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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
October 1, 2013

Guardian UK: GOP DWI?

GOP DWI? Otherwise I can't account for Republicans forcing a shutdown
With the 'no compromise' fringe at the wheel, this government shutdown can only be a political car crash for Republicans

Ana Marie Cox
theguardian.com, Tuesday 1 October 2013 13.40 EDT

It is difficult to write rationally about the shutdown of the US government, because it is not a rational act.

In a way, the job of pundits would be easier if there was a money trail to follow – or even some specific political beneficiary to the massive meltdown of governance and order that's occurred over the past few days (if not months, if not years). When congressional Republicans caved to the wishes of the National Rifle Association, it made a certain craven sense: the NRA pumps almost $20m into their campaign coffers; of course they'll do what they say. When Republicans push anti-reproductive rights legislation, it's easily traced to a fundamental strand of condescension to and mistrust of women (or most generously, a confusion about them).

Indeed, even the Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act has the clean logic of tit-for-tat. The GOP caters to big business' best interest, and they opposed ACA because of it interferes with the insurance companies' desire to keep operating as they have in the past: doling our healthcare with an eye toward profits and not healthcare. (That Obamacare doesn't actually fix that problem so much as ameliorate it (for now) is a topic for another day. (That Obamacare may actually benefit most businesses is a topic that for the day after.)

The GOP's intransigence over these political stands, whatever you think of them as ideological positions, stems from simple political debts and selfish political goals. Conversely, policy positions that stem mostly from ideology or even practical knowledge of the problem at hand have some inherent flexibility; you can reason with people who have arrived at their position through reason. If your main goal is to solve a real-world problem, you can make concessions based on new real-world data. When policy goals are held largely for political reasons, only political arguments can move you. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/01/gop-dwi-republicans-government-shutdown

October 1, 2013

The Michigan Marijuana Tour/Hello, cannabis lovers...........

from the Detroit Metro Times:

The Michigan Marijuana Tour
A Statewide look at disparate marijuana laws.

By Larry Gabriel

The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, passed in 2008, made pot legal for patients with certain medical conditions. But the MMMA is not the only story in the state when it comes to legislating the cannabis plant. There are decriminalization efforts working their way around city by city, and some expect a statewide effort in 2016. Let’s take a little tour around the Mitten for an update on some of the various laws.


This November, voters there will cast ballots on a petition initiative calling for decriminalization of 1 ounce or less of marijuana for adults and — a new twist in the standard decriminalization — the right to transfer it. Lansing’s Mayor Virg Bernero has voiced his support for the initiative.



In 2012, Detroiters voted on what has become the standard decriminalization package: Adults, 21 and older, may possess and use as much as 1 ounce of marijuana on private property. Where do they get it? Well, that isn’t considered by the provision, but folks seem to be getting it from somewhere.

Ann Arbor

The City of Trees has the richest history of pot activism in the state. In 1967, The Michigan Daily, U-M’s student newspaper, made worldwide news when it called for legalization. More significant, in 1971, two and a half years after poet and political activist John Sinclair was sentenced to 10 years for giving two joints to an undercover narcotics officer, it was where 15,000 people attended a Free John Now Rally at Crisler Arena. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://metrotimes.com/culture/culture-features/the-michigan-marijuana-tour-1.1557711


Hello, cannabis lovers.
Michigan Marijuana Law Reform

By Larry Gabriel

In the five years since Michigan voters said “yes” to medical marijuana, a lot of things have changed. Michigan was the 13th state to legalize medical use of cannabis, and now there are 18, in addition to Washington state and Colorado, where it is legal for recreational use. Medical uses for marijuana are gaining acceptance among medical professionals and the National Institute of Health has acknowledged that it may be useful in cancer therapies.

Polls show about 85 percent of Americans support medical marijuana, and a little more than 50 percent support legalization of recreational use with taxes and regulation similar to alcohol and tobacco.

Recently, Deputy Attorney General James Cole revealed the Justice Department has no plans to challenge state legalization laws as long as they have “robust regulations” to keep it away from minors and prevent it from going to states where it is not legal.

In Michigan, several of our largest cities have adopted regulations that decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana or roll back law enforcement directives regarding marijuana offenses. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://metrotimes.com/covers/hello-cannabis-lovers-1.1557767
October 1, 2013

Govt. shutdown extra tough on the District of Columbia

from the WaPo:

Government shutdowns are bad for lots of reasons. Visas don't get processed. Federal workers don't get paid. Though nowhere near the pain of potentially defaulting on the national debt, shutting down the government could even cost more money than it saves when all's said and done.

If you live or work in the District of Columbia, however, the downside is much more pronounced (unless, as Matt Yglesias points out, you're a bar owner or a rodent). Since the non-state is the only jurisdiction prohibited from spending its local funds in the event of Congress not coming to an agreement, the city government becomes a lot less functional. Here's what you should expect to wake up to on October 1, if there's no deal.

1. Parks, museums, and the Zoo closed: All Smithsonian museums, federal monuments, the National Zoo, and public facilities in National Parks like Rock Creek Park would be closed. Because tourists probably won't realize it in advance, they'll probably flood downtown Starbuckses and Potbellies with bored out-of-towners.

2. Libraries and recreation centers dark: All D.C. libraries and recreation centers will be closed, giving kids fewer places to hang out after school, which means who knows what kinds of trouble. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/25/7-ways-a-government-shutdown-will-make-d-c-residents-lives-worse/

October 1, 2013

If Sabotage of the US Economy Is Terrorism, Send the House GOP to Guantanamo

If Sabotage of the US Economy Is Terrorism, Send the House GOP to Guantanamo

If economic sabotage of the United States is terrorism, then most of the House GOP should be sent to Guantanamo. Not that BuzzFlash at Truthout supports the opening of Guantanamo in any way (we believe it should be closed forthwith), but the members of the House GOP do. And since they are terrorizing the American economy and precarious financial conditions of so many US citizens with a government shutdown and the threat of not increasing the debt ceiling, they should -- according to the cliche -- get a dose of their own medicine.

So often when US presidents and members of congress talk about the need for military intervention abroad and a humongous military, spy and surveillance budget, they refer to "national security." The politicians and the mass media generally imply that this is a term that means the US needs to use armed forces and to start wars and kill people to protect us from physical harm or death. The elected officials and their appointees hope that this meme will keep American citizens in line and in support of a huge war machine that also happens to profit those in the DC revolving door of the military-industrial complex.

But protecting "national security" -- i.e., about 95 percent of the use of that loaded term -- really means protecting the economic interests and dominance of the United States. Can anyone doubt that is what it means in the Middle East, given that America has about 4 percent of the world's population but consumes about 25 percent of its oil? We wouldn't have the relatively small number of Islamic terrorists wanting to kill US citizens if we weren't pulling the strings in most of the US and using the military and CIA to ensure regional dominance (along with the UK and other European powers).

In short, if one argues that Islamic terrorism -- such as it exists -- is a by-product of US fighting to maintain its role as empire overseer of the Middle East (in order to retain our wealth for those who have it -- and general standard of living), we wouldn't be the occasional targets of Islamic terrorism (and the numbers of Americans who are victims of terror is absolutely miniscule compared to the number of Americans who are shot by other Americans each year, and infinitesimally small in relation to the number who annually die in automobile accidents.) ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/18227-if-sabotage-of-the-us-economy-is-terrorism-send-the-house-gop-to-guantanamo

October 1, 2013

IRS: Government Shutdown Means No Tax Refunds

WASHINGTON -- The Internal Revenue Service says you must pay your taxes during the government shutdown. But don't expect any refunds.

The IRS said Tuesday it will gladly accept tax returns and payments during the shutdown. In fact, they are required by law.

But, the agency said, it will not issue any tax refunds until the government resumes normal operations.

Most Americans filed their taxes in the spring. But more than 12 million filers asked for an automatic six-month extension, and those returns are due Oct. 15. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/01/irs-government-shutdown_n_4024343.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

October 1, 2013

The government shutdown has even screwed up the KKK's plans

The literal KKK, not the Tea Party

A Ku Klux Klan rally planned for Saturday, Oct. 5 has been canceled because of the government shutdown.

On Sept. 26, officials at Gettysburg National Military Park granted a special-use permit for a rally to a Maryland-based KKK group. According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, the event was canceled when park officials rescinded all permits for special events because of the shutdown, which began 12 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

“Tourists will find every one of America's national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, immediately closed,” Obama said in a statement Tuesday. “And of course the communities and small business that rely on these national treasures for their livelihoods will be out of customers and out of luck.” ..........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/01/kkk-rally-canceled_n_4024192.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

October 1, 2013

Why the US Mortgage Market Will Remain Heavily Dependent on Government Support

from Naked Capitalism:

Why the US Mortgage Market Will Remain Heavily Dependent on Government Support

In Senate Banking Committee testimony today, Georgetown law professor Adam Levitin explains why the private label (non-government guaranteed) mortgage market is a textbook case of what Nobel prize winning economist George Akerloff called a “market for lemons”. While that conclusion is not news to those who’ve been following the financial crisis and its aftermath, Levitin reaches a second conclusion that many policymakers have been keen to finesse: that the US mortgage market, even if private mortgage securitizations were reformed (which they have not been), is bound to remain heavily dependent on Federal guarantees. Even under generous assumptions, Levitin concludes:

The implication is that the pet dream of Republicans, to kill the GSEs, isn’t realistic unless they want to kill the housing market as it goes through a brutal transition period to more on-balance sheet bank lending. The reason is not simply securitization allowed for mortgages to be issued much more cheaply due to eliminating the cost bank equity and FDIC insurance. A bigger reason is that the 30 year fixed interest rate mortgage with an unrestricted borrower right of prepayment would never exist absent government support.

So it should be no surprise that the various mortgage insurance “reform” programs are simply to have supposedly better GSEs replace Fannie and Freddie but still wield a government guarantee (remember that the perverse structure of having private sector entities run a government guarantee program is to avoid consolidating the debt related to this mortgage insurance activity). ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/10/why-the-us-mortgage-market-will-remain-heavily-dependent-on-government-support.html#ZKWfKkeVXJwdV6qg.99

October 1, 2013

Bubble Trouble: Record Junk Bond Issuance, A Barrage Of IPOs, “Out Of Whack” Valuations, And Grim ..

Bubble Trouble: Record Junk Bond Issuance, A Barrage Of IPOs, “Out Of Whack” Valuations, And Grim Earnings Growth

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Cross posted from Testosterone Pit.

When Blackstone’s global head of private equity, Joseph Baratta, said Thursday night that “we” were “in the middle of an epic credit bubble,” the likes of which he hadn’t seen in his career, he knew whereof he spoke.

Junk bond issuance hit an all-time record of $47.6 billion in September, edging out the prior record, set in September last year, of $46.8 billion, according to S&P Capital IQ/LCD. Year to date, issuance amounted to $255 billion, blowing away last year’s volume for this period of $243 billion. The year 2012, already in a bubble, set an all-time record with $346 billion. This year, if the Fed keeps the money flowing and forgets about that taper business, junk bond issuance will beat that record handily.

Junk-bond funds got clobbered in July and August as retail investors briefly opened their eyes and realized what they had on their hands and fled, and they went looking for yield elsewhere, but there was still no yield in reasonable places, and so they held their noses and picked up these reeking junk-bond funds again. Cash inflow doubled over the last week to $3.1 billion, the most in ten weeks.

These retail investors were fired up by the Fed’s refusal to taper even a little bit, giving rise to the hope that it might actually never taper, that this is truly QE Infinity, Wall Street’s wet dream come true – on the theory that the Fed is mortally afraid that any taper would blow over the sky-high financial-markets house of cards it has constructed over the last five years. And the retail cash returned to these junk-bond funds and just about refilled the hole that had been dug during the summer. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/10/wolf-richter-bubble-trouble-record-junk-bond-issuance-a-barrage-of-ipos-out-of-whack-valuations-and-grim-earnings-growth.html#VucVGbFrqQeW9Mwe.99

October 1, 2013

Trains Runs Over Couple Having Sex On Railroad Tracks In Ukraine

Two lovers whom officials said had "failed to overcome their natural passion" were hit by a train in Ukraine while they had sex on the railroad tracks, Russian news outlet RIA Novosti reported.

The unidentified 30-something woman died, and her 41-year-old partner lost both his legs in the Saturday morning incident in the city of Zaporozhye.

Yahoo cited a police statement that the pair were supposedly drunk.

"My girlfriend and I could not overcome our passionate nature and wanted to feel a sense of thrill near a railway track," the man later old police, according to RIA Novosti. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/30/train-tracks-sex-run-over-ukraine-_n_4017485.html?utm_hp_ref=weird-news

October 1, 2013

Happy Birthday to Ya !!!


Today is former President Jimmy Carter's birthday.

Happy 89th, Mr. President!

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