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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ask a silly question

...like whether or not the President is a war criminal.

Or whether he can really do anything.

It's like Avedon says

...Obama had the power to do many, many good things, and he refused every opportunity to do them. He refused to even attempt the most basic steps of negotiation with the opposition, asking not for a higher goal than what we really needed, but a lower goal as a pre-compromise, thus lowering the bar further still. He alleged (when he was trying to get elected) that he believed single-payer was the best way to go, but then he started babbling about the public option before he'd even started making a case for single-payer, having simply declared that passing single-payer wasn't politically feasible. (Oh, yeah? Start pounding it into the general public that everyone in America can get effectively free health care without raising taxes, and see how far Congress gets trying to resist it past the next election.) He even telegraphed to the press that he wasn't even really trying to get his so-called "compromise" of the public option, but instead was hoping the threat of the public option would frighten the insurance companies into slightly softening their viciously predatory and fraudulent practices - which it didn't. If he'd really wanted single-payer, he could of course have spent a lot of time explaining how real socialized medicine actually works in Britain and used it as the scare image of what "the left" was demanding, forcing the not-so-left to welcome single-payer as a longed-for compromise. And that has been his pattern with everything...

So don't ask about why the Laureate has done rather less than anticipated. It isn't just that

...he hangs out with guys from the Chicago School of Economics...

He is a professor of law there.

Just a bit tighter than simply hanging out...

It's not like we weren't warned, though. [tip o'teh tinfoil to Charles II] Naomi Klein manages to damn both the Oborg and the Clintonista in one breath. An admirable economy of words, there. And a good point to those who still wistfully look back longingly at Hillary.

It's the same story. Things aren't going to straighten out until the Chicago School paradigm is completely abandoned, and there's little chance of that. It's the Company modus operandi until the fossil fuels are completely gone.

Small Solutions from a Small Man

Physical size has nothing to do with it.

Chicago School solutions will not solve an economy wrecked by Chicago School policies promoted by those who would rule since the Second World War.

One almost imagines the One looking at a list of policy alternatives trying to decide which is small enough to get his fan base at Goldman-$acks to love him again.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Conspiracy Theory

Except it's no theory. There are multi-billionaires who want to re-write the Constitution and bring back "traditional American values" like, you know indentured servitude to corporate masters (i.e., them).

Go read Rich today.

...Three heavy hitters rule. You’ve heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs’ banner may not know who these brothers are.

Their self-interested and at times radical agendas, like Murdoch’s, go well beyond, and sometimes counter to, the interests of those who serve as spear carriers in the political pageants hawked on Fox News. The country will be in for quite a ride should these potentates gain power, and given the recession-battered electorate’s unchecked anger and the Obama White House’s unfocused political strategy, they might.

All three tycoons are the latest incarnation of what the historian Kim Phillips-Fein labeled “Invisible Hands” in her prescient 2009 book of that title: those corporate players who have financed the far right ever since the du Pont brothers spawned the American Liberty League in 1934 to bring down F.D.R. You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League’s crusade against the New Deal “socialism” of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our “socialist” president.

Only the fat cats change — not their methods and not their pet bugaboos (taxes, corporate regulation, organized labor, and government “handouts” to the poor, unemployed, ill and elderly). Even the sources of their fortunes remain fairly constant. Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also spews an array of industrial products, from Dixie cups to Lycra, not unlike DuPont’s portfolio of paint and plastics. Sometimes the biological DNA persists as well. The Koch brothers’ father, Fred, was among the select group chosen to serve on the Birch Society’s top governing body. In a recorded 1963 speech that survives in a University of Michigan archive, he can be heard warning of “a takeover” of America in which Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.” That rant could be delivered as is at any Tea Party rally today.

Last week the Kochs were shoved unwillingly into the spotlight by the most comprehensive journalistic portrait of them yet, written by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker...

That article deserves its own link. There are very wealthy and very powerful people working behind the scenes to change American life into something unrecognizable as American. Those who think that's all just conspiracy theory aren't paying attention.

...The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus...

In one shape or another, these Old Ones have been victimizing people since the 1930s. Let's not forget Prescott Bush. Let's not forget the latest scion of the clan who will probably run as a kinder and gentler version of the old squids in 2012 or 2016.

These people think in the long-term. Their long-term goal is a post-industrial neo-feudalism for the majority of Americans as the fossil fuels run out over the next 50 years. To fight them, we should think long-term too.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ben Bernanke Adds More Stimulus

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. "-Inigo Montoya

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, signaled Friday that the central bank was prepared to take several steps if the economy continued to weaken, including large purchases of government debt, as yet another economic report confirmed that the recovery had slowed to a crawl...

Ben keeps giving cash and IOUs to his bank$ter buddies, and nothing gets fixed. Funny, that. Or not...

via Avedon, Dean Baker:

...If this disaster was preventable and we know how to get out of it, why didn't our leaders try to stop it before it happened? Why don't they take the steps necessary now to get the economy moving again?

The answer to both these questions is simple; the politicians work for someone else. On Election Day, the politicians might need our votes, but they won't get to be serious contenders unless they've gotten the campaign contributions of the big money crew. And the moneyed elite has been using its control of the political process to ensure that an ever larger share of the economy's output is redistributed upward in their direction.

The reason that there was little interest in cracking down on the housing bubble is that Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and the rest were making a fortune from the financial shenanigans that fueled the bubble. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin personally pocketed over $100 million from this fun. Why would they want the government to rein it in?

Of course, when the bubble did finally blow and threaten their banks with bankruptcy, the Wall Street crew just ran to the government for help. And they got trillions of dollars in loans and loan guarantees to ensure that they would not be victims of the crisis they had created. Now that they are back on their feet, with Wall Street profits and bonuses both again at near record levels, they see little reason to concern themselves with the measures that might set the economy right for the rest of us.

After all, the steps necessary to revitalize the economy could mean some inflation. This would reduce the value of the debt owned by the wealthy. And the wealthy don't see any reason that they should risk any of their wealth just for the good of the economy.

We have enormous ground to cover to restore an economy that works for the vast majority, but the first step is to know where we are. The upward redistribution of the last three decades has nothing to do with the market and a belief in "market fundamentalism." This is about a process where the rich and powerful have rewritten the rules to make themselves richer and more powerful.

For example, they wrote trade rules that were designed to put downward pressure on the wages of the bulk of the U.S. workforce by placing manufacturing workers in direct competition with low-paid workers in China and other developing countries. This had nothing to do with a belief in "free trade." They did not try to subject lawyers, doctors or other highly paid workers to the same sort of international competition. They only wanted international competition to put downward pressure on the wages of workers in the middle and bottom, not those at the top.

This elite has instituted a system of corporate governance that allows top executives to pilfer companies at the expense of their shareholders and its workers. Top executives are overseen only by a board of directors who owe their hugely overpaid sinecures to the executives they supervise. And of course the Wall Street barons themselves are given a license to gamble with the implicit promise that government picks up their tab when they lose.

No progressive movement will make any progress until we understand the battle we are fighting. Our income is a cost to the rich. They will look to cut it wherever they can, whether this is wages for private sector workers, pensions for public employees, or Social Security for retirees. That is their target.

We have to fight back using the same logic. Their income is our cost -- the multimillion dollar bonuses for the Wall Street wizards is a direct drain on the economy. So are the bloated paychecks of top executives and their lackey boards. Progressives must be prepared to use all the same tactics to bring down the income of the rich and powerful that they have used to reduce the income of everyone else.

This means restructuring the rules of corporate governance to put serious downward pressure on the pay of top executives. The highest paid workers (doctors, lawyers, and economists) must be subjected to international competition in the same way as manufacturing workers have been subjected to international competition. And, we should sharply limit the extent of the patent or copyright protections that are exploited by the drug industry and the entertainment and software industries.

We have to put the focus on the ways the rich have rigged the rules and place this at the center of political debate. The three decade-long battle over tax cuts for the rich is important, but at the end of the day it is a side show. If we let them steal all the money at the onset, it really doesn't make much difference if they end up letting us tax a little of it back.

Surely you jest. That's why Obama only has opposition- opposition cable news will report, anyway- on the Right. Congress isschedulted to go Republican this year, and the Presidency two years afterwards. Because the rich want it all.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

casino rules still

Maybe sometime you will learn not take bookie-promoted bets that the bookie stands to win if you lose.

When Congress passed a new financial regulation bill last month, it sought to prevent federally insured banks from making speculative bets using their own money. But that will not stop banks from making bets that some critics deem risky, even as the rules go into effect over the next few years.

That is because many such bets — on the direction of the stock market or the price of coal, for example — are done on behalf of clients. So, the banks say, they will continue to be allowable despite the new restrictions.

Indeed, several trades that were made on behalf of clients went bad for the banks even as the new rules were being debated in Washington this year. JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, for example, each lost more than $100 million on transactions handled for customers in the period from April to July...

They would re-instate the Glass–Steagall if they were minimally serious about this.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

pot meets kettle

...and calls it the Right-Thinking color:

KABUL, Afghanistan — The aide to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan at the center of a politically sensitive corruption investigation is being paid by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to Afghan and American officials.

Mohammed Zia Salehi, the chief of administration for the National Security Council, appears to have been on the payroll for many years, according to officials in Kabul and Washington. It is unclear exactly what Mr. Salehi does in exchange for his money, whether providing information to the spy agency, advancing American views inside the presidential palace, or both.

Mr. Salehi’s relationship with the C.I.A. underscores deep contradictions at the heart of the Obama administration’s policy in Afghanistan, with American officials simultaneously demanding that Mr. Karzai root out the corruption that pervades his government while sometimes subsidizing the very people suspected of perpetrating it.

Mr. Salehi was arrested in July and released after Mr. Karzai intervened. There has been no suggestion that Mr. Salehi’s ties to the C.I.A. played a role in his release; rather, officials say, it is the fear that Mr. Salehi knows about corrupt dealings inside the Karzai administration.

The ties underscore doubts about how seriously the Obama administration intends to fight corruption here. The anticorruption drive, though strongly backed by the United States, is still vigorously debated inside the administration. Some argue it should be a centerpiece of American strategy, and others say that attacking corrupt officials who are crucial to the war effort could destabilize the Karzai government...

Not to mention the flow of heroin, gas, oil, and lithium!

You know, the CIA's been doing dirty deals since 'way before Langley bumped Ngo Dinh Diem to keep the golden triangle golden. Yet The New York Pravda keeps acting like it's some new Moral Crisis when it's been Imperial policy since the Roosevelt clan helped Britain push opium into China. Now we've got a much deeper addiction to deal with, it's not surprising the Company's right there planting shivs in everyone's backs, and paying all sides to do it to each other.

After all, Chaos is the Plan.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Visigoths at the Gates

1600 years ago today:

...Who exactly were the Visigoths, the barbarians from the North who marched unopposed into Rome?

Mr Von Rummel says the latest research reveals a very different picture from that held as recently as 50 years ago.

"Today we know the group consisted of different people, it was mainly an army with a successful leader. People joined this group inside the Roman Empire. They sacked a lot of towns but they acted in different ways, they also were a sometime partner of the Romans," he said.

"The moment the Roman emperor did not pay any more they changed sides and sacked the town just to tell the emperor: 'You should pay us'...

I know I see nothing wrong with privatizing the Government [adjusts helm and spear].

Monday, August 23, 2010

Keeping the Endless War Alive

You can't make up this sort of thing:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — When American and Pakistani agents captured Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s operational commander, in the chaotic port city of Karachi last January, both countries hailed the arrest as a breakthrough in their often difficult partnership in fighting terrorism.

But the arrest of Mr. Baradar, the second-ranking Taliban leader after Mullah Muhammad Omar, came with a beguiling twist: both American and Pakistani officials claimed that Mr. Baradar’s capture had been a lucky break. It was only days later, the officials said, that they finally figured out who they had.

Now, seven months later, Pakistani officials are telling a very different story. They say they set out to capture Mr. Baradar, and used the C.I.A. to help them do it, because they wanted to shut down secret peace talks that Mr. Baradar had been conducting with the Afghan government that excluded Pakistan, the Taliban’s longtime backer.

In the weeks after Mr. Baradar’s capture, Pakistani security officials detained as many as 23 Taliban leaders, many of whom had been enjoying the protection of the Pakistani government for years. The talks came to an end.

The events surrounding Mr. Baradar’s arrest have been the subject of debate inside military and intelligence circles for months. Some details are still murky — and others vigorously denied by some American intelligence officials in Washington. But the account offered in Islamabad highlights Pakistan’s policy in Afghanistan: retaining decisive influence over the Taliban, thwarting archenemy India, and putting Pakistan in a position to shape Afghanistan’s postwar political order.

“We picked up Baradar and the others because they were trying to make a deal without us,” said a Pakistani security official, who, like numerous people interviewed about the operation, spoke anonymously because of the delicacy of relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States. “We protect the Taliban. They are dependent on us. We are not going to allow them to make a deal with Karzai and the Indians...”

And the CIA helped. Because, you know, 'Merikan industry and mercenaries entrepreneurial private contractors depend on those billions spent. Not to mention the street value of all that heroin on the side.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Advisers and Assisters

Well, it's better than Peacekeeper, one supposes.

...The US military and the Obama administration loudly trumpeted the withdrawal of the "last combat brigade" from Iraq last week, but news reports suggest the move is purely semantic: The combat brigades are still there, but under a different name.

The Army Times reported on Saturday that the US still has seven combat brigades inside Iraq, but they have been renamed "advise and assist brigades..."

On Friday, US House representative and noted Iraq war opponent Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) slammed the withdrawal announcement as an Orwellian "lie."

Who is in charge of our operations in Iraq, now? George Orwell? A war based on lies continues to be a war based on lies. Today, we have a war that is not a war, with combat troops who are not combat troops. In 2003, President Bush said ' Mission Accomplished.' In 2010, the White House says combat operations are over in Iraq, but will leave 50,000 troops, many of whom will inevitably be involved in combat-related activities.

The US military presence in Iraq may continue long after the end of 2011, when all American forces are supposed to depart under a security agreement.

Top military leaders in both countries acknowledge Iraq still may need help from the US armed forces after 2011...

Ahh, but it won't be combat, because we aren't calling it that.

And the soldier killed today on the first day after withdrawal? Doubtless pelleted with roses from those being mentored...

Somebody is insane, and he/ she/ it has Obama's heart and mind and cajones, too.

Let It Happen

Alan Grayson speaks. You listen!

The debate over a planned Islamic community center several blocks from New York City's World Trade Center site is a "distraction," according to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL).

Instead, the debate should shift in focus to an examination of the administration which "let it happen."

'It,' of course, being the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The remark was made during a Friday appearance on MSNBC's The Ed Show with former liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz.

“If we are going to talk about 9/11, why don’t we talk about how not so much the people who died on 9/11 were disgraced by the possibility of an Islamic athletic center several blocks away; how about the fact that they were disgraced by a president who let it happen?" he asked. "Who went on vacation for the entire month of August after he was warned in writing that Osama bin Laden was actually finding targets in NYC and learning how to take these planes and do terrible things with them? The thing itself said ‘hijacking’ and they did nothing about it..."

Barry O.'s one to let bye-gones be bye-gones, ignoring the crimes of the Bu$hies, lest
his own be prosecuted later.

Masters of the Obvious

Like there is any real debate abut this:

...David A. Moss, an economic and policy historian at the Harvard Business School, has spent years studying income inequality. While he has long believed that the growing disparity between the rich and poor was harmful to the people on the bottom, he says he hadn’t seen the risks to the world of finance, where many of the richest earn their great fortunes.

Now, as he studies the financial crisis of 2008, Mr. Moss says that even Wall Street may have something serious to fear from inequality — namely, another crisis.

The possible connection between economic inequality and financial crises came to Mr. Moss about a year ago, when he was at his research center in Cambridge, Mass. A colleague suggested that he overlay two different graphs — one plotting financial regulation and bank failures, and the other charting trends in income inequality.

Mr. Moss says he was surprised by what he saw. The timelines danced in sync with each other. Income disparities between rich and poor widened as government regulations eased and bank failures rose.

“I could hardly believe how tight the fit was — it was a stunning correlation,” he said. “And it began to raise the question of whether there are causal links between financial deregulation, economic inequality and instability in the financial sector. Are all of these things connected?”

One hope Dr. Moss has tenure, because debate of such issues is frowned upon at Ivy League schools.

...his inquiry is one that some conservative economists are already dismissing.

R. Glenn Hubbard, for instance, who was the top economic advisor to former President George W. Bush, said income inequality was not the culprit in the most recent crisis.

“Cars go faster every year, and G.D.P. rises every year, but that doesn’t mean speed causes G.D.P.,” said Mr. Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Business School and co-author of the coming book “Seeds of Destruction: Why the Path to Economic Ruin Runs Through Washington, and How to Reclaim American Prosperity.”

No, but to make the analogy correct, the faster you drive, the greater the likelihood of an accident, and the greater the likelihood of serious damage if you do have an accident.

Innocence According to His Peers

...but they never let it get as far as a jury.

...The Justice Department decided last week not to bring charges against Tom DeLay, whose unethical conduct represented a modern low among Congressional leaders. The decision is a reminder that some of Washington’s worst big-money practices remain either legal or far too difficult to prosecute...

...many of Mr. DeLay’s actions remain legal only because lawmakers have chosen not to criminalize them. Mr. DeLay’s wife and daughter, for example, were paid more than $500,000 by his political action and campaign committees for “strategic guidance” and event-planning. Others in Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have put family members on the payroll...

Here's some bits of what Wikipedia is willing to post about Tom:

...GOn Oct. 3, 2005, a Grand Jury indicted Tom Delay on a felony conspiracy charge to move $190,000 in corporate donations to Republican candidates in the State Legislature in 2002.[24] On Oct. 20th 2005, Tom Delay turned himself in to the Harris County Sheriff Office, one day after an arrest warrant was issued.[24] Tom Delay was released after posting a $10,000 bond.[25]

In December 2005, the Washington Post reported that, in 1998, a group of Russian oil executives had given money to a nonprofit advocacy group run by a former DeLay staffer and funded by clients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, in an attempt to influence DeLay's vote on an International Monetary Fund bailout of the Russian economy.[26] Associates of DeLay advisor Ed Buckham, the founder of the U.S. Family Network, said that executives from the oil firm Naftasib had offered a donation of $1,000,000 to be delivered to a Washington, D.C.-area airport in order to secure DeLay's support. On June 25, 1998, the U.S. Family Network received a $1 million check via money transferred through the London law firm James & Sarch Co. This payment was the largest single entry on U.S. Family Network's donor list. The original source of the donation was not recorded.[27] DeLay denied that the payment had influenced his vote. Naftasib denied that it had made the payment and that it had ever been represented by James & Sarch Co. The now-dissolved law firm's former partners declined to comment due to confidentiality requirements.

DeLay's involvement with the lobbying industry included a pointed effort on the part of the Republican Party to parlay the Congressional majority into dominance of K Street, the lobbying district of Washington, D.C. DeLay, Senator Rick Santorum, and Grover Norquist launched a campaign in 1995 encouraging lobbying firms to retain only Republican officials in top positions. Firms that had Democrats in positions of authority, DeLay suggested, would not be granted the ear of majority party members.

In 1999, DeLay was privately reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee after he pulled an important intellectual property rights bill off of the House floor when the Electronics Industries Alliance hired a former Democratic Congressman, Dave McCurdy.[28]

Firms initially responded to the campaign, but it waned during 2004, when the possibility of Senator John Kerry's winning the presidency gave lobbying firms some incentive to hire Democrats.[29]

DeLay has long been a strong critic of Cuban leader Fidel Castro's regime, which DeLay has called a "thugocracy", and a supporter of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. However, in April 2005, Time Magazine published a photo from a government-funded July 2003 trip to Israel, in which DeLay is seen smoking a Cuban cigar.[30] The consumption or purchase of Cuban cigars is illegal in the United States (but was, at the time, not illegal abroad). Since September 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department's enforcement of the law has been toughened to forbid consumption (smoking) or purchase of Cuban cigars by U.S. citizens anywhere in the world.[31]

During the Texas redistricting warrant controversy, several Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives fled to Oklahoma to prevent the House from establishing a quorum of members, thereby preventing the House from acting on any legislation. Although not a member of the Texas legislature, DeLay became involved, by contacting several federal agencies in order to determine the location of the missing legislators. DeLay's staff contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for assistance in tracking down a plane that one of the legislators was flying to Oklahoma, an action that the FAA believed to be a result of safety concerns about the aircraft.[32] A review by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that a total of thirteen FAA employees spent more than eight hours searching for the airplane.[33] Members of DeLay's staff asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to arrest the missing Democrats. The FBI dismissed Delay's and his staff's request as "wacko".[32] DeLay also contacted United States Marshal and United States Attorney's offices in Texas, as well as the Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center, an agency that deals with smuggling and terrorism.[34]

U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) requested an investigation into DeLay's involvement in the requests, and asked that any White House involvement be reported. The House Ethics Committee admonished DeLay for improper use of FAA resources, and for involving federal agencies in a matter that should have been resolved by Texas authorities.[35]

DeLay called the Terri Schiavo case "one of my proudest moments in Congress."[6] DeLay made headlines for his role in helping lead federal intervention in the matter. On Palm Sunday weekend in March 2005, several days after the brain-damaged Florida woman's feeding tube was disconnected for the third time, the House met in emergency session to pass a bill allowing Schiavo's parents to petition a federal judge to review the removal of the feeding tube. DeLay called the removal of the feeding tube "an act of barbarism." DeLay faced accusations of hypocrisy from critics when the Los Angeles Times revealed that he had consented to ending life support for his father, who had been in a comatose state because of a debilitating accident in 1988.[36]

DeLay was accused of endorsing violence in the wake of a series of high-profile violent crimes and death threats against judges when he said, "The men responsible [for Terri Schiavo's death] will have to answer to their behavior." DeLay's comments came soon after the February 28, 2005, homicide of the mother and husband of Chicago Judge Joan Lefkow, and the March 11, 2005, killing of Atlanta Judge Rowland Barnes. DeLay's opponents accused him of rationalizing violence against judges when their decisions were unpopular with the public. Ralph Neas, President of People for the American Way, said that DeLay's comments were "irresponsible and could be seen by some as justifying inexcusable conduct against our courts."[37] DeLay publicly apologized for the remark after being accused of threatening the Supreme Court.
[edit] Settlement in civil suit

In early 1999, the The New Republic picked up a story, first reported by Houston-area alternative weeklies, alleging that DeLay had committed perjury during a civil lawsuit brought against him by a former business partner in 1994.

The plaintiff in that suit, Robert Blankenship, charged that DeLay and a third partner in Albo Pest Control had breached the partnership agreement by trying to force him out of the business without buying him out. Blankenship filed suit, charging DeLay and the other partner with breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, wrongful termination, and loss of corporate expectancy. While being deposed in that suit, DeLay claimed that he did not think that he was an officer or director of Albo and that he believed that he had resigned two or three years previously.[5] However, his congressional disclosure forms, including one filed subsequent to the deposition, stated that he was either president or chairman of the company between 1985 and 1994. Blankenship also alleged that Albo money had been spent on DeLay's congressional campaigns, in violation of federal and state law.

DeLay and Blankenship settled for an undisclosed sum. Blankenship's attorney said that had he known about the congressional disclosure forms, he would have referred the case to the Harris County district attorney's office for a perjury prosecution. DeLay has never been charged with a crime in connection with this case.

There are unsubstantiated rumors that DeLay may be one of the targets of the Justice Department investigation into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff's actions.[citation needed] Abramoff allegedly provided DeLay with trips, gifts, and political donations in exchange for favors to Abramoff's lobbying clients, which included the government of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Internet gambling services, and several Native American tribes.[38] Two of DeLay's former political aides, Tony Rudy and Michael Scanlon, as well as Abramoff himself, pleaded guilty in 2006 to charges relating to the investigation. Political columnist Robert Novak reported that Abramoff "has no derogatory information about former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and is not implicating him as part of his plea bargain with federal prosecutors."[39]

According to ABC's 20/20 television program, Abramoff lobbied DeLay to stop legislation banning sex shops and sweatshops that forced employees to have abortions in the Northern Mariana Islands when Abramoff accompanied DeLay on a 1997 trip to the U.S. commonwealth. While on the trip, DeLay promised not to put the bill on the legislative calendar.[40]

In 2000, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a worker reform bill to extend the protection of U.S. labor and minimum-wage laws to the workers in the Northern Mariana Islands. DeLay, then the House Republican Whip, stopped the House from considering the bill.[41] DeLay later blocked a fact-finding mission planned by Rep. Peter Hoekstra by threatening him with the loss of his subcommittee chairmanship.[40]

DeLay received gifts from Abramoff, including paid golfing holidays to Scotland, concert tickets, and the use of Abramoff's private skyboxes for fundraisers. In May 2000, ARMPAC received the free use of one of Abramoff's private skyboxes to host a political fundraiser. At the time, campaign finance laws did not require the use of the skybox, valued at several thousand dollars, to be disclosed or for Abramoff to be reimbursed for its use.[42]

Later that month, the DeLays, Rudy, another aide, and Abramoff took a trip to London and Scotland. Abramoff paid for the airfare for the trip, and lobbyist Ed Buckham paid for expenses at a hotel at St. Andrews golf course in Scotland.[43] Abramoff was reimbursed by The National Center for Public Policy Research, the nonprofit organization that arranged the trip. On the day that the trip began, The National Center received large donations from two of Abramoff's clients, internet lottery service eLottery, Inc., and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Both organizations denied that they had intended to pay for DeLay's trip.[44] House rules forbid members to accept travel expenses from lobbyists, and require that members inquire into the sources of funds that nonprofits use to pay for trips. DeLay denied knowing that lobbyists had paid for travel expenses. In July 2000, DeLay voted against a bill that would have restricted Internet gambling. Both eLottery and the Choctaws opposed the bill.[44] Rudy, who was then DeLay's deputy chief of staff, doomed the bill by engineering a parliamentary maneuver that required a two-thirds majority vote, rather than a simple majority, in order for the bill to pass. Rudy's actions on behalf of Abramoff's clients during this time were mentioned in Abramoff's guilty plea in January 2006.[45]

In January 2006, The Associated Press reported that in 2001, DeLay co-signed a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft calling for the closure of a casino owned by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. Two weeks earlier, the Choctaws had donated $1,000 to DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC). A DeLay spokesman denied that the donations had influenced DeLay's actions.[46] Currently, and at the time of the letter, casinos or other private gambling establishments are illegal in Texas, even on Indian reservations.[47]

Scanlon, who became Abramoff's lobbying partner, pleaded guilty in November 2005 to conspiracy charges.[48] Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy charges on January 3, 2006, and agreed to cooperate with the government's investigation. His cooperation may have forced DeLay to abandon his efforts to return to his position as House Majority Leader,[45] a decision that DeLay announced only a few days after Abramoff's plea bargain. Rudy pleaded guilty on March 31, 2006, to illegally acting on Abramoff's behalf in exchange for gifts.[49]

Abramoff referred clients to Ed Buckham's Alexander Strategy Group (ASG), a lobbying firm. In addition, Abramoff clients gave more than $1.5 million to Buckham's U.S. Family Network, which then paid ASG more than $1 million.[50]

From 1998 to 2002, ASG paid Christine DeLay a monthly salary averaging between $3,200 and $3,400. DeLay's attorney, Richard Cullen, initially said the payments were for telephone calls she made periodically to the offices of certain members of Congress seeking the names of their favorite charities, and that she then forwarded that information to Buckham, along with some information about those charities. In early June 2006, Cullen said the payments were also for general political consulting she provided to her husband. In all, Christine DeLay was paid about $115,000 directly by ASG, and got another $25,000 via money put into a retirement account by the firm.[51] Her work with ASG has been the subject of an inquiry by the Department of Justice.[38][52]


#24 ^ a b "Smiling DeLay turns himself in for booking". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/10/20/Delay.booking/. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
#25 ^ http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2005/images/10/19/DELAYCAPIAS10-19-2005.pdf
#26 ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey (December 31, 2005). "The DeLay-Abramoff Money Trail". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/30/AR2005123001480_pf.
#27 ^ Sherwell, Philip; David Harrison (January 9, 2006). "British lawyers linked to $1 million payment for favours at US Congress". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/01/08/wus08.xml&sSheet=/
#28 ^ Dubose, Lou Broken Hammer?, Salon.com, 2005-04-08. Retrieved 2006-04-15.
#29 ^ Birnbaum, Jeffrey Going Left on K Street, The Washington Post, 2004-07-02. Retrieved 2006-06-18.
#30 ^ Tumulty, Karen (April 27, 2005). "But Did He Inhale?". Time. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1054968,00.html. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#31 ^ "Cuban Cigar Update" (PDF). United States Department of the Treasury. http://www.treasury.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/legacy/ccigar2.pdf. Retrieved 2006-04-22.
#32^ a b Toobin, Jeffrey Drawing the Line, The New Yorker, 2006-02-27. Retrieved 2006-06-19.
#33 ^ Texas Redistricting Fight Not Over, The Associated Press, 2004-10-18. Retrieved 2006-07-23.
#34 ^ Lieberman: Federal Authority Misused by Texas Republicans, United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, 2003-08-22. Retrieved 2006-04-24.
#35 ^ DeLay letter, U.S. House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, 2004-10-04. Retrieved 2006-04-24.
#36 ^ "In '88, accident forced DeLays to choose between life, death". The Los Angeles Times. March 27, 2005. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/03/27/
MNGTRBVFV01.DTL. Retrieved 2006-04-15.
#37 ^ Babington, Charles (April 5, 2005). "Senator Links Violence to 'Political' Decisions". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26236-2005Apr4.html. Retrieved 2006-04-15.
#38 ^ a b Schmidt, Susan, and James V. Grimaldi (November 26, 2005). "Lawmakers Under Scrutiny in Probe of Lobbyist". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/25/AR2005112501423_pf.
html. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#39 ^ Novak, Robert (March 25, 2006). "Abramoff clearing DeLay". http://townhall.com/opinion/columns/robertnovak/2006/03/25/191300.html. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#40 ^ a b Ross, Brian (April 6, 2005). "DeLay's Lavish Island Getaway". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=647725&page=1. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#41 ^ Shields, Mark (May 9, 2005). "The real scandal of Tom DeLay". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/09/real.delay/. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#42 ^ "DeLay used lobbyist's concert skybox". Associated Press. April 20, 2005. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7577057/. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#43 ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey (April 24, 2005). "DeLay Airfare Was Charged to Lobbyist's Credit Card". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12416-2005Apr23.html. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
#44 ^ a b Grimaldi, James V., and R. Jeffrey Smith (March 12, 2005). "Gambling Interests Funded DeLay Trip". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28252-2005Mar11.html. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
#45 ^ a b Weisman, Jonathan (January 8, 2006). "Abramoff Probe Turns Focus on DeLay Aide". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/09/AR2006010900952.html. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
#46 ^ "Report: DeLay Pushed To Shut Casino". Associated Press. January 10, 2006. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/10/politics/main1196412.shtml. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#47^ "Texas Penal Code, Chapter 47: Gambling". http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/docs/PE/content/htm/pe.010.00.000047.00.htm. Retrieved 2006-04-22.
#48 ^ Frieden, Terry (November 21, 2005). "DeLay ex-aide pleads guilty in Abramoff case". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/11/21/scanlon.plea/. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
#49 ^ Eilperin, Juliet, and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum (April 1, 2006). "A Force Behind the Power". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/31/AR2006033101742.html. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
#50 ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey (March 26, 2006). "Former DeLay Aide Enriched By Nonprofit". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/25/AR2006032501166_pf.
#51 ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey (June 7, 2006). "Retirement Account of DeLay's Wife Traced: With Disclosure, Family's Known Benefits From Ties With Lobbyist Exceed $490,000".
The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/06/AR2006060601320.html.
#52 ^ Mullins, Brody (September 6, 2006). "Lobbying Probe Looks at Payments To DeLay's Wife". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB115751113432354767-RTaE1AhatX6WxT2GjgW5_

Go to Wikipedia to follow the links- while they're still up, anyway. Given that Justice dropped all charges, chances are they'll be greatly abbreviated soon. Hot Tub Tom did a whole lot more than simply keep his kin on the payroll. By extension, one assumes this is simply business as usual in D.C., and Tom was simply too much of flaming ass to avoid being caught.

Far from being "a high-minded man in a low-minded age", these actions reveal Obama to be just another corrupt politician, instructing his Justice Department to go easy on the Bu$h-era criminality lest the next Republican (and who possibly thinks there will not be one as early as 2012?) hound the Oborg.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

the sell is the tell

As we're treated with pics of soldiers flooding the mom-and-pop run restaurants around the nation's military bases and told "the war in Iraq is over!" again and again- never mind those 50,000 troops, 50,000 mercenaries, and new State-department run mercenary contingient- Chris Floyd alerts us to one of the original New Pearl Harbor advocates that has recently been hired by the Obama administration to aid Petraeus Caesar.

...That's right; Frederick Kagan, the neocon architect of the Iraq "surge," the epitome of the armchair warriors who have sent thousands of human beings (including their fellow Americans) to needless death and plunged millions more into needless suffering, has been hired by the Peace Laureate Administration to serve as guide and counsel to the Laureate's newly appointed military supremo.

It goes without saying that Kagan -- yet another spawn of the Project for a New American Century, that gaggle of bloodthirsty Beltwayers who openly longed, in September 2000, for a "new Pearl Harbor" to scare the American public into supporting the group's hyper-militarist agenda -- is not an expert on "fighting corruption" or on Afghanistan, just as he knew nothing about Iraq. He is an "expert" on one topic only: churning out bullshit to justify war. And that is exactly why he has been hired by Obama and Petraeus...

...No one is allowed anywhere near the halls of power or the levers of influence if they do not subscribe to this consensus. Anyone who questions it is automatically relegated to the margins. Barack Obama would not have been nominated by his faction or elected president if he was not a zealous adherent of the imperial agenda, and all that it entails: endless war, erosion of liberty, endemic corruption, and economic injustice.

And that is why Obama is happy to employ figures from the Bush Regime, like David Petraeus (and his death-squad wingman, Stanley McChrystal), like Robert Gates, like the odious toady Frederick Kagan -- because he and they are part of the same system, the same agenda. This is the underlying reality of American politics today.

Obama is a Chicago school law school academic. Obama thinks the military industrial complex is the main engine of the government he heads, and as long as he thinks it so it will be. But who drives the engine? Why, follow what the high priests of Chicago school economics are advocating. Krugman does as good a job as anyone in the deconstruction:

...the apostles of austerity — sometimes referred to as “austerians” — brushed aside all attempts to do the math. Never mind the numbers, they declared: immediate spending cuts were needed to ward off the “bond vigilantes,” investors who would pull the plug on spendthrift governments, driving up their borrowing costs and precipitating a crisis. Look at Greece, they said.

The skeptics countered that Greece is a special case, trapped by its use of the euro, which condemns it to years of deflation and stagnation whatever it does. The interest rates paid by major nations with their own currencies — not just the United States, but also Britain and Japan — showed no sign that the bond vigilantes were about to attack, or even that they existed.

Just you wait, said the austerians: the bond vigilantes may be invisible, but they must be feared all the same.

This was a strange argument even a few months ago, when the U.S. government could borrow for 10 years at less than 4 percent interest. We were being told that it was necessary to give up on job creation, to inflict suffering on millions of workers, in order to satisfy demands that investors were not, in fact, actually making, but which austerians claimed they would make in the future.

But the argument has become even stranger recently, as it has become clear that investors aren’t worried about deficits; they’re worried about stagnation and deflation. And they’ve been signaling that concern by driving interest rates on the debt of major economies lower, not higher. On Thursday, the rate on 10-year U.S. bonds was only 2.58 percent.

So how do austerians deal with the reality of interest rates that are plunging, not soaring? The latest fashion is to declare that there’s a bubble in the bond market: investors aren’t really concerned about economic weakness; they’re just getting carried away. It’s hard to convey the sheer audacity of this argument: first we were told that we must ignore economic fundamentals and instead obey the dictates of financial markets; now we’re being told to ignore what those markets are actually saying because they’re confused.

You see, then, why I find myself thinking in terms of strange and savage cults, demanding human sacrifices to appease unseen forces.

And, yes, we are talking about sacrifices. Anyone who doubts the suffering caused by slashing spending in a weak economy should look at the catastrophic effects of austerity programs in Greece and Ireland.

Maybe those countries had no choice in the matter — although it’s worth noting that all the suffering being imposed on their populations doesn’t seem to have done anything to improve investor confidence in their governments.

But, in America, we do have a choice. The markets aren’t demanding that we give up on job creation. On the contrary, they seem worried about the lack of action — about the fact that, as Bill Gross of the giant bond fund Pimco put it earlier this week, we’re “approaching a cul-de-sac of stimulus,” which he warns “will slow to a snail’s pace, incapable of providing sufficient job growth going forward.”

It seems almost superfluous, given all that, to mention the final insult: many of the most vocal austerians are, of course, hypocrites. Notice, in particular, how suddenly Republicans lost interest in the budget deficit when they were challenged about the cost of retaining tax cuts for the wealthy. But that won’t stop them from continuing to pose as deficit hawks whenever anyone proposes doing something to help the unemployed...

Austerity is only for the proles, Dr. Krugman, it helps hone the edge of desperation required to fuel the engine of Empire.

Friday, August 20, 2010

intermittent posting

Some scumbag stole my laptop, alas. It will be awhile before I can get another. More later.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

except for 50,000 Peacekeepers and a Classifed number of private contractors

This is known as a propaganda photo-op

The Force has a strong influence on the weak-minded.

And, of course, eyes roll at the Doublethink.

The New York Pravda says it's all good, the combat troops all left today but:

...The Obama administration had already committed itself to reducing American troops in Iraq to 50,000 by the end of August, a goal the White House on Wednesday said would be met. Administration officials and experts outside government say, however, that carrying out the agreement that calls for removing all American forces by the end of 2011 will be far more challenging...

what you don't know won't hurt them


...When it comes to food safety an uptick in long term cancer rates is a snoozer. But if the children of rich white people who ate seafood from the Gulf start vomiting blood and bleeding from their rectum next Thursday then people who matter will make phone calls to people who can make changes. And things will change. Unless this happens the FDA can get away with not testing seafood from the Gulf for the chemicals in Corexit....

Similarly, the long slow death of the Louisiana bayou gets little press. It is very pleasing to see this piece, Collapsing Marsh Dwarfs BP Oil Blowout as Ecological Disaster by Ken Wells, in of all places, Bloomberg:

...Long before BP’s blowout menaced the Gulf of Mexico, an oil industry-related coastal crisis of another kind began unfolding all over the Mississippi River coastal delta. Dredging for navigation, oil and gas drilling and pipeline construction has ripped apart the estuary’s fragile system of fresh and saltwater marshes.

Between 1901, when drilling began in Louisiana, and the 1980s, the oil and gas industry laid tens of thousands of miles of pipelines and dredged 9,300 miles of canals in an industrial invasion of a wetland that once covered 3.2 million acres. Since the 1930s, more than a third of it has vanished, an area the size of Delaware. Each year, 15,300 acres more disappear, according to Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast.

Not all this can be laid to oil and gas drilling; the industry rejects the notion that it is chiefly responsible. Whatever the case, the destruction of marshland reverberates far beyond Louisiana. The state’s waters and wetlands underpin a commercial seafood industry that generates about $2.4 billion a year in wages and sales and provides almost a quarter of the catch in the contiguous U.S., according to the Louisiana Seafood Marketing Board. They serve as wildlife breeding grounds, sheltering and feeding 5 million migratory birds a year, according to state data.

The wetlands also absorb and filter out pollutants and help slow storm surges. Marsh losses in the past 40 years alone could raise the height of a Category 3 storm surge by as much as 10 feet under certain conditions; marsh loss and the presence of a badly eroded navigation channel called the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet may have magnified Hurricane Katrina’s surge in 2005 and helped turn the storm into a $150 billion catastrophe for the New Orleans region, according to computer modeling by Louisiana State University scientists.

Coastal Louisiana accounts for 27 percent of U.S. energy production while an 83,000-mile infrastructure of pipelines and transfer stations transports 40 percent of its energy needs, counting petroleum from imports and offshore wells, according to data from the state’s Department of Natural Resources and the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association.

The collapse of Louisiana’s coastal marshes is “an international economic and ecological calamity unequaled in history,” jeopardizing more than “$100 billion in energy infrastructure,” said America’s Wetland Foundation, a Louisiana coastal preservation group partly underwritten by the oil industry, in a 2008 report. Much of the pipeline network is buried beneath marshes. Erosion has already exposed high- pressure pipelines to storms and marine traffic, causing oil spills and accidents.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 damaged 457 pipelines, destroyed 113 oil and gas platforms and caused more than 44 spills totaling 9 million gallons of oil, according to post- Katrina reports by the Coast Guard and the federal Minerals Management Service. The 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska amounted to 11 million gallons.

The state has floated an ambitious marsh and barrier-island rebuilding program that since Katrina it has tied to hurricane protection. The cost may come to $50 billion over time, according to the plan. To compensate victims for its spill, BP set up a $20 billion escrow fund.

Several factors are at play in the state’s coastal decimation. Coastal deltas naturally expand and contract over time. Since the U.S. built levees along the Mississippi following devastating floods in 1927, silt that once built land as the river meandered through the marshes has been falling into the deep waters of the Gulf. Starved of sediment, wetlands become waterlogged, sink and die. This is compounded by rising seas and the natural settling of subsea geological structures, scientists say.

That doesn’t fully explain why a delta built over eight to 10 millennia has shrunk so much in the past eight decades, the scientists say. Dredging to locate drilling rigs and construction of navigation channels have disrupted the delicate interface between upland marshes and saltwater wetlands, says Kerry St. Pe, director of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, a marsh-preservation group headquartered in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Salt water poisons freshwater marshes and swamps, he says. Currents, tides, boats and storms hasten the erosion, especially along the unstable banks of dredged canals.

St. Pe also points to the billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of gas that have been sucked from beneath the state’s coastal zone by oil and gas development. “We’re not just eroding, we’re sinking,” he says. “The oil and gas extraction has set off a collapse in our coast.”

Mr. Wells, and the rich white guys at Bloomberg, realize the greater act of piracy when they see it. The Louisiana wetlands have an immense value economically, and we're losing them. But like the continuing poisoning of the Gulf, this is an issue the larger oil-bought main$tream has every short-term financial reason to ignore.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

irrational exuberance

Neither gone nor forgotten:

Faint streaks of weathered oil could be seen in the Gulf on Monday.

...A team of University of Georgia scientists on Tuesday disputed [.pdf] the Obama administration's claim, made two weeks ago, that most of the oil spewed from BP's Deepwater Horizon well is either gone or widely dispersed.

Far from gone or dispersed, the scientists said, 70 to 79 percent of the more than 4 million barrels of oil that escaped into the Gulf of Mexico remains in the water, posing real but still undetermined risks.

"The idea that 75 percent of the oil is gone and of no concern for the environment is just absolutely incorrect," said Charles Hopkinson, a director of Georgia Sea Grant and marine science professor at the University of Georgia, who co-authored the report.

The Georgia report blamed the media for "inaccurate and misleading'' interpretation of a federal analysis released Aug. 2, but its authors, in a teleconference, declined to address questions about whether an upbeat spin by the Obama administration had shaped coverage...

"...No use to squint. You can't see it from where we are..."

Krugman is hitting really close to it, here:

...Social Security’s attackers claim that they’re concerned about the program’s financial future. But their math doesn’t add up, and their hostility isn’t really about dollars and cents. Instead, it’s about ideology and posturing. And underneath it all is ignorance of or indifference to the realities of life for many Americans.

About that math: Legally, Social Security has its own, dedicated funding, via the payroll tax (“FICA” on your pay statement). But it’s also part of the broader federal budget. This dual accounting means that there are two ways Social Security could face financial problems. First, that dedicated funding could prove inadequate, forcing the program either to cut benefits or to turn to Congress for aid. Second, Social Security costs could prove unsupportable for the federal budget as a whole.

But neither of these potential problems is a clear and present danger. Social Security has been running surpluses for the last quarter-century, banking those surpluses in a special account, the so-called trust fund. The program won’t have to turn to Congress for help or cut benefits until or unless the trust fund is exhausted, which the program’s actuaries don’t expect to happen until 2037 — and there’s a significant chance, according to their estimates, that that day will never come.

Meanwhile, an aging population will eventually (over the course of the next 20 years) cause the cost of paying Social Security benefits to rise from its current 4.8 percent of G.D.P. to about 6 percent of G.D.P. To give you some perspective, that’s a significantly smaller increase than the rise in defense spending since 2001, which Washington certainly didn’t consider a crisis, or even a reason to rethink some of the Bush tax cuts.

So where do claims of crisis come from? To a large extent they rely on bad-faith accounting. In particular, they rely on an exercise in three-card monte in which the surpluses Social Security has been running for a quarter-century don’t count — because hey, the program doesn’t have any independent existence; it’s just part of the general federal budget — while future Social Security deficits are unacceptable — because hey, the program has to stand on its own.

It would be easy to dismiss this bait-and-switch as obvious nonsense, except for one thing: many influential people — including Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the president’s deficit commission — are peddling this nonsense.

And having invented a crisis, what do Social Security’s attackers want to do? They don’t propose cutting benefits to current retirees; invariably the plan is, instead, to cut benefits many years in the future. So think about it this way: In order to avoid the possibility of future benefit cuts, we must cut future benefits. O.K.

What’s really going on here? Conservatives hate Social Security for ideological reasons: its success undermines their claim that government is always the problem, never the solution. But they receive crucial support from Washington insiders, for whom a declared willingness to cut Social Security has long served as a badge of fiscal seriousness, never mind the arithmetic.

And neither wing of the anti-Social-Security coalition seems to know or care about the hardship its favorite proposals would cause.

The currently fashionable idea of raising the retirement age even more than it will rise under existing law — it has already gone from 65 to 66, it’s scheduled to rise to 67, but now some are proposing that it go to 70 — is usually justified with assertions that life expectancy has risen, so people can easily work later into life. But that’s only true for affluent, white-collar workers — the people who need Social Security least.

I’m not just talking about the fact that it’s a lot easier to imagine working until you’re 70 if you have a comfortable office job than if you’re engaged in manual labor. America is becoming an increasingly unequal society — and the growing disparities extend to matters of life and death. Life expectancy at age 65 has risen a lot at the top of the income distribution, but much less for lower-income workers. And remember, the retirement age is already scheduled to rise under current law.

So let’s beat back this unnecessary, unfair and — let’s not mince words — cruel attack on working Americans. Big cuts in Social Security should not be on the table.

The Krug acts like he's really puzzled by this. After all, without well-paid and healthy help, aspiring middle class savants of the $ystem like him suffer. But don't get me wrong: the Krug is well-intentioned and gives a good example of what the $ystem could deliver.

If it had a mind to do so.

I think the winner of the Norse Dynamite Prize needs to sit down with Joe Bageant to really understand what's going on with the Masters of the Universe:

...the truth is that when we are looking at the political elite, we are looking at the dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune. Washington's political class is about as upwardly removed from ordinary citizens as the ruling class is from the political class. For instance, they do not work for a living in the normal sense of a job, but rather obtain their income from abstractions such as investment and law, neither of which ever gave anybody a hernia or carpal tunnel. By comparison, the ruling class does not work at all.

Moneywise, Washington's political class is richer than the working class by the same orders of magnitude as the ruling class is richer than the political class. This gives the political class something to aim for. To that end, they have adopted the ruling elite's behaviors, tastes and lifestyles, with an eye on becoming members. Moreover, it is a molting process that begins with the right university and connections, and culminates in flying off to Washington with the rest of your generation's most privileged and ambitious young moths.

They make enough dough to at least fake it until they make it. Fifty-one of the 100 members of the US Senate are at the very least millionaires -- probably more than that, since multi-million million dollar residences and estates are exempt from the official tally. For instance in the House, Nancy Pelosi's net worth is either $13 million, or $92 million, depending upon who is counting. Why they bother to shave such large numbers is a mystery. Thirteen million, ninety two million, the difference is not gonna change our opinion of Nancy. Our opinion being that the broad is loaded. More than loaded. The comparatively poor members of Congress, like Barney Frank, are near millionaires. His publicly declared net worth is $976,000. For the life of me, I cannot see how they get by.

Along with the habits, the political class adopts the ruling class's social canon and presumptions, especially the one most necessary for acceptance: That the public has the collective intelligence of a chicken. OK, so it may be very hard to disprove that at the moment, but we must maintain at least some egalitarian semblance here. Anyway, as a group, the political elites think, look and act alike, and act toward their own interests. That makes them a class.

This political class stands between all of us down here and the tiny minority in the ruling class waaaaaay up there, wherever the hell up there is. No use to squint. You can't see it from where we are. That comes in mighty handy in denying the existence of a ruling class.

On the other hand, you do not need to see an egg-sucking dog in action to know what to expect -- or not to expect. The track record of the political class is an open book. As the layer of millionaires buffering the elites who pay for their campaigns, they've done their jobs. They approved the Bush administration's massive tax cut for the rich. They dropped the per-child tax credit for families with incomes less than $20,000. They "reformed" prescription drugs right out of Medicare. They reformed health care into hundreds of billions of increased profits for the insurance industry.

However, the American political class' finest moment came in September 2008 when the financial greed machinery of American investment houses went tits up. The Republican and Democratic parties, major corporations, and manufacturers of US opinion came together in one of the greater bipartisan efforts in modern US history. There was nothing to do, they all agreed, but buy up $700 billion in "toxic asset" investments. "Otherwise," they prophesied, the world would end. Meaning that the ongoing national Ponzi scheme they have always sold to the American people as the US economy, would finally crash.

And in case there were any skeptics out there among the unwashed, the public was reminded just how much they stood to lose -- which was everything. Deep in the boiler room, the Goldman Sachs black bag crew had wired up the "economy" with enough explosive "financial instruments" to take out every working mook's home, or retirement savings, which the medical industry was already sucking up at an alarming rate. Something had to be done before the health care industry got it all, and repo the family ride.

Yessiree, it was gonna be a "systemic collapse," by god, and if you needed proof, just look at the way both George Bush and Barack Obama agreed that some American corporations were too big to let sink, therefore it was time for the public to start bailing out the boat. Meanwhile, the royal economists were unanimous in that this "rescue" was going to require another 10 trillion bucks somewhere down the pike -- a very short pike. So it must all be damned serious and we gotta do this thing. Right folks?

In an unusual display of common sense, the American public said "Bullshit," by margins of three or four to one, depending upon region. That did not bother political and economic elites much. What the fuck do the proles know anyway?

Then, in midstream, the political and economic owning classes switched horses, after realizing there was more gravy for the kingpins in buying up banks and big industries. It was unconstitutional, but what the hell, that's what Supreme Courts are for. The proles mumbled and peered into their TV sets for explanations that never came...

The Krug knows all this, of course.

But if he just flat out said it: "you schmucks are going after Social Security because you need someone to piss on, and being on top just hasn't been the same since the French Revolution", they might think: "Time to remedy that! Don't even let them know we have the cake."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Legacy Partiers

The Environmental President:

NEW ORLEANS -- Now that the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history has effectively been stopped, the White House is considering an early end to its moratorium on deepwater drilling.

But four months after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, regulators have only started to make good on promises to overhaul drilling. Tough measures are stalled in Congress. A $1 billion emergency response network proposed by the industry won't be operational for another year.

And while doomsday scenarios from the BP spill, like oil washing up the East Coast, have not come to pass, there are no guarantees that drilling will be any safer once it does resume.

What's changed is "not enough to make a big difference," said Charles Perrow, a Yale professor who has studied the spill in the Gulf...

Yes, I'd take my daughters for a swim in the Gulf too, if I had a cadre of secret service agents and Party loyalists to scope out the safest, cleanest spot available. And clean the oil off my baby's feet afterwards. All at the taxpayer's expense, of course.

Meanwhile, IOZ has heard quite enough.

...Recently, a liberal friend of mine lamented the stigmata of poor martyr, LBJ. "It's a shame," she said, "that all anyone remembers is Vietnam." I was a bit agog. She said something about "domestic programs." It's the classic Mussolini defense. Well, he made the trains run on time. It is both gloriously untrue on the factual merits and colossally morally obtuse. I suggested to her that the shame is quite the opposite: that some lingering and mostly false sense that the old hound dog did something good for the station of black folk in America fudges a fair accounting of just what a monster he was.

...In addition to pimping for wars to be conducted more responsibly with a more frugal allocation of resources, as if the wholesale killing of innocents were analogous to the zero-based budgeting process for your half-mil-a-year, save-the-children 501(c)3, they persistently approach the American death machine as an unfortunate distraction. Oh, isn't it a shame that Obama has to kill dozens of Yemeni civilians for no reason at all whatsoever when he should be fighting to save Social Security. Isn't it too bad that he's got to worry about his escalating Asian land war when America is going dark. How will it affect his legacy? We report, you decide.

If Mistress History offers consolation, it is that Obama will not be remembered for "saving" GM, bailing out Wall Street, or "historically" mandating that Americans not currently covered by their employers' piece-of-shit healthcare plans purchase piece-of-shit healthcare plans of their own, but rather for all the bombing and killing, the publicly acknowledged and publicly undenied wars that he's fighting. Not that this consolation counts for much to the dead and their families, and not that it will in any way constrain future asshole presidents from killing the fuck out of everyone on earth, so long as they are still able, but at very least, forty years hence, liberal dickheads can lament that Barry O. is remembered mostly for killing the fuck out of people, his half-assed efforts to put people to work through six-month highway construction gigs long since laughed off and forgotten.

but this has nothing to do with why we fight

Excuse me, our soon to be non-combat mission that will require just as many soldiers and even more private contractors.

(Reuters) - Afghanistan said on Sunday it had discovered an oilfield with an estimated 1.8 billion barrels in the north of the war-ravaged country, where U.S. and other foreign forces are trying to tame a Taliban-led insurgency...

This, either.

Afghanistan's untapped mineral wealth is worth at least $3 trillion – triple a US estimate made this week – according to the government's top mining official...

seeking its destruction instead of bipartying it away

Barry O. tells us to be very, very, afraid of what the Republicans will do to Social Security.

He's right. They've been trying to destroy it since FDR pushed it into law.

On the other hand, Barry himself is officially committed to it. Just like he was committed to end the War on Terror. Just like he is committed to ending the national security state. Just like he is committed to preserving the environment. Just like he is committed to economic recovery.

Be very, very afraid if that's what floats your boat. Just be afraid of what the real danger is. If you can't see that by now, you should really get your insight tested.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

secrets the Company wants everyone to know


Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents

Hell, they even give maps to show just how awesome they are.

There's nothing like a good war porn fix on a Saturday night!

But whatever the official take on this, the article is decidedly dysphoric enough to make neocon stalwarts gnash their teeth:

...Instead of “the hammer,” in the words of John O. Brennan, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, America will rely on the “scalpel.” In a speech in May, Mr. Brennan, an architect of the White House strategy, used this analogy while pledging a “multigenerational” campaign against Al Qaeda and its extremist affiliates.

Yet such wars come with many risks: the potential for botched operations that fuel anti-American rage; a blurring of the lines between soldiers and spies that could put troops at risk of being denied Geneva Convention protections; a weakening of the Congressional oversight system put in place to prevent abuses by America’s secret operatives; and a reliance on authoritarian foreign leaders and surrogates with sometimes murky loyalties.

The May strike in Yemen, for example, provoked a revenge attack on an oil pipeline by local tribesmen and produced a propaganda bonanza for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It also left President Saleh privately furious about the death of the provincial official, Jabir al-Shabwani, and scrambling to prevent an anti-American backlash, according to Yemeni officials.

The administration’s demands have accelerated a transformation of the C.I.A. into a paramilitary organization as much as a spying agency, which some critics worry could lower the threshold for future quasi-military operations. In Pakistan’s mountains, the agency had broadened its drone campaign beyond selective strikes against Qaeda leaders and now regularly obliterates suspected enemy compounds and logistics convoys, just as the military would grind down an enemy force.

For its part, the Pentagon is becoming more like the C.I.A. Across the Middle East and elsewhere, Special Operations troops under secret “Execute Orders” have conducted spying missions that were once the preserve of civilian intelligence agencies. With code names like Eager Pawn and Indigo Spade, such programs typically operate with even less transparency and Congressional oversight than traditional covert actions by the C.I.A.

And, as American counterterrorism operations spread beyond war zones into territory hostile to the military, private contractors have taken on a prominent role, raising concerns that the United States has outsourced some of its most important missions to a sometimes unaccountable private army...

Nothing like a war with its own built-in scapegoats, is there?

...“For the first time in our history, an entity has declared a covert war against us,” Mr. Smith said, referring to Al Qaeda. “And we are using similar elements of American power to respond to that covert war.”

First time, sure. If you're a citizen of the United States of Amnesia, that is, and can't remmember the Cold War, or the Second World War, or the First World War, or the Civil War, or the War of 1812, or the Revolutionary War. Or have never encountered the word "spies" before.

Some security experts draw parallels to the cold war, when the United States drew heavily on covert operations as it fought a series of proxy battles with the Soviet Union.

And some of the central players of those days have returned to take on supporting roles in the shadow war. Michael G. Vickers, who helped run the C.I.A.’s campaign to funnel guns and money to the Afghanistan mujahedeen in the 1980s and was featured in the book and movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” is now the top Pentagon official overseeing Special Operations troops around the globe. Duane R. Clarridge, a profane former C.I.A. officer who ran operations in Central America and was indicted in the Iran-contra scandal, turned up this year helping run a Pentagon-financed private spying operation in Pakistan...

Be very afraid. Not only does the right hand not know what the left is doing, it's own fingers have their own objectives.

The United States of Amnesia

Greenwald says it's deju vu all over again:

...the Obamaian protective decree -- Look Forward, Not Backward -- applies to more than just Bush administration criminals. No American elites are supposed to pay any price -- even reputationally -- for the role they played in leading the country into a horrific and unfathomably devastating war based on false pretenses. We're all supposed to chalk it up to an unfortunate though understandable mistake, let bygones be bygones, and not hold it against anyone, not even use it to judge their current credibility or trustworthiness...

...those who were most spectacularly wrong in cheering for the attack on Iraq have not only faced no accountability, but have thrived, been rewarded, have seen their positions of influence elevated. Conversely, those who were right continue to be marginalized.

...As a result, our war policies -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and now Iran -- are all being shaped by the very same war-hungry political and media elites who performed so disgracefully in 2002 and 2003...

This is surprising? What I find surprising is that there's any voices in the mainstream at all willing to call the plays.

Bob Herbert is often such a voice, too:

The Obama administration seems to be feeling sorry for itself. Robert Gibbs, the president’s press secretary, is perturbed that Mr. Obama is not getting more hosannas from liberals.

Spare me. The country is a mess. The economy is horrendous, and millions of American families are running out of ammunition in their fight against destitution. Steadily increasing numbers of middle-class families, who never thought they’d be seeking charity, have been showing up at food pantries.

The war in Afghanistan, with its dreadful human toll and debilitating drain on the nation’s financial resources, is proceeding as poorly as ever. As The Times reported on Friday, an ambitious operation that was supposed to showcase the progress of the Afghan Army turned into a tragic, humiliating debacle.

And while schools are hemorrhaging resources because of budget meltdowns, and teachers are losing jobs, and libraries are finding it more and more difficult to remain open, American youngsters are falling further behind their peers in other developed countries in their graduation rates from colleges and universities.

This would be a good time for the Obama crowd to put aside its concern about the absence of giddiness among liberals and re-examine what it might do to improve what is fast becoming a depressing state of affairs.

It’s not just liberals who are gloomy. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this week found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe the country is on the wrong track and a majority disapproves of President Obama’s handling of the economy. Nearly two-thirds expect the economy to get worse still.

Mr. Obama’s problem — and the nation’s — is that in the midst of the terrible economic turmoil that the country was in when he took office, he did not make full employment, meaning job creation in both the short and the long term, the nation’s absolute highest priority...

Voices like that are usually deeply buried in the main$tream. Facts are, too. For example, today in rationalizing Germany's economic success The New York Pravda nods at what's really helping Germany pull out of it's recession, giving the real credit to it's previous administrations policies that helped to bring its recession on in the first place:

...BERLIN — Germany has sparred with its European partners over how to respond to the financial crisis, argued with the United States over the benefits of stimulus versus austerity, and defiantly pursued its own vision of how to keep its economy strong.

Statistics released Friday buttress Germany’s view that it had the formula right all along. The government on Friday announced quarter-on-quarter economic growth of 2.2 percent, Germany’s best performance since reunification 20 years ago — and equivalent to a nearly 9 percent annual rate if growth were that robust all year.

The strong growth figures will also bolster the conviction here that German workers and companies in recent years made the short-term sacrifices necessary for long-term success that Germany’s European partners did not. And it will reinforce the widespread conviction among policy makers that they handled the financial crisis and the painful recession that followed it far better than the United States, which, they never hesitate to remind, brought the world into this crisis.

A vast expansion of a program paying to keep workers employed, rather than dealing with them once they lost their jobs, was the most direct step taken in the heat of the crisis. But the roots of Germany’s export-driven success reach back to the painful restructuring under the previous government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

By paring unemployment benefits, easing rules for hiring and firing, and management and labor’s working together to keep a lid on wages, Germany ensured that it could again export its way to growth with competitive, nimble companies producing the cars and machine tools the world’s economies — emerging and developed alike — demanded...

Got that? Curbing unemployment is what pulled Germany through, but the main$tream really likes a viewpoint that pre-recession policies that contributed to the pain are what really worked. Too.

Of course, if that were true, the Germans would have never fallen into the bubble's honey trap. Austere virtues and all that. They would have never done the socialist trick of spending money to create jobs instead of giving it all to the bank$ters. But they did, and pulled out ahead in spite of the policies of Gerhard Schröder.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Let Them Eat Rubber Biscuit


...Have you ever heard of a wish sandwich?
A wish sandwich is the kind of a
sandwich where you have two slices of bread
and you,
hee hee hee,
wish you had some meat...

Ummm... the other day I had a ricochet biscuit.
A ricochet biscuit is the
kind of a biscuit that's supposed to
bounce back off the wall into your mouth.

If it don't bounce back, hee hee hee,... you go hungry!

Jeb Bu$h on the man all the $erious people in Washington respect these days:

...“He’s not saying the world’s going to be full of butterscotch sundaes,” is how Jeb Bush described the plan to me recently. “He’s saying: ‘Eat your broccoli. And then maybe you don’t get to eat at all for a few days. You don’t get steak — ever.’ ”

Now, Jeb, like his brother and Poppy before him, likes to talk about how moderate he is compared to all his Republican competition- who he respects, mind you, he's just kinder and gentler... Right...

The New York Pravda entitles this piece "Ryan Could Be Part of Obama’s Roadmap to Bipartisanship", a rather jaw-dropping thesis indeed, when you consider that Obama's love for bipartisanship is about to get Congress handed over to the Republicans.

Not the Bipartisan kind, either.

But this kind of bipartisanship precisely fits with Obama's Chicago School ethos. Eliminate Social Security and Medicare, because these interfere with the Free Market. I'm sure he can get a broad bipartisan consensus on that, particularly after the mid-terms are over. Look to the One to set his sights on these next spring.

I'm sure he's convinced it's just the ticket to get him re-$elected in 2012.

Billions more for Banks and War

The Fed bails out the bank$ters, again.

As Ian Welsh points out,

...After all, if the government can print money for banks, why not for jobs?

The reason not, folks, is that if you do that, oil will go back to levels which will crash out the economy.

The real, actual, economy, is not one spreadsheet. It consists of people doing things, and the vast majority of those things require energy. The ur-energy is still oil. And no, there is not enough oil to go to full capacity utilization—because doing so will kick gasoline well over $5/gallon.

Until that problem, among others, is fixed, the economy is never going to be really good for Americans ever again. Every attempt to fix things which does not fix energy, will not work for any useful length of time.

The goal is not to fix the economy. The goal is to slowly shift the global economy, and society as a whole, into a post-industrial neo-feudal world over the next 50 years. Non-renewable energy sources will not be developed until those who would rule are certain the middle class and the American experiment in representative democracy is dead.

This will work fine until some enterprising warlord neo-Visigoth figures out how to sack neo-Rome, or the neo-Romulans arrive, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Life will find a way..."

Couldn't have happened to a seedier bunch of people, either.

A genetically modified (GM) crop has been found thriving in the wild for the first time in the United States. Transgenic canola is growing freely in parts of North Dakota, researchers told the Ecological Society of America conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, today.

The scientists behind the discovery say this highlights a lack of proper monitoring and control of GM crops in the United States.

US farmers have dramatically increased their use of GM crops since the plants were introduced in the early 1990s. Last year, nearly half the world's transgenic crops were grown in US soil — Brazil, the world's second heaviest user, grew just 16%. GM crops have broken free from cultivated land in several countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan, but they have not previously been found in uncultivated land in the United States.

"The extent of the escape is unprecedented," says Cynthia Sagers, an ecologist at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, who led the research team that found the canola (Brassica napus, also known as rapeseed).

Sagers and her team found two varieties of transgenic canola in the wild — one modified to be resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide (glyphosate), and one resistant to Bayer Crop Science's Liberty herbicide (gluphosinate). They also found some plants that were resistant to both herbicides, showing that the different GM plants had bred to produce a plant with a new trait that did not exist anywhere else...

Like all of Monsanto's genetically manipulated crops, these were originally designed (and rigorously certified) to be sterile. You see, Monsanto doesn't want farmers to grow their own seed. It's simply that out of billions of seeds planted, a certain percentage mutagenizes and recombines things out there in the broad relentless radiation of the sun.

Me, I was hoping for an alarm about velociraptors on Wall Street, and. let's face it, pretty much all of popular culture , but canola that laughs at Round-Up and spreads its resistance around to other angiosperms is by far the lesser of two evils.

Not that they'll learn from it.

Dirty Rotten Hippies

Like, craazzyy, man

You may think that the reason you're dissatisfied with the Obama administration is because of substantive objections to their policies: that they've done so little about crisis-level unemployment, foreclosures and widespread economic misery. Or because of the White House's apparently endless devotion to Wall Street. Or because the President has escalated a miserable, pointless and unwinnable war that is entering its ninth year. Or because he has claimed the power to imprison people for life with no charges and to assassinate American citizens without due process, intensified the secrecy weapons and immunity instruments abused by his predecessor, and found all new ways of denying habeas corpus. Or because he granted full-scale legal immunity to those who committed serious crimes in the last administration. Or because he's failed to fulfill -- or affirmatively broken -- promises ranging from transparency to gay rights.

But Robert Gibbs -- in one of the most petulant, self-pitying outbursts seen from a top political official in recent memory, half derived from a paranoid Richard Nixon rant and the other half from a Sean Hannity/Sarah Palin caricature of The Far Left -- is here to tell you that the real reason you're dissatisfied with the President is because you're a fringe, ideological, Leftist extremist ingrate who needs drug counseling...

to recap: (1) The Professional Left are totally irrelevant losers who speak for absolutely nobody, and certainly nobody in Real America who matters; but (2) they're ruining everything for the White House!!! And: if you criticize the President, it's only because you're such a rabid extremist that you harbor a secret desire to eliminate the Pentagon -- that's how anti-American you are! You're such a Far Left extremist that Dennis Kucinich isn't far enough Left for you, you subversive, drug-using hippies! You're so far to the Left that you want to turn the U.S. into Canada. As David Frum put it today: "More proof of my longtime thesis, Repub pols fear the GOP base; Dem pols hate the Dem base."

...Perhaps one day the White House can work itself up to express this sort of sputtering rage against the Right, or the Wall Street thieves who destroyed the American economy, or the permanent factions that control Washington. Until then, we'll have to satisfy ourselves with White House explanations that the Real Culprits are not (of course) them, but the Professional Left, that is simultaneously totally irrelevant and ruining everything.

Read the original for lots of links I haven't reproduced here.

Hippies are laxy like that, you know.

Monday, August 09, 2010

this woman had better stay out of small airplanes

Dr. Elizabeth Warren:

...coming out of the Great Depression, just three laws fundamentally altered the course of America's history.

The first one, FDIC insurance, made it safe to put money in banks. The second one, Glass-Steagal, tried to separate the risk-taking on Wall Street from your local community bank. And the third one, SEC regulations, provide some cops to watch the robbers. And so, out of that, what we got was 50 years of economic peace. No financial panics, no meltdowns. And during that 50 years, we built a strong and prosperous middle class in America...

So during what Krugman calls the Great Unraveling, these were precisely the laws that had to go.

Of course, Bu$h v.2 only accelerated what Bu$h v.1 started, Clinton v.1 propagated, and Summers (beta testing for Clinton v.2) continues to back.

Not that a President from the Chicago School thinks any differently.

So Dr. Warren, I reiterate: these are not your friends that surround you. Stay off of small airplanes. Don't ride in any convertibles in Dallas, either, madam. We need your voice.