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Wretched Art Wednesday

July 22, 2009

Nothing particularly interesting seems to be happening lately or maybe it’s just me and I haven’t noticed because the sun came out for a week or so but either way I can’t think of anything new to write about. And not only that but I couldn’t even find a scintillating image to post for everyone’s viewing pleasure. So you’re going to have to look at this piece of crap instead. The skin tone looks like what you’d see on somebody whose heart monitor was just about to flatline. And check out the screwed up body proportions. Just look at how far away the knees are from the belly button. What exactly is this woman hiding under the flowery midriff? Her nether regions have the surface area of a small country or at least a principality. Maybe whatever is lurking under there is what killed off all the wildlife she used to clothe herself with. And then the overall color looks browned, probably due to many many years of smoke damage or something, which reminds me that I haven’t had a smoke in a couple days now, I’ve already slapped the first half dozen people who’ve told me “Good morning” and I’m ready to throttle the rest when the “Have a nice day”s start after noontime because there is nothing good or nice about this day or any other one when there is no sweet sweet nicotine coursing through my veins. I feel so ornery that I’d like to kick the stupid stupid baby in the other wretched piece of artwork off to the right and gnaw the fingers off the asshole who created it so they can never pollute the intertubes with that sort of anathema to good taste again. One can only hope that all pictures of stupid stupid babies that are ordered at this hideous website come with a free sterilization for the parent so they can never reproduce again.

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42 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    July 22, 2009 10:38 am

    Obama twisted a few arms to achieve something halfway decent for a change – halting production of a plane even the Pentagon doesn’t want.

    President Obama scored a major victory yesterday in his push to reform the Pentagon when the Senate voted to halt production of the Air Force’s top fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor – a rare setback for the nation’s powerful defense industry.

    The 58-to-40 vote came after an emotional debate about security threats and jobs. It reversed a controversial move last month by the Senate Armed Services Committee to add $1.75 billion over Pentagon objections to buy seven more of the twin-engine stealth jets – on top of 187 already ordered.

    A full-court press by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates in recent days and the threat of a presidential veto ultimately paid off, persuading some longtime supporters of the program – including Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts – to switch their position and back the president.

    The vote marks a major step toward reining in weapons programs that Gates has concluded are ill suited for the nation’s most pressing security challenges, said defense specialists. The F-22 is seen as a test case for whether the new administration can prevail over lawmakers – and their supporters in the defense industry – who advocate weapons the Pentagon doesn’t want partly on the grounds that the programs support manufacturing jobs.

    But if this is a major victory then we shouldn’t expect too much good to come from this Congress and administration. You’d think it would be common sense not to pour gazillions of dollars down the drain for a weapon that nobody wants because it is already obsolete. But evidently in DC when more than 50% actually exercise some common sense once every few years that qulifies as a major victory. And of course all this doesn’t mean the military budget is actually going down or that we are going to stop building useless weapons because the article mentions that we will now start pouring money into the next generation of military planes that will also probably be obsolete by the time they actually get built.

    Kerry said in a statement yesterday that he was convinced by Gates that any job losses in the Bay State would be offset by Pentagon plans to accelerate the production of the next-generation combat jet, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is designed for air-to-air combat and bombing missions for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The $680 billion defense budget bill has money for 30 F-35s.

    Of course all of this didn’t stop my two brain dead Senators from voting for the funding anyway.

    …in Maine, where the F-22 engines are manufactured by Pratt & Whitney in North Berwick, both Republican senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, voted not to strip the F-22 money.

    Now we’ve already heard the the stimulus package passed by Congress is shaping up to be woefully insufficient, likely because much of it was devoted to tax cuts for the wealthy which weren’t really needed rather than to programs which might actually produce jobs and bring in new tax revenue. If we are really serious about creating a new green economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels, would it really be that difficult to have some of these weapons manufacturers start producing high speed trains and other kinds of public transportation instead? Throw them some stimulus money to retool if they need to and get moving.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 22, 2009 12:22 pm

      Maybe there is a reason Congress wants useless fighter planes – they can sell them to India.

      To assist the corporate bottom line, the Obama Administration is peddling the worst sort of wares abroad.

      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just concluded a visit to India in which she acted as a shill for U.S. arms and nuclear companies. The United States and India signed an agreement that will pave the way for the possible sale of more than 100 fighter planes to India, the largest pending weapons deal globally (Lockheed Martin and Boeing are in the running for the contract). And India announced that two civilian nuclear reactors—most likely to be constructed by General Electric and Westinghouse—will be set up in the country as part of the U.S.-India nuclear deal signed a couple of years ago.

      ~snip~

      The fighter jet deal has been in the works for years now, but that doesn’t make it any less repugnant. Presumably, it is meant as a counterbalance to the billions in military aid that the Bush Administration showered Pakistan with over the years, and to the Obama Administration’s announcement a few months ago of a $3 billion, five-year military aid package to Pakistan (much of which will be transferred back to the coffers of U.S. arms companies).

      Well hey, if George W said it was OK I guess we can’t go changing things now. And what could possibly go wrong by heavily arming participants in a conflict who can’t stand each other and already possess lots of nukes? The article goes on to mention that the US is seeking a Bhopal exception so if anything does go wrong when we start building reactors the US companies won’t be held responsible.

      But the really interesting thing here is what the United States is demanding: that the Indian Parliament pass a law releasing the U.S. companies from legal responsibility if there’s an accident. Since the worst industrial disaster in history, with a toll of tens of thousands of lives, was caused by a U.S. corporation in India, some Indians are not too happy and are promising a tough fight against any such measure.

      But look on the bright side – there are tens of thousands (hundreds if you count their descendants who never were) fewer Indians now to get upset. And if you throw in all the farmers who are killing themselves there because they can’t make a living, there aren’t that many rabble rousers left to pressure the parliament at all.

  2. cometman permalink*
    July 22, 2009 11:31 am

    While looking around for an old book I wanted to pick up the other day I ran across something you can do on the interwebs that is actually productive – help out Project Gutenberg by becoming a proofreader.

    Distributed Proofreaders provides a web-based method to ease the conversion of Public Domain books into e-books. By dividing the workload into individual pages, many volunteers can work on a book at the same time, which significantly speeds up the creation process.

    During proofreading, volunteers are presented with a scanned page image and the corresponding OCR text on a single web page. This allows the text to be easily compared to the image, proofread, and sent back to the site. A second volunteer is then presented with the first volunteer’s work and the same page image, verifies and corrects the work as necessary, and submits it back to the site. The book then similarly progresses through two formatting rounds using the same web interface.

    Once all the pages have completed these steps, a post-processor carefully assembles them into an e-book, optionally makes it available to interested parties for ‘smooth reading’, and submits it to the Project Gutenberg archive.

    If you want, we can add a Project Gutenberg button to the site by following the directions here.

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 22, 2009 2:23 pm

      I added the direct link to the blogroll. I don’t think WordPress allows image widgets, the bastids. Thanks for that.

      • cometman permalink*
        July 23, 2009 8:24 am

        Thanks for putting that up. So far I’ve just been perusing the directions to see what is involved but I’d like to join that proofreading group – seems like it could be pretty fun. The books they work on seem to be on the obscure side so you could probably learn lots of interesting bits of esoterica.

  3. cometman permalink*
    July 22, 2009 11:42 am

    Via zapperz, I found out that Bill Gates has put a series of Richard Feynman lectures online. You can view them by clicking on the link at the bottom of this article but of course you have to download some piece of crap Microsoft software first. From the comments in the Physics and Physicists post I found another series of Feynman lectures you can watch here without downloading anything.

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 22, 2009 2:34 pm

      Cool! I haven’t seen that series yet. Thanks!

  4. cometman permalink*
    July 22, 2009 12:04 pm

    Nice article from Thom Hartmann on the con job the rich have been using for decades to convince people that tax cuts are good for everyone.

    When I was in Denmark last year doing my radio show from the Danish Radio offices for a week and interviewing many of that nation’s leading politicians, economists, energy experts, and newspaper publishers, one of my guests made a comment that dropped the scales from my own eyes.

    We’d been discussing taxes on the air, what the Danes get for their average 52% tax rate (free college education, free health care, 4 weeks of vacation, being the world’s “happiest” country according to research reported on CBS’s “60 Minutes” TV show, etc.). I asked him why people didn’t revolt at such high tax rates, and he smiled and just pointed out to me that the average Dane is very well paid with a minimum wage that equals about $18 US (depending on the exchange rate from day to day).

    Off the air, he made the comment to me that was so enlightening. “You Americans are such suckers,” he said, as I recall. “You think that the rules for taxes that apply to rich people also apply to working people. But they don’t. When working peoples’ taxes go up, their pay goes up. When their taxes go down, their pay goes down. It may take a year or two or three to all even out, but it always works this way – look at any country in Europe. And it’s the opposite of how it works for rich people!”

    ~snip~

    Novelist Larry Beinhart was the first to bring this to my attention. He looked over the history of tax cuts and economic bubbles, and found a clear relationship between the two. High top marginal tax rates (generally well above 60%) on rich people actually stabilize the economy, prevent economic bubbles from forming, prevent economic crashes, and lead to steady and sustained economic growth (and steady and sustained wage growth for working people).

    On the other hand, when top marginal rates drop below 50 percent, the opposite happens. As Beinhart noted in a November 17, 2008 post on the Huffington Post, the massive Republican tax cuts of the 1920s (from 73% to 25%) led directly to the Roaring ’20s stock market bubble, temporary boom, and then the crash and Republican Great Depression of 1929.

    Rates on the very rich went back up into the 70-90% range from the 1930s to the 1980s. As a result, the economy grew steadily; for the first time in the history of our nation we went 50 years without a crash or major bank failure; and working people’s wages increased enough to produce the strongest middle class this nation has ever seen.

    Then came Reaganomics.

    And we’re all well aware of how that’s played out over the last 30 years. Trickle-down was never anything but a euphemism for pissing on us and telling us that it was really pleasant spring showers.

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 22, 2009 2:29 pm

      Trickle down as the euphemism has been replaced, thanks to Taibbi, to Funnel up or Siphon. The money upfunnels from the working classes to the rich pirates with the sucking sound only heard on earth when one flushes the toilet, courtesy of the vampire squid. Unfortunately there is nothing voodoo about it. The lost of the wealth of the public sector is all too real.

    • triv33 permalink
      July 22, 2009 7:01 pm

      Yeah, no fucking shit! I had read a similar argument years ago, and tried until I was blue in the face to convince anybody that Reaganomics was going to be the end of us, but would anyone listen? Hell no! Where did everybody think all the money was going, anyway? Could you see it being put back into anything, ever? And not just the money, the industry, the technology….where is it? Call it whatever the hell you want to, it’s all smoke and mirrors. Americans will turn on “America’ Got Talent” put on their”what me worry?” faces and bitch they don’t want to pay no more taxes for no socialized medicine, snort!

  5. cometman permalink*
    July 22, 2009 12:44 pm

    More on the situation in Honduras – one factor in the coup may have been that Zelaya wanted to use the Honduran military to convert a US airbase into a civilian airport.

    Over the next year Zelaya sought to convert Palmerola into a civilian airport but plans languished when the government was unable to attract international investors. Finally in 2009 Zelaya announced that the Honduran armed forces would undertake construction. To pay for the new project the President would rely on funding from ALBA [in English, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas] and Petrocaribe, two reciprocal trading agreements pushed by Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. Predictably the Honduran right leapt on Zelaya for using Venezuelan funds. Amílcar Bulnes, President of the Honduran Business Association [known by its Spanish acronym COHEP] said that Petrocaribe funds should not be used for the airport but rather for other, unspecified needs.

    A couple weeks after Zelaya announced that the armed forces would proceed with construction at Palmerola the military rebelled. Led by Romeo Vásquez, the army overthrew Zelaya and deported him out of the country. In the wake of the coup U.S. peace activists visited Palmerola and were surprised to find that the base was busy and helicopters were flying all around. When activists asked American officials if anything had changed in terms of the U.S.-Honduran relationship they were told “no, nothing.”

    Looks like there are lots of people who are determined to see Chavez and the ALBA trading bloc fail. Must be afraid something good might actually happen.

  6. Stemella permalink*
    July 22, 2009 2:06 pm

    Wow. Those paintings/pictures are truly not scrumptious! Your description was fucking hilarious, however. I don’t want to make you more ornery by saying anything too nice, but I will say bravo and wish you luck. Here’s a present from my tweaked brain and photoshop , a face not even a mother could love.

    • triv33 permalink
      July 22, 2009 7:03 pm

      Okay, I take back the evil thought that America really doesn’t have much talent left, that is a masterpiece! Well done!

    • cometman permalink*
      July 23, 2009 8:28 am

      Yikes! The glowing red eyes were a nice touch.

  7. Stemella permalink*
    July 22, 2009 4:32 pm

    You know how I cheered Obama’s appoitment for the head of the Park Service? Well, there’s this that kind of counters that appointment in a rather large way:

    President Obama said Friday he would nominate Robert Hormats, a vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International, to a top economic position at the State Department. Mr. Hormats, 66, will be under secretary of state for economic, energy and agricultural affairs. He was deputy trade representative from 1979 through 1981 and held other posts at the State Department throughout his career. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, said in a speech on Wednesday that she hoped to make economic policy and trade a larger part of United States diplomacy.

    Here are some of his other connections.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 23, 2009 10:03 am

      Unreal. I found this article from a year or so ago when he was still employed at GS.

      As the world’s economies become more globalized and the U.S. dollar competes with a stronger euro, America needs to restructure its global policies to attract more foreign capital, Robert Hormats, vice president of Goldman Sachs International, said Wednesday.

      The next U.S. administration will need to make “important policy changes to take advantage of new global opportunities,” Hormats said during a speech at an Asian banking and finance conference at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank.

      Those changes include realizing the U.S. needs to accelerate improvements in its trade balance to reduce dependence on foreign money, boost competitiveness by reasserting the Doha Round global effort and be a leader in global policy creation, he said.

      All pretty vague, but I’m sure Goldman had some ideas of what types of policies would best benefit Goldman, and now this asshole Hormats is getting the chance to make sure Goldman gets what they want. They are really getting their money’s worth for all those campaign donations to Obama.

      Here’s Matt Taibbi again, this time from a Democracy NOW! interview. Makes me feel a little better to know that he’s trying to get the word out and has been pretty successful at it.

  8. Stemella permalink*
    July 22, 2009 6:24 pm

    Another on line diversion. I heard about this on NPR this morning on the way to work. Medieval battle records go online

    In case you ever want detailed info on ahchahs from the 14th century. Tally ho and rot rot! And your mother smelt of elderberries and mated with hamsters!

  9. Stemella permalink*
    July 23, 2009 7:09 am

    Interesting short film

    and series of sculptures and paintings by same.

    This art is not wretched but depicts our wretched society

    • cometman permalink*
      July 23, 2009 9:18 am

      Ha! Liked the film – it brought back some childhood memories that are much more funny now than when I was in 5th grade. Can’t remember all the details but I think it involved me having a crush on the wrong girl and some other boys wanting to chain me to some playground equipment for it. Luckily the playground monitor caught wind of their nefarious plot and intervened before I was trussed to the monkey bars and left to the elements :)

  10. cometman permalink*
    July 23, 2009 11:49 am

    Just checked Zerohedge for the first time in a few days and found a few good posts.

    First there was this report from a Canadian asset management firm which has a very bleak outlook for the US economy. Sounds to me like they realize the whole thing is a house of cards waiting to collapse – manufacturing is at a low point, unemployment is way up, tax revenues are way down and our “leaders” respond by cutting taxes even further as the layoffs continue. It’s beginning to seem like they’re all in on Nordquist’s plan to drown government in a bathtub. They authors of that piece state quite clearly at the end that they believe the only thing keeping the markets afloat is “investor sentiment” at this point since the fundamentals are all crap. No wonder we see so many cheerleaders trying to convince the rubes that recovery is on the way just because Goldman Sux made enormous profits again, but hoping that everyone becomes irrationally exuberant again isn’t going to work.

    Second is this CNBC interview with Elizabeth Warren. You can almost see the talking heads she’s up against drooling at the prospect that she might not keep her job much longer if Bernanke has his way. When they try to discredit her claiming she doesn’t understand how credit works she fires right back.

    One financial term I’m increasingly sick of hearing is the word “risk” – it’s one of those words whose true meaning has been shredded and “risk” can currently be used as a synonym for “stupid” in many instances. We have all these geniuses telling us how wonderful their new financial instruments are that spread risk around but nobody ever asks the question whether some risks simply shouldn’t be taken in the first place. Because a lot of it, like lending hundreds of thousands of dollars to anyone who signs on the dotted line without doing anything in the way of due diligence to make sure the borrower may be able to repay, is just fucking stupid. But as long as the financial companies can chop all this stupid into little tiny bits, collateralize it and spread it through the entire financial system instead of just leaving it in one big fatuous pile, somehow that is considered the height of financial acumen. Doubly so if you have some bought off bitches in DC who will foist the losses onto the taxpayer.

    And third,this one was great just for the humor – he rips into one of CNBC’s bloviating blatherers and tosses some of his own blog stats back at the guy. They have been getting an enormous number of hits – several million just since they started up earlier this year.

    And this is just anecdotal but a few years ago it seemed like every single bank had CNBC on their background TV screens as you walked into the lobby. Lately I’ve been seeing less and less of that. I’d like to think that the Taibbis and Jon Stewarts and Tyler Durdens have had something to do with discrediting them and putting them on the defensive.

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 23, 2009 6:30 pm

      Investing on sentiment and not on the real economy – Market indices hit new recent highs today woo hoo, based on sentiment, based on stuff the tv and govt says= kabuki kabuki new bubble apukey

      That trashing of Gasparino, who often looks sweaty like he is drunk or fevered or both, was tres awesome. Tyler is getting to them! His blog is now called Zero Intelligence and is apparently hosted offshore for protection. His other blog was being threatened regularly with complaints due to his coverage of G Sux.

      As to Jon Stewart, now that Walter Cronkrite is dead, Jon has taken up the mantle of the most trusted newsperson in America.

      http://www.timepolls.com/hppolls/archive/poll_results_417.html

      Stewart gets 44% Katie Couric gets 7%

      • cometman permalink*
        July 24, 2009 6:55 am

        Bah! What’s wrong with VT!?!?!? They picked Brian Williams. Going to have to go talk some sense into those people next time I’m in the area ;)

  11. cometman permalink*
    July 23, 2009 11:56 am

    Here’s Biden kissing up to the Georgians again:

    Vice President Joe Biden held talks Thursday with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, pledging US support a year after the strategic ex-Soviet state was roundly defeated in a brief war with Russia.

    “The reason why I am here… is to show you that we stand with you,” Biden said at the start of his meeting with the Georgian leader at the presidential palace in Tbilisi.

    I’d really like to know what Randy Scheunemann is up to these days…

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 23, 2009 5:18 pm

      He’s been involved in a catfight over Sarah Palin’s resignation. No, really!

      Sarah Palin and the viper pit

      Steve Schmidt, McCain’s campaign manager, is now spitting toxins at William Kristol, a newspaper editor and sometime advisor to McCain, because Kristol fingered him as the anonymous campaign aide in the Vanity Fair article who said Palin might be suffering from postpartum depression. Schmidt claims Kristol has a personal grudge against him because he, Schmidt, fired a friend of Kristol’s who was a top official in the McCain campaign.

      That friend, Randy Scheunemann, also has joined the frey, sniping at Schmidt.

      While slinging insults, they’re also throwing the Palin “postpartum depression” thing around like a beach ball, not to mention some other unsavory descriptors, including “diva.”

      It’s sickening.

      • triv33 permalink
        July 23, 2009 6:42 pm

        As much as I hate, loathe and despise the lot of them, I would cheer out loud if Schmidt would just release all the shit he kept in his CYA file (You know he had one). Wipe that creepy-ass soulless smile off of Kristol’s rubber face.

        • cometman permalink*
          July 24, 2009 7:01 am

          Hear hear! Kristol is about the worst of the neo-con lot. I think some of them actually believe all the shit they spew but Kristol is nothing but a propagandist who is aware he’s lying every time he opens his piehole.

  12. cometman permalink*
    July 23, 2009 12:09 pm

    Intersting read here – Kill the Supreme Court.

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 23, 2009 5:07 pm

      That is an interesting article. It isn’t like this country actually operates on the principle of rule of law anymore. This country runs on payola.

      I’ve come to the believe that the system is so dysfunctional at this point the only thing that can happen that would be of benefit to any but the ruling class is full blown revolution and break up of the country into provinces with a Parliamentary system with multiple parties in the vein of Canada. Kill not only the court of the Supremes, kill the whole damn thing.

      You should post a link of that article for Jack. He may have taken classes with that author as a prof.

  13. cometman permalink*
    July 23, 2009 1:28 pm

    Bwaaaaaahahahahahaha! Sarah Palin eats, shoots & leaves! Here’s the transcript of her bye bye speech given the full Strunk and White by the editors at Vanity Fair.

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 23, 2009 4:45 pm

      That is phenomenal. I find it particularly frightening that she got the name of the President wrong when describing when the Alaskan territory was purchased. The Governor got that basic fact wrong. Jeeeeeesus hotcrossed buns christ. I hope she encounters a large pod of humgry Humbolt squid on some fishing adventure. Please, overlords, spare us this woman.

  14. Stemella permalink*
    July 24, 2009 7:17 am

    Another bank failure today, this time a big one, the biggest one this year, the second biggest bank in Texass

    Guaranty Financial bites the dust, no longer a “going concern”

    In a regulatory filing late on Thursday, the Austin-based lender said it had been unable to obtain a capital infusion from its shareholders, and believes it will not be eligible for help from federal regulators.

    Guaranty has about $16 billion of assets and more than 150 branches in Texas and California, according to its website. On that basis, if it were to fail, Guaranty would be the largest U.S. bank to do so in 2009.

    Companies owned by billionaire investor Carl Icahn own 17 percent of Guaranty, Reuters data show. Neither Guaranty nor Icahn immediately returned calls seeking comment.

    Awww, poor Carl. pfffft.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 24, 2009 8:07 am

      Thanks for continuing to post these. It’s something that the corporate media continues to ignore as they try to convince everyone that recovery is right around the corner.

  15. cometman permalink*
    July 24, 2009 8:01 am

    Ouch. From McClatchy: If an attack killed most of Congress, would we care?

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 24, 2009 8:20 am

      Baird and Rohrabacher are douchebags inflated by their own hot air and sense of self importance. If I remember correctly, Baird was pro war in Iraq and a blue dog. What a waste of time and resources. Shouldn’t they both be focused instead on the terrible shape of their own state’s economies?

  16. cometman permalink*
    July 24, 2009 8:18 am

    The Fed is trying to make new rules for mortgage lending that supposedly benefit consumers. But if you read the article they aren’t trying to tell lenders that they cannot engage in certain practices anymore, just that they have to make the fine print a little bigger. I’m sure the snake oil salesmen will still figure out a way to dupe the rubes. And then there’s this:

    The action by the Fed’s Board of Governors, which requires a four-month comment period before becoming final, came as Congress is weighing an Obama administration proposal to strip the central bank of some of its regulatory authority over consumer credit products such as mortgages and credit cards.

    The administration favors giving those powers to a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which would have the sole mandate of protecting consumers from abusive practices such as the weakened lending standards that triggered a collapse of the housing sector. This crisis in mortgage lending quickly morphed into a global financial crisis.

    Sounds to me like a transparent attempt by Bernanke to prove that the Fed isn’t completely useless and keep power for themselves so it doesn’t go to somebody like Elizabeth Warren who may actually use it to do something worthwhile.

    This part could use a little more clarification:

    Thursday’s Fed vote also came hours after the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes rose 3.6 percent in June, the third consecutive month of increasing sales. All regions of the country posted growth, and the percentage of distress sales fell to 31 percent from 33 percent in May.

    What constitutes a distress sale and what is the historical percentage? Because the first thing that comes to mind for me here is that people are probably buying up foreclosures on the cheap. 31% being distress sales sounds like an awfully high figure and I’m not sure these figures should be taken as a sign that things are getting better.

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 24, 2009 8:48 am

      Here’s another take on the same issue

      Democrats renew push for Consumer Finance Agency that discusses the rift between Frank, Bernancke and Warren regarding the proposed Consumer Protection Agency.

      I agree that there’s a lot of distressed selling going on. There’s also a lot of mortgage fraud still going on. Not sure if that factors into sales, inflating them.

      District Attorney steps up real-estate fraud investigations

      • cometman permalink*
        July 24, 2009 10:10 am

        Good article. Noticed this tidbit:

        The paper yesterday quoted Deputy Treasury Secretary Neil Wolin: “We reject the false choice between consumer protection and innovation. We should have a financial system that both fosters innovation and provides strong consumer protections.”

        I couldn’t disagree more. There are certain financial products that don’t really require any new “innovation”, mortgages being one of them. If you want a house you take out a loan for 30 years or so at the prevailing interest rate and pay it back. To the bank who issued the loan. It’s that simple. There is really no reason it needs to be any more complicated than that. If the interest rate goes down, you can refinance the loan. There is no good reason for all these ARMS and interest only mortgages – all they do is generate extra money for the lenders and make the market increasingly unstable. What I’d like to see is a whole new set of rules, not simply requiring the fine print to be bigger. I’d like to see lenders be required to keep their loans in house, or at least a much higher percentage of them. That way they’d be a lot less apt to hand out cash to those who can’t afford it and then sell off the debt and spread the risk/stupid through the entire system. Rather than ARMS, why not just write something into the mortgage contract that allows people to refi a set number of times over the life of the mortgage for a reasonable, set fee. When rates are low, new mortgages likely won’t refi at all. If people buy a house when rates are high, then the refi options would allow them some wiggle room. Obviously these methods aren’t going to allow banks to continue to maximize their profits while making their loans risk free as they’ve become accustomed to, but not everything needs to be geared toward making sure somebody somewhere can extract as much profit as possible from every single interaction that takes place between people. It’d be nice if these types of actual reforms are what Warren has in mind.

  17. cometman permalink*
    July 24, 2009 11:39 am

    Good article from Jeremy Scahill about the crocodile tears the Democrats are shedding over the CIA’s assassination program that Panetta recently “cancelled”. He reminds us that assassinations ordered by the government have been going on for a long time and they continue very visibly under Obama with the Predator strikes in Pakistan.

    Partisan politics often require selective amnesia. Over the past decade, we have seen this amnesia take hold when it comes to many of President Bush’s most vile policies. And we are now seeing a pretty severe case overtake several leading Democrats. It makes for good speechifying to act as though all criminality began with Bush and—particularly these days—Cheney, but that is extreme intellectual dishonesty. The fact is that many of Bush’s worst policies (now being highlighted by leading Democrats) were based in some form or another in a Clinton-initiated policy or were supported by the Democrats in Congress with their votes. To name a few: the USA PATRIOT Act, the invasion of Iraq, the attack against Afghanistan, the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, the widespread use of mercenaries and other private contractors in US war zones and warrant-less wire-tapping.

    Regarding the Bush-era assassination program, there is great reason to be skeptical that the program CIA Director Leon Panetta alleges was concealed from Congress is actually the program the public is currently being led to believe it is. Why would the CIA need to conceal a program that never was implemented and, if it never was implemented, why did Panetta need to shut it down? Moreover, who was running this inactive program from the minute Obama was sworn in until June 24 when Panetta supposedly announced its cancellation? This program—as it is currently being described— should hardly be a major scandal to members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, as some are now treating it. As they well know, President Obama has continued the Bush targeted assassination program using weaponized drones and special forces teams hunting “high value targets.” As former CIA Counter-terrorism chief Vincent Cannistraro and others have pointed out, “The CIA runs drones and targets al Qaeda safe houses all the time.” Cannistraro told Talking Points Memo that there is no important difference between those kinds of attacks and “assassinations” with a gun or a knife.

    All of this goes to explain why nobody will ever be held accountable for any of it – there are way too many people with blood on their hands within our government.

  18. cometman permalink*
    July 24, 2009 11:52 am

    Enjoyed this post by Chris Floyd reminding us that corruption is not something we are likely to be rid of anytime soon. He mentions a personal anecdote and the current corruption scandal in NJ and notes:

    It was, in other words, another brief glimpse behind the curtain of how the world really works a good deal of time, at every level. There is always some powerful person somewhere clamping their hands down on somebody’s thigh and muttering, “Play ball, and it’s jake; screw me and you’re fucked.” Every now and then, someone will make a play too large for the pull they can muster to cover themselves; or maybe someone with bigger pull wants to muscle in on their patch, and brings the heat — or, occasionally, a straight-up unit or prosecutor will get the goods and somehow run the gauntlet of protective barriers that hedge in the powerful.

    But the fact is, many, many, many people in power whom we are incessantly told — even ordered — to respect and obey are dirty. They lie, they cheat, they steal, they commit or countenance heinous crimes. Sometimes the corruption comes in the form of a wad of cash passed under the table at a diner; sometimes it comes in the form of “bundled contributions” to a national campaign or arcane legal entity designed to receive, process — and launder — cash for politicians dripping with piety; or, even more often, in the form of the golden revolving door between government service and corporate sinecures. Sometimes the crime is looking the other way when a plane comes in loaded with dope; sometimes the crime is sending the planes in loaded with bombs.

    I think most people can accept a certain level of corruption and a little grease does make the wheels go around easier sometimes. If you’re a cop and you catch your buddy’s teenager in the parking lot with a joint and a six pack, maybe instead of wasting a bunch of time prosecuting the kid you just take away the stuff and make sure they get home OK. Maybe you even save the joint for later for yourself. Or if you sit on a city council and a friend needs permission to put up a new sign for their business, maybe you make a phone call and put them on the fast track. I don’t think too many people would have huge problems with that type of stuff even though it is technically an abuse of your authority.

    But when the corruption is rampant at the highest levels of government, nothing is ever done about it, and in fact the most corrupt get rewarded for it by being given medals for lying to protect the right people or are handed billions in bailout money, that’s taking things way too far. The message it sends when those at the highest levels are so corrupt is that people who actually play by the rules and don’t try to get a little on the side are suckers for not taking whatever they can get away with. Signs of a very sick society.

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 24, 2009 2:11 pm

      We live in an era of anarchy for the ultrarich – where Ayn Rand and Reagan’s deregulatory playground for the oligarchy has flourished. As Greenspan said in false testimony, he never imagined the banksters would be thieves when given the opportunity. Yeah, right.

      I find the depth and spread of corruption to be the most depressing thing about these times. It pretty much makes me again admit that the change this country needs will not be coming from within the political system. It will come from external forces. and will be disruptive. Whether that force will be human generated or climactic first, I don’t know. I do know that I doubt I’ll ever participate again in this two party political system.

  19. Stemella permalink*
    July 24, 2009 1:56 pm

    I can see your aura Dora

  20. Stemella permalink*
    July 24, 2009 4:34 pm

    Seven more bank failures today with FDIC takeover; bringing the total to 64 this year so far.

    Security Bank of Jones County, Gray, GA
    Security Bank of Houston County, Perry, GA
    Security Bank of Bibb County, Macon, GA
    Security Bank of North Metro, Woodstock, GA
    Security Bank of North Fulton, Alpharetta, GA
    Security Bank of Gwinnett County, Suwanee, GA
    Waterford Village Bank, Williamsville, NY

    Georgia, Georgia

    Fiens at the liquor store
    Lac Cruisin
    Crap Shootin
    50 on the 10 to 4
    Overcast the forecast
    Shows clouds fromt plenty dro
    And we ready for war in the state of… Georgia
    Dirty Words
    Dirty Birds
    It’s mean in the dirty south
    If you ever disrespect it then we’ll clean out your dirty mouth
    Bulldawgs is clockin
    These look out boys is hawkin
    You gotta be brave in the state of… Georgia

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