Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Jack o' Lantern

[Yes, Virginia, it really can look like that here.]

Michael Moore talks to Amy Goodman about the scary things:

...AMY GOODMAN: Well, speaking of incumbents, I assume you’ve heard about the Minnesota Congress member, Michele Bachmann, who went on Chris Matthews’ Hard Ball, right, and said she wanted an investigation begun of Congress members who are anti-American, which led to her opponent, who seemed like a largely symbolic Democratic opponent at the time, Elwyn Tinklenberg, raising something like, well, over a million dollars in the next few days, after people across the political spectrum heard that.

MICHAEL MOORE: Right, yeah, I know. It seems that—it seems to feel like the Republicans aren’t going to have a very, very good time on Tuesday night. And she’s, of course, obviously, one of the extreme cases of why they’re in deep, deep trouble.

But I have no sense of optimism, as I sit here. You know, way too many times in the past, we’ve gotten far too giddy way too soon. And I am just not going to succumb to that feeling right now. I mean, I hope. I hope it all looks good on Tuesday, but for many reasons, there is a chance that McCain will win on Tuesday. And we have to operate with that attitude in mind, because—I mean, let’s face it. People on our side usually aren’t as driven to involve themselves in a political process that they view, somewhat cynically, as not having operated in the best interests of the people. And so, they’re not often as—often—not as much as the other side is motivated to go to the polls, whereas the other side, under, you know, strict orders from, they believe, the voice of God that’s in their head telling them that they must go to the polls and vote for these good people or remove the heathens that are in violation of whatever it is they’re listening to in their head. So, I’m telling you, I think that’s pretty powerful. They’ve been very successful at it. They’ve always been well funded. They’re very smart about it. They are committed. They are up at the crack of dawn, and they will be on Tuesday. Trust me. We have not lived under the Republicans for twenty of the last twenty-eight years by their side being a bunch of slackers. That’s not the case. So they will be out in full force. And I don’t think we need to wake up on Wednesday with that feeling that we all know too well, that—you know, “Woah, what happened? What happened?” I just—I think that’s happened one too many times...

AMY GOODMAN: We return to my interview with filmmaker and writer Michael Moore. I spoke to him in Traverse City and asked him about the, well, well over $750 billion bailout of Wall Street and the baking industry.

MICHAEL MOORE: Look, I don’t call it a bailout. This is a robbery. They are looting the US Treasury. I just—I can’t believe that they’ve gotten away with it so far. They, over the last eight years, but really over the last twenty-eight years, have operated in a matter—I don’t know how quite to describe Wall Street, but just imagine a bunch of junkies just putting more junk into their system and constantly in some kind of feeding frenzy to get more of that junk. And it’s like the US Congress just decided to take a big hypodermic needle and give them another injection—a word they actually like to use—of the junk, of the heroin. I just—I think that—nothing has made me more upset, other than the war, in the last umpteen years, and it’s—I start to think about it, and my brain starts to expand, and the ear piece just flies out of my head.

AMY GOODMAN: Yet, Obama supported it, along with McCain.

MICHAEL MOORE: Oh, yeah. Yep. Well, I have a couple feelings about that, or a couple thoughts or theories, and it has to do not just with Obama’s vote on the bailout, but also some of his other campaign positions. But I’m hoping that he was figuring, well, look, we’re just a few weeks away from the election; I’m not going to do anything to rock the boat at this moment, but come November 5th, and certainly January 20th, I’m going to undo the damage that’s been done here. So I’m going to just put a little pin in that hope and tack it up on the board for right now...

Not an Optimist, eh.

Lots more from the man GM and the CorpCons love to hate there, check it out.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

But that would be illegal

They Made a Killing: The Use of Knowledge of Covert Operations in the Stock Market

It starts off with a link to a previous post:

...when do the fewest people make the most money in the shortest period of time?

During gaps.

A gap is a sudden, violent change in the price of a stock, future, bond, etc. Gaps are caused by some event that temporarily creates a state of disequilibrium in order flows. Gaps on stocks started to draw my attention because I just knew that insiders (and others) were pre-positioning themselves to profit from those moves.

I noticed that, quite regularly, unknown, crappy little companies would go up 25%, 50%, 100%, 200% or more in a single session. You see them almost every day on the top percent gainers board. For years, I looked at those and shrugged. “Yep. People hit the lotto too,” I’d say to myself.

I watched another one pop, then, finally, I thought: “This is the scene of a crime for sure.”

I’m not talking about legal insider trading by corporate officers that the financial press follows. I’m talking about the mistresses of executives and $2000 per hour prostitutes who heard something over pillow talk, friends at country clubs who get a tip during the golfcart ride to the 18th hole, industrial espionage operators (former spooks) who have these idiots under surveillance, low level IT staff who read the executives’ email, not for fun, but for profit, etc. etc.

The point is that LOTS of people who aren’t corporate insiders know the news before the market does. They buy before the news comes out. This happens every day...

...and it gets better.

But he fails to make the final link. Maybe Kevin just wants to avoid the Conspiracy Theorist label... not. More likely it's the sheer trollbait issue.

But I've made the link before, so I'll just do it again: 9-11 put options.

Exceeding Expectations

The Hubble is back.

Sarah Palin would hate it if she was only smart enough to understand it.

Priorities of Plunder

...The government said it was giving banks more money so they could make more loans. Dollars paid to shareholders don't serve that purpose, but Treasury officials say that suspending quarterly dividend payments would have deterred banks from participating in the voluntary program.

Critics, including economists and members of Congress, question why banks should get government money if they already have enough money to pay dividends -- or conversely, why banks that need government money are still spending so much on dividends.

"The whole purpose of the program is to increase lending and inject capital into Main Street. If the money is used for dividends, it defeats the purpose of the program," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has called for the government to require a suspension of dividend payments...

Apparently half the bailout is going to shareholder dividends, 10% is going to CEO bonuses, and the rest is funding acquisitions.

There have been estimates the derivative bailout will eventually cost far more money than is currently in circulation, meaning at some point, hyperinflation is inevitable.

Is it any wonder Bu$hie's Ba$e is trying to take the money and run?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The White Synergy

...SYDNEY, Australia — Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the world's oceans, combined with rising sea temperatures, could accelerate coral bleaching, destroying some reefs before 2050, a new Australian study says.

The study says earlier research may have significantly understated the possible damage to the world's reefs caused by man-made change to the Earth's atmosphere.

"Previous predictions of coral bleaching have been far too conservative, because they didn't factor in the effect of acidification on the bleaching process and how the two interact," said Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Queensland University...

Using CO2 and temperatures predicted for the middle and end of the century, the scientists found ocean acidification from CO2, which reduces coral calcification, had the potential to worsen the impact of bleaching and the death of reef-building organisms.

The study found that coralline algae, which glue the reef together and help coral larvae settle successfully, were highly sensitive to increased CO2 levels.

"These may die on reefs such as those in the southern Great Barrier Reef before year 2050," study leader Ken Anthony said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Some coral species were able to cope with higher levels of ocean acidification by enhancing their rates of photosynthesis, but if CO2 levels became too high "the coral-algal system crashes and the corals die," the study said.

"The implications of this finding are massive, as it means that our current bleaching models, which are based on temperature only, severely underestimate the amount of coral bleaching we will see in the future," Dr. Anthony said.

"These results highlight the urgency of reducing CO2 emissions globally. Without political will and commitment to abatement, entire reef systems such as the Great Barrier Reef will be severely threatened in coming decades."

Synergy often drives the unanticipated results of an ill-considered action.

Let's consider the election of say, Barack Obama.

Driftglass notes the internal purge of the Republicans has begun. The Republicans seem to be split into two main groups, the Corporate Cons- CorpCons- and the TheoCons. The CorpCons, with Goldman-$acks Amerika leading the way, have decided Obama the One.

They've lowered the Skull and Crossbones, and are flying the Unity flag all the way to the Treasury. George Bu$hie's Secretary of the Treasury is enabling them. Don't get me wrong: they're funding McCain, and he'll be owned if he wins, too. It's just they're funding Obama more- probably because they can't count on Palin's behavior when she gets the Oval Office. And belive it, if McCain wins, she'll be there shortly.

Real Apocalypse is what the TheoCons pray for, and the more rational CorpCons dread.

The consensus seems these two groups will not be operating as an unified front after 11.4.08.

If that were the case, it would be good, but such optimism is unjustified.

1) Both sides will come together to protest the loss of the $election. In some places, white riots will occur, where strangely enough all the arrested perpetrators will be people of color. The military has to try out all their new nonlethal toys somewhere.

2) The Pigs are much more complex than TheoCon vs. CorpCon. Remember the NeoCons? The PaleoCons? The Pig power base is a brotherhood of contentious pirates, who will unite instantly to lynch Obama... and continue with their plunder of the country.

3) You might even argue McCain's crashing and burning was a set-up. McCain himself at times has made life embarrassing for Poppy's brood. On the other hand, Obama is just perfect for a scapegoat to pave the way for Petreus Caesar/ Jeb Bu$h ticket in 2012 (let's face it, Hillary would have also fit perfectly in this role).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Canaries in the Coalmine

Nigel Williams in Current Biology:

Amongst all the groups of organisms, the numbers of birds are probably better monitored than most. But a new report finds that numbers are falling across many species worldwide, including common species that now appear in decline.

BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation organisations, working in more than 100 countries, reported last month on the state of the world’s birds. From albatrosses in the Southern Ocean, vultures in India, bobwhite quails in the US, corn buntings in Europe and yellow cardinals in Argentina, once familiar birds are declining worldwide. The new report reveals the regional pictures and finds species declining everywhere, presenting an alarming picture of many members of a whole class of species decreasing in numbers.

A total of 153 bird species is believed to have become extinct since 1500. Avian extinctions are continuing, with 18 species lost in the last quarter of the twentieth century and three more known or suspected to have gone extinct since 2000. The rate of
extinctions on continents appears to be increasing, principally as a result of extensive and expanding habitat destruction.

In this new assessment, 1,226 species — one in eight of the total — were considered threatened with extinction...

The End of Capitalism

Tobin Harshaw notes with scepticism the fears of the Free Marketeers that Obama would create an anti-capitalist planet.

Don't worry campers, it's a done deal. The world's economy shifted from Free Market Globalism to Post-Industrial Feudalism when Bu$hie wrote Goldman-$acks a blank check to the Treasury, and the robber barons decided to use it for acquisitions instead of market stabilization.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A return to the dreamtime

The long national nightmare of peace and prosperity might return, the Republicans warn.

Exactly where will we be if we allow the smart crooks instead of the stupid ones to run things?

I'm sure people at the Pentagon stay awake at night worrying about this very thing. When they're not cooking up plans to use autonomous armed robots to hunt people down of course. Sweet dreams, those generals have.

But they aren't alone. Robert Bork once said the only way to return this country to its Right Thinking Real Amerikan roots would be to drag it through another Great Depression.

Well, their boy had his chance.

But the predators who run own things woke up to find they stood in danger of wiping out the abilities of their prey to sustain them. [thanks, Sarah]

This is the principal explanation for why the employees of Goldman-$acks Amerika donated more to Obama than to McCain.

These predators are smart enough to not want to kill the goose that lays their golden eggs.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Dirty Big Backstop of the Bailout

Use it to deal with bad loans? Surely you jest. This is Casino Wall Street we're talking about. The Masters of the Universe would much rather lay it all on the craps table and throw the dice again.

The New York Pravda's Joe Nocera:

“Chase recently received $25 billion in federal funding. What effect will that have on the business side and will it change our strategic lending policy?”

It was Oct. 17, just four days after JPMorgan Chase’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, agreed to take a $25 billion capital injection courtesy of the United States government, when a JPMorgan employee asked that question. It came toward the end of an employee-only conference call that had been largely devoted to meshing certain divisions of JPMorgan with its new acquisition, Washington Mutual.

Which, of course, it also got thanks to the federal government. Christmas came early at JPMorgan Chase.

The JPMorgan executive who was moderating the employee conference call didn’t hesitate to answer a question that was pretty politically sensitive given the events of the previous few weeks.

Given the way, that is, that Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. had decided to use the first installment of the $700 billion bailout money to recapitalize banks instead of buying up their toxic securities, which he had then sold to Congress and the American people as the best and fastest way to get the banks to start making loans again, and help prevent this recession from getting much, much worse.

In point of fact, the dirty little secret of the banking industry is that it has no intention of using the money to make new loans. But this executive was the first insider who’s been indiscreet enough to say it within earshot of a journalist...

“Twenty-five billion dollars is obviously going to help the folks who are struggling more than Chase,” he began. “What we do think it will help us do is perhaps be a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side for some banks who are still struggling. And I would not assume that we are done on the acquisition side just because of the Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns mergers. I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment, and I think we have an opportunity to use that $25 billion in that way and obviously depending on whether recession turns into depression or what happens in the future, you know, we have that as a backstop.”

Sky's the limit, babe.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Made It Happen On Purpose v. 2

From the salad days of Bu$hCo: It's the Economy, stupid(s). But even the Playahs are getting Gamed.

Then, there's this lovely thread:

They Did It On Purpose: The Housing Bubble & Its Crash were Engineered by the US Government, the Fed & Wall Street
by Richard C. Cook
Global Research, October 23, 2008

During the Clinton administration, the government required the financial industry to start expanding the frequency of mortgage loans to consumers who might not have qualified in the past.

When George W. Bush was named president by the Supreme Court in December 2000, the stock market had begun to decline with the bursting of the dot.com bubble.

In 2001 the frequency of White House visits by Alan Greenspan increased.

Greenspan endorsed President Bush’s March 2001 tax cuts for the rich. More such cuts took place in May 2003.

Signs of recession had begun to show in early 2001. The stock market crashed after 9/11. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and Iraq in March 2003.

The Federal Reserve began cutting interest rates, and by 2002 a home-buying frenzy was underway. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went along by guaranteeing the increasing number of mortgage loans.

According to a mortgage broker this writer interviewed, word began to come down through the mortgage banks to begin falsifying mortgage applications to show more borrower income than borrowers actually possessed

Banks that wrote mortgages began to offload them when Wall Street packaged them into mortgage-backed securities that were sold around the world as bonds to investors.

Risk-analysts at the leading credit-rating agencies, such as Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch, gave their highest ratings to mortgage-backed securities whose risks were later acknowledged to be grossly underestimated.

Mortgage companies, with Alan Greenspan’s endorsement, began to offer more Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs), loans that would reset at much higher rates in future years.

Mortgage brokers fed the growing bubble by telling people they should buy now because housing prices would keep going up and they could resell at a profit before their ARMs escalated.

Huge amounts of money began to flow into the economy from mortgages and home equity loans and from capital gains on resale of inflating property.

Meanwhile, in the world of investment securities, the Securities and Exchange Commission greatly reduced the amount of their own capital investors were required to bring to the table, resulting in a huge increase in bank leveraging of speculative trading.

George W. Bush was reelected in 2004 at the height of the housing and investment bubbles. By 2005 the housing bubble was accounting for half of all U.S. economic growth and yielding huge tax revenues to all levels of government.

Despite the tax revenues from the bubbles the Bush administration was running huge budget deficits from expenditures on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq .

ABC News reports that during this time risk analysts at Washington Mutual, one of the nation’s largest banks, were told to ignore high risk loans because lending had to be maximized. Those who objected were disciplined or fired.

State attorneys-general moved to investigate mortgage fraud but were blocked from doing so by orders of the Treasury Department’s Comptroller of the Currency. There was no federal agency that was charged with regulating mortgage fraud.

In February 2006, Ben Bernanke replaced Alan Greenspan as Federal Reserve Chairman and held interest rates steady. Homeowners began to default as ARMs reset.

The housing bubble began to collapse in 2006-2007, with the economy showing early signs of a recession and the stock market starting to decline by August 2007. Home prices began to plummet in most markets, with millions of homeowners owing more on their homes than their new appraisals.

Homeowners began to default, with over four million homes going to foreclosure from 2006-2008. In many cases, homeowners simply walked away, dropping off the keys to their houses at the bank.

The U.S. economy shed 60,000 jobs in August 2008. In a year, Wall Street had cut 200,000 jobs. State and local governments began to cut budgets and jobs.

The “toxic debt” from the collapse of the housing bubble brought about a full-scale crash of the U.S. financial system by September 2008. The stock market immediately fell, with 40 percent of its value—$8 trillion—now having been lost in a year. $2 trillion of the losses were in retirement savings.

The crash of the U.S. economy began to reverberate around the world with bankers and the IMF warning of an onrushing global recession.

Massive bailouts by the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve failed to stem the tide of the crashing markets. By late October 2008 the recession has begun to hit in force.

As the situation worsened, big banks like J.P. Morgan Chase received government capitalization even as they were buying up banks that were failing. J.P. Morgan Chase paid $1.9 billion for Washington Mutual with assets of over $300 billion.

The U.S. government joined with the nations of Europe in planning a series of economic summits to explore global financial solutions. President Bush will host the first summit in Washington , D.C. , on November 15, after the U.S. presidential election.

The U.S. military shifted combat troops from Iraq to the U.S. to contain possible civil unrest.

Most major retail chains began to close stores and lay off employees even as the Christmas season approached.

The Washington Post reported on October 23, 2008: “Employers are moving to aggressively cut jobs and reduce costs in the fact of the nation’s economic crisis, preparing for what many fear will be a long and painful recession.”

That's a correct sequence of events, but let's not confuse the government with some governmental operators and their operations. Later on in the thread, this link defines the issue more clearly. Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch:

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- Yes, we're dummies. You. Me. All 300 million of us. Clueless. We should be ashamed. We're obsessed about the slogans and rituals of "democracy," distracted by the campaign, polls, debates, rhetoric, half-truths and outright lies. McCain? Obama? Sorry to pop your bubble folks, but it no longer matters who's president.

Why? The real "game changer" already happened. Democracy has been replaced by Wall Street's new "disaster capitalism." That's the big game-changer historians will remember about 2008, masterminded by Wall Street's ultimate "Trojan Horse," Hank Paulson. Imagine: Greed, arrogance and incompetence create a massive bubble, cost trillions, and still Wall Street comes out smelling like roses, richer and more powerful!

Yes, we're idiots: While distracted by the "illusion of democracy" in the endless campaign, Congress surrendered the powers we entrusted to it with very little fight. Congress simply handed over voting power and the keys to trillions in the Treasury to Wall Street's new "Disaster Capitalists" who now control "democracy."
Why did this happen? We're in denial, clueless wimps, that's why. We let it happen. In one generation America has been transformed from a democracy into a strange new form of government, "Disaster Capitalism." Here's how it happened:

* Three decades of influence peddling in Washington has built an army of 42,000 special-interest lobbyists representing corporations and the wealthy. Today these lobbyists manipulate America's 537 elected officials with massive campaign contributions that fund candidates who vote their agenda.
* This historic buildup accelerated under Reaganomics and went into hyperspeed under Bushonomics, both totally committed to a new disaster capitalism run privately by Wall Street and Corporate America. No-bid contracts in wars and hurricanes. A housing-credit bubble -- while secretly planning for a meltdown.
* Finally, the coup de grace: Along came the housing-credit crisis, as planned. Press and public saw a negative, a crisis. Disaster capitalists saw a huge opportunity. Yes, opportunity for big bucks and control of America. Millions of homeowners and marginal banks suffered huge losses. Taxpayers stuck with trillions in debt. But giant banks emerge intact, stronger, with virtual control over government and the power to use taxpayers' funds. They're laughing at us idiots!

Amazing isn't it, Wall Street's Disaster Capitalists screwed up, likely planned or let happen this meltdown and recession. Yet America's clueless taxpayers just reward them by giving the screw-ups massive bailouts, control over more than $2 trillion of tax money, and the power to clean up the mess they made. Oh yes, we are dummies!
This end game was planned for years in secret war rooms on Wall Street, in Corporate America, in Washington and the Forbes 400. Democracy is too cumbersome. It had to be marginalized for Disaster Capitalism to take over. Reagan, Bush and Paulson were Wall Street's "Trojan Horses."
Naomi Klein summarizes the game in "Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism." This "new economy" generates enormous profits feeding off other peoples' misery: Wars, terror attacks, natural catastrophes, poverty, trade sanctions, subprime housing meltdowns and all kinds of economic, financial and political disasters. Natural (Katrina) or manmade (Iraq), either way "disaster capitalism" creates fortunes...

We know for the last eight years disaster capitalists ignored obvious warnings of a coming meltdown. They apparently planned it. They road the bull, got very rich. Now they have the ultimate disaster capitalist weapons, trillions in tax money, virtual control of government.
That's why I fear we're on the edge of a dangerous line between Wall Street's version of disaster capitalism and a toxic "merger of state and corporate power." The wolf is in sheep's clothing. Wall Street pretends we're a democracy. Yet America more closely resembles the kind of "corporatism" that Laurence W. Britt wrote about five years ago in Free Inquiry magazine.
We adapted his historical analysis of 14 key traits for today's discussion. Notice how they have a huge impact your investments and retirement:

1. Wall Street rich get first priority
Think "bailout." Wall Street's greedy con game spins out of control globally. Millions of homeowners misled, lose. Who gets hundreds of billions first? Wall Street's con men.

2. National security obsession
Think of the expansion of executive powers in the name of national security: Preemptive wars, wiretapping private citizens, Gitmo, torture; driven by a dark wealthy neocon elite.

3. Superpower with massive military
Think of our $3 trillion Iraq/Afghan War. Disaster capitalists love the thrill of military power. We outspend all nations, over half the federal budget to strut before the world.

4. Extreme nationalism
Signs are everywhere: Flags, lapel pins, "support the troops" slogans, all to get huge military budgets passed. Challenge them and you're un-American and unpatriotic.

5. Rally the masses by scapegoating enemies
Think "axis of evil," mushroom clouds, "Islamofascists," more terrorist attacks on the homeland. Propaganda creates "enemies" in the public's mind and distracts from real issues.

6. Corruption and cronyism
Think earmarks, no-bid defense contracts, paid mercenaries outnumbering military in Iraq, superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, biofuels, bridge to nowhere, millions donated to campaigns.

7. Obsession with crime
Think of prison-building as just another investment opportunity, rather than focusing on reforming our criminal justice system. Stoke irrational fear of criminals and extremists.

8. Labor and low wages
Think corporate earnings versus the wages paid to workers. No "trickling down," leaves more for tricklers: Rich insiders, stockholders. Wages dropping as CEO salaries skyrocket.

9. Contempt for human rights
Think of abuses of habeas corpus, loss of right to trial, bogus charges, plus "demonizing" the victims, all in the name of national defense and homeland security.

10. Mass media manipulation
Think of leaking false information, Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame, Scooter Libby, Colin Powell's United Nation's testimony, Condoleezza Rice's mushroom clouds, WMDs, all to suppress the truth.

11. Obsession with sexism
Think of paternalism, antigays, antiabortion, subordinate women -- then codify the system as the law of the land reinforcing a male-dominated society, punish violators.

12. Disdain for intellectuals
Think of conservative intellectuals Francis Fukuyama and Bill Buckley. Contrast them to Sarah Palin and Joe Sixpack conservatism, Bush's funding cuts for arts and science education.

13. Religion in government
Think of all the faith-based programs versus antiscience in drug approvals, creationism vs. evolution, Ten Commandments enshrined in public buildings, public money to churches.

14. Fraudulent elections
Think of police and prosecutorial intimidation and threats to voters, challenging minority voters, ballots disappearing, party election officials committing outright fraud.

Yes, officially America is still a democracy. We have enough signs and rituals to support that illusion. But the truth is America has become a plutocracy run by and for the wealthy. And since Wall Street's Disaster Capitalism coup de grace, we are rapidly morphing into a dangerous new government.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Acta Redacta

What, me transparent?

I guess that's public access on a need-to-coverup basis.

[tip o'teh tinfoil to Cryptogon again]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Baby Steps Into It

The Great Orange Satan on the self-destruction of Michelle Bachmann:

...Republicans have been able to score cheap points for a long time by playing to the media's sense of "fairness". Hence, the "he said, she said" tradition arose. As a reporter, you couldn't write "the sky is blue" without getting "the other side" of the story to tell you "the sky is purple". Truth and fact are irrelevant.

And in the old world, blatant lies like this could be easily covered up. A reporter catches you saying something stupid? Who cares! Just lie and deny it. At that point it becomes a "he said, she said" question, and people will shrug their shoulders unable to independently determine who is right.

Enter YouTube. Both Hayes and Bachmann can blatantly lie and it doesn't matter because we have the video and we can see for ourselves what was actually said. What's more, the more Bachmann and Hayes explicitly deny their comments, the more insulting it becomes for those who can see for themselves the truth of the matter. People may assume politicians lie, but they don't appreciate having it rubbed in their face.

There is a silver lining to all of this -- Republicans are starting to learn that it's politically perilous to accuse Democrats of being un-American. It wasn't long ago that they were all spreading this bullshit. Today, when they're caught doing so they fervently deny it and hope they can get away with it.

That's progress.

They hate us for our lack of freedom

Uruknet, via Cryptogon:

...One would think that Iraqi farmers, now prospering under "freedom" and "democracy," would be able to plant the seeds of their choosing, but that choice, under little-known Order 81, would be illegal.

But first, it is important to set the context. Most people have never heard of the infamous "100 Orders," but they help explain why the majority of Iraqis remain opposed to foreign occupation. The 100 Orders allow multinational corporations to basically privatize an entire nation, and this degree of foreign and private control has not been witnessed since the days of the British East India Company and its extraterritoriality treaties.

A few examples of the 100 Orders are illuminating:

* Order 39 allows for the tax-free remittance of all corporate profits.
Order 17 grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, immunity from Iraq's laws.
Orders 57 and 77 ensure the implementation of the orders by placing U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector general in every government ministry, with five-year terms and with sweeping authority over contracts, programs, employees and regulations. (1)

Back to one of the most blatant orders of all: Order 81. Under this mandate, Iraq's commercial farmers must now buy "registered seeds." These are normally imported by Monsanto, Cargill and the World Wide Wheat Company. Unfortunately, these registered seeds are "terminator" seeds, meaning "sterile." Imagine if all human men were infertile, and in order to reproduce women needed to buy sperm cells at a sperm bank. In agricultural terms, terminator seeds represent the same kind of sterility.

Terminator seeds have no agricultural value other than creating corporate monopolies. The Sierra Club, more of a mainstream "conservation" organization than a radical "environmentalist" one, makes the exact same case:

"This technology would protect the intellectual property interests of the seed company by making the seeds from a genetically engineered crop plant sterile, unable to germinate. Terminator would make it impossible for farmers to save seed from a crop for planting the next year, and would force them to buy seed from the supplier. In the third world, this inability to save seed could be a major, perhaps fatal, burden on poor farmers." (2)

What makes this Order 81 even more outrageous is that Iraqi farmers have been saving wheat and barley seeds since at least 4000 BC, when irrigated agriculture first emerged, and probably even to about 8000 BC, when wheat was first domesticated. Mesopotamia's farmers have now been trumped by white-smocked, corporate bio-engineers from Florida who strive to replace hundreds of natural varieties with a handful of genetically scrambled hybrids.

Where does such hubris come from? It comes from the entire mission surrounding the invasion of Iraq, which, upon closer inspection, had been planned years in advance by a faction of "neo-cons" who adopted Leon Trotsky's glorification of the state, his theory "permanent revolution," and his goal of exporting revolution worldwide. The neo-con revolution aims to alter the economic, political and cultural foundations of nations on the other side of the planet (rejecting old-fashioned notions of self-determination, popular sovereignty and even the nation-state system). This mission includes the transformation of agriculture and the establishment of "food control" over local populations.

Order 81 fits into this revolutionary program, and it is quite diabolical upon closer inspection. First, it forces Iraq's commercial farmers to use registered terminator seeds (the "protected variety"). Then it defines natural seeds as illegal (the "infringing variety"), in a classic Orwellian turn of language...

Go read it all and follow the links.

The NeoCons are obviously out to gain their hearts and minds. The same way Cthulhu is.

"They must find it difficult..."

Zeitgeist: Addendum is released.

Note: this is in no way an endorsement of any Way. In fact, once you've opened your eyes, the only road you'll walk is the one you set out on.

On the other hand, the Palins might want to burn you at the stake for having the witch sight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's the K-T Boundary All Over Again

Drill, baby, drill...

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2008) — The Earth is in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of both plants and animals, with nearly 50 percent of all species disappearing, scientists say.

..."The current extinction event is due to human activity, paving the planet, creating pollution, many of the things that we are doing today," said co-author Bradley J. Cardinale, assistant professor of ecology, evolution and marine biology (EEMB) at UC Santa Barbara. "The Earth might well lose half of its species in our lifetime. We want to know which ones deserve the highest priority forconservation."

He explained that the last mass extinction near the current level was 65 million years ago, called the Cretaceous Tertiary extinction event, and was probably the result of a meteor hitting the Earth. It is best known for the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, but massive amounts of plant species became extinct at that time as well.

According to the current study, the most genetically unique species are the ones that have the greatest importance in an ecosystem. These are the ones that the scientists recommend be listed as top priority for conservation.

"Given that we are losing species from ecosystems around the world, we need to know which species matter the most –– and which we should pour our resources into protecting," said first author Marc W. Cadotte, postdoctoral fellow at UCSB's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS).

Cadotte, Cardinale, and co-author Todd Oakley, an EEMB associate professor, put together a "meta-analysis" of approximately 40 important studies of grassland ecosystems around the world. They reconstructed the evolutionary history among 177 flowering plants used in these studies by comparing the genetic makeup of the plants.

The scientists found that some species are more critical than others in preserving the functions of ecosystems and that these species tend to be those that are genetically unique. Therefore, they are looking to evolutionary history for guidance in conservation efforts and in understanding the potential impacts of species loss.

Recent studies show that ecological systems with fewer species generally produce less biomass than those with more species. Less plant biomass means that less carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere and less oxygen is produced. So, as the biomass of plants plummets around the globe, the composition of gasses in the atmosphere that support life could be profoundly affected. Additionally, there are fewer plants for herbivorous animals to eat. Entire food chains can be disrupted, which can impact the production of crops and fisheries.

The loss of species that are not closely related to other species in the ecosystem reduces productivity more than the loss of species with close relatives. And the more genetically distinct a species is, the more impact it has on the amount of biomass in an ecosystem...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Down a whole new rabbit hole

Chris Floyd points out the problem with one of the Serious folks hopping on the Obandwagon into advisory roles:

Just to be clear, Barack Obama's brand-new foreign policy advisor, Colin Powell, wants you to know that he continues to support the decision to launch a war of aggression against Iraq in March 2003 -- an act that, according to principles established by the United States and its allies at Nuremberg in 1945, is a war crime punishable by death.

In fact, the only thing that Powell -- the wise and steady statesman, the "grown-up," the "moderate" -- can find to criticize in the conduct of the war he helped launch is the fact that it wasn't savage enough to begin with...

I'll let you read on- it gets better.

Then there's his impetuous- but again Serious VP'date:

..."Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. "And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right..."

Oh, I wouldn't say that. You can pretend to be as moderate as you want, but you look pretty Right to me.

Priorities of Diversion

The FBI can't be bothered with financial fraud investigations because it's too busy eavesdropping on anti-war Catholic nuns.

Result: Bu$hie's Boom was a really good time to do the loan shark thing.

...So depleted are the ranks of the F.B.I.’s white-collar investigators that executives in the private sector say they have had difficulty attracting the bureau’s attention in cases involving possible frauds of millions of dollars.

Since 2004, F.B.I. officials have warned that mortgage fraud posed a looming threat, and the bureau has repeatedly asked the Bush administration for more money to replenish the ranks of agents handling nonterrorism investigations, according to records and interviews. But each year, the requests have been denied, with no new agents approved for financial crimes, as policy makers focused on counterterrorism.

According to previously undisclosed internal F.B.I. data, the cutbacks have been particularly severe in staffing for investigations into white-collar crimes like mortgage fraud, with a loss of 625 agents, or 36 percent of its 2001 levels.

Over all, the number of criminal cases that the F.B.I. has brought to federal prosecutors — including a wide range of crimes like drug trafficking and violent crime — dropped 26 percent in the last seven years, going from 11,029 cases to 8,187, Justice Department data showed...

Justice Department data, which include cases from other agencies, like the Secret Service and Postal Service, illustrate the impact. Prosecutions of frauds against financial institutions dropped 48 percent from 2000 to 2007, insurance fraud cases plummeted 75 percent, and securities fraud cases dropped 17 percent.

Statistics from a research group at Syracuse University, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, using somewhat different methodology and looking only at the F.B.I., show an even steeper decline of nearly 50 percent in overall white-collar crime prosecutions in the same period.

In addition to the investigations into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the F.B.I. is carrying out investigations of American International Group and Lehman Brothers, and it has opened more than 1,500 other mortgage-related investigations. Some F.B.I. officials worry privately that the trillion-dollar federal bailout of the financial industry may itself become a problem because it contains inadequate controls to deter fraud...

Deter fraud?

The bitter truth is that the agents in the field had a good bead on 9-11 before it even happened, but that the white collar criminals that own Washington called the dogs off the hunt.

There really just aren't that many people out for the Islamic Jihad joy ride. So to make up for the difference, justify their budget, and help their political enablers, the Feds decided to lean on all those traitorous liberals instead. Besides, Dear Leader sez the Constitution's just a piece of paper, anyway.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


The op-ed page of The New York Pravda finally sees the shape of the beast slouching its way into town:

Holdings of the Carlyle Group, via nutsandvolts

By now everyone knows that reckless and even predatory mortgage lending provoked the financial meltdown. But bad lending did not stop there. The easy money also fed a corporate buyout binge, with private equity firms borrowing huge sums to buy up public companies and pay themselves big dividends.

The process was much like a homeowner who borrowed big for a house and then refinanced to pull out cash. In corporate buyouts, however, the newly private company was left with the fat loan, while the private equity partners got the cash.

In keeping with the mania of the era, banks lowered their lending standards as they competed fiercely to make buyout loans. Lenders also did not worry much about being repaid, because they made money by slicing and dicing the buyout loans and selling them off in pieces to investors.

All of this means that the country needs to brace for yet another round of trouble: a potentially sharp increase in corporate bankruptcies. This time, government officials and Congress must not be taken by surprise.

So far relatively few companies have gone bust. But that is not necessarily a hopeful sign. Instead, loose lending has very likely allowed many troubled companies to postpone a day of reckoning — but not forever.

Under the lax terms of many buyout loans (deemed “covenant lite”), borrowers could delay payments, say, by issuing i.o.u.’s in lieu of payment or adding the interest to the loan balance rather than paying it. But when the loans come due and need to be repaid or refinanced, terms will no longer be so easy. The likely result will be defaults and bankruptcies.

Carlyle Group fund distribution, again via nutsandvolts

A rash of corporate bankruptcies would obviously be very bad news for employees and lenders, and for stockholders at troubled public companies, like the carmakers. It could also rock the financial system anew.

As with mortgages, huge side bets have been placed on the performance of corporate debt via derivative securities, like credit default swaps. Derivatives are unregulated, so no one can be sure how widely a big or unexpected default would reverberate through the system.

Various measures indicate elevated default risk at a range of businesses, including retailers, media companies, restaurants and manufacturers. A survey released this month by the Federal Reserve and other regulators is especially sobering.

It looked at $2.8 trillion in large syndicated corporate loans held by American banks at the end of June. Compared with a year earlier, the share of loans rated as problematic had risen from 5 percent to 13.4 percent...

You know, American banks aren't the problem holders of the quadrillion dollars of derivatives in question. American banks, despite the manipulations of the Clinton-Bu$h years, still had a few rules. But never fear. An Amerikan bank now runs is your government.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Anti-American Activities

Financial workers at Wall Street's top banks are to receive pay deals worth more than $70bn (£40bn), a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year - despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash, the Guardian has learned.

Staff at six banks including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are in line to pick up the payouts despite being the beneficiaries of a $700bn bail-out from the US government that has already prompted criticism. The government's cash has been poured in on the condition that excessive executive pay would be curbed...

The sums that continue to be spent by Wall Street firms on payroll, payoffs and, most controversially, bonuses appear to bear no relation to the losses incurred by investors in the banks. Shares in Citigroup and Goldman Sachs have declined by more than 45% since the start of the year. Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley have fallen by more than 60%. JP MorganChase fell 6.4% and Lehman Brothers has collapsed.

At one point last week the Morgan Stanley $10.7bn pay pot for the year to date was greater than the entire stock market value of the business. In effect, staff, on receiving their remuneration, could club together and buy the bank.

In the first nine months of the year Citigroup, which employs thousands of staff in the UK, accrued $25.9bn for salaries and bonuses, an increase on the previous year of 4%. Earlier this week the bank accepted a $25bn investment by the US government as part of its bail-out plan.

At Goldman Sachs the figure was $11.4bn, Morgan Stanley $10.73bn, JP Morgan $6.53bn and Merrill Lynch $11.7bn. At Merrill, which was on the point of going bust last month before being taken over by Bank of America, the total accrued in the last quarter grew 76% to $3.49bn. At Morgan Stanley, the amount put aside for staff compensation also grew in the last quarter to the end of August by 3% to $3.7bn.

Days before it collapsed into bankruptcy protection a month ago Lehman Brothers revealed $6.12bn of staff pay plans in its corporate filings. These payouts, the bank insisted, were justified despite net revenue collapsing from $14.9bn to a net outgoing of $64m...

[tip o'teh tinfoil to Chris Floyd]

The Barbie the Barbarian Republicans know how to end all this class warfare.

...Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacked the patriotism of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), based on his alleged relationship to former Weather Underground member William Ayers and the values of Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views,” said Bachmann. “That’s what the American people are concerned about.”

She then went further, suggesting that all liberal views — held by people such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, professors, and all Americans who identify themselves as “liberals” — are “anti-American.” When host Chris Matthews, stunned by her remarks, asked Bachmann how many people in Congress hold anti-American views, she responded, “You’ll have to ask them.”

Bachmann called on the media to conduct investigations into the anti-American activities of members of Congress, similar to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s discredited House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in the 1950s. “I think people would love to see an exposé like that,” she claimed...

Sarah Palin knows the real Amerika are all McCainiacs as is we're told the real Virginia, not the parts where all the people live.

It's good to know some Americans are a little alarmed by the Amerikans who consider them traitors. It seems like about a century and a half ago the country was pretty geographically split along lines like this. The difference now is the split is nothing like geographical.

You can put your mind into the ass end of nowhere no matter where you live. You can find people intentionally living in this different world where Rush and Savage and Hannity are the Prophets whether you're in San Francisco, or Nashville, or Kennebunkport.

Well, maybe not Kennebunkport. There, the Fox News crew and brownshirt clones aren't considered Prophets. They're just the hired help.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's good for Kennebunkport is good for Amerika

The Company has Chosen. It's Obama, until the amnesia sets in. It's good for business. It's bound to give Jeb Bu$h a chance in 2012.

Thinking conservatives: MIAs of the GOP
Paranoid, rage-driven, xenophobic nuts are taking over the Republican Party.
Rosa Brooks
October 16, 2008

...One by one, the nation's more reputable conservatives have been edging away from the Republican presidential ticket. It started with John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Thinking conservatives -- as of a couple of months ago, there were still a few left -- were distinctly underwhelmed. In the New York Times, David Brooks chastised McCain for "throw[ing] away standards of experience and prudence" by picking Palin. In the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer said Palin was "not ready" for prime time. David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, complained that Palin had "thoroughly -- and probably irretrievably -- proven that she is not up to the job." In the National Review, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker said Palin was "clearly out of her league" and urged her to "bow out."

For liberals initially alarmed by McCain's brief post-convention poll bounce, this was fun. And as conservative disdain spread to the whole GOP ticket, the fun got even funner.

In the Washington Post, George Will slammed McCain for his "fact-free slander," "substitution of vehemence for coherence" and "boiling moralism." On MSNBC, former Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan admitted that she's not sure who she'll be voting for this November: "Ahh. Umm. I'm thinking it through."

Then -- more fun -- some conservatives began to actually endorse Barack Obama. Wick Allison, a former publisher of the National Review, wrote that today's brand of conservatism "has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse. ... Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history."

Christopher Hitchens, who has spent the last five years deriding the Democratic position on Iraq as that of "the surrender faction," endorsed Obama too, concluding "the Republican Party has invited not just defeat but discredit this year, and ... both its nominees for the highest offices in the land should be decisively repudiated."

Whee! Incredibly, the fun continued. Christopher Buckley, National Review columnist and son of conservative icon William F. Buckley, also endorsed Obama: "Obama has in him ... the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. ... And so, for the first time ... I'll be pulling the Democratic lever in November." For his pains, Buckley received hundreds of vituperative e-mails from former admirers on the right. Effectively, he said Tuesday, he's been "fatwaed by the conservative movement." He resigned from the National Review...

Obviously, Poppy doesn't like Junior's friends.

Even Fat Tony's Court has lost patience with their clumsy attempts to rig the $election.

WASHINGTON — The United States Supreme Court on Friday overturned a lower court’s order requiring state officials in Ohio to supply information that would have made it easier to challenge prospective voters. The decision was a setback for Ohio Republicans, who had sued to force the Ohio secretary of state, a Democrat, to provide information about database mismatches to county officials...

Clearly, if the $upremes won't back the McCain-Palin campaign to steal the $election, they are in serious trouble. Maybe Fat Tony doesn't like the idea of a Fourth Branch without Family connections.

However it falls out, the Rethuglicans aren't alone in trouble.

Beluga whales are now placed on the endangered species list, and of course Sarah Palin objects.

Nice timing, that. She might as well come out against puppies and kittens in an attempt to gain a monopoly on adorableness.

The fat lady hasn't quite sung over Mc$ame's attempt to gain the Oval Office, but the Business Party clearly is unsettled by the vision of Todd Palin attempting to Dom the Fed in the same hallways where Junior choked on pretzels and Slick Willie ordered pizza.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Neo NeoCon

The more we can Change the more we stay the $ame...

Glenn Greenwald:

Here's an exchange from the chat held by The Washington Post's Dana Priest today (emphasis in original):

Evanston, Ill.: Hey Dana, why does McCain keep saying that Russia committed unprovoked aggression against Georgia? Nobody outside of America believes that. Why won't anyone call him out on that?

Dana Priest: The person who would need to do that is Obama and he doesn't do that -- or a lesser version of that -- because, I suspect, he does not want to look weak vis a vis a resurgent Russia.

At first glance, this seems like a fairly ordinary point, but while the general pattern is far from new, it is still quite remarkable. One of the two major presidential candidates is repeatedly lying to the American public about one of the most significant geopolitical events of the year. The other candidate has adopted the lie because doing so is more politically expedient than refuting it.

As a result, the vast bulk of the American citizenry has a completely false understanding of a war that took place this year between our "stalwart ally" and our New/Old Scary Enemy (namely, that the New Scary Enemy launched an unprovoked attack on our sweet and innocent democratic ally). That lie is then used to depict the New Enemy as a Grave Threat and to justify proposed NATO membership for the victimized ally, an extremely dangerous policy which all four major candidates, with varying degrees of qualification, fundamentally endorse (thus further eliminating any discussion, debate or dissent over it)...

...The war-supporting, basically neoconservative Washington Post Editorial Page just posted its endorsement of Obama for President -- one issued "without ambivalence. " It heaps praise on McCain ("There are few public figures we have respected more over the years than Sen. John McCain") but notes that "the choice is made easy in part by Mr. McCain's disappointing campaign, above all his irresponsible selection of a running mate who is not ready to be president." Along the way, the Editorial includes this bit of standard inanity about Georgia:

But Mr. Obama, as anyone who reads his books can tell, also has a sophisticated understanding of the world and America's place in it. He, too, is committed to maintaining U.S. leadership and sticking up for democratic values, as his recent defense of tiny Georgia makes clear.

Obama has assured the establishment that he is one of them and largely endorses its fundamental values. His position on Russia-Georgia was probably an important part of that effort. As indicated, one can question whether establishment support of that kind is necessary or desirable (and one can question the extent to which Obama will govern in accord with his campaign persona/rhetoric), but it is Obama's willingness to take positions like this which have enabled him to secure that approval.

Can you say "Set Up"? The Company views Obama as simply clearing the way for Jeb Bu$h in 2012. You know Jeb, the smart Bu$h.

McCain has always annoyed the Bu$hies, and they view this $election as their final humiliating send-off to a man who's obviously too ill to be preznit. Can you say "Invited Onward"?

What was this "Recovery"?

It isn't just people in Michigan that notice we've been in a Recession ever since Bu$hie stole $election 2000.

Of course, that 3% upswing is an average of what happened to 95% of America and the 5% of Amerika that's Bu$hie's Ba$e.

Pravda has to acknowledge this time on the merry-go-round has been a little different:

... Income for the median household — the one in the dead middle of the income distribution — will probably be lower in 2010 than it was, amazingly enough, a full decade earlier. That hasn’t happened since the 1930s. Already, median pay today is slightly lower than it was in 2000, and by 2010, could end up more than 5 percent lower than its old peak.

...every recent recession has brought an effective pay cut of somewhere between 3 and 7 percent for the typical family. The drop typically happens over a period of about three years, lasting longer than the recession officially does, as pay fails to keep up with inflation.

The recent turmoil — the freezing up of credit markets, the fall in stock markets, the acceleration of layoffs — has made it unlikely that the coming recession will be a particularly mild one.

“The biggest hit will be in 2009,” Nariman Behravesh, the chief economist of Global Insight, a research and forecasting firm, told me, “and it probably won’t be until 2011 until we see any kind of pay gains.”

What will make this recession different, no matter how deep or shallow it is, is that it’s following an expansion in which most families received little or no raise. The median household made $50,200 last year, slightly less than the $50,600 that the equivalent household earned in 2000, according to the Census Bureau. That’s the first time on record that income failed to set a new record in an economic expansion.

Why has it happened? There is no single cause...

...ah, yes, again the perpetrator-less crime $cam. At least Pravda has the story right.

It's an Act of God your Betters are dumping on you, that the $ystem has eaten your complete retirement nest, and if you try to do anything about it, you are engaging in Class War and the $tate will put your name on the Terrorist watch list.

[tip o'teh tinfoil to Lambert]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Magical Thinking

So The New York Pravda today posted summaries of the economic thinking of the two presidential figureheads candidates.

If you want to call it thought, anyway.

Meanwhile, the market seems to be swinging back up on the news that Uncle Sugar has sweetened the deal

The Journal does have the integrity to point out when the greatest upwards swings have occurred:

[tip o'teh tinfoil to Peter of Lone Tree]

For that matter, the Dark Wraith and associates appear to my mind to have legitimate doubts about the real consequences of all the economic responses being postured. After all, this isn't really socialism, the government acting as a resource for the people. It's fascism, with the Company using the resources of the people and privitizing the government.

And I'll let the Master of the Dismal Science deal with the Enlightened Globalism of Nobel Laureate K'thrugman.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Garbage In, Garbage Out

State of the Morons

Bob Herbert is beginning to sound a little pissed:

...The idea that the U.S. won’t even properly develop the skills of young people who could perform at the highest intellectual levels is breathtaking — breathtakingly stupid, that is.

The authors of the study, published in Notices of the American Mathematical Society, concluded that American culture does not value talent in math very highly. I suppose we’re busy with other things, like text-messaging while jay-walking. The math thing is seen as something for Asians and nerds.

Meanwhile, the country is going down the tubes. Felix Rohatyn, who helped lead New York City out of the dark days of the 1970s fiscal crisis, had an article in a recent issue of The New York Review of Books (with co-author Everett Ehrlich) lamenting the sad state of the U.S. infrastructure. Most Americans are oblivious on this issue. We’re like a family that won’t even think about fixing a sagging, leaky roof until it collapses on our heads.

New Orleans was nearly wiped from the map in the Hurricane Katrina nightmare, and 13 people were killed when a bridge in Minneapolis broke apart during rush hour, hurling helpless motorists 60 feet into the Mississippi River. Neither of those disasters was enough of a warning for us to think seriously about infrastructure maintenance, repair and construction.

Could these types of disasters happen again? They’re going to happen again. Mr. Rohatyn reminds us that nearly 30 percent of the nation’s bridges are “structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.”

We haven’t even got sense enough to keep an eye on the water we drink. Citing a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Mr. Rohatyn and Mr. Ehrlich write: “Current funding for safe drinking water, amounts to ‘less than 10 percent of the total national requirement.’ ”

A country that refuses to properly educate its young people or to maintain its physical plant is one that has clearly lost its way. Add in the myriad problems associated with unnecessary warfare and a clueless central government that wastes taxpayer dollars by the trillions, and you’ve got a society in danger of becoming completely unhinged.

This is about more than the election of a president in a few weeks. The American people have to decide what kind of country they want.

Do they want one in which the top 1 percent hauled in more than 21 percent of all personal income in 2005? Do they want a country in which, as my former colleague at The Times, David Cay Johnston, has noted: the tax system “now levies the poor, the middle class and even the upper middle class to subsidize the rich”?

Do they want a country in which their democratic freedoms are eroded by a deliberate exploitation of their fear of terrorism, and their earning power is diminished by a crippling dependence on foreign oil?

No, they want to see who's going to be Amerika's Top Model, or Dancing With the Stars, or the latest Amerikan Idol. They want to feel good about themselves without the work-out and diet. They want a candidate they can believe in, instead of a candidate they can evaluate.

Apparently unable to afford the bottle in front of me approach, reel Amerikans seem to be opting for the frontal lobotomy:

...In some ways, Ms. Palin seems like a 2.0 version of George W. Bush — not the deeply unpopular president, but the plain-spoken and energetic campaigner who rose as a political talent in Texas and solidified his appeal in the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. Hers, like his, is a with-us-or-against-us message, as when Ms. Palin pledges total solidarity with “good, hard-working, patriotic Americans.”

“For a campaign that says it’s all about the future,” Ms. Palin said to a mix of applause (for her) and boos (for you-know-who) in Richmond, “do you notice that our opponents sure have spent a heck of a lot of time looking to the past and pointing fingers? You look to the past because that’s where you find blame, but we’re joining you and looking to the future, because that’s where you find solutions.”

“America, doggone it, unfortunately we’re deep in debt, and Barack Obama would put us even deeper in debt,” she added a few minutes later. “We’ve got to reverse this. America, we cannot afford another big spender in the White House.”

Ms. Palin’s speeches do not acknowledge that looking at past mistakes is one way to avoid making those mistakes again. And her addresses gloss over some uncomfortable details, like that the most recent big spender in the White House is the Republican now there.

Ms. Palin also rarely ends up in the weeds of policy details on the economy, health care or Iraq. When it comes to generalizing, she can muster awfully strong passion, as in discussing Mr. McCain’s ability to get out of a jam.

“He’s got the guts to confront the $10 trillion debt that the federal government has run up,” Ms. Palin said in Virginia Beach as Mr. McCain looked on with a stiff smile, “and we will balance the budget by the end of our term.”

If there are holes in logic or a lack of specifics in Ms. Palin’s speeches, her audiences tend to fill the absence with gushing affection.

“She’s intelligent, she’s adorable and she has the audacity to speak her mind,” said Ray Gilson of Corapeake, N.C., who attended the Virginia Beach rally. “I’ve never loved a politician like I love her. I want her to be president someday.”

Her mind, now that's real entertainment.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Open Door, the Key, and the Gate

Waiting in the Outer Darkness- or suburb of Anchorage inhabited by white Republicans.

Is there a difference?

Moonlight and Cricketsong

Spirit Warriors for a Death Cult

Check it out...

Bruce WIlson has some questions.

Public Access


...For the next ten years the U.S. will have no human access to space as the Space Shuttle will be retired and no domestic substitute is available.

The U.S. will rent access through Russian capabilities. The revenue from that will increase Russian capabilities.

Fine with me.

How will the U.S.A. First crowd react to that?

Prediction: relatively little reaction. For one thing, their dog-whistlers are not tuned to that pitch. The idea of the Company is that lasers are about to make missiles obsolete, and who really expects the Rooskies or Team Xinhua to do anything we aren't?

Meanwhile, the Black Ops division of the Pentacle Pentagon will continue its covert space program. As will the Rooskies and Team Xinhua, because after all, they're doing all the skull work and the heavy lifting. Space science will be totally abandoned, which is what the Christian Reconstructionists want- until it becomes a politically expedient panic button once again.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cult Follower

Chris Floyd nails it again:

...Beginning with Margaret Thatcher's election in 1979, government after government -- and party after party -- fell to the onslaught of an extremist faith: the narrow, blinkered fundamentalism of the "Chicago School." Epitomized by its patron saint, Milton Friedman, the rigid doctrine held that an unregulated market would always "correct" itself, because its workings are based on entirely rational and quantifiable principles. This was of course an absurdly reductive and savagely ignorant view of history, money and human nature; but because it flattered the rich and powerful, offering an "intellectual" justification for rapacious greed and ever-widening economic and social inequality, it was adopted as holy writ by the elite and promulgated as public policy.

This radical cult -- a kind of Bolshevism from above -- took its strongest hold in the United States and Britain, and was then imposed on many weaker nations through the IMF-led "Washington Consensus" (more aptly named by Naomi Klein as the "Shock Doctrine"), with devastating and deadly results. (As in Yeltsin's Russia, for example, where life expectancy dropped precipitously and millions of people died premature deaths from poverty, illness, and despair.)

According to the cult, not only were markets to be freed from the constraints placed on them after the world-shattering effects of the Great Depression, but all public spending was to be slashed ruthlessly to the bone. (Although exceptions were always made for the Pentagon war machine.) After all, every dollar spent by a public entity on public services and amenities was a dollar taken away from the private wheeler-dealers who could more usefully employ it in increasing the wealth of the elite -- who would then allow some of their vast profits to "trickle down" to the lower orders.

This was the cult that captured the governments of the United States and Britain (among others), as well as the Republican and Democratic parties, and the Conservative and Labour parties as well. And for almost thirty years, its ruthless doctrines have been put into practice. Regulation and oversight of financial markets were systematically stripped away or rendered toothless. Essential public services were sold off, for chump change, to corporate interests. Public spending on anything other than making war, threatening war and profiting from war was pared back or eliminated. Such public spending that did remain was forever under threat and derided, like the remnants of some pagan faith surviving in isolated backwaters.

Year after year, the ordinary citizens were told by their governments: we have no money to spend on your needs, on your communities, on your infrastructure, on your health, on your children, on your environment, on your quality of life. We can't do those kinds of things any more.

Of course, when talking amongst themselves, or with the believers in the think tanks, boardrooms -- and editorial offices -- the cultists would speak more plainly: we don't do those things anymore because we shouldn't do them, we don't want to do them, they are wrong, they are evil, they are outside the faith. But for the hoi polloi, the line was usually something like this: Budgets are tight, we must balance them (for a "balanced budget" is a core doctrine of the cult), we just can't afford all these luxuries, sorry about that.

But now, as the emptiness and falsity of the Chicago cargo cult stands nakedly revealed, even to some of its most faithful and fanatical adherents, we can see that this 30-year mantra by our governments has been a deliberate and outright lie. The money was there -- billions and billions and billions of dollars of it, trillions of dollars of it. We can see it before our very eyes today -- being whisked away from our public treasuries and showered upon the banks and the brokerages.

Let's say it again: The money was there all along.
Money to build and generously equip thousands and thousands of new schools, with well-paid, exquisitely trained teachers, small teacher-pupil ratios, a full range of enriching and inspiring programs.

Money to revitalize the nation's crumbling inner cities, making them safe and vibrant places for businesses and families and communities to grow.

Money to provide decent, affordable and accessible health care to every citizen, to provide dignity and comfort to the elderly, and protection and humane treatment for the mentally ill.

Money to provide affordable higher education to everyone who wanted it and could qualify for it. Money to help establish and sustain local businesses and family farms, centered in and on the local community, driven by the needs and knowledge of the people in the area, and not by the dictates of distant corporations.

Money to strengthen crumbling infrastructure, to repair bridges, shore up levies, maintain roads and electric grids and sewage systems.

Money for affordable, workable public transport systems, for the pursuit of alternative sources of energy, for sustainable, sensible development, for environmental restoration.

Money to support free inquiry in science, technology, health and other areas -- research unfettered from the war machine and the drive for corporate profit, and instead devoted to the betterment of human life.

Money to support culture, learning, continuing education, libraries, theater, music and the endless manifestations of the human quest to gain more meaning, more understanding, more enlightenment, a deeper, spiritually richer life.

The money for all of this -- and much, much more -- was there, all along. When they said we couldn't have these things, they were lying -- or else allowing themselves to be profitably duped by the high priests of the market cult. When they wanted a trillion dollars -- or three trillion dollars -- to wage a war of aggression in Iraq, they found it. Now, when they want trillions of dollars to save the speculators, fraudsters and profiteers of greed in the global market, they suddenly have it.

Who then can believe that these governments could not have found the money for good schools, health care, and all the rest, that they could not have enhanced the well-being and livelihood of millions of ordinary citizens, and helped create a more just and equitable and stable world -- if they had wanted to?

It's getting clearer what they want, as much as they pretend they're just being forced by circumstances beyond their control to take it all.

Via Bag News Notes, meet the face of the man who wants to run Palin's Fourth Branch of government:

He's not swayed by all that "just and equitable world" talk. He'd fightin' sinners. Gettin' rich by the Grace of God while he's at it, too.

Mike Madden:

...Todd Palin was getting copied on e-mails dealing with official state business. He had already helped write the state budget, gotten involved in personnel matters and called up lawmakers when he -- or Sarah Palin -- had a bone to pick with them. Apparently Palin's inner circle figured they better include him on messages about pending legislation or ongoing controversies, too. The First Dude's involvement in Palin's efforts to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from the state police force have now earned him a subpoena from the Legislature, and he also allegedly intervened to have John Bitney (a former friend) fired from the state payroll for having an affair with the ex-wife of one of Todd Palin's buddies. The Washington Post reported last week that the Palins billed the state $1,371 for Todd's airfare to Washington, when he joined Sarah Palin at a National Governors Association conference, and for the whole family to fly around Alaska watching him compete in the Iron Dog snowmobile race.

In the Palin administration, Todd appears to have had an unusually strong role, the extent of which remains unclear. He is not on the state payroll and was never elected -- but the First Dude has crossed over from the standard-issue supportive political spouse to something far more influential, weighing in on policy and political matters in ways that few observers seem to understand. His apparent influence in his wife's administration -- some in Alaska have referred to him as the "shadow governor" -- has raised questions about whether a Sarah Palin vice-presidency would hand the same type of backstage power to Todd, and what that might mean in the running of the U.S. government...

In Sarah Palin's political profile and governing methods, critics see a direct political heir of George W. Bush. And Todd Palin's behind-the-scenes strength is one way in which Palin's Juneau administration appears to mirror that of Bush and Cheney -- with its proclivity for secrecy and cronyism. Sarah Palin has used a private e-mail address on most of the e-mails her husband was copied on, and reportedly was advised by aides that such nonofficial communications could be protected from potential subpoena. Legislators and political insiders in Alaska say a small circle of trusted Palin aides keep most decisions and deliberations close to the vest, with Todd Palin among them. These maneuverings may sound quite familiar, if you recall Bush staffers using private Republican National Committee e-mails instead of whitehouse.gov accounts, or the faith George Bush has put in trusted advisors to work closely with him in private, even when they don't seem up to the job...

Democratic Les Gara, a state representative in Alaska, says that Palin is too detached from the job to do it well. "I do not believe that she's paid enough attention to the details of policy and how government works and the issues facing the state to run the nation," Gara says. "It's not her lack of experience -- I think a smart person who's really engaged and really curious can be in national office [without experience]. It's the lack of curiosity on the day-to-day workings of government that I've got the concern about."

Todd Palin, the man owned by BP, the Alaskan Separatist and Joel's Army member. Soon to be running a Fourth Branch of Government near you, in an administration that can't be bothered to fund anything but Wall Street and the D.o'D.

The Computer Ate Your Retirement

Sure, blame it on the AIs:

...The Wall Street geeks, the quantitative analysts (“quants”) and masters of “algo trading” probably felt the same irresistible lure of “illimitable power” when they discovered “evolutionary algorithms” that allowed them to create vast empires of wealth by deriving the dependence structures of portfolio credit derivatives.

What does that mean? You’ll never know. Over and over again, financial experts and wonkish talking heads endeavor to explain these mysterious, “toxic” financial instruments to us lay folk. Over and over, they ignobly fail, because we all know that no one understands credit default obligations and derivatives, except perhaps Mr. Buffett and the computers who created them.

Somehow the genius quants — the best and brightest geeks Wall Street firms could buy — fed $1 trillion in subprime mortgage debt into their supercomputers, added some derivatives, massaged the arrangements with computer algorithms and — poof! — created $62 trillion in imaginary wealth. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that all of that imaginary wealth is locked up somewhere inside the computers, and that we humans, led by the silverback males of the financial world, Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson, are frantically beseeching the monolith for answers. Or maybe we are lost in space, with Dave the astronaut pleading, “Open the bank vault doors, Hal.”

As the current financial crisis spreads (like a computer virus) on the earth’s nervous system (the Internet), it’s worth asking if we have somehow managed to colossally outsmart ourselves using computers. After all, the Wall Street titans loved swaps and derivatives because they were totally unregulated by humans. That left nobody but the machines in charge...

It's the software's fault! Even better, Pravda comes up with this little shell game:

Read this excerpt and then I’ll tell you who wrote it:

But we are suggesting neither that the human race would voluntarily turn power over to the machines nor that the machines would willfully seize power. What we do suggest is that the human race might easily permit itself to drift into a position of such dependence on the machines that it would have no practical choice but to accept all of the machines’ decisions. ... Eventually a stage may be reached at which the decisions necessary to keep the system running will be so complex that human beings will be incapable of making them intelligently. At that stage the machines will be in effective control. People won’t be able to just turn the machines off, because they will be so dependent on them that turning them off would amount to suicide.

Brace yourself. It comes from the Unabomber’s manifesto.

Yes, Theodore Kaczinski was a homicidal psychopath and a paranoid kook, but he was also a bloodhound when it came to scenting all of the horrors technology holds in store for us...

Here's some news, Mr. Dooling. If the geeks are smart enough to write the software that runs the global financial networks, so smart that you can not figure where it all went, they are smart enough to hide where they're stashing the money from you.

Garbage In, Garbage Out, sir. Don't blame it on the shell. It's the hawker running the shell game that's stealing your money.

Thinking the unthinkable

Is it October Surprise time, yet?

It seems in this $election we keep having multiple Surprises in October, and none of them are turning out the way the Company seems to want. The stakes keep getting higher.

Hence, this video.

The bottom line is, it's likely survivable if you are unhurt in the first 5 minutes. But you have to do the right things. Watch the video, carefully. It's only 20 minutes long.

A bit of biographical information about the speaker:

"Dr. Irwin Redlener spends his days imagining the worst: He studies how humanity might survive natural or human-made disasters of unthinkable severity. He's been an outspoken critic of half-formed government recovery plans (especially after Katrina).

After 9/11, Irwin Redlener emerged as a powerful voice in disaster medicine -- the discipline of medical care following natural and human-made catastrophes. He was a leading face of the relief effort after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and is the author of Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now. He's the associate dean, professor of Clinical Public Health and director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health.

His parallel passion is addressing the American disaster that happens every day: millions of kids living without proper health care. He and Paul Simon are the co-founders of the Children’s Health Fund, which raises money and awareness toward health care for homeless, neglected and poor children."

Bringing Out the Brownshirts

Frank Rich discusses the flailing Rethuglicans' latest tactics- ones that would get them arrested by Homeland Security and Secret Service if they were Democrats aimed at Bu$hie.

Not that these tactics are particularly working.

Still, the Democrats and America need to educate Amerikans on who really supports Terror: the financial and political base of the Republican party.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Long Distance Parboil

Non-lethal of course- unless they keep it turned on you for longer than 15 seconds...

It's been a very long time coming. As we've previously reported, there have been calls to deploy the Active Denial System in Iraq going back to 2004. But it's always been delayed for legal, political, and public relations reasons. Anything that might be condemned as torture is political dynamite. Interestingly, the version being bought is not the full-size "Version 2," but a containerized system known as Silent Guardian, which Raytheon have been trying to sell for some time. They describe Silent Guardian as "roughly 1/3 the size and power of the other Active Denial Systems," and quote it's range as "greater than 250 meters." The larger system has a range somewhere in excess of 700 meters.

Silent Guardian weighs a shade over 10,000 pounds all up, and will be mounted on an "armored ruggedized HEMTT [Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck]."

The announcement arrives on the same day as a new report [.pdf] from less-lethal weapons expert Dr. Jürgen Altmann that analyzes the physics of several directed energy weapons, including Active Denial, the Advanced Tactical Laser (used as a non-lethal weapon), the Pulsed Energy Projectile (a.k.a. "Maximum Pain" laser) and the Long Range Acoustic Device (a.k.a. "Acoustic Blaster").

Dr. Altmann describes the Active Denial beam in some detail, noting that it will not be completely uniform; anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the center will experience more heating than someone at the edge. And perhaps more significant is his thorough analysis of the heating it produces -- and the cumulative effect if the target does not have the chance to cool down between exposures. In U.S. military tests, a fifteen-second delay between exposures was strictly observed; this may not happen when the ADS is used for real.

"As a consequence, the ADS provides the technical possibility to produce burns of second and third degree. Because the beam of diameter 2 m and above is wider than human size, such burns would occur over considerable parts of the body, up to 50% of its surface. Second- and third-degree burns covering more than 20% of the body surface are potentially life-threatening – due to toxic tissue-decay products and increased sensitivity to infection – and require intensive care in a specialized unit. Without a technical device that reliably prevents re-triggering on the same target subject, the ADS has a potential to produce permanent injury or death. "

But non-lethally, of course! Soon to be deployed at a civil disturbance near you! I find it hilarious that these weapons were first publically disclosed in 2000 by a usenet hoaxer.