Lovely attitude… 30 March 2009Posted by marisacat in Divertissements, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter.
© Estate of Helen Levitt
I snagged these wonderful masked children from Madman’s comment in the last thread, Helen Levitt the NYC street photographer…
From the NYT obit, with reference to the photo above…
In Ms. Levitt’s best-known picture, three properly dressed children prepare to go trick-or-treating on Halloween 1939. Standing on the stoop outside their house, they are in almost metaphorical stages of readiness. The girl on the top step is putting on her mask; a boy near her, his mask in place, takes a graceful step down, while another boy, also masked, lounges on a lower step, coolly surveying the world.
An exquisite eye for patterning in life…
Carry on carrying on… 28 March 2009Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, San Francisco.
UPDATE: 6 PM Pacific Time…
I stumbled over this downer report in the NYT.
I don’t see why they are so very verklempt over his ability to win over those Nanny Country Europeans… can’t his handlers just put his DNA in a salt shaker? Spread it all over Europe – and Turkey – too? Shake it all over any bureaucrat he shakes hands with?
Then again, the gift that keeps giving says those pesky Europeans (and everyone else) will “have to follow the rules”.
Although we are “ready to cooperate with the rest of the world”.
Message? Salt? More salt?
Good enough for a government job… ;) 26 March 2009Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Lie Down Fall Down Dems, Viva La Revolucion!.
A Christmas ornament filled with orange jelly. Alan notes: “What was cool was that the jelly held the pieces of the bulb together after the shot” .. Picture: ALAN SAILER – a series at the Telegraph on high speed photography of air rifle pellet hitting soft or breakable objects
TAPPER: Okay. And just one more, if you’ll indulge me. This is –
GIBBS: Mm-hmm. Sure.
TAPPER — from Peter in Oregon. He said, “I appreciate the efforts of the administration to fix the economy quickly. However, why aren’t you giving the American public the chance to review these bills? In your campaign, you promised we would have at least five days.”
GIBBS: I believe, except for the stimulus bill — I’ll double-check on this –
TAPPER: Don’t — I don’t think you’ve been doing it. I might be wrong, but I don’t –
GIBBS: I’ll check. I think a number of the bills have been up for five days. I’ll get exactly — I think, in fact, a — on at least a couple of occasions, we’ve not signed bills when we would normally plan to, so that some of them could be reviewed.
TAPPER: So that is a commitment the president intends to uphold –
GIBBS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. (Affirmative.)
All you can do is laugh… or snicker.
Global 24 March 2009Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, Afghanistan War, AFRICOM, Culture of Death, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Iran, Iraq War, WAR!.
Lashkar Gah, 1 April 2006: A helicopter operated by the US security contractor DynCorp flies over an opium poppy field in Helmand province [John Moore/Getty Images]
[A]n American empire of bases spans the globe and gives the U.S. military the ability to strike anywhere with a fair amount of speed. The Bush doctrine of preemption wasn’t just empty talk: America, as crippled by spasms of economic pain as she is, retains its status as the hyperpower, in purely military terms. The empire may have reached – and passed – its apogee, but there is no telling how long it will take for the whole massive edifice to come down.
The ruling elite is naturally consumed by a desire to avoid the complete economic collapse of their system, which is founded on fraud and coercion. Their reaction, so far, has been to pursue precisely those policies which led to the crisis in the first place: they have embarked on a spending spree, with the big banks getting the largest share of the loot, and the rest going to bread and circuses for the commoners. This, however, will lead inevitably to hyperinflation such as we saw in Weimar Germany, or as we see today in Zimbabwe. These are extreme examples, but is it necessary to remind you that we are living in extreme times? :snip:
That from Raimondo… as for the hyperinflation.. well, let’s hope not.
Pepe Escobar casts a wider net:
Postcard from Pipelineistan
By Pepe Escobar
What happens on the immense battlefield for the control of Eurasia will provide the ultimate plot line in the tumultuous rush towards a new, polycentric world order, also known as the New Great Game.
Our good ol’ friend the nonsensical “Global War on Terror,” which the Pentagon has slyly rebranded “the Long War,” sports a far more important, if half-hidden, twin — a global energy war. I like to think of it as the Liquid War, because its bloodstream is the pipelines that crisscross the potential imperial battlefields of the planet. Put another way, if its crucial embattled frontier these days is the Caspian Basin, the whole of Eurasia is its chessboard. Think of it, geographically, as Pipelineistan. :snip:
Pipelineistan… good one.
[I]n Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan (before it was moved to Astana, in the middle of the middle of nowhere) the locals were puzzled when I expressed an overwhelming urge to drive to that country’s oil boomtown Aktau. (“Why? There’s nothing there.”) Entering the Space Odyssey-style map room at the Russian energy giant Gazprom’s headquarters in Moscow — which digitally details every single pipeline in Eurasia — or the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC)’s corporate HQ in Tehran, with its neat rows of female experts in full chador, was my equivalent of entering Aladdin’s cave. And never reading the words “Afghanistan” and “oil” in the same sentence is still a source of endless amusement for me.
Last year, oil cost a king’s ransom. This year, it’s relatively cheap. But don’t be fooled. Price isn’t the point here. Like it or not, energy is still what everyone who’s anyone wants to get their hands on. So consider this dispatch just the first installment in a long, long tale of some of the moves that have been, or will be, made in the maddeningly complex New Great Game, which goes on unceasingly, no matter what else muscles into the headlines this week.
Forget the mainstream media’s obsession with al-Qaeda, Osama “dead or alive” bin Laden, the Taliban — neo, light or classic — or that “war on terror,” whatever name it goes by. These are diversions compared to the high-stakes, hardcore geopolitical game that follows what flows along the pipelines of the planet.
Who said Pipelineistan couldn’t be fun?
[E]nergy expert Michael Klare has been instrumental in identifying the key vectors in the wild, ongoing global scramble for power over Pipelineistan. These range from the increasing scarcity (and difficulty of reaching) primary energy supplies to “the painfully slow development of energy alternatives.” Though you may not have noticed, the first skirmishes in Pipelineistan’s Liquid War are already on, and even in the worst of economic times, the risk mounts constantly, given the relentless competition between the West and Asia, be it in the Middle East, in the Caspian theater, or in African oil-rich states like Angola, Nigeria and Sudan. :snip:
The security grids, seen from China and Russia…
[A]sk any relevant expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing and he will tell you that the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Org] should be understood as a historically unique alliance of five non-Western civilizations — Russian, Chinese, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist — and, because of that, capable of evolving into the basis for a collective security system in Eurasia. That’s a thought sure to discomfort classic inside-the-Beltway global strategists like Dr. Zbig and President George H. W. Bush’s national security advisor Brent Scowcroft.
According to the view from Beijing, the rising world order of the twenty-first century will be significantly determined by a quadrangle of BRIC countries — for those of you by now collecting Great Game acronyms, that stands for Brazil, Russia, India, and China — plus the future Islamic triangle of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Add in a unified South America, no longer in thrall to Washington, and you have a global SCO-plus. On the drawing boards, at least, it’s a high octane dream. :snip:
A mother walks with her children in Kabul, where soaring food prices add to family stress. (Veronique De Viguerie/WPN/July 2008)
Just a bit more, for fun… and Pepe stays cheery to the end. And why not?… No matter what happens, how bad it gets, a good story to report on…
[A]s for Camp Bondsteel, it was the “enduring” military base that Washington gained from the wars for the remains of Yugoslavia. It would be the largest overseas base the U.S. had built since the Vietnam War. Halliburton’s subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) would, with the Army Corps of Engineers, put it up on 400 hectares of farmland near the Macedonian border in southern Kosovo. Think of it as a user-friendly, five-star version of Guantanamo with perks for those stationed there that included Thai massage and loads of junk food.
Bondsteel is the Balkan equivalent of a giant immobile aircraft carrier, capable of exercising surveillance not only over the Balkans but also over Turkey and the Black Sea region (considered in the neocon-speak of the Bush years “the new interface” between the “Euro-Atlantic community” and the “Greater Middle East”).
How could Russia, China, and Iran not interpret the war in Kosovo, then the invasion of Afghanistan (where Washington had previously tried to pair with the Taliban and encourage the building of another of those avoid-Iran, avoid-Russia pipelines), followed by the invasion of Iraq (that country of vast oil reserves), and finally the recent clash in Georgia (that crucial energy transportation junction) as straightforward wars for Pipelineistan?
Though seldom imagined this way in our mainstream media, the Russian and Chinese leaderships saw a stark “continuity” of policy stretching from Bill Clinton’s humanitarian imperialism to Bush’s Global War on Terror. Blowback, as then Russian President Vladimir Putin himself warned publicly, was inevitable — but that’s another magic-carpet story, another cave to enter another time. :snip:
More than enough for nightmares… global nightmares.
Joie de vivre… 22 March 2009Posted by marisacat in Divertissements.
Visitors stroll through a sea of crocuses in the park of the castle in Husum, northern Germany. According to local legend, monks in the 15th century planted the first crocuses here – today some 4.5m blossom in the spring Photograph: Heribert Proepper/AP
I think the mouse (accessory) might die tonight, rebooting gooses it.. it’s pulse is weaker, LOL… but the new mouse should come tomorrow.. I missed the delivery Friday afternoon, or so a UPS tracking notice tells me. I thought it was coming 3 day ground and Amazon sent it 2 day UPS air. :oops:
Invader mice on the ground and dying mouse in the hand.
Anyway a new thread, should anyone want one… ;)
Hot air… 20 March 2009Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, DC Politics, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Lie Down Fall Down Dems.
Hot air balloons float over Cyberjaya , Kuala Lumpur , during the Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2009
… hot air all over the place. I wish they’d all just shut up. Nobody’s looking good in any of this…
Just to toss something out there tho… Michael Wolff is not far off the mark with this one: Barack Obama is a terrible bore.
This guy is leaden and this show is in trouble.
High water… 19 March 2009Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, California / Pacific Coast, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Lie Down Fall Down Dems.
Aqua alta – Venice – 2008
Well I did not say it, Roubini did… The United States of Ponzi
A reporter contacted me recently with the following question:
“I am a reporter, and I am doing a story on Bernard Madoff’s life after pleading guilty. As part of this, I was wondering if you could comment on what significance he will have in the history of this period. Will he represent more than a scamster who stole a lot of money from a lot of people? As Bernie Ebbers and Ken Lay came to embody corporate greed and deceit, what will Madoff symbolize?”
Here is my answer fleshed out in full:
Americans lived in a “Made-off” and Ponzi bubble economy for a decade or even longer. Madoff is the mirror of the American economy and of its over-leveraged agents: a house of cards of leverage over leverage by households, financial firms and corporations that has now collapsed in a heap.
When you put zero down on your home, and you thus have no equity in your home, your leverage is literally infinite and you are playing a Ponzi game.
And the bank that lent you, with zero down, a NINJA (no income, no jobs and assets) liar loan that was interest-only for a while, with negative amortization and an initial teaser rate, was also playing a Ponzi game.
And private equity firms that did over a $1 trillion of leveraged buyouts (LBOs) in the last few years with a debt-to-earnings ratio of 10 or above were also Ponzi firms playing a Ponzi game.
He did not stop there.. ahem:
A government that will issue trillions of dollars of new debt to pay for this severe recession and socialize private losses may risk becoming a Ponzi government if–in the medium term–it does not return to fiscal discipline and debt sustainability.
Madoff may now spend the rest of his life in prison. U.S. households, financial and non-financial firms, and government may spend the next generation in debtor’s prison having to tighten their belts to pay for the losses inflicted by a decade or more of reckless leverage, over-consumption and risk-taking.
Americans, let us look at ourselves in the mirror: Madoff is us and Mr. Ponzi is us!
Yesterday Ob compared the AIGs to suicide bombers. Yes, he wowed ‘em in OC CA with that…
[E]ven though the deposits might be guaranteed, you’ve got the entire economy resting on that credit.”
The president said, “It was the right thing to do, even though it’s infuriating, even though it makes you angry because you’re thinking, ‘I was responsible and these folks are irresponsible and somehow I’m paying for them.’ The same is true with AIG. It was the right thing to do to step in.”
“Here’s the problem,” Mr. Obama said, “It’s almost like they’ve got — they’ve got a bomb strapped to them and they’ve got their hand on the trigger. You don’t want them to blow up. But you’ve got to kind of talk them, ease that finger off the trigger.”
hmmm. Might try listening to himself someday.
My own allusion, the nation swallowed a load of bombs over the years. The triggers went off.
In other tangential, completely unrelated, nothing to do with anything, news, there are demonstrations planned in San Francisco today… for the 6th anniversary of the start of the war. The second war… the Iraq section of the Big War. Long War… what ever they call that particular bomb we swallowed. I prefer to phrase it, the 7th year of war.
Oh I am sure it all comes out OK in the end. The president said so yesterday. No worries. God bless…
HA! Mouse proof thead… 17 March 2009Posted by marisacat in Divertissements.
Well what can I say… I instructed the barely month old mouse to come to life (and it sort of did.. off and on), fast as I could went rampaging online for a mouse… discovered that Amazon does not charge tax so went with that.. breathed a sigh of relief.. and then, still speeding, placed the Safeway order… It would be a big pain in the ass to be adrift without the standard monthly order in.
Anyway, in case it dies, a fresh thread is up… and lordy, what drama over nothing.
In other news… I have no fucking clue how many mice, the furred variety, I have. (And they were suspiciously out of sight this morning as the mouse, accessory type, died… Some sort of familial shame? do you think?.. LOL)
But… have ordered the humane mice trapper… God knows I have them addicted to twice daily service of cut up potato bread, their fav. How hard can it be to entice them by subterfuge into a nice, panoramic view, smorgasbord inside, plexiglas box?
They lost interest in the cheese.
The Border 16 March 2009Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, Border Issues, California / Pacific Coast, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Lie Down Fall Down Dems, Mexico, WAR!.
Calexico, California, USA: A border patrol vehicle drags sand to make any new footprints of border crossers more visible, along a recently constructed section of the controversial US-Mexico border fence Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images
I suppose it is the effect of constructing a fence on what is mostly sand… but could it look more other worldly AND more martial, at once?
Rogoff (vid embedded, interview with Brancaccio) has some sane and logical takes on the near(ish) future…
* May take 2 years before housing bottoms
* Ditto for equity markets
* Expects 1970s-like inflation when we come out of recession.
* Could have decade of Japanese in-and-out-of-recession if we don’t seriously deal with banking system.
But I say: NO! Remember the Good Times! When Jesus spoke from the retail politics stump (we got schtupped is all I can say!)…
Believe the Belief! Clap! Clap some more! Maybe it works. If not you did not clap hard enough. Remember: peons own their failure!
[A]merica, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.
The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people.
Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.
This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
Xerox it and pray. Pray some more. They say it works.
hmm life is hard all over.. I just read at Clusterstock that Mme Madoff was spied faxing. From a deli. Pastrami on rye, to go!
UPDATE, 4:29 PM on the Pacific Ocean… (til we fall in)
Oh it is not fair to laugh, really. Then again it is fun… ;) I was tired, years ago, of people in charge or parsing for those in charge, claiming all they know is from the fucking media. “Again, all I know is what is reported, I am reading the same news reports as you are, yada yada yada”…
And Gibbs does it here.
Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 3/16/2009
March 16, 2009 4:03 PM
TAPPER: You guys first found about these bonuses last week?
GIBBS: I think that’s true, based on what I read in the newspaper.
TAPPER: But you gave money to AIG two or three weeks ago?
TAPPER: How could you not know that they have these millions — hundreds of millions dollars…
GIBBS: Well, again, there’s — there’s — according to the news reports, there’s existing contracts, some of which the — or of which the president has asked the secretary to examine going forward. I think you also heard the president speak today about having a resolution authority that gives the government and taxpayers far more flexibility in dealing with the disposition of AIG in a way that gives taxpayers protection and flexibility — disposition that we don’t currently have, but steps that we would like to see taken in order to deal with AIG as a whole.
TAPPER: Why didn’t you attach it to the $30 billion you gave a couple weeks ago?
GIBBS: Again, Jake, the…
TAPPER: You’re looking to retroactively attached it to the new $30 billion.
GIBBS: Well, they’re looking through contracts to see what can be done to wrest these bonuses from their recipients.
TAPPER: I’m sorry, just — I don’t understand, so maybe I’m just not understanding, but President Obama said in early February, right when he gave his speech on executive compensation, “these kinds of compensation packages in the midst of this economic crisis isn’t just bad taste, it’s bad strategy, and I will not tolerate it as president. We’re going to be demanding some restraint in exchange for federal aid.” Since that time, he gave tens of billions of dollars in federal aid to AIG without demanding restraint.
GIBBS: Well again, Jake, we’ve got existing relationships, contracts, as I just mentioned, that were negotiated a year ago, assistance that was granted outside of the legal authority prior to the creation of the troubled asset relief program. The president has asked the administration to go back and look at what remedies are possible to block those bonuses.
TAPPER: But why didn’t he do that before?
GIBBS: Well, again, the excessive compensation rules that you’d noted, and I think somebody asked this at the background briefing that we had, obviously are prospective based on some limitations that we have in looking backwards. The president has asked Secretary Geithner and members of the administration to exhaust all legal remedies in looking backwards to see what steps could be taken to block these bonuses.
TAPPER: No, but since — and I’m sorry to belabor this point — but since President Obama gave the speech, you guys gave more money to AIG. Why wasn’t it attached…
GIBBS: Again, this is…
TAPPER: … to the new money?
GIBBS: Because it’s, again, it’s part of the…
TAPPER: Part of the old contracts.
GIBBS: Right. It’s part of…
TAPPER: But you’re looking to now retroactively see if you can attach something to that old money.
GIBBS: That’s what we’re looking at.
TAPPER: But why didn’t you do it at the time, if you’re looking to retroactively do it.
GIBBS: The administration is taking the steps today to go back and see what can be done…to claw those bonuses back.
So reassured. They have it in hand. Whoever ”they” are, whatever ”it” is, it’s all under control.
Two Weeks Ago: White House Says It’s Confident Obama Administrations Knows How AIG Billions Are Being Spent
March 16, 2009 5:03 PM
From White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ briefing two weeks ago, when $30 billion in additional funds were announced for AIG.
TAPPER: AIG, is the administration confident that it, that it knows what happened to the tens of billions of dollars previously given to AIG?
GIBBS: Is it confident — I’m sorry?
TAPPER: That they know — that you guys know what happened to the previous billions before you hand over this next $30 billion.
GIBBS: Yes — yes, the — I mean, I don’t think it’s a — well, obviously, you’ve got a huge insurance company that is losing money, not the least of which because of its sheer size and sheer size and decrease in the growth in our economy. It experiences a far bigger drop, largely because of its size. But, again, the steps that — that Treasury and — and others took were to ensure a larger systemic problem wasn’t one that we had to deal with here today in letting something just die.
TAPPER: But in terms of specifically the — I guess it’s like $150 billion before, you guys are confident…
Mais NON! (Mais Oui!) 15 March 2009Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, 2010 Mid Terms, Afghanistan War, DC Politics, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, WAR!.
The ‘D-card’, a postcard and DVD containing a film and pictures of Barack Obama. The D-card, made in Brittany by Claude Maidenberg, will be available for purchase on Obama’s inauguration day, January 20 [AFP/GETTY]
hmmm… what was that about “no sides” in the G-20?
Oh I don’t think so.
And why would there NOT be sides? We are all in a hell of a mess, it is bound to be fractious.
From an English language blog on French politics that Madman turned me onto a few months ago…
The Financial Times has taken to referring to the G20 as “the gap of 20″ owing to the stark difference between the US and European positions. Witness this characterization of the European reaction to American proposals:
With the crotchety air of a dowager duchess sending a sub-standard amuse-bouche back to the kitchens, Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg prime minister and chair of the “eurogroup” of finance ministers from the single currency zone, added sniffily:
“The 16 finance ministers agreed that recent American appeals insisting Europeans make an added budgetary effort were not to our liking.”
PLUS, sacre bleu! They were not born yesterday:
And the American stock market hasn’t helped: the ten-percent rise in the Dow this past week can only fuel European suspicions that they’re being hustled yet again by city-slickers (or should that be Citi-slickers?).
Plus.. you know, let us not forget, we are, concurrently, asking that people go drown with us in Afghanistan.
We are so loved. Truly…