State Rankings -- Statistical Abstract of the United States

  1. Mississippi (11.4) -- Gov. Haley Barbour (R)
  2. Louisiana (10.1) -- Gov. Bobby Jindal (R)
  3. South Carolina (9.4) --Gov. Mark Sanford (R)
  4. Alabama (9.4) -- Gov. Robert Riley (R)
  5. Delaware (9) -- Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D)
  6. Tennessee (8.9) -- Gov. Phil Bredesen (D)
  7. North Carolina (8.8) -- Gov. Mike F. Easley (D)
  8. Ohio (8.3) --Gov. Ted Strickland (D)
  9. Georgia (8.2) --Gov. Sonny Perdue (R)
  10. West Virginia (8.1) --Joe Manchin III (D)
  11. Oklahoma (8.1) -- Gov. Brad Henry (D)
  12. Indiana (8) --Gov. Mitch Daniels (R)
  13. Michigan (7.9) -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D)
  14. Arkansas (7.9) -- Gov. Mike Beebe (D)
  15. Missouri (7.5)-- Gov. Matt Blunt (R)
  16. Virginia (7.5) -- Gov. Tim Kaine (D)


Who Decides Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?

Guns at Obama Rallies: Where's the Outrage?

It was surprising the first time it happened. Last week, Secret Service officials discovered a man carrying a concealed semiautomatic weapon at a town-hall meeting hosted by President Obama. "How could that happen?" was the question that followed, at one point from the lips of Chris Matthews, who scolded the flippant offender in a nationally televised interview. The whole episode would be worthy of a nervous head shake if it was the only instance. But over the weekend, a different protester attended an Obama rally in Arizona, this time with an assault rifle in plain view over his shoulder. What followed─a few wire stories and some Web video─was the equivalent of a truncated, national yawn. The reasoning that quelled any spark of alarm or display of concern, was that technically, it's legal. In a state like Arizona (and more than a dozen others) carrying a weapon is perfectly permissible. Our hands are tied, said local police, who had the arduous duty of explaining to reasonably alarmed demonstrators that no laws had actually been broken.

Indeed, it's hard to argue, or even keep track of, variations in states' gun-ownership laws. But the vitrol at play outside of Obama's events (and at congressional town halls) shines light on something far deeper than a debate over gun rights or a public option. The disturbing truth is that multiple people have unrepentantly brought loaded guns within a few hundred yards of the president of the United States.

It's the furthest thing from amusing to talk, even hypothetically, about the assassination of the U.S. head of state, let alone act on it. In 2006, a New York state official (who was a Democrat) joked stupidly that one of his colleague should "put a bullet between the president's eyes," referring to President Bush. Within hours, he profusely apologized, and not long after that, Republicans were calling for his resignation. It was a reasonable reaction to the suggestion that a sitting president be fatally removed from office. But when someone goes through actual motions─bringing a loaded gun within range of the president─the national reaction seems far more tepid.

At its core, the innuendo extends beyond partisanship or ideology. It's a dangerous path to embark to consider the president's life a referendum on his policies. Rather, it's an attack on a democratically elected leader who represents America's freedom and style of government to the rest of the world. It's easy to consider those who threaten his life as anomalistic crazies. But a collective lack of outrage ensures they'll only grow in number.


Financial crisis - Silly Money

Financial crisis - Silly Money (Part1)

Financial crisis - Silly Money (Part2)


Dan Ariely

Professor Dan Ariely visits Google's Mountain View, CA headquarters to discuss his book Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. This event took place on July 1, 2008, as part of the Authors@Google series.

In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities. Not only do we make astonishingly simple mistakes every day, but we make the same types of mistakes, Ariely discovers. We consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. We fail to understand the profound effects of our emotions on what we want, and we overvalue what we already own. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They're systematic and predictable—making us predictably irrational.

Gall Street

From the Wall Street Journal: "Unfinished Business for Wall Street's 'Death Panel'" by David Weidner

Wall Street is dead. Long live Wall Street.In the next few weeks the media will begin recounting the great implosion of a year ago. We will watch, read and hear again how an economic "death panel" led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson denied aid to flawed firms such as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos. while companies such as American International Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. were kept alive through extraordinary means.
Many of the postmortems will take as a given the idea that Wall Street has somehow changed. Many will argue that it's a less risky place today, more regulated and humbled. Firms are bracing for the raft of rules coming from Washington. Investment banks must now behave like doddering commercial banks. A dozen CEOs and thousands of employees have been shown the exits.

We will be told, as we have been, that Wall Street as we know it ended in September 2008.
Were it true, we might be on onto something like a new financial system that holds risk takers -- not the ordinary Americans who have been battered by decimated housing values, retirement accounts and lost jobs -- accountable for their mistakes.

In retrospect, the great upheaval of last fall may not have been severe enough.

Casino EthosRecent evidence suggests not only has Wall Street survived, but it is essentially unchanged. The casino ethos is alive and well in the record value-at-risk numbers at some firms and the hand-wringing at rivals that temporarily short-leashed trading desks and suffered lower profits as a result. Bonuses are rising and banks are hiring again to capture gains in the volatile commodities and other speculation-fueled markets.

There is plenty of empirical and statistical evidence, but it only reflects the root of the problem: Wall Street's rising resentment toward critics and its unabashed defense of greed over safety.Back in the salad days before the financial meltdown, when credit was cheap and profit growth defied gravity, the biggest issue facing Wall Street was the high cost of complying with regulations. The cause was taken up by such champions as the then-head of the New York Stock Exchange, John Thain, Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and the industry itself through its lobbying arm, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

SIFMA, which helped eliminate NYSE's regulation of some firms and brokers, is railing against regulations again. This time, the association is protesting surprise audits proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC has proposed the audits as a way to combat potential Ponzi schemes such as the one run by Bernie Madoff. SIFMA claims the audits could cost some firms up to $282,800.But it's not just SIFMA. Jamie Dimon, chief executive of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., has articulated Wall Street's resentment for the aid given by taxpayers and Washington by complaining about the government's heavy-handed approach.
Mr. Dimon, who claims his bank never needed the $25 billion it returned to the government in June, seems to have forgotten the government's aid to his firm in the purchase of Bear Stearns Cos. and Washington Mutual Inc. last year, not to mention its aid to the banking industry in the crisis, which certainly would have leveled J.P. Morgan had the government not stepped in and backed Wall Street with the nation's credit.Selective Amnesia

Mr. Dimon's criticism seems to have emboldened more, shrill voices such as Richard Bove, the bank industry analyst at Rochdale Securities, who apparently slept through the past 18 months based on how he began his Aug. 6 research note.

"There is a movement in this country to fine, tax, and regulate success in the financial industry," Mr. Bove wrote. "I do not like it."

Arguing bailout cash "was borrowed in the open market and not taken from taxpayer funds" and that "the industry may have been able to handle its problems" had the government not stepped in, Mr. Bove, who speaks for many on Wall Street, seems to believe the bailout didn't carry the baggage of moral hazard that many believe will encourage firms to take risk. In addition, he argues fines, taxes and regulation curtail our financial competitiveness overseas.

Many would argue that fines punish wrongdoers, taxes pay for investor protections and regulation keeps our markets safe and functioning, giving us a competitive advantage -- the reputation for fair and open markets.

Mr. Bove's brand of backlash isn't the only signal that Wall Street is trucking along with selective amnesia. The controversial practice of high-frequency trading and the rabid defense of its practitioners is a threat to investors' fragile trust in fair markets. Banks continue to move slowly in recognizing and shedding problem assets -- again hoping the problems will just go away just as the CEOs of Lehman and AIG hoped during the summer of 2008.

If it feels like déjà vu all over again, it's because nothing has really changed. The thing about the government-run death panel is not that it put some of these firms out of their misery, it's that it let those carrying the disease live. (source Wall Street Journal)


Health Care Town Halls

Protester at Obama healthcare town hall carried 9mm pistol

William Kostnic wears a 9mm pistol as he stands outside a town hall meeting on health care held by Barack Obama. Photograph: Joel Page/AP
From across the pond at the Guardian in the UK:
The placard read "it is time to water the tree of liberty!" - but it was not a water pistol strapped to the thigh of the protester waiting for Barack Obama, but a real gun.

William Kostnic was waiting near the town hall at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where the president was due to address a meeting on his bitterly contentious plans for healthcare reform - but the 9mm pistol in the leg holster strapped outside his jeans was perfectly legal.

In New Hampshire, as police informed an MSNBC television reporter, who duly passed on the news to his stunned anchorman, only carrying a concealed weapon is illegal.

Kostnic's gun could hardly have been less concealed, and he was also standing on private property, in the grounds of a church near the town hall.

Obama, according to a new book, is already receiving more death threats than any other American president, and the demonstrations as he tries to win support for his healthcare reforms are becoming daily more passionate. "One day God is going to stand before you and judge you!" one protester shouted at him earlier this week.

However even in a country where guns are often seen as a man's God-given right, television images of the armed protester shocked many viewers.

"Just to be clear," the baffled MSNBC anchor said to the reporter on the scene. "You're saying a guy has a gun in the open - where we already know there are concerns about every president's safety, but certainly this president ... and the guy's just being allowed to stay there? Is that right?"

The reporter replied that the chief of police had told him: "The law allows this man to be here."

The phrase "time to water the tree of liberty" - a reference to a famous quotation from Thomas Jefferson, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants" - is also frequently used by a right wing group called Stormfront , motto White Pride World Wide. (source:

Crazy White Guy Carries Gun to Obama's Townhall


Congratulations Justice Sotomayor!

Birthers Gone Wild

Blogger: I created Kenya document Posts images of document, says 'You've been punk'd'

From the Sydney Morning Herald: THEY are known as the ''birthers'': a group of lawyers, conservatives - even some members of Congress - who refuse to accept that the President, Barack Obama, was born in the United States.

Even though the Obama campaign team published an official certificate from the state of Hawaii stating that he was born there on 4 August, 1961, and two Hawaiian newspapers confirmed they had published birth notices at the time, a significant portion of the US population - 11 per cent, according to one poll - still dispute Mr Obama's birth details.

The issue of where he was born is important because the US constitution requires the president to be a ''natural-born citizen of the United States''.

But despite a body of evidence that confirms that Mr Obama is an American - born and bred - a claim that has been checked by independent fact-checking organisations such as the University of Pennsylvania's FactCheck.org - the conspiracy theories continue.

Salon: The claim was posted to FearlessBlogging.com, an anonymous blogging site, under the headline "Birthers Punk'd! Hoax Kenyan Birth Certificate." Included in the post is this text:

Fine cotton business paper: $11

Inkjet printer: $35

1940 Royal Model KMM manual typewriter: $102 Shilling coin: $1
Pilot Varsity fountain pen: $3"Punkin' the Birthers: Priceless"

'Birther' brigade crumbles

Aug. 7: Comedian Christian Finnegan discusses how an investigation by conservative news site World Net Daily finally put to rest the questions surrounding President Barack Obama's birth certificate.