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Crossing the Rubicon

February 20, 2010

There was a little bridge across the Rubicon at the point where Cæsar was surveying it. While he was standing there, the story is, a peasant or shepherd came from the neighboring fields with a shepherd’s pipe—a simple musical instrument, made of a reed, and used much by the rustic musicians of those days. The soldiers and some of the officers gathered around him to hear him play. Among the rest came some of Cæsar’s trumpeters, with their trumpets in their hands. The shepherd took one of these martial instruments from the hands of its possessor, laying aside his own, and began to sound a charge—which is a signal for a rapid advance—and to march at the same time over the bridge “An omen! a prodigy!” said Cæsar. “Let us march where we are called by such a divine intimation. The die is cast.” source

Yes, the die has been cast for us as well. Yesterday, Obama’s Justice Department also crossed the proverbial river of no return in deciding that the authors of Bush’s torture memos will face no disciplinary action whatsoever. Authors of waterboarding memos won’t be disciplined

The decision represents the end of a five-year internal battle and flatly rejects recommendations by the department’s ethics investigators. They had twice urged that allegations against John C. Yoo and Jay S. Bybee be sent to state disciplinary authorities for further action, including the possible revocation of their licenses to practice law.

Chris Floyd sums it up well
Teach your children well: There is no law but might and murder

Dick Cheney has openly confessed to instructing his pathetic little minions, his nasty little modern-day Vyshinksys, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, to write the scraps of paper of twisted legalese meant to pre-emptively exonerate the top officials of the United States government for the unambiguously criminal actions they were to inflict upon their uncharged, untried prisoners — some of whom had actually been purchased, like slaves, from traffickers in human bodies — around the world. Cheney boasts openly of supporting and facilitating torture techniques — such as waterboarding — which have historically been prosecuted as high crimes by American authorities, and are, in fact, capital crimes under the laws of the United States today.

But on Friday, February 19, 2010, the administration of President Barack Obama declared that not only will it not prosecute the avowed and boastful perpetrators and accomplices of the capital crime of torture, it will not impose even the mildest of administrative or professional reprimands upon them. For the foulest of tortures, reaching even to murder, the government of the United States will do nothing: no investigation, no prosecution, no penalty.

I have run out of words to describe how vile this is. The mind recoils against fully comprehending the moral depravity of our leaders — and the reeking stench of their pious hypocrisy.

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51 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    February 20, 2010 10:06 am

    The Hag has expired

    Here he is discussing the Pentagon Papers with Tricky Dick from the Nixon tapes

    • cometman permalink*
      February 20, 2010 11:26 am

      Good riddance. We won’t have to worry about him ‘taking charge’ any time soon. Too bad Hunter S isn’t around to give this pus stain a proper eulogy.

      And very apt post to go along with this news. Somewhere Nixon is cursing up a blue streak for having lived in an era where there were actually consequences for breaking the law and not in the present age where anything can be made “legal” after the fact. Wonder which of his enemies would have gotten a predator strike by now?

  2. Stemella permalink*
    February 20, 2010 10:21 am

    There’s another take on the DOJ ruling from McClatchy here

    Justice Department clears Bush lawyers for ‘torture memos’

  3. Stemella permalink*
    February 21, 2010 2:23 pm

    There is hope …

    Cat food latest weapon against cane toads

    Here Larry, Larry, Larry ;P

    • artemis54 permalink
      February 21, 2010 3:29 pm

      Nice creative approach! Invasives can be so tough, it’s often an outside-the-box answer if there is any at all.

      I had the pleasure of watching rush skeleton weed – every bit as charming as its name suggests – march across my area. Some control now, with various introduced insects and mites.

  4. cometman permalink*
    February 22, 2010 8:09 am

    Even as a young man I always enjoyed the old man bars. That’s what the Comet Tavern was when I started going there although it’s changed now. Thick smoke, cheap drinks and the salt of the earth. Drywallers, lawyers,poets, cooks, cops, rock stars and governors – once you walked in the door you were the same as everybody else. A two dollar pint as the great equalizer. So I liked this article about a dying breed – Bars where no one knows your name.

    • artemis54 permalink
      February 22, 2010 8:31 am

      There was a gay bar just up the street -1111 – that was a very great rarity at the time: a neighborhood gay bar with that same feeling. Folks just dropped by after work or school, and no one much cared what you looked like or anything else, everyone just needed to unwind and shoot the breeze. It was a ramshackle old mess about to fall down and didn’t attract the fancy poseurs at all, which made it a lot of fun.

      • cometman permalink*
        February 22, 2010 8:54 am

        Was 1111 the name of it when you went there or are you talking about Spags? I think that was the name of the bar at that address in the early 90s. The owner of the Comet actually took that space over after Spags went under. He’s since sold it to one of his former patrons. Had a drink or two there the last time I was in town. It isn’t the dive it used to be since they remodeled it but I suspect it will be again if you give a few more decades.

        • artemis54 permalink
          February 22, 2010 9:25 am

          Spags was downhill, across from the Paramount. I know very well as I was attacked once while merely walking by it. By two redneck yokels armed with butter knives, by the way. I am a big wimp, but in that case I left them lying on the sidewalk.

          The place I’m talking about was uphill from the Comet just a block or so, across from REI.

          Unless everybody moved around in a round robin at some point.

          The owner of the place I’m thinking of used to get half shitfaced and perform Miss Otis Regrets accompanying himself on the piano.

          • cometman permalink*
            February 22, 2010 10:19 am

            I think there may have been a round robin because I know we’re talking about the same block. When I was there Spags was just up the hill from the Comet on the 1100-1200 block and it was a dive gay bar. There weren’t any dives across from the Paramount that I can remember. By the early-mid 90s they had more upscale restaurants in the neighborhood by the Paramount to cater to the shopping crowd.

            When I first moved to Capitol Hill the Comet and Ernie Steele’s were about the only ostensibly straight bars (seemed like the gay bars had a lot of straight clientele and vice versa) around and the neighborhood was still working class and hadn’t been hit by the gentrification cycle yet. One thing I always liked about the Comet was that there were a decent number of gay people who seemed to like getting away from the gay scene and hid in there instead. And the bar was very protective of all of its regular patrons. You didn’t screw with any of them unless you wanted the same treatment as you gave the redneck yokels. As a young kid from a rural area which sometimes wasn’t the most tolerant, it was really eye opening to me to see all the different people there and I learned a lot from the patrons of that place.

            Now the Hill is very gentrified and I barely recognized my old stomping grounds last time I visited. I think the music scene that hit in the late80s-early 90s was what started it. Lots more expensive condos than dive bars these days. From what I hear from friends there, the gentrification pushed a lot of people into the Georgetown neighborhood which was pretty desolate 20 years ago, and now that neighborhood is in turn going upscale after the artsy fartsy types made it cool. So it goes.

            You ever go into Jimmy Woo’s Jade Pagoda up on Broadway? Not sure if it’s there anymore but that was another bar I liked to go to once in a while.

            • artemis54 permalink
              February 22, 2010 10:39 am

              Yes, yes. Steele’s and the Pagoda. Great places to just go and sit down for a minute and have a drink. I used to go through my mail at Steele’s.

              Also the Mecca at the foot of Queen Anne. Great bar, although a friend once made the mistake of actually eating the food and was hospitalized within a couple hours.

              • cometman permalink*
                February 22, 2010 10:44 am

                The Mecca is still there I’m pretty sure. I ate there many times but never ran into a problem with the food myself although the drinks did me in on a couple occasions.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 22, 2010 8:48 am

      There was an old man bar next to the laundromat near where I worked. I’d drop off the laundry before starting my shift at 8 am and there’d be crusty old fuckers in there drinking their breakfast, discussing the day’s catch, before heading into their own shifts at the fish plant.

      My friends and I would head in there for a brew or two after our shifts were done in the afternoon and many of the same guys were in there, three or four winds to the sheet. They’d give us saucy young women a wink and a smile as we headed over to the PacMan machine to unwind from our day. That was it, no hassles. They were happy to share their space with us. The place reeked of shrimp waste and other sundry scents of unwashed drunkeness, but it was local flavor at its best. We called it the Fleahaven.

      Thankfully we have Bukowski who documented the old man bars of America so well.

      “Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink.” – Buk

      • cometman permalink*
        February 22, 2010 8:56 am

        Ha! Never heard that quote before but I have performed the action a couple times. But only on really fun nights :P

      • artemis54 permalink
        February 22, 2010 9:29 am

        ADA Jack McCoy from Law & Order: “The difference between bog Irish and lace curtain Irish: the lace curtain Irish take the dishes out of the sink first.”

  5. cometman permalink*
    February 22, 2010 8:58 am

    Here’s good one ralted to the topic of your post – Justice Department Will Not Punish Yoo and Bybee Because Most Lawyers Are Scum Anyway .

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 22, 2010 11:30 am

      “Lawyers barely above the scum of the earth are therefore excused.” Politicians too.

      As the author concludes the damage has been done. All the kings horses and all the king’s men can’t put America’s honor back together again.

  6. cometman permalink*
    February 22, 2010 9:24 am

    Good article from Bloomberg on the problems facing the Chinese economy. Much like the US they have concentrated on real estate and the boom has fueled their economy but they have also overbuilt to the point they have a lot of excess capacity and a bubble is building. To me the difference seems to be that the Chinese are aware of the problem and are attempting to do something about it rather than just sticking their heads in the sand and waiting for it to blow up. We’ll see whether they are successful or not but the steps they are suggesting seem better than what was done here. Not all of them are particularly smart though.

    Local-government officials have wasted stimulus funds by replacing infrastructure that was fine in the first place. State media complained in May 2009 that party chiefs in Jianyang, Sichuan province, decided to help boost the local economy by rebuilding a bridge that was in such good condition it had emerged unscathed a year earlier from the earthquake that killed 70,000 people. The so-called Bridge of Strength withstood a demolition crew that tried to blast it to pieces with dynamite, the official China Daily reported.

  7. artemis54 permalink
    February 22, 2010 9:41 am

    What were they thinking? Out-of-Step Ice Dancing Routine

    Clearly, the costumes leapfrogged tribute into caricature. The island evoked by the Russians’ routine was not so much Australia as Gilligan’s Island.

    I didn’t know anything about this until just happening across their routine on the tv machine last night. They have toned down the blackface and lost some of the face paint, but the costumes are still – well, utterly ridiculous is the only wasy to describe them. Too stupid to even be offensive.

    However, the routine itself includes such sterotypes as rhythmically patting the lips in some sort of stylized war whoop, etc. More pathetic than anything else.

    The couple received very high marks from the judges on their technique, etc. But the audience in Vancouver passed its own judgement: they got the limpest possible response from the crowd. Scattered half-hearted applause for a few seconds. Canadians aren’t going to boo, but it was close.

    • artemis54 permalink
      February 22, 2010 10:10 am

      Speaking of, the dipshit msnbc infotainmodels keep referring to the Globe and Mail as Vancouver’s newspaper. Jesus Christ. You might as well call the NYT Seattle’s newspaper.

    • cometman permalink*
      February 22, 2010 10:41 am

      Ha!

      …a didgeri-don’t.

      I didn’t see it either but judging from the picture that sounds about right.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 22, 2010 11:35 am

      To make matters worse, they met with some of the First Nations people days before and were given honorary blankets, as though that excused the stupidity or gave the cover.

      Quoting rahmbo – they are fucking retarded.

      Pisses me off that in comparison, the judges were harsh on John Weir for his sassy tassels and attitude while he skated so well. Racism is ok but being openly and joyfully gay is still taboo among the skating elites.

  8. cometman permalink*
    February 22, 2010 10:35 am

    Enjoyed this article from Chris Hedges – Boycott Fed Ex – for all the reasons Hedges discusses and more. Having dealt with FedEx and UPS quite a bit and having worked for UPS for a very brief period as a temp, he is right on the money. If UPS can pay its workers well and still stay in business, why can’t FedEx?

    One thing he doesn’t touch on is Fedex’s practice of not paying insurance claims on the packages it loses. This practice is fairly widespread and has been going on for years. Not a lawyer, but this is the type of thing I’d think would be ripe for a class action lawsuit.

  9. cometman permalink*
    February 22, 2010 10:50 am

    Haven’t heard from Sean Gonsalves in a while but he has a good article today on shortfalls of the new credit card legislation that goes into effect today which render it pretty much useless, namely the lack of any caps on interest rates – Gimme That Ole Time Religion.

    PR Watch.org reports: “The new law prohibits credit card companies from raising interest rates whenever they like, on short notice or no notice, and for no particular reason. To get around this, CitiBank mailed out letters announcing it was raising its rates for all of its customers to its bad-creditor rate of 30 percent, and telling customers that they are eligible for a ‘program’ that lowers their interest rate back down to the previous rate they had been paying. The only catch: if they miss a payment their rate will zoom back up to 30 percent immediately and retroactively — exactly the kind of behavior the law sought to end.”

    Of course, none of this would be an issue if there was a cap on credit card interest rates. But you won’t find it in the bill (except for active military personnel), which, if you’ll excuse my crusty ole conservative curiosity, makes me wonder what ever happened to the immorality (and illegality) of usury?

  10. cometman permalink*
    February 22, 2010 11:10 am

    Good article comparing Marja, Afghanistan to Marfa, Texas and why the US plans likely won’t there when they don’t work here – ‘Government in a Box’ in Marja.

    The world is already littered with cities planned from scratch that failed. How many of those cities still exist as anything other than long buried ruins for archaeologists to dig up? There may be a few Alexandrias still kicking around but their names are about all that was retained from their original purpose. The US would be well advised to worry about the longevity of its own planned from scratch city in DC before trying to build others where they likely aren’t wanted to begin with.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 22, 2010 11:52 am

      Interesting comparison. I come from ancestors who lived in Marfa. I even went to a surrealistic party Dali would have loved for a bunch of New York City minimalist artists in the old barracks there, taken over by sculptor Donald Judd. He was still alive then and his daughter threw an acid/ecstasy trip party with a band inside an empty swimming pool. We revelers painted it while we danced. Yeah, Marfa was an experience all right. It even has curious ghost lights. It took quite a bit of Tequilla before we could see them.

      If Afghanistan is anything like Marfa, we have no fucking business being there. Not in a military capacity in any fashion any how.

  11. cometman permalink*
    February 22, 2010 11:26 am

    Here’s one to keep an eye on. Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon has been very outspoken about war crimes. He went after Pinochet, has made some noise about Israeli and Palestinian war crimes, and now that the US “Justice” department has failed to punish its own war criminals, he may be the only hope of ever punishing John Yoo and others.

    But he’s also looked into to Franco’s war crimes in Spain and that has gotten him in hot water with some fascist relics and may result in him being removed .

    And, of course, the reactionary forces mobilized. There are very powerful forces in Spain that want to stop Garzon and punish him. The fascist party (La Falange) and other ultra-right-wing forces took Judge Garzon to the Supreme Court, asking that he be stopped from taking Franco’s regime and those responsible for the desaparecidos to the tribunals. And to everyone’s surprise, a member of the Supreme Court, Judge Varela, who had been assigned by this court to look at the fascists’ denunciation of Garzon, saw merit in their request: according to this judge, the Amnesty Law signed in the last days of the dictatorship gave permanent immunity to all who had committed violations of human rights under the fascist regime. This judge’s position increased the likelihood of Garzon’s being taken to the Supreme Court (a five-member court presided over by a judge who swore loyalty to the fascist regime).

    ~snip~

    In a few days, the Supreme Court (chaired by a judge who swore loyalty to the Fascist regime during the dictatorship) will pass judgment on Garzon and most likely will divest him of his judicial responsibilities. To put this in perspective, what is happening is equivalent to the Supreme Court of Germany (presided over by a judge who swore loyalty to the Nazi Government) responding to the request of the Nazi Party and passing judgment on the only judge who had dared to try the crimes committed by the Nazi regime. This is what is happening in Spain. And the “official” international media remain silent.

    It’s been a great week or so for war criminals.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 23, 2010 8:15 am

      I don’t have confidence that Yoo or any of the other torture enablers and actual torturers will ever be held to account. Just as Kissinger was made a “war criminal” in name, he has lived unrestrained and unpunished. So too will all the rest of these freaks and criminals. That is until America faces a defeat equal to that inflicted on Germany, Japan and Kosovo for example. Only the completely defeated get punished for war crimes.

  12. cometman permalink*
    February 22, 2010 1:12 pm

    Thought this post from Marshall Auerback and friend on the Greek situation was pretty good as it touches on several other things I’ve read about recently including the stock sell-off by Goldman employees before they got their golden parachute, that AIG may have been the one selling CDS on Greece, and Greece firing back at Germany by asking for WWII reparations for the damage the Nazi’s did. That last one has little chance of being successful but I thought it was a pretty funny shot across the bow when the Germans started getting holier-than-thou recently.

    The thrust of the article is that Greece shouldn’t bow to the various measures designed to ‘help’ as it will only make matters worse and instead, since the US sure as hell isn’t going to do it, they should come out with both barrels blazing against Goldman and the other banksters and finally get to the bottom of their rotten dealings.

    Here’s a more appropriate action: declare war on Goldman Sachs and other global financial firms that created this mess. Send the troops, the planes, the tanks, and the ships. Attack every outpost of the saboteurs on European soil. Blockade the airports and ports. Make Wall Street traders and CEOs fear for their lives, or at least for their freedom to travel. Build some Guantanamo-like facility to hold these enemy financial combatants until they can be tried, convicted, and properly punished.

    Ok, if a literal armed attack on Goldman is too far-fetched, then go after the firm using the full force of the regulatory and legal systems. Close the offices and go through the files with a fine-tooth comb. Issue subpoenas to all non-clerical staff for court appearances. Make the internal emails public. Post the names of all managers and traders on Interpol. Arrest anyone who tries to board a plane, train, or boat; confiscate their passports; revoke their visas and work permits; and put a hold on their bank accounts until culpability can be assessed. Make life at least as miserable for them as it now is for Europe’s tens of millions of unemployed workers.

    • artemis54 permalink
      February 22, 2010 5:51 pm

      Nazi reparations.

      We should be hearing about the Elgin Marbles in three, two, one . . . .

  13. cometman permalink*
    February 22, 2010 1:39 pm

    Judge Rakoff OKs the BofA/SEC agreement for $150 million but he isn’t happy about it.

    The judge nevertheless said the law required him to give “substantial deference” to the SEC in approving the accord.

    ~snip~

    The judge said he accepted the settlement despite its “very modest punitive, compensatory, and remedial measures that are neither directed at the specific individuals responsible for the nondisclosures nor appear likely to have more than a very modest impact on corporate practices or victim compensation.

    “While better than nothing,” Rakoff went on, “this is half-baked justice at best.”

    Rakoff particularly faulted the $150 million fine, which he called “modest” and said “penalizes the shareholders for what was, in effect if not in intent, a fraud by management on the shareholders.”

    The judge also accepted the settlement though Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America rejected his proposal to let the SEC and the court help choose a pay consultant.

    Rakoff nevertheless said that it is not judges’ role to “impose their own preferences,” and that he would exercise “self-restraint” in declining to block the settlement.

    May be more than just simple self-restraint – he may have figured this was likely the best he could get. Had he not agreed to the settlement and the case proceeded in a different jurisdiction, it seems likely to me that BofA would have gotten off with an even smaller penalty considering the absolutely corrupt regulatory and judiciary systems. He may have had the recent judicial activism by the Supremes in mind when he decided not to push things. I don’t know if cases like this could go to the Supreme Court or not, but if so I suspect conservatives among the Supremes could have found away to ignore their own hypocrisy and accuse Rakoff of judicial activism for overstepping his bounds.

  14. cometman permalink*
    February 22, 2010 1:43 pm

    The Dynamite Prize in Economics, awarded to those most responsible for blowing up the world economy, is out.

    I’m thinking Friedman would have made number one if he hadn’t managed to escape scrutiny for his actions by dying.

  15. artemis54 permalink
    February 22, 2010 5:38 pm

    More on Abos on Ice. The response is coming in from down under, and it ain’t pretty:

    gold for tackiest stunt

    Loin cloths and rubbed noses . . . why would anyone be offended?

    Shabalin’s repeated statement that he doesn’t understand why blackface is offensive tells you he’s never going to get it.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 23, 2010 8:07 am

      Last night their costumes had rope attachments used for winging the woman around with a slight hint of S & M. Thankfully the Canadian and American pairs skated perfectly and beautifully, keeping the Russian pair from earning a higher reward than the bronze.

      • artemis54 permalink
        February 23, 2010 1:55 pm

        I saw a little of that. The skating gods are now going to have to erect new costume rules, or it will become bungee skating.

  16. Stemella permalink*
    February 23, 2010 7:58 am

    More new/old revelations about Goldie Sux

    Secret AIG Document Shows Goldman Sachs Minted Most Toxic CDOs

    The secret document is the one Darrell Issa disclosed at that hearing with Elvin One a few weeks back, which was also posted in full on ZH. Now Bloomberg has combed through it and explains the following:

    The identification of securities in the document, known as Schedule A, and data compiled by Bloomberg show that Goldman Sachs underwrote $17.2 billion of the $62.1 billion in CDOs that AIG insured — more than any other investment bank. Merrill Lynch & Co., now part of Bank of America Corp., created $13.2 billion of the CDOs, and Deutsche Bank AG underwrote $9.5 billion.

    These tallies suggest a possible reason why the New York Fed kept so much under wraps, Professor James Cox of Duke University School of Law says: “They may have been trying to shield Goldman — for Goldman’s sake or out of macro concerns that another investment bank would be at risk.”

    Goldman Sachs spokesman Michael DuVally declined to comment.

    The question remains as to whether there will be further investigation, disclosure leading ulitmately to necessary prosecution. With this crowd of hairless simians, I won’t hold my breath.

    Again, without surprise, the Vampire Squid proclaims innocence regarding the same kinds of tactics used on Greece.

    Goldman Sachs Says Greek Swaps Not ‘Inappropriate’

    I hope the Europeans follow through better than the US has and nail these assholes to the wall, declaring war on them, as suggested in the Auerback article linked above.

    • cometman permalink*
      February 23, 2010 8:50 am

      In light of all this evidence I think it’s time for people like Cox to dispense with the “may have beens” and start saying that they were trying to shield Goldman and the other banks. I’m glad the info is finally public but I’m still wondering why it’s Issa, not exactly a paragon of virtue himself, who manages to get this info out there. We hear the bankers are flooding the republicans with cash and yet it’s Issa and the republicans who seem to be getting the results against the banks lately. Guess I haven’t quite figured out the stage direction for this part of the play yet.

      And WTF is this bullshit from that second article:

      “They did produce a rather small, but nevertheless not insignificant reduction, in Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio,” Gerald Corrigan, chairman of Goldman Sachs’s regulated bank subsidiary, told a panel of U.K. lawmakers today. The swaps were “in conformity with existing rules and procedures.”

      From what I understand the swaps didn’t actually reduce Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio at all, they just hid some of their debt so it wasn’t on the books as debt any more.

  17. Stemella permalink*
    February 23, 2010 8:03 am

    When I saw this article this morning I nearly spewed my coffee. These cretins in the White House are not helping me to temper my total contempt and cynicism.

    Seidenberg, Dimon Among CEOs Invited to Dine With Obama Tonight

    The bolded part is what made me choke. Jeebus Jiminy Cricket on a barbeque skewer.

    The executives are in town for a meeting of the Business Roundtable, an association of executives from many of the biggest U.S. companies. Obama will speak to the group tomorrow as his administration works to combat perceptions that he is anti-business.

    “As in any good relationship, you’re not going to agree on everything,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday about the president’s relationship with the business community.

    • cometman permalink*
      February 23, 2010 9:03 am

      It’s as if “<0" has already given up on the possibility of being re-elected. Either that or he's aware that the actual votes that people cast aren't what determines the winner. Because how else are you supposed to explain him talking tough against the "fat cats" and then publicly admitting to the same fat cats over a lavish dinner that he didn't really mean what he said to all those pesky voters?

      “The irony is, is that on the left we are perceived as being in the pockets of big business; and then on the business side, we are perceived as being anti-business,” Obama said in a Feb. 9 interview in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

      Nothing really ironic about it jackass. Pretty obvious to not just those on the left but to anybody paying attention that you’re lying through your fucking teeth. Pretty sure the business interests know they’ve got you right in their pocket but if they can make even more money by convincing the public that your policies will destroy all their jobs and by doing so get even more concessions from you, they’re going to do it because that’s what extortion rackets do.

      • Stemella permalink*
        February 23, 2010 9:58 am

        It seems to me that he knows the votes don’t determine the winner. No way to prove it, but all behavior from this white house does seems to indicate that the only voices and funds who concern them are the corporatists and banksters. With Bush Cheney it was the same plus the Oilmen and associated contractors. With all we’ve seen in the voting mechanisms and systems in this country since 2000 and how little systemic repair has been done, it is difficult not to conclude that we are a democracy in name only.

        Obama’s team built a kabuki grassroots organization with his OFA but hasn’t utilized them to any significant degree since he was annointed. Having once been a member of OFA and a continued long time member of DFA, I can tell you the first was comparatively inauthentic. I keep coming back to the feeling that all of this is theater to mask the ugly guts of the machine that operates this industry of mass delusion called governance, this corporate subsidiary they still call the United States of America.

  18. Stemella permalink*
    February 23, 2010 8:46 am

    Number of distressed banks up to 702 the highest number in 16 years.

    I haven’t been keeping up with bank failure Fridays since the new year. So far there have been 20 failures since January 1st.

    And here is a link to a story seen on the same page as the first link that looks happy happy hopey! ;)

    Death of US Capitalism: The Final 10 Scenes

    and the original article to which it refers, posted in October

    America’s soul is lost and collapse is inevitable

    Do consider the source of these articles, however.

    • cometman permalink*
      February 23, 2010 9:20 am

      Also consider the source of Farrell’s article, Warren Buffet’s right hand man. I do think Buffett is better than most of these Wall Street assholes but that isn’t saying much. The king of ‘buy low sell high’ might be looking for some new bargains and it would be to his benefit for the market to go lower. But the article mentioned that Munger is 86 years old and he may be doing what many older people do – telling the truth as he sees it after getting sick of the bullshit. Then again he could be just another greedy bastard.

      BTW, did you happen to catch the article in a recent Harper’s about the Warren Buffet annual investor convention? I got a kick out of that one.

      • Stemella permalink*
        February 23, 2010 10:25 am

        I didn’t get to the Buffett article yet. I’ll check it out. I think you are right about his partner being an old old man and feeling like he can speak out now that his life is pretty much behind him. Old man yelling at the clouds who no one will really hear, even when he speaks truthfully. It is the young men who speak out and never stop speaking out that we need to find and amplify. Unfortunately the world keeps killing them (eg Gandhi and MLK)

  19. cometman permalink*
    February 23, 2010 9:37 am

    I really wish Keynes was still alive to shoot down bastardizations of Keynesian economics like this one.

    The Freidmanites run the world economy into the ground as nation after nation follows freemarketeerianism but it’s all Keynes’ fault when things aren’t fixed overnight. There is more to priming the pump than just throwing stimulus money towards tax cuts for people who don’t really need them and vague job creation measures. I think Keynes would have had something to say about wages which most of his detractors fail to mention. If people have more money to buy things, they will buy more things and the overall economy will improve. Maybe somebody ought to try that sometime. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if stimuli and bailouts are directed only toward the few while wages remain stagnant or get slashed, the economy for the vast majority of people will only get worse.

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 23, 2010 10:38 am

      The future of employment still isn’t looking too bright for all those neo-liberals who wish to bury Keynes

      Mass Layoffs Surge iin January, Highest Since July 2009

      Likewise, consumer confidence isn’t looking too excitable either
      Consumer confidence sags while housing remains shaky

      • cometman permalink*
        February 23, 2010 10:51 am

        Sounds like there are some government lies and damned lies that are going to need a little adjustment since we were just told that unemployment went down last month IIRC.

        Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out people are struggling to find work – just look around at all the vacant store fronts in just about everywhere. Took a little walk downtown recently and there are even more empty windows around than a few months ago. From that second article:

        U.S. commercial real estate is unlikely to show meaningful recovery before next year, a Realtors group said on Tuesday, citing high vacancy rates.

        I doubt it’s even hit bottom yet. I haven’t even seen signs of an unmeaningful recovery.

  20. cometman permalink*
    February 23, 2010 9:55 am

    Good piece about health care arguing for a real national health care system and not some mishmash of mandated private plans for those who still have a little money left and public options for the people the insurance companies don’t want – Do Not Resuscitate the ‘Public Option’.

    With its reliance on the magic of the marketplace, the “public option” is simply not a proposal for reform. In fact, it has already been tried, and failed: in Maine, a “public option” insurer known as DirigoChoice, was established in 2003. It has failed to enroll but a tiny percent of the uninsured, did nothing to reduce the costs of insurance or health care, nor did it reduced overall health spending, nor did disparities in care improve – and in the last year DirigoChoice has fatally tanked.

    Give me Medicare for all or give me death!! Hmm. Better slogan needed ;)

    • Stemella permalink*
      February 23, 2010 10:20 am

      Hard to argue with that sentiment. We have a completely fucked up health care system overrun by greedy for profit corporations that a completely fucked up government, overrun by corporate lobbyists and funds, is attempting to pretend to “reform” to appease a few people in the completely fucked up media, in order to make the commercials more believable when election time comes.

      Meanwhile, real people are really being reamed by all of these systems.

      Medicare for all would clearly be best, but not even that can put this humpty dumpty society back together again.

      • cometman permalink*
        February 23, 2010 10:35 am

        This one from Glenn Greenwald does a good job of documenting the bad faith of Democrats in the health care debate and just about every other policy for that matter. He gives a couple of contradictory quotes from Jay Rockefeller and explains:

        In other words, Rockefeller was willing to be a righteous champion for the public option as long as it had no chance of passing (sadly, we just can’t do it, because although it has 50 votes in favor, it doesn’t have 60). But now that Democrats are strongly considering the reconciliation process — which will allow passage with only 50 rather than 60 votes and thus enable them to enact a public option — Rockefeller is suddenly “inclined to oppose it” because he doesn’t “think the timing of it is very good” and it’s “too partisan.” What strange excuses for someone to make with regard to a provision that he claimed, a mere five months ago (when he knew it couldn’t pass), was such a moral and policy imperative that he “would not relent” in ensuring its enactment.

        • Stemella permalink*
          February 23, 2010 10:54 am

          And here is Glenn Greenwald discussing Jay Rockefeller’s disingenuous statements back in January 2008 regarding the FISA bill.

          Jay Rockefeller’s unintentionally revealing comments

          Same as they ever were. Cannot trust these cockaroaches in thrall of the corporations. They are Vichy humans.

  21. Stemella permalink*
    February 23, 2010 10:49 am

    Recommended by Naked Capitalism

    The doomsday cycle

    Upon first glance I have to wonder how we get a government captured by the banksters to properly regulate them? I’ll have to read further to see if they can really answer that. That is our catch 22.

    Chris Hedges answers with defiance, recommends defiance
    Zero Point Of Systemic Collapse

    The indifference to the plight of others and the supreme elevation of the self is what the corporate state seeks to instill in us. It uses fear, as well as hedonism, to thwart human compassion. We will have to continue to battle the mechanisms of the dominant culture, if for no other reason than to preserve through small, even tiny acts, our common humanity. We will have to resist the temptation to fold in on ourselves and to ignore the cruelty outside our door. Hope endures in these often imperceptible acts of defiance. This defiance, this capacity to say no, is what the psychopathic forces in control of our power systems seek to eradicate. As long as we are willing to defy these forces we have a chance, if not for ourselves, then at least for those who follow. As long as we defy these forces we remain alive. And for now this is the only victory possible.

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