December 31, 2007

Support Edwards in Iowa Caucus

A Zogby poll shows John Edward tied with Barack Obama at 26 percent gaining on Hillary Clinton who is at 30 percent. This is confirmed by a CNN poll and a new Strategic Vision poll, released Friday, showing Edwards at 28 percent.

"Edwards had a good day by virtue especially of increasing support among independent voters," Zogby said.

Edwards led narrowly among independents over Clinton and Obama, I believe, because Edwards is NOT from the corporate wing of the Democratic party.

According to a Politico essay, other signs of hope boost Edwards' chances in Iowa:

Edwards also comes into the Jan. 3 caucuses with particular advantages... Edwards’ campaign boasts the most deeply rooted rural operation, allowing it to possibly win small precincts across the state that could prove crucial in the final tally.

Politico continues to point out that this is buttressed in

Polling by The Washington Post [which has] found that Edwards has the most support among those voters who participated in the 2004 Democratic caucuses, no small advantage for an election that measures a high turnout at 120,000 participants statewide.

Another advantage identified by Politico...

When Democrats were asked in the poll what mattered to them in deciding their vote, 32 percent said ideology, 30 percent chose charisma and 21 percent selected experience.

Clinton has campaigned on her experience, and if the election turns on ideology and charisma, it would seem to favor Obama and Edwards.

You Can Help Edwards Peak in Iowa on Jan. 3

1. Boost the Buzz with an e-mail to Iowa Media Outlets:

Contact the Des Moines Register
to ... er, register your support of Edwards. There's nothing like a public outpouring to turn the heads of editors. Here's what I said:

Edwards is gaining ground. I support Edward because he's talking about "deep change," not superficial, corporate-sponsored "change."

Our Nation is faltering. We need a break from the status quo.


2. Pledge Your Support:

Women of Steel Pledge - CLICK
to sign a pledge of support. United Steel Workers pledge page allows you to do as little as state your support, or more.

3. Contact the Edwards Campaign for More Ways to Help:

Iowa Edwards Campaign:

4. Let the Iowa Democratic Party Know you Support Edwards:

They're likely to pass you on to the Edwards Campaign, BUT, calls coming into the Democratic Party will add to buzz that adds to the momentum for Edwards.

Iowa Democratic Party:

Get Engaged via Edwards' Web Page:

Here's the Link
to his Iowa page... the main page, and contribution page, are easy to find. Every $250 dollars is matched with public funds because Edwards has gone the public funding route.


Reuters, "Clinton leads in Iowa but Edwards gains," John Whitesides, December 31, 2007.

December 27, 2007

The Dark World of Bush

The predictable event of Benazir Bhutto's assassination is a foreshadowing of the dark world into which we will continue to descend if we follow the logic of Bush. By the CIA's account, that logic has created more extremists around the globe.

That logic takes the form of "the end justifies the means," "shoot first ask questions later," on an individual scale, and "preemptive war" on an international scale. Bush's logic has brought us the horrific notion that "enhanced interrogation [AKA torture] is acceptable... if the US does it," when those of us who have an understanding of the context know that "interrogation" is a cover for using torture as a psychological weapon... another aspect of Bush's logic.

Bush's logic, and the world it brings, means "more secrecy," "training of thousands of people in the dark para military arts," people who will some day use that training for private ends. The logic includes "narrowing of civil liberties is necessary in a time of war," like privacy, the right to associate without fear of reprisal... the list is too long in this category. Bush's logic envisions perpetual war of which authors like Orwell wrote years ago... and it's not just Bush. He seems to be the current face of a long lineage.

In writing about a time in the 1960s, when the US started down this dark path, author H.E. Livingston wrote:
When one powerful group thinks that the end justifies the means, and flagrantly breaks the law, when we turn our backs on the very democratic institutions and traditions we most value, when violence and murder become political tools, then we enter a nightmare world in which we are all at risk. Once descended into the underworld of darkness, it is impossible to emerge unscathed.

Bhutto's assassination is a chilling harbinger. The political assassinations of the 1960s and 9/11 showed that the USA is not immune to chaos, foreign or domestic. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party leadership is infected with the Bush logic. The courts are steeped in the Bush logic. The corporate media boosts its ratings, and profits, by playing on the macabre and thrills associated with Bush's dark logic.

On top of this, the USA is potentially about to descend into deep economic troubles, which will heighten the sense of desperation and the hunt for scapegoats; it's hard for a debtor nation to pay its debts when the tax base is dissolving due to the permanent outsourcing of jobs, the offshore tax havens of so-called "US corporations," and demographic trends of an aging nation. Aside from external forces, only the people of the US can steer us away from the horrors that will unfold if we keep following the dark logic of violence, secrecy, and other Machiavellian ways.

Hurray! Cluster Bombs are OK

Whew! Thanks to Israel, we now know that the indescriminant use of cluster bombs, at the very end of a military confrontation that is being negotiated to end soon, is perfectly OK! ... and people wonder why some Palestinians are driven to acts of violence.

DemocracyNow! reports:

Israel Rules It Was OK To Use Cluster Bombs in Lebanon:

An Israeli military prosecutor has concluded that Israel’s use of cluster bombs during the 2006 Lebanon war was justified and did not violate any standards of international law. Lebanese officials accused the Israeli army of covering up war crimes. The United Nations and human rights groups say Israel dropped about 4 million cluster bomblets during the 34-day war.

More than 30 people have been killed by cluster bomb and land mine explosions in Lebanon since the 2006 summer war.

Some of us know that it's not OK. The military prosecutor fox has just said it's "OK" to eat the chickens in the hen house. Now ain't that Orwellian.

If that's hard to understand, a quick read of the following links on this subject will help clarify things.

Haaretz Article exposes Israeli Military.

US Prohibitions on Israeli Use of Cluster Bombs.

Lebanon Damage: Israel's Indiscriminant use of cluster munitions.

December 26, 2007

Judge Marilyn L. Huff and Kevin Cooper

LA Times article on appeal ruling in Kevin Cooper's case:

In a Flashpoints radio program, December 21, 2007, judge in Kevin Cooper's trial was challenged as being "reactionary." In response, I did a little google digging and didn't come up with too much about Huff. Below are notes on what I found with associated links.

Huff Takes Time to Testify in Favor of Bush Nominee

Marilyn L. Huff testified in favor of Judge Benitez's nomination by George H. Bush despite strong opposition by Democrats and a "not qualified" finding by the ABA.

Opening Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
Judicial Nominations Hearing
February 25, 2004
The ABA reviews nominees in three areas: competence, integrity and judicial temperament. In Judge Benitez’s case, based on interviews with 23 judges and 44 attorneys, more than 10 members of the ABA committee concluded that, based on his temperament, he is not qualified to serve a lifetime appointment on the federal bench.

Chief Judge Marilyn Huff of the Southern District of California who has come today to speak in favor of Judge Benitez’s confirmation. [Benitez was also in the Southern Dist. Court]


Huff receives poor evaluations by attorneys:

According to nine attorney evaluations, provided by The Robing Room, Marilyn Huff's average evaluation score was 3.5 of 10 as of the date of this blog. Here are comments provided with five of the evaluations:

1. Weak on evidence. Tendency to let everything in rather than make hard (and correct) decisions. Has the intellectual capacity to make the right call, but appears too lazy to do so. Appears to decide early which attorneys/parties she likes and exhibits clear bias. Makes up her mind before all the evidence is in. Makes inappropriate comments to jury regarding their verdicts. She is the worst judge in this district by far. 2.8 of 10

2. Would not let me present closing argument on all of my causes of action. I felt like a slave to the courtroom timing device. Evenhanded Judge but not up to speed on the nuances of Civil RICO. 4.3 of 10

3. This Judge lacks even the most basic understanding of the law. What's worse, she is so afraid to reveal her own ineptitude, that she feigns knowledge and almost always gets it wrong. Should be removed from the bench. 1.2 of 10

4. The absolute worst judge on this otherwise good bench! 1.2 of 10

5. As soon as prosecutors began reporting judges for giving downward departures, she became a government hack. The only objection she understands is :"403, 403!" She is snippy, snippy, snippy. 2.9 of 10

Full set of scores: Of nine evaluations, she received an average score of 3.5 of 10.


CIA and Cocaine:

Judge Huff presided over the famous case of Rick Ross, sentenced to life for cocaine sales, which had a CIA connection. Below is a blurb:

Rick Ross, 36, was arrested again on March 2, 1994 and convicted of attempting to buy 100 kilograms of cocaine from Blandon in a federally run sting operation. During the sentencing hearing, Ross' attorney Alan Fenster charged that Blandon was working for the CIA and that Ross was "a victim of the most outrageous government misconduct known to man." Sentencing had been set for September 13, but U.S. District Judge Marilyn L. Huff delayed sentencing so that she could study the allegations raised by the Mercury News series and receive a report from the CIA. On November 19, Huff denied Fenster's motion that his client's conviction should be set aside and sentenced Ross to life in prison. "The conduct of Ross [and two other accomplices] ... is not excused by any tenuous ties to the CIA," Huff said before the sentencing (Amanda Covarrubias, "Dealer Alleging CIA Drug Link Gets Life Term," Washington Post, November 21, 1996, p. A18; "Crack dealer who alleged CIA involvement gets life term," Chicago Tribune, November 21, 1996, s. 1, p. 10).

Finally, Judge Huff might have used Yahoo Edgar to search for SEC information on the following cases before her:

GEN PROBE INC 11/9/2004

December 25, 2007

December 24, 2007

2008 Republican Presidential Candidates

We hear today that the Concord Monitor, in New Hampshire, printed an "anti-endorsement" of Mitt Romney on Sunday, December 23. The paper writes:
When New Hampshire partisans are asked to defend the state's first-in-the-nation primary, we talk about our ability to see the candidates up close, ask tough questions and see through the baloney. If a candidate is a phony, we assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we'll know it... Mitt Romney is such a candidate. New Hampshire Republicans and independents must vote no.

OUCH! This is consistent with the observations of the observations of Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson who spoke openly about Romney's flip-flopping [2]. Anderson said,

Mitt’s a great friend. We worked together very closely on the Olympics. We got to know each other very well.... And I must say that I am very surprised that somebody like Mitt Romney, who I always felt had such great integrity and was so reasonable, would have caved into his handlers and flip-flopped on so many issues that he used to say he felt so strongly about, things like choice. His coming out against stem cell research was just absolutely incredible to me.

Rocky Anderson also mentions Romney's comment about doubling the size of Guantanamo.

... you can see very clearly what’s happening—it’s so transparent—that a year before the presidential race, all of a sudden he’s got these new positions on these issues.

The Concord Monitor apparently sees through Romney too.

So, do Republicans turn to Mike Huckabee, or as I call him, "Yuckabee"? Romney got a lot of attention for his Mormon faith, including questions about it's cultish side (Jesus & Lucifer are brothers, planet Kolob, polygamy, etc.) But, Huckabee has effectively said his religion will dictate his policies:

Mike Huckabee: Faith doesn’t just influence me; it really defines me. I don’t have to wake up every day wondering what do I need to believe.

Let us never sacrifice our principles for anybody’s politics, not now, not ever.

I believe life begins at conception.

We believe in some things. We stand by those things. We live or die by those things.

I’m Mike Huckabee, and I approve this message.

The word "YIKES!" comes to mind, and I haven't even gotten into Huckabee's equating homosexuality with pedophilia and necrophilia in a 1998 entitled Kids Killing Kids [3]. This in addition to saying he doesn't believe in evolution. Apparently Huckabee was a baptist pastor. When investigative reporter David Corn tried to gain access to Huckabee's sermons, his efforts were blocked. Corn writes more about Yuck Yuck Yuckabee in a Mother Jones article [4].

OKaaayee. Maybe, John McCain will make a comeback from the political dead. Perhaps I'll have to eat my words on pronouncing John McCain's candidacy dead.

Ah! But many are proclaiming Adolf Giuliani as the heir apparent to the throne. But you wanna talk about baggage? All Giuliani has in his favor is a false impression of leadership in the immediate wake of 9/11. But facts are inconvenient things, and there are plenty of facts that have led the people of NYC give Giuliani the thumbs down: Faulty first-responder radios that had been known since the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, his insistence that the emergency command center be located in... the World Trade Center (a known target), his advancement of the inexperienced Bernard Kerik to from driver to police commissioner over seasoned veterans, Guiliani's persistent lobbying for his nomination of Kerik to be Secretary of Homeland Security... Kerik has been exposed as a fraud who, among other things, had an apartment in Manhattan paid for by shady characters and had sexual liaisons in an apartment near ground zero that was intended to be a rest center for people working on the pile. Republicans would be ill advised to nominate Adolf Giuliani.

I'm sure I've missed someone, but the Ron Paul crowd must be salivating at the self-destruction of the other contenders. Oh yea, Fred Thompson is still in the game... I saw his cherry-picked Iraq war propaganda photos, exploiting the troops/pawns, to the tinkling sound of Christmas music on YouTube. Thompson's little YouTube piece, designed to pull on people's heart strings, is a sad commentary on the State of the Union.


1. Associated Press, Paper gives 'anti-endorsement' to Romney, Glen Johnson, December 24, 2007.

2. DemocracyNow! Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson Slams His Friend Mitt Romney for “Flip-Flopping” on Abortion, Stem Cell Research, Torture in Attempt to Win GOP Presidential Nomination, June 25, 2007.

3. DemocracyNow!, Mike Huckabee Equates Environmentalism with Pornography, December 20, 2007.

4. Mother Jones, Huckabee Hides His Full Gospel? David Corn and Jonathan Stein, December 10, 2007.

Photo Credit, Romney Warning, Bob McCarthy, Alignment & Design, Inc. specializing in BIG sound systems (like stadiums, symphony halls).

December 22, 2007

Edwards Leads Poll in Iowa

According to MSN,
In an InsiderAdvantage poll in Iowa, Edwards leads among (977) likely voters 30-26-24 over Clinton and Obama. Edwards is also the clear second choice winner, 42-29-28 over Clinton and Obama.


December 21, 2007

Senator Mikulski on Media Ownership Consolidation

Senator Mikulski's response to my letter opposing FCC rules to allow greater consolidation of media ownership:

Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to media consolidation. It's good to hear from you.

I share your concerns about media consolidation and changes to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that would allow for greater consolidation of media ownership. I want to make sure that competition, localism and diversity of media ownership is preserved. I also want to make sure that the free exchange of ideas, on which our nation is based, continues unabated.

You can be sure that I will be watching this process very closely. I also want you to know that your views on media consolidation will be very helpful to me should the Senate consider any legislation related to media ownership rules in the future.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write. If I can be of any assistance to you in the future, please feel free to let me know.

Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator

P.S. If I can be of further assistance in the future, please visit my website at or call my Washington D.C. office at 202-224-4654.

December 18, 2007

Join the Nerdfighters

Based on the principle of a worker's revolution, though they might not have thought of it in those terms, ... uh, that's what they're promoting. yea....

Well, assuming Bush's Total Information Awareness Blah, Blah, Blah doesn't subvert John and Hank's efforts, the Nerdfighter movement could, ahem, subvert Bush's plans. Call it a counter revolution, or a finger in Bush's eye.

Nerdfighters Project for Awsome

December 16, 2007

Who is General Petraeus?

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us who David Petraeus is. Arun, you’re the first person to mention General Petraeus on our show years ago.

ARUN GUPTA: Yeah. What we were talking about two-and-a-half years ago was Petraeus’s role in helping to set up the Special Police Commandos. In 2004, 2005, he was given the mission to train all Iraq military and police forces. And, in fact, in July 2004, Newsweek had this cover of him, saying that Petraeus was going to train Iraqis to take over the fight. Now, the reality is, is that was, of course, a failure, because three years later he was back with an escalation of US forces.

Now, one of the key things that Petraeus did was they decided—him and his command decided—that they were going to create this paramilitary force, the Special Police Commandos. They armed them. They funded them. They trained them. And they also issued the usual denials: “Oh, we’re not giving them any weapons. This is an Iraqi initiative.” And so, now he’s saying the same thing with the Sunni militias.

So, anyway, the Special Police Commandos quickly morphed into Shiite death squads that were used against the Sunni insurgency and against Sunnis, in general, throughout Iraq. And this played a key role in terms of stoking and fomenting the civil war, because you had these death squads wearing government uniforms, being armed and trained by the US, going around killing Sunnis randomly. It generally alienated the Sunni Arab population from the government and drove them into the arms of the resistance.

Now what Petraeus is doing is he’s funding and arming these Sunni militias. And there are reports that have stated clearly with these militias saying, like, “Yes, we’re getting weapons from the US government.” And part of it is, is that they do want to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq, which is another Sunni-based group. It’s an Iraqi-based group. But their main purpose is they want this money and weapons and aid to fight the Shiite militias.

So here we have them, like in 2004, setting up these Shiite militias, and now he’s setting up these Sunni militias to fight these Shiite militias. And what it portends is just an absolute disaster for Iraq. And, of course, it will also be used as justification: “Well, we can’t leave because a bloodbath will result.” But we’re not looking at the fact that it’s the US that’s creating this bloodbath.


DemocracyNow, A Look At How Petraeus Helped Arm Warring Sunni and Shia Militias in Iraq, September, 12 2007.

December 14, 2007

Wexler Wants Hearings

It may be too late to convict Dick Cheney in the U.S. Senate, but it's not too late for a small group of U.S. House members to start impeachment proceedings. The historical record needs to reflect formal steps taken to hold Dick Cheney accountable.

Add your vote soon to create momentum. CLICK to go to Wexler Wants Hearings.COM.

Below... a revealing 27-second slip-of-the-tongue by Dick Cheney.

Dick Chenye's "US Countries"

December 12, 2007

Write the FCC and Congress on Media Ownership

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman, Kevin Martin, is on the cusp of ramming new regulations through a Bush-majority commission. The rules woudl allow corporate media to consolidate even more than the 1996 Telecommunications Act. By adding newspapers to the cross-ownership mix, Bush's FCC would allow a single corporation in a particular city gain more dominance by owning the main newspaper, broadcast TV, radio and possibly the cable/internet network. That's too much consolidated power.

The vote could occur very soon.

Write the FCC
, it's easy. You can simply send the canned letter, or write an original letter. Here's what I wrote:
In a democracy, the voice of the majority can choose non-economic values over "market efficiency." That voice is saying we want an FCC rule that reverses the trend of media ownership consolidation among a small number of powerful corporations.

This fundamental policy should not be dictated by whoever happens to be in the White House in disregard to the voice of a majority of the people.

While your at it, Write Congress and tell them to pass the Media Ownership Act of 2007.


Stop Big Media

December 10, 2007

The End of the World

Classic funny Flash media animation:

The End of the World

December 8, 2007

Gates says Iran seeks to cause chaos

So does the U.S. government. The Bush M.O. is management by chaos.

The world is being taken over by a segment of the corporate elite by using the The Shock Doctrine.


Associated Press, Gates says Iran seeks to cause chaos, LOLITA C. BALDOR, December 8, 2007.

December 7, 2007

Trust the Government

Associated Press writer PAMELA HESS reports that at least one of the CIA torture tapes showed the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah, a detainee taken by the CIA in 2002. She continues to report that,
Zubaydah, under harsh questioning, told CIA interrogators about alleged 9/11 accomplice Ramzi Binalshibh.

Then she reports that,

The two men's confessions also led to the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom the U.S. government said was the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

We're supposed to believe the U.S. government?


Associated Press, Democrats want probe of tape, Pamela Hess, December 7, 2007 (A day that will live in infamy).

December 5, 2007

Who is Responsible for Subprime Mess?

First, I should say that some entities have broken laws. Their blame is beyond question. However, the entities on which I'm focusing are those that didn't technically break any laws. They still bear responsibility.

The case, in a nutshell, is that corporations are amoral profit-seeking machines, so it is expected that they will push the legal and ethical limits. As a consequence, you can't blame a dog for acting like a dog, and the same goes with Wall Street and loan originating corporations. Yet, if someone is bitten by a dog, the dog still shares in the blame, even if provoked.

Wall Street's blame is greater than the loan originators. By Wall Street I mean hedge funds, major banks, investment firms, bond raters and other enablers that kept moving bad investment bubble expanding. They helped create the bubble market, in part
by financing the local mortgage lenders. Wall Street should have known better. They were making wind fall profits, many knowing that investors in mortgage backed bonds were going to be left holding the bag. Some were stupid, but when you have your hands on major investments that can rock the nation's economy, being dumb isn't an excuse.

The loan originators were just operating day to day responding to the market created by Wall Street. Their reasoning, "The balloon is still expanding, I'll go originate another loan until I can't do so any more." Although many loan originators used unethical practices, so do car sales men.

The buyers share some of the blame, yet they are clearly price takers, many being forced to operate in a failing market. That is, if your job moved, and you had to move and buy a house, you were forced to do so, while Wall Street operators were profiting handsomely at your expense. When buyers wondered how they could afford the loans, the loan brokers reassured them. They were telling buyers, "this is just the way the market works now. It's been like this in California for decades. The rest of the Nation is just catching up. It's true that some buyers were speculating and flipping real estate, and they deserve more blame than typical buyers. Buyers were duped and forced to deal with a failing market.

And who let the market failure occur and perpetuate? The regulators. They are experts and should have known better than to let profit-seeking machines run amok with so much at stake. Even part-time hobbyists like me could see the disaster coming. Unfortunately, they profess knowledge, but were themselves duped by their own belief that the market is self-correcting. They're partly right. But they failed to consider that the self-correction could be like a plane self-correcting into the ground.

Now the bailouts come, and guess who will pay for it? Not the Wall Street insiders who were spending their bonuses last year on upgrading their Manhattan real estate from a $3 million dollar flat to a bigger flat with a better view. Not the regulators, one of whom named Greenspan has just written his memoirs and re-written history. Not the loan originators. The industry pawns have already paid once by being laid off, and are likely to be paying again, with the rest of us, in direct bail outs of "too big to fail" firms, like Citigroup, and paying in the form of not having government programs that widely benefit the common people (expansion and maintenance of national parks and museums, financial aid for college, improved health care, etc.)

That's the gist of it. But for those who are interested, there's more.

Robert Kuttner points out a contradiction about "free markets" in explaining why regulators should not have allowed this unfolding disaster to happen:
There were regulations on the books that the federal reserve refused to enforce because the Fed claims to believe in free markets, except when they go nuts, then the Fed bails them out.

In other words, the markets are free when the inside crowd is vacuuming in profits from the commoners, but when the self-correction comes, the market is no longer free, and the inside-crowd gets bailed out... by the commoners.

Economist Paul Krugman, who specializes in global financial stability and crises, recently wrote a column for the New York Times entitled, "Innovating Our Way to Financial Crisis."

First, Krugman gives us a sense of the magnitude of the crisis:

How bad is it? Well, I’ve never seen financial insiders this spooked — not even during the Asian crisis of 1997-98, when economic dominoes seemed to be falling all around the world.

This time, market players seem truly horrified — because they’ve suddenly realized that they don’t understand the complex financial system they created.

Others, whom I could quote if I was more diligent, have said this crisis is ten times worse than the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s. We tax payers are still paying for that bailout.

Krugman explains the regulator's blunder:

... the problem was ideological: policy makers, committed to the view that the market is always right, simply ignored the warning signs. We know, in particular, that Alan Greenspan brushed aside warnings from Edward Gramlich, who was a member of the Federal Reserve Board, about a potential subprime crisis.

Krugman continues, indicating that the regulators have still not learned their lesson:

Just a few weeks ago Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, admitted to Fortune magazine that financial innovation got ahead of regulation — but added, “I don’t think we’d want it the other way around.” Is that your final answer, Mr. Secretary?

I noted that this essay focuses on legal operatives. A potentially valid criticism of this essay is to assume that the whole damn affair wasn't fraught with illegal activity. Some have surely crossed the legal line, particularly in the mortgage lending sector. One is particularly noteworthy.

On the same day that the White House announced that President Bush is nominating California billionaire Roland E. Arnall to be ambassador to the Netherlands, the company he controls said it would set aside $325 million for a possible settlement of allegations of predatory lending tactics.

Arnall's company, Ameriquest Mortgage Co., is being investigated by regulators in 30 states. A $325 million settlement would be one of the largest ever in a predatory lending case.

You can read more in the July 29, 2007 Washington Post.

Another case was the lender "Countrywide." I had a loan with them once. They might have been the one who, upon buying my loan, or maybe it was selling it to another lender, failed to pass along the home owners insurance information. I received a notice from the insurance company that my premium hadn't been paid, and was no longer covered (had the house burned down at that point, I'd have been one seriously fucked individual). It seemed like a scam, because when I went to buy insurance, I had to pay a lot more than before... everything has changed since 9/11, and I think the commoners are paying for it... again.

Everyone interested in this subject should read Inside the Countrywide Lending Spree.

Barowers are being scapegoated. This essay is an attempt to mitigate that misplaced blame. A lot of the innovated lending products were complicated and misrepresented by brokers who bore no risk because they either never owned the mortgage, or they sold it to be bundled with other loans as a mortgage-backed security (bond). This time around, we need to learn the lesson of the S&L scanals. That is, it was three scandals. The first was the Congressional deregulation scandal. The second was the corporate run amok scandal. The third was the Congressional bail out scandal. Lets bail out the duped home buyers, but not the profit reaping inside crowd this time around.


This essay was inspired by an interview of Robert Kuttner by Robert McChesney,on the December 2, 2007 episode of the radio show Media Matters. Dr. Kuttner is a founder of the American Prospect Magazine and author of the recent book, "The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity" (Knopf, November 2007), which goes further into these issues.

December 4, 2007

US Army Admits to Shooting Iraqi Civilians

The Headline:
U.S. soldiers shoot 4 Iraqi civilians, one killed

The punchy opening hook:

U.S. soldiers mistakenly shot four Iraqi civilians, killing one, during operations against al Qaeda militants, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

The Story:

U.S. soldiers had detained a suspected al Qaeda fighter in Tarmiya, 30 km (20 miles) north of Baghdad, on Monday when they were approached by a car that did not obey an order to stop.

The readers eyes roll:

As if this is a rare news story. Doh!

The Google Results: approached car stop fired Iraq

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Security guards fire on Iraqi car

Security guards open fire on car, kill two Iraqis Oakland Tribune ...

U.S. soldiers attempted to warn the occupants of a car carrying a freed Italian journalist before troops opened fire, ...

ABC News: Pregnant Iraqi Woman Shot Near Security Checkpoint

Worldandnation: U.S. troops fire on car, killing 2 civilians (Jan. 2005)

A shooting after nightfall --
The car rolled to a stop. It was not the first time soldiers in Iraq have fired on vehicles driven by people who were either uncomprehending of the danger ...

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - Middle East
In western Baghdad, an Iraqi police officer said an American patrol fired at a group of civilian cars as they approached a bridge, killing two people. ...

What Iraq's checkpoints are like |

I could go on, but there are over a million links.


The Head Shakes:



Reuters, U.S. soldiers shoot 4 Iraqi civilians, one killed, December 4, 2007.

December 3, 2007

Remember this News Story

According to a reporter with Reuters, The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report says Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and it remains on hold.
Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.

Will this news story be forgotten by the Corporate media if Bush presses to attack Iran sometime in the future? Not if we hold them accountable.

CLICK to Contact The Media and tell them you'll be watching them in the future if Bush tries to play the mushroom cloud card to justify attacking Iran.


Reuters, Report contradicts Bush on Iran nuclear program, Matt Spetalnick, December 3, 2007.

November 29, 2007

The Annapolis Surrender Negotiations

I'm not alone in thinking the "historic" Annapolis Summit has the feel of surrender negotiations. Granted, waring parties always seek to gain an advantage prior to entering peace negotiations, but Israel's advantage is absolute.

During the past seven years of the Bush administration, the Palestinians have been divided and conquered. The US has assisted in the process and cannot be considered an honest broker. But they're not brokering a peace negotiation; they're brokering a surrender.

November 28, 2007

Republican Operatives: Serial Election Fraudsters

We're well aware of Bush's Republican operatives tampering with US elections. This has been documented by Robert Kennedy Jr. in Rolling Stone, the BBC's Greg Palast in 2000 and 2004, and Congressman John Conyers. (More on 2004 election manipulation).

And there are more dots to connect. First, this activity is far more insidious than the sealing of elections in Florid and Ohio. It's clear that a the US Attorney firing scandal has a deeper plot that is connected to voter suppression on a massive scale.

Second, there are foreign dots to connect. The Bush administration is implicated in two recent cases. We hear reports like the following:
U.S. tensions with Russia are on the rise over accusations of vote-meddling. On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the Bush administration of trying to taint parliamentary elections set for next week. Putin says the U.S. influenced European monitors to cancel plans to observe the vote.

Why? Because, months after everyone has forgotten this news blip, Bush's "set up" will allow his operatives to say, "there were no monitors in the Russian election," thereby casting doubt on the election's legitimacy. The violation is so egregious that Vladimir Putin himself spoke out in response (translated):

We have information that, once again, this was done on the recommendation of the U.S. State Department. We, of course, will take this into account in our inter-state dealings; this is for sure. Actions such as these cannot wreck the elections in Russia. Their aim is to deprive the elections of legitimacy, that is absolutely clear. But they are not going to achieve that [1].

Clip of Putin Statement

Then, on November 28, 2007, we heard Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro reveal that he had a document that appeared to be from an American at the embassy in Caracas referring to a plan to impede a referendum on Sunday to consider giving new powers to the Venezuelan executive branch.

If it's true, we are going to declare this official from the U.S. Embassy persona non grata and eject him from the country because he would have been interfering in the internal matters of Venezuela. [2]

It seems to be true, based on a detailed account by Professor James Petras, which exposes a CIA operation pincer (Tenaza in spanish).

But it doesn’t stop there. The Republicans have institutionalized their elections interference through the US taxpayer funded “National Endowment for Democracy.” This nice sounding institution funded the International Republican Institute of Washington, an arm of the GOP, to run training sessions for the youth wing of the right wing Mexican PAN political party and fund a US corporation to collect data that was likely used to suppress votes.

The illegal operations all involve pre-election suppression tactics. The US company ChoicePoint, which helped purge Florida voter rolls prior to 2000 election, is implicated widely. According to BBC investigative journalist Greg Palast. Referring to ChoicePoint, which received a no-bid contract from the Bush administration to collect data supposedly for use in "fighting terrorism," it appears the information was used to scrub voter rolls or to cage voters and create challenge lists:

Foreign — that is, American — interference in political campaigns is a crime. That didn’t stop Team Bush. However, when the theft of its citizen files was discovered, Argentina threatened to arrest ChoicePoint contractors until the company returned the tapes — and Mexico’s attorney general did in fact arrest the ChoicePoint data thieves to avoid his party from looking too much the stooge of its Washington patron.

Similar operations were conducted in Venezuela using ChoicePoint.

More suppression occurs during the voting process, such as challenging voters via caging lists developed prior to the election, allocating too few voting machines in targeted districts to create long lines, changing polling places to sow confusion or force the use of provisional ballots, which are less likely to be counted, etc, which leads to...

... operations after the voting is completed. In Mexico, 17 polling sites documented the votes cast for Bush-supported Caldaron vastly exceeded the number of registered voters at a site. These numbers only represent what was proven soon after the election. There was also documentation of several ballot boxes found in dumps in México City, where support for the more liberal candidate Obrador was very strong.

One can go on and on about what can no longer be denied. The Bush Republicans have been conducting illegal voter suppression campaigns, inside and outside the United States, on a sophisticated level, and continue to do so. If this makes your blood boil, check out Black Box Voting, citizens who are taking action.


1. DemocracyNow!, Headlines, November 27, 2007.

2. Reuters, Venezuela may expel U.S. envoy over vote suspicions, Patricia Rondon, November 28, 2007.

November 26, 2007

Is the State Secrets Privilege Legitimate?

With the state secrets privilege making headlines, its worth looking back at where it came from.

Associated Press reporter, Pamela Hess, writes:
The principle was established a half-century ago when, ruling in a wrongful-death case brought by the widows of civilians killed in a military plane crash, the Supreme Court upheld the Air Force's refusal to provide an accident report to the plaintiffs. The government contended releasing the document would compromise information about a secret mission and intelligence equipment.

But she ends it there. Further investigation reveals that the deaths might have been wrongful, which was the only secret being hidden by the State. According to

In 2000, the accident reports were declassified and released, and it was found that the argument was fraudulent, and there was no secret information. The reports did, however, contain information about the poor state of condition of the aircraft itself, which would have been very compromising to the Air Force's case.

The state secrets doctrine becomes illegitimate when we loose trust in the Government (i.e., the executive branch). We have good cause to lack trust in the Government. Another example from the AP article follows:

a federal judge in Virginia last week ordered the government to give trial prosecutors, defense lawyers and her clerk security clearances to review classified material in a terrorism case. Defense lawyers say the material will show the government failed to turn over evidence obtained by illegally monitoring their client's communications, and they want a new trial. The government says the information is protected by the state secrets privilege.

In that example, we see evidence that attorney-client privilege is unraveling, while the state secrets privilege is tightening.

It's called the State Secrets "Privilege;" it's not a right, and the current government has lost it's privilege. We need to use the checks and balances, which partly define our democracy, and require judicial review of all specific Government claims of this privilege.


Associated Press, Challenges brew over 'state secrets', Pamela Hess, November 26, 2007.

November 25, 2007

Amazing Ukulele

A friend told me that a great rendition of George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps was available on YouTube.... played on ukulele. I immediately envisioned a good voice accompanied by ukulele. Then he told me it was an instrumental piece played in Central Park, NYC.

The person who posted the YouTube version says he's not responsible for the production. He continues, "For that, you guys will have to thank Jason at who is the video's original producer. The original video can be found at jake's page on, with other videos from Jake Shimabukuro."

Jake Shimabukuro: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

November 23, 2007

Challenge the Pentagon Claims

The Pentagon is claiming it is about to run out of money, and that it's the Democrat's fault. As noted in a November 21 OOIBC blog entry, Congressman John Murtha has called the Pentagon's Bluff.

Murtha has taken a risk by doing this. He needs the support of his colleagues in Congress. You can help by writing your Representative.

Here's what I wrote:

Your colleague, Rep. John Murtha, has taken a strong stand and needs your support. He has challenged the truthfulness of Pentagon claims that they are soon to run out of money, and that this is putting US troops in danger. The Pentagon is blaming the Democratic Congress.

The Pentagon claims should be challenged. Please contact the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on my behalf and ask them if it is possible to substantiate the Pentagon claims. Please coordinate your CBO request with the office of Rep. John Murtha.

By asking your representative to contact the CBO, and to coordinate with Murtha's Office, you initiate action and create buzz on Capitol Hill. If we're lucky, the CBO will validate Murtha's assertion that the Pentagon is exaggerating it's claims of running out of money.


Leave a voice mail or send a FAX to Rep. John Murtha. It's vital that he knows he has support on this.

(202) 225-2065 (fill his voice mail box over the holiday weekend)
(202) 225-5709 fax

November 21, 2007

Murtha Calling Pentagon's Bluff

US Representative John Murtha needs our support to sustain his call of the Pentagon's bluff. Bush has rejected Congress's military spending bill and is now "accus[ing] Democrats of failing to support soldiers and their families," according to the Los Angeles Times.

The White House is trotting out Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, and even a retired Army general, Montgomery C. Meigs, who claims that bomb squads will suffer almost immediately if Congress does not relent.

Murtha says these guys are lying. We need to rally to his side so that he'll keep it up.

According to the LA Times, "Pentagon officials advanced plans to lay off 200,000 civilians because of budget shortfalls, prompting Democratic charges of fear-mongering." Murtha said,

They're scaring people. They're scaring the families of the troops.

Murtha, formerly known as a military hawk, asked reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference:

Because the Pentagon says it, you believe it? You believe what the Pentagon says? All the things that they have told us: 'Mission accomplished,' 'Al Qaeda connection,' 'weapons of mass destruction,' on and on and on. And you believe the Pentagon?

No. We don't believe the Pentagon. It's time to call their bluff. The only way to stop this war is the No Legislation Alternative; send no funding bill to Bush and there's no bill to veto.

Take Action:

Contact the LA Times authors and urge them to follow up with Representative John Murtha.

Contact Murtha
and offer support on calling the Pentagon's bluff.
(202) 225-2065 (fill his voice mail box over the holiday weekend)
(202) 225-5709 fax

Contact other Media Outlets
to indicate your support of Murtha and urge them to reflect your sentiment in their coverage.


Spiegel and Barns report, "Congress passed a separate $471-billion Defense Department budget, but that measure did not include the war costs." Compare that with Clinton and Bush 41 defense budgets:

During the 1992 Presidential campaign, Bill Clinton denounced George Bush - quite properly - for failing to recognize that the Cold War was over. But Clinton's $263 billion Defense Department budget is a mere $10 billion lower than that projected by the Bush Administration, and retains just about all of the silly or sinister weapons boondoggles from the Reagan/Bush era. [2]

Not all of that increase can be blamed on inflation. And to think that Hilary and Barak want to increase the size of our military [3].


1. Los Angeles Times, Pentagon officials move ahead on layoff plans in anticipation of funds drying up. Democrats say they're exaggerating, Peter Spiegel and Julian E. Barnes, November 21, 2007

2. The Progressive, Cold War - the sequel - Clinton Defense budget - Editorial, May 1993.

3. The Hill, ’08 hopefuls would grow the military, Roxana Tiron, May 02, 2007.

November 19, 2007

Pakistan's Supreme Court Decision

Sound familiar?
A Supreme Court, hand-picked by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, swiftly dismissed legal challenges to his continued rule on Monday, opening the way for him to serve another five-year term — this time solely as a civilian president.

CNN reported, December 12, 2000:

the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in Saturday to stop the [Florida Supreme] court-ordered manual count of tens of thousands of presidential election ballots in Florida.

Seven of the nine Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican presidents.

Justice Stevens wrote that "preventing the recount from being completed will inevitably cast a cloud on the legitimacy of the election." To say nothing of the legitimacy of the US Supreme Court and so-called democracy in the United States.


CNN, Sharply divided high court stops Florida recount, December 10, 2000.

November 18, 2007

Sweetheart Insider Loans for Bush

Once upon a business digest...

President Bush has called for an end to some of the very insider transactions that he used as a director of Harken Energy in the late 1980s. Mr. Bush received two low-interest loans and then benefited from the company's relaxation of the terms of one loan. On Tuesday, he challenged directors to "put an end to all company loans to corporate officers."

Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, discounted suggestions that Mr. Bush was being hypocritical in calling for an end to loans of a kind he once received. Mr. Bartlett said that while such loans had been properly used in the past, they had recently been abused.

Yea, right. More details on the loans.

Bush a Phony Businessman:

In 1986, Bush's company, Spectrum 7, was on the brink of insolvency. Harken bought it, paying Bush and his partners roughly $2 million in Harken stock. Bush's name and connections were the main reasons Harken was willing to offer so much to purchase the otherwise ruined Spectrum 7, pay impressive director's and consultant's fees, and generous loans to someone who had yet to launch a successful business venture.

More serious questions surrounded Bush's 1990 sale of his Harken stock. Basically, Bush used the loans to buy Harken stock. Bush later sold the stock on inside information shortly before the company announced major losses. In 1991, the Security and Exchange Commission investigated Bush for fraud, including failure to report the stock sale, but... when you're the President's son, justice doesn't seem to apply the same as it would otherwise.

Harken pulls an Enron: Facing large end-of-year losses, Harken sold a chain of gas stations for $11 million to a group of investors, including Harken's chair and a director. Harken received $1 million, and loaned the rest to the investors. In an Enronian bit of accounting, Harken posted a $7.9 million current profit. Harken's executives obtained approval for the transaction from Harken's directors, among them Bush.

I've directly quoted extensively from The Truth About George . Com [2].


1. New York Times, Business Digest, July 11, 2002.

2. TheTruthAbout

November 17, 2007

Global Climate Change Accelerating

I'm debating with myself. Will George Bush go down in history as a war criminal or global climate change criminal? Perhaps both, but certainly the latter. People in the future might forget the wars, and Bush might escape prosecution on war crimes, but they will be living the global climate disaster.

When I read that scientists have concluded global warming is accelerating my thought was, "This means they are VERY certain about global warming." That comes from my physics background; detecting "acceleration" means you already know something about the velocity of the trend. By analogy, it's one thing to see a car is moving in a particular direction at some velocity, but it's more difficult to tell that it's picking up speed. Scientists have apparently confirmed the latter.

Bush's White House is just grasping the fact that the car is moving in the direction of climate change. I doubt they appreciate the fact that it's picking up speed.

The Associated Press writes, "Sharon Hays, a White House science official and head of the U.S. delegation, said the certainty of climate change was clearer now than when Bush rejected Kyoto." Hays said,
What's changed since 2001 is the scientific certainty that this is happening.... Back in 2001 the IPCC report said it is likely that humans were having an impact on the climate...

The AP adds, "but confidence in human responsibility had increased since then."

Yvo de Boer, the U.N.'s top climate change official, recently said,

What's new is the clarity of the signal, how clear the scientific message is ... "The politicians have no excuse not to act.

To toss in another physics concept, the trend in global warming has inertia, which means, even if the foot is eased, the car will simply drop to a constant velocity (we'll keep getting warmer); even if the foot is taken off the gas pedal and the car slows down, it will keep going in the same direction (getting warmer); even if the brakes are applied, it will keep going in the same direction (getting warmer). Inertia.

Actually, the point about inertia isn't new, but it is news in the corporate media. This was known in the mid-1990s when I was grad school. There's a physical reason for it. As the earth warms, and the northern regions locked in permafrost get soggy, the frozen organic matter is subject to bacteria decay and gives off methane, a greenhouse gas that's at least ten-times as efficient as carbon dioxide in trapping solar radiation in the earth's changing atmosphere. As the earth warms, and permafrost melts, more of this gas is released, thereby generating more gas, leading to more warming in a positive feedback process. Inertia

In theory, this process could spin out of control, that is, lead to the "runaway greenhouse effect." It's called "runaway" because it runs away from human control to do anything about it. It could lead to the total demise of the Earth.

The sick reality is that the Bush crony capitalists, like Blackwater World Wide, are positioning themselves to profit from this emerging disaster. I've not read Naomi Klein's recent book on disaster capitalism, but I'd have to guess it touches on this topic. If not, her paperback version of The Shock Doctrine should.


Associated Press, UN panel gives dire warming forecast, ARTHUR MAX, November 17, 2007.

November 15, 2007

Writers Strike Information

Keep up with the writers guild strike at

The success of future internet media reform is tied closely to the success of the writers.

November 13, 2007

Support = Cut Off Funding and Bring Our Troops Home

If I was one of the troops, I'd want the Democrats to take no funding action; no bill, no vote, no veto, no more support for Bush's Iraq occupation policy. That would place the ball back in Bush's court to either leave us in Iraq without resources (his choice and blame on him), or bring us home. The sooner that happens, the less likely I'd end up like Isaac Gallegos, a burned pawn in a rich man's war.

A friend reports that this picture first appeared in the San Antonio Express News last week. There is a multi-million dollar facility for wounded soldiers in San Antonio.
George Bush has been to San Antonio five times as President and he finally had the guts to come by and see the soldiers in rehab. In classic Dubya style, as the picture tells, he seems to find something really amusing. You will note the soldiers in the picture don't look too amused. This one picture says a 1000 words about that man and his presidency.

Link to All of the Pictures.

November 10, 2007

The Subprime Scam

I started writing about the "irrational exuberance" of the real estate market at the end of 2005 as it became clear that the debt feast was coming to an end.

The unraveling of the real estate market isn't funny for people who are stressing over the loss of their home. 2.8 million families are facing unaffordable mortgages that are predicted to go bust over the next 18 months. It's even less funny when one realizes that the inside crowd knew they were making fortunes off of a boom cycle that would surely bust after they'd made their riches. For those getting rich, the "exuberance" wasn't "irrational."

The following video uses humor to explain how the subprime scam worked. British comedians John Bird and John Fortune perform their skit entitled, "The Last Laugh," for the ITV South Bank Show.


Credit to Gary North who posted a link to this video in his essay Two Kinds of Experts, November 8, 2007,

November 9, 2007

Musharraf Must Go

Remember the people power movement in the Phillipines? Musharraf's authoritarian regime is on the verge of facing a similar uprising.

Musharraf's excuse of fighting terrorism doesn't explain why he is targeting democracy movement activists, lawyers and supreme court members for arrest in their homes and offices. Just like Bush and Cheney, the so-called "war on terrorism" is being used as a way to cover up the excesses of crony capitalism and control the non-elites. Pakistan's current situation is a foreshadow of what is to come to the US if we don't roll back the executive powers that Bush/Cheney are attempting to grab.

Musharraf risks facing the same surge of legitimate dissent as Ferdinand Marcos. Musharraf can't arrest his way into maintaining power. Neither can Bush and his ilk, like Giuliani.


Associated Press, Bhutto under house detention in Pakistan, ZARAR KHAN, November 9, 2007.

November 7, 2007

Dollar Slipping From Position as Foreign Exchange Reserve

The word, "Yikes!" comes to mind:

The dollar swooned amid speculation that China will seek to diversify some of its foreign currency stockpiles beyond the greenback.

The 13-nation euro hit a fresh record against the dollar -- rising to $1.4729 -- before falling back [to $1.4554]. The dollar lost ground following word that a senior Chinese political figure said China should spread its $1.43 trillion foreign exchange reserves beyond the dollar into the euro and other strong currencies.


Associated Press, Stocks Plunge With Dollar; Dow Down 360, Tim Paradis, November 7, 2007.

November 6, 2007

The "R" Word

Recession. We'll be lucky to simply have a recession.

Those who were old enough in the late 1970s and 80s remember Japan. So smart, selling high quality small cars while the US auto makers kept selling huge gas guzzlers. Japan had so much money pouring in that it was buying up US real estate and business icons.

You haven't heard a lot about Japan since then. That's because they've been in a "Japanese-style economic stagnation, which eventually evolved into a deflationary recession." Japan has been in this condition for well over a decade.

Before it's fall from grace, Japan had a trade surplus. Japan was, and remains, a power house auto maker. The US is neither. It has outsourced blue and white collar jobs that are not coming back, has a historic level of debt held by Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and other foreign countries, and is on the brink of expanding its military adventures beyond the Iraq quagmire into Iran. In other words, a "fall from grace" of historic proportions has been teed up for the United States. It reminds one of the saying, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall."

At a Reuters Finance Summit in New York, James Dunne, chief executive of Sandler O'Neil & Partners, said:

I think that the risk of a recession is greater than people realize.

Howard Lutnick, CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald company of 9/11 notoriety agreed:

I think there is a serious risk to the economy.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan thinks there is a one-in-three chance of a recession in the near future.

John Duffy, chairman and CEO of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, gave a more colorful answer when asked where the U.S. economy is headed over the next year or so:

In the toilet.

Returning to the point I've raised above, the question is not whether we're going to have a recession, but how severe. Charles Peabody, partner at New York-based research firm Portales Partners LLC raised the reference to the "Japan-style" melt down and said:

We're moving into a recession, and over time -- the length of which is difficult to predict.


Reuters, Wall Street firms see recession nearing, John Poirier, November 6, 2007.

November 5, 2007

Cool Sites from Down Under

If you're into Adventure, of the kind that can make your computer slog and slow to a near halt, you might check out First Fleet On. Williams/Nash, Pioneers Australia. Quirky site with interesting graphics, like the one below, but with a dash of something that made my brow nearly freeze (it didn't go all the way to "Not Responding," but I did have to quit the browser twice.

Ric, if you get this message, you might want to turn off some of the "Whiz Bang" cool stuff on your site... it seems to be too much for the average computer to handle.

The site reminds me of Daniel's Seeking Utopia, another eye candy inspiration.

November 4, 2007

Unaffordable Mortgages

Andrew Jakabovics explains the mortgage crisis from the perspective of the home owner:
Many families who bought homes using an adjustable rate mortgage in the past several years face a Catch-22 situation highlighted by today’s home sales and price data: they face a rate reset with payments they can’t sustain, they will have difficulty refinancing their current mortgage because they now have negative equity, and they will be unable to sell quickly because of the glut of homes in the market.

This mess was predicted years ago. Back then, when debating whether or not there was a real estate bubble, I asked skeptics the following question, "How many times have you heard a friend or work colleague say, 'At today's prices I couldn't afford to buy the house I currently own.'" You didn't need higher math or economics to know we were facing a bubble.

In his October 24, 2007 piece on the Center for American Progress web site, Jakabovics looks over the horizon to see where this is going:

There are more than 2.8 million families with mortgages that reset in 2007 or 2008. The average monthly payment these loans will spike 37 percent when the reset happens. It is estimated that the new payments will cost the average family an additional $10,000 per year in mortgage costs.

At an average of 2.6 people per household, the 2.8 million families cited above translates to over 7 million people directly facing foreclosure in the next year or so, or about 2.4% of Americans. Many more millions of friends, relatives and work associates will be indirectly affected. Many marriages will fail and jobs will be lost in the process. Some will act out in violence and others will commit suicide during their ordeal. This is just another example of the disparity between the Main Street economy and Wall Street economy.

The Federal Reserve is pumping money into Wall Street, but little of that is trickling down to Main Street. Instead, the money is being used to offset the losses of large finanical institutions. These institutions are too large for the Fed to allow them to fail (read "monopolistic").


Center for American Progress, Andrew Jakabovics on New Housing Numbers, October 24, 2007.

November 3, 2007

Citigroup and Citibank in Bailout Mode

Citigroup's crisis is a reflection of the United States and the world. Inside-crowd capitalism, allowed to run rampant by Republicrat policies, need an inside fix.

Imagine if you could take out a loan, buy stocks or other on-paper investments with the loan, later sell the stocks, pay off the loan and keep the profit. Better yet, imagine if you had a bank, could give yourself a loan, and do the same thing for yourself and "clients," for a fee in addition to the interest on the loan. What a way to game the system. Can't be legal, can it? Actually, this is what Citibank and Citigroup have been doing.

The Glass-Steagall Act, following the 1929 stock market crash, separated investment banks (Citigroup) and commercial banks (Citibank) making this type of thing illegal. In 1987, banking laws (Section 20) were changed to allow commercial banks to have subsidiaries that could offer investment services. This, in part, precipitated a massive consolidation of banks in the late 1990s, though the mergers were world wide.
Between 1990 and 1998, the number [of bank mergers] averaged about 510 per year compared with 345 per year over the 1980--89 period. As a result of this activity, the number of banks operating in the U.S. has declined about 30 percent since 1990. [LINK]

An indication of the severity of the home mortgage liquidity crisis we're in was a further bending of the rules for Citibank/group by federal regulators in August 2007. At the time, one had to wonder if that would be enough to bail out this scheme. Apparently it wasn't.

As an indication of the inside-crowd capitalism, we're reminded that Clinton-era Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin is the Citigroup executive committee chairman. Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is on the Citigroup executive committee as Citigroup's biggest individual shareholder. Where do people get off bashing Michael Moore for exposing Saudi influence over US policy? True conservatives know that Moore is speaking truth to power.

I'm reminded of the quote by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini:

Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.


From our libertarian friends, Gary North in particular, we hear the following:
The new CEO of Citigroup, America's largest bank, is a former Goldman Sachs co-chairman and a former Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin. Goldman Sachs has made record profits in recent months. How? By selling short the subprime mortgage bond market.


Associated Press, Report: Citigroup CEO Will Offer to Resign Sunday; Board Expected to Hold Emergency Meeting, November 2, 2007.

Two Kinds of Experts
, or "The CEO Formerly Known as Prince," Gary North, November 8, 2007,

November 1, 2007

Jim Hightower at 2007 Fighting Bob Fest

If you're not familiar with Jim Hightower, you've gotta be. He was introduced to me as the guy who said, "The middle of the road is for yellow lines and dead armadillos." Unlike the wishy washy Democrats, Hightower says, "take sides." He's the kind of guy who, when talking about mixed emotions, quips, "Mixed emotions are when your sixteen year old daughter comes home late from the high school prom with a Gideon Bible under her arm."

He's a funny, irreverent Texan who is helping lead the charge to take back America. He's America's #1 Populist. If you take the time to hear him out, you'll be energized and inspired to join the fight for America's small-d democratic values.

Jim Hightower at the 2007 Fighting Bob Fest

October 31, 2007

"Can You Stop Ron Paul?"

If you have any doubts there exists an establishment that strives to maintain the status quo, and that the corporate media is a part of the establishment, the following will erode those doubts.

During the October 26, 2007 edition of MSNBC's Tucker Carlson show we witnessed the following exchange with Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks and The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut.

CARLSON: ... I don't need to tell both of you, who write in public and have public email addresses, Ron Paul is a big deal online, no?

BROOKS: Yeah, I'm hearing from his supporters in my email account.

CARLSON: Can you stop Ron Paul?
Why is media celebrity Tucker Carlson asking print media personalities if Ron Paul can be stopped? Maybe because Carlson is part of the establishment that seeks to maintain the status quo. Says something about MSNBC.

So, how does one respond to that question? "Well Tucker, one way is for you to keep referring to him as a wacko on your show, and we'll keep writing columns that imply he's "well intentioned," but not to be taken seriously, and of course our parent corporations will give large donations to the mainstream ["establishment"] candidates opposing him. That ought to help stop him."

Maybe I'm misreading Carlson's point. He calls Paul "wacky" and his supporters "crazy," but then goes on to say he supports many of Paul's positions. Brooks says people are hungry for someone who isn't managed by consultants and who has "got a conscience, who's got some integrity, who's got some intelligence".

For more of the interview see Is America Burning blog.

October 30, 2007

Obama and Edwards on Trade

We know where the corporatist Hilary Clinton stands on "free" trade; if it promotes more freedom of transnational corporations, and their human quislings, to exploit humans, then that's OK with her. She still buys into "a rising plutocratic tide raises all boats."

But, what about Edwards and Obama, people for whom you might actually consider voting? David Mizner, of MyDD (Direct Democracy) lays it out for us in "Edwards Seizes His Winning Issues." In short, Edwards is true to the "Fair Trade" values and Obama is not.

This should come as no surprise. Clinton and Obama are of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. That's all you should need to know about those two candidates to make your decision in 2008.

Mizner poses a practical and tangible test on whether Obama is true to his rhetoric about "fair trade." He establishes Edwards' opposition to Peru Trade Pact. Then Mizner suggests we watch Obama's vote on the Pact.

Why not go one step further. Contact Obama and urge him to vote against the Peru Trade deal?

Contact Obama. You can repeat what I told him (cut 'n paste):

Please vote AGAINST the Peru Trade Pact. Why? It's written by and for corporations, not humans. The labor and environmental protections are window dressing.

October 28, 2007

Blackwater Security Personnel: Illegal Combatants

George Bush has opened a can of worms. Although the worms might die, with a future rejection of the phrase "illegal enemy combatant" by the World community, it could now be applied to Blackwater USA personnel. Some might call that a backfire.

I'd be very anxious if I was a Blackwater operative going into a South American country under their new contract to fight drug trade (read "do the bidding of northern corporations".) The Village Voice reports:
In a major new outsourcing deal reported by only a few outlets, including the Army Times, Blackwater will divvy up a $15 billion pot of government gold, along with four huge defense contractors: Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Arinc.

In short, Blackwater personnel aren't covered by military law, and they aren't covered by local law in the nation of operations; they're currently illegal combatants. True, there's a scramble on to get them covered by some type of law, and the Democratic Congress seems all too happy to accommodate them (idiots missing an opportunity to nail this coffin). But for the time being, unless Congress votes them retroactive immunity, they are illegal, i.e., outside of the law.

October 25, 2007

Blackwater Tax Investigation

Guest Writer: L. Vincent Sebastian

Senator Kerry (D-Mass.) has joined Representative Waxman in calling for Blackwater tax investigation. "Blackwater is hiding behind the Bush administration to explain why they bilked the taxpayers out of millions of dollars," said the Massachusetts Democrat in a statement. "I intend to get to the bottom of this."


Reuters, "Senator wants probe of Blackwater's tax practices", Kevin DrawbaughThu Oct 25, 2007

October 22, 2007

"US Countries" Around the World

How does Vice President Dick Cheney view the world? Cheney exposes his view during an announcement of US intentions to build several military bases in Lebanon:
The United States will work, with free Lebanon's other friends and allies to preserve Lebanon's hard won independence, and to defeat the forces of extremism and terror, that threaten not only that region, but U.S. countries across the wider region.

Emphasis added. Yes, in Cheney's view, forces of extremism and terror are threatening "US countries" in the Middle East.

Hear for yourself....

Cheney's "US Countries"


Democracy Now, citing the al-Safir newspaper, Report: U.S. Wants to Build Military Bases in Lebanon
, October 22, 2007.

October 20, 2007

Runaway Greenhouse Effect

Global climate change could spin out of control, that is, lead to the "runaway greenhouse effect." It's called "runaway" because it runs away from human control to do anything about it.

There are a variety of positive feedback mechanisms that could lead to this outcome. For example, as the earth warms, and permafrost melts. The organic matter in the frozen muck decays and methane gas is released. As more of this greenhouse gas is released, more solar radiation is trapped leading to more warming. This leads to further melting and decay of the frozen tundra in a positive feedback process.[1]

This is what some NASA scientists had to say about the phenomenon:
The phenomenon, called the ‘runaway greenhouse’ effect, occurs when a planet absorbs more energy from the sun than it can radiate back to space. Under these circumstances, the hotter the surface temperature gets, the faster it warms up [that is, it accelerates]... scientists believe Venus did experience a global runaway greenhouse effect about 3 billion to 4 billion years ago.

So, we hear a lot about sea level rise, disease, and other likely impacts of global climate change, but very little is said about the runaway greenhouse effect. Perhaps the popular media should stir people's imagination with a description of Venus, which is where the Earth could end up if we don't take action soon:

Water and water vapor are extremely rare on Venus due to its high surface temperature that can approach 758 K (900 °F). This extreme temperature is caused by the greenhouse effect. As sunlight heats Venus' surface, the surface radiates infrared energy that is kept from escaping the planet by dense carbon dioxide atmosphere.

The Earth is not Venus. The Earth is in a different orbit around the Sun, the planet sizes are different, the atmosphere of Venus is far more dense; however, the severity of outcome of a potential runaway greenhouse event on Earth subordinates all other considerations relative to taking action; even an economic depression like that of 1930s would be a cake walk compared to the alternative.

Notes and Sources:

[1] Another example, Tropical Runaway Greenhouse, is described in the paper below.

Kendall Powell, John Bluck, Release: 02-60AR, May 15, 2002