Terror Alert Level

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Is Everyone In Harrisburg Corrupt??

Sure seems like it.

"It was up to me to see that taxpayer funds were spent only for the betterment of the people of Pennsylvania, and not for my political benefit or that of my party. You had a right to expect better from me, and I am sorry that I let you down."

In other words, "I'm sorry that I got caught. Now what can I do to lessen my prison time?"

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Orie Charged With Felonies

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm really too busy to be blogging this week, but this story is huge.

State Sen. Jane Orie was arrested late Monday, nearly six months after a mistrial that was caused by the introduction of forged documents in her criminal trial, and has been charged with 16 new counts, including felony perjury, tampering with evidence, forgery and obstruction.
Ms. Orie, R-McCandless, was arraigned and released. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7.
She had no comment.

I really don't have the time to do much on this, but Orie was orginally charged with the fairly mundane (and I'm pretty sure fairly common) practice of using her state paid legislative staff for campaign work. She's now looking at some pretty serious prison time if convicted.

You can read the affidavit of probable cause here and here.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Real Life

Got a string of ten days working without a day off, and a major event in the middle of this run, so blogging will be lighter than usual for about 2 weeks.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Make Them Pay

Its time to end the UPMC/Highmark dispute.

UPMC's president told state legislators this morning his institution would never negotiate a new contract with Highmark, the region's largest provider of health insurance.

"This is not a negotiating ploy but rather an inevitable decision dictated by the realities of competition," Jeffrey Romoff told about two dozen House members gathered at the Allegheny County Courthouse.

The deal-breaker was Highmark's announced plan to take over the West Penn Allegheny Health System, he said. That plan would make Highmark a direct competitor with UPMC, he said.

UPMC claims to be a non-profit. But by invoking "direct competition," UPMC head honcho Romoff admitted that UPMC is in it for profit. They've been trying to put WestPenn/Allegheny out of business for years to complete their monopoly on health care in the Pittsburgh region, and when on the verge of attaining that goal, they cannot stand the fact that Highmark came to the rescue.

The solution is very, very simple. Revoke UPMC's tax-exempt status, and make them start paying on their profits and property. THAT will bring them to the table.

Problem solved.

UPDATE 8/28: I'd forgotton that UPMC has its own insurance plan. Apparently, its OK for a hospital system to offer insurance, but not OK for an insurance plan to operate a hospital. Or something.

There is also this telling tidbit from the P-G article:

If UPMC goes through with its divorce with Highmark, steering policyholders to its new allies (and patients to its own hospitals), it could theoretically break the Highmark hold on the Pittsburgh commercial market.

Then, after the deals with Aetna, Cigna and the like expire in a few years, UPMC hospital system could lock those insurers out of its network, too, leaving UPMC Health Plan as the only game in town with access to its own hospitals.

"Jeff has made no secret that he wants it all," the former UPMC official said, speaking of UPMC's Mr. Romoff.

Uh-oh, hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


This is unbeliveable. It seems only members of the media are allowed to record public officials in a public forum. That is news to me.


I didn't feel a thing. Somewhat disappointed, yet glad I don't live somewhere more prone to shaking.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Republican Making Sense???

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman:

"When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position," Huntsman told ABC's "This Week."

Huntsman said he couldn't remember a time when "we actually were willing to shun science and become a party that was antithetical to science. I'm not sure that's good for our future and it's not a winning formula,"

With an attitude like that, he doesn't stand a chance in the teabagger and Christianist dominated G.O.P. primaries.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Really Now?

Ummm, Ann?

"Liberals love mobs because rioting and anarchy are their path to power."

What about this?

New York Rep. John Sweeney told an aide to "Shut it down."[6][3] The demonstration turned violent, and according to the NY Times, "several people were trampled, punched or kicked when protesters tried to rush the doors outside the office of the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections.

Seems to me that somebody else's "path to power" was through rioting and anarchy. Projection: Its what Republicans do.


Wingnut Economics, Part I've Lost Count

Florida's drug testing program for welfare recipients costs more money than it saves.

Under the rules of the program, the state must reimburse recipients who receive negative test results. The state paid about $1,140 for the 38 negative tests, while saving less than $240 a month by denying benefits over the two positive tests.

The cost to taxpayers could end up being significantly higher because the state expects to have to defend the law in court.

Of course, the real reason for this testing isn't to save money. Its purpose is to further degrade and dehumanize poor people.

A Good Return On Investment

Natural gas extraction in the Commonwealth is up up up!!

Gas production continues to skyrocket in Pennsylvania, with the latest six-month figures showing a 60 percent increase in output for the commonwealth's Marcellus Shale wells.
The more than 1,600 Marcellus wells currently in production put out a total of 432 billion cubic feet of natural gas in the first six months of the year, according to the figures provided to the state Department of Environmental Protection by drilling companies.

432 billion cubic feet! That's a lot of natural gas! Gas is priced at around $4.12 for 1000 cubic feet at the wellhead, so the drillers in six months have produced gas worth $1,779,840,000 if my math is correct (432 billion divided by 1,000 multiplied by 4.12).

With a severance tax of 7.5% of market value, the same as assessed by Texas, that translates into $133,488,000 (using the wellhead price) dollars in revenue for the state! And that's just the 1600 Marcellus wells, there's over 52,000 producing gas wells in Pennsylvania.

Oh wait, we don't have a gas severance tax. Governor Corbett received over 1.6 million dollars in campaign contributions from the gas industry, and he's so far refused to enact a severance tax. Pretty good return on investment there, the Governor was purchased for 1.6 million, and the industry gained an additional profit of nearly $133.5 million as a result.

I'd have rather that money gone to improving education, mass transit, and roads, than in improving the bottom line.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Civil War Big Brother

This. Is. Awesome.

What do you get when you lock up several war personalities in a house with cameras on them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and have them vote each week to expel each other? Zany shenanigans, expected problems and some surprises. Here's how it unfolded.

Day one.

The guests arrive. Forrest gets there first, with the most luggage. Sherman arrives last, delayed by burning houses all the houses on the South side of the street. McClellan, thinking there are already 450 people in the house, gives up and goes home.

End of Week One.

As expected Ben Butler is put out quickly. By making a general declaration that he was going to treat all the women as ladies of ill repute, plying their trade he made enemies of all the women and most of the men, except for Earl Van Dorn, Kilpatrick and Joe Hooker who were all for it.

He leaves quickly without saying good bye. The women celebrate by painting his likeness in the toilets, however the mood turns somber when they discover all the spoons in the house are missing.

Jubal Early leaves also when he is discovered writing disparaging grafitti about Longstreet in the bathroom which is punctuated by his rude remarks at the dinner table. Armistead bends a paper plate over his head, and his friend Hancock, not feeling that is enough, uses the microwave. When Ol' Jube wakes up in the E.R the eviction notice is beside him.

Week Two.

Mother Bickerdyke takes a hike. She receives eviction votes from everyone but Sherman, who she ranks. Her constant tantrums in the kitchen and attempts to keep the men in bed all day are too much for them to take. John Pope is discovered to be an intolerable drunk. His late night singing and picking a different persons bed to vomit and urinate on brings an eviction notice. When he is discovered passed out with his face in the commode Lee comments "His headquarters are where his Hindquarters should be."

The assignment of daily chores and the failure of members to pull their weight results in a triple eviction. The residents are outraged to see the weekly garbage truck pull away while the house's garbage is still piled up in the garage. After checking who is responsible the irate residents find the guilty trio... Fitz Lee, Tom Rosser and Pickett in the back yard barbecuing shad and drinking beer.

Week Three.

The guests are dropping like flies now. Kilpatrick, Van Dorn and Hooker are caught drilling a peep hole in the lady's shower. A traumatized Hooker spills the beans after Sally Preston and Mary Todd Lincoln switch shower times.

Forrest is finally gone too. He soundly thrashes Hood, but the sympathy for the crippled general outweighs the fact that he was in dire need of an arsewhupping. On the way out Forrest slaps Braggs Jaws... and makes him resent it.

Mary Todd Lincoln wears a bikini to the weekly Barbecue, an emergency session is held and she is gone with in minutes.

Week four.

A tragic week for Southerners. Stonewall Jackson, taking his nightly walk around the grounds is mistaken for a prowler and shot by a neighbor. His last words are "Let us cross over the swimming pool and rest in the shade of the patio."

The issue of doing chores and pulling ones weight rears its head again. Tasked with cutting the grass Jeb Stuart disappears on the riding mower. He returns after three days of joy riding around the neighborhood. Despite bringing a milk truck, pizza delivery van, ice cream truck and an ambulance back with him he is promptly booted.

John Bell Hood, totally looped from painkillers and trying to win back the affection of Sally Preston, crawls into bed with a totally unreceptive Mary Chestnut. All three are voted out. Hood for being a druggie, Sally for being an insufferable tease and Mary Chesnut for failing to perform, as Grant stated, "Her wenchly and patriotic duties." Noticing that Sally was only in the next bed Hood says while leaving " I should have gone to the right."

Week Five.

Sherman gets the axe. After over a month of civil behavior the pyromaniac trait in him cannot be controlled any longer. He sets fire to Braxton Bragg's eyebrows while he is passed out in a lawn chair. Bragg blames Longstreet, who threatens to call Forrest back to finish the arsewhupping he started. After an evening of drinking, singing and expressing their devotion to each other Armistead and Hancock are caught in a compromising position in the Jacuzzi. As they are leaving Lee questions Armistead about the bruises on his wrists, arms and thighs. Armistead responds "towards the end of the evening.. things got a little rough."

Week Six.

The tasking of chores brings about another loss in the number of houseguests. Longstreet, tasked with washing the breakfast dishes at 8 AM does not do them until 1:45 PM. Bragg is sent on an errand to the grocery store where he runs into Forrest who puts him in traction, effectively removing him from the house.

As expected the last two remaining Generals are the dogged Grant and the gentleman Lee.

Week Seven - the final episode.

Grant and Lee sit outside by the pool and decide that they enjoy staying out of the public and that they will milk the show for all its worth by simply not voting to evict each other. They shake hands and agree and return to go to the house... and find themselves locked out. A quick check of the revised rules reveals that anyone who spends more than six hours outside the house is automatically eliminated. The time passes by and despite their best efforts they cannot get inside. When the time is up the door opens and the two gentlemen's luggage comes flying out the door. The door is slammed shut and locked again. The disbelieving generals reluctantly pick up their bags and slowly walk away. Grant curses as he notices something is broken and leaking in his bag. As they get out of sight the curtains open up to reveal the winner.... the house's owner, Wilbur Mclean.

A Good Thing Indeed

Apparently, they only thing that keeps Tom Coburn from indulging in violence and killing his fellow elected officials is gun control.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quotation Of The Day

Our quotation of the day comes from Sarah Jaffe via Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon:

“How the hell did we get into a world where workers making $60,000 are overpaid but CEOs making millions are overtaxed?”

Indeed. The tweet from Jaffe was a reaction to the strike at Verizon, and Jaffe's entire piece is well worth the read, especially the reaction of conservatives, who seem to think that wage earners aren't productive. I liked this part particularly well:

Now, the bigger idea behind this. The idea that somehow teachers, call center workers, janitors, secretaries, firefighters, and other so-called middle class workers are not “successful” or “productive”, and thus deserve to have their pay slashed, while millionaires are obviously making bank because they’re more “productive” than the rest of us. The idea that so many people seem to have accepted, that middle-class workers deserve to make less, even when we live in a capitalist economy predicated upon the idea that financial reward is the best and only incentive to do pretty much anything. The idea that only the ultra-rich do it for the money and need mega-compensation (and no taxes) while the rest of us work for the fun of it. The idea that workers daring to ask for a raise is slothful and wrong, while finance managers holding a gun to the head of the entire economy over a proposed regulation on their pay is just how business works.

Marcotte tells us that there is a name for the economic system we seem to be adopting in this country, thanks to the Randian freaks and Grover Norquest types:

There's really only one term for people who believe, as a matter of ideology, that a handful of people deserve to own everything and the rest of us should (be) living lives of endless work and squalor, with perhaps a slender class of people who get paid pretty handsomely to protect the interests of those who own everything: feudalists. That's the system that they're clearly advocating for, albeit in modern terms, where the billionaires and company owners are our kings, top executives are the knight class, and everyone else is a peasant who works to death, gets four hours off for church on Sunday, and needs to be grateful that his masters allow him that.


Monday, August 15, 2011


A rather interesting perspective on the drive to slash Social Security benefits:

Bottom line, my vote is a pretty simple calculation: I’ll vote for whomever preserves my benefits the best (At present it happens to coinincide with the political ideology that most values science and reality which is sweet icing on the cake). If someone wants to steal my money to pay for dumbass wars and tax cuts that didn’t work, I’ll vote against them in a heartbeat. And if the choice is between the lesser of two evils, that’s an easy call for me. It ought to be an easy call for anyone.

That's a framing we ought to push!

Stop Coddling Me

So says Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.
If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

As they say, read the entire thing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Too funny to not share!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Say, What's That In Your Closet??

Oh my!

"Cannot be a long time sugar daddy," the email reads, "but can for tonight. Would you be interested in keeping me company for a while tonight?"
The email offers "to make it worth (your) while" in cash, and offers a personal description: "I am an in shape married professional, 5'8", fit 170 lbs, and love getting and staying naked."

And of course, the guy is against same-sex marriage, Linkalthough it appears he's willing to step outside his own marriage for a little man-on-man action.

Teabagger Stimulus!

Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation says we need more government stimulus spending!!!11!!

...what's amazing here, obviously, is that Mr Phillips is justifying building aircraft carriers because government spending creates jobs and stimulates the economy. And he's right about that! But it seems that there are no other things the government spends money on, apart from defence, that Mr Phillips believes can stimulate the economy. He appears to believe that while government spending on aircraft carriers leads to workers getting hired, spending their paychecks, and helping the recovery, government spending on highways, high-speed rail, education, and health care does not.

The tea-party movement has spent the past year arguing that stimulus doesn't work and cannot, by nature, create more jobs or economic activity. The idea that a major tea-party figure can turn around and make a bog-standard argument for defence spending on Keynesian grounds testifies to a startling capacity for cognitive dissonance.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Door Opens

Frankly, I see this as a buying opportunity.

Quotation of the Day

Our occassional feature, your Quotation of the Day, comes to us from The Center For Economic and Policy Research, via A Spork In The Drawer:

Former Federal Reserve Board chair Alan Greenspan shared his wisdom on Face the Nation yesterday. His wise words were presented in the top of the hour news segment on Morning Edition.

Greenspan is best known for being unable to see the $8 trillion housing bubble, the collapse of which wrecked the economy. Given Greenspan's obviously limited understanding of economics, one wonders if Face the Nation and NPR were unable to find a street drunk to share their views.


Credibility, Chutzpah And Debt

Krugman today:

...what makes America look unreliable isn’t budget math, it’s politics. And please, let’s not have the usual declarations that both sides are at fault. Our problems are almost entirely one-sided — specifically, they’re caused by the rise of an extremist right that is prepared to create repeated crises rather than give an inch on its demands.

The truth is that as far as the straight economics goes, America’s long-run fiscal problems shouldn’t be all that hard to fix. It’s true that an aging population and rising health care costs will, under current policies, push spending up faster than tax receipts. But the United States has far higher health costs than any other advanced country, and very low taxes by international standards. If we could move even part way toward international norms on both these fronts, our budget problems would be solved.

So why can’t we do that? Because we have a powerful political movement in this country that screamed “death panels” in the face of modest efforts to use Medicare funds more effectively, and preferred to risk financial catastrophe rather than agree to even a penny in additional revenues.

The real question facing America, even in purely fiscal terms, isn’t whether we’ll trim a trillion here or a trillion there from deficits. It is whether the extremists now blocking any kind of responsible policy can be defeated and marginalized.

I have nothing to add. That last paragraph encapsulates what I've been saying for years, only far more tactfully.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Gotta Love The Onion

Now it all makes sense!

In order to deepen some holes in their lineup and increase their chances of a second-half collapse, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired first baseman Derrek Lee and outfielder Ryan Ludwick Sunday. “They’re both experienced losers who we’re hoping will come in here and help us surge right to the bottom of the NL Central,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement, adding that after six consecutive losses, the team is now poised to make a last-place run.

Saturday, August 06, 2011



It's worth remembering that nearly all of the airlines simply pocketed the "tax" they continued to collect.


Mitch McConnell.

“I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,” he said. “Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming..

Shooting hostages. Ransom. How can any reasonable American defend this party??? Republicans are terrorists. Why does the MSM treat the parties as two sides of the same coin? Clearly, one party (the GOP) is totally unreasonable, reactionary, and unpatriotic. If you're a member of that party and cannot stand the truth, well, that's your problem. You WILL be called out on this blog.

Quotation of the Day

Ol' Dirty DougJ at Ballon Juice:

American exceptionalism is just an excuse to be stupid, to claim that it’s awesome to pay 16% of your GDP for shitty health care, to dream of tall buildings and missions to Mars, to worry that East Asians are laughing at us, to rock out to Lee Greenwood as we act as “the world’s policeman”. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?

Bubble Bubble

I went to the farmer's market in Sewickley today, and bought 45 pounds of tomatos. It must be sauce making day! I also got 8 pounds of pickling cukes for kosher dills. Now, where did I put the canner?

Mission Accomplished!

Friday, August 05, 2011


Thursday, August 04, 2011



Economic depression can not be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body--the producers and consumers themselves.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Teatarded Economics:FAA Style

Hey, remember how I mentioned in the comments on another thread how thousands of people were laid off because Congress wouldn't extened the FAA's ability to collect various airline taxes and fees? Well, the dispute, centered on subsidies for rural air access, drags on.

See, the House wants to cut 16.5 million dollars in subsidies for rural air service. It is not cost-efficient for airlines to operate out of many of these smaller airports, so rural air service would not exist at all were it not for the subsidies. Republicans also included provisions into the extension making it harder for airport workers to unionize, by counting uncast ballots as "no" votes. If you applied that standard to political elections, no politician would ever win.

Without the ability to collect the taxes and fees, the FAA is losing 30 million dollars in revenue a day, or 13.5 million dollars more than what the subsidies cost for a year.

In addition, 4,000 FAA employees are no longer collecting paychecks, and construction projects (performed by and large by private contractors) are on hold, idling another 10,000 workers.

Austerity now!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Inconvienent Truths

Republicans only care about spending and debt when there is a Democrat in power. Did you know they voted to raise the debt ceiling in every year but one of Bush's presidency??

A Distinct Southern Aroma

To that tea you're brewing.

Today's Tea Party movement is merely the latest of a series of attacks on American democracy by the white Southern minority, which for more than two centuries has not hesitated to paralyze, sabotage or, in the case of the Civil War, destroy American democracy in order to get their way.

The Republican Party continues to reap the whirlwind of the Southern Strategy. Of course, the party's leaders always expected the socially conservative south to do its bidding, but it appears that they've lost control of their golem.

(Via Pandagon)


Via Balloon Juice, this is about the clearest, easiest to understand analysis of the phony debt "crisis," how we got there, and who is responsible.

While preaching the beauty of small government, neoliberals and conservatives redistributed wealth upwards by expanding the government’s reach, paying for tax cuts with mountains of debt. When they were ostensibly booted from power in 2008, it was not only easy and smart to turn quickly and point to the relative size of the government debt as the source of the problem, but also in some sense correct, in that the majority of government debt was looted from the Treasury by the neoconservative regime and its allies. This strategy has been a brilliant success. Having stolen nearly $5 (that is, $4.53 trillion) while in power, despite controlling only the House, the right has recast retirement and healthcare savings as “entitlements,” outlawed tax increases by fiat, and, as recently as two weeks ago, found itself perched on the edge of its greatest victory within a living memory full of them.

That is just one small excerpt. The entire piece is well worth the read.

How We Got Bin Laden

The story is in the New Yorker.

Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye. On his radio, he reported, “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.” After a pause, he added, “Geronimo E.K.I.A.”—“enemy killed in action.”
Hearing this at the White House, Obama pursed his lips, and said solemnly, to no one in particular, “We got him.”

Don't You DARE Call Them Racists!

Doug Lamborn (R-CO) edition.

“Now I don’t even want to have to be associated with [Obama], it’s like touching a tar baby"

Monday, August 01, 2011

Dirty Tricks

Satan Sandwich??

More like a shit sandwich if you ask me.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City is getting all kinds of deserved national attention for calling the new debt deal a “Satan Sandwich.”

Once again, everyone must suffer, except the rich. Once again, the Republicans show that "compromise" means giving in to all their demands, with no concessions required. Well, teatarded America gets what it wants, and the irony is the bond markets might still downgrade the U.S's credit rating, which, thanks to the Republicans taking the routine housekeeping matter of raising the debt ceiling hostage may well increase the deficit, and as interest rates go up, so does of course, the cost of servicing the debt.

This isn't a government, its an assemblege of right-wing zealots who'd rather make us all suffer to make a point, than to do what's right by the nation.

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