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    • Khameini’s Three Directives for Iran
      From the useful Elija Mangnier, 1 – Adherence to Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment and everything related to this science at all costs. Nuclear enrichment is a sword Iran can hold in the face of the West, which wants to take it from Tehran. It is Iran’s card to obstruct any US intention of “obliterating” […]
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Evening News: Iceland Has a Lezzie PM! WHHHHOOO HOOOOO!

Iceland seems like a Nice Place to Move Now

Iceland seems like a Nice Place to Move Now

On Sunday, Ms Johanna Sigurdardottir’s Center Left Coalition won a resounding victory in Iceland! She was appointed as caretaker Prime Minister last year after Iceland’s Conservative Government was forced to resign due to an Economic implosion.

She is an openly gay woman- now the one and only openly lesbian Prime Minister in the World! And look how pretty she is!  Oh Hai, Ms Sigurdardottir, what is your digits? I know I am a little young for you, but the text message sex will be worth your while (Just ask my Ex).

In other news, the situation in Pakistan gets worse.  I am very concerned about this. I don’t care about how this is or isn’t Dubya’s fault. (Most things are his fault.) The fact is that this is terrible. Dear Leader’s supporters can scream about about Bush all they like, but George Bush is not the President. Barack Obama is.  This is a problem and the Administration needs to step up to the plate.

SEX OFFENDER ALERT: My High School Alma Mater now has a problem with Sex Offenders. Seriously! On the local news today, there was a story about how a teacher I knew raped some fifteen year old girl. Is there anything else that does not happen in Ohio? OH YEAH! There is this: One Confirmed Swine Flu Case in Ohio.

Colbert = Independant

Colbert = Independant

A New Poll is also showing that Republican Party Identification is slipping. It is down to 21 percent from 25 percent last month. Democrats poll at 35 percent, and Independents poll at 38 percent. But since we all ready know that the GOP needs to get it’s Ducks in a row, this makes me think of the number of Independents in this country. Independent Registration appears to be on the rise.

Major News outlets are polling Bam’s Approval ratings at 60 percent. But examination of those polls seem to indicate that Democrats are being oversampled. I’ve noticed that Democrats are sampled more than Republicans, and Independents are barely sampled at all. 60 percent isn’t all that good of an approval rating to begin with after 100 days. It is the same as Dubya’s was, and much worse than JFK’s and Reagan’s. But judging by the (likely deliberate) sampling errors in major Opinion Polls, it would appear as though Bam’s approval rating is actually lower than 60 percent.

In other words, Dear Leaders supposedly amazing “Popularity” is, like everything else about him, over rated.

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How to scare the crap out of NYC (UPDATED)

Have a jumbo jet (an Air Force One look-a-like) followed by fighter jets buzz Manhattan, turn around and come back for another pass.

For maximum effect, make sure that the citizens aren’t given any warning:

President Obama’s White House was forced to issue an apology Monday after a photo opportunity gone wrong — an Air Force 747 plane did a low flyover lower Manhattan, prompting terrified citizens to flee from their offices and high-profile accusations of government insensitivity.

White House Military Office director Louis Caldera issued a brief statement.

Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision,” he said. “While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, its clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.”

The panic started Monday morning when a backup 747 used as Air Force One flew by lower Manhattan with a fighter jet closely following, rattling windows and causing some limited evacuations.

[…]

An administration official said the Federal Aviation Administration was informed this would be taking places, and notified Mr. Bloomberg’s office on April 22.

The problem was the FAA was told the information was classified and did not alert the press to warn the public.

Here’s how people on the ground reacted:

This has got to be the most oblivious administration ever.  What’s next, crop dusting Capitol Hill with white powder?

____________________________________________________

UPDATE:

Now that the feces has hit the air flow device:

When President Obama was told about the incident, he was “furious,” a White House official says.

Caldera was called into a meeting with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and deputy chief of staff Jim Messina.

“It didn’t sound like a fun meeting,” the White House official says.

It’s never HIS fault, is it?

____________________________________________________

UPDATE II:

Now I’m really pissed:

An administration official says a presidential Boeing 747 and a fighter jet flew low near ground zero in New York City Monday because the White House Military Office wanted to update its file photo of the president’s plane near the Statue of Liberty.

Tens of thousands of tax dollars spent, Koresh knows how many people scared shitless, all for an “update” of a file phote.  Somebody should be unemployed by tomorrow morning.

Obama ain’t Jesus (UPDATED)

"The Truth"

"The Truth"

He’s not even Kanye West.

From WND:

On his 100th day in office, President Obama will be “crowned” in messianic imagery at New York City’s Union Square.

Artist Michael D’Antuono’s painting “The Truth” – featuring Obama with his arms outstretched and wearing a crown of thorns upon his head – will be unveiled on April 29 at the Square’s South Plaza.

According to a statement released about the portrait, “The 30″ x 54″ acrylic painting on canvas depicts President Obama appearing much like Jesus Christ on the Cross: atop his head, a crown of thorns; behind him, the dark veil being lifted (or lowered) on the Presidential Seal. But is he revealing or concealing, and is he being crucified or glorified?”

Even the title of the piece, “The Truth,” suggests a play on biblical themes, as Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

As far as I can tell this isn’t a hoax.  (But it should be)

____________________________________________________

UPDATE:

The artist has changed his mind about unveiling his magnum opus on Wednesday.

He’s surprised by the negative reaction.

Single-Payer day of action

It started (as near as I can tell) from a post at CorrenteWire, Pelosi aide begs for our faxes on single payer — send a fax for FREE right now linking to a site that makes it easy to send Nancy Pelosi (and other Congressional leaders) a FAX supporting Single-Payer health care:

My local single payer activist passes along the following:

It appears that Congressional leaders are being deliberately dismissive of single-payer to the point of ludicrous statements. It’s like they have put their fingers in their ears and are yelling “I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you.” Here they are in all their Congressional member glory:

Baucus a few days ago: “Everything BUT single payer is on the table. Single payer is off the table.”

Pelosi: “In our caucus, over and over again, we hear single payer, single payer, single payer. Well, it’s not going to be a single payer.”

Pelosi’s aide: “Where are the phone calls, e-mails and faxes in support of single-payer? Speaker Pelosi has been in favor of single-payer for a long time. Now make us do it.”

OK. We are up to the challenge. He wants to see the faxes. Let’s break their damn fax machines with the faxes.

And the challenge has been effective…. This morning’s update from 1Payer.Net is thrilling — The FAX machines were so swamped they actually shut down for some period of time! Continue reading

Monday: Finding truth in the weirdest places

yesterday's spring in NJ-we're more than an exit

yesterday's spring in NJ-we're more than an exit

I’ve become an audible junkie.  Listening to books is the next best thing to reading them, leaving your hands free to do other things, like scrubbing your grout (which I never do, but I have that option).  So, yesterday, I was listening to In The Woods, the 2007 Edgar Award winning novel by Tana French, when her Irish police detective/profiler makes this observation:

“We all need to believe in something… Every society in the world, ever, has some form of belief system.  But now, how many people do you know are Christian?  Not just going to church but actually Christian, like trying to do things the way Jesus would have? Well, it’s not like people can have faith in political ideologies.  Our government doesn’t even have ideologies, as far as anyone can tell.  I just meant there isn’t one overall philosophy, so people have to make their own faith.  I was thinking of people who make a religion out of something completely different, like money.

Actually, that’s the nearest thing that government has to an ideology and I’m not talking about bribes, Sam.  Nowadays, it’s not just *unfortunate* if you have a low paid job, have you noticed?  It’s actually *irresponsible*.  You’re not a good member of society. You’re being very, very naughty not to have a big house and a fancy car.”

“But if anyone asks for a raise, they’re being very, very naughty to be threatening their employer’s profit margin, after everything he’s done for the economy.”

“Exactly, if you’re not rich, you’re a lesser being who shouldn’t have the gall to expect a living wage  from the decent people who are.”

Back in the Gilded Age, if you were a banker who went bankrupt, you would be excluded from society and ostracized by your family.  In The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton, the only person who would visit Regina Beaufort, wife of a bankrupt banker was Countess Olenska, the scandalous cousin who left her miserable marriage in a social class where women did not divorce their husbands.  It was simply immoral and unacceptable to be financially ruined or to ruin other people.  By the way these people reacted, you’d think the banker had been discovered to be a serial killer.

But that’s not the way we do things nowadays.  Paul Krugman’s column today focuses on the salaries of the finance industry giants.  You may be surprised to find they are on the rise again after they took a beating in 2008.  Well, with all of that cash that we the taxpayers gave them, they now have the capital to continue to gamble, setting aside enough money for lavish bonuses, of course.  And they will be encouraged to take risks that lead to even greater profits, at the expense of the accounts of the money they manage, because that is the mentality.  It is the philosophy of the salesman.  Anything that increases their bottom line must be good and moral.

That is why I was so disturbed to recently receive an email from my governor, Jon Corzine, who is running for re-election this year. He considers it a great honor to be praised by Jack Welch.  Perhaps Corzine has forgotten what state he governs but the finance industry, the marketers and the salesmen are not the only constituents he has.  When I first moved to NJ 20 years ago, the state was a mecca of innovation and high technology.  This state’s industries included, telecommunications, satellite, pharmaceticals and biotech as well as the Wall Street Journal.  (BTW, I used to work across the street from the WSJ post 9-11.  The new concrete security barriers that went up to barricade their site were less than reassuring.)  Jack Welch is no hero of the scientific research community.  His management practices are geared towards selling things, not creating.  Creation is sometimes a very frustrating and painstaking activity.  It is feast and famine, fits and starts, marvellous breakthroughs followed by dead ends.  It requires coordination and collaboration.  Trying to box it into a “kill or be killed”, “round up all the resources for yourself” mentality is seriously non-productive.

I only mention this because the fact that research hasn’t produced anything lately, or so the marketers tell us, severely impacts the image of the scientist in this day and age.  We are being very, very naughty because we aren’t making ourselves rich.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t be in the lab and our jobs wouldn’t be threatened by outsourcing where the Indians will work for nothing, by God, and they will be grateful.  Nevermind the mergers that suck the life’s blood out of the research process.  Nevermind the lack of human resources actually required to get things done.  Nevermind the lapse in time it takes to apply basic research to industry.  If it can’t be done quickly with a massive payoff to the bottom line of some Jack Welch type and his hordes of testosterone fueled salesmen and marketers, you haven’t done your job and you are an immoral being that doesn’t deserve a living wage.

Thou shalt make money for the finance executives.  All bow.  Amen.


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Your Breakfast read, served by The Confluence

Morning reading

  • Considering the mood of the country after the Republican rule, the enormous mandate the Democratic agenda received from the American people and his shellacking of McCain, Obama had the opportunity to bury Reagonomics once for all and decisively shift the direction of the country. He did some of it but I think he wasn’t bold enough, at least in the first 100 days.
    Obama Overthrows Reagan’s Government-Bad Dogma to Rescue Market
  • Are these still the US of A, or has the Bush cabal turned this into some Banana Republic?
    US refuses to let jet into its airspace because it is carrying a journalist who criticizes US foreign policy

    Hernando Calvo Ospina has written articles about the United States involvement in Latin America, and is currently writing a book about he CIA. The exact reason for him being on the terrorist watch list is unknown, and we’ll probably never know what criteria are used for adding people to it.

    And here’s the account of that “evil” journalist:
    The criminalization of journalism

    Again in the air, and preparing for another four hours of travel, a man who identified himself as the copilot came to me. Trying to look discreet, he asked if I was “Mr. Calvo Ospina.” I told him yes.

    “The captain wants to sleep, that’s why I came here,” he said, and he invited me to accompany him to the back of the plane. There, he told me that I was the person “responsible” for the detour. I was astonished.

    My first reaction was to ask him: “Do you think I’m a terrorist?” He said no, that’s the reason I’m telling you this. He also assured me that it was strange that this was the first time it happened on an Air France plane. Shortly before we landed in Martinique, a stewardess had told me that, in her 11-year career, nothing like that had ever happened to her.

  • This is getting scary.
    U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu

    Asia on high alert for flu virus

    Mexican swine flu spreads to Europe

  • SoS Hillary Clinton engaged in a very delicate dance.
    Clinton’s Mideast Pirouette

    She’s transitioned with aplomb from the calculation of her interests that she made as a senator from New York to a cool assessment of U.S. interests. These do not always coincide with Israel’s.

  • Paul Krugman is still shrill.
    Money for Nothing
  • The latest of Timmy countdown. How much longer is he going to last?
    Geithner, as Member and Overseer, Forged Ties to Finance Club

    Today, Mr. Geithner is Treasury secretary, and as he seeks to rebuild the nation’s fractured financial system with more taxpayer assistance and a regulatory overhaul, he finds himself a locus of discontent.

    Even as banks complain that the government has attached too many intrusive strings to its financial assistance, a range of critics — lawmakers, economists and even former Federal Reserve colleagues — say that the bailout Mr. Geithner has played such a central role in fashioning is overly generous to the financial industry at taxpayer expense.

  • Gulp! Even Larry doesn’t see the end of the tunnel yet.
    US economy to continue down, says Summers

    “I expect the economy will continue to decline,” Mr Summers said in an interview on Fox News, predicting “sharp declines in employment for quite some time this year.”

  • Huh! We’re using Monte Carlo Simulations to stress-test the banks?
    Gambling on Monte Carlo simulations

    If the inputs and assumptions are wrong then the Monte Carlo simulations will be of very little use. In that sense they’re very similar to the magic worked by David Li’s Gaussian Copula. They give a false sense of security.

    And that’s precisely, some might argue, what the US government is going for with its bank stress tests anyway.

    (For geeks out there here is the stress test methodology)

  • A former Wall Street insider talks about what went on. For those who read Liar’s Poker nothing surprising but still…
    American excess: A Wall Street trader tells all

    I understood it well. I put on 45 pounds in my first year at the bank, and, as you might guess, it was not from eating McDonalds. Occasionally I ate stuff like sushi, but mostly it was steak. We went to the good places like Sparks, Peter Luger’s, and the Strip House. We tended to look down on chains like Morton’s and Ruth’s Chris-they were for car dealers or stock brokers, not traders. Regardless of where we ate, we ate in quantity. My standard strategy was to order half a dozen appetisers, plus a steak and lobster, plus a few desserts and much wine as I could drink, as long it was under a few hundred dollars a bottle. Followed by a digestif, typically a 30-year-old port. There’s not any way to justify this except to say I was trying to catch up to my colleagues. We would treat those restaurants like Roman vomitoriums. And it wasn’t the food so much as the wine. Being a junior employee, I couldn’t really order bottles that cost more than a few hundred dollars, but the senior guys could get nicer stuff – Opus One, Chateau Latour. As long as we were out with a client, the bank paid. I remember being stunned the first time I saw a dinner bill for ten grand. But that was just the beginning.

    What it boiled down to was austerity for everyone else and rampant consumption for ourselves. I never saw anyone literally set fire to money, but I did drink most of a bottle of 1983 Margaux ($2,000).

  • Is this story ever going to end?
    U.S. forces say kill 7 al Qaeda suspects in Iraq

    Iraq says U.S. raid violated security pact

  • Brilliant! IBM program to take on ‘Jeopardy’ champions
    Computer Program to Take On ‘Jeopardy!’
  • Oh great! Some Australian trying to suck up to Riverdaughter by beating up on us. What have we ever done to people besides fixing companies to make them more efficient and more competitive. Sigh!
    MBAs: Most Bloody Awful, Aussie radio documentary on the problem with biz-school
  • Why does the church hate “great sex”?
    Church giving ‘great sex’ sermons might get booted