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Still on Hiatus (mostly)

July 31, 2012

If any of our this blog’s vast readership was wondering why it hasn’t had much activity lately, hopefully the above explains it. A lot more fun picking blueberries and peas with the squidlette than getting pissed reading about all the crap going on in the world. Watching Jon Stewart for news and that’s about it. I’ll probably start paying attention again more once the summer’s over and my garden has gone by.

Hi to melvin and triv and miss d and whoever else might stop by. Drop me a line – I still check in from time to time even if I don’t write much lately.

In the meantime, there are pickles that need to be made….

L.O.V.E. for Barry’s Mortgage Settlement

February 11, 2012

The above is a work by Italian sculptor Maurizio Cattelan which was installed for several days in front of the Milanese stock exchange back in 2010. It is entitled L.O.V.E. This guy was way ahead of the curve figuring out how to Occupy a public square with panache.

This week the Obama administration announced its highly touted mortgage settlement with the largest banks in the nation who had committed fraud on an unprecedented scale. As with most highly touted announcements by the Status Quobama camp, this one sounds good if you only listen to administration talking points but in essence it is another whitewash which will allow the banksters to continue to pillage the public in perpetuity. Many dissenters to the deal this week have pointed to the following post from Yves Smith documenting why this is a raw deal for the public and another boon for the banks – The Top Twelve Reasons Why You Should Hate the Mortgage Settlement.

Now much like the highly touted Dodd-Frank legislation which has amounted to jack shit, the exact details of this one have not been finalized (or even released from what I can tell) and the final product may well turn out even worse than it initially appears once the banks get done pushing their agendas. There are several reasons why this is a horrendous deal and I suggest reading all twelve, but the crux of it is this –

That $26 billion is actually $5 billion of bank money and the rest is your money. The mortgage principal writedowns are guaranteed to come almost entirely from securitized loans, which means from investors, which in turn means taxpayers via Fannie and Freddie, pension funds, insurers, and 401 (k)s. Refis of performing loans also reduce income to those very same investors.

That’s right, the banks will be given credit for writing down loans that they don’t own any longer so it’s really no skin off their backs whatsoever. And the banks already have more than sufficient funds in reserve to pay the $5 billion or so that will come out of their own pockets because they have been borrowing from the Fed at nearly 0% interest and then turning around and lending that same money back to the US government in exchange for Treasury bonds which pay a higher interest rate. And guess who pays the interest on those Treasury bonds? Again, that would be you, the taxpayer.

Now normally before a first mortgage is written down at all, and second mortgages will be wiped out first. But that won’t necessarily be the case here. Why, you ask? Because the banks do own those second mortgages in the form of home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and they would like to be paid in full for those, thank you very much.

More from Smith via Democracy Now! –

Now Barry did announce the creation of a investigative task force (which is largely staffed by bank-friendly insiders) during the recent SOTU address, but really what good is an investigation when a settlement largely letting the banks off the hook has already been reached?

It certainly appears that the fix is in and I would like to take this opportunity to extend my L.O.V.E. as far as possible to the feckless equivocating rat bastards who put this “settlement” together.

Thanks for nothing.

Saturnalia – better late than never

January 19, 2012

Saturn produced quite the spectacle for astronomers in 2011. The storm in the image above began in December of 2010 and lasted for over 200 days before finally petering out and was the largest ever seen on Saturn. It measured about 15,000 kilometers from north to south and quickly encircled entire planet, covering a surface area of 5 billion square kilometers at its height. In contrast, the entire surface area of the earth is only a little over 500 million square kilometers. The image above is a false color one, compiled from several other images. The image below is a true color image, making it easier to see why the Saturnian tempests are called Great White Spots.

More details from Science Daily and from Space.com. Lots more images of this and other events on and around Saturn including info on how the images are compiled from the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations, or CICLOPS.

If you can’t reach the stars….

December 22, 2011

…may you at least catch the starlings.

Really is a pretty nice pale blue dot we’ve got here when you stop, take a deep breath, and look.

May you all have many moments like this in the upcoming year.

Hope Changes

December 2, 2011

It appears that the artist who created the iconic Obama image for the 2008 campaign is undergoing a change of heart. The image above is not a photoshop but a recent creation by Shepard Fairy himself. Note to Fairy: he’s not on our side.

Bushwa Barry knows where his bread is buttered and his coddling of the bankers for the last few years has only emboldened them even more. Obama tried to get all 50 state Attorneys General on board for a slap on the wrist settlement with the largest banks which would preclude any further penalties by any other entities but a few of the AGs with some integrity balked and have made attempts to prosecute the banks themselves. Bankers really don’t care much for integrity.

To wit, Mass. AG Martha Coakley recently sued Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase , Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and GMAC over their deceptive mortgage practices. GMAC, which you may recall was massively bailed out by taxpayers not that long ago, responded by suspending all mortgage lending in the state. Because how’s a banka supposed to make a buck when you got to obey the damn law. I’m sure GMAC believes this will have some serious repercussions for the state housing market, but my first reaction is don’t let the door hit you where the good lord split you on your way out.

Things took a more sinister turn in Nevada recently. A few weeks ago came the news that AG Catherine Cortez Masto filed a 606 count indictment against two mid-level title officers who had supervised the filings of thousands of fraudulent foreclosure documents. My speculation is that the AG was hoping to get those two to turn against their own higher ups. The AG got the two names from a low level employee named Tracy Lawrence who had apparently been signing the fraudulent documents herself. She cooperated with the AG, pled guilty to reduced charges, and was set to be given a suspended sentence. But she never showed up for the sentencing hearing this past Monday morning. She was found dead in her apartment later that afternoon. More on this if any updates become available.

Authorities continue to crack down harshly on peaceful Occupy Wall Street protesters. Earlier I had wondered how long the LAPD would be able to contain themselves. Evidently not very long as the LAPoPo were scared shitless that they might be pelted with gravel. Much of violence against protesters there was committed after they had been hauled away and taken into custody. What astounding bravery. Doucherocket extraordinaire Michael Bloomberg is now openly boasting that the NYPD is his own personal army.

Now you might think Bloomberg’s equating the civilian forces under his command with the military was just an unfortunate slip of the tongue. Maybe, or maybe he is simply aware that for the oligarchy that runs this country there is little difference left between the two. The US Senate has just passed the National Defense Authorization Act by a 93-7 vote, a development that has not received much press in the corporate media (surprise surprise) which –

…redefines the US homeland as a “battlefield” and makes US citizens subject to military apprehension and detainment for life without access to a trial or attorney…

Glenn Greenwald notes that the legislation also

…renews the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) with more expansive language: to allow force (and military detention) against not only those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and countries which harbored them, but also anyone who “substantially supports” Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces” (Sec. 1031)

That “substantially supports” language is awfully vague, huh? Wonder who these Senators have in mind? And let’s not forget, the Powers That Be have been making plans along these lines for several years now with Halliburton subsidiary KBR winning the contract to build detention facilities on US soil back in 2006. Once again, it’s awfully vague as to exactly who these facilities are intended to house –

KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space, company executives said.

In light of the preceding, this advice seems particularly apt –

Look out kid, don’t matter what you did
Walk on your tiptoes, don’t try No Doz
Better stay away from those that carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose, watch the plain clothes
You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows

Get the hell out there and Occupy something, Occupy everything, before all you’re allowed to occupy is a cell.

And who knows, besides just pissing off the cops, you might even do some good.

Octopi!!!

November 12, 2011

And if you’d like to save that biodiversity, then get out there and raise some hell and fight for the world you want instead of acquiescing to the one corporate interests deem good enough for the rest of us.

Unless of course you like eating genetically modified peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches. The latter ingredient are doing quite well what with warming oceans and vertebrate marine life rapidly disappearing.

Stilton, Cheddar, Shatner

October 23, 2011

Who says the moon isn’t made of cheese???

Picked up the new album from everyone’s favorite space cowboy the other day and it is the Shat. More fun than a tub full of tribbles. Highly recommended, especially in the immediate aftermath of an attitude adjustment.

Denny Crane!