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Pleasure in Small Victories

February 17, 2010

To paraphrase an old dead imperialist – a litigious Boston condo owner underwater on her mortgage is just a woman, but a good cigarette in the privacy of your own home is a smoke.

63 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    February 17, 2010 10:15 am

    Small victories are nice, but they pale in comparison to the atrocities committed in our names every day. Now that Dick Cheney has been all over the TV bragging about his waterboarding polcies it seems that the “<0" administration, after going on the record saying that waterboarding was torture, suddenly doesn’t want to discuss whether the practice is continuing.

    I’m thinking the only way Cheney has the balls to pull this shit is because he’s still well-connected enough to know that the policies he institutionalized are still continuing unabated.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 17, 2010 11:25 am

      That smokin’ cephalo is a wee bit creepy. Something about the smile, I’m not sure.

      Puff the magic Octopi? ;)

      Speaking of creepy and funny too, here’s a disturbing piece from Mark Morford. I remember when Morford was one of the earliest critics of Bush’s wars and I read him earnestly for a touchstone to a reality that the MSM was not providing.

      He still doesn’t disappoint in the humor department.

      Hi! Everything Wants to Kill You

      Speaking of McDonald’s. Did you hear? A woman was sitting in the McDonald’s over in the Great Mall in Milpitas just recently, consuming her capitalism-approved portion of hormone-blasted industrial feedlot beef and HFCS-injected everything (though, to be fair, it could have been one of their “healthy” prepackaged nuclear salads), when, of course, she went into labor.

      And she gave birth, right there in the food court, in the McDonald’s, in a giant suburban shopping mall, because there is possibly no more quintessentially American scenario than birthing a human being in a fast food outlet in a shopping mall food court, unless she also happened to be thinking about firearms, watching “American Idol” and listening to Dave Matthews whilst something something NASCAR.

      And yes, speaking of McDonalds, there was a recent announcement that McD will be filling 500 new positions in my area. All less than 20hr/wk jobs, but that will no doubt change the unemployment numbers. I wonder how many thousands will line up for those jobs.

      • cometman permalink*
        February 17, 2010 12:10 pm

        Ha! I liked the end of that one too:

        It all balances out in the end, anyway. It’s all just the grand and dreamlike circus spinning and laughing and churning its cotton candy profundity into the Void. For every adult human ironically sent to the great feedlot in the sky by a misbehaving automotive safety device, a child is born in a shopping mall food court, pre-addicted to Quarter Pounders, ready to take on the overheated, surreal world all over again. And lo, the great play continues …

        I do think Coca-Cola cares quite a bit about whatever anti-soda campaign is going on. I think I may have mentioned the clusterfuck of epic proportions that was on the Maine ballot a year or so ago. (That link looks like some anti-tax website but they do have the details correct). Basically the governor in his infinite wisdom decided to try to fund the state’s Dirigo health care plan by adding a tax to all corn-syrup based beverages instead of allowing it to be funded out of general revenue. The anti-tax nuts came out in full force to get people against the tax but of course in their numerous ads they failed to ever mention that the tax was supposed to fund a health care program. At the link you’ll notice all the restaurant and beverage associations that funded the repeal and while I don’t know for certain I’m assuming more than a few bucks from the Coca-cola company made their way into the repeal campaign’s coffers. I can’t even remember how I voted on it since I was pissed off at the governor for his tepid support of his own program and at the anti-tax idiots’ disingenuous campaign.

  2. cometman permalink*
    February 17, 2010 10:19 am

    More on the plight of tigers.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 17, 2010 11:28 am

      Not a hopeful plight it seems. Too sad.

  3. cometman permalink*
    February 17, 2010 11:02 am


    Hank Paulson is given a platform to barf up more nonsense. So much bullshit in there I barely know where to start. Evidently we must have regulation to keep people like Paulson from robbing us blind again but that regulation shouldn’t really get too specific and the person in charge of it should be a Fed banker and oh yeah we need to gut Social Security and Medicare while we’re at it.

    Let’s take a look at three sequential paragraphs:

    As for our domestic approach, we now have different government regulators focusing on the individual trees, and we need one regulator accountable for looking at the entire forest. My preference is for the Federal Reserve to be the systemic risk regulator, because the responsibility for identifying and limiting potential problems is a natural complement to its role in monetary policy.

    The problem Hank you goddamned douchebag is that our various government regulators are all ex-bankers and they are not looking at the forest or the trees and about the closest they ever come to touching a piece of wood is when they pick the martini olives off their toothpicks as they yuk it up over cocktails with their banker pals about how they got away with fucking everybody over with no consequences.

    Congress, however, seems to be moving toward having a council of regulators perform this function. While that is not my preference, I believe a council can be workable if it is led by either the Treasury secretary or the Fed chairman, and is structured to ensure that strong decisions are reached quickly in a crisis. Too many such panels in government act by consensus, allowing a single member to render the council immobile.

    What the fuck does that deliberate butchery of the English language at the end even mean? A consensus is by definition the collective opinion or general accord of the majority so if that is how decisions are made how is one person able to stop everything? And we get the fact you don’t want too many people looking at what your cronies are up to and no you don’t get credit for not being too blatant and leaving out the part that the Treasury sec or fed chair should also be a Goldman alum. Of course immediately after suggesting just the one regulator we get this:

    No systemic risk regulator, no matter how powerful, can be relied on to see everything and prevent future problems. That’s why our regulatory system must reinforce the responsibility of lenders, investors, borrowers and all market participants to analyze risk and make informed decisions. This is possible only if everyone understands that no financial institution is too big to fail, and that its investors and creditors will have to bear the consequences if it does.

    So that regulator can’t be relied upon to do a thorough job but they still shouldn’t have any help and rather than simply banning dangerous practices through regulation it should be up to the consumer to figure out if they’re getting shafted or not. Makes perfect sense if you’re fucking retarded. I’m assuming that “nobody is too big to fail part” was written with Paulson’s tongue implanted firmly in Obama’s cheek while they swapped a little love spit between them. But even taking it at face value it’s interesting to note that the investors and creditors should bear the consequences and not the executives who ran the company into the ground after making off with billions.

    Fuuuuuuuuuccccckkkkk you eighteen ways to Sunday you wretched piece of refuse!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 17, 2010 11:43 am

      hahaha excellent evisceration there, Hunter S Cometman :) I do believe you really did channel him.

      It seems like the Squidbeak is echoing the plans of Elvin one, yes with tongue deeply inserted on the Tbtf issue. Maybe they are putting him out at the podium to take the heat off Timmy for a while. Timmy has been fairly quiet of late, or at least out of the headlines.

      You should post your comments to his article!

      • cometman permalink*
        February 17, 2010 11:50 am

        Something tells me the NYT wouldn’t print it without a severe edit and where’s the fun in that? :P

  4. Stemella permalink*
    February 17, 2010 12:02 pm

    EU removes Greek voting power in blow to sovereignty

    More analysis over at Zedge

    • cometman permalink*
      February 17, 2010 12:21 pm

      I’d expect a few more fireworks to ensue over that decision. I’m admittedly a little partial towards the Greeks here but it sure seems like they are being used as a test case and it isn’t going to be pretty when it becomes clear that some of the bigger EU countries don’t have their houses in order either as more shady financial deals inevitably come to light. I wonder how many in the EU are having second thoughts about the entire enterprise right about now. The reason for the euro in the first place was to combine resources to compete with the US economically. Would they have still been so willing to go forward with the project had they known that US economic power was nothing but a shell game?

  5. cometman permalink*
    February 17, 2010 12:35 pm

    Good post from naked capitalism about the consequences Goldman may suffer for its role in Greece and others’ financial problems. The Bloomberg article she cites mentions that the swaps Greece and the Goldies cooked up were legal at the time but aren’t any longer. I’d like to hear a little more about why they aren’t legal now, when they were made illegal, and who’s still on the hook for deals that were so shady in the first place they were made illegal.

    We can only hope she’s right in her conclusion but I won’t be holding my breath.

    Yves here. Goldman has made a science of being too clever by half, but it may have made a fatal mistake. Governments do not take well to being abused or made to look foolish, and Goldman appears to have done both.

    • cometman permalink*
      February 17, 2010 2:34 pm

      More on potential consequences for the Goldies from Baseline Scenario.

      ….the affair is now out of Ben Bernanke’s hands, and quite far from people who are easily swayed by the White House. It goes immediately to the European Commission, which has jurisdiction over eurozone budget issues. Faced with enormous pressure from those eurozone countries now on the hook for saving Greece, the Commission will surely launch a special audit of Goldman and all its European clients.

      He has some good questions for this commission to ask in the main post and then continues:

      The Federal Reserve must cooperate fully with this investigation. Ordinarily, the Fed might be tempted to sit on useful information, but they can now feel themselves in Senator Bob Corker’s crosshairs. Republican Senator Corker is willing to cooperate with Senator Dodd on financial sector reform, opening up the possibility of legislation that will pass the Senate, but he wants the Fed to lose its supervisory powers. If the Fed refuses to help – willingly and fully – the European Commission with bringing Goldman to account, that will just strengthen the hand of Senator Corker and his allies.

      If the Federal Reserve were an effective supervisor, it would have the political will sufficient to determine that Goldman Sachs has not been acting in accordance with its banking license. But any meaningful action from this direction seems unlikely.

      Instead, Goldman will probably be blacklisted from working with eurozone governments for the foreseeable future; as was the case with Salomon Brothers 20 years ago, Goldman may be on its way to be banned from some government securities markets altogether. If it is to be allowed back into this arena, it will have to address the inherent conflicts of interest between advising a government on how to put (deceptive levels of) lipstick on a pig and cajoling investors into buying livestock at inflated prices.

      And the US government, at the highest levels, has to ask a fundamental question: For how long does it wish to be intimately associated with Goldman Sachs and this kind of destabilizing action? What is the priority here – a sustainable recovery and a viable financial system, or one particular set of investment bankers?

      Blackballing is all well and good but there are lots of execs who should have seizure of assets and jail time coming. Judging by yesterday’s bombing, these racketeers may come to prefer punishment by the authorities over punishment from the mob.

  6. cometman permalink*
    February 17, 2010 12:41 pm

    Hmmmm. This post suggests that China may not have been selling off treasuries after all but was funneling their purchase through the UK.

    Is there anybody anywhere who really knows anything about what the hell is going on with this byzantine global financial system? I’m thinking the whole point of constructing it the way it was done was precisely so no one would be able to ever understand it. Lot easier for fraud and looting to go unnoticed that way.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 17, 2010 8:23 pm

      There is a more recent post at the top of Zedge saying the same. It makes my brain ache this roller coaster of obfuscation. They are all freaking ponzis, all of them, all subsidiaries of some warped mega multinational casino monopoly game. I have never felt so much a pawn and cannon fodder as I do these days.

      Here’s a post by someone at ZH, which seems as though it might capture it.
      End of Empire – Waking Zombie Nations / Psychology, Consciousness and the Egoic Mind summarizing what we’ve been saying all year long.

      From the intro —

      This article is an effort to understand what’s really going on, why Americans (and the rest of the world) appear to be frozen in place, seemingly helpless and hopeless in the face of incredible corruption and thieving. A quick review of history shows us this isn’t the first time it has happened, though it may be the biggest since the 1930’s. In fact, these types of disasters seem to occur regularly, following a well worn script to its inevitable conclusion. The bad guys escape with the loot while the general population looks on, tails between the legs, hands in pockets and eyes cast down, impotent to the end. Why do we allow ourselves to be used and abused like this? Why are we spectators to our own destruction? While the human condition can’t always be quantified, it can be understood to some extent, but only if we’re willing to peer into some extremely uncomfortable places. My ultimate goal in writing this “End of Empire” series is to promote reflection and understanding. Significant and lasting political and social change will not occur until we elevate our understanding and awareness far above where it is today. I most definitely don’t have all the answers and anyone who claims they do is smoking the good stuff and should share their stash with this formerly long haired hippie. Pass the bong dude.

      • cometman permalink*
        February 18, 2010 8:47 am

        That was an interesting post but damn can that guy ramble. I think by the end his id had forgotten what his ego already said at the beginning :)

        I do think he’s correct that out basic concepts and beliefs get fixed at a fairly young age and we only become “Taller Children” as we get older like that song I posted a while back talks about. Of course I may believe that because it flatters my own ego since I remember not taking everything at face value and always asking why from a very young age. I bet Mr. Dissonance could write volumes about that kind of dog chasing its own tail thinking :P Anyhoo, I think he’s correct that society as a whole has a hard time letting go of their preconceived notions and politicians definitely do not go out of their way to encourage people to do so. The status quo pays a lot better. I think people can inherently feel that something is sick and twisted and wrong in this society we live in but aren’t willing to take the next step and admit that what they’ve been taught about the church or the president or democracy or any other institution they’re told to place trust in is often flat out wrong and many times deliberately so. For some reason that is too painful. It’s why people like I mentioned a day or so ago can say that Glenn Beck is a jerk but still place their trust in the institution that chose to hire him and continues to allow him to him blather nonsense and lies every day.

        So we’re left with an angst-ridden populace who can’t quite place their fingers on where it’s coming from. I’m reminded of the quote from Kurt Vonnegut that I thought about including in the main post above. I like to think he said it with a twinkle in his eye.

        The public health authorities never mention the main reason many Americans have for smoking heavily, which is that smoking is a fairly sure, fairly honorable form of suicide.

        • cometman permalink*
          February 18, 2010 1:08 pm

          Guess that guy in Austin today didn’t have a problem figuring out where his angst was coming from.

          • Stemella permalink*
            February 18, 2010 1:57 pm

            I’m just now catching up with today’s news and am reading the guy’s statement posted at HuffPo. Yes, both he and the Dissonant one ramble. I had to skim over most of the latter as it went on and on and on. The guy from Austin sounds like a complete fucker, no matter his beliefs, acting out the worst of the selfish style libertarian ego. Lucky that his wife and child were rescued.

            • cometman permalink*
              February 18, 2010 2:24 pm

              Keep reading his statement. Melvin posted it a FSZ and I actually read that before getting any of the details about what happened. Hadn’t heard that he put his wife and kid at risk which is pretty fucked up. I don’t think flying into the IRS building was a particularly good course of action either.

              But he doesn’t sound like a typical libertarian type to me. He seemed pretty concerned with the health care system for one. And he seems to understand that the problems in this country come straight from the top.

              More details will come out I’m sure. I have a feeling lots of people will be ruminating on this one for a while. More time needed to digest it all.

  7. cometman permalink*
    February 17, 2010 12:56 pm

    New eye candy from the new WISE space telescope.

    Amazing what it can see. From the description of the third image in the link:

    In this image, as before, red is warm dust, and blue is hotter material like stars. The green is what gets me though: at 12 microns, that reveals PAHs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These complex organic compounds form in cool conditions in nebulae, which are lousy with them. They’re everywhere where the temperature isn’t too high to disintegrate them. They can form even larger molecules, and some people think they may be important in creating the molecules necessary for life on Earth. That’s not to say those molecules form in nebulae like NGC 3603 and then somehow get here; they most likely form right here as well. The point is, they look like they’re pretty easy to make if conditions are right… on Earth as it is in the heavens.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 17, 2010 8:30 pm

      Beautiful. Great comet. A relative, perchance? ;-)

  8. cometman permalink*
    February 17, 2010 1:18 pm

    One of my favorite science bloggers is going to be on the Colbert Report in a couple weeks or so.

    Got a kick out of this Onion article about the Science Channel he posted when remarking that the comedy programs often teach more about science than the science channels.

    Frustrated by continued demands from viewers for more awesome and extreme programming, Science Channel president Clark Bunting told reporters Tuesday that his cable network was “completely incapable” of watering down science any further than it already had.

    “Look, we’ve tried, we really have, but it’s simply not possible to set the bar any lower,” said a visibly exhausted Bunting, adding that he “could not in good conscience” make science any more mindless or insultingly juvenile. “We already have a show called Really Big Things, which is just ridiculous if you think about it, and one called Heavy Metal Taskforce, which I guess deals with science on some distant level, though I don’t know what it is. Plus, there’s Punkin Chunkin.”

    “Punkin Chunkin, for Christ’s sake,” added Bunting, referring to the popular program in which contestants launch oversized pumpkins into the air using catapults. “What more do you people want?”

    I’ve been pretty annoyed at their programming for a while. They have some good programs but not much that’s new and decent coming out. There are only so many times you can replay Planet Earth and Blue Planet. Even The Universe series which was very good in its first couple seasons has been dumbed down with shows about sex in space and computer generated aliens. In a universe this big you’d think they wouldn’t run out of quality material so fast.

    • artemis54 permalink
      February 17, 2010 2:02 pm


  9. artemis54 permalink
    February 17, 2010 2:03 pm

    And Di-Fi makes an early bid for most loathsome of 2010 with her plan to suspend the Endangereed Species Act for her agri bizbuddies, to hell with the salmon – already at record lows in the Sacramento – and the smolt.

    Suggested sentence: Grind her into fish meal.

    • cometman permalink*
      February 17, 2010 2:23 pm

      And I thought she only got on her knees for defense contractors. She is truly despicable.

  10. Stemella permalink*
    February 17, 2010 8:11 pm

    Christ on a shitty shingle. The Elvin One will be our new fuckwitted Overlord. I suppose it is important to reduce Ben’s powers, but I don’t trust that he won’t keep pulling the strings behind thicker curtains. This feeds into the suspicions I had about Paulson’s opinion piece from today. Hanky Panky must have been giving Timmeh cover for the Banksters.

    Agreement Near on Regulating Banking Risks

    The issue is one of the most fundamental in the contentious effort to overhaul regulation after the financial crisis, and addresses one of the primary lessons of the near debacle: that no one had been assigned to ensure the stability of the system as a whole and detect the kinds of excessive risk-taking and imbalances that could rock an entire economy.

    Assigning the Treasury Department the job of spotting incipient trouble and addressing it quickly has support among senators from both parties, though several important provisions, including whether the council would have the ability to bypass existing banking regulators and impose its own rules on huge financial firms, remain to be worked out.

    The effect would be to diminish the authority of the Federal Reserve, whose regulation of banks has been criticized for failing to head off the problems.

    There are sound bites of support from several centrist corporate Senators and Congressthings. But one Fed Member, James Bullard of St. Louis Fed, is skeptical.

    “If he’s giving up, it’s because he’s somehow making some calculations about what the realities are,” Mr. Bullard said.

    “But I’m telling you, this business of how we’re going to give this to a committee and we’re going to have an effective response to the next crisis. That is a joke.”


    • cometman permalink*
      February 18, 2010 9:45 am

      Those people are all joined at the hip and it isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference whether it’s the Treasury or the Fed which ultimately gets oversight as long as they’re both filled with bankers. Giving one corrupted regulator that much power just means it will be even easier for them to do nothing. And this business of trying to claim that nobody was in charge of looking at systemic risk before is complete horseshit. There were plenty of people who have pointed out the systemic problems and were laughed at for doing so. I mean what the hell have we been paying the SEC and Treasury departments to do for all these years? It isn’t that they weren’t aware of the risks because nobody bothered to look, it’s that they chose not to act once the risks were made crystal clear. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  11. Stemella permalink*
    February 18, 2010 7:39 am

    Taibbi has a new short but sweet article on the squids Wall Streets Bailout Hustle

    • cometman permalink*
      February 18, 2010 9:34 am

      Another good one from him. I liked the part at the end which speaks to the thoughts in that ZH article you posted above.

      Con artists have a word for the inability of their victims to accept that they’ve been scammed. They call it the “True Believer Syndrome.” That’s sort of where we are, in a state of nagging disbelief about the real problem on Wall Street. It isn’t so much that we have inadequate rules or incompetent regulators, although both of these things are certainly true. The real problem is that it doesn’t matter what regulations are in place if the people running the economy are rip-off artists. The system assumes a certain minimum level of ethical behavior and civic instinct over and above what is spelled out by the regulations. If those ethics are absent — well, this thing isn’t going to work, no matter what we do. Sure, mugging old ladies is against the law, but it’s also easy. To prevent it, we depend, for the most part, not on cops but on people making the conscious decision not to do it.

      That’s why the biggest gift the bankers got in the bailout was not fiscal but psychological.


      ….the fact that we haven’t done much of anything to change the rules and behavior of Wall Street shows that we still don’t get it. Instituting a bailout policy that stressed recapitalizing bad banks was like the addict coming back to the con man to get his lost money back. Ask yourself how well that ever works out. And then get ready for the reload.

  12. cometman permalink*
    February 18, 2010 9:48 am

    If you were lucky enough to have a pension to begin with instead of a crappy 401k or absolutely nothing, get ready to kiss it goodbye.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 18, 2010 2:03 pm

      Maybe Obama can create jobs for the failing construction industry building new poor houses for the indigent elderly and orphanages for their grandchildren. Or should I say our grandchildren when the time comes.

  13. cometman permalink*
    February 18, 2010 10:41 am

    Democracy Now! has a good interview with Joseph Stiglitz today.

  14. cometman permalink*
    February 18, 2010 2:09 pm

    Here’s one that speaks well to the current zeitgeist – Casino Time.

    Done with making stuff, we sold each other products and services. I’ll cut your hair, you’ll cut mine. When those prospects proved inadequate, we turned to hustling. That’s why casinos are mushrooming across this land. In Kansas City, Kansas, I even saw one occupying an old church. Heading into this Mother of all Depressions, we’re armed with not much more than the audacity of hope that luck will be on our side as we shove one last penny into the slot machine.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 19, 2010 8:08 am

      He answers the question I remember asking back in the 90’s when it was obvious that NAFTA was the nail in the coffin for American manufacturing and labor. I remember wondering how an economy could function so skewed towards services. It took money to buy services. If we didn’t make anything who would afford those services? The answer to what we would become? Grifters, pirates, sheisters, and thieves.

      Done with making stuff, we sold each other products and services. I’ll cut your hair, you’ll cut mine. When those prospects proved inadequate, we turned to hustling. That’s why casinos are mushrooming across this land. In Kansas City, Kansas, I even saw one occupying an old church. Heading into this Mother of all Depressions, we’re armed with not much more than the audacity of hope that luck will be on our side as we shove one last penny into the slot machine.

      Be sure to take a look at the photoblog linked by the author of the articleState of the Union It is sobering.

      • cometman permalink*
        February 19, 2010 8:21 am

        Thanks for mentioning that link. I hadn’t checked it before but the photos were very good. I liked the Obama comic book cover surrounded by lotto tickets in the storefront window. Mentions at the end of the link that he came from Vetnam at age 12 in 1975 so I’m assuming he was a refugee. Sobering indeed especially considering the journalist’s background.

  15. cometman permalink*
    February 18, 2010 9:33 pm

    Read a bunch of articles about that Joe Stack guy. Here’s are a couple I thought were pretty good – Domestic terrorism strikes, deep in the heart of Texas and this one from naked capitalism. She mentions this –

    I met with a pollster yesterday, and he said he had never seen such a gap in attitudes in beliefs among those in the political elite versus those of the public at large, and he expected bad outcomes. So I’m not certain the news story du jour, courtesy Karl Denninger, would surprise him.

    – and then a little she reposted this Washington’s blog article which speaks to what she said above and what Stack mentioned about not being represented in government:

    A new Rasmussen poll finds:

    The founding document of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Today, however, just 21% of voters nationwide believe that the federal government enjoys the consent of the governed.

    Most of the articles I read portrayed the guy as an anti-tax nut with a beef with the IRS. That is pretty much true but judging from the guy’s letter (which admittedly was likely written hastily by an extremely agitated man) it doesn’t really tell the whole story. Seemed to me like it wasn’t so much the guy didn’t want to pay his taxes but that wealthy institutions got away with paying little to no taxes at all.

    But just because you have a legitimate beef doesn’t mean you should somewhat randomly lash out at people who weren’t directly involved in your problem. I thought those Europeans who’ve been holding up their company execs have the right idea. Their point was made, nobody got hurt since that wasn’t their intention, and they actually got what they wanted for the time being at least. Stack was probably right in that this will cause more of a backlash from government and more of our rights will disappear but I think he’s dead wrong that it will wake people up enough to fight back. When you use the same tactics as the government you find so offensive you cede the moral high ground and not many are going to rally to your cause. And the rest of us wind up suffering for it.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 19, 2010 8:29 am

      Yes, as Webster concludes in the post in the first link, we would do better to come together to address our problems, rather than lashing out as lone disaffected individuals. This is one of the greatest tragedies of the demise of our unions. They gave us that platform and infrastructure of collective power. Hence the war against them by the oligarchy. The more liberal European nations still have them and utilize them as you remind us, to great effect.

      In reality, now is a time for greater engagement with our fellow Americans, not greater suspicion.

      The more we can reach across deeply carved political lines and show our friends and neighbors that hope is not lost; that things are bad but we’re all in the same sinking boat; that the underpinnings of our freedom is not where we can shop or how far we can drive in an SUV, but it is our ability to come together and put aside minor prejudices to solve a greater civic problem that makes us truly free indeed.

      If only Stack knew such countrymen, perhaps his violent demise could have been averted.

  16. cometman permalink*
    February 18, 2010 9:37 pm

    Evidently producing brand new wars with fresh ideas and original scripts is getting too expensive what with the world economy these days so the Brits are considering just doing a remake.

  17. artemis54 permalink
    February 19, 2010 8:13 am

    I got a question.

    Why does Tiger Woods owe me an apology?

    I’ve rather enjoyed the comedy he’s made of his life.

    He owes his wife an apology, but I have a feeling she’ll get hers out of it one way or another. I didn’t even know he was married, and for all I care he can get busy with every waitress in every IHOP in every strip mall in the country til he drops dead of exhaustion.

    There are a whole lot of people who ought to be down on their knees begging forgiveness from the public, but Woods ain’t one of them.

    • cometman permalink*
      February 19, 2010 8:30 am

      Amen. I turned on the TV briefly this morning kind of expecting them to be discussing the incident in Austin yesterday and saw people breathlessly speculating on what Tiger might have to say. Amazing. The Boston Globe didn’t even have the Austin story on the front page. They’ve been devoting a lot of space in recent days to the woman who shot up her colleagues in a tenure dispute who just seems like a crazy person who should have had mental help years ago.

      Stories that cause people to gawk last for days. Not so much for ones that might make people think.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 19, 2010 8:36 am

      The person Tiger Woods isn’t apologizing to you Melvin the person. The corporate proxy brand name Tiger Woods™® © is apologizing to you the unit of corporate consumption, the mass consumer.

      • artemis54 permalink
        February 19, 2010 9:33 am


        In that case I am moved to tears, as no doubt his test polling predicted I would be.

  18. Stemella permalink*
    February 19, 2010 8:39 am

    Here’s one sure to make you say “grrrrrrrrrr”

    World’s top firms cause $2.2tn of environmental damage, report estimates

    The cost of pollution and other damage to the natural environment caused by the world’s biggest companies would wipe out more than one-third of their profits if they were held financially accountable, a major unpublished study for the United Nations has found.

    The report comes amid growing concern that no one is made to pay for most of the use, loss and damage of the environment, which is reaching crisis proportions in the form of pollution and the rapid loss of freshwater, fisheries and fertile soils.

    • cometman permalink*
      February 19, 2010 9:04 am

      That is very grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-inducing. Is 1/3 of profits really so much to sacrifice? It’s not as if these companies would go out of business, it would just mean executives would likely get a smaller bonus that would still be more than most people make in a lifetime. The way every argument must be put in financial terms is maddening.

    • artemis54 permalink
      February 19, 2010 11:03 am

      Strip mining on a planetary scale.

      Bank accounts can be replenished. The global genome cannot. What is happening is the irreversible impoverishment of future generations. I want to puke when I hear the beltway morons talk about intergenerational theft in terms of paper debt and remain silent about the destruction – in the span of three or four generations – of the global genome and the infrastructure that has sustained us for the last half million years.

  19. Stemella permalink*
    February 19, 2010 8:44 am

    Here’s one I meant to post a while ago, regarding Palin’s advisors, including Randy Scheunemann

    The chief foreign policy adviser to the McCain presidential campaign, Scheunemann was a campaign ’08 favorite of TPMmuckraker. Classic Scheunemann attack lines from 2008 include this one on Iraq: “Senator Obama seems to think losing a war will help him win an election.”

    Known for his early and vocal support for the Iraq War — including as the founder of Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and a longtime ally of Ahmed Chalabi — Scheunemann brought unwanted scrutiny to the McCain campaign on several occasions, including for his work for the government of Georgia.

    He runs a Washington lobby shop called Orion Strategies, and his clients have included not only Georgia, but also the government of Taiwan and the National Rifle Association.

    Scheunemann is now a paid foreign policy adviser to Palin; he even traveled to Hong Kong with her last September for a foreign policy speech in which she went after President Obama on selective defense program cuts and took a hard line against “a China where the government suppresses the liberties its people hold dear.”

    It’s also worth noting he recently hired Michael Goldfarb away from the Weekly Standard, though it’s not clear whether Goldfarb will be working the Palin account.

    • cometman permalink*
      February 19, 2010 9:09 am

      Those other advisors don’t sound too savory either, especially Daniels and Malek who I hadn’t heard of before. Thanks for putting them on the radar.

  20. cometman permalink*
    February 19, 2010 8:49 am

    Couple more things about the Joe Stack incident.

    First, here’s an explanation about his specific grievance with the tax code. Evidently it was one of those not very well thought out laws with unintended consequences. Sounds like Stack had a legitimate beef with the law but the author of the post has some good advice:

    If you’re a techie and you got wiped out financially:

    1. you are not alone
    2. you need to join forces with other techies and get a political voice

    Put your anger and outrage where it belongs and demand political action through the right channels. Just behavior as Mr. Stack here, is never justified.

    If you are going to the dark side, look, that doesn’t help anybody and all you’re doing is helping the bastards win.

    What I consider the right channels and what the author does may be very different but he makes a good point. Lashing out wildly isn’t going to solve shit and just makes it easier to be written off as a complete nutjob even if you aren’t.

    Second, Glenn Greenwald explains that we now have to differentiate between regular terrorism and capital “T” Terrorism. In case it wasn’t immediately clear, the “T’ stands for brown people.

  21. cometman permalink*
    February 19, 2010 9:15 am

    Been hearing that the IAEA has recently changed its tune about the supposed danger posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions which was puzzling to me. Chris Floyd explains the change in rhetoric. Evidently the guy with the funny sounding brown person’s name is gone and the US has gotten their man installed.

    In an astounding development, the brand-new director of the International Atomic Energy Agency — who was narrowly elected to the post a few months ago with the strong, one might say insistent, backing of the United States — has just issued his very first report on Iran’s nuclear program. And guess what the new, American-backed director said? Go on, you’ll never guess.

    Give up? Well, hold on to your hats — the American-backed director, Yukiya Amano, has “broken with the more cautious style of his predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei” — you know, the man who was right about Iraq’s lack of a nuclear weapons program — to suggest (sans proof, of course) that there might be “possible military dimensions” to Iran’s nuclear program, which just happens to be the most internationally inspected and regulated nuclear power program in history.

  22. cometman permalink*
    February 19, 2010 10:05 am

    New methods allow researchers to confirm Einstein’s general theory of relativity more accurately than ever before.

    While airplane and rocket experiments have proved that gravity makes clocks tick more slowly — a central prediction of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity — a new experiment in an atom interferometer measures this slowdown 10,000 times more accurately than before, and finds it to be exactly what Einstein predicted.

    The result shows once again how well Einstein’s theory describes the real world, said Holger Müller, an assistant professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley.

    But just how “real” is that world we see? New experimental data suggests we may be living in a giant hologram. That one is really fascinating. I’d heard of the hologram theory before but nobody thought there would be any way to prove it experimentally since it deals with Planck length scales which require incredible amounts of energy to probe. But this experiment designed to detect gravity waves, one of the biggest things in the universe, may have plowed into one of the smallest, the quantum foam, instead.

    For many months, the GEO600 team-members had been scratching their heads over inexplicable noise that is plaguing their giant [gravity wave] detector. Then, out of the blue, a researcher approached them with an explanation. In fact, he had even predicted the noise before he knew they were detecting it. According to Craig Hogan, a physicist at the Fermilab particle physics lab in Batavia, Illinois, GEO600 has stumbled upon the fundamental limit of space-time – the point where space-time stops behaving like the smooth continuum Einstein described and instead dissolves into “grains”, just as a newspaper photograph dissolves into dots as you zoom in. “It looks like GEO600 is being buffeted by the microscopic quantum convulsions of space-time,” says Hogan.

    If this doesn’t blow your socks off, then Hogan, who has just been appointed director of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics, has an even bigger shock in store: “If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram.”


    According to Hogan, the holographic principle radically changes our picture of space-time. Theoretical physicists have long believed that quantum effects will cause space-time to convulse wildly on the tiniest scales. At this magnification, the fabric of space-time becomes grainy and is ultimately made of tiny units rather like pixels, but a hundred billion billion times smaller than a proton. This distance is known as the Planck length, a mere 10-35 metres. The Planck length is far beyond the reach of any conceivable experiment, so nobody dared dream that the graininess of space-time might be discernable.

    That is, not until Hogan realised that the holographic principle changes everything. If space-time is a grainy hologram, then you can think of the universe as a sphere whose outer surface is papered in Planck length-sized squares, each containing one bit of information. The holographic principle says that the amount of information papering the outside must match the number of bits contained inside the volume of the universe.

    Since the volume of the spherical universe is much bigger than its outer surface, how could this be true? Hogan realised that in order to have the same number of bits inside the universe as on the boundary, the world inside must be made up of grains bigger than the Planck length. “Or, to put it another way, a holographic universe is blurry,” says Hogan.

    This is good news for anyone trying to probe the smallest unit of space-time. “Contrary to all expectations, it brings its microscopic quantum structure within reach of current experiments,” says Hogan. So while the Planck length is too small for experiments to detect, the holographic “projection” of that graininess could be much, much larger, at around 10-16 metres. “If you lived inside a hologram, you could tell by measuring the blurring,” he says.

    In other news of the brave new world, your genetic code can now be rewired – Genetic code 2.0: Life gets a new operating system.

    In all existing life forms, the four “letters” of the genetic code, called nucleotides, are read in triplets, so that every three nucleotides encode a single amino acid.

    Not any more. Jason Chin at the University of Cambridge and his colleagues have now redesigned the cell’s machinery so that it reads the genetic code in quadruplets.

    In the genetic code that life has used up to now, there are 64 possible triplet combinations of the four nucleotide letters; these genetic “words” are called codons. Each codon either codes for an amino acid or tells the cell to stop making a protein chain. Now Chin’s team have created 256 blank four-letter codons that can be assigned to amino acids that don’t even exist yet.

    • artemis54 permalink
      February 19, 2010 12:02 pm

      wtf? I have to go read this.

      • cometman permalink*
        February 19, 2010 12:51 pm

        That last one’s a little freaky, huh? Little unsettling to think that when you check out at the grocery store and they ask you if plastic is OK they might be referring to the bagger and not the bag.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 19, 2010 2:24 pm

      Great oogly moogly. These revelations may require somewhat intense”attitude adjustment” I’m sure I’ve heard all these theories before from deep and convoluted conversations while “adjusted” but that they might be uhm, real?

      … effects will cause space-time to convulse wildly on the tiniest scales … the fabric of space-time becomes grainy … rather like pixels, but a hundred billion billion times smaller … so nobody dared dream …

      Whoah. Dude.

    • cometman permalink*
      February 20, 2010 9:10 am

      Here’s what Craig Venter, mentioned briefly at the end of that genetics 2.0 article, has been up to –

  23. cometman permalink*
    February 19, 2010 10:21 am

    More about the Goldies and the Greeks speculating that they are playing the same game with Greece as they did with AIG – putting together a piece of shit deal and then shorting it to rake in even more.

    • cometman permalink*
      February 19, 2010 1:10 pm

      Couple more on the Greek situation. Been trying to figure out what these swap deals were all about and this one from Robert Scheer has some info. Evidently there’s nothing you can’t commodify as the swap deals were based on airport fee futures.

      …Greece’s case did not involve the usual questionable mortgages packaged into derivatives with credit default swaps backing them up, but rather expected revenue on airport fees and other potential sources of the cashed-strapped government’s future income.

      This one was good in describing just how the country works, or doesn’t. The author touches on a lot of things I’ve read about or seen with my own eyes.

      The rot goes all the way back to the early days of the state, when votes were routinely rewarded with civil service sinecures; some 30 percent of Greeks now work in the public sector, with jobs guaranteed for life. The culture of graft is endemic and paying taxes is for fools, while immigrant-bashing and scaremongering about the Republic of Macedonia stand in for patriotism.

      Every Greek government since the 1980s has in effect colluded in the black economy; but then, so have Brussels and the banks.

      Can’t put my finger on the article right now so I’m going by memory, but I read recently that about 30% of Greece’s economy comes from the black market. I’ve seen lots of stolen cigarettes for sale on the streets there and watched as police looked the other way at prostitution. I’ve also seen some of these civil servants for life “guarding” archaeological sites which mainly consisted of having drinks in a taverna somewhere in the general vicinity of an archaeological site. Somebody who knew the guard told me the guard’s father had been a war hero or something and had gotten his son the post for life. Had no idea the percentage of public servants was that high though.

      I also read somewhere recently that the shipping industry which is huge in Greece pays little to no taxes at all. Not sure if it’s because of too generous tax breaks or they just don’t feel like paying up.

      Anyhoo, it may just boil down to the fact that the majority of Greeks just aren’t that into the whole capitalism thing. First time I ever heard the crack about mad dogs and Englishmen being the only ones foolish enough to work in the noonday sun was from a Greek. Quite likely it was right after they’d finished their midday nap.

      • Stemella permalink*
        February 19, 2010 2:33 pm

        There are other recent revelations today over at ZH, including:

        Head Of Greek Debt Office Replaced By Former Goldman Investment Banker

        Can’t make this scathos up.

  24. cometman permalink*
    February 19, 2010 1:13 pm

    Good one about the Argentine workers who took over shuttered factories a few years back during that country’s economic crisis and are still hanging on – To Resist is to Survive.

  25. cometman permalink*
    February 19, 2010 1:38 pm


    The description posted with the video:

    A sun dog is a prismatic bright spot in the sky caused by sun shining through ice crystals. The Atlas V rocket exceeded the speed of sound in this layer of ice crystals, making the shock wave visible from the ground. The announcer can be heard in the video saying, “The vehicle is now supersonic.”

  26. Stemella permalink*
    February 19, 2010 3:38 pm

    Here’s a little bit of sacrilege to kick off the weekend. Have a great one!

    Indian state confiscates ‘blasphemous’ Jesus textbooks

    • cometman permalink*
      February 19, 2010 8:44 pm

      Ha! Jeebus budguzzling Xrist that was awesome.

  27. cometman permalink*
    February 19, 2010 8:35 pm

    How long before the Goldies start touting this as evidence that bad mouthing the banks is bad for the economy? Evidently original Alan Greenspan portraits aren’t fetching what they used to.


    “There was no interest,” he says. To this day, he hasn’t sold any prints, he says, “not a single one.” The original painting could still recover some value, he says. “I hate to tell you, but we are kind of waiting for him to pass on.”

  28. sisdevore permalink
    February 19, 2010 11:07 pm

    I admire your tenacity. Or your tentacles.

    Just paying my respects from the deli.

    and listening to Lucinda Williams.

  29. artemis54 permalink
    February 20, 2010 7:26 am

    GAO’s High Risk List

    Every two years, GAO provides Congress with an update on its High-Risk Program, which highlights major problems that are at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse mismanagement or in need of broad reform. As of November 2009, there are 31 areas on GAO’s High-Risk list.

    Modernizing the Outdated U.S. Financial Regulatory System
    Restructuring the U.S. Postal Service to Achieve Sustainable Financial Viability
    Funding the Nation’s Surface Transportation System
    2010 Census
    Strategic Human Capital Management
    Managing Federal Real Property
    DOD Approach to Business Transformation
    Business Systems Modernization
    Personnel Security Clearance Program
    Support Infrastructure Management
    Financial Management
    Supply Chain Management
    Weapon Systems Acquisition
    Implementing and Transforming the Department of Homeland Security
    Establishing Effective Mechanisms for Sharing Terrorism-Related Information to Protect the Homeland
    Protecting the Federal Government’s Information Systems and the Nation’s Critical Infrastructures
    Ensuring the Effective Protection of Technologies Critical to U.S. National Security Interests
    Revamping Federal Oversight of Food Safety
    Protecting Public Health through Enhanced Oversight of Medical Products
    Transforming EPA’s Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals
    DOD Contract Management
    DOE’s Contract Management for the National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management
    NASA Acquisition Management
    Management of Interagency Contracting
    Enforcement of Tax Laws
    IRS Business Systems Modernization
    Improving and Modernizing Federal Disability Programs
    Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Insurance Programs
    Medicare Program
    Medicaid Program
    National Flood Insurance Program

    But hey, other than that . . . . .

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