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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Like there was a question he wouldn't have

Judge Drops Charges From Blackwater Deaths in Iraq

WASHINGTON — In a significant blow to the Justice Department, a federal judge on Thursday threw out the indictment of five former Blackwater security guards over a shooting in Baghdad in 2007 that left 17 Iraqis dead and about 20 wounded...

A "significant blow to the Justice Department". To justice, yes. To the Justice Department?

That's funny.

CashN'Carry shakes hands

Just how fast can the revolving door spin?

...A onetime investment banker at Goldman Sachs, Mr. Kashkari became an instant celebrity in October 2008 when he was tapped by Henry M. Paulson Jr., then the Treasury secretary, to run the Troubled Asset Relief Program for banks. He was christened “the $700 billion man” for overseeing such a huge amount of banking aid.

...on Dec. 14, he went to work as head of new investment initiatives at the Pacific Investment Management Company, or Pimco, the powerful bond investment company based in Newport Beach, Calif., whose top executives have boasted of their access to government officials. Alan Greenspan, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is among its consultants.

...even though Pimco was not a recipient of government aid, Mr. Kashkari’s career move raised eyebrows. Bloggers joked about how — in their view — he had all along been doing the company’s work in Washington.

During the crisis, William H. Gross, the founder and co-chief investment officer of Pimco, who is known for his witty letters to investors and his appearances on CNBC, frequently offered advice to the Treasury about how to handle the bailout.

At the same time, Pimco’s publicly stated strategy was to invest money in areas that would benefit from the government’s rescue efforts. The company called this its “shake hands with the government” plan.

The strategy paid off. The company’s flagship Total Return Fund turned in a strong performance in 2008. The fund’s Class A shares, available to individual investors, were up 4.3 percent — nine percentage points ahead of comparable bond funds, according to Morningstar. And by late September 2009, Pimco’s assets under management had swelled 32 percent, to $940 billion, from the end of 2008.

Outsiders consider Mr. Kashkari’s addition a natural strengthening of Pimco’s ties to government.

“Kashkari brings a great deal of potential benefit to Pimco in terms of government knowledge and connections to both parties,” said Douglas J. Elliott, a Brookings Institution fellow and former managing director at J.P. Morgan. “He understands what the government is likely to do and has a good understanding of the financial sector. So I can really see why Pimco would want him.”

...Mr. Kashkari left Goldman Sachs to become a senior adviser to Mr. Paulson in June 2006. Early on, he worked on housing issues. The people with knowledge of his employment search said that Mr. Kashkari met Mr. Gross while touring the country with the Treasury secretary in December 2007 to assess the country’s troubled housing market.

Several former Treasury officials said Mr. Gross had frequently been in touch with Mr. Kashkari and others in government about various initiatives. None of those officials or others suggested there was anything improper about those contacts.

“Gross was one of those guys, along with Warren Buffett, who were really interested in trying to give us ideas and be helpful in resolving the crisis,” said Robert F. Hoyt, a former Treasury Department general counsel under Mr. Paulson. “They would send memos to Treasury. They weren’t ideas we ended up implementing, but they were interesting.”

It was also hard, however, not to notice that Pimco was a direct beneficiary of the Treasury Department’s actions. In 2008, when it appeared that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might fail, Mr. Gross saw an opportunity.

He moved Pimco’s flagship Total Return Fund heavily into mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by the two agencies. Then he vociferously advocated for the government to rescue them during television appearances on CNBC and elsewhere. On Sept. 7, 2008, the fund’s value soared by $1.7 billion when Mr. Paulson announced the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As part of his government duties, Mr. Kashkari worked on that rescue effort.

Mr. Gross was also a strong supporter of the troubled asset program, originally envisioned as a way to purchase impaired assets from the nation’s ailing banks. He praised the plan on television and in a newspaper op-ed article, and he even offered to manage the government program at no charge.

Mr. Kashkari backed the asset purchase plan. Ultimately, though, Mr. Paulson decided to invest the government funds directly in the banks, considering it important to stave off disaster. Mr. Kashkari hired more than 135 lawyers, compliance officers and former bankers to execute the plan...

For the greater good, of course.

You can't be disappointed if you're not appointed first

Avedon says what many are thinking about the manifest agenda of the Oborg:

...I am so disappointed in people... who appear to think that supporting the neoliberals is the "realistic" approach to progressivism. No, it isn't. It's the design of corporatist conservatives.

...we need to fight the corporations, not lay down for them. Obama and the Democratic leadership are pushing right-wing corporate policies. That's not a theory. And it's not about "ideology" in the sense these comfortable gentlemen are speaking when they explain that we have to be "pragmatic" and "realistic". It's about hungry bellies and broken limbs that might be yours and your children's and siblings' and friends' in the very near future. This isn't abstract; it's about the simple, obvious fact that which way the money goes determines how our lives go. Our lives. We don't actually care about which politician you happened to fall in love with...

Meanwhile, Dean Baker notes that all the news that's fit to print isn't exactly news but more like policy infotainment:

...To end the decade, the Washington Post acknowledged that it is no longer a serious newspaper. It ran a piece written by the Peter Peterson Foundation financed Fiscal Times as a regular news article.

The piece conveys Peterson's view that there is a drastic budget crisis which requires circumventing normal congressional procedures. It implies that the huge surge in deficit in the last year was attributable to the irresponsibility of Congress rather than an economic collapse that resulted from incredibly incompetent policy and Wall Street greed.

No serious newspaper would publish a piece from an obviously interested party like the Peterson Foundation as a news story. Apparently the Post decided that its future no longer is in serious news...

The Washington Pravda is a $erious newspaper reporting all the news that's bought to print.

The net result of the same corporations owning both parties and all the main$tream media is that a real discussion of the real issues won't ever really be available or discussed, in the press or the halls of the government.

Good-bye to a real kidneystone of a decade

The Rude Pundit says it all so much better than I can.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The Rude One lets his hormones bias his thinking though. She isn't practicing Art; she's just practicing the Circus part of "bread and circuses"

Deflating Terrorism Futures

Now, how is Big Time Dick supposed to make a buck? His buddy Holy Joe has been doing his best for years to make it right. But it's hard to get Obama into this money market:

...Obama reacted as though this is exactly what it actually is: a lame, failed attempt to kill people by a fractured band of criminals. It's not the Cuban Missile Crisis or the attack on Pearl Harbor, as disappointing and unfulfilling as it is to accept that. It merits analysis, investigation and possibly policy changes by the responsible government agencies -- not a bright-red-alert, bell-ringing, siren-sounding government-wide emergency that venerates Al Qaeda into a threat so profound that the President can't even be away from Washington lest they get us all. As always, Al Qaeda's greatest allies are the ones in the U.S. who tremble with the most fear at the very mention of their name and who quite obviously crave a return of that stimulating, all-consuming, elevating 9/12 glory.

Perhaps its because the Oborg are getting a better return on their investments elsewhere.

Asymmetric Warfare

[tip o'teh tinfoil to J. Orlin Grabbe, may he RIP]

We have met the enemy, and he owns us

Jane Hamsher:

...There is tremendous fear rising on both the right and the left that the announced intention of Congress - to force every American to pay tribute to private corporations, with no government alternative - sets a dangerous and frightening precedent with implications far outside the scope of health care.

If the health care bill written by the Senate is passed, middle class Americans will be mandated to pay almost as much to private insurance companies as they do to the federal government in taxes, with the IRS acting as a collection agency for penalties of 2% of your annual income for refusing to comply.

This is just one of many recent measures that have brought liberal progressives and conservative libertarians together to join forces in opposition:

* Democrat Alan Grayson worked successfully this year with Republican Ron Paul to pass legislation to audit the Federal Reserve, with 317 cosponsors as diverse as Dennis Kucinich and Michelle Bachmann.
* On December 3, the liberal Campaign for America's Future wrote a letter to the Senate opposing the reconfirmation of Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke until such an audit has been conducted. The letter was signed by James Galbraith, Robert Weisman, Chris Bowers and myself on the left, and Grover Norquist, Phillis Schlafly, and Larry Greenley on the right. Financial blogger Tyler Durden and young organizer Tiffiniy Cheng joined them.
* Also on December 3, conservative Jim Bunning joined liberal Bernie Sanders in placing a hold on the Bernanke nomination until the Fed had been audited.
* On December 15, CAF again sent a letter to the Senate Banking Committee, asking them to delay the vote on the Bernanke confirmation until Audit the Fed received a stand alone vote in the Senate. It was signed by Matt KIbbe of Freedomworks, John Tate of the Campaign for Liberty, and Grover Norquist on the right, and David Swanson of AfterDowiningStreet, Dean Baker and Robert Borosage on the left.
* On December 21, a letter was written opposing the mandate in the health care bill. It was signed by Bob Fertik of Democrats.com, Howie Klein of DownWithTyranny, Brad Friedman of Velvet Revolution, Tim Carpenter of Progressive Democrats of America on the left and Grover Norquist, Jim Martin of 60 Plus Association, Duane Parde of the National Taxpayers Union on the right.
* On December 23, Grover Norquist and I sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for an investigation into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's conflicts of interest before the White House could lift the cap on the commitment to them from $400 billion to $800 billion with no Inspector General in place.

The individuals on both sides of the political spectrum who signed these letters agree on very little, but they do share both a tremendous concern for the corporatist control of government that politicians in both parties seem hell-bent on achieving...

The Left and the Right exist primarily because of propaganda that many different demogogues have passed on to the American people. Most people of good intent agree on most basic human rights and responsibilities. Look to those who would rule us to quash this non corporate sponsored bipartisanism before it can effectively act.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

They Hate Us Just Because

Obviously, there are no other motivations. Just ask Ben Stein. Ron Paul called him on this on Larry King's CNN show:

PAUL: One thing that is missing here is never asking the question what is the motive? He said why he was -- he did it. He said it was because we bombed Yemen two weeks ago. That was his motive. Osama bin Laden said that he has a plan for America. First, he wants to bog us down in the Middle East in a no-win war. He wants to bankrupt this country, demoralize us, as well as have us do things that motivate people to join his radical movement.

It seems like we've fallen into his trap. Why is it off base? Today, when the gentleman indicated that he did it because of the bombing, you know what the administration said? They dismissed it. It can't possibly be so. If you dismiss motivations for why they hate us, we can never resolve this. There's hate on both sides. You have to ask the question, why do they hate? And they usually come up with a reason. And we're foolish not to take that into consideration.

KING: Ben?

STEIN: Well, that's -- I have never heard anything quite like that in my whole life. What he's saying, basically, is we are doing something wrong by defending ourselves. Look, if these terrorists are trying to kill the government of Yemen, we've got to help defend them. They're our friends. We can't just let al Qaeda run wild. If we try to stop them --

PAUL: Why?

STEIN: Why should we stop them? Because they are terrorists and murderers and they're very anti-American.

PAUL: Why are they terrorists?

STEIN: Surely congressman --

PAUL: Why are they terrorists?

STEIN: They're terrorists and murders because they are psychos.

PAUL: They're terrorists because we're occupiers.


STEIN: No, we're not occupiers. That's the same anti-Semitic argument we've heard.

There are many things I disagree with Ron Paul about, but this is not one of them.

A Republic can not be an Empire, even if it pretends it isn't.

Masters of the Obvious

The real question is whether or not they'll follow through.


A one-page proposal gaining traction in Congress could turn back the clock on Wall Street 10 years, forcing the breakup of banks, including Citigroup Inc.

Lawmakers in both parties, seeking to prevent future financial crises while soothing public anger over bailouts and bonuses, are turning to an approach that’s both simple and transformative: re-imposing sections of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial and investment banking.

Those walls came down with passage of the Gramm-Leach- Bliley Act of 1999. A proposal to reconstruct them, made by U.S. Senators John McCain and Maria Cantwell on Dec. 16, would prevent deposit-taking banks from underwriting securities, engaging in proprietary trading, selling insurance or owning retail brokerages. The bill could also force the unwinding of deals consummated during the financial crisis, including Bank of America Corp.’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co...

Although Cantwell is likely sincere, McCain- who wanted Gramm as his Secretary of the Treasury- is most likely posturing in his usual loose cannon mode.

However, a real re-instatement of the Glass-Steagall Act would go a long way to stabilize a recovery, which is the principal reason it won't happen. A real recovery that allowed the middle class to get back on its feet would reverse the trend towards oligarchy. That won't be allowed to happen.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Acausal Effects

You know, the pre emptive ones.

Glenn Greenwald:

...if you count our occupation of Iraq, our twice-escalated war in Afghanistan, our rapidly escalating bombing campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen, and various forms of covert war involvement in Somalia, one could reasonably say that we're fighting five different wars in Muslim countries -- or, to use the NYT's jargon, "five fronts" in the "Terror War" (Obama yesterday specifically mentioned Somalia and Yemen as places where, euphemistically, "we will continue to use every element of our national power"). Add to those five fronts the "crippling" sanctions on Iran many Democratic Party luminaries are now advocating, combined with the chest-besting threats from our Middle East client state that the next wars they fight against Muslims will be even "harsher" than the prior ones, and it's almost easier to count the Muslim countries we're not attacking or threatening than to count the ones we are. Yet this still isn't enough for America's right-wing super-warriors, who accuse the five-front-war-President of "an allergy to the concept of war."

In the wake of the latest failed terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines, one can smell the excitement in the air -- that all-too-familiar, giddy, bipartisan climate that emerges in American media discourse whenever there's a new country we get to learn about so that we can explain why we're morally and strategically justified in bombing it some more...

...As always, the most confounding aspect of the reaction to the latest attempted terrorist episode is the professed confusion and self-righteous innocence that is universally expressed. Whether justified or not, we are constantly delivering death to the Muslim world. We do not see it very much, but they certainly do. Again, independent of justification, what do we think is going to happen if we continuously invade, occupy and bomb Muslim countries and arm and enable others to do so? Isn't it obvious that our five-front actions are going to cause at least some Muslims -- subjected to constant images of American troops in their world and dead Muslim civilians at our hands, even if unintended -- to want to return the violence? Just look at the bloodthirsty sentiments unleashed among Americans even from a failed Terrorist attempt. What sentiments do we think we're unleashing from a decade-long (and continuing and increasing) multi-front "war" in the Muslim war?

There very well may be some small number of individuals who are so blinded by religious extremism that they will be devoted to random violence against civilians no matter what we do, but we are constantly maximizing the pool of recruits and sympathy among the population on which they depend. In other words, what we do constantly bolsters their efforts, and when we do, we always seem to move more in the direction of helping them even further. Ultimately, we should ask ourselves: if we drop more bombs on more Muslim countries, will there be fewer or more Muslims who want to blow up our airplanes and are willing to end their lives to do so? That question really answers itself.

McChrystal's very own Mission Accomplished!

As if the covert mission ever resembled the overt one, since the 'Merikan military coup of November 2000.

how to avoid war tomorrow

Start another war today!

Security Clearance

Unfortunately, there were witnesses and neither Detroit nor Britian have been made part of this Company plan:

"...The spectre of a wave of lone suicide bombers attempting to board airliners bound for the US gave fresh urgency to the Dutch investigation of how Mr Abdulmutallab was able to board Northwest Airlines flight 253 despite being on an American watch list and banned from entering Britain.

Two passengers on the flight, Kurt and Lori Haskell, said yesterday that they had seen the young man walk to the gate desk at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, with a well-dressed older man whom they claimed to overhear asking that Mr Abdulmutallab be allowed to board without a passport. “The guy said, ‘He’s from Sudan and we do this all the time’,” Mr Haskell, a lawyer, told a Detroit news website. The claim was being taken seriously by Dutch authorities last night..."

Now that wouldn't have happened without some kind of security credentials on the part of the Man in Black that waived Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab aboard.

Of course, in 'Merika we're more interested in Charlie Sheen's marital problems. That dirty liberal.

Would they lie to you?

Bob Herbert on the decidely unhealthy aspect of the current health care plan.

It strikes me as particularly unhealthy for the Oborg once people realize how they've been taken care of.

...The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it’s a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.

Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do.

The tax would kick in on plans exceeding $23,000 annually for family coverage and $8,500 for individuals, starting in 2013. In the first year it would affect relatively few people in the middle class. But because of the steadily rising costs of health care in the U.S., more and more plans would reach the taxation threshold each year.

Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.

Proponents say the tax will raise nearly $150 billion over 10 years, but there’s a catch. It’s not expected to raise this money directly. The dirty little secret behind this onerous tax is that no one expects very many people to pay it. The idea is that rather than fork over 40 percent in taxes on the amount by which policies exceed the threshold, employers (and individuals who purchase health insurance on their own) will have little choice but to ratchet down the quality of their health plans.

These lower-value plans would have higher out-of-pocket costs, thus increasing the very things that are so maddening to so many policyholders right now: higher and higher co-payments, soaring deductibles and so forth. Some of the benefits of higher-end policies can be expected in many cases to go by the boards: dental and vision care, for example, and expensive mental health coverage.

Proponents say this is a terrific way to hold down health care costs. If policyholders have to pay more out of their own pockets, they will be more careful — that is to say, more reluctant — to access health services. On the other hand, people with very serious illnesses will be saddled with much higher out-of-pocket costs. And a reluctance to seek treatment for something that might seem relatively minor at first could well have terrible (and terribly expensive) consequences in the long run.

If even the plan’s proponents do not expect policyholders to pay the tax, how will it raise $150 billion in a decade? Great question.

We all remember learning in school about the suspension of disbelief. This part of the Senate’s health benefits taxation scheme requires a monumental suspension of disbelief. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, less than 18 percent of the revenue will come from the tax itself. The rest of the $150 billion, more than 82 percent of it, will come from the income taxes paid by workers who have been given pay raises by employers who will have voluntarily handed over the money they saved by offering their employees less valuable health insurance plans.

Can you believe it?

Failure is not a bug in this plan. It's a feature.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Naughties

Krugman on the first decade of the new millenium.

...It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true.

It was a decade with basically zero job creation. O.K., the headline employment number for December 2009 will be slightly higher than that for December 1999, but only slightly. And private-sector employment has actually declined — the first decade on record in which that happened.

It was a decade with zero economic gains for the typical family. Actually, even at the height of the alleged “Bush boom,” in 2007, median household income adjusted for inflation was lower than it had been in 1999. And you know what happened next.

It was a decade of zero gains for homeowners, even if they bought early: right now housing prices, adjusted for inflation, are roughly back to where they were at the beginning of the decade. And for those who bought in the decade’s middle years — when all the serious people ridiculed warnings that housing prices made no sense, that we were in the middle of a gigantic bubble — well, I feel your pain. Almost a quarter of all mortgages in America, and 45 percent of mortgages in Florida, are underwater, with owners owing more than their houses are worth.

Last and least for most Americans — but a big deal for retirement accounts, not to mention the talking heads on financial TV — it was a decade of zero gains for stocks, even without taking inflation into account. Remember the excitement when the Dow first topped 10,000, and best-selling books like “Dow 36,000” predicted that the good times would just keep rolling? Well, that was back in 1999. Last week the market closed at 10,520.

So there was a whole lot of nothing going on in measures of economic progress or success. Funny how that happened.

For as the decade began, there was an overwhelming sense of economic triumphalism in America’s business and political establishments, a belief that we — more than anyone else in the world — knew what we were doing.

Let me quote from a speech that Lawrence Summers, then deputy Treasury secretary (and now the Obama administration’s top economist), gave in 1999. “If you ask why the American financial system succeeds,” he said, “at least my reading of the history would be that there is no innovation more important than that of generally accepted accounting principles: it means that every investor gets to see information presented on a comparable basis; that there is discipline on company managements in the way they report and monitor their activities.” And he went on to declare that there is “an ongoing process that really is what makes our capital market work and work as stably as it does.”

So here’s what Mr. Summers — and, to be fair, just about everyone in a policy-making position at the time — believed in 1999: America has honest corporate accounting; this lets investors make good decisions, and also forces management to behave responsibly; and the result is a stable, well-functioning financial system.

What percentage of all this turned out to be true? Zero.

What was truly impressive about the decade past, however, was our unwillingness, as a nation, to learn from our mistakes.

Even as the dot-com bubble deflated, credulous bankers and investors began inflating a new bubble in housing. Even after famous, admired companies like Enron and WorldCom were revealed to have been Potemkin corporations with facades built out of creative accounting, analysts and investors believed banks’ claims about their own financial strength and bought into the hype about investments they didn’t understand. Even after triggering a global economic collapse, and having to be rescued at taxpayers’ expense, bankers wasted no time going right back to the culture of giant bonuses and excessive leverage.

Then there are the politicians. Even now, it’s hard to get Democrats, President Obama included, to deliver a full-throated critique of the practices that got us into the mess we’re in. And as for the Republicans: now that their policies of tax cuts and deregulation have led us into an economic quagmire, their prescription for recovery is — tax cuts and deregulation...

Krugman says no progress was made. I'd disagree. There was a great deal of progress made in the direction of turning the world into neo feudal system where a few plunder the resources of the many.

Still, many of the Oborg are starting to lose their programming as they realize the official numbers simply do not add up.

Chaos is the plan.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The natives grow restless

Leave it to a main$tream British paper to ask the right question about an American terror incident.

...The revelation of Abdulmutallab's background has confounded terror experts. Dr Magnus Ranstorp of the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College said that the attempted bombing "didn't square".

"On the one hand, it seems he's been on the terror watch list but not on the no-fly list," he said. "That doesn't square because the American Department for Homeland Security has pretty stringent data-mining capability. I don't understand how he had a valid visa if he was known on the terror watch list..."

First answer: the son of a wealthy Nigerian finance minister, it is evident there is nothing you can't buy from the American government in a Free Market economy.

Then on the other hand, one of the best selling movies this season is about the type of depredations the Companies under their different managements have been engaged in for the last 400 years or so.

With an increasingly cynical America embroiled in two Company wars and sycoophants trying to drum up popular jingoism while they attempt to rationalize expanding it to a third front, I think it likely someone, somewhere wants to terrorize the pants wetters.

They're going to have to really scare them, because there are fewer and fewer of them each day, and other terrors the plunder of this world has unleashed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Here's the kind of pirate Free Market advocate of the 'Merikan Way that typifies the kind of private contractor our intelligence agencies use.

...David Headley, 49, who was born in Washington to a Pakistan diplomat father and an American mother, was arrested in Chicago in October. He is accused of reconnoitring targets in India and Europe for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Pakistan-based terror group behind the Mumbai attacks and of having links to al-Qaeda. He has denied the charges.

He came to the attention of the US security services in 1997 when he was arrested in New York for heroin smuggling. He earned a reduced sentence by working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) infiltrating Pakistan-linked narcotics gangs.

Indian investigators, who have been denied access to Mr Headley, suspect that he remained on the payroll of the US security services — possibly working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) — but switched his allegiance to LeT.

“India is looking into whether Headley worked as a double agent,” an Indian Home Ministry official said yesterday.

Mr Headley, who changed his name from Daood Gilani, was in Mumbai until two weeks before the attacks on the city, which claimed 166 lives last November. It is alleged that he spent months checking targets in India’s commercial capital, using his Western looks and anglicised name to move in elite social circles, hobnob with Bollywood actors and even to pass himself off as Jewish.

Despite being firmly on the radar of the US intelligence agencies, he was allowed to return to India as recently as March. Indian officials are furious that their American counterparts did not share details of that visit at the time. The Indian media has raised the possibility that Mr Headley was being protected by his American handlers — a theory that experts say is credible.

“The feeling in India is that the US has not been transparent,” said B. Raman, a former counter-terrorism chief in the Indian foreign intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing.

“That Headley was an agent for the DEA is known. Whether he was being used by the CIA as well is a matter of speculation, but it is almost certain that the CIA was aware of him and his movements across the subcontinent.”

The Company continues to win hearts and minds, and spleens and livers, across the world.

The NeoLiberals Pitch for the War on Terra

The New York Pravda loves war when it wears a humanitarian mask.

Let give a quote from an Iraq war veteran to clarify exactly what is going on here.
Michael Prysner:

"...I spent 12 months in Iraq, doing everything from prisoner interrogations, to ground surveillance missions, to home raids. It was my firsthad experiences in Iraq that radicalized me. I believed I was going to Iraq to help liberate and better the lives of an oppressed people, but I soon realized that my purpose in Iraq was to be the oppressor, and to clear the way for U.S. corporations with no regard for human life.

“I separated from the Army in 2005, by which time I had begun to make sense of my experiences in Iraq, and understood that the occupation I was a part of was a crime against humanity. I understood that illegal conquering of Iraq was for profit, carried out by a system that serves a tiny class of superrich whose endless drive for wealth is at the expense of working people in the United States and abroad..."

An obvious terrorist against the 'Merikan way.

Friday, December 25, 2009

"...in a dingy attached by a chain to the Titanic, while the Titanic is run by morons cheered on by fools ..."

Ian Welsh raises a good point, especially now that the Oborg have quietly raised the bailout limit from extremely large to limitless.

For your consideration, a rosy eyed Exhibit A:

...After the last insult had been spat from the Senate floor, after final passage of a legislative attempt to do something significant in this messy democracy, a leading voice of the opposition made a public prediction:

“People will be hunting Democrats with dogs,” said Senator Phil Gramm of Texas.

This was 1993, in the fragile first year of Bill Clinton’s presidency, on a vote to raise taxes for the wealthiest 1.2 percent and cut them for the poor and small businesses. That budget bill passed without a single Republican vote.

What followed was the greatest period of peacetime prosperity in modern times, a budget surplus of $559 billion and a president who left office with an approval rating of 66 percent — the highest of any since World War II. But first, some Democrats were indeed hunted, particularly in the South, which has been cleansing itself of the party since the Civil Rights era.

Gramm went on to deregulate the banking industry, setting the stage for a binge of economic nihilism that nearly brought down the world economy.

That fight in 1993 is worth recalling this Christmas Eve, as the voices of the apocalypse rain down on Democrats who dare try to expand health care for their fellow Americans...

Yes, and the Reptilians will be sure to use all the little backdoors being written in the health care bill to give away your mom's respirator to the insurance bank$ters, too.

And the worst depredations will occur after the DINOcrats are all voted out of office, too.

Count on it. It's what happened with the mortgage industry, which was initially deregulated to give the working class a shot at buying a home. The Reptilians took everything the Clintonista did, expanding the level of crony theft from millions into trillions.

There will be no public perception of crisis until it benefits those who would rule us.

Then look for the shit to hit the fan, but only after the fan is pointed in the right direction.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Roadmap of a Rape

The New York Pravda finally decides to report what McClatchy and Tiabbi and others have been reporting for months now, and the rest of us knew since the Bu$hCo bailout.

They don't call the bank$ters "vampire squid" for nothing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hidden Messages

Hidden like writing on the wall, in 3D IMAX. Antiwar. Anti Company. Anti Military-Industrial-Security complex.

But decidedly not anti-American, unless you think patriotism is the right to plunder a world and mass murder its people. In which case you love 'Merika, where the Constitution in toilet paper for Bu$hie's (and Barry's) Ba$e, not the same thing as America at all.

"Avatar" is my kind of terra'ism.

But then, I think Custer deserved the Little Big Horn, too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Chosen People

Whom the Old Ones would eat first...

Sluggish schizophrenia (Russian: "вялотекущая шизофрения") was a category of schizophrenia diagnosed by psychiatrists in the Soviet Union. At the time, Western psychiatry recognized only four types of schizophrenia: catatonic, hebephrenic, paranoid, and simple. The diagnostic criteria for this fifth category were so vague that it could be applied to virtually any person not suffering from mental function impairment and having interests beyond survival needs. The diagnosis was sometimes applied to dissidents who were not in fact mentally ill, so that they could be forcibly hospitalized in mental institutions and subjected to treatments including powerful antidepressants and electroconvulsive therapy.

"Readjustment" is the Plan

You know, back to the feudal ages. Think of it as social policy by financial policy.

Mike Whitney on Ben Bernanke:

...What are they thinking? Bernanke helped Greenspan inflate the biggest speculative bubble of all time, and still maintains that he never saw it growing. Right. How can retail housing leap from $12 trillion to $21 trillion in 7 years (1999 to 2006) without popping up on the Fed's radar?

Bernanke was also a staunch supporter of the low interest rate madness which led to the crash. Greenspan never believed that it was the Fed's job to deal with credit bubbles. "The free market will fix itself", he thought. He was the nation's chief regulator, but adamantly opposed to the idea of government regulation. It makes no sense at all. Here' a quote from Greenspan in 2002: “I do have an ideology. My judgment is that free, competitive markets are by far the unrivaled way to organize economies. We have tried regulation, none meaningfully worked.” Bernanke is no different than Greenspan; they're two peas in the same pod. Everyone could see what the Fed-duo was up to

Now Bernanke is expected to carry on where his former boss left off, using all the tools at his disposal to offset the atrophy that's endemic to mature capitalist economies. "Stagnation", that the real enemy, which is why Bernanke supports this new galaxy of oddball debt-instruments and bizarre-sounding derivatives; because it creates a world where surplus capital can generate windfall profits despite chronic overcapacity. It's financial nirvana for the parasite class; the relentless transfer of wealth from workers to speculators via paper assets. Marx figured it out. And, now, so has Bernanke.

Bernanke is just following Greenspan's basic blueprint. It's nothing new. Unregulated derivatives trading is just one of the many scams he's thrown his weight behind. The list goes on and on; one swindle after another. Just look what happened when Lehman Bros blew up. Just weeks earlier, Bernanke and Co. had worked out a deal with JP Morgan to buy Bear Stearns with the proviso that the government would guarantee $40 billion in Bear's toxic assets. Fair enough. The whole transaction went by without a hitch. Then Lehman starts teetering, and Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson decide to do a complete policy-flip and let Lehman default. Their reversal stunned the markets and triggered a frenzied run on the money markets that nearly collapsed the global financial system.

Why?It was because Bernanke knew that the big banks were buried under a mountain of bad assets and needed emergency help from Congress. The faux-Lehman crisis was cooked up to extort the $700 billion from taxpayers via the TARP fund. Bernanke and Paulson pulled off the biggest heist in history and there's never even been an investigation.

Bernanke was in the wheelhouse when the subprime bubble blew and carved $13 trillion from aggregate household wealth. Consumers are now so deeply underwater that personal credit is shrinking for the first time in 50 years while unemployment is hovering at 10 per cent. If Bernanke isn't responsible, than who is?

...Bernanke's latest stealth-ripoff is called quantitative easing (QE) which is being touted as a way to increase consumer lending by building up banks reserves. In fact, it doesn't do that at all and Bernanke knows it. As an "expert" on the Great Depression, he knows that stuffing the banks with reserves was tried in the 1930s, but it did nothing...

Bernanke QE is a joke. He's just creating a diversion so he can shovel more money into insolvent banks, pump-up the stock markets, and recycle Treasuries. Otherwise why would Obama's Chief Economic Advisor, Lawrence Summers say this:

"In the current circumstances the case for fiscal stimulus... is stronger than ever before in my professional lifetime. Unemployment is almost certain to increase -- probably to the highest levels in a generation. Monetary policy has little scope to stimulate the economy given how low interest rates already are and the problems in the financial system. Global experience with economic downturns caused by financial distress suggests that while they are of uncertain depth, they are almost always of long duration." ("A Bailout Is Just a Start", Lawrence Summers, Washington Post)

QE is monetary policy writ large and--by Summers’ own admission--it won't work. It won't reduce unemployment or spark a credit expansion. That's why total consumer spending is falling, retail sales are flat, and wages are beginning to tank. Everywhere businesses are trimming hours and cutting salaries. Bernanke's $1 trillion in excess bank reserves has had no material effect on lending, credit expansion or jobs...

Bernanke, Summers, Geithner and Obama have all misrepresented quantitative easing (QE) so they can improve the liquidity position of the banks without the public knowing what's going on. The fact is, the banks are not "capital constrained" by lack of reserves. Therefore, extra reserves won't lead to increased lending. Billy Blog clarifies how the banking system really works and how that relates to QE: "Does quantitative easing work? The mainstream belief is that quantitative easing will stimulate the economy sufficiently to put a brake on the downward spiral of lost production and the increasing unemployment. It is based on the erroneous belief that the banks need reserves before they can lend and that quantitative easing provides those reserves. That is a major misrepresentation of the way the banking system actually operates. But the mainstream position asserts (wrongly) that banks only lend if they have prior reserves. The illusion is that a bank is an institution that accepts deposits to build up reserves and then on-lends them at a margin to make money. The conceptualization suggests that if it doesn’t have adequate reserves then it cannot lend. So the presupposition is that by adding to bank reserves, quantitative easing will help lending. But this is a completely incorrect depiction of how banks operate. Bank lending is not “reserve constrained”. Banks lend to any credit worthy customer they can find and then worry about their reserve positions afterwards...”

...The Fed is engaged in various covert-strategies to recapitalize the banking system. At the same time, Bernanke, Summers, Geithner, and Obama have stated repeatedly, that they're committed to slashing the long-term deficits. This means that they plan to reduce liquidity and push the economy back into recession so they can launch a surprise attack on Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

Last Thursday, Bernanke announced that he will begin to tighten the noose as early as March 31 2010, when the Fed ends its $1.65 trillion purchases of agency debt, mortgage-backed securities, and US Treasuries. That's why stock market volatility has picked up since the Fed released its December 16 statement...

Just in time for the mid-term Congressional $elections.

If the Reptilian Party can't get the popular vote, well maybe they can get the voters so pissed at the DINOcrat they'll just stay home next November. Which is just part of the plan for the Right sort of people controlling everything in a finance driven neofeudal post-industrial world.

Monday, December 21, 2009

On Healthy Kool-Aid

Myiq2xu: Failure is the plan.

Now where have I heard that before? Still, it's nice to see people waking up and smelling the coffee.

Now we just have to figure out what to do about it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Definitely worth a look. See it in IMAX and 3D. You won't be disappointed.

Pale Blue Dot

Just watch it, okay?

Stabilizing the Winners and Cannibalizing the Losers

Says Dennis the Menace:

"The class warfare is over -- we lost," Kucinich said before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "I want to make that announcement today. Working people lost. The middle class lost..."

"Don't tell me about class warfare," he continued. "Come to my neighborhoods in Cleveland. I will show you class warfare. I’ll show you hollowed out areas. I’ll show you businesses that went down because they don’t have access to capital. And on Wall Street it is fat city. Don’t tell me about class warfare..."

"All across this country people are starved for capital," Kucinich said. "Small businesses are failing, you have shopping centers that are becoming vacant because people can’t afford the rents anymore because the people who own the malls the developers are getting cash calls and credit is tightening."

"The separation between the finance economy and the real economy is real. This is not some fake idea. You can’t call that class warfare. That’s a fact..."

"The wealth of this nation is being accelerated upward," Kucinich said. "That’s one of the problems that I had with the bailout."

"You could say that it helped stabilize the American economy, but what I see is the separation between the real economy and Wall Street. Wall Street is stabilizing, markets are a lot better, banks are doing well -- they parked their money at the Fed for a while so they could get higher interest rates."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

189,000 in Afghanistan

Already. Pre-surge. It's just most of them are mercenaries.

Jeremy Scahill:

A hearing in Sen. Claire McCaskill’s Contract Oversight subcommittee on contracting in Afghanistan has highlighted some important statistics that provide a window into the extent to which the Obama administration has picked up the Bush-era war privatization baton and sprinted with it. Overall, contractors now comprise a whopping 69% of the Department of Defense’s total workforce, “the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel in US history.” That’s not in one war zone—that’s the Pentagon in its entirety.

In Afghanistan, the Obama administration blows the Bush administration out of the privatized water. According to a memo [PDF] released by McCaskill’s staff, “From June 2009 to September 2009, there was a 40% increase in Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan. During the same period, the number of armed private security contractors working for the Defense Department in Afghanistan doubled, increasing from approximately 5,000 to more than 10,000.”

At present, there are 104,000 Department of Defense contractors in Afghanistan. According to a report this week from the Congressional Research Service, as a result of the coming surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, there may be up to 56,000 additional contractors deployed. But here is another group of contractors that often goes unmentioned: 3,600 State Department contractors and 14,000 USAID contractors. That means that the current total US force in Afghanistan is approximately 189,000 personnel (68,000 US troops and 121,000 contractors). And remember, that’s right now. And that, according to McCaskill, is a conservative estimate. A year from now, we will likely see more than 220,000 US-funded personnel on the ground in Afghanistan.

The US has spent more than $23 billion on contracts in Afghanistan since 2002. By next year, the number of contractors will have doubled since 2008 when taxpayers funded over $8 billion in Afghanistan-related contracts...

Just in case you forgot the real reason for the war, the Cowboy hasn't.

What Dean Said v.2

In case you didn't catch it earlier this week:

...Real health-care reform is supposed to eliminate discrimination based on preexisting conditions. But the legislation allows insurance companies to charge older Americans up to three times as much as younger Americans, pricing them out of coverage. The bill was supposed to give Americans choices about what kind of system they wanted to enroll in. Instead, it fines Americans if they do not sign up with an insurance company, which may take up to 30 percent of your premium dollars and spend it on CEO salaries -- in the range of $20 million a year -- and on return on equity for the company's shareholders. Few Americans will see any benefit until 2014, by which time premiums are likely to have doubled. In short, the winners in this bill are insurance companies; the American taxpayer is about to be fleeced with a bailout in a situation that dwarfs even what happened at AIG.

From the very beginning of this debate, progressives have argued that a public option or a Medicare buy-in would restore competition and hold the private health insurance industry accountable. Progressives understood that a public plan would give Americans real choices about what kind of system they wanted to be in and how they wanted to spend their money. Yet Washington has decided, once again, that the American people cannot be trusted to choose for themselves. Your money goes to insurers, whether or not you want it to...


...In coming out against the Lieberman-gutted health insurance "reform" bill, Dean is leveraging every shred of power he can muster to create the political space for the final bill - whether passed now, or later after going back to the drawing board - to be better and more progressive. He has made a compelling case that the bill "would do more harm than good," as he says in his Washington Post op-ed today - and in doing that he has made the power struggle between Joe Lieberman's Palpatinian forces of insurance/drug industry darkness and the progressive movement far more symmetrical.

Before Dean's move, the fight was asymmetrical, as Chris Hayes noted in my interview with him on my radio show yesterday. Before Dean's move, Lieberman had the upper hand in that he was the only one who didn't seem to care whether he alone killed the bill by joining with Republicans for a filibuster. Now, though, Dean has said to progressive members of Congress that they should be OK killing this bill if that's what taking a stand for a better bill means. And you see some of them potentially starting to follow.

This is why the White House and the Beltway media is now publicly freaking out at Dean in a way they never freaked out on corporate Dems (Lieberman, Baucus, Nelson, etc.) who were previously obstructing the bill: Because Dean is threatening to change the dynamic that the Beltway was always counting on - a dynamic that relied on progressives ultimately capitulating to the Joe Liebermans, the Rahm Emanuels, the insurance industry and the drug lobbyists. That dynamic only exists if progressive members of Congress - and the larger progressive movement and general public - believes passing the bill is more important than killing it to make it better. If they and we don't believe that, as Howard Dean doesn't and as new polls show we don't, then suddenly progressive members of Congress and the progressive movement can feel free to be as cutthroat as Lieberman himself...

And that scares the bats out of the belfry. Dr. Dean had best avoid riding in small airplanes anytime soon.

Declaring Victory and Going Home

Ah, the art of the Deal $teal:

...The plan does not firmly commit the industrialized nations or the developing nations to firm targets for midterm or long-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The accord is nonetheless significant in that it codifies the commitments of individual nations to act on their own to tackle global warming...

Perhaps it's just as well. It's not really clear to me that good science is guiding this. The Best and the Brightest of the Oborg seem to be more into global engineering that would profit cronies instead of simply controlling carbon emission pollution.

Global engineering would at best only hide not solve the problem, and will require increasing perturbations with unknown consequences. You don't treat your world as a test tube especially if your inability to accurately forecast the ramifications of your actions has already created the greatest mass extinction event since the end of the Mesozoic.

Solstice Blues and Greens

This terra'ist bin married 22 years today.

It's hardly a flash in the cosmic lightshow.

Just sayin'.

Would You Buy a Used War From This Man?

...and not from his girlfriend there either.

What Greenwald says holds for me:

...I've honestly never understood how anyone could think that Obama was going to bring about some sort of "new" political approach or governing method when, as Kilgore notes, what he practices -- politically and substantively -- is the Third Way, DLC, triangulating corporatism of the Clinton era, just re-packaged with some sleeker and more updated marketing. At its core, it seeks to use government power not to regulate, but to benefit and even merge with, large corporate interests, both for political power (those corporate interests, in return, then fund the Party and its campaigns) and for policy ends. It's devoted to empowering large corporations, letting them always get what they want from government, and extracting, at best, some very modest concessions in return...

But only the concessions that are good for the Business.

... it's about more than just letting corporations do what they want. It's about affirmatively harnessing government power in order to benefit and strengthen those corporate interests and even merging government and the private sector. In the intelligence and surveillance realms, for instance, the line between government agencies and private corporations barely exists. Military policy is carried out almost as much by private contractors as by our state's armed forces. Corporate executives and lobbyists can shuffle between the public and private sectors so seamlessly because the divisions have been so eroded. Our laws are written not by elected representatives but, literally, by the largest and richest corporations. At the level of the most concentrated power, large corporate interests and government actions are basically inseparable.

The health care bill is one of the most flagrant advancements of this corporatism yet, as it bizarrely forces millions of people to buy extremely inadequate products from the private health insurance industry -- regardless of whether they want it or, worse, whether they can afford it (even with some subsidies). In other words, it uses the power of government, the force of law, to give the greatest gift imaginable to this industry -- tens of millions of coerced customers, many of whom will be truly burdened by having to turn their money over to these corporations -- and is thus a truly extreme advancement of this corporatist model...

Whether it is Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton or the Oborg, the same pattern, the same tactics, the same strategies, and often the same Players hold.

...Whether you call it "a government takeover of the private sector" or a "private sector takeover of government," it's the same thing: a merger of government power and corporate interests which benefits both of the merged entities (the party in power and the corporations) at everyone else's expense. Growing anger over that is rooted far more in an insider/outsider dichotomy over who controls Washington than it is in the standard conservative/liberal ideological splits from the 1990s. It's true that the people who are angry enough to attend tea parties are being exploited and misled by GOP operatives and right-wing polemicists, but many of their grievances about how Washington is ignoring their interests are valid, and the Democratic Party has no answers for them because it's dependent upon and supportive of that corporatist model. That's why they turn to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh; what could a Democratic Party dependent upon corporate funding and subservient to its interests possibly have to say to populist anger?

One might suggest it is time for the populace to cease listening to Company owned populists.

But that's not likely. They are the only ones with the microphones.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"There's throwing people under the bus, and then there's throwing people under the bus..."

Lambert catches a live one via McClatchy from the Oborg mortgage plan.

...In the fine print of the form homeowners fill out to apply for Obama's program, which lowers monthly payments for three months while the lender decides whether to provide permanent relief, borrowers must waive important notification rights.

This clause allows banks to reject borrowers without any written notification and move straight to auctioning off their homes without any warning...

It must be nice to own your very own preznit, while maintaining plausible deniability.

Cat Wearing Mittens

Jelperman at Avedon:

...If I had slept through the last eighteen months and woke up this morning and you had told me that it’s 2009 and we have a new President who:

a) not only refuses to prosecute known war criminals and torturers, but whose DoJ files legal briefs to stop all inquiries in the matter, AND promises to keep “terrorist” defendants locked up no matter the results of their “trials” (including Bush’s kangaroo military commissions)

b) escalated the war in Afghanistan while continuing to occupy Iraq

c) Let Republicans, right-leaning Democrats, and the Pentagon set the agenda for his four-year term

d) promised health care reform, but only offered a larger version of the incestuous insurance company/government circle-jerk enacted in Massachusetts

e) fired minor government employees at the behest of Glenn Beck

f) gave numerous other gifts to the Right and corporations, while slapping the liberals in the face at every opportunity

I would have thought “Well, maybe President Romney will only last one term.”

Still, it beats having someone who views global apocalypse as a good foreign policy.

Barry O.'s bipartisan crew simply thinks they can limit it to the golden crescent.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

There's nothing like consistency...

...and Barry O.'s policies are nothing like consistent:

KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry Thursday further signaled that a strong American military presence will remain in Afghanistan long after July 2011, when President Obama plans to end his troop surge.

Speaking at the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Relations before a group of diplomats, non-governmental organizations and Afghan citizens, Eikenberry drove home the Obama administration's sometimes contradictory message.

To the Afghan government: act with urgency. To the Afghan people: We will not abandon you...

To the American public: we're out of there- real soon!

To Joe Lieberman: whatever you and Poppy say, Boss!

“Our own TV signals,” he said, “have already passed this star.”

Close but it seems no one's listening.

In May, Zachory Berta, a first-year graduate student of Dr. Charbonneau, called the group’s attention to blips in the Ophiuchus star that seemed to be happening every 1.6 days. If he was right, Mr. Berta said, the next transit would occur at 6 a.m. on May 13.

Dr. Charbonneau was in Washington later that day preparing for a State Department dinner when he got a group e-mail message that began: “We have a winner. Congrats Zach!”

From the drop in starlight, the astronomers could calculate the diameter of the Ophiuchus planet, known now as GJ 1214b. Then they used a sensitive spectrograph on a 3.6-meter telescope in Chile to measure its gravitational tug on the star, thus deriving the planet’s mass. Using those two numbers, Dr. Charbonneau and his colleagues could calculate the density of the planet, about one-third that of Earth.

“What we probably have here is a water world,” Dr. Charbonneau said.

Dr. Charbonneau said the weight of the new planet’s presumptive atmosphere kept the water liquid rather than just boiling into space. He acknowledged that a different recipe, with more rock and a very puffy atmosphere, would also fit the data. That is unlikely, he and other planet experts say, but the steam-world theory may be soon tested.

The new planet is close enough to be studied directly by telescopes on or near Earth. Indeed, Dr. Charbonneau said his team had already applied for observing time on the Hubble Space Telescope...

Talk to the Hand

This seems to be exactly what the bankster CEOs said who were "'pozed" to meet with the One to get a public chastizing.

...Obama’s stern rhetoric apparently did not move the top banking honchos who failed to show up for this week’s White House meeting with the president. The heads of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley waited until the morning of the Monday meeting to catch a plane and then claimed that fog prevented their journey.

Citigroup Chief Executive Vikram S. Pandit couldn’t make the meeting with the president who had saved his corporation from bankruptcy because he was too busy lining up new private financing to allow Citigroup to escape the bonus confines and other limits stipulated by the government bailout program.

No bank bears greater responsibility for the economic debacle that has caused such worldwide suffering than Citigroup, whose immense growth was made possible by legislation that Summers and his then-mentor, Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, successfully promoted in the late 1990s. Rubin was rewarded for his efforts with a top job at Citigroup, which was formed from one of the largest mergers in history and which paid him $120 million before its fortunes plummeted. The bank is by no means out of the swamp of its own creation, as it still holds a huge portfolio of toxic assets, is still sustained by substantial public assistance and was trading Tuesday at less than $4 a share—a tiny fraction of its value before Rubin led it astray.

It was Rubin, as an Obama adviser, who pushed for Pandit’s selection as head of Citigroup. Perhaps Obama could enlist Rubin’s aid in getting Pandit to accept the president’s invitations to the White House. But of course there is no expectation of getting Rubin and Pandit to pay back the bankrupted homeowners they swindled.

Meanwhile, it is still Joe Lieberman's country.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Best Weapons the Empire Can Buy

Of course, it's totally a co-incidence they happen to be made of nuclear waste, too:

For decades, depleted uranium (DU) has been the material of choice for anti-tank projectiles — despite a series of controversies about its potential health hazards. But for the near future, at least, the U.S. military will keep on using DU. Alternatives based on tungsten haven’t panned out. Now, the Army is upgrading to a new 120mm Advanced Kinetic Energy round, and about the only thing we know for sure is that it will be made of DU. The generation after that … may be an improved version of DU called Stakalloy.

Kinetic rounds are slim metal darts fired from tanks like the MAA1 Abrams at very high velocity. The preference for DU is not based, as some conspiracy theorists would have it, on a diabolical scheme to dump nuclear waste in developing countries. It’s because in addition to its high hardness and density, it has a property called adiabatic shear banding. Essentially, DU is crumbly rather than squishy. During the process of high-speed penetration through metal armor, fragments flake off a DU projectile. This means that a DU projectile is “self-sharpening” (compared to tungsten, which tends to deform in a blunted, mushroom shape.) It also means that DU produces a pyrophoric effect, filling the vehicle hit with a lethal fireball of tiny burning particles. That too makes it more effective...

From the earliest days of uranium processing, natural uranium was known as Tube Alloy (from “Tube Alloys”, a codename for the Manhattan Project), while enriched uranium was Oralloy (”Oak Ridge Alloy”) and the depleted remnant was known as Staballoy.

Staballoys containing DU with a small admixture of titanium (from 0.75 percent to 3.5 percent) have been the basis of anti-tank rounds for decades. However, now researchers are experimenting with a new version, known as Stakalloy, which combines uranium with niobium and vanadium. This is said to have improved hardness and ballistic properties compared to traditional uranium-titanium Staballoys.

In 2007, the Army requested the processing of “U-V-X Alloy Ingots,” described in the solicitation as Stakalloy. The document noted that “previous development work over the last few years at Aerojet for the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has produced new alloys with interesting properties and test prototypes for ballistic evaluation at ARL.” The idea was to find the best method of turning the ingots into “full-scale kinetic-energy penetrators.” (A two-stage quench process is suggested to prevent cracking.)

A detailed description of the new Stakalloy can be found in the patent for it...

As I read it, that's a round of 95% pure uranium.

Somehow it doesn't sound like a real healthy thing to be alive on a battlefield after thousands- maybe millions- of rounds of these munitions have been fired, burned, and turned to hot uranium oxide dust.

the Dem Suicide Act of 2010

What Atrios said:

Now that one senator has the power to torpedo the bill, a few more will get some ideas. And demand things. And it will get worse and worse until it is the Dem Suicide Act of 2010, if it isn't already.

This wasn't a suicide, it was an outright murder by Reptilians and DINOcrats.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What Dean Says

Kill Bill.

This is nothing like real health care reform. Instead, it is guaranteed income to insurance banksters, it is a private mandate with no public option or medicare expansion. As such it should be killed immediately.

First as we see, they'll try to take away medicare in a bait-and-switch for public health care reform. Next, they'll try again to eliminate social security. Doubtless they will have some high sounding title for it.

No Hits for You

Exactly who is whom's puppet?

Quoth the Gray Lady, but not in the sequence in which she speaks:

...As a son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a leading mujahedeen fighter against the Soviets who is now aged and apparently confined to bed, Siraj Haqqani is keeper of a formidable lineage and history.

In the early 1970s, the father attended a well-known madrasa, Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqaniya in the Pakistani town of Akora Khattack in North-West Frontier Province.

In the 1980s, Jalaluddin Haqqani received money and arms from the C.I.A. routed through Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, to fight the Soviets, according to Ahmed Rashid, an expert on the Afghan Taliban and the author of “Descent Into Chaos.”

In the 1990s, when the Taliban ran Afghanistan, Jalaluddin Haqqani served as governor of Paktia Province.

The relationship between the Haqqanis and Osama bin Laden dates back to the war against the Soviets in the 1980s, according to Kamran Bokhari, the South Asia director for Stratfor, a geopolitical risk analysis company.

When the Taliban government collapsed at the end of 2001 and Qaeda operatives fled from Tora Bora to Pakistan, the Haqqanis relocated their command structure to North Waziristan and welcomed Al Qaeda, Mr. Bokhari said.

The biggest gift of the Pakistanis to the Haqqanis was the use of North Waziristan as their fief, he said.

The Pakistani Army did not appear to be assisting the Haqqanis with training or equipment, he said. More than 20 members of the Haqqani family were killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan last year, showing the limits of how far the Pakistanis could protect them, Mr. Bokhari said.

Today, Siraj Haqqani has anywhere from 4,000 to 12,000 Taliban under his command. He is technically a member of the Afghan Taliban leadership based in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province.

That leadership is headed by Mullah Omar, the former leader of the Taliban regime. But Mr. Haqqani operates fairly independently of them inside Afghanistan.

He funds his operations in part through kidnappings and other illicit activities. The Haqqani network held David Rohde, a correspondent for The New York Times, for seven months, seeking ransom until he escaped in June.

Siraj Haqqani maintains an uneasy relationship with the Pakistani Taliban, said Maulana Yousaf Shah, the administrator of the madrasa at Akora Khattack.

Mr. Haqqani believed the chief jihadi objective should be forcing the foreigners out of Afghanistan, and he had tried but failed to redirect the Pakistani Taliban to fight in Afghanistan as well, he said...

...Mr. Haqqani fights in Afghanistan, and is considered more of an asset than a threat by the Pakistanis. But he is the most potent force fighting the United States, American and Pakistani officials agree.

He has subcommanders threaded throughout eastern and southern Afghanistan. His fighters control Paktika, Paktia and Khost Provinces in Afghanistan, which lie close to North Waziristan. His men are also strong in Ghazni, Logar and Wardak Provinces, the officials said.

Because Mr. Haqqani now spends so much time in Afghanistan — about three weeks of every month, according to a Pakistani security official — if the Americans want to eliminate him, their troops should have ample opportunity to capture him, Pakistani security officials argue...

... The Obama administration wants Pakistan to turn on Mr. Haqqani, a longtime asset of Pakistan’s spy agency who uses the tribal area of North Waziristan as his sanctuary. But, the officials said, Pakistan views the entreaties as contrary to its interests in Afghanistan beyond the timetable of President Obama’s surge, which envisions reducing American forces beginning in mid-2011.

The demands, first made by senior American officials before President Obama’s Afghanistan speech and repeated many times since, were renewed in a written message delivered in recent days by the United States Embassy to the head of the Pakistani military, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, according to American officials. Gen. David H. Petraeus followed up on Monday during a visit to Islamabad.

The demands have been accompanied by strong suggestions that if the Pakistanis cannot take care of the problem, including dismantling the Taliban leadership based in Quetta, Pakistan, then the Americans will by resorting to broader and more frequent drone strikes in Pakistan.

But the Pakistani leadership has greeted the refrain with public silence and private anger, according to Pakistani officials and diplomats familiar with the conversations, illustrating the widening gulf between the allies over the Afghan war.

Former Pakistani military officers voice irritation with the Americans daily on television, part of a mounting grievance in Pakistan that the alliance with the United States is too costly to bear...

Talk is cheap. Heroin costs money. Lives, too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Loose weight without diet or exercise

Winning hearts and minds without bothering to learn the local languages.

Military intelligence.

Recovery without regulation.

...America emerged from the Great Depression with a tightly regulated banking system. The regulations worked: the nation was spared major financial crises for almost four decades after World War II. But as the memory of the Depression faded, bankers began to chafe at the restrictions they faced. And politicians, increasingly under the influence of free-market ideology, showed a growing willingness to give bankers what they wanted.

The first big wave of deregulation took place under Ronald Reagan — and quickly led to disaster, in the form of the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s. Taxpayers ended up paying more than 2 percent of G.D.P., the equivalent of around $300 billion today, to clean up the mess.

But the proponents of deregulation were undaunted, and in the decade leading up to the current crisis politicians in both parties bought into the notion that New Deal-era restrictions on bankers were nothing but pointless red tape. In a memorable 2003 incident, top bank regulators staged a photo-op in which they used garden shears and a chainsaw to cut up stacks of paper representing regulations.

And the bankers — liberated both by legislation that removed traditional restrictions and by the hands-off attitude of regulators who didn’t believe in regulation — responded by dramatically loosening lending standards. The result was a credit boom and a monstrous real estate bubble, followed by the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. Ironically, the effort to contain the crisis required government intervention on a much larger scale than would have been needed to prevent the crisis in the first place: government rescues of troubled institutions, large-scale lending by the Federal Reserve to the private sector, and so on.

Given this history, you might have expected the emergence of a national consensus in favor of restoring more-effective financial regulation, so as to avoid a repeat performance. But you would have been wrong.

Talk to conservatives about the financial crisis and you enter an alternative, bizarro universe in which government bureaucrats, not greedy bankers, caused the meltdown. It’s a universe in which government-sponsored lending agencies triggered the crisis, even though private lenders actually made the vast majority of subprime loans. It’s a universe in which regulators coerced bankers into making loans to unqualified borrowers, even though only one of the top 25 subprime lenders was subject to the regulations in question.

Oh, and conservatives simply ignore the catastrophe in commercial real estate: in their universe the only bad loans were those made to poor people and members of minority groups, because bad loans to developers of shopping malls and office towers don’t fit the narrative.

In part, the prevalence of this narrative reflects the principle enunciated by Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” As Democrats have pointed out, three days before the House vote on banking reform Republican leaders met with more than 100 financial-industry lobbyists to coordinate strategies. But it also reflects the extent to which the modern Republican Party is committed to a bankrupt ideology, one that won’t let it face up to the reality of what happened to the U.S. economy.

So it’s up to the Democrats — and more specifically, since the House has passed its bill, it’s up to “centrist” Democrats in the Senate. Are they willing to learn something from the disaster that has overtaken the U.S. economy, and get behind financial reform?

No, Seriously.

“I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street,” Mr. Obama said.

Tell it to Timmeh, Barry.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Forced Readjustment

But just try getting one.

Mortgage rates in the United States have dropped to their lowest levels since the 1940s, thanks to a trillion-dollar intervention by the federal government. Yet the banks that once handed out home loans freely are imposing such stringent requirements that many homeowners who might want to refinance are effectively locked out.

The scarcity of credit not only hurts homeowners but also has broad economic repercussions at a time when consumer spending and employment are showing modest signs of improvement, hinting at a recovery after two years of recession.

Refinancing could save owners hundreds of dollars a month, which could be spent, saved or used to pay down debts. Extra spending would help lift the economy, and lower payments might spare some people from losing their homes to foreclosure...

Only if.

Then, it might be the banksters have some other debts to repay at interest rates we can only guess at.

Same planet, different world

One right thinking people would be quick to discredit:

What a life that guy led.

Five years of cyberspace from outer space

That looks like a lot of curvature to cover, but the signal's barely beyond our next door neighbor.

World wide widget

I posted this up top for awhile because its a visually appealing- and quite compelling- piece of evidence of how trivial it is to spot who anyone is on the 'tubes and where you are. And keep track of the fact that you visited, too.

Not that this is a particularly new datum for anyone used to riding the range in cyberspace. But every once in awhile I encounter someone who thinks we're all just a bit paranoid.

Well maybe we are for good reason.

Conspiracy Theorists

The liberal main$treamers are wringing their hands over guys like Matt Tiabbi in Rolling Stone who have done a good job describing the lack of Change these days.

I like Matt's response:

...It is my job to point out that many of the same people who bear direct responsibility for the financial crisis were given positions of great power in the Obama White House, and that in many important ways the Obama appointments represented a resounding reaffirmation of the status quo (I didn’t even mention the renomination of Ben Bernanke), and the exact opposite of “change.” One can argue about the extent to which this is true, but I don’t think the facts are really in question.

Fact are difficult things, aren't they?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

All Things to All Right-Thinking Whatevers

To paraphrase Harry Truman: When a Reptilian runs against a Reptilian, you can be sure the Reptilian will win.

Greenwald has one of the best deconstructions of Barry's Piece Prize speech I've read:

...the set of principles Obama articulated yesterday was such a clear and comprehensive expression of his foreign policy that it's now being referred to as the "Obama Doctrine." About that matter, there are two arguably confounding facts to note: (1) the vast majority of leading conservatives -- from Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich to Peggy Noonan, Sarah Palin, various Kagans and other assorted neocons -- have heaped enthusiastic praise on what Obama said yesterday, i.e., on the Obama Doctrine; and (2) numerous liberals have done exactly the same. That convergence gives rise to a couple of questions:

Why are the Bush-following conservatives who ran the country for the last eight years and whose foreign policy ideas are supposedly so discredited -- including some of the nation's hardest-core neocons -- finding so much to cheer in the so-called Obama Doctrine?

How could liberals and conservatives -- who have long claimed to possess such vehemently divergent and irreconcilable worldviews on foreign policy -- both simultaneously adore the same comprehensive expression of foreign policy?

How indeed, if there is any real difference between them.

Ian wants to blame it all on Parlimentary politics in a non-Parlimentary system, but I don't agree.

The double standard is particularly remarkable because it seems to work one way only.

Democrats working for social issues like single payer or even an honest public option get completely marginalized whether it’s a Democratic or Republican run Congress.

Supporters of the War on Terror get their funds as a given priority regardless of which side runs the Senate.

Like everything supposedly nuanced about our elected representatives, it’s only nuanced as long as the weasel words fit the bottom line.

This kind of thing seems surprising to some people. Gail Collins in Pravda today, surprised that the Companies run the Company:

... The biggest surprise was that the United States did not have its own soldiers guarding its Embassy in a war zone. We have been getting surprised like that a lot lately. Many of the worst stories involve Blackwater Worldwide, a private security contractor that changed its name to Xe Services after a series of mishaps in Iraq, one of which involved spraying bullets around a square in Baghdad and killing 17 civilians.

On Friday, James Risen and Mark Mazzetti of The Times reported that Blackwater employees had taken part in clandestine C.I.A. “snatch and grab” raids in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which suspected insurgents were abducted and taken away for detention and questioning.

This was, of course, in the past. In fact, on Friday, it was revealed that the C.I.A. director, Leon Panetta, had canceled a contract under which Blackwater loaded missiles on Predator drones in Pakistan — another activity that sort of came as a surprise when The Times first reported it last summer.

But Lord knows what Xe Services is up to.

What do you think Dwight Eisenhower would say about all of this? In his last speech as president, Eisenhower famously warned the country about “the potential for the disastrous use of misplaced power” if the military industrial complex got too big. That was back when defense contractors just sold the Pentagon fighter jets and wildly expensive widgets. Imagine how Ike would have reacted if they were driving the C.I.A. to snatch-and-grab dates.

When did we decide this was a good plan?

Who is this "we" you speak of, and what makes you think that "we" every controlled anything in the Corporate States of 'merika?

Atomic-powered zombie cyborg bugs

No kidding.

10 December 2009—This week at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), in Baltimore, Md., Cornell University engineers presented research that shows progress in powering cybernetic organisms with a radioactive fuel source.

Electrical engineering associate professor Amit Lal and graduate student Steven Tin presented a prototype microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) transmitter—an RF-emitting device powered by a radioactive source with a half-life of 12 years, meaning that it could operate autonomously for decades. The researchers think the new RFID transmitter, which produces a 5-milliwatt, 10-microsecond-long, 100-megahertz radio-frequency pulse, could lead to the widespread use of radioisotope power sources.

The work is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which also funds Lal and Tin’s work on another project, called Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS), whose aim is the creation of hybrid cybernetic organisms. In his presentation, Tin said that part of the goal of the radioisotope transmitter work is to power the insects that the group is developing for DARPA. The HI-MEMS program, which is approaching its fourth year, has already grown several kinds of insects—moths and beetles—with implanted control electronics. With such controls, they can be driven by a remote operator for ”stealth applications” and disaster response.

The insects themselves are powered by their own living tissue, but the onboard electronics (sensors and transmitters) require a separate power source. But the insects are too light to carry batteries, and logistical problems would prevent regular battery changes regardless. Therefore, Lal and his group at Cornell turned to radioactive isotopes to generate the necessary power...

-[via Cryptome]

I can't imagine what could go wrong with an idea like that.

Friday, December 11, 2009

He can't even write a new script

...The president even invoked one of the favorite qualifiers of his predecessor, George W. Bush, whose legacy he campaigned against last year. Obama said, "Evil does exist in the world."

Personally, I was waiting for this in his acceptance speech:

"...That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die."

McChrystal must have lifted the White House copy of the Necronomicon while Barry was penning his notes for the speech on the plane.

Xe Company Handlers

When the amateurs run the Company business.

WASHINGTON — Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials...

The Gray Lady is shocked.

The Chilling Stars

Correlation is not causation.

Again, an inconvenient question bound to antagonize people, what if global warming due to CO2 has been the only thing keeping us from entering another Ice Age?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Just Travesty

A "Just War"? Just a pack of self-serving lies.

OSLO — President Obama used his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday to defend the idea that some wars were necessary and just, remind the world of the burden the United States had borne in the fight against oppression and appeal for greater international efforts for peace...

Wherein Barry O. nudges Henry the K. out of the way to accept the White Man's Burden.

“There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”

Tell it to the innocent dead.

A graduate of the Velvet Jones school of journalism

Alas, Jared Diamond has been bought.

...His title asks, “Will Big Business Save the Earth?” That’s not a difficult question to answer: No. No, big business will not save the Earth. Instead of being honest, though, Diamond, answers the question in the affirmative and subjects us to a poorly-argued, mind-warping, illogical and denial-drenched apology for some of the most destructive corporations that curse our planet with their existence.

His overall argument doesn’t hold up to even the most casual scrutiny. He spends the whole column arguing that we shouldn’t hate big corporations because market forces are causing them to make changes to help the planet. “Lower consumption of environmental resources saves money in the short run. Maintaining sustainable resource levels and not polluting saves money in the long run.” He attempts to show that Wal-Mart, Coca Cola and Chevron are transforming their production practices to reflect their concern for the natural world (and that this also improves their bottom line, so it’s a big win-win).

His actual agenda is revealed in the last paragraph, which is partly a plea for the government to give corporations incentives like tax breaks and money for research to facilitate these changes. But if they’re already modifying production practices to help the environment because that is good for profits, then why do they require incentives? I don’t get it.

Mainstream liberal environmentalist groups lack credibility among real environmentalists for many reasons, one of which is the presence of corporate executives on their boards, and another of which is the huge amounts of money that they accept from corporations. The World Wildlife Fund, for example, landed a $3 million contract with Chevron in the early 1990s to implement an “Integrated Conservation and Development Project” in Papua New Guinea, where Chevron’s oil drilling was vehemently resisted by the affected indigenous people. (See “Shilling for Chevron: Jared Diamond Greenwasher” at: http://www.counterpunch.org/proyect05092005.html).

Diamond happens to serve on the WWF board. I'm sure it's purely by coincidence that he praises Chevron’s efforts to improve the environment in his book “Collapse,” and again in this NYT op-ed piece. I can imaging him hanging out with his fellow board members, business execs who complain of being misunderstood while sending him meaningful glances brimming with unspoken promises of millions of dollars in donations. I can imagine him deciding, “Hey, these guys aren’t so bad! I’m going to convince the American people to give them some love, damn it!”

In his op-ed piece he states, “I … have had frank discussions with oil company employees at all levels. I’ve also worked with executives of mining, retail, logging and financial services companies.” In contrast, he seems to have carefully avoided speaking with even one of the countless victims of these companies. There’s not a single quote by an indigenous person in the Amazon whose forest home was leveled for oil exploration and contaminated by oil spills. Not a single statement by a farmer in India whose crops died because Coca-Cola depleted and contaminated the village ground water. Not a peep from a single exploited factory laborer in China suffering with illnesses caused by the pollution generated by producing cheap plastic crap for Wal-Mart to import and sell to us...

Dr. Diamond's Collapse is a detailed analyses of factors that cause human societies to fail, just as Guns, Germs, and Steel is a concise breakdown of what brought Western cultures to their 20th century ascendency.

But like many other big picture guys who sell well, his brand name has obvious value on the open market.

You want to be a successful whore? Be sure to be white, well educated, and rich to begin with. Gender is totally unimportant.