Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alan Greenspan (ASSHOLE Sellout) The (Forgotten) "Greenspan Era" Is A "Crime Story" - Cosmos Of Many Bangs?



(If throwing a contribution Pottersville2's way won't break your budget in these difficult financial times, I really need it, and would wholeheartedly appreciate it. Anything you can afford will make a huge difference in this blog's lifetime.)

(Photo take by moi at my local public library branch last week.) Is there any wonder that the people who inhabit the top levels of this "loaded to the gills with their spoils of battle" sham economy are laughing and partying like it's 1928? Or 1896 (the end of the Gilded Age*)?

The important thing to remember about the Alan Greenspan era is that despite all the numbers and the inside-baseball jargon about rates and loans and forecasts, his is not a story about economics. The Greenspan era instead is a crime story.

Like drug dealing and gambling and Ponzi schemes, bubbles of the sort he oversaw are rigged games with preordained losers and inherently corrupting psychological consequences. You play, you get beat, in more ways than one. Greenspan staked the scam, printing trillions upon trillions of dollars to goad Americans into playing a series of games they were doomed from the start to lose to the dealer.

In the end the printed wealth all disappeared and only the debts remained. He probably did this just because he wanted to see his face on magazine covers and be popular at certain Upper East Side cocktail parties. His private hang-ups in this way shaped the entire scam of modern American politics: a pure free market for the suckers, golden parachutes for the Atlases.

* The name refers to the process of gilding and is meant to make fun of ostentatious display. From our best Man with the Mudrake we finally get the goods on the guy (and a nice epithet) who started and then solidified the Class War (and who begs piteously even now to be ignored when the blame is assessed). If you can, please read the whole essay. It's more than worth your while (and drop by the Muckrake Man's place to say "Thanks!"). And I have to mention just once more that every time I saw this mumbling, obfuscating fool testifying to Congress during the 80's, 90's and 00's about the economic situation, the only thought I could ever conjure seriously was, "Who is believing this obvious pretender? Who takes this guy seriously?"

And how about all those "Ponzi Club members in good standing" who are all over the MSM telling you that you have to have your taxes raised, Medicare/Social Security/Medicaid cut, and oh yes, the rich reaaaaallllyyy need their tax cuts not to expire? Well, they've just been elected (or re-elected) by the Rethug MSM practiced liars (on whose shows they are appearing), so kiss your economic asses good-bye. (Emphasis marks and some editing inserted - Ed.)

Alan Greenspan: The Biggest Asshole By mudrake

Greenspan was the perfect front man for the hijacking of the democratic process that took place in the eighties, nineties, and the early part of the 2000s.

During that time political power gradually shifted from the elected government to private and semiprivate institutions run by unelected officials whose sympathies were with their own class rather than any popular constituency.

We suffered a series of economic shocks over the course of those years, and the official response from the institutions subtly pushed the country’s remaining private wealth to one side while continually shifting the risk and the loss to the public. This profoundly focused effort led to an intense concentration of private wealth on the one hand and the steady disenfranchisement of the average voter and the taxpayer on the other (who advanced inexorably, headfirst, into the resultant debt).

In the second chapter of Matt Taibbi’s book: The Biggest Asshole in the Universe, it doesn’t take the reader too long to identify Alan Greenspan as that asshole. He’s tagged that for three reasons: his incompetence, his arrogance, and his lust for fame. One can easily imagine how those three characteristics would interact on a person in charge of the flow of money of this nation.

Yet, just two years ago, presidential candidate John [Sarah (Palin)] McCain said of him: “I would not only reappoint Mr. Greenspan; if Mr. Greenspan should happen to die, God forbid … I would prop him up and put a pair of dark glasses on him.” So goes the wisdom of the millions of citizens who cast their votes for that man. And why would their ‘wisdom’ not have included the awful role played by Greenspan over all of the years he flooded the nation with printed money and favors for the elite? They were never taught. Perhaps neither was McCain and certainly not, Sarah Palin. I’m giving McCain way too much slack because, clearly, he’s one of the Ponzi scheme boys. Palin is merely a useful idiot.

Education. That’s the point. Whereas our friend UptheFlag chastises me for blogging on this topic, he fails to realize just how un-learned the voting public is. And why not? Those two-percenters, the top dogs in our economy, like it like that and work hard to hire a set of propagandists to keep the facts from the American public. Just this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the newly elected sentor from Illinois, Mark Kirk, said that he would vote to ‘keep all of the tax cuts’ but would not vote to extend unemployment benefits unless it would be matched by spending cuts.’

You and I get that ‘coded message’ that Kirk delivered. So did Joe Scarborough and maybe 20% of the audience. When pressed again about tax cuts without attendant spending cuts, Kirk dodged the question and talked about ‘double-dipped recession.’ Kirk knows the game. He’s clearly a card-carrying member in good standing of the Ponzi Club of America.

Yet most of his fellow Illini surely had no idea that Kirk was a Ponzi Club member in good standing. They heard his blather about lower taxes and ‘big government’ and fell for the propaganda. They actually thought that Kirk was sitting in their ball park eating hot dogs with them rather than in the board room dining room enjoying a filet mignon.

The important thing to remember about the Alan Greenspan era is that despite all the numbers and the inside-baseball jargon about rates and loans and forecasts, his is not a story about economics. The Greenspan era instead is a crime story. Like drug dealing and gambling and Ponzi schemes, bubbles of the sort he oversaw are rigged games with preordained losers and inherently corrupting psychological consequences. You play, you get beat, in more ways than one.

Greenspan staked the scam, printing trillions upon trillions of dollars to goad Americans into playing a series of games they were doomed from the start to lose to the dealer. In the end the printed wealth all disappeared and only the debts remained. He probably did this just because he wanted to see his face on magazine covers and be popular at certain Upper East Side cocktail parties. His private hang-ups in this way shaped the entire scam of modern American politics: a pure free market for the suckers, golden parachutes for the Atlases. Slap! Bam! Do The People get it?

No they don’t. The People are way too naive, too traumatized, to propagandized and too distracted to ‘get it.’ Perhaps they never will. Yet, if someone doesn’t try to tell The People what’s been going on, then there is no hope for this nation.

But they are getting it (or will). (Notice the slowly clearing-up Tea Party Confusion Miasma.)

And speaking about real education, did you see the news about the other bangs? Tough to imagine in a world that's only 6000 years old, isn't it? (But, pay no attention to the man who isn't standing in the corner.)

Cosmos May Show Echoes of Events Before Big Bang Jason Palmer BBC News Evidence of events that happened before the Big Bang can be seen in the glow of microwave radiation that fills the Universe, scientists have asserted.

Renowned cosmologist Roger Penrose said that analysis of this cosmic microwave background showed echoes of previous Big Bang-like events.

The events appear as "rings" around galaxy clusters in which the variation in the background is unusually low.

The unpublished research has been posted on the Arxiv website.

The ideas within it support a theory developed by Professor Penrose - knighted in 1994 for his services to science - that upends the widely-held "inflationary theory".

Read all about it!

(Woody Allen's gonna have to change that scene in Annie Hall now.)

Speaking of the nonsense (if you can call it by its true name in prim-and-proper society now) afflicting our society at the Congressional level in these most perilous economic times, Dave Johnson thinks he knows from whence it originates and its purpose. But even being cognizant of these facts, how does one cure the virus of proud ignorance?

Are they there to govern, of just destroy? As Washington works through its "lame duck" session and prepares for next year's new Congress, there are signs that the government-haters are preparing some serious hating on government itself.

The country needs to get moving. But conservatives, rewarded in the midterms for a strategy of obstruction, are bent on stopping everything and turning back the clock. For two years they followed a strategy of blocking everything and blaming the President for not making people's lives better. The strategy succeeded and now they are determined to carry it through to the next election. They are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits, calling for an end to ongoing infrastructure development like high-speed and commuter rail and alternative energy, and have made it clear that any new efforts to stimulate the economy are out of the question. Many are starting to worry about the terrible effect these positions will have on the economy, and are calling it deliberate sabotage.

Destroy the Country to Save the Country?

In Planning for the Worst, Matt Yglesias wrote that the White house should plan for "a true worst case scenario of deliberate economic sabotage."

So why aren't the "lame duck" Democrats voting every needed program that they can into being before the January changeover? The Rethugs surely would be pushing their agenda every second they held the power and were in the same place. (And they have historically.) Are we still too "prim-and-proper" not to take the actions that we know will save the country more heart ache and suffering? Suzan ___________________

Monday, November 29, 2010

Is 'Digital Hive' A Soft Totalitarian State? Our "Leaders" Are Not "Smart" But Very Well Trained (But By Whom?) US Breaks Sov. Records - "Underwear?"

(Stolen from that Well-Armed Lamb's Pen.)

. . . this whole business of the new hive cybernetic connectivity, could be just a swarm of data bits with no particular significance, in and of themselves, other than the magical thinking belief that they do. Which ain’t no small thing, given that what we agree upon as reality is achieved by social consensus. Hell, to some people Beelzebub still stalks the earth. To others, America is a free republic, not a company town. We all have our hallucinations.

. . . Even teachers teach to a standardized test so students will conform to an algorithm, and if that ain’t hive mind, I don’t know what is.

Besides, if the worship of algorithms is not worth it, it does not matter. Whether we be Tanzanians à la Darwin’s Nightmare, or some Stanford professor writing economic algorithms, the people who control all our lives in the globalized economic world believe they are.

For example, bankers and investment houses believe intelligent algorithms (Big Al) can calculate human risk in making loans. That an algorithm can predict whether a 35-year old lawn sprinkler installer in Tuscaloosa will be able to steadily make $2,300 monthly payments on his $220,000 twice refinanced “snout-house” (so-named because of the four-car garage sticking out the front) for 30 years. Most of us would be more than happy to make that prediction for them, and with far greater accuracy, for a fraction of what they paid the pinhead to write the algorithm.

. . . In the pre-digital hive era there were limits to what the organic human brain, and therefore the mind, plus past experience, could calculate, then evaluate. At some point, one was forced to recognized the limits of a financial proposition or investment. Familiarity with the actual basis of an investment was necessary. (Hmmm. Lawn sprinklers, huh? And yer paying on a new Dodge Ram too?”)

But there was no stopping such things as computer-assisted hedge funds, and the techno nerds’ faith that you could remove the human risks through complex algorithmic structures. So mythical financial instruments such as derivatives and layers of bets on derivatives, and bets on those bets, bloomed out there in the “virtual economy,” sending out algorithmic spores that spawned even stranger financial flora.

. . . allegedly, the hive does many things better than paid experts. Wikipedia is an example of this assertion. Most web content is generated by hive inhabitants for free, profiting the new elite cybernetic ownership class, which is to say some corporation or other. This also means that content becomes worthless. That the efforts of skilled and devoted journalists, artists and others become valueless, unsellable, just more info-shards in the hive. Only advertising has value in the cyberhive. In a nation whose social realism has been represented by advertising for three quarters of a century, that was to be expected.

. . . one of my questions as I sit here background Googling the subject is this: Does a search engine really know what I want, or am I dumbing down to fit its hive algorithms? If the latter is the case, then why don’t we just bring back PCP?

. . . In essence, investment is reduced to an algorithmic Google search for debt, which is wealth to a banker, then mathematically rationalizing that debt as wealth for the rest of us.

Right. That's the trick of the 21st century brought to you by the Greedy Old Pissers (feel that "trickle down" yet?). As a fan of Dr. Timothy Leary I really enjoyed the mention from Joe below (he's a god). And thus we confront the ruling algorithm that determines our future existence: Do we have any defense against those with a specialized calculus? Brilliance in analysis and dissection of these myths reigns below. Please forgive me for running all of it as it's really worth your while to read it (emphasis marks and some editing added - Ed.).
Algorithms and Red Wine*
Is the 'Digital Hive' a Soft Totalitarian State?

By Joe Bageant Ferrara, Italy Sitting in a trendy wine bar, one of those that brings out food to match your particular choice of wine, mystified by the table setting. What was that tiny baby spoon for? Cappuccino surely, at some point, but why no big spoon to go with the knife and fork? The things a redneck American does not know grow exponentially in Bella Italia, starting with the restaurants - not to mention several civilizations beneath one’s feet. Being in a house that has been continuously occupied for over 1000 years - resisting the temptation to piss in the hotel room bidet, that sort of thing.

One thing the Italians can never be accused of is being a culture given to vinyl sided sameness, fast food franchises. Another thing is lack of a good educational system, given that Italy’s is among the very best in the world. So here I am sitting with some college kids trying to hang onto my end of a discussion of evolutionary consciousness, and whether Italy can withstand the cultural leveling of globalism.

“And Mr Bageant, what do you think of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the hive mind and the noosphere? Can monolithism and totalitarianism possibly be resisted in the cybernetic age?”Huh?

“Il regno mondiale dei computer, global computerization. Do all those disassociated shards of human input constitute an overarching hive intelligence? Or are they the emergence of further evolutionary structures?”

“Ahem, uh, well, Timothy Leary once convinced me that they are,” I said. “But after the drugs wore off, I was not so certain. And now I’m certain again that he was right. But, with a far more chilling outcome than he or Chardin could have ever predicted.”

Which was pretty good for pulling it out of my ass.

In any case, it seems that 40 years in retrospect, the human hive enjoys monolithism and totalism far more than anyone would have ever guessed back in the sixties. Most of industrial humanity, as it turns out, is, or would be, quite happy to come home from a hard day in the mines and settle down to Facebook or Twitter or hive broadcast “news” and passive entertainments, distributed by unseen “corporate entities.” I dunno, I think I liked dope and live music and sex better. But as all three diminish in my life with age, I’ve learned to settle for the Larry King Show and/or a lot less at times.

Big Al and the Tuscaloosa Sprinkler man

On the other hand, this whole business of the new hive cybernetic connectivity, could be just a swarm of data bits with no particular significance, in and of themselves, other than the magical thinking belief that they do. Which ain’t no small thing, given that what we agree upon as reality is achieved by social consensus. Hell, to some people Beelzebub still stalks the earth. To others, America is a free republic, not a company town. We all have our hallucinations.

One thing for sure. Most people in the (over)developed world think the connectivity and speed of the algorithms behind the cyberhive are worth it. Even teachers teach to a standardized test so students will conform to an algorithm, and if that ain’t hive mind, I don’t know what is.

Besides, if the worship of algorithms is not worth it, it does not matter. Whether we be Tanzanians à la Darwin’s Nightmare, or some Stanford professor writing economic algorithms, the people who control all our lives in the globalized economic world believe they are.

For example, bankers and investment houses believe intelligent algorithms (Big Al) can calculate human risk in making loans. That an algorithm can predict whether a 35-year old lawn sprinkler installer in Tuscaloosa will be able to steadily make $2,300 monthly payments on his $220,000 twice refinanced “snout-house” (so-named because of the four-car garage sticking out the front) for 30 years. Most of us would be more than happy to make that prediction for them, and with far greater accuracy, for a fraction of what they paid the pinhead to write the algorithm.

In the pre-digital hive era there were limits to what the organic human brain, and therefore the mind, plus past experience, could calculate, then evaluate. At some point, one was forced to recognized the limits of a financial proposition or investment. Famliarity with the actual basis of an investment was necessary. (Hmmm. Lawn sprinklers, huh? And yer paying on a new Dodge Ram too?”) But there was no stopping such things as computer-assisted hedge funds, and the techno nerds’ faith that you could remove the human risks through complex algorithmic structures.

So mythical financial instruments such as derivatives and layers of bets on derivatives, and bets on those bets, bloomed out there in the “virtual economy,” sending out algorithmic spores that spawned even stranger financial flora. The whole of it could not be understood by any single human participant. Even the individual parts were understood only by their specific designers. As in, “Just trust me on this Marv.

This instrument even creates its own collateral” (which many of them did).

Information, of course, is not reality, not even close to the juicy anecdotal stuff of which our daily lives are made. In essence, investment is reduced to an algorithmic Google search for debt, which is wealth to a banker, then mathematically rationalizing that debt as wealth for the rest of us.

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. Even when created with the best of intentions - and we can all agree by now there were few good intentions at Goldman Sachs when they were creating and bundling these mutant investments - they cannot account for our uninsured sprinkler installer getting cancer, or divorcing the other half of the household income - or the end of America’s residential construction orgy.

The digital folly is never ending. The knock-on effect just keeps rolling. The latest is the rising scandal of millions of illegal foreclosures created by MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems), which enabled the big financial firms to securitize and swap mortgages at super high speed. But not to worry. Nancy Pelosi and Christopher Dodd are on the case, and there is sure to be a Congressional committee appointed. Whoopee! Have one on me. Meanwhile, we have our social networking software to better weave us into the hive. Social networking software, now there’s a term that should scare the piss out of anyone with an IQ over 40. It means the database as hive reality. Facebook, online banking, shopping, porn, years of one’s life playing electronic games or whatever, online dating and reducing romance and companionship to fit the software. Or 4000 Facebook “friends,” data on 4000 Americans voluntarily collected for Facebook corporation. The concept of “friends” is cheapened, rendered meaningless as it passes through a database. In fact, all human experience is cheapened by that process. Information is not reality. Flatworm economics As my second wife, who was a mathematician, can tell you, I know as much about algebra as a flatworm. So I turn to experts when I write this stuff - or sometimes just make it up as I go. But even a dumb person can ask questions. And one of my questions as I sit here background Googling the subject is this: Does a search engine really know what I want, or am I dumbing down to fit its hive algorithms? If the latter is the case, then why don’t we just bring back PCP? Anyway, allegedly, the hive does many things better than paid experts. Wikipedia is an example of this assertion. Most web content is generated by hive inhabitants for free, profiting the new elite cybernetic ownership class, which is to say some corporation or other. This also means that content becomes worthless. That the efforts of skilled and devoted journalists, artists and others become valueless, unsellable, just more info-shards in the hive. Only advertising has value in the cyberhive. In a nation whose social realism has been represented by advertising for three quarters of a century, that was to be expected. Of course the real global economic problem is seven billion people in increasing competition for ever scarcer vital resources. But capitalism loves competition, as long as, A: it is the people’s capital involved, and B: it is not the capitalists doing the competing. Either way we’re talking money here and what most people consider to be “economics.” Economics equals money. Right? But 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.

The bottliberia waiter comes with something on a plate I can actually - by pure luck - identify. Octopus gnocchi. The conversation rolls on.

“What do you believe allowed such abuse and calamity?” I ask. An intense young woman leans across the table, all black hair and red lips, making an old man moan and sigh inwardly. “Fossil fuels, of course,” she says. “An unnatural supply of energy. But once that is gone, we're going to have to go back to a whole different way of doing everything. Everything.”

“Spot on,” I agree. At that moment she could have gotten me to agree that the earth is flat. But the truth is that each gallon of fossil fuel contains the energy of 40 man-hours. And that has played hell with the ecology of human work, thanks mostly to the money economy. For instance, a simple loaf of bread, starting with the fossil fuels used to grow the wheat, transport, mill, bake, create the packaging materials and packaging, advertise and distribute it, uses the energy of two men working for two weeks. Yet this waste and vast inefficiency is invisible to us because we see it only in terms of money, jobs and commerce.

Cheap oil allowed industrial humans to increasingly live on environmental credit for over a century. Now the bill is due and no amount of money can pay it. The calorie, pure heat expenditure as energy, is the only currency in which Mother Nature trades. Period. 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 beginswith 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.

Like the Reagan Years On Speed

One of the Italian students, Mariarosa, asks, “Is it true that so many Amerians are struggling and suffering right now?

“No,” I reply, “not in the real sense. If they are suffering, most of them are suffering from commodities withdrawal. What they really are is people oppressed by metastasized capitalism. Which is its own form of suffering, I guess. They are squeezed hard for profit every moment of their waking lives. They’ve got families and dare not make a move, even of they knew how.” Everyone nods in agreement.

“It’s coming to Italy too,” says one young man. Again, all nod in agreement. Yet, despite Berlusconi, despite the rightist takeover in progress in Italy - which I am guessing will be successful, because I’ve seen it all before in America through globalization - so many are still able to ask the right questions. They seem able to filter what they need and what is best for the majority, from what they want. But looking at the overall country is like watching the Reagan era unfold again before your very eyes. Only faster. All of these kids probably own an iPod or cell phone, the only difference being that they do not let them interrupt a good meal.

The third bottle of wine arrives and the topic turns to global competition, and the EU charges that “Italy is not competitive enough.” A student named Cristiano, sits directly across form me, sporting one of those fashionable three-day beards (I tried that once - people just asked me: “How long have you been depressed, Joe?) Cristiano offers that cooperation would get us all a lot farther than competition.” Applause from everybody on that one. I raise my glass in salute. I’ve raised a few too many glasses in salute in my life, but what the hell.

Societies such as Italy, Greece and many others are viewed by global capitalism as inferior economies. Especially agrarian societies: different rates of exchange and economies of scale, are set for them because capitalism benefits from the bonuses of synergies in scale and the virtual economy. Never do global capitalists want to see regional food security, energy security, or any other kind of security for that matter.

And I look at the faces of these young men and women, who are among the brightest, best educated and common good oriented the world has to offer. A taxi’s headlights flash through the window of the darkened bottiliberia. Each face is illuminated for a moment, then golden dimness again prevails. And I am saddened. I do not expect that the world they have inherited will show them one ounce of mercy. But it is heartening to see clear competent minds drawing the right conclusions.

And I ask myself, what chance does America’s far less informed, and purposefully misled public stand against all this?

One shudders.

And continues to.

Wanna feel really proud of being an American for just a split second (more like a nanosecond, actually)? My favorite reporter, some call him the GlennZilla(!), has the inside dope. (See the latest WikiLeaks excitement about that Yemeni disaster (and many, many others)!)

The US of A Breaks the Soviet Record

Glenn Greenwald

November 26, 2010

Even for the humble among us who try to avoid jingoistic outbursts, some national achievements are so grand that they merit a moment of pride and celebration:

US Presence in Afghanistan As Long As Soviet Slog

The Soviet Union couldn't win in Afghanistan, and now the United States is about to have something in common with that futile campaign: nine years, 50 days.

On Friday, the U.S.-led coalition will have been fighting in this South Asian country for as long as the Soviets did in their humbling attempt to build up a socialist state. It seems clear that a similar - or even grander - prize awaits us as the one with which the Soviets were rewarded. I hope nobody thinks that just because we can't identify who the Taliban leaders are after almost a decade over there that this somehow calls into doubt our ability to magically re-make that nation.

Even if it did, it's vital that we stop the threat of Terrorism, and nothing helps to do that like spending a full decade - and counting - invading, occupying, and bombing Muslim countries. The good news - beyond our shattering this record and thus showing that we can still kick those Soviets around even after they no longer exist - is that this decade of utter futility hasn't at all diminished the Government's appetite for endless war in the Muslim world.

By all accounts, the administration its actively debating whether to accelerate its already escalated intervention in Yemen. We've dramatically increased our covert actions in countless countries across the Muslim world.

And today, former Bush State Department legal adviser John Bellinger III (one of the "moderates" from that era) argues in The Washington Post for a re-writing of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) - not in order to rescind it after nine years of endless war-fighting, but rather to expand it, on the ground that it "provides insufficient authority for our military and intelligence personnel to conduct counterterrorism operations today" and outrageously fails to empower the President's "wish to target or detain a terrorist who is not part of al-Qaeda" (for good measure, he also wants the new law to authorize the killing of American citizens and to allow detention without charges).

Clearly, the AUMF is far too narrow and weak for our purposes since - as Bellinger notes - this is all we've been able to do in its name:

The Bush and Obama administrations have relied on this authority to wage the ground war in Afghanistan; to exert lethal force (including drone strikes) against al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; and to detain suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban members in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Afghanistan.

What kind of lame AUMF is that?

A decade's worth of war, some slaughtering through the use of remote-controlled sky robots over a few countries, and a worldwide regime of lawless detention? How are we supposed to Stay Safe when we tie one arm behind our back that way?

Fortunately, if this vision of Expanded Endless War proves to be unwise, the harm will be contained, since the U.S. - unlike the former Soviet Union - is so financially strong that it can easily sustain this. And whatever else is true, there's one thing we should all be able to agree on: the person presiding over all of this deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

UPDATE: In a New York Times article today on the possibility that many newly elected Tea Party candidates will dare to include military spending in demanded budget cuts and will be similarly hostile to foreign aid - including, most alarmingly for some, to Israel - the following passage appears (h/t Matt Duss):

“One of the first things Congressman Cantor can do is to make sure that his colleagues vote for aid to Israel,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who also met with Mr. Netanyahu. In the face of all these economic difficulties, austerity measures, and calls for Endless War, it's comforting that at least some of America's representatives in Congress - such as the Good Democrat Chuck Schumer - have their priorities straight.

After all, he's a "cantor" isn't he? But what is Schumer? Four commenters responded to Glenn's essay with the following:

the ugly truth · 16 hours ago

The USA is breaking several more Soviet records: (1) Unemployment rates; (2) Poverty rates; (3) Secret detention centres; (4) Spinning of lies; (5) A brainwashed citizenry

Beiruti · 16 hours ago

And hopefully the record will break the US the same way it broke the USSR. Trillions of dollars wasted and for what? Yeah, let freedom rings.

LAo Bob · 16 hours ago

We wasted 8 years while Dubya , Cheney and their Likudnik Staffers took us into Iraq for the sake of Israel and ego. Cheney & Co (PNAC, Likudniks and Faux Spews conspirators (Kagen Krystol and Krauthammer)) belong in jail for this pre-planned escapade.

r_i_d · 16 hours ago

Endless war and aid to Israel have the same goals: To waste taxpayers' money and to keep the level of hate high enough for people to keep on killing each other with always-improving weaponry.

And, of course, you know that:

Global Poverty Doubled since 1970s: UN

The number of very poor countries has doubled in the last 30 to 40 years, while the number of people living in extreme poverty has also grown two-fold, a UN think-tank warned. r_i_d · 16 hours ago

Not only racists and hypocrites, but also cowards who fear for their jobs. Most of the ordinary American "elite" is actually nothing more than the "Outer Party" described by Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four. They are good at "doublethink", holding mutually contradictory beliefs in mind, and voluntarily blind to the truth: The truth about their condition, the identity of their real masters, and the speed at which a steel-frame building can collapse after suffering from fires.

And wouldn't we all love to celebrate "The Endless Thanksgiving?" How about Steve Forbes' favorite wet dream?

A "Flat Tax" for the Rich? Michael Hudson The danger the United States faces today is that the government debt crisis scheduled to hit Congress next spring (when Republicans are threatening to vote against raising the federal debt limit as the government deficit soars) will provide an opportunity for the wealthy to give a coup de grace on what is left of progressive taxation in this country. Such a Well Behaved Herd of Sheep TSA thanks you for allowing them to violate your rights and to assault you November 26, 2010

If ever there was an indicator of just how apathetic and well trained the American public truly is, it must be this situation with TSA. Like a herd of bedraggled sheep, thousands of you forfeited your 4th and 5th amendment rights and allowed the government to irradiate you and view your virtually naked body, or allowed yourself to be subjected to an enhanced pat-downnothing short of a sexual encounter. And for what? This is a training and conditioning exercise you fools! This has nothing to do with making us safer, national security or protecting America. It has nothing to do with making your flight safer. It has everything to do with conditioning you to accept a full body assault as long as the persons doing it are wearing a government badge. You are being trained to submit and comply. Did any of the claimed terrorists come from America? No.

Are any potential terrorists afraid of TSA and Homeland Security or any of the rights-robbing laws passed by the jackass’s in the District of Criminals? No.

Did any of those laws apply to terrorists? NO! They applied to US citizens.

We have a border that is wide open and anyone and everyone from far away places such as Uganda, China, North Korea, and even Afghanistan have crossed that border at will, without any trouble, and millions of people from Mexico, El Salvador, Ecuador, and various and sundry other South American country’s have also entered and Homeland Security has absolutely no plans to secure that border or to deport any of those individuals caught here illegally.

With this in mind . . . how concerned do you think Homeland Security is about terrorism or terrorists?

Who is it Homeland Security views as terrorists? YOU.

. . . We are being maneuvered into a full police state. Thanks to all of you who complied with this police state action, the rest of us will pay the price. You forfeited your rights just so you wouldn’t be inconvenienced and forfeited everyone else’s at the same time. Why? Because standing up for what is right might have delayed you?

How pathetic is that?

And now for the coup de grace. Which Congress members have invested heavily in Homeland Security? (Well, thanks to Scary Sary, Castle's gone, but I wonder how many in the CIA got a kickback from those new contracts after the infamous "underwear" bomber was "captured?") From Open Secrets we learn the hard facts. (Fwowing up yet?)
Several Lawmakers Invested in L-3 Communications, Maker of Airport Body-Scanning Machines

A handful of federal lawmakers are invested in one of the companies behind the controversial full-body scanning machines now in more than 60 U.S. airports. The individual investments are worth thousands, and in some cases tens or hundreds of thousands, of dollars. According to a Center for Responsive Politics review of the most recent personal financial disclosure filings, eight members of Congress - three Democrats and five Republicans - owned at least $2,000 worth of stock in L-3 Communications, which is one of the two main contractors involved in the full-body scanning machines.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) disclosed possessing the most stock in L-3 Communications - with a minimum investment of at least $500,000 and a maximum value of $1 million. The L-3 Communications stock is fully owned by his wife, Teresa Heinz, according to federal financial disclosure reports. Members of Congress file annual personal financial disclosures detailing their assets and liabilities, as well as those of their spouses and dependent children. These forms also allow lawmakers to describe the value of their holdings and debts in broad ranges, so it's impossible to know exactly how much the holdings of Kerry's family, or any other lawmaker's household, are worth.

Republican Reps. Michael Castle (R-Del.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) both disclosed possessing between $16,002 and $65,000 worth of L-3 Communications stock in 2009. And Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) was the member of Congress with the next most valuable holdings in L-3 Communications, worth between $15,001 and $50,000.

Here is a table of all eight lawmakers whose 2009 personal financial disclosure forms, which were filed in May, noted holdings in L-3 Communications, along with the minimum and maximum value of these holdings, according to the Center's research.

Name Value Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)$500,001 to $1,000,000 Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del)$16,002 to $65,000 Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)$16,002 to $65,000 Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.)$15,001 to $50,000 Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.)$1,001 to $15,000 Rep. Robert Scott (D-Va.)$1,001 to $15,000 Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)$2,173 Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas)$2,086

The government's investment in full-body scanners has broadened since the "underwear bomber's" failed terrorism attempt last Christmas. Days later, L-3 Communications was awarded a $165 million contract for the machines, and another company, RapiScan, was also awarded a $173 million contract.

Both companies have seen significant jumps in their federal lobbying expenses since just a few years ago, and both are employing officials with well-heeled government connections, as OpenSecrets Blog previously reported. For instance, RapiScan utilizes the services of Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security under Republican President George W. Bush. And former Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) and Linda Daschle, the wife of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), are both actively lobbying for L-3 Communications.

From our friend at Walled-In Pond:

Had enough yet? Where is that New American Revolution? Let me look under this desk. Suzan ______________________

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Class War" Is What They Had Planned Well For

Neil Garfield won't sugarcoat the economic facts about the coming times as the USA becomes the new Mexico to Europe and Asia. Read it and weep, and then read Bob Herbert for some psychic relief. It's almost like being in an Ionesco play. Welcome to the Theater of the Absurd! NOT.

Editor's Comment: As long as we believe that we are included in the aristocracy we will never see them as the source of our own oppression and we will even vote for them. So it LOOKS like a democracy but it isn't. It looks like the rule of law but it is the rule of men. We have allowed it, promoted it and even created it. If we don't put aside our fictitious differences and realize that we are all under attack and the aristocracy is winning easily, the game will be over. The result, like all other societies before us will be repression, oppression and eventually a breakout of chaos and violence because members of the aristocracy cannot conceive of the day when their heads would be chopped off just because of who they are and what they did. Just look back to the day before the French revolution started. You have to know that nearly everyone thought that the fix was in and could never be changed.

LESSON FROM HISTORY: It doesn't work that way.

From Bob Herbert we get our marching orders (emphasis marks added - Ed.).
Winning the Class War
The class war that no one wants to talk about continues unabated.

Even as millions of out-of-work and otherwise struggling Americans are tightening their belts for the holidays, the nation’s elite are lacing up their dancing shoes and partying like royalty as the millions and billions keep rolling in.

Recessions are for the little people, not for the corporate chiefs and the titans of Wall Street who are at the heart of the American aristocracy. They have waged economic warfare against everybody else and are winning big time.

The ranks of the poor may be swelling and families forced out of their foreclosed homes may be enduring a nightmarish holiday season, but American companies ave just experienced their most profitable quarter ever. As The Times reported this week, U.S. firms earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter — the highest total since the government began keeping track more than six decades ago.

The corporate fat cats are becoming alarmingly rotund. Their profits have surged over the past seven quarters at a pace that is among the fastest ever seen, and they can barely contain their glee. On the same day that The Times ran its article about the third-quarter surge in profits, it ran a piece on the front page that carried the headline: “With a Swagger, Wallets Out, Wall Street Dares to Celebrate.”

Anyone who thinks there is something beneficial in this vast disconnect between the fortunes of the American elite and those of the struggling masses is just silly.

It’s not even good for the elite.

There is no way to bring America’s consumer economy back to robust health if unemployment is chronically high, wages remain stagnant and the jobs that are created are poor ones. Without ordinary Americans spending their earnings from good jobs, any hope of a meaningful, long-term recovery is doomed.

Beyond that, extreme economic inequality is a recipe for social instability. Families on the wrong side of the divide find themselves under increasing pressure to just hold things together: to find the money to pay rent or the mortgage, to fend off bill collectors, to cope with illness and emergencies, and deal with the daily doses of extreme anxiety.

Societal conflicts metastasize as resentments fester and scapegoats are sought.

Demagogues inevitably emerge to feast on the poisonous stew of such an environment. The rich may think that the public won’t ever turn against them. But to hold that belief, you have to ignore the turbulent history of the 1930s.

A stark example of the potential for real conflict is being played out in New York City, where the multibillionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has selected a glittering example of the American aristocracy to be the city’s schools chancellor. Cathleen Black, chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, has a reputation as a crackerjack corporate executive but absolutely no background in education.

Ms. Black travels in the rarefied environs of the very rich. Her own children went to private boarding schools. She owns a penthouse on Park Avenue and a $4 million home in Southampton. She was able to loan a $47,600 Bulgari bracelet to a museum for an exhibit showing off the baubles of the city’s most successful women.

Ms. Black will be peering across an almost unbridgeable gap between her and the largely poor and working-class parents and students she will be expected to serve. Worse, Mr. Bloomberg, heralding Ms. Black as a “superstar manager,” has made it clear that because of budget shortfalls she will be focused on managing cutbacks to the school system.

So here we have the billionaire and the millionaire telling the poor and the struggling — the little people — that they will just have to make do with less. You can almost feel the bitterness rising.

Extreme inequality is already contributing mightily to political and other forms of polarization in the U.S. And it is a major force undermining the idea that as citizens we should try to face the nation’s problems, economic and otherwise, in a reasonably united fashion. When so many people are tumbling toward the bottom, the tendency is to fight among each other for increasingly scarce resources.

What’s really needed is for working Americans to form alliances and try, in a spirit of good will, to work out equitable solutions to the myriad problems facing so many ordinary individuals and families. Strong leaders are needed to develop such alliances and fight back against the forces that nearly destroyed the economy and have left working Americans in the lurch. Aristocrats were supposed to be anathema to Americans.

Now, while much of the rest of the nation is suffering, they are the only ones who can afford to smile.

This absurd appointment reminds me of the totally unqualified rightwingnuts appointed to run the Iraq War who got all their (wrong) information from their previous associations with the bought-and-paid-for PNAC worthies. Most of them had high-brow educations which had contained nothing about the culture, geography or history of the middle east (which they were sure would be a "cake walk"). This woman probably knows just about as much about the culture of the lower classes in the USA. Vast reductions in spending for Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, Disability and the abolition of the rest of the safety net for those who fought in that war (and all the rest of the "entitled") are now demanded from same to pay for that righteous management. We're moving into perilous times, me hearties! Grab your swords. Suzan _______________

Friday, November 26, 2010

Boo Hoo!!! Alan Grayson Is Leaving - Freddy Krueger Outed "Growth Industries of the Future" (Luxury Products for Rich)



(If throwing a contribution Pottersville2's way won't break your budget in these difficult financial times, I really need it, and would wholeheartedly appreciate it. Anything you can afford will make a huge difference in this blog's lifetime.)

The great unwashed must remain blind to the ever-increasing national wealth. And especially to how almost none of this wealth lands in our bank accounts.*
I take Alan Grayson's defeat at the polls personally. And so should you as he was an advocate for us (US). He is one of my political heros: brilliant, empathetic and willing to engage the other side intellectually anytime, anywhere. His departure is a tragedy for our Congress. But it isn't the first one this year. There's no doubt that he was not only despised by his enemies, but that they spent an unbelievable amount of money in order to get rid of him as the following conversation attests (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

"There's not any doubt about it. The people's business is not being done. There's enormous influence by lobbyists and by special interests," he says. "And the other side has completely sold out to them."

And you'd better not lecture him on civility in politics.

One of Grayson's most talked-about moments came in a floor speech he gave in the midst of the health care debate in September 2009. He presented what he called the "Republican Health Care Plan." That plan, he said, was "Don't get sick ... if you do get sick, die quickly." Grayson says he was just telling the truth — something he feels doesn't happen enough in Congress. "What I was exposing is something that is sort of a deep truth," he says. "The Republicans:

a.) don't have a way to help people, and

b.) aren't interested in doing it. And that's true whether you're talking about health care or virtually any important issue."

Some have called Grayson uncivil. He sees it as being blunt.

"I simply tell the truth, I'm not trying to be uncivil. What I do is I tell the truth and sometimes it's a hard truth. Sometimes the truth hurts," he says.

Grayson's comments have been a lightning rod for Republicans and conservative news commentators. He says he's received death threats — even his 5-year-old has been threatened — and has needed a constant police presence at his home for months.

Despite all that, he says, it's been worth it. "We have saved countless lives. There are 100,000 people in my district alone who will get health coverage because we passed health care for all Americans," he says. "Those people will now live. How can anybody say it's not worth it?"

'Taliban Dan'

Before winning the House seat in 2008, Grayson had a long career as an attorney. He'd never been elected to office and says he learned a lot in two years. One of the biggest takeaways, he says, is that Congress is largely dysfunctional.

"There's not any doubt about it. The people's business is not being done. There's enormous influence by lobbyists and by special interests," he says. "And the other side has completely sold out to them."

Grayson says he always resisted the influence of those lobbyists. "A good description of what happened in my case is that they couldn't buy me, so they decided to destroy me with negative ads [during the midterm campaign] that people in my district saw an average of 70 times," he says.

Grayson responded with a controversial ad of his own. It called his opponent "Taliban Dan" and repeated clips in which Webster appeared to say about his wife "she should submit to me." Although the spot was roundly criticized, Grayson says he was justified in running it.

"We had to do it because, in my case, he ducked every debate we were scheduled to have. And the result of that is that we had no way to communicate his record except for the fact that we could run ads that people called negative ads," he says. "And it's unfortunate that the system leaves no other possibility."

Grayson says the ad was a last resort. "The average voter in Orlando saw that ad twice. The average voter in Orlando saw 70 ads calling me, an incumbent Congressman, a liar, a national embarrassment, a loudmouth, a dog and an evil clown," he says. "So I don't think that my opponents or anyone in the media for that matter — none of whom ever came to my defense — can lecture me on civility in politics."

Despite the criticism, he's determined to stay upbeat as he says goodbye to Washington: "Life is beautiful. It is hard for me to believe that someone like me — who worked my way through college at Harvard by, among other things, cleaning toilets and by working as a night watchman on the midnight shift — somehow, someone like me could end up in Congress."

From one of my new favorite sources Still Ironic, we find a serious discussion of the Nightmare (we are experiencing) Under Plutonomy. Read it and let them know about your appreciation. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

In nightmare under plutonomy, Freddy Krueger is played by Ajay Kapur, a superstar global strategist at Deutsche Bank. He’s an as-yet unconvicted douchebag. Freddy/Ajay made a name for himself at Citigroup, owner of a bank that screws the American public for a living. (Hence, the need for a douchebag, presumably.)

Freddy/Ajay wrote two cheeky memos* to super wealthy Citigroup clients that said in so many words: the world of the super wealthy is the only world that matters. And if the super wealthy play their cards right, they won’t have to interact with anyone who isn’t as super wealthy as they are. According to Freddy/Ajay, US economic growth is controlled by only 100K people. A cup of water in the Great Lakes. The economic growth is largely consumed by them, too. And this will continue, indefinitely. At least until the people who don’t count — the remaining 99+% of us nonsuper wealthy, evidently barely conscious most of the time — wake up and decide to revolt. Most likely using violence.

Not much difference between life on Elm or under plutonomy. Which is the economic form of plutocracy, illustrated in these pages some weeks back. To recap, take Pluto the dwarf-planet-that-once-was and Pluto the Disney dog with boomerang ears, put them in a bag, and shake them up good. Don’t forget to add in the passionate Pluto-is-so-a-planet folks and the folks that now insist Neptune’s not a planet either. What you have when everything shakes out is rule by imaginary-dwarf-and-probably-rabid canines. Or, as the dictionary so mulishly maintains, rule by the rich.

Is plutonomy on the tips of everyone’s tongue? Are the media discussing this issue? Have people stopped holding tea parties and blaming imaginary demons and started confronting extreme income inequality, a danger to our democracy that’s actually real?

In fact, there are some alert citizens out there . . . . Including Bill Moyers who recently delivered his “Welcome to the Plutocracy” speech.

But few of us have been paying much attention to what plutonomy signifies. Freddy/Ajay makes this point: our ignorance is key. The great unwashed must remain blind to the ever-increasing national wealth. And especially to how almost none of this wealth lands in our bank accounts. Even if our labor produces it. You can almost hear the whooshing of dead Franklins passing us by. And landing in the bank accounts of the super wealthy. To pay for luxury goods and services. These, Freddy/Ajay says, are the growth industries of the future.

And what consumes our attention: Looking for work. Finding a second job to pay for the kids’ education. Stretching the food budget. Putting off dental care. Figuring out how to pay off a mortgage that outstrips the value of the house. And my personal favorite, deciding which bills to stuff in the old desk drawer.

Living Lies tells the hard truth* also. Give it a listen (emphasis marks added - Ed.).

. . . after decades of reducing spending and reducing costs by reducing labor expense we have eliminated the ability of our population to consume what we produce. Yet we maintain an economy that is based on the ability and willingness of consumers to spend.

Under the self-serving theories of Wall Street we pursued policies that encouraged consumers to continue spending despite flat or declining median income. We accomplished this miracle by giving the consumers money under the guise of credit cards, other plans of consumer credit, and of course using their homes as ATM machines, fueling a meteoric rise in debt that could never be repaid.

Somehow we have managed to be surprised or at least act surprised when the time came for a credit crisis. The income that was once available for taxation and tax revenues has simply been converted to corporate income that is somehow not taxed at all.

In a nutshell that is the reason for the recession, and that is the reason government has no money. By shifting ownership from the average Joe who has no choice but to pay taxes, to the top Aristocracy who pay little or no taxes, we have cut off our noses to spite our faces. The demand that the average American pay for this shift of income and wealth, tax free, to the Aristocracy with fewer services and higher taxes is now on the table --- unless it involves allowing yet another private enterprise being allowed to interpose itself and add to the bloat to take profit from a cost stream that was already too high. In my opinion you might just as well wave a red flag in front of an enraged bull.

Somehow we accepted the notion that allowing banks and non-financial institutions to get involved in the creation of money for the lending process was a good idea. Somehow it was acceptable that rates of interest that were previously regarded as crimes could be legal. Somehow we consented to plans which allowed the creation of industries that were unthinkable and unacceptable.

Much of our prison system is now privatized, supported by lobbyists who want and get laws criminalizing behavior in order to keep prisons full, thus receiving about $40,000 per year per inmate. Somehow we thought it was a good idea to add private insurance companies to the delivery of medical care and yet we are surprised that the addition of a new layer of private enterprise seeking profit has resulted in higher costs.

What it reminds one of after a while is that Mamet play that continually restarts and the characters don't know that the audience has seen the plot already. Or even that the Wall Streeters really think they are that much smarter than people who have just been watching their criminal shenanigans closely. Cause it's almost laughable. Almost. (Not even close.) From the Wall Street Journal Online we see the light at the end of the tunnel on "inside information" (emphasis marks added - Ed):

Federal authorities, capping a three-year investigation, are preparing insider-trading charges that could ensnare consultants, investment bankers, hedge-fund and mutual-fund traders, and analysts across the nation, according to people familiar with the matter. The criminal and civil probes, which authorities say could eclipse the impact on the financial industry of any previous such investigation, are examining whether multiple insider-trading rings reaped illegal profits totaling tens of millions of dollars, the people say. Some charges could be brought before year-end, they say.

The investigations, if they bear fruit, have the potential to expose a culture of pervasive insider trading in U.S. financial markets, including new ways non-public information is passed to traders through experts tied to specific industries or companies, federal authorities say.

One focus of the criminal investigation is examining whether nonpublic information was passed along by independent analysts and consultants who work for companies that provide "expert network" services to hedge funds and mutual funds. These companies set up meetings and calls with current and former managers from hundreds of companies for traders seeking an investing edge. Among the expert networks whose consultants are being examined, the people say, is Primary Global Research LLC, a Mountain View, Calif., firm that connects experts with investors seeking information in the technology, health-care and other industries.

"I have no comment on that," said Phani Kumar Saripella, Primary Global's chief operating officer. Primary's chief executive and chief operating officers previously worked at Intel Corp., according to its website.

In another aspect of the probes, prosecutors and regulators are examining whether Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bankers leaked information about transactions, including health-care mergers, in ways that benefited certain investors, the people say. Goldman declined to comment.

Independent analysts and research boutiques also are being examined. John Kinnucan, a principal at Broadband Research LLC in Portland, Ore., sent an email on Oct. 26 to roughly 20 hedge-fund and mutual-fund clients telling of a visit by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Today two fresh faced eager beavers from the FBI showed up unannounced (obviously) on my doorstep thoroughly convinced that my clients have been trading on copious inside information," the email said. "(They obviously have been recording my cell phone conversations for quite some time, with what motivation I have no idea.) We obviously beg to differ, so have therefore declined the young gentleman's gracious offer to wear a wire and therefore ensnare you in their devious web." The email, which Mr. Kinnucan confirms writing, was addressed to traders at, among others: hedge-fund firms SAC Capital Advisors LP and Citadel Asset Management, and mutual-fund firms Janus Capital Group, Wellington Management Co. and MFS Investment Management.

SAC, Wellington and MFS declined to comment; Janus and Citadel didn't immediately comment. It isn't known whether clients are under investigation for their business with Mr. Kinnucan.

The investigations have been conducted by federal prosecutors in New York, the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Representatives of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office, the FBI and the SEC declined to comment.

Another aspect of the probe is an examination of whether traders at a number of hedge funds and trading firms, including First New York Securities LLC, improperly gained nonpublic information about pending health-care, technology and other merger deals, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Some traders at First New York, a 250-person trading firm, profited by anticipating health-care and other mergers unveiled in 2009, people familiar with the firm say.

. . . Key parts of the probes are at a late stage. A federal grand jury in New York has heard evidence, say people familiar with the matter. But as with all investigations that aren't completed, it is unclear what specific charges, if any, might be brought. The action is an outgrowth of a focus on insider trading by Preet Bharara, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney. In an October speech, Mr. Bharara said the area is a "top criminal priority" for his office, adding: "Illegal insider trading is rampant and may even be on the rise." Mr. Bharara declined to comment.

Expert-network firms hire current or former company employees, as well as doctors and other specialists, to be consultants to funds making investment decisions. More than a third of institutional investment-management firms use expert networks, according to a late 2009 survey by Integrity Research Associates in New York.

The consultants typically earn several hundred dollars an hour for their services, which can include meetings or phone calls with traders to discuss developments in their company or industry. The expert-network companies say internal policies bar their consultants from disclosing confidential information.

Generally, inside traders profit by buying stocks of acquisition targets before deals are announced and selling after the targets' shares rise in value.

The SEC has been investigating potential leaks on takeover deals going back to at least 2007 amid an explosion of deals leading up to the financial crisis. The SEC sent subpoenas last autumn to more than 30 hedge funds and other investors. . . . Some subpoenas were related to trading in Schering-Plough Corp. stock before its takeover by Merck & Co. in 2009, say people familiar with the matter. Schering-Plough stock rose 8% the trading day before the deal plan was announced and 14% the day of the announcement.

Merck said it "has a long-standing practice of fully cooperating with any regulatory inquiries and has explicit policies prohibiting the sharing of confidential information about the company and its potential partners."

Transactions being focused on include MedImmune Inc.'s takeover by AstraZeneca PLC in 2007, the people say. MedImmune shares jumped 18% on April 23, 2007, the day the deal was announced. A spokesman for AstraZeneca and its MedImmune unit declined to comment.

Investigators are also examining the role of Goldman bankers in trading in shares of Advanced Medical Optics Inc., which was taken over by Abbott Laboratories in 2009, according to the people familiar with the matter. Advanced Medical Optics's shares jumped 143% on Jan. 12, 2009, the day the deal was announced. Goldman advised MedImmune and Advanced Medical Optics on the deals.

A spokesman for AstraZeneca and its MedImmune unit declined to comment. In subpoenas, the SEC has sought information about communications—related to Schering-Plough and other deals—with Ziff Brothers, Jana Partners LLC, TPG-Axon Capital Management, Prudential Financial Inc.'s Jennison Associates asset-management unit, UBS AG's UBS Financial Services Inc. unit, and Deutsche Bank AG, according to subpoenas and the people familiar with the matter.

Representatives of Ziff Brothers, Jana, TPG-Axon, Jennison, UBS and Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

Among hedge-fund managers whose trading in takeovers is a focus of the criminal probe is Todd Deutsch, a top Wall Street trader who left Galleon Group in 2008 to go out on his own, the people close to the situation say. A spokesman for Mr. Deutsch, who has specialized in health-care and technology stocks, declined to comment.

Prosecutors also are investigating whether some hedge-fund traders received inside information about Advanced Micro Devices Inc., which figured prominently in the government's insider-trading case last year against Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam and 22 other defendants.

Fourteen defendants have pleaded guilty in the Galleon case; Mr. Rajaratnam has pleaded not guilty and is expected to go to trial in early 2011.

My idol (the all-seeing driftglass) has delivered the ultimate panegyric (or would that be eulogy?) for the Sunday Morning Mouse Circus and its adoring audience.

No one does it better, and as an addition to my promoting of the exposure of the true nature and goals of Glenn BecKKK by Rachel Maddow, it couldn't be more fitting for my readers.

According to the collective wisdom of the Wise Men of the Mouse Circus, it turns out, Barack Obama will have to -- just have to! -- move to The Center, both substantively and symbolically, if he wants to get re-elected.

Shocking, I know.

He'll have to -- just have to! -- lower the top marginal tax rates.

He'll have to -- just have to! -- lower corporate taxes.

Then: Moar! Palin!

Because she's so Sincere!

Sure, she's also a vicious and utterly unqualified grifter, but she's so Real!

And we point cameras at her obsessively because you can never spend too much of America's mainstream political bandwidth huffing stupid straight from the bag.

Enjoy the memories! Suzan __________________

Monday, November 22, 2010

Glenn Beck - LIAR & Whose Blood Will It Be? (Guess!)

Friends, neighbors and non-Romans, I'm sure you've seen this video* elsewhere by now, but it won't hurt to view it once again to understand even more clearly where the new Goebbels propaganda arises this time. Rachel Maddow does a stellar job of identifying the mischief that Gorgeous Glennie is attempting to promulgate every day on his media circuses. Wouldn't it be nice to see this video run on every blog supporting the truth - over and over until election time 2012 - as the rightwingnutters gear up their campaign against Obama the "Socialist, Communist, Nazi!" President (who cut their taxes after they were raised (for forever) by the Bush/Cheney Disaster Decade) who should be feared by the ignorant people who make up their audience. Get with it! And 41 years ago as we were trying to end another war sold with big lies: And, granted, according to Paul Krugman "there will be blood."

But whose blood will it be? (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

“I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. ... When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ’em a piece of meat, real meat,’ ” meaning spending cuts. “And boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,” he continued.

Think of Mr. Simpson’s blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize.

. . . Now, you might think that the prospect of this kind of standoff, which might deny many Americans essential services, wreak havoc in financial markets and undermine America’s role in the world, would worry all men of good will. But no, Mr. Simpson “can’t wait.” And he’s what passes, these days, for a reasonable Republican.

The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation — cooperation that won’t be forthcoming.

Time to kick out the jams, folks, and get into the fight for your lives!

* Found at The Swash Zone _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

P.S. Scary Sary Update:

From Frank Rich (who is not funnin' us about this public joke) we learn the truth about the Impaling (of the country) already underway (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

. . . logic doesn’t apply to Palin. What might bring down other politicians only seems to make her stronger: the malapropisms and gaffes, the cut-and-run half-term governorship, family scandals, shameless lying and rapacious self-merchandising. In an angry time when America’s experts and elites all seem to have failed, her amateurism and liabilities are badges of honor. She has turned fallibility into a formula for success.

The whole package is a calculated paean to her down-home, self-reliant frontiersiness — an extravagant high-def remake of Bush’s photo ops clearing brush at his “ranch” in Crawford, which in turn were an homage to Ronald Reagan’s old horseback photo ops in his lush cowpoke digs in Santa Barbara. With a showbiz-fueled net worth widely estimated in the double-digit millions, Palin is as Hollywood in her way as Reagan was, but you won’t see any bling or factotums in “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”

. . . Thanks to the in-kind contribution of this “nonpolitical” series, Palin needn’t join standard-issue rivals like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour and Tim Pawlenty in groveling before donors and primary-state operatives to dutifully check all the boxes of a traditional Republican campaign. Palin not only has TLC in her camp but, better still, Murdoch. Other potential 2012 candidates are also on the Fox News payroll, but Palin is the only one, as Alessandra Stanley wrote in The Times, whose every appearance is “announced with the kind of advance teasing and clip montages that talk shows use to introduce major movie stars.” Pity poor Mike Huckabee, relegated to a graveyard time slot, with the ratings to match.

The Fox spotlight is only part of Murdoch’s largess. As her publisher, he will foot the bill for the coming “book tour” whose itinerary disproportionately dotes on the primary states of Iowa and South Carolina. The editorial page of Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is also on board, recently praising Palin for her transparently ghost-written critique of the Federal Reserve’s use of quantitative easing. “Mrs. Palin is way ahead of her potential presidential competitors on this policy point,” The Journal wrote, and “shows a talent for putting a technical subject in language that average Americans can understand.”

With Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity on her side, Palin hardly needs the grandees of the so-called Republican establishment. They know it and flail at her constantly. Politico reported just before Election Day that unnamed “party elders” were nearly united in wanting to stop her, out of fear that she’d win the nomination and then be crushed by Obama. Their complaints are seconded daily by Bush White House alumni like Karl Rove, Michael Gerson, and Mark McKinnon, who said recently that Palin’s “stock is falling and pretty rapidly now” and that “if she’s smart, she does not run.”

This is either denial or wishful thinking. The same criticisms that the Bushies fling at Palin were those once aimed at Bush: a slender résumé, a lack of intellectual curiosity and foreign travel, a lazy inclination to favor from-the-gut improvisation over cracking the briefing books. These spitballs are no more likely to derail Palin within the G.O.P. than they did him.

As Palin has refused to heed these patrician Republicans, some of them have gotten so testy they sound like Democrats. Peggy Noonan called her a “nincompoop” last month, and Susan Collins, the senator from Maine, dismissed her as a “celebrity commentator.” Rove tut-tutted Palin’s TLC show for undermining her aspirations to “gravitas.” These insults just play into Palin’s hands, burnishing her image as an exemplar of the “real America” battling the snooty powers-that-be. To serve as an Andrew Jackson or perhaps George Wallace for the 21st century, the last thing she wants or needs is gravitas.

It’s anti-elitism that most defines angry populism in this moment, and, as David Frum, another Bush alumnus (and Palin critic), has pointed out, populist rage on the right is aimed at the educated, not the wealthy. The Bushies and Noonans and dwindling retro-moderate Republicans are no less loathed by Palinistas and their Tea Party fellow travelers than is Obama’s Ivy League White House. When Palin mocks her G.O.P. establishment critics as tortured, paranoid, sleazy and a “good-old-boys club,” she pays no penalty for doing so. The more condescending the attacks on her, the more she thrives. This same dynamic is also working for her daughter Bristol, who week after week has received low scores and patronizing dismissals from the professional judges on “Dancing with the Stars” only to be rescued by populist masses voting at home.

Revealingly, Sarah Palin’s potential rivals for the 2012 nomination have not joined the party establishment in publicly criticizing her. They are afraid of crossing Palin and the 80 percent of the party that admires her. So how do they stop her? Not by feeding their contempt in blind quotes to the press — as a Romney aide did by telling Time’s Mark Halperin she isn’t “a serious human being.” Not by hoping against hope that Murdoch might turn off the media oxygen that feeds both Palin’s viability and News Corporation’s bottom line. Sooner or later Palin’s opponents will instead have to man up — as Palin might say — and actually summon the courage to take her on mano-a-maverick in broad daylight.

Short of that, there’s little reason to believe now that she cannot dance to the top of the Republican ticket when and if she wants to.

It's kind of nice reading about the wild animal party that the Rethugs' last decade created isn't it?

Too bad we're the prey.

Suzan ______________