Monday, March 30, 2009

Sarah Palin Declares WAR on Alaskans

Palin has nominated as her Attorney General a man who would deprive Alaska's indigenous people the right to hunt and fish for their livelihoods. Wayne Anthony Ross, who has nicknamed himself WAR, is a fat, gun-totting, pasty-faced city boy who likes to pretend he's an outdoorsman. The most prominent thing about Ross,
besides his Disneylandish Hummer (right) and the Smith & Wesson he straps to his hip whenever he ventures into the wilds of downtown Anchorage, is his accumulation of hatreds.

Ross hates Philadelphia (and apparently meter, what a God-awful poet). He is homophobic. He's an attorney know for holding judges in contempt and getting away with it.
"He’s arrogant and opinionated, " Mendel said. "He shows up (in court) with his cowboy boots and cowboy hat and doesn’t stand up when the judge comes in. . . . He has a very definite view of the world." ~ MamaDance
But most of all, he hates native Alaskans. Ross is an outspoken opponent of the idea of rural Alaskans living off the land. He believes that when rural Alaskans hunt and fish for subsistence they are stealing from commercial and recreational activities. It would be like the Attorney General of Iowa demanding that family farms be declared illegal because they interfere with the profits of agribusiness conglomerates. He has promised to hire "junkyard dog" assistants to fight against federal support for rural subsistence.

More from: The Mudflats and Alaska Real.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Crimes of John Yoo, et al

They sow the wind, and they reap the whirlwind. ~ Hosea 8:7
A Spanish court, consistent with international law, has agreed to consider prosecution of former Bush officials Alberto Gonzalez, Douglas Feith, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee, and John Yoo for their crimes as the fathers of the Guantanamo torture camp.

I admit to having a particular hatred for John Yoo, the law professor who crafted the most damnable justifications for torturing prisoners in American custody. Yoo is a soft-handed coward who readily justifies horrendous acts of inhumanity without ever dirtying his hands with the acts he has advocated. He likes the idea of torturing children; another Yoo policy the Bush Administration apparently implemented. He opposes chemical weapon bans because they would be bad for the businesses that trade in these poisons. He views the Constitution as a living document, one to be raped in the quest for power.

As a tenured law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Yoo's dean has defended his right to be an obscenity against humanity. His colleagues are not so forgiving.

The fact is that John Yoo, and his fellow travelers in the cause of tormenting humans in American captivity, deserve to be indicted and convicted by the Spanish court. They deserve to be indicted and convicted by an American court but I am not holding out hope for that. Their war crimes are numerous and grave. They must be tried and punished not just for their own acts but so others in the future will stay their impulses toward brutality.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What I Find Beautiful

I'm bored with politics today. There is nothing in the news that is, well, new. I'm trying to get worked up about Uberstalker Bill O'Reilly but the truth is he is an insignificant twerp (By the way, boycott the businesses that fund his abusive program, yeah?). So, at the risk of objectifying women...

I love raven haired women with bangs. That is Lucy Lawless at right. Her natural hair color is blond which just proves that God has no eye for beauty.

You gotta love glasses.
There is something about glasses and I'm not alone in this opinion.

All women should own hats.
This is not a modesty thing but were I king of the world I would make it a law that women wear hats. Women are more beautiful in hats. Any hat.
Well, maybe not any hat.

And, as long as I'm passing laws we need an emergency cloning program for Salma Hayek.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mount Jindal

Mount Redoubt is 100 miles from Sarah Palin's front porch. A month after Bobby Jindal, during his Kenneth the Page comedy routine, criticized the idea of monitoring volcanoes Mount Redoubt spat in Jindal's face by erupting. Jindal certainly celebrated the possibility that a volcano would elimnate Palin, Jindal's chief rival for the title of Dumbest Republican Governor in History. Although it looks like Sarah has been saved, for now. But if Jindal has his way monitoring of Mount Redoubt would stop and the next time the mountain erupts it will catch Palin's plane in a cloud of ash and send his rival to her fiery doom.

While I wish I was the first to think of this, Alaskans should rename the volcano Mount Jindal in memory of his monumental stupidity. There before me was 22 over 7, the Zoo, and Crooks and Liars.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Proof of the Pudding

Is in the eating. I don't know how to make really good, gourmet pudding and I don't know how to fix the financial markets collapse.

I may think the Geithner Plan is a grand game of "Let's Pretend" where the government and "private investors" pretend that the worthless paper owned by banks has value. I may think that the "private investors" (insert the name Goldman Sachs here) are in a no-lose situation. If the paper is worthless then the government will swallow the losses while any profits will go to the investors. I may think that the only positive result of this Plan will be to make Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO, the richest man on the face of the Earth.

I may think that nationalizing the banks, zeroing out the bank stockholders, fixing bank assets from within the banks, and after they have recovered returning the banks to the public (and repaying the taxpayers) by selling new stock is a better plan. But, what do I know?

As I said, I don't know how to make good pudding. If the economy recovers, then the Geithner Plan made good pudding and who am I to complain.

No Wonder They Never Caught Him

Bernie Madoff was only caught because his sons turned him in. During all the years Madoff was pulling off his Ponzi scam government regulators were clueless about what he was doing. We now know why, the regulators are ignorant baffoons.

In among the emails the received from victims of Madoff's scheme the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has included one offering the Nigerian Scam. It's possible US Attorney Lev Dassin will note the gentleman says he is from the Republic of the Congo and, hence, it can't be the Nigerian Scam. It's possible Dassin will claim that his office didn't bother to read any of the letters his office included in an official court filing, which would make them not so much stupid as grossly incompetent.

Or, it could be that government attorneys are gullible rubes who even now are investing their 401(k) savings with Madoff knowing the money will be really safe what with Bernie in jail and all.

Tip 'o the hat to Talking Points Memo for finding this gem.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Declassifying Bush Torture Memos

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. ~ John 8:32
The decision by President Barack Obama to declassify the memos that detailed the torture methods used by the Bush Administration is a welcome bit of Spring cleaning. In a democracy the people have an absolute right to know what evils are being done in their name. It is the price of freedom.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Kowtow Defined

To show obsequious deference. To fawn. ~ Merriam-Webster
To be a Republican in the presence of Rush Limbaugh. ~ Knighterrant
When spelled COWTOW it means the effort used to drag El Rushbo away from an all-you-can-eat BBQ.

Who Got Those AIG Bonuses?

And who are these people whose Credit Default Swaps and other financial instruments have driven the world's economy to its knees? Not what are their names, I couldn't care less about that, but who are they collectively?
  • They are almost always men, 93% male by some accounts.
  • They are mostly young. Thirty years-old is aged in the profession, Forty is down right decrepit.
  • They are instinctual. They don't analyze the markets and devise intricate investment plans. They really don't even think. Everything they do is based on intuition.
  • While they are profoundly greedy they never think about the real world consequences of their actions. A trillion dollars is the same as a sack of beans for them. "As a trader, IMHO, one must trade because one loves to trade and not because of the love of money. Money is just a way of keeping score," someone calling himself Harun I.
  • They like to imagine themselves as warriors, more like Tom Cruise in Top Gun than Ebenezer Scrooge.
  • They must be able to sit in stuffy cubicles staring for endless hours at banks of computer screens with mind numbing arrays of numbers without becoming physically ill or going insane.
    Although, in fact, they may well all be insane.
  • There is a mystic surrounding these traders. There is even a serious school of thought that the most telling sign that someone will be a successful financial trader is the length of his ring finger.
The problem with the Bonus Culture in the financial industry from an article written in 1997, pre-debacle.
The Characteristics of a Trader.
The occupational profile of a financial trader.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Defenders of Elitism

It takes a special kind of ... something, I want to say shithead ... to stand in front of an outraged populous and boldly take the side of greedy, elitist crooks.

The boldest shithead is Rush Limbaugh. Denouncing the American people as a bunch of "peasants," Rush has come out foursquare in favor of the right of AIG criminals to bleed hundreds of millions of dollars into their personal bank accounts.

Certainly the dumbest shithead is Dana Perino. Perino is living proof that stupid is contagious and the time she spent with George Bush has permanently damaged her mind. Dana would have us believe that the multimillionaire traders in AIG's Financial Products division are simple "middle class" laborers.

The most cowardly shithead is Rick Santelli. Santelli attacked opponents of AIG bonus theft by claiming that $165 million is an insignificant amount, mere pennies. When someone, probably his boss at CNBC, pointed out that Santelli was setting himself up to be pilloried again for his anti-public, pro-elitist propaganda Santilli retreated faster than the Arctic icecap and denounced the bonuses he had earlier defended.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is AIG an International Criminal Conspiracy?

Evidence in support of this hypothesis.
  1. AIGFP has a rap sheet. In 2004, AIG paid over $240 million in restitution, disgorgement, and penalties for the fraudulant actions of AIGFP-PAGIC.
  2. AIG has an extensive rap sheet including convictions for criminal fraud.
  3. AIG's criminal fraud activities extends beyond the United States.
  4. The AIG-Goldman Sachs connection implies a deep-seated conspiracy. Goldman Sachs got the lions share of the AIG bailout ($12.9 billion). See also Scott Reaves. John Carney of Business Insider wonders about the Goldman-AIG dance.
  5. Goldman Sachs employees form a powerful cadre. Bush's Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was the former CEO of Goldman Sachs; World Bank president Robert Zoellick was a managing director; TARP head Neel Kashkari was a Goldman vice-president; George Herbert Walker IV is a current Goldman managing director. Current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has a cozy relationship with Goldman. And I almost missed one - Edward Liddy, the CEO of AIG, came to the company from the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs.
  6. The White Paper (pdf) AIG issued over the issue of bonuses to AIGFP crooks, when you strip out the lawyerese, is good old-fashioned extortion. AIG threatens that if the bonuses are withheld then $1.2 tillion will disappear in a wiff of smoke. It seems that only the AIGFP 400 know where and how the money is buried and those crooks have to be kept happy or they won't be able to find it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Look To Truman to Solve the AIG Mess

So, AIG is contractually compelled to pay obscene bonuses to the very same employees who got them into their financial mess - the people who invested millions into credit default swaps for AIG. Well, Harry Truman had an answer for this.

In 1946 when coal miners and railroad workers went on wildcat strike and threatened to plunge the post WWII economy back into depression, Truman proposed drafting them into the United States Army. My Proposed Legislation:
For all businesses with assets greater than $1 billion where the Federal Government owns at least 67% of the company all employees in such companies as of March 10, 2009 are immediately inducted into the United States Army for service of not less than three years. Their individual ranks are to be assigned as the Commander-in-Chief deems best and their total compensation, including bonuses, may not exceed standard pay grades.
The thieves at AIG need to be taught a lesson that only a skilled drill sergeant can provide.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Purpose of Journalism

In the wake of Jon Stewart's interview of Jim Cramer I would like to remind the employees of CNBC, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and every other business that claims to do journalism of the words of H. L. Mencken:
It is the duty of a journalist to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
The reason newspapers and broadcast news organizations have lost readership and viewership is because modern journalism is all about gaining access to the political and financial aristocracy and journalists will freely sell their souls for that access. There is no reporter in the country willing to call an interview subject on their obvious lies or ask anything close to the hard questions. As further evidence I offer the absurd questions reporters asked during the presidential debates. It takes a comedian to have the courage and independence to do the job journalists ought to be doing every day.

That means all the journalists and reporters in the United States are the only real clowns.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Happiest Man in the World

Who was happiest the day after the American people elected Barack Obama president?
  • It was not Obama himself. After gaining the world's worst job made worst still by the unholy mess his predecessor was leaving, Obama was certainly thinking, "Oh, shit, what have I gotten myself into."
  • It was not Rush Limbaugh who knew his rating would grow now that he had a Democratic target.
  • It was not whoever the hell owns the copyrights to Ayn Rand's turgid screeds knowing that every Republican with ambitions to leadership would have to own and pretend to have read everything Rand wrote in the same way the English grad students have to pretend to have read the novels of James Joyce.
  • It wasn't even the publishers of Cliff Notes who would sell out their study guides to all those Republicans who were pretending to read Atlas Shrugged.
No, the happiest man in the world the day after Barack Obama was elected president was Levi Johnston.

Johnston, if you recall, is the baby daddy to Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol. Johnston had already been forced to get Bristol's name tattooed on his hand. If Sarah Palin had become vice-president then Johnston would have had to go through with his shotgun wedding. Life as he had known it (ice hockey, drugs, and screwing teenage bimbos) would be over. He'd have to dress up and go to some pretend job at a Republican owned oil company. But Palin lost and after a descrete period Levi and Bristol could break up and Levi could go back to the comforts of obscurity.

But in strict Republican idology Bristol's baby needs a father and the ever brilliant JC Christian has the answer. Bristol should marry Joe the Plumber. It's a brilliant political marriage. It could even lead to the first mother and son-in-law presidential ticket.

Palin + Plumber 2012!!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Seven Days in May

It was one of the scariest movies of the 1960's and a cracking good novel, too. An army general decides that the president is weak and destroying the nation. His solution: a military coup and martial law. Could it be happening for real today?

It's possible to dismiss Chuck Norris when he talks about thousands of cells ready to rise up and take over the nation. Excluding the random rightwing terrorist like Tim McVeigh, I expect Norris' cells are like the border watching Minutemen of a few years ago - overweight louts who will only fight if they don't have to leave their lounge chairs. There is also a real threat.
I am not the first to notice this dangerous convergence, Running 'Cause I Can't Fly was there before me. A military coup is a hazard of having a large, professional military (the phrase "all volunteer" is a misnomer) separated from the civilian society. While I have no doubt that most American servicemembers are loyal first to the country I also have no doubt that cunning commanders would be able to forge the religious fanatics and rightwing extremists in the ranks into an effective force to take over the government.

Monday, March 09, 2009

BofA's Stonewall

The information about bonuses to Merrill Lynch execs has been bought and paid for by the American public with the billions of dollars granted to Bank of America. Furthermore, the stockholders in BofA have a right to know where money that might have supported the stock price or paid dividends went.

If CEO Ken Lewis and the other BofA executives want to keep information secret then they should pay off the federal loans from their own enormous personal wealth, buy up the common stock, and convert Bank of America into a private company. As long as it is a public company on the government dole then they have a fiduciary responsibility to disclose what they are doing with the stockholders and government money.

Of course, if Ken Lewis is a thief and he is trying to hide the massive misappropriation of capital then I understand why he is expending such effort to keep his activities secret.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The California Drought

There is an old saying in the western US - "Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting." California is in its third year of a serious drought. Reservoirs like Lake Oroville above are nearly dry. Central Valley agriculture has been cut off. Homeowners and many businesses face severe water rationing. One business that seems secure is golf. While talking minimal conservation, desert golf course like the Palm Springs resort below are preparing to pump underground aquifers dry to maintain their sport, using the interesting argument that golf is more important than food.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

This Apocalypse in No Fun

A Blog Named Sue shares my disappointment. Here we are experiencing a real live apocalypse, the end of civilization as we know it, and its not being caused by anything cool.

There is no huge asteroid poised to slam into the Atlantic Ocean, no exciting megaquake sliding California into the Pacific. There are no sentient robots plotting to take over the world nor any ape in revolt. Hell, there aren't even zombies. "If civilization collapses over credit default swaps I am going to be pissed."

As Atrios points out, the scariest chart ever just keeps getting scarier.
And our bankers, while certainly playing the part to perfection, just don't look like they should.
(How I see Citibank executives.)

Friday, March 06, 2009

That 'Thud' We Heard

It was almost a year ago when I wrote a little piece called The Decline and Fall of the United States. At that time the unlamented George W. Bush still had ten months left in his term.

At that time unemployment had reached what we would now consider a robust 5.1% with 80,000 jobs lost in March. Today unemployment is 8.1% with 651,000 jobs lost in February alone. Bush was boldly predicting there would be no recession. Damn, was he wrong about that. Conservatives opined that the economy was just tickety-boo - except when they were blaming the liberal media for the economy. (Conservatives are still doing this claiming at the same time that things really aren't very bad and that it is all President Obama's fault.)

I was brought back to last year by a conservative commenting today to that year old posting calling my analysis "retarded." Actually, I think I was pretty prescient. The only thing I got wrong was predicting inflation. Instead we have old-fashioned depressionary deflation.

Art source: Vanity Fair, Dec. 2008

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pocket Change Businesses

There are a lot of once mighty businesses that can now be had for pocket change.
  • Citigroup - the largest bank in the United States - their stock once sold for over $55 a share (January 2007) is now available for $1.02.
  • General Motors - once the largest auto manufacturer in the world - Their stock once sold for $87 a share (January 1999). Today it is worth $1.84 and, frankly, probably not worth that.
  • Bank of America survived the San Francisco earthquake on 1906, survived the Great Depression, and is choking to death trying to swallow Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch. Its stock price was over $50 a share in November 2006. Now it is just $3.20 a share.
  • The mighty General Electric had a market cap of $382 billion in March 2005. Today its market cap is only $70 billion. The stock price is a whopping $6.71 a share, less even than the price of the cheapest hammer sold by Home Depot.
I could go on but I need to take my antidepressant.

Great Minds Department: I wrote this before the New York Times published Jack Healy's article on exactly this topic although Healy must have been writing his article while I was writing mine. Interesting coincidence.

Jon Stewart on Wall Street

Somethings are better left said by comedians lest we cry ourselves to sleep in the morning. Via ThinkProgress via the Daily Show - more truth than legitimate news sources have.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Republicans Caught in Rush's Big Trap

Like a dog caught in a leg-hold trap, Republicans have been hopelessly snared by Rush Limbaugh's big mouth. Fearing the wrath of zombie-like Dittoheads, Republicans everywhere are fall in line behind Rush's "Hope for Failure" meme.

Michael Steele is still genuflecting to the Great Rushbo. Other Republican "leaders" (quotes used for sarcastic purposes) are robotically mimicking whatever flows from Rush's enormous piehole. All the while Limbaugh, like the drug addict he is, keeps increasing his dosage. Rush's latest is opposition to any economic recovery lest it may benefit President Obama.

Dittoheads believe that blogs like this indicate a fear of Limbaugh. Nothing can be further from the truth. The Limbaugh Effect is proving to the American people what I have known for some time. Radical Republicans are devoid of rational thought. Republicanism is pure insanity. I welcome Rush and expect Republicans to continue their terrified obsequiousness towards his drug-addled rants.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Money Pit

Being very busy just now I will simply suggest that AIG change its name to something more appropriate.
Although, while I am thinking about it, why is AIG stock not worthless? It's current value, 45 cents, is 45 cents more than the company is worth.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Of Course Republicans Want the Country to Fail

Republicans are not hiding it any longer. From Rush to Malkin to Tom DeLay to the rank and file Republicans are united in wanting the President, and hence the country, to fail. But there is more to it.

They are not just going to sit on the sidelines and root for the three D's - defeat, depression, despair - they are going to actively seek it. Republicans are calling for party purging of anyone who is not a blind disciple of Rush Limbaugh. Like modern Luddites they are desperate to sabotage any effort to stimulate the economy. Republicans only hope for a return to power in their lifetimes is to burn the Reichstag and blame it on liberals.

Connect the dots from hoping for failure to actively seeking failure.