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Hitchhiker’s Ride to the Galaxy

October 14, 2010

Surprisingly enough, the image above is not of some new superweapon bringing shock and awe to the industrial areas of some Middle Eastern nation which refused to obey the dictates of their Great White Father Uncle Sugar.

It’s the tail end of last week’s Soyuz rocket launch to the International Space Station.

42 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    October 14, 2010 7:01 am

    Pretty busy the next few days so won’t be posting too much of anything.

    Following some links a couple days ago I ran across this post which I wasn’t sure what to make of at first glance – President Obama Falls Victim to Chase Robo-Signer.

    In a nutshell, the author claims to have found fraudulent signatures on the president’s own mortgage documents. Wasn’t sure who the guy making the claim was until I ran across this McClatchy article –
    How 2 civilian sleuths brought foreclosure problems to light.

    More than a year before lenders, law firms and document companies began owning up to widespread paperwork problems with their foreclosure filings, Lisa Epstein and Michael Redman already knew that something was wrong — very wrong.

    Redman, a former online automobile consultant, got his first taste of the problem in early 2008, when he tried to help a relative who was facing foreclosure.

    As he tried to determine which of three or four supposed lenders held the note, Redman, 35, realized that not only did he not know the answer, neither did any of the companies that were asking for payment.

    Epstein, a nurse who cares for cancer patients, also is going through foreclosure. She got her baptism in the world of shoddy foreclosure paperwork in the summer of 2009, however, when she tried to help a brain tumor patient keep her home.

    Epstein helped draft a letter challenging the foreclosure because, as in Redman’s case, it was unclear from court papers who owned the home’s mortgage.


    Within a year, she and Redman — who didn’t know each other at the time — would leave their respective jobs to pursue their passion for helping others and exposing injustice in the foreclosure industry.

    After meeting late last year at a foreclosure fraud seminar, they teamed up to become two of the nation’s most influential civilian beat cops for the beleaguered foreclosure industry.

    Equal parts agitators, activists and advocates, Redman and Epstein have made their presence felt in Florida and nationally through their respective websites, and

    Sounds like the site is pretty legitimate if McClatchy is vouching for them.

    Very encouraging to see that a couple pissed off people with a website and an axe to grind can actually make a difference once in a while.

    Wonder if Barry will start doing the right thing now that it appears his own mortgage is no different from millions of others.

  2. artemis54 permalink
    October 14, 2010 10:56 am


    Single camera catches tiger and bulldozer destroying its habitat

    NASA photo of Hungarian sludge spill

    New PLoS Biodiversity Hub

    • cometman permalink*
      October 16, 2010 8:50 am

      Bookmarked that last one – thanks!

  3. cometman permalink*
    October 16, 2010 8:55 am

    Nice interview with Iain Banks on his new book, religion, economics, etc. A snippet – There’s a new belligerence on the side of scientists and writers and thinkers in response perhaps to the Islamic fundamentalists and the American right. You sense a kind of militant atheism, are you broadly sympathetic?

    Banks: I’ve described myself as a militant atheist for the last 20 years! I think it’s a reaction. I think a lot of us were naïve and thought that religion would quietly slip away, embarrassed and mumbling, saying, “Sorry I got it so wrong guys.” Instead it’s come back and said, “We were right all along.” Well no you bloody weren’t! The world works in a certain way, and the way you find out about it is you do science, you do experiments, and you use reason, that is how you find out how the world and the universe works.

    Religion just doesn’t do that; it’s a set of hypotheses arrived at by very primitive people 2,000 years ago, and it’s not fit for purpose, it doesn’t describe reality, it’s that simple. You can believe whatever you want to believe, but when you start basically saying that reality isn’t reality, when you start saying this nonsense about the world is only 6,000 years old, when you have this absolute refusal to meet with reality, we can’t just say, “You’re entitled to your view.”

    No you’re not!

  4. cometman permalink*
    October 18, 2010 10:38 am

    RIP Benoit Mandelbrot

    Thanks for making us all a little smarter.

  5. sisdevore permalink
    October 18, 2010 12:13 pm


    • cometman permalink*
      October 19, 2010 6:17 am

      Thanks Miss D. Maybe it was the coffee that got these goats climbing up the side of this dam.

      Not the best segue, but the goats are pretty cool.

  6. cometman permalink*
    October 18, 2010 1:09 pm

    Some links –

    More new species discovered in deep sea trenches.

    France is running out of gas as strikers continue to protest “austerity measures”.

    Greenwald notes that Bushwa Barry is gaining support from the right wingers, but mainly for his policies that continue the illegal ones of his predecessor. Fucking disgusting that he met with war criminal Condi Rice looking for “advice”.

  7. cometman permalink*
    October 18, 2010 1:24 pm

    So after a Friday Fed meeting it looks like QE2 is a go due to a complete lack of will to try anything different. From what I can tell Bernanke seems to think that this will fix the economy (wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that we were told it was fixed back in 2009 due to the last round of quantitative easing and TARP????) and put the screws to China at the same time, the logic being that if the UD dollar becomes worthless, China will finally have to admit its own currency is worth more. Sounds pretty far-fetched to me and nobody else seems to know what the hell is going on either.

    A few decent on the subject –

    Through the Looking Glass Again.

    Has the Fed Painted Itself Into a Corner?

    And a couple from Mike Whitney –

    Bernanke Ponders the Nuclear Option. Whitney reads the tea leaves and thinks Little Ben may be pondering a two year payroll tax holiday to boost income and thus spending and thinks it might work. Or not.

    Bernanke’s plan could work. Congress could pass emergency legislation to suspend the payroll tax for two years stuffing hundreds of billions of dollars into the pockets of struggling consumers. The Fed could make up the difference by purchasing an equal amount of long-term Treasuries keeping the yields low while the economy resets, employment rises, asset prices balloon, and markets soar. As the economy rebounds, the dollar will steadily lose ground triggering a sharp rise in commodities and an increase in exports that will spark a clash with foreign trading partners. Then what?

    Yes, Bernanke’s “nuclear option” could help to resuscitate economy, but it could also erode confidence in the dollar leading to the untimely demise of the world’s reserve currency. It’s all a roll of the dice.

    Best I can tell this would be done in conjunction with QE2. Flooding the economy with money would cause inflation (something the Fed is ostensibly supposed to guard against) and scare people into spending what money they have now since it will be worth less later. Or maybe just worthless.

    Whitney’s own ideas sound much better, namely if you want people to have money to spend, quit all the trickle down shenanigans and pay people more. They can’t start spending if they haven’t got anything to spend.

    The Bernanke plan seems to do everything except whiten teeth. But wouldn’t it make more sense to restructure the banking system so the toxic assets can be removed and the banks can lend freely again? And wouldn’t it be better to strengthen labor unions (so that wages keep pace with productivity) so workers can generate sufficient demand to keep the economy running smoothly without panicky injections of emergency stimulus? Of course, that would mean a truce in the ongoing class war which wouldn’t fly with plutocrats who take joy in seeing the unemployment lines wind from one side of the country to the other.

    More suggestions from Whitney here – How to Kickstart the Economy .

  8. cometman permalink*
    October 18, 2010 1:29 pm

    Couple more longer ones that look good which I haven’t read yet.

    One nation, under fraud about the current foreclosure clusterfuck.

    And another deceptive practice of big banks coming to light where they borrow assets from pension funds to re-invest and if the investents turn south, the banks pocket any gains while the funds eat all the losses. Nice work if you can get it –Banks Shared Clients’ Profits, but Not Losses .

  9. cometman permalink*
    October 19, 2010 6:12 am

    New on the blogroll, a guide to cephalopods in sci fi – Talking Squids in Outer Space.

  10. cometman permalink*
    October 19, 2010 6:24 am

    Righteous smackdown from Bill Black against those who have tried to claim that capitalism “saved” the recently rescues miners in Chile – Capitalism Would have Killed the Chilean Miners: a Reply to Mr. Henninger.

    Too bad it’s still necessary to state the obvious, but Black stated it well –

    Let’s begin with why the miners needed to be saved. They needed to be saved because the private mine they worked for appears to have been a “control fraud.”

    In a control fraud the person controlling a seemingly legitimate entity uses it as a “weapon.”


    We know that the Chilean mine was private, that it had a bad safety record, and that it has been ordered to shut down permanently. The BBC reports that the (strongly conservative) President Pinera promised the people of Chile that: “never again in Chile would people be allowed to work in such inhumane conditions.” Reports from Chile stress that the mine violated the law in failing to have a second entrance to the mine (which would have greatly reduced the risk of the miners being trapped by the collapse of a portion of the shaft). Local officials have claimed that the only way the mine owners could have gotten away with such an obvious violation of the safety rules was through bribery of the regulatory officials.

    Reports from Chile also state that the mine did not have the required ladder that would have allowed the workers to escape the mine in the immediate aftermath of the collapse through a ventilation shaft that subsequently became inaccessible. The “innovation dynamic” that was “everywhere” in the Chilean mine due to the profit motive also explains why the ladder was not there. To sum it up, the miners wouldn’t have had to be rescued but for the perverse incentives of that unregulated capitalism inherently produces


    Once the mine shaft collapsed in Chile, the private mining company declared that it not only could not pay to rescue the miners — it could not even pay their wages. The private company threatened to file for bankruptcy. The rescue was paid for by the State-owned mine (i.e., the Chilean government had to bail out the private mine owner to the tune of an estimated rescue cost of $10 to $20 million in order to rescue the miners). A $25 ladder apparently would have prevented the tragedy, but the private owners’ profit motive led them to avoid that expense. The Chilean mine had gold and copper ore. Both of those minerals are selling for record prices. This makes the private mining company’s failure to provide another exit and a ladder all the more outrageous. Where did the profits go? Capitalism would have left the miners to die. The government paid to rescue the miners.

  11. cometman permalink*
    October 19, 2010 6:39 am

    More financial links, because I just can’t stop reading this stuff and pissing myself off –

    A couple on the “currency wars” and QE2 –

    Roubini – Only the Weak Survive.

    The risk of global currency and trade wars is rising, with most economies now engaged in competitive devaluations. All are playing a game that some must lose.

    Today’s tensions are rooted in paralysis on global rebalancing. Over-spending countries – such as the United States and other “Anglo-Saxon” economies – that were over-leveraged and running current-account deficits now must save more and spend less on domestic demand. To maintain growth, they need a nominal and real depreciation of their currency to reduce their trade deficits. But over-saving countries – such as China, Japan, and Germany – that were running current-account surpluses are resisting their currencies’ nominal appreciation. A higher exchange rate would reduce their current-account surpluses, because they are unable or unwilling to reduce their savings and sustain growth through higher spending on domestic consumption.

    Within the eurozone, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that Germany, with its large surpluses, can live with a stronger euro, whereas the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain) cannot. On the contrary, with their large external deficits, the PIIGS need a sharp depreciation to restore growth as they implement painful fiscal and other structural reforms.

    And a similar bent from the Financial Times – Currency race that everyone is trying to lose.

    Marshall Auerback doesn’t think much of Bushwa Barry’s pocket veto – Foreclosure Fraud: We Need to Fix the Banks Again.

    President Obama recently used a pocket veto on a bill that would allow foreclosure and other documents to be accepted among multiple states (and therefore make it difficult for homeowners to challenge foreclosure documents prepared in other states). But I worried that this action was not sincere. My concern was that, following the midterm elections, the Administration would eventually come up with some grand “compromise” solution, which would in effect give the banks everything they wanted.

    In retrospect, it appears that even that was too favorable an assessment. Per the Washington Post:

    The Obama administration does not support a nationwide moratorium on foreclosures at this time, Federal Housing Administration Commissioner David Stevens said Sunday in an e-mail response to questions.

    “We believe freezing foreclosures for all banks in all states, whether we have reason to believe them to be in error or not, is simply not the prudent step to take in this fragile housing market,” he said. (Our emphasis)

    Banks 1, rule of law 0. In effect, the President is making the argument, “If we penalize people for not following the laws as they existed at the time, it will have really bad repercussions. So everybody gets a mulligan.”

    5 reasons why Timmeh’s defense of TARP is complete bullshit – Tim Geithner’s Magical Mystery Tour Of TARP Propaganda Has Little Use For Truth .

    No justice regarding Countrywide fraudster Angelo Mozilo as he gets away with a slap on the wrist fine – Angelo Mozilo, other former Countrywide execs settle fraud charges.

    The deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission requires Mozilo, the highest-profile figure to be accused of wrongdoing in the mortgage meltdown, to personally pay a $22.5-million fine. The government said it would be the largest penalty ever paid by a senior executive of a public company in an SEC settlement.

    Mozilo, 71, also agreed to pay $45 million in “ill-gotten gains” to former Countrywide Financial Corp. shareholders, who lost billions when the company’s stock price plunged as defaults on home loans surged.

    Ouch. That sounds like it might put a dent in the old wallet. Until you read the next sentence –

    But Bank of America Corp., which bought Countrywide in 2008, and Countrywide’s insurers will pay that amount under terms of Mozilo’s employment contract.

    This douchebag won’t have to pay a fucking penny. BofA will take care of the fine with the goddamn bailout money they were given. I’m sure they claim that $$ was kept in a separate account from the one they use to pay fines though…

  12. artemis54 permalink
    October 19, 2010 11:53 am

    All set up and construction begins this evening on my jack-o-lanterns: a butterfly, a turtle, a bat, and Charles Manson. Photos if I achieve any success at all.

    After much agonizing the candy solution is to hand out little miniboxes of raisins and dried cranberries, with an explanatory statement that they can trade if they don’t like it, or give them to mom.

    Skipping Halloween is not an option here. The Mexican kids esp are really really into it.

    • cometman permalink*
      October 19, 2010 12:12 pm

      If all your Halloween customers are two year olds, I’m thinking the raisins and cranberries are going to be a big hit. The squidlette would eat a pound of raisins a day if I’d let her and she just tried the dried cranberries for the first time over the weekend and loved them too. She’s also a big fan of dried apricots.

      I’m finding toddlers are good for their parents’ health too. Ever since she got on the raisin kick I’ve been eating the dried fruit for snacks a lot myself. Perhaps it will counteract the smoking habit I still can’t seem to shake.

      And please post the Manson pumpkin! That sounds awesome.

  13. cometman permalink*
    October 19, 2010 12:44 pm

    Couple on the the wikileaks story that keeps getting weirder.

    Assange lays into Wired magazine for coverage he feels is dishonest- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange slams Wired magazine on Twitter.

    And here’s a good profile of Bradley Manning – Private Manning and the Making of Wikileaks. On top of everything else this kid is going through, turns out he was also gay and having to battle the DADT policy.

  14. cometman permalink*
    October 19, 2010 1:22 pm

    More mortgage fraud links –

    Washington’s blog notes that banks were routinely selling the same loan to several different investors. Of course they’re trying to play it off as an accident or paperwork mixup.

    And a couple of very informative and entertaining posts well worth reading in full from Gonzalo Lira about one couple caught up in the whole fraud debacle.

    The Coming Middle-Class Anarchy


    This Is What Brian and Ilsa Said To Their Bank: “Show Me The Note, Motherfucker!”

    In short, this couple applied for help from Barry’s HAMP program to reduce their mortgage payment. They were accepted for a lower interest rate and after paying that for a few months the bank turned around and said they weren’t approved any more and had to pay in full. They told the bank to produce the note or they weren’t paying another penny. Sounds like the bank didn’t have it because after giving the couple the runaround for months they immediately called them back and claimed it was all a misunderstanding. This part from the first one was particularly good –

    What’s really important is Brian and Ilsa: What’s really important is that law-abiding middle-class citizens are deciding that playing by the rules is nothing but a sucker’s game.

    Just like the poker player who’s been fleeced by all the other players, and gets one mean attitude once he finally wakes up to the con? I’m betting that more and more of the solid American middle-class will begin saying what Brian and Ilsa said: Fuckit.

    Fuck the rules. Fuck playing the game the banksters want you to play. Fuck being the good citizen. Fuck filling out every form, fuck paying every tax. Fuck the government, fuck the banks who own them. Fuck the free-loaders, living rent-free while we pay. Fuck the legal process, a game which only works if you’ve got the money to pay for the parasite lawyers. Fuck being a chump. Fuck being a stooge. Fuck trying to do the right thing—what good does that get you? What good is coming your way?


    When the backbone of a country starts thinking that laws and rules are not worth following, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to anarchy.

    TV has given us the illusion that anarchy is people rioting in the streets, smashing car windows and looting every store in sight. But there’s also the polite, quiet, far deadlier anarchy of the core citizenry—the upright citizenry—throwing in the towel and deciding it’s just not worth it anymore.

    If a big enough proportion of the populace—not even a majority, just a largish chunk—decides that it’s just not worth following the rules anymore, then that society’s days are numbered: Not even a police-state with an armed Marine at every corner with Shoot-to-Kill orders can stop such middle-class anarchy.

    Brian and Ilsa are such anarchists—grey-haired, well-dressed, golf-loving, well-to-do, exceedingly polite anarchists: But anarchists nevertheless. They are not important, or powerful, or influential: They are average—that’s why they’re so deadly: Their numbers are millions. And they are slowly, painfully coming to the conclusion that it’s just not worth it anymore.

    Once enough of these J. Crew Anarchists decide they no longer give a fuck, it’s over for America—because they are America.

  15. cometman permalink*
    October 19, 2010 1:30 pm

    Some unrelated points of interest.

    The good – finally a victory for migrant farm workers.

    At a news conference on a farm outside of Immokalee in southwest Florida, Jon Esformes, operating partner of the fourth-generation, family-owned Pacific Tomato Growers—one of the five largest growers in the nation with more than 14,000 acres in the US and Mexico—declared, “In a free society, few are guilty, but all are responsible.”

    And with that he announced an agreement with the 4000-member Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to implement a penny per pound pay raise—which stands to increase workers’ annual earnings from about $10,000 to as much as $17,000—and establish a code of conduct that includes an external complaint resolution system, shade and protective equipment in the fields, and a worker-to-worker education process on their rights under the new agreement.

    The bad – PBS is becoming more and more like all the other crap news networks since the departure of Bill Moyers and the cancellation of NOW.

    And the hilarious! – Bob Jones University issues a pin for new students to sport around campus. Bwaaaaahahaha!

    And then there’s this guy running for governor in NY from the “The Rent is Too Damn High Party”. And he’s for gay marriage too! Sounds better than any of the jackasses running in my state.

  16. artemis54 permalink
    October 20, 2010 9:53 am

    From Pam’s House Blend: Dan Choi reenlists in the army

    Choi is the Energizer bunny of gay servicemembers. It is exhausting to follow a tenth of his activities.

    I wonder if he’d be interested in painting my house while he’s on a break sometime.

    • cometman permalink*
      October 20, 2010 2:05 pm

      He is one of the few people who make me think it might be possible to turn things around in this country. If only the rest of those in power had his integrity and unwillingness to compromise away their (supposed) principles.

      Unfortunately Choi’s commander in chief makes me think the exact opposite. Bushwa Barry is now appealing the first judge’s ruling.

      The Obama administration asked a federal appeals court on Wednesday to let the Pentagon reinstate its ban on openly gay men and women serving in the military while it appeals a lower-court ruling declaring the policy unconstitutional.


      President Barack Obama has insisted he stands by his 2008 campaign pledge to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but his administration had urged the judge to allow more time for a political remedy to the issue rather than a court-imposed one.

      Another article I read was a little more specific saying Barry wants Congress to pass legislation to repeal the ban. But he has to know that there is no fucking way in hell Congress will do that as long as the dithering Dems allow the republicans to block everything with a filibuster. And it isn’t as if the judiciary doesn’t have the authority to repeal the ban. He seems to forget when it’s convenient that the judiciary are tasked with interpreting the constitutionality of any law Congress passes and that they are a co-equal branch of government with himself and the Congress. I’m no lawyer, but ferchrissakes if he were really serious about the repeal and not just using the issue to play for votes from both sides, as commander in chief of the military he could repeal the damn ban himself.

      On NPR the other day Barry said again he wanted the ban ended but needed to make sure it was all legal first. I just about puked. For this issue he wants to make sure it’s all on the up and up. And yet he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the rule of law when it comes to blowing away brown people. Not all that concerned with the pesky laws when it comes to doling out cash for bankers either.

      Still not sure who he thinks he’s fooling, but another two years of this trying to have it both ways and he’ll just about guarantee he’ll be looking for a new job.

  17. cometman permalink*
    October 20, 2010 2:24 pm

    Even more on the foreclosure mess and QE2.

    So Barry used his pocket veto last week to stop legislation that would have allowed foreclosures to go full steam ahead. If you aren’t paying attention it might have sounded like Barry was aiming to become a man of the people all of a sudden. But then he trotted out one of his sycophants on the Sunday TV shows saying the administration was not in favor of a broad moratorium on foreclosures. Now Timmeh is trying to claim again just as he did a couple years ago that if we don’t give the banks what they want we’re all headed down the road to perdition. From Dean Baker

    Now Geithner has a new fairy tale. This time it is that if the government imposes a foreclosure moratorium it will lead to chaos in the housing market and jeopardize the health of the recovery.

    The banks have taken the hint and BofA has lifted its moratorium on foreclosures with other banks likely to follow suit, likely thinking that they can grab even more loot and any punishment will be a mere slap on the wrist fine.

    This article does a good job of reading the tea leaves – QE2 and Foreclosures .

    It might seem astonishing that right in the middle of the run-up to the second biggest bank bail-out in the history of capitalism (another round of ‘quantitative easing’ worth around 500 billion, dubbed QE2 by traders and analysts), that Bank of America (BofA) would have the temerity to begin proceedings on 102,000 home foreclosure suits, reactivating a process that had been voluntarily suspended in 23 state courts for the past several weeks.

    On the other hand, from their perspective: why not? The bank probably feels pretty confident that with Obama in the White House and the Republicans at the door of Congress they’ll be able to capitalize on the latest round of Fed intervention no less than the last time- the ‘Geithner plan’ of 2009.

    Because on top of the foreclosure loot they will also be getting more free money from the Fed’s QE2, meaning they can stick it to the little guy and won’t have to fight amongst themselves –

    For the mega banks, the wager which Bank of America has laid down is that they can make a quick grab at the properties without suffering too much from a write-down in the value of those ‘assets’. Correlated to this is the belief that they can do this without too much concern that they will ultimately lose the faith of their bondholders and raters who could sue them in court if their bonds were to dramatically lose value as a result. If they can pull this off, they’ll be able to miraculously transmogrify worthless loans into concrete assets- at the expense of the people who live in these homes, who will no doubt be kicked out, and theoretically, the taxpayers who underwrite all of the quantitative easing.

    This is the point at which the Fed and the big private equity firms will ultimately hang fire. The stock markets were shaky yesterday as a result of the move, but equities are inherently riskier than bonds, and the sense of panic is as yet not general. Despite the posturing, the imminent prospect of 500 billion worth of ‘QE2’ will probably keep the Fed, the corporate banks, and the private equity firms from going after each other as long as there are embattled homeowners to dispossess. After all, who needs the American consumer if the Federal Reserve is willing to spend trillions to prop up paper assets that the ‘free market’ would obviously liquidate. Why else would BofA have stayed their foreclosures in the first place, if not to try to redeem some value from loans sold to buyers for totally over valued homes?

    Again Barry is trying to have it both ways, making it look like he give’s a damn while winking at the bankers to proceed as per usual. And still nobody gets too riled up about all this blatant fraud and criminality. The French are raising hell for a whole let less abuse than what we’re seeing here.

  18. cometman permalink*
    October 20, 2010 2:35 pm


    Bushwa Barry appoints yet another ratfucking bankster and former consultant to Goldman Sachs to a position of great power.

    With all the similar dickish moves in recent years, I didn’t get too worried about Joe Miller booting reporters from a recent campaign stop. Figured it would put him in a bad light and not much would happen to the reporters. Until I saw that Miller’s goon squad were active duty military. Chilling. And nothing will likely be done about it despite it clearly being against the law.

    ThinkProgress with more info on the Koch brothers

    ThinkProgress has obtained a memo outlining the details of the last Koch gathering held in June of this year. The memo, along with an attendee list of about 210 people, shows the titans of industry — from health insurance companies, oil executives, Wall Street investors, and real estate tycoons — working together with conservative journalists and Republican operatives to plan the 2010 election, as well as ongoing conservative efforts through 2012. According to the memo, David Chavern, the number two at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fox News hate-talker Glenn Beck also met with these representatives of the corporate elite. In an election season with the most undisclosed secret corporate giving since the Watergate-era, the memo sheds light on the symbiotic relationship between extremely profitable, multi-billion dollar corporations and much of the conservative infrastructure. The memo describes the prospective corporate donors as “investors,” and it makes clear that many of the Republican operatives managing shadowy, undisclosed fronts running attack ads against Democrats were involved in the Koch’s election-planning event.

    But “conspiracy theorists” are just a bunch of crazy people….

  19. cometman permalink*
    October 20, 2010 2:36 pm

    Future energy needs solved! Who new it was as simple as potassium chlorate and gummi bears.

  20. artemis54 permalink
    October 21, 2010 7:44 am


    The Ninth Circuit has granted Obama’s stay on the shitcanning of DADT. Legal one day, illegal the next. So, it’s no strain on the military to operate under a different set of rules every fucking day?

  21. artemis54 permalink
    October 21, 2010 8:03 am

    Here comes everybody

    It is entirely possible that Ireland’s next president will be a gay Anglican James Joyce scholar with no political perty affiliation.

    • cometman permalink*
      October 21, 2010 9:07 am

      I’d love to see a guy with no party affiliation win. That’d be a nice trend to start.

      • artemis54 permalink
        October 21, 2010 9:25 am

        He’s managed to stay in the Senate for 23 years. Of course his constituency is the U of Dublin, but that is not the killer that it would be in the anti-intellectual US.

        It’s been a long time since I visited Ireland, but one thing I will never forget are the book racks at the train station. Besides the fuff one would see here, usually one entirely devoted to Irish history and another to any number of things concerning the rest of the world.

  22. cometman permalink*
    October 21, 2010 11:05 am

    Here’s a woman who might give Dan Choi a run for his money in the brass balls and integrity department – Student becomes new police chief in Mexican town.

    She is a petite 20-year-old college student who paints her nails pink, has an infant son and believes in non-violence: meet Marisol Valles, the newest police chief in Mexico’s drug war cauldron.

    The town of Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero on the Texas border has astonished Mexico by appointing Valles to head a police force in the heart of a traditional centre for narco-traffickers.

    Sounds like she’s serious about the job but I’m not sure how effective she’ll be –

    The new police chief heads a force of just 13 agents, nine of them women, with one working patrol car, three automatic rifles and a pistol. Gunmen killed a local official and his son last weekend as Valles prepared to start her job.

    Perhaps she was appointed because other corrupt officials figured she wouldn’t be able to do much. Anyway, good luck.

  23. cometman permalink*
    October 21, 2010 1:37 pm

    Good article from the EFF on why further government spying on communications syaytems is a really bad idea – Eight Epic Failures of Regulating Cryptography.

    …the government appears to be seriously discussing a new requirement that all communications systems be easily wiretappable by mandating “back doors” into any encryption systems.


    If this sounds familiar, it’s because regulating encryption was a monstrous proposal officially declared dead in 2001 after threatening Americans’ privacy, free speech rights, and innovation for nearly a decade. But like a zombie, it’s now rising from the grave, bringing the same disastrous flaws with it.

    Why do I get the feeling that this type of thing is probably already being done, and any new legislation would just be another trick to make things retroactively legal?

    The article goes on to list several reasons why this is a terrible idea, most of which are pretty obvious, like being against the fucking law. Also some links about encrypting your own communications which may be worth checking out.

  24. cometman permalink*
    October 21, 2010 2:05 pm

    More financial news. These links may be boring the hell out of our vast readership but at least when the empire goes down the tubes, you’ll know why.

    Good article here detailing how Google and others use loopholes to keep from paying the taxes they legitimately owe while the rest of the country holds bake sales to keep their schools going – Google 2.4% Rate Shows How $60 Billion Lost to Tax Loopholes.

    Google, the owner of the world’s most popular search engine, uses a strategy that has gained favor among such companies as Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. The method takes advantage of Irish tax law to legally shuttle profits into and out of subsidiaries there, largely escaping the country’s 12.5 percent income tax.

    The earnings wind up in island havens that levy no corporate income taxes at all. Companies that use the Double Irish arrangement avoid taxes at home and abroad as the U.S. government struggles to close a projected $1.4 trillion budget gap and European Union countries face a collective projected deficit of 868 billion euros.

    Another good one from The Nation on how mortgage modification programs have been more about helping the banks retain the bogus “profits” they’ve already booked rather than helping homeowners – The Bank of America Mortgage Settlement Fiasco .

    In fact, the settlement has functioned more as loss mitigation for BofA and investors in mortgage-backed securities than as recompense for victims of predatory lending, says Alan White, an associate professor of law at Valparaiso University and an expert on the subprime crisis. “You are not actually asking [Bank of America] to give up money,” says White, who frequently testifies before Congress on mortgage issues. “You are asking them to do something that will make them more money or mitigate their losses. It is a weird way to have somebody pay for past misconduct.”

    “The state attorneys general have done far more than anyone else, and they were under tremendous pressure not to act,” says William Black, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a federal fraud investigator during the savings and loan scandal. “That said, the settlement does not go to the basic problem, which was fraud by Countrywide.”

    This one compares the Great Depression to our current depression – iDepression 2.0.

    Some key statistics (after you cut out the government bullshit) are very similar during both times but things don’t look as bad on the ground – not yet at least.

    This is the electronic Great Depression – iDepression 2.0. Your 99 weeks of unemployment and food stamps are direct deposited into your bank account so that you don’t have to leave the comfort of your McMansion that you haven’t made a mortgage payment on in the last 14 months. There were no credit cards in 1933. Without a job or a house, you needed to move to where there might be a job. Hence the mass migration from the Midwest to California – ala The Grapes of Wrath. Today, a neighbor in a matching McMansion down the street, with the perfectly manicured lawn, could be unemployed for three years and no one would ever know. They could sustain themselves on unemployment payments, food stamps, and credit cards. Welcome to the iDepression 2.0.


    The delusions continue. Unless American union workers are willing to work for $7 per hour with no benefits, the manufacturing jobs are not coming back from China. The corporate oligarchs and their bought off cronies in Congress sold the country down the river over the last 40 years. Mega-Corporation profits are at record levels as goods are produced by slave labor in the Far East at 80% lower costs than they could be produced in the U.S. With 86% of the U.S. workforce in the service industry, introducing tariffs on imported goods and devaluing the dollar will further put the squeeze on the American middle class who already have been systematically screwed by the ruling elite over the last 40 years. Our society took 40 years to dig this hole. It is now so deep, there is no way out. But, look at the bright side. At least we don’t have to watch bread lines stretching down the block when we are watching our 52 inch HDTV, holed up in our 5,000 sq ft McMansions, ignoring the monthly mortgage payment bill, and waiting for our unemployment funds to be direct deposited into our bank accounts. I get all teary thinking about it. This is the iDepression 2.0.

    The real people of this country who have worked and saved and done the right things have been beaten down. It is time to stand up to those in power and take this country back.

    Not sure how you go about that last part, but as I continue to make my mortgage payment every month I’m starting to feel like a real sucker for having done my own due diligence and getting a standard mortgage from a reputable lender that services the loan themselves and hasn’t sold the paper 20 times already. Meanwhile I don’t trust the stock market enough to put what little extra money there is there and the only alternative is getting 1-2% in a CD somewhere which doesn’t even keep up with the inflation rate that will be getting even higher with QE2 coming along.

    You don’t have to be a genius to figure out how to rip somebody off. I’ve come up with all kinds of schemes that could work. If this bullshit keeps up and everybody keeps getting away with huge $$ for committing fraud with no repercussions, I may have to start my own company instructing others how to do so too. $100 bucks and a Nevada address is about all it takes.


  25. cometman permalink*
    October 21, 2010 2:06 pm

    For later viewing – James Galbraith on pervasive fraud.

  26. cometman permalink*
    October 22, 2010 9:08 am

    Haven’t seen Elvira for what seems like a decade or so but she has reappeared! Ha!

  27. artemis54 permalink
    October 22, 2010 9:19 am

    More fierce advocacy:

    March 9, 2009:

    The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions.

    . . . . .

    By this memorandum, I assign to the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Director) the responsibility for ensuring the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the executive branch’s involvement with scientific and technological processes.

    . . . . .

    Specifically, I direct the following:
    1. Within 120 days from the date of this memorandum, the Director shall develop recommendations for Presidential action designed to guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch . . . .

    October 19, 2010: 19 months later PEER is forced to file suit to even find out what the hell is going on.

    “Why is the development of transparency policy cloaked in secrecy?”

    PEER v Office of Science and Technology Policy

    This action is brought under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, et seq., as amended, in order to compel the Office of Science and Technology Policy (“OSTP”) to disclose records withheld wrongfully after a FOIA request and subsequent appeal from Plaintiff. FOIA requires that federal agencies respond to public requests for documents, including files maintained electronically, in order to increase public understanding of the workings of government and access to government information.

    What Obama does bears more of a resemblance to spitballing ideas for new West Wing episodes than it does to actual governing. You can’t twirl the pom-poms fast enough to blur that reality.

    • cometman permalink*
      October 22, 2010 10:22 am

      The BP disaster showed that Barry was pretty much full of shit about listening to scientists. Just more lip service, as is the case with most issues.

  28. artemis54 permalink
    October 22, 2010 10:00 am

    Tangentially, what do I have to do to get the dccc to stop harassing me with their emails? My responses to the last three all began with “Kiss my ass” and I elaborated why at some length, but there are more in the box today.

    • cometman permalink*
      October 22, 2010 10:26 am

      Perhaps you need to get more creative with your invective? I did manage to get the emails from the Dems to stop somehow although I don’t know exactly what did it. I unsubscribed from several lists and haven’t gotten anything from Kerry, Dean, or Biden in a while now and I used to get a lot.

      Maybe it was telling MoveOn to fuck off too that did the trick. I suspect they share their contact list with the Dems.

  29. cometman permalink*
    October 22, 2010 10:45 am

    Perusing the interwebs today and not much is new. Just more commentary on the same old bullshit that never changes. However Congress not being in session hasn’t stopped it’s members from making saw jaw-droppingly ridiculous remarks.

    Nancy Pelosi fires up the fear mobile and warns that if the republicans take Congress back America will become an oligarchy/plutocracy.

    “If they win — which I fully intend to stop them from doing — but if they win, it would mean we are now a plutocracy and oligarchy.”

    “Whatever these few wealthy, secret, unlimited sources of money are can control our entire agenda,” she said

    Maybe her staffer forgot to send her the memo so here’s a newsflash, Nan – we already are and they already do.

    And here’s what happens when one of the very few decent Congresspersons rattles their cage a little to loudly – Toxic powder sent to Ariz. congressman.

  30. cometman permalink*
    October 22, 2010 12:59 pm

    Couple of good pieces calling bullshit today.

    Greenwald has the best take I’ve seen on NPR’s dismissal of Juan Williams and calls bullshit on those trying to claim to PC police were out to get him – here and here.

    I wholeheartedly agree with his take that nobody should be fired for isolated instances of unpopular speech, but if people are going to be dismissed for things like that – and they are, then it needs to be applied equally.

    The Nasr/Thomas/Sanchez incidents — and countless others — demonstrate how unequal and imbalanced our standards have become in determining which group-based comments are acceptable and which ones are not. If we’re going to fire or otherwise punish people for expressing Prohibited Ideas against various groups, it’s long overdue that those standards be applied equally to anti-Muslim animus, now easily one of the most — if not the single most — pervasive, tolerated and dangerous forms of blatant bigotry in America.

    UPDATE: For those objecting to Williams’ firing as some sort of oppressive act of PC censorship: in addition to wanting to know whether you also objected to CNN’s firing of Nasr and Sanchez, and to Thomas’ forced “retirement,” I’d also like to know what you did to protest CNN’s firing of executive Eason Jordan in 2004 for observing — correctly — that the U.S. military had repeatedly attacked war journalists; and CNN’s 2003 firing of Peter Arnett for criticizing the Iraq War; and MSNBC’s demotion and firing of Ashleigh Banfield after criticizing media coverage of American wars, or the same network’s firing of Phil Donahue for being too anti-war; or, for that matter, the University of Colorado’s dismissal of Ward Churchill for arguing that the World Trade Center was a legitimate target to retaliate against American foreign policy. If you only object to speech-based firings when you agree with the ideas being expressed, then you don’t actually believe in the principles you claim to support.

    But the more important part – firing Williams isn’t good for the fear business.

    The principal reason the Williams firing resonated so much and provoked so much fury is that it threatens the preservation of one of the most important American mythologies: that Muslims are a Serious Threat to America and Americans. That fact is illustrated by a Washington Post Op-Ed today from Reuel Marc Gerecht, who is as standard and pure a neocon as exists: an Israel-centric, Iran-threatening, Weekly Standard and TNR writer, former CIA Middle East analyst, former American Enterprise Institute and current Defense of Democracies “scholar,” torture advocate, etc. etc. Gerecht hails Williams as a courageous “dissident” for expressing this “truth”:

    “[W]hile his manner may have been clumsy, Williams was right to suggest that there is a troubling nexus between the modern Islamic identity and the embrace of terrorism as a holy act.”

    Above all else, this fear-generating “nexus” is what must be protected at all costs. This is the “troubling” connection — between Muslims and terrorism — that Williams lent his “liberal,” NPR-sanctioned voice to legitimizing. And it is this fear-sustaining, anti-Muslim slander that NPR’s firing of Williams threatened to delegitimize. That is why NPR’s firing of Williams must be attacked with such force: because if it were allowed to stand, it would be an important step toward stigmatizing anti-Muslim animus in the same way that other forms of bigotry are now off-limits, and that, above all else, is what cannot happen, because anti-Muslim animus is too important to too many factions to allow it to be delegitimized.

    Also, now that Barry’s “Justice” department is trying to figure out how to keep DADT from being repealed, some of the pom pom girls have jumped on the bandwagon of former Solicitor General Paul Clement to justify St. Barry’s actions not matching his words. Clement had claimed that Justice departments routinely defends laws adopted by Congress and signed by the president whether the current president or Congress likes them or not.

    Scott Horton rightfully calls bullshit.

    Of course this perfectly explains the performance of the Justice Department while Mr. Clement was near its helm. For instance, the Justice Department didn’t like the Anti-Torture Statute, but it enforced the statute anyway, which is why so many senior officials of the Bush era were prosecuted and sent to prison for their programmatic endorsement of torture and official cruelty, which are felonies. And, even though the Justice Department did not approve of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and its felony counts for warrantless surveillance by federal agents, it faithfully implemented the statute, which again explains a slew of very unpleasant prosecutions of senior government officials. A Justice Department that was less scrupulous about the “faithful execution” clause would have written secret memos advancing cockamamie theories about unlimited executive power and then simply ignored the statutes. But of course the Justice Department with which Mr. Clement was associated would never have contemplated such a thing.

  31. cometman permalink*
    October 22, 2010 1:57 pm

    This was extremely discouraging. It’s as if the BP disaster never happened and there were absolutely no lessons to be learned – Papua New Guinea gives green light to deep-sea mineral mine.

    The green-lighting of the world’s first deep-sea mineral mine in Papua New Guinea waters has caused alarm among scientists and indigenous people who fear it will damage local marine life.

    Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, Michael Somare, today licensed the new mine for ore that contains copper, zinc and gold, to be run by Canadian company Nautilus Minerals. Sited in the Manus Basin within Papua New Guinea’s territorial waters, it will be near hydrothermal vents 1,600 metres below the surface.

    Driven by rising copper prices around the world, Nautilus’ Solwara 1 project will excavate 1.2 to 1.8m tonnes of high-grade sulphide ore a year.

    These people have no idea what they’re screwing with and yet they’re going to do it anyway.

  32. artemis54 permalink
    October 22, 2010 8:25 pm

    Caught Juan Williams in high dudgeon – I think he took over some other shill’s show for the hour or something. It looks like he’s going to have a whole new career around throwing this hissy fit for twenty or thirty years.

  33. artemis54 permalink
    October 23, 2010 10:01 am

    A note about the failed coup in Ecuador

    It was not, as various Latin America media reported, an institutional crisis, as if what happened had been a jurisdictional conflict between the executive and the legislature rather than an open insurrection by one branch of the executive, the National Police, whose members make up a small army of 40,000 men, against the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Ecuador, who is none other than the legitimately elected president. Neither was it as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Arturo Valenzuela claimed, an act of police insubordination. Would it have been characterized this way if the equivalent of the Ecuadoran National Police in the U.S. had beaten and physically assaulted Barack Obama, injuring him? Or if they had kidnapped him and held him in custody for 12 hours in a police hospital until a special army commando unit liberated him following a fierce gun battle? Certainly not. But given that we are talking about a Latin American leader, what in the U.S. would sound like an intolerable aberration is made to appear like a schoolyard prank here.

    • cometman permalink*
      October 26, 2010 5:47 am

      Not surprising at all that the author notes the presence of USAID. Funny how all these coups keeps happening in socialist leaning nations that the US is “AID”ing. Pretty sure the “AID” part stands for “Against Indigenous Democracies” at this point.

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