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Waiting for Superman

Since this horribly misleading and biased documentary is now playing on cable, I’ll direct you to this dissection.

Poor AGs

And the poor, poor banks. Why are people picking on them?


The history of vibrators, told as a romantic comedy. Sweet!


Glenzilla on the L.A. Times’ Homeland Security spending series:

The LA Times, while skillfully highlighting these wasteful programs, depicts them as some sort of unintended inefficiencies.  That is exactly what they are not.  None of this is unintended or inefficient but is achieving exactly the purposes for which it is designed.  That’s true for two reasons.

First, this wastefulness is seen as inefficient only if one falsely assumes that its real objective is to combat Terrorist threats.  That is not the purpose of what the U.S. Government does.   As Daniel Weeks explains today, the Congress — contrary to popular opinion — is not “broken”; it is working perfectly for its actual owners.  Or, as he puts it, “Washington isn’t broken — it’s fixed”:

Our problem today is not a broken government but a beholden one: government is more beholden to special-interest shareholders who fund campaigns than it is to ordinary voters. Like any sound investor, the funders seek nothing more and nothing less than a handsome return — deficits be darned — in the form of tax breaks, subsidies and government contracts.

The LA Times, and most people who denounce these spending “inefficiencies,” have the causation backwards: fighting Terrorism isn’t the goal that security spending is supposed to fulfill; the security spending (and power vested by surveillance) is the goal itself, and Terrorism is the pretext for it.  For that reason, whether the spending efficiently addresses a Terrorism threat is totally irrelevant.

Daniel Weeks comes to other conclusions that simply have no basis in fact (for instance, that trial lawyers, our last bastion of resistance against corporate abuses, are in effect getting a federal subsidy without tort reform) and I don’t particularly trust the company he keeps (he’s president of Americans for Campaign Reform, a “bipartisan” organization chaired by former U.S. Sens. Bill Bradley, Bob Kerrey, Warren Rudman, and Alan Simpson, conservatives all) but even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut.

Jobs speech

Obama requests joint session of Congress.

Yes oh yes oh yes!

This really cheers me up:

A class-action lawsuit against Comcast — alleging the cable operator violated federal antitrust laws and overcharged subscribers — is moving forward after a federal appeals court last week affirmed the case’s class-action certification.

Behrend v. Comcast Corp., which seeks damages of more than $875 million, was originally filed in December 2003. Attorneys for the six plaintiffs claim Comcast overcharged customers for cable service, after acquiring cable providers in the Philadelphia area and obtaining a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Act.

A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled 2-1 on Aug. 23 that the class met all the tests for a class action under federal guidelines and concluded the class could show damages using common proof. That upheld a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania holding the question of “common impact” provable with class-wide evidence.
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Very interesting news, indeed. Another AG has decided she wants a piece of BoA:

The attorney general of Nevada is accusing Bank of America of repeatedly violating a broad loan modification agreement it struck with state officials in October 2008 and is seeking to rip up the deal so that the state can proceed with a suit against the bank over allegations of deceptive lending, marketing and loan servicing practices.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in United States District Court in Reno, Catherine Cortez Masto, the Nevada attorney general, asked a judge for permission to end Nevada’s participation in the settlement agreement. This would allow her to sue the bank over what the complaint says were dubious practices uncovered by her office in an investigation that began in 2009.

In her filing, Ms. Masto contends that Bank of America raised interest rates on troubled borrowers when modifying their loans even though the bank had promised in the settlement to lower them. The bank also failed to provide loan modifications to qualified homeowners as required under the deal, improperly proceeded with foreclosures even as borrowers’ modification requests were pending and failed to meet the settlement’s 60-day requirement on granting new loan terms, instead allowing months and in some cases more than a year to go by with no resolution, the filing says.

The complaint says such practices violated an agreement Bank of America reached in the fall of 2008 with several states and later, in 2009, with Nevada, to settle lawsuits that accused its Countrywide unit of predatory lending. As the credit crisis grew, the settlement was heralded as a victory by state offices eager to help keep troubled borrowers in their homes and reduce their costs. Bank of America set aside $8.4 billion in the deal and agreed to help 400,000 troubled borrowers with loan modifications and other financial relief, such as lowering interest rates on mortgages.

But foreclosure problems mounted in Nevada, where Countrywide originated 262,622 loans, and complaints about the bank’s loan servicing practices began flooding into Ms. Masto’s office shortly after the settlement was struck. She found that Bank of America had “materially and almost immediately violated” the terms of the settlement, according to the complaint.

Ms. Masto declined to comment beyond the court filing.

Breaking news

Finally, something happens in the interests of citizens and not corporations:

WASHINGTON — Justice Department officials say they’ve filed suit to block AT&T’s $39 billion deal to buy T-Mobile USA.

The government contends that the acquisition of the No. 4 wireless carrier in the country by No. 2 AT&T would reduce competition and raise prices.

At a news conference Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the combination would result in tens of millions of consumers facing higher prices, fewer choices and lower quality products.

Cole says the lawsuit seeks to ensure that everyone can continue to receive the benefits of competition.

Too bad they didn’t block Comcast’s NBC purchase for the very same reasons.

Here’s why it’s still pretty bad.

Vanishing boobs

If I’d had a boob job, I wouldn’t be feeling real safe in light of this information:

Aug. 30, 2011 — A panel of expert advisors to the FDA has been asked to solve a mystery: What happened to thousands of women who enrolled in studies designed to evaluate rare complications that might arise years after they received silicone gel breast implants?

In June, after a preliminary review of study data, the FDA concluded that breast implants were largely safe and effective but were not “lifetime devices,” citing high reoperation rates for complications like hardening of the breast and rupture of the implant.

That review also found no evidence that silicone implants were linked to rare problems like breast cancer or connective tissue diseases that have plagued the devices for decades. But the agency also noted that studies were still in progress to better answer some of those questions about rare events.

Now, however, it seems those studies have lost so many of the women they were supposed to follow that they are unlikely to offer any insight into the long-term safety of the devices.

Look! Poor people again!

It’s like all y’all have been clapping your hands real hard, and now we’re visible! I kind of feel like the Who, when Horton first heard it.

From the NYT; The New Resentment of the Poor

At a time when high-income households are paying their lowest share of federal taxes in decades, when corporations frequently avoid paying any tax, it is clear who should bear a larger burden and who should not.

Okay, it’s a lot of belaboring the obvious. But it’s being said out loud, at the paper of record. I’m stunned.

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