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Just because it is silly… 13 March 2009

Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, Divertissements.
61 comments

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A Mini Cooper, decorated in green foliage with sunflower headlights and banana wheels, drives around the streets of Manila Picture: AFP/GETTY

and rather a lot seems grey and dark just now… For some reason I am getting strains of “Fly Me to the Moon” drifting thru my brain..

Here is a news flash.. I caught Adm Mullen on with Charlie Rose.  It was a struggle to pay attention as it was such miserable tripe

Then CR asked him why it would be different for us, than for other empires in Afghanistan.  Mullen replied that we were different in that we do not seek to occupy Afghanistan nor to run its government.

Could have fooled me.  8 years later.

***

Somehow or other, CR has transcripts back (or I had been fruitlessly searching several times before they were up)… he had Geithner on for the hour a couple nights ago.

In case you were wondering how we got to be where we are…

CHARLIE ROSE: What is surprising about this? And you said to me how fragile the system is, how fragile it had become.

TIM GEITHNER: Our system was not designed to sustain a shock, a crisis of this magnitude. It’s the tragic failure of financial regulation in this country. It was just not designed to tolerate anything of this magnitude.

The critical test of any financial system is how you deal with stress and shock, because you want a system that’s going to be strong and resilient enough to handle almost anything it could face. And this system didn’t meet that test, because we had a regulatory framework which was designed largely 90 years ago, and did not adapt to take account of these huge changes in the structure of our financial system.

hmm 90 years ago was 1919 (right?).  Just grazed right thru all of that Depression era regulation, FDR era “stuff”… sounds like that is what happened…

And this… we could not be in better hands.  He’s seen it all… just not ahead, lurking in the roadway.  Or so he says.

CHARLIE ROSE: What have you learned about this job that you didn’t recognize when you simply were a part of the triumvirate exercising policy in the previous administration?

TIM GEITHNER: You know, Charlie, I don’t know if you know this, but I spent most of my professional life in the treasury…

CHARLIE ROSE: I do.

TIM GEITHNER: … in an earlier period of time.

CHARLIE ROSE: And also worked for a fellow named Larry Summers at one point.

TIM GEITHNER: And a fellow names Bob Rubin.

CHARLIE ROSE: And Bob Rubin.

TIM GEITHNER: And a range of other secretaries since. So I had the great fortune at an early stage of life at working at one of the most competent, respected, effective arms of the government with terrific
people. And I’ve had a great sense of that point of the scope — full scope of responsibility of this job.

And I had a great privilege, again, of being in those jobs at a time of great crisis globally, too, and — and significant challenge to the United States, although the chance we face today are much more acute than
we faced then.  So I had the benefit of that basic exposure.

CHARLIE ROSE: Bear with me on this. You clearly did, but did you see this coming?

TIM GEITHNER: This crisis?

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes. Did you see that Citibank, which is — was under
your jurisdiction, as a New Yorker, was in deep trouble? Did Bob Rubin see they were in different trouble? Did a whole range of people, who had performed well in different circumstances, see what was going on?

TIM GEITHNER: Charlie, most people missed this, because — they
didn’t see — you know, it’s a hard thing to understand.

I think it probably was we had a long time where growth was becoming more stable. People became more optimistic of the future. They projected
that optimism in the future. And that created the conditions where people took more risks than they should have and they, frankly, didn’t pay enough
attention to the possibility that when this ended, came apart, that the consequences would be as damaging as they did.

Now, I spent almost every day from the first time I walked into the New York Fed about five years ago working with my colleagues in ways to try
to make the system stronger so we were going to be better able to withstand the kind of pressures that would come when this came apart. And we did
some very important, powerful things.

But many of those things didn’t have enough traction, and we share with, really, all parts of the financial oversight bodies here and around
the world, a deep responsibility for not having done more and a really deep obligation for trying to fix this quickly and putting in place the kind of
reforms to prevent this from happening again.

But I was like many of my colleagues: deeply worried about the boom in leverage and its possible consequences.

Not that it matters by now, of course.

Who can bear to look? 11 March 2009

Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, California / Pacific Coast, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter.
32 comments

eye indian festival holika-dan

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The tradition of Holi heralds the beginning of spring and is celebrated all over India REUTERS

On the other hand – and for a change

A one-eyed documentary filmmaker is preparing to work with a video camera concealed inside a prosthetic eye, hoping to secretly record people for a project commenting on the global spread of surveillance cameras.

Canadian Rob Spence’s eye was damaged in a childhood shooting accident and it was removed three years ago. Now, he is in the final stages of developing a camera to turn the handicap into an advantage.

A fan of the 1970s televsion series “The Six Million Dollar Man,” Spence said he had an epiphany when looking at his cell phone camera and realizing something that small could fit into his empty eye socket.   …

About all I have… hard to look and when one has looked, what to say…

***

UPDATE..

…actually in the vein of  “who can bear to look” (but of course I peek), Tiny Revolution has a couple of very good posts, one linking to Charles Davis’  excellent blog .. stealing the post in toto:

Seems Like Old Times

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have stated repeatedly that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Is that based on the assessment of the U.S. intelligence agencies, or are they, like the Bush administration, just saying whatever the fuck they want? As Charles Davis explains, the answer is apparently the latter.

—Jonathan Schwarz

What a shock!  Which leads to an earlier post at TR… with a smart comment from Bob in Pacifica:

And why would this be inconsistent with Bill Clinton sticking it up the asses of working people?

I suspect that the Clintons have been working for the military-industrial folks from early on. When Hillary worked at Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein the FBI’s COINTELPRO were spying on the Black Panthers and that put the Goldwater girl in a perfect position to peek at their legal representation. Sitting in the middle of the Democrats’ legal staff during Watergate gave her a good hand on what they knew, and would have been a perfect spot for opposition research. In short, Hillary has been a conservative playing the part of a liberal while benefiting the most reactionary powers all her life. Why should palling around with Mubarak be such a surprise?

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at March 11, 2009 09:57 AM
Makes as much sense as anything ever did…  And who knows who Bob and Decca Treuhaft spoke to over the years… she was ALWAYS able (allowed) to grab the microphone (and the camera flash) when she needed to, for one of her books.

Oh I don’t know… 9 March 2009

Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, AFRICOM, DC Politics, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, U.S. Senate, UK, WAR!.
93 comments

reidclawback

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Oh I don’t know.. it just looked like an appropriate pic… :roll:

Riding at the top of the online NYT

[A]merican investors are ditching foreign ventures and bringing their dollars home, entrusting them to the supposed bedrock safety of United States government bonds. And China continues to buy staggering quantities of American debt.

These actions are lifting the value of the dollar and providing the Obama administration with a crucial infusion of financing as it directs trillions of dollars toward rescuing banks and stimulating the economy, enabling the government to pay for these efforts without lifting interest rates.

Of course there has to be the lining in the cloud that is not silver..

[A]nd yet in a global economy crippled by a lack of confidence and capital, with lending and investment mechanisms dysfunctional from Milan to Manila, the tilt of money toward the United States appears to be exacerbating the crisis elsewhere.

“Virtually all of the low-income countries are in very serious trouble,” said Eswar Prasad, a former official at the International Monetary Fund and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the liberal-leaning research organization in Washington.

He went on: “This is the third wave of the financial crisis. Low-income countries are getting hit very hard. The flow of private capital to the emerging market has dried up.”

Private money invested in so-called emerging countries plunged from $928 billion in 2007 to $466 billion last year and is likely to fall to $165 billion this year, according to the Institute of International Finance.  …

Starve them til we and others are there to plunder the resources…

“The fact that we can still borrow at lower interest rates is saving us from much more severe adjustments,” Mr. Rogoff said. “We’re really still staring down an abyss.”

Seems an awful lot of abyss, more than enough to go around..

***

Somehow related, I spied a headline in the UK papers that whatshisname of Virgin Mega Everything now also wants to be a high street bank. 

Can’t the big frantic boys ever fucking nap?

By the light of the moon… 6 March 2009

Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, DC Politics, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, WAR!.
73 comments

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Matt Davies cartoon, ripped off from Clusterstock, a Blodget column…

Maybe we can warm ourselves at the bank bonfires.  I happened to read the other day that Sen Conrad, a Democrat, thinks we are “not doing enough for the banks”.  I dunno.  I feel rather turnip-ish these days.

It’s mainstream media, Hirsh in Newsweek.. but it hardly matters:

As it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end: Goldman Sachs will be there.

Back in the ’90s and through the mid-’00s, major figures from Goldman Sachs such as Robert Rubin, Gary Gensler and Hank Paulson stood fast against derivatives regulation (Rubin and Gensler) and lobbied successfully for higher leverage ratios so they could bet more of their capital on the market boom (Paulson). When those policies came to grief and Wall Street imploded, and the Feds scrambled to rescue stricken insurance giant AIG, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein was reportedly the only bank executive invited to an emergency meeting at the New York Federal Reserve (convened by then-Fed president Tim Geithner).

Now Treasury Secretary Geithner—a Rubin protégé, of course—has assigned two more ex-Goldman men to fix the vast mess their colleagues helped to create.

They are Steve Shafran, a former favorite of Paulson’s, and Bill Dudley, Goldman’s former chief economist and now the successor to Geithner as head of the New York Fed. Shafran and Dudley have been given the mind-bending task of resurrecting the market for securitized assets, a policy that is linked to an effort to lure the private market back in to bid on the toxic securitized assets that sit like dead weight on major banks’ balance sheets.

The key now is to bring in hedge funds and other hoards of private capital by giving them government guarantees limiting their potential losses. The pitfall is that if the American public, already riled to populist fury over Wall Street’s postcrash perks, finds out what a sweet deal these new investors are getting—without any limitations on executive compensation like those imposed on banks [and all of that has been reported to be weak, loaded with loopholes  -Mcat]—people might get more upset.  …

Hirsh goes on to say he does not want to speak ill of Safran or Dudley OR Geithner.  Why not?  I want to make a punching bag of all of these people.  Why should I not?

Going on to steal almost all of the Hirsh piece…

“Our government has been misappropriated by Goldman Sachs,” says Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics, a long-time critic of Geithner, whom Whalen likens to Chauncey Gardiner, the clueless hero of “Being There,” who is manipulated by everyone around him. And if Wall Street elites continue to make government policy, will the new regulatory controls we hear so much about—the ones that are supposed to prevent this from happening again—ever really be adopted?

This is the critical question. Despite continued public support for President Obama and early signs that Geithner’s various rescue plans—including the $75 billion mortgage bailout scheme announced this week—may be starting to reassure the markets, there is little sign as yet that the administration is engaged in the kind of fundamental rethinking of financial safety and soundness that we need. The problem is not just that Wall Street giants like Goldman, Citigroup and AIG ran wild over the past 20 years, it is that they exist in their current form at all. These institutions are too big and too systemic to be allowed to fail according to normal free-market rules, and if they remain that way we will inevitably find ourselves in a situation where taxpayers must rescue them once again.

We have been through this nightmare before, almost step by disastrous step. From 1932 to 1934 the Senate banking and currency committee held hearings on the 1929 crash and found that commercial banks had misrepresented to their depositors the quality of securities that their investment-banking sides were underwriting and promoting.

According to a history posted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on its Web site, among the culprits was First National City Bank (now Citigroup), which was found to have repackaged the bank’s Latin American loans and securitized them without disclosing its own confidential findings that the loans posed adverse risks. Sound familiar?

The response of the government in that era was decisive: the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial banking from investment banking. It is a supreme historical irony that 65 years later it was Citigroup, grown monstrous again, that pushed hardest for the destruction of the Glass-Steagall reforms. And it had a big assist from Goldman grads such as Bob Rubin, who was soon afterward hired as chairman of Citi’s executive committee.  …

hmm… Slap up against the Krugman column today.. one would think it might be sobering for the administration.  Hard to say.  I think on Monday we will be told that Bioethics will save us!

The president will sign an executive order repealing the Bush administration ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

But it is hard to imagine that a team composed largely of Wall Street’s former finest will, all by themselves, push for the breakup of the firms that nurtured and enriched them. And there is scant evidence that Geithner is now soliciting advice from others on the outside, including the new panel led by Paul Volcker—a diehard skeptic of Wall Street’s agenda—that Obama set up precisely for this purpose. Who is the Treasury secretary relying on? We don’t really know, but certainly one close adviser must be Mark Patterson, Geithner’s new chief of staff. Patterson is the former Washington lobbyist for Goldman Sachs.

Over a year ago I read a Brooks column (of all people) that closed with the warning [years late!  Mcat] that Goldman Sachs had its tentacles all thru the government.

And here we sit.

Out of the fray… 3 March 2009

Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Lie Down Fall Down Dems, Sex / Reproductive Health, WAR!.
65 comments

sparrowsstayoutofstormdcafpgetty

Sparrows huddle on a building ledge to stay out of the wind in Washington [Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty]

NYT reports on a new Pew study on the costs of the US prison system:

[C]riminal correction spending is outpacing budget growth in education, transportation and public assistance, based on state and federal data. Only Medicaid spending grew faster than state corrections spending, which quadrupled in the past two decades, according to the report Monday by the Pew Center on the States, the first breakdown of spending in confinement and supervision in the past seven years.

The increases in the number of people in some form of correctional control occurred as crime rates declined by about 25 percent in the past two decades. …

And a bit more:

[P]eter Greenwood, the executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Evidence Based Practice, a group that favors rehabilitative approaches, said states started spending more on prisons in the 1980s during the last big crime wave.

“Basically, when we made these investments, public safety and crime was the No. 1 concern of voters, so politicians were passing all kinds of laws to increase sentences,” Mr. Greenwood said.

President Bill Clinton signed legislation to increase federal sentences, he said.

“Now, crime is down,” Mr. Greenwood said, “but we’re living with that legacy: the bricks and mortar and the politicians who feel like they have to talk tough every time they talk about crime.”

Mr. Greenwood said prisons and jails, along with their powerful prison guard unions, service contracts, and high-profile sheriffs and police chiefs, were in a much better position to protect their interests than were parole and probation officers.  …

It’s the story of California, that is certain, quite aside from our Three Strikes law.

***

DADT

[T]he move enables Obama to say he’s making good on his campaign promise to reverse the law, but doesn’t lock him into doing so anytime soon. The carefully calculated statement, released this week by White House spokesman Tommy Vietor, leaves enough wiggle room to prevent the hot-button issue from consuming Obama’s foreign policy agenda, which is dominated by ending the Iraq war and salvaging operations in Afghanistan.

“The president supports changing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Vietor said in the e-mailed statement.

“As part of a long-standing pledge,” Obama has begun consulting closely with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen “so that this change is done in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security,” Vietor said.

The statement was released in response to legislation reintroduced on Monday by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., that would repeal the ban. Tauscher’s bill attracted 148 co-sponsors last year, but House leadership never pushed for a floor vote.  …

Oh just more ‘situation normal, still fucked up’.

hmmm… meanwhile in Mass… restless natives…

Married gays in Mass. sue US for federal benefits

BOSTON (AP) — Mary Ritchie, a Massachusetts State Police trooper, has been married for almost five years and has two children. But when she files her federal income tax return, she’s not allowed to check the “married filing jointly” box.

That’s because Ritchie and her spouse, Kathleen Bush, are a gay couple, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act makes them ineligible to file joint tax returns.

Now Ritchie, Bush and more than a dozen others are suing the federal government, claiming the act discriminates against gay couples and is unconstitutional because it denies them access to federal benefits that other married couples receive, such as pensions and health insurance. Plaintiffs also include Dean Hara, the widower of former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay member of the House of Representatives.

In Ritchie’s case, she and her spouse say they have paid nearly $15,000 more in taxes than they would have if they had been able to file joint returns.

“It saddens us because we love our country,” Ritchie said. “We are taxpayers. We live just like anyone else in our community. We do everything just like every other family, like every other married couple, and we are treated like less than that.”  …

This should not be a problem! (Aside from the fact that it really should not be… )

Especially as Obster is losing, has lost,… count ‘em… Brooks, Clive Crook  AND (be still my heart) the son of WFB.  That sometimes funny, not all that talented, prep school level forever sly boots, Christopher.

Brooks:  “Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice.

mama mia!  betrayed.. but!  he shilled good for ob in the old campaign days…

Clive Crook in the FT:  [The Obama budget] “contains no trace of compromise. It makes no gesture, however small, however costless to its larger agenda, of a bipartisan approach to the great questions it addresses. It is a liberal’s dream of a new New Deal.”

When I read CC in the FT the other day, why, he just seemed so angry!

Check their DNA, I think they are all children of Judd Gregg.

Traveling seriously down market here… to  CB in The Daily Beast:  The Wall Street Journal notes that federal outlays in fiscal 2009 will rise to almost 30 percent of the gross national product. In language that even an innumerate English major such as myself can understand: The US government is now spending annually about one-third of what the entire US economy produces. As George Will would say, ‘Well.'”

Threw in GW for good measure.  (And they all shilled for Obby, they did!)

They, basically, declare Obster a lying liberal (the budget did it! And the issue is sealed as Krugman loved it!  Hertzberg loved it that Krugman loved it!).  Such news, such a dastardly claim! The left, in hiding, is mortally wounded.

I am sorry to be blunt but it was all very predictable.

So, on the Good News side, no problem for the gays.  Ob is going to be liberated from his conservative shill class…. and it appears the WH luvs to do verbal battle with Limbaugh, Hannity and whoever else has a national mic… So the big tough boys in the WH will fight the mega megaphone.

The big tough boys in the WH plan to win on the issues, for the people…

Yes?

Right?

Snow days in the city… 2 March 2009

Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, DC Politics, Democrats, Divertissements, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, la vie en rose, WAR!.
23 comments

Empire bldg from 15th St... reader photos NYT

The Empire State Building, as seen from 15th St. [Denny Tillman - Readers' Photos of the Snow - NYT]

What does it all mean, now, I wonder.  Full text from the AP:

Secret anti-terror Bush memos made public by Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Monday released a long-secret legal document from 2001 in which the Bush administration claimed the military could search and seize terror suspects in the United States without warrants.

The legal memo was written about a month after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. It says constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure would not apply to terror suspects in the U.S., as long as the president or another high official authorized the action.  [It's not illegal if the president does it!  Nixon - Frost interviews...  - Mcat]

Even after the Bush administration rescinded that legal analysis, the Justice Department refused to release its contents, prompting a standoff with congressional Democrats.

The memo was one of nine released Monday by the Obama administration.

Another memo showed that, within two weeks of Sept. 11, the administration was contemplating ways to use wiretaps without getting warrants.

The author of the search and seizure memo, John Yoo, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.  [I doubt he will bother... Mcat]

In that memo, Yoo wrote that the president could treat terrorist suspects in the United States like an invading foreign army. For instance, he said, the military would not have to get a warrant to storm a building to prevent terrorists from detonating a bomb.

Yoo also suggested that the government could put new restrictions on the press and speech, without spelling out what those might be.

“First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully,” Yoo wrote, adding later: “The current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically.”

Geesh, why worry, they all comply quickly and quietly if our Age of Terror is invoked.  I was listening to Martha Raddatz of ABC News on the Ifill show Friday night.. and thinking back over the years… what a cheerful, hardworking little cheerleader for war she has been.  Always catching a clue and staying within bounds.

They are so dedicated to being part of the Washington Establishment.

So blessed.

Other than that… someone get the stock market a trampoline.

Sunday.. 1 March 2009

Posted by marisacat in Divertissements.
58 comments

picnicrionfurniture

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Larger version of the lovely picture… and it comes from this site, that Intermittent Bystander linked to yesterday… This seemed a good landscape for a mouse to appear on…  8)

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