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Rat Fiiiiiiiiiiiight!!!!!!!!!!!

August 8, 2011

Well well well! It’s been several years since reading the morning news brought as big a grin to my face as it did today.

It wasn’t just the banks and insurers whose financial sleight of hand caused the financial meltdown that began in 2008; the debt rating agencies aided and abetted the rest of them by issuing bogus positive ratings in exchange for large fees from the clients they rated. None of them have been held to account as much of what passes for a regulatory regime has been captured by the very industries it’s supposed to regulate. So, rather than receiving punishment for this illegal activity, the bankers and insurers were rewarded with trillions in government cash while the rest of us have been harnessed with “austerity measures” wherein we all pay for the money the ratfuckers stole. Oh sure, there were attempts to make it appear to the rubes that reforms were being instituted like the toothless Dodd-Frank legislation. Jon Oliver from the Daily Show did a much better job of describing why it’s such an abysmal failure a couple weeks ago and if you haven’t seen this absolutely hilarious bit, do yourself a favor and watch it here.

The government had made some tepid attempts to regulate the ratings agencies like Standard and Poor’s, requiring them to issue honest assessments or face stiff penalties. Of course an honest assessment of their clients would likely mean those clients wouldn’t pay S&P for any further ratings so S&P fought the attempted reforms tooth and nail.

Until last week when they suddenly got religion and now all hell is breaking loose.

S&P decided first to threaten and then actually downgrade US government debt from its historical AAA rating which to this blogger seems like a very transparent attempt to get the government to back off from regulating them. It caused the US and foreign stock markets to crater beginning at the end of last week. Today brings the news via Zerohedge that S&P is focusing its sights on the financial titans it once coddled, with Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway being the first to receive the bad news. S&P seems to be of the opinion that if it’s going down, it’s going to take a few others with them. Side note : Buffet is certainly no saint but he has been critical highly critical of how the financial industry is run and has called for much higher taxes on those in his income bracket. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is why S&P chose to target him.

Tim Geithner, who presided over this financial free for all and had absolutely no problem with it as long as everyone could pretend the banks were doing us all a favor, has now chided S&P for its recent assessments claiming they have gone too far. Boo fucking hoo.

Meanwhile, Bank of America is being sued from all sides for passing fraudulent loans up the securitization chain, with enormous bailout recipient AIG being the latest to seek their pound of flesh. Of course AIG is hardly blameless as they were more than happy to issue insurance against these bonds and take the easy money, even though there has been ample evidence presented that at least some high ranking AIG execs were well aware of the fraud as it was going on and chose to look the other way to keep the big bonuses rolling in. Since B of A looks like it might go tits up real soon, good luck AIG in trying to get blood from a sinking stone.

So the rats, having devoured all they can from the rest of us, are now turning on each other. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

Here’s hoping this is the beginning of the end of this ridiculous charade.

65 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    August 8, 2011 1:33 pm

    Bwaaaaahahahaha!!!! After refusing to confront the bankers and leading the country straight into a ditch, Barry has tried to reassure the nation after the stock market tanked

    Markets will rise and fall, but this is the United States of America. No matter what some agency may say, we have always been and always will be a triple-A country," Obama said.

    We’re #1! We’re triple A! How about throwing in a BFF too?!?!?!?!!?!?!

    And even though the US is in no danger of EVER defaulting because as a sovereign nation it can print its own currency, Barry still couldn’t bring himself to criticize the rats at S&P –

    Obama stopped short of sharp criticism of Standard & Poor’s for its downgrade of U.S. debt to AA-plus from AAA on Friday.

    Utter fecklessness.

  2. cometman permalink*
    August 8, 2011 1:38 pm

    A few kicks in the groin to the oligarchs- riots in London; blackhawk down in Afghanistan; 45,000 Verizon workers tell the company to go screw and walk off the job.

  3. cometman permalink*
    August 8, 2011 1:46 pm

    Looks like my neural shunt is even closer to reality – New Conducting Properties Discovered in Bacteria-Produced Wires.

    Their findings reported in the Aug. 7 advance online issue of Nature Nanotechnology may one day lead to cheaper, nontoxic nanomaterials for biosensors and solid state electronics that interface with biological systems.

    Sure sounds like science is on the way to proving that rather than having evolved as independent organisms, we are all just amalgamations of symbiotic bacteria that evolved over the aeons and eventually became connected into one organism, much like what Lynn Margulis described in Microcosmos. I realize it’s not exactly like that so please excuse the dilettante explanation. Fascinating nonetheless.

    Here’s the paper from Nature Nanotechnology for anyone interested in a more detailed description.

  4. cometman permalink*
    August 8, 2011 1:48 pm

    For later perusal –

    Pam Martens on DSK.

    JKG on Barry’s debt deal.

  5. artemis54 permalink
    August 9, 2011 10:44 am

    Since they’ve done such a bang up job on the Niger delta, Shell is now being turned loose on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    Admiral Robert Papp, top officer with the US Coast Guard, admitted last month that if a spill occurred in this area, the Coast Guard lacks the infrastructure and equipment needed to deal with a spill.

    “If this were to happen off the North Slope of Alaska, we’d have nothing,” said Papp . . . . .

    Nothing. And the familiar sounding promise from Shell that they’ve got it all covered.

    This administration is utterly clueless.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 9, 2011 12:02 pm

      So they turn Niger into a wasteland and Uncle Sugar just takes Shell’s word for it that everything is under control. Wish I could say this is unbelievable but it’s been happening far too often.

  6. cometman permalink*
    August 9, 2011 12:07 pm

    Hey melvin, before I forget to ask again, do you know anything about growing cayenne peppers, specifically when you’re supposed to pick them?

    Planted some this year for the first time and they’re doing really well. Probably a dozen 6-8″ peppers on the plant right now but they are all still green. I’m assuming they’ll turn red at some point and that’s when I’m supposed to pick them but I was wondering if maybe they turn red after you pick them and they are hung to dry.

    I was going to use them in some salsa once all the tomatoes and onions and green peppers get ready. Already picked a bunch of jalapenos and waiting for the rest to ripen up.

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 9, 2011 12:19 pm

      I haven’t grown them, but my friend who has very successfully says you should wait until they are red if you want to dry them. You could just eat them green, but they probably won’t be as hot.

      I had about given up on peppers, but it finally warmed up and now I have pimentos, “Bulgarian Carrot” and a couple others.

      • artemis54 permalink
        August 9, 2011 12:26 pm

        btw, we have yet to go over 100 degress this year, for the first time in anyone’s memory. While the rest of the country was seltering, it was in the 70s in the Yakima valley. This is okay for some things, not so much for others.

      • cometman permalink*
        August 9, 2011 12:45 pm

        Thanks. I might dry a few but I was just going to chop some up fresh for the salsa. I’ll wait a little longer until they turn red. That might be a problem though since I planted so much in a small area that my garden has turned into a jungle. All the peppers are in the shade of the squash on one side and tomatoes on the other with cucumbers growing up a trellis in front of them so they are not getting much sun at this point. next year I’m getting out the tiller and getting rid of more lawn so I have some room to maneuver in my garden.

        Talked to my buddy in Seattle recently mentioning that it was starting to get comparatively chilly here with temps in the high 60s to mid 70s now. He said the same thing about the weather there – they’ve barely gotten above 70 all summer. Here the weather has been all over the place – cold and tons of rain in early summer, record high temps in July. But I’m sure it has nothing to do with man made climate change…..

  7. artemis54 permalink
    August 9, 2011 12:34 pm

    A resident’s perspective on the riots in Brixton: Criminality and Rewards

    For the clueless hand wringers, this is not a defence of burning down one’s neighborhood. It is an attempt to explain what happens when people feel they have nothing left to lose.

    Outraged Guardian readers, I say to you: you’re only partially correct. It’s true that the guy carrying that cash register past Brixton Academy last night probably didn’t conceptualize his actions according to rational choice economic theories. However, when compared with four years of failed state capitalist attempts to catapult us out of the economic crisis, his maneuvers were in fact the height of rationality. Destroying evidence by turning on the gas cooker full-blast and burning down the Stockwell Road Nandos is pretty crazy. But it makes a lot more economic sense, for Brixton, than anything so far attempted by Labour, the Conservatives, or the wizard brains of the City of London.

    Smashing windows in Brixton is probably a surer road to prosperity for most people than any of the more respectable paths already explored.

    The guy who showed up today to fix the smashed windows on Brixton Road may live just down the street from the shattered glass lying on the pavement; it’s unlikely that he’s a currency speculator or a hedge fund manager on the side. Any money he makes from fixing the windows will be mostly spent back in the local community.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 9, 2011 12:53 pm

      Spot on. I came across another article today in the same vein well worth reading in full – Panic on the streets of London. Here’s a snippet that gets to the point pretty well –

      Months of conjecture will follow these riots. Already, the internet is teeming with racist vitriol and wild speculation. The truth is that very few people know why this is happening. They don’t know, because they were not watching these communities. Nobody has been watching Tottenham since the television cameras drifted away after the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985. Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

      “Yes,” said the young man. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you?”

  8. cometman permalink*
    August 9, 2011 12:39 pm

    Our feckless “leaders” are hemming and hawing about the S&P downgrade and yet have been unwilling to challenge them and call their bluff. Yves Smith notes that despite what these clowns are saying, there is one valid reason that S&P could be taken to the woodshed. There’s nothing wrong with the downgrade per se, but there is definitely something fucked up when the ratings company tells its preferred clients about the coming downgrade ahead of time allowing them to profit handsomely, and there is mounting evidence that they did just that

    A reader told us certain hedge funds were informed Tuesday and traded successfully on the information. A separate source had told me certain banks were briefed on Thursday and were told of the US downgrade but assured their ratings would be unaffected.

    Perhaps my suggestion above that the downgrade of Berkshire Hathaway was punitive in nature was more than just idle speculation on my part. Looks like S&P may be trying to cultivate its preferred clients to keep its sorry ass afloat.

    Side note: perhaps our vast readership has noticed my increased usage of the word “feckless” lately. One of the best in the English language if you ask me. Had a professor who used it all the time many years ago and I’ve always appreciated him bringing the term to my attention.

  9. cometman permalink*
    August 9, 2011 1:07 pm

    One more for today. Once I get that neural shunt, I may be able to get off this rock.

    Antimatter has long been proposed as a fuel for space vehicles among other things but is pretty hard to come by and is extremely expensive to produce even minute qualities in a lab because of the energy necessary. But scientists have discovered that Mother nature is making it for us – Earth’s Dirty Secret: Our Magnetic Field Traps Antimatter.

    Note that as the US falls farther behind the rest of the world in science, it was a European instrument that made the discovery –

    PAMELA (Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics) was built by Russia, Italy, Germany, and Sweden and launched aboard Russia’s RESURS-DK1 satellite in 2006. The 470 kg, 335-watt instrument cost around $32M USD to build.

  10. artemis54 permalink
    August 10, 2011 6:36 am

    Thoughts on Patty Murray as chair of the super committee (which I think is a horrible, stupid idea to begin with):


    She is a workhorse, not a show horse. She won’t be trotting out schtick for the cameras every five minutes. The reason a lot of people are now asking Patty Who?

    She knows what she is talking about and won’t be snowed.

    It is very hard to see her going along with any cuts to SS, Medicare, etc. It would certainly be the end of her career. Also pretty hard to see her cutting environmental regs, and absolutely impossible to see her ever cutting veterans benefits.


    Her middle name should be Boeing. She never saw any military spending she didn’t rush to approve, whether it made any sense or not. Kerry might be able to bring her along kicking and screaming, but I doubt it.

    In this environment, the very thing that I like about her, that she doesn’t scream and yell and throw fits and cram her mug in front of the camera, may work against her. All that crap seems to be considered “leadership” these days.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 10, 2011 7:56 am

      That’s the problem with Congress. Even the halfway decent ones like Murray are in some corporation’s pocket. Otherwise they wouldn’t be there at all. While I don’t have Kerry’s political contributors at my fingertips, I agree that it’s very unlikely that Kerry could get Murray to agree on defense spending cuts, mainly because I don’t think Kerry will propose and significant defense spending cuts himself as it would likely be political suicide for him. WA has Boeing, but MA has Raytheon.

      Barry and his lackeys have already gotten hysterical about any defense cuts bringing the hun to our shores within days. This Super Committee is nothing but more theatre in my opinion. The die was cast long ago and the oligarchs are going to get their cuts to SS and Medicare.

      Unless of course people here start following the example of the Greeks and now the Brits. Then maybe these bastards just might start listening. No idea what the spark might be here, but the tinder is already pretty well dessicated.

      • triv33 permalink
        August 11, 2011 7:28 am

        The real problem isn’t who’s on the committee…it’s the purpose of this committee and that it is going to exist at all.

  11. artemis54 permalink
    August 10, 2011 9:21 am

    Hey c-man! If you are in the house at 3 eastern, as I will be due to waiting on phone calls, you might be interested in a Conservation International Live Chat with Robin Moore, who headed up their recent “search for the lost frogs”.

    On a nearby evolutionary branch, Reince Priebus (Linnaeus?) is blasting away at Murray. The GOP captive breeding program must be successful: he strikes me as Mitch McConnell in larval form.

  12. triv33 permalink
    August 10, 2011 2:14 pm

    Not that there’s much news that isn’t Yaybama! there these days, but if it’s of any passing interest….MB’s last post at the GOS.,-fight-hard-and-prosper?via=siderec
    Very mysterious.

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 11, 2011 1:40 am

      Hmm. Looks like they’ve launched a days-long schriftfest to say goodbye. Note Demando is now back running the place, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse.

      • triv33 permalink
        August 11, 2011 7:10 am

        Oh, come on! I never believed it couldn’t get much, much worse! Now I know it.

  13. artemis54 permalink
    August 11, 2011 1:58 am

    An Aristotle for the Idiocracy

    First Rick Santorum explained to us that marriage is a napkin, not a paper towel.

    I seek refuge in the table linen

    But that was not the whole of the teaching. It turns out that marriage is a glass of water. It is not a glass of beer.

    I seek refuge in the glassware

    I am getting very confused. Can I wipe up a spilled glass of beer with a napkin?

    You would think such a devout Christian would realize that sometimes a glass of water can actually be a glass of wine. Not to mention that for a Catholic like Santorum a glass of wine is under certain circumstances literally the blood of Christ. Quibbling about beer seems a little trivial.

    Maybe he should have had a V8.

    Then again maybe all will be made clear by the parable of the silverware drawer. And maybe while he’s at it our Aquinas will settle the controversy of whether ceviche should be considered cooked or not, a debate that has roiled in this house for ten years now.

    I seek refuge in the santorum

  14. artemis54 permalink
    August 12, 2011 3:20 am

    The undisputed winner of last night’s GOP “debate”: Michele Bachmann’s handlers and pharmacists. She looked and sounded like the most rational person on the stage – admittedly the land of the one brain-celled – even talking about her Lightbulb Freedom of Choice Act, even in her cocktail dress stolen from the wardrobe of Battlestar Galactica.

  15. artemis54 permalink
    August 12, 2011 4:16 am

    It is too easy to make fun of Bono.

    I greatly admire his well armed, well informed battle with the phony assumed unearned ennui of so many in the west in this interview with Anderson Cooper.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 20, 2011 9:45 am

      He’s right in that as a society we ought to know exactly what to do in cases of famine by this point.

      IMO Bono has to walk a fine line in the methods he uses to bring attention to these issues. It’s admirable that he’d like the UN to do what it was designed for in this case and that he has gotten CNN to bring some attention to the problem – kudos to Cooper for actually going there too. But Bono must also realize that the UN is NOT going to do what it was designed to do as long as Uncle Sugar (or any of the countries with veto power for that matter) wields so much power within the organization.

      It must be difficult trying to work with these highly flawed organizations without being too critical of their shortcomings in public.

  16. artemis54 permalink
    August 17, 2011 11:35 am

    God, now c-man seems to be MIA. Don’t tell me typhoid melvin has destroyed another blog.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 18, 2011 6:10 am

      Don’t worry melvin, I’m still around.

      Had a lot to deal with the last few days – sick squidlette and Barry will have to readjust his latest unemployment figures up again by at least one.

      Might be light posting from me for a bit but I’ll be back in the swing of things before long.

      • artemis54 permalink
        August 18, 2011 4:33 pm


        Get better squidlette! Nothing too serious I hope.

        • cometman permalink*
          August 20, 2011 8:44 am

          Nothing serious, just the usual childhood ailments that kept her home from daycare for a couple days. She shook it off fairly quickly.

      • triv33 permalink
        August 20, 2011 7:03 am

        You had me worried too, there c-man. I don’t comment much, but I do check in. Unemployment is up in my household too. On the bright side…I heard from deedogg. He’s home and doing okay~

  17. artemis54 permalink
    August 17, 2011 7:11 pm

    Here’s th future: Conservation NGOs ejected from CITES meeting on African elephants

    My father used to say “I’ve been thrown out of much nicer places.” CITES is a whorehouse.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 20, 2011 9:48 am

      I don’t get it. Why are the countries who don’t even have elephants to protect allowed to throw this group out of the room??!!?

  18. artemis54 permalink
    August 19, 2011 12:09 pm

    Some municipalities now run water through tanks of fish to check for contaminants, terrorist or otherwise. They do this because the fish respond quicker than any available equipment. I would bet money that most climate denialists accept the observed sensitivity of animals to earthquakes. And I have myself seen flocks of hundreds of seabirds coming to shore in anticipation of a solar eclipse.

    What then are we to make of the fact that land animals are now fleeing to polar lattitudes and higher elevations at two and three times the rate we previously thought?

    Rapid Range Shifts of Species Associated with High Levels of Climate Warming

    The distributions of many terrestrial organisms are currently shifting in latitude or elevation in response to changing climate. Using a meta-analysis, we estimated that the distributions of species have recently shifted to higher elevations at a median rate of 11.0 meters per decade, and to higher latitudes at a median rate of 16.9 kilometers per decade. These rates are approximately two and three times faster than previously reported. The distances moved by species are greatest in studies showing the highest levels of warming,

    Note the limits. Butterflies have been headed north in the UK for years now. Some have moved from the south of England to the Scottish Highlands. Similarly with the pikas in the rockies. They move further upslope every year. But there will be nowhere to run to and nowhere to hide and as usual it will be sooner than we think.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 20, 2011 9:25 am

      I think even the knuckle dragger crowd will be forced to admit something is up soon but by that time of course it will be far too late.

      One thing I’ve noticed this year is an abundance of orioles. I believe my area is within the limits of their traditional natural range but I have not seen one for years and years (and the are hard to miss) and generally the majority of them live farther south. This year my folks have seen them and I’ve seen them both at home and in Mass earlier in the summer.

      Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that I was in the right place at the right time to see so many this year but somehow I doubt it…

  19. cometman permalink*
    August 20, 2011 9:05 am

    Thanks melvin and triv for keeping the place warm while I haven’t been posting much. Tell deedogg I said hello and ask him to stop by if you hear from him again.

    Haven’t been paying as much attention to the news of late which has been very calming. Have to say I’ve been quite enjoying this respite from Adam’s curse the last week or so. Been getting caught up on some reading, spending some extra time with the squidlette, and got a batch of pickles made from the cucumbers I’d been saving from my garden. Going to let them sit for another week or so before giving them a try.

    I had ordered this book on Diogenes a couple weeks ago and it came in at just the right time. I don’t imagine a rather dry book on a 2400 year old curmudgeon would cheer too many people up but it was just what I needed! Let’s just say that I began my temporary freedom from toil in true Cynical fashion and it’s always nice to get a little validation ;)

    I also finally got that copy of Stand on Zanzibar. About 100 pages in so far and thoroughly enjoying it. And what are the odds that a book set in 2010 but written over 40 years ago would have as its main political figure a character named Obomi? These SF guys can be awfully prescient at times…

  20. artemis54 permalink
    August 21, 2011 10:43 pm

    On Saturday my niece took her 5 year old and her 6 month old – in a stroller – to the local fair. There was a “free” face painting booth run by a local church. She hung outside with baby while the girl went in to get painted. Pretty soon she ran out screaming and crying.

    These nuts had told her she was going to rot in hell tormented by demons if she didn’t submit to Jesus on the spot.

    My niece blew a gasket, as any parent might understand. She steamed over to complain to fair organizers and to the CoC which I guess had a hand in things. By the time she got back to the offending booth to warn off other parents in line, it had already been shut down.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 25, 2011 7:42 am

      Kudos to your niece! The fundies need to be reminded that that kind of bullshit is not welcome.

  21. artemis54 permalink
    August 23, 2011 9:42 am

    Temple- paper mill creates jobs! Low and no paying jobs, pulling dead fish out of a dead river in 90 degree heat.

    Louisiana paper mill spill causes massive fish kill

    The company attitude seems lackadaiscal to say the least. Not bothering to notify anyone for days, in fact wating until everyone had already figured it out, and even now maintaining that it is just a little matter of momentarily exceeding discharge limits. (That may have even been the case, but surely that would be an argument for lowering the limits.)

    But this is even worse:

    “This was a biological problem, and not a chemical or toxic problem, which is encouraging,” the department’s environmental scientist Jeff Dauzat said, adding workers were still tallying the toll on fish and other river life.

    Spin much? Dozens of river miles effectivley sterilized and hundreds of thousands of dead fish, molluscs, reptiles, amphibians washing up on the shore? He admits they don’t even have a count but it is supposed to be “encouraging” that this was merely a “biological problem”? I suppose prolonged lack of oxygen could be classified as a biological problem. Does that mean we should be reassured about the dead zones in the Gulf and elsewhere?

    • cometman permalink*
      August 25, 2011 7:44 am

      So if somebody strangles another person to death, do the courts now just chalk it up to hypoxia because the victim had a weak respiratory system?!?!? WTF!?!?!?!

  22. artemis54 permalink
    August 23, 2011 12:37 pm

    Jesus H, bunch of idiotic east coast pussies carrying on for hours about a 5.9 in the middle of nowhere, felt in NYC as a 2. No fatalities, no damages. This would be a five minute story on local Seattle news. Get a fucking grip already.

    • triv33 permalink
      August 24, 2011 12:06 pm

      I’ll have you know that the floor under my feet rumbled. heh! I just saw Ender at that big orange. huh.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 25, 2011 7:49 am

      The reaction was quite overblown. Luckily, we don’t have to hear all the “where were you when it happened” stories for days on end because now the earthquake story has been preempted by the biggest storm in the history of the universe which is approaching the coast and according to the news Armageddon is just around the corner.

      At least they seem to be taking the necessary precautions ahead of time.

      Wouldn’t mind at all if a few more limbs blow off the Norway maples in my back yard and let a little more sunshine in. These storms really help with the pruning.

  23. cometman permalink*
    August 25, 2011 9:44 am

    Well worth reading Taibbi’s latest on Barry trying to push through yet another favor for his pals on Wall Street – Obama Goes All Out For Dirty Banker Deal

    The ratfuckers are looking for an industry-wide get-out-of-jail-free card where they pay $20 billion (likely far less before all is said and done) and they’re off the hook for all their criminal actions. The NY AG is screwing up their latest scam-

    But Schneiderman, who earlier this year launched an investigation into the securitization practices of Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and other companies, is screwing up this whole arrangement. Until he lies down, the banks don’t have a deal. They need the certainty of having all 50 states and the federal government on board, or else it’s not worth paying anybody off. To quote the immortal Tony Montana, “How do I know you’re the last cop I’m gonna have to grease?” They need all the dirty cops on board, or else the whole enterprise is FUBAR.

    In addition to the global settlement, Schneiderman is also blocking an individual $8.5 billion settlement for Countrywide investors. He has sued to stop that deal, claiming it could “compromise investors’ claims in exchange for a payment representing a fraction of the losses.”

    If Schneiderman thinks $8.5 billion is an insufficient, fractional payoff just for defrauded Countrywide investors, then you can imagine how bad a $20 billion settlement for the entire industry would be for the victims.

    And he includes this quote from a Fed board member Kathryn Wylde which is appalling –

    It is of concern to the industry that instead of trying to facilitate resolving these issues, you seem to be throwing a wrench into it. Wall Street is our Main Street — love ’em or hate ’em. They are important and we have to make sure we are doing everything we can to support them unless they are doing something indefensible.

    One quibble. I think Taibbi is mistaken with the last part of this one –

    What is most amazing about Wylde’s quote is the clear implication that even a law enforcement official like Schneiderman should view it as his job to “do everything we can to support” Wall Street. That would be astonishing interpretation of what a prosecutor’s duties are, were it not for the fact that 49 other Attorneys General apparently agree with her.

    I believe Naked Capitalism and others have mentioned that there are at least a few other AGs who have balked at the deal but the majority do seem to be going along with it.

  24. artemis54 permalink
    August 25, 2011 10:49 am

    It seems awfully strange that right when everyone is relying on FEMA, NOAA, the weather service and so on, Andrea Mitchell is chirping away about how awful it is that Obama is riding out the storm on Martha’s Vineyard instead of hightailing it back to the WH, where he would do what exactly that he isn’t doing now? Make the wind stop blowing? It is as if he is supposed to be God and Step’n Fetchit at the same time.

    They yammer on about this every day and the question never seems to come up what exactly has congress been doing all month?

  25. artemis54 permalink
    August 25, 2011 4:33 pm

    Oh hell, let’s just cut out the middleman: /2011/alaska-dispatch-08-24-2011.html”>BP begins shotting polar bears

    They don’t have even the right to haze these animals.

  26. artemis54 permalink
    August 26, 2011 10:42 am

    Roll over Bertrand Russell, and tell Wittgenstein the news! Little Ricky Santorum expands the teachingeven further: Marriage is a tree. It is not a car.

    For the last time, there is a quick and easy answer to Ricky’s logical confusion, one I wish interviewers, etc would bring up: Did extending the vote to women change the meaning of “elections” as a word or an institution? No, it strengthened and deepened the validity of the practice, the institution, by getting everyone involved.

    Ya, I know, love is blind and marriage is an institution for the blind.

  27. artemis54 permalink
    August 26, 2011 12:27 pm

    Stay safe c-man and everyone. I don’t know anything about the NE power grids, but everyone should be ready for a few days without power anyway. I learned that lesson years ago, when a squirrel suicided on a local transformer and took out half the county for a couple days.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 26, 2011 8:38 pm

      Thanks melvin. Don’t think it should be too bad where we are but it’s hard to tell how much of a threat it might be. Watching the weather channel earlier and the anchor said something to the effect that it was really serious this time, kind of implying that they had maybe hyped things like this in the past just a wee bit. Looks like it will be pretty bad in the NC area though. If I were on the coast there I’d be long gone. Went to Hatteras once and couldn’t figure out why anybody would build an expensive house on a sand bar in a hurricane zone.

  28. artemis54 permalink
    August 27, 2011 9:22 am

    Jon Stewart’s writers have the easiest job in the world. There will be a lot to choose from on Monday, but I nominate the mayor of DC, who was so proud of his free public giveaway of sandbags. All you had to do was drive down to the distribution point, wait for a truckful to show up at some unspecified time, and they would give each household five sandbags.

    Five. That oughta do it.

  29. artemis54 permalink
    August 29, 2011 2:29 am

    We don’t need no stinkin’ categories

    Rick Marcus Aurelius Santorum just throws it all in: towel, napkin, tree, chair. Note they are all physical objects, not legal institutions. But there I go again.

    As for the alleged Gee-Hawd, sign me up.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 29, 2011 8:02 pm

      What? No “man on dog” on his laundry list this time? What a wretched piece of crap that guy is.

  30. cometman permalink*
    August 29, 2011 8:12 pm

    Well, the storm is gone and I’ve inventoried the damage: one knocked over sunflower. Not sure if it was caused by the robust zephyr that was all that was left of the storm when it got here or by a squirrel.

    Looks like it took a turn off the coast before getting up here because my folks in VT got pounded with rain. No damage since they are on a hill but I saw saw pictures of the nearby towns and the water was knee deep or higher in the roads and quite a few bridges taken out.

    • triv33 permalink
      August 30, 2011 5:31 am

      Storm damage in SE PA: one dollar store bouncy ball gone, baby, gone. Oh, and the DirecTV flickered for a moment, that made me nervous.

      • artemis54 permalink
        August 30, 2011 8:47 pm

        On closer inspection, out brief freak windstorm Sunday night wiped out several sunflowers, one pepper, and my favorite eggplant – the little white egg-shaped ones. Probably no federal assistance in the offing though.

        My friend down the road actually did get quite a bit of damage. It must have shifted around in odd directions, because it wiped out her very sheltered corn crop, which she was really looking forward to.

  31. cometman permalink*
    August 29, 2011 8:35 pm

    Looks like some physicists are going back to the drawing board as they LHC didn’t find one of the things it should have found if it were there – LHC results put supersymmetry theory ‘on the spot’

    This failure to find indirect evidence of supersymmetry, coupled with the fact that two of the collider’s other main experiments have not yet detected supersymmetic particles, means that the simplest version of the theory has in effect bitten the dust.

    The theory of supersymmetry in its simplest form is that as well as the subatomic particles we know about, there are “super-particles” that are similar, but have slightly different characteristics.

    The theory, which was developed 20 years ago, can help to explain why there is more material in the Universe than we can detect – so-called “dark matter”.

    According to Professor Jordan Nash of Imperial College London, who is working on one of the LHC’s experiments, researchers could have seen some evidence of supersymmetry by now.

    “The fact that we haven’t seen any evidence of it tells us that either our understanding of it is incomplete, or it’s a little different to what we thought – or maybe it doesn’t exist at all,” he said.

    Meanwhile back in the US, astrophysicists won’t be able to even find nothing if things keep going the way they are. Very good piece on what we could be doing but aren’t due to lack of political will – Are we watching NASA Astrophysics commit suicide?

    The Hubble telescope is ending its lifespan after providing astounding images and vastly deepening our understanding of the universe for over 20 years. It was due to be replaced by the James Webb telescope which would have been able to gather 7 times the light that Hubble did. But it was about $1.5 billion over budget so in their infinite wisdom Congress terminated all funding for it.

    Wasn’t the illegal war in Iraq supposed to pay for itself?!?!?!?! And yet that still hasn’t been terminated hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars later.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 29, 2011 8:39 pm

      Barry may make lots of pretty talk about science but here are his real priorities – throwing people in a dark hole indefinitely (and I’m sure these prisons are costing a lot more than $1.5 bil) and dissembling about it, trying to pretend it was somehow different than what W and the Dick did:

      • artemis54 permalink
        August 29, 2011 9:16 pm

        If he fails to veto the Keystone XL pipeline, Obama will with one decision make himself the most anti-environment president in history

  32. artemis54 permalink
    August 31, 2011 9:41 am

    From our No, Duh files:

    Drawing key to learning science

    Um, Darwin much? Still a good point, one they will no doubt try to beat out of the squidlette and all the others. I distinctly remember the kid used to draw all the time, crazy stuff. Until he went to school. Within a few weeks he quit drawing and when asked why said because he didn’t know how. Remarkable.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 31, 2011 9:11 pm

      The squidlette has really taken to painting lately and it’s really fascinating to watch her develop. Two or three months ago it was just smearing fingerpaint around until every picture was kind of a brown blob or just making scribbles with her pencils and crayons. Couple weeks ago with no prompting from me she drew a circle and started putting legs on it and said it was an octopus. She seemed to know how many legs they had since she counted up to eight as she drew them (then drew a few more for good measure). We gave her some watercolor paints the other day since they don’t require a bath and a change of clothes afterwards like the fingerpaints. Not sure exactly what she’s painting but it isn’t just brown blobs anymore. Hard to tell if it’s just a phase or not- her interests seem to change pretty regularly at this age.

  33. cometman permalink*
    August 31, 2011 9:19 pm

    Just finished reading the news of the day with my usual disgust at what is going on around the country and the world.

    Rather than posting a bunch of links, this one seemed to sum up pretty well why this country is so fucked up – Steven Seagal Threatened With Lawsuit Over Police Raid Taped for Reality Show.

    Are tanks normally used in raids on people suspected of raising fighting roosters or is that just for when the bust is on the teevee? Not surprisingly douchebag Joe Arpaio was also involved.

  34. cometman permalink*
    August 31, 2011 9:27 pm

    More signs that the Windup Girl world is already here. Iowa State researchers have shown that corn pests have already developed immunity to Monsanto’s GM crops in just a few short years sine it was introduced in 2003. The solution? Upping the ante of course. This really doesn’t sound like a good idea –

    The finding adds fuel to the race among crop biotechnology rivals to locate the next generation of genes that can protect plants from insects. Scientists at Monsanto and Syngenta AG of Basel, Switzerland, are already researching how to use a medical breakthrough called RNA interference to, among other things, make crops deadly for insects to eat. If this works, a bug munching on such a plant could ingest genetic code that turns off one of its essential genes.

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 31, 2011 10:56 pm

      (o/t – “generation of genes” is the kind of unfortunate collision I would write without thinking)

      The genes that are missing are the bustle in your hedgerow if only one about three feet wide were left to grow around every ten acres or so. The ancient simple half wild reservoir of predators and parasites and all their support staff that always kept everything in check and would evolve on its own to do so for all time if merely left alone. It worked and works and will work, but since it is free it must be destroyed and forgotten and replaced by some ineffective but momentarily profitable substitute. Nothing that generates no profit must be left standing.

      Water is already on the edge of being monetized. Soil was so easy. Next is air.

      We have made them too smart, too fast, and too many.

      • cometman permalink*
        September 2, 2011 9:19 pm

        Very interesting video. Zerohedge has been trying to bring attention to the ridiculousness of those high frequency trading algorithms for quite some time but that was much easier to digest. In the short term, somebody is making a lot of $$$ but Mother Nature will win out in the long term. Ripping apart Manhattan for the sake of algorithms is going to look awfully foolish once Manhattan is underwater.

        I do like my computer and all but technology is not going to save us from the mess we have made despite what the technocrats and oligarchs may
        say. Civilization as we know if would collapse if we didn’t bail out the bankers we’re continually told over the last few years. We need these “leaders” to save us from barbarism or some such argument. Well, bullshit.
        Talked to the folks today about the damage in VT and it’s pretty bad. In one small town near where they live, the on ramp to the interstate was wiped out and left people pretty isolated. Rather than sitting around on their ass and waiting for help from the state or FEMA, somebody got out a bulldozer and plowed a nice new dirt on ramp. My dad said whoever did it was asked if they had permission and they just said “Yup”. I’m assuming the “permission” was self-granted but people can get back on the road at least.

        If we really want to fix this fucked up planet, it won’t be algorithms or GM crops or whatever technological fix somebody thinks up next that saves us, it’ll be human beings getting some dirt under their fingernails.

  35. artemis54 permalink
    September 2, 2011 12:29 pm

    Doctors struggle to remove giant knife from EPA administrator’s back, suspect apprehended giving Boehner a blow job.

    Next up, automatic approval of Keystone XL. I’m done with this clown.

    • cometman permalink*
      September 2, 2011 9:26 pm

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s a done deal despite the people protesting and complaints from various governors. And I suspect that some of those governors’ complaints are just lip service done with a wink and a nod to the corporations.

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