Thursday, April 30, 2009

Magic Bullet Man

Arlen Specter, famous author of the JFK "magic bullet" assassination theory, is now positioned to be among the 60 democrats of an imagined filibuster proof senatorial voting block.

Three problems:

1. Arlen Specter is a political hack that cannot be relied upon to do anything but save his own ass.

2. Al Franken still needs to be seated for the 60 block to exist and we've all been waiting for that a long time already. I'm not saying it won't happen, just that it hasn't yet.

3. This all presumes that having a democratic filibuster proof senatorial voting block is even worth having - as if the democrats actually represented something substantially different than their GOP brothers and sisters, which they don't.

Politicians are all of a kind: greedy, corporate cock-sucking, supporters of the existing oligarchy. They support the status quo.

I am not at all optimistic about this Arlen Specter thing.


---

*Update: 5 May 2009*

Apparently, Specter himself denies that he will be a "loyal Democrat" and states that he will oppose Democrats on issues like health care. So what's the fucking point of this guy?

Democrats need to *STAND* for something again and stop just being a more reasonable version of the far-right. At the moment, Democrats are the party one votes for because the other guys are out of their fucking minds. It would be nice to be able to vote for Democrats because they have substantive ideas that one could passionately support. It would be nice to be able to vote for Democrats who are willing to carry through on their campaign promises.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Obama's Reconciliation Threat

I will not claim to be the expert on the federal congressional reconciliation process but from where I sit either Obama has been making empty threats or what he is actually doing is being reported very badly. Let me check the story as I have heard it...

Most of us want something like a universal health-care plan or at the very least some kind of single-payer system. Check!

But as the Grand Obstructionist Party stands in our way we aren't likely to get what we want any time soon or without losing most of what we want along the way. Check!

So Obama has supposedly been citing the zero support he received for the bailout plan and threatening the Grand Obstructionist Party with going around them via the reconciliation process. Check!

The rub is that the reconciliation process is really not intended for anything like this maneuver and Obama is probably fucked on it. I suppose it makes good headlines to report things like that even when they make no sense whatever. Wiki informs me that "President Clinton wanted to use reconciliation to pass his health care plan, but Senator Robert Byrd insisted that the health care plan was out of bounds for a process that is theoretically about budgets." And that's just in case you wondered how in bed with the Clintons Obama really happens to be.

Or maybe I just really don't know my shit and should just shut my trap.

Politically Bankrupt

Glenn Greenwald brings the pain on Arlen Specter's switch to the Democratic Party:

------

What Specter's switch says about him, the Democrats and our political spectrum
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/28/specter/

------

The highlights:
1. Specter is not a liberal
2. Democrats should not support Specter
3. Specter is a soul-less political hack

In short: Specter is not a Democrat nor a liberal and no one should be supporting his obstructionist regressive agenda over someone that could be more meaningfully progressive.


Now I'm not even a Democrat, but I can see what Greenwald is saying. We "progressives" hang back waiting to support whatever talking head will do the least harm because we don't really have any candidates we can fully support. That's just how it is.

Some of us will still make a reflexive party-line vote here or there, but the vast majority of Americans are actually disenfranchised.

Monday, April 27, 2009

JG Ballard Dies



------

I used to have three Bs for great literature: Burroughs (William Seward II), Burgess (Anthony aka John Burgess Wilson) and Ballard (James Graham). All giants. Of these I must admit that Burroughs and Ballard were probably the greatest influences on my imaginative mind and that no others ever came even close to matching the profundity of those two.

An abyss has now opened up that can never be filled. I am losing both the tangible world and the imaginative world with each new day. I am sustaining personal losses which are equalling overwhelming. I am stalked by death, the invincible opponent to whom we must all bend knee.

This is a bad day.


------



The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered As A Downhill Motor Race
http://www.evergreenreview.com/102/fiction/ballard.html

Michael Moorcock on Ballard's Death:
http://www.ballardian.com/rip-jgb-tributes-from-the-ballardosphere-part-2

Johann Hari: Was J.G. Ballard a prophet of doom - or the future?
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-was-jg-ballard-a-prophet-of-doom--or-the-future-1672070.html

The dark side of Dubai
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/the-dark-side-of-dubai-1664368.html

------

Of this last link all I can claim is that if you read it you will see the connection. It is as if Dubai were called into existence solely to reflect the living imagination of JG Ballard and now decays into ruin at the departure of the mind that held it all together.

------

Warm Leatherette
by The Normal

See the breaking glass
In the underpass
See the breaking glass
In the underpass
Warm leatherette

Hear the crushing steel
Feel the steering wheel
Hear the crushing steel
Feel the steering wheel

Warm leatherette

Warm leatherette

Warm leatherette
Melts on your burning flesh
You can see your reflection
In the luminescent dash

Warm leatherette

A tear of petrol
Is in your eye
The hand brake
Penetrates your thigh
Quick - Let's make love
Before you die

On warm leatherette
Warm leatherette

Warm leatherette
Warm leatherette
Warm leatherette

Join the car crash set

Simon Johnson: "...They have won"

Johnson & Perino on Bill Moyers Journal
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04242009/watch.html

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04242009/watch2.html

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04242009/transcript1.html

SIMON JOHNSON: I would add on a proactive, going forward basis, ask the following question: Do we really need a banking industry that takes these kinds of risks? Professor Joe Stiglitz of Columbia, for example--

BILL MOYERS: Nobel Laureate.

SIMON JOHNSON: Nobel Laureate is proposing- proposed to the Joint Economic Committee in his testimony on Tuesday think about splitting financial services into two parts: a public utility model, which is where you put your money and where-- that's what handles payments. That doesn't take any risks. It runs like a utility. It's low risk, low return from an investor point of view. It's boring.

In fact Paul Krugman has a great line on this. Make banking boring again. And they're talking about that part of banking. But, at the same time, both Professor Stiglitz and Professor Krugman would emphasize, and I would absolutely want to second, that you need some risk takers. And you need some people to provide money to risk takers. And the good news is we have a very strong entrepreneurial sector in this economy. We have venture capital in this economy. And they've got a great attitude and maybe sometimes things go wrong. We have bubbles there. But, the dot com bubble and the bursting of that didn't do anything like the kind of damage that this debt finance bubble has done. Venture capital is about equity. Wall Street has been much more about debt.

And we need to be able to-- we need those entrepreneurs also to be able to go public. So, we need ability to raise capital, bring in investors, go public and sell your shares to people. That doesn't have to be part of the banking system. Boring banks and risk taking with the risk full disclosed. And maybe we have to work, you know, and that was the core idea as I understand it of the 1930's. A lot more disclosure around what are you selling exactly. And what are the problems-- potential problems and what are the conflicts of interest at stake.

More disclosure I would guess on the securities side. That's where you take the risk. We want the risks, this is an economy based and society based on risk taking. But, our banks don't have to be risk takers. In fact, it turns out, they don't understand the first thing about risk.

...

SIMON JOHNSON: I think there's an arrogance of power. They think they won, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: Even now--

SIMON JOHNSON: And actually they're pretty confident they won. And I think probably at this point, they have won. They got the bailout. They got the money they needed to stay in business. They got a vast line of credit from the taxpayer, both the top money, which gets a lot of attention. But, also the guarantees they have on their debts from the FDIC, which really helps them borrow more cheaply. And the money that they get that they can borrow from the Federal Reserve when they need it, all right?

So, they got everything they wanted. They came-- a couple of players got knocked out. The guys who remain are more powerful, okay? And their position is, "Look, if you want a recovery, if you want get your economy back, you've got to be nice to us." And I'm afraid that the government has blinked and then--

BILL MOYERS: So, they're not hearing any of this clamor? This rage? They're not hearing this--

MICHAEL PERINO: I think they are hearing it. I don't think it's reached the level that it reached, anywhere the level it reached in that period that we've been talking about in the 1930's. So, maybe it isn't quite strong enough yet.

...

SIMON JOHNSON: Another thing we've learned about Wall Street and the way it works is they didn't understand that their own risks. David Brooks wrote a column in the New York Times where he criticized me. And he said that, you know, thinking of these people as all-powerful oligarchs is wrong. The issue is not their power, the issue was just they were stupid, right? They didn't understand what they were doing to ruin their own business.

Now, that's kind of an interesting defense to use. But I think if you apply it to this and you take the point, take with Michael's earlier point about how Wall Street has become more complex, right? What if it's become too complex for the Wall Street titans themselves to control even within their own organizations? Maybe these banks, seriously, became too big to manage and that's why they failed.

...

MICHAEL PERINO: You can't help but hear the echoes from back then, now. It's certainly the case. I want to go back to a point you made before and Simon's point about criminal enforcement.

There's no question that when we find criminal wrongdoing we need to vigorously prosecute it. There's absolutely no doubt about that. Criminal enforcement gets people's attention. If you want to create deterrents for that kind of activity, then that's the way to do it.

On the other hand, we need to recognize that not everything that-- not every behavior that was inappropriate, that was excessive risk taking, that was imprudent amounts to criminal conduct. And we have to recognize, have some humility for, the role that those kinds of criminal statutes can play in preventing these kinds of excesses.

SIMON JOHNSON: I think that's exactly right. And what I would say, Bill, is having a commission, having independent investigation, really drilling down is going to show you perhaps some things that were criminal. I'm not saying very many. But a lot of things that, you know, when you shine this light on them, a very, very bright light, they look inappropriate, unethical, or at least things we're not comfortable with going forward.

And then there's another set of issues which may be totally ethical. Perhaps you don't have a problem with them from a legal, moral point of view. But as an economist I'm going to come in and say, you know, this creates danger for the system. This is where the origin of "you're too big to fail" is.

And you got to remember the dynamics. Maybe we'll be-- maybe we can, you know, rejigger things a little bit so they'll be okay, two or three years, we'll be comfortable. But remember where this goes. Remember Mr. Hoenig's point. Anything that's too big to fail is going to lead to oligarchs. Right? Maybe they're not oligarchs right away. But they're going to become too powerful because a big difference from the '20s is what happened in the '30s.

We create an FDIC. There is a government guarantee implicitly available to many aspects of banking. And we've actually extended that massively in the past two years under severe duress. So that makes the "too big to fail" and "too connected with government to fail" even more of a problem going forward.

...

MICHAEL PERINO: We have to be humble about what law can and cannot accomplish. There is no magic bullet out there. We could have the most intensive hearings in the world find out the precise causes of all of the problems, enact whatever reforms that we see are the ones to enact, it's not going to prevent the next bubble. You can't legislate against those kinds of-- Keynes called it the animals spirits in the marketplace. But you can lessen them.

------

This segment is really great on shedding light on the historical context of our current problems. Solutions from the past can point to future solutions. Well worth watching...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Elizabeth Warren Explains It All



------

So basically we have three models we can follow in the current economic crisis to save our failing and failed financial institutions: we can follow the FDR model and shut down insolvent entities, we can follow the Swedish model and temporarily takeover the entities we think we can restructure and save or we can follow Japan's lost decade model and subsidize and try to save nearly all of them.

Obama used to talk a lot about moral hazard but you can expect him to shut up pronto because he is clearly talking out of his ass while playing "bottom boy" for the banksters. Obama has allowed nearly 2 trillion dollars to be squandered between what the Fed has paid out and what the taxpayers are being forced to cough up for the likes of Goldman Sachs. Moral hazard, indeed...

So, we are absolutely following the Japanese model and making a huge motherfucking mistake too. Obama wants to simply re-inflate the bubble in the grand tradition of U.S. economic bubble and bust cycles. He's wrong and we are fools to allow it to continue.

More here:

------

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Elizabeth Warren Pt. 1
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor


The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Elizabeth Warren Pt. 2
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor


------

So Elizabeth does much talking because that's about all she can do. But yes, she is getting the word out and that's a hell of a lot more than what Obama is doing as bankster butt-boy.

But let's be clear about how very little oversight exists for the processes being undertaken right now in our names. It's a big fucking joke with the banksters laughing all the way to China, Japan, the Hamptons and Dubai.

We need to re-regulate the banks and undo what was wrought by Phil Gramm, Jim Leach and Bill Clinton when they repealed the Glass-Steagall Act that was originally implemented by FDR. Why in the world would they have done that? Because there was money to be made, that's why. Pure, unadulterated greed. Same old story...

Here's a funny thought: maybe as a matter of national security we shouldn't allow foreign interests to control so large a part of our financial markets. If people understood that most of our debt is held by China and Japan I would think that there might be some tumult over that very fact. And why should that be the case, after all? We should manufacture and sell in the U.S. so that we owe less to the outside world. That's what everyone else is going to do - just you watch! Some might call it protectionist; I call it survival.

Charity starts at home. So does good sense.

We need to force Obama to actually fix the problem and not just re-inflate the endless cycle of bubble and bust to which we have all grown so appallingly accustomed. Enough is fucking enough! If you are as exhausted and disgusted by Obama's last three months as I am, it's time to force his hand. There is nothing we can't fix here by regulation, Obama.

Honore de Balzac said that, "Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."

Today that crime is called a "bailout" and TARP.

WTF?

Whipped and Gagged: Is government spending obscene? Well, it paid to train S&M filmmakers.
http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-04-22/news/whipped-and-gagged/2

Talk about an economic stimulus. California taxpayers have paid $46,791 so that employees of the San Francisco pornographer Kink.com might produce more perfect web-based depictions of motorized dildo impalements on www.fuckingmachines.com; do a better job displaying women as they're bound, gagged, and repeatedly electrically shocked on www.wiredpussy.com; and more effectively transmit images of, well, people doing pretty much what you'd imagine they'd be doing on www.whippedass.com.

That's right: California's government has been subsidizing torture-based pornography. The subsidy has been routed through the California Employment Training Panel (ETP), an agency set up to make state businesses more competitive with foreign and out-of-state ones by paying contractors who train in-state workers. Kink.com, famous to San Franciscans as the pornographer that not long ago bought the massive former Armory building in the Mission District, received its training through the Bay Area Video Coalition, a Mission nonprofit that provides classes in video and multimedia technology.

------

I think the part that annoys is that porn is supposedly the one thing that does make money on its own via the internet. What's with the subsidy here? Smells like good connections to me...until it was made public.

We shall see...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Maddow on Torture



------

The take away:
Get me a confession. I don't care how you do it!

The Saddam - Al Qaeda link never existed despite the insistence of the White House. Pathetic...

What was the point of all of this? To illicite "false confessions"...



------

Just how far down does the rabbit hole go? See, I don't believe in the organization labeled "Al Qaeda." Al Qaeda is a creation of the U.S. government to instill fear in its own people.

As George Orwell put it so long ago:
"Oceania was at war with Eurasia; therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia"

Fear is necessary in a power-grab. An identifiable enemy is therefore necessary also.

Mad Smears Google - and Rightly So!




------

This is here solely for the irony created by posting - and thereby hosting - this bit via Google's Blogger service.

Feel the pain, baby!

Economic Crisis Roundup

Simon Johnson says: "Break up the banks"
http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/feature/2009/04/23/simon_johnson/

Simon Johnson is the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund and in recent months has emerged as one of the most cogent critics of how the Obama administration is addressing the banking crisis.

------

The Crisis That Could Bring Down Obama
http://www.progressive.org/mag/rc041509.html

In other words, the banks are insolvent. That's why they must rely on the Troubled Assets Relief Program. But at the same time, they are claiming to be healthy. Both things can't be true.

------

Bernanke, Paulson should be charged with securities violations
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-francis/bernanke-paulson-should-b_b_190636.html

Instead, Bernanke and Paulson told Lewis not to disclose the dire consequences unfolding at Merrill within his bank which meant that millions of shares of the Bank of America and other stocks worth tens of billions traded for prices they would not have fetched if these U.S. government officials had not allegedly imposed a cover-up.
...
In this case, the two most powerful regulators in the history of the world financially damaged markets, widows and orphans, pension funds, mutual funds and other investors by not telling them a bank, and indirectly the financial system as whole, was in worse shape than previously disclosed.
...
Rather than face the music and take decisive action, Bernanke and Paulson ordered a CEO to disobey the law of the land. This makes them accessories, not leaders.

------

Obama is blowing it. BIG TIME!

We are still doing the countdown to bank nationalization. Our politicians want to re-inflate the bubble that got us here, not actually fix the problem. By re-inflating the bubble we can pass off to future generations the problems we are creating today in the financial sector. I guess its like taking a really messy bowel movement and not even thinking to wipe your own ass - that must be someone else's problem!

And so we have Obama kowtowing to banks but playing hardball with the last remaining segment of America's great job creating industries: the auto manufacturers. I will be the first to criticize the auto-makers but I will also recognize that they create jobs. So who is it better to save: leeches like banksters or the job producing "morans" at GM?

We are a long way down a dark tunnel leading us in the absolutely wrong direction. Maybe all Obama can do is to lessen the impact of the hard fall that us sure to come. Our problems are systemic, from top to bottom. The solutions will not be band-aid solutions. We are looking at tourniquet and amputation procedures. It's bad. Really bad. We are apparently doomed to live in interesting times.

But hey, have a nice day!

Czech Proverb: "The big thieves hang the little ones."

Pirate Bay Judge Exposed as Member of Pro-Copyright Groups
http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/04/pirateconflict.html

------

The upshot is that the judge in the case has flagrant conflicts of interest in the outcome of the case and should have recused himself but did not.

And so the law is a whore, again. Same as it ever was...

I wish I could claim surprise but I am not surprised at all. This case has stunk like this from the first:


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Pirate Bay Investigator Rewarded by Warner Bros.?
http://www.p2pon.com/2008/04/25/pirate-bay-investigator-rewarded-by-warner-bros/

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Pirate Bay: Guilty!

Sorting out the Pirate Bay verdict
http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10224201-93.html

In the aftermath of the Pirate Bay trial, many Swedish law experts say they consider Friday's high-profile guilty verdict severe but fair. Very few had predicted the verdict before it was handed out.

------

My prediction was this:

------

http://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-innocent-or-guilty-090303/

They will be found guilty. The copyright monoliths will therefore get the outcome they wanted and their much desired publicity.

The case will then be vacated on appeal with almost no fanfare except via geek-media on the internet.

Win-Win.


------

But here's the real problem with the whole thing and why The Pirate Bay is really just a scapegoat. "Normals" simply don't understand the following information.

A lot of the MPAA/RIAA excitement on this matter stems from file sharing online - they really hate that because it occurs without any money going to them. The Pirate Bay was found guilty of facilitating the criminal act of file sharing. What they specifically do is give people somewhere to post links (called "torrents") to the media actually housed on the millions of computers used by the users posting the actual links. The Pirate Bay itself does not house media nor do they generate any torrents, they just provide somewhere to exchange those links called torrent files. In all reality they are just a search engine for files of various types - a user searchs for torrents linking to what they want.

I know of a different site that allows something very similar: Google.

Let's say I wanted to piss off the RIAA and link you to a nice and tasty file of "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. The RIAA would object because this would happen without any money going to them. How could I do this?

Enter the following search in Google:
intitle:"index.of" (mp3) stairway.to.heaven -htm -html -php --asp -cf -jsp

Here's is the actual returned result set:
http://www.google.com/search?client=opera&rls=en&q=intitle:%22index.of%22+(mp3)+stairway.to.heaven+-htm+-html+-php+--asp+-cf+-jsp&sourceid=opera&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

Of those returned results, here's a likely good hit (number 8):
http://hobojeu.free.fr/d-a/ost/stairway%20to%20heaven/

I just used Google to help me link you to an "illicite" MP3 file. I didn't post that file there, but I used a Google link to find it. Sound familiar?

Is Google now guilty of the same crime as The Pirate Bay? Inquiring minds want to know...

Let the Prosecutions Begin!


The Verdict: Possible Jail for Financial Execs
http://www.portfolio.com/executives/2009/04/21/Possible-Jail-for-Financial-Execs
We asked a group of eight former prosecutors and other legal experts (some of whom asked to remain anonymous) about which of the meltdown's disgraced CEOs are most vulnerable to prosecution. Here’s their verdict...

------

May it be...

This is substantially more important than almost anything I can think of right now. Money is time - and vice versa. These bastards have literally stolen people's lives away from them because of their elaborate and fraudulent financial schemes. Our government has the duty to go after these "banksters."

But I won't hold my breath waiting for it. And that's part of the problem too...I'm not really sure what our goverment is good for beyond taxing grandma in order to rain money down on Goldman Sachs.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Douchebag-Watch: Joel Bauer

The guy from this terrible Flash based website:
http://www.infotainer.com/events/

Can also be seen here: Your business card is CRAP!


Which will obviously remind you of the business card scene from American Psycho here (no embedding available at the moment):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoIvd3zzu4Y

And maybe even this one from Glengarry Glen Ross too:


Let me tell you why this guy is crap.

There are no "silver bullets" for success. You sell a good or service that represents quality and value to your client. You get the word out through advertising. And that's about all you can do.

We've all seen it a thousand times before if you use cheap used car lot tricks or equate your product with sex appeal or personal power. You would probably do better to equate your good or service with its own intrinsic worth. People want something that's real. Not a sales pitch. Be real. Be assertive. And the rest follows or it doesn't. That's the luck factor.

One guy's store fails. Across town some dude with the exact same idea is making bank.

No one knows why...

A lot of people are scratching their heads right now wondering how Starbuck's ever got anyone to part with $4-5 for a latte. There's no real business model for how that made sense. Once it stopped making sense people moved away from it. The hype was over. We all discovered that coffee is almost never worth $5 in a paper cup. Sure, maybe it was successful for a short while; then the marks wised up and the con game was done.

Joel Bauer is a cold Starbuck's latte in a soggy paper cup. His ideas are hackneyed and spent. We all thought guys like him were douchebags 30 years ago. Now he's a dinosaur.

Game over. Next...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pirate Showdown Exposes Conservative
Talking Heads for What They Are:
Anti-American Disaster Porn Perverts



Comment:

Krugman Calls Out GOP Hypocrisy
on Job Creation and Defense Cuts



http://thinkprogress.org/2009/04/12/krugman-defense/

In February, only three Republican senators broke party ranks to vote for the economic recovery package. Zero House Republicans voted for passage. Part of their opposition centered around the belief that an increase in government spending would do nothing to create jobs:

...

"Instead of focusing on three major issues — job creation, housing and compassion for Americans who have lost jobs through no fault of their own — to boost the economy, this bill has morphed into a bloated government giveaway." [Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), 2/10/09]

...

Chambliss, in particular, said that he was concerned people in his state would lose jobs if F-22 production was cut, because "when it comes to stimulating the economy, there’s no better way to do it than to spend it in the defense community."
...

KRUGMAN: What’s so wonderful is watching Republican congressmen saying, “But this will cost jobs!” The very same Republican congressmen who were denouncing the stimulus, saying government spending never creates jobs, but cutting defense spending costs jobs. It’s wonderful.

------

Amanda Terkel has more to say at the link, but that's the core of it.

The Grand Obstructionist Party could stop talking out of its ass any time now...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Captain Calamari Says, "Eat Squid!"


QUEST on KQED Public Media.

------

These motherfuckers are eating our other fish stocks out of existence. It seems natural to me to eat them so that they stop eating so much of everything else.

Eat your squid. It's what's for dinner.

Obama: Drunk With Power




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And here's Glenn Greenwald on the same stuff with the same video content:

Keith Olbermann's scathing criticism of Obama's secrecy/immunity claims
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/08/criticism/

------

Olbermann reports on how Obama is now performing and defending the same actions for which he criticized Bush Jr. It's an appalling about face to the peace movement to see how the secrecy and the warmongering continues with a Prez who rode in on a mandate to end the secrecy and the wars of the previous resident of the oral office.

Obama is breaking promises and we must take him to task for it.

I don't quite believe that we have ended the torture, we've just moved it out of sight of public scrutiny and denunciation. Why the careful legal moves otherwise? Power for the sake of power, or power because it has motives? You choose. It stinks either way...

End the wars! End the secrecy and hidden torture!

Bring back the light! Bring back our civil liberties!

I stand firm on my right to privacy.

Fuck you, Obama!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chris Hedges' Columns: Resist or Become Serfs

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090406_resist_or_become_serfs/

America is devolving into a third-world nation. And if we do not immediately halt our elite’s rapacious looting of the public treasury we will be left with trillions in debts, which can never be repaid, and widespread human misery which we will be helpless to ameliorate. Our anemic democracy will be replaced with a robust national police state. The elite will withdraw into heavily guarded gated communities where they will have access to security, goods and services that cannot be afforded by the rest of us. Tens of millions of people, brutally controlled, will live in perpetual poverty. This is the inevitable result of unchecked corporate capitalism. The stimulus and bailout plans are not about saving us. They are about saving them. We can resist, which means street protests, disruptions of the system and demonstrations, or become serfs.

------

Well worth a read. I don't disagree with Hedges' analysis, just the outcome. What is happening is exactly as he tells it. The outcome is much more violent. I can forgive Hedges his ignorant conclusions because he is probably a peace-loving person like myself. Normally guys like us pretend that there aren't icky solutions to political problems. But damn, if history teaches anything it is that people often fight back - and not just tit for tat, they go for broke.

Real protest is revolutionary.

Weapon of Choice

When the people get uppity, they have the problem of deciding on their weapon of choice. I am hearing cries for pitchforks which may have been fed to the populace by Obama himself. Perhaps Obama is forgetting that the citizenry of the U.S. represents one of the most well-armed populations on earth. We are armed to the teeth. Pitchforks? Hardly...

We will see blood in the streets unless the powers that be can find a quick, peaceful solution to the problems they have created. They are going to discover that a nation weened on gun shows and how to modify semi-autos into full auto mode aren't going to go quietly if at all. There will be hell to pay.

So no, it won't be pitchforks. It will be guns.

And the most democratic weapon of all looks something like this:




People collectively feed undesirables into this device. Bodies come out one side, heads on the other. It is a machine designed to sift life from flesh. In a pinch, even a simple axe will serve.

I urge the elite to ask themselves if they have anything that can stand up to millions of people armed to the teeth with guns and sifting machines. Time is against you.

On to the next post...

William Black on the "Banksters" and Why
"The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One"

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/watch.html

BILL MOYERS: ...What's your definition of fraud?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Fraud is deceit. And the essence of fraud is, "I create trust in you, and then I betray that trust, and get you to give me something of value." And as a result, there's no more effective acid against trust than fraud, especially fraud by top elites, and that's what we have.

...

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, the way that you do it is to make really bad loans, because they pay better. Then you grow extremely rapidly, in other words, you're a Ponzi-like scheme. And the third thing you do is we call it leverage. That just means borrowing a lot of money, and the combination creates a situation where you have guaranteed record profits in the early years. That makes you rich, through the bonuses that modern executive compensation has produced. It also makes it inevitable that there's going to be a disaster down the road.

...

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Oh, absolutely. This stuff, the exotic stuff that you're talking about was created out of things like liars' loans, that were known to be extraordinarily bad. And now it was getting triple-A ratings. Now a triple-A rating is supposed to mean there is zero credit risk. So you take something that not only has significant, it has crushing risk. That's why it's toxic. And you create this fiction that it has zero risk. That itself, of course, is a fraudulent exercise. And again, there was nobody looking, during the Bush years. So finally, only a year ago, we started to have a Congressional investigation of some of these rating agencies, and it's scandalous what came out. What we know now is that the rating agencies never looked at a single loan file. When they finally did look, after the markets had completely collapsed, they found, and I'm quoting Fitch, the smallest of the rating agencies, "the results were disconcerting, in that there was the appearance of fraud in nearly every file we examined."

...

BILL MOYERS: You're describing what Bernie Madoff did to a limited number of people. But you're saying it's systemic, a systemic Ponzi scheme.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Oh, Bernie was a piker. He doesn't even get into the front ranks of a Ponzi scheme...

BILL MOYERS: But you're saying our system became a Ponzi scheme.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Our system...

BILL MOYERS: Our financial system...

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Became a Ponzi scheme. Everybody was buying a pig in the poke. But they were buying a pig in the poke with a pretty pink ribbon, and the pink ribbon said, "Triple-A."

...

WILLIAM K. BLACK: ...And everybody's grinning. The government's working together with the industry to destroy regulation. Well, we now know what happens when you destroy regulation. You get the biggest financial calamity of anybody under the age of 80.

...

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Geithner is charging, is covering up. Just like Paulson did before him. Geithner is publicly saying that it's going to take $2 trillion — a trillion is a thousand billion — $2 trillion taxpayer dollars to deal with this problem. But they're allowing all the banks to report that they're not only solvent, but fully capitalized. Both statements can't be true. It can't be that they need $2 trillion, because they have masses losses, and that they're fine.

These are all people who have failed. Paulson failed, Geithner failed. They were all promoted because they failed, not because...

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, Geithner has, was one of our nation's top regulators, during the entire subprime scandal, that I just described. He took absolutely no effective action. He gave no warning. He did nothing in response to the FBI warning that there was an epidemic of fraud. All this pig in the poke stuff happened under him. So, in his phrase about legacy assets. Well he's a failed legacy regulator.

...

BILL MOYERS: To hear you say this is unusual because you supported Barack Obama, during the campaign. But you're seeming disillusioned now.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, certainly in the financial sphere, I am. I think, first, the policies are substantively bad. Second, I think they completely lack integrity. Third, they violate the rule of law. This is being done just like Secretary Paulson did it. In violation of the law. We adopted a law after the Savings and Loan crisis, called the Prompt Corrective Action Law. And it requires them to close these institutions. And they're refusing to obey the law.

...

WILLIAM K. BLACK: What we're doing with -- no, Treasury and both administrations. The Bush administration and now the Obama administration kept secret from us what was being done with AIG. AIG was being used secretly to bail out favored banks like UBS and like Goldman Sachs. Secretary Paulson's firm, that he had come from being CEO. It got the largest amount of money. $12.9 billion. And they didn't want us to know that. And it was only Congressional pressure, and not Congressional pressure, by the way, on Geithner, but Congressional pressure on AIG.

Where Congress said, "We will not give you a single penny more unless we know who received the money." And, you know, when he was Treasury Secretary, Paulson created a recommendation group to tell Treasury what they ought to do with AIG. And he put Goldman Sachs on it.

BILL MOYERS: Even though Goldman Sachs had a big vested stake.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Massive stake. And even though he had just been CEO of Goldman Sachs before becoming Treasury Secretary. Now, in most stages in American history, that would be a scandal of such proportions that he wouldn't be allowed in civilized society.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, like a conflict of interest, it seems.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Massive conflict of interests.

BILL MOYERS: So, how did he get away with it?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: I don't know whether we've lost our capability of outrage. Or whether the cover up has been so successful that people just don't have the facts to react to it.

...

WILLIAM K. BLACK: There's a saying that we took great comfort in. It's actually by the Dutch, who were fighting this impossible war for independence against what was then the most powerful nation in the world, Spain. And their motto was, "It is not necessary to hope in order to persevere."

Now, going forward, get rid of the people that have caused the problems. That's a pretty straightforward thing, as well. Why would we keep CEOs and CFOs and other senior officers, that caused the problems? That's facially nuts. That's our current system.

So stop that current system. We're hiding the losses, instead of trying to find out the real losses. Stop that, because you need good information to make good decisions, right? Follow what works instead of what's failed. Start appointing people who have records of success, instead of records of failure. That would be another nice place to start. There are lots of things we can do. Even today, as late as it is. Even though they've had a terrible start to the administration. They could change, and they could change within weeks. And by the way, the folks who are the better regulators, they paid their taxes. So, you can get them through the vetting process a lot quicker.

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Brutal! Black brings the pain. Ignore him at your own peril.

My apologies to Moyers for stealing/linking to his content so often. But damn, when Moyers nails it, he nails it.

If it weren't for Moyers, Stewart and Colbert there wouldn't be any serious journalism at all. And with the latter two guys, it's laugh or cry as they appear on Comedy Central.

Friday, April 3, 2009

We're All Subprime Now!

OCC: More Seriously Delinquent Prime Loans than Subprime
http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2009/04/occ-more-seriously-delinquent-prime.html

This report covers about two-thirds of all mortgages. There are far more prime loans than subprime loans - and the percentage of delinquent prime loans is much lower than for subprime loans. However, there are now more prime loans than subprime loans seriously delinquent. And prime loans tend to be larger than subprime loans, so the losses from each prime loan will probably be higher.

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Prime, subprime - what's the fucking difference?

Obama and Geithner's Ultra-Bullshit:
Moral Hazard

Moral Hazard can be defined as "the prospect that a party insulated from risk may behave differently from the way it would behave if it were fully exposed to the risk."

Here's Joshua Holland on Geithner's less than brilliant plan:


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http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/134986/proof_that_geithner's_bank_plan_is_a_massive_giveaway_to_the_bastards_who_started_this_mess/

Recall the Geithner Bank Plan in a nutshell: private investors would buy those "toxic" assets off of struggling "zombie banks." The buyers would put about 7 percent of the purchase price down, and the Treasury Department would match that with another 7 or so percent. Then the FDIC would offer government-backed loans for the remainder.

If the assets were to recover their value and turn a profit down the road, the investors would split the profits with the government. But if they don't -- if their values continue to tank -- then you and I and everyone else who pays taxes will be on the hook for the lion's share of the losses.

In other words, we're limiting bargain-hunters' downside risk if they buy the banks' crap and it doesn't turn out well for them. It's a pretty sweet deal for those investors. And, as I wrote when Geithner first announced it, pretty much the definition of "moral hazard."

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And the countdown to nationalization continues...

William Greider on Bill Moyers Journal

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/03272009/watch2.html

WILLIAM GREIDER: Unfortunately, Secretary Geithner, has a record- which we know about. When he was President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. And he was at the table, in many of the bailout transactions. First Bear Stearns then A.I.G. and others. And this is, again, not my opinion, but people on Wall Street talk about it all the time. He got spun around again and again by the big Wall Street players. The bailout of Bear Stearns was really about protecting J.P. Morgan Chase.

The story was told backwards in the press, basically, because it's a story the government told that J.P. Morgan came in to buy Bear Stearns at the behest of the government. But in fact, if Bear Stearns had gone down, J.P. Morgan Chase was vulnerable itself to a wave of derivative crashing crisis. When they bailed out A.I.G., the chief executive of Goldman Sachs was in the room. Why was he in the room? Well, because he had big exposure to- through derivatives, to A.I.G. So, when they pump money into A.I.G., it sends the same dollars out and buys back these derivative contracts at par value, not even discounted, to the banks and others who hold them. Goldman Sachs gets $12 billion out of that transaction. This is another scandal waiting to surface. And I trust good, smart reporters are already on the case. And following the dollars that moved around among the leading financial institutions in ways that politicians could not have not known about it. It defies reason to think that Washington didn't know this was happening.

...

WILLIAM GREIDER: [edit: on Obama] I think he's... And I've been very enthusiastic about his opening as President. He did the stimulus package and a number of other things that's fulfilling his promise. On this, he does seem absolutely committed to restoration of the old order. There's no other way to say it. And this- these things Secretary Geithner is saying this week and others have been putting out, all confirm that.

...

WILLIAM GREIDER: ...And secondly, and this will sound extreme to some people, but I came to it reluctantly. I fear what they're doing, not intentionally, but in their design is setting the crown for a corporate state.

BILL MOYERS: A corporate state?

WILLIAM GREIDER: A corporate state. And by that I mean a rather small but very powerful circle of financial institutions the old Wall Street banks, famous names. But also some industrial corporations that bought banks. Or General Electric, which is already half of big financial capital, GE Capital. And that circle will be our new Wall Street club. Too big to fail. Yes, watched closely by the Federal Reserve and others in government, but also protected by them. And that's a really insidious departure. To admit that and put it into law. And then think of all those thousands of smaller banks. How are they going to perform against these behemoths that have an inside track to the government spigot? And for just ordinary enterprise in general? Before you even get to the citizens. How are citizens supposed to feel about that? And I-- my point is, in this situation, with if the leading banks and corporations are sort of at the trough, ahead of everybody else in Washington, they will have the means to monopolize democracy. And I mean that literally. Some of my friends would say, hey, that already happened.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, the corporate state is here.

WILLIAM GREIDER: The corporate state is here. And I'd say, let's not argue over that. The fact is, if the Congress goes down the road I see them going down, they will institutionalize the corporate state in a way that will be severely damaging to any possibility of restoring democracy. And I want people to grab their pitch forks, yes, and be unruly. Get in the streets. Be as noisy and as nonviolently provocative as you can be. And stop the politicians from going down that road. And let me add a lot of politicians need that to be able to stand up. Our President needs that to be able to stand up.

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There may be reasons to forgive the current administration for what it is now doing, but it is absolutely propping up the status quo - no more and no less. At the same time it is further empowering certain players in what is almost surely a step toward corporatist fascism. There are indeed many signs of this having happened already.

Fait accompli.

It is so disheartening to see the new president as more of the same bad news we've been getting for decades: that he's an elitist swine. That the new boss is the same as the old boss.

Pitchforks, indeed...

Obama the Great Conciliator

Inside Obama's bank CEOs meeting
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0409/20871.html

Arrayed around a long mahogany table in the White House state dining room last week, the CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world offered several explanations for paying high salaries to their employees — and, by extension, to themselves.

"These are complicated companies," one CEO said. Offered another: "We're competing for talent on an international market."

But President Barack Obama wasn't in a mood to hear them out. He stopped the conversation and offered a blunt reminder of the public's reaction to such explanations. "Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn't buying that."

"My administration," the president added, "is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."

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He says the right things, he just doesn't do the right things. Well, maybe he could say the N-word too and be a man of the people.

You know, Nationalization.

The War on Drugs, Industrial Hemp and the Financial Crisis...

I guess a bill has been proposed in the federal legislature to decriminalize industrial hemp. Hemp is incredibly useful for an endless assortment of things: paper, rope, textiles, biodegradable plastics, food and bio-fuel. But yeah, let's keep that illegal in the name of the radically failed war on drugs...

In truth, the U.S. loves drugs! We buy them over the counter and feed big pharma and we buy from the black market and feed South American drug lords. I guess the violence and death on either side of that equation doesn't bother anyone.

But hemp bothers them!

I am a strong proponent for reasonableness in government. I therefore support the legalization of most drugs wholeheartedly - not because I am a user but because it makes good health sense to control the quality of drugs people are ingesting anyway (it reduces overdose accidents by a huge measure) and then it makes good fiscal sense to tax the drug source the same way we do big pharma.

Taxing what are now illegal drugs would rake in serious money. Even legal, I bet marijuana and cocaine would be billion dollar industries. I know you know some potheads and cokeheads. Just admit to yourself that the availability of illicit drugs is de facto and uncontrolled. Don't you want a piece of that pie paying your government bills?

Hemp isn't even a psychoactive drug. It just looks like one. Can't we at least legalize that?

There is dumb and then there is the appalling shit our government does in our names...

...every day...all the time...ongoing...endlessly...

...dumb...dumb...dumb...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

War = Oversees Contingency Operation

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Redefinition Accomplished
comedycentral.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesEconomic CrisisPolitical Humor


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Obama is just another warmongering, sniveling ass. Be warned. The newspeak continues...

Toxic assets = legacy assets.

Good fucking god!

Rachel Maddow has a different take on it all:




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But Rachel...

Do you really suppose that fiscal accountability really means anything in an era of multi-trillion dollar spending on the economic crisis? The fed is spending money we don't even know about and doing so accountable to no one. Doesn't that give the fed power over our monetary system to make or break it as they see fit?

Money no longer has an actual tangible meaning. One of the problems we are faced with is the need to find something of real value.

I am reminded of the scene in Lawrence of Arabia when Audar says: "I must find something honourable." Of the few things depicted in the film we know that Audar finds both gold and arabian horses to be honorable.

And so it was, once upon a time, in this country.

Without Compassion and Atop the Bodies

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The 10/31 Project
comedycentral.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest


"The 9-12 project is not for families directly affected by 9/11, just people building their careers on it," Colbert said.

401Ks Held Hostage!



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I see that I am not alone in questioning Obama's allegiance to Wall Street. What is happening right now is the ultimate in sweet deals given the circumstances. When will Obama get tough and be true to the grass roots movement that propelled him into office?

The cherry-picked winners in all of this is really pointing up the disparity between economic groups. Even the mortgage bailouts for the little people are wildly unfair in practice exactly because Obama has failed to nationalize the banks.

The countdown to nationalization clock keeps ticking...