Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm now taking bets

posted by The Vidiot @ 11:48 AM Permalink

Will the Biden Palin debate happen or not? I say no.
John McCain made the morning show rounds today. On Fox they were virtually begging him to "suspend" his campaign again in the wake of the bailout failure yesterday on the Hill. You know, since it worked out so well the first time. McCain's answer: He just might suspend again.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

So here's a funny story ...

posted by The Sailor @ 6:29 PM Permalink

... I met Paul Newman once, for about 15 seconds.

I was studio manager and chief engineer at SoundWorks in Las Vegas. One day this older balding guy came in and booked a few late night sessions, he was obviously down on his luck but he had cash and charts and just wanted the 'dark' hours we could spare at a discount rate.

As the sessions went on we got to talking and over a week or two I put together that he was trying to make a comeback after losing his house, wife and career to alcoholism. The guy's music was good, a little dated, but pretty good and the sessions were going well.

He always showed up in a taxi and since the sessions started so late and went on so long, one night I offered him a ride home. He accepted and I drove my client to a street near downtown LV. We were leaving at the same time and it wasn't far out of my way. The first couple of times he wouldn't even let me drop him off at his apartment.

Then one evening when I was going to be driving to the studio to meet him, I gave him a call and asked if he needed a ride. He hesitated, then said sure and I said I'd be there in 20 minutes. By this time I knew where he lived but I'd never been up to his apartment. I arrived, walked up the inside ratty, carpeted steps to his crappy apartment in this crappy apartment building, (almost as crappy as the place I lived in), and knocked on the door.

Paul Newman opened it. He said something like 'Dick's running a little late, hi, I'm Paul.'
I don't remember what I said, I sure as hell hoped it wasn't "OMG! You're Paul Newman!" as I'm sure he already knew that.

Right then my client came out of the back room dressed for the studio, (he always wore suits, slightly threadbare, but suits, to the sessions, sans tie), and said (more or less) 'I see you guys have met, thanks for coming by Paul, I'm back in the studio.'

Mr. Newman said something like 'You're back, good luck.'

To be honest, it's been a lotta years and I'm not sure of the dialog. And even at the time I was a bit stunned. As we drove away my client asked me not to say anything to anyone about the encounter.

I've pretty much kept that promise. I've mentioned it in private to family and my GF, but this is the first time I've said it in public.

Now that they both have passed I'm OK with publishing my memories of the encounter.

We all know that Mr. Newman was a great actor and a great human being. What strikes me about this encounter, (with my 15 seconds of knowledge), he was a really good friend.



Cross posted at SteveAudio

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The bailout has been voted down.

posted by The Vidiot @ 4:52 PM Permalink

I am as shocked as you are. I thought for sure that McCain had saved the day! Well, not really, but I was totally uncomfortable with the whole bailout, specifically because it would, as it was written, destroy the dollar. My favorite comment on CNN was from Glenn Beck. He said, and I joke you not, "Capitalism isn't the problem. Greed is the problem."

Oh really? And where does greed come from you moron? Santa Claus?

Whatever. I feel like it's time to remind folks about what the fed does and what it means when they give the government money:

America: Freedom to Fascism - Director's Authorized Version

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Viva la difference!

posted by The Vidiot @ 3:51 PM Permalink

Still think McCain and Obama are different?

Barack Obama and John McCain reluctantly backed the $700 billion rescue deal yesterday in the knowledge that, while the bailout is critical to the US economy, it is still deeply unpopular with voters.

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On the Existence of the Illuminati

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:32 AM Permalink

I know, you see the word Illuminati and you go, "Oh, brother." Don't worry, I do too.

But that's not my point. I watched a youtube video (Here's part 1 of 3). All three parts is just under 30 minutes of viewing, so it's not a lot and I guess I wanted to get a sense of what they were all going on about. Basically, the video says that there is only one ruling bloodline split into 13 ruling families and it's these bozos that basically run the whole show and that now, they are in the final stages of converting the whole planet into the new world order and they will do so through financial collapse, mass human die-offs and all sorts of other bad things.

Now, I will admit that there are human die-offs and that finances are collapsing, but I don't believe there is a secret cabal making it all happen. For one thing, that gives some people way too much credit. I mean, we all know plenty of people and too many of them would be incapable of orchestrating much of anything. It doesn't follow Ockham's razor at all.

But mostly, folks who believe in things like the Illuminati or the Free Masons don't really understand how the logic of institutions works. Before I met Mr. Vidiot, I didn't either. It takes a sociologist to explain it and not all of us have access to a sociologist.

In the video, the guy said everything from poisoning our food and our air and our medicines has been created to kill us off. While it can certainly seem like that, the truth is that it's the pursuit of profit that is doing those things. It's cheaper to make crappy food, it's cheaper to run bad tests on medicines and while I can't really guess at the business aspect of chemtrails, I'm sure there is one. Maximizing profit is the sole reason behind just about everything that business does.

Think about it. We live in a capitalist system. That system's sole motivation is profit; to generate profit. Though we, the people, created that system, that system now has a life of its own and we no longer even recognize that we created the damn system in the first place. The logic of that system is to maximize profit and to do it at the expense of everything else. The system doesn't breath, so mucking up the air is no problem. They system doesn't eat, so poisoning food is no problem.

Now, you may think, "But people run these things and they have to breath air and eat food" and that's true. But they didn't get to their positions by considering the consequences of their actions. They beautifully function in that system, they fit like a wheel in a cog, like a piece of a puzzle, they just snuggle right in there and do what they do, naturally and without much thought. They've been molded by the system and so they are as unable to change what they do as, say, a tire on a car. You'll not see a car tire, on its own, doing anything but what a car tire does. It's a tire. That is all. A business exec runs a business. That is all. (Until he stops doing what he does, then they tie him to a tree and use him as a swing.)

THAT is the logic of the system. The system manufactures profit. People within the system function as facilitators of that logic. There's no mystery there. But people who don't understand that, well, in an effort to understand how this world can be such a mess, how we can have so much war and disease and bad food and polluted air, because PEOPLE obviously don't want such things, they tend to point fingers at people they can't see. They think, "It MUST be orchestrated. Somebody must want this to happen. This stuff couldn't just happen." But it CAN just happen and it has. It's a mighty big leap in thought to realize that it CAN just happen, just because that's what the system does.

We are so disconnected from the products of our labor that we can't see beyond them. People have to realize that they created the system and only they can destroy it. It's this haze we're all stuck in.

About the only thing that video got right was the solution. The solution is just don't participate in the system. Just say, "No." It's hard to do. People will think you're nuts. But it is really the only way to do it.

And a perfect time to start is now. If (and more likely when) this bailout plan is approved, we should all remove our money from the banks. That's it. Just withdraw your money because you don't agree with what happened and you refuse to let them play that game with your money. (Now don't get into semantics, I know that money is a system and that by even giving it power, you're participating. But I'm talking baby-steps here. Getting rid of money is much harder than just not playing the game.)

It's a small step, but a meaningful one.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

I breifly mentioned thugs in a previous post

posted by The Vidiot @ 9:17 AM Permalink

But I didn't go into because it freaked me out too much and I wanted to calm down a bit. I'm still freaked out, but you have to read this:

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

Posse Comitatus? Gone.

Like I said, I'm still freaked out, and when I told Mr. Vidiot about it, he said, "No way. I don't believe you." So I showed him the article and then HE freaked out.

I'm telling you, this is bad. It's real bad. From another article:
It appears that as part of the training for deployment within the US, the soldiers have been ordered to test some of this non-lethal equipment on each other.

"I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered," Cloutier told the Army Times. He described the effects of the electroshock weapon as "your worst muscle cramp ever—times 10 throughout your whole body."

The colonel’s remark suggests that, in preparation for their "homefront" duties, rank-and-file troops are also being routinely Tasered. The brutalizing effect and intent of such a macabre training exercise is to inure troops against sympathy for the pain and suffering they may be called upon to inflict on the civilian population using these same "non-lethal" weapons.
Someone knows something bad is going to happen and I'm not at all comfortable with the fact that NYC is within NORTHCOM's purview.

Update: I just want to remind folks what happens when the military has to deal with civilians.

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The debate last night

posted by The Vidiot @ 9:00 AM Permalink

yaaaaaawwwwn.

They both lied, they both said Russia invaded Georgia, McCain said TWICE that Iran said it wanted to wipe Israel off the map and Obama didn't correct him. Not only that, when McCain was going on about money infecting politics in Washington and the economic crisis, Obama didn't bother mentioning that McCain was one of the Keating Five.

I don't think either one of them won. Though, this right wing blogger thought McCain looked younger than Obama.
In watching the debate, Sen. McCain actually looked younger than Barack Obama. McCain was on target and looked age 45 while Obama seemed to grey in his hair and look age 55.
Depending on which side you're rooting for, that's who you're going to think won this one.
But it's pretty fair to say that the American people will continue to be the losers since both Obama and McCain support the power elite.

Update: Here's a decent article about the debate, if you MUST.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Money, its a gas. Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.

posted by The Sailor @ 6:37 PM Permalink

Why the rush to bailout failures?

Let's do some numbers:
A $1.8 Trillion Bailout: Where the Money's Going

Following are details of actions, proposals and amounts:

—Up to $700 billion to buy assets from struggling institutions. The plan is aimed at sopping up residential and commercial mortgages from financial institutions but gives Treasury broad latitude.

—Up to $50 billion from the Great Depression-era Exchange Stabilization Fund to guarantee principal in money market mutual funds to provide the same confidence that consumers have in federally insured bank deposits.

—The Fed committed to make unspecified discount window loans to financial institutions to finance the purchase of assets from money market funds to aid redemptions.

—At least $10 billion in Treasury direct purchases of mortgage-backed securities in September. In doubling the program on Friday, the Treasury said it may purchase even more in the months ahead.

—Up to $144 billion in additional MBS purchases by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.The Treasury announced they would increase purchases up to the newly expanded investment portfolio limits of $850 billion each. On July 30, the Fannie portfolio stood at $758.1 billion with Freddie's at $798.2 billion.

—$85 billion loan for AIG, which would give the Federal government a 79.9 percent stake and avoid a bankruptcy filing for the embattled insurer.

—At least $87 billion in repayments to JPMorgan Chase for providing financing to underpin trades with units of bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers. Paulson said over the weekend he was adamant that public funds not be used to rescue the firm.

—$200 billion for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Treasury will inject up to $100 billion into each institution by purchasing preferred stock to shore up their capital as needed.

—$300 billion for the Federal Housing Administration to refinance failing mortgage into new, reduced-principal loans with a federal guarantee, passed as part of a broad housing rescue bill.

—$4 billion in grants to local communities to help them buy and repair homes abandoned due to mortgage foreclosures.

—$29 billion in financing for JPMorgan Chase's government-brokered buyout of Bear Stearns in March. The Fed agreed to take $30 billion in questionable Bear assets as collateral, making JPMorgan liable for the first $1 billion in losses, while agreeing to shoulder any further losses.

—At least $200 billion of currently outstanding loans to banks issued through the Fed's Term Auction Facility, which was recently expanded to allow for longer loans of 84 days alongside the previous 28-day credits.
1.8 TRILLION dollars! That's a one and an eight trailed by a parade of zeros, (loan) floats, (lax) standard bearers and hot air gas bags.
But what do the numbers really mean? Here's an excellent synopsis via AMERICAblog:
What is $500 billion? What's a trillion?

A reader asked what any of the bailout numbers represent in the real world. We know $500 billion, $700 billion or now the new Paulson plan of $1.8 trillion is a lot, but put this in terms that everyone can understand. A few examples for 2007:

* Microsoft generated $51 billion in revenue.
* Citi, who has been hit hard in the credit crisis, saw $159 billion.
* Walmart's 2007 total revenue was $388 billion.
* ExxonMobil generated $404 billion.

Those are the numbers for some of the largest businesses in the US. For the US budget, here are a few examples from Bush's budget in 2007:

* Veterans' benefits at $73 billion
* Education was $90 billion
* Interest on US debt was $244 billion
* Medicare $395 billion
* Defense was $548 billion
* Social Security was $586

In total, the 2007 federal budget was a total of $2.8 trillion.


Here's a slide show of what 700 BILLION dollars buys:What Does $700 Billion Actually Buy?

And John McCain is shocked, shocked I tell you, that John McCain's campaign advisers and transition team are filled with lobbyists for the banking industry ... oops sorry, John McCain is outraged that American taxpayers would bailout these failing companies ... until he was outraged that American taxpayers wouldn't bailout these failed companies, and then he's ... what!?
"We cannot have the taxpayers bail out AIG or anybody else."
[...]
"We've got to get a more coordinated and a much more stringent oversight regime,"
[...]
"Government can play a very, very appropriate role in the oversight."
But wait, there's more!
Republican Sen. John McCain said he would suspend campaigning to help tackle a $700 billion bailout proposal
Well sure, if by 'suspend campaign' you mean going on talk shows, having your surrogates on every media outlet bragging about how you 'suspended' campaigning and continuing to raise funds and run campaign commercials:
McCain to do round of network interviews tonight

John McCain will appear on all three network newscasts tonight, a top aide said.

McCain is at the White House meeting with President Bush, Barack Obama and congressional leaders now and will tape interviews with NBC, ABC and CBS after the West Wing session.

McCain also appeared in a taped interview last night with Katie Couric on CBS.
We can debate about whether the 700 BILLION Dollar bailout is a good idea, but what is not debatable is the fact that the house and senate, republicans and democrats and the actual congressional committees involved had worked out a plan they could agree on ... until McCain sang "Here I am to save the day!" and derailed the whole process, about which he knows nothing and isn't on any relevant committees:
House GOP Aides: McCain ‘Not Familiar With The Details’ Of The Financial Bailout
BTW, that's the Senator John McCain who has been absent on more votes than any other senator.

His posturing to suddenly seem 'presidential' doesn't seem to be working, even with all the outside help he's being given:
Maliki Suggests Bush Pushed To Extend U.S. Presence In Iraq To Help McCain

Actually, the final date was really the end of 2010 and the period between the end of 2010 and the end of 2011 was for withdrawing the remaining troops from all of Iraq, but they asked for a change [in date] due to political circumstances related to the [U.S] domestic situation so it will not be said to the end of 2010 followed by one year for withdrawal but the end of 2011 as a final date.
We've learned over the last 7 years that there is no low that a rethuglican who wants to gain or keep office will stoop to.

Congrats to John McSame for lowering himself to a new low.



Cross posted at SteveAudio

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What happens after the SHTF.

posted by The Vidiot @ 2:32 PM Permalink

(Shit Hits The Fan)

Anyway, here's an interesting blogpost from someone who was in Argentina at the time.
First, make sure you have enough supplies ( food and water) to last for a couple of weeks at least. If you don’t, rush to the supermarket and buy it using credit card if they still accept it.

If you have enough food, stay put at home and keep track through the TV of what’s going on. Don’t go out there just to fool around.

IN our case, martial law and curfew at 8 PM was established, people could not gather in group greater than 2 or 3 persons, so it was not safe anyway. None the less, few obeyed all this crap, but it was still established so you know what you were dealing with if cops caught you.

Read the whole thing. It could get way uglier before it gets better.

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I've never seen the web this angry.

posted by The Vidiot @ 1:42 PM Permalink

I've been around this 'net for a while now, probably reading stuff you all wouldn't think of reading. Lots of forums and reader's letters and comments and well, I've NEVER seen anything like this. Not 9/11, not the Downing Street Memo, not ANYTHING. This financial crisis seems to be the thing that's finally woken more than a few people from their slumber.

Good. Now get even ANGRIER. I mean, really, get pissed, start gnashing your teeth and rend your clothing. This is it. Take to the streets. Find a protest near you, go to it. The more of us out there, the less likely we'll feel isolated and the more likely we'll be empowered to take our country back. Don't worry about the thugs. There's more of us then there are of them.

Do it NOW.

Oh yeah, and keep calling your congresscritters. It's really starting to bug the crap out of them. The guy I called yesterday in Schumer's office was ready to flip out.

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Tonght's debate is on.

posted by The Vidiot @ 11:57 AM Permalink

McCain has unsuspended his suspended-but-not-really-suspended campaign. So, let the drinking games begin!

If you want to get really hammered, take a shot of anything anytime either of them says the word "look" to preface a statement. (I swear, it's my new pet peeve. It's the politician's equivalent of the teenage/hipster "like" or "you know".)

If you just want to get sort of hammered, doing shots whenever any of the standard words are uttered will do: 9/11, faith, and terror (or any variant of the word).

If you only want to get tipsy, take a shot of anything anytime either of them says "my opponent".

And if you just want to watch it without drinking (though why you would want to do such thing is beyond my comprehension) well, why the hell would you need me to tell you how to do that?

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SG1

posted by The Vidiot @ 8:43 AM Permalink

I occasionally watch SciFi on my days off. They do this 'chain reaction' thing from 8am to 3 or 4pm, where they show a bunch of episodes from a SciFi type of serious, sometimes it's Level 9, others it Tales from the Crypt, whatever. Today, it's SG1 and the Amanda Tapping character is trapped in a parallel universe and here's what I just heard:
The unrest started when the public was informed of the StarGate program after an Alien attack and the president suspended mid-term elections due to the unrest. Elections have not been reinstated and now the President rules with his own yes or no vote.
Interesting. Especially since we're supposed to be visited by aliens on October 14.

(For you Farscape fans, SG1 is where Ben Browder -- and sometimes Claudia Black -- ended up.)

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When John McCain swoops, people duck.

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:35 AM Permalink

So, he had to rush back to DC to muck things up, not fix things.
Sen. Chris Dodd, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, said Thursday that bipartisan meeting with President Bush at the White House on the mortgage rescue plan was nothing short of a disaster. In an interview on the CNN cable news network, Dodd described a meeting in which Democrats were blindsided by a new core mortgage proposal from House Republicans, with the tacit backing of Republican presidential candidate John McCain. "I am not going to sign on to something I just saw this afternoon," he said. Dodd said Republicans and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had to decide what they wanted to support. The whole meeting "looked like a rescue plan for John McCain," Dodd said. He said he was simply going to pretend that the meeting had never happened.
Now, I'm not for the bailout and there's a part of me that actually appreciates McCain going in there and pooping on the process. And maybe if I believed he was doing it because he thought it was a bad idea, like these 200 or so economists who signed on to a letter decrying the bailout as a mistake, I might think more highly of him.

But as I said in my previous post below, McCain's stance on this bailout has as much to do with the economy as leprechauns have with reality.

Update: I was right, it is just political theater:
During the late afternoon meeting at the White House (a meeting which was McCain's idea), McCain sat silently at the table until nearly the end, according to a Hill source who was briefed on the meeting. At that point, I'm told, McCain vaguely brought up the proposal being pushed by the Republican Study Committee, the group of House conservatives that is bucking the GOP leadership. But McCain didn't offer any specifics and didn't necessarily advocate for the plan, according to the Hill source.
In other words, he's thrown his lot in with the conservatives going against the Bush party line. THIS is how he plans to differentiate himself from the Bush administration. Since he agrees with Bush on Iraq, social security, hell, on just about everything, he MUST do something different than what Bush wants to set himself apart. And he will use this differentiation like a bludgeon from now until the election. But like I said, it may turn the bailout into a bust, which I think is a good thing in the long run, (short run? it will suck big nasty green apples) but his motives are all wrong.

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Why the S&L crisis from 15 years ago matters today

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:17 AM Permalink

The media has given a tremendous pass to McCain on the Keating 5 thing. Watch this 97 second clip. It explains it so well, you can't imagine how this man can even THINK about running for president.

I was talking to Mr. Vidiot about it this morning. All of McCain's stunts thus far have been just that-- stunts. Choosing Palin, so nobody would talk about what a liar he was, or 'suspending his campaign' so he could swoop into DC and 'fix' the banking crisis so nobody would talk about his poll numbers tanking. Stuff like that. It's political theater and cheap political theater at that.

Listen, both of them do the political theater thing. ALL politicians do. However, it's kinda' like being robbed by a professional and being robbed by a bungling thief. You're still robbed, but at least you appreciate the skill of the professional.

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Another day, another bank closing

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:05 AM Permalink

Though, this one is huuuuuuuge. Buh-bye WaMu:
Washington Mutual, the giant lender that came to symbolize the excesses of the mortgage boom, was seized by federal regulators on Thursday night, in what is by far the largest bank failure in American history.
Mr. Vidiot has his own theory as to one of the contributing factors. If you've ever used a WaMu ATM, you'll remember that instead of the word 'yes', they used the word 'sure' in some stupid effort to sound hip and cool I suppose. Anyway, it really annoyed Mr. Vidiot. "Nobody wants to use the word 'sure' when it comes to their money. It's either yes, or no. That's it. Imagine, if, when the priest says 'do you take this woman to be your wife' and the guy answered 'sure'. Can you imagine how pissed the woman would be? 'Sure' is too vague. It was all wrong."

That, and the fact that one of their advertising tag-lines that they had emblazened over the ATM machines in polished brass used the wrong type of apostrophe. THAT really bothered my typographical senses.

If you're paying a marketing firm to come up with brilliant ideas like "sure", shouldn't they know how to typeset?

See, obviously, it was just one bad decision after another.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

What is the bail out, really.

posted by The Vidiot @ 5:16 PM Permalink

Let’s reward the worst in our society.

Let’s reward those who prize money over life, worship the dollar over love, follow the golden idol, disregard truth for greed, pursue profit over peace, and sell their souls for creature comforts and power. To them, time and space are immaterial… and so are we.

Let’s place them on high pedestals, where we, the lowly, can watch them perform their dark arts. Let them dangle their power in front of us like carrots, so that we can dream and stumble through life, reaching for that carrot yet never grasping that it would be an illusion in our hands. Yet in their hands, it’s as real and solid as it seems.

And when they fall or wont, let’s pick them up, unload their burdens from their spreadsheets, wipe their worried brows, brush them off and send them on their merry way to continue to do as they have always done, what is in their nature to do; maximize profit at the expense of anything that stands in profit’s way. Until, that is, there is no more profit to be made. But what then? Profit must be made, the beast must be fed, or the beast will die. And they cannot and will not let that happen. What will happen then? Is that where it ends? Or when something worse begins?

I know. Some of us choose to ignore them, going about our lives, living off the grid or living some other sweet euphemism that shows our quiet resistance to the power around us. Some of us choose to not let it get us down, to enjoy our families, to appreciate wine or laughter or a perfect summer day. And I guess that might be fine, but is that a way to conquer the beast, or is it just a way to coexist with it?

Does it all seem as crazy and senseless to you as it seems to me? Don’t we want the beast gone?

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Good find over at dKos

posted by The Vidiot @ 4:08 PM Permalink

Seems McCain has a tendency to run from debates when the polls aren't in his favor.
With new polls showing his campaign dead in the water among California Republicans, Arizona Sen. John McCain has pulled out of a long-scheduled debate with Texas Gov. George Bush, set for Thursday in Los Angeles.
I see a trend. Just imagine what he'll run away from if/when he's president!

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This is bullshit

posted by The Vidiot @ 2:57 PM Permalink

Al Gore is saying we need "Civil Disobedience" to fight coal plants. Listen, I think the environment is as FUBAR as everyone else does, but really, couldn't our energy be better spent tarring and feathering the people who made this economic mess so huge?

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An agreement has been reached

posted by The Vidiot @ 2:54 PM Permalink

I'm livid.

And so is Ron Paul:
Whenever a Great Bipartisan Consensus is announced, and a compliant media assures everyone that the wondrous actions of our wise leaders are being taken for our own good, you can know with absolute certainty that disaster is about to strike.
The events of the past week are no exception.

The bailout package that is about to be rammed down Congress' throat is not just economically foolish. It is downright sinister. It makes a mockery of our Constitution, which our leaders should never again bother pretending is still in effect. It promises the American people a never-ending nightmare of ever-greater debt liabilities they will have to shoulder. Two weeks ago, financial analyst Jim Rogers said the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made America more communist than China! "This is welfare for the rich," he said. "This is socialism for the rich. It's bailing out the financiers, the banks, the Wall Streeters."

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Just called Schumer's office

posted by The Vidiot @ 1:40 PM Permalink

Felt like being a belligerent.

Anyway, the guy who picked up was persnickety to say the least. I said, "It's like they don't even listen to the people! Nobody want's this damn bailout to happen!."

He went on and on about how they have to act now, if not, all lending in the US will stop, blah blah blah. Do you have kids? If we don't do the bailout, your kids won't be going to college. Blah Blah Blah.

Totally an asshole. Totally didn't understand what it was he was actually defending.

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Blast from the past!

posted by The Vidiot @ 1:24 PM Permalink

Our economic crisis, when it was still a cute lilla' bambino, full of so much hope and promise:
New York Times
September 30, 1999


Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending
By STEVEN A. HOLMES

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities
and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the
credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other
lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15
markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage
those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is
generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae
officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been
under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand
mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure
from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been
pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime
borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are
not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans
from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates --
anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional
loans.

''Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the
1990's by reducing down payment requirements,'' said Franklin D. Raines,
Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. ''Yet there remain
too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our
underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying
significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.''

Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one
study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went
to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional
loan market.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae
is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any
difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized
corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a
government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in
the 1980's. [emphasis mine]

''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another
thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident
fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the
government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up
and bailed out the thrift industry.''

Under Fannie Mae's pilot program, consumers who qualify can secure a
mortgage with an interest rate one percentage point above that of a
conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgage of less than $240,000 -- a
rate that currently averages about 7.76 per cent. If the borrower makes
his or her monthly payments on time for two years, the one percentage
point premium is dropped.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not
lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks
make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of
loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more
loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings.

Fannie Mae officials stress that the new mortgages will be extended to
all potential borrowers who can qualify for a mortgage. But they add
that the move is intended in part to increase the number of minority and
low income home owners who tend to have worse credit ratings than
non-Hispanic whites.

Home ownership has, in fact, exploded among minorities during the
economic boom of the 1990's. The number of mortgages extended to
Hispanic applicants jumped by 87.2 per cent from 1993 to 1998, according
to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. During that
same period the number of African Americans who got mortgages to buy a
home increased by 71.9 per cent and the number of Asian Americans by
46.3 per cent.

In contrast, the number of non-Hispanic whites who received loans for
homes increased by 31.2 per cent.

Despite these gains, home ownership rates for minorities continue to lag
behind non-Hispanic whites, in part because blacks and Hispanics in
particular tend to have on average worse credit ratings.

In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed that
by the year 2001, 50 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolio
be made up of loans to low and moderate-income borrowers. Last year, 44
percent of the loans Fannie Mae purchased were from these groups.

The change in policy also comes at the same time that HUD is
investigating allegations of racial discrimination in the automated
underwriting systems used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to determine the
credit-worthiness of credit applicants.
I'll probably get some sort of grief for posting the whole thing, but I don't care.

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China just blinked

posted by The Vidiot @ 11:27 AM Permalink

They've stopped lending money to the US.
Chinese regulators have told domestic banks to stop interbank lending to U.S. financial institutions to prevent possible losses during the financial crisis, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

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The blog post I wish I had written

posted by The Vidiot @ 8:03 AM Permalink

The economic crisis explained, neatly and succinctly along with some good ideas to rectify it, by Arizona Chuck.
Start with a simple example. Assume I know the young son of the couple next door likes to crawl into closets and play with matches. I therefore see a reasonably good shot at "winning the disaster lottery" so to speak, by buying fire insurance on their $200,000 house.

In simple terms, I now have a financial interest is seeing that disaster occurs. If the house, for whatever mysterious reason, burns down an insurance company will pay me the insured value of the house - even though I suffered no loss, financial or otherwise. My neighbor's misfortune is thus magically transformed into my good fortune. A polite way of saying I was paid $200,000, the insured value of my next-door neighbor's house, after I paid the $400 insurance premium.
He doesn't post often, but when he does, it's worth it.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I knew it!

posted by The Vidiot @ 5:08 PM Permalink

I knew he'd figure out a way to worm his way out of the race. I always said there is no way McCain is going to be the GOP candidate come November. Even though what he's doing is technically just a temporary suspension of his campaign, it could morph into something else entirely very easily.

It's just a political stunt. His numbers were tanking and this way, as they CONTINUE to tank, he can always say, "Well, I'm not campaigning." And then when the numbers get dismal, it'll be, "My fellow Americans, I regret to inform you that I have to leave the race for the presidency due to health concerns."

AND THEN, watch the media scramble to make it a horse-race between Obama and whomever, struggling to make the whole thing seem relevant.

That's IF we have elections at all.

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Why the FBI? Why now?

posted by The Vidiot @ 6:57 AM Permalink

Bernanke: Do you think the people are catching on?

Paulson:
To what? The fact that our entire system is a fabrication? That money is no longer based on human productivity? That the stock market is manipulated to drain the wealth from those with the least so that those with the most can have it all? Hell YEAH, they're catching on. The dumbest Bubba on the planet can see it.

Bernanke:
So what should we do about it?

Cheney:
Simple, we'll send the FBI in to root out a few of the bad apples. Meuller? Find out which of the CEOs didn't contribute enough to my campaign.

Mueller:
Heil, sir! [clicks his heels, turns and exits the room.]

Cheney:
Then, we'll make 'em do a perp walk, everyone will be happy, the people will think, "Oh, it was just a few bad apples that did it. The system is fine after all." And we'll be on our merry way.

Paulson:
Brilliant sir, just brilliant!

Excerpt: The FBI is investigating four major U.S. financial institutions whose collapse helped trigger a $700 billion bailout plan by the Bush administration, The Associated Press has learned.

Two law enforcement officials said Tuesday the FBI is looking at potential fraud by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and insurer American International Group Inc. Additionally, a senior law enforcement official said Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. also is under investigation.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Same rhetoric, different topic

posted by The Vidiot @ 3:04 PM Permalink

Have you noticed the rhetoric used for this economic crisis is pretty much the same rhetoric they used post 9/11?
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke bluntly warned reluctant lawmakers Tuesday they risk a recession with higher unemployment and increased home foreclosures unless they act on the Bush administration's $700 billion plan to bail out the financial industry.
The post 9/11 rhetoric sounded something like:
Attorney General Ashcroft bluntly warned reluctant lawmakers Tuesday they risk another terrorist attack with higher casualties and increased frequency if attacks unless they act on the Bush administration's P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act.
or this:
The administration is pressing hard to sell the plan, which it has asked Congress to approve by the end of the week.
Could easily be this post-9/11
The administration is pressing hard to sell the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, which it has asked Congress to approve by the end of the week.
I'm sure there are more examples, but you get the idea.

Because the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act. just turned out so well for we the people, didn't it? No regrets there, no sirree.

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Not that I think violence is the answer but...

posted by The Vidiot @ 2:02 PM Permalink

Insert mordant chuckle here:
Corporate India is in shock after a mob of sacked workers bludgeoned to death the chief executive who had dismissed them from a factory in a suburb of Delhi.

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Ladies and Gentleman,

posted by The Vidiot @ 11:42 AM Permalink

When I read this headline:
Back from the grave
Research on near-death experiences is unlikely to find evidence that human consciousness can survive without a brain
I thought, "Don't politicians already demonstrate that ability?"

Ohhhhhhh, thank you, thank you, I'm here all week. G'night.

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MLK on BoingBoing

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:28 AM Permalink

I don't usually copy an entire post from anybody, but this BoingBoing post referencing Martin Luther King is too important.

Avi sez, "This mp3 of the rarely heard “But If Not” speech by MLK is crucial to grasp his soaring moral vision and deep intimacy with the Bible. Essential listening for our times. The following quote from the speech does it for me (speech begins at 32:32 into the track):"
I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.

You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house. So you refuse to take a stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at ninety.

And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

You died when you refused to stand up for right.

You died when you refused to stand up for truth.

You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

“But If Not”: Dr. Martin Luther King Gives a Sermon On Civil Disobedience in a Rare Recording, Direct link to MP3

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Ships that pass in the night and speak each other in passing; Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness ...

posted by The Sailor @ 9:50 PM Permalink

... So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice; then darkness again and a silence." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Update: I had written the Mystic Seaport museum asking for permission to post the images below. Today they got back to me and graciously granted it ... with a couple of requests that seemed reasonable.

This one's for the sailors in the audience.
Olin J. Stephens II, 100, the premier yacht designer of the 20th century who revolutionized the sport of yacht racing, died Sept. 13 in Hanover, N.H.
I mourn his loss but I think anyone who makes it to 100 had a pretty good run.

And what a run! What follows is a image series of a small part of Olin and his partner Sparkman's accomplishments:

(c) Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection, Mystic, CT


(c) Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection, Mystic, CT


(c) Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection, Mystic, CT


(c) Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection, Mystic, CT

I'll leave you with this:
"The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective." -Henry David Thoreau
There is so much more.

Sail on, sail on, sailor.


Addendum: The credit for the wonderful photography falls to Rosenfeld and Sons. at the Mystic Seaport Collection.



Cross posted at SteveAudio

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A celebrity death match I'd like to watch

posted by The Vidiot @ 5:22 PM Permalink

Naomi Klein vs. the always annoying Andrew Sullivan.

Here's a clip of the two of them going at it on Bill Maher's show.

Referring to the bailout, Klein said the “bomb has yet to detonate” and that the real crisis will strike when tax payers are overwhelmed when faced with the debt from the bailouts.

According to Klein, the bomb will detonate if Sen. John McCain becomes president and “rationalizes” that it is necessary to privatize government programs like social security and healthcare because neither the government nor Americans can afford them.

“The real disaster has yet to come; the real disaster is the debt that is going to explode on American tax payers,” Klein said.

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Around Blogtopia (y, wksctp!*)

posted by The Sailor @ 5:16 PM Permalink

Ohh, ooh, witchy woman:
skippy, VIA mudflats informs us of Sarah Failin's gushing remarks 3 months ago about a witch hunter who helped her get elected.

[...]
The witch hunter, aka Pastor Muthee, was the guest pastor from Kenya that appeared at Palin’s church, The Wasilla Assembly of God, and “prayed over” Sarah to help her become governor.

Muthee began his life in ministry in Africa by hunting down a local woman named Mama Jane after proclaiming her a witch.
[...]
“And I’m thinking, this guy’s really bold, he doesn’t even know what I’m going to do, he doesn’t know what my plans are. And he’s praying not “oh Lord if it be your will may she become governor,” no, he just prayed for it. He said “Lord make a way and let her do this next step. And that’s exactly what happened.”

D.A.R.E. to investigate Cindy McCain's drug abuse scandal:
Raw Story finds the news about how McCain's Keating 5 lawyer pressured DEA investigators on wife's drug abuse

John McCain's powerful Washington, DC, lawyer, who secured a slap on the wrist for the Arizona Senator following the Keating Five scandal, was in close contact with federal investigators probing Cindy McCain's prescription drug abuse, throughout their nearly yearlong investigation, according to a new report Friday.

Digby at Hullabaloo finds that
John McCain still thinks Social Security should be 'privatized.'


Crooks and Liars has the transcript of 60 Minutes interview of John McCain where this exchange takes place:
Scott Pelley: In 1999 you were one of the senators who helped pass deregulation of Wall Street. Do you regret that now?

McCain: No, I think the deregulation was probably helpful to the growth of our economy.


And now for some good news! Happy blogiversary to Dr. Sardonicus & Pole Hill Sanitarium on his 2 years in blogtopia!**


* Yes, we know Jeralyn Merrit of Talk Left coined that phrase!
** yes, we know skippy coined that phrase!



Cross posted at SteveAudio

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Update on the Native American's in Lousiana

posted by The Vidiot @ 11:30 AM Permalink

Over a week ago, I posted an al Jazeera story on how the native Americans in Houma were getting screwed yet again by the American government. Now, I guess they're tired of it and are calling it quits.
Chief Albert Naquin is tired. Tired of seeing his community flooded. Tired of begging for help.

More than a week after Hurricane Gustav pushed water over the ring levee protecting the island in south Terrebonne Parish, where descendants of several American Indian communities still live, Naquin, chief of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians, declared: "This is my last one. I'm not going to keep doing this."

Naquin says it is time for the island's remaining residents to move farther inland, surrendering their way of life to the twin threats of storm surge and coastal erosion.
Read the whole article. It's interesting, though, it doesn't mention the legal battles the tribe has been facing with the oil companies like the al Jazeera story did.

I'm sure the oil companies are happy.

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Meanwhile in Pakistan

posted by The Vidiot @ 10:31 AM Permalink

We're so flustered over here with our money problems, that we haven't even noticed what's going on in Pakistan. Seems the US has sort of, unofficially mind you, gotten their war on with Pakistan. The bombing in Islamabad of the Marriott Hotel is fishy at best.

After the blast, mysteriously fire was started at the fourth and fifth floors. It was said that this fire was the result of gas pipeline burst running through the hotel. The million dollar question is that was the gas pipeline not running through the other floors? Why the fire broke out from the fourth and fifth flours? That is the question which perhaps holds the key to the mystery as why the hotel was targeted yesterday, in which more than 60 people died including many foreigners.

Though it would never get confirmed but the fire on the fifth and fourth floor of the hotel broke out because those flours were housing the mysterious steel boxes under the heavy guard of United States marines and no one including the Pakistani security forces and the security men of the hotel were allowed to go near with the them. These boxes were shifted inside the hotel when the Admiral Mike Mullen met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and others in Islamabad.

But aren't they always fishy? Well, the bomb was either intended for or to scare the new president. What's the message they were trying to send him?

The bombing, the most brazen yet apparently in a campaign by militants to destabilize Pakistan, came at a critical moment for the new president, Asif Ali Zardari. While he has pledged to continue fighting militants — now thriving in the tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan — it was unclear whether he would face political resistance making it more difficult to keep that promise.

There has always been a strong feeling in Pakistani society that using force against militants would cause them to retaliate against civilians. Although there has been no claim of responsibility for the hotel bombing, some Pakistanis say they believe it was in retribution for the military’s current campaign in Bajaur, in the tribal areas.

And now the result of the bombing?

In the wake of the bombing, politicians and the military said they were determined to press the fight in the tribal areas.

“There should be no letup now in fighting those who do not believe in negotiations and are bent upon causing destruction,” said Amir Haider Khan Hoti, the chief minister of the North-West Frontier Province.

...

Current and former officials in the Bush administration, who have expressed concern in the past that Pakistan was not doing enough to fight the militants, said on Sunday that they were confident that Mr. Zardari’s government would continue or even increase its counterterrorism campaign, despite the threat of more attacks against civilian targets like the Marriott Hotel.

So, a suspicious bomb goes off, nobody REALLY takes credit and the result is that the new president does even more of what the US wants with, perhaps, disastrous results for the Pakistani people.

Interesting, no? The very last line of the article, though, was an odd inclusion to say the least:
“It can be the work of America also,” Mr. Qadeer said. “Maybe our new president didn’t agree to its dictations.”


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Your skirt is showing.

posted by The Vidiot @ 10:19 AM Permalink

So, the bailout stumbles down the path towards its eventual installment. Most of the commentators on the 'net feel like there's nothing in it for the little guy (See Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo for more elucidating commentary than I can provide). And to be sure, there's not. We get stuck with the bad paper, and they get to continue business as usual with PERHAPS a bit more oversight and regulation... that they'll do their best to skirt of course. The powers that be are even resisting putting limits on those lovely bonus packages so many of these bigwigs get. Ain't that grand?

I was cranky all weekend because if this stupid mess. Here's a good article on it so you can be cranky too!
It turned out, inevitably, that some of the financial institutions that made billion-dollar gambles - usually in the form of a thousand million-dollar gambles in the course of a few minutes or so, to be precise - couldn't pay up. These gambles all occur in microseconds, at strokes of a keyboard almost without human interference. In that sense it is not unlike alien pod people taking over. But in this case they are robot-like machines, hence the analogy I drew above with the Terminators.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

I don't care what anyone thinks

posted by The Vidiot @ 3:23 PM Permalink

but during a crisis like this, neither Obama "we need more regulation" nor McCain "our fundamentals are strong" is the right man to get us out of the economic mess.

[Here it comes...]

Listen to Ron Paul and try to find ONE THING he said that was wrong.

You won't be able to do it.




From Micheal Rivero:
There never was any consensus. Bush simply declared it by fiat.

Obviously the phone calls are having an effect, so find your congresscritters at congress.org, get on the phone and JUST SAY 'NO'!.

Tell them ...

1. You will not pay for Wall Street's mistakes.

2. You will not vote for anyone who dares suggest you should pay for Wall Street's mistakes.

This is literally a death struggle for the life of the American Middle Class. If we lose, we lose it all, and our future generations will live in rank poverty while the wealthy gaze down in scorn from the tops of the marble palaces.

Now is the time to get angry; raw mad-dog-mean crazy angry!

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Friday, September 19, 2008

The more I think about the bailouts,...

posted by The Vidiot @ 2:37 PM Permalink

...the madder I get.

How dare they lure unsuspecting and naive people into buying homes they couldn't afford!

How dare they use that those ill-gotten gains and gamble with them!

How dare they screw up so bad and so big that there seems to be no choice but to bail them out!

How dare they bail them out without approval from Congress, from the people, from anybody but their rich crony buddies!

How dare they NOT incarcerate anyone involved with this ponzi scheme!

How dare they stick us with the bill!

I'm SPITTIN' mad!

Tar!
Feathers!
Rope!
Go!

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Derivative of what?

posted by The Vidiot @ 1:27 PM Permalink

When you say, "Oh, that artist's work is just sooooo derivative," only someone who knows art will get what you're saying. Say that to someone who knows nothing of art and they'll just shrug their shoulders and think you're a snob.

Same thing with credit derivatives. When you talk about credit derivatives, almost everyone outside of finance will be "Whaaaaa?" And rightly so. I've mentioned them before, March 23, 2006 and May 31, 2006. How foresightful I was!) Hell, even Warren Buffet thought they were crazy. But they're huge and they're part of the problem we have today. Here is a link to a loooong article. But if you want to understand what's going on, it's a must-read.
Unfortunately, few people understand credit derivatives, or the full risks to the United States and global markets and economies. In this article, I will take a Credit Derivatives Primer that I published in the spring of 2008 - which anticipated this exact type of event - and update it for the current situation. Through reading this article, you should be able to greatly increase your knowledge of what credit derivatives are, and why they are a far greater danger than subprime mortgages. We will end with introducing some concepts about how individuals can protect themselves and even profit from these unprecedented market conditions – something you won’t find in recent financial history or conventional investments.
How huge are they? Here's a graph from the article. It'll give you chills.


Yikes.

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Ron Paul on the crisis

posted by The Vidiot @ 1:18 PM Permalink

Succinct. Clear. Simple.

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Arrr, it's International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

posted by The Sailor @ 11:54 AM Permalink

Pirate speak translator for Senator McCain's latest gaffe:
The Pain in Spain Falls Mainly on McCain

When th' questioner spake, "Now let`s talk o' Spain" an' asked whether he`d invite Zapatero, McCain responded wi' a vague statement that he would meet "wi' them leaders who be our shipmates" an' then cited Mexican President Felipe Calderón as an example. Th' questioner tried several more times t' steer th' Senator aft t' a clear answer on Spain, but McCain neredirectly addressed th' nation, sayin', "What I would say be that me record be that o' someone who has worked in a friendly atmosphere wi' them who be our shipmates an' faced up t' them who aren`t."

From this, much o' th' Spanish press has concluded that th' Republican candidate, who hails hisself as th' experienced foreign policy choice in this election, confused Spain — a NATO member an' key ally in th' swashbuckle against terrorism — wi' one o' them troublesome Latin American states. That be certainly th' interviewer`s impression, fer she followed up wi' a gentle reminder that Spain be a country in Europe. As Spanish newspaper El País put 't, "In th' best-case scenario, [his answer] demonstrates his ignorance wi' respect t' Zapatero."

Oh, and happy anniversary honey!
(Artist's rendition of the happy couple)

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Wow.

posted by The Vidiot @ 10:48 AM Permalink

Just, wow.
"But if you look at what the Fed has already done, and the extension of power to Treasury to deal with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, I believe we're talking about a trillion dollars," he said.
I mean, I don't even know what a trillion dollars is. It might as well be a bazagillion dollars.

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Yeah! What he said

posted by The Vidiot @ 9:10 AM Permalink

From urbansurvival.com, a reader submission:
Mr Paulson, I predict; Someday a younger man than me will come to the door of the banking system of this country and with one blow will strike it to the ground. I pray that it be so. In that day I may have already died or be too old or too poor to participate in the revolution that will surely come and take you folks down. But as God is my witness that day will come and if all I can do is spit in the face of whoever happens to be the Fed chief at the time or, if I am dead, then smile in my grave, it will be done. I would happily give my life in the fight to take back this country from you bastards. I am so very angered by the bailout of the "fat cats" that have stolen this country's wealth and labor and even more angered by traitors like you that protect them.

I pray: G_d Damn you all! And may it be soon, so, we can quickly get on with rebuilding our country.

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And one more thing...

posted by The Vidiot @ 8:43 AM Permalink

I really hate how disingenuous the corporate media's coverage of this fiasco has been. The way they tell it, it's all because those little people making $50,000 a year, got $500,000, interest-only, ARM loans for their mcmansions. THAT'S why we're in this mess. It's all those little people that took on bad debt. But don't worry. Just make sure you invest for the long-term and diversify your investments. DON'T pull your money out of the market (for god sakes don't do that) just wait it out and you'll be fine. DON'T PANIC.

But of course, as an aside, we have all these big, behemoths who took on even more debt and leveraged themselves to a point where they couldn't bear the weight any more. But that's just conducting business.

And then, the government's solution is to give those big guys an $85 BILLION loan?!!? The SAME big guys who couldn't manage all that money to begin with??! I mean, when that little guy defaults on his loan, he's screwed when it comes to getting any credit after that. But the big guys? Well, here you go sir! Here's $85 billion and a cigar! Pay it back whenever!

So, the moral of the story is: If you're going to fail, fail BIG!

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It's really beginning to grind my gears.

posted by The Vidiot @ 8:13 AM Permalink

Let's just say you're a risk taker. A devil-may-care kinda' person who throws caution to the wind. That you believe you have to take risks to get big rewards.

So fine, you take out a loan at 4% and you invest that money in something that returns 5%. This works great and you're ahead a few bucks. So, wow. This money making thing is easy. You start to do it again, only with riskier investments with higher returns. Some of it works, and some of it doesn't, but you still end up ahead. Ok. So you play this game and you start to come up with a lot of clever ways to play it, each more risky than the last.

Now, keep in mind, this is your money, your time, and your ideas. It's all you, baby.

At some point, your game gets really big and involves a lot of money and some of your positions are getting downright precarious. You see where its going so you ask somebody in authority, "Hey, just let me bend the rules a little bit here and I SWEAR it will be fine. See? I've been pretty great thus far. I obviously know what I'm doing." And that person in authority says, "Sure, man. I trust you."

Keeping in mind that this is just you, one person, doing all of this.

You can see where I'm going. OF COURSE that person has gone too far. OF COURSE that last little bending of the rules caused him to bet it all and lose it. It's a story that is told over and over again throughout time. If it were drugs, that person would be dead and that would be the end of it. But it's not drugs. It's capital. And that is a terminal illness that is endlessly treatable.

So, what should happen? Should we, who didn't play with our money, who didn't try to get something for nothing, SHOULD WE be FORCED to give him more money so he can get back to his tried-and-true tricks while we are scratching to survive with less money than we had before?

Of course the answer is no. Any sane person would say, "Hell no! Let him wallow in his own filth."

But this is where we are today: The government has indicated that they will buy up all the bad debt these venerable institutions have incurred -- meaning we the people will buy up all that bad debt -- and with the money that the government has borrowed from the Fed to buy that bad debt, well, the venerable institutions will go on their merry way, playing their three-card monte or ponzi schemes or whatever it is they do, as if nothing happened. No real punishment for their bad behavior or judgment will be meted out. Yet we, the people, will be paying for it with higher taxes, a more worthless dollar, crumbling infrastructure and even bigger tears in the social safety net.
I didn't sign on for any of this. I didn't say to those elected idiots, "Hey! Tax me! Wage war upon me and the world! Spread Western hegemony, by force, throughout the world, no matter how much it bankrupts us! Please, for the love of God, ENSLAVE ME!"

Did you?

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dead cat bounce or something else?

posted by The Vidiot @ 4:39 PM Permalink

News that the Fed will be setting up a fund similar to the fund set up during the S&L crisis sent Wall Street soaring this afternoon.

Here's how it works: this 'fund' will buy up bad debts from the various financial institutions, thereby freeing up money that the banks can then work with.

While it may sound like a good idea, here's what's actually happening: The Fed will print up a bunch of money, hand it to the American government's new 'fund' that then hands it to the banks in exchange for bad paper. Now remember, that paper is bad for a reason. When all that paper defaults, the Fed will still want it's money back. They're merely loaning it to the American government. So, guess who is going to get stuck with the bill?

It's JUST like the S&L bailout that stuck the taxpayer with a $160 billion tab. Only this time, we're going to get stuck for A LOT MORE.

Rapacious greed wins again.

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Excellent article on Bolivia

posted by The Vidiot @ 3:07 PM Permalink

James Petras is my new favorite blogger. Here's his conclusion, but read the whole thing. It's grrrreat.
Repeatedly, over the past 3 years, the Indians, peasants, miners, urban slum-dwellers and public employees have organized and fought for land reform, worker-controlled nationalization of the mines and oil fields and decent salaries and wages. What they have gotten from Morales is a government of fiscal austerity, economic agreements with foreign extractive multinational corporations and huge untouchable agribusiness complexes. Despite having a political mandate to rule, Morales has made a succession of failed efforts to conciliate with the irreconcilable economic and regional elites. If there is one lesson that Morales can learn from the peasants who have been degraded and horsewhipped in the streets of Santa Cruz, the trade unionists who have been burned out of their headquarters and homes in Pando and the street vendors who have been driven from the markets in Tarija, is that you cannot ‘make deals’ with fascists. You don’t defeat fascism through elections and concessions to their big property-owning paymasters.

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From a friend who works on Wall Street.

posted by The Vidiot @ 12:41 PM Permalink

In response to this article from the UK's Daily Mail that says the UK employees of Lehman are getting royally screwed (as opposed to the US employees who have a chance of a job with Barclay's buying up some of Lehman)

lovely. of course, no one in ny is getting paid unless it comes from barclays so it's not really a different situation. today is another mess; the same thing that happened to bear and lehman is now happening to goldman and morgan stanley. they had some idiots (sens shelby and bunning) on this morning saying the fed shouldn't have done anything to save aig. of course bunning cited some poll saying most americans were against the bailout. politicians are such ignorant whores. it's still a fiasco out there but the game would already have been over if aig had gone down. we'll see how the background plays out, but i was being told today that aig's last straw was lehman going down and them having all the liability on swaps they'd written on lehman debt.

rumour goldman is trying to go private. sounds like a good idea if they can do it. morgan's trying to sell just under 50% to the chinese. or they'll sell themselves to wachovia (which is a mess, itself). that's the perfect example of two drunks holding each other up. if those two go down, look out.

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Some economic elucidation for you this morning.

posted by The Vidiot @ 8:06 AM Permalink

This seems to be a pretty decent explanation for why now, why this:

Is Financial Innovation just another word for excessive and reckless leverage?

Apparently so.

As we learn this morning via Julie Satow of the NY Sun, special exemptions from the SEC are in large part responsible for the huge build up in financial sector leverage over the past 4 years -- as well as the massive current unwind

Satow interviews the above quoted former SEC director, and he spits out the blunt truth: The current excess leverage now unwinding was the result of a purposeful SEC exemption given to five firms.

You read that right -- the events of the past year are not a mere accident, but are the results of a conscious and willful SEC decision to allow these firms to legally violate existing net capital rules that, in the past 30 years, had limited broker dealers debt-to-net capital ratio to 12-to-1.

Instead, the 2004 exemption -- given only to 5 firms -- allowed them to lever up 30 and even 40 to 1.

And of the five, only two are left standing on wobbly legs; Goldman and Morgan Stanley.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Dark Side of the Moon

posted by The Sailor @ 6:32 PM Permalink

Richard Wright, the keyboardist whose somber, monumental sounds were at the core of the art rock by Pink Floyd that has sold millions and millions of albums, died Monday in London, where he had lived. He was 65.

The cause was cancer, said his publicist, Claire Singers.

Wright was a founding member of Pink Floyd, and his spacious, enveloping keyboards, backing vocals and eerie effects were essential to its musical identity.
[...]
Wright was also sole songwriter on "The Great Gig in the Sky," a hymnlike track with a soaring, wordless female vocal at the center of "The Dark Side of the Moon," the 1973 Pink Floyd album that has sold some 40 million copies.
I'll fore go the divisions and recombinations of Pink Floyd, except to mention he was back in the band for the "Momentary Lapse of Reason" album and tour. I'd been a big fan for years and then I got a chance to work a part of the US part of that tour.

Before anyone gets excited I have to let you know I was about 6 companies away from working with Pink Floyd. I was just a freelance audio engineer and was hired by Stage Tech Personnel as an audio tech. I worked set-up and strike, but I was just an observer during the show. (Fun fact: that show took 5 days to stage and 3 to tear down. Two complete PA and light systems hopscotched each other around from venue to venue.)

My first show was in Tampa Stadium. After working the set-up I had the show off ... in the PA/video/lighting tower I'd helped to construct and wire ... listening to Pink Floyd play from the quad stacks I'd helped to set-up and wire. The show was awesome! The music, the engineering, the KEYBOARDS, the lighting, FX, were everything I'd ever imagined a live show could be. "When pigs fly" is a common way of saying that something is impossible. Pigs flew that night, literally.

Immediately after the show ended I was on the crew that took the stage first, (after PF's personal techs), and I still remember looking out from the stage at 80,000 people while coiling mic and monitor cables and thinking ... ... ... actually I wasn't thinking. I was coiling the cables by habit and just in awe that I was on the very stage that Pink Floyd had played on.

When I started this post it wasn't supposed to be about me, and it really isn't. It's about the how much Richard Wright has affected my life. From my teens thru adulthood and now into middle age I still listen to Pink Floyd, and my favorite albums are the ones he played on.

There are very few musicians I can say had an effect on my life, (my career, quite a few;-), but Richard Wright is one of them.

Thank you Richard. "The Great Gig in the Sky" has always been yours.

p.s. Richard, the guy playing trumpet with you with his back to the audience? Yeah, that's god, he thinks he's Miles.



Cross posted at SteveAudio

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Eyewitness report from Houston

posted by The Vidiot @ 1:25 PM Permalink

From a friend of my mom's:

I hiked over to Lambda Center, the gay AA club hear my home. they have power and free wifi so I'm answering 49 emails. Let me tell you that Bush and his f-cking fema is a waste of time.

Mayor White on the air telling off Fema. Thousands of people without water, power or food lined up at public announced FEMA sights to get ice, water, and food. Fema did not show up at most of the places. Older people in wheel chairs, etc. The press not covering this f-cking fiasco.

Then to top it all off f-ckhead Dubyah arrives in town. The prick will be guarded quite heavily I'm sure. FEMA is a disgrace. I'm fine but I am disgusted with the response from our state and federal government. This is the second time a mayor of a major city goes on the air to tell the state and the fed fema people to get their shit together. The hurricane was Friday and her it is Tues afternoon. FEMA only open a few places. Bad news I must say.

I'm doing fine because I planned well with canned foods and plenty of bottled water. I have enough for one more week. Then I'll get worried if we still do not have power. Beautiful trees down all over the place. Just the most remarkable devastation. Heart braking to see the beautiful trees destroyed.
More later and hopefully will have power soon.

Don't hold back dude.

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I don't want it. Do you?

posted by The Vidiot @ 10:50 AM Permalink

So, now, I guess since I'm a taxpayer, I'm part owner of AIG.
Invoking extraordinary powers granted after the 1929 stock market crash, the government seized control of the insurance giant American International Group to preserve a crucial bulwark of the global financial system.
Wow. Who woulda' thunk I would've grown up to be part owner of one of the largest corporations on the planet?! Momma's gotta' be proud.

Seriously though, I don't want it. It's like loaning money to your drug-addict cousin. Sure, he says he's good for it, but is he? Really? Probably not. More than likely, he'll smoke/shoot up/snort the loan and not pay back a dime. You'll be out the money, he'll be high as a kite, and none of it is good.

Too big to fail? Whose fault is that anyway? The managers of AIG? The Fed government for not putting the kibosh on the derivatives market? The various and sundry greedy bastards who played this ponzi scheme to begin with? Why aren't they going to pay for it? Why do I have to pay for it? Why do my (mythical) children have to pay for it? I didn't tell them to play the derivative market. I didn't tell them to loan $500,000 to that idiot over there who's annual salary barely capped out at $60,000.

No. I was responsible. I didn't buy when the guy said "Oh sure, I can get you a loan for anything you want. NO problemo." (And he did say just exactly that.) I didn't restructure my debt and sell it off in financial packages to pay it off.

No.

Yet.

I (and you) get stuck with the bill? AND without our consent.

Is anybody getting it yet? That the government doesn't respect, respond or represent the people any longer? Does this ring any bells?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Hrmph.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A meme done old-school style

posted by The Vidiot @ 3:49 PM Permalink

Engraving of Kilroy on the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Credit: nps.gov

I used to draw the Kilroy character all the time when I was a kid. I thought it was cool for some reason. I knew it had to do with World War II, but I didn't really know what or why.

Well, now I do.

At one of the country's most prolific shipyards in Quincy worked James J. Kilroy — a rivet inspector who, like everyone in his trade, was paid by the number of rivets he checked and recorded his day's work on the machinery itself with a chalk mark. To avoid having his marks erased and moved by unscrupulous workers continuing his line of rivets, Kilroy began inscribing "Kilroy Was Here" on the machinery, historians say.

The dire need for ships overseas meant that most were launched into action before the workers' marks, including Kilroy's, were painted over or covered up.

American GIs began noticing the puzzling phrase scrawled on outgoing ships almost immediately, often tucked into hard-to-reach spots. At first, sailors treated an appearance of "Kilroy Was Here" like a kind of talisman, certifying that their ship had been properly checked and would be protected against the enemy. GIs later adopted Kilroy's standard and began tagging the places they'd visited across Europe, Asia and Africa.

Just a little diversion for you during these crazy economic times.

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From the Department of WTF?!

posted by The Vidiot @ 10:20 AM Permalink

There's a screen covering the entrance of the White House to block the view of anyone who wants to watch comings and goings.

Isn't that odd? I mean, REALLY odd? Didn't JFK have secret passage way for Marilyn Monroe or something? Can't they use that?

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Monday, September 15, 2008

The Bush Doctrine Formula; Jus ad bellum

posted by The Sailor @ 4:01 PM Permalink

Bush Secret Order To Send Special Forces Into Pakistan

A secret order issued by George Bush giving US special forces carte blanche to mount counter-terrorist operations inside Pakistani territory raised fears last night that escalating conflict was spreading from Afghanistan to Pakistan and could ignite a region-wide war.
[...]
Following Bush's decision, US navy Seals commandos, backed by attack helicopters, launched a ground raid into Pakistan last week which the US claimed killed about two dozen insurgents. Pakistani officials condemned the raid as illegal and said most of the dead were civilians.
[...]
The move is regarded as unprecedented in terms of sending troops into a friendly, allied country.
This latest invasion, against a country that Bush has said:
- July, 2008 "Pakistan is a strong ally and a vibrant democracy."

- July 2008 Pakistan has been a strong partner in the fight against violent extremism

-September 2006 This President is a strong defender of freedom and the people of Pakistan, and I appreciate your leadership.
The Bush Doctrine specifically delineated the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan as 'preemptive war' when they stated that
"Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent."

Let me be clear: Analysts differed on several important aspects of these programs and those debates were spelled out in the estimate. They never said there was an imminent threat.
Bush would have done well not to make that distinction, since it is the difference between a just war and "Due to the speculative nature of preventive war, in which the adversary may or may not be a future threat, preventive war is considered an act of aggression in international law"

If there is not an 'imminent threat' it is a "Preventive war", which is illegal.

And now Bush has taken his doctrine to a whole new level by attacking what he has said is a sovereign, democratically elected, ally in the war on terror.

Preemptive war v. Preventive war.
This is not just semantics, it is the definition of the difference between a international war crime of aggression and defending your country against an imminent threat.



(h/t to The Vidiot for the inspiration for this post.)



Cross posted at SteveAudio

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Isn't this how wars start?

posted by The Vidiot @ 11:59 AM Permalink

Don't a lot of wars get started with a blockade?
While the economic impact of the measures against Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) will be minimal in light of the near absence of any connection between the shipping company and US businesses, this latest US initiative against Iran sends a strong signal about the US's intention to escalate pressure on Iran, even unilaterally if need be. And, perhaps, it is a prelude for more serious and dangerous actions in the near future, above all a naval blockade of Iran to choke off its access to, among other things, imported fuel.
And, frankly, isn't a blockade an act of war, in and of itself anyway?
A blockade is defined by Encyclopedia Britannica as an "an act of war by which a belligerent prevents access to or departure from a defined part of the enemy’s coasts."
Great.

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