Un-Valentine's Day Open Thread

In 1969, the Vatican struck St. Valentine from the Calendar of Saints.  But that doesn't mean we can't use the feast of a probably-legendary saint to celebrate Eros.


Consider this your open thread.

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Aging eyes might increase chances for memory loss and more

brutusettu's picture


New law


New Law Requires Women to Name Baby, Paint Nursery Before Getting an Abortion


People at the top are vacuuming up all the money in this country


The labor market is dysfunctional. Workers can't bargain for any increased compensation despite increased productivity and exploding profits. Only government policy deliberately designed to offset this dynamic can fix it.[img=440x440]http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2012/02/erp20121.gif[/img]

When it comes to our tax code,

Bird Dog's picture

the U.S. is relatively progressive.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Anyone who is interested in facts and over 25


would already know that the US overall does not have anything resembling a progressive tax code when local, state, and (effective) federal rates are taken into account.


Since conservatives typically prioritize hating liberals and rationalizing wealth concentration over learning facts, most do not know this.


The author you linked could've simply outlined these facts based on the multitude of available studies on the tax code in 1/100th of the word count. Instead the guy pt.lessly bickered and misdirected.


How many idiots does the Atlantic have on its payroll, anyway? 

At The Atlantic

Jay C's picture

I'd also except Ta-Nehisi Coates: whatever else you might think of his work, it's lightyears from idiocy.....

Everybody There's an Idiot But Fallows


I ended my subscription last summer after 15+ years.


"Do you mind my asking why you've decided to end your subscription, mr you?"


"Not at all. The magazine publishes too many hacks to suit my taste."


"I'll process your request today, mr you."


HankP's picture

doesn't include local taxes (like sales taxes), the most regressive taxes of all.

I blame it all on the Internet

Crying wolf again

Bird Dog's picture

The topic was the federal tax code. 

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

That's why it's misleading

HankP's picture

if I tried to use the sales tax or the payroll tax to make general statements about "our tax code" you'd be the first to point out that I was ignoring other factors.

I blame it all on the Internet

Hank, is that right?


Your sales tax rate actually drops as you spend more? 

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Not the right question

HankP's picture

TXG and catchy have covered the basics, but the problem lies in your question. It's not "[Does] Your sales tax rate actually drops as you spend more?", it's "Do your total sales tax expenditures as a percentage of income drop as you earn more?". Taxes aren't just rates but what one actually pays. In this case the comparisons are about percentage of income.

I blame it all on the Internet

As your income rises you spend a smaller % of your income


So in addition to what TXG1112 said, sales taxes are a much larger % of poor people's incomes than rich people's. 


In addition to a regressive tax like FICA, state sales taxes essentially cancel out the progressivity in the income taxes at the federal level.


Did you honestly not know this?



I don't care how much you make if you spend 6% of a purchase whether it is $1, $5, $10 or $1 million it is a flat tax.  The rate of tax not changing is the very definition of the thing.  A regressive tax does one of two things; either decreases in rate as the value of the 'thing' taxed increases, or is a tax specifically targeting lower incomes, such as sin taxes.  That any given 'X' (X being anything under the sun) costs a higher percentage of income for lower wage earners then all things with any cost would be 'regressive' using your definition.  That's not a very useful way to describe things IMO and I'd hate to ascribe any negative motives for doing so I'll let you explain why there's a need to conflate regressive taxes with flat taxes. 

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 


brutusettu's picture

and with regards to corporation income tax, are corporations that have a great ratio of net profit to gross sales are getting hosed compared to corporations that barely break even?

If they aren't getting hosed, it's highly likely sales taxes are regressive.

Thanks for the clarification

TXG1112's picture

Your point is the one I was trying to make. I'm not as clear headed today as usual, as I'm recovering from surgery I had on Friday.



--- I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.

Well your inactivity is the site's gain.


Best wishes on a speedy recovery, TXG.

Effective rate, yes.

TXG1112's picture

Two reasons:


Sales taxes as a percentage of income are much higher at low incomes. This is because low income spend most (if not all) of their income, and much of that will be on items with sales tax. On the other hand, high income people spend much less of their money overall and many of those things do not have sales taxes. (Real estate, insurance, inventments)


The other point is that high income people can pursue tax minimization strategys. Buying over the internet, in states with no sales taxes, during tax holidays etc. They generally can afford to buy things at their own schedule and on their own terms lowering their effective rate.

--- I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.

Well, that's a way to look at it


But if the sales taxes as a percentage of the purchase does not decrease as you spend more it isn't regressive.  You wouldn't consider the cost of the candy bar from which the tax is derived to be regressive even though it too takes up a larger percentage of lower incomes.  I'm not trying to start a pissing match, but when you have progressive, flat and regressive taxes and you refer to a flat tax as being regressive you're conflating definitions.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Let's not quibble over definitions


Sales taxes are technically a flat tax of course. They don't officially vary as a function of income.


But in pratice sales taxes function as a regressive tax b/c poor people invariably must make purchases with a higher % of their income on the basic necessities of life like food and clothing.


I don't see why there should be any confusion over this.

Explaining basic things like taxes and income inequality


to conservatives is like reading a children's book you've already read 50x to a kid who's been a brat all day.

I'll get to the article later, for now

brutusettu's picture

[url=http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/02/soaking-poor-state-state]"You have heard, perhaps, that rich people in America are egregiously overtaxed. And the poor? They're the lucky duckies! Why, 47 percent of Americans pay no taxes at all!"[/url]
nice litter chart in the link

the excel file might need some more digging later...

brutusettu's picture

If anyone looked, does the excel chart's "market income" = total income before taxes, or is "market income" = disposable income - Cost of Living expenses (up to the poverty line)? Or something else?


Bird Dog's picture

Gleick's career and credibility shredded.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Looks Like It's Time. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .for the phrase "fake but accurate" to make a comeback in the sinestrosphere--and once again in defense of something definitely fake, and not accurate.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

For subscribing to a mailing list?



"Something I think most liberals don't understand is exactly how stupid many conservative leaders are." - Matt Yglesias

"Confidence Fairy"

brutusettu's picture


[url=http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/20/opinion/krugman-pain-without-gain.html]"Pain Without Gain"[/url]

Fracking update

Bird Dog's picture

No evidence that it contaminates groundwater, but it pollutes in similar ways as other drilling methods (link).

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

That is very good news indeed if true


although I do wonder why you wouldn't see contamination when you've got a slurry full of heavy metals as the byproduct.

More Douthat!

Bird Dog's picture

On contraception and abortion:

To begin with, a lack of contraceptive access simply doesn’t seem to be a significant factor in unplanned pregnancy in the United States. When the Alan Guttmacher Institute surveyed more than 10,000 women who had procured abortions in 2000 and 2001, it found that only 12 percent cited problems obtaining birth control as a reason for their pregnancies. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of teenage mothers found similar results: Only 13 percent of the teens reported having had trouble getting contraception.

At the same time, if liberal social policies really led inexorably to fewer unplanned pregnancies and thus fewer abortions, you would expect “blue” regions of the country to have lower teen pregnancy rates and fewer abortions per capita than demographically similar “red” regions.

But that isn’t what the data show. Instead, abortion rates are frequently higher in more liberal states, where access is often largely unrestricted, than in more conservative states, which are more likely to have parental consent laws, waiting periods, and so on. “Safe, legal and rare” is a nice slogan, but liberal policies don’t always seem to deliver the “rare” part.

What’s more, another Guttmacher Institute study suggests that liberal states don’t necessarily do better than conservative ones at preventing teenagers from getting pregnant in the first place. Instead, the lower teenage birth rates in many blue states are mostly just a consequence of (again) their higher abortion rates. Liberal California, for instance, has a higher teen pregnancy rate than socially conservative Alabama; the Californian teenage birth rate is only lower because the Californian abortion rate is more than twice as high.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Something like 40 of Medicare recipients

brutusettu's picture

Don't answer affirmatively to whether they're in a government program or not in a recent poll.


So, how sure is Douthat to that "12%"?


"only 12%" Douthat, the pro-abortion guy in 12% of cases!?!!

[b]Ross doesn't think over 300,000, what he might call murdered  fetuses,  significant?[/b]


Also, education seems to play a role lookign through the answers, "pulling out" is not a contraception.

"Thought my partner was sterile" women were lied to.


Douthat would add the 14.6% of "never got around to it" if he liked that bigger number. For teens that get pregnant, how many didn't use contraception because of social stigma?

Are they talking about condom access or the pill too? Douthat also knows if [i]the[/i] liberals are getting pregnant, o[i]the[/i] conservatives are getting pregnant, how ofter women in those states are having sex, why they aren't using contraception, etc?


Ross Douthat nearly got around to saying. "Contraception doesn't work, it's unreliable so don't bother using it"

Shorter bru

Bird Dog's picture

I don't believe polls when they have numbers I don't like.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

No, Douthat is lying again

HankP's picture

Kevin Drum eviscerates him here. Drum fails to mention another contributing factor, which is that the abortion rates are higher in blue states because they're also providing abortions for all the people in red states that can't get them done where they live. All those kids of middle class pro-life culture warriors who make exceptions for their own.


What's that word for what Douthat is doing again? Oh yeah, cherrypicking.

I blame it all on the Internet

Another "lie" unproven. So sad

Bird Dog's picture

New Mexico is blue state, #1 in teen pregnancy and #16 in teen abortions.

Nevada is a purple state, #2 in pregnancy and #3 in abortions.

Delaware is a blue state, #6 in pregnancy and #4 in abortions

New York is a blue state, #11 in pregnancy and #1 in abortions

California is a blue state, #15 in pregnancy and #6 in abortions

State colors established here. Populationwise, California and New York are two of the largest three states in the union. California is not an exception or an outlier.

Conversely, if you look at the states with the lowest pregnancy rates, only two crack the top 15 in abortion rates. Six of those states are red.

Drum is right that Douthat is right that there isn't a sharp divide, but that's about as far as it goes. The abortion ratios do show a clear red-blue divide, but that is tangential to Douthat's point.

Also, Drum posits that red-staters go to blue states for abortions, but backs up that supposition with bupkis.

So let's recap Douthat's point. Liberal policies in liberal or non-red states do not necessarily lead to fewer unwanted or unplanned pregnancies. Check. Those liberal or non-red states with high teen pregnancy rates also have high abortion rates. Check. Both Guttmacher and CDC conclude that only 12% or 13% of teens had trouble getting birth control. Check. The "rare" of "safe, legal and rare" is not rare at all. Check.

Prove the lie, Hank. So far, you're 0-for-2. Better luck next time.


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Only 12%

HankP's picture

that's one eighth. So you're OK with not reducing the number of abortions by one eighth. But that's the Republican position, against contraception and sexual education - the two things that do the most to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Pro life indeed.


As for policies leading to more or fewer teen pregnancies, abortions only tell part of the story. Let's look at the teenage birth rates:



Hmmm. I seem to detect a very subtle pattern there, can you pick it up?


But let's go on to the other problems with Douthat.


- the Guttmacher survey is ten years old (before a lot of the latest ridiculous anti-woman legislation had been successfully pushed through by Republicans and at the beginning of the "abstinence only" sex education mania of Republicans). It was not a random sampling. It had a self-selected response rate of 82%. It extrapolated from other studies to normalize the data, which in this case is questionable.


- Douthat looks only at state policies, but it's clear that national policies by the Republicans have severely damaged most rational attempts to deal with the very high pregnancy/abortion rates in the US


- And of course the big lie, which is that conservative approaches to contraceptives/pregnancy/abortion are better than liberal approaches. At best they're close in some states, but the liberal policies have the major advantage of resulting in better educated teens (and adults as they grow older), provides for healthier children for those that decide to bring their pregnancy to term, and the choice for those that don't.


The big lie from Douthat, which is the big lie of conservatism, is that ignorance is better than knowledge and the world can be made to conform to ideology. It's the same lie every time.




I blame it all on the Internet

For Ross, yes, that is true for him.

brutusettu's picture

I do routinely use the arguments of linked op-ed writers against them.

12% isn't so tiny a number given the total population size it involves.

For his "liberal" states thingy, there's more than a few unknown variables there.

Beside the point

Bird Dog's picture

The Guttmacher and CDC numbers confirm each other. The point is that so many unwanted or unplanned teen pregnancies occur despite the relatively easy access to birth control.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

1/8 isn't big for Ross here?

brutusettu's picture

I'm sure if 1/8 less Americans died due to some cancer drug, he'd think that was insignificant too. I"m positive of it.

 And what types of birth control did those women have easy access to before? Just condoms?



What's Douthat's point again?

brutusettu's picture

Having easier access to more forms of contraception prevents less abortions than teaching the kids to just keep it in their pants and making access to abortions more difficult and living in a state that stigmatizes abortions more*?

That seems to be one of his thesis that he thinks he's trying to prove for some odd reason (low hanging grapes, although the tasty ones he really wants are a bit out of that fox's reach I think).

I know he has a limited space for his article, but he doesn't seem to be giving very good reasons why easier access to various forms of contraception prevents less abortions than more difficult access to various forms of contraception.

so back to Drum
[quote]Are abortion rates lower in states that make it really hard to get an abortion? Of course. I'm not really clear on what, if anything, this is supposed to prove.[/quote]

*there really isn't data set to test that, so he later looks at where there are the most abortions per pregnancy and is trying to show what exactly?

Safe, Legal, Rare*

brutusettu's picture

[quote]Even the most pro-choice politicians, for instance, usually emphasize that they want to reduce the need for abortion, and make the practice rare as well as safe and legal. [/quote]



Maybe Ross is really confused that people would mean something different than he does, if they use the phrase "safe, legal, and rare."**


He seems to see it as; safe, legal in a certain way, and RARE RARE RARE RARE RARE RARE.



Other people just might be keying in on the [i]safe[/i] and [i]legal[/i] aspect and working from there to make it less needed.

*I don't recall hearing phrase that too much
**I still don't recall hearing that phrase too much

Changes at Foxconn

Bird Dog's picture

Forced by a labor shortage and pressure offshore (link).

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Female Iranian ninjas!

Bird Dog's picture

Cute ones, too.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Food Police Bringing Out The Big Guns

M Scott Eiland's picture

Apparently, soft drinks are racist. It's like being back at UCLA in the mid-1980s, where being seen drinking a Coke was enough to spur accusations of being racist against black South Africans (for the younger readers here, Google "divestment" and "South Africa" for all the sordid details).

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).


HankP's picture

yes, when I want an objective opinion about soda I always go to the guy who has Coca-Cola as a major client.

I blame it all on the Internet

I never got the racist


I never got the racist aspect, unless the reference to 'South Los Angeles' was meant to conjure up images of 'racial' people in the minds of the readers.

This same outfit, SCPI, has been calling for elimination of some 4 billion $US in taxpayer subsidies to soft drink industry. This is the amount of money spent on fizzy, sweet drinks in the government programme formerly known as 'food stamps.' Alcohol, cigarettes, pipe and chewing tobacco are also not available for their lack of nutrient value.

The ministry of agriculture also spends large amounts of tax-payer money on subsidies to sugar producers. Eliminating them would be of benefit to non-farmers. Even those from North Los Angeles!

You will kill 10 of our men, and we will kill 1 of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it. - Ho Chi Minh

perhaps you may want to read that article more completely

TXG1112's picture

The only place that it says "soft drinks are racist" is the title of the article. Nowhere does it say that anyone claimed it. I think the weight of carrying all those grievenances for almost 30 years is starting to get to you.



--- I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.

No. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .they're just holding a seminar whose subject matter is “impact of sugary drinks in communities of color.” We've all heard this tune before.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Not sure about that

TXG1112's picture

If there's a tune, I think it's a whistle only you can hear.

--- I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.

Uh Huh

M Scott Eiland's picture

Because non-race obsessed academics would select that topic for a forum.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Poor attempt at mind reading...

TXG1112's picture

I would recommend that you not project quite so much. It doesn't reflect well.

--- I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.

Posting Rules -nt-

M Scott Eiland's picture


. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

not a PRV

TXG1112's picture

It's telling that you think it is.

--- I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.

Posting Rules -nt-

M Scott Eiland's picture


. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Insistance does not make it so, councilor

TXG1112's picture

You are welcome to try to make your case however.


Let me note that a false accusation of PRV's is itself a PRV.

--- I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.

That Wasn't Insistance

M Scott Eiland's picture

That was noting a second violation. Pro tip: "you" phrasing is a fertile ground for PRVs, particularly when associated with assertions directed at the commenter rather than the comment.

And if your last sentence was correct, then falsely accusing someone of making a false PRV accusation would also be a PRV. Since PRVs are the call of the troika and are subject to their discretion, this interpretation makes no sense, and has indeed never been the stated interpretation of one troika member, let alone a majority of the troika.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I'm aware you think that, I'll decline to agree

TXG1112's picture

Is "fertile ground for PRV" something like a penumbra, formed by emanations?


Every one of my comments is in direct reference to one of yours. As you say, it is a matter for the moderators.

--- I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.

Gosh. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .I can't imagine how trusting those nice Occupy people went wrong.

[closed-captioned for the sarcasm-impaired and those in denial]

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Three cheers for the Occupy movement


Isn't it wonderful how the movement is calling attention all over the country today, to the extent it can, to the corrupt and unjust nature of our abominable prison system, especially the private prison system? 


Today was Occupy Prisons Day. I read articles about Occupy's efforts in California, Colorado, and Ohio.






What a wonderful organization. It's surely done 1000x as much good as that cynical excuse for a paper, the NY Post, to which you linked. Too bad the Tea Party or any groups on your side of the aisle haven't called attention to the systematic injustices associated with our prison system. Feel free to read the links I provided if you're not familiar with these pressing social justice issues.


I have no idea whether a word of that NY Post piece is true (and neither do you of course) but I don't see any reason to fail to accentuate the positive of the Occupy movement on National Occupy Prisons Day.

Glad to see the occupy movement is doing some interesting things


Activism on incarceration rates and conditions seems like a great cause in the US. Thanks for informing me Catchy.

Apparently, The Closed-Captioning Was Futile

M Scott Eiland's picture

And I don't blame the Occupiers for wanting to improve living conditions in the places where so many of them clearly belong.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

More prisoners!


There's one thing this country sorely needs!


Sounds like you've got plenty of good ideas already, Scott. Clearly the Occupy movement has nothing on ya.


I wonder though whether you have any thoughts about an organization that calls attention to injustices in the US's prison system. Don't you think that's a nice topic for people to try get some media coverage on? Here I thought we could maybe find some common ground. 


Sometimes it seems as if your priorities are tilted toward maligning your enemies on the left, while concerns about justice and fairness are taking a back seat.

It's the tribalism catchy


First, last and always.

That Would Certainly Explain. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .the "NA NA NA I CANT HEAR YOU!!!" response to the reports of vandalism by the Occupiers. It's not as if the homeowner started out angry at them.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

"reports" is plural


I read one report and don't know what it's significance is. 


Here in Columbus there have been many Occupiers who have been in foreclosed homes and helped to delay foreclosures and I know that many of the homeowners have been very appreciative. I shed a tear when I watched a video of a nice lady expressing thanks to the Occupy Columbus crowd in a video someone forwarded me the other day. There are 7 million homes in foreclosure in this country and in general protesting these foreclosures is a great idea that harkens back to the Great Depression and one that I wish would get more coverage. 


There's no reason to think your singular report is representative. And with the NY Post there's in fact no reason to think that Occupiers in particular were involved as opposed to others taking advantage of the situation. But of course I don't wish to defend everything that happens at every single meeting of people associated with the Occupy movement.


I wish to have a balanced judgment of the overall movement. And I was providing balance - where you were highlighting a negative one-off story, this was in fact a day when there was an attempt at the national level to bring attention to injustice in our prison system that people rarely speak of.


I'd bet dollars to donuts you had no idea about the Occupy Prison Day, that it wasn't reported on in the NY Post, and that you have little interest in forming an overall and balanced opinion of the movement vs. highlight negative anecdotes. Which is what you've been doing on this site since Occupy first started appearing in the news. 

painting the blackest picture possible


Without his posts here, I would never have learned about the incidents of occupiers shitting in public, raping women or trashing a house in New York. Perhaps no other person posting on this board is aware of these incidents or deems them comment worthy. I doubt that he is interested only in the negative side of the occupier movement, but if he were, as a friend to the 1% he owes it to us to do his best at painting the blackest picture possible.

You will kill 10 of our men, and we will kill 1 of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it. - Ho Chi Minh

Nicks v. Mavericks highlights


Linsanity is fun to follow:  


Bird Dog's picture

Video removed.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Tbogg is funny


when someone told Sheriff Babeu to "screw the Mexicans" there was a horrible misunderstanding

Oil Does Not Work That Way, again


Why are gas prices going up even though gasoline usage in America is down?  Could it be because there are over a billion Chinese using oil, or a lot of consumers in the emerging markets?


No, it's Wall Street's fiendish plot to bring down Obama.


Call it high Broderism, call it concern trolling, but I'm sick of conspiratorial nonsense from everyone.  I'm sick of people ranting about how Obama is going to start putting people in concentration camps, just as I was sick of hearing about how Bush was going to use Diebold voting machines to bring about a dictatorship.

Oh but there is a conspiracy


It doesn't have anything to do with a desire by Wall Street to bring down Obama though. (I'm sure they would be happy with that as a side effect but thats not the main motivation). No it's the same sort of speculation and market manipulation that has played out over and over again. Inventories of both crude and gasoline are at near record levels and demand is low so there is no supply constraint that would account for the upsurge in prices. A big chunk is just speculation. That's not to say that there are no long term supply issues that will cause a general upwards trend in prices because there are. They're not the driving force behind this recent spike though.

Gas prices / oil markets

Jay C's picture

A decent discussion over at Balloon Juice on this very subject: as usual with complex economic issues, there's a lot of ingrained ignorance at work; but in essence, the seeming contradiction of prices rising while demand is falling can be explained by a few interlocking factors:

 - Steadily rising worldwide demand (China & India mainly)

 - OPEC control of a still-large majority of world production (with no downside at current price levels)

 - Fungibility of oil globally (the US is actually exporting some oil)

 - Market speculation

 - A captive market at home (maintained by an inconceivably wealthy cartel) with (as yet) few "alternative" sources


Of course, in this country, an aggavating factor is that up until quite recently, most Americans have assumed that among the God-given "inalienable" rights referenced in the Declaration of Independence is the "right" to be able to drive enormous cars everywhere and anywhere at a desultory cost: but unfortunately, the actions of the "free market" might conflict with those ideals....




"enormous cars"?

brutusettu's picture

Nothing smaller than a F-350 man.

I think that speculation is a big part of it


but it's kind of natural that if you have a ton of money sloshing around that's seeking some place to invest, then why not put it into energy and commodities?


More seriously, as long as China and India (and, hopefully, at least east Africa) are becoming more propserous, then it's sort of natural that the commodities that we share with the rest of the world are going to get more expensive.

I'd be curious to hear what % oil is driven up by speculation


I recall a reuters report when oil prices spiked last spring (which played a major role in slowing down what was looking at the time like a genuine recovery) that used Goldman Sachs #s -- reuters estimated that purely speculative factors were driving up crude oil prices in the 15 - 20% range.


It's a tall order to get this economy humming again. It'll be a miracle if the Obama admin manages to benefit from our current system, which has so many impediments to producing good results for a majority.



Speculation percentage

Jay C's picture

Well, according to Goldman, Sachs' recent figures, the "speculative factor" is at least $27/bl (warning: ThinkProgress link: Koch influence is mentioned) - so in a $120/bl market, it comes out to about  22.5%. The increase from last spring may be due to the increasing level of sanction activity (and war talk) vis-a-vis Iran which has got to unsettle the market.

My guess

HankP's picture

is that a lot of it is due to the potential for political and/or military disturbance in the middle east. You just need one mistake by any of a multitude of people to see prices spike up.

I blame it all on the Internet

Assurgam! Assurgam! Assurgam!


'Call it high Broderism, call it concern trolling'...I call it 'Enough of the dumb sh*t already.' There's plenty of reasonable disagreements to be had between reasonable people. But, before I'm willing to take this agreement with you any further I need you to answer my question.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

A sexy, sexy flannel



Well, if there's anything that could have put the kibbosh


on thinking of sex every seven seconds, I'd have to say 'a sexy, sexy flannel' would, and in fact did, do it. 

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Oh Santorum

brutusettu's picture

[url=http://news.yahoo.com/santorum-says-obama-agenda-not-based-bible-011457960.html]Santorum says "(Obama) is imposing his values on the Christian church[/url]

"the Christian church" is that a synonym for the RCC?

Or was he going for the Ohio State University kind of feel since he was in Columbus, Ohio?

M. Scott Eiland Explains It All

M Scott Eiland's picture

Today, we look at a phrase and how to and how not to properly use it:

Using "chink in the armor" to refer to literal damage to armor, or as a metaphor for a defect in a defense that is not the Great Wall of China: Not racist--anyone who says otherwise is a PC-addled moron who can be safely ignored and/or mocked.

Using "chink in the armor" to refer to Jeremy Lin finally having a bad game: Yes, racist--at the very least, some people need to be yelled at, and they might want to consider updating their resumes, given that ESPN is not shy about using the ejector seat on inconvenient fools.

Next time: baseball broadcasting and proper usage of the word "balls."*

*--RIP, George Carlin.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I think that by mentioning that people ever use racial slurs


or harbor racist attitudes, you're kind of being a bad conservative.  What's next, acknowledging that the socio-economic background one is born into has some impact on one's success in life?  :P



Is there a way someone was dumb enough to know it was

brutusettu's picture

some kind of slur, but used it anyway? 


It had to go over their heads, there's not really a way someone is crazy enough to risk their job by turning their inner Rush up to 11.

Yes. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .there are people who are just that dumb *and* crazy.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Live Free Or Die--Or Do Both

M Scott Eiland's picture

Much like PETA would have been well advised to sit back and STFU while everyone else was justifiably savaging Michael Vick, this sad event might well have put the Heart Attack Grill on a slow path to oblivion if the Food Police had just sat back and let people draw their own conclusions about what had happened. Since they couldn't, I predict that the Heart Attack Grill will be doing better business than ever in six months. Sometimes it pays to have the right enemies.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Not All Food Was Created Equally


Certainly, the Foundling Fathers knew that Not All Food Was Created Equally. PETA knows this as well, and so would the owner of the restaurante if only he were more positively inclined to 'count calories.'

You will kill 10 of our men, and we will kill 1 of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it. - Ho Chi Minh

Fifty Years Ago On Monday

M Scott Eiland's picture

"Col. John H. Glenn Jr. has just taken off in his rocket for orbit. Please say a prayer for him."

"We need five more chairs here." Yes, sir--yes we do.

(and the version with a few liberties taken with history)

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

On a more light-hearted note


Space Nazis from the moon! Versus Sarah Palin!

Nazis, space, and a Warthog

brutusettu's picture


I know, what's not to love?



Is it just me


or have reproductive issues been in the news and such a lot over the last few weeks, and from several different angles?

Well, we're supposed to think about it every seven...


...seconds or so.  Which is frightening when you realize that in responding to you I've thought about sex maybe five or six times.  So, what are you wearing?

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

What would the ACA look like w/out the mandate?


SCOTUS will be facing the question this year of whether the individual mandate should be struck down and whether it is severable from the rest of the healthcare bill.


According to the RAND Corp., the mandate is clearly severable:


"... the number of Americans predicted to get coverage in 2016 under the Affordable Care Act would drop from 27 million to 15 million if the individual mandate were eliminated.

Despite that drop, the study estimates that eliminating the individual mandate would increase an individual’s cost of buying insurance through the individual exchanges by just 2.4 percent."



I suspect that Kennedy is going to want to be thought of


as the hero who saved ACA. 



Small government!


Those whores have it coming sez the small government GOP.




It's a freedom probe!




Small government! Small government! Small government! Small government!

Daniel Davies's choose your own adventure


on the Greek crisis. That guy can really be out of control brilliant. http://crookedtimber.org/2012/02/16/so-what-would-your-plan-for-greece-be/



Limiting government to doing things I want it to do

brutusettu's picture

[url=http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/16/10421869-commemorative-bob-mcdonnell-vaginal-ultrasound-probes]Vriginia might pass a bill requiring a women to have a foreign object probed inside their vagina at least 10 days* before they have an induced abortion[/url]

[url=http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/virginia-ultrasound-bill-6655944]* 10 days[/url]

Wisconsin Local 1848

brutusettu's picture

[url=http://gawker.com/5885630/politico-mistakes-state-flag-for-union-flag-idiocy-ensues]"Politico Mistakes State Flag for Union Flag"[/url]

I've waited, and waited...


...for *somebody,* *anybody,* here to notice the Obama adminstration's blatant anti-Catholic *putsch* - forcing all of the church's wonderful & honorable health-care instititutions not only to tolerate, but even to subsidize, things that they cannot, by their nature, accept...


What's up with that?

It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

Check out the Liberal Orthodoxy diary, vin



In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Under the bridge




Certainly you've seen reaction to this here! Funny though, the republican crowd here doesn't want to say anything about it.


"Help, we're being oppressed!"



This is so politically retarded

HankP's picture

are they trying to alienate women? How many groups do they think they can antagonize before they realize that it's not a winning political strategy?

I blame it all on the Internet

Westboro Baptist Church

brutusettu's picture

is tax exempt, that is pretty much a subsidy by a different name.

The RCC gets the same thing.

The government is pretty much subsidizing all religions.

Quakers + the Mennonites pay taxes.

Here 's what I've waited for

HankP's picture

"In beauty there is truth, and in truth beauty" - true or false?

I blame it all on the Internet

Mennonites pay taxes


that pay for things that they cannot, by their nature, accept.



Everyone pays taxes

HankP's picture

for things they don't agree with. Claiming the reason for the opposition is some bronze age fairy tales doesn't make it any more compelling a complaint.

I blame it all on the Internet

Matthew 22:21 Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ



They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.


So Saidth Jesus, and they marveled at his wisdom...the matter is easy.



Why I'm not Republican/conservative example #2456




Face-palm. For what little I pay attention to horse-race news, articles like this one make me regret what attention I actually give. Is this how you win votes? Pathetic.

Some economic news


It appears that first-time unemployment claims have hit their lowest level since May of 2008.  The four-week moving average is just a smidgen over 350k, at which point we'll be well and truly into a labor market recovery.  Oh, and housing starts are also up year over year (thought still at a low level).


And, just for Catchy:


Obama promises not to demonize Wall Street.


Jim Messina, President Barack Obama's campaign manager, assured a group of Democratic donors from the financial services industry that Obama won’t demonize Wall Street as he stresses populist appeals in his re-election campaign, according to two people at the meeting.



Unemployment is falling and all the indices are starting to look healthy.  Europe will continue to bleed slowly and go into something of a recession, but not a pant-sh*ting financial apocalypse.  Provided there's no China surprise, it looks like the burning issue of the 2012 campgaign may wind up being...


Non-generative sex.

Isn't it better

mmghosh's picture

that it be so?

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Oh, yes, I'd much rather that the election be about


trivialities than, say, war or economic catastrophe.

It means that other matters have been sorted out,

mmghosh's picture

as it should be in a mature state. 


Frankly, the USA obssessing about wars is somewhat terrifying for the ROW.  We fondly remember 1990's USA, where a major concern seemed to be the involvement of a President in an indelicacy, and issues such as the odd bombing into submission seemed so much less of a problem.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

I'm very hopeful


And these are good signs.


Notice however that small business confidence didn't increase this month nor did hiring plans, and small business is the employment engine in the country.


The dangers are still that once the economy heats up, oil prices will skyrocket and tamp down spending and Europe is more dire than you're making it sound. They're in a deepening recession and there's been no fundamental change to their approach.


I'm cautiously optimistic, but we've already seen a couple of good months in this "recovery" that quickly turned south. 


And it's obvious from polls over the past months that Obama's re-election is dependent on almost nothing other than economic and job growth. We and he are still in the cross-your-fingers w/out too much to go on stage.

I don't think that the ECB


will actually let the European financial sector go down in flames (and drag the world along with it).  Whether a year or two of grinding recession can convince them to get their head out of their collective a*s on austerity, inflation, etc. is another matter entirely.  But that's why I forecast recession but not apocalypse.


Small business data was kind of flat for January, but the overall trend is up.  Best data for small business is that the number reporting lack of sales as their biggest problem is way down from peak.


Biggest advantage is that the Fed hasn't actually ruled out QE3. 


But yeah, still worried about (in descending order): 1) Europe and the ECB, 2) Oil prices, 3) A Chinese real estate bust.

Oil prices are already at $120 per barrel


This is what happened last year when the economy started to heat up.


Sometimes it seems as if there's structural features retarding any serious growth in the west.


Whenever any economic activity starts to get going, the financial and/or energy sectors vacuum it up and reinforcing growth-producing cycles fail to form.


But perhaps that's just the pessimist in me talking.





I was gonna cut 'n' paste something from the article, but really the best part is that super-candidate romney ran an editorial yesterday in michigan about how wrong obama was about the auto industry bailout:




This guy:




...who's struggling in February against santorum

The Inquisitors


are convening as we speak. So watch your tongue lest it be taken from your head, sinner.




I'd like to hear how Sharia law might guide an employer's concience in what types of coverage are allowed? Probably won't come up during cleric issa's puppet show.



You don't imagine they opened those hearings

aireachail's picture

with the traditional prayer


Holy Mary, we believe, without sin thou didst conceive. Holy Mary, still believing, let us sin without conceiving.


do you?


Too much to hope for I s'pose.





Immaculate logic.

mmghosh's picture

But your disbelief is condommed.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

I see how you slipped that in there nt

HankP's picture


I blame it all on the Internet

Ah. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .I'm always up for a bit of Sean Penn bashing in the morning.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Lin, Again

M Scott Eiland's picture

Floyd Mayweather has been asking for a beatdown for years now--I suspect that he didn't expect it to come from this particular source.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

This is why I love the Nationwide Tour

Bird Dog's picture

Guys on the bubble who step up and take advantage of the opportunities given them.

Great piece on Lin this AM by Frank Deford on NPR. How many other Lins get missed because they don't fit the prototype?


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

My Idea for a Golf Channel Reality Show


involves following the bottom half-dozen guys on the PGA Tour as they scramble to keep their cards and earn enough to make the trip to the next event.


Imagine it. Late on a Sunday afternoon Tiger stands over a 17 foot putt, the tourney title and another million dollars on the line. What pressure!


Meanwhile, three or four hours earlier, far from the broadcast cameras and the gallery, Joe Blow #4 steps up to his 17 footer, his tour card at stake and the result of the putt the difference between filling up the RV's gas tank out of his earnings or out of his savings. That's pressure!


Bird Dog's picture

I was telling my wife about a similar concept a year or two ago. There's a lot of drama with watching pros hanging by a thread to keep their tour cards.


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

It's a great story


but the puns have got to stop.  



A man must be orthodox upon most things, or he will never even have time to preach his own heresy.


What do you mean the guy from Megadeth hates santorum?

brutusettu's picture

[url=http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2012/02/santorum-sells]He's supports Rick's run for POTUS[/url]


Dave Mustaine isn't exactly the 1st in line of 80's/90's rockers that I'd think of as a Santorum man. Peace sells, but Santurum ain't buyin'. But Dave likes him nonetheless.

A man that was too much a ja~~-~~~ for Metallica,

brutusettu's picture

Dave [url=http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/dave-mustaine-megadeth-front-man-decide-endorsing-rick-santorum-president-article-1.1023764]Mustaine,[/url] is still undecided which GOP candidate for POTUS to vote for.

Nanny Bloomberg's New Role Model

M Scott Eiland's picture

"Present your papers--er, lunch for inspection, please."

It should go without saying that people should be fired for this.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I'm with you


Hacks like Burrows should be shown the door.

"Something I think most liberals don't understand is exactly how stupid many conservative leaders are." - Matt Yglesias

More conservative lies

HankP's picture

they just can't help themselves.

I blame it all on the Internet

More Liberal Spin

M Scott Eiland's picture

But hey, I'm sure that Media Matters will have the fully processed version posted soon, if they're not too busy sending private detectives against their enemies list.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

"MM to send ambush interviews" next up on Bill O'Reilly

brutusettu's picture

the link to Sara Burrows and from Mark Thompson seem to be telling vastly different stories.

In the latter, the student was put in a voluntary state program, the former has shakedowns to pay for chicken nuggets out of pocket.

Climategate Rah-Rahers Hoist on Own Petard


The Heartland Institute — a self-described "think tank" that actually serves in part as a way for climate change denialism to get funded — has a potentially embarrassing situation on their hands. Someone going by the handle "Heartland Insider" has anonymously released quite a few of what are claimed to be internal documents from Heartland, revealing the Institute’s strategies, funds, and much more.

Here's the Heartland Institute on the release of those Climategate emails a couple of years back:

The release of these documents creates an opportunity for reporters, academics, politicians, and others who relied on the IPCC to form their opinions about global warming to stop and reconsider their position. The experts they trusted and quoted in the past have been caught red-handed plotting to conceal data, hide temperature trends that contradict their predictions, and keep critics from appearing in peer-reviewed journals. This is new and real evidence that they should examine and then comment on publicly.

It's wrong to keep opposing views out of influential publications, did you say?


Here's a bit from an HI memo regarding media strategy:

Efforts at places such as Forbes are especially important now that they have begun to allow high-profile climate scientists (such as [Peter] Gleick) to post warmist science essays that counter our own. This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out.

Also included in the haul are donor lists, details about a skeptical-about-climate-science school curriculum HI is developing, and lists of recipients of HI funds.


Oh, also too: Warmist?


Are the memoes real or not? I'm leaning toward "not" as the opposite is just too good to be true.

Its a forgery

mmghosh's picture

[url=http://deepclimate.org/2012/02/14/heartland-insider-releases-budget-and-strategy-documents/]apparently.[/url]  So your "not' is probably accurate.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency



Well, only one of the documents is a fake per HI (the media strategy one); they refer to the others as stolen.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter


This exists, and so I'm going to have to acknowledge that we do live in the best of all possible worlds.

It feels like a ripoff

brutusettu's picture

This guy


keeps me informed about the important saints' days:




February 22 marks the Feast of the Cathedra of St. Peter. Before you go proofreading me in the comments thread, I spelled that correctly.  It’s not the feast of the cathedral of St. Peter, but rather of his cathedra, or in English, his chair.  That’s right, the medieval Catholics had a feast to honor the chair that Peter sat on.  In fact, February 22 is the second feast on the liturgical calendar dedicated to a piece of furniture that Peter sat on–January 18 celebrates the chair of St. Peter kept in Rome, while the later feast is devoted to his chair in Antioch.

Were I king for a day, that day being today


I'd have everyone named 'Brach' set upon by wild dogs.  They make those little candy hearts with 'Be my Valentine' on them and they taste like untamed a$$.  'But...but Darth, that isn't reason enough to have them harmed.' you might say.  Well, they make Candy Corn too.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome.