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Oh Say Does that Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave….?

June 21, 2010

Sort of, but now it’s not really o’er so much as under.

58 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    June 21, 2010 9:02 am

    A little background on the photo above here.

    Also, the shining sea may still be glistening, but with a sheen of a much different hue.

  2. cometman permalink*
    June 21, 2010 10:05 am

    Rumor has it that Rahm be be calling it a day and heading back to Chicago soon.

    If so, please take a hike before watering down an already watered down climate bill to benefit your former employer Exelon.

    Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff to President Barack Obama, said in little-noticed remarks Friday that his administration will consider a climate change bill that only includes carbon caps on electric utilities.


    A watered-down, utilities-only climate change bill would greatly leverage the profitability of US nuclear power generator Exelon, an Illinois-based company that provides the largest share of power from nuclear reactors of any company in the United States. Exelon operates six active nuclear reactors in Obama’s home state.


    Obama’s top aide Emanuel has been intricately involved in Democrats’ legislative efforts on climate change.

    According to a Forbes article published in December, Exelon CEO John Rowe emailed personally with Emanuel on the eve of a vote last year.

    Forbes wrote: “Emanuel e-mailed Rowe on the eve of the House vote on global warming legislation and asked that he reach out to some uncommitted Democrats.”

    An Exelon lobbyist told the magazine they considered themselves “the President’s utility.”

    Of course if Rahm leaves, he is likely to be replaced by someone like fellow strong-armer, Obama BFF, and douchebag extraordinaire Larry Summers. Strangely enough, the Cane Toad hasn’t been croaking out the usual cheers about the economy of late and recently expressed some reservations

    The US economy has probably begun a lasting recovery, but the outlook has become more uncertain in recent weeks in the face of the European debt crisis, gyrating stock markets, and weaker-than-expected job growth, said Lawrence Summers, President Obama’s top economic adviser.

    Wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that upcoming European “stress tests” for their banks may not be the complete whitewash they were in the US?

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 22, 2010 6:30 am

      Peter Orszag is splitting too. Yay!

      White House budget chief Orszag to step down

      • cometman permalink*
        June 22, 2010 10:04 am

        Woohoo! I also saw claims that Rahm may be stepping down because he got caught in some tit for tat dealings with Rod Blagojevich. I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the case as it seems to be the way all of these clowns operate. I’d also be surprised if Emmanuel faced any repercussions. If they won’t go after Rove, I doubt anybody will go after Emmanuel.

  3. cometman permalink*
    June 21, 2010 10:16 am

    One benefit of the Gulf oil disaster – those gourmands who like eating exotic species can now get their Ridley’s sea turtle pre-cooked.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 22, 2010 6:31 am

      Sick. Beyond sick.

  4. cometman permalink*
    June 21, 2010 10:18 am

    Reason# 8125468 to despise the Mal-Wart – employee who admits to being gay shunned by coworkers and forced to wear a yellow vest.

  5. cometman permalink*
    June 21, 2010 12:25 pm

    Here’s a guy who’s fed up with Monsanto and wants to see genetically modified crops banned or at least labeled as GM, as they are in much of the rest of the developed world – Generation Monsanto.

    Gen-M, the first Monsanto Generation of humans force-fed genetically modified foods hasn’t reached reproductive age yet (they were born in the late 1990s). But, if a critical mass of animal feeding studies are any indication, the millennial generation, reared on Food Inc.’s unlabeled “Frankenfoods” can look forward to a long-term epidemic of cancer, food allergies, learning disabilities, sterility, and birth defects.

    Corn (85% of U.S. production is GM), soy (91% GM), cotton (88% GM), canola (85% GM) and sugar beets (95% GM) are all genetically engineered by Monsanto to withstand massive doses of the company’s glyphosate herbicide RoundUp, or else to exude their own pesticide, Bacillus Thuriengensis (Bt). RoundUp, the favorite weedkiller poison of non-organic farmers and gardeners, causes brain, intestinal and heart defects in fetuses. And scientists warn that RoundUp, the most extensively used herbicide in the history of agriculture, “may have dire consequences for agriculture such as rendering soils infertile, crops non-productive, and plants less nutritious.” In addition, hundreds of thousands of US dairy cows are injected with genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (developed by Monsanto) in spite of studies linking BGH with cancer, and longstanding bans on the drug in the EU, Japan, Canada, and other industrialized nations.

    With genetically modified foods and crops threatening public health and the environment, not to mention the next generation’s reproductive capacity, why isn’t there a massive consumer outcry to restrain Monsanto’s biotech bullying and ban genetically engineered foods and agriculture?

    Why he asks? Here’s why.

    The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a federal judge had erred in prohibiting the planting of Monsanto’s genetically modified alfalfa seed until a federal government agency completed a detailed environmental review.

    By a 7-to-1 vote, the justices reversed the lower-court ruling in their first decision involving genetically modified crops. At issue in the case was an environmental impact study on how the Roundup Ready seed could affect nearby crops.

    Doesn’t matter how much anybody protests when the government in collusion with industry is hell bent on continuing the ongoing experiment on billions of human beings.

  6. cometman permalink*
    June 21, 2010 12:34 pm

    Naomi Klein has an excellent article on the Gulf disaster –Gulf oil spill: A hole in the world. Read the whole thing but here’s a snippet –

    If Katrina pulled back the curtain on the reality of racism in America, the BP disaster pulls back the curtain on something far more hidden: how little control even the most ingenious among us have over the awesome, intricately interconnected natural forces with which we so casually meddle. BP cannot plug the hole in the Earth that it made. Obama cannot order fish species to survive, or brown pelicans not to go extinct (no matter whose ass he kicks). No amount of money – not BP’s recently pledged $20bn (£13.5bn), not $100bn – can replace a culture that has lost its roots. And while our politicians and corporate leaders have yet to come to terms with these humbling truths, the people whose air, water and livelihoods have been contaminated are losing their illusions fast.

    “Everything is dying,” a woman said as the town hall meeting was finally coming to a close. “How can you honestly tell us that our Gulf is resilient and will bounce back? Because not one of you up here has a hint as to what is going to happen to our Gulf. You sit up here with a straight face and act like you know when you don’t know.”

    Arthur Silber explains how the victims pay for the crimes of the oligarchs and calls for the more shoe throwers – Memo to the Victims: You Yourselves Will Pay for the Crimes of the Ruling Class .

    One aspect of the profoundly evil system that has been destroying us for over a hundred years — and make no mistake, it is deeply evil in design, intent and effect, if by evil we designate those actions which destroy the very possibility of thriving life — is especially awful. The authoritarian-corporatist-militarist system victimizes untold millions of individual human beings, as well as many other forms of life as we see again today, both here and abroad. That would be a momentous evil in itself, but this particular evil is unsatisfied with only this first form of destruction.

    Thus, the victims are targeted a second time, and they are forced to become collaborators in their own destruction.


    So what are you going to do? Scream at the injustice? Yell about the monstrous evil being committed every hour of every day? Write another blog post? I do not exempt myself from the all-encompassing irony which now consumes us, amidst the rising torrent of blood.

    But: Withdraw your support, if you choose to. Disobey. Break the goddamned rules. Do not cooperate. If a sufficient number of people chose that course, change might begin.

    Consider it. I suppose not all that much is at stake — only your soul, and your happiness.

    Meanwhile, so concerned are the oligarchs by the damage they have wrought that Tony Hayward returns home to watch his yacht compete in a regatta.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 21, 2010 3:37 pm

      And in the “you can’t make this shit up” dept., the White House has chastised Tony Hayward for his boating trip. The statement was evidently made from the 19th hole while having a brew with Barry after a tough round of golf.

      Ignoring environmental regulations in order to line your pockets with campaign cash is hard work. Now watch this drive!

    • sisdevore permalink
      June 21, 2010 6:11 pm

      a paragraph I found most disconcerting:

      “As climate change negotiations wear on, we should be ready to hear more from Dr Steven Koonin, Obama’s undersecretary of energy for science. He is one of the leading proponents of the idea that climate change can be combated with techno tricks like releasing sulphate and aluminium particles into the atmosphere – and of course it’s all perfectly safe, just like Disneyland! He also happens to be BP’s former chief scientist, the man who just 15 months ago was still overseeing the technology behind BP’s supposedly safe charge into deepwater drilling.”

      • artemis54 permalink
        June 21, 2010 6:29 pm

        Lovely. If J Q Public has two brain cells left to rub together, we should have learned a little something about reliance on untried technical fixes by now. (And if I had a million dollars, I’d be yachting around the Isle of Wight.)

        Of a piece with Obama’s utter and utterly misplaced faith in carbon sequestration.

      • cometman permalink*
        June 21, 2010 7:06 pm

        That one was very disconcerting. It took the banking industry collapse for some light to be shed on just how many ex or current Goldmanites were calling the shots in government, and the longer the Gulf disaster goes on the more we find out about BP and other oil industry execs who were the ones making decisions. Then we have the case of Peter Sutherland who worked for both BP and Goldman Sachs, influencing many big decisions, who probably the vast majority of people had never heard of.

        Really wish it didn’t take epic disasters to figure out exactly how compromised the US government actually is.

  7. artemis54 permalink
    June 22, 2010 6:20 am

    Is Rolling Stone on a roll or what? Sounds like McChrystal has slit his scrotum and stuck his foot in it. He’s even called John Kerry – along with everyone else in DC – to apologize.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 22, 2010 6:27 am

      See my comment below for a link to the RS article. Yeah, this is a big test for <O. Apparently McChrystal has fired his press sec and has himself been called in for a little visit to the White House to splain himself.

  8. Stemella permalink*
    June 22, 2010 6:24 am

    Amazing picture up top. Iconic.

    A few links on the fly. Work and life have become hectic beyond belief. When I get a chance, I’ll add to the new go fish post. Thanks for doing that.

    Regarding the recent tempest between General McChrystal and the White House

    The offending article from Rolling Stone in pdf The Runaway General

    and Juan Cole’s take on it: Obama’s MacArthur Moment

    and on the subject of squid, we may soon be learning a lot more about them

    Squid studies: A portal to the cephalopods?

    and in case you missed this at Counterpunch,

    A Short History of BP

    Have a great day, everybody and happy belated Father’s Day

    • cometman permalink*
      June 22, 2010 11:02 am

      Nice article on the Humboldts. Have to keep our eyes out for more in that series.

      The link you posted didn’t go straight to the RS article I found it here – The Runaway General. McChrystal really is a prick, not that we needed the article to figure that out, but maybe <O does, since he appointed this death squad commander barely having met him at all. WTF is wrong with Mr. 11 dimensional chess? I mean, I can see not meeting every single minor functionary for several hours before granting them a job, but you can't take the time to meet the guy who's going to be running your illegal occupation? Come on. Wonder how many more disasters were going to have in the next couple years (before Barry loses his re-election bid) because Barry can't be bothered to look at the details. He's nothing but an empty suit just like Bush.

      And one more reason to both dislike McChrsytal and add to my ever growing disgust with the Clintons –

      Only Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal’s inner circle. “Hillary had Stan’s back during the strategic review,” says an adviser. “She said, ‘If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.’ ”

      • cometman permalink*
        June 22, 2010 11:51 am

        Upon further reflection, I think I was too kind in calling Barry an empty suit. More like an empty suit with a big neon “kick me” sign on the back. Just off the top of my head he’s been mocked by the Chinese, stood up for a meeting by the banksters, ignored by BP, and he was already shown up once by McChrystal before this latest story ever broke. He should have fired McChrystal when he demanded more troops in Afghanistan in the first place. Of course he never should have hired this murderer in the first place because the problems in Afghanistan aren’t going to be fixed by killing more people, but that’s beside the point. If McChyrysatal still has his job by the end of the day <O is an even bigger wuss than I thought he was.

        I'm sure it pains Afghani -Stan immensely to prostrate himself with an apology.

        McChrystal issued a statement late Monday apologizing for his remarks to the magazine.

        “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile,” McChrystal said in a statement issued hours after the article entitled “The Runaway General” was released Monday.

        “It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.”

        Was covering up Pat Tillman’s death also an instance where you used “poor judgment”, douchebag? How about admitting that you’ve killed a whole bunch of innocent people over there?

        I wouldn’t be too surprised if instead of shit canning the guy, Barry asks him what he can do to be more liked by the general. All I know is it isn’t going to look to good for either of them when the next Wikileaks story breaks.

  9. artemis54 permalink
    June 22, 2010 11:48 am

    Salmon farms continue to ravage Chile

  10. cometman permalink*
    June 22, 2010 12:45 pm

    Some links on several different subjects –

    Shamus Cooke tells us why the oil spill will change nothing and it sure looks like he is right when you read this one – Judge Blocks Gulf Offshore Drilling Moratorium. This part makes me want to strangle somebody:

    Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium, arguing it was arbitrarily imposed.

    Feldman agreed, saying in his ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium. He said it seemed to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.

    “An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths of over 500 feet simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country,” Feldman wrote.

    So I guess the fact that it wasn’t just BP but several oil companies who included walrus rescue in their disaster contingency plans wasn’t enough to clue in the judge that these companies haven’t done their due diligence. Rrrrrrrrr.

    <O vowed to protect net neutrality and vowed to have greater transparency. Millions of people expressed their support for net neutrality. But now the fate of the interwebs will be decided in secret back room deals between the FCC and industry lobbyists with no public involvement. Hard to keep track of all the broken campaign promises at this point.

    Excellent interview with Diane Ravitch on education policy and why it’s a disaster. Spoiler alert – she doesn’t think much of “Race to the Top” and neither do millions of teachers.

    Glenn Greenwald rips into the <O apologists who claim he really really wants to help but is just powerless to do so twice – The weak, helpless, impotent presidency and Follow-up on the weak, impotent, helpless presidency.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 22, 2010 2:43 pm

      WTF!?!?!?! Now it comes out that the goddamned judge who blocked the offshore drilling moratorium just so happened to own stock in several companies which would be directly affected, including Transocean.

      According to Feldman’s 2008 financial disclosure form, posted online by Judicial Watch [pdf], the judge owned stock in Transocean, as well as five other companies that are either directly or indirectly involved in the offshore drilling business.


      The report discloses that in 2008, Judge Feldman held less than $15,000 worth of stock in Transocean, as well as similar amounts (federal rules only require that judges report a range of values ) in Hercules Offshore, ATP Oil and Gas, and Parker Drilling. All of those companies offer contract offshore drilling services and operate offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Judge Feldman also owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in notes offered by Ocean Energy, Inc., a company that offers “concept design and manufacturing design of submersible drilling rigs,” according to its website. None of the companies were direct parties to the lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban.

      I don’t think this nation can get any more corrupt at this point.

      • artemis54 permalink
        June 22, 2010 2:51 pm

        A judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana, mobbed up? I am shocked, shocked I tell you.

  11. cometman permalink*
    June 22, 2010 12:48 pm

    Brave New World update – the first plastic antibodies stop venom from spreading in mice.

  12. cometman permalink*
    June 22, 2010 12:54 pm

    Jon Stewart had an interview with film maker Josh Fox last night regarding his documentary on the process of fracking which splits apart the earth to let out natural gas. Seems to be a problem with the link currently but if you check the Daily Show website you can still view it. Of course the earth doesn’t split exactly where the rat frackers might want it to and results in water supplies being poisoned. After watching it I haven’t the foggiest notion why anybody thought this process might be a good idea.

    More on the practice from a new Vanity Fair article – A Colossal Fracking Mess.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 23, 2010 6:00 am

      I saw that in rerun, where the guy lit his water from the kitchen sink on fire. Sounds like people who live in coal rich states are fucked, I mean fracked. As with deepwater drilling, this is not going to end well.

  13. artemis54 permalink
    June 22, 2010 2:26 pm

    Apparently the general is finding it difficult to proceed with that foot embedded in his nutsack. CNN is reporting that he has resigned.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 23, 2010 7:50 am

      Just ran across this article in the Globe and evidently it isn’t final as of this morning. IMO at least this isn’t making <O or the Democrats look good the longer McChrystal goes without being canned. As the Globe piece mentions, RS did clear all of the quotes with McChrystal before they went to press with the article so it doesn't sound like he was taken out of context. His comments were deliberate. And yet Barry wants to talk it out before making a decision. If this were the first instance of bad behavior by McChrystal I could see doing that, but it's far from it. From the tone of the article it almost sounds as if the Dems are scrambling to find some way NOT to fire the guy.

      But some members of Congress took a more noncommittal approach, including Senator John F. Kerry, even though criticism of him by an unnamed McChrystal aide was included in the article.


      Asked whether it was possible for McChrystal to remain in his job, Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “It’s difficult, but it may not be impossible.’’


      Kerry, who said he received a call from McChrystal yesterday, urged in a statement not to let the drama “distract anyone from the mission at hand.’’

      “Everyone needs to take a deep breath and give the president and his national security team the space to decide what is in the best interest of our mission, and to have their face-to-face discussion tomorrow without a premature Washington feeding frenzy,’’ the Massachusetts Democrat said.

      The republicans quoted in the article seem a lot more pissed off than the Dems. Evidently being a death squad commander gives Democrats pause before giving you the boot.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 23, 2010 10:56 am

      Now it’s (almost) official –Tweddle Dee is replaced by Tweedle Dum.

      President Barack Obama ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Wednesday, choosing the embattled general’s direct boss — Gen. David Petraeus — to take over the troubled 9-year-old war, a source told The Associated Press.


      McChrystal offered his resignation and Obama accepted it, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the president’s decision was not yet made public.


      Petraeus is the nation’s best-known military man, having risen to prominence as the commander who turned around the Iraq war in 2007.

      Right, because if you just stop talking about all the things blowing up in Iraq, it isn’t really happening.

  14. Stemella permalink*
    June 23, 2010 5:57 am

    God particle signal is simulated as sound


    • cometman permalink*
      June 23, 2010 8:12 am


      “We can hear clear structures in the sound, almost as if they had been composed. They seem to tell a little story all to themselves. They’re so dynamic and shifting all the time, it does sound like a lot of the music that you hear in contemporary composition,” he explained.

      That third sound clip of the decaying Higgs did sound a little like some of Zappa’s classical compositions. Zappa Records did put out an album called “Trance-Fusion” 3 or 4 years ago of some of Zappa’s guitar solos and one of the tracks is called “Finding Higgs’ Boson”.

      Part of me thinks that string theory may be a little off in expecting sub atomic particles to be manifestations of the different frequencies at which tiny strings vibrate. I’m not sure the universe is quite as elegant as some physicists would like it to be. But on the other hand, if they are right, how cool would that be?

    • cometman permalink*
      June 23, 2010 9:29 am

      From the music of the particles to the music of the spheres – Scientists Discover Heavenly Solar Music.

      Using state-of-the-art mathematical theory combined with satellite observations, a team of solar physicists from the University have captured the music on tape and revealed the harmonious sounds are caused by the movement of giant magnetic loops in the solar corona — the outermost, mysterious, and least understood layer of the Sun’s atmosphere. Most importantly, the team studied how this sound is decaying, giving an unprecedented insight into the physics of the solar corona.

      Have a listen –

      Been watching the very good new series Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman recently (new episode on tonight!) and last week they pointed out the similarities in the way black holes interact with each other on the large scale with how atoms work on the small one. A lot of it is still very theoretical, but it would be pretty amazing to find out that things work the same way on enormous scales as they do on microscopic ones. Makes me keep thinking about “Horton Hears a Hoo”. Maybe the enormous universe we see around us is itself just a relative speck compared to some even larger volume we know nothing about yet.

  15. cometman permalink*
    June 23, 2010 8:22 am

    Episodes# 2956747, 2956748, and 2956749 of hypocritical republicans behaving badly with their dinkies.

    Looks like David Vitter’s aide who deals with women’s issues likes cutting them up in his spare time.

    An RNC staffer was given 100 large in hush money to keep quiet about any further details of Michael Steele’s strip club parties.

    And SC governor Mark Sanford has gone missing again. Sounds like somebody’s mistress might find out she’s not the only one.

  16. cometman permalink*
    June 23, 2010 9:39 am

    Food for thought posted at Naked Capitalism – Is the US a fascist Police-State?. Having lived in Chile under Pinochet the author argues that it is, especially taking into consideration some recent rulings by the Supremes. Pretty difficult to call her wrong.

    Excellent article by Ray McGovern on the McChrystal brouhaha where he suggests that Barry may be wary about pissing off the military brass so he doesn’t wind up like JFK – Obama & Insubordination: Is He Truman or Mr. Milquetoast?.

    And a short one from Counterpunch which reminds how the McChrystal incident distracts from more important issues in Afghanistan such as the recently disclosed reports that US dollars are funding the Taliban and a huge new contract has just been given to the former Blackwater –The McChrystal Shield .

    So, when the media focus moves from nonstop coverage of the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico to calls for General McChrystal to step down, news of nearly $200 million more of taxpayer money being funneled into Afghanistan, over the coming months, for “protective security services,” as well as the millions of US government money being paid to the Taliban to protect private security firms in Afghanistan will be essentially lost in the shuffle.

    Not lost, however, is the biblical corruption, and visible sense of outrage by inhabitants of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as well as the world community that can only agree now with the wisdom of another general, Smedley D. Butler, from the 1930’s, who said, quite astutely, that “war is a racket.” The only progress made in the past seventy years is that the press has become even more adept at cooperating with the Pentagon is covering its tracks.

    Willingly or otherwise, the press has become another enabler of war.

  17. cometman permalink*
    June 23, 2010 10:33 am

    White hot stupid – learn how Gawd is cursing the US with bear attacks.

    • artemis54 permalink
      June 23, 2010 11:02 am

      Someone, and I don’t remember who, responded to Palin’s call for a day of prayer to stop the leak since mere mortals cannot by pointing out that God had already buried it under a mile of ocean and three miles of rock. What more do you fucking expect out of him?

  18. artemis54 permalink
    June 23, 2010 11:08 am

    It will be interesting for once to check in on Fox Noise as they try to find a way to denigrate Petraeus, unified command, civilian authority, the Constitution, etc. Currently Major Garrett is tying himself into a pretzel trying to figure it out on the fly.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 23, 2010 11:57 am

      Ha! Hadn’t thought of that. He was Bush’s darling but if Obama likes him too….. Ought to be some good clips of heads exploding in the next few days.

  19. cometman permalink*
    June 23, 2010 12:46 pm

    If you ever need to explain to someone why astrology is a bunch of hooey, show them this.

    • artemis54 permalink
      June 23, 2010 1:01 pm

      I guess I draw the line at trying to reason with people who believe in astrology or demonic possession. One only has so much time.

  20. cometman permalink*
    June 23, 2010 1:19 pm

    The situation with voting machines in this country is only getting worse and nobody is paying attention. Brad Friedman has an excellent post explaining how an unknown Canadian company now controls roughly half of all the votes cast in the US.

    Think the oil industry’s corruption of federal regulatory commissions was bad in light of the BP disaster? “Big Oil” has nothing on “Big Elections” — but because the U.S. media hasn’t bothered to cover the gusher of corruption spewing into the American election system, neither has the U.S. public.

    Lots of bits and pieces of voting companies being sold back and forth, with government employees going to work for various companies in the same revolving door style that dominates just about every industry. Doesn’t sound like too many people, especially those who should, have the slightest clue what’s going on.

    Still haven’t decided whether I’m even going to bother voting this year. Doesn’t seem to be much point when nobody knows who really won anything anymore.

  21. Stemella permalink*
    June 24, 2010 9:02 am

    Yet another example of justice denied

    Skilling, Black Get Partial Victories From Court

    The U.S. Supreme Court gave Jeffrey Skilling a partial victory on his conviction for leading the Enron Corp. accounting fraud, ruling that he can’t be convicted of so-called honest services fraud. The court refused to order a new trial.

    In a related ruling, the court set aside the corporate fraud conviction of former Hollinger International Inc. Chairman Conrad Black. The justices told a lower to reconsider the case.

    The justices said the law, which covers fraud schemes to “deprive another of the intangible right to honest services,” could be constitutionally applied only to cases involving bribery or kickbacks.

    So much for justice. The ruling class as ever is above the law. Pirates and gangsters protected by pirates and gangsters. The rest of us are mere cannon fodder and slaves.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 24, 2010 9:50 am

      I was just reading that one and I’d like to wring the necks of those who couldn’t be bothered to try to block the nominations of Alito and Roberts. It was abundantly clear to me and millions of others I’m sure that these are exactly the kind of decisions these assholes would favor.

      Who knows how much good it will do, but here are several examples of people kicking against the pricks that I ran across today.

      Millions hit the streets in France to protest government austerity measures. Sarkozy is already ignoring them to meet with some soccer player instead.

      Bernie introduces legislation to tax the billionaires since this year nobody is paying any estate taxes at all, costing the government an estimated $14.8 billion.

      Medea Benjamin and Code Pink dance on the Hummer’s grave.

      And Hugo Chavez tells one US oil company that Venezuela will be taking some oil rigs off their hands, thank you very much.

  22. cometman permalink*
    June 24, 2010 10:29 am

    Few things of note from the latest Harper’s.

    Yesterday I made the following remark regarding Petraeus’ replacement of McChystal –

    …because if you just stop talking about all the things blowing up in Iraq, it isn’t really happening.

    Last night in the latest Harper’s index I saw this –

    Minutes of reporting on the Iraq war aired so far this year on network-television news programs : 14

    Remember the rush to buy huge bags of wheat and grain a few years ago because there was supposedly some kind of shortage? There wasn’t; it was just Goldman Sachs again – The food bubble: How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it.

    Agriculture, rooted as it is in the rhythms of reaping and sowing, had not traditionally engaged the attention of Wall Street bankers, whose riches did not come from the sale of real things like wheat or bread but from the manipulation of ethereal concepts like risk and collateralized debt. But in 1991 nearly everything else that could be recast as a financial abstraction had already been considered. Food was pretty much all that was left. And so with accustomed care and precision, Goldman’s analysts went about transforming food into a concept. They selected eighteen commodifiable ingredients and contrived a financial elixir that included cattle, coffee, cocoa, corn, hogs, and a variety or two of wheat. They weighted the investment value of each element, blended and commingled the parts into sums, then reduced what had been a complicated collection of real things into a mathematical formula that could be expressed as a single manifestation, to be known thenceforward as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index. Then they began to offer shares.

    As was usually the case, Goldman’s product flourished. The prices of cattle, coffee, cocoa, corn, and wheat began to rise, slowly at first, and then rapidly. And as more people sank money into Goldman’s food index, other bankers took note and created their own food indexes for their own clients. Investors were delighted to see the value of their venture increase, but the rising price of breakfast, lunch, and dinner did not align with the interests of those of us who eat. And so the commodity index funds began to cause problems.

    Wheat was a case in point. North America, the Saudi Arabia of cereal, sends nearly half its wheat production overseas, and an obscure syndicate known as the Minneapolis Grain Exchange remains the supreme price-setter for the continent’s most widely exported wheat, a high-protein variety called hard red spring. Other varieties of wheat make cake and cookies, but only hard red spring makes bread. Its price informs the cost of virtually every loaf on earth.


    The global speculative frenzy sparked riots in more than thirty countries and drove the number of the world’s “food insecure” to more than a billion. In 2008, for the first time since such statistics have been kept, the proportion of the world’s population without enough to eat ratcheted upward. The ranks of the hungry had increased by 250 million in a single year, the most abysmal increase in all of human history.

    Then, like all speculative bubbles, the food bubble popped. By late 2008, the price of Minneapolis hard red spring had toppled back to normal levels, and trading volume quickly followed. Of course, the prices world consumers pay for food have not come down so fast, as manufacturers and retailers continue to make up for their own heavy losses.

    And, I realized the situation in Arizona was bad, but Jeebus H Bankruptcy Xrist, I didn’t realize it was as bad as Ken Silverstein reports – Tea party in the Sonora: For the future of G.O.P. governance, look to Arizona.

    The general unsightliness of the capitol makes it a fitting home for today’s Arizona legislature, which is composed almost entirely of dimwits, racists, and cranks. Collectively they have bankrupted the state through a combination of ideological fanaticism on the Republican right and acquiescence and timidity on the part of G.O.P. moderates and Democrats. Although dozens of states are facing budget crises, the situation in Arizona is arguably the nation’s worst, graver even than in California. A horrific budget deficit has been papered over with massive borrowing and accounting gimmickry, and the state may yet have to issue IOUs to employees and vendors. All-day kindergarten has been eliminated statewide, and some districts have adopted a four-day school week. Arizona’s state parks, despite bringing in 2 million visitors and $266 million annually, have lost 80 percent of their budget, with up to two thirds of the parks now in danger of closure. The legislature slashed the budget for the Department of Revenue, which required the agency to fire hundreds of state auditors and tax collectors; lawmakers boasted that these measures saved $25 million, but a top official in the department estimated that the state would miss out on $174 million in tax collections as a result.

    Any way out of Arizona’s crisis will require raising taxes, a move that is tantamount to heresy for most lawmakers. For nearly a year, the legislature refused to approve the emergency sales-tax increase (of just one cent per dollar) proposed by Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican who had been elected as secretary of state but assumed the top job in 2009 when Janet Napolitano joined the Obama Administration. Eventually, lawmakers passed the buck to voters by authorizing a May 18 statewide ballot on the sales tax—which passed, after a $2.2 million marketing effort by education and business groups—but before doing so they enacted tax cuts that over four years will deprive the state of more money than the sales-tax increase is estimated to bring in. 

    I think I may have mentioned it before, but the teabaggers took over the republican caucus in Maine recently and basically rewrote the entire party platform, turning it from the nonsense it already was into complete unadulterated gibberish. Glad to know what Maine has to look forward too.

    • artemis54 permalink
      June 24, 2010 11:18 am

      Here’s another instance of that Arizona state of mind:

      The last count of Mount Graham red squirres put their numbers at 250 and falling. When the Arizona Dept of Transportation was given $1.25 million to build canopy bridges across the road – so that fewer squirrels would be run over or killed by predators as they crossed the road on foot – the local public responded with so much bitching and moaning about how the money should be spent on building more roads instead that ADOT has thrown in the towel and will send the money back instead.

      ABC news’ role in this was utterly disgusting, cheerleading the ignorant yahoos.

      A genetically distinct squirrel that has hung around for at least 10,000 years in its isolation will be wiped out by these fucking morons and their more roads and cheap gas policies.

      • cometman permalink*
        June 24, 2010 12:03 pm

        Unreal. Now policy decisions are being made based on internet comments. Having read my fair share of internet comments, it’s pretty clear that a good majority of comments on relatively neutral news sites come from retarded republicans (see the comment I’ll be making below shortly). Xrist, even at The Nation a great deal of the comments are from the knuckle dragging set. But hey, let’s pretend that represents everybody!

        If they aren’t going to use the Federal $ for its appointed purpose, hopefully they won’t get any more $ at all next year. Let the roads go right to hell. Most of AZ residents are so old they probably shouldn’t be driving anyway. Let ’em hook up their wheelchairs to their lawnmowers if they need to get somewhere.

  23. artemis54 permalink
    June 24, 2010 12:12 pm

    A coup within the Labor party has ousted Kevin Rudd and installed his Deputy PM, Julia Gillard, as Australia’s first female leader.

    Some responses

    Note she immediately started talking big about climate change. But so did Rudd, who called it the moral challenge of our time before dithering and then abandoning his own emissions plans completely.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 24, 2010 1:05 pm

      Guess we’ll have to see whether it’s just lip service or not.

      There is a pretty strong push for environmentally friendly initiatives in my town right now but from what I can tell about half the city council seems to be touting it to make themselves look good to all the people who’d like to see some changes while at the same time trying to take the teeth out of the proposals before final passage so they can ignore them and keep doing whatever the hell they want, which usually means trying to keep the developers happy.

  24. cometman permalink*
    June 24, 2010 12:29 pm

    Here’s one fit for the Good Math, Bad Math guy.

    This op-ed from the Boston Globe today tries to make the case with a mathematical argument that people should be in favor of increased property taxes to fund education because in doing so they will increase the value of their own homes –Do the math on overrides. The people who wrote the article should be embarrassed and the editor who decided it was print worthy should have to go back to elementary school. The reasoning is so flawed it’s hard to know where to start. The argument is based on several assumptions which really have no way of being proven. They assume that more money thrown at a school through higher taxes causes higher test scores, which real estate agents tout to potential homebuyers as evidence of a good school system, which in turn causes people to be willing to pay more to live there, which in turn causes home values to rise and everybody wins!

    First of all the data they used only covers 5 years, and those years include the biggest real estate downturn in anyone’s memory so it’s hard to see how their data would not be skewed by that.

    Then they failed to learn anything from the recent housing collapse and continue to assume that rising house prices are a good thing for everybody. Of course they fail to take into account that wages did not rise as fast as house prices did, and they still aren’t rising. So if you live in an area with a decent school system and want to stay there, it doesn’t do you much good if your home’s value rises faster than your earnings and increasing taxes force you to move into a cheaper area.

    This of course provided lots of fodder from the mouth breathing crowd that usually shows up in the Globe’s comment sections, although most of their arguments against the op-ed were just as dumb as the op-ed was. Even those who seem to support paying a little more for better schools couldn’t agree with the authors.

    There are a lot of very good arguments to be made to promote the better education system which is so desperately needed, but this one which tries to use freemarketeer-type arguments is definitely not one of them.

    • artemis54 permalink
      June 24, 2010 12:41 pm

      In one school district with which I’m familiar, a ley was recently turned down for the first time in probably fifty years. What is most annoying is that the people barking and screaming against it with all the typical teabag shit were by and large old or poor or renters or somehow otherwise exempt. There’s a drastic reduction in taxes here, for instance, on one’s home after age 65. You can walk down the street and tick off all the exempt properties. The people who might hae a legitimate reason to bitch are owners of farmland. But the largest owners in the district, as well as many smaller ones like my family, continue to support the levy, even though most (including me) question this whole way of funding education. Fairness etc aside, it leads to a spastic cash flow when the schools never know what’s going to happen next.

      btw c-man, v is mortally wounded, as is g and 7. b and caps lock are in pretty shit shape too, so my comments etc will start to look like one of those novels written without the letter e.

      • cometman permalink*
        June 24, 2010 1:35 pm

        The argument I’d really like to see is that education should not be funded district by district based on property taxes, but through a general fund which doles out monies equally to each school, preferably at the federal rather than state level.

        Sorry to hear about the keyboard. My cats did a number on our last computer. Think it was 3 and n that got taken out. I had some typo-rific comments for while too. Good thing about having your own site is you can correct them at least. I find myself editing my comments for typos a few times a day.

  25. cometman permalink*
    June 24, 2010 12:33 pm

    This ought to open a few eyes. An aquarium which had planned to open a new Gulf of Mexico exhibit has decided to depict the Gulf’s destruction instead.

    A new exhibit at an aquarium in Iowa that had intended to showcase the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico will instead be void of life to underline the environmental impact of a massive oil spill in the ocean basin.

    The 40,000-gallon aquarium at the National Mississippi River and Aquarium in Dubuque, about 1,000 miles from where the river dumps into the gulf, was supposed to have been teeming with sharks, rays, and other fish. Two smaller tanks were to show a seagrass bed and coral reef.

    “It may be the only time that people have ever seen a major aquarium that, instead of showing its fish, is showing an environmental disaster,’’ said Jerry Enzler, the museum’s executive director.

    The main tank — the size of a school bus — will contain water and artificial coral, its sides adorned with window stickers that look like oil.

    • artemis54 permalink
      June 24, 2010 12:44 pm

      wow. that takes some guts.

  26. cometman permalink*
    June 24, 2010 1:00 pm

    Well this is odd – the Supremes made a decision I actually agree with for the first time in recent memory by ruling that the names of people who sign referendum petitions can be publicly disclosed and the referendums in question which brought the case were those trying to squelch gay rights.

    In a Thursday decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of disclosing the names of petitioners who called for a ballot measure that could have repealed an expanded domestic partnership rights law in Washington State last year.

    Surprisingly the only dissenter was Clarence Thomas – Alito, Scalia and Roberts all voted in favor – which makes me wonder what the catch is.

    Maine had a similar referendum recently which did manage to overturn the gay marriage law passed by the state legislature and I’ve heard those petition signers really wanted it kept secret. Guess we’ll get to find out who the bigots are here too!

  27. artemis54 permalink
    June 24, 2010 1:03 pm

    Speaking of roadkill, while we’re on this roll with the Gulf of Mexico and Madagascar pretty much wiped out in the International Year of Biodiversity, we might as well just destroy the Serengeti and get it over with. See her notes at the end of the piece.


  28. Stemella permalink*
    June 24, 2010 1:13 pm

    Greek bond spread is way up to 1126.75 with a cumulative probability of sovereign default at 68.7%

  29. Stemella permalink*
    June 24, 2010 1:36 pm

    Mommy, Mommy, get it off!!

    Idocracy on display on multiple levels. Those poor kids.

    • artemis54 permalink
      June 24, 2010 2:03 pm

      My brother and his wife live within ten miles of that beach. This is so upsetting to her that the last time we talked she started crying and had to hang up.

  30. sisdevore permalink
    June 24, 2010 6:31 pm

    do I really need more bad news?

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