Thursday, December 25, 2008

Harold Pinter Dies

A great man of words dies. Here is a link to some of his most compelling words, spoken on the occasion of having recieved the "Nobel Prize in Literature" for 2005:

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reality check: for the $4,284,500,000,000...

...given to Wall Street and to various other failing interests, the U.S. government could have instead given each of 136 million taxpayers of 2007 almost $32,000.

Fiat currency and bubble markets means socialism at the top, now and forever if they can get it.


Fuck, money's dead.

What Should Have Happened...

Stopping a Financial Crisis, the Swedish Way

A banking system in crisis after the collapse of a housing bubble. An economy hemorrhaging jobs. A market-oriented government struggling to stem the panic. Sound familiar?

It does to Sweden. The country was so far in the hole in 1992 — after years of imprudent regulation, short-sighted economic policy and the end of its property boom — that its banking system was, for all practical purposes, insolvent.

But Sweden took a different course than the one now being proposed by the United States Treasury. And Swedish officials say there are lessons from their own nightmare that Washington may be missing.

Sweden did not just bail out its financial institutions by having the government take over the bad debts. It extracted pounds of flesh from bank shareholders before writing checks. Banks had to write down losses and issue warrants to the government.

That strategy held banks responsible and turned the government into an owner. When distressed assets were sold, the profits flowed to taxpayers, and the government was able to recoup more money later by selling its shares in the companies as well.

“If I go into a bank,” said Bo Lundgren, who was Sweden’s minister for fiscal and financial affairs at the time, “I’d rather get equity so that there is some upside for the taxpayer.”

Sweden spent 4 percent of its gross domestic product, or 65 billion kronor, the equivalent of $11.7 billion at the time, or $18.3 billion in today’s dollars, to rescue ailing banks. That is slightly less, proportionate to the national economy, than the $700 billion, or roughly 5 percent of gross domestic product, that the Bush administration estimates its own move will cost in the United States.

But the final cost to Sweden ended up being less than 2 percent of its G.D.P. Some officials say they believe it was closer to zero, depending on how certain rates of return are calculated.

The tumultuous events of the last few weeks have produced a lot of tight-lipped nods in Stockholm. Mr. Lundgren even made the rounds in New York in early September, explaining what the country did in the early 1990s.

A few American commentators have proposed that the United States government extract equity from banks as a price for their rescue. But it does not seem to be under serious consideration yet in the Bush administration or Congress.

The reason is not quite clear. The government has already swapped its sovereign guarantee for equity in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance institutions, and the American International Group, the global insurance giant.

Putting taxpayers on the hook without anything in return could be a mistake, said Urban Backstrom, a senior Swedish finance ministry official at the time. “The public will not support a plan if you leave the former shareholders with anything,” he said.


The public is routinely ignored by Congress. All Congress did was drag out a scapegoat and make him say this:

"I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms." - Alan Greenspan before Congress, October 2008

I guess we are supposed to believe that Greenspan never heard of a case of a CEO pulling a "pump and dump" scheme and floating away on golden parachute.

The only justice is that the money with which they are bailing out the 1% is perhaps more worthless than it's ever been. I realize that it's not possible to devalue fiat currency in actual fact, what I mean is the perception of it's value.

But again, China and the U.S. will not let the dollar fail if they can help it.

Faith in either god or mammon are equally absurd. But at least faith in the dollar pays the rent, bills, and keeps food on the table.

Here is wisdom.Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:For it is the number of a man;and his number is six hundred three score and six.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Only Advert You May Ever See Here...

What could be more fitting than the President of the U.S. at the service of an uncaring corporation?

I give you *W* - as everyone's bitch...

I have discovered the opposite of irony!

Paulson's Billions!

Paulson wants his other $350 billion to allocate according to his private whims. Reality has become a bad remake of Richard Pryor's Brewster's Millions. Well, except that Paulson is playing with someone else's money and burning through it like he was on a drunken shopping spree.

I'm so glad we avoided that $15 billion auto industry bailout. We saved just enough by doing that to actually give them $17.4 billion instead. But that's the current estimate, these things tend to grow like Pinocchio's nose and for the same reason.

Thanks for the American dream,To vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through. - William Burroughs

Franken Projected to Win

I'm not that invested in the race but I would prefer Franken to Coleman. I still can't get over the haphazard nature of how our voting process is carried out and the degree to which it is susceptible to corruption and manipulation. The claim that some 1,500 votes/ballots or so were simply mislaid boggles the mind. I think I read something about not counting absentee ballots which is a completely WTF moment for me because that's how I vote preferentially in my own state.

I hope those people at the poles can find their lunch money because I wouldn't want them to lose something important!

BTW, this is how its done, Mr. Gore. Franken may come across as a prissy yet stubborn mule; but you, Mr. Gore, will be remembered as a coward that let down your supporters at the crisis moment. You fight on not only because it's the right thing to do but also because it is what is expected of you.

Well done, Franken! However the vote turns out in the end...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lazy Post: Cutted and Pasted

Did America Get Punk'd on the Bailout?'d_on_the_bailout_/?page=entire

In short: Sirota makes some interesting points about the nature of the current credit crunch; in the main asserting that it was part of the reason for the Wall Street Bailout and that it was largely a fabricated crisis that didn't actually exist.

Funny thing's the edited comment of Jon B on that page, entitled "toxic waste, not loans":

I'm going to quibble with Sirota about the reason that was "advertised" for the bailout. If I recall, it was a mish mash of drivel that included the idea that banks were going to crash touching off a Wall Street panic unless the federal government purchased the troubled assets or toxic waste. Getting banks to lend was an "important goal" as well, but not the lead reason...after all TARP stands for Troubled Assets Relief Program....[skipped portion]...Yes, the TARP did eventually punk us, (not because it was supposed to get banks to lend, it was to buy toxic debt), because the TARP is being used far beyond buying the toxic debts mainly because the idiots of high finance don't know what to do to save themselves.

So yes, we have been punked but I think it pays to be stricter about the actual unfolding of events and how they were justified. Like another poster in the comments I think it pays to note exactly who was empowered to fix Wall Street. Most of the major actors are the very people responsible for this toxic mortgage fiasco in the first place. The architects of the crisis are now themselves in charge of the TARP funds and how they are allocated.

You can't make this shit up, folks!

Send Me Your Stuff, Bitches!

Everywhere I read these days people are convinced that we have entered into the bowels of hell and that there is no point in seeking shelter from what is coming.

Well, maybe that's true. Many of you doomsayers should send me all of your shit right now. I then advise you to commit suicide and decrease the surplus population. You meatsacks are taking up too much space and hogging up too many resources already. So jump, you fuckers!

But maybe that's not true at all.

People are worried about the "unwinding" of the various bubble bursts that we are going to have to weather. I don't claim that there's nothing to worry about - to the contrary, we have to act decisively and reestablish the middle-class in America. There's real work to be done and an elite 1% at the top to tame and regulate.

But the world is not ending. The world goes on. Same as it ever was.

A lot of you are worried about the fact that the economy is unraveling. The funny thing about that is that the economy has been a fiction for years - there's nothing there in actuality to unravel. You believe in dollars because everyone else does. If they all believed in something different so would you.

Between 1933-35 we went off the gold standard. Around 1973 we abandoned silver backed currency. Dollars are now promises to pay nothing at all. They are legal tender for all debts public and private: the promise to pay a printed piece of paper that says $1 on it. Even worse, it's often the promise to pay an electronic financial database entry instead of even the paper. See:

Most money is created when you step into a bank and promise to pay them for the loans they grant you. I have heard all kinds of reserve percentages bandied around over the years and I am now willing to accept that banks may be lending as much as $10,000 USD if they have 3% of it on reserve. Yes, that means they will create and loan you $10,000 USD that will accrue interest and penalties over a period of time in exchange for $300 USD that they may actually have on reserve. Yes, it's a racket.

The main point I am making is that this game is ongoing and has been in effect since before any of us were born. The people that benefit the most from this setup aren't going to allow it to stop except in the event of a bloody revolution. Be assured: the game will go on!

That's bad and good news. The bad news is that the world will not implode and nothing short of a bloody revolution is going to usher in any kind of substantive change that's going to topple the top 1% elites from their ivory towers of power. The good news is that we have a window of opportunity to insist upon the kinds of changes others have already implemented in Europe and Canada. We must become more social in our politics, institute a host of substantive regulatory controls, and then continue to nurture a hybrid economic model for the foreseeable future.

No more handouts to the elites. No more socialism at the top only. It is time to demand social equity and political justice.

For those of you not up to the challenge, please go back to the first two paragraphs and follow through.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kiss Off Reloaded!

It was exactly like that. No lie!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Glenn Greenwald on Political Class Hierarchy

From Bill Moyers Journal, December 12, 2008:
GLENN GREENWALD: You have. Let's just quickly describe in the most dispassionate terms, as few of euphemisms, as possible, where we are and what has happened over the last eight years. We have a law in place that says it is a felony offense punishable by five years in prison or a $10,000 fine to eavesdrop on American citizens without warrants. We have laws in place that say that it is a felony punishable by decades in prison to subject detainees in our custody to treatment that violates the Geneva Conventions or that is inhumane or coercive.

We know that the president and his top aides have violated these laws. The facts are indisputable that they've done so. And yet as a country, as a political class, we're deciding basically in unison that the president and our highest political officials are free to break the most serious laws that we have, that our citizens have enacted, with complete impunity, without consequences, without being held accountable under the law.

And when you juxtapose that with the fact that we are a country that has probably the most merciless criminal justice system on the planet when it comes to ordinary Americans. We imprison more of our population than any country in the world. We have less than five percent of the world's population. And yet 25 percent almost of prisoners worldwide are inside the United States.

What you have is a two-tiered system of justice where ordinary Americans are subjected to the most merciless criminal justice system in the world. They break the law. The full weight of the criminal justice system comes crashing down upon them. But our political class, the same elites who have imposed that incredibly harsh framework on ordinary Americans, have essentially exempted themselves and the leaders of that political class from the law.

They have license to break the law. That's what we're deciding now as we say George Bush and his top advisors shouldn't be investigated let alone prosecuted for the laws that we know that they've broken. And I can't think of anything more damaging to our country because the rule of law is the lynchpin of everything we have.


Get that? Two tiers. The haves and the have-nots. Owners and the owned. Master and slave.

The law is to control you and me, not them. Capitalism is the rhetorical excuse for how they take money away from us. If they should lose at the free market, they get bailed out. Corporations can even go bankrupt and cease to exist. You as an individual are increasingly hampered in your ability to clean the slate clean - there are debts that cannot be settled through bankruptcy and other hurdles that discourage certain types of bankruptcy. The bad debt owned by the elites is a matter for government intervention, if you default on your mortgage you are on your own.

At the top there is no law. Capitalism is actually socialism for the wealthy elite.

Didn't you know?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Kiss Off!

"This is a farewell kiss, you dog," al-Zeidi yelled in Arabic as he threw his shoes. "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."


I agree, although it's not my only area of interest nor is it the only issue that is worthy of complaint.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cheap Labor Republicans

Rachel has got to be my favorite lesbian in the world. She is charming, intelligent and tenacious - and it's all served up with a slightly cruel streak that delights in stabbing wrong-doers in the heart with the steel of the truths that hurt the most. Someday I'd like her to have my kittens but I'll have to be satisfied that she will instead make someone else a very nice husband (or something like that).

She calls it exactly as it is: we are led by people whose true allegiances favor foreign powers and interests. They can dress it up as the same old ideological claptrap, but the story is still that these assholes are more interested in aiding foreign car manufacturers than supporting those at home here in the U.S. Details matter.

And this all reminds me of my friend over here:

Personal Responsibility and Wages

Less Government and Cheap Labor

I've been reading that guy for a few years now. It's often very good reading. I enjoy his continual unraveling of the hideously hypocritical and self-contradicting GOP political rhetoric. Apparently when the GOP makes no sense that's the point anyway. When the GOP gets all of its wishes fulfilled and ends good wages and unions they might as well drift away on those golden parachutes to the UAE - we'll already be done here.

For everyone to win we have to recreate the U.S. as a manufacturing powerhouse with lots of exports. The only way we'll save the middle-class is by creating good paying jobs that allow people to afford the kinds of goods that also help to support the global economy.

How long did we think we could ride the wave of watching manufacturing leave these shores? Whatever your estimate it has to be somewhat less than forever. So let's stop off-shoring good jobs tomorrow. A few days later you will wake up to a much more robust U.S. economy.

We'll be happier and people elsewhere will also be happier.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More on $1 a Gallon



I'm a little surprised to see the idea of deflation rearing it's ugly head when the government and the fed are doing quite a bit to prop up the dollar and keep the current Ponzi scheme afloat. They don't win except via inflation, so they will use the related ideas of deflation and high unemployment to justify inflation creation.

Here is a funny idea about oil:
Oil is just a commodity like any other. There's nothing special about oil except for the way our society has been purposefully engineered to be dependent upon it and the fact that plastics can be made from it.

I like plastics. They have their uses. I like the idea of conserving oil for use in the creation of plastics. Yup, call me crazy...

I don't like the idea of oil as fuel when there are so many other things we could use instead. Now maybe it could be said that we needed oil as fuel until now, but we are rapidly approaching an era of technologies when the continued use of oil as a primary fuel will be a choice and not a necessity.

So, doesn't it seem reasonable that the price of oil is dropping? If there is a built-in surcharge in other products that accounts for what is largely a hidden gas cost then those items will also drop in price. That makes perfect sense.

Not so long ago gas was only about $1.50 USD - the fact that it jumped to nearly $4 USD on speculation was just part of the vagaries of a speculator market. It's not a market I think should exist, but I'm not in charge. So speculators were able to make out like bandits and put the screws to everyone else internationally. That's what happened.

But the drop of gas prices from $4 USD (record high oil barrel prices of near $150 USD) back down to something more reasonable is not really deflation. I'd call it more of a market correction and a step back from a purely speculator driven trend.

Think of it as haggling on a much larger scale.

Necessary Monty Python link:

Top Broker Accused of Fraud

Madoff, Money Manager for the Wealthy, Said to Have Run '$50 Billion Ponzi Scheme'

Quip: Is he just talking about fractional reserve banking or did he do something even worse?


HR 676 Single-Payer Health Care

I can support this right now. No matter what gets passed they will be tweaking it until doomsday - so let's just get this done.

Olbermann On the Bush Legacy

This might be useful as a reminder going forward. What will the spin machine devise to combat the truth?

The technology that will save humanity

The technology that will save humanity

Apr. 14, 2008 | One of oldest forms of energy used by humans -- sunlight concentrated by mirrors -- is poised to make an astonishing comeback. I believe it will be the most important form of carbon-free power in the 21st century. That's because it's the only form of clean electricity that can meet all the demanding requirements of this century.


Well worth a read in my opinion. We have to move beyond coal and oil, it's simply imperative for the economic health of the country. Into the bargain we get a cleaner source of energy the footprint of which is minimal.

Once solar panels are ubiquitous solar energy will tend to also be fairly inexpensive. And you don't specifically have to store the energy if you can sell it back to the grid at the current market price.

I won't say energy will ever be free, it will always have some cost. But solar and wind offer efficient and economical options the likes of which few of us have ever dreamed possible. Between both technologies most homes could most likely be energy independent most of the time.

And it's all just up ahead. It's almost here already.

Michael Pollan Watch

Read Farmer in Chief:

Video and transcripts:

More of Pollan putting it all together. It's mainly old material but still worth reviewing in light of all of the problems we are now facing.

I'll quote one little piece:
"This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis — a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact."

Oh, yes - much more on that later.

$1 a Gallon: a meditation

Some say this could happen in the very near future. I agree.

I am saddened the way our government allows energy to be traded and speculated upon when everything else in the economy is so critically dependent upon the availability and cost of energy. It really is a matter of national security that we become energy independent by whatever means necessary.

Many of us are learning the hard way that we simply don't need many of the things we foolishly thought we needed until now. Most of life's true treasures are right in front of you if you have the wisdom to appreciate them.

Save. Conserve. Never Waste.

The things you own end up owning you.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why Be Grateful When You Can Just Be a Citizen?

I was watching a show entitled "Secret Millionaire" when I realized that most of the problems faced by the downtrodden people on the show were symptomatic of the dearth of social safety nets in modern America. Tearful handouts from wealthy patrons were made to two families whose stories would be completely different if we simply had national healthcare in the U.S.

One thing that struck a nerve was the overweening, self-congratulatory tone struck by the wealthy participants. I am pretty sure I have heard the term "multi-millionaire" enough for one week's time. The setup for the show is equally absurd: there is no way that the wealthy participants are being made to live life as "ordinary" people. The mere knowledge that it's over in 5 days time makes anything tolerable. Ordinary people are faced with difficult circumstances 24/7 and with no relief in site.

I'd like to see fewer TV shows like this one and more being done to prevent the problems that the show capitalizes upon.

The whole point of civilization is surely to achieve collectively what cannot be as easily achieved on one's own. Some of that surely has to do with security for one's personal health and freedom from the risk of bankruptcy because of a catastrophic health concern.

But so far the U.S. is run by clowns in the pay of economic thugs. And the people want more of the same.


Al Franken's Political Adventure

Yeah, Al Franken - that guy from SNL in its glory days. He's down by hundreds of votes according to officially released numbers yet his own campaign claims he is actually up in the recount. Whether Franken wins or not is not really my primary interest at this point. The supposed super-majority in congress was a bit of a fiction that was never really going to pan out anyway. Of interest now is what the Franken recount says about the voting process in the U.S.

In short: the vote is fucked!

Franken is finding out for all of us how political and fragile our representative democracy truly happens to be. Ballots are miscounted by machines and humans alike. Ballots go missing. The recount process itself is wildly political and tedious. With all of the technology in the world at our disposal this is apparently the best we can do. The voting process is a complete and abysmal failure. The flaws in the process are so cringe-worthy that I don't think I can think of the U.S. as a democracy of any kind ever again except with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

America, you fail it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obama: Neocon Lite

These two ladies touch on my earlier points of discontent so I thought I'd post it.

Center Politics

Obama and the gang are going to show everyone that we actually only have one political party but that it has two heads. Obama is shaping up to be Neocon lite. The Dems in congress are planning nothing at the moment to distinguish themselves from what has gone before. No war crime hearing are planned. No charges are intended to be filed against anyone for U.S. torture. Bush will simply walk out of office and the world will look the other way and ignore his eight disastrous years of criminal malfeasance.

Well, I got what I voted for: the one guy that might win that wasn't also a GOP asshole. Yay!

Obama is not the man we were waiting for when we dared to hope.

I am still planning exit strategi

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Rats are Planning to Leave the Sinking Ship of State

I used to joke about this during long political rants to my friends and loved ones. Screeching in a high voice I would make doomsday pronouncements about the top 1% elite investor class burning American workers because they could "...float off on a golden parachute and go live in the United Arab Emirates!"

Oh yeah! You WANT to invite ME to your next dinner party!

Did I mention the screeching?

What I didn't know as a fact, something I had completely missed somehow, was th
- Chairman, President and CEO Moves to Dubai to Focus Company’s Eastern Hemisphere Growth -

Yeah, that sounds great! Except that I think it has more to do with escaping prosecution for crimes against the people of the United States. Darth Cheney must have nice new digs in a luxury high rise located in Dubai.

Call me crazy but I think there are portions of the U.S. Constitution that attempt to prevent us from being ruled by people whose true personal interests are beyond our borders.


Try $4.28 trillion dollars!


CNBC brings the pain by tracking the numbers closely. And what does it all get you - the taxpayer?

Nobody knows!

Paulson, Bernanke and Kashkari must have lots of kids in need of an Action Jackson with a Kung Fu grip this Xmas season...

Where does it all go?

It's quite simple really. We are in the hands of foreign powers

Saturday, November 15, 2008

TV Advert Watch

Two out of three people suffering from depression like to go to public parks and look sad.


Persuasive strategies:
"If you have a brain in your head...."

[For a product that induces an erection with a vacuum pump]


Side effects:
"If you bleed out, discontinue use."


By calling 1-900-OMG-UR-A-PIG you can meet exciting, beautiful people with interests similar to your own - FUCKING!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Olbermann: A Message of Love


I don't understand how people's minds can be so small as to deny anyone else their own private happiness. The private happiness is de facto - you can't change it. At stake is the individual right to have those kinds of relationships legally recognized regardless of race, creed, etc.

I am optimistic that Prop 8 will be shot down as being unconstitutional - not because of some mere technicality of the legal process but because it is fundamentally discriminatory in its nature and therefore cannot stand according to the Constitution of the State of California.

And that's how minority rights stand up to the tyranny of the majority - because we've already written it into our system of governance.

Shame on those that force the system to correct the offenses of the benighted majority.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Move to the Left

Obama, Be Progressive!

To meet the challenge, Democrats have to abandon their worst habits.

They must, for instance, acknowledge their progressive mandate, rather than denying it as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did on Tuesday. "This is not a mandate for a political party or an ideology," he fearfully told reporters.


America Is a Center-Left Country No Matter How Much the Corporate Media Say Otherwise

As Robert Borosage of Campaign for America's Future, wrote of the his group's poll (PDF), "When asked why they voted for Obama, the leading reasons were his proposals for withdrawing troops from Iraq, cutting middle class taxes first, providing affordable health care, and his commitment to invest in education and make college more affordable. When those who voted for Obama were asked about their doubts about McCain, picking Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin led the list, but fear that he would give tax breaks to the rich and big corporations came in second, followed by the notion that he would continue Bush's policies."



That bit above is just one of Holland's many sources in support of a progressive America - and all of his bullet points are worth a good read.

Obama needs to acknowledge the progressive mandate that has been given and steer well away from centrist bullshit if he is to accomplish what really needs to be done. If he succeeds on a progressive agenda he will continue to make history; if he fails by remaining too centrist he will give the GOP an opening in four years time to remake the U.S. yet again in a manner of their choosing.

Often when one talks politics in the U.S. the Democrats are spoken of as the "left" and Republicans as the "right." The Republicans are to the right. I'd put the Neocon faction of the Republicans at the far-right. But the Democrats are hardly the left if viewed from an international perspective. The Democrats can more fairly be described as the true center of American politics - and that's why American politics lean right: because things are either at the center or to the right, that's the available part of the political spectrum as things stand right now. A true left really would be a communist or Marxist party of some kind, and the Democrats are certainly not that by any stretch of the imagination. When Neocons tried to paint Obama as a Marxist any thinking person just laughed at such a suggestion as absurd on the face of it.

Personally, I'd like to see the rise of a true left in the U.S. It's not precisely that I want a far left party to assume power here but rather that I want such a political perspective to inform the ongoing political discourse of what is possible and what should seriously be considered. To dismiss leftist ideas as automatically beneath the threshold of consideration damages our political discourse very severely.

I want the whole rainbow of political possibilities from which to choose the best solution to a given problem.

The Foxes Guarding the Hen House II

The New Trough

It didn't have to be this way. Five days before Paulson struck his deal with the banks, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown negotiated a similar bailout - only he extracted meaningful guarantees for taxpayers: voting rights at the banks, seats on their boards, 12 percent in annual dividend payments to the government, a suspension of dividend payments to shareholders, restrictions on executive bonuses, and a legal requirement that the banks lend money to homeowners and small businesses.

In sharp contrast, this is what U.S. taxpayers received: no controlling interest, no voting rights, no seats on the bank boards and just five percent in dividend payouts to the government, while shareholders continue to collect billions in dividends every quarter. What's more, golden parachutes and bonuses already promised by the banks will still be paid out to executives - all before taxpayers are paid back.

No wonder it took just one hour for Paulson to convince all nine CEOs to accept his offer - less than seven minutes per bank. Not even the firms' own lawyers could have drafted a sweeter deal.


sense and should be immediately scrapped - a move that would also handily get rid of most of the crony contractors. As for purchasing equity in banks, the next round of deals - and there will be more - has to start from the premise that the banks are bankrupt and will therefore accept whatever terms we choose to impose, including real regulatory oversight. The possibilities of what could be done if a chunk of the banking system were genuinely under public control - from a moratorium on home foreclosures to mandatory investment in green community redevelopment - are limitless.

Because here is what George Bush and Henry Paulson are hoping we won't figure out: When a society no longer has enough money to pay for its most pressing needs, there are worse things than discovering you own the banks.



I hate to repeat myself endlessly but all I can do is wonder why we are bailing these assholes out instead of filing charges against them. I think all we are doing is postponing the inevitable. I suppose that must seem like a worthy goal to some, but I'd rather just get the inevitable over with first and then get onto the good stuff. Kind of like saving dessert for last, if you know what I mean.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Get Your War On: New World Order

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

About 50 Percent Bigots!

The saddest thing about American politics is the Republican party.

During this last election cycle there wasn't any significant attempt to quash the bigoted agendas of many party members. The Republicans actually intended to use that bigoted rage to get out the vote for their side of things. It wasn't until McCain's concession speech that he ever laid down the law on making peace with the winner of the election - you know, the black American that was called a terrorist, a Muslim, and a Marxist during the entire Republican campaign. Not all of those things had to be true; but enough people had to believe them so that just maybe some lonely nut-job would just go ahead and kill the opposition. Hey, it's one way to win an election.

So, these crazy ass bigoted windbags were kept loose and vocal on purpose! The media covered it and no one did anything. There was some small talk about the secret service looking into it, but I have my doubts on that one. Of course, now it's the full time job to protect that black American. Maybe the secret service will wish they had done more before the big win.

This bigoted aspect of Republican politics really should amaze everyone. But it won't for the simple reason that such people actually represent about half of the U.S. population.

How do I know this? How can I make such a bald assertion apparently absent any hard facts?

Actually, the facts are there. The gay marriage bans are proposed in the full light of day - bans that effectively institutionalize bigotry. It's impossible that anyone really cares what other people do in the privacy of their own homes; but it's still there - a catch all kind of hatred against the supposed "others" that live among us. It's just another way to whip up the vote. Maybe you won't come out to vote McCain, but you might if you have to stop the gays from taking over your once precious Christian culture.

If they can't make you hate everyone else, maybe they can get you to hate just some of them. It's useful to have enemies right here at home. It's a useful part of accepted political rhetoric on the far right of the spectrum.

And so it goes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Red to Blue

I used to look at the election maps and wonder how and why so many people voted red. Here's a gross generalization:

Republicans are of two kinds: wealthy, bigoted WASPs; and other conservatives that are willing to vote against their own economic interests in order to favor their extreme religious views.

So why are the reds going blue and seemingly all of a sudden?

The answer is so simple and obvious. Look at John McCain. I mean really, seriously look at him. Do you see it? No one likes to talk about it, but it's there. Painfully there.


He's going to die a lot sooner than most of us. The red vote is losing it's foundational base of voters to death. Everyone else is either moderately religious or even more sensibly agnostic.

They said the youth vote was instrumental in tipping the scales for Obama and the Democrats. Don't they really mean that older folks simply died and were no longer counted?

I give the world to those that inherit it!

Bail Out Main Street

This hits the highlights of what's wrong and what's a more sensible approach.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Voting Process is Broken

That's a very good point being made there. Time is money, bastards!

Voting requires transparency of process and I therefore remain deeply concerned over the use of voting machines the code to which remains the proprietary secret property of the generally Republican leaning companies that manufacture them. Voting machines should not be privatized nor outsourced. What we need are open source voting machines every process of which can be tracked and accounted for as need be. I can't see why we aren't making state manufactured machines with open source code behind them - that's the only way to be sure of what is going on should problems arise. An alternative might be to buy not only the voting machines but also the rights to the code that run them - I am willing to go there if we have to.

Maybe the U.N. needs to come in to secure the vote in future U.S. elections. That would be an embarrassing but necessary next step.

Post Election 2008: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Well, Obama is going to get his shot at fixing things. The country is currently one big shit sandwich and he gets the first big bite of it. I worry that he is far too centrist to be the change we "HOPE" for. The Obama win was the best possible result, but my faith in the Democratic party has been shaken too frequently to have anything to show for it but an internal sea of doubt that fills my mind to the brim. I do believe that Obama is an intelligent, skilled politician capable of making all the right moves - but whether he will remains the open question. He's going to be hearing a lot of from naysayers and he's going to have to turn that around to make the big win. It's worth noting that Obama will have a significantly "blue" congress to back him up. Can he make it happen? Will he move further to the left to make the changes that are so necessary?

Speaking of congress...when I see this election result I wonder about folks like Nancy Pelosi. I am extremely angry that the Democrats didn't push much harder for a) a much earlier departure timetable on Iraq and b) the impeachment of Bush and criminal charges against many members of his administration. At the same time I have to recognize that maybe she very aptly and very cynically played the perfect hand to a big blue victory for 2008. In truth, I am still too angry to accord her that kind of shrewd, Machiavellian victory - but perhaps she deserves it. I hope it serves us well because it was bought at the price of real human blood and misery.

I am extremely disappointed in the people of California, Arizona and Florida that decided to institutionalize prejudice by making gay marriage a subject of continuing controversy. We are a country of majority rule with minority rights. Get with the program, you are all looking very backward today.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my pride in Californians recognizing the rights of livestock to decent lives before they are sent to the slaughterhouse. We need to see a new day in food production; a new day that will bring with it sustainable ranch to farm rotations as pioneered by the likes of Polyface Farm and as documented by Michael Pollan in his book "The Omnivore's Dilemma." Two links:

The future of food is slow and sustainable. Eat it!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Realtime Electoral Vote Predictor

When Assholes Play Monopoly...

...they land on Free Parking and demand all of the fines paid during the game even though the rule is optional and they never mentioned it before the game began. Now in the middle of playing they want an advantage that they shouldn't fairly receive.

Sound familiar?

The game of Monopoly actually has an interesting origin. The first version was created in 1904 by a Quaker named Elizabeth J. Magie Phillips and was called "The Landlord's Game." The purpose of the game was to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies - a purpose still served in the final version of the game we play today. Anyone that plays Monopoly will quickly learn that the way the game economy is set up in its essentials is predicated on two factors: luck and the fact that whomever gets the upper hand early in the game tends to destroy his opponents. See more here:'s_Game

Capital is like gravity, once it attains a certain mass it just keeps attracting more capital to itself as by an unseen force. The unseen forces of capital are profit (which is reasonable depending on the circumstances) and usury (which is not). There are other techniques at work too, like the gaming of the system that exists when currencies are devalued by those issuing them or when stocks are manipulated so that they rise or lower at the whim of the bigger players.

When you play Monopoly you become aware of certain inherently unfair aspects of the game, and yet our lives are played out within an economy the rules of which the game attempts to emulate.

Food for thought.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Update: Foxes (from yesterday)

Two more links of interest:


Banks “We have better things to do with that money you gave us than lend it out”

The US has shoved 5 trillion dollars at this problem since the crisis started last year. Enough is enough. Money alone is clearly not sufficient, and that means more stern measures need to be taken. The financial industry, whose hubris is so great they just announced 70 billion of bonuses for themselves after getting a taxpayer bailout, needs to learn that they exist for the purpose of serving the overall economy, not themselves. This is especially true of banks, whose entire business model relies on the government giving them the right to create money, to borrow money at concessionary rates that no one else receives, and so on. Banks are entirely creatures of the government who exist because the government gives them what amounts to a license to print money under certain circumstances. They are in no way a "naturally free market".


Bailout Free-For-All: Companies Line Up For Cash,8599,1853819,00.html?iid=digg_share?iid=perma_share


OK then...

That first link is going to seem like capitalist heresy to many Americans because they still think that saving the "free market" is the agenda. Sadly, the very necessity of any kind of bailout proves that a "free market" doesn't exist and never will and that any unrestrained capitalism will fail because of human greed.

The second link is proof of that greed even in the midst of crisis. Every hand is out, and the most shameless of all are those of rich people.

"Free money? Gimme...!"

That's why Warren Buffett bought preferred stock. He wants to be sure that when profits are to be had he gets paid first. That's how they are - even when they are as rich as blazes, it's never enough.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Foxes Guarding the Hen House

Paulson and Kashkari are the biggest con men we have going. These two chrome domes would stick a knife in your grandmother and then steal the gold from her teeth. Is it too ass-holy to note that one of these dudes surnames looks like it literally means "cash n' carry"? So yeah, I see Kaskkari as a man that walks off with the goods. What a pair!

So When Will Banks Give Loans?

It is starting to appear as if one of Treasury's key rationales for the recapitalization program — namely, that it will cause banks to start lending again — is a fig leaf, Treasury's version of the weapons of mass destruction.

In fact, Treasury wants banks to acquire each other and is using its power to inject capital to force a new and wrenching round of bank consolidation. As Mark Landler reported in The New York Times earlier this week, "the government wants not only to stabilize the industry, but also to reshape it." Now they tell us.

Indeed, Mr. Landler's story noted that Treasury would even funnel some of the bailout money to help banks buy other banks. And, in an almost unnoticed move, it recently put in place a new tax break, worth billions to the banking industry, that has only one purpose: to encourage bank mergers. As a tax expert, Robert Willens, put it: "It couldn't be clearer if they had taken out an ad."


"We share your view," Mr. Kashkari replied. "We want our banks to be lending in our communities."

Senator Dodd: "Are you insisting upon it?"

Mr. Kashkari: "We are insisting upon it in all our actions."

But they are doing no such thing. Unlike the British government, which is mandating lending requirements in return for capital injections, our government seems afraid to do anything except plead. And those pleas, in this environment, are falling on deaf ears.


Late Thursday afternoon, I caught up with Senator Dodd, and asked him what he was going to do if the loan situation didn’t improve. "All I can tell you is that we are going to have the bankers up here, probably in another couple of weeks and we are going to have a very blunt conversation," he replied.

He continued: "If it turns out that they are hoarding, you'll have a revolution on your hands. People will be so livid and furious that their tax money is going to line their pockets instead of doing the right thing. There will be hell to pay."


And this is why you don't write blank checks without significant oversight and detailed instructions as to what to do with the money. I mean, we taxpayers aren't even stakeholders in any of this. Once again we trust in the good will of free-wheeling investors and bank presidents.

Did anyone hear the guilty admission of Greenspan yesterday? He basically admitted that he is a blinkered know-nothing. Of course, this is substantially after he has profited from his supposed ignorance.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Update: Gas Prices + More Bold Predictions!

Two months ago, I predicted:
Bold Prediction 1: Gas will drop below $3 a gallon by 2010.
Bold Prediction 2: Gas will drop below $2 a gallon by 2012.

Well, my time table was all bOrked. Today prices were below $2.90 in my town.

My new bold prediction is that this is the end of the oil era as we know it. There will be unsteady growth in renewable energies until oil is but one of many possible energies in use, but oil will never again dominate energy concerns as it has in the past.

OPEC's days are numbered. Tick-tock, assholes!

My second bold prediction is that we haven't even touched the surface of the individual energy independence that will soon flourish. I predict most people will be, or could be, off the grid in a generation's time.

My third bold prediction is that the sustainable food movement will eventually take the form of high yield "victory gardens" and that the era of the well-manicured lawn is over. People will use backyards as their primary food source and they will even raise their own livestock. This is predicated on both water politics and home economics.

My fourth bold prediction is that families will have a stay at home partner again. Unless all parties have high paying jobs outside of the home it is simply wiser for one partner to stay at home and tend to matters domestic, do the gardening, and possibly even raise children.

These are all actually related predictions if you think about it for 10 seconds.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Update: Fuck you iGoogle - Netvibes Here I Come!

My new homepage looks like this:

Thanks to

Bug-bye, iGoogle.

That's what I love about computers and technology - there's always some eager beaver out there doing it one better, or differently, or whatever. Don't ever accept anything substandard when you have options.

Nostalgia for Lunch!

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More Shameless Content Theft...


I generally find Chomsky's observations astute. There's lots of good information on basic politics and how things really work to be had in these two video segments. I am convinced he's absolutely correct on the healthcare issue. And I am also upbeat on the long-term health of the U.S. economy. We're not going down for the same reasons Wall Street isn't going to go down - we are too big for the world to let us fail. We ARE the game when it comes to consumer goods.

Now is the time to dictate our terms.

The Greatest trick!

The greatest trick was getting you to believe that headlines like this one matter to you personally: "Stocks drop on recession, profit worries."

Maybe this whole linking of stocks and retirement funds wasn't too smart, esp. if you are going to trash regulation of that market. Do you likewise take your monthly mortgage payment or rent to Vegas and just roll the dice with it? That would be stupid, right?

What we are seeing is the complete meltdown of nearly every GOP talking point. There is no free market, if there were they wouldn't need a bailout. The bailout itself is proof of both market protections and socialism at the top of the class structure.

Oh sure, they are going to back-peddle so fast it will look like a blur. But this is the right-wing that used disaster, scorched-earth capitalism against us all to attain their goals. Now to retain power they want to act as if it was all the result of a few bad eggs who are "Republicans in name only" (RINO).

Man, I hate the GOP. So much.

No, really - a lot.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Progressive Fantasy #1

The Horror of It All

Peering fearlessly into the increasingly likely terror of a Democratic President with larger Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, the Wall Street Journal editorial page sums up the stark horrors that could ensue.

Voters will be registered. Workers organized. Banks regulated. Health care provided for all. Government investment will drive a green revolution that generates millions of jobs. The wealthy will pay more in taxes. Guantanamo will be shut down; torture will end. Net neutrality will be mandated. Citizens may even be able to sue corporations that negligently do them harm. They don’t even mention the war in Iraq ending.



I got wood!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reagan Era Asst. Treasury Sec. Paul Roberts

Ex-Asst. Treasury Sec. Paul Craig Roberts on Wall St. Bailout: “Has Deregulation Sired Fascism?”

JUAN GONZALEZ: What about this issue of the government’s bailout being aimed primarily at the financial institutions rather than the homeowners who—and the defaults that are at the root of the crisis?

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS: Yes. Well, it suggests that the bailout is either incompetence or fraud, because the problem, according to the government, is the defaulting mortgages, so the money should be directed at refinancing the mortgages and paying off the foreclosed ones. And that would restore the value of the mortgage-backed securities that are threatening the financial institutions. If the value was restored, the crisis would be over. So there’s no connection between the government’s explanation of the crisis and its solution to the crisis.


AMY GOODMAN: Paul Craig Roberts, the piece you’ve written, one of them, asks, “Has deregulation sired fascism?” What do you mean?

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS: Well, the original Paulson plan was to give the Secretary of the Treasury $700 billion with no accountability and give him complete control over the financial system. And that, of course, is state capitalism or fascism. If you control the financial system, you control the economy. And so, that was my way of pointing out the dramatic sort of power that was said to be necessary to stem a crisis that, in my view, could be fixed just by refinancing mortgages, like they did during the Great Depression.

AMY GOODMAN: Who is driving this? Who framed this bailout? And explain exactly who it is who benefits right now.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS: Well, what the bailout does is it takes troubled financial instruments off the balance sheet of the banks and puts them on the balance sheet of the taxpayer at the US Treasury. So it’s a bailout of the financial institutions whose recklessness caused the problem. And as I’ve already said, it does not address the problem. It only addresses the problem of the banks. So the foreclosures and the defaulting mortgages will continue as the economy worsens, and yet nothing is being done to stabilize that default rate or to stop these foreclosures. So the money is essentially being poured into the coffers of Washington’s financial donor base.

JUAN GONZALEZ: In some of your articles, you reject a view by some Democrats that this is the end result of a deregulatory fever that began in the Reagan administration, and you point to a more recent aspect of this. And you point specifically to decisions that were made during the Clinton administration and the current Bush administration in 1999, 2000 and 2004. Could you elaborate on what those particular key decisions that were made?

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS: Yes. First, just let me say the Reagan administration didn’t do any financial deregulation.

In 1999, in the Clinton administration, they repealed the Glass-Steagall Act. This was the Depression-era legislation that separated commercial from investment banking. In 2000, they deregulated all derivatives. And in 2004, Hank Paulson, the current Treasury Secretary, who at the time was chairman of Goldman Sachs, he convinced the Securities and Exchange Commission to remove all capital requirements for investment banks, and thus they were able to drive up their profits by amazing leverage. For example, when Bear Stearns finally went under, it had $33 in debt for every dollar in equity. So this is an amazing leverage. And it’s amazing that all reserves against debt would have been removed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. So, the whole thing is reckless beyond imagination. Now, they claim that they had new mathematical models that assessed risk and that they didn’t need these reserves. Well, that was all a bunch of hooey, as we now see.



Wild stuff. Again and again and again I find sources that claim to know exactly how to resolve the financial crisis that we find ourselves in - and just as often I find that those sources criticize the Wall Street bailout as basically incompetence or fraud. I can find very few sources beyond those that will benefit from it in support of the Wall Street bailout.

So once again to be perfectly clear about it: almost everyone agrees that the 700 billion dollar bailout is unnecessary and does nothing to resolve the problems the nation now faces.

I said it to my SO over dinner tonight: the government can never again claim that we don't have the means to do whatever we want to do. If they can socialize this kind of thievery and saddle the taxpayer with it I hope they are finally prepared to do things like create a universal healthcare plan, subsidize renewable energy, rebuild the U.S. infrastructure, etc. I mean, we could just borrow even more money, right? What's the difference?

Man, I can't believe we aren't talking about prison terms for anybody on Wall Street. I can't believe we are actually going to reward people for making the most egregiously irresponsible financial decisions anyone has ever heard of.

How do you feel about those AIG style junkets that your personal $5K contribution is going to pay for? Sweet, huh? I mean, you didn't need it for rent or groceries or anything needful, right?


Friday, October 17, 2008

The finger on the button...

'Nuff said.

McCain's Empty Head

Sirota has many more deeply intelligent comments to make on this here:

The good news is that the economic debate is largely leaving McCain in the dust. The Treasury Department has been shamed into buying bank stock, after bailout opponents and world leaders demanded such a course. The problem is that Henry Paulson is still insisting on trying to forge a giveaway to his Wall Street buddies.

For example, Paulson is insisting on only buying nonvoting shares of banks. As the New York Times reports, "That means the banks’ current boards and current management — the same people who got the country into this mess — will still be making all of the decisions." Additionally, Paulson is only buying preferred shares that get a 5 percent interest return for taxpayers - a far lower rate than a private businessman would get in driving a hard bargain (for instance, Warren Buffett got 10 percent when he recently invested in Goldman Sachs).



I don't love Obama. I'm voting for him anyway because I think his becoming president has meta-meaning that is useful going forward. I hope that Obama will reform many of his stated policies about war, intervention abroad, the economy and a whole bunch of other issues. Obama is not nearly left or progressive enough for me to squarely get behind the man.

But I don't know what explains this moron McCain. Instead of standing on his record of service to the people of Arizona all he does is run an attack campaign. When he manages to make some kind of meaningful utterances, he's talking utter empty-headed bullshit.

And everyone knows this.

So, here's my prediction: a huge turnout of progressives and Democrats for Obama - the only candidate they could possibly vote for under the circumstances. And the Rethugs stay home in droves.

Because that's what they do. When they can't get their way - like petulant children - they just stay in, withhold their votes and sulk about how they aren't the kings and queens of the universe.

Mike Davis' Latest Polemic

Read it here:

Can Obama See the Grand Canyon? On Presidential Blindness and Economic Catastrophe

Davis isn't too hopeful and I can't blame him. I am not exactly an Obama cheerleader even though I intend to vote for him. But I was slightly encouraged by this comment on Davis' piece:

One often overlooked personal credential that Barack Obama has is the biographical fact that once upon a time, Barack the law student was editor in chief of the Harvard Law Review.

In the grandiose, hyper competitive, ego-maniacal pecking order of Ivory Tower academe, it is a singularly amazing accomplishment to weather the winnowing process ordeal and ascend to the very pinnacle of that very tall greased pole - to be selected by both one's peers and Harvard Law's own fractious faculty mentors to be the honest broker, called upon to chair the big meeting at the big table in a big room filled with a diverse, mind boggling array of super articulate people often in passionate disagreement with one another - disagreements sometimes fueled by powerful hidden agendas, recognized and unrecognized.

By all accounts, Barack Obama possessed the skill set needed to survive and thrive in that unique role.

Hey, here's hoping that Obama can step up and shock the hell out of everyone. It's precisely what we all need. He's going to have to abandon most of his centrist rhetoric in exchange for the inescapable necessity of rebuilding an American middle-class. We are going to need millions of jobs in the $20-30 USD an hour range to rebuild our sagging economy. The manufacturing that has been outsourced needs to come back home. Our infrastructure needs a major overhaul. Our energy policy has to lean heavily toward nationally secure and renewable sources. The farm must be re-envisioned for the next century. The corporation must be made subordinate to the needs of the people. Etc.

There is so much that I hope for that I fear certain disappointment, just like Davis.

Tense days...

Why Opera Speed Dial Rocks and iGoogle Ultimately Sucks

I use the Opera web browser preferentially and have done so since it was a pay for use program.

I can't quite recall the precise ordering of events but two things happened in fairly short succession that captured my interest. Opera began having a feature called Speed Dial. Here's a Screen Shot from a version of Speed Dial for Firefox (so yes, Firefox fans - go score that add-on right now!):

Each of the paneled mini-windows is actually a link to the current version of the page pictured in the Speed Dial interface. It's all the stuff you are interested in one click away and with a visual interface. Speed Dial comes as is with 9 entry spaces but you can tweak Opera and Firefox to give you more entries. I like this interface very much and I highly recommend its use.

Around the same time Google premiered iGoogle. In the best of all worlds iGoogle should like this:

Now that's pretty damned cool, right? Like Speed Dial it gives you access to points of interests because each of its panels is actually a link to the current main page of the RSS feed. And right, because its linking to many RSS feeds what you actually get are the constantly updated top stories from all of your feeds. You can get the current weather conditions, top stories from "the Beeb," quotes of the day, whatever floats your boat. Yes, it could be that cool.

But because of a forced upgrade with no path back to the preferred appearance, it actually looks like this:

What's the difference? That idiotic left navigation tool is what. Why the hell would anyone need or want another panel on the left hogging up valuable desktop real estate and thereby forcing additional vertical scrolling? Take a closer look - all it offers is a text version of the main iGoogle page with all of the same panel header links repeated. Now if it were placed as a horizontal tabbed CSS pull-down menu navigation device in the same header line that at the right reads "Get artist themes | Select theme | Add stuff" it wouldn't be so fucking annoying. Placed there it wouldn't be sucking up real estate. As is, it basically sucks. For about two or three months I have been using tools like "Remove it Permanently" in Firefox and "Kill Elements" for Opera to remove that annoying panel. And in all of this time, no one at iGoogle's development team has fixed that damned thing. And that points up another problem...

...iGoogle is calling the shots with something that is supposed to be highly user configurable and probably collecting marketing data as payment. Now I wouldn't necessarily mind the marketing data price tag if the damned thing were truly configured as I would like it. I mean, I'm not exactly linking to blueprints of suitcase bombs or anything like that - it's all news crap of various types. I'd like it if they'd let me do it my way. As is I'll probably find something better than it and say goodbye to iGoogle.

This user wants lots of personal preferences respected. They should know better.

Why did I compare these two interfaces when they serve different functions? Well, mainly because I use the iGoogle panels as links because RSS feeds tend to operate as gatekeepers and I'd rather go to different news sources and sift what is and is not important for myself. But that's the nature of RSS feeds, sometimes you want it served up as highlights and sometimes you want to dig into the many, many stories that are out there yourself.

When push comes to shove I can live without iGoogle, but I have become very acclimated to the use of Speed Dial as an indispensable feature of Opera and Firefox.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hunters become the hunted: State investigators hit AIG with fraud probe over fat cat expenditures

State investigators launched a fraud probe into AIG on Wednesday following revelations that top execs spent $86,000 on a partridge hunt after the feds gave the company billions to stay afloat.



Yes, we were all played. Inexpertly even. It made no difference. You are still on the hook for your $5K so that execs at investment firms can keep living in the exact same foolish manner that they always have.

Smell the theft. That stink is going to linger.

I am still entirely unsatisfied that bailing out investment firms was either necessary or any kind of emergency. But that's me, I actually give a damn what happens to ordinary people but not so much about what happens to assholes on Wall Street.

Green Acres in America: A Recipe for Prosperity

Eddie Albert to the 81st Annual Convention of the National Farmers Union

The corporate presidents and academics who make up the CED, recommended the elimination of one third of the farm population within five years by enforcing low parity pricing. As they stated, the primary benefits of their recommendations would be:

1. Increased return on corporate investment in agriculture.
2. Over two million farmers and families entering the urban labor pool, which would tend to depress wages.
3. Lower prices of agriculture products which would both increase foreign trade and provide cheaper raw materials for domestic food and fiber processors.
4. "…invest in projects that break up village life by drawing people to centers of employment away from the village…because village life is a major source of opposition to change. Where there are religious obstacles to modern economic progress, the religion may have to be taken seriously or its character altered."


An economist named Kuznets, later a Nobel Prize winner, noticed that there seemed to be six most important sectors that dominated our economy. They were:

1. Farm income
2. Wages
3. Interest income
4. Small businesses and professionals
5. Rentals
6. Corporations

Hubert Humphrey expressed it even shorter: “A 3 legged stool — capital, raw materials and labor. Short change any one of those three legs and the stool falls over”. He was talking of balance.

Go back to six sectors. Kuznets states that to provide a healthy economy, they, too must exist in a reasonably precise balance in relations to our national income. For example, (1) farm income, which they intended to suppress, should share in about six to 8 percent of our national income; (2) wages, labor, etc. 66 or 67 percent, (3) interest income 1.2 percent; (4) small business 10.5 percent; (5) rents 3.8 percent; (6) corporations 12.6 percent.

Those were roughly the shares of those sectors of our national income during our prosperous base period, ‘43 - ‘52.



What an intelligent speech. Highly Recommended!

BTW, these last three posts can be taken as my contribution to the worldwide blogging about poverty event.

Intellectual Property is Neither

Isn't the idea of "intellectual property" strange?

Some would argue that intellectual property rights should be the equivalent of real property rights.

In the natural world, you don't even get to keep your own skin - it's taken from you when you die and returns to the earth. In truth, you own absolutely nothing. It's not even possible for you to own anything, not really.

Ownership, and more specifically the notion of individual property ownership of any kind (be it real property or even intellectual property), is merely a useful myth created in law so that people have certain kinds of incentives to create and work. To another way of thinking the idea of ownership is a cultural construct - an idea to which certain human societies adhere.

Some societies find these ideas useful, some but not all.

The question is not whether "intellectual property" rights should be the legal equivalent of real property rights - the real question is: why should we have any property rights in the first place?

The foundational assertions that form our society and its laws will become increasingly relevant as the world becomes more overpopulated, work more automated, and money less evenly distributed. When people get hungry and the elite want to argue about property rights, they will find that a stone to the head trumps a finely crafted legal argument.

Do you think that's gold in your pockets?

Any time they want to devalue the money in your pockets they can print more of it. It has no intrinsic value of its own. We believe in money the same way we believe in God - it's all faith based until the music ends and you get stuck holding a wallet or checkbook notations of worthless paper.

Our whole economy is based on this idea - attenuated barter based on the exchange of items having no intrinsic value of their own (paper money and non-precious metal coins). It is because of the very elastic (inflationary) nature of the money that they can steal from you.

Gold is only better than paper money in one way - it is not very elastic and there is real scarcity. As gold is an element, unless you can solve the question confounding alchemists through the centuries you will find that the supply is indeed finite. You can discover more, but you can't just make more (via printing), and that's why it makes a better means of exchange. And interestingly, gold really does have many unique and interesting properties that make it valuable in itself - intrinsically.

Now what's better than gold? Real estate. That's how smart people "store" their money for safe keeping unless they are using it in other types of investments. Sadly, even the value of real estate is largely theoretical because they have ways to appropriate that too - they call it property taxes but it has the effect of converting the real property that you might own into something that you "lease" via continual payment of a property tax. When you fail to pay the tax, they just come and take your very real property away from you. Remarkable! And so few complain...

You see, they built up a way to continually set up the marks for the big con - we call it "government." They sold it to us via Art. I, sect. 10 of the Constitution - but they played bait and switch on us too. It's not gold, it's paper - and it's worthless. And it's not really real estate if they are just treating you like a serf on the land belonging to the banks/fedual lords.

And that's how the world really works:

You lose.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fascism and Taxes: The Nexus

Wiki defines fascism as: "...a totalitarian nationalist and corporatist ideology." Now I'm going to let you collect the other dots on that one, but it does mean that fascism is often seen as collusion between the state and corporate entities.

Many recent events have convinced me that the people are absolutely not in charge in the USA, if they ever were. Taxpayers will be forced to foot the $5K per capita price for the Wall Street bailout (the necessity of which remains significantly in doubt) and we will soon be forced to pay even more for the proposed bank bailout (some of which may be necessary) and eventually we will also see a mortgage bailout (unless we are willing to accept that hundreds of thousands of people will soon become homeless and therefore a drain on local governments).

Who will pay for all of this? Why YOU WILL, of course.

Why? Because of the nexus that exists between our government and monied interests:


Study says most corporations pay no U.S. income taxes

Dorgan in a statement called the report "a shocking indictment of the current tax system." Levin said it made clear that "too many corporations are using tax trickery to send their profits overseas and avoid paying their fair share in the United States."


The phrase "tax trickery" is a euphemism for elements of the tax code that are effectively handouts to corporations. It's not a mistake nor trickery of any kind. The only ones being fooled are the taxpayers themselves who apparently have no representation.

Taxation without representation. I think I have heard that before...

Monday, October 13, 2008

McSame at Acorn Event. I'm Just Sayin'...

Acorn pushes back, hugs McCain

Bertha Lewis, Acorn's chief organizer, said in a statement that came with the photo, “It has deeply saddened us to see Senator McCain abandon his historic support for ACORN and our efforts to support the goals of low-income Americans."



McSame is in the deep doo-doo now. What a fucking moron...


Not My Financial Crisis -- I've Got Literally Nothing to Lose've_got_literally_nothing_to_lose/?page=entire

...My feeling of remove from the crisis is a product of the fact that I don't have much to lose. Like millions of Americans, I own nothing -- not property, not stock, not a 401(k) plan, not health insurance, not a car, nothing.

Like most people I know in their 20s and 30s, it takes a stretch of the imagination to understand that I have a stake in the national economy. In terms of day-to-day life, my only ties to large financial institutions are a Bank of America checking account, a single low-limit high-fee Visa card, and a Kilimanjaro of student debt, which I have come to accept as something I will die with, not from, like a benign but grapefruit-size tumor or peaceable parasite dwelling in my large intestine. When people use scary terms like "unchartered territory" and "total meltdown," my first thought is, "Would an economic cataclysm wipe out my student debt? If so, then let's press reset and start the whole damn thing over! Burn it clean!"


...I request only a pinch from his remaining liquid assets to help pay down my student debt. Because while people with foreclosed homes and repo'd cars can declare Chapter 8 and clean the slate, student loans offer no such hope of escape. Like diamonds and herpes, those dotted lines are forever.



I am not at all clear on two things A) why isn't education free and merit-based? and B) why isn't student loan debt dischargeable?

We live in a legal and economic environment that forgives practically anything but the genuine desire to get ahead and become a productive member of society by way of an education.

Something is very wrong with this picture. What gives?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

"We're the American People and We Approve This Message"


I love stuff like this. I wish it could run on national TV, but here on the internet tubes is good too.


AIG, Castigated for Resort Event, Plans Another One (Update2)

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- American International Group Inc., castigated by the White House, Congress and Barack Obama for hosting a $440,000 conference days after an $85 billion federal bailout, plans to hold another gathering for brokers next week.

The event, at the Ritz-Carlton in California's Half Moon Bay, aims to "motivate and educate" about 150 independent agents who sell AIG coverage to high-end clients, said spokesman Nicholas Ashooh.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino today called "despicable" expenses from the first gathering, a weeklong conference last month at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach. Those costs included $23,000 for spa services, according to Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

AIG considered buying advertisements to explain its position, only to be told by public relations consultant George Sard that it would be "a really bad idea."


Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, said during last night's debate with Republican candidate John McCain that AIG should repay the U.S. Treasury for the costs of the event.



Honestly, isn't this exactly how you would act if it was clear that there was absolutely no penalty for the foolish manner in which you conducted your business? I mean, if I were handed billions of dollars for my mistakes I might be inclined to make many more mistakes in the future too!

And BTW, that's going to be about $5000+ USD per taxpayer for the bailout. I know you've been hearing $2000+ USD per person in the U.S. - but they aren't all taxpayers right now. I agree that many of them will be taxpayers and that they will likely still be paying off this kind of shit. But for now, it's on the backs of 138 million or so taxpayers we have today.

Senator Obama: this is why you should have voted "nay," you dumb-fuck! It's your job as a senator to protect the people from this kind of waste and corruption - not to vote for it and thereby force the taxpayer to pay for it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Good Point!

Agnosticism vs. Atheism

This is kind of a pet peeve of mine. Most people that say they are agnostic are really functional atheists, but they are making an epistemological argument to avoid confrontation and accusations of having faith or dogma.


Let’s examine the subtle difference in meaning between the following two sentences.

  • An atheist believes that God does not exist.

  • An atheist does not believe that God exists.



That's truly a distinction worth noting. I like it. The dictionary folks need to get their act together. The lack of a belief is not an activity involving belief. In fact, it's not an activity at all. It is a void.

Up, Up and Away!

Lehman's Golden Parachutes Were Being Secured While Execs Were Pleading For Federal Rescue

WASHINGTON — Days from becoming the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, Lehman Brothers steered millions to departing executives even while pleading for a federal rescue, Congress was told Monday.

As well, executives who feared for their bonuses in the company's last months were told not to worry, according to documents cited at a congressional hearing.


Waxman questioned Fuld on whether it was true he took home some $480 million in compensation since 2000, and asked: "Is that fair?"

Fuld took off his glasses, held them, and looked uncomfortable. He said his compensation was not quite that much.

"We had a compensation committee that spent a tremendous amount of time making sure that the interests of the executives and the employees were aligned with shareholders," he said. Fuld said he took home over $300 million in those years _ some $60 million in cash compensation.

Waxman read excerpts from Lehman documents in which a recommendation that top management should forgo bonuses was apparently brushed aside. He also cited a Sept. 11 request to Lehman's compensation board that three executives leaving the company be given $20 million in "special payments."

"In other words, even as Mr. Fuld was pleading with Secretary Paulson for a federal rescue, Lehman continued to squander millions on executive compensation," Waxman said before Fuld appeared as a witness.

The government let Lehman go under Sept. 15, only to bail out insurance giant American International Group the next day, in a cascading series of financial shocks and failures that put Washington on track for the multibillion-dollar rescue starting the end of that week.

Waxman described that plan as a life-support measure. "It may keep our economy from collapsing but it won't make it healthy again," he said.

That sentiment echoed on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones industrials sank below 10,000 on Monday for the first time in four years. Investors fear the crisis will weigh down the global economy and the bailout won't work quickly to loosen credit markets.


World Markets Plunge On Crisis Fears

Britain's benchmark stock index, the FTSE 100, lost 220.11 to 4,760.14 _ a 4.42 percent fall. The declines were led by the banking industry, with the mining and oil industries also suffering drops. HBOS PLC's share price dropped 15.7 percent, while the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC fell 13.6 percent.

Germany's DAX index fell 4.22 percent to 5,552.27. France's CAC-40 index dropped 4.85 percent to 3,882.81. In Russia, the RTS stock index tumbled more than 7 percent in first 20 minutes of trading.

Over the weekend, many European governments moved to save troubled banks, and made more promises to protect depositors from the credit crisis.

Germany on Sunday agreed a 50 billion euros (US$68 billion) package to bail out Hypo Real Estate, the country's second-biggest commercial property lender, after a rescue plan by private lenders fell apart.

France's BNP Paribas SA committed to taking a 75-percent stake in troubled European bank Fortis N, and Sweden and Denmark followed Ireland and Britain in raising the amount of savers' deposits guaranteed by the government.

Britain's treasury chief Alistair Darling said he was "ready to do whatever it takes" to get the country through the credit crunch, and was looking at a "range of proposals."

But analysts said that, like the U.S. plan, the lack of detail in many of Europe's moves failed to restore investors' confidence, resulting in the stock market tumbles. "What the markets need are some more details about exactly when and how these plans are going to come in," said Richard Hunter, head of British equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, "And they need some proof that some of these measures are taking hold."

Across Asia, all markets were also in the red. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index fell to its lowest level in 4 1/2 years, sinking 4.25 percent to 10,473.09.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slid 5 percent to 16,803.76. Markets in mainland China, Australia, South Korea, India, Singapore and Thailand also fell sharply. Indonesia's key index plummeted 10 percent, it's biggest one-day drop ever.

In Russia, the RTS stock index tumbled more than 7 percent in first 20 minutes of trading.


U.S. Stocks Sink as Financial Fear Spreads

The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 695 points at one point today and fell below 10,000 for the first time since October 2004. It was trading off 6.5 percent, about 672 points, shortly before 2:30 p.m. The technology-heavy Nasdaq fell about 7.7 percent, or 151 points, and the broader Standard & Poor's 500 stock index fell 7.2 percent, or 79 points.

Investors are being led by fear, analysts said. The $700 billion financial bailout plan enacted by the federal government last week has yet to loosen the credit markets and banks remain reluctant to lend to each other. The price of gold has skyrocketed as investors seek a safe haven. Oil fell below $90 a barrel today for the first time in months. Overseas, banks are increasingly facing problems of their own.



One: Foreign nations and markets were pretty smug just a few days ago - now everyone's in crisis mode. What gives?

Two: I repeat, ad nauseum no doubt, this bailout is simply a handout so far. The existing bailout does NOTHING to fix the underlying problems that will continue to hamper the smooth running of the economy. The "trickle down" economic theory simply doesn't work. When rich folks panic they hoard because they can - they don't have to spend hardly any money. When poor folks go into panic mode - not so surprisingly - they actually spend because there is nothing to hoard. But they know they are going to need that bacon, that milk, those eggs, a loaf of bread and some Huggies. In other words, the economy flows perforce.

But let's sing out the Lehman wizards of Wall Street on a pleasant tune by The Fifth Dimension. What goes up, must come down, however soft the landing.

We should be waiting with torches and pitchforks.