March 26, 2009 archive

Ms. Lotus Regrets….

Banks, investment companies, financial institutions of all sorts are in line to be fixed and regulated. Their survival is deemed vital to our economic survival. Get them lending again, we’re told, and we’ll start to see the economy moving.

Everything will be fine and we’ll party like it’s, well, like it’s some year when the economy appeared to work.

But that party may be missing some guests.

And by guests, I mean a significant number of citizens, the regular folks, the working and middle classes.

What if the financial institutions cleaned up, spritzed on their Axe cologne, and the Administration put on their party clothes for nothing because the invitation for a significant number of regular folks got lost in the mail?

Usurious Bastards


The history of the last century shows, as we shall see later, that the advice given to governments by bankers, like the advice they gave to industrialists, was consistently good for bankers, but was often disastrous for governments, businessmen, and the people generally.

-Carroll Quigley

As the conventional wisdom goes, the stock market is predicated on trust and as a crusty old uncle of mine once said to a young and impressionable teenager with zero knowledge of the way that the world really worked: “trust me is just another two letter word that means the same as fuck you.” Old Uncle Harvey’s words of wisdom came home to roost on this Monday morning in America when the finance oligarchs were able to use their inside juice to pull off the grandest and most audacious heist yet in this season of sleazy swindles. Obama Treasury Secretary and Wall Street fixer Timothy Geithner delivered the bacon for the bankers, gave the crack ho stock market a wonderful and intoxicating fix that sent the Dow screaming up by nearly 7 percent in a matter of hours and locked in the losses for the great grandchildren of every poor schmuck with the misfortune to be living through this period of plunder and wealth consolidation.

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports President Barack Obama may delay signing up to Copenhagen climate change deal because of wide scale opposition to such a deal in Congress. Officials in the administration have been warning their counterparts in Britain, “the president may need at least another six months to win domestic support for any proposal.” A delay will cause Kyoto to expire without a new agreement in place.

    “American officials would prefer to have the approval of Congress for any international agreement and fear that if the US signed up without it there would be a serious domestic backlash.”

    However, there was some good environmental news out of Washington, D.C. today. The LA Times reports the Wilderness protection bill gets Congress’ approval. “The legislation gives maximum federal protection to more than 2 million acres in nine states” and is “the largest expansion of the wilderness system in 15 years”. Wilderness is the “highest level of federal protection”. Also approved was an ambitious river restoration project for the San Joaquin River and prized salmon runs.

    The Oregonian adds Conservationists hail new era as Congress passes wilderness bill. “The 285-140 House vote sent the 1,300-page public lands bill to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it as early as next week.”

    “‘This is a huge victory for the Oregon outdoors,’ Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said after the vote.”

  2. The CS Monitor reports Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says US shares responsibility for Mexico’s drug violence due to the “insatiable” demand for narcotics by Americans.

    “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians,” Mrs. Clinton said.

    “How could anyone conclude any differently? … I feel very strongly we have co-responsibility,” she said.

    The United States’ three-decade “war” on drugs “has not worked”, according to Clinton.

    According to the LA Times, Clinton says the U.S. must help Mexico “since it is a major consumer of illicit drugs and a key supplier of weapons smuggled to cartel hit men.”

    “We know very well that the drug traffickers are motivated by the demand for illegal drugs in the United States, that they are armed by the transport of weapons from the United States to Mexico,” Clinton said during a news conference with Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa. “We see this as a responsibility to assist the Mexican government and people.”

Four at Four continues with Iran says yes to Afghan talks, Obama’s Afghan strategy, the FBI wants the Patriot Act renewed, and UK police to investigate Guantánamo Bay torture.

America’s OTHER Illegal Detention Horror: Immigration

More than 400,000 people a year are detained by immigration officials in the United States – including undocumented immigrants, legal immigrants who run afoul of the law and asylum seekers who come fleeing persecution – but according to a report released today by Amnesty International, conditions are often deplorable and detainees are routinely denied due process.

It’s the second major human rights report in a week to indict the nation’s immigration detention system. The system is attracting increased attention in part because the number of people in detention has grown exponentially in recent years and in part because of dozens of in-custody deaths and a lawsuit over the treatment of children.

“We have already made appreciable gains in improving the detention system by adopting detention standards and monitoring the compliance with those standards,” said Cori Bassett. “All that said, the care and treatment that some detainees receive does not yet meet our shared expectation of excellence, and we can all agree this is a reason for concern.”

“Tens of thousands of people languish in immigration detention facilities every year without receiving a hearing to determine whether their detention is warranted,” said the report, titled “Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA.”


The detention center is one of several operated by the profitable Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private corrections company in the U.S.


Confined in prisonlike facilities, detainees are held under civil immigration laws, under which they are neither accused nor convicted of a crime, the report said.

With no right to counsel, they are often subject to mandatory detention without the right to judicial review, and face challenges in their use of habeas corpus.

The fish rots from the head down. Once you start down the slippery slope…etc. The Bushco standards of Human Rights which were defined by the Bush Torture Program migrated to the worst of the worst of American Law Enforcement. ICE…Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The tactics are similar, oppress and disempower people by diminishing humanity and sowing fear. The overall philosophy is the same. Brown People are less, they are Other, they do not deserve to be treated with respect or humanity. They are not people. They are a problem. A problem not to be dealt with humanely or with respect for human rights and dignity. But with the cold efficiency of processing and storing a product, not men, women and children.

New Homeland (ugh) Security Chief Napolitano, a governor from one of the states hit hard by worker migration,

“This cannot wait. This is a situation that should be taken care immediately,” she said.


In the meantime…all we have is another just cause for outrage.

“America should be outraged by the scale of human rights abuses occurring within its own borders,” said Larry Cox, director of Amnesty International USA.


Weekly Immigration Wire: Obama’s Hard Line on Immigration

Dispatches from the Class War

In recent years, surging crude prices have led to record profits for the major oil companies. A report by the Congressional Research Service last year said the top five major integrated companies — Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC, Chevron and ConocoPhillips — generated more than $100 billion in profits on nearly $1.5 trillion of revenue in 2007.

Despite a year-long global economic meltdown that only got worse as the year wore on, the world’s 25 most successful hedge fund managers raked in a total of $11.6 billion in 2008 – their third best haul this decade. The secret to their success? Well, some of it is a secret. But if you guessed big bets against banks and the housing market you’d be on the right track.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Defense contractors Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) and General Dynamics Corp’s (GD.N) quarterly earnings beat Wall Street forecasts, showing few signs that U.S. defense spending will slow, despite the uncertainty of a new administration and a tight federal budget.

The defense unit of Boeing Co (BA.N) also posted higher quarterly profit on Wednesday, partly offsetting the effects of a six-week strike at its commercial plane plants, which dragged down its overall quarterly profit.

“We’re faced with two disasters-soaring food prices leaving millions hungry every year and an ailing economy. The challenges are overwhelming, but we have to do much more than send emergency food aid to countries facing scarcity,” Kerry said in a statement.

We live in a world where nearly one billion people suffer from chronic food insecurity,” Senator Richard Lugar, the panel’s ranking Republican, added,. “Hungry people are desperate people, and desperation often sows the seeds of conflict and extremism.”

The Food Bank for New York, which has been handing out groceries to poor New Yorkers for 25 years, reports that things are getting bad out there. The number of locals who say they have trouble paying for food has gone up 26 percent in the past recession year — from 3.1 to 4 million, or about 48 percent of New Yorkers (!).

The increase in food poverty is also impressive when tracked from 2003, when Food Bank started recording it. Then it was 2 million people — we’ve doubled that in five years.

LONDON: A British minister handling preparations for the upcoming Group of 20 summit said that leaders risk fueling public dissent and dire consequences for the developing world – if they fail to agree on clear action to tackle the global downturn.

Mark Malloch Brown told The Associated Press that vague commitments won’t suffice when leaders from the world’s major and emerging economies meet in London next week to discuss steps to address the crisis.

To calm a feverish political atmosphere, which has sparked protests across Europe and unrest in Africa, lawmakers must offer clear plans, said the British foreign minister.

NEW YORK ( — The number of people filing initial claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, while those filing continuing claims hit an all-time high for the ninth straight week, according to a government report released Thursday.

In the week ended March 21, a total of 652,000 people filed initial jobless claims, up 8,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 644,000, the Labor Department reported.

March 26 (Bloomberg) — Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, cited fiscal responsibility when he turned down about $98 million in unemployment aid that was part of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion federal stimulus package.

That doesn’t make sense to Clarence Hawkins, the mayor of Bastrop, Louisiana. An International Paper Co. mill closed in November as pulp demand fell worldwide, leaving the town without one of its biggest employers.

“Give me something now,” said Hawkins, a Democrat whose city of 12,500 lost more than 400 jobs. “Help me right now. I need to survive today.”

African Americans are far more likely than whites to be poor, out of work or in jail, and are “hurting worse” in the floundering US economy, a report published Wednesday showed.

“Ironically, even as an African American man holds the highest office the country, African Americans remain twice as likely as whites to be unemployed, three times more likely to live in poverty and more than six times as likely to be incarcerated,” the State of Black America report said.

Income ladder a tough climb for U.S. worker By Cynthia Tucker

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It took a lot to drive average Americans into a torrent of populist outrage, ready to tar and feather executives of American International Group and other greedy financiers who brought the world economy to the brink of collapse and then dared to demand outrageous compensation for their work.

Given that regular stiffs have been struggling for decades, it’s a wonder that anger took so long to build.

While Wall Street bonuses may have reached the apex of absurdity in the last decade or so, CEO compensation has been out of whack for much longer than that. In 1965, CEOs earned 24 times the pay of the average worker; by 2007, the factor was 275 times. Even CEOs who wrecked their companies were rewarded lavishly when they left.

Meanwhile, most workers didn’t share in the wealth produced by productivity gains in the 1990s. Their health care costs soared; their unions weakened; class divisions hardened. These days, it’s not as easy for young men and women to rise above their parents’ means as popular mythology suggests.

We have all grown SO used to these disparities that we have ceased to ask why they exist. It is time to start asking again.

On Being A Better Democrat

This post is really for all the Democrats out there. Independents (or as we call them in CO Unaffiliated), Progressive, Liberals or other folks are welcome to read and comment, of course, but it is pointed toward those that identify themselves as Democrats. Markos Moulitsas the redoubtable Kos himself has pushed the idea of electing better Democrats as a part of his mission. It is a good mission to the Dog’s way of thinking but the better Dems has to not only extend to those we elect, it has to extend to those of us in the Party as well.

Crossposted at Square State

Regulation with a capital R

According to the Washington Post today, the Obama administration is proposing sweeping new regulations for the financial services industry.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is proposing a sweeping expansion of federal authority over the financial system, breaking from an era in which the government stood back from financial markets and allowed participants to decide how much risk to take in the pursuit of profit.

The Obama administration’s plan would extend federal regulation for the first time to all firms trading in financial derivatives and to companies including large hedge funds and major insurers such as American International Group. The administration also will seek to impose uniform standards on all large financial firms, including banks, an unprecedented step that would place significant limits on the scope and risk of their activities.

Beyond Lamestream

A medley of items from a vision atop the Apocalyptic Horse.

UPDATE: Bilderberg Meeting is early this year!



Author’s Note: I wrote this Tuesday, more or less because I couldn’t NOT write it. I had no plan to share it here really, it is very raw for me. But it seemed to resonate with my readers at WWL, and I have been asked to make our Radio Show about it Friday

The idea is, that as our Empire Collapses, we all are having personal, visceral fall-out, and maybe, just maybe people like you would want to call in and share where you’re heads are at. If it is all effecting you personally, not just financially.

So, here I am opening a vein, and tossing it out to see if it floats. Scary.

Love to you, Diane


Something is broken.

I suppose this is how it begins, when even the spiritually strong begin to become unraveled by death of a thousand tiny cuts, you know? People of the Midwest, as John Mellencamp opined in his intro on Sundays thread, do have the advantage of living in silence. We know how to be by ourselves in the World and be okay with it, be okay with our own internal dialogue. I cannot for the life of me get how big city people do it, with the barrage of input and distraction. But I digress…

Its like all the little lines tying me to everything are being severed one by one, either of my own doing or by happenstance.

Perhaps running the waitress game again has brought out too much of the actor in me, the conformist, leaving the real me floating inside watching the game. Perhaps my childhood created this other actor/me in a self-preservation instinct, but I have become so consummately good at it, that the real me almost never dares to venture out.

I suppose this is how the threads unravel in society. Isolation and acting.

Docudharma Times Thursday March 26

President Obama

Should Join The Mainstream

Eric Cantor Needs To

Find The Mainstream

President Obama Is Already There


Thursday’s Headlines:

Mayor ‘optimistic’ after blast to clear N.D. river

Welcome to France: home of sun, sea, sand, polygamy and the Indian Ocean

Fears of unrest in eastern Europe grow as Czech government collapses

Israel accused of ‘reckless’ use of white phosphorus

For a few minutes, Arabs and Jews united by music

Pakistani region where the brutal Taleban have taken control

Ex-Taiwan leader in graft trial

Madagascar: island even more isolated after coup

Kenya wildlife perishes in nets bought with US aid

U.S. shares blame for Mexico drug violence, Clinton says

Afghan Strikes by Taliban Get Pakistan Help, U.S. Aides Say


Published: March 25, 2009

WASHINGTON – The Taliban’s widening campaign in southern Afghanistan is made possible in part by direct support from operatives in Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, despite Pakistani government promises to sever ties to militant groups fighting in Afghanistan, according to American government officials.

The support consists of money, military supplies and strategic planning guidance to Taliban commanders who are gearing up to confront the international force in Afghanistan that will soon include some 17,000 American reinforcements.

Support for the Taliban, as well as other militant groups, is coordinated by operatives inside the shadowy S Wing of Pakistan’s spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, the officials said. There is even evidence that ISI operatives meet regularly with Taliban commanders to discuss whether to intensify or scale back violence before the Afghan elections.

North Korea ‘days away’ from launching missile

Hillary Clinton says firing missile would be ‘provocative’

Tania Branigan in Beijing, Thursday 26 March 2009 06.36 GMT

North Korea is days away from the launch of a long-range missile, United States officials have said, heightening concerns about the risks to regional stability.

Counter-proliferation and intelligence officials said the country had mounted a rocket onto a launch pad and placed together two stages of what will probably be a three-stage device, Reuters reported today. It could be ready to fire as early as the weekend, sooner than expected.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that firing a long-range rocket would be a “provocative act” that would have consequences, while South Korea said it would be “a serious challenge and provocation” threatening regional stability.

Pyongyang has said it plans to launch a communications satellite between 4 and 8 April.


Geithner to Propose Vast Expansion Of U.S. Oversight of Financial System

By Binyamin Appelbaum and David Cho

Washington Post Staff Writers

Thursday, March 26, 2009; Page A01

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner plans to propose today a sweeping expansion of federal authority over the financial system, breaking from an era in which the government stood back from financial markets and allowed participants to decide how much risk to take in the pursuit of profit.

The Obama administration’s plan, described by several sources, would extend federal regulation for the first time to all trading in financial derivatives and to companies including large hedge funds and major insurers such as American International Group. The administration also will seek to impose uniform standards on all large financial firms, including banks, an unprecedented step that would place significant limits on the scope and risk of their activities.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind II

Art Link


On Time

The years fly by

while the months

pass too slowly

Each day drones on

With not enough


Each second


the beating

of my heart



to the end

of my eternity


the grains

of sand

in the hourglass

acting as

the timepiece

of my life

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–December 22, 2005


I had always been good in a crisis. Siempre he aceptado el caos. I mean, I’m used to it by now-becoming el tranquilo ojo del huracán was essential en mi familia-pero esa día, Díos mio, was really pushing it. I had been taking turns at Lisa’s bedside with Mami, because the overdose and associated chingada of the previous twenty-four hours had calmed down enough for Miguel and Apá to go back to work at something like the normal time that morning. When mi hermano came to get me for my next shift, though, I couldn’t do it. The idea of spending another hour scared shitless and mumbling “ay cabrona, ¿cómo podría hacer esto?” to my unconscious sister when she still had those pinche tubes up her naríz was just too much, so I told Miguel I needed a break, and got the fuck out of there. I fled, just like the night of mi cumpleaños when things got too crazy.

It had been bastante fácil to float over to mi troquita and just drive wherever, away from the hospital parking lot and back home up El Camino Real, my head crammed with nine months of ugliness, and I knew that the only way to drain it was to tell somebody. So I called Roy-the one person who I thought I could count on for secrecy, if he could handle demasiadas revelaciones without cracking up-and dragged him up to the place where it all happened. Mi refugio, where the quiet and calm had always been so soothing, but had since become as oppressive as the July heat that was waiting for us both up there.  

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