08/23/2011 archive

Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Worst Persons 8.22.11

Find out why Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas is WORSE, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is WORSER, and Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, is the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD for August 22, 2011.

Earthquake: Mother Earth Shifts Her Mantle

Since the tremor has now taken over the news. This is a hint that Mother Earth is annoyed with us and wants us off her rock, making it a good reason to fund the space program.

My commute home will suck and there is no bar at the Ferry terminal anymore.

5.9-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes East Coast

An earthquake sent tremors from the nation’s capital to New York City and New England Tuesday afternoon, the result of what officials said was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake based in Virginia.

Buildings throughout major metropolitan centers in the northeast were evacuated after the quake, and tremors were felt as far north as Concord, N.H., and as far south as Hampstead, N.C., with some limited reports of damage reported near the quake’s epicenter in Virginia, where a nearby nuclear power plant was taken offline.

The streets of downtown Washington filled with thousands of people on Tuesday afternoon as buildings from the capital to the White House were evacuated.

A mild shake and tremble could be felt shortly before 2 p.m. The movement lasted no more than 30 seconds in downtown Washington.

Obama was on the golf course but unknown if his game was interrupted.

Boeing Boeing

Ah yes, exceptional Americanism or American exceptionalism.

You know, whatever.

The 787 project has been delayed for over 4 years now, principally due to the fact that Boeing outsourced all the parts to nickle and dime their highly skilled and unionized labor force to death.

Unsurprisingly when they got them back for assembly they didn’t fit together.

Now this is a problem that was solved by one of Connecticut’s favorite sons, Eli Whitney, in 1798 because he needed some money after making institutionalized slavery profitable (we are proud of our Benedict Arnolds here in the Nutmeg State) but apparently ideas like interchangeability take a long, long time to get over the the Oregon trail to Washington.

And so as a consequence there are airports full of uncompleted 787s in various stages of decrepitude, covered in plastic tarps and weighed down with high tech cinder blocks so they don’t blow away.

Boeing’s 787 Glut Casts $16.2 Billion Cloud Over FAA Approval

By Susanna Ray, Bloomberg News

Aug 23, 2011 12:01 AM ET

Boeing amassed $16.2 billion worth of inventory related to the 787 through June 30, with so many almost-finished jets the company ran out of room to park them. There are 35 scattered outside the Everett, Washington, plant, in leased space across an adjacent airfield and in a facility in Texas. Many lack seats and lavatories and have black plastic over the windows and concrete blocks hanging from the wings to keep them from tipping over before engines are installed.

The mothballed jets represent almost $6 a share in inventory growth since 2009. Counting four planes in the factory and six test jets, Boeing has more 787s on hand than Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways has planes in service.

Credit-default swaps tied to Boeing bonds, which rise as investor confidence falls, closed yesterday at the highest since Dec. 7, 2009, gaining 1.3 basis points to 84.5 basis points, according to data compiled by CMA. A basis point is $1,000 a year on a contract protecting $10 million of debt.

Boeing can “eat some of the dirt of the inventory cost” by spreading it out over the initial block of 787s, using so- called program accounting, said Demisch, the consultant. The company plans to reveal the size of that accounting block with its third-quarter earnings in October.

The 45th plane to be built — in the factory now — will probably cost Boeing at least $184 million, Harned estimated after analyzing inventory figures. That would make the average cost over the first 1,000 jets, including a learning curve, at least $116 million per plane, he projects. FAA approval this week after a flight-test program that began in December 2009 would set the stage for delivery of the first 787 to All Nippon Airways Co. next month.

Each plane is in a different state of readiness, since Boeing kept improving processes after the jets began rolling out of the factory in 2009.

They have undergone waves of repairs based on testing discoveries, and numerous jobs remain on “various and sundry components” before they’re ready for delivery, said Scott Fancher, Boeing’s 787 chief.

“Anytime you’re building an airplane out of sequence, the amount of work that’s required probably goes up by a factor of 10, because they have to unbuild all the things you built on top of whatever you have to change, and then build it all back,” said Demisch, the consultant. “It’s better than starting the airplanes from scratch, but it’s cost that will be added to production and make the likelihood of a profit on this program over the next half-dozen years very, very low.”

As much as I hate flying in general, let me just say I can’t wait to strap myself into one of those puppies.

I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my Grandfather the pilot,

not screaming in terror like his passengers.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Paul Krugman: Not All Recessions Are Created Equal

Earlier this month, The Financial Times linked to a post by commentator Mike Shedlock about the failure of Keynesianism. I’m not sure why: the post was a standard-issue evidence-free rant. But there is something interesting about it, all the same: None of the alleged policy mistakes used to declare Keynesian economics a failure have anything to do with Keynesian economics.

Here’s the list cited by Mr. Shedlock. Written by Urs Paul Engeler, it originally appeared in the conservative Swiss magazine Die Weltwoche: “By following today’s apologists of the British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), the so-called ‘welfare’ states pumped too much money (which they didn’t have) into consumption: into pensions for all (Europe), exorbitant armament (U.S.), endangered industries (both) and, finally, bailouts for ailing mortgage banks (also both). This intervention was celebrated by Keynes’ disciples as the ‘return of politics.’ ”

Pensions are Keynesian economics? Bloated defense budgets are Keynesian economics? Who knew? Even bank bailouts, whatever you think of them, have nothing to do with anything in the Keynesian  model per se.

So what’s going on here?

New York Times Editorial: It’s a Flawed Settlement

The Obama administration has turned up the heat on Eric Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general, to go along with a proposed settlement with the nation’s largest banks over dubious foreclosure practices. Mr. Schneiderman should stand his ground in not supporting the deal. The administration says that a settlement would quickly deliver much needed relief to hard-pressed borrowers, but it’s doubtful it would provide redress on a par with the banks’ wrongdoing or borrowers’ needs.

The deal has been in the works for nearly a year, after the state attorneys general announced an investigation into a robo-signing scandal in which banks were found to have filed false foreclosure papers in state courts. It was widely believed that the scandal would lead to a broad inquiry into how banks inflated the housing bubble, profiting as it expanded.

Yves Smith: Corrupt Obama Administration Pressuring New York Attorney General to Support Mortgage Whitewash

It is high time to describe the Obama Administration by its proper name: corrupt.

Admittedly, corruption among our elites generally and in Washington in particular has become so widespread and blatant as to fall into the “dog bites man” category. But the nauseating gap between the Administration’s propaganda and the many and varied ways it sells out average Americans on behalf of its favored backers, in this case the too big to fail banks, has become so noisome that it has become impossible to ignore the fetid smell.

The Administration has now taken to pressuring parties that are not part of the machinery reporting to the President to fall in and do his bidding. We’ve gotten so used to the US attorney general being conveniently missing in action that we have forgotten that regulators and the AG are supposed to be independent. As one correspondent noted by e-mail, “When officials allegiances are to El Supremo rather than the Constitution, you walk the path to fascism.”

Ben Adler: Cognitive Dissonance: Conservative Media Respond to Libya’s Liberation

The success of the Libyan revolution and toppling of Muammar Qaddafi has put conservative commentators in an awfully tough position. President Reagan had unsuccessfully bombed Libya in order to kill Qaddaffi, and had failed at exacting any revenge for Libya’s murder of hundreds of American civilians on Pan Am flight 103. President Bush had worked to normalize relations with Libya and claimed Qaddafi’s willingness to give up weapons programs as evidence of the Iraq invasion’s success at scaring the bad guys straight.

But Qaddafi remained a dictator and a routine violator of human rights. Conservatives say the United States has an obligation to intervene militarily to depose hostile regimes such as Qaddafi’s. But it’s awfully embarrassing for them when it turns out that it is a Democrat who does so, and at considerably lower cost than we paid in Iraq. So how did the conservative media respond on Monday?

Eugene Robinson: Perry’s Big Mouth Is Giving Republicans Headaches

In theory, Democrats should be nervous about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to enter the presidential race. In practice, though, it’s Republicans who have zoomed up the anxiety ladder into freak-out mode.

To clarify, not all Republicans are reaching for the Xanax, just those who believe the party has to appeal to centrist independents if it hopes to defeat President Obama next year. Also, those who believe that calling Social Security “an illegal Ponzi scheme” and suggesting that Medicare is unconstitutional might not be the best way to win the votes of senior citizens.

Richard Wolff: Austerity: Why Capitalism Is Choosing Plan B

Across US states, governors are forcing through Greek-style austerity measures. Corporations wouldn’t have it any other wayLast week, Democratic governors in New York and Connecticut repeated the austerity politics of Greece’s Prime Minister Pappandreou and Portugal’s former Prime Minister Socrates. In doing so, they likewise imitated the austerity politics of their Republican and Democratic counterparts across virtually all 50 states.

Austerity for labor and the public is everywhere capitalism’s Plan B. Even capitalists now see that capitalism’s Plan A failed.

Zachary Newkirk: Rewrite, Sugarcoat, Ignore: 8 Ways Conservatives Misremember American History-for Partisan Gain

The mortgage crisis began in 2006 and it’s all President Obama’s fault-at least according to Fox News host Sean Hannity. Hannity recently blamed Obama-“his policies, his economic plan, his fault”-for the mortgage crisis, ignoring who was actually president (that would be George W. Bush) as the housing market slipped.

Hannity’s is just one example of the selective memory and historical revision frequently on display in the conservative movement. Right-wing pundits, politicians and pseudo-historians are nibbling away at objective historical truths to rewrite history for present-day purposes, and hardly any topic is off-limits: glorifying the “Reagan Revolution” to children, sugarcoating the Jim Crow South and revising textbooks to offer a favorable view on Phyllis Schlafly-among many others.

Below, read about eight ways in which conservatives try to rewrite, sugarcoat or ignore aspects of American history.

Mark Weibrot: No Tarp Relief for Haiti’s Homeless

Individual Americans donated a total of $1.4bn after the 2010 earthquake, yet 600,000 Haitians are still living in tents. Why?

Nineteen months after the earthquake, almost 600,000 Haitian people are still living in camps, mostly under tents and tarps. Despite the billions of dollars of aid pledged by governments and donors since the earthquake, there are probably less than 50,000 that have been resettled. And for the 600,000 homeless, the strategy seems to be moving in the direction of evictions – without regard as to where they might end up.

“The government, in collaboration with international donors and some NGOs, is trying to pretend that there is no land,” says Etant Dupain, an activist with the group Bri Kouri Novel Gaye (Noise Travels, News Spreads). His group is organising to stop the evictions, and he was present in the confrontation in Barbancourt on Saturday, where he tried to defuse the confrontation by talking to the landlord, whom he happened to know. “But there is land,” Dupain said to the landlord. “They gave a big piece of land to Minustah, and this was cultivated land.”

Indeed, this seems to be the heart of the problem: the international donors, led by the US, do not seem to care enough to resolve the problem by “building back better”, as President Clinton promised after the earthquake. Or building much of anything, really. (Clinton heads up the Haiti Interim Recovery Commission – which, until recently, was called the Haiti Interim Reconstruction Commission; he is also the UN’s special envoy to Haiti.)

Jim Hightower: Dim Bulbs in Congress

Our problem in Washington is this: we have too many 5-watt bulbs sitting in 100-watt sockets.

Any doubt about this was erased in July when House tea partiers joined old-school right-wing ranters to pass a light bulb bill. This was the culmination of a loopy crusade by the billionaire Koch brothers to stop the spread of energy-efficient light bulbs.

Say what? Yes, Koch front groups drummed up a non-issue by howling that Big Government is “telling us what kind of light bulbs we can buy.”


On This Day In History August 22

Yesterday, August 22, I posted the History diary for today, August 23. I plead guilty to a brain fart due to my acute case of CRS (Can’t Remember S!@t) these days. So here is yesterday’s, August 22 History. At least it was only the date that confused me.

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 22 is the 234th day of the year (235th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 131 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1950, Althea Gibson became the first African American on the US Tennis Tour.

On this day in 1950, officials of the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) accept Althea Gibson into their annual championship at Forest Hills, New York, making her the first African-American player to compete in a U.S. national tennis competition.

Growing up in Harlem, the young Gibson was a natural athlete. She started playing tennis at the age of 14 and the very next year won her first tournament, the New York State girls’ championship, sponsored by the American Tennis Association (ATA), which was organized in 1916 by black players as an alternative to the exclusively white USLTA. After prominent doctors and tennis enthusiasts Hubert Eaton and R. Walter Johnson took Gibson under their wing, she won her first of what would be 10 straight ATA championships in 1947.

In 1949, Gibson attempted to gain entry into the USLTA’s National Grass Court Championships at Forest Hills, the precursor of the U.S. Open. When the USLTA failed to invite her to any qualifying tournaments, Alice Marble–a four-time winner at Forest Hills–wrote a letter on Gibson’s behalf to the editor of American Lawn Tennis magazine. Marble criticized the “bigotry” of her fellow USLTA members, suggesting that if Gibson posed a challenge to current tour players, “it’s only fair that they meet this challenge on the courts.” Gibson was subsequently invited to participate in a New Jersey qualifying event, where she earned a berth at Forest Hills.


Though she once brushed off comparisons to Jackie Robinson, the trailblazing black baseball player, Gibson has been credited with paving the way for African-American tennis champions such as Arthur Ashe and, more recently, Venus and Serena Williams. After a long illness, she died in 2003 at the age of 76.

Ms. Gibson became the first African American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association  tour, in 1963, retiring in 1978.