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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fins in the Water

One lives in interesting times:

...There were 146,083 contracts traded in that one-minute period between 14:59 and 15:00 (Central); the next minute, when the real dislocation hit, traded 91,774 - after the cash market bell had rung.

The closing bell is usually busy. But this sort of volume is absolutely unheard of. To put it in perspective yesterday the same time recorded 26,540 contracts, and 36,642 the minute after.

Volume was light all day, as is somewhat common in the summer on a Friday. The close started its usual increase, and was up to 23,000 contracts at 14:57 with two minutes remaining.

Then all hell broke loose...

But don't worry. They'll take care of your money, alright.

The FDIC insures 4.8 trillion dollars in deposits in US banks and thrifts, and yet they have 0.27% - more than two-thirds less than they had a bit more than a year ago - in money to "cover" those deposits.

But don't worry, be happy!

Opinions Differ

Obviously someone has not yet been completely Assimilated.

The BBC: Obama 'helped' Opel rescue deal

Der Spiegel: 'NOT EXACTLY HELPFUL' Germans Angry with US Role in Opel Negotiations

But It's All Good!

Synthetic Reality

Go check out a test of the world you live in, and realize the same people who crashed the market last year are really unhappy with the fettering of their free market.

All Quiet on the Solar Front

Despite the solar flares of a few weeks back, there are few new sunspots.

...The real significance of these spots is what they say about the solar cycle, says Hathaway. "Solar cycle 24 has begun, but we won't be through solar minimum until the number of cycle 24 spots rises above the declining number of cycle 23 spots." Based on this latest spate of ‘old’ activity, he thinks the next solar maximum probably won't arrive until 2012.

This means that we're still into the extended solar minimum:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Company's Virtual Dream Come True

I can't see what could possibly go wrong with this:

MELBOURNE, Fla. — The government’s urgent push into cyberwarfare has set off a rush among the biggest military companies for billions of dollars in new defense contracts.

Nearly all of the largest military companies — including Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon — have major cyber contracts with the military and intelligence agencies.

The companies have been moving quickly to lock up the relatively small number of experts with the training and creativity to block the attacks and design countermeasures. They have been buying smaller firms, financing academic research and running advertisements for “cyberninjas” at a time when other industries are shedding workers.

The changes are manifesting themselves in highly classified laboratories, where computer geeks in their 20s like to joke that they are hackers with security clearances.

At a Raytheon facility here south of the Kennedy Space Center, a hub of innovation in an earlier era, rock music blares and empty cans of Mountain Dew pile up as engineers create tools to protect the Pentagon’s computers and crack into the networks of countries that could become adversaries. Prizes like cappuccino machines and stacks of cash spur them on, and a gong heralds each major breakthrough...

Yes undoubtedly stacks of cash motivate private contractors.

Knowing the Company, though, the stacks for the people that actually write the code are full of Lincolns, while the stacks of Benjamins go to the management.

...Computer experts say the government is behind the curve in sealing off its networks from threats that are growing more persistent and sophisticated, with thousands of intrusions each day from organized criminals and legions of hackers for nations including Russia and China.

“Everybody’s attacking everybody,” said Scott Chase, a 30-year-old computer engineer who helps run the Raytheon unit here.

...The operation — tucked into several unmarked buildings behind an insurance office and a dentist’s office — is doing some of the most cutting-edge work, both in identifying weaknesses in Pentagon networks and in creating weapons for potential attacks.

Daniel D. Allen, who oversees work on intelligence systems for Northrop Grumman, estimated that federal spending on computer security now totals $10 billion each year, including classified programs. That is just a fraction of the government’s spending on weapons systems. But industry officials expect it to rise rapidly.

The military contractors are now in the enviable position of turning what they learned out of necessity — protecting the sensitive Pentagon data that sits on their own computers — into a lucrative business that could replace some of the revenue lost from cancellations of conventional weapons systems...

But really, what's not to like? Instead of a billion dollar airplane that falls out of the sky, they write a billion dollar virus that spawns so many nonmilitary secondary applications.

...Executives at Lockheed Martin, which has long been the government’s largest information-technology contractor, also see the demand for greater computer security spreading to energy and health care agencies and the rest of the nation’s critical infrastructure. But for now, most companies remain focused on the national-security arena, where the hottest efforts involve anticipating how an enemy might attack and developing the resources to strike back...

You can bet the need for better $ecurity will spread throughout the economy as a whole new generation of viruses generated by unclassified spread. It's like Micro$oft anti-virus utilities won't even touch this stuff, especially with D.o'D. backdoors required in every OS.

...Military experts said Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, which have long been major players in the Pentagon’s security efforts, are leading the push into offensive cyberwarfare, along with the Raytheon unit. This involves finding vulnerabilities in other countries’ computer systems and developing software tools to exploit them, either to steal sensitive information or disable the networks.

Mr. Chase and Mr. Gillette said the Raytheon unit, which has about 100 employees, grew out of a company they started with friends at Florida Institute of Technology that concentrated on helping software makers find flaws in their own products. Over the last several years, their focus shifted to the military and intelligence agencies, which wanted to use their analytic tools to detect vulnerabilities and intrusions previously unnoticed...

...The Pentagon’s interest in cyberwarfare has reached “religious intensity,” said Daniel T. Kuehl, a military historian at the National Defense University. And the changes carry through to soldiers being trained to defend and attack computer and wireless networks out on the battlefield.

That shift can be seen in the remaking of organizations like the Association of Old Crows, a professional group that includes contractors and military personnel.

The Old Crows have deep roots in what has long been known as electronic warfare — the use of radar and radio technologies for jamming and deception.

But the financing for electronic warfare had slowed recently, prompting the Old Crows to set up a broader information-operations branch last year and establish a new trade journal to focus on cyberwarfare.

The career of Joel Harding, the director of the group’s Information Operations Institute, exemplifies the increasing role that computing and the Internet are playing in the military.

A 20-year veteran of military intelligence, Mr. Harding shifted in 1996 into one of the earliest commands that studied government-sponsored computer hacker programs. After leaving the military, he took a job as an analyst at SAIC, a large contractor developing computer applications for military and intelligence agencies.

Mr. Harding estimates that there are now 3,000 to 5,000 information operations specialists in the military and 50,000 to 70,000 soldiers involved in general computer operations. Adding specialists in electronic warfare, deception and other areas could bring the total number of information operations personnel to as many as 88,700, he said.

What's not to like? The Company creating a need for its business is what it's always been about.

Petraeus Caesar on Darth Cheney's Passtime

John Amato has the interview where the Commander of CentCom goes on the record saying he doesn't like torture [nor the mercenaries who do it].

...I do support is what has been termed the responsible closure of Gitmo. Gitmo has caused us problems, there's no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has been used by the enemy against us. We have not been without missteps or mistakes in our activity since 9/11 and again Gitmo is a lingering reminder for the use of some in that regard.

...actually what I would ask is, does that not take away from our enemies a tool which again have beaten us around the head and shoulders in the court of public opinion? When we have taken steps that have violated the Geneva Conventions, we rightly have been criticized, so as we move forward I think it's important to again live our values, to live the agreements that we have made in the international justice arena and to practice those...

Somewhere a Sith Lord's respirator labors as his sphincter is contracting.

The Caesar doesn't like torture because operationally it doesn't give the desirable results especially if everyone knows it's going on.

Just in case you thought there was a humane component involved somewhere.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Not a Scare, an Excuse

Dr. Krugman seems to be missing the point in saying the Inflation worriers are crying "Fire, Fire in Noah’s Flood".

Basically they're using a very effective tool to block what little Democratic policy the DINOcrats have actually passed.

how about the Neither of two evils

Options, options! The Freedom® the Corporate States of Amerika allows us!

Today the New York Pravda informs us of a new arms of the Pentacle Pentagon designed to keep us more $ecure right along with the Unitary Executive's:

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon plans to create a new military command for cyberspace, administration officials said Thursday, stepping up preparations by the armed forces to conduct both offensive and defensive computer warfare.

The military command would complement a civilian effort to be announced by President Obama on Friday that would overhaul the way the United States safeguards its computer networks.

Mr. Obama, officials said, will announce the creation of a White House office — reporting to both the National Security Council and the National Economic Council — that will coordinate a multibillion-dollar effort to restrict access to government computers and protect systems that run the stock exchanges, clear global banking transactions and manage the air traffic control system.

White House officials say Mr. Obama has not yet been formally presented with the Pentagon plan. They said he would not discuss it Friday when he announced the creation of a White House office responsible for coordinating private-sector and government defenses against the thousands of cyberattacks mounted against the United States — largely by hackers but sometimes by foreign governments — every day.

But he is expected to sign a classified order in coming weeks that will create the military cybercommand, officials said. It is a recognition that the United States already has a growing number of computer weapons in its arsenal and must prepare strategies for their use — as a deterrent or alongside conventional weapons — in a wide variety of possible future conflicts.

The White House office will be run by a “cyberczar,” but because the position will not have direct access to the president, some experts said it was not high-level enough to end a series of bureaucratic wars that have broken out as billions of dollars have suddenly been allocated to protect against the computer threats.

The main dispute has been over whether the Pentagon or the National Security Agency should take the lead in preparing for and fighting cyberbattles. Under one proposal still being debated, parts of the N.S.A. would be integrated into the military command so they could operate jointly...

It was kept separate from the military debate over whether the Pentagon or the N.S.A. is best equipped to engage in offensive operations. Part of that debate hinges on the question of how much control should be given to American spy agencies, since they are prohibited from acting on American soil.

“It’s the domestic spying problem writ large,” one senior intelligence official said recently. “These attacks start in other countries, but they know no borders. So how do you fight them if you can’t act both inside and outside the United States?”

So the choices are let the Pentagon or the N.S.A. have the keys to my hard drive. Of course, nothing is said about changing things so that cyberspace can't be made a battlefield or home for predators.

"Who Ya Gonna Trust?"

Uncle $am or some steenkin' Brit newsrag?

Yes, Virginia, the torture piccies are even worse than what's already come out, which are pretty bad already.

The real question that we need to ask ourselves is not just whether Darth Cheney and RedruMsfeld and Poppy's idiot son precipitated torture. We knew that already, and there's already enough solid evidence to lock them away for the rest of their unnatural lives. We threw the book already at some grunts at Abu Ghraib who were just following orders.

But what about these other torturous murders and rapes? Who stuck what where while it was happening? Who stood around and laughed while they made videos? Who watched the videos and enjoyed it all, and archived 'em. And sked for more?

Chances are it's not just the players we already knew about. Chances are this goes much higher, wider, and lower. Chances are there are private contractors who specialize in this sort of thing. And specific clients.

That's what's being covered up. That's why the current White House is asking, who ya gonna believe, us or your lyin' eyes?

Or a General's admission?

...In 2007, shortly after he was forced into retirement, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba, made a startling admission. During the course of his investigation into the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib Taguba said he saw “a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.”

Taguba told New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh that he saw other graphic photos and videos as well, including one depicting the “sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees.”

The video, as well as photographs Taguba said he saw of U.S. soldiers allegedly raping and torturing Iraqi prisoners, remains in the possession of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

Taguba noted in his voluminous report on the abuses at Abu Ghraib that the photographs and rape video were being withheld by the CID because of their e “extremely sensitive nature” and the Army's ongoing criminal probe...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

True Thinking®

From George Washington's blog, healthy minds pay no attention to the players in the kabuki:

...A new article in U.S. News & World Report quotes a couple of psychologists, one sociologist and one historian to argue that people who question the government's version of 9/11 are prone to false thinking.

Initially, remember that, while there are many honorable psychologists and psychiatrists, psychologists helped to create the U.S. torture program, and actively participated in it.

Also, psychologists - such as Freud's nephew Edward Bernays - have been central to propaganda efforts for a century (see this, this and this)...

Indeed, even the 9/11 Commissioners themselves now say that they don't believe the government's version of 9/11. For example:

* The Commission's co-chairs said that the CIA (and likely the White House) "obstructed our investigation"

* Indeed, they said that the 9/11 Commissioners knew that military officials misrepresented the facts to the Commission, and the Commission considered recommending criminal charges for such false statements...

* 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that "There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn't have access . . . ."

* 9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer said "We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting"

* 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: "It is a national scandal"; "This investigation is now compromised"; and "One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up"

* The Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission (John Farmer) - who led the 9/11 staff's inquiry - said "At some level of the government, at some point in time...there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened". He also said "I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described .... The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years.... This is not spin. This is not true."

Given that even the 9/11 Commissioners themselves no longer believe the government's version of 9/11, is a mental health professional who believes the official version really saying that the entire 9/11 Commission is delusional?

Why, yes. Anything that doesn't match the corporate consensual reality is delusional. The consensus is that the financial crisis has bottomed out; that the zombie banks, having fed- and still feeding- on the Treasury (and you) are no longer the Walking Dead; and you just need to go out and invest what little money you have left, trust your Social Security to Wall Street, and get a new shiny adjustable rate mortgage on your house. Max out your credit. And buy a nice new American car from GM while you're at it.

You stand no chance of losing your job.

You'd be crazy to think otherwise, right?

Two sides of another bought and paid for coin

Some like her:

...President Obama seems to have made an inspired choice in picking Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. She has an impressive judicial record, a stellar academic background and a compelling life story. Judge Sotomayor would also be a trailblazing figure in the mold of Thurgood Marshall, becoming the first member of the nation’s large and growing but still under-represented Hispanic population to serve on the court...

Some, not so much, but not for the same reasons the Reptilicans don't:

...I suppose I'm expected to ready myself for a fight to defend Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court nominee against an onslaught of GOP hissy-fit in which she is falsely cast as some kind of a screaming (literally) liberal rather than a mostly-conservative (though not completely insane) jurist who prefers the powerful to The People but just doesn't happen to have a bug up her ass about abortion. She is, of course, just what we don't need - another "liberal" whose credentials as such rest entirely on the fact of not being a fire-and-brimstone anti-abortion gay-hating loony. Because that's what it takes these days - not actual liberal commitment to personal freedom, nor any resistance to the idea that rich, powerful people should run everything at the expense of the rest of us, or even a quaint affection for the idea that an honest day's work deserves an honest day's pay. But, friends, the GOP hissy-fit is just convenient cover for the sell-out Dem leadership sliding yet another corporate conservative in with the Supremes without most people waking up to the fact that that's what they're doing. I mean, how can we complain when the Dems valiantly confirm Obama's nominee despite the fact that, as conservatives keep pointing out, she is a flaming liberal? We should sit back and pat ourselves on the back for our valiant resistance to all that GOP hype about how she's "too" liberal. God forbid anyone should point out that she is actually to the right of more than two-thirds of Americans. (Ah, but somebody seems to like her.)

You are a Terra'ist

A great German video (English subtitles) on life with the Company.

Du bist Terrorist (You are a Terrorist) english subtitles from alexanderlehmann on Vimeo.

Apparently the same thing's going on there that's gone down in Britain and the United States. No surprise, there.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the $trange

A vital meeting in Copenhagen this weekend that will help shape the agenda for the most important climate change talks since the Kyoto protocol has been hijacked by some of the biggest polluters in the world, critics claimed today.

Among those attending the World ­Business Summit on Climate Change is Shell, which has just been named by environmentalists on the basis of new research as "the most carbon-intensive oil company in the world"...

...At the meeting yesterday, the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and Nobel prize winner Al Gore urged more than 500 business leaders – including the chief executives of PepsiCo, Nestlé and BP – to lend their corporate muscle to reaching a global deal on reducing greenhouse gases.

..."The Danish government appears to be under the impression that some of the world's most polluting companies are going to put forward tough measures to tackle climate change," said Kenneth Haar, a researcher with Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO). "But unfortunately this doesn't seem likely to be the case. The majority of the corporations attending the World Business Summit on Climate Change seem more intent on pursuing business as usual – with the promise that future technologies will resolve the problem at a later date.

"Corporate lobbyists have been trying to influence the UN climate talks from the start. But now they are being invited to set the agenda before the negotiators have even sat down. If their demands are listened to, we might as well give up the fight against climate change now."

Six of the companies involved in the summit have been nominated for Climate Greenwash Awards because of their failure to live up to their PR spin on tackling climate change.

Shell is almost solely focused on carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a mechanism for tackling climate change, sources at the company say, although most independent advisers believe CCS, which has still not proved itself to be commercially or technologically possible on a large scale, will not be ready until 2020 at the earliest. Yet the talks this weekend and the formal climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in December are geared to tackling global warming from 2012 – when the Kyoto Protocol runs out – to 2020.

Shell has been described by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth as the most polluting oil company in the world because it is allegedly the most carbon-intensive producer. This is because of its commitment to Canadian tar sands, liquefied natural gas and flaring off gas in oil production...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Stem Cell Bait and Switcheroo

You know the drill, Bu$hCo perfected it.

It looks like the Oborg assimilated it with Change and Change again:

When President Obama lifted restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research in March, many scientists hailed the move as a long-awaited boost for one of the most promising fields of medical research.

Since then, however, many proponents have concluded that the plan could have the opposite effect, putting off-limits for federal support much of the research underway, including work that the Bush administration endorsed. "We're very concerned," said Amy Comstock Rick, chief executive of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, which has been leading the effort to free up more federal funding for stem cell research. "If they don't change this, very little current research would be eligible. It's a huge issue."

The concern focuses on strict new ethics criteria that the National Institutes of Health has proposed. Advocates of stem cell research say that most of the work currently underway passed close ethical scrutiny but that the procedures varied and usually did not match the details specified in the proposed new guidelines.

"It's not that past practices were shoddy," said Lawrence S. Goldstein, director of the stem cell program at the University of California at San Diego. "But they don't necessarily meet every letter of the new guidelines moving forward. We'd have to throw everything out and start all over again."

...Initially, however, proponents were pleased that the proposal would allow funding of studies on the hundreds of new lines already in existence.

After studying the guidelines further, however, they concluded that, in their current form, the guidelines would severely restrict funding for the existing lines.

"They take 2009 standards and attempt to apply them retroactively, which isn't really a standard that would allow most of the preexisting lines to be acceptable for NIH funding," said George Q. Daley of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. "This is essentially moving the goal post."

The guidelines, for example, require that the documents that couples sign when they agree to donate their embryos for research specify that they were fully informed of other options, such as donating their embryos to other couples instead. Although many clinics offered couples such options, that information was not usually laid out in detail in the written consent forms.

"That information might have been presented in another document. It might have been discussed with the couple but not written," said Sean J. Morrison, director of the University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology. "But it wasn't necessarily written in the consent document itself."

No one is certain exactly how many stem cell lines exist or how many would comply with the requirements in the guidelines. But a review of the 21 lines that Bush had approved indicates that perhaps just two would be eligible, and that most of the hundreds of others created since then would fall short, Daley and others said...

Yes, you read that right. Although technically unopposed to stem cell research, the One (doubtless in the spirit of Hope and Faith and Unity and outreach to the Religious Right) has made it harder to get stem cell research funded. Ethics, you know.

About That Light at the End of the Tunnel...

It seems to be coming closer all by itself...

For nearly four-out-of-five U.S. voters, the problem is not their unwillingness to pay taxes. It’s their elected representatives’ refusal to cut the size of government.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of voters say the bigger problem in the United States is the unwillingness of politicians to control government spending. Just 14% say the problem is that voters are unwilling to pay enough in taxes, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey...

...Just 28% of all voters say, generally speaking, that increases in government spending help the economy, down seven points from February. Fifty-three percent (53%) now believe spending increases hurt the economy, and seven percent (7%) say they have no impact.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans and 61% of unaffiliated voters believe increased government spending hurts the economy...

No differences exist between handing Goldman-Sachs another hundred billion or so and a million more for jobs programs, one supposes.

This supports Dr. Krugman's post today:

...The recession has hit the Golden State hard. The housing bubble was bigger there than almost anywhere else, and the bust has been bigger too. California’s unemployment rate, at 11 percent, is the fifth-highest in the nation. And the state’s revenues have suffered accordingly.

What’s really alarming about California, however, is the political system’s inability to rise to the occasion.

Despite the economic slump, despite irresponsible policies that have doubled the state’s debt burden since Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor, California has immense human and financial resources. It should not be in fiscal crisis; it should not be on the verge of cutting essential public services and denying health coverage to almost a million children. But it is — and you have to wonder if California’s political paralysis foreshadows the future of the nation as a whole.

The seeds of California’s current crisis were planted more than 30 years ago, when voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 13, a ballot measure that placed the state’s budget in a straitjacket. Property tax rates were capped, and homeowners were shielded from increases in their tax assessments even as the value of their homes rose.

The result was a tax system that is both inequitable and unstable. It’s inequitable because older homeowners often pay far less property tax than their younger neighbors. It’s unstable because limits on property taxation have forced California to rely more heavily than other states on income taxes, which fall steeply during recessions.

Even more important, however, Proposition 13 made it extremely hard to raise taxes, even in emergencies: no state tax rate may be increased without a two-thirds majority in both houses of the State Legislature. And this provision has interacted disastrously with state political trends.

For California, where the Republicans began their transformation from the party of Eisenhower to the party of Reagan, is also the place where they began their next transformation, into the party of Rush Limbaugh. As the political tide has turned against California Republicans, the party’s remaining members have become ever more extreme, ever less interested in the actual business of governing.

And while the party’s growing extremism condemns it to seemingly permanent minority status — Mr. Schwarzenegger was and is sui generis — the Republican rump retains enough seats in the Legislature to block any responsible action in the face of the fiscal crisis.

Will the same thing happen to the nation as a whole?

Without any opposition from the DINOcrats, sir, I see no way to avoid it. With the so-called socialists doing what Poppy told Junior to do and handing all the Treasury to the Skull and Bones set, the tone is set. As long as the DINOcrats are skeered of being called liberals and weak on Terra they'll be pwned by the military-industrial-$ecurties complex.

That light at the end of the tunnel? It's a spotlight, and Big Time Dick may be the fireman on the train, but he's not the engineer, and he certainly doesn't own the railroad the DINOcrats have lashed themselves down on.

Renewable Energy DINOcrat Style

You know. Coal, gas, and nuclear, which are far more practical than wind, solar, or biofuels.

At least that's what the lobbyists, experts all, say.

Supporting DINOcracy Wherever It Metastases

Chris Floyd does a good breakdown of the Oborg implement current Company diplomatic policy in the Middle East:

...Last week, Biden arrived in Lebanon to continue the paternal solicitude. He told the natives that United States stands one hundred percent foursquare true-blue straight down the line behind their "sovereign" democracy -- unless, of course, the little bastards vote the wrong way. AP reports:

...Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that future U.S. aid to Lebanon depends on the outcome of upcoming elections, a warning aimed at Iranian-backed Hezbollah as it tries to oust the pro-Western faction that dominates government...

"The election of leaders committed to the rule of law and economic reform opens the door to lasting growth and prosperity as it will here in Lebanon," Biden said. The U.S. "will evaluate the shape of our assistance programs based on the composition of the new government and the policies it advocates."

...Lebanon is about to hold a democratic election, in which one contending faction is led by Hezbollah but also "includes a significant portion of the nation’s Christian voters," as Jason Ditz notes. But if this broad-based, multi-faith, multi-ethnic coalition happens to win the election, AP tells us this will not be the kind of legitimate transfer of power that one might expect in a "sovereign" democracy; no, it will be an "ousting" by an "Iranian-backed" "militant group."

No loaded language there then. And none from Biden either, of course, who declared strict neutrality while also signalling that Lebanon will suffer the same fate as the Palestinians did when in an open, democratic election, they chose a government led by Hamas. The result was a civil war instigated and exacerbated by Israel and America, followed by a murderous blockade then the savage decimation of Gaza.

So the Lebanese have something to look forward to if they vote the "wrong" way in the June 7 election. Biden made it abundantly clear:

"Lebanon has suffered terribly from war and we have a real opportunity now ... for peace," he said after talks with the president. "So I urge those who think about standing with the spoilers of peace not to miss this opportunity to walk away from the spoilers."

You savvy? Vote for our guys -- or there will be war. You can't make it much clearer than that. Of course, if Hezbollah's coalition does win the election, there will only be war if the American-backed faction refuses to accept the democratic outcome and resorts to violence to overturn it...

This is the way the DINOcrats show they're the best Republicans around. They do Company Business without all the saber-rattling bluster of Junior and Cheney.

Obama may or may not realize it, but he's a safe placeholder designed to maintain the policies of Poppy Bu$h while Jebbie puts together his campaign.

Cheney more or less overran his course as Junior's chief manager. He and his Company faction actually thought they controlled the strings that made Dubya dance. This is the principal reason Rumsfeld was removed for Gates.

Jebbie, on the other hand, is pretty much Daddy's boy, and he will conduct the Business the way the old money wants.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Doing the Same Thing Repeatedly and Expecting a Different Result

It's one definition of madness.

When all you know how to do is hammer the whole world is a nail:

...With this sweltering desert city enduring one of the largest tumbles in housing prices for any urban area since the Depression, there is an unrelenting stream of foreclosures to choose from. On some days, hundreds are offered for sale at the auctions that take place on the plaza in front of the county courthouse.

There is also a large supply of foreclosed families who can no longer qualify for a loan. And that is prompting a flood of investors like Mr. Jarvis, who wants to turn as many of these people as possible into rent-paying tenants in the houses they used to own.

Real estate got just about everyone into trouble in Phoenix, and the thinking seems to be that real estate is going to get everyone out...

The banksters promote one way out of the current crisis: blow another bubble. It's the only way they promote because they stand to hammer more rubes until the next deflationary phase. This has to come, but won't until the world is convinced even the wealth of the American government can't cover the $500 trillion tied up in derivative speculation.

Because of the uncertain value of money due to the colossal global debt, the real problem is that it's not clear who holds the real value of property. Or gold. Or any tangible measure of wealth. This was starting to become clear in the panic days of the fall of 2008. The panic subsided once it became apparent that Bu$hCo and the Oborg who assimilated them were willing to trade those IOU's for all the cash the United States Treasury can print.

The banksters are hoping to use the hedged value to stimulate another bubble and regain their losses.

It's one definition of insanity.

Ceding Henhouse Authority to the Foxes

Because, after all, who is better able to understand the dangers chickens face?

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Treasury’s plan to regulate the over-the-counter derivatives market outlined by Secretary Timothy Geithner on May 13 contains recommendations similar to those made by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Credit Suisse Group AG and Barclays Plc three months earlier.

The banks sent the Treasury a plan written in February titled “Outline of Potential OTC Derivatives Legislative Proposal,” saying the Federal Reserve should extend capital and margin requirements to companies and hedge funds that trade in the $592 trillion unregulated market, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News and confirmed by the Treasury. Energy companies, corporations and hedge funds don’t face such requirements now, while banks do under central bank oversight.

“The banks appear to wish to maintain the intra-dealer market and raise barriers to new entrants to keep the OTC business as compartmentalized as possible and to protect their profitable market conditions,” said Brad Hintz, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York. “The Street’s lobbyists appear to be asking for a ‘club’ structure in OTC trading...”

That's so understandable. Who better to understand the delicate intricacies of these financial vehicles? After all, it's a $592 trillion unregulated market we're talking about, best leave it to the professionals.

If you had a stack of one hundred nice crisp $100 bills it might be about 1 cm high. Say, that's $10,000.

A stack of $1,000,000 worth $100 bills might be 100 cm x $10,000, or a meter high.

One billion dollars would be a stack a kilometer high.

One trillion dollars, one thousand kilometers high.

A $592 trillion unregulated market would be a stack 592 kilometers high. So don't be standing around when the whole damned thing falls over. Somebody might get hurt.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Crying Wolf Yet Again

All this talk of Terra must have made the Company want an example.

But as usual, all the cops here are Keystone, and paid informants will say anything for their pay

By the now, it's maddeningly familiar. A scary terrorist plot is announced. Then it's revealed that the suspects are a hapless bunch of ne'er-do-wells or run-of-the-mill thugs without the slightest connection to any terrorists at all, never mind to Al Qaeda. Finally, the last piece of the puzzle: the entire plot is revealed to have been cooked up by a scummy government agent-provocateur...

...The four losers were ensnared by a creepy FBI agent who hung around the mosque in upstate New York until he found what he was looking for...

Preying on these losers, none of whom were apparently actual Muslims, the "confidential informant" orchestrated the acquisition of a disabled Stinger missile to shoot down military planes and cooked up a wild scheme about attacking a Jewish center in the Bronx...

...The four losers may have been inclined to violence, and they may have harbored a virulent strain of anti-Semitism. But it seems that the informant whipped up their violent tendencies and their hatred of Jews, cooked up the plot, incited them, arranged their purchase of weapons, and then had them busted...

Just in time for the Obama-Cheney Comedy Hour, where both the Hard Cop and the Soft Cop go for preemptive detention without trial. It's just Cheney wants to hold the whip at Gitmo, while Barry O. thinks it's much cooler to ship you to Egypt or the Ukraine and have them do the questioning and flush you down the toilet when they're through.

No man, no problem. It's rather like Sibel says: it's just two sides of the same coin.

It's not just "against tradition"

It's against the Constitution.

It's against the law.

It's against every thing this nation ever wanted to stand for.

Barack Obama becomes a criminal if this goes through, just like everyone in Bu$hCo who propagated it.

Yes, propagated it. Because breaking the writs of habeas corpus, illegal search and seizure and imprisonment without trial, even torture have been the practice of many in our government for many years. As Chris Floyd says,

...A war crimes trial of George Bush, Dick Cheney and their chief minions would be a public spectacle of perhaps unprecedented scope. Millions of people all over the world would be riveted to it every day; the American public especially would be hanging on its every word. To mount such a defense, on such a powerful platform, would devastate the myth of American exceptionalism like nothing else imaginable. Horrific atrocity, brutal arrogance, deadly ignorance -- again, by both direct and collateral hand -- would all be brought into the glaring light. The principle of violent domination -- continuous, accepted, celebrated, legitimized, institutionalized -- would stand revealed as a core value, if not the core value, of the American way...

The Assimilated Oborg keep telling me we have to give him a chance. He's had his chance, and cast his lot with Poppy's faction of the Company. Against Cheney, for sure, but solidly Bu$h.

Ian Welsh names him the Thought Crimes president, and reminds us of this:

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

In instituting preventative detention without formal charges or trial, Obama seeks to legitimize criminal behavior.

In doing so, Obama opens the door to his own criminality.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"In Torture We Trust"

Certainly not in wild non-government generated conspiracy theories. We believe the conspiracy theories our $elected officials tell us. Why?

Because the way they got the information worked for Jack Bauer, didn't it?

Much of the material cited in the 9/11 Commission’s findings was derived from terror war detainees during brutal CIA interrogations authorized by the Bush administration, according to a Wednesday report.

“More than one-quarter of all footnotes in the 9/11 Report refer to CIA interrogations of al Qaeda operatives subjected to the now-controversial interrogation techniques,” writes former NBC producer Robert Windrem in The Daily Beast. “In fact, information derived from the interrogations was central to the 9/11 Report’s most critical chapters, those on the planning and execution of the attacks.”

“… [Information] derived from the interrogations is central to the Report’s most critical chapters, those on the planning and execution of the attacks,” reported NBC. “The analysis also shows - and agency and commission staffers concur - there was a separate, second round of interrogations in early 2004, done specifically to answer new questions from the Commission.

“9/11 Commission staffers say they ‘guessed’ but did not know for certain that harsh techniques had been used, and they were concerned that the techniques had affected the operatives’ credibility. At least four of the operatives whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators critical information as a way to stop being ‘tortured.’ The claims came during their hearings last spring at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

“Commission executive director Philip Zelikow (later counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) admitted, ‘We were not aware, but we guessed, that things like that were going on. We were wary…we tried to find different sources to enhance our credibility,’” Windrem continued. “(Zelikow testified before the Senate on Wednesday, May 13, that he had argued in a 2005 memo that some of the tactics used on suspected terrorists violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.)”

He adds: “At least four operatives whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators critical information as a way to stop being ‘tortured.’ Those claims came during their hearings in the spring of 2007 at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba...”

Gitmo, where you find those mad dog terra'ist types they just want to lock up and throw away the key without anything like a trial.

The prinicpal reason for this is, of course, if there was anything like a fair public trial it would come out exactly what they said, why they said it, and exactly how much anyone could believe it.

Oh, and by the way: to Hell with Obama's detention plan.

If he really advocates this he has become a criminal just like Cheney & Company.

Barry O. is Cheney Lite.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hard Cop vs. Soft Cop vs. Coppjng Your Piece

While the Hope and Change War on Terra proceeds, the kabuki continues.

But regulate the banksters? Surely you jest. Watch the drama in D.C. instead! Will the insane mad dog prisoners of Gitmo sully our soil? Will the innocent lambs there be released? Will Big Time Dick get a slot on Rush's show?

Stay Tuned for a word from our sponsors!

[backstage, Barry O. is

...mulling the need for a “preventive detention” system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried, two participants in the private session said.

...The two participants, outsiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was intended to be off the record, said they left the meeting dismayed.

They said Mr. Obama told them he was thinking about “the long game” — how to establish a legal system that would endure for future presidents. He raised the issue of preventive detention himself, but made clear that he had not made a decision on it. Several senior White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the outsiders’ accounts.

“He was almost ruminating over the need for statutory change to the laws so that we can deal with individuals who we can’t charge and detain,” one participant said. “We’ve known this is on the horizon for many years, but we were able to hold it off with George Bush. The idea that we might find ourselves fighting with the Obama administration over these powers is really stunning.”

The other participant said Mr. Obama did not seem to be thinking about preventive detention for terrorism suspects now held at Guantánamo Bay, but rather for those captured in the future, in settings other than a legitimate battlefield like Afghanistan. “The issue is,” the participant said, “What are the options left open to a future president?”

Ah, the old anonymous sources routine, worrying about options on other than the legitimate battlefield, the Company off stage voice narrating the back story that makes the players dance.

It's an old story.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Terrible Scary Things

I have just been told by an avowed liberal Democrat, a professional and an academic, that he has a friend who knows somebody who is in the CIA who says we can't close Gitmo because of the unbelievably horrible things our Government is protecting us from.

Like somebody has an in on Yog-Sothoth, one supposes.

Or evidence that the Company still, you know, tortures people. One supposes it amounts to the same thing.

Another secret everybody knew already

Apparently this is disinformation [thanks to Avedon for the correction]:

You won't see this one in The New York Pravda:

- Former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on the orders of the special death squad formed by former US vice-president Dick Cheney, which had already killed the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafique Al Hariri and the army chief of that country.

The squad was headed by General Stanley McChrystal, the newly-appointed commander of US army in Afghanistan. It was disclosed by reputed US journalist Seymour Hersh while talking to an Arab TV in an interview.

Hersh said former US vice-president Cheney was the chief of the Joint Special Operation Command and he clear the way for the US by exterminating opponents through the unit and the CIA. General Stanley was the in-charge of the unit.

Seymour also said that Rafiq Al Hariri and the Lebanese army chief were murdered for not safeguarding the US interests and refusing US setting up military bases in Lebanon. Ariel Sharon, the then prime minister of Israel, was also a key man in the plot.

A number of websites around the world are suspecting the same unit for killing of Benazir Bhutto because in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV on November 2, 2007, she had mentioned the assassination of Usama Bin Laden, Seymour said. According to BB, Umar Saeed Sheikh murdered Usama, but her words were washed out from the David Frosts report, he said.

The US journalist opined that it might have been done on purpose because the US leadership did not like to declare Usama dead for in the case the justification of the presence of US army in Afghanistan could no more be there, hence no reason for operation against Taliban...

One wonders exactly whose psyop that was. With the rapidity it was debunked, now any report linking Cheney- or the Company- with that assasination will be discredited. Kind of like the setup of Dan Rather over kearning and Junior's real combat-dodging daliances during Viet Nam.

Dick Cheney or the Royal House of Saud, like there's a difference.

The term Adolf used was "Chancellor"

WASHINGTON — Zalmay Khalilzad, who was President George W. Bush’s ambassador to Afghanistan, could assume a powerful, unelected position inside the Afghan government under a plan he is discussing with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, according to senior American and Afghan officials.

Mr. Khalilzad, an American citizen who was born in Afghanistan, had considered challenging Mr. Karzai for the presidency in elections scheduled for this summer.

But Mr. Khalilzad missed the May 8 filing deadline, and the American and Afghan officials say that he has been talking with Mr. Karzai for several weeks about taking on a job that the two have described as the chief executive officer of Afghanistan...

A powerful, unelected official controlling the elected government. You know, like Poppy Bu$h does here.

What's wrong with the Three Laws?

MSNBC via Cryptogon:

Smart missiles, rolling robots, and flying drones currently controlled by humans, are being used on the battlefield more every day. But what happens when humans are taken out of the loop, and robots are left to make decisions, like who to kill or what to bomb, on their own?

Ronald Arkin, a professor of computer science at Georgia Tech, is in the first stages of developing an “ethical governor,” a package of software and hardware that tells robots when and what to fire. His book on the subject, “Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots,” comes out this month.

He argues not only can robots be programmed to behave more ethically on the battlefield, they may actually be able to respond better than human soldiers.

“Ultimately these systems could have more information to make wiser decisions than a human could make,” said Arkin. “Some robots are already stronger, faster and smarter than humans. We want to do better than people, to ultimately save more lives.”

How about these:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

U.S. drones attacked the Pakistani village of Mirali on Saturday. According to the American press, a pair of missiles from the unmanned aircraft killed “at least 25 militants.” In the local media, the dead were simply described as “29 tribesmen present there...”

Oh, that's right. Dr. Asimov never knew the first real robots would be built by the D.o'D.

Building robots more ethical than human beings isn't very hard to do depending on the so-called humans you use for comparison.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lubricating Diplomacy

There had to be a reason the Cheneyburton faction has been quiet about Barry O.'s recent coziness with Castro, just as there had to be a reason for Hope and Change on Cuban policy.

Deep in the Gulf of Mexico, an end to the 47-year US trade embargo against Cuba may be lying untapped, buried under layers of rock and bitter relations.

Oil, up to 20 billion barrels of it, sits off Cuba's north-west coast in its territorial waters, says the Cuban Government - enough to turn the island into the Qatar of the Caribbean. At a minimum, estimates by the US Geological Survey place Cuba's potential deepwater reserves at 4.6 billion barrels of oil and 160 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, stores that would rank the island among the region's top producers...

That, of course, also gives a perfect way for the oil companies to expand into drilling off the coast of Florida. That's something even the paleocons of the Sunshine state have opposed. They've spent billions on keeping those white sands.

Qatar in the Gulf. Saudi Arabia to the frozen North.

...Canada has the second-largest petroleum deposits after Saudi Arabia and the biggest in the Western hemisphere. Its oil sands produce 1.3 million barrels of oil a day, up from 600,000 a day in 2000. As a result, Canada has become the biggest foreign oil supplier to the United States, accounting for 19 percent of imports in 2008...

...Environmentalists would like President Obama to set strict limits on some of the dirtiest fuels, including heavy oil from Canada. They urge the administration to resist calls by the Canadian government to exempt oil sands from greenhouse regulations now being considered in the United States...

Why, blocking such an exemption wouldn't be the diplomatic action of a Company President seeking a dialog, now would it?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Never Can Say Good Bye

Frank Rich:

To paraphrase Al Pacino in “Godfather III,” just when we thought we were out, the Bush mob keeps pulling us back in. And will keep doing so. No matter how hard President Obama tries to turn the page on the previous administration, he can’t. Until there is true transparency and true accountability, revelations of that unresolved eight-year nightmare will keep raining down drip by drip, disrupting the new administration’s high ambitions.

That’s why the president’s flip-flop on the release of detainee abuse photos — whatever his motivation — is a fool’s errand. The pictures will eventually emerge anyway, either because of leaks (if they haven’t started already) or because the federal appeals court decision upholding their release remains in force. And here’s a bet: These images will not prove the most shocking evidence of Bush administration sins still to come...

...the new administration doesn’t want to revisit this history any more than it wants to dwell on torture. Once the inspector general’s report on the military analysts was rescinded, the Obama Pentagon declared the matter closed. The White House seems to be taking its cues from the Reagan-Bush 41 speechwriter Peggy Noonan. “Sometimes I think just keep walking,” she said on ABC’s “This Week” as the torture memos surfaced. “Some of life has to be mysterious.” Imagine if she’d been at Nuremberg!

The administration can’t “just keep walking” because it is losing control of the story. The Beltway punditocracy keeps repeating the cliché that only the A.C.L.U. and the president’s “left-wing base” want accountability, but that’s not the case. Americans know that the Iraq war is not over. A key revelation in last month’s Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainees — that torture was used to try to coerce prisoners into “confirming” a bogus Al Qaeda-Saddam Hussein link to sell that war — is finally attracting attention. The more we learn piecemeal of this history, the more bipartisan and voluble the call for full transparency has become.

This should be a teachable moment for America, because it's not just the main$tream keeping quiet for their old benefactors. It's the entire Washington establishment of both parties trying to put the lid on this can of worms for the Company. In this bipartisan effort, like the blank check for endless war that continues to be paid, like the turnover of the Treasury to a few megabanksters, the real substance and motivations of those who rule an Empire instead of a Republic are revealed.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

[it is said] No Way Out

Even the main$tream is starting to notice the antiwar President's packaging doesn't resemble content at all.

The anti-war crowd had waited years for this moment, when it could finally use its political muscle to end or at least sharply curtail American involvement in a war that seems endless.

Instead, Congress' most vocal anti-war activists were badly outnumbered this week when they tried to define an exit strategy for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

"We need a plan while we are there and a strategy for leaving," said Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., who last year defeated an eight-term incumbent Democrat who backed the Iraq war. "We don't have it."

They weren't even allowed a vote on a plan. It was a setback because for years, anti-war lawmakers lacked the votes they needed to impose restrictions on former President George W. Bush's war in Iraq. Now, the president is a Democrat, and the Democrats have a 79-seat majority in the House of Representatives and 59 Senate seats, including two independents, which gives them their biggest margins since the early 1990s.

Nevertheless, the anti-war crowd remains as impotent as it was during the Bush years amid widespread support for President Barack Obama and a public that's preoccupied with economic issues and largely unperturbed by the escalating war in Afghanistan...

That's the message the main$tream's spinning as hard as it can. It's also spinning that the Iraq war is all over (except for the shooting- which isn't newsworthy) but we're keeping all the troops there, too, just to, you know, help out. But it's almost over. Just another Friedman Unit or so.

So many New and Important Messages the main$tream has for us!

For example, we're told now a majority of Amerikans are against Roe vs. Wade, and want another social conservative on the $upremes. Like Fat Tony isn't good enough all by himself. There isn't a word about abortion in the Bible, but it's full of condemnation of usury, but the main$tream and their religious right cheerleaders are strangely silent on that point.

Among others.

Long term view of the storm wall

Now that a mouthpiece of The One can admit that Hope and Change ends up looking pretty much like Poppy's fourth term in office, it's obvious what Obama is all about.

In war and finance the policies of Bu$h IV seem linked with the other three terms, and even with the two terms of the Clintonista, where a lot of the disasterous financial deregulation of today was first implemented. Certainly it has become clear a goal of the Obama administration is to institutionalize the takeover of the Treasury by a few major banks. But as many like Ian Welsh point out:

...the simplest way to get banks lending again would be to either have the Fed lend directly to consumers, or have the FDIC take over a major bank like Citigroup or Bank of America and use that bank to lend at decent rates.

Instead of doing that, the Bush and then Obama administrations decided to give money, guarantees, loans and nearly free money to banks which were impaired and which needed to gouge their customers as hard as they could to make a profit. The result is that treasury secretary Timothy Geithner keeps saying the financial sector is fine, while more Americans lose jobs, consumer spending drops, banks won’t allow homeowners to get out from under bad mortgages even when it would save the bank money, and a new round of foreclosures is on its way.

Let's repeat that last bit, because grasping this fact is very important in trying to understand the lay of this new land we find ourselves in:

banks won’t allow homeowners to get out from under bad mortgages even when it would save the bank money

But banksters like money. Lots of it. Lots. So this must mean they really do want to grab as much land as possible and sit on to sell again at a higher value in the recovery. One might even think this means Obama's crew are right and recovery is just around the corner.

That is, if one was foolish. Dr. Doom is not convinced at all. If this is the eye of the storm, perhaps we should take advantage of the clarity to look which way the wind is blowing.

One should always bear in mind a long known inescapable fact. A more recent collation of the data graphically looks rather like this:

When the fossil fuels are gone the industrial powers will be by definition post-industrial. If nothing is done to generate renewable industrial energy, the general level of civilization- if you can call it that- reverts to the level of technological sophistication found during the 1700s over the next 50 years.

That bottleneck presents an unprecedented opportunitity for the psychopaths among us who would rule.

To be fair, Barry O. has delivered Hope and Change. It's not his fault most people were too delusional to see what that change would be. Jebbie wouldn't have a shot in 2012 or -16 otherwise.

The big banksters have never had it so good. It's beyond their wildest Hopes. But I think this is just placement of pieces on the board.

There is some real Change coming as the oil runs out and the mass of humanity returns to a pre-industrial state over the next 50 years. The royal families- like the Bu$hies- who would rule us are positioning themselves to take real advantage of this turn of the tide.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Accidents Happen

Doubtless he drowned, shot, overdosed on barbituates, and hung himself. Before he crashed his small airplane.

A former CIA high-value detainee, who provided bogus information that was cited by the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war, has died in a Libyan prison, an apparent suicide, according to a Libyan newspaper.

A researcher for Human Rights Watch, who met Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi at the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli late last month, said a contact in Libya had confirmed the death.

Libi was captured fleeing Afghanistan in late 2001, and he vanished into the secret detention system run by the Bush administration. He became the unnamed source, according to Senate investigators, behind Bush administration claims in 2002 and 2003 that Iraq had provided training in chemical and biological weapons to al-Qaeda operatives. The claim was most famously delivered by then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in his address to the United Nations in February 2003...

In their book "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War," Michael Isikoff and David Corn said Libi made up the story about Iraqi training after he was beaten and subjected to a "mock burial" by his Egyptian interrogators, who put him in a cramped box for 17 hours. Libi recanted the story after being returned to CIA custody in 2004.

When President George W. Bush ordered the 2006 transfer to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, of high-value detainees previously held in CIA custody, Libi was pointedly missing. Human rights groups had long suspected that Libi was instead transferred to Libya, but the CIA had never confirmed where he was sent.

"I would speculate that he was missing because he was such an embarrassment to the Bush administration," said Tom Malinowski, the head of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch. "He was Exhibit A in the narrative that tortured confessions contributed to the massive intelligence failure that preceded the Iraq war."

I dunno. Cheney still thinks it worked just fine.

But what do I know? Check out Chris Floyd's rendition of the story:

...in every way, to every side in the imperial court, Ali Mohamed al-Fakheri was a most inconvenient man, a thorny problem indeed. But as that great gulagist of yore, Josef Stalin, liked to say: "Remove the man, remove the problem." And now al-Fakheri has been removed.

No corpus, no habeas.

$hell Game

When is a policy designed to regulate unregulated derivatives really just a lot of noise to calm the jitters of the rubes and get them to lay more of their money down? When it really isn't, of course.

...Why are derivatives so problematic? Although they have useful purposes, particularly for hedging risks — as when an airline bets on increases in jet fuel prices — they frequently are used to avoid the disclosure rules applied to other financial transactions. A.I.G. held tens of billions of dollars of subprime mortgage-related derivatives, but did not tell its investors or counterparties.

Citigroup, Lehman Brothers and other banks used derivatives to place hidden trillion-dollar bets. Even now, numerous institutions are using derivatives to skirt investment restrictions or to take on unwarranted leverage.

This is an old story: during the 1920s, complicated techniques helped companies move risks off balance sheets or into off-shore subsidiaries. In response to the fall of Ivar Kreuger, the financier who pioneered these innovations, Congress adopted the securities laws of the 1930s, designed to plug two key regulatory gaps by requiring more disclosure and protecting investors against fraud.

Mr. Geithner’s proposal has the same twin goals: to improve disclosure and to police unsuitable sales of derivatives. These reforms are much needed. Banks might not have taken on so much subprime mortgage risk if they had been required to disclose it. Nor would they have marketed unsuitable products to pension funds and municipalities if they had more clearly been subject to liability.

Yet there is one potential weakness in the Treasury proposal, one that reopens a dangerous loophole. Mr. Geithner suggested that derivatives should be split between standardized instruments, which would be traded on regulated exchanges, and privately negotiated contracts, customized deals (often called “swaps”) that are made between two financial organizations and would not be publicly traded or regulated. Rather, such transactions would be reported privately to a “trade repository,” which apparently would make only limited aggregate data available to the public.

This proposal of Mr. Geithner’s also echoes history, but in a more dangerous way. In 1989, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a federal agency then led by Wendy Gramm, an economist and the wife of Senator Phil Gramm, a Texas Republican, issued a policy statement splitting derivatives into these same two categories. Standardized derivatives would be traded on exchanges, but individually negotiated contracts would not. Four years later, Ms. Gramm signed an order making this policy official, a sort of farewell gift to the derivatives industry before she left government service and took a place on Enron’s board.

The exception swallowed the rule, as regulators deemed more derivatives “individually negotiated.” In December 2000 Senator Gramm led a lobbying effort to cement his wife’s approach. It paid off: one of President Bill Clinton’s last official acts was to sign the law largely deregulating derivatives.

The leading derivatives lobbying group, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, is already looking to exploit the Treasury’s proposal to split derivatives markets in two. As part of its lobbying campaign to protect negotiated instruments, it insists that last year “the derivatives business — and in particular the credit default swaps business — functioned very effectively during extremely difficult market conditions.”

Congress should not be fooled by such talk again...

Mr. Partnoy, I think very few in Congress are really fooled by this. Possibly they are the same number who would seek a real solution instead of a backdoor steal deal.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What is this Change you speak of?

NABNYC gets it righteous.

What change? Exactly what has changed?

The Senate today voted down a proposal that would cap credit card interest at 15%. The Senators who voted against it (only 33 supported it) argued that it was such a "controversial" provision, they were afraid that they would lose support for their consumer rights credit card law that they have drafted, which President Obama has claimed will be some great victory for consumers.

Except the pending law is a bunch of meaningless crap. The real reason they won't cap interest rates is because the credit card companies pay so much money in bribes to the politicians. So they sell their votes. And Obama sells the presidency and the white house. And the public gets screwed once again.

This much ballyhooed consumer-rights law includes such ridiculous "protections" as requiring the credit card company to give debtors notice before they raise the interest rates (to however high they want). What good does that do? The debtor can't pay off the card -- they don't have the money. The debtor can't move to some other card -- they all do the same, they all have the low-interest come-on that is yanked away in 3 months and replaced with the usurious interest.

Loan sharks. Our entire federal government is on the payroll of loan sharks. Criminals. The people who put the Mafia out of business. And they own Congress, and they own the President...

But I wouldn't advise you to stop paying your credit cards and go out and protest about it. Oh no, not only will you get kneecapped by the goons. You'll get tased by the cops.

...Want a big laugh? The Republicans keep saying the Democrats are "socialists." The Democrats are closer to being made-men in the mob than to being socialists. Socialists actually do something for the people once in awhile, instead of just shoveling all the money into the coffers of the corporations.

Closer, you say? How about the real thing?

Shocked and Boarded

Nancy is shocked, just shocked to realize the CIA lies to people. Apparently Harry is, too.

Lambert wonders about it all.

If even torture is small potatoes to the pirates who would rule us, think about all the lovely things that making a big noise about it is supposed to divert us from really dealing with.

Third rail, anyone?

Jugendbewegung Amerikaner

You thought it was all about helping little old ladies cross the street.

The Scouts of America is now officially a paramilitary organization.

...The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out “active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”

One participant, Felix Arce, 16, said he liked “the discipline of the program,” which was something he said his life was lacking. “I want to be a lawyer, and this teaches you about how crimes are committed,” he said...

There's nothing quite like being on the inside of a criminal atrocity, is there, Felix?

Cathy Noriego, also 16, said she was attracted by the guns... ellets — in the training exercises, and sometimes they shoot real guns on a closed range.

“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”

I'm sure your master approves, Cathy. In fact,

...There have been numerous cases over the last three decades in which police officers supervising Explorers have been charged, in civil and criminal cases, with sexually abusing them.

Several years ago, two University of Nebraska criminal justice professors published a study that found at least a dozen cases of sexual abuse involving police officers over the last decade...

It's just like robbing banks. The best job to have if you want to rob a bank and get away with it is to be a banker.

Many law enforcement officials, particularly those who work for the rapidly growing Border Patrol, part of the Homeland Security Department, have helped shape the program’s focus and see it as preparing the Explorers as potential employees. The Explorer posts are attached to various agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local police and fire departments, that sponsor them much the way churches sponsor Boy Scout troops.

“Our end goal is to create more agents,” said April McKee, a senior Border Patrol agent and mentor at the session here... If there are critics of the content or purpose of the law enforcement training, they have not made themselves known to the Explorers’ national organization in Irving, Tex., or to the volunteers here on the ground, national officials and local leaders said...

Not only are there no critics, even if there were, they have ways of dealing with them.

...But the more than 2,000 law enforcement posts across the country are the Explorers’ most popular, accounting for 35,000 of the group’s 145,000 members, said John Anthony, national director of Learning for Life. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many posts have taken on an emphasis of fighting terrorism and other less conventional threats...

Like liberalism, one supposes. Still, one has to note the careful attention to detail these Guardians of der Homeland have:

...Authenticity seems to be the goal. Imperial County, in Southern California, is the poorest in the state, and the local economy revolves largely around the criminal justice system. In addition to the sheriff and local police departments, there are two state prisons and a large Border Patrol and immigration enforcement presence....

Just as there are soccer moms, there are Explorers dads, who attend the competitions, man the hamburger grill and donate their land for the simulated marijuana field raids. In their training, the would-be law-enforcement officers do not mess around, as revealed at a recent competition on the state fairgrounds here, where a Ferris wheel sat next to the police cars set up for a felony investigation...

In a competition in Arizona that he did not oversee, Deputy Lowenthal said, one role-player wore traditional Arab dress. “If we’re looking at 9/11 and what a Middle Eastern terrorist would be like,” he said, “then maybe your role-player would look like that. I don’t know, would you call that politically incorrect?”

One supposes not, in a world wear all the bad guys wear black hats, and all the good guys wear white, no matter how many they torture.

Certainly not to your masters, who would doubtless note one's return address.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More Economically Stimulating Jobs Programs

Of course we don't do It anymore or admit to it anyway.

It's all Classified now.

Continuing along the dark path marked out by his predecessors in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama's Defense and Intelligence budget for Fiscal Year 2010 will greatly expand the reach of unaccountable agencies--and the corporate grifters whom they serve.

According to Aviation Week, "the Pentagon's 'black' operations, including the intelligence budgets nested inside it, are roughly equal in magnitude to the entire defense budgets of the UK, France or Japan, and 10 per cent of the total..."

It's because The One's predecessors may have left office, but the people who owned them now have a lien on Hope and Change.

One wonders at this point who knew what when

The Telegraph hears things that get kicked around in cyberspace, but show up nowhere near the main$tream media.

...The 25 lines edited out of the court papers contained details of how Mr Mohamed’s genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, “is very far down the list of things they did,” the official said.

Another source familiar with the case said: “British intelligence officers knew about the torture and didn’t do anything about it.”

No wonder:

...President Obama said on Wednesday that he is seeking to block the release of photographs that depict American military personnel abusing captives in Iraq and Afghanistan, worrying that the images could “further inflame anti-American opinion.”

But it's not Iraqi or Afghani public opinion The One is worried about. It's American public opinion. American anti-Amerikan Empire public opinion, from when we were a Republic ruled by laws and backed things like the Geneva Conventions.

Sure, Bu$hCo planned it all for kicks, in order to make somebody confess to something. Preferably the usual suspects confessing to exactly what the Company wanted to hear. Yeah, they likely told Nancy and Harry and were able to blackmail the DINOcrats into keeping their mouths shut. Evidence on the wiretaps tends to do that, especially with a little judicious editing. No surprises there.

But one wonders if early on in the campaign game both ex-Senators Clinton and Obama were told because, after all each might be Pre$ident some day. Since it was Classified, they kept their mouths shut as their Patriotic duty.

At first: then the discreet Company messengers stopped by with money. Which was also discreetly recorded.

And then came their Orders.

Carrot and big, big stick.

The slickest way to lie

...is to tell part of the truth, and stop.

MoDo da PoMo Ho sticks her stilletto into Big Time Dick, the designated fall guy for the Bu$h years:

... Asked by Bob Schieffer on Sunday how America could torture when it made a mockery of our ideals, Cheney blithely gave an answer that surely would have been labeled treasonous by Rush Limbaugh, if a Democratic ex-vice president had said it about a Republican president.

“Well, then you’d have to say that, in effect, we’re prepared to sacrifice American lives rather than run an intelligent interrogation program that would provide us the information we need to protect America,” Doomsday Dick said.

Cheney has replaced Sarah Palin as Rogue Diva...

... The man who never talked is now the man who won’t shut up. The man who wouldn’t list his office in the federal jobs directory, who had the vice president’s residence blocked on Google Earth, who went to the Supreme Court to keep from revealing which energy executives helped him write the nation’s energy policy, is now endlessly yelping about how President Obama is holding back documents that should be made public.

Cheney, who had five deferments himself to get out of going to Vietnam, would rather follow a blowhard entertainer who has had three divorces and a drug problem (who also avoided Vietnam) than a four-star general who spent his life serving his country...

...Cheney unleashed, egged on by the combative Lynne and Liz, is pretty much the same as Cheney underground: He’s batty, and he thinks he was the president...

... Cheney’s numskull ideas — he still loves torture (dubbed “13th-century” stuff by Bob Woodward), Gitmo and scaring the bejesus out of Americans — are not only fixed, they’re jejune.

He has no coherent foreign policy viewpoint. He still doesn’t fathom that his brutish invasion of Iraq unbalanced that part of the world, empowered Iran and was a force multiplier for Muslims who hate America. He left our ports unsecured, our food supply unsafe, the Taliban rising and Osama on the loose. No matter if or when terrorists attack here — and they’re on their own timetable, not a partisan red/blue state timetable — Cheney will be deemed the primary one who made America more vulnerable...

But sprinkled amidst the arsenic this old lace delivers are nothing but sweetness and light and longingly nice words for her real Dark Lord and his scions:

...Just as Jeb Bush and other Republicans are trying to get kinder and gentler, Cheney has popped out of his dungeon, scary organ music blaring, to carry on his nasty campaign of fear and loathing...

“Bush 41 cares about decorum and protocol,” said an official in Bush I. “I’m sure he doesn’t appreciate Cheney acting out. He is giving the whole party a black eye just as Jeb is out there trying to renew the party.”

... W. admired Cheney’s brass (he used another word) but grew increasingly skeptical of him, the more he learned about foreign policy himself, and the more he got pulled into a diplomatic mode by Condi in the second term. There were even reports of W. doing a funny Cheney imitation and that it dawned on him that Cheney and Rummy represented a scofflaw, paranoid Nixon cell within his White House.

“Toward the end, 43 was just as confused as anybody about what makes Cheney tick,” said a Bush family loyalist...

The real tell is in the finish:

... W.’s dark surrogate father is trying to pull the G.O.P. into a black hole of zealotry, just as the sensible brother who lost his future to the scamp brother is trying to get his career back on track.

When Cheney was in the first Bush administration, he was odd man out. Poppy, James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell corralled Cheney’s “Genghis Khan” side, as it was known, and his “rough streak.” Cheney didn’t care for Powell even then.

But with W., “Back Seat” — Cheney’s Secret Service name in the Ford administration — clambered up front. Then he totaled the car. And no amount of yapping on TV is going to change that when history is written.

Yes, it was Darth Cheneyburton that screwed the pooch, not the real thing Sith Lord Poppy. Just wait 'till Jebbie's in the driver's seat again, and you'll see what a real Reptilican is made of.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The sky is falling thirty five years from now!

It must be part of the Mayan calendar thingie. Or maybe John Titor predicted it.

We might face a Social Security shortfall in 35 years, so we should turn it all over to Wall Street immediately if not sooner.

Or, as Atrios says,


If there was any doubt the banksters are playing the Mighty Wurlitzer with the DINOcrats, too, Little Timmy's statement today should end it:

...Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the head of the trustees group, said the new reports were a reminder that "the longer we wait to address the long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security, the sooner those challenges will be upon us and the harder the options will be."

Monday, May 11, 2009

What is this "War Hero" you speak of?

Digby gets it right on Colin Powell in "The Zelig of War Crimes":

...Colin Powell is not only not a war hero, he's actually implicated in war crimes from two different wars --- as one of the "White House Principals" who watched the CIA act out torture techniques for their approval and as one of the men who tried to cover up My Lai. (He was involved in Iran-Contra too.) And that's not even taking into account his pivotal role in energetically selling the Iraq war with bogus intelligence. Certainly, the man cannot be separated from Dick Cheney on that issue...

Certainly not.

He's another Company man who simply opted for more competent figureheads management when he supported Obama over McCain.

And it also helps explain why the Oborg in no way want to prosecute Bu$hCo for their war crimes. They have assimilated far too much. So much in fact one wonders what Obama knew himself and when.