, it was not a fail-over case scenario – or it was not a failover situation."

Bob Magnan, a state IT specialist for the secretary of state during the 2004 election, agreed that there was no failover scenario. Magnan said he was unexpectedly sent home at 9 p.m. on election night and private contractors ran the system for Blackwell.

The architectural maps, contracts, and Spoonamore emails, along with the history of Connell's partisan activities, shed new light on how easy it was to hack the 2004 Ohio presidential election.

Something you should know

The Social Security program never has, and by law cannot, contribute to deficits. This year despite bad economic conditions, the 2011 social security surplus will be $69.3 billion. The accumulated surplus is currently $2.7 trillion. America: tell the Republicans to sell their snake oil somewhere else.

House Democrats Ask Obama to invoke 14th Amendment

From Newsmax 7/27/11

WASHINGTON — House Democrats said Wednesday that President Barack Obama should invoke a little-known constitutional provision to prevent the nation from going into default if Congress fails to come up with a plan to raise the debt ceiling.

Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, a member of the Democratic leadership, said he told fellow Democrats that Obama should both veto any House GOP plan for a short-term extension of the debt ceiling and invoke the 14th amendment, which says that the validity of the nation's public debt "shall not be questioned."

The White House has rejected resorting to this tactic to keep the nation from defaulting, doubting its legality, but Rep. John Larson of Connecticut, who chairs the Democratic caucus, said that "we're getting down to decision time" and "we have to have a failsafe mechanism and we believe that failsafe mechanism is the 14th Amendment and the president of the United States."

Larson said Clyburn's proposal on the 14th Amendment was met with applause by other Democrats at their meeting.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, asked about Clyburn's proposal, said only Congress has the authority to extend the government's borrowing authority. "The president does not have authority to raise the debt ceiling. It's not a plausible way to address this problem and we do not think it is an option," he said.

The Democratic leaders said the vast majority in their party still support a plan for raising the debt ceiling and cutting spending put forth by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But they said the inability of the government to pay its debts could drive up interest rates and affect millions of Americans forced to pay higher mortgages and higher interest on student loans.

Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, the assistant caucus chair, said Democrats are telling Obama, "Mr. President, Republicans through their failure have given you license to do whatever it takes to not let the American family go down into that abyss with House Republicans."

The post-Civil War 14th Amendment guaranteeing citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States contains a provision that "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

Some legal scholars have said the president can invoke that clause to keep the nation from defaulting on the debt, although there is no legal precedent for such an action.

Murdoch's had his way with U.S. politicians also

July 18, 2011 9:34 AM
Murdoch's had his way with U.S. politicians also
By John Nichols in The Nation.

Australian-born billionaire Rupert Murdoch has manipulated not just the news but the news landscape of the United States for decades. He has done so by pressuring the Federal Communications Commission and Congress to alter the laws of the land and regulatory standards in order to give his media conglomerate an unfair advantage in "competition" with more locally focused, more engaged and more responsible media.

Now, with Murdoch’s News Corp. empire in crisis—collapsing bit by bit under the weight of a steady stream of allegations about illegal phone hacking and influence peddling in Britain—there is an odd disconnect occurring in much of the major media of the United States. While there is some acknowledgement that Murdoch has interests in the United States (including not just his Fox News channel but the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post), the suggestion is that Murdoch was more manipulative, more influential, more controlling in Britain than here.

But that’s a fantasy. Just as Murdoch has had far too much control over politics and politicians in Britain during periods of conservative dominance—be it under an actual Tory such as former Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major and current Prime Minister David Cameron or under a faux Tory such as former Prime Minister Tony Blair—he has had far too much control in the States. And that control, while ideological to some extent, is focused mainly on improving the bottom line for his media properties by securing for them unfair legal and regulatory advantages.

Over the past decade, as media reform groups have battled to prevent FCC and Congressional moves to undermine controls on media consolidation, Murdoch and his lobbyists been a constant presence—pushing from the other side for the lifting of limits on the amount and types of media that one corporation can own in particular communities and nationally.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Genghis Khan

With Democrats like Obama & Co., we might as well have Genghis Khan as president.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Impeach Earl Warren!

Only 52% of Americans approve of God's performance

From Raw Story:

Dissatisfaction and anger with the federal government is nothing new, but now even Almighty God is having a tough time getting support from the public.

A recently released survey (PDF) by Public Policy Polling (PPP) found that only 52 percent of American voters approve of God's performance, while nine percent disapprove and 40 percent are just not sure.

I might be among the 9%, myself.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The U.S. Dept of Goldman er Treasury

NYT piece (7/9/11) on Shelia Baird re. regulation policy was excellent. Had FDIC been in charge, Wall Street bonuses contracts would be void (under the statutes, although could have been regardless, but Administration coped out) as just one of many unnecessary benefits bestowed on Wall Street, but the Goldman mafia inside the Administration (Paulson, Geithner, Friedman) and the external collaborators/facilitators of Goldman lineage (Rubin) made sure that did not happen because it would have stopped Wall Street piracy. U.S. needed to help banking, but using taxpayer dollars to fund speculation is reprehensible.

Of course, none of this would have been necessary but for the repeal of Glass-Steagell by the Rethuglicans in 1998.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fifth columnist at New York Times

Tidbit I just found out about Gretchen Morgenson, the New York Times financial writer who just co-authored a book absurdly promoting the current Fox News talking point claiming that it was quasi-governmental Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac who were responsible for the sub-prime mortgage lending that brought the system down -- and not the private banks and mortgage companies that were responsible for the majority of those loans: she was the press agent for right-wing flat-taxer Steve Forbes in one of his losing Presidential campaigns, and spent most of her early career in the Forbes empire.

Guess she was a beneficiary of one of the NYT's "we're not liberal" affirmative action campaigns to bring in right-wingers under their august banner. Unfortunately, because she writes from a platform she obviously doesn't deserve, her silly book will be accorded respect it doesn't deserve.

This piece of information comes courtesy of Mother Jones Magazine blogger Kevin Drum. It' truly sad that that the liberal blogging world is the only way a lot of valuable information sees the light of day these days.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rethuglican Sabatoge?

A reader emailed making the following point; I would like to point out that in the pledge to never let Obama to serve a second term, a lot of corporations, sitting on piles of cash, are refusing to hire workers and start new projects, which would help the economy. The Republican Right Wing Conspiracy isn't so far-fetched.

My response is:

That's half the story, i.e. internal sources of financing. But, the other half, where on average the majority of financing is done, i.e. external sources of financing, is where the problem lies. That is the banking system which is sitting on an excess reserves to total deposits ratio of 18%. The historical average for this ratio is 1-2%. It was never higher than 7% even in the Great Depression. As late as Sept. 2008, the ratio was still about 2%. Then Lehman went down and the bank hoarding began. So while the Fed which since Sept. 2008 has driven up the monetary base via QE1 and QE2 by 90+%, the money supply (which drives the economy, i.e. GDP=f M courtesy of Milton Friedman) has risen only 3% in the same period. That is a liquidity trap of 96.7%. Not the least of which, the Financial Emergency Act -2008 (TARP, largely) started for the first time in U.S. history paying interest on excess bank reserves facilitating the buildup in excess reserves. It takes an M growth rate of 10% to generate a 7% GDP growth rate which has been achieved in almost all the recession recoveries since 1907.

Following the RRWC reasoning, banksters can join corporations to screw Obama by preventing M from driving GDP and, in turn, preventing GDP from driving employment. And, the GOP majority of Congress who are in the hip pockets of banksters and corporations cower at the prospect of stopping them. Hence, if the voters who are losing their jobs because of this don't countervail by tossing the rascals out, the economy will continue to stall. Notice, not a single bankster CEO or member of the board of directors has lost his job over the financial meltdown caused by the fraudulent derivatives wave (see Frank Rich's just out article in NY Magazine). It is just as if it never happened. During the S&L scandal involving a fraction of the money in the 2008-9 meltdown, Dick Thornburg, then Attny Gen, put 1000 banksters in the slammer. As one of my Scatablog colleagues put it when recently asked for a donation by the Dems, "when you fax me an x-ray showing Dems in Congress have a spine, I will donate."

Housing Slide Not a Plus for the Economic Recovery

From: yahoo/realestate

Home sale prices in the U.S. are expected to fall a further 2.4 percent in the second half of 2011, compared to the first half, as bank-owned properties drive down prices, unemployment remains high, and consumer confidence stays weak, according to a report released Friday by Truckee, Calif.-based data and valuation firm Clear Capital. Of 50 U.S. markets tracked for the report, only five metro areas are forecast to produce home-price gains in the second half: Washington, New York, Orlando, Dallas, and San Francisco.

U.S. home prices fell by 3.2 percent in the first six months of 2011 compared to the previous half, with median home prices dropping to $170,000, despite a 0.9 percent increase in the second quarter, estimates Clear Capital. The peak of the market was in summer of 2006, at $240,000, indicating a median price decline of nearly 31 percent since then.

The modest increase in the second quarter may be seasonal, as homebuying typically picks up in the warmer months. It is nonetheless encouraging, says Alex Villacorta, director of research and analytics at Clear Capital. "That’s not bad, as we’re under heavy inventory levels, high unemployment, and consumer confidence levels are not where they need to be," he says. "It’s not the type of increase that signifies a V-shaped recovery. It will be more muted."

A Boom in Distressed Sales

Before the housing collapse, the number of distressed sales historically made up a small percentage of the market. In the first half of 2011, however, bank-owned homes represented more than 30 percent of total sales, which is far above pre-2006 levels of less than 5 percent, according to Clear Capital. "A lot of the decline is a result of distressed sales," says Celia Chen, senior director of the Moody’s Analytics research staff, specializing in housing economics. In 2010 there were 1.7 million distressed sales, up from an average of 450,000 per year during the pre-collapse period from 2000 to 2005, according to data from Moody’s.

The rate of decline has tapered off in recent months, following a slow winter homebuying season and a double dip earlier this year. Prices are expected to be less volatile, though "it is unlikely national home prices have reached a true and sustainable bottom," states Clear Capital’s report. The firm expects national home prices to drift slightly downward until next year because of such factors as the financial crisis in Europe and jammed discussions regarding the debt ceiling in Washington. By May, the unemployment rate stood at a high 9.1 percent, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Clear Capital projects the Virginia Beach, Va., metropolitan area will be the weakest-performing market over the next six months, followed by the metros of Cleveland, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Fresno, Calif.

Under current conditions, and presuming continued job growth, Villacorta and Chen both say home prices may reach bottom in the first quarter of 2012. In its most recent economic projection, the Fed expects the jobless rate in 2012 to fall to between 7.8 percent and 8.2 percent, with gross domestic product growth anticipated at from 3.3 percent to 3.7 percent. "Those [price] upticks from April are being sustained," says Villacorta. "Albeit slim, it’s a step in the right direction.

Friday, July 01, 2011

New 1040 line: Gross Income Maldistribution

In 2007 the chief executives of 365 largest US companies averaged 500 time the income of the average employee of those companies. It has gotten wrose since 2007. Since when is one person's work 500 times more valuable than another. No one is 500 times more intelligent than another person or works 500 times harder.This difference is a gross injustice and it is hurting America. You can see it in our schools, our hospitals, and our prisons.