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

Monday, August 31, 2009

Japan: Less is Less, not More

Apparently The New York Pravda and the business intelligensia (almost a Carlin oxymoron) are ruffled about the new bosses in Japan:

TOKYO — Japan’s opposition party won an overwhelming victory at the polls on Sunday pledging to increase social welfare, better protect workers and do away with American-style, pro-market reforms to lead the country out of its long slump.

But while the presumptive prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, rallied campaign crowds with his pledge to shift away from the “excessive” market reforms of recent years, many economists here say Japan may need more American-style deregulation and market-led growth, not less, to invigorate its stagnant economy...

In America, most the people that voted against Bu$hie wanted economic reform, meaning regulating the living crap out the banksters in return for bailing their creamy asses out.

In Amerika, the banksters who owned Bu$hie and bought Barry O. view reform as giving them the keys to the Treasury and using the local Sheriff to reposses your home... so they can sell it again to another sucker to reposses at some convenient date.

I wish the new government in Japan luck. You're going to need it dealing with the fishes.

Do the Monster Mash

Tom Tomorrow:

Don't make us tell you. Or else.

NEW YORK, Aug 27 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve asked a federal judge not to enforce her order that it reveal the names of the banks that have participated in its emergency lending programs and the sums they received, saying such disclosure would threaten the companies and the economy.

The central bank filed its request on Wednesday, two days after Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan ruled in favor of Bloomberg News, which had sought information under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Preska said the Fed failed to show that revealing the names would stigmatize the banks and result in "imminent competitive harm." The Fed asked the judge not to require disclosure while it readies an appeal.

"Immediate release of these documents will cause irreparable harm to these institutions and to the board's ability to effectively manage the current, and any future, financial crisis," the central bank argued.

It added that the public interest favors a delay, citing a potential for "significant harms that could befall not only private companies, but the economy as a whole" if the information were disclosed...

Yes, not only would it precipitate another Great Depression, but likely another Bastille Day.

Underlying this case and a similar one involving News Corp's (NWSA.O) Fox News Network LLC is a question of how much the public has a right to know about how the government is bailing out a financial system in a crisis.

The Clearing House Association LLC, which represents banks, in a separate filing supported the Fed's call for a delay. It said speculation that banks' liquidity is drying up could cause runs on deposits, and trading partners to demand collateral.

"Survival can depend on the ephemeral nature of public confidence," Clearing House general counsel Norman Nelson wrote. "Experience in the banking industry has shown that when customers and market participants hear negative rumors about a bank, negative consequences inevitably flow."

The Clearing House said its members include ABN Amro Holding NV, Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), Bank of New York Mellon Corp (BK.N), Citigroup Inc (C.N), Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE), HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), UBS AG (UBSN.VX), U.S. Bancorp (USB.N) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N).

The case arose when two Bloomberg reporters submitted FOIA requests about actions the Fed took to shore up the financial system in 2007 and early 2008, including an expansion of lending programs and the sale of Bear Stearns Cos to JPMorgan.

The case is: Bloomberg LP v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan), No. 08-9595.

What Happens When Turkey Neck Meets BoTox


Republican Senator Mitch McConnell (KY)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Wisdom of Age

Greenwald points to Maher's interview of Moyers.

As he points out, you might be able to check it out here, here, and here.

Some quotes, again via Greenwald:

... I don’t think the problem is the Republicans . . . .The problem is the Democratic Party. This is a party that has told its progressives -- who are the most outspoken champions of health care reform -- to sit down and shut up. That’s what Rahm Emanuel, the Chief of Staff at the White House, in effect told progressives who stood up as a unit in Congress and said: "no public insurance option, no health care reform."

And I think the reason for that is -- in the time since I was there, 40 years ago, the Democratic Part has become like the Republican Party, deeply influenced by corporate money. I think Rahm Emanuel, who is a clever politician, understands that the money for Obama’s re-election will come from the health care industry, from the drug industry, from Wall Street. And so he’s a corporate Democrat who is determined that there won’t be something in this legislation that will turn off these interests. . . .

Money in politics -- you’ve had in the last 30 years, money has flooded politics . .. the Supreme Court saying "money is free speech." It goes back to the efforts in the 19th Century to give corporations the right of personhood -- so if you as a citizen have the right to donate to campaigns, then so do corporations. Money has flowed in such a flood into both parties that the Democratic Party gets a lot of its support from the very interests that -- when the Republicans are in power -- financially support the Republicans.

You really have essentially -- except for the progressives on the left of the Democratic Party – you really have two corporate parties who in their own way and their own time are serving the interests of basically a narrow set of economic interests in the country -- who, as Glenn Greenwald, who is a great analyst and journalist, wrote just this week: these narrow interests seem to win, determine the outcomes, no matter how many Democrats are elected, no matter who has their hands on the levers of powers, these narrow interests determine the outcomes in Washington, even when they have to run roughshod over the interests of ordinary Americans. I’m sad to say that has happened to the Democratic Party.

I’d rather see Barack Obama go down fighting for vigorous strong principled public insurance, than to lose with a [corporate-dominated] bill . . . . the insurers are winning. Everyone already knows the White House has made a deal with the drug industry -- promising not to import cheaper drugs from Canada and Europe – promising not to use the government to negotiate for better prices -- that deal has been cut . . .

There’s this fear that Barack Obama will become the Grover Cleveland of this era – Grover Cleveland was a good man, but he became a conservative Democratic President because he didn’t fight the powerful interests – people say Obama should be FDR – I’d much rather see him be Theodore Roosevelt --– Teddy Roosevelt loved to fight – … I think if Obama fought instead of really finessed it so much . . . I think it would change the atmosphere...

...I’d think it would be a tragedy beyond description for this young, bright, exciting President to be drawn into an endless war in the same way that the last young, bright, exciting President was drawn into – intervened in Vietnam. I was there when Kennedy chose to send advisers to Vietnam – and was there when LBJ escalated – they both acted from noble intentions – actually they did – they wanted to stop Communism in Asia and spread democracy – but the advisers soon became bombers and the bombers became grounds troops and pretty soon, it became a regional crusade – and 12 years later, billions of dollars, and millions of lives later, including 60,000 American troops – we lost – because the U.S. is not good at that sort of thing...

Which, one suspects is the reason why America is being reshaped into Amerika, so the neo aristocrat wanna-bees can have a real neo Roman Empire.

many useful fools

In our burgeoning neo imperial neo aristocracy there's precious little sense of noblesse oblige. The Roosevelts had it. The Kennedys had it. One doubts we shall see the like of it again.

Glenn Greenwald catches the spirit of the current crop of Village royalty rather well today:

...They should convene a panel for the next Meet the Press with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it's really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency. Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson and John Podhoretz can provide moving commentary on how America is so special because all that matters is merit, not who you know or where you come from. There's a virtually endless list of politically well-placed guests equally qualified to talk on such matters.

About this latest hiring by NBC, Atrios observed: "if only the Villager values of nepotism and torture could be combined somehow." The American Prospect's Adam Serwer quicky noted that they already have been: "Liz Cheney." Liz Cheney is really the perfect face of Washington's political culture, a perfect manifestation of all the rotting diseases that define it and a pure expression of what our country has become and the reasons for its virtual ruin. She should really be on every political TV show all day every day. It's almost as though things can't really be expressed thoroughly without including her. Jenna Bush as a new NBC "reporter" on The Today Show -- at a time when every media outlet is firing and laying off real reporters -- is a very nice addition though...

A useful construct

Via Lambert, a model of how the world really worked:

WASHINGTON -- A recent analysis of the 2007 financial markets of 48 countries has revealed that the world's finances are in the hands of just a few mutual funds, banks, and corporations. This is the first clear picture of the global concentration of financial power, and point out the worldwide financial system's vulnerability as it stood on the brink of the current economic crisis.

A pair of physicists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich did a physics-based analysis of the world economy as it looked in early 2007. Stefano Battiston and James Glattfelder extracted the information [.pdf] from the tangled yarn that links 24,877 stocks and 106,141 shareholding entities in 48 countries, revealing what they called the "backbone" of each country's financial market. These backbones represented the owners of 80 percent of a country's market capital, yet consisted of remarkably few shareholders.

"You start off with these huge national networks that are really big, quite dense," Glattfelder said. “From that you're able to ... unveil the important structure in this original big network. You then realize most of the network isn't at all important."

Then consider that the crisis caused a massive contraction in the number of players still solvent- or with the illusion of solvency- and you begin to appreciate how useful it is to be the drain at the bottom of the whirlpool.

Or the hungriest vampire squid in the deep.

...Based on their analysis, Glattfelder and Battiston identified the ten investment entities who are “big fish” in the most countries. The biggest fish was the Capital Group Companies, with major stakes in 36 of the 48 countries studied. In identifying these major players, the physicists accounted for secondary ownership -- owning stock in companies who then owned stock in another company -- in an attempt to quantify the potential control a given agent might have in a market...

And the main holders in the Capital Group Companies? Why, people like J.P. Morgan Chase, of course.

But on reflection, maybe vampire squid isn't the best analogy for these players.

Bubbles are very useful in gathering the krill.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Think of it as taxes directly to the Company

Kagro X expects to have to pay taxes to the Guvmint. But taxes to the Corporations that have bought the Congresscritters? It's enough to make a progressive into a Libertarian.

...I don't get how you can possibly hand me a health care bill with an individual mandate and no public option. If I'm uninsured or poorly insured, and the answer coming out of Congress is that I now have to buy crappy insurance from some private company that has no plan to actually help me pay for my health care without raking me over the coals, then I've gone into this fight an ardent supporter of strong reform, and come out a teabagger.

You're going to force me to pay an insurance company for shit insurance that as a free market actor I decided not to even try to buy?

Fuck the hell out of that. Come and get me if you want my money. Paying the government against my will I can understand. It's the government, and it takes things. I might not like it, but I get it. Now, "libertarians" will no doubt scoff haughtily at that, but look, we differ on how much intrusion we'll tolerate. BFD. Welcome to Earth. But if I'm gonna lose that money one way or the other, to my mind it had damn well better be to pay for insurance that actually covers something, and not to be burned on executive bonuses, advertising, or 30% overhead when there's a 4% plan on the market.

Paying an insurance company whose product I don't want? That makes no goddamn sense to me whatsoever, and I want nothing to do with it.

Now, it should come as no surprise that the dingbats at Third Way are pushing this nonsense as a "compromise." As you may have heard me say, I don't believe in a third way. When the chips are down, all third ways are just new excuses for voting for one of the two ways you're allowed in Congress: yea or nay. And while Third Way may get warm in the shorts over a "compromise" that keeps the mandates and chucks the public option, I note that it's once again the DLC and their allies that come up with the plan that has me ready to turn my back on the Democratic Party's Big Plan of the Day.

But keep this in mind: that mandate is already in the bill. It was written in right alongside the public option. So the mandate isn't Third Way's invention, it comes from and has the tacit support of Congressional Democrats, both progressive and otherwise. But if you ask me, it only made sense in a context that included the public option. For Third Way or anyone else to suggest it makes sense all on its own is insanity, and I won't play...

So let's get this straight. The banksters that own the insurance conglomerates blew their wad in the derivatives market during the "Bu$h Boom" years. You know, those years of "jobless recovery" so similar to what Barry O. has tried to recreate, when the market bubble just sucked in all the money in every bank in Amerika with the promise of a pyramid of cash for the heavily invested. Then, strangely enough, when enropy finally won out and the whole mess crashed around their ears, said banksters got the promise of all the cash Helicopter Ben and Bu$hie and Barry could print with a signature of the Presidential sharpie. Said promise to back their bets turned Wall Street into a bubbling casino anew. "Twas morning in Amerika again.

For the banksters, anyway.

But that obviously isn't enough. To give them even more capital (read: money to bet with), the DINOcrats decided to run this dog-and-pony show of a Health Care Reform that made great noises about what great favors it was going to do for Mom & Pop Amerika, paying their bills for all the things they needed to stay healthy and in business. Except, you know, it wouldn't really pay for these things- it would demand they pay for them.

To people who weren't obligated to provide anything.

Once again, the banksters are Recovering, aren't they?

Double Minimum

Here’s the count as of today, August 28th:


Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 49 days
2009 total: 191 days (79%)
Since 2004: 702 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days

Public Idiots

What Ted Kennedy Said

Sometimes acrimony is a good thing.

Mr. President, I oppose the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, and I urge the Senate to reject it.

In the Watergate scandal of 1973, two distinguished Republicans — Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus — put integrity and the Constitution ahead of loyalty to a corrupt President. They refused to do Richard Nixon's dirty work, and they refused to obey his order to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. The deed devolved on Solicitor General Robert Bork, who executed the unconscionable assignment that has become one of the darkest chapters for the rule of law in American history.

That act — later ruled illegal by a Federal court  — is sufficient, by itself, to disqualify Mr. Bork from this new position to which he has been nominated. The man who fired Archibald Cox does not deserve to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Mr. Bork should also be rejected by the Senate because he stands for an extremist view of the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court that would have placed him outside the mainstream of American constitutional jurisprudence in the 1960s, let alone the 1980s. He opposed the Public Accommodations Civil Rights Act of 1964. He opposed the one-man one-vote decision of the Supreme Court the same year. He has said that the First Amendment applies only to political speech, not literature or works of art or scientific expression.

Under the twin pressures of academic rejection and the prospect of Senate rejection, Mr. Bork subsequently retracted the most neanderthal of these views on civil rights and the first amendment. But his mind-set is no less ominous today.

Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.

America is a better and freer nation than Robert Bork thinks. Yet in the current delicate balance of the Supreme Court, his rigid ideology will tip the scales of justice against the kind of country America is and ought to be.

The damage that President Reagan will do through this nomination, if it is not rejected by the Senate, could live on far beyond the end of his presidential term. President Reagan is still our President. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate, and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and on the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice...

It's really okay to be partisan against the bad guys.

Finally, we must take a measure of the man. Not the person, or the legislator, or the family member. No, the man. Ted Kennedy was more of a man's man than any of the brush-clearing, hick-talking, pick-up driving politicians who overcompensate again and again by faking it. No, Kennedy demonstrated, through all the ups and downs, again and again what a real man is. It is a type of masculinity that we rarely see anymore because it is a fearlessness that few are allowed to embrace...

For a man does not shy away from the tragedies of his life. When John was assassinated, Kennedy took up the cause of the civil rights movement as his first major action in the Senate. When Bobby was killed, he began to push even harder against the Vietnam War. When his 12 year-old son, Ted, Jr., had to have a leg amputated to prevent the cancer there from spreading in 1973, Kennedy threw himself into the cause of rights for people with disabilities as much as his sister, Eunice, had, a crusade that would last the rest of his life.

A man fucks up again and again, but he owns his mistakes and learns from them. Ted Kennedy wore his flaws openly in his personal life. Some of it was the price of juvenile overindulgence (even as an adult) and some of it was just stupidity. The question is less about fucking up, but how a man reacts to it. He was kicked out of Harvard for cheating on an exam, so he joined the military (although he would achieve none of the glory of John and Joe, Jr.). When the Chappaquiddick incident happened, he nutted up and told the voters to decide on his fate. He was a hard-drinking son of a bitch who screwed around on his first wife, a Dean Martin-like punchline to jokes about alcoholism and a tabloid laughingstock. During that period, among other things, he was getting funding cut off to Chile because of Pinochet's barbarism, pushing legislation to help political refugees, getting sanctions imposed on apartheid-era South Africa, negotiating with Gorbachev on nuclear missiles, stopping Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination, and strengthening the Civil Rights Act. What did you do on your years-long bender? He paid, too, with his presidential ambitions dashed. And when he was slugging 'em back like a frat boy with his nephews on a night that ended with William Kennedy Smith arrested on an accusation of rape, Kennedy made another public reckoning about who he was as a man in a speech in October 1991. And despite all he had accomplished before, he grew up, finally, understanding that to be a man one must become a man.

A man works to help those who need help. A real man is a liberal because a real man is unafraid of change and progress and difference. Let us come back to the money. The Kennedy family has always seen wealth as a privilege, a burden, and an opportunity to do good for others. Yes, it is easier to support charities and to have the time to work for various causes. But Kennedy made it his role in government to level the playing field. Where do you wanna go with this? Other than his work that climaxed with the Americans With Disabilities Act, other than his support for civil rights legislation going back to the 1964 act, we could talk about the Ryan White CARE Act, which gave funds to cities hardest hit by the AIDS crisis; we could talk about his intense support for the rights of workers through raising the minimum wage and supporting union goals; we could talk about his work for housing, for education, for women and children, for the Family and Medical Leave Act. We could talk about how he opposed the Iraq War, how he was working to provide educational opportunities to kids in Muslim countries, how he helped end the war in Northern Ireland. We could talk about how he believed, his entire career, that health care for everyone was a right, not a privilege, with COBRA and S-CHIP having been accomplished because of him. He was an unabashed, proud liberal whose full-throated speeches roared in defense of the whole ideology against the ignorance of those who would keep progress from being achieved.

A man is willing to embrace his enemies. Yesterday, Ron Reagan, Jr. had his mother on his radio show to talk about how much the Reagans loved Ted Kennedy. Kennedy and Nancy Reagan were allies on stem cell research funding, but the former first lady talked about how she and her husband were dear friends with Kennedy. Kennedy worked with Orrin Hatch, Richard Lugar, both George Bushes, and anyone he could to accomplish his goals. That's called politics. Compromise was a willingness for both sides to move. When George W. Bush dicked him over on No Child Left Behind funding, Kennedy had to know that a tide had shifted in a way that was going to make the entire process of legislating more rancorous and difficult. The political nature of the nation was moving into entrenchment, which was not how Ted Kennedy functioned.

A man knows how to die. A man understands that the end comes and doesn't desperately cling to every millisecond of life that medical science can squeeze out of him. No, a man dies with his family, in a place he loves, having done much, knowing that there was much still to be done, but accepting that there's only so much one can live.

The Better to Eat You With, My Dear

It is noted with puzzlement in The New York Pravda that sure is a wide smile the banksters are wearing lately.

Yes, come on down and buy, buy, buy. The vampire squid are waiting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tom Swift and his Electronic Rifle

It's not just torture, it's murder.

...Unlike the current Taser X26, which fires darts attached to short wires, the XREP is wire-free. Its projectile, the size of a shotgun cartridge, is designed to pierce the target's skin and contains battery-powered circuits that deliver a debilitating shock. It has a range of 20 metres or more, compared with 5 metres for previous Tasers.

A team led by Cynthia Bir, a trauma injury specialist at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, found that some of the 275 XREP cartridges that Taser supplied for testing last year were capable of delivering an electric shock for more than 5 minutes, rather than the 20 seconds of shocking current they are supposed to generate. Previous Taser stun guns shock for only 5 seconds per discharge, though that can be repeated...

I bet Blackwater/ Xe has ordered thousands with a Federal grant, of course.

A Love Story

Check it out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reasons for the Noise

Why do we have China Racing Ahead of U.S. in Drive to Go Solar ?

Because the morons that control America would rather hear idiots say things like "‘Peak Oil’ Is a Waste of Energy."

Evidence suggests peak oil has happened already in many places.

Just because there are a few places ExxonMobil hasn't drained yet doesn't mean it hasn't happened globally.

The goal of big oil is to wring every last dollar it can out of every last drop in the ground.

The goal of the big money and the old money behind big money is to create a post-industrial neofeudalist world where the right people have all the resources and own everyone and everything.

There will be no alternative energy here before they're ready.

Fortunately no one has told the bigger part of the world that has no desire to be owned by Amerikan royalist wanna-bees.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Continuing the Sargent Schultz Defense

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terror suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but will monitor their treatment to ensure they are not tortured, administration officials said on Monday...

At this late date, such a policy would be known as Implausible Deniability.

Speaking of implausible deniability, the bankster show must go on at the Fed for another term!

What, me worry?

..."The president thinks that Ben’s done a great job as Fed chairman, that he has helped the economy through one of the worst experiences since the Great Depression and that he has essentially been pulling the economy back from the brink of what would have been the second Great Depression,” an administration official said on Monday night...

I'll leave the floor open to Dean Baker.

The President is a lying shill and his owners are already planning his Republican replacement.

Which won't matter to Barry O.: he figures he's made history, won his tenure, and doubtless a sweet and lucrative retirement as long as he continues to follow orders.

Dawn of the Dead Ideas

It's the bite of the big money that's viral, however. Krugman:

...Call me naïve, but I actually hoped that the failure of Reaganism in practice would kill it. It turns out, however, to be a zombie doctrine: even though it should be dead, it keeps on coming.

Let’s talk for a moment about why the age of Reagan should be over.

First of all, even before the current crisis Reaganomics had failed to deliver what it promised. Remember how lower taxes on high incomes and deregulation that unleashed the “magic of the marketplace” were supposed to lead to dramatically better outcomes for everyone? Well, it didn’t happen.

To be sure, the wealthy benefited enormously: the real incomes of the top .01 percent of Americans rose sevenfold between 1980 and 2007. But the real income of the median family rose only 22 percent, less than a third its growth over the previous 27 years.

Moreover, most of whatever gains ordinary Americans achieved came during the Clinton years. President George W. Bush, who had the distinction of being the first Reaganite president to also have a fully Republican Congress, also had the distinction of presiding over the first administration since Herbert Hoover in which the typical family failed to see any significant income gains.

And then there’s the small matter of the worst recession since the 1930s.

There’s a lot to be said about the financial disaster of the last two years, but the short version is simple: politicians in the thrall of Reaganite ideology dismantled the New Deal regulations that had prevented banking crises for half a century, believing that financial markets could take care of themselves. The effect was to make the financial system vulnerable to a 1930s-style crisis — and the crisis came.

“We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals,” said Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937. “We know now that it is bad economics.” And last year we learned that lesson all over again.

Or did we? The astonishing thing about the current political scene is the extent to which nothing has changed.

The debate over the public option has, as I said, been depressing in its inanity. Opponents of the option — not just Republicans, but Democrats like Senator Kent Conrad and Senator Ben Nelson — have offered no coherent arguments against it. Mr. Nelson has warned ominously that if the option were available, Americans would choose it over private insurance — which he treats as a self-evidently bad thing, rather than as what should happen if the government plan was, in fact, better than what private insurers offer.

But it’s much the same on other fronts. Efforts to strengthen bank regulation appear to be losing steam, as opponents of reform declare that more regulation would lead to less financial innovation — this just months after the wonders of innovation brought our financial system to the edge of collapse, a collapse that was averted only with huge infusions of taxpayer funds.

So why won’t these zombie ideas die?

Part of the answer is that there’s a lot of money behind them. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something,” said Upton Sinclair, “when his salary” — or, I would add, his campaign contributions — “depend upon his not understanding it.” In particular, vast amounts of insurance industry money have been flowing to obstructionist Democrats like Mr. Nelson and Senator Max Baucus, whose Gang of Six negotiations have been a crucial roadblock to legislation.

But some of the blame also must rest with President Obama, who famously praised Reagan during the Democratic primary, and hasn’t used the bully pulpit to confront government-is-bad fundamentalism. That’s ironic, in a way, since a large part of what made Reagan so effective, for better or for worse, was the fact that he sought to change America’s thinking as well as its tax code...

So maybe I am wrong about the next $election.

Whether or not its Jebbie, we should expect Zombie Ron to lead the Reptilicans in 2012.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Company War

Even as U.S. troops surge to new highs in Afghanistan they are outnumbered by military contractors working alongside them, according to a Defense Department census due to be distributed to Congress -- illustrating how hard it is for the U.S. to wean itself from the large numbers of war-zone contractors that proved controversial in Iraq.

The number of military contractors in Afghanistan rose to almost 74,000 by June 30, far outnumbering the roughly 58,000 U.S. soldiers on the ground at that point. As the military force in Afghanistan grows further, to a planned 68,000 by the end of the year, the Defense Department expects the ranks of contractors to increase more...

Lyndon Baines Obama or Bust

Some people get decidedly irate when I make this comparison, but the similarities keep striking people.

...To be sure, such historical analogies are overly simplistic and fatally flawed, if only because each presidency is distinct in its own way. But the L.B.J. model — a president who aspired to reshape America at home while fighting a losing war abroad — is one that haunts Mr. Obama’s White House as it seeks to salvage Afghanistan while enacting an expansive domestic program.

In this summer of discontent for Mr. Obama, as the heady early days give way to the grinding battle for elusive goals, he looks ahead to an uncertain future not only for his legislative agenda but for what has indisputably become his war. Last week’s elections in Afghanistan played out at the same time as the debate over health care heated up in Washington, producing one of those split-screen moments that could not help but remind some of Mr. Johnson’s struggles to build a Great Society while fighting in Vietnam.

“The analogy of Lyndon Johnson suggests itself very profoundly,” said David M. Kennedy, the Stanford University historian. Mr. Obama, he said, must avoid letting Afghanistan shadow his presidency as Vietnam did Mr. Johnson’s. “He needs to worry about the outcome of that intervention and policy and how it could spill over into everything else he wants to accomplish.”

Then don't. End the War in Iraq and Afghanistan now, just pack our kids up and walk away.

Make an open ended Medicare for everyone, now, with no rationing and no age or health limits.

Take over the renegade banks now, and heavily regulate the banking and investment industry.

And when McCain and his ilk call you a socialist? Beef the hell up your Secret Service, and go for Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton. To the Hague. And while you're at it, bust up the Carlyle Group and open the entire military-security-industrial complex to the Justice Department.

You might start off with Blackwater/ Xe.

They aren't going to ride your Unity pony, so do what we elected you to do.

But stay out of open cars in Dallas, will you?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The War on Terra as Mandated by God

Of course, that god would be Ares...

...Holbrooke seems to think that our drone missiles, our military bases and our bombings of weddings and funerals are all integral parts of a Muslim Reformation:

Ambassador Holbrooke expressed the ambition to add a spiritual dimension to his efforts in the region. He said the religiously motivated enemies of the American presence in Asia "present themselves as false messengers of a prophet, which is what they do. And we need to combat it." (Surely he has his theology badly confused?)

But of course the reason why Holbrooke's "theology" is confused here is because he is not trying to make actual sense with his words. He -- like his boss, and all the other servants of Ares in the American elite --is merely making vaguely agreeable noises to obfuscate the blood-and-iron reality of empire in action. They want loot, power, and obedience -- but they can't come out and say it. And so we will continue to hear, from Republican and Democrat, from conservative and progressive, lie after lie after lie about "building" freedom and democracy and rights and law and prosperity and security by "killing thousands of innocent people" in broken and volatile lands.

It's all in the timing

Everyone from Roubini to Krugman to now Alan Greenspan say that the fundamental instability of $9 trillion worth of bad derivatives and myriad other facotrs will eventually tank the economy again sometime next year.

Which will, coincidently, time itself just right for the Reptilican takeover of Congress.

This is assuming the 70% of America that supported the One in 2008 doesn't wise up and produce some real Democrats to run and win against the DINOcrats and Reptilicans current gaming the $ystem and owned by the banksters.

Why Change When the Private Ones Work So Well?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Credibility Gap Recovery Just Around the Corner

Krugman is "shocked and surprised at their shock and surprise."

A backlash in the progressive base — which pushed President Obama over the top in the Democratic primary and played a major role in his general election victory — has been building for months. The fight over the public option involves real policy substance, but it’s also a proxy for broader questions about the president’s priorities and overall approach.

The idea of letting individuals buy insurance from a government-run plan was introduced in 2007 by Jacob Hacker of Yale, was picked up by John Edwards during the Democratic primary, and became part of the original Obama health care plan.

One purpose of the public option is to save money. Experience with Medicare suggests that a government-run plan would have lower costs than private insurers; in addition, it would introduce more competition and keep premiums down.

And let’s be clear: the supposed alternative, nonprofit co-ops, is a sham. That’s not just my opinion; it’s what the market says: stocks of health insurance companies soared on news that the Gang of Six senators trying to negotiate a bipartisan approach to health reform were dropping the public plan. Clearly, investors believe that co-ops would offer little real competition to private insurers.

Also, and importantly, the public option offered a way to reconcile differing views among Democrats. Until the idea of the public option came along, a significant faction within the party rejected anything short of true single-payer, Medicare-for-all reform, viewing anything less as perpetuating the flaws of our current system. The public option, which would force insurance companies to prove their usefulness or fade away, settled some of those qualms...

On the issue of health care itself, the inspiring figure progressives thought they had elected comes across, far too often, as a dry technocrat who talks of “bending the curve” but has only recently begun to make the moral case for reform. Mr. Obama’s explanations of his plan have gotten clearer, but he still seems unable to settle on a simple, pithy formula; his speeches and op-eds still read as if they were written by a committee.

Meanwhile, on such fraught questions as torture and indefinite detention, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to challenge or change Bush administration policy.

And then there’s the matter of the banks.

I don’t know if administration officials realize just how much damage they’ve done themselves with their kid-gloves treatment of the financial industry, just how badly the spectacle of government supported institutions paying giant bonuses is playing...

If they're really shocked and surprised, I'd be shocked and surprised too. I figure this is more kabuki for the captive audience that feels it has no choice but to vote for a centrist, a fool, or a fascist for president. However, it seems that Kucinich and Dean are intent on reminding us there are other choices in 2012, and if America is willing to elect a black man for president they might be willing to try a real progressive too.

Speaking of fascists, lookit who the CIA has running their robotic drone assasin program: Blackwater/ Xe.

...The division’s operations are carried out at hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft, work previously performed by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. They also provide security at the covert bases, the officials said...

Yes, if Blackwater's involved I'm sure their base's location is secret to everyone except the local prostitutes, their pimps, and the local opium producers that are doubtless exporting their goods through Blackwater too.

You have to admit, if there was any one Company qualified to sow the seeds for a Skynet/ Cylon/ Terminator AI into the programming for robotic drones, you couldn't chose a better one than Blackwater.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Guenael Mettraux is an idiot, a fool, or both.

A Nuremberg for Guantánamo?

For the inmates? You mean all those Iraqi kids who fought back when their country was bombed and invaded in response to something they had nothing to do with?

How about Bu$hie and Big Time Dick on trial at the Hague for war crimes? And Rummy? And Feith? And their cast of thousands?

Teh Rahmmer is not a progressive

So kos tells us, among others, just in case you didn't notice.

Somehow the One- not to mention many of his beloved minions- missed this fine point of Statecraft.

It seems we being set up to think that, anyway.

Like kos, many of the more (intially) feverish of the Oborg have become decidedly unAssimilated lately. Joe Conanson:

...Every mistake made by the Obama White House in the pursuit of health care reform can be traced to the political style and ideological prejudices of Emanuel, who has sought to intimidate progressives and empower conservatives, always in the name of winning elections and “getting things done.”

A self-styled tough guy who famously likes to prove his point with abusive language and threats, he led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the years when the party regained its majority—when he spent millions to elect the “Blue Dogs,” who have done so much to thwart the president’s agenda on health, energy and economic recovery.

He repeatedly intervened in primary elections around the country to promote GOP-lite candidates against challengers who actually represented the party’s bedrock beliefs. Around that same time, he co-authored a lightweight volume on national policy, titled “The Plan,” that explained why he believed that universal health coverage could not be passed, so Democrats should settle for covering the nation’s children, which had largely been achieved by then.

All this dubious history was no secret when Obama appointed the combative Chicagoan to run his shop. Although few Democrats trusted Emanuel to hold true to principle, many hoped that he would get things done—and that those things would reflect the progressive outlook of his boss rather than the attitude of accommodation he picked up on Capitol Hill.

Instead and perhaps inevitably, his narrow pragmatism is shaping the Obama administration’s approach to reform. As long as some kind of bill passes, Emanuel won’t worry when the corporate powers override the public interest once again. He will congratulate himself on a job well done. His Blue Dogs will boast of frustrating that liberal Obama. Everyone will get a nice check from the insurance lobbyists...

But don't blame it all on Teh Rahmmer. After all, he's just doing his job. He's a good Company salaryman.

I like this comment to Matt:

...Don’t you know that your “Manufacturing Consent” theory is just a craaaaazy conspiracy threory? People don’t really sit in a conference room at the Brookings Institute and determine exactly how the policies they write will be reported on in the corporate media.

And I’m also certain that ex CIA Director and “boating accident” victim, William Colby was just psy-opping us when he said “The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.”

Absolutely. After all, the CIA is pretty well owned itself.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Health Care Reform: the DINOcrat Iraq

Bait and switch being the operative term.

What else can you call it? On the campaign trail, the One makes cases for Single Payer. After the first one hundred, it morphed to the Public Option. Now that's morphed into Insurance Co-Operatives that require everyone to buy health insurance and pay taxes on the insurnace they've bought to pay for the benefits.

Sort of like the Iraq War, which the One was going to end. Which he "ended" by pulling troops out of the cities to guard the oilfields and the bases. Not out of Iraq, mind you. There are pretty much as many Americans there now as there have ever been.

And the good war in Afghanistan is escalating drastically.

Tiabbi's right.

But what he doesn't see is that the Village will blame the fall of a centrist Obama squarely on the progressives, not on Obama's abandonment of most of the promises he made to get to the White House.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Because you gain control if you surrender if you're a progressive, right?

It says so right there on the label of the Kool-Aid packet, right?

Apparently teh Rahmmer reads Teh Washington Pravda to the One.

Oh yeah, Matt Tiabbi has another vampire squid on his mind:

...Now, obviously (and this is will be explored in more detail in the forthcoming piece, which will be out this week), the public option was not a cure-all. In fact, the Democrats had in reality already managed to kill the public option by watering it down to the point of near-meaninglessness. But the notion that our president not only does not have any use anymore for a public option, but in fact “will be satisfied” if there is merely “choice and competition” in the market is, well, disgusting.

I’ll say this for George Bush: you’d never have caught him frantically negotiating against himself to take the meat out of a signature legislative initiative just because his approval ratings had a bad summer. Can you imagine Bush and Karl Rove allowing themselves to be paraded through Washington on a leash by some dimwit Republican Senator of a state with six people in it the way the Obama White House this summer is allowing Max Baucus (favorite son of the mighty state of Montana) to frog-march them to a one-term presidency?

To quote Method Man’s Calvin “Cheese” Wagstaff character from The Wire, “This is some shameless shit right here.”

As in: "DINOcrats like Obama are p3wnd by the banksters that control the insurance companies".

Reformed Reform

Bob Herbert:

... Forget about a crackdown on price-gouging drug companies and predatory insurance firms. That’s not happening. With the public pretty well confused about what is going on, we’re headed — at best — toward changes that will result in a lot more people getting covered, but that will not control exploding health care costs and will leave industry leaders feeling like they’ve hit the jackpot.

The hope of a government-run insurance option is all but gone. So there will be no effective alternative for consumers in the market for health coverage, which means no competitive pressure for private insurers to rein in premiums and other charges. (Forget about the nonprofit cooperatives. That’s like sending peewee footballers up against the Super Bowl champs.)

Insurance companies are delighted with the way “reform” is unfolding. Think of it: The government is planning to require most uninsured Americans to buy health coverage. Millions of young and healthy individuals will be herded into the industry’s welcoming arms. This is the population the insurers drool over.

This additional business — a gold mine — will more than offset the cost of important new regulations that, among other things, will prevent insurers from denying coverage to applicants with pre-existing conditions or imposing lifetime limits on benefits. Poor people will either be funneled into Medicaid, which will have its eligibility ceiling raised, or will receive a government subsidy to help with the purchase of private insurance.

If the oldest and sickest are on Medicare, and the poorest are on Medicaid, and the young and the healthy are required to purchase private insurance without the option of a competing government-run plan — well, that’s reform the insurance companies can believe in...

Monday, August 17, 2009

" Just think what it would be like if ol' President Change would start producing some, y'know, change."

The Lady has a point.

Meanwhile, the One speaks out of both sides of his mouth.

But the rest of his Party not completely owned by the insurance companies is pissed, and for good reason.

What is this "reform" of which you speak?


...Add in the dealmaking as part of the health care process itself, and progressives can be forgiven for having the impression that Obama (a) takes them for granted (b) is way too easily rolled by the other side.

So progressives have their backs up over one provision in health care reform that’s easy to monitor. The public option has become not so much a symbol as a signal, a test of whether Obama is really the progressive activists thought they were backing.

And the bizarre thing is that the administration doesn’t seem to get that.

I think it is largely because the One lives in a bubble of his own chosing, his Ba$e's approval, and Rahm's handiwork.

Of course, it doesn't help when so-called "liberal" publications like The New York Times publish crap saying liberals want to limit Medicare for the over 85.

Any one who claims to be "liberal" and advocates that is nothing like a liberal.

Now you know the origin of the term DINOcrat: Democrat in Name Only.

A nation that can give a trillion dollars to the banksters up front and promise them another 9 trillion more can provide good healthcare for everybody.

Hell, we could pay off the educational loans of every medical professional in the country, give them salaries equal to or better than they already have, and run free clinics on every streetcorner for a fraction of what we're paying and going to pay as long as we live to keep the banksters solvent.

Who's Funding the Terrorists?

Why, it could be that you are:

KABUL — It is the open secret no one wants to talk about, the unwelcome truth that most prefer to hide. In Afghanistan, one of the richest sources of Taliban funding is the foreign assistance coming into the country.

Virtually every major project includes a healthy cut for the insurgents. Call it protection money, call it extortion, or, as the Taliban themselves prefer to term it, “spoils of war,” the fact remains that international donors, primarily the United States, are to a large extent financing their own enemy.

“Everyone knows this is going on,” said one U.S. Embassy official, speaking privately...

with a tip o'teh tinfoil to Cryptogon again.

Illegal Aliens

Just go see it.

And if they did crashland at Area 51, feel sorry for them.

The Bait is Switched

Having long ago taken single-payer off the table, it now appears as if the sell-out of any real reform to the healthcare system is complete.

Well, what else did you expect?
1) Bu$hie's Ba$e became Obama's Ba$e when the banksters jumped on to his candidacy.
2) Look what the Company did to geld the administration of Clinton, Carter, Johnson and Kennedy. I'm sure Barry O. has.

The problem is he still thinks he's in Chicago. He thinks he can make face saving deals with the system and still do what he wants for his people. He thinks if he placates the egos of the opposition they'll back off.

No way. Give them what they want and they'll still try to eliminate Social Security.

And Medicare, too.

So if it took a Bu$h to introduce socialism by and for the banksters to Amerika, one can only assume it takes the first African-American president to completely destroy the New Deal.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

For rebuilding only

I'm sure the profits of Exxon/ Mobil have nothing to do with this.

Isn't it nice the D.o'D. can use their latest high techie toys to work for Big Oil?

But in the end, let's give a final dig at Team Xinhua

...when it came time to sell the data along with exploration rights for potential copper mines, Kabul picked a Chinese company — even though the U.S. government had done all the survey work, for free.

That's called maximum bhang for the buck.

"...an Amerika few want to bring back"

Frank Rich:

...nostalgia for an America that few want to bring back — where women were most valued as sex objects or subservient housewives, where blacks were, at best, second-class citizens, and where the hedonistic guzzling of gas and gin went unquestioned...

Few, huh?

Just the ones willing to do anything for it, that's all...

"Baffled, just baffled i tell you..."

Bruce Bartlett via Steve Benen via Atrios:

...political parties should do penance for their mistakes and just losing power is not enough. Part of that involves understanding why those mistakes were made and how to prevent them from happening again. Republicans, however, have done no penance. They just pretend that they did nothing wrong. But until they do penance they don't deserve any credibility and should be ignored until they do. That's what my attacks on Bush are all about. I want Republicans to admit they were wrong about him, accept blame for his mistakes, and take some meaningful action to keep them from happening again. Bush should be treated as a pariah, as Richard Nixon was for many years until he rebuilt his credibility by more or less coming clean about Watergate with David Frost and writing a number of thoughtful books.

One reason this isn't happening is because the media don't treat Republicans as if they are discredited. On the contrary, they often seem to be treated as if they have more credibility than the administration. Just look at the silly issue of death panels. The media should have laughed it out the window, ridiculed it or at least ignored it once it was determined that there was no basis to the charge. Instead, those making the most outlandish charges are treated with deference and respect, while those that actually have credibility on the subject are treated as equals at best and often with deep skepticism, as if they are the ones with an ax to grind.

I am truly baffled by this situation, as I'm sure you are...

Why, Duncan?

I think this person knows:

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Three Loans for the Elven Kings Under the Sky

Who's the richest man in the world? Your first guess is wrong. It's not Bill Gates, or anyone else whose name you'll ever hear mentioned in the news.

The leaders of the international banking cartel have wealth far beyond anything you can possibly imagine. Some sources list it at $300 trillion. Many of their businesses are privately held, which means that it would be hard to value them. With anonymous corporate ownership, it's hard to tell what their shareholdings are. Their private businesses are held in trusts that provide anonymity and tax protection. Plus, the international banking cartel doesn't just control businesses. They have their own spy networks and control governments. They have completely infiltrated most world governments. How would you place a market value on complete control of the US government? How would you place a market value on control of people via educational systems and the media?

Of course, nobody believes that...

Concerned Citizen

The is only One God, and His name is Mammon

...“God knows where the money is, and he knows how to get the money to you,” preached Mrs. Copeland, dressed in a crisp pants ensemble like those worn by C.E.O.’s.

Even in an economic downturn, preachers in the “prosperity gospel” movement are drawing sizable, adoring audiences. Their message — that if you have sufficient faith in God and the Bible and donate generously, God will multiply your offerings a hundredfold — is reassuring to many in hard times...

Only God knows where their money went, but I'll wager there are some offshore accounts involved.

Friday, August 14, 2009

That Deer in the Headlights Look

Krugman comments on it in Pravda, with his usual I-told-you-so to the bipartisans.

But Robert Parry gets this absolutely right:

...the key point is that the response from sane Americans remains inadequate to this angry irrationality.

Some rational Americans, it seems, have their own erroneous beliefs that justify inaction. Over the years, I’ve often heard the hopeful slogans that “the truth will out” or that “the pendulum will swing back,” when the reality is that there are no automatic mechanisms for stopping lies and distortions.

Truth is a battle, much as democracy is. Bringing truth to light requires resources and infrastructure, as well as personal honesty and courage. That is especially true when the other side in the battle has opted for a strategy of falsehoods and exaggerations – and has assembled both powerful artillery and well-trained mercenaries to carry out what it calls “information warfare.”

In such a conflict, there is no guarantee or even a likelihood that the “truth will out,” at least not on its own. Nor is there any reason to believe some mythical pendulum will restore a normal order.

What I have seen during more than three decades in Washington is that many truths remain effectively hidden, even if technically they have been revealed. A rare moment of truth-telling can be easily overwhelmed by a steady barrage of falsehoods and an infusion of well-calibrated doubts...

There are even entire branches of government devoted to disinformation. So why should the Company be any different? Especially when the rubes are willing.

Insanity it truely is.

Despite all the well meaning hand-wringing of the progressive about how poorly informed these people are, the simple facts are they often choose to be this way.

We all have acquaintances and relatives who have quite as much opportunity to learn the facts with exposure to the world as we do. In fact, many people pointedly ignore the world around them. When large numbers of people have radically different world views, and big money can be made from the conflict, it's a recipe for some very nasty weather indeed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Banksters Try Another Sale on Perpetual Motion

“If your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics, there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation” -Sir Arthur Eddinton

The ArchDruid speaks on The Economics of Entropy. You listen.

Against this backdrop, we are assured, the Recovery is nigh.

Nigh what, exactly, isn't specified.

We are told the chocolate making countries, France and Germany, are back to normal, not because they didn't bet against entropy like the Amerikan and British (largely the chocolate makers didn't treat their banks like casinos) but because "the financial shock ebbed" there first.

It ebbed there first because they had that socialist safety net health care thing the banksters and their mouthpieces here in Amerika are so terrified of.

When people have jobs to do, and the money still flows, it doesn't matter so much if the speculators lose their shirts.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Misreading the Issues for Fun and Profit

It is my experience that any issue with clear sides as presented by the media is misrepresented.

Global warming, health care, the economy, you name it. The actions the movers want their minions to take profit the movers first and foremost. It's called riding the wave.

The Dark Wraith has a great piece, along with a link to Dr. Andrew Weil, on the misdiagnosis of the health care crisis.

Dr. P.D. Scott has a similar post on the nature of the Great Game in central Asia.

Some times you can spot mouthpieces that are moved around to amplify a given signal. John Tierny at The New York Pravda is a great example. In the early days of the War on Terra he was given a weekly column on the editorial page lauding Commander Codpiece's latest manly excursion into Iraq.

When things started going not-so-good for Bu$hie Bunnypants he was discretely moved into a science column.

This week he's got an article in that prime Pravda opinion-shaping real estate singing the praises of geoengineering as a solution to global warming [http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/science/11tier.html].

Industrial grade geoengineering is presented as a solution to the problem of heavy industrialization. Because, you know, where's the profit in making green cities, low impact lifestyles, and planting trees? Imperial problems only have imperial solutions to those that love the Empire.

Monday, August 10, 2009

If they told you they'd have to kill you

WASHINGTON — Although hundreds of well-trained eyes are watching over the $700 billion that Congress last year decided to spend bailing out the nation's financial sector, it's still difficult to answer some of the most basic questions about where the money went.

Despite a new oversight panel, a new special inspector general, the existing Government Accountability Office and eight other inspectors general, those charged with minding the store say they don't have all the weapons they need. Ten months into the Troubled Asset Relief Program, some members of Congress say that some oversight of bailout dollars has been so lacking that it's essentially worthless.

"TARP has become a program in which taxpayers are not being told what most of the TARP recipients are doing with their money, have still not been told how much their substantial investments are worth, and will not be told the full details of how their money is being invested," a special inspector general over the program reported last month. The "very credibility" of the program is at stake, it said...

What is this "credibility" of which you speak?

I like that term, "ethics waiver". Sounds sort of like what Bu$hie got when he decided to run against those heathen Clintonista. Or what the Oborg got when they sucked up to the bipartisans.

Then there's the New Waiver:

The Wall Street Journal reports that Timothy Geithner tongue-lashed Federal financial services regulators over their bucking the Obama Administration initiative for the Fed to become The One Regulator to Rule Them All. This comes on the heels of Congressional testimony which showed rather clearly that the key actors were not singing from the same hymnal.

"Enough is enough"

I couldn't have said it better.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Not to be Outdone by the Competition

DynCorp's got nothing on Blackwater/ Xe.

Since the revelation earlier this week of allegations by two former employees of security firm Blackwater that its owner was complicit in murder in order to cover up the deliberate killing of Iraqi civilians, explosive charges have continued to emerge.

Perhaps the most shocking of those charges — quoted by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Thursday from the employees’ sworn declarations — is that Blackwater was guilty of using child prostitutes at its compound in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and that owner Erik Prince knew of this activity and did nothing to stop it...

Sort of like their Washington cronies funneling them the money and doing nothing to stop it despite all the allegations over the years.

The Invisible Hand of the Marketeers

A big problem for the Company: it's not so invisible anymore. Frank Rich:

...there is real reason for longer-term worry in the form of a persistent, anecdotal drift toward disillusionment among some of the president’s supporters. And not merely those on the left. This concern was perhaps best articulated by an Obama voter, a real estate agent in Virginia, featured on the front page of The Washington Post last week. “Nothing’s changed for the common guy,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been punked.” She cited in particular the billions of dollars in bailouts given to banks that still “act like they’re broke.”

But this mood isn’t just about the banks, Public Enemy No. 1. What the Great Recession has crystallized is a larger syndrome that Obama tapped into during the campaign. It’s the sinking sensation that the American game is rigged — that, as the president typically put it a month after his inauguration, the system is in hock to “the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few” who have “run Washington far too long.” He promised to smite them.

No president can do that alone, let alone in six months. To make Obama’s goal more quixotic, the ailment that he diagnosed is far bigger than Washington and often beyond politics’ domain. What disturbs Americans of all ideological persuasions is the fear that almost everything, not just government, is fixed or manipulated by some powerful hidden hand, from commercial transactions as trivial as the sales of prime concert tickets to cultural forces as pervasive as the news media.

It’s a cynicism confirmed almost daily by events. Last week Brian Stelter of The Times reported that the corporate bosses of MSNBC and Fox News, Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric and Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation, had sanctioned their lieutenants to broker what a G.E. spokesman called a new “level of civility” between their brawling cable stars, Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly. A Fox spokesman later confirmed to Howard Kurtz of The Post that “there was an agreement” at least at the corporate level. Olbermann said he was a “party to no deal,” and in any event what looked like a temporary truce ended after The Times article was published. But the whole scrape only fed legitimate suspicions on the right and left alike that even their loudest public voices can be silenced if the business interests of the real American elite decree it.

You might wonder whether networks could some day cut out the middlemen — anchors — and just put covert lobbyists and publicists on the air to deliver the news. Actually, that has already happened. The most notorious example was the flock of retired military officers who served as television “news analysts” during the Iraq war while clandestinely lobbying for defense contractors eager to sell their costly wares to the Pentagon.

The revelation of that scandal did not end the practice. Last week MSNBC had to apologize for deploying the former Newsweek writer Richard Wolffe as a substitute host for Olbermann without mentioning his new career as a corporate flack. Wolffe might still be anchoring on MSNBC if the blogger Glenn Greenwald hadn’t called attention to his day job. MSNBC assured its viewers that there were no conflicts of interest, but we must take that on faith, since we still don’t know which clients Wolffe represents as a senior strategist for his firm, Public Strategies, whose chief executive is the former Bush White House spin artist, Dan Bartlett.

Let’s presume that Wolffe’s clients do not include the corporate interests with billions at stake in MSNBC and Washington’s Topic A, the health care debate. If so, he’s about the only player in the political-corporate culture who’s not riding that gravy train.

As Democrats have pointed out, the angry hecklers disrupting town-hall meetings convened by members of Congress are not always ordinary citizens engaging in spontaneous grass-roots protests or even G.O.P. operatives, but proxies for corporate lobbyists. One group facilitating the screamers is FreedomWorks, which is run by the former Congressman Dick Armey, now a lobbyist at the DLA Piper law firm. Medicines Company, a global pharmaceutical business, has paid DLA Piper more than $6 million in lobbying fees in the five years Armey has worked there.

But the Democratic members of Congress those hecklers assailed can hardly claim the moral high ground. Their ties to health care interests are merely more discreet and insidious. As Congressional Quarterly reported last week, industry groups contributed almost $1.8 million in the first six months of 2009 alone to the 18 House members of both parties supervising health care reform, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer among them.

Then there are the 52 conservative Blue Dog Democrats, who have balked at the public option for health insurance. Their cash intake from insurers and drug companies outpaces their Democratic peers by an average of 25 percent, according to The Post. And let’s not forget the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which has raked in nearly $500,000 from a single doctor-owned hospital in McAllen, Tex. — the very one that Obama has cited as a symbol of runaway medical costs ever since it was profiled in The New Yorker this spring.

In this maze of powerful moneyed interests, it’s not clear who any American in either party should or could root for. The bipartisan nature of the beast can be encapsulated by the remarkable progress of Billy Tauzin, the former Louisiana congressman. Tauzin was a founding member of the Blue Dog Democrats in 1994. A year later, he bolted to the Republicans. Now he is chief of PhRMA, the biggest pharmaceutical trade group. In the 2008 campaign, Obama ran a television ad pillorying Tauzin for his role in preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices. Last week The Los Angeles Times reported — and The New York Times confirmed — that Tauzin, an active player in White House health care negotiations, had secured a behind-closed-doors flip-flop, enlisting the administration to push for continued protection of drug prices. Now we know why the president has ducked his campaign pledge to broadcast such negotiations on C-Span.

The making of legislative sausage is never pretty. The White House has to give to get. But the cynicism being whipped up among voters is justified. Unlike Hillary Clinton, whose chief presidential campaign strategist unapologetically did double duty as a high-powered corporate flack, Obama promised change we could actually believe in.

His first questionable post-victory step was to assemble an old boys’ club of Robert Rubin protégés and Goldman-Citi alumni as the White House economic team, including a Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, who failed in his watchdog role at the New York Fed as Wall Street’s latest bubble first inflated and then burst. The questions about Geithner’s role in adjudicating the subsequent bailouts aren’t going away, and neither is the angry public sense that the fix is still in. We just learned that nine of those bailed-out banks — which in total received $175 billion of taxpayers’ money, but as yet have repaid only $50 billion — are awarding a total of $32.6 billion in bonuses for 2009.

It’s in this context that Obama can’t afford a defeat on health care. A bill will pass in a Democrat-controlled Congress. What matters is what’s in it. The final result will be a CAT scan of those powerful Washington interests he campaigned against, revealing which have been removed from the body politic (or at least reduced) and which continue to metastasize. The Wall Street regulatory reform package Obama pushes through, or doesn’t, may render even more of a verdict on his success in changing the system he sought the White House to reform...

Some of us have an easier time seeing the real shape of the hand, while others see the glove it wears more easily. Lady Avedon:

...Paul Krugman is also talking about the anti-healthcare "movement", including the Poster Child himself, Rick Scott, but, surprisingly, he seems to be falling in line with the idea that the deranged behavior of the right-wingers is all about Obama and racial fears rather than about the fact that these are people who are plugged into the right-wing media and are being consistently fed terrifying lies by the Republican grapevine, Bill O'Reilly, right-wing blogs, and members of Congress, none of which are being seriously debunked in the supposedly "mainstream" media. Maybe these people seem angrier than ever because "liberal" Chris Matthews from "liberal" CNN, members of Congress, and other members of the "mainstream" media are all telling them the same stuff about government-run healthcare that Bill O'Reilly, the insurance industry, and Free Republic are telling them. "Everyone" agrees - public healthcare is "snuffcare".

But, as Bob Somerby keeps reminding us, none of this is new. The right wing has been saying crazy things for some time, and they've been given a seat in front of all the big microphones to say it. They were doing with Clinton (white), they were doing it with Al Gore (white), and they've been doing it with a whole host of Democrats who are usually white guys with a few white women and the occasional black person thrown in. (It might be instrumental to remember that the all-out push against Cynthia McKinney didn't start because she happened to turn black and female in the middle of her term, but waited until she actually said something in Congress that was so demonstrably true that a huge storm of ridicule had to be kicked up immediately to remove any credence from the suggestion that there were serious questions about 9/11 that should be investigated.)

It is simply not news that Republicans have launched another all-out push to delegitimize a Democratic president. Race may help fuel some of their dumber members, but those people hated Clinton - virulently and vociferously - just as much, and to the extent that race plays a part in their hatred of Obama, race (and sex) also played a part in their hatred of Clintons and Al Gore and Democrats generally. (Most of the racists hate Obama less because he is black himself than out of fear that he will help other blacks - just as they hated the Clintons from fear that he was a liberal who would...help blacks. And women.) There is, after all, a method to their madness...

Their method is their goal, their strategy, and their tactic.

As her link points out and as has been evident for many years, chaos is the plan.

Uncertainty provides all kinds of opportunities for those that wither in the light. Smash and grab. Bait and switch. Every kind of con and dirty deal possible become more feasible when emotions are high and people aren't thinking.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Can of Annelids

The FBI is attempting to block Sibel Edmonds' testimony in an Ohio election fraud case.

What would an ex-FBI Arabic and Turkish translator and whistleblower who alledges corruption by narco-traffickers at all levels of American government have to do with a 2008 Ohio Congressional vote?

I'm glad you asked.

...The subpoena and request for sworn deposition is part of a case now pending before the Ohio Elections Commission in which Ohio's Republican U.S. Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-2nd District) has filed a complaint against her 2008 independent challenger, David Krikorian who Schmidt has charged distributed false statements about her during last year's campaign.

The resulting testimony, if it indeed occurs this weekend, could be far more explosive than either Schmidt or Krikorian might have ever guessed...

Schmidt has alleged that Krikorian --- who has announced plans to run against Schmidt again, as a Democrat, in 2010 --- libeled her when he alleged in campaign materials that she had taken "blood money" as campaign donations from Turkish interest groups. Schmidt is co-chairwoman of the Congressional Turkish Caucus, according to Politico's coverage of the case, and has received more than $10,000 from the Turkish Coalition USA PAC, "making it one of her top campaign contributors", since taking office in 2005. She recently took a trip to Turkey sponsored by the Turkish Coalition of America, valued at more than $10,000.

At immediate issue in the initial Schmidt v. Krikorian tussle, is the century-long debate over whether the extermination of some 1.5 million ethnic Armenians during WWI will be declared a "genocide" by the American government. The issue is a highly contentious one that has cut across party lines in Congress, and has ensnared dozens of U.S. Congressmembers and highly-ranked officials in a lobbyist-funded, politically-charged battle.

The same Turkish lobby has also, according to information gleaned from Edmonds and others, based on her first-hand knowledge as an FBI case translator, helped to ensnare many of those same officials in a broad infiltration scheme of the U.S. Government and sensitive military facilities, by operatives from the U.S., Turkey, Pakistan and elsewhere, including alleged bribery of then Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Some of the charges against Hastert were detailed in a remarkable 2005 Vanity Fair exposé. Additional allegations, concerning the the proliferation of nuclear secrets to the black-market in Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, Libya, Iran and beyond, as detailed in an explosive front-page series by London's Sunday Times last year.

These are among the issues which Edmonds --- whose classified allegations were found to have been "credible", "serious" and "warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI," according to their Inspector General in 2002 --- will be asked about on Saturday if the deposition moves forward without being quashed by the DoJ...

Green as Astroturf

The Party formerly known as Republican- until it polled badly- is sending out organized rioters to disrupt town hall meetings across the country.

The fossil fuel crowd is picking up on this tactic now as well.

These people are collectively responsible for the destruction of the world wide econmomy and the depredation of the environment we've witnessed over the last ten years.

Inconstant Star

Betelgeuse is about to explode. Maybe not in your lifetime, but possibly it already has.

The sharpest image ever of Betelgeuse shows a mammoth star that is slowly evaporating. Betelgeuse (sounds a lot like "beetle juice"), also known as Alpha Orionis, is one of the largest and brightest stars known. The star is a familiar orange fixture easily visible to the unaided eye toward the constellation of Orion. The above recent image from the Very Large Telescope in Chile resolves not only the face of Betelgeuse, but a large and previously unknown plume of surrounding gas. This plume gives fresh indications of how the massive star is shedding mass as it nears the end of its life. Conversely, a series of previous observations indicate that the surface of Betelgeuse has noticeably shrunk, on the average, over the past decade. If Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star about 640 light years distant, were placed at the center of our Solar System, the plume would extend past the orbit of Jupiter. Since Betelgeuse is known to change its brightness irregularly, future observations may determine if changes its appearance irregularly as well. Betelgeuse is a candidate to undergo a spectacular supernova explosion almost anytime in the next few thousand years.

Because of its distance, anytime could well be yesterday, and when it goes expect to lose some sleep:

Brad Schaefer: For all we know, Betelgeuse has just gone supernova. Betelgeuse is about a thousand light years away. Actually, it's 520 light years. So if Betelgeuse has gone supernova anytime in the last thousand years, the light of this supernova explosion could be speeding to us even as we speak – maybe it will arrive tonight – and suddenly Betelgeuse will flash into being brighter than a million full moons in the sky – all up above us. It would be a spectacular sight.

It is thus possible the collapse at the beginning of its supernova has begun.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Fear is the mind killer

So the Company relies on it to break the back of health care reform.

Joe Galloway:

If ever there were a time for comprehensive health care reform, it's now, and yet the forces of darkness are lining up against this urgent need, buttressed by lies, mobs inflamed by those lies and millions of dollars changing hands and changing votes in Washington, D.C.

The idea that doing nothing and going on without changing the way this country's health care is delivered works to the benefit only of the insurance companies, the giant health care providers and the big pharmaceutical companies.

That industry is now pouring $1.4 million A DAY into lobbying — read that buying or renting members of Congress — to water down or delay or preferably kill health care reform and hope it goes away for another 20 years or so.

Part of that high-dollar industry budget is going to the low end of Washington's K Street lobbying corridor, the firms and the folks who specialize in dirty tricks, panicking the uninformed and most vulnerable citizens, financing the creation and spread of lies written, spoken and spread like viruses by robot dialing machines.

The Republican Party, on life support itself, somehow sees an opportunity in encouraging and participating in this flim-flam operation. It ought to, and should, seal the GOP's fate.

Each night for the past week, we've been treated to the sight of mobs screaming and ranting and shouting down town hall meetings where congressional representatives had come to answer their constituents' questions.

No questions got answered. No information got provided. No one left more informed than he or she was when he or she arrived.

That's because they and their organizers were following on-line playbooks that are telling them where to go, where to sit, how to make it appear as if there are more of them than there are and, above all, to stop the program and allow no discussion of this issue.

They scream that any government-run health care is socialism or Communism. But look at them; look at their gray hair and thickened waists. At least half of them probably depend entirely on Medicare, a government-run program and a damned good one, for their own health care.

They scream that the bills still being written and amended in Congress will deny vital treatments for older Americans and doom them to an early and unnecessary death. Some dare call it euthanasia.

What utter, unadulterated BS.

The only outfits in America that have the right to refuse you treatment for an illness or deny you an organ transplant are the health care corporations, if you're unlucky enough to have to depend on that wonderful private insurance the right wingnuts are so loudly praising and defending.

This is the same wonderful health coverage that's driven hundreds of thousands of American families into bankruptcy because their private insurers refused to pay for urgently needed surgery or cancer treatment, or simply cancelled their coverage.

Why is that?

It's because those same corporations have, in just one decade, driven their profits and overhead (hiring those lobbyists and buying those congressional critters and building their fleets of private jets) from 5 percent to nearly 20 percent.

In other words, the corporate bite has gone from 5 cents of every dollar paid in premiums to 20 cents of every premium dollar.

It's good old unregulated American greed of the same stripe that drove this country into its current economic meltdown. Wall Street loves these guys.

We desperately need a government-run health care program that can, by good old American competition, force private health insurers to get off their pirate ships and back in the real world. The 46 million or so uninsured Americans need somewhere to get their health needs tended. The millions more in dire danger of losing their jobs and their private insurance need some alternative immediately available.

All of us need some people in Congress who haven't been bought or rented by the pirates, liars and thieves to speak out in favor of filling those real needs.

Wonder how much Big Pharma donated to the key committee members who amended the health care legislation to prohibit any government-run health program from negotiating lower drug prices with the price-gouging drug companies of, you guessed it, Big Pharma?

What we need right now is a huge outburst of common sense and enlightened self-interest.

Those gray-haired Medicare recipients who're playing angry mob need to stop screaming and start listening and reading, separating fact from fiction and learning who’s manipulating them and why.

Follow the money trail back to the pirates and thieves and their handmaidens, the greasy liar lobbyists and those in Congress who're slurping at their troughs.

It's like Neiwert says:

Does anyone remember when Town Hall forums were civil affairs that gave citizens a chance to speak freely to their elected representatives in a civil conversation?

Yeah, that would have been last week. In the days since, Republicans and their astroturf gangs of protesters have transformed town halls into outlets for their prearranged shoutfests ginned up by Fox talkers.

The old town-hall forum may never be the same. And the country is the worse for it...

No one has a problem with right-wingers marching in protest of the health-care plans. That's certainly their right. And no one minds that they choose to participate in these forums. But town halls were never designed to be vehicles for protest. They have always been about enabling real democratic discourse in a civil setting.

When someone's entire purpose in coming out to a town-hall forum is to chant and shout and protest and disrupt, they aren't just expressing their opinions -- they are actively shutting down democracy.

And that, folks, is a classically fascist thing to do.

The idea being of course to burn the whole reason for electing Obama and the Democrats right out of the American mind.

The 30% who supported Bu$hie almost to the bitter end are decidedly back, having forgotten who got them into the mess they're only now starting to crawl out of.

It will be St. Jebbie in 2012. Believe it.