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Preparing for a fight

June 23, 2009

It is wise in these days of uncertainty to be on your toes, all eight of them.

~Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable. ~ JFK

~Every generation needs a new revolution.~ Thomas Jefferson~

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    June 23, 2009 6:10 am

    Sumo and Ninja cephalopods. Now I’ve seen it all. We could use some of those multi-tentacled ones to fight for justice about now.

    Here’s a story that made me say Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr this morning.

    U.S. may drop UBS tax evasion case: report

    Yes, 52,000 tax evading rich fuckers of the American persuasion may get to skate unscathed. Lovely. And the Republicans, I mean Blue Dog Democrats, complain there is no possible way to fund a public option for health care.

    Hows about collecting those taxes, you mutherfuckers? Arrrrrrgh

    The U.S. Justice Department may drop a legal case aimed at forcing Swiss bank UBS AG to reveal the names of 52,000 wealthy American clients suspected of offshore tax evasion, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

    Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said at the weekend that U.S. authorities could be willing to strike a deal after Switzerland agreed a new double taxation treaty with the United States last week aimed at fighting tax evasion.

    The case could be dropped before July 13, when Judge Alan Gold of the United States District Court in Miami, is expected to hold a short trial on the issue, the New York Times said, citing a United States official briefed on the matter, adding that a deal could still collapse.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 23, 2009 6:45 am

      Sounds like Paulson and the Goldies must must have tapped Holder on the shoulder and reminded him that they still had a lot of money they needed to hide.

  2. Stemella permalink*
    June 23, 2009 6:18 am

    This day in history in 1930, from this site: News from 1930

    Market commentary:

    Col. Ayres, VP Cleveland Trust, predicts an abrupt recovery in stock and commodity prices by Labor Day due to current consumption exceeding production. Distinguishes between two types of depression, “V”-shaped and “U”-shaped.

    Reduction of the rediscount rate to 2 1/2 percent is considered beneficial in several ways. It indicates credit will be easy for some time; should benefit many industries including farming, building, and construction, and make bond issues easier for corporations resulting in lower unemployment.

    Stocks continued down, with big declines in the large trading stocks. Bears encouraged by the failure to hold Thursday’s rally after good news, and further breaks in the commodity market (wheat, corn, cotton). US Steel hit a new yearly low, followed shortly by Bethlehem Steel, Union Carbide, and American Can. Some rallying on the close on short covering. Volume not very heavy.

    Commerce Secretary Lamont denies tariff will hurt trade. Notes that 80% of imports are duty-free or will have duty reduced or unchanged under the new tariff. Says flexible clause of tariff can be used to address remaining complaints of foreign countries. Notes that trade has increased for many years in spite of previous tariff increases. Treasury Secretary Mellon also has defended the tariff, and being the third richest man in the world he would certainly be opposed to it if he thought it was damaging to business.

    Economic news and individual company reports:

    US merchandise exports in May fell to $322 million, lowest for any month since July 1924. Imports fell to $285M, lowest since August 1924. Attributed to general decline in business and commodity deflation.

    Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production plans for upcoming year include 50 feature films, 60 comedy/novelty shorts, and 104 Hearst Metrotone newsreels.

    Ford Motor Company has found it’s practical to salvage materials from antiquated cars; currently has 120 men dismantling the old cars at a rate of 375 every 16 hours, plans to expand the operation.

    Goldman Sachs continues to hit new record lows, now selling at less than one sixth its 1929 high.

    Growers and packers are uniting to try and cope with a large oversupply of cling peaches. Number of cases has increased from 1.5 million in 1910 to almost 15 million in 1928. Similar glut conditions in the raisin grape industry.

    Heard on the Street:

    “’Things are getting back to normal,’ remarked the head of a Broadway house. ‘Again the main topic of discussion among our customers is the 18th amendment.’” [Prohibition]

    Apparently, Goldman Sux learned something from that experience.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 23, 2009 6:54 am

      Wow, that’s really interesting. That Goldman low happened before Hoover started handing out money to the banks. In a recent Harper’s article comparing Obama to Hoover the author refers to the Recontruction Finance Corporation or RFC which was the TARP of it’s day. Just checked the article and it says the RFC didn’t start handing out cash to the banksters until 1931.

      Should have just taken out Goldman Sux in 1930 when we had they had the chance. Would have saved us all a lot of trouble.

      • Stemella permalink*
        June 23, 2009 7:19 am

        I recently started subscribing to Harpers so I could read it online. I usually buy it in hardcopy now and then. That was a very good article, I thought, the comparison of Herb and Barry.

        No kidding about Goldman. They seem to pretty much run the show. I wonder what their relationship is like to China?

        • cometman permalink*
          June 23, 2009 9:44 am

          Glad to know you have a subscription. Some times older articles pop into my head that I’d like to link to and now that I know you can read them I’ll add a link if anything comes to mind.

          I thought this one – Eclogue: On the Rich Sin of Meddling – was particularly good last month.

  3. Stemella permalink*
    June 23, 2009 6:29 am

    Interesting essay here: On the coming neo-fuedalism

    It does seem as if the vast majority of people in the United State of America are going to become like medieval serfs, living at what feels in the post-gilded-age new realities like subsistence, watching a small slice of society from a distance as they jet in and out of the country, monopolize the ski resorts, continue to live in big houses with two or three thousand square per person, and so on.

    The Baby Boom doesn’t have enough money to retire (quaint notion) and will be working till they drop, which will actually extend their lives. The Gen X’ers will continue to live on scraps. The Millennials are idealistically waiting their turn to be heroes while trying to find a way to support themselves in a workforce that is top-heavy with whining Boomers and cagey Gen X’ers. Most of us will work for large or small corporations at a wage that is enough to support a modest lifestyle, but holidays will be spent close to home. We will worry that we may be next to join the ranks of the unemployed, many of whom and whose stories we know—stories of lost jobs, houses, children’s sense of security in forced moves to strange communities. The health consequences of the current crisis are no doubt predictable. In a PBS special on other countries’ health programs, a German was asked if unemployed people lose their health benefits there. Of course not, he said. They are under great stress and risk to their health. They need health benefits more than anyone.

    For a developed nation, America is a barbaric place.

    ~snip~

    Americans have lost confidence in their government and themselves. Their elected representatives do not listen to them. The President is an agent of the status quo. He has enabled the largest wealth transfer to a privileged elite in American history during the financial crisis, at the expense of the American taxpayer for years to come. Does any American believe the new financial regulations will break the grip of the rich upon the resources of the nation? Will we all come together all can-do, gung-ho style and pitch in together and the income distribution suddenly become more equal as it did in World War II and pull ourselves out of this?

    It ain’t happening.

    These problems, of course, are replicated in many other countries, including our ostensible long-term rival and enemy, China. Which is why the next ten years are a breeding ground for fascism around the world, and for the seeds of war. We went into Iraq to build military bases to protect “our” oil, if push comes to shove. But our military policies are backward-looking to the last war, as John Robb and others point out. We will look pretty stupid when someone pulls off what Robb calls a systempunkt right here at home while we’re blowing billions in Afghanistan. We don’t require our kids to get educated well. Obama is backing off a single-payer health insurance plan, the one preferred by the American people and the one that makes the most sense from an insurance point of view. The American social contract is broken.

    People say Europe will be a museum in a decade, a lot of pretty castles and tourist attractions and mamoni hanging around at cafes. America might be like a ski resort, with some beautiful neighborhoods in the cities and trailer parks outside where the workers and retired people live. The Chinese will buy up real estate and companies and immigrate in large numbers, as they did to Vancouver from Hong Kong, having bought enough members of Congress to get their way. They won the financial war, fair and square. They might even teach us how to make state capitalism work, as the Japanese taught us how to make quality automobiles.

    Or we could try democracy, for a change.

    Someone with an even more bleak vision of our future than I have. Thank god. Now I can get through the next ten hours with a sense of optimism.

    • artemis54 permalink
      June 23, 2009 12:25 pm

      Looks like I came to the wrong place to get cheered up.

      Obama mentioned in his presser a year-long program teaching people how to fit into the business world. How to say yes sir and no ma’am and no doubt how to tie a Windosr knot. Jesus.

      Consumers not citizens. Sheep to dumb to even look up.

      • Stemella permalink*
        June 23, 2009 5:16 pm

        Baaaaaaaaaaaa!

        baaa?

        :)

      • cometman permalink*
        June 24, 2009 10:17 am

        You should get yourself an avatar. That makes things a little more cheery. Maybe a pissed off sheep or something… ;)

  4. cometman permalink*
    June 23, 2009 6:56 am

    Bill Maher is right on the money. Who knew Woolworth’s sold dildos? Haha!!

    link to video

  5. cometman permalink*
    June 23, 2009 10:01 am

    Here’s something not many in the US will likely notice but I bet the Chinese will: U.S. and Kyrgyzstan sign new air base deal.

    The United States and Kyrgyzstan have signed a deal for U.S. forces to continue using an air base Washington considers vital for its operations in nearby Afghanistan, a Kyrgyz parliamentarian said on Tuesday.

    U.S. officials, eager to press ahead with plans to more than double its presence in Afghanistan by year-end, were banking on the ex-Soviet republic reversing its previous order to shut the base by the middle of August.

    “The agreement was signed yesterday,” deputy Kabai Karabekov told Reuters.

    Under the new deal, annual rent for the Manas base, nestled in steppes outside the capital Bishkek, will rise to $60 million from $17.4 million, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Kadyrbek Sarbayev told the parliamentary defense committee.

    Washington also agreed to several large one-off payments.

    The base is home to about 1,000 personnel and serves as a key refueling point for aircraft used in Afghanistan.

    The article concentrates on the base being used for operations in Afghanistan, but while Kyrgyzstan is fairly close it doesn’t directly border Afghanistan. It does however directly border China. Brings to mind the Counterpunch article from several weeks ago which mentioned that China is basically financing our debt and the US uses the money to build military bases which surround China.

    Wonder how much longer the Chinese are going to put up with that?

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 23, 2009 5:28 pm

      I wonder if there are any oil pipelines in the proximity iof that base? I used to have a copy of the pipelines in the region but have no idea where I stashed it. I wonder if it might have more to do with Russia than China. I wonder if Barry will see Pootie Poots soul or Medvedevdevevduh’s. I need a beer. bad.

  6. cometman permalink*
    June 24, 2009 11:27 am

    Went and got a little culchah last night and saw Peter Richard Conte play this organ that has 6800 pipes:

    Conte’s home base is at the Wanamaker organ, the largest organ in the world with over 30,000 pipes, which surprisingly is located at Macy’s department store in Philly. Here’s him playing the Wanamaker:

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 24, 2009 7:07 pm

      Wow, that’s a large organ! hah!

      Some of my favorite memories from traveling around Europe were when we happened up upon organ concerts in the massive airy spaces of stone cathedrals. It can be quite the transcendent sound. Glad you got some cul-chah. :)

  7. cometman permalink*
    June 24, 2009 11:44 am

    So a new energy bill is in the pipeline and may be voted on as soon as this Friday. Been getting emails from the Center for Biological Diversity which says that basically what is being proposed is a load of crap. This post from John Nichols at The Nation echoes that:

    There is a significant divide within the environmental community over the measure that is being backed by the Obama administration and House Democratic leaders.

    As the LCV [League of Conservation Voters] was threatening to pull its endorsement from dissenting members, Friends of the Earth launched a campaign to block the bill. “Corporate polluters including Shell and Duke Energy helped write this bill, and the result is that we’re left with legislation that fails to come anywhere close to solving the climate crisis. Worse, the bill eliminates preexisting EPA authority to address global warming–that means it’s actually a step backward,” says FOE president Brent Blackwelder, a veteran campaigner –- who has often been ahead of the curve when issues of economics and the environment are in play.

    Blackwelder argues that, “Last November, the American people voted for change. Unfortunately, while the party in power may have changed, the process through which this bill was negotiated makes it clear that the overwhelming influence of corporate special interests has not. This exercise in politics as usual is a wholly unacceptable response to one of the greatest challenges of our time, and it endangers the welfare of current and future generations. Speaker Pelosi and congressional Democrats simply must do better. We are calling on them to vote against this bill unless it is substantially strengthened. If the ‘political reality’ at present cannot accommodate stronger legislation, their first task must be to expand what is politically possible — not to pass a counterproductive bill.”

    Does Blackwelder stand alone?

    Not hardly. Even groups that back the bill, such as the Sierra Club, admit it has serious weaknesses.

    And a number of top environmental groups have been bluntly critical of ACES.

    Why no sense of urgency? Do the corporate douchebags really think that they won’t be affected? For fucksake just look out the damn window and it’s pretty obvious that something is up with the climate and it isn’t good. George Monbiot wonders the same thing:

    What would we be doing now if we took ­climate change seriously? Last week the ­government ­released a ­report on the likely temperature changes in the UK. It shows that life at the end of this century will bear no relationship to life at the beginning. It should have dominated the news for days. But it was too far away, too remote from current problems, too big to see.

    ~snip~

    “Little by little,” the Roman historian Livy wrote 2,000 years ago, “we have been brought into the present condition in which we are able neither to tolerate the evils from which we suffer, nor the remedies we need to cure them.”

    Everything we need to do has been made harder by debt. Net state debt now exceeds £700bn. The RBS and Lloyds shambles will add between £1 trillion and 1.5tn. National debt is likely to reach 150% of GDP next year: well beyond the point at which the IMF declares developing countries basket cases.

    This introduces two environmental problems. The first is that there is no money left with which to fund a green new deal. The second is that we’ll be able to pay off these debts only by resuming economic growth. Greenhouse gases grow because the economy grows. The UK’s liabilities make the transition to a steady state economy, let alone a managed contraction, much harder to achieve. They appear to ­commit us to either growth or default for at least a generation. The debt crisis is an environmental disaster.

    So we are left with only painful choices. We should be spending tens of billions a year to prevent climate ­breakdown, but how? Borrow the money and exacerbate the crisis? Raise taxes? Cut the health and education budgets? Any of the above would enhance public resistance to change. The least painful approach is to cut ­services that are of no use to anyone.

    He goes on to mention the one area which we waste gazillions of dollars on every single year – bloated and useless military budgets. But of course the opposite is happening – military spending continues to rise in the UK and here in the US where we spend as much as the rest of the world combined to chase around a few guys who resort to homemade bombs for weaponry and would likely stop using those if we just left them the hell alone.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 24, 2009 12:37 pm

      And not only is the US increasing military spending, but the DemocRAT-led Congress is presenting a defense bill that calls for spending on programs that even the Pentagon has no use for. Here’s former Congressman Tom Andrews:

      For starters, the Democratically-controlled House Armed Services Committee (on which I once served) will authorize billions of dollars MORE for the national defense budget than George W. Bush ever requested from Congress. That’s right-the Democrats want more military spending than George W. Bush ever thought necessary.

      ~snip~

      Take the F-22 fighter jet, for example. It’s what I like to call the “plane-to-nowhere”. Much like the heralded bridge in Alaska, the plane is an embarrassing waste of federal money at a time when providing health care security for all Americans is being called “unrealistic”. It was designed to fight an enemy that no longer exists, the Soviet Union. We now have 187 of them, and that’s 187 too many when comes to fighting actual wars. Not one of them flew in either Iraq or Afghanistan because commanders found them totally useless.

      No sooner had Secretary of Defense Gates announced that it’s time to cancel, that the military-industrial-political complex, and their massive lobbying and public relations machine, went into action. The Democratically controlled House, all too willing to cave to that pressure, decided to use today’s Defense Authorization bill to authorize 12 new planes not requested by the Pentagon at a cost that will ultimately exceed $2 billion.

      ~snip~

      Secretary Gates took the supply side approach, spiking the size of the U.S. Armed Forces by 65,000 over two years to 547,000. And the approach of the Democratically-controlled House Armed Services Committee? Check and balance, maybe? Nope again. The House Armed Services Committee decided to do one better than Secretary Gates. Or rather, 30,000 better-calling for that much of an increase in the size of the U.S. military above and beyond the just-completed increase the Defense Secretary has said was sufficient. That’s right: the Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee want to give the U.S. military 30,000 troops that it says it doesn’t want or need! I hope someone asks in the floor debate today how many new Iraq-style adventures we are preparing for with this massive increase in troop levels.

      When are the fucking sheep in this country going to wake up and realize that our entire system is broken and we aren’t going to get what they want by voting? Emma Goldman was right – if voting changed anything they’d make it illegal. The Iranians and the indigenous Peruvians have got the right idea. Time to start throwing a wrench into the works. Time to bust out the sabots!

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 24, 2009 7:15 pm

      The Gov’ment is full of crooks, shoe fly shoe
      The Gov’ment is full of crooks, shoe fly shoe
      The Gov’ment is full of crooks, shoe fly shoe

      Fling that shoe much harder

      and then fuckem up toddy!

      Making war is the only viable industry left in America. We should start investigating those corporate entities in detail, following the money, naming names, writing exposes. Focus, we the bloggers and journalists need to focus. The critters in DC are window dressing. The corporations should be the targets for the shoe flinging.

      That is the extent of what I can squeeze out of my brain this evening. Tuckered.

      • cometman permalink*
        June 24, 2009 8:04 pm

        Who do you wanna get? And I’m only half kidding.

        The problem is if we or anybody made some connections would anybody listen? Well if anyone found anything particularly juicy I’m sure the NSA and the other spooks who can now spy with impunity would take note but I meant besides them ;)

        Don’t know if you remember it, but the one post I was the most proud of is the one I made about Joe Biden on the day he was nominated as VP last year. Coincidentally on the same day I had just read a short article in the Harper’s “Readings” section where Biden’s name came up. The piece wasn’t about Biden himself but it was related to that story that The London Times broke IIRC where they had a reporter pose as someone looking for good PR for some nasty country and a lobbyist started talking about all the services they could provide in DC and which Congresspeople they could use as fixers and it was caught on tape. And IIRC correctly again this lobbyist guy was tied to the guy who was John McCain’s foreign policy advisor who was also on the payroll of the Georgian government and this at the time all hell broke loose in Georgia. Spent a couple hours on the google and managed to find all kinds of contributions from some of these dirty lobbyists for foreign governments who had donated to Joe Biden. I really wish that post was still up because I didn’t save it and I can’t remember the exact details off the top of my head, but I really think there was something to it if anybody who was actually a real reporter had bothered to connect the dots.

        So who you wanna get? I got a name in my wallet that might prove interesting…

        • Stemella permalink*
          June 24, 2009 9:33 pm

          Here’s a preliminary list. I think the one on the top has its tentacles spread quite far and wide though, probably through all the rest.

          Carlyle Group
          Goldman Sux
          Shittygroup
          UBS
          Boeing
          Lockheed
          Raytheon
          Evergreen
          Northrup
          Honeywell
          Bechtel
          Halliburton
          KBR
          Blackwater Xe
          Chevron
          Exxon
          ATT
          ITT

          • cometman permalink*
            June 24, 2009 9:44 pm

            I’ve got a post coming up. I’m going to try to reproduce some of what I had written about Joe Biden, or at least the links I had used, and see what comes up. Pretty sure some of those on your list will be involved. I just looked up the original London Times story and the reporter was posing as someone trying to help out the ex-president of Kyrgyzstan. The US just signed a deal for a military base there last week. Not sure if there is any connection at all but now I want to play connect the dots and see what comes up :) The lobbyist’s name was Stephen Payne and I remember after the story broke his consulting/lobbying firm yanked their website, although the Times article still has a screen grab. Be interesting to see what Payne has been up to recently. Stay tuned.

            • Stemella permalink*
              June 24, 2009 10:22 pm

              Excellent. I look forward to the reprisal. I’ll have more free time later this week to do a little compiling and investigating myself. I know there is already much out there, but Carlyle came back into view for me with the CA and other pension scandals. It’d be good to have a longer term research/investigating goals, besides reacting to the news of the day. Nothing wrong with that, but, you never know, we may come up with some kernels. I think we’ve got lots of shoes and have pretty good aim! :)

              • cometman permalink*
                June 24, 2009 10:52 pm

                I’m going to put up another open thread type post too. Hopefully we can save the “Go Fish” post for stuff related to that subject and revisit it from time to time if anything new comes to light.

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