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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

the usual suspects

Among the Iraqis, anyway:

...Such is the anger at the occupation that many Iraqis think the US was behind Thursday's attack. This belief is dismissed as conspiratorial, but it is widely held. There is a reason for this. Apart from the horrific violence committed directly by the occupation forces and Pentagon-contracted mercenaries, the US also created Iraqi secret militia, and smuggled tens of thousands of weapons and tons of explosives into Iraq through private firms in Bosnia. Bremer was unable to tell a congressional committee how he spent an unaccounted-for $8.8bn dollars, but many Iraqis suspect that it was used to fund violent sectarian forces. Indiscriminate killings and terrorist attacks were a permanent feature of the US-led occupation, and to many ordinary Iraqis, Thursday's bloodshed is just more of the same.

Similarly, ordinary Iraqis see their current rulers, who arrived with the occupation, as self-seeking, corrupt politicians who use religious and ethnic differences to perpetuate sectarianism as a means of creating power bases. Though no angel himself, the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr spoke for many when he described the current so-called sectarian divisions as "a conflict of the powerful", and the terrorist attacks as the product of "continued US influence and presence in Iraq".

there is no paradox that can't be paradoctored

Craphammer discovers the Fermi paradox and tries to use it as a reason for the endless war on Terra.

Then there's this: if a Federation-style culture ever could get over its reluctance to say hi to those of us living on the planet of the apes, would the self-appointed Men in Black ever allow the message to get out to the rest of us monkeys?

Friday, December 30, 2011

say it again with feeling

Dr. Krugman:

“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.” So declared John Maynard Keynes in 1937, even as F.D.R. was about to prove him right by trying to balance the budget too soon, sending the United States economy — which had been steadily recovering up to that point — into a severe recession. Slashing government spending in a depressed economy depresses the economy further; austerity should wait until a strong recovery is well under way...

Another thing: deficit spending on war doesn't bring about recovery. WWII allowed Roosevelt to pull the nation out of the Depression not because of military spending, but because it finally enabled him to act despite the Republicans who were blocking his economic policies: progressive taxation and enforcement of legistlation like the Glass–Steagall Act.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

priorities of the Austerian


...A smaller government that’s still dominated by money would continue to do the bidding of Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, oil companies, big agribusiness, big insurance, military contractors, and rich individuals.

It just wouldn’t do anything else...

angst of the terrible lizards

All the hand-wringing about those who point out the obvious.

I like this comment:

Not to have done this research would hardly have protected us. If only a "handful" of apparently naturally occurring mutations were required to turn the H5N1 flu virus airborne, one must assume that the lethal mutations would have occurred outside the lab sooner or later (probably sooner, given the infinite capacity of flu viruses to mutate and thrive). Ignorance cannot defend us; knowledge and forethought can. Now we all recognize the priority the world must give to surveillance and, most crucially, the development of a vaccine. Ignorance is not bliss.

As Mosely says, worst-case scenarios can be met with effective responses only if you think about them ahead of time. However, Newt should well know that the collapse of Civilization with said springing barbarians does not accompany the loss of power to his favorite vibrator.

Barbarians tend to spring regardless. The Nazis proved that quite effectively. Very tech-savvy those boys and girls were and are.

Yet worst case scenarios do sometimes play out, surprising all sides with their outcomes. Steam punk, anyone?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Captain Tripps' revenge

Stephen King warned you.

One wonders at what point the Homeland realizes there are hundreds of thousands of people with training in molecular biology with the capability of producing viruses that could end the world as we know it.

Think the superflu is a nightmare? How about an oncogenic virus that's airborne?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

shadow of a larger world

One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.

“I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq. At times, he said, deaths were caused by “grenade attacks on a checkpoint and, you know, collateral with civilians.”

The 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq. Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.

The documents — many marked secret — form part of the military’s internal investigation, and confirm much of what happened at Haditha, a Euphrates River town where Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers.

Haditha became a defining moment of the war, helping cement an enduring Iraqi distrust of the United States and a resentment that not one Marine has been convicted.

But the accounts are just as striking for what they reveal about the extraordinary strains on the soldiers who were assigned here, their frustrations and their frequently painful encounters with a population they did not understand. In their own words, the report documents the dehumanizing nature of this war, where Marines came to view 20 dead civilians as not “remarkable,” but as routine.

Iraqi civilians were being killed all the time. Maj. Gen. Steve Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar, in his own testimony, described it as “a cost of doing business...”


...The war that was waged – yes, for oil, and yes, also for Israel – was waged above all to terrify the world (especially China) with American power. It turned into the largest boomerang in history. For what has been demonstrated instead are the limits of near-bankrupt America's power. Far from being cowed, America's adversaries – and its enemies – have been emboldened. With shock and awe the empire soon dominated the skies over Iraq to be sure. But they never controlled a single street in the country from the day they invaded until this day of retreat. One street alone – Haifa Street in Baghdad – became the graveyard of scores, maybe hundreds of Americans.

Fortresses like Fallujah entered history alongside Stalingrad as symbols of the unvanquishable power of popular resistance to foreign invasion. Crimes like Abu Ghraib prison – where Iraqis were stripped naked and humiliated, forced to perform indecent acts upon each other and videotaped doing so for the entertainment of their torturers in the barracks afterwards – entered the lexicon of the barbarism of those who invade others, flying the colours of their "civilising" mission. As Chairman Mao once put it: "Sometimes the enemy struggles mightily to lift a huge stone; only to drop it on its own foot." In an America where a third of the population are living in poverty or terrifyingly near it, and where imperial hubris met its nemesis on Haifa Street, China now knows it has nothing to fear from this paper tiger.

I wrote at the time that the invasion of Iraq would be worse than a crime: it would be the Mother of All Blunders. I told Tony Blair – outside the men's lavatory in the library corridor of the House of Commons, to be precise – that the fall of Baghdad would be not the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning. And that the Iraqis would fight them, with their teeth if necessary, until they had driven them from their land. I told Blair that there was no al-Qaida in Iraq, but that if he and Bush were to invade there would be thousands of them.

But two things, as George Bush would put it, I "mis-underestimated". First, that when the tower of lies on which the case for the Iraq war had been constructed was exposed, the credibility of the political systems of the two main liars would collapse under the weight. And second, that the example of the Iraqi resistance would trigger seismic changes in the Arabian landscape from Marrakesh to Bahrain.

Almost nobody in Britain or America any longer believes a word their politicians say. This profound change is not wholly the result of the Iraq war, but it moved into top gear following the war and the militarised mendacity that paved the way to it. In America this malaise has fuelled both the Tea Party phenomenon and the Occupy movement alike, even if the word Iraq seldom crosses their lips. And from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf the plates are moving still ...

Somehow, the mindless reaction to the tremor is viewed as a simple codification of what the Company was doing all along instead of fracking under a fault line running through the Constitution through the middle of what has passed for the pinnacle western civilization.

...Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay.

Human rights groups accused the president of deserting his principles and disregarding the long-established principle that the military is not used in domestic policing. The legislation has also been strongly criticised by libertarians on the right angered at the stripping of individual rights for the duration of "a war that appears to have no end".

The law, contained in the defence authorisation bill that funds the US military, effectively extends the battlefield in the "war on terror" to the US and applies the established principle that combatants in any war are subject to military detention...

Got that? If you aren't with 'em, your agin 'em.

War and Shadow without End, Amen.

Friday, December 09, 2011

not your Big Brother's predator drone

Somebody somewhere in the Company didn't want the existence of drone warfare known. Obama was not allowed to acknowledge it. The CIA has denied it for years much less recently.

Attempting to keep something secret that's being used over a quarter of the globe as well as Der Vaterland over a space of ten years has presented a problem for all the Dr. Strangeloves and General Turgidsons of the Company. Especially when all the contractors building the infernal things are trying to sell it to anyone with the scratch to tender. So lately all the pictures the Company released of their not-so-secret but Highly Classified toys look like something a hobbyist at the Oshkosh fly-in might build. They look nothing like their real money sink.

Of course, the model above is probably much less expensive- and more functional- than the one that was shot down- or cybered down- or that simply fell out of the sky (you didn't really expect something for that billion dollars, did you?).

...which is the result of watching too much Battlestar Galactica

...and seems to fly about as well in the reality-based world.

Of course, secrecy breed corruption, so perhaps in spite of all the multi-billion dollars spent on this top secret technological terror, it's not too surprising somebody in Iran with a good slingshot and a decent aim was able to bring it down. Stealthed to radar isn't stealthed to visual contact, strangely enough.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

the glass is half occupied: Change is the Hopium of the people

Reich has a lot of good things to say about the speech the Laureate made Monday. It's a good speech. In it the Laureate identifies the source of the economic problems we have. And promises he's gonna deal with it.

Therein, of course, lies the rub.

Yves Smith thinks it's total bullshit.

Both are correct, but then only in the sense that there is no paradox that can't be para-doctored.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

reality has a liberal bias

“To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?”

Well, if the free market was actually, you know, free, fossil fuels would have been abandoned years ago. How long have solar cells been around?

The same way the worst bank$ters would have gone out of business without their $7 trillion in no-interest loans.

The same kind of loans we are about to hand out to the bank$ters yet again- before the first are paid off- to "save" the Euro.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

conflicts of interest

The War on Drugs has a lot in common with the War on Terra, and for a lot of the same reasons.

Priceless quote from an ex-agent:

"...the D.E.A. could wind up being the largest money launderer in the business"

Noticed that, did he? No wonder he's an ex-agent.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Team Obama

...fumbles the ball:

...Apparently it isn't even worthy of mention that Obama's actions in Libya violated the War Powers Resolution, the president's own professed standards for what he can do without Congressional permission, and the legal advice provided to him by the Office of Legal Counsel.

In Chait's telling, expanded drone strikes in Pakistan are a clear success. Why even grapple with Jane Mayer's meticulously researched article on the risks of an drone war run by the CIA, Glenn Greenwald's polemics on the innocent civilians being killed, or Jeff Goldberg and Marc Ambinder's reporting on the Pakistani generals who are moving lightly guarded nuclear weapons around the country in civilian trucks as a direct consequence of the cathartic bin Laden raid.

Chait mentions the Iraq withdrawal, but doesn't point out that Obama sought to violate his campaign promise, and would've kept American troops in the country beyond 2011 had the Iraqis allowed it; that as it is, he'll leave behind a huge State Department presence with a private security army; and that he's expanding America's presence elsewhere in the Persian Gulf to make up for the troops no longer in Iraq. Is any of that possibly relevant to a liberal's assessment?

Perhaps most egregiously, Chait doesn't even allude to Obama's practice of putting American citizens on a secret kill list without any due process, or even consistent, transparent standards.

Nor does he grapple with warrantless spying on American citizens, Obama's escalation of the war on whistleblowers, his serial invocation of the state secrets privilege, the Orwellian turn airport security has taken, the record-breaking number of deportations over which Obama presided, or his broken promise to lay off medical marijuana in states where dispensing it is legal.

Why is all this ignored?

Telling the story of Obama's first term without including any of it is a shocking failure of liberalism. It's akin to conservatism's unforgivable myopia and apologia during the Bush Administration. Are liberals really more discontented with Obama's failure to reverse the Bush tax cuts than the citizen death warrants he is signing? Is his ham-handed handling of the debt-ceiling really more worthy of mention than the illegal war he waged? Is his willingness to sign deficit reduction that cuts entitlement spending more objectionable than the fact that he outsourced drone strikes to a CIA that often didn't even know the names of the people it was killing?

Obviously, if you're not with them, you're against them.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

everybody knows

But they're still not supposed to talk about it:

On Wednesday, Scott Shane wrote in the New York Times:

Speaking hours after the world learned that a C.I.A. drone strike had killed Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, President Obama could still not say the words “drone” or “C.I.A.” That’s classified.

Instead, in an appearance at a Virginia military base just before midday Friday, the president said that Mr. Awlaki, the American cleric who had joined Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, “was killed” and that this “significant milestone” was “a tribute to our intelligence community.” The president’s careful language was the latest reflection of a growing phenomenon: information that is public but classified.

The passage demonstrates well how classification undercuts meaningful public discussion of vital national-security issues. The CIA’s drone war in Pakistan and Yemen is being talked about around the world; in Pakistan, details about strikes are reported more promptly and deeply than in the United States. Only in the U.S. is the public subjected to stilted, bizarrely passive statements from officials about matters that are common knowledge. The reason: here, the CIA drone program is “covert action.” Officially acknowledging its existence could be grounds for a criminal prosecution...

At least their motivations are transparent.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

policy by oligarchy

our new feudal overlords tell us it's a good thing

cause and effect

Naomi Wolfe in The Guardian:

...Why this massive mobilisation against these not-yet-fully-articulated, unarmed, inchoate people? After all, protesters against the war in Iraq, Tea Party rallies and others have all proceeded without this coordinated crackdown. Is it really the camping? As I write, two hundred young people, with sleeping bags, suitcases and even folding chairs, are still camping out all night and day outside of NBC on public sidewalks – under the benevolent eye of an NYPD cop – awaiting Saturday Night Live tickets, so surely the camping is not the issue. I was still deeply puzzled as to why OWS, this hapless, hopeful band, would call out a violent federal response.

That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted.

The mainstream media was declaring continually "OWS has no message". Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online "What is it you want?" answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.

The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.

No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.

When I saw this list – and especially the last agenda item – the scales fell from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked out of them.

For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, "we are going after these scruffy hippies". Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command...

...for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.

But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the "scandal" of presidential contender Newt Gingrich's having been paid $1.8m for a few hours' "consulting" to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies' profitsis less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about which they are legislating – a form of insider trading that sent Martha Stewart to jail.

Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists' privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can't suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement … well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance...

Monday, November 21, 2011

gothic futures

Now that it's demonstrated Goldman-$achs isn't just into financial takeovers, it's into government takeovers as well.

Krugman's feathers are ruffled that the main$tream keeps referring to these people as technocrats when again it's evident they're not.

...If you think that this was a project driven by careful calculation of costs and benefits, you have been misinformed.

The truth is that Europe’s march toward a common currency was, from the beginning, a dubious project on any objective economic analysis. The continent’s economies were too disparate to function smoothly with one-size-fits-all monetary policy, too likely to experience “asymmetric shocks” in which some countries slumped while others boomed. And unlike U.S. states, European countries weren’t part of a single nation with a unified budget and a labor market tied together by a common language.

So why did those “technocrats” push so hard for the euro, disregarding many warnings from economists? Partly it was the dream of European unification, which the Continent’s elite found so alluring that its members waved away practical objections. And partly it was a leap of economic faith, the hope — driven by the will to believe, despite vast evidence to the contrary — that everything would work out as long as nations practiced the Victorian virtues of price stability and fiscal prudence.

Sad to say, things did not work out as promised. But rather than adjusting to reality, those supposed technocrats just doubled down — insisting, for example, that Greece could avoid default through savage austerity, when anyone who actually did the math knew better.

Let me single out in particular the European Central Bank (E.C.B.), which is supposed to be the ultimate technocratic institution, and which has been especially notable for taking refuge in fantasy as things go wrong. Last year, for example, the bank affirmed its belief in the confidence fairy — that is, the claim that budget cuts in a depressed economy will actually promote expansion, by raising business and consumer confidence. Strange to say, that hasn’t happened anywhere.

And now, with Europe in crisis — a crisis that can’t be contained unless the E.C.B. steps in to stop the vicious circle of financial collapse — its leaders still cling to the notion that price stability cures all ills. Last week Mario Draghi, the E.C.B.’s new president, declared that “anchoring inflation expectations” is “the major contribution we can make in support of sustainable growth, employment creation and financial stability.”

This is an utterly fantastic claim to make at a time when expected European inflation is, if anything, too low, and what’s roiling the markets is fear of more or less immediate financial collapse. And it’s more like a religious proclamation than a technocratic assessment.

Just to be clear, this is not an anti-European rant, since we have our own pseudo-technocrats warping the policy debate. In particular, allegedly nonpartisan groups of “experts” — the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the Concord Coalition, and so on — have been all too successful at hijacking the economic policy debate, shifting its focus from jobs to deficits.

Real technocrats would have asked why this makes sense at a time when the unemployment rate is 9 percent and the interest rate on U.S. debt is only 2 percent. But like the E.C.B., our fiscal scolds have their story about what’s important, and they’re sticking to it no matter what the data say.

So am I against technocrats? Not at all. I like technocrats — technocrats are friends of mine. And we need technical expertise to deal with our economic woes.

But our discourse is being badly distorted by ideologues and wishful thinkers — boring, cruel romantics — pretending to be technocrats. And it’s time to puncture their pretensions.

Puncture all the pretensions you want, Dr. Krugman. As long as it doesn't interfere with their flow of blood money it will be safe for you to ride in small airplanes.

Monday, November 07, 2011

the third rock from the sun

It's really irrelevant whether or not sapient aliens use radio. Basically, if they use visible light, they'll spot us.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

a valid assumption

Michael Moore:

... if you see someone trying to incite violence, start with the assumption that that person is an undercover Homeland Security or cop or whatever, because this is the history of America where those in charge have tried to ignite people, incite them to commit acts of violence; and I tell them, don't be incited. Just assume right away that person is not part of the Occupied movement if that's what they're calling on people to do.

only because they make it that way

Pravda and our betters in their Comments tell us that science and engineering are hard.

As a Ph.D. scientist, I think it's only because they want a certain personality in the biz.

Science is the nearest thing to magic in the real world. If the most pedantic weren't teaching it and doing their best to drive out the creative, their rice bowls would be threatened. If people knew and understood the world they live in, those who rule- who fund only the most pedantic- would have a much harder time with their hegemony.

pay no attention to the little gray man behind the curtain

You only see this kind of thing on sci-fi fanboards:

..."The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race," said Phil Larson from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, on the WhiteHouse.gov website. "In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye."

Sure, and the Recession is over, too, isn't it?

...5,387 people had signed the petition for immediately disclosing the government's knowledge of and communications with extraterrestrial beings, and 12,078 signed the request for a formal acknowledgement from the White House that extraterrestrials have been engaging the human race.

"Hundreds of military and government agency witnesses have come forward with testimony confirming this extraterrestrial presence," the second petition states. "Opinion polls now indicate more than 50% of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80% believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon. The people have a right to know. The people can handle the truth..."

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Versailles without end until Childhood's End

Tiabbi would like to think they've gone all Marie Antoinette

...Bloomberg, with this preposterous schlock about congress forcing banks to lend to poor people, may yet make himself the face of the 1%’s rank intellectual corruption.

This whole notion that the financial crisis was caused by government attempts to create an "ownership society" and make mortgages more available to low-income (and particularly minority) borrowers has been pushed for some time by dingbats like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who often point to laws like the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act as signature events in the crash drama.

But Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are at least dumb enough that it is theoretically possible that they actually believe the crash was caused by the CRA, Barney Frank, and Fannie and Freddie.

On the other hand, nobody who actually understands anything about banking, or has spent more than ten minutes inside a Wall Street office, believes any of that crap. In the financial world, the fairy tales about the CRA causing the crash inspire a sort of chuckling bemusement, as though they were tribal bugaboos explaining bad rainfall or an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth, ghost stories and legends good for scaring the masses.

But nobody actually believes them. Did government efforts to ease lending standards put a lot of iffy borrowers into homes? Absolutely. Were there a lot of people who wouldn’t have gotten homes twenty or thirty years ago who are now in foreclosure thanks to government efforts to make mortgages more available? Sure – no question.

But did any of that have anything at all to do with the explosion of subprime home lending that caused the gigantic speculative bubble of the mid-2000s, or the crash that followed?

Not even slightly. The whole premise is preposterous. And Mike Bloomberg knows it.

In order for this vision of history to be true, one would have to imagine that all of these banks were dragged, kicking and screaming, to the altar of home lending, forced against their will to create huge volumes of home loans for unqualified borrowers.

In fact, just the opposite was true. This was an orgiastic stampede of lending, undertaken with something very like bloodlust. Far from being dragged into poor neighborhoods and forced to give out home loans to jobless black folk, companies like Countrywide and New Century charged into suburbs and exurbs from coast to coast with the enthusiasm of Rwandan machete mobs, looking to create as many loans as they could.

They lent to anyone with a pulse and they didn’t need Barney Frank to give them a push. This was not social policy. This was greed. They created those loans not because they had to, but because it was profitable. Enormously, gigantically profitable -- profitable enough to create huge fortunes out of thin air, with a speed never seen before in Wall Street's history.

The typical money-machine cycle of subprime lending took place without any real government involvement. Bank A (let’s say it’s Goldman, Sachs) lends criminal enterprise B (let’s say it’s Countrywide) a billion dollars. Countrywide then goes out and creates a billion dollars of shoddy home loans, committing any and all kinds of fraud along the way in an effort to produce as many loans as quickly as possible, very often putting people who shouldn’t have gotten homes into homes, faking their income levels, their credit scores, etc.

Goldman then buys back those loans from Countrywide, places them in an offshore trust, and chops them up into securities. Here they use fancy math to turn a billion dollars of subprime junk into different types of securities, some of them AAA-rated, some of them junk-rated, etc. They then go out on the open market and sell those securities to various big customers – pension funds, foreign trade unions, hedge funds, and so on.

The whole game was based on one new innovation: the derivative instruments like CDOs that allowed them to take junk-rated home loans and turn them into AAA-rated instruments. It was not Barney Frank who made it possible for Goldman, Sachs to sell the home loan of an occasionally-employed janitor in Oakland or Detroit as something just as safe as, and more profitable than, a United States Treasury Bill. This was something they cooked up entirely by themselves and developed solely with the aim of making more money.

The government’s efforts to make home loans more available to people showed up in a few places in this whole tableau. For one thing, it made it easier for the Countrywides of the world to create their giant masses of loans. And secondly, the Fannies and Freddies of the world were big customers of the banks, buying up mortgage-backed securities in bulk along with the rest of the suckers. Without a doubt, the bubble would not have been as big, or inflated as fast, without Fannie and Freddie.

But the bubble was overwhelmingly built around a single private-sector economic reality that had nothing to do with any of that: new financial instruments made it possible to sell crap loans as AAA-rated paper.

Fannie and Freddie had nothing to do with Merrill Lynch selling $16.5 billion worth of crap mortgage-backed securities to the Connecticut Carpenters Annuity Fund, the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System, the Connecticut Carpenters Pension Fund, and the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association. Citigroup and Deutsche Bank did not need to be pushed by Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi to sell hundreds of millions of dollars in crappy MBS to Allstate.

And Goldman, Sachs did not need Franklin Raines to urge it to sell $1.2 billion in designed-to-fail mortgage-backed instruments to two of the country’s largest corporate credit unions, which subsequently went bust and had to be swallowed up by the National Credit Union Administration.

These banks did not need to be dragged kicking and screaming to make the billions of dollars in profits from these and other similar selling-baby-powder-as-coke transactions. They did it for the money, and they did it because they did not give a fuck who got hurt.

Who cares if some schmuck carpenter in Connecticut loses the pension he’s worked his whole life to save? Who cares if he’s now going to have to work until he’s seventy, instead of retiring at fifty-five? It’s his own fault for not knowing what his pension fund manager was buying.

And, of course, in a larger sense, the entire crisis was the fault of that janitor in Oakland, who took out too big of a loan, with the help of do-gooder liberals in congress and their fans in bleeding-heart liberal la-la land – you know, the same people Bloomberg wowed with his hep jokes about Snooki and Charlie Sheen.

This is the evil lie Bloomberg is now trying to dump on the Occupy movement; this is where he's choosing to spend all that third-way cred he built up over the years with the HuffPost sect..

There's more and better there. But it's also like this: Bloomberg and the 0.1% that rule the 1% not only own the banks. They own the media. They own the cops. And beyond that, they own the entire governmental apparatus, including the best mass manipulators in the world. They own the national intelligence and security apparatus.

And they have a plan. It's evil alright. But in this world, the good guys do not always win, and even though the history books say they do, sometimes the history books aren't written by the good guys.

Yet even the evilest plans go awry in this world.

Even though the 1% are are simply grabbing all they can while they can, some of them- perhaps the 0.01% or even 0.0001%- think the best response to a world depleted of fossil fuels is to create a post-industrial neofeudalism.

Assuming, of course there is no new thing to replace it.

You even hear self-proclaimed progressives talking about the end of oil. Like they think embracing Gaia at this point will create a whole new humanity. This is almost as delusory as the schemes of our new would-be financial feudal lords. We aren't intelligent bonobos any more than we're simply intelligent chimps.

There are ways of making enough alternative energy to run an industrial society. It's not only a case of if we don't do it somebody else will. In this wide universe, somebody else has. Sooner or later if we're around, they're going to notice us.

If we're nothing but a race midieval serfs for a few robber barons by that point of time, be certain that whoever has the real juice will end up writing history books for us.

Friday, November 04, 2011

lucky duckies

The New York Pravda touts a new Census interpretation that tells us the poor aren't as poor as we think they are.

Which I am not going to even link to, as it is so much tripe for the 1%.

Which interestingly enough Krugman shoots down in an opinion piece dismissing said Census report and other official nonsense in the same edition:

Inequality is back in the news, largely thanks to Occupy Wall Street, but with an assist from the Congressional Budget Office. And you know what that means: It’s time to roll out the obfuscators!

Anyone who has tracked this issue over time knows what I mean. Whenever growing income disparities threaten to come into focus, a reliable set of defenders tries to bring back the blur. Think tanks put out reports claiming that inequality isn’t really rising, or that it doesn’t matter. Pundits try to put a more benign face on the phenomenon, claiming that it’s not really the wealthy few versus the rest, it’s the educated versus the less educated.

So what you need to know is that all of these claims are basically attempts to obscure the stark reality: We have a society in which money is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, and in which that concentration of income and wealth threatens to make us a democracy in name only...

Thank you, Sir.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

what's the half-life of a whistleblower

..it really makes me wonder:

In the last year and a half at least 10 experts, whistleblowers and BP connected individuals have died under mysterious circumstances...

Never mind, these aren't the 'droids your looking for.

Move along, move along.

Or else.

they have all the right enemies

Anonymous targets the criminal drug cartels of Mexico, and their government enablers, so both 'Merikan and Mexican governments are outraged.

If you haven't figured out the War on Drugs is run by the people making the money off of illegal narcotics in the United States and Mexico, you haven't been paying attention.

Friday, October 28, 2011

stupid is as stupid does

I keep hearing people I would respect tell me it's stupid to vote for Obama, or say you're going to vote for Obama, if you don't respect his policies.

As someone who says and does things that are pretty stupid, let me offer a rationale why someone who hates what Obama has done and is intent on doing will probably end up voting for the jerk, anyway.

You remember that Bill Clinton guy. You know, promoted NAFTA, repealed Glass-Stegall, and cheered about it. The Third Way guy. And Al Gore, his Vice President, who pretty much rolled over for all of it. He was such a weak candidate in his progressive credentials that he pretty much let Dubya and Cheneyburton walk all over him and steal the election. No wonder so many conscientious people voted for Ralph Nader.

No wonder Cheneyburton and the Company got the New Pearl Harbor they wrote a letter to Clinton about...

Look, I voted for Obama in the last election. I said then before I voted for him that if he turned out as badly as he seemed with all that bank$ter backing I'd mock him as much as I did Commander Bunnypants. It turns out the Laureate has proved to be as venal as we'd imagined and feared. Pretty much like the Clintons, but with less charisma, unless you go for his schtick.

But he's no Dick Cheney.

Of course, even the Republicans hated and feared Cheney at the end, which is probably one reason Obama won, really. The other is to give Poppy's man Gates a chance to repair Rumsfeld's damage under a bipartisan cover without further offending the Cheneyburton faction. But Obama hasn't had time to set the tone for Jebbie yet. This is why all the Republicans running are so terribly demented. The Koch/ Dominionist crowd would really like to take this one, but Poppy's Company is betting even we won't buy into that disaster.

Because make no mistake, if the American Taliban win the presidency, you haven't seen bad yet.

It's a stupid reason to vote for Obama, but I also voted for Gore in 2000. If the old sawhorse had won, shit would have still hit the fan, but perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent people might still walk the earth, and there would be no Endless War.

But perhaps it is a bit unfair to compare the Laureate with the Slick One. Even Digby notices:

...So here's what's happened so far. The President put forth a jobs bill, which didn't make it through the congress, as expected. This jobs bill was highly touted as containing "ideas" that Republicans had proposed in the past and therefore, it should have "something for everyone." Needless to say, the GOP wasn't interested in any one from column A and one from column B negotiating. After the defeat of the big jobs package, the Democrats announced they were going to propose popular pieces of the bill and force the Republicans to prove once and for all that they don't care about the plight of the average American as they join together in Scrooglike conformity.

Unfortunately, the Republicans decided not to play (surprise!) and are instead proposing their own combinations of the most toxic conservative elements of the President's bill and the President is apparently signing on, thus signing into law a terrible GOP policy while simultaneously giving them a "bipartisan" win...

Yes, the Laureate is busy playing n-dimensional chess, while the Reptilians are playing poker. Too bad it's not Slick Hillie in office instead, some say, she'd never fall for that trick. That gamblers and gamesmanship is what got us, and keep us, in a world of trouble is totally beside the point to those intent on the play.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

steal this logo

They might not get it on Long Island, but they think they sure know how to sell it:

...In a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) application, Robert and Diane Maresca are seeking to trademark the phrase “Occupy Wall St.” so that they can place it on a wide variety of goods, including bumper stickers, shirts, beach bags, footwear, umbrellas, and hobo bags.

Monday, October 24, 2011

what happens when criminal meets incompetent?

...a big fat meal is what happens:

...The Fed has signaled that it favors moving the derivatives to give relief to the bank holding company, while the FDIC, which would have to pay off depositors in the event of a bank failure, is objecting..

What, objecting to be stuck holding the bag on $75 Trillion's worth of bad bets by the Big B.o'A.? The main$tream can't see what the fuss is all about...

So B.o'A. wraps more coils around you:

...This move reflects either criminal incompetence or abject corruption by the Fed. Even though I’ve expressed my doubts as to whether Dodd Frank resolutions will work, dumping derivatives into depositaries pretty much guarantees a Dodd Frank resolution will fail. Remember the effect of the 2005 bankruptcy law revisions: derivatives counterparties are first in line, they get to grab assets first and leave everyone else to scramble for crumbs. So this move amounts to a direct transfer from derivatives counterparties of Merrill to the taxpayer, via the FDIC, which would have to make depositors whole after derivatives counterparties grabbed collateral. It’s well nigh impossible to have an orderly wind down in this scenario. You have a derivatives counterparty land grab and an abrupt insolvency. Lehman failed over a weekend after JP Morgan grabbed collateral.

But it’s even worse than that. During the savings & loan crisis, the FDIC did not have enough in deposit insurance receipts to pay for the Resolution Trust Corporation wind-down vehicle. It had to get more funding from Congress. This move paves the way for another TARP-style shakedown of taxpayers, this time to save depositors. No Congressman would dare vote against that. This move is Machiavellian, and just plain evil...

But seriously, this should not be seen as a deathwatch of the B.o'A. unless you mean watching while the Big Snake strangles the country while our government is being drowned in Grover Norquist's bathtub.

None of this is an accident, and if you think it is, you haven't been paying attention.

These aren't zombie banks falling apart as they stagger after you.

These are predators, big reptilian, and lethal if you let them wrap their coils around you.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

job selection for psychopaths

Is it any wonder that our social order selects for leaders that are, to put it mildly, unbalanced?

Or that it disposes of them in a morality tale before they can tell anyone where all the bodies are buried or who ordered them planted?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

promises on the table and stealing beneath it

While the Laureate is promising all troops out of Iraq by the end of the year with noises of vocal shock of the $erious people in D.C., in a quieter corner the administration just gave BP the okay to drill in the Gulf again.

Friday, October 21, 2011

emminent Dominion

You are not a citizen, only a consumer in a country owned by and for the oil companies.

...TransCanada, a Canadian oil company, promises to confiscate private land from South Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico, and has already filed nearly 60 lawsuits against private US citizens who refuse to allow the Keystone XL pipeline on their property, even though the controversial project has yet to receive federal approval...

And if you beotches complain? Daddy Oilbucks will cut you off.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

it's a suicide rap

Reich on the Austerity Death Trap.

...Can we just put ideology aside for a moment and be clear about the facts? Consumer spending (70 percent of the economy) is flat or dropping because consumers are losing their jobs and wages, and don’t have the dough. And businesses aren’t hiring because they don’t have enough customers.

The only way out of this vicious cycle is for the government – the spender of last resort – to boost the economy. The regressives are all calling for the opposite.

But even without these hare-brained Republican plans, we’re heading in their direction anyway. Unless Republicans agree to a budget deal before the end of the year (don’t hold your breath), the temporary payroll tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits we have now will end.

The result will be the most stringent fiscal tightening of any large economy in the world.

Together with ongoing cuts at the state and local government level, the scale of this fiscal contraction would be almost unprecedented.

It will come at a time when 25 million are Americans looking for full-time work, median incomes are dropping, home foreclosures rising, and a record 37 percent of American families with young children are in poverty.

To call this economic lunacy is to understate the point.

And if you think 2011 is bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Even if you’re a deficit hawk this is nuts. Instead of reducing the ratio of debt to the size of the overall economy, this strategy increases the ratio because it causes the economy to shrink.

Call it the austerity death trap.

Under these circumstances, the harder a country works to cut its debt, the worse the ratio becomes — because the economy shrinks even faster...

A.k.a. a vicious cycle, the negative feedback amplifying itself at each step, and the conservative ideologues in either party screeching louder to do more at each step down the death spiral of the economy- and society- into the new feudalism.

treason to the Company

Limburger and the Murdoch machine are decrying the treasonous advice guys like Tiabbi are openly giving OWS.

Here's a little bit of Tiabbi's pinko commie advice he's sending secretly to his co-conspirators and anyone else who reads Rolling Stone;

...1. Break up the monopolies. The so-called "Too Big to Fail" financial companies – now sometimes called by the more accurate term "Systemically Dangerous Institutions" – are a direct threat to national security. They are above the law and above market consequence, making them more dangerous and unaccountable than a thousand mafias combined. There are about 20 such firms in America, and they need to be dismantled; a good start would be to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks.

2. Pay for your own bailouts. A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about. It would also deter the endless chase for instant profits through computerized insider-trading schemes like High Frequency Trading, and force Wall Street to go back to the job it's supposed to be doing, i.e., making sober investments in job-creating businesses and watching them grow.

3. No public money for private lobbying. A company that receives a public bailout should not be allowed to use the taxpayer's own money to lobby against him. You can either suck on the public teat or influence the next presidential race, but you can't do both. Butt out for once and let the people choose the next president and Congress.

4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. For starters, we need an immediate repeal of the preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans like Stevie Cohen and John Paulson to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income, while ordinary Americans pay twice that for teaching kids and putting out fires. I defy any politician to stand up and defend that loophole during an election year.

5. Change the way bankers get paid. We need new laws preventing Wall Street executives from getting bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up in all of our faces later. It should be: You make a deal today, you get company stock you can redeem two or three years from now. That forces everyone to be invested in his own company's long-term health – no more Joe Cassanos pocketing multimillion-dollar bonuses for destroying the AIGs of the world.

To quote the immortal political philosopher Matt Damon from Rounders, "The key to No Limit poker is to put a man to a decision for all his chips." The only reason the Lloyd Blankfeins and Jamie Dimons of the world survive is that they're never forced, by the media or anyone else, to put all their cards on the table...

I'm sure the Rushies and the Ruperts and the Lloyds and little Jamies would like to give all you co-conspirators one way tickets to Gitmo for this un'Merikan talk.

After they foreclosed on you and seized your assets, anyway.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

on the Masters of War

Bob Dylan:

Bob Dylan's MASTERS of WAR

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
’Til I’m sure that you’re dead

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

leaving the big issues to the small and the silly

Small-minded, that is. Robert Reich:

...once again, Americans will hear the standard regressive litany: government is bad, Medicare and Medicaid should be cut, “Obamacare” is killing the economy, undocumented immigrants are taking our jobs, the military should get more money, taxes should be lowered on corporations and the rich, and regulations should be gutted.

Four years ago the most widely-watched TV debate among Republican aspirants attracted 3.2 million viewers. This year it’s almost twice that number. And for every viewer assume a multiplier effect as he or she shares what’s heard with friends and family.

Americans are listening more intently this time around because they’re hurting and they want answers. But the answers they’re getting from Republican candidates – tripping over themselves trying to appeal to hard-core regressives – are the wrong ones.

The correct ones aren’t being aired.

That’s partly because there’s no primary contest in the Democratic party. So Republicans automatically get loads of free broadcast time to air their regressive nonsense while the Democrats get none.

But even if the President had equal time, the debate about what to do about the crisis would still be frighteningly narrow.

That’s because the President’s answers don’t nearly match up to the magnitude of the crisis...

It's because the same bank$ters own both parties.

It's because the answers they're trying to sell to the 99% are the right solutions for the 1%.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

the mole rats walk among us

from Gawker via Cryptogon:

...it seems the FBI and NYPD have had help tracking protesters' moves thanks to a conservative computer security expert who gained access to one of the group's internal mailing lists, and then handed over information on the group's plans to authorities and corporations targeted by protesters.

Since the Occupy Wall Street protest began on September 17, New York security consultant Thomas Ryan has been waging a campaign to infiltrate and discredit the movement. Ryan says he's done contract work for the U.S. Army and he brags on his blog that he leads "a team called Black Cell, a team of the most-highly trained and capable physical, threat and cyber security professionals in the world." But over the past few weeks, he and his computer security buddies have been spending time covertly attending Occupy Wall Street meetings, monitoring organizers' social media accounts, and hanging out with protesters in Lower Manhattan...

At this point in time, there are probably dozens of private security and police moles all over the movement. And since the Europeans seem to be taking heart from the existance of a resistance here, likely the CIA, DIA, and the NSA are all over the movement now too. Unless the Occupation can enlist a real-life V or an Adam Selene, it should avoid the internet like the plague.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

'Merikan Fall

soon everyone will have lots of time to do this

...if the bank$ters keep playing their same casino

“It’s not a middle-class uprising. It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this...”

"...Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well..."

Well, sure, as long as Uncle $ugar keeps bankrolling your dice rolls. But destroy the middle class and create more jobless, and you change your winning bet. That rag-tag mob will just get bigger as it begins to look more ragged.

And hungry.

So just keep on keeping on, Marie, I'm sure there's plenty of cake to go around.

lots of jobs there

He sees absolutely nothing wrong with this picture.

It's left his state- and soon the rest of the country if he or his cronies win- looking worse than the Sahara.

Friday, October 14, 2011

you are simply a shadow to someone having someone else's dream

Krugman again:

...In the real world, recent events were a devastating refutation of the free-market orthodoxy that has ruled American politics these past three decades. Above all, the long crusade against financial regulation, the successful effort to unravel the prudential rules established after the Great Depression on the grounds that they were unnecessary, ended up demonstrating — at immense cost to the nation — that those rules were necessary, after all.

But down the rabbit hole, none of that happened. We didn’t find ourselves in a crisis because of runaway private lenders like Countrywide Financial. We didn’t find ourselves in a crisis because Wall Street pretended that slicing, dicing and rearranging bad loans could somehow create AAA assets — and private rating agencies played along. We didn’t find ourselves in a crisis because “shadow banks” like Lehman Brothers exploited gaps in financial regulation to create bank-type threats to the financial system without being subject to bank-type limits on risk-taking.

No, in the universe of the Republican Party we found ourselves in a crisis because Representative Barney Frank forced helpless bankers to lend money to the undeserving poor...

...The Great Recession should have been a huge wake-up call. Nothing like this was supposed to be possible in the modern world. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should be engaged in serious soul-searching, asking how much of what he or she thought was true actually isn’t.

But the G.O.P. has responded to the crisis not by rethinking its dogma but by adopting an even cruder version of that dogma, becoming a caricature of itself...

...It’s a terrible thing when an individual loses his or her grip on reality. But it’s much worse when the same thing happens to a whole political party, one that already has the power to block anything the president proposes — and which may soon control the whole government.

It's even more terrifying when said reality slippage among a significant fraction of the people is quite evidently benefiting another vastly smaller fraction that seems to have a clear grasp of what they stand to gain by such delusional beliefs.

And if you happen to be able to see through the charade, and there are enough said zealots in the crowd? Well, they used to burn witches, didn't they?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

WInning the War on Terra

Keep on worrying about those Messican gangstas.

Our Boys in Afghanistan had a banner year, a 61% increase over last year's record opium crop, coming soon to a street corner in your town, as heroin.

Who sez nobody profits from these wars?

The Masters of Espionage

...Mr. Arbabsiar and the informant worked out a deal under which Mr. Arbabsiar would pay $1.5 million to Los Zetas to kill the Saudi ambassador at a restaurant in Washington...

Yes, trying to engage the dastardly Messican Drug Dealers to precipitate World War Whatever the D.o'D.'s calling it these days by assassination. For $1.5 million dollars.

They have a single mark perpetrator, and the DEA agent who busted him, to forge an international incident with. That's all.

Well, not quite. They also got an Iranian spokesman to show some love for the Occupation and claim the plot was a diversion. That's a Terra showpiece- $1.5 million, but linking the Occupation with Iranian espionage- priceless!

You can not ask for a more Mobius plot of disinformation, unless you hired a scriptwriter for an Austin Powers flick. For $1.5 million.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

how you know

Somebody ought to tell the Iranian government that the only Americans willing to do political violence on American soil are federal agents, their informants, or their contractors.

You'd think if they'd been paying attention, they would know.

mixed metaphors

Kind of like a Dr. Seuss version of "Call of Cthulhu".

The New York Pravda tries to show some sci-fi kewlness about the Company's sooper seekrit funding for DARPA's mathematical sociology computing effort, IARPA, to model the Big Trends in human society, the better to control it. Like the Foundation did in Asimov's novels.

Say what?

It's sad and ironic. Obviously the reporter never even bothered to read a synopsis of the good Dr. Asimov's Foundation novels. Obviously because it wasn't the Empire that controlled the Foundation. Or Hari Seldon. It wasn't even the shadow Second Foundation.

It was an AI that controlled them, unknown to anyone, a robot.

But I digress. Any attempt by our Company Intelligence Agency to develop a mathematical sociology will doubtless be heavily Classified- everything is for them, these Jokers are even trying to Classify climate change- but egregiously expensive. And, bound to fail, because to measure something like mathmatical laws governing global human social interactions you have to be able to openly admit what these interactions are and do scientific things like share your data.

But you can bet this will be one great cash cow for some lucky entrepreneurs alrighty. Black budgeted to the hilt in the Age of Austerity.

Monday, October 10, 2011

not a lone bugman

So the scientists involved say the FBI covered up evidence to suggest the anthrax mailer got his bugs from a manufactured (i.e. government-made) source, and that quite likely the man they blamed didn't do it alone if he did it at all.

This takes particular courage, because the Feds threatened to indict another researcher if they couldn't make the case against Bruce E. Ivins stick.

The New York Pravda comes right out and says it:

...If Dr. Ivins did not make the powder, one conceivable source might be classified government research on anthrax, carried out for years by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency. Dr. Ivins had ties to several researchers who did such secret work...

Secret and entirely against international law, since the bugs were weaponized.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

what is this "lack of a message" I keep hearing about?

The message is clear, except to those who would rule.

The message behind "Occupy Wall Street" is "regulate the bank$ters and hold them accountable for their crimes".

Krugman, indeed gets it:

...A weary cynicism, a belief that justice will never get served, has taken over much of our political debate — and, yes, I myself have sometimes succumbed. In the process, it has been easy to forget just how outrageous the story of our economic woes really is. So, in case you’ve forgotten, it was a play in three acts.

In the first act, bankers took advantage of deregulation to run wild (and pay themselves princely sums), inflating huge bubbles through reckless lending. In the second act, the bubbles burst — but bankers were bailed out by taxpayers, with remarkably few strings attached, even as ordinary workers continued to suffer the consequences of the bankers’ sins. And, in the third act, bankers showed their gratitude by turning on the people who had saved them, throwing their support — and the wealth they still possessed thanks to the bailouts — behind politicians who promised to keep their taxes low and dismantle the mild regulations erected in the aftermath of the crisis.

Given this history, how can you not applaud the protesters for finally taking a stand?

But we will keep hearing, over and over again, about the lack of message, until some of those who would rule us, Krugman's "malefactors of great wealth", are able to take control of it, like the Koch brothers took over the Tea Party.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

it's not left and right, it's the bottom 99% and the top 1%

That's the message that has the bank$ters the most terrified, and it's the reason establishment liberals, a.k.a. third way Clintonista, are advising the One to co-opt the movement.

Our betters also seem to think it's about time for a global economic meltdown to put the Fear of Chaos into the proles.

Ah, but this time, perhaps the proles have finally decided to Capitalize on the disaster, too.

Chaos is no longer only the plan of those who would rule.

bipartisanship and environmental rape

They're using the B-word again:

With political action on curbing greenhouse gases stalled, a bipartisan panel of scientists, former government officials and national security experts is recommending that the government begin researching a radical fix: directly manipulating the Earth’s climate to lower the temperature.

Members said they hoped that such extreme engineering techniques, which include scattering particles in the air to mimic the cooling effect of volcanoes or stationing orbiting mirrors in space to reflect sunlight, would never be needed. But in its report, to be released on Tuesday, the panel said it is time to begin researching and testing such ideas in case “the climate system reaches a ‘tipping point’ and swift remedial action is required.”

The 18-member panel was convened by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a research organization based in Washington founded by four senators — Democrats and Republicans — to offer policy advice to the government...

Bipartisanship, the tendency of adversarial pirates to quit fighting each other long enough to make off with the booty.

I've posted long and hard on the stupidity of dimming the sun to ameliorate global warming when there are carbon-neutral ways to produce petrochemicals the oil companies are sitting on, but this is a win-win proposition for the major industrial polluters and big oil. You know, for everyone who can only see as far as the next quarterly statement. Why, you could belch as much CO2 into the air as you wanted, with any effects balanced by increasing the shade.

And if things start to look like Venus here on the third rock from the sun, well, that's the price you pay for their profits.

the hazard of common interests

Amy Goodman:

...The bailed-out Wall Street megabank JP Morgan Chase gave a tax-deductible $4.6m donation to the New York City Police Foundation, which has protesters asking: who is the NYPD paid to protect, the public or the corporations? The 99% or the 1%?

Marina Sitrin, part of Occupy Wall Street's legal working group, told me that the protest was going to be based at Chase Plaza, but the NYPD pre-emptively closed it. The protesters moved to Zuccotti Park, which they renamed Liberty Square.

According to an undated press release on JP Morgan Chase's website, in response to the $4.6m donation:

"New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing 'profound gratitude' for the company's donation."

Given the size of the donation, and the police harassment and violence against the protesters, we must question how Kelly shows his gratitude.

But dust-ups like this tend to attract players on all sides:

...The process through which a potentially powerful movement may be co-opted and controlled is slight and subtle. If Occupy Wall Street hopes to strive for the 99%, it must not submit to the 1%, in any capacity.

The Occupy movement must prevent what happened to the Tea Party movement to happen to it. Whatever ideological stance you may have, the Tea Party movement started as a grass roots movement, largely a result of anti-Federal Reserve protests. They were quickly co-opted with philanthropic money and political party endorsements.

For the Occupy Movement to build up and become a true force for change, it must avoid and reject the organizational and financial ‘contributions’ of institutions: be they political parties, non-profits, or philanthropic foundations. The efforts are subtle, but effective: they seek to organize, professionalize, and institutionalize a movement, push forward the issues they desire, which render the movement useless for true liberation, as these are among the very institutions the movement should be geared against.

This is not simply about “Wall Street,” this is about POWER. Those who have power, and those who don’t. When those who have power offer a hand in your struggle, their other hand holds a dagger. Remain grassroots, remain decentralized, remain outside and away from party politics, remain away from financial dependence. Freedom is not merely in the aim, it’s in the action...

Ah, the Ring of Power problem. In order to be free of the Ring, you have to find a few hobbits to carry it to Mount Doom and actually toss it in. But little people who want to stay little in the world of the Big Time are very hard to find.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

modus operandi

Because it's what they do. Mark Karlin:

...Of this you can be sure: the New York Police Department (NYPD), Mayor Bloomberg (who made his fortune on Wall Street), the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House are doing everything possible to keep the occupation of Wall Street from reaching an "Arab Spring" tipping point.

Populist uprisings are lauded overseas, but they are perceived as a threat to elite corporate governance in the US.

You can be sure that the governmental and law enforcement forces at the highest levels in the US are consulting with Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD on how to keep the Wall Street protest from bursting into a national movement.

If history is any guide, contingencies include infiltrators into the protest movement who will try to entrap supporters of Occupy Wall Street. This is such a common police and FBI tactic that it would take too long to list examples, but you might start with the compelling documentary, "Better This World." It details how an FBI "informant" entrapped two young idealists from Texas into becoming prosecution targets, thus helping to portray all protesters at the 2008 Republican Convention in Minneapolis as being "radicals."

The corporate mass media that has virtually ignored the protests in lower Manhattan - although the same media will give endless coverage to a couple of Tea Party advocates with misspelled signs blathering on a street corner - will blare sensational headlines if the protesters are perceived as committing even one act of violence, such as throwing a brick through a window.

But imagine if an NYPD or FBI informant, acting as an infiltrator, bombs a Bank of America branch office at night. The entire movement to expose corporate America as legal thieves would be discredited.

Right now, the NYPD - and the FBI - are engaged in low intensity corralling of the protesters. They are playing a waiting game, hoping that the protest will exhaust itself.

But if the participants grow - as appears to be the case with the increasing support of unions and the enhanced credibility of the movement - watch for a law enforcement "false flag" operation.

You'll know about it instantly, because it will probably be the first time you'll see any serious interest in the Wall Street protests on TV. The revolution won't be televised; but the government takedown of democracy and peaceful assembly will be.

It's standard operating procedure.

Monday, October 03, 2011

if they told you why they'd have to kill you

...by hunter-killer drones, most likely.

When a main$treame rag like The Atlantic is spooked by you, o Laureate, you have seriously eroded your base.

...Outside the U.S. government, President Obama's order to kill American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without due process has proved controversial, with experts in law and war reaching different conclusions. Inside the Obama Administration, however, disagreement was apparently absent, or so say anonymous sources quoted by the Washington Post. "The Justice Department wrote a secret memorandum authorizing the lethal targeting of Anwar al-Aulaqi, the American-born radical cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike Friday, according to administration officials," the newspaper reported. "The document was produced following a review of the legal issues raised by striking a U.S. citizen and involved senior lawyers from across the administration. There was no dissent about the legality of killing Aulaqi, the officials said."

Isn't that interesting? Months ago, the Obama Administration revealed that it would target al-Awlaki. It even managed to wriggle out of a lawsuit filed by his father to prevent the assassination. But the actual legal reasoning the Department of Justice used to authorize the strike? It's secret. Classified. Information that the public isn't permitted to read, mull over, or challenge.

Why? What justification can there be for President Obama and his lawyers to keep secret what they're asserting is a matter of sound law? This isn't a military secret. It isn't an instance of protecting CIA field assets, or shielding a domestic vulnerability to terrorism from public view. This is an analysis of the power that the Constitution and Congress' post September 11 authorization of military force gives the executive branch. This is a president exploiting official secrecy so that he can claim legal justification for his actions without having to expose his specific reasoning to scrutiny...

Obama hasn't just set a new precedent about killing Americans without due process. He has done so in a way that deliberately shields from public view the precise nature of the important precedent he has set...

Yes, but they're openly telling you there are things they're keeping secret, and isn't that just as good as keeping no secrets at all?

a fine kettle of fish

Who needs moles to lead protesters to block a bridge when the NYPD is willing to kettle them there and arrest them for following directions?

...The march began on Saturday afternoon in Zuccotti Park, the Manhattan the base of the core of 200 or so OWS demonstrators. By the time it reached Brooklyn bridge it had swollen to several thousand.

Accounts vary as to how about 500 protesters ended up on one lane of the road across the bridge, where they were all penned in with orange netting and arrested. Some accused the police of leading them on to the road as a sort of trap.

Video clips posted on YouTube, showing a small body of officers marching on to the road ahead of the mass of demonstrators, appeared to support this view...

Woops. More news you won't see anywhere in 'Merika media, but the rest of the world gets.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

700 names for the Watchlist

What were these fools thinking?

Now there are 700 more faces and names for the War on Terra to round up when they need the Usual Suspects.

Any person who suggests you take part in a disruptive protest that will inevitably result in you arrest or worse is being influenced by a police/FBI/Company mole if they weren't one already.

I won't be surprised in the weeks or months ahead to find out one or more of the organizers of this thing were cops, like in the 2008 Republican National Convention protests that dies before they started.

The difference being here that the protestors were allowed to do something that inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of people that have nothing at all to do with the depredations of the bank$ters, and who were and are probably victims of them as well.

Leading, in the Company mind, to the popular applause of these arrests in New York.

This is like the so-called Anonymous originators of LOIC that led to the arrest of the naive teenagers that actually downloaded and used the damned thing. Or every other domestic terra'ist that's been lead into becoming a victim of police-state organized Terra that resulted in their arrest. The Company can't create a police state unless they have a reason, and the Company creates its own carefully managed events for good reasons.

garage sale

Would you buy an used stealth submarine from these people?

...One of the greatest surprises Scott stumbled upon while out dicking around on the ghost armada was the Sea Shadow (IX-529)...

That's a stealth ship that the military spent $195 million and over 10 years building and testing before unceremoniously dumping it where it now sits ... inside a larger mothballed multi-million-dollar ship, the Hughes Mining Barge. This is the same barge that helped raise the Soviet submarine K-129 from the Pacific Ocean floor in the summer of 1974, so it's not like these ships were unusable or defective in any way. They were simply forgotten.

Although to be fair, the Navy didn't necessarily want to mothball the Sea Shadow; that was a last resort. They initially tried to give it away for free. But since any takers would also have to take the Hughes Barge, no one took them up on the offer...

But why bother buying when you can probably just waltz in and take it for a song? Or a modest contribution to the local authorities?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”

Greenwald says it.

Now what do all of these people know that the government is so desperate to keep out of public court proceedings?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lawrence O'Donnell calls it

"The illusion of freedom will continue for as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will take down the scenery, move the tables and chairs out of the way, then they will pull back the curtains and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater." - Frank Zappa

obviously not a right thinker

So I wonder what the black budget cost of this item is, and why the Austerians don't go after it.

...That’s what Progeny claims it can do: take an existing drone, like the hand-held Raven, and turn it into a TTL machine. “Any pose, any expression, any lighting,” Faltemier says. Progeny needs an image with just 50 pixels between the target’s eyes to build a 3D model of his face. That’s about the same as what it takes to traditionally capture a 2D image. (Naturally, the model gets better and better the more pictures are taken during enrollment.) Once the target is “enrolled” in Progeny’s system, it might only take 15 or 20 pixels to identify him again. A glance or two at a Raven’s camera might conceivably be enough.

And if the system can’t get a good enough look at a target’s face, Progeny has other ways of IDing its prey. The key, developed under a previous Navy contract, is a kind of digital stereotyping. Using a series of so-called “soft biometrics” — everything from age to gender to “ethnicity” to “skin color” to height and weight — the system can keep track of targets “at ranges that are impossible to do with facial recognition,” Faltemier says. Like 750 feet away or more.

But if Progeny can get close enough, Faltemier says his technology can even tell identical twins apart. With backing by the Army, researchers from Notre Dame and Michigan State Universities collected images of faces at a “Twins Days” festival. Progeny then zeroed in on the twins’ scars, marks, and tattoos — and were able to spot one from the other. The company says the software can help the military “not only learn the identity of subjects but also their associations in social groups.”

The Pentagon isn’t content to simply watch the enemies it knows it has, however. The Army also wants to identify potentially hostile behavior and intent, in order to uncover clandestine foes.

Charles River Analytics is using its Army cash to build a so-called “Adversary Behavior Acquisition, Collection, Understanding, and Summarization (ABACUS)” tool. The system would integrate data from informants’ tips, drone footage, and captured phone calls. Then it would apply “a human behavior modeling and simulation engine” that would spit out “intent-based threat assessments of individuals and groups.” In other words: This software could potentially find out which people are most likely to harbor ill will toward the U.S. military or its objectives. Feeling nervous yet?

“The enemy goes to great lengths to hide his activities,” explains Modus Operandi, Inc., which won an Army contract to assemble “probabilistic algorithms th[at] determine the likelihood of adversarial intent.” The company calls its system “Clear Heart.” As in, the contents of your heart are now open for the Pentagon to see. It may be the most unnerving detail in this whole unnerving story.

Obviously, this will work just as well as the precision surgical strike drones have in IraqAfghanistan. We never have killed a single non-combatant with the drones we have already, just ask the Peace Laureate or any other Company representative. To think otherwise clearly marks your adversarial intent.

Why go to Wall Street?

...when organized protests can embarrass and even stop the bank$ters in your own back yard?

The good people of Detroit should seriously think about this. Instead of burning down homes in protest of a corrupt system, they should monkey with the tools of the traders.

talking to the hand

Ralph Nader tries to tell people these things:

...Now, it is the turn of the Democrats to make a mockery out of the first amendment rights of others to speak, assemble and petition their government by running inside the upcoming presidential primary season that runs from January to June 2012. After President Obama took his liberal/progressive base for so many one-sided corporatist rides in his administration, he and his allies are very determined to give him a free ride by having him campaign around the country on Air Force One as an unchallenged, one-man primary.

This tedious scenario would have his supporters watch President Obama repeatedly respond, on his omnipresent teleprompter, to the crazed Republicans and their issues – instead of offering a ringing affirmation for his second term of the neglected majoritarian liberal/progressive agendas.

Clearly, the Republicans are not going to initiate any attention to getting out of the quagmire wars in Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan and the mini-wars elsewhere. Republicans are not going to ask why Obama did not press forward for full Medicare for all, instead of his limited, incomplete, corporate-subsidised Obamacare. Nor are the Republicans going to demand that he explain why he has turned his back on labor and the impoverished, whose hopes for change he raised so high with specific promises in 2008.

But with one in three workers receiving Walmart-level wages, with 45,000 of the 50 million people without health insurance dying each year for lack of coverage, with pensions for millions of Americans being looted or drained by their corporate masters, with tax systems skewed for the wealthy during high unemployment, and with the White House routinely engaged in constitutional violations in its foreign/military adventures, the "no debate" mantra deepens autocracy.

Forty-five Americans, including me, hailing from long records in environmental, labor, civil rights, education, healthcare, communications and the arts, have sent a letter to nearly 200 distinguished liberals and progressives inviting them to form a slate of six candidates, registered as Democrats, to participate in some 20 state primaries, starting with Iowa and New Hampshire, and take the debate on the redirection of our country to President Obama.

The very nature of the slate would not be to defeat him. It is to press him to publicly pay attention to the fundamental principles and agendas that represent the modest soul of the Democratic party, before corporate money became so dominant in its campaign treasuries some 30 years ago...

Of course, it's in The Guardian in Britain, and not the 'Merikan press. What would the children think if they printed it here ?