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Danse Macabre

March 4, 2010

One can put a tux, a top hat and a monocle on a monster and even dance with it, pretending it a worthy partner, trained and in step with the prevailing tune. One may even come to believe that it might obey the boundaries and rules of the dancefloor, against its very nature. That belief would be mistaken. The monster will always turn on its makers, especially when threatened by the thing it fears most, the fire of transparency of the truth.

The politicians may pretend to regulate the plutocrats and oligarchs, those not so carefully hiding their tentacles under their monkey suits. The pretense is feeble and ephemeral. The relationship can be described as something else, a danse macabre at the senescence of empire. The monster ultimately leads the maker off the end of the stage, off the edge of the cliff. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish monster from master, to tell which is which.

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58 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    March 5, 2010 7:29 am

    • cometman permalink*
      March 5, 2010 9:04 am

      Very nice post! Haven’t watched Young Frankenstein in ages and I’d forgotten Peter Boyle was even in it. Lloyd Blankfein is a lot scarier :)

  2. Stemella permalink*
    March 5, 2010 7:35 am

    Some members of the Senate Banking Committee, who have been locked in negotiations over the reform package, said Tuesday that they had reservations about giving the regulatory powers to the Fed, though they stopped short of rejecting it.
    “It may represent the best hope of actually getting something done, and I disagree with those who think we’d be in a better position in January or February to get a stronger bill,” said Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, who announced recently that he would not seek re-election. “If you look at the likely course of the coming elections, the more likely outcome would be a weaker approach.”

    Senator Christopher J. Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who is chairman of the committee, and Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, declined to provide details of the new proposal, which originated from their one-on-one negotiations over the last few days. Both expressed hope that they were on the brink of a compromise that could attract widespread, if grudging, support.

    Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the committee, has softened his criticism of the Fed in recent days. But he said he had concerns about possible interference by the proposed consumer unit with regulation intended to guarantee “safety and soundness” of banks.

    “It doesn’t matter that much whether it’s housed in the F.D.I.C., housed at Treasury or housed at the Fed,” Mr. Shelby said. “If it’s freestanding and has rule-making power and is not subject to ‘safety and soundness,’ I think it will be a no-go for the Republicans.”

    Another committee member, Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire, said, “My view is that the consumer agency has to answer to somebody, and it should be a prudential regulator.”

    Latest related update: Dodd’s final capitulation not yet ready for vote, but will be soon

    • cometman permalink*
      March 5, 2010 9:21 am

      Where to even start with this stupidity. Has it not occurred to Congress that the Fed has NOT been regulating and is largely responsible for the current problems? Has it not occurred to Congress that regulatory agencies regulate according to rules that Congress passes? Has it not occurred to Congress that THEY are the ones who can regulate the regulators by changing the laws? They sure as hell remembered that when they stripped all the power to regulate derivatives from Brooksley Born and the CFTC a few years ago so it sure seems like what they’re really worried about is that any new regulator might actually do its job. And Dodd wants legislation to make sure there will be no huge bailouts in the future? Maybe Dodd is unaware that Congress controls the purse strings and if they don’t want a bailout they don’t have to vote for one. Or even bring the issue up. The only thing Congress has to do to make sure there are no future bailouts is nothing. You’d think they’d have that down by now.

      • Stemella permalink*
        March 5, 2010 11:21 am

        The lobbyists have spoken. Favors and bank accounts have been filled. The Congress responds only to the whims and desires of its monsters. There will be no re-regulation with this bunch of captured clowns.

  3. Stemella permalink*
    March 5, 2010 7:55 am

    More in the annals of fear the food

    U.S. recalls common flavoring after contamination

    The flavoring — hydrolyzed vegetable protein — is used in soups, sauces, hot dogs, snack foods, dressings and dips and is made by privately held Basic Food Flavors Inc of Las Vegas, Nevada.

    “At this time there are no known illnesses associated with this contamination and obviously we’d like to keep it that way,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told reporters in a teleconference.

    “The manufacturer had many first-level consignees who obviously had individuals who had firms that they sold to who sold to the other firms,” said Dr. Jeff Farrar, associate commissioner for food safety at FDA’s Office of Foods.

    “We expect this to get larger over the next several days, actually several weeks,” Farrar said.

  4. Stemella permalink*
    March 5, 2010 8:26 am

    Recent news on Shock and Awe ala Greco

    Greece told to sell off islands and artworks

    Two senior German MPs have demanded that Greece sell off some of its islands, historic buildings and art works as a condition of receiving a financial lifeline from the EU.

    The call for a Big Fat Greek Auction – which would also include ancient artefacts and stakes in state-owned companies – to repay some of the country’s debt mountain came on the eve of crucial talks between the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, in Berlin tomorrow and takes the mudslinging between the two countries to a new level.

    ~snip~

    The Bild tabloid newspaper put it rather more succinctly: “We give you cash, you give us Corfu … and the Acropolis too”.

    I’ll bet the off the record Greek response to this ridiculous idea is quite colorful.

    Merkel and Papandreou are meeting or have met today and with hope will find a more agreeable solution.

    Meanwhile, the Greek people continue to take a more direct approach

    Striking Greek workers shut down transport and tried to storm parliament as lawmakers passed 4.8 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in budget cuts, including wage reductions, needed to trim the region’s biggest budget deficit.

    Police with riot shields fired tear gas as demonstrators wearing biker helmets and gas masks pelted them with stones outside parliament in Athens where lawmakers approved the measures. Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told parliament the cuts will show European Union allies and investors that Greece is making good on its deficit pledges.

    “We didn’t create this crisis but now we have to pay for it,” said Manthos Adamakis, who was protesting with other catering workers outside the five-star Grande Bretagne Hotel on Syntagma Square in downtown Athens.

    Tram, rail, subway and bus services shut in Athens and other cities as employees rallied against cuts to bonuses and holiday payments. A walk out by air-traffic controllers forced the cancellation of all 58 flights to and from Athens International Airport between midday and 4 p.m. and the rescheduling of another 135, according to a spokeswoman.

    • cometman permalink*
      March 5, 2010 9:45 am

      The Greeks already have a national holiday celebrating the last time they told the Germans (by way of the Italians) to fuck off. Sounds like another one may not be far off.

      Fuck ’em up toddlers! Eleuteria!

      • Stemella permalink*
        March 5, 2010 11:27 am

        Fuckem up toddlers indeed! hah! cute toddlers.

  5. Stemella permalink*
    March 5, 2010 8:33 am

    More exposure of the hypocrisy of Papal related packages with exposure of their own version of Guckert/Gannon. Why the fuck does anyone take anything these antiquated windbags say seriously? The Vatican should be stormed and its vast wealth and resources redistributed to all who have been enslaved and exploited by its brainwashing and suppression over all the centuries.

    Vatican chorister sacked for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for papal gentleman-in-waiting

    The Vatican was today rocked by a sex scandal reaching into Pope Benedict’s household after a chorister was sacked for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting.

    Angelo Balducci, a Gentleman of His Holiness, was caught by police on a wiretap allegedly negotiating with Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a 29-year-old Vatican chorister, over the specific physical details of men he wanted brought to him. Transcripts in the possession of the Guardian suggest that numerous men may have been procured for Balducci, at least one of whom was studying for the priesthood.

    The explosive claims about Balducci’s private life have caused grave embarrassment to the Vatican, which has yet to publicly comment on the affair.

    While Catholicism does not condemn homosexuality outright, its teaching is that homosexual acts “are intrinsically disordered”. The Catechism of the Catholic church states unequivocally: “Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

    • cometman permalink*
      March 5, 2010 10:09 am

      Xrist! I can only post that popey “he’s so gay” video so often. If I do it every time a new scandal comes out I imagine the redundancy starts to bore our site’s vast readership. Maybe Benny and the Not So Hets could try whipping it out only every 6 months or so so we can concentrate on some new material.

      Probably hasn’t escaped your notice that Benny’s native land has been having similar problems lately.

      • Stemella permalink*
        March 5, 2010 11:48 am

        Under the repressed morality section

        Nevertheless, the clerics are still a long way from any sort of true self-criticism or far-reaching analysis, because it would require them to examine the Church’s repressed sexual morality that is dictated from above. It would require an honest discussion about celibacy and its consequences, particularly when it comes to the Church’s recruitment practices

        How effortless to transcribe it into so many predicaments we see in the world today

        Nevertheless, the politicians are still a long way from any sort of true self-criticism or far-reaching analysis, because it would require them to examine the Congress’s repressed legislative morality that is dictated from above. It would require an honest discussion about lobbying, corruption and their consequences, particularly when it comes to the Corporate revolving door recruitment practices

        Priests and Congress stick it to their flocks, uninvited, leaving only broken souls behind them.

  6. cometman permalink*
    March 5, 2010 10:12 am

    Used to have a mantis shrimp at the office a few years ago and we enjoyed tossing things into its tank and watching it go nuts on them. This one isn’t quite as amusing somehow. ;)

    • Stemella permalink*
      March 5, 2010 11:49 am

      That is one savage shrimp! Poor blue ring :(

  7. cometman permalink*
    March 5, 2010 10:19 am

    A little good news from the animal kingdom. Evidently the atrazine didn’t finish these these guys off quite yet.

    A species of frog thought to have been extinct for 30 years has been found in rural Australian farmland, officials said yesterday.

    The rediscovery of the yellow-spotted bell frog is a reminder of the need to protect natural habitats so “future generations can enjoy the noise and color of our native animals,’’ said Frank Sartor, minister for environment and climate change.

    • artemis54 permalink
      March 5, 2010 1:32 pm

      By a thread. We hear this stories once in a while but they should be reminders of how tenuuous the creatures’ grip is. Once habitat is so fragmented and restricted they can be one localized flash flood away from extirpation.

  8. cometman permalink*
    March 5, 2010 10:46 am

    More stupid. A Lousiana sheriff inspired by his jeebus book is training the locals to fight the brown people. Bobby Jindal better watch his ass. That is if he’s bright enough to find it.

    On a related note, a non-brown person tried to shoot up the Pentagon yesterday. Haven’t seen a picture but I’m assuming it was a non-brown person because nobody seems to be telling us to be very afraid today. Also assuming this story will quickly disappear. But I doubt he chose the Pentagon as a target at random. The IRS, now the Pentagon – something tells me that certain Federal Reserve officials have started to piddle themselves a little bit.

    • Stemella permalink*
      March 5, 2010 12:03 pm

      Rachel Maddow covered this story last night with footage of some of the training. Most of the guys in this training looked more like they’d be better off playing Santa in Louisiana Malls. Serious beer bellies and over the hill. I’m sure they can all pull a trigger though, as long as their glasses work well enough.

      Here’s the AP story via Yahoo on the Pentagon shooter. Aparently he also left a letter
      Angry anti-gov’t writing linked to Pentagon gunman

      Hints of a deep-seated mistrust of government emerged in Internet postings linked to Bedell. A blog connected to his LinkedIn profile contained a two-part treatise on big government, including its vulnerability to being controlled by a criminal organization.

      “This organization, like so many murderous governments throughout history, would see the sacrifice of thousands of its citizens, in an event such as the September 11 attacks, as a small cost in order to perpetuate its barbaric control,” the blog post read.

      Keevill described Bedell as “very well-educated” and well-dressed, wearing a suit that blended with commuters when he showed up at the Pentagon’s subway entrance about 6:40 p.m. But he was concealing two 9 millimeter semiautomatic weapons and “many magazines” of ammunition, Keevill said.

      more on John Bedell’s background here: http://cbs2.com/national/pentagon.gun.shots.2.1539301.html

      He is definitely being painted as another lone wolf crazy man and “truther” by the MSM.

      • cometman permalink*
        March 5, 2010 1:45 pm

        This one from MSNBC had a quote I didn’t see in a couple others on the subject:

        Noting that Bedell was wearing a suit, Keevill said: “There was no indication based on the way he was dressed that he had hostile intent.”

        Everyone dressed in a suit is automatically a likable guy who’d never harm anyone? I can think of a few bankers who might ruin that argument. I’d love to know what sort of dress does indicate hostile intent. A turban? Long hair and a peace sign T shirt?

        As to the media painting the guy as crazy, bit of a tangent but Glenn Greenwald has a good post about how the media decides who is “crazy” and who isn’t – Who are the actual “crazy” people in American politics?

        ….the Washington establishment — which has endorsed countless insane policies, wrought so much destruction on every level, and has provoked the intense hatred of the American citizenry across the ideological spectrum — is the exclusive determinant for what is “sane.” As long as one remains snugly within its confines, one will be shielded from the “crazy” appellation regardless of how many genuinely crazy views one embraces. Positing proximity to the Washington Establishment — of all things — as the Hallmark of Political Sanity is about as irrational as it gets, yet that continues to be the barometer of Political Normalcy.

        And taking a little secant(?) now, this article about a protest by corn growers against the movie “Food, Inc.” which originally came from the AP is exactly the kind of he said/she said bullshit journalism that Greenwald often discusses. Here’s one bit from the end:

        Dan Glickman, former secretary of agriculture under President Bill Clinton and current chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, says the film is a welcome addition to the debate over so-called production agriculture, but called it “a piece of advocacy work” that is not always objective.

        Of course the article doesn’t bother to go into what parts of the movie were not factual so we are expected to take this guy’s subjective opinion at face value . They also let this part from the head of the National Corn Growers Association go without any challenge:

        “Because we have an abundant supply, America has the world’s most affordable food, and that’s due in large part to the practices attacked in this film,” he said.

        Is affordability the main criteria we should be looking for in our food supply? If so I could whip up some catshit sandwiches on stale bread I’d be willing to part with fairly cheaply too. And would it be so hard to mention the the main reason why corn is so cheap is because of gargantuan government subsidies lavished on the industry which hide its true cost, which we then dump on the rest of the world putting farmers who could grow food just fine on their own out of business?

        One more chord(!) to pluck to finish up since I’m running out of math terms and this comment is going all over the place. One thing I’ve been thinking about lately in light of the recent despair in Haiti is how has the widespread use of corn syrup as a sweetener affected the economies of Caribbean countries that produce sugar. I really don’t know. Maybe the business is still booming as sugar is used for other things besides as a sweetener but I have to think there is some adverse effect.

  9. cometman permalink*
    March 5, 2010 11:01 am

    A Maine town takes a stand.

    • Stemella permalink*
      March 5, 2010 12:32 pm

      Those Deer Islanders sound like good people. It would be so great if their idea spread.

  10. cometman permalink*
    March 5, 2010 11:46 am

    When Viktor Yanukovych won the Ukranian election in 2004 the West portrayed it as a fraud and forced a do-over which put the US’ preferred candidate Viktor Yushchenko into power. But evidently Yushchenko was such a big hit with his own people and now Yanukovych has won the latest election and this time it isn’t being portrayed as a fraud by the West even though he got almost exactly the same percentage of the vote this time as he did in 2004. For some reason the Ukrainians don’t seem to like the US all that much despite all the “help” they gave back in ’04. Lots of interesting reading in that article.

    And sonofabitch I really fucking hate Hillary Clinton. How does a person say something like this with a straight face –

    In contrast to the heady days of the “orange revolution,” Washington did not openly interfere with the 2010 election in Ukraine. Some suggested that Obama did not want to jeopardise his policy of “reset” with Russia.

    However, Washington has repeatedly stated in recent months that the “reset” does not mean U.S. recognition of Russia’s special interests in the former Soviet Union. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed the point in a keynote address at Ecole Militaire in France last month. “We object to any spheres of influence claimed in Europe in which one country seeks to control another’s future,” she said.

    I guess trying to control another country’s future is only OK if it’s done in western Asia.

    • Stemella permalink*
      March 5, 2010 12:45 pm

      That looks like a good article. For more recent news of Hilary to raise your ire,

      Hillary Clinton fails to convince Brazil to support Iran sanctions

      The visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Brazil Wednesday was billed as an effort to forge ties with a country that is increasingly emerging as a recognized global power.

      But the rhetoric of partnership came easier than the reality. Brazil rebuffed Ms. Clinton’s efforts to win support for more sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program.

      Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters Wednesday that Brazil wanted two or three months’ more negotiation with Iran.
      “We still have some possibility of coming to an agreement … but that may require a lot of flexibility on both sides,” he said, with Clinton present. “We will not simply bow down to the evolving consensus if we do not agree.”

      The US has watched the budding relationship between Brazil and Iran with concern, developing as the US seeks further United Nations sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. Brazil continues to support Iran’s policies, arguing that a diplomatic approach is more effective than sanctions. Since Brazil currently holds one of the rotating seats on the UN Security Council, the US is worried the Latin American nation could get in the way of new sanctions.

      I hope Brazil holds firm and refutes that lobbying effort. The increased noise of war with Iran is really pissing me off.

      • cometman permalink*
        March 5, 2010 1:12 pm

        Rrrrrrrr.

        Still, Clinton argued that Iran will not negotiate “in good faith” without sanctions.

        I’d love to see Lula ask Shrillary about the US’ own “good faith negotiations” that installed the Shah 50+ years ago in order to get the West’s oil out of Iran’s sand at a price more to their liking.

  11. cometman permalink*
    March 7, 2010 9:03 am

    PZ Meyers at Pharyngula made a remark a few weeks ago lamenting that the New Scientist website was being taken over by intelligent designers and jeebus people or something to that effect. Hadn’t noticed that before since I don’t check the site all that often. Then I came across this piece of foolishness which as of this comment is still currently on their most viewed list- Where do atheists come from?. It attempts to explain that the non-religious aren’t necessarily smarter than those who sincerely believe the earth is only 6000 years old and claims that atheists warrant further “study” to figure out why they are so different from the majority of people who do believe in imaginary men in the sky. But take heart! Atheists are becoming more “normal” too!

    Everybody stands to benefit from wider and more systematic research of the atheistic or non-religious. The believers may take heart from the fact that the most comprehensive studies no longer suggest the unreligious are cleverer or more lettered than them. But the non-believers might also comfort themselves that they are no longer outside the mainstream. They have become a “normal” and significant part of many societies. And researchers ignore them at their peril.

    Makes me think that the title of the following article which does discuss recent scientific theories was maybe a little bit more than just a rhetorical flourish – Knowing the mind of God: Seven theories of everything. They do have some good articles there but again, it’s always good to know who you’re dealing with.

    • artemis54 permalink
      March 8, 2010 9:52 am

      Teach the Controversy!

      I think I’ll get the Paul Bunyan t-shirt.

      • cometman permalink*
        March 8, 2010 11:02 am

        Ha! I’m kinda partial to the Poseidon one myself. A Turtles All the Way Down one might be nice too.

  12. cometman permalink*
    March 7, 2010 9:13 am

    When one is in the midst of a nation enraptured by superstition, sophistry and stupidity it is a pleasure to just sit back and listen to people speak intelligently.

    Bill Moyers’ program this weekend on the health care debate was the most intelligent thing I’ve heard on the subject since, well, the last time I watched a Bill Moyers show on this subject.

    And I think Stemella may have linked to this set of lectures here before and I got a reminder about it on FSZ a few days ago. This series of Richard Feynman lectures is simply a joy to watch. You have to download Silverlight to view them but I set aside my distaste for microsoft products and finally did it. It was worth it.

    • Stemella permalink*
      March 8, 2010 8:39 am

      Moyers will leave a huge hole in sane political discourse when he retires, all too soon. These critical issues of our times deserve the kinds of long view conversations that he has on that program, covering topics in depth with multiple views, revisiting the same experts as conditions change to get renewed assessments. I always feel as though I’ve been educated when I watch his programs. One can also go to his website for each show and find even more resources to continue that education. The only other news program that comes close is another PBS program, the News Hour. Mainstream tv news is only useful for watching disasters, natural and man-made, and for identifying propaganda du jour.

      • cometman permalink*
        March 8, 2010 11:08 am

        The way he layed out that program should be a model for good journalism. He showed the industry people having their say, layed out the facts of what’s actually in the bill and gave well thought out opinions for and against its passage and ignored the whole stupid discussion from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Found myself smiling through the whole program even when I did disagree with the conclusions of the first guy.

  13. cometman permalink*
    March 7, 2010 9:46 am

    Naked capitalism has a few good articles on the issue of complexity in the financial markets.

    About the pricing of derivatives – Das: ‘Swap Tango’: A Derivative Regulation Dance. The author seems to say that while derivatives do not work the way they purport to because they are based on faulty assumptions –

    The models make numerous assumptions including the ability to borrow at market rates for (theoretically) infinite amounts, unrestricted ability to enter into transactions and abundant trading liquidity. These assumptions are difficult to satisfy in practice.

    any attempt to regulate them would likely be unsuccessful because of the complexity involved:

    The complexity of the issues means that ultimately no laws may be truly effective. As one famous law maker, Adlai Stevenson, observed “Laws are never as effective as habits.”Groucho Marx observed that “[government] is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies.” Legislators and regulators are likely to discover the truth of that proposition in their attempts to regulate the derivative market.

    The conclusion would seem to be to do away with them, and the whole pyramid scheme that allows risk that should never have been taken in the first place to be collateralized and passed down the line until some sucker winds up holding a bag full of garbage. I’m really sick of the whole argument that without these financial vehicles the bankers wouldn’t be able to take certain risks that drive our economy. If an investment is so damn risky that you can’t make it without exotic types of insurance and hedges, it probably shouldn’t be made in the first place. If an investment is too complicated for even the people in the industry to understand, it’s probably a scam.

    This next article speaks directly to that notion – Complexity is the handmaiden of deception. I particulary enjoyed the the example given in the article by Elizabeth Warren:

    Warren started out by detailing the rise in complexity of credit card agreements. She showed a Bank of America agreement circa 1980. It was one-page in large print and plain English with no hidden language buried within. Today, including riders, a Bank of America credit card agreement is 30 pages of dense legalese with all manner of disclaimers and hidden surprises. She says:

    Study after study shows that credit products are deliberately designed to obscure the real costs and to trick consumers. The average credit-card contract is dizzying—and 30 pages long, up from a page and a half in the early 1980s. Lenders advertise a single interest rate on the front of their direct-mail envelopes while burying costly details deep in the contract.

    This link about Adam Smith on the role of government was also excellent. The Friedmanites who like to claim that Smith preferred the invisible hand of the unfettered free market have obviously never actually read Adam Smith. I picked up the Wealth of Nations a few years ago myself and read a couple hundred pages and what I saw sounded nothing like the claims of the freemarketeers. In fact, I remember a passage where Smith mentions (please pardon the paraphrasing) that two men in the same line of business rarely get together for more than a few minutes before the discussion turns to ways of combining their efforts in order to defraud the public.

    • Stemella permalink*
      March 8, 2010 8:57 am

      From the Warren quotation: “credit products are deliberately designed to obscure the real costs and to trick consumers” and to the point of your paraphrase of Smith on collusion in business.

      It seems to me that not only credit, but all products on the market today, whether mythical monopoly paper products or tangibles such as foods and household stuffs in the grocery, hardware and department stores, not to mention automobile dealer lots, are all deliberately designed to obscure the real costs and trick consumers.

      All those additives and colorants and preservatives in the food, and residues of toxins, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides. These are deliberately used by producers to increase the profit margin and the consequential costs to the environment from pollution and the cost to our health from ingestion are hidden or obscured. The advertisers and packaging trick us into consuming them all anyway. The clothing we wear made in third world sweat shops marketed to us by anorexic models who are insanely overpaid by advertisers and marketing campaigns who are also all insanely overpaid. And on and on and on.

      And again I am reminded of that program on Bernays the master of the PR campaign and how we have been hoodwinked, spun and deceived for so many decades. Capitalism is built on exploitation. Its continuation after its obvious failure in the last two years can only be sustained by illusion, obfuscation, brainwashing and coercion. It will not be able to be sustained for much longer unless the whole realm of man becomes completely totalitarian, which is of course a distinct possibility.

  14. Stemella permalink*
    March 8, 2010 9:04 am

    Seems to be a done deal, Dodds complete capitulation to the lobbyists, giving the Fed absolute power.

    Big bank oversight to stay with Fed

    Banks with more than $100bn of assets will be overseen by the US Federal Reserve under a regulatory reform plan that represents a partial victory for the central bank after months of attacks in Congress.

    Chris Dodd, the Senate banking committee chairman, had proposed hiving off all bank supervision to a single regulator but is set to propose this week that the 23 largest institutions stay under the Fed’s oversight, according to people familiar with the plans.

    At issue over the weekend was the regulation of several hundred state chartered institutions that also want to remain under the Fed’s supervision.

    While attention has been focused on an argument between Democrats and Republicans over the powers and location of new consumer protection functions, which may also be housed within the Fed, other elements of regulatory reform – deemed more important by many institutions and policymakers – are close to fruition.

    Timmy, Ben and all their bosses (Goldies) and lobbyists must be so pleased with this outcome. Dodd cannot depart for his new job with these criminals too quickly.

    • cometman permalink*
      March 8, 2010 11:18 am

      Hard not to think that the banksters approached Dood at some point and said “Do what we want and we’ll make it worth your while to retire.” How in the fuck is it reform if you’re just keeping things the way they already were? And this is supposed to prevent future bailouts?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Again, all Congress has to do to prevent a bailout in the future is NOTHING.

      But smaller banks don’t fall under the Fed’s authority. The FDIC seems to have been doing a good job of keeping an eye on them as so many have failed in the last couple years (because the Congress did NOTHING). Of course the reason for their failures is in large part due to the machinations of the bigger banks which were bailed out. They fail and the big banks get their customers making them even bigger.

      This is a scam of epic proportion and I’m really fucking sick of the Dodds and Franks and Paulsons and Bernankes trying to tell us it’s all for our own good.

  15. Stemella permalink*
    March 8, 2010 9:21 am

    I thought I saw this story earlier on Reuters, but now it’s not there, so this related one from Businessweek will have to do:
    ‘On the Edge’ Banks Facing Writedowns After FDIC Loan Auctions

    A Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. plan to auction more than $1 billion in assets seized from failed banks next month, including a loan to build a W Hotel in Atlanta, may trigger writedowns that weaken lenders nationwide.

    Almost half of the loans were originated by Silverton Bank N.A., whose collapse last May was the biggest in Georgia history. Community banks that joined Silverton in providing $80 million for the 237-room hotel and condominium complex, as well as backing for 39 other projects, could be forced to write down their stakes to reflect sale prices.

    The auctions may have wider repercussions. Of the $50.4 billion in loans seized from failed banks currently held by the FDIC, 63 percent involve participations by other lenders, according to data provided by agency spokesman Greg Hernandez.

    “These banks can’t believe that the regulator they pay to protect them is going to sell these loans to someone who can flip them and cause them serious losses,” said Robert Reynolds, a lawyer at Reynolds Reynolds & Duncan LLC in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who represents 25 lenders that took part in financing the W Hotel. “Our banks just cannot believe they’re being treated in a way that ultimately hurts the FDIC’s insurance fund, because some of them are right on the edge.”

    Expect an uptick for Bank Failure Fridays. There are now more than 700 banks on the FDIC troubled banks list. 26 banks have failed so far this year.

    • Stemella permalink*
      March 8, 2010 9:42 am

      Ah, here it is, on Bloomberg via Calculated Risk

      Banks Face Writedowns after FDIC Auctions

    • cometman permalink*
      March 8, 2010 11:25 am

      The bank’s troubles began in early 2007, when it changed from a state to a national charter so it could accelerate its growth, according to a report by the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General, which reviews failures of banks regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

      Greed. Pure and simple. Everybody thinks they are going to strike it rich overnight through some clever financing scheme without having to work for it.

  16. artemis54 permalink
    March 8, 2010 11:18 am

    And the award for Most Blatantly Absurd Spin goes to . . . . . Fox Noise in a last minute upset: Conservative Values Upheld On Oscar’s Big Night‎

    • cometman permalink*
      March 8, 2010 11:49 am

      More bloviation about godless libruls bashing the “heartland” from a guy who probably wouldn’t be caught dead in public with anybody who makes less than mid six figures a year.

      • artemis54 permalink
        March 8, 2010 12:04 pm

        Here’s what I don’t get about Hollywood bashing. Hollywood is capitalism. Movies and Hollywood careers don’t succeed or fail based on the returns from a few art houses in Manhattan and Seattle, or Cannes either. They make it or don’t on the returns from all the suburban mall theaters in Texas and Missouri and Pennsylvania.

  17. cometman permalink*
    March 8, 2010 11:43 am

    I read Joe Bageant’s Deer Hunting with Jesus yesterday. I could not put it down. He gets right to the heart of just about everything we’ve been talking about here for the last year.

    Laughed my ass off and got choked up a few times but I can definitely relate to it because he’s talking about my family and where I grew up too. He gets a little loose with the statistics in a few places but other than that I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

    Of all the columnists and writers I read on a regular basis he is my absolute favorite if only because his life has paralleled my own in many ways – growing up in a rural town, managing to get an education, traveling from place to place with a succession of different jobs and then looking back at where you came from with a sense of love, pity and wonder about how all this bullshit happened to what are basically decent people. There was one part where he spoke of his brother who had become a fundie minister casting out demons. He loves the guy but is filled with sadness that they can’t really communicate anymore. He’s talking about my family too. They didn’t used to be like that.

    After reading it, I’m definitely going to start going to city council meetings. Because the nutjobs and the small town hustlers he speaks of definitely are already there in my own town trying to make things even worse.

    • Stemella permalink*
      March 8, 2010 5:41 pm

      For some reason my thumbs ups ratings aren’t sticking right now, so consider your comments thumbed up by me. I vowed I wouldn’t buy any new books until the pile of not yet reads went down, but you sure make this one sound enticing. Looking after our own backyards is always a good idea. I’m glad you found that inspiration through Bageant.

  18. cometman permalink*
    March 8, 2010 12:24 pm

    Wow. Eric Massa really hates Rahm Emmanuel.

    “Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn,” Massa said. “He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive.”

    And there’s even more at the link. I don’t know if Massa opposed the bills Rahm wanted on principle or if he’s one of the Blue dogs but somehow I find it refreshing when one of the most despicable members of the beltway gets called out publicly like that.

    • artemis54 permalink
      March 8, 2010 1:33 pm

      Well, at least it was just a finger :^)

    • artemis54 permalink
      March 8, 2010 1:40 pm

      That story reminded me of Jack Kemp, gooper and former pro footballer, when asked why he seemed to get along with black people better than most in his party:

      I’ve showered with more black people than most Republicans have ever met.

  19. cometman permalink*
    March 8, 2010 1:13 pm

    Remember Marja, the city of 80,000 that the US had to bomb the living shit out of because it was a Taliban stronghold? Turns out it wasn’t a city of 80,000 so much as a big fucking cow pasture.

    • artemis54 permalink
      March 8, 2010 1:30 pm

      I’ve wondered about this from the start. Smelled like bs. The hoopla sounded like they were storming Berlin. But a market town not much bigger than Walla Walla, probably quite a bit smaller after everyone who had the wherewithal had no doubt left?

      Our media can’t get anything right and has absolutely interest in trying to find out unless it’s a missing white girl. Why on earth would we believe them about Marja?

  20. cometman permalink*
    March 8, 2010 1:39 pm

    Chris Hedges is on fire today – Calling All Rebels.

    The rebel knows that, as Augustine wrote, hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage—anger at the way things are and the courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. The rebel is aware that virtue is not rewarded. The act of rebellion defines itself.

    There are millions who’ve got the anger down. Time to muster up the courage and fuck ’em up.

    • artemis54 permalink
      March 8, 2010 2:06 pm

      You can only start with what moves you. You can only start where you are. I live in second hand clothing and participate as little as possible in the consumer maelstrom that is destroying the world. What else is always the question.

      Some people might even print up informative stickers and slap them on the packages of farmed salmon at the store, for instance.

      Just an observation.

      • cometman permalink*
        March 8, 2010 2:41 pm

        I hope some people do that :)

        And right now I am moved. I’m not going to the city council meeting just to listen. Doing a little public records research today to find out about one of my local pet peeves, namely, if the owners of the big four story eyesore that the council just had to change the zoning laws for because it would “help the economy” and “increase the tax base” but has been sitting there empty for over a year are current on their taxes. If they aren’t, I really wouldn’t want to be a city council member when I show up. And even if they are current it was still a bullshit plan to begin with since there were obviously no businesses who wanted to actually use the building before it was constructed which means somebody needs to keep an eye on the idiots who allowed it to be built in the first place. And then there’s the matter of the new police camera (which supposedly is illegal under state law but the city got anyway) which records all license plates numbers coming and going and runs a criminal check whether you are doing anything wrong or not. Supposedly it’s only to catch “child predators”. Right. People think this government surveillance isn’t really happening where they live or to them but it is. The reasons all these things happen is because nobody stands up and says NO!

    • artemis54 permalink
      March 8, 2010 2:36 pm

      Derrick Jensen on so-called envionmentalism: It’s time to lead, follow, or get out of the way

      Abusive systems, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, from the familial to the social and political and religious, work best when victims and bystanders police themselves. And one of the best ways to get victims and bystanders to police themselves is for them to internalize the notion that the abusers are invincible and then, even better, to get them to attempt to police anyone who threatens to break up the stable abuser/victim/bystander triad.

      Recently, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has, through attacks on oil pipelines and the kidnapping of oil workers, disabled as much as 40 percent of the oil industry’s output from Nigeria, and some oil companies have even considered pulling out of the region. If those of us who are the primary beneficiaries of this global system of exploitation had 1 percent of their courage and commitment to the land and community, we could be equally effective if not more so. We have vastly more resources at our disposal and the best we can come up with is, what, compost piles?

      Right now, a small group of half-starved, poverty-stricken people in Nigeria have brought the oil industry in that country to its knees. They remember what it is to love their land and their communities—perhaps because they are not drowning in privilege, but in the toxic sludge of oil extraction. Is that what it will take to get environmentalists in the U.S. to fight back?

      • cometman permalink*
        March 8, 2010 2:53 pm

        That was a great piece. And those MEND people are not fucking around.

        MEND has said to the oil industry: “It must be clear that the Nigerian government cannot protect your workers or assets. Leave our land while you can or die in it.”

    • Stemella permalink*
      March 9, 2010 8:09 am

      Great rant. I especially liked his ending passage

      And in moments of profound human despair these flames are never insignificant. They keep alive the capacity to be human. We must become, as Camus said, so absolutely free that “existence is an act of rebellion.” Those who do not rebel in our age of totalitarian capitalism and who convince themselves that there is no alternative to collaboration are complicit in their own enslavement. They commit spiritual and moral suicide.

  21. cometman permalink*
    March 8, 2010 2:05 pm

    WTF?!?!?!? Now the education system is going to be saved by hedge funds opening up charter schools.

    Hedge funds put up the seed money, control the boards of the schools and government provides majority funding. Thousands of kids enter a lottery for relatively few seats. Try your luck and get your kids out of the public schools. Now there’s a future. President Obama is all for it.

    Guess it would be just too much to ask to, oh I don’t know, tax the profits of the goddamned hedge funds and some of the banks while they’re at it and then use the money to shore up the public school system in an equitable manner. This whole country is insane.

    • Stemella permalink*
      March 8, 2010 5:45 pm

      Definitely insane. It seems the public sector, the public good, the commons are being destroyed or co-opted by the ultrarich and ultraprivate right along with the middle class. Education will soon only be available to the oligarchy. All the better for the squid to perpetuate their inky age of darkness.

  22. Stemella permalink*
    March 8, 2010 5:59 pm

    Here’s some satisfying news, a little bit of litigation for the ol’ ratfuckers

    Goldman Sachs sued by big pension fund over pay

    The International Brotherhood of Electric Workers fund filed the lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court, seeking to recover money for the company on behalf of other shareholders.

    It seeks to stop Goldman from allocating roughly 47 percent of 2009 net revenue as compensation, saying such allocations “vastly overcompensate management and constitute corporate waste.”

    The lawsuit also wants Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and others in management, rather than shareholders, to be responsible for charitable contributions that Goldman is making as a an apology for its activities.

    No doubt the God’s workers will find this suit “frivolous” At the very least I hope they also find it an annoyance :)

  23. Stemella permalink*
    March 9, 2010 8:30 am

    Jeebus in a bowl of kimchee, here is a horrific example of that internet disease we discussed earlier

    Girl starved to death while parents raised virtual child in online game

    South Korean police have arrested a couple for starving their three-month-old daughter to death while they devoted hours to playing a computer game that involved raising a virtual character of a young girl.

    The 41-year-old man and 25-year-old woman, who met through a chat website, reportedly left their infant unattended while they went to internet cafes. They only occasionally dropped by to feed her powdered milk.

    “I am sorry for what I did and hope that my daughter does not suffer any more in heaven,” the husband is quoted as saying on the asiaone website.

    This story could become a metaphor for our times. Real farms become pestilent toxic crap factories as people obsess on “Farmville” on facebook. Real democracy slips into a totalitarian wasteland as activists, partisans and astroturfers kill time shrieking at each other on klub kumquat. Real news turns into a celebrity cesspool and propaganda mill as pundits and talking heads report on each others tweets and twitters and call it breaking edge news. A real economy based on producers of goods and buyers is replaced by plastic card online gambling where the winner has the fastest software, not the best product.

    Fuck all that noise.

    • cometman permalink*
      March 9, 2010 9:53 am

      That is so sad. I just can’t fathom how anybody could do that to their own child.

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