March 14, 2008 archive

Winter Soldier

Thomas Paine

These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

-Published on 23 December 1776

Funkalicious Friday: Interesting Days

Yessireebob, indeed, indeed yes indeedy do… doobt aboot it, by golly…ayup, ayup uh-huh

Surprise! McCain BBQ attendees skew their reporting of him

For starters, a hat tip to Daily Kos community member Jay Ackroyd for pulling together a list of those corporate media talking meatsticks who attended John W. McCain’s BBQ lovefest at the beginning of March.  I’ve put that list at the end of the diary, so we can all keep tabs on this.

In looking over some of these attendees’ recent reports, columns and newscasts, there has been identifiable bias towards John W. McCain, and should be called out on their misleading behavior and irresponsible journalism.  There are over 25 on this list, but I’ll point out a few of the offenders here.  Needless to say, we are not just fighting against McCain, we are fighting against the media, who is already pointing out that since they stopped reporting on Iraq, people’s opinions about it have improved.

Friday Philosophy: Horton Hears a Boomer

I’m not sure when I became aware of the idea.  It’s certainly not original.  And it is so simple.

Life is not about becoming what one is destined to be.  It’s not even really about becoming who one is destined to be.  It’s about becoming who one wishes to be.

Or rather about becoming who one wishes to be while one is becoming someone even better, because there is surely never going to be a time when one reaches attains this particular vision.  At least I can’t see how that could ever be the case.

I remember growing up and being asked or (more probably) encouraged to be something.  Be an athlete.  Be a scientist.  Be a good boy.  Be a man.

It troubled me that so often I didn’t know how to do those things…and wasn’t really interested in learning how to be any of those.

“All Roads Lead to Rove.” – Siegelman

All roads lead to Rove.  That was the message scrawled as an afterthought in the lower left-hand corner of the envelope I received in yesterday’s mail.  It contained a letter from an old and dear friend of mine.  His name is Don Siegelman.  He is the former governor of Alabama and he is being held as a political prisoner of the Bush administration in a Federal prison in Louisiana.


American coinage now based on unsecured mortgages loans.

And here comes the bailout! I freaking knew this was coming. I mean, all you had to do was watch the game tape from the Savings & Loans scandal. Nothing like socialism for the rich! Of course, when someone gets bailed out, someone has to pay. That person is you, me and your grandma.

As you have probably heard by now, the Fed and JP Morgan are coming to save their boys at Bear Sterns. I suspect JP Morgan will be owning Bear Sterns by Q3 of this year, but that’s a whole different matter. That’s private capital, they can do whatever the hell they want. The Fed, on the other hand, is public capital. Again, you, me and your grandmother are the backers of the Fed.

Of course the Fed is a private organization, so there is no accountability for the asshat moves they are making this week. Here is one of my favorite moves:

The borrowings from the Fed will be secured by collateral furnished by Bear Stearns, and the Fed, not J.P. Morgan, is bearing the risk of losses if that collateral falls in value.

Thats a pretty sweetheart deal for J.P. Morgan. So basically the Fed has let Bear Sterns swap their unholy securities backed by mortgages for safer Treasury bonds. What this means is that the Fed is now backing the US Dollar on said mortgages.

By fiat, our coinage is now backed by the defaulting loans across America. This has to be one of the stupidest ideas ever. I challenge anyone to find a historical model of where a country got out of a economic slump by devaluating their own money. History will not be kind on this move.

And the worst part is Bear Sterns is not a bank. Never has been a bank, never will be a bank. It is an investment house. So technically they cannot even use the Fed’s discount window to access yet another $200 billion dollars the Fed is injecting into the  money supply. They have to get JP Morgan to do that.

Wait, $200 Billoon new dollars in the system you say? Yes, last week, the Fed announced an industry-wide rescue package that would provide as much as $200 billion in loans to banks and investment houses and allow them to put up risky home-loan packages as collateral.

Again, our dollar is now being back by the home-loan meltdown. This is so stupid that the Swiss Franc caught the dollar today. The rest of the world has officially stopped all dollar buys, and all but refuses to even pick up the phone if Bear Sterns or other such cash strapped banks and investment houses are calling from America.

See, investment houses are like a dude with a black box. You are never allowed to see inside the black box, but the dude assures you there is quite a bit of loot in that box. Plus, if you put your loot in the magic black box, it will magically grow like they are magic beans. Of course, everyone needs to believe in the power of the black box for this to work.

If people no longer believe there is loot in the black box, they will stop putting money in said black box. If enough people lose faith quickly enough, the black box is complete worthless and the dude goes broke.

Bear Sterns is that dude right now.

The intervention by J.P. Morgan and the New York Fed shows Bear “didn’t have enough money to turn the lights on this morning,” said Carl Lantz, strategist at Credit Suisse. “And in a big picture sense, this isn’t that comforting.”

Wait, I remember this story!

Went something like this:

Bear Sterns is the Duke Brothers, except in reality we have Republican Socialism that keeps private enterprise from failing. If only the Duke Brothers lives in our fantasy world instead of the one Hollywood creates.

But in the world of Republican Socialism, the Duke Brothers are saved by you, me and your grandmother. And when you are paying $10 lb for chicken, you will have the Fed to think. And the Fed doesn’t get a crap about what you think, because they are a private organization.

And the first thing to solving the riddle of Republican Socialism is to make the Fed accountable to the people of these United States of America, and not the hedge fund row, and only to the hedge fund row.

Why the coinage of the US dollar is not under government control is probably one of the best kept secrets in America.

And as always, it has to do with money.


The entire wealth of the USA is also in a black box. The world has recently decided that our black box is pretty worthless. In effect, they have decided our dollar is pretty worthless.

What these means, as Republican Socialism fails, it exposes the ugly truth that the rich are only rich because they say they are rich. If you take away their black box, they would be eating out of dumpster by the end of the month.

Of course to distract the people from this inconvient truth, you better do something drastic. Especially when even Nobel Prize winners calling Republican Socialism a form of looting.

Something crazy, oh say, like attacking Babylon.

Four at Four

  1. Ozone Rules Weakened at Bush’s Behest

    The Washington Post is reporting that “The Environmental Protection Agency weakened one part of its new limits on smog-forming ozone after an unusual last-minute intervention by President Bush, according to documents released by the EPA.”

    EPA officials initially tried to set a lower seasonal limit on ozone to protect wildlife, parks and farmland, as required under the law. While their proposal was less restrictive than what the EPA’s scientific advisers had proposed, Bush overruled EPA officials and on Tuesday ordered the agency to increase the limit, according to the documents.

    “It is unprecedented and an unlawful act of political interference for the president personally to override a decision that the Clean Air Act leaves exclusively to EPA’s expert scientific judgment,” said John Walke, clean-air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    The president’s order prompted a scramble by administration officials to rewrite the regulations to avoid a conflict with past EPA statements on the harm caused by ozone…

    When asked about Clement’s role, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: “The White House sought legal advice from the Justice Department and made its decision based on that advice.”

    Glad to see science and the health of the American people taking such a big role in Bush’s decision.

  2. FBI Misuses Security Letters

    Click to enlarge.

    The Washington Post reports, “the FBI has increasingly used administrative orders to obtain the personal records of U.S. citizens rather than foreigners implicated in terrorism or counterintelligence investigations, and at least once it relied on such orders to obtain records that a special intelligence-gathering court had deemed protected by the First Amendment, according to two government audits released yesterday. The episode was outlined in a Justice Department report that concluded the FBI had abused its intelligence-gathering privileges by issuing inadequately documented ‘national security letters’ from 2003 to 2006, after which changes were put in place that the report called sound….”

    “Because U.S. citizens enjoy constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, judicial warrants are ordinarily required for government surveillance. But national security letters are approved only by FBI officials and are not subject to judicial approval; they routinely demand certain types of personal data, such as telephone, e-mail and financial records, while barring the recipient from disclosing that the information was requested or supplied.”

  3. The Associated Press reports Bush a clueless idiot and economic moron. “Trying to calm jitters about the economy, President Bush conceded on Friday that the country “obviously is going through a tough time” but expressed confidence about a rebound. In a speech to The Economic Club of New York, Bush said this was not the first time the economy has been rattled and that he is certain that it will ride out its troubles. ‘These are uncertain times,’ he said.” Bush also blamed Bill Clinton and 9/11 for America’s economic problems. In his remarks, Bush said:

    And I want to spend a little time talking about that, but I want to remind you, this is not the first time since I’ve been the President that we have faced economic challenges. We inherited a recession. And then there was the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, which many of you saw firsthand, and you know full well how that affected our economy…

    Fortunately, we recognized the slowdown early and took action. And it was decisive action, in the form of policies that will spur growth…

    The Federal Reserve has taken action to bolster the economy. I respect Ben Bernanke. I think he’s doing a good job under tough circumstances…

    I believe strongly that NAFTA has been positive for the United States of America, like it’s been positive for our trading partners in Mexico and Canada…

    A confident nation accepts capital from overseas. We can protect our people against investments that jeopardize our national security, but it makes no sense to deny capital, including sovereign wealth funds, from access to the U.S. markets. It’s our money to begin with. It seems like we ought to let it back.

  4. The Oregonian reports Coastal areas brace for salmon shutdown. “Fishery managers have shut down salmon fishing off Oregon’s coast through April to protect collapsing fish stocks, presaging what could become the largest West Coast closure in history. The biggest factor is the plummeting returns of normally robust chinook salmon to the Sacramento River in California, although salmon numbers in many Oregon rivers are down sharply, too… While past years have seen poor salmon numbers in certain regions, this year the decline seems to extend along almost the entire West Coast…”

    Next month, federal fishery managers may close ocean salmon fishing from May through its typical end-date in mid-November from northern Oregon to the Mexican border. At a minimum, the key fishery will be severely restricted, Oregon officials said… Biologists are stunned by the failing returns to the Sacramento River, typically one of the healthiest and most abundant stocks on the West Coast.”

Election Day in Iran

Iran holds its parliamentary elections today, March 14th, to fill the 290 seats of the Islamic Consultative Council.  It is also expected to be a referendum on Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in the third year of a four-year term.  Currently the Iranian Parliament seats consist of 190 conservatives, 50 reformists, 43 independents (or centrists), 5 seats reserved for religous minorities, and 2 other seats.  Voting will conclude at 2:30 PM EDT today, and preliminary results can be expected Saturday and Sunday.  Official results will probably not be announced for a few days after that.  

Boogeymen and amputations

There’s a haunted mansion ride at the amusement park near my family’s house.  I used to be terrified, more than anything else in my life of opening my eyes inside this haunted mansion.  I would cry and cling to whoever was riding with me while pictures of horrific monsters and ghosts played in my head.  One time when my grandmother rode with me she made me open my eyes and promised it would be ok.  She held my hand and promised.  So between the tears and stubborn cries I finally opened my eyes.  I saw what I had been fearing the whole time.  And it was nothing.  Just an old house filled with cheap pop-ups and chipped paint set to music.  

I felt foolish.

She told me that sometimes what we create in our imagination is scarier than the truth.  I used to believe that.  



Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said the protests were a result of public resentment of the “brute force” employed by China to maintain control of the region for more than 50 years.

“I therefore appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people,” he said in a statement issued from his base in India.

“I also urge my fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence.”

For God’s Sake, Don’t Tell Anyone!

Okay, look, we got a secret spy sat going up. Even more under the cover is that we will be sending it up on our new version of the Atlas 5 rocket. But for the love that is all good and proper, don’t tell anyone! Especially the Russians and Chinese, they will be pissed.

Oh, and also, do not tell anyone we launched yesterday, Thursday, March 23, 2008, at exactly 3:02 a.m. Because then they could track it, they being THE PEOPLE YOU MUST NOT SAY A WORD TOO! I mean, my god, if they knew when and where (VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, California, Space Launch Complex-3 East (SLC-3E), but plz stfu about this!) it was shoot off, it could easily be tracked! They would know about our secret sat before it even achieved its orbit!

I mean my god, why won’t you shut up about the 191-foot-tall rocket that carried a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that oversees the nation’s constellation of spy satellites.

No one is to know! So please, forget that super duper secret sat has successfully reached orbit.

And whatever you do, don’t tell the media!

What? Really? Oh for pete’s sake:

U.S. launches secret satellite…

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, California (AP) — An Atlas 5 rocket carrying a secret U.S. satellite lifted off before dawn Thursday, officials said.

The 191-foot-tall booster blasted off from the southern end of the Central Coast air base at 3:02 a.m.

“It went great,” said Mike Rein, a spokesman for United Launch Alliance, which made the rocket.

But Rein said he couldn’t confirm whether the satellite had successfully reached orbit, “because of the nature of the launch.”

The Atlas 5 carried a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that oversees the nation’s constellation of spy satellites. No details of the mission were released.

The launch was delayed for two weeks as a precaution against possible space debris from a failed U.S. spy satellite that was blown up by a missile launched from a Navy ship.

The Atlas 5 is made by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. The rocket is designed to reduce costs and provide reliable access to space for heavier military payloads.


At least there isn’t a YouTube video of the Atlas 5!

What? You dirty apes! This is called national security?

Another Day, Another Market Downer – UPDATED (7:45 PM)

The negative hits just keep on a-rollin’!

From MSN Money:

Things at Bear Stearns (BSC, news, msgs) were worse than anyone thought — and that realization sent shockwaves through the market this morning.

The financial services giant said it has received financing from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — funneled through JPMorgan Chase (JPM, news, msgs) — to help boost liquidity. JPMorgan will be the conduit for Bear’s collateral and it won’t be held liable for any defaults, the New York Fed said this morning.

“Bear Stearns has been the subject of a multitude of market rumors regarding our liquidity. We have tried to confront and dispel these rumors and parse fact from fiction,” Chief Executive Officer Alan Schwartz said in a press release. “Nevertheless, amidst this market chatter, our liquidity position in the last 24 hours had significantly deteriorated. We took this important step to restore confidence in us in the marketplace, strengthen our liquidity and allow us to continue normal operations.”

Earlier this week, Schwartz told CNBC that things at Bear Stearns were OK. my emphasis

Shares of Bear plunged a whopping $23.73, or 41.6%, to $33.27 in morning trading.


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