April 12, 2009 archive

Goldman Sachs: The Real Pirates

In the ongoing media Battle of the Bulge of the finance oligarchs that has brilliantly sold idiot America the blatant falsehood that the economy has turned for the better (tell that to all the poor bastards in the tent cities that are sprouting up across the fruited plain) the big boys have struck back. In a masterpiece of propaganda only surpassed in recent history by the great General Petraeus led SURGE that flushed a bloody defeat in Iraq down the memory hole the same strategy has been applied in selling the notion that the zombie banks are alive and well. I am going to address this in far more detail in my upcoming piece that will be out in the next few days entitled Hooray! The Surge is Working…Again but I just wanted to chime in on this news.

The Democracy Index: An Interview With Law Professor Heather Gerken

Photobucket The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

On January 1, 2007, Yale Law School professor Heather Gerken  published a widely read article in the LegalTimes entitled, “How Does Your State Rank on The Democracy Index.” Gerken argued that just as the Environmental Performance Index (“EPI”) shamed countries such as Belgium to upgrade their environmental practices, a “Democracy Index” would embarrass state and localities into reforming their electoral administration through competition.

Since Bush vs. Gore in 2000, the debate about electoral reform has been dominated by anecdotes and overheated abstractions. Liberals like me have long suspected that states such as Ohio and Florida were deliberately disenfranchising minority voters sympathetic to Democratic candidates. Conservatives complained that voter fraud and urban political machines were allowing ineligible voters to cast ballots at the expense of Republican candidates. With her article, Gerken contended that a Democracy Index would replace a debate dominated by shouting with data driven arguments instead:

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Thai protesters defy state of emergency

by Jutarat Tongpiam, AFP

2 hrs 33 mins ago

BANGKOK (AFP) – Thousands of Thai anti-government protesters flouted a state of emergency in Bangkok on Sunday, rallying against embattled Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva after he ordered tanks onto the streets.

Demonstrators attacked Abhisit’s convoy, captured armoured vehicles and roamed the streets of the capital — a day after forcing the cancellation of a summit of Asian leaders in a major humiliation for the government.

The red-shirted supporters of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra massed outside Abhisit’s offices as night fell Sunday despite the premier’s threats to use force to restore order.

Amazonfail: Amazon dropping ‘adult’ content from rankings.

I just saw this post at a site that I frequent(*),:

Amazon De-ranks “Adult” Books

This is not a crisis, nor should we run screaming, but I think it is important enough that every reader, writer, publisher, editor and all champions of freedom of expression should take note. Amazon has changed its policy and has de-ranked books that it deems “adult” in nature. This includes anything they count as erotica and many non-adult LGBT books, as well. De-ranking means that they have been pulled from the sales ranks and are also not coming up in the search engine.

(and this particular euphemism always amuses me … dropping adult content rankings? That means only children are supposed to refer to Amazon ratings?)

Sunday music(?) retrospective: Easter stuff

Easter Parade

Dance number, with Fred Astaire and Ann Miller:

It Only Happens When I Dance with You


My gig is to write on Sundays. That means that this is the second year I’ve done so on Easter. As I said last time, I’m not a religious person. But the holiday still means a lot to me in the sense that it’s about spring, renewal, rebirth, and the return of the light.

I’ve lived a lot of places – almost all areas of this country and a couple of stints overseas. But I’ve never lived anywhere that spring is as important as it is here in Minnesota. I would imagine that the reasons for that are obvious, even to those who don’t live in the “tundra.” While we haven’t seen the green around here yet – the anticipation is palpable. During the years I lived in Florida and Southern California, I remember that the passage of the seasons was hardly noticeable. And, while I appreciated the general warmth that prevailed, there was something in me that missed this moment of anticipation followed by the burst of reality.

Docudharma Times Sunday April 12

Tea Party

Rabbits Invited Along

With Mad Hatters


Sunday’s Headlines:

Crisis Altering Wall Street as Big Banks Lose Top Talent

Soviet relics feel the pain as Russian crisis deepens

Sri Lanka conflict: ‘Two of us fled. 75 other women killed themselves with grenades,’ says Tamil Tiger

The little village that defied the earthquake

Cold Easter in Italian quake zone

‘I was a doctor in Rwanda, not a mass killer’

Zuma to rule South Africa like Zulu king

Blogger becomes casualty of Iran cyber-wars

Rebels kill 13 soldiers in Peru

Key U.N. Powers Agree on N. Korea Statement

By Colum Lynch

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, April 12, 2009; Page A12

UNITED NATIONS, April 11 — The U.N. Security Council’s five permanent powers and Japan reached agreement Saturday on a statement condemning North Korea’s April 5 rocket launch over Japan. The text would revive a 2 1/2 yearold threat of financial and travel sanctions against individuals and entities linked to Pyongyang’s missile program.

The pact set the stage for a likely agreement as early as Monday by the 15-nation council on a statement that would also demand that North Korea not conduct any additional missile tests. It ended a diplomatic standoff between the United States and China, which blocked an American-backed effort to rally international criticism of North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The rebels on the mountain

In a guerrilla-held area lush with pastures, streams and groves, villagers go about self-sufficient lives very different from those of the displaced people huddled in dry, dusty camps below.

By Edmund Sanders

April 12, 2009

Reporting from Jebel Marra, Sudan – To enter rebel-controlled territory at the base of this extinct Darfur volcano, you have to walk across a 100-yard no man’s land that separates government soldiers from Sudan Liberation Army fighters. As we leave the United Nations trucks and cross a barren field toward our SLA hosts, rebel silhouettes sprout on the mountaintops standing guard. It feels oddly — and a little amusingly — like some sort of hostage exchange.

Getting here took nearly as much negotiation. There were awkward teas with local bureaucrats and a flurry of satellite phone calls with various insurgents before we finally procured the needed government stamps and rebel permissions. Roads to the mountain are so bandit-ridden that even the government advises against using them. Little wonder no journalist had visited in seven months.

It’s agreed that U.N. peacekeepers can drop us at rebel lines but proceed no farther, because the SLA faction that controls Jebel Marra doesn’t trust them any more than it does the government.


HUD’s Dollar Homes falls short of mission

The federal program sets out to help poor families buy homes. Instead, housing contractors and investors are reaping the benefits, records show.

 By William Heisel

April 12, 2009

Jerry and Carol Ptacek bounced from one cramped apartment to another most of their adult lives, so they could hardly believe their luck when they were able to buy a San Bernardino house for the bargain price of $63,000.

Nine years later, they are renters again — a testament to the failure of the federal government’s Dollar Homes program.

Congress launched the program in 1998 to clear the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s books of foreclosures and provide affordable housing. Local governments would buy the homes for $1, fix them up and resell them at a discount to poor families, who would get a chance to put down roots in the community.

At least that’s how it was supposed to work.

Late Night Karaoke


Just posted a diary on DKos that you might enjoy regarding DH

I don’t come here often anymore, even knowing that it’s a good crowd, mostly because I have found I have a hell of a time monitoring more than one web site in real time.  But occasionally I post something at DKos that I think people here will enjoy.  This is one of those times.

Mastering the Incredible Adjustable Houle Hoop!


Most conservatives and some liberals — pay attention to those words “most” and “some,” because they will become important later on! — prefer to argue in generalities, both in terms of whom they attack and the grounds on which they attack them, because that makes it easier both to hurl charges and to defend oneself from countercharges later on.

If you’re reading this manual, it is probably because you have just been given a Houle Hoop — the device that makes this tactic easier!  You will learn below how to deploy your Houle Hoop so that it can be adjusted as often as needed to ensure that people will be dazzled by your ability to avoid contradiction for any claim you make!

“We showed the world today that the people can win”

Crossposted from Antemedius

How much more will Americans take from Wall Street and the US Government before we start to see people rise up the way they are in Thailand?

ASEAN Summit Called Off As Thai Protesters Storm Site

by Charles McDermid, Los Angeles Times, via truthout.org
Saturday, 11 April 2009

   Pattaya, Thailand – Thousands of protesters smashed through a glass entrance and stormed a hotel complex today during a key meeting of regional heads of state.

   Thailand has declared a state of emergency in the summit’s host city Pattaya and the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has been called off. Other protests have now been reported in the northern city of Chaing Mai, where protesters have blocked a road, and in Udon Thani, where demonstrators have surrounded City Hall.

   The widespread turmoil caps a week of anti-government protests that have paralyzed Bangkok and raised new fears about Thailand’s political stability.

   Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiv apologized to his regional counterparts and lifted the state of emergency in an impromptu press conference held in the abandoned venue seven hours after the protesters’ assault.

   “Anyone who declares this a victory is an enemy of the country,” said Abhisit.

   The demonstrators swarmed past police barricades and riot police in Pattaya for the second day to demand Abhisit step down and dissolve the government.

   Protest leader Kerk Somsan said the group overran the hotel in retaliation for one of their members allegedly being shot dead and others injured by gunfire in a clash with rival protesters earlier that day. They carried through on a vow to occupy the hotel if the government failed to make an arrest in the case within one hour. A Thai government spokesman said authorities are investigating the incident.

   The red-shirted protesters pushed police lines up the hotel’s steps and trapped them against the entrance. After several moments, the heaving glass shattered and protesters stormed the hotel. Many were waving flags, blowing whistles and horns and chanting “Thaksin,” the name of their exiled leader and benefactor, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

   The unarmed group raged through several adjacent buildings in the sprawling Pattaya Exhibition and Conference Center before gathering outside the meeting hall where nine leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, were inside having lunch. The leaders were later evacuated by helicopter from the resort’s rooftop, according to reports.

A Terrible Resolve

There is increasing anxiety throughout the imploding banking industry that the Obama Administration might insist upon management changes if the stress tests of the 19 biggest banks, which are due to be completed within three weeks, indicate that they are still fucked up beyond all recognition, despite being handed God only knows how many trillions of dollars through the Fed and TARP.  

Aware that this FUBAR Factor and the gory details of their financial fuckery to the Nth degree will be exposed for all the world to see, and intent upon keeping their jobs, bonuses, private jets and all of their Superstar of Wall Street perks, many bankers want out of the TARP program, are criticizing the conditions the Obama Administration set for paying back the TARP money, and are calling them unfair.  

Digby summarizes this latest development quite well and observes that these bankers . . .

are such short sighted, greedy, self centered jackasses that they refuse to be saved unless they get to fuck things up all over again.  (Oh, and make a killing doing it.)  I’m not against these banks paying back the TARP money but they have to live up to the agreements they made when they took the money — just like I do when I have to pay a penalty for early withdrawal. After all, they have a rather nice alternative. They could just loan the money to someone, which was the intent of the program.  But then they’d have to live under the threat that the big bad gummint is coming to take their bonuses and that’s just unacceptable to these pampered princes.

Dystopia 6: The Enemy

There will be scarcities of corn and squash during this katun and this will lead to great mortality. This was the katun during which the settlement of Chichen Itza occurred, when the man-god Kukulcan (Quetzalcoatl) arrived. It is the katun of remembering and recording knowledge.

Katun 4 (1993-2012) of the Mayan Calendar as prophesied by Chilam Balam

For half there will be food, for others misfortunes.  A time of the end of the word of God.  A time for uniting for a cause.

Katun 2 (2012-2032) of the Mayan Calendar as prophesied by Chilam Balam