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Nice to Feel Like a Human Being Again

October 26, 2010

Few days ago the squidlette brought home some vicious little bugs intent on turning my insides into a rank miasma.

They seem to have been overcome for the time being.

Next up – unleashing my powers of destruction on the little snotty nosed minions of pestilence who brought my household low. You have been warned neighborhood toddlers!

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    October 26, 2010 10:00 am

    Chris Hedges has a new article warning once again of creeping fascism – The World Liberal Opportunists Made.

    The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, which looks set to make sweeping gains in the midterm elections, is the direct result of a collapse of liberalism. It is the product of bankrupt liberal institutions, including the press, the church, universities, labor unions, the arts and the Democratic Party. The legitimate rage being expressed by disenfranchised workers toward the college-educated liberal elite, who abetted or did nothing to halt the corporate assault on the poor and the working class of the last 30 years, is not misplaced. The liberal class is guilty. The liberal class, which continues to speak in the prim and obsolete language of policies and issues, refused to act. It failed to defend traditional liberal values during the long night of corporate assault in exchange for its position of privilege and comfort in the corporate state. The virulent right-wing backlash we now experience is an expression of the liberal class’ flagrant betrayal of the citizenry.

    ~snip~

    The liberal class is finished. Neither it nor its representatives will provide the leadership or resistance to halt our slide toward despotism. The liberal class prefers comfort and privilege to confrontation. It will not halt the corporate assault or thwart the ascendancy of the corporate state. It will remain intolerant within its ranks of those who do.

    At first read, I thought what I often think after reading Hedges’ columns – that maybe he’s being a little shrill. But that thought usually fades pretty quickly and this time was no exception.

    Few minutes after reading that one I came across this – US veteran who killed unarmed Iraqis wins Tea Party support.

    The basic facts are undisputed: on 15 April 2004 Ilario Pantano, then a second lieutenant with the US marines, stopped and detained two Iraqi men in a car near Falluja. The Iraqis were unarmed and the car found to be empty of weapons.

    Pantano ordered the two men to search the car for a second time and then, with no other US soldiers in view, unloaded a magazine of his M16A4 automatic rifle into them, before reloading and blasting a second magazine at them – some 60 rounds in total.

    Over the corpses, he left a placard inscribed with the marine motto: “No better friend, No worse enemy.”

    Six years later Pantano is on the verge of a stunning electoral victory that could send him to the US Congress in Washington. He is standing as Republican candidate in North Carolina’s 7th congressional district, which was last represented by his party in 1871.

    Few minutes later I see this video of Rand Paul supporters stomping on somebody’s head for bringing an unwelcome sign-

    I’m not convinced yet that the teabaggers have such widespread support as the media likes to claim as the whole movement is clearly a media-orchestrated circus. But even one of these nutjobs getting elected is chilling enough.

    Maine has its own nutjob LePage running for governor. I got a robocall over the weekend from Olympia Snowe urging a vote for LePage. As one after another NE republican “moderates” have been taken out over the last few years, it appears that Ms. Snowe has seen the writing on the wall for her own career, which is clearly more important to her than acting on any nagging principles she may have left, and thrown in her lot with the whackos. Yet I still expect her to be described as a “moderate” every time her puss is shown on the local corporately owned media.

    Fascism – it’s the new moderate!

  2. cometman permalink*
    October 26, 2010 12:26 pm

    Just in case hell freezes over and Barry actually ever does close Gitmo, he’ll still have a prison where he can lock people up and torture them without any oversight whatsoever – Federal court allows US to keep info on Bagram prisoners a secret.

    Even though President Obama also ordered the end of abusive interrogation practices, allegations of torture at the Afghan prison surfaced as recently as 10 days ago. A report based on interviews of 18 detainees who say they were held at a facility matching the description of the jail places the time of abuse long after the military had allegedly reformed its operation.

    Ruling on a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the US District Court for the Southern District of New York refused to order the Pentagon to turn over information related to Afghan prisoners of war.

    • cometman permalink*
      October 26, 2010 12:36 pm

      And it isn’t just the Pentagon telling we the plebes to go screw. Timmeh and the Treasury have joined the fun too and continue to ignore FOIA requests – Treasury Thumbs Nose at Bloomberg FOIA Request on Citi Guarantees.

      The Obama Administration and the Fed are engaging in precisely the same tactics to deny access to what ought to be public property, in this case, information about how taxpayer funds were utilized during the crisis. And that means not just the TARP, but the many other handouts to banks, including guarantees, regulatory forbearance, the operation of various rescue facilities and programs (arguably, the slightly over $1 trillion in MBS purchases was aimed at banks, not borrowers), and other hidden subsidies.

      But we didn’t need the exact details to realize that TARP was a miserable failure. One of the few decent public servants left, TARP Inspector General Barofsky has ripped the program in his latest report – TARP Bail Out Blasted.

      Neil Barofsky grades TARP and let’s just say it’s more than a ruler whack across the knuckles.

      SIGTARP, aka TARP Inspector General, has released a new report (large pdf) on TARP. Here are the grades per TARP’s own stated objectives.

      1. Increase lending to small business? FAIL
      2. Decrease Unemployment? FAIL
      3. Preserve Homeownership? FAIL
      4. Remove Moral Hazard? FAIL
      5. Reduce Financial Sector Size? FAIL

      The above summary might be harsh, yet the report pretty much concludes the same thing. TARP was clearly a bail out for Wall Street, leaving Main Street in the dust.

      Small consolation considering there’s no political will to do a damn thing about it and they’ll be even less so after the mid-terms.

      When are people finally going to have had enough of this shit?

  3. cometman permalink*
    October 26, 2010 12:46 pm

    A few articles worth reading.

    Minn Public radio with a piece on the recently disclosed files on Paul Wellstone – From protester to senator, FBI tracked Paul Wellstone.

    Pam Martens digs up some more on the Koch Bros. – Koch Footprints Lead to Political Powder Keg .

    The New Yorker reads Rattner’s book regarding his work on the GM restructuring and doesn’t find much for Rattner to be bragging about – Overdrive – Who really rescued General Motors?.

    The review tries to give most of the credit for GM not completely imploding (yet) to the previous CEO who Rattner canned. From a capitalist standpoint, maybe Rick Wagoner did a great job at GM by slashing workers and benefits during his tenure, but personally I don’t think that’s much to brag about either. Yes, GM was overburdened with pension and health care commitments. Few years ago the figure I remember was that $1500 of the sticker price on every GM car went to pay health care benefits for current and former workers. But the answer isn’t to slash benefits and jobs. How about GM leading the charge for single payer health care? With all the pressure they’ve been under in recent years, it’s mind boggling that they wouldn’t fight for something that would save them billions of dollars. Maybe all the other execs at the country club would have called them pussies for trying it so they just didn’t bother….

  4. cometman permalink*
    October 27, 2010 12:40 pm

    Been reading a lot about biodiversity loss lately. Haven’t posted much since with all the other crap going on in the world this subject is just too sad to contemplate but this article gives a good rundown of the current situation – Nature’s backbone at risk.

    • artemis54 permalink
      November 1, 2010 7:25 am

      Don’t worry. Everything’s been taken care of at Nagoya. It says so right on the COP/MOP site:

      A new era of living in harmony with Nature is born at the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit.

      The Nagoya protocol – it must be in there somewhere – that everyone is lauding sets some modest goals – I really should fix that leak in the roof, it’s gotten worse since the last time I thought about it – that have just as much chance of being realized as, oh let’s say the 2010 biodiversity goals. That would be F’s across the sheet.

      The year of failed goals and setting new pie in the sky goals – the Year of Biodiversity and the year of BP – is of course year two of the destruction of Madagascar, the most hideous crime against the future in memory.

      • cometman permalink*
        November 1, 2010 7:58 am

        That’s what I’ve been reading that was just too depressing. Huge failure to meet the 2010 goals, so now they’ve set new goals but this time they really mean it!

        Riiiiiiiiiight……

  5. cometman permalink*
    October 27, 2010 12:53 pm

    Couple more on the ratfucking bankers continuing to get away with whatever they damn well please.

    Michael Lewis wondered a while back why after fighting restrictions on prop trading, banks were voluntarily shutting down their prop trading desks. The answer he finds is not at all surprising – they’re just renaming their prop trading departments.

    Lots in that article showing why regulation simply doesn’t work well – those being regulated can always find a loophole and/or capture the regulators. That isn’t to say we should just allow a free for all however. Glass-Steagall had it right. Certain practices for certain companies simply need to be banned outright.

    Been wondering for a while now what happened to the guy who got caught lifting some of the Goldie’s trading programs. Looks like he’s going to court next month. But the courtroom will be sealed to protect Goldman. Ferxrissakes – U.S. Seeks to Shield Goldman Secrets .

    Federal prosecutors in Manhattan this week asked a federal district judge to seal the courtroom at the forthcoming trial of a former Goldman computer programmer accused of stealing the firm’s computer code. The move was a formal request to empty the courtroom of the general public when details of Goldman’s trade secrets are being discussed. The trial is set to start to late November.

    Prosecutors also asked that any documents related to Goldman’s trading strategies remain under seal.

    This to protect anybody from finding out about Goldman’s high frequency trading practices, yet another practice that does nobody except Goldman any good and should be banned.

  6. cometman permalink*
    October 28, 2010 8:24 am

    Jon Stewart had a pretty damn good interview with Obama last night. He was definitely not lobbing softballs at him. Particularly enjoyed Stewart challenging him directly on the Larry Summers appointment after Barry tried to claim that change doesn’t happen overnight as an excuse for why he hasn’t lived up to expectations.

    More of that from real reporters please.

    • cometman permalink*
      October 28, 2010 12:53 pm

      Yves Smith saw Barry last night too and didn’t think much of what he had to say – Obama No Longer Bothering to Lie Credibly: Claims Financial Crisis Cost Less Than S&L Crisis.

      I’m so offended by the latest Obama canard, that the financial crisis of 2007-2008 cost less than 1% of GDP, that I barely know where to begin. Not only does this Administration lie on a routine basis, it doesn’t even bother to tell credible lies. .And this one came directly from the top, not via minions. It’s not that this misrepresentation is earth-shaking, but that it epitomizes why the Obama Administration is well on its way to being an abject failure.

      Besides being loose with the figures, the thing I noted was when Barry claimed the economy had been stabilized thanks to the policies his administration implemented. Extraordinary weasel words. Yes, throwing money at a black hole of bankers’ bad debts may enable them to pay for a while and you could claim the economy has been stabilized I suppose. But it isn’t fixed as the underlying fundamental problems have not been addressed. More “stabilization” is going to be needed again in short order. Smith nails it with this bit –

      …unlike the UK, where regulators like Mervyn King, Haldane, and Adair Turner routinely say things that bear a pretty solid resemblance to the truth, in the US, trying to manipulate appearances in the hope outcomes will follow is the norm. In the 1960s, when the media realized that president Johnson was regularly telling whoppers, the expression “credibility gap” was born. While the press is giving Obama a free pass on his strained relationship with the reality, he is no more likely to succeed in the long run than LBJ did.

  7. cometman permalink*
    October 28, 2010 12:54 pm

    Buckyballs in space! – Spitzer Goes Buck Wild and Finds Buckyballs Floating Between the Stars.

    More on how you go about detecting something that small from so far away here.

  8. cometman permalink*
    October 28, 2010 12:58 pm

    Couple of excellent articles on the disastrous consequences of US foreign policy.

    In Afghanistan, regarding the completely corrupt “democracy” the US has installed – Big Men, Big Money, Big Voting Scam: The American Midterm Election — in Afghanistan .

    And this one really connects the dots regarding the drug wars blazing in Mexico – Manufacturing Mayhem in Mexico: From Nixon to NAFTA and Beyond.

  9. cometman permalink*
    October 29, 2010 12:46 pm

    Just a couple of articles to note today discussing money in the abstract sense.

    First, the somewhat more technical one – Time for a New Theory of Money .

    The reason our financial system has routinely gotten into trouble, with periodic waves of depression like the one we’re battling now, may be due to a flawed perception not just of the roles of banking and credit but of the nature of money itself.

    A good rundown follows of the history of the use of money and how it can be used as a tool to do whatever we want it to do rather than as simply a prize to be handed over to those who learn to play games best. Hear hear! If you want to use money to play games and “win”, then stick to Monopoly.

    Second, the first piece in a long time from Joe Bageant – Algorithms and Red Wine. I really love this guy. Some snippets, but do go read the whole thing –

    Life is lived anecdotally, not algorithmically. And anecdotal evidence is not allowed in the new digital corpocracy. As one poster on Democratic Underground put it, “Anecdotal now has this enforced meaning such that no one is supposed to believe what they experience, what they see, hear, taste, smell, etc. The Powers That Be have basically extinguished the notion of inductive reasoning. Everything has to be replicated in a laboratory and since 90% of all the labs in this nation are operated by Corporate Sponsored monies, not much truth comes out of them.”

    The trouble with the algorithmic age is that life is not a finite sequence of steps that define and contain the algorithmic concepts used.

    ~snip~

    …the actual world revolves around meeting our genuine needs, which may or may not involve money. In the big picture, money is just one small, much abused abstract tool. Money has been abused from the beginning, probably about fifteen minutes after the first shekel was minted, but now the abuse has reached such levels that the entire notion of money is collapsing in on itself. Our concept of money needs to be reevaluated and probably abandoned in the distant future.

    ~snip~

    Despite that America produced such thinkers on the subject of living simply as Thoreau, modern hydrocarbon based civilization has driven expectations of material goods and convenience, and the transactions surrounding those expectations, through the stratosphere. Money has abstracted the notion of work to the point where, I dare say, there are not 100,000 people in America who truly understand that, although there are at least a few million trying to understand and liberate themselves.

    I’m gonna take a wild shot here and say that understanding and liberation, come through self-discipline and self-denial, and that it’s nearly impossible for Americans to practice self-discipline. They cannot imagine why self-discipline, and a more ascetic life, becoming less dependent on the faceless machinery of algorithm driven virtual money, is necessarily liberating.

    If there can be a solution at this late stage, and most thinking people seriously doubt there can be a “solution” in the way we have always thought of solutions, it begins with powering down everything we consider to be the economy and our survival. That and population reduction, which nobody wants to discuss in actionable terms. Worse yet, there is no state sanctioned, organized entry level for people who want to power down from the horrific machinery of money. There are too many financial, military and corporate and governmental forces that don’t want to see us power down (because it would spell their death), but rather power up even more. That’s called “a recovery.”

    When viewed from outside the virtual money economy, and from the standpoint of the planet’s caloric economy, probably half of American and European jobs are not only unnecessary, but also terribly destructive, either directly or indirectly. Yet what nation or economic state acknowledges the need for a transition away from jobs that aren’t necessary. None, because such an economy could not support the war machines or the transactional financial industries that dominate our needs hierarchy for the benefit of the few. Loaning us money we have already earned, stuffing us with corn syrup. And I won’t even go into the strong possibility that everybody does not need to be employed at all times for the world to keep on turning.

    • artemis54 permalink
      November 1, 2010 7:36 am

      If Bageant is so smart, how come he isn’t rich?

      Seriously, it is eerie how often JB produces pieces that seem to be the fully condensed and realized version of various stray threads and thoughts that have been floating around in my head but never came together.

      Information is not reality.

      Take the current fad for assigning specific values to ecosystem services. Well intended of course, but surely we all see that it is absurd. What is the value of the earth’s atmosphere? We seem to think we can chop and dice as if there is a figure attached to that. But in fact it is beyond value.

      And the ultimate perversity, when instead of money fading away, the value of anything outside economic rationalizations does. The Pavlovsk Experiment Station and its plant collection were described and generally regarded as priceless, as indeed it was if the word means anything.

      Therefore, the developers’ argument ran, no value can be assigned, and therefore its actual value is nothing.

      Any argument or system, no matter how attractive or useful, that leads to such absurdity must be abandoned.

      • cometman permalink*
        November 1, 2010 8:10 am

        And these days you a politician can just pull the same economic argument right out of their ass for just about any corporate backed issue they want to promote and nobody ever questions them on it. “Good for the economy”, “It will create jobs”, etc etc but nobody ever asks how or what kind of jobs or what the other consequences might be. Just say jobs and economy enough and supposedly people will think you know your ass from a hole in the ground. Just fucking maddening.

        So once again I’ve got to go out tomorrow for the third or fourth time now to try to prevent a casino from being built since the developers didn’t get the message the last two or three times the voters voted this bullshit down. Again they tout it with more jobs and economy nonsense. It will bring in tax revenue! But nobody seems to ever do the math. If a casino takes, say, $100 mil a year out of the local economy from citizen’s pissing their money away on nothing and then gives back $5 mil in taxes to the state, wouldn’t everybody have been $95 mil better off if there were no casino at all? But nobody ever asks those questions.

        New short, condensed and to the point post summarizing my stray thoughts on the elections tomorrow coming up shortly!

        • artemis54 permalink
          November 1, 2010 8:22 am

          Good luck, er, bonne chance with the casino. Well, you knowwhat I mean.

          Why not create jobs at least doing something harmless, say digging a hole to China?

          I am so fucking sick of this election. My telephone still hasn’t stopped ringing with everyone including robo-Jim Demint telling me what a commie lez muslim antichrist Patty Murray is. I’m surprised you haven’t heard me screaming and throwing phones all over the place.

          In the first place, do none of these morons understand that like most people in WA I have already voted?

          And speaking of being in the grip of dead theoris and algorithms, get a load of Miss Chuck Todd babbling on about waves. I really think people behave more like particles. I hope so.

          • cometman permalink*
            November 1, 2010 8:42 am

            Maybe I haven’t been paying as much attention, but the anti-casino people don’t seem to be putting up as much of a fight this time. They might actually get the thing through this time around although I haven’t seen any poll numbers at all.

            I lit into a Dem canvasser who came to my house last week. Made me feel better at least…

  10. artemis54 permalink
    November 1, 2010 8:13 am

    The subject has come up here, but I don’t remember where we left it: good recap of the saga of the lost Apollo 11 tapes, with highlight reel.

    Is it just me, or is there something off? It took nine years, from scratch, to go to the moon. And it took 41 years to realize that it was an event worth documenting with the best available technology, begin looking for the tapes in the sofa cracks, find them mislabelled in some Australian archive, etc, etc?

    • cometman permalink*
      November 1, 2010 8:55 am

      Yeah, you’d definitely think there would have been a little more effort to make sure such important footage wasn’t lost. Some of the original tapes were re-used?!?!?!? That doesn’t sound right.

      Anyway thanks for that. Very interesting to watch.

      On a somewhat related note, you might like this piece of eye candy I just ran across here which is part of an upcoming film called “Timescapes”.

      More here.

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