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Alrighty Then…

April 6, 2009

“I would die and go to hell if it’s a Ponzi scheme,” the wealthy cricket mogul told ABC News, according to excerpts released by the network.
“Baloney. Baloney…. It’s not a Ponzi scheme. If it was a Ponzi scheme, why are they finding billions and billions of dollars all over the place?”
~ Allen Stanford

[Because he stole them??]

“Bull—-. That’s bull—-,” Stanford said when asked about comparisons between his financial empire and Madoff’s. “It makes me madder than hell and it touches the core of my soul.”

When asked about an ABC report that he was under investigation for links to alleged money laundering for a Mexican drug cartel, Stanford strongly denied the charges and threatened his interviewer.

“If you say it to my face again, I will punch you in the mouth,” he said before toning down.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    April 6, 2009 7:47 pm

    I’ve been compiling stories on Stanford. Supposedly he will get indicted in the next couple of weeks. There are so many tentacles coming off this guy – into Mexican drug cartels, hell, wouldn’t be surprised if he is in on Bush family business elsewhere in Latin America. This guy is dirty dirty dirty. I’ll bet there’s all kinds of scrubbing going on given who he has contributed to politically.

    Anyhow, this is Tuesday’s open thread.

    Thanks for everyone’s input today!

    Goodnight squidlies :)

    • cometman permalink*
      April 7, 2009 1:33 pm

      You may have already seen this, but you can watch a video of Stanford getting all weepy here. Everything about this guy just screams ‘shyster’.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 7, 2009 2:09 pm

        Yep. He is a classic Texan (shhhh don’t tell pinche!)

  2. Stemella permalink*
    April 7, 2009 6:26 am

    Some stuff from Europe, care of Der Spiegel …

    Here’s an article about the Earthquake stricken community of L’Aquila in Italy.
    Earthquake toll rising in Italy

    The official death toll rose to 207 after entire housing blocks were razed to the ground in the medieval city of L’Aquila, which bore the brunt of the forceful quake. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said 15 people are still missing. At least 100 of an estimated 1,000 injured people are in a serious condition, he told a press conference after surveying the damaged area by helicopter on Tuesday. Tens of thousands of people are now homeless.

    Photos here

    Violent protests against NATO escalated in France on Saturday. Vandals in face masks set fire to several buildings in Strasbourg, including a chain hotel. Police temporarily closed the border between the French city and Germany across the Rhine River

    Series of photos of from protests here: Strasbourg is burning

    Check out this Interactive map of the Economic crisis in European Union

    The following 8 countries are in very serious condition with National debt 60% over GDP, Economic contraction, Unemployment over 6%, Budget deficit over 3% of GDP and Inflation over 5% of GDP: Italy, Greece, Belgium, France, Hungary, Germany, Portugal, Malta

    Spain has the worst unemployment rate of 11.8% in the EU.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 7, 2009 9:34 am

      Maybe a populist pushback will start in Greece. Of all the countries listed the people in Greece seem to have the shortest fuses although the French have been getting riled quite a bit of late too.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 7, 2009 10:02 am

        I first went to the site to read about the Italian earthquake and was surprised to see all the anti NATO protest activity (hotel completely torched) in Strasbourg , a city I remember visiting as a kid. I don’t remember seeing any news of those protests in our news over here – typical. I guess they figured mentioning the London protests pretty much summed it all up. Stoopid MSM.

        I wish the disaffected of Europe, whether Anglo, Slav or Mediterranean and other nationalities and ethnic groups would get together as a unified entity in taking on their elites. Same goes for here. We are all so connected by our technology and yet sadly more isolated than ever. That is one big gate that needs to be broken.

        • cometman permalink*
          April 7, 2009 12:49 pm

          I feel the same way about being connected but isolated at the same time. When I first started reading the political blogs and independent news sites, I really had a lot of hope that they might be used to help organize people. But it seems like the big sites get coopted. Klub Kumquat sure turned out to be using some false advertising and seems more of a cash machine to raise funds for the same bad actors. Even organizations like MoveOn haven’t panned out the way I had hoped. And while the big ones are easy to coopt, the smaller ones are pretty easy to ruin once a few crazies get in. It seems very hard to focus on the intertubes – kind of like those rallies that ANSWER sponsors where you can’t get a big message across because everyone is busy trying to get their smaller message heard. Sometimes I wonder if there is simply too much info on the internet for people to focus, politically at least. But of course the left by its nature has always had a more difficult time getting organized.

          But at least the internet allows a lot of info to get out there so people are aware. I do think all these little blogs and sites have a cumulative effect even though what you or I say individually may not matter all that much. And we really are still in the very early stages of this pretty new phenomenon that I imagine will be around for a long time. Hopefully in the future it will be used for better advantage.

          • Stemella permalink*
            April 7, 2009 2:05 pm

            If you look at the stats page on this thing you’ll see what links connect to theis blog simply by being a wordpress site. We got linked to another site covering the William Black story from the Harvard Law School. I thought, hmmm, perhaps I shouldn’t swear so goddamned fucking much!! haha Nah!

            So you never know Cman. We are more likely to get read here by a wider audience than any of the soapbloxers we’ve been on besides kumquat.

            I agree with what you say about the letdowns with the blahgosphere. Many are now moving to Twitter as the next hot thing, but it is even more vacuous and shallow than regular blogging. I’m pretty convinced that people will unite and motivate when things get bad enough for them. Looking at the history of the labor movement and other populist political movements it’s been the case. The technology is there to be utilized. The trick is convincing people to use it not only for social entertainment. When did we become so entertainment addicted as a people? TV did it I guess.

  3. Stemella permalink*
    April 7, 2009 8:09 am

    Interesting diary by Tocq William K Black Responds To Daily Kos Critics. Warning about the comment threads, wherein lies much myopia and typical flame behavior from the tasmanian devils, drama queens and dick heads. It is like watching Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor fight in “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf” for the 1000th time in a row with your eyelids taped open.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 7, 2009 8:51 am

      Nice diary but ugh on many of the responses. Read the first few comments and my favorite bit of stupid was:

      Geek wasn’t attacking Black, he was criticizing those who drink the Bill Moyers Kool-Aid without checking the facts.

      Yes, Bill Moyers that well known liar and fabricator who regularly whips people up into a frenzy. What planet do these people live on who will stand no criticism of Obama no matter how valid? If you can’t see that we are being screwed by Gethner, Summers, et al you really must have blinders on at this point. I think “Obamabots” is a fine term for that type and the fact that they seem to hate it makes it even better.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 7, 2009 9:11 am

        Obamaquats – for the orange variety ;)

      • triv33 permalink
        April 7, 2009 3:15 pm

        Bill will drink their milkshakes. That’s one of the most unintentionally funny comments I’ve seen in a while.

  4. cometman permalink*
    April 7, 2009 9:21 am

    Chris Hedges has been a real Cassandra of late. I never read his book “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” but I did see him interviewed about it and I think he has a very interesting perspective on how the world works after covering conflicts for so long. His latest article is pretty good and gives a good rundown of what has been happening to this country over the last few decades with the rise of the corporate state as government fudges the numbers and borrows more than it can ever pay back to keep people thinking everything is somehow OK. I liked his opening paragraph quite a bit:

    America is devolving into a third-world nation. And if we do not immediately halt our elite’s rapacious looting of the public treasury we will be left with trillions in debts, which can never be repaid, and widespread human misery which we will be helpless to ameliorate. Our anemic democracy will be replaced with a robust national police state. The elite will withdraw into heavily guarded gated communities where they will have access to security, goods and services that cannot be afforded by the rest of us. Tens of millions of people, brutally controlled, will live in perpetual poverty. This is the inevitable result of unchecked corporate capitalism. The stimulus and bailout plans are not about saving us. They are about saving them. We can resist, which means street protests, disruptions of the system and demonstrations, or become serfs.

    And also this bit where he quotes Nader:

    “These are signs of hyper decay,” Nader said from his office in Washington. “You spend this kind of money and do not know if it will work.”

    “Bankrupt corporate capitalism is on its way to bankrupting the socialism that is trying to save it,” Nader added. “That is the end stage. If they no longer have socialism to save them then we are into feudalism. We are into private police, gated communities and serfs with a 21st century nomenclature.”

    There are probably a lot of people who get turned off by rhetoric like this and dismiss the argument entirely. But I find it hard to disagree with. We aren’t going to have castles and knights and serfs but we already have the corporate towers, the police to protect those inside and those who live in the environs of the towers and are increasingly in debt to the oligarch class. You can dress the people up differently but it is pretty much the same system – the many are perpetually indebted to the few and have to toil to pay back what they owe, but the debt never goes away completely. And as more and more people and small businesses go bust while the rich are handed over billions in taxpayer dollars, the situation will only get worse as the rich buy up property on the cheap from those who went broke and consolidate their hold on power even further.

    Resist or become a serf. Looks more and more like those really are the only two options. Voting for “change” doesn’t seem to be helping.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 7, 2009 9:41 am

      Regarding the knights who will protect us in this new feudal state, check out these recommendations for fighting terrorism from a Virginia law enforcement fusion center. Evidently getting an education now makes you a possible terrorist:

      From page 17:

      A wide variety of terror or extremist groups have links to [a highlighted area of Virginia]. This area not only has a diverse population due to the strong military presence, but it is also the site of several universities.

      While most of these universities are considered urban, two are designated as a Historically Black Colleges and Universities, while Regent University is a private, evangelical Christian institution. While the majority of individuals associated with educational institutions do not engage in activities of interest to the VFC, it is important to note that University-based students groups are recognized as a radicalization node for almost every type of extremist group.

      Though the report singles out “historically black colleges” early on, it also contains an extensive list of peaceful American and International activist groups from nearly all cross-sections of political engagement, placing them side-by-side with groups that have long been known for resorting to violence.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 7, 2009 10:28 am

      Speaking of feudalism, I remember back in the dark ages when I was just starting college, I had the opportunity to hear Michael Harrington speak. He was a noted Democratic Socialist and great critic of the Milton Friedman school of free marketeering. He warned us upon the dawn of Reaganomics that America would undergo a process of Latin Americanization if Friedman’s policies were followed. Guess what? Welcome to America the Feudal! It has come to pass just as he warned.

      Hedges piece echoes him and I’m afraid will be equally ignored by the powers that be. You are right about the enclaves and gated communities – from the urban high rises to extra urban mansion zones. Hell, Stanford and other corporates are taking over whole islands in the Caribbean! Pirates of the 21st century. Robber barons too. The ultimate outlaws. They have, along with the Republican party orchestrators and Democratic party enablers, completely overthrown what semblance of independence this nation once had.

      Glancing at the other articles you reference too, it appears Resistance will be Futile. But at least we can document the process, for now.

  5. cometman permalink*
    April 7, 2009 9:57 am

    Glenn Greenwald been ripping the Obama administration a new one over their attempts to cover up for the Bushies regarding illegal wiretapping and torture. Two very good columns from the last couple days here and here. From today’s column:

    Following up on the latest extremist Cheney/Addington/Yoo arguments advanced by the Obama DOJ in order to shield Bush lawbreaking from disclosure and judicial review — an episode I wrote about in detail yesterday, here — it’s worthwhile to underscore the implications of Barack Obama’s conduct. When Obama sought to placate his angry supporters after he voted for the Bush/Cheney FISA-telecom immunity bill last June (after vowing the prior December to support a filibuster of any such legislation), this is what he said (h/t notavailable):

    [The FISA bill] also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.

    So candidate Obama unambiguously vowed to his supporters that he would work to ensure “full accountability” for “past offenses” in surveillance lawbreaking. President Obama, however, has now become the prime impediment to precisely that accountability, repeatedly engaging in extraordinary legal maneuvers to ensure that “past offenses” — both in the surveillance and torture/rendition realm — remain secret and forever immunized from judicial review. Put another way, Obama has repeatedly done the exact opposite of what he vowed he would do: rather than “seek full accountability for past offenses,” he has been working feverishly to block such accountability, by embracing the same radical Bush/Cheney views and rhetoric regarding presidential secrecy powers that caused so much controversy and anger for the last several years.

  6. cometman permalink*
    April 7, 2009 10:22 am

    From the “We are so Screwed Dept”, here are some more shenanigans from the Financial Accounting Standards Board with new rules for valuing “assets”, passed hastily under pressure from Congress and industry:

    The new rules, which will be published next week, broaden an exception to the basic accounting principle that an asset is worth what a buyer is willing to pay. This valuation system is called marking to market, and the result is described as fair value. Companies must disclose in quarterly reports the fair value assets they are willing to sell. When there are no buyers for a particular asset, companies can assign values based on other considerations.

    The change made yesterday allows companies to assert the same exception by arguing that prices offered by investors for some securities do not reflect the real value of those assets.

    Basically this means that companies can value garbage that nobody wants to pay for at whatever they hell they want. Dave Lindorff explains it further:

    This may sound incredibly arcane, but what the FASB has done is declare that assets held by companies (including banks) on their books will no longer have to be valued at their current market value. Under new guidelines, effective retroactively to March 15, these assets can now be valued at what the corporate managers think (or pretend to think) they will be worth at some time in the future when they might try to sell them.


    Remember those “toxic” assets—the alphabet soup of debt products with initials like CDO, CDS, SIV, all composed of diced and sliced debt that for the most part is close to worthless? Well, thanks to the FASB’s accommodating change in the rules, instead of valuing those debt holdings (remember, loans are assets to a bank) at what they are worth on the market today, the banks are now able to value them at what they supposedly think they will be worth at some future date when the bank might want to sell them. This is a wholly fictional figure, of course. Nobody knows what, if anything, these crap debt instruments are going to be worth, but it’s a fair bet that most of them won’t be worth any more a decade hence than they are worth today (and maybe less). But who cares? The important thing is that now the banks, who have huge black holes in their balance sheets, can now fill those holes with artificially inflated assets and make themselves look a whole lot better financially than they really are.

    Lindorff notes that there could be a catch for the banks in that if they try to value bad assets too high they may not get a buyer for them even with generous government help. But it seems to me that as long as they can report this crap as a valuable asset on their books making it look like their companies actually have money, they won’t really give a damn whether it sells or not, just so long as it lets them stay in business for the next round of scams they decide to run.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 7, 2009 10:53 am

      They are the house. The house sets the rules for itself. The house always wins in the end, until they don’t. Everyone else is being taken to the cleaners.

      The whole damn thing is a frigging casino run by the mega mob.

  7. Stemella permalink*
    April 7, 2009 12:30 pm

    Another interview with William Black, this time by phone with Cenk Uygur, from yesterday. Here is the 20 minute you tube

    There is also a diary with background at dk:

    Cenk recently interviewed Galbraith who recommended Black to replace Geithner! And Black’s cristism of Geithner’s past and present performance is withering.

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