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The lights are still on… 21 February 2009

Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, France, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Lie Down Fall Down Dems, NORCOM, WAR!.



Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship on earth, or an artist’s representation of her and the Aqua Theatre, one of many diversions. Oasis is due to hit the seas late this year.. and construction begins soon on a sister ship, Allure of the Seas. Timing, huh?

I’d say the wealthy will cruise no matter what, but word is around in San Francisco that the “2 – 3 million dollar” local house market is in trouble. Hankies abound.  And rentals on houses for the season in the Hamptons are coming down… Not a full crash, as the wealthy “have not canceled summer” but taking a deep hit.

Who knows what the sitch will be in a couple of months… worse is a good prediction.  Even Miss Cleo could manage that one………  8)

NYCO posted this near the end of the last thread… and it is a good fit for this thread…

I see Joseph Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies has finally reached mainstream consciousness… in the Canadian media, anyway.

Tainter is still alive and teaching. I wonder what he thinks of all these world economy developments. Especially since his final conclusion (in 1988) was that collapse could no longer happen to any society unless all of them collapsed at the same time. Which appears to be what is happening at present.

Snip from the news article linked above… I’d say we are at blast furnace level for complexity and interdependence…

[C]ompared to the Roman empire, the networks of interdependence in our present global systems are orders of magnitude more complicated — and comparably less resilient. Efficiency, the hallmark of modern economics, is precisely the fine tuning of higher levels of interdependence to minimize duplication and waste. Think of manufacturing with just-in-time delivery systems, or cities which typically store only a three-day supply of food, or hospitals which rely on the daily arrival of drugs, blood and oxygen — Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota reminds us that “most medical equipment and 85% of US pharmaceuticals are made abroad” (Ibid.).

Complexity Theory is an uncomfortable subject, particularly given the unsettling stresses we are measuring in food production, climate change, resource depletion, ecosystem damage, pollution and population growth. But the theory has its saving graces. It does make us more aware of our vulnerabilities. And it does argue for simplification and local self-sufficiency, particularly for essentials such as food supply and energy production. The incentive to begin thinking and acting with foresight should compensate for the need to be apologetic.

And… a snip from a related comment of NYCO (which I agree with, and just grit my teeth when I hear that Obama and “his belief in technology” will save us.  Quite popular out here, as you might imagine):

[P]ossibly the most unpopular part of Tainter’s theory, the one that would meet the most resistance, is his contention that while there may be technological magic bullets out there to discover and develop that will solve many of our current problems, we cannot possibly afford to discover and develop them: they cost much more than a complex society can afford to spend and still remain intact. In other words, investing more and more into green technology — the holy grail of most forward-thinking politicians and progressives today — will not save our civilization. Our complex civilization will collapse before we ever get near to realizing actual net benefits from our pursuit of these technologies.  […]


I am sure this, from the Daily Mail, which is linked at Instapundit, and thus soon to be picked up in the Right and Far Right slots… has the hierarchy girding their loins for battle.  And drooling –  where ever it is they drool from…..

[T]he first protests began a month ago when the left-wing union coalition, the Collective Against Exploitation, demanded a £180 a month pay increase for low-wage earners.

President Nicolas Sarkozy sent his minster for overseas departments to the island to meet with union leaders on response to the demands.

But the racial tensions which have been simmering for decades exploded into full-scale rioting, with colonial descendants who own 90 per cent of the wealth becoming the focus of the violence.

The unrest was further aggravated last week when wealthy white landowner Alain Huyghues-Despointes publicly criticised mixed-race marriages and said he preferred to ‘preserve his race’.

In Paris, the violence has provoked divisions in Mr Sarkozy’s cabinet with black minister Rachida Data acknowledging that Guadeloupe suffered from ‘a problem with the distribution of wealth’.  …

This comment of diane’s fits in here… her comment and snip from the  SF Gate link… and I am sure (tho I did nto bother to google) that the authors are coming at Obama from the right.. but no matter.  I don’t care anymore.  I have no clue where the Savior stands, not with me I am certain of that.

[M]eanwhile, plans for detention at home are being expanded under Democratic Party leadership. On Jan. 22, Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., a former judge who was impeached and removed from the bench before being elected to Congress, introduced HR645, the National Emergency Centers Establishment Act. This bill calls for the establishment of six centers on military installations across the United States. Previous centers were for addressing an “emergency influx of immigrants” or to support “the rapid development of new programs.” These new FEMA centers are “to provide temporary housing, medical and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster.”   …

Stories and reports of Northern Command have been coming  out for years… 3 years, or so, that I am aware of… and iirc NORCOM went fully active around the time (fall, ’08)that AFRICOM did.

Surge on…..



1. Madman in the Marketplace - 21 February 2009

Debtors Union and Bank Strike

A Debtor Union has been proposed by Keith at the Pirate Caucus. Keith writes that “A debtors union is open to all who are indebted—credit cards, car loans, mortgages, student loans, medical bills etc. and once we organize ourselves we can refuse to pay and organize a mass default and force the debt to be written off, or we could decide to renegotiate the debt at a steep discount maybe twenty cents on the dollar. That will be for the union members to decide for themselves. In any event, we can take our destiny into our hands —Let’s ‘bailout’ ourselves, lets ‘recapitalize’ ourselves, lets get out of debt!” (full post)

The daring anti-bank Spanish activist Enric Duran who reached international fame by borrowing and then refusing to pay half a million Euro is promoting the idea of a Bank Strike. His organization, Crisis, has already spawned a North American Bank Strike Chapter. Here is how they explain their plan for a Bank Strike:

“We must withdrawal our support for the financial system. Everyday it exploits our debts, our savings, and our paychecks—to fund speculation, predatory lending, environmental destruction, and corporate expansion. This will be an indefinite strike which will not end until people’s debt is cancelled just as Wall Street has been bailed out. It won’t finish until the current international financial system is abolished and alternatives are created that cover people’s needs and not those of speculators.”

“If hundreds of thousands of people around the arranged to stop paying their debts—and if they supported one other—they could not be stopped. If there are a many more participating in this call by withdrawing the money from the banks, this system that enslaves us would be stopped.”

“What meaning would a delinquencies list have if everybody was registered
in it? What strength will the seizure of foreclosed property represent if they its affects millions of people? What will they speculate with if we take all of our money out of the banks? Let’s begin this indefinite strike! Let’s withdrawal our money from the banks and put it in alternatives that don’t speculate with our paychecks! We won’t pay our mortgages and we will stay in our homes; we will not pay personal debt. Let this crisis be paid for by the richest!” (more information)

2. mattes - 21 February 2009

Amazing Appointment — Chas Freeman as NIC Chairman

As first reported by Laura Rozen and subsequently confirmed by Chris Nelson, it appears that Chas Freeman has been appointed chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the body that is charged by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) with synthesizing the analyses of the entire U.S. intelligence community and producing National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) — the most famous of which was the December 2007 NIE on Iran’s nuclear program that put paid to the hopes of hawks who favored a military action against Tehran — that are used to guide policymakers on critical issues facing U.S. security.

To me, this is a stunning appointment. There are very few former senior diplomats as experienced and geographically well-rounded (just look at this bio here), knowledgeable, entertaining (in a mordant sort of way), accessible (until now at least), and verbally artful as Freeman. He can speak with equal authority about the politics of the royal family in Saudi Arabia (where he was ambassador), the Chinese Communist Party — he served as Nixon’s primary interpreter during the ground-breaking 1972 visit and later deputy chief of mission of the Beijing embassy, and the prospects for and geo-strategic implications of fossil-fuel production and consumption over the next decade or so. But, more to the point, he was probably the most direct and outspoken — and caustic — critic of the conduct of Bush’s “global war on terror,” especially of the influence of the neo-conservatives — of any former senior member of the career foreign service. His appointment constitutes a nightmare, for the Israeli right and its U.S. supporters, in particular, (and for reflexive China-bashers, as well).

For a taste of both his rhetorical style and his politics, see, for example, this speech he gave to the U.S. Information Agency Alumni Association two years ago or, better yet, this one to the Pacific Council on International Policy in October 2007 in which he says:

“In retrospect, Al Qaeda has played us with the finesse of a matador exhausting a great bull by guiding it into unproductive lunges at the void behind his cape. By invading Iraq, we transformed an intervention in Afghanistan most Muslims had supported into what looks to them like a wider war against Islam. We destroyed the Iraqi state and catalyzed anarchy, sectarian violence, terrorism, and civil war in that country.

Meanwhile, we embraced Israel’s enemies as our own; they responded by equating Americans with Israelis as their enemies. We abandoned the role of Middle East peacemaker to back Israel’s efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations. We wring our hands while sitting on them as the Jewish state continues to seize ever more Arab land for its colonists. This has convinced most Palestinians that Israel cannot be appeased and is persuading increasing numbers of them that a two-state solution is infeasible. It threatens Israelis with an unwelcome choice between a democratic society and a Jewish identity for their state. Now the United States has brought the Palestinian experience – of humiliation, dislocation, and death – to millions more in Afghanistan and Iraq. Israel and the United States each have our reasons for what we are doing, but no amount of public diplomacy can persuade the victims of our policies that their suffering is justified, or spin away their anger, or assuage their desire for reprisal and revenge.”

He doesn’t pull punches.


3. marisacat - 21 February 2009


That is a good idea… I watched Rose last night (think it was last night) and he had on one of the Silicon Valley bully boys… Andreesen… who I guess developed Netscape and a few other things.. and now has some social community called “ning”… HE was one of the creeps warbling that technology will save us (buy buy buy, etc) and that how great Obster is with tech is what will do it…

BUT then suddenly I heard a detail… that thru tech a credit rating can be assigned to a SINGLE transaction. And he gave an example… You lose your job, but before there is any discenible change to your cash flow you rack up a load of charges on your card or make a large cash borrow.

I was speechless. THIS is what they think of, about…. Those are the dreams.

So, get a clue what “Health IT” will be.

4. NYCO - 21 February 2009

1. Interesting idea. Of course, what they’re proposing already exists — credit unions instead of banks. I think that is a good idea to promote – stop investing in banks, start investing in credit unions.

But — and I guess I’m playing devil’s advocate here — what about those people of modest means who didn’t attempt to buy more house than they could afford? Where do they fit in to this revolution.

5. Madman in the Marketplace - 21 February 2009

4 – I always wonder why the two groups of people get put into opposition with each other. It buys into the whole idea that people are the problem, not the system. People of “modest means” are affected too … if you don’t have a lot of credit you will be stuck with a low credit score, which can affect your abitity to rent or to get some jobs. If your neighbor goes belly up your home value can suffer, you taxes get increased, your children get whatever sickness their kids have b/c they don’t have access to healthcare anymore.

Why this willingness to forgive the banks/government/corporate structure yet heap scorn and abuse of other people who’re just trying, perhaps not the best way they could, but who are just trying to make their way through the society they find themselves living in? I’m increasingly tired of the opprobrium heaped on everyday people when the entire societal structure is so rife with corruption and deception.

6. mattes - 21 February 2009

…saw Andreesen, we are not in the same universe.

7. marisacat - 21 February 2009

Oddly enough I had a Situation Room interview CNN open. Wolfie and the HUD leiderhosen… Shaun Donovan.

Here is what he said, fwiw.

DONOVAN: […]And second of all, we’re going to make absolutely sure that we verify people’s incomes, that we make sure that those mortgages are legitimate mortgages before we modify them. So you can rest assured we’ll be watching to make sure we don’t do that.

BLITZER: And what about those folks out there who bought, let’s say, a $600,000 home knowing they can only afford really a $300,000 home, but they said, what the hell, I’ll go for it?

DONOVAN: Well, you know what? Those folks that are so deep under water, that aren’t going to be able to be sustainable in home ownership, they’re not going to qualify for the program as well.

But Wolf, I think one thing is very important for the American people to understand — is that even if you’re current on your payment, you’re not struggling to pay your mortgage, but your next door neighbor is being foreclosed, a recent study shows that that can lower the value of your house by up to 9 percent. That’s $20,000.

We believe this plan will help to raise values of houses by $6,000 on average across this country. So this is important to do to stop foreclosures for everyone, not just those who are at risk. …

Not an endorsement…. Frankly he looks (to me) like another one of Ob’s take-over-white-boy-manager types. Which is a description, sans “white”, that someone made to me of Ob. Sure fits.

8. NYCO - 21 February 2009

5. I wasn’t heaping scorn, but there are plenty who would, so your point is taken.

That said, I’m not sure how we are supposed to start over again and put faith into a new system that would not have any continuity with the old (and I agree the old system is pretty corrupt). Because that’s what’s being proposed is a slate-wiping “clean new system” where all debts are removed because they’re judged to be unfair debts. How is someone who followed the straight and narrow (and didn’t profit from it) supposed to trust a new regime made up of revolutionaries who overthrew the corrupt old masters and threw off their debts because they could?

Power will do what it will do. If America’s debtors really have the power to organize, they will organize and have this revolution and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them. I wouldn’t speak out against what they’re doing, but neither would I trust that they wouldn’t eventually come up with the same gamed system that the bankers have. I guess you’d just have to hope that they wouldn’t.

I’m certainly willing to consider switching from a bank to a credit union, though. That too involves trust.

9. marisacat - 21 February 2009

I don’t really see revolutionaries of any stripe taking over and establishing some new system. The government in place has a lot of guns.

But depending on how long and how deep and then flat the recession/depression is, it will be interesting to see what does happen.

10. Madman in the Marketplace - 21 February 2009

8 – Oh, I meant just the question in general, since you hear it all the time in the media. I got that you were playing devil’s advocate.

Those on the straight and narrow are confronted daily, and have been for their entire lives, that the system is rigged and not fair, yet they’ve managed to trust it anyway. They also trusted it just fine back when bankruptcy was still more easily available. There are two choices in an economy for dealing w/ people who’re insolvent, you can either find a legal way to give them a fairly clean slate to rejoin the economy, or you can reinstitute debters prisons (and our current regime is in a lot of ways a kind of virtual debters prison, given how your electronic record permeates everything now).

I personally think there isn’t saving any of this without widespread pain … and think dragging the big corps that caused it down with the rest of us is a rough sort of justice.

11. diane - 21 February 2009

….investing more and more into green technology — the holy grail of most forward-thinking politicians and progressives today — will not save our civilization…

I couldn’t possibly agree with that anymore than I do…though I would go much further and say that technology as a whole has created a ghastly….chilling…disaster…in terms of civilization….human beings at their best are social animals who love to cuddle…who can cuddle with a bot?…It was no surprise to me to read in Businessweek a short while back, that Asperger’s Syndome (primitively put, seems that the “Syndrome” denotes a lack of the ability to emphasize with other human beings) was way over-represented in Sly Con Valley.

Thanks much for that NYCO, and as always Marisa, for highlighting it as relevant to the DAY.

And Madman (1)….I love that concept…so many millions who once had pristeen payment records are now sinking in debt.

12. marisacat - 21 February 2009

Asbergers… Richard Reeves believes that Nixon was a high functioning autistic, perhaps Asbergers (I don’t recall that RR ever specified Asbergers but in an earlier discussion a friend suggested Asbergers)… The one thing I remember RR mentioning about RMN was that he would manically write simple phrases over and over and over and over on yellow legal pads. During the many hours he spent alone.

Who knows.. I think they are ALL nutz.

13. diane - 21 February 2009


The Age Of Communication!

We’ve got earbuds, cellphones, beepers, blackberries, email, landlines, faxes, text messages..(as if -if you’re not able to respond to one, it’ll take any less time to respond to the other…or more insanely, as if some magic folk could multi-task like that….)

…and yet we have forgotten how to get across one of the most profound communications that will ever exist – letting strangers know that we mean them no harm…no one even wants to look at other people on the streets anymore, afraid they’ll embaress themselves by saying hello to some asshole with an earbud seemingly talking to thin air, and not even acknowleding a strangers gesture of peace.

14. diane - 21 February 2009

Who knows.. I think they are ALL nutz.

yeah…that too…and which would be okay with me if they didn’t also want to rule the frikken galaxies………….unfortunately the two seem to go hand in hand……….sigh……………

15. NYCO - 21 February 2009

Another article from Dmitry Orlov: The Five Stages of Collapse

It is always an impressive thing to observe when reality shifts. One moment, a certain idea is seen as preposterous, and the next moment it’s being treated as conventional wisdom. There seems to be a psychological mechanism involved, where nobody wants to be seen as the last fool to finally get the picture. Everybody starts pretending that they’ve thought that way all along, or at least for a little while, for fear of appearing foolish. It is always awkward to ask people what caused them to suddenly change their minds, because with the fear of looking foolish comes a certain loss of dignity.

The most compelling example of lots of minds suddenly going “snap” is, to my mind, the sudden demise of the USSR. It happened with Boris Yeltsin standing atop a tank, and being asked the question: “But what will become of the Soviet Union?” And his answer, pronounced with maximum gravitas was: “Henceforth I shall only refer to it as the FORMER Soviet Union.” And that was that. After that, whoever still believed in the Soviet Union appeared as not just foolish, but actually crazy. For a while, there were a lot of crazy old people parading around with portraits of Lenin and Stalin. Their minds were too old to go “snap”.

16. diane - 21 February 2009


And the fucking politicians response to that slight problem of folks literally shriveling up for lack of meaninful one on one, in person communication….


and soon to come IT Health and then robodocnet.com?…and thanks to folks like Googleplex Brinn’s wife Woj,……all of our DNA in one large databank of spit samples at her company 23andme? (she was quoted somewhere as stating that her goal is to have a databank with the dna data on over 90% of the worlds population) …so our betters can determine how abnormal we are..and perhaps whether we should be “mercifully” out of our misery?

17. diane - 21 February 2009

corrected link for 23andme (I hope, blushee thing symbol)

18. diane - 21 February 2009

… Happy Birthday Nina Simone!!!!!!!!!! you will never be forgotten!…puttin on my music..;0)

19. diane - 21 February 2009

NYCO (15)

…nobody wants to be seen as the last fool to finally get the picture.

truer words never spoken in these times………….

20. diane - 21 February 2009

…my baby don’t care for………high town places….



21. diane - 21 February 2009

..get the out the pink Melitta..and bath in that beautiful voice of her’s hon…run yourself a warm bath with Lavendar salts…you have much love…despite all this misery…NO ONE (or many) can take that away…….hon!….

22. marisacat - 21 February 2009

After squalls in the Caribbean, Sarkozy faces a storm at home

Guadeloupe is 4,000 miles from the French mainland, but the demands of the rioters in Pointe-à-Pitre are the same as those of Parisians. With his approval ratings at a low, the president now faces a general strike and, potentially, a wave of social panic. Jason Burke reports from Paris

Already the hyperactive French president’s poll ratings, 36%, are at their lowest since he was elected nearly two years ago. “Sarkozy is playing with fire … Can he prevent the explosion?” L’Express magazine is asking on its front cover this weekend.

Last week that explosion almost came. The country’s worst violence since the riots of 2005 saw youths burning cars and charging police night after night. This time the riots were not in the rundown estates that surround many French cities but in the poverty-stricken alleys of Pointe-à-Pitre, on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, where per capita income is half that of mainland France and the unemployment rate three times higher.

The violence resonated with a tense and angry public in France itself. The 430,000 people of Guadeloupe are theoretically citizens of the republic like those of Lille, Lyon or Paris and, though many of the roots of the protests lie deep in the colonial past, the slogans and demands of the rioters were very contemporary, focusing on pouvoir d’achat, the famous lack of buying power in the face of high prices and stagnant wages that is the main grievance of all the French. …

In an Ifop poll for regional newspaper Sud-Ouest last week, 63% of respondents thought similar violence could soon take place on the mainland – a view shared by their leaders. All eyes are now on the general strike planned for next month. An earlier strike and mass demonstration in January was widely supported and seen as a major shot across the bows of the rightwing Sarkozy. …

23. diane - 21 February 2009

..ahhh tooooo fuckin rich:

A Snapshot of Team 23andMe…………………All of us have 23 pairs of chromosomes.

but some of us must be far far better than “the OTHERS”…….from the looks of things……..right Davos’ Woj?

24. marisacat - 21 February 2009

hmmm unpecedented building stands empty. Think I remember stories that the highest number of cranes operating, in one place, in 2007/8 were in Beijing…

Many buildings in the city’s impressive skyline are empty.

By Barbara Demick 7:26 PM PST, February 21, 2009

Reporting from Beijing — “Empty,” says Jack Rodman, an expert in distressed real estate, as he points from the window of his 40th-floor office toward a silver-skinned prism rising out of the Beijing skyline.

“Beautiful building, but not a single tenant.

“Completely empty.


So goes the refrain as his finger skips from building to building, each flashier than the next, and few of them more than barely occupied.

Beijing went through a building boom in advance of the 2008 Summer Olympics that filled a staid communist capital with angular architectural feats that grace the covers of glossy design magazines.

Now, six months after the Games ended, the city continues to dazzle by night, with neon and floodlights dancing across the skyline. By day, though, it is obvious that many are “see-through” buildings, to use the term coined during the Texas real estate bust of the 1980s.

By Rodman’s calculations, 500 million square feet of commercial real estate has been developed in Beijing since 2006, an amount larger than all of the office space in Manhattan. And that doesn’t include huge projects developed by the government. He says 100 million square feet of office space is vacant — a 14-year supply if it filled up at the same rate as in the best years, 2004 through 2006, when about 7 million square feet a year was leased.

“The scale of development was unprecedented anywhere in the world,” said Rodman, a Los Angeles native who now lives in Beijing, running a firm called Global Distressed Solutions. “It defied logic. It just doesn’t make sense.” ….

25. marisacat - 21 February 2009

oops here is the link for the LAT article on Beijing empty buildings…

26. diane - 21 February 2009

…as much as I really despise violence…I have to say that reactions like those in France make me believe there’s actually some sanity left in the world……….Sarkozy, his wife, the rest of the vultures worldwide, and all of their lackies who emulate them,……………should be behind prison walls…maybe then we would’t need to make an industry out of incarcerating folks……………………….but alas…………………..?

27. marisacat - 21 February 2009

Waaah! Soon they will b asking for their money back! Waaaaaaaaaaaaah!!

But the Independent literally was submissive for Obrama in the year and more past.

Leading article: Obama, tell us the whole truth

[M]r Obama’s closure of Guantanamo therefore smacks more of fulfilling a symbolic pledge than following it through. The Bush administration’s legal case was transparently unconvincing. It argued that detainees were “enemy combatants” being held until hostilities ceased. If so, they should have been entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions on the rights of prisoners of war. Yet President Bush resisted even that, and now President Obama represents continuity with that policy.

Indeed, Elena Kagan, Mr Obama’s nominee for Solicitor General, said during her confirmation hearing that someone suspected of helping to finance al-Qa’ida should be subject to battlefield law – indefinite detention without trial – even if captured in the Philippines, say, rather than a battle zone.

Nor is this the first disappointment of Obama’s presidency. Earlier this month, a government lawyer stuck to the Bush line in a case brought by Binyam Mohamed, the British resident expected home from Guantanamo tomorrow – about whom Clive Stafford Smith writes today. Mohamed and others are suing a subsidiary of Boeing for arranging “extraordinary rendition” flights, by which they were taken secretly to other countries where they say they were tortured.

But the case for respecting human rights remains unanswerable. Brutality, torture and long detention without trial are all not just morally repugnant but counterproductive. That is an argument President Obama himself made when he was running for office. Yet he has said nothing about the disappointing retreats from those high principles made on his behalf by subordinates in the past three weeks.

Gregory Craig, the White House counsel, said last week that the new President intended to avoid “bumper sticker slogans” in deciding what to do with the counterterrorism policies he inherited. Human rights and the rule of law are not bumper sticker slogans. For the sake of the struggle against extremism, Mr Obama needs urgently to deploy his thoughtfulness and great eloquence in explaining just where he stands.

Then again prolly not too distressed, in the article they call the Afghanistan war, the “military action to defend the people of Afghanistan”.

28. marisacat - 21 February 2009

ugh.. On the FP of the Independent is an article saying there are secret talks ongoing to halt the ban on whaling.

29. diane - 21 February 2009

….jeez pretty soon umbrella prices are gonna skyrocket for all the chickens heading to various homes to roost……………………….I’ve certainly been seeing a lot of migrating formations in the sky..could run out of chickens..which may mean …yes…. GEESE……..fed on …metamucil


30. diane - 21 February 2009

from Stu Piddy:

Lockheed Martin Wins Social Security Administration Enterprise Technology Services Contract

“.FALLS CHURCH, VA, November 19th, 1998 — Lockheed Martin Services, Inc., Information Support Services (ISS), has been awarded a contract to provide complete software life cycle support including requirements analysis, design, development, testing, and implementation for the Social Security Administration under the Enterprise Technology Services Contract (ETSC). The SSA ETSC is valued at a minimum of $115 million over a seven-year systems life. Lockheed Martin will support the ETSC in five major technical areas that include application design, database administration and support, software engineering and technology, emerging technology, and software engineering management. The ETSC will be the vehicle for providing the specialized technical skills needed to assist SSA in delivering world-class service into the 21st century.

“We are proud of our 10-year partnership with SSA — a model of government and industry working together to meet nationally important goals,” said Linda Renfro, President of Lockheed Martin Information Support Services. “We understand the critical role information technology plays in supporting the mission of the Social Security Administration, and are committed to providing the superior leadership and resources required to meet those objectives.”

“The Social Security Administration has established the ETSC to assist in the development of information systems necessary to prepare the Agency for the 21st century and beyond,” said Mike Paxton, Lockheed Martin Program Director for SSA ETSC. “I’m confident our management team and key personnel, will continue to provide the experience and technical expertise necessary to meet SSA’s mission critical milestones.”


…would love to know what critical milestones Lockheed is assisting the SSA with other than insuring the software isn’t hacked, and would that actually require that Lockheed.actually ‘administer the database?’….are they the only possible provider of software…..I highly doubt it…I mean the US Government couldn’t have economically STIMULATED some extremely talented software engineers outside of the defense Oligarchy? And wouldn’t it be costing far, far less than it’s likely cost to date?

31. marisacat - 21 February 2009

Thanks for posting that diane… I had just seen the comment from Stu Piddy over at FSZ… and boy are there some silly people pushing back in that thread – at cometman and a couple of others

32. marisacat - 21 February 2009

This was the reply to Stu’s comment with the LM link…

stupid ditty (5.00 / 1)

Handling the paperwork is not the same as “running” SS.

Paranoid as NCC and much less real net contribution.

I think the world is getting more lawful, more “progressive” and even America is to some extent although again, if that were not so it would be fine because America’s already pretty decent on that front

Sir Stopped Clock

by: UnrealAmerican @ Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 21:56:18 PM CST
[ Parent ]

Link to the post

33. diane - 21 February 2009

Marisa (31)

you’re welcome….I’m glad he posted it. I noticed that pushback myself…kinda reminded me of quite afew years back at Dkos.when someone took offense that I was questioning why Diebold received a contract to protect the National Archives. Folks like that always make me wonder whether they’re paid to secure the gates, or just patronizing aholes, no need to try to humiliate someone just cause you don’t agree with them.

34. diane - 21 February 2009

perhaps Stu’s bright observations have made him some pals?

at any rate whoever that is, their a rather vicious shit………..

35. diane - 21 February 2009

oops: they’re

36. diane - 21 February 2009

And Otvos is another towel snapper on that thread………..

37. diane - 22 February 2009

from deedog

It is with disdain that I must report that the Obama DOJ is continuing the Karl Rove instigated prosecution of Paul Minor…..Reports are he was granted a 3 day pass (standard for FPC inmates, who are all first time nonviolent offenders and are housed in camps, without fences or heavy security). However, the DOJ objected and had the pass reduced to a one day escorted trip, giving him only 3 hours to say goodbye….”

I don’t see any reason why they can’t allow this man to visit his dying wife for more than three hours, especially given the fact that most of DC should be behind bars for far worse crimes….(Otvos is towel snapping on that thread to)

38. NYCO - 22 February 2009

24. Chinese architecture — twice as big as American architecture and ten times as disposable. Do Americans really comprehend the scale on which the Chinese live, how it affects their society and identity? (wu ming, might want to jump in here to offer a comment or rebuttal?)

The most amazing thing about that LAT article is the bit about the Water Cube being virtually the only Olympics venue that has seen any use… and apparently it has been turned into a water-and-light show. Something tells me that isn’t really a long-term viable use for it.

In years to come maybe people will see the Beijing Olympics as the “high water mark of the global civilization bubble”… the pinnacle of its complexity and monumental excess.

It’s snowing outside my window now. Am reminded of the last Winter Olympics in the U.S. – Lake Placid ’80 – which was a logistical clusterfuck, but somehow charming for its lack of elaborate building and ceremonies. Lake Placid and its Olympic facilities remain useful for their sports and recreation purposes, however. Lake Placid seems like the last town which actually did keep most of its Olympic cachet. (Sadly we all know what happened to Sarajevo…)

39. NYCO - 22 February 2009

38. Heh, I completely forgot about Salt Lake City 2006. My bad!

40. NYCO - 22 February 2009

40. Er, make that 2002.

Maybe I should just hang it up for the day 🙂

41. marisacat - 22 February 2009

Oh I think the Olympics myth is long since unmasked… but it does not stop cities wanting it… Way way back I went up to Montreal with friends.. forget which year they had the Olympics… I was there in I think ’70 or ’71 and we went to the Olympic grounds.. Think there was a small art museum in one of the buildings.. but ti was a deserted ghost town otherwise.

The winter Olympics was at Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe in ’60 and because Squaw is a ski/winter sports resort everything got used. Even the housing built for the athletes.. And in scope, everything was much smaller then too. A thousand years ago in some ways…

I think the poor Chinese who were displaced for this great building boom should rush one of the buildings… (just a fanciful thought)

42. marisacat - 22 February 2009


Romney is weeping that you forgot!

43. marisacat - 22 February 2009

Lizza has a piece on Rahm and the Stumble Bill up in The New Yorker… (fwiw)

[T]he stimulus bill was essentially held hostage to the whims of Collins, Snowe, and Specter, but if Al Franken, the apparent winner of the disputed Minnesota Senate race, had been seated in Washington, and if Ted Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, had been regularly available to vote, the White House would have needed only one Republican to pass the measure. “No disrespect to Paul Krugman,” Emanuel went on, “but has he figured out how to seat the Minnesota senator?” (Franken’s victory is the subject of an ongoing court challenge by his opponent, Norm Coleman, which the national Republican Party has been happy to help finance.) “Write a fucking column on how to seat the son of a bitch. I would be fascinated with that column. O.K.?” Emanuel stood up theatrically and gestured toward his seat with open palms. “Anytime they want, they can have it,” he said of those who are critical of his legislative strategies. “I give them my chair.” …

He appears quite pissed off at Krugman. Delights me no end. Maybe someone could bite off the rest of his fingers.

44. marisacat - 22 February 2009

Pre orgasmics line up … “the people need… ” Why doesn’t Alter just call us “human farm stock”… I know that is how they think of us.

[B]ecause my take on Obama, based on conversations with him and his team stretching back more than four years and extending into the White House, is that he has a firm grasp of the psychological and substantive challenges of the presidency. Equally important, his 2008 campaign proved that he possesses a superior sense of timing. He knows that now is not the moment to cheerlead, not when the financial players are lying dazed on the field. There will be time for that, when the banks have been “restructured” (see, that sounds better than “nationalized”) and the credit starts flowing again.

The psychodynamics of the recession aren’t hard to fathom. The people need a vision. They need to see that the president is on their side (which is why he now spends a day a week on the road). And like seriously ill patients, they need a clear yet flexible action plan that takes them beyond blind optimism to well-founded hope. …

And if not human farm stock then we are institutionalised patients. But!…On our way to “well founded hope”.

Is that a new and improved hope? Better sudsing action? A more effective colonic?

45. marisacat - 22 February 2009

hmm the Alter article is a classic.

The GOP did a good job trivializing the stimulus, but Obama may have the last laugh. The package is so big, and stretches across so many states, that it provides him at least four years of photo ops as Daddy O on tour, bringing home the jobs right in your local media market. It was hardly a coincidence that video of bridge repair in Missouri began airing only moments after the president signed the bill. ..

It goes on and on and on and on… at one point Obama is called our “teacher-in-chief”. The title itself is “America’s New Shrink”. So! We are mental patients just waiting for thorazine from Dr Daddy O…

Quite a fiction the pre orgasmics have devised.

46. marisacat - 22 February 2009

And Mr Saletan says the Preacher-in-Chief can cure our culture wars.

Obviously we need a 19th c elixir of his DNA. Truly. I’d load that elixir up with tons of booze so we don’t feel the deep screw we are undergoing.

47. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

38. Heh, I completely forgot about Salt Lake City 2006. My bad!

Nah … nothing much worth remembering about SLC.

48. aemd - 22 February 2009

“They need to see that the president is on their side (which is why he now spends a day a week on the road). ”

Saw somewhere his road trips referred to as the Travelin’ Salvation Show. Wish I could remember where. Deserves a big ht. LOL 😀

49. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

Jobs Still Elude Some Bush Ex-Officials

Only 25% to 30% of ex-Bush officials seeking full-time jobs have succeeded, estimated Eric Vautour, a Washington recruiter at Russell Reynolds Associates Inc. That “is much, much worse” than when Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton left the White House, he said. At least half those presidents’ senior staffers landed employment within a month after the administration ended, Mr. Vautour recalled.

A handful of Bush cabinet officers have accepted academic appointments. Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson joined Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies as a fellow. Condoleezza Rice, previously secretary of state, resumed her Stanford University roles as a political-science professor and senior fellow at its Hoover Institution think tank.

J. Michael McConnell, the ex-director of national intelligence, also rejoined a prior employer. He resumed work this week as a senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, the title he held when he left the management consultancy to become U.S. spy chief. Last week, Fidelity Investments named Anthony Ryan, a former acting Treasury undersecretary, to head its asset-management strategy.

50. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

Poor George Will is having a hard time pushing his rightwing spin past Roubini and Krugman.

Will: “Isn’t it also the case that 55% of renegotiated mortgages are in default within six months?”

Roubini: “Well, yes, but because they’re stretching the maturity rather than reducing the face value of the mortgages. When people are insolvent you have to reduce the face value.”

51. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

Foreclosures spur neighborhood ghost towns

“We’re kind of in an unprecedented moment,” said Philip Ashton, an assistant professor of urban planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “A lot of the research that is on the table relates to a completely different world.”

In the past when banks auctioned off foreclosed homes, buyers lined up to snatch real estate at bargain prices. But given the states of the housing and credit markets, almost 99 percent of homes lost to foreclosure in 2008 went back to lenders—a total value of $1.9 billion in Chicago, according to data provided by the Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based think tank.

Banks don’t want to be landlords, so the properties usually sit vacant until they sell. And very few are selling. Census data show that from 2000 to 2007, the number of vacancies in Chicago jumped 82 percent to a record 165,679 housing units.

“It’s a concern for the same reason the subprime lending problem should have been a concern five years ago,” said Geoff Smith, vice president at the Woodstock Institute. “There are certain communities that are more at risk, but if it goes unchecked … it has the potential to spiral and affect all parts of the economy.”

And as 2008 foreclosure filings wind their way through the system and 2009 heaps its damage on top, the problem is likely to get worse. A national estimate from the economic research firm IHS Global Insight says 2009 will bring another 2.7 million foreclosures.

52. marisacat - 22 February 2009


yeah really… after his “very bad week” I read that his advisors had decided he was best at rallying the troops. FFS. Talk about finding gold in sludge.

And he and Mrs Daddy O have not hidden they don’t much like the WH. Kind of interesting in a way.

53. marisacat - 22 February 2009


Roubini and Krugman were the only two who mattered… they could have left Arnold and Will in the Green Room and nt bothered with the woman from whatever mag she came from…………

54. marisacat - 22 February 2009


well Berkeley, to our great shame, took in Yoo. How hard can it be. Seems the worst of the worst (thieves and criminals,Paulson and McConnell and that ditz Condi) are doing OK.

55. marisacat - 22 February 2009


I caught an interview in the past week… apparently there is a scheme on, getting fleshed out (luv how they drip out the scheisse) to form a govenrmental body of “old experts”.. Seidman’s anme was mentioned … to buy up and hold masses of the foreclosures.

It was barely skeletal and in conversation but apparently speaking of something in the planning session… but I really did wonder. I’ve said before, one dirty secret, at least here in CA, is that for all the new developments being largely foreclosed, there is also a ton of foreclosed and abandoned, very tired and worn out housing stock from the 70s.

Hard to know what is coming frankly….

56. diane - 22 February 2009

Private Prisons, Human Trafficking and the American Way of Punishment
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford:

”….”The crimes of the two judges are informed by the logic of a political culture born in institutional theft, murder and kidnapping for profit.”

The case of the two Pennsylvania judges who conspired to funnel juveniles into for-profit detention centers in return for kickbacks, is an example of whole flocks of American chickens coming home to roost. The Pennsylvania abomination’s roots are as ancient as the bounties placed on Native American scalps and on the living bodies of persons who might, or might not have been, escaped slaves. The crimes of the two judges are informed by the logic of a political culture born in institutional theft, murder and kidnapping for profit. It is a political culture whose essential moral depravity survives – and thrives – in an ever-expanding, nationwide system of privatized prisons whose very existence is an indictment of American society.

At its core, a criminal justice system that provides financial incentives to capture, incarcerate, humiliate and stigmatize other human beings, is an incubator of the most evil potentialities of the species. Bounty-hunting and for-profit prisons share the same underlying morality as cannibalism. No one should be surprised when such a state-sanctioned perversion of morality results in the system devouring its young, as occurred in Pennsylvania.


Speaking of which, Part II of a somewhat more realistic Oliver (although must say I preferred Oliver Reed, as Bill Sykes), is on Masterpiece Theater tonight, for those who can get it. Me, I may not be able to get it (many of the stations in my area have already implemented digital…and while writing that it occurs to me that perhaps DC pushed the date forward just for show), and I welcome suggestions as to how I can turn my old RCA black & white (do vacuum tubes explode?)into a loverly piece of furniture,……….since I absolutely refuse to pay Comcast a fuckin dime…the only game (isn’t that called a monoply?) in my town, ……for what?…to watch Ghoul politicians masquerading themselves as human?

57. marisacat - 22 February 2009

Someone sent this to me while mouse was down and out… so just getting to read the whole thing. Greider in The Nation on the entitlements screw coming up.

But Obama is also playing footsie with the conservative advocates of “entitlement reform” (their euphemism for cutting benefits). The president wants the corporate establishment’s support on many other important matters, and he recently promised to hold a “fiscal responsibility summit” to examine the long-term costs of entitlements. That forum could set the trap for a “bipartisan compromise” that may become difficult for Obama to resist, given the burgeoning deficit. If he resists, he will be denounced as an old-fashioned free-spending liberal. The advocates are urging both parties to hold hands and take the leap together, authorizing big benefits cuts in a circuitous way that allows them to dodge the public’s blame. In my new book, Come Home, America, I make the point: “When official America talks of ‘bipartisan compromise,’ it usually means the people are about to get screwed.”

Follow the bouncing ball: Washington first cuts taxes on the well-to-do, then offsets the revenue loss by raising taxes on the working class and tells folks it is saving their money for future retirement. But Washington spends the money on other stuff, so when workers need it for their retirement, they are told, Sorry, we can’t afford it.

Federal budget analysts try to brush aside these facts by claiming the government is merely “borrowing from itself” when it dips into Social Security. But that is a substantive falsehood. Government doesn’t own this money. It essentially acts as the fiduciary, holding this wealth in trust for the “beneficial owners,” the people who paid the taxes. This is the bait and switch the establishment intends to execute. …

58. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

another piece on the coming attack on “entitlements”:


President Obama will hold a “fiscal responsibility summit” in Washington next Monday with the goal of reining in government spending. Watch out.

With our federal budget deficit heading toward $1.4 trillion this year, or nearly 10% of our overall economy, something must be done. Look out.

Obama adviser John Podesta says the summit is the first step in a process to help the public “understand how the financial balance sheet of the federal government comes back into order.”

Translation: Middle class and poor folks are going to really get nailed.

According to the Washington Post Obama’s team has invited big business, economists and a range of other “special interests” to the event which will feature five breakout sessions. Larry Summers (refer to Naomi Klein interview here) will lead the discussion on Social Security. Hold onto your hat.

Former Republican senator Jon Danforth calls it a “media event.” He’s right, they are preparing the American people for the clamp-down.

The Post also reports that one of the key goals of the summit is, “Controlling spending on a vast social safety net for the elderly and the poor that threatens to bankrupt the government.”

Then they say, “Lawmakers also will be asked to dedicate more money to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and perhaps another round of cash to prop up the crippled financial system and to stimulate the sagging economy.”

Translation: They want to cut Medicare and Social Security so they can fund two wars and more bailouts for Wall Street. And they will call it “fiscal responsibility.” Watch out for this kind of change, it will kill you.

RE: This Week … that woman from Business Week seemed only interested in flogging he birdcage-liner. Roubini was good, and managed to get quite a lot said in very little time.

59. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

Can Gaza Be Rebuilt Through Tunnels?

Who Profits from War and Occupation?

Building supplies will have to be brought from outside Gaza. Israel controls 90 percent of the land borders to Gaza — the northern and eastern borders and 100 percent of the ocean on the west side of Gaza. Egypt controls the southern border with Gaza.

The Israelis who bombed Gaza will be the primary financial beneficiaries of the rebuilding of Gaza. They bombed it and now will sell construction materials to rebuild what they have bombed, exactly like the United States has done in Iraq. Egyptians too will benefit financially from the reconstruction—high priced small construction materials that will fit into the tunnels are no doubt have been transiting through the tunnels for the past 6 weeks. Israeli women had created a website detailing who profits from occupation.

No doubt a second website is under construction that will track which Israeli, Egyptian and American companies will benefit from the bombing of Gaza.

60. diane - 22 February 2009

Very sorry Marisa, I think I really ffffd up the bolding on a post I just made, it should’ve been:

Private Prisons, Human Trafficking and the American Way of Punishment

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford:

”….”The crimes of the two judges are informed by the logic of a political culture born in institutional theft, murder and kidnapping for profit.”

The case of the two Pennsylvania judges who conspired to funnel juveniles into for-profit detention centers in return for kickbacks, is an example of whole flocks of American chickens coming home to roost. The Pennsylvania abomination’s roots are as ancient as the bounties placed on Native American scalps and on the living bodies of persons who might, or might not have been, escaped slaves. The crimes of the two judges are informed by the logic of a political culture born in institutional theft, murder and kidnapping for profit. It is a political culture whose essential moral depravity survives – and thrives – in an ever-expanding, nationwide system of privatized prisons whose very existence is an indictment of American society.

At its core, a criminal justice system that provides financial incentives to capture, incarcerate, humiliate and stigmatize other human beings, is an incubator of the most evil potentialities of the species. Bounty-hunting and for-profit prisons share the same underlying morality as cannibalism. No one should be surprised when such a state-sanctioned perversion of morality results in the system devouring its young, as occurred in Pennsylvania.


Speaking of which, Part II of a somewhat more realistic Oliver (although must say I preferred Oliver Reed, as Bill Sykes), is on Masterpiece Theater tonight, for those who can get it. Me, I may not be able to get it (many of the stations in my area have already implemented digital…and while writing that it occurs to me that perhaps DC pushed the date forward just for show), and I welcome suggestions as to how I can turn my old RCA black & white (do vacuum tubes explode?) into a loverly piece of furniture,……….since I absolutely refuse to pay Comcast a fuckin dime…the only game (isn’t that called a monoply?) in my town, ……for what?…to watch Ghoul politicians masquerading themselves as human?

61. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

Up to 120,000 protest in recession-hit Ireland

DUBLIN (AFP) — Up to 120,000 protesters brought Dublin city centre to a standstill on Saturday over government austerity measures aimed at stabilising the once high-flying economy now wracked by recession.

The demonstration came a day after the global economic crisis led to another political casualty elsewhere in Europe, with Latvia’s prime minister quitting as his country grapples with deepening recession.

Organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and featuring teachers, police, civil servants and others, the Irish protest was the “first step in a rolling campaign of action,” ICTU general secretary David Begg said.

Police put the number of protesters at up to 120,000.

Marchers are particularly opposed to a pension levy on some 350,000 public servants which is designed to save about 1.4 billion euros (1.8 billion dollars) this year.

According to IMPACT, Ireland’s biggest public sector trade union, the levy will cost low to middle-income earners between 1,500 euros and 2,800 euros a year.

The union’s general secretary Peter McLoone has said his members were angered by the way in which public servants were singled out by the levy for “a harsh and inequitable penalty”.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen is bringing in an initial two-billion-euro package of cuts designed to stabilise the one-time Celtic Tiger economy, which entered recession in the first half of 2008.

Cowen has said the economy will shrink by up to 10 percent by 2010 and warned of total savings of 15 billion euros needed over five years in a bid to stabilise Irish finances.

In a statement to coincide with the demonstration, the government said it recognised that the measures it was taking “are difficult and, in some cases, painful” but they were also “necessary and fair.”

“They are necessary because it is essential that we show a credible start on the correction of an emerging unsustainability in our public finances,” it said.

“Failure to show that credible start means that we impact directly and severely on our international reputation among investors and, in particular, on our capacity to raise funds, and on the direct cost of servicing the borrowing which we are able to undertake.”

The ICTU describes the government’s measures as “lacking in fairness and focussing only on ‘stabilising’ the public finances at the expense of economic renewal and job protection.”

62. marisacat - 22 February 2009

diane… the converter boxes run about 50 to 60…. and the Stim Bill just put a chunk of money into the coupons for a 40.00 deduction on the boxes…

that might be one thought.

Small stations converted on schedule or soon after, so I ahve read, to save the cost of broadcasting in both digital and analog… and I just heard that any station can switch over ahead of May 17 with a 30 day notice. So I am guessing many will.

PBS here is still broadcasting in both… but CA entities pushed hard for the extension…sooooooooooo… would be hard for them to ignore it…

I have to buy two new tvs… one is serioiusly old and needs to go (bedroom) and somewhere later down the line have to replace a not very old one in the kitchen that simply died one night… so I ahve been shopping.. cost, esp for smaller tvs, have come way way way down…

63. diane - 22 February 2009

Thanks much for that info Marisa…I was aware of the vouchers, but problem is one truly needs cable any more to get a good reception in most places…I refuse to pay to watch our “Masters” insult us…frankly the whole 1996 switch, stunk to high heaven,…some vague memory of a DIRE NEED FOR AN EMERGENCY BROADCASTING SYSTEM!!!!!!!!!!…….righto! that is not what happened…by any credible stretch of the word……………further..aesthetically……..my primitive understanding of the difference between digital and analog, visually and soundwise, is like comparing a water color done by a gifted painter to a prepinted graph of that same artists work, where some bot fills the teeny boxes with color; musically a destruction of curving lines…all hard angle…. at this point, it’s likely I’ll pass.

64. marisacat - 22 February 2009

Speaking of private prisons… there was a couple of hours on KGO a few weeks ago on the private prisons.. and CCA, Corrections Corporation of America came up. Not sure but think it is modern evolution of Wackenhut, having bought them out or absorbed them or whatever.

Of course they own lots of US prisons (and CA ships state prisoners out of state to be housed in private prisons, as well, just great!) as well as prisons in S and C America. Quite a game we have going.

Anyway I went to their site to poke around.. and my oh my… who is on the board. Thurgood Marshall Jr.

Fuckin’ hell. Oh but look! over there! at the cartoon! Really!

There also is a rumor going around that Barbara Bush owns a large holding in CCA, maybe as much as 50%… I could find nothing, but there are a couple of LLCs listed as large shareholders…

65. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

Sorry for the bother, but I think there is a link in moderation.

Charming interview on CBS Sunday Morning: Walking A Thin Line Into History

“Well, you see, if I were a different kind of wire walker, the one who wanted to run across and claim ‘I did it’ and have his name in a book of records, then I would have killed myself,” Petit said. “Because there was nothing, higher, bigger, more amazing than the twin towers. But I am the opposite of that artist. I am someone who goes through life looking for interesting artistic challenges.”

In 1989, he crossed the River Seine on a wire between Paris’ Palais de Chaillot and the Eiffel Tower. In 1994, half a million people watched him cross the skies over Frankfurt, Germany. And earlier this decade, he planned to stretch a wire across the Grand Canyon.

He had pure steel cable anchors custom-made:

“So these were supposed to hold the cable that you were going to walk across the Grand Canyon?” Mason asked.

“Yeah, on each side.”

But the backers got cold feet:

“And one of the producers went to the site and he get on the edge and he get completely scared. And probably he think inside his head he must think, Why am I helping this man to kill himself?”

Ridiculous, says Petit, who by his count has performed 82 high wire walks and never fallen.

“I am more in command of the wire, more knowledgeable of my own limits, more understanding of space and time on a stage. And, in a way, I am a much better wire walker today than I was, when I was, you know, rebellious. I am still rebellious! But I was arrogant.

“I’m still arrogant!” he laughs.

66. diane - 22 February 2009


Indeed, Wackenhut has diversified like that, ….quite the industry, yup.

67. marisacat - 22 February 2009

Madman… did I get them all out…??

For whatever reason it kept throwing you and diane into moderaton… Sorry!!

68. marisacat - 22 February 2009

Reception… well I am in a direct line with the “tower”… a thing they built here about 20 + years ago to kill reception (imo) and make cable near necessary.. for whatever reason I get good reception.. probably will need an antenna with the new digital.. but plan to wait and see how whatever I end up buying does without it…

69. diane - 22 February 2009

Re Thurgood…what to say….

am reminded of a question put to a black friend of mine in PGH PA…Are all the blacks in PGH who are somebody Prince Hall masons?…pretty much so….yeah…..

About sums it up doesn’t it

gotta frat to be that

grin, and you’re in…….

I was told, by an older black woman from the Sout’,
that that was termed ridin the goat..

70. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

Yes, I think you did get them all.

Diane, there is a website where you can put in your location and it will tell you what stations are available, and where you need to aim your rabbit ears (once you have a converter box or digital-tuner-ready tv: Antenna Web.

71. diane - 22 February 2009

Smoochs Madman, I’d at least like to be able to get it for my mom if she wants it.

72. diane - 22 February 2009


If one reads the detail on the link..they could surmise …that rite of passage was a precurser to electoshock therapy….

…got gum?………….why you rascal…you can speak?…………………

73. marisacat - 22 February 2009

diane.. in terms of your mother..

there is also a bare bones basic Comcast cable connection that runs 15.00 a month (at least in this area, they began advertising it after AT&T came in and swamped them.. but of course before full crash, LOL). Basic cable plus cable reception.. and depending on what your mother has as TV, no need to replace an old analog…

74. diane - 22 February 2009

72 (my last comment)

and, of course, electroshock therapy…………….

75. diane - 22 February 2009


Thanks Marisa

Thankfully, my mom, bless her heart, likely won’t want any money going to those fuckers at comcast either…and rarely watches tv…in her eighties, she loves to go out dancing, on her own and on her own terms, and teach the youngsters something about surviving it all……….

76. diane - 22 February 2009

hmmm the second to the last comment I made wasn’t an addition to my response to Madman…it was to a comment that hasn’t posted yet…..

77. marisacat - 22 February 2009


that Phoenix Mason/Masonic Museum site is truly bizarre…. link to the index. Geesh.

78. diane - 22 February 2009

after AT&T came in and swamped them…

They haven’t swamped them here yet..Comcast is the only game going, to my knowledge,….but if they do……I won’t be subscribing ever in life…as it was I was forced to go with ATT for my landline after being taken royally by a smaller telecom..(can we spell TX based) with no justice at the end of the day…despite at least 12 hours of phone and email communications with my Dem Rep….ATT sends me five pounds of trash weekly, but, since they are so green! they’ve snipped an inch off of their payment remittance stubs (in the hopes for late payment fees?) so that I have to write the ATT PO Box on the envelope everytime I mail a check…and no,…I won’t be paying anything on line anytime soon……………………….for one: as much as I think the Post office is fucked up, there are millions of Postal Workers out there who wouldn’t be able to get another job anytime soon.

79. marisacat - 22 February 2009

hmm more from the Greider link in 57… BTW, Petersen has been invited to the WH Fiscal Responsibility Bullshit… and once it got out people were told to stop being alarmist.. making it seem he si there to audit the class or some such fakery.

Peterson’s proposal would essentially dismantle the Social Security entitlement enacted in the New Deal, much as Bill Clinton repealed the right to welfare. Peterson has assembled influential allies for this radical step. They include a coalition of six major think tanks and four tax-exempt foundations.

Their report–Taking Back Our Fiscal Future, issued jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation–recommends that Congress put long-term budget caps on Social Security and other entitlement spending, which would automatically trigger benefits cuts if needed to stay within the prescribed limits. The same antidemocratic mechanisms–a commission of technocrats and limited Congressional discretion–would shield politicians from popular blowback.

The authors of this plan are sixteen economists from Brookings and Heritage, joined by the American Enterprise Institute, the Concord Coalition, the New America Foundation, the Progressive Policy Institute and the Urban Institute. “Our group covers the ideological spectrum,” they claim. This too is a falsehood. All these organizations are corporate-friendly and dependent on big-money contributors. No liberal or labor thinkers need apply, though the group includes some formerly liberal economists like Robert Reischauer, Alice Rivlin and Isabel Sawhill. …

If it were not immensely tragic it would be laughable. WIth that river reed faking it as a “strong pretzel”.

80. diane - 22 February 2009


Indeed it is hon……

Interesting thing is…in the last few years…there’s been a lot
put out about how truly great the whole masonry thing is, and how
they’ve been slandered…saw a portion of a Discovery Channel (I think) documentary on how many of the elite masons were akin to selfless ministers, or something similiar, as a captive audience in a hospital waiting room (weirdly, the hospital was only allowing one visitor at a time, we’re talking about a young black woman with breast cancer here, not someone suspected or convicted of a crime) where you weren’t able to change the fucking channel

(gotta run, I’m way late,…hugs!)

81. marisacat - 22 February 2009

ugh AT&T has been fine here as my provider (landlines)… I forget now all the others in between, from deregulation of Ma Bell. I think MCI is STILL trying to bill me for some big issue I had with them.. many years ago…

An elderly friend of ours in the neighborhood got caught up in a big snafu with Verizon,.. it took hours and hours with one person writing letters and another person running phone interference..

What a nightmare it all has been

82. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

I tossed up a quickie: Moral Hazard.

83. marisacat - 22 February 2009

Oh just wave a waiver. They know how to do that…

[T]he White House reached out Thursday to Nancy-Ann DeParle, administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration in the Clinton administration, to consider serving as both the health czar and the secretary of health and human services, according to a source familiar with the process.

DeParle brings a long resume of health care experience, and a reputation as a no-nonsense businesswoman and lawyer. She served as the Tennessee commissioner of human services in the late 1980s and spent the 1990s in the Clinton administration as a health care adviser at HHS, the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Health Care Financing Administration.

The potential stumbling block for DeParle is what she has done since the Clinton years. She is managing director of CCMP Capital, a private equity firm in New York, and sits on the boards of corporations such as Medco Health Solutions and Boston Scientific.

Her affiliations present potential conflicts of interest at a time when the Obama administration cannot afford to see another nominee run into confirmation problems.

84. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009
85. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

I don’t know how Alexander Pelosi can stand talking to the people she interviews in this doc: Right America: Feeling Wronged – Some Voices from the Campaign Trail

86. marisacat - 22 February 2009

hmmm the cauldron.. LA County

One in five Los Angeles County residents — nearly 2.2 million people — are receiving public assistance payments or benefits, a level county officials say will rise significantly over the coming months as the fallout from the recession continues.

The percentage of people on county aid already equals the figure at the height of the 2001-03 recession and far exceeds the one in seven who needed help during the economic downturn in the early 1990s and the one in nine assisted in the collapse of the early 1980s.

The rise in welfare recipients in the county is the first sustained uptick since welfare reform under the Clinton administration imposed strict time limits on benefits in 1996.

County officials warn that tens of thousands of additional frustrated job seekers — unemployment in the county currently stands at 9.5% — are expected to seek aid to weather the persistent recession once their other benefits run out.

The total includes those receiving food stamps and general relief as well as other county-administered aid programs, such as in-home healthcare. The cost — shouldered by the county, state and federal governments — was $334 million a month by the end of last year, according to the latest report by the county’s Department of Public Social Services. …

87. marisacat - 22 February 2009


LOL long familiarity with the CA DP.

That would immunise her pretty well…………………

88. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009
89. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

87 – Some time in San Diego county would probably do it.

90. Intermittent Bystander - 22 February 2009

Everybody got their gowns and tuxes? Gotta keep the lights on in Hollywood, after all.

Quite the psychedelic rendering of the luxury life at sea, at top!

FYI: Actual official free credit report site (if your state requires credit agencies to provide at least one free report per “consumer” per year):


91. Intermittent Bystander - 22 February 2009

OK, just checked and the one-report-per-year (from each of the 3 major credit agencies) is a federal requirement under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Your Rights: Credit Reporting.

92. Intermittent Bystander - 22 February 2009

Been meaning to drop this off, too.

Employers Face Plenty of COBRA-Related Compliance Issues

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, February 17, provides employees laid off since September 1, 2008, through the end of 2009 with as much as a nine-month subsidy to help them continue receiving their employer’s health benefits. These former employees are eligible to pay 35 percent of the cost of the monthly premium as opposed to the standard cost of 102 percent if their gross income is less than $125,000 for individuals or less than $250,000 for couples. The government subsidy will cover the remaining 65 percent of the cost of the premium.

For individuals who make between $125,000 and $145,000 and couples making between $250,000 and $290,000, the subsidies will be provided on a sliding scale. The government will subsidize the upfront cost and then recoup the money through tax returns.


How it works: the employment tax offset

Employees will pay 35 percent of the cost of their premium. Employers with self-funded health plans will pay the rest and then deduct their expense from the amount normally paid toward the federal government in payroll taxes.

With the average cost of a family plan in 2008 totaling $12,680, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s survey on health care costs, employers will pay an average of $8,242 per family plan before deducting that expense from payroll taxes.

Employers must send notices to eligible employees notifying them of their rights to elect COBRA under the new subsidy rules.

While employers are readying administrative systems to comply with the new requirements, employees may pay the full amount and then use the overpayment as a credit toward future premiums or reimburse employees that amount.

According to a benefits advisory from a major law firm I saw, it looks like the employers have got about 60 days to get their acts together, and in the meantime, ex-employees may or may not have to either wait (for employer notice of subsidy) or continue to pay full COBRA price, with expectation that overpayment will be refunded or credited after April.

93. marisacat - 22 February 2009


when I saw that on the COBRA I thought it was pretty decent deal, all thngs considered….

I am very sorry for states like SC MS and LA …others…that seem to be rejecting the most basic aspects of the deal, unemployment extension and, I would imagine as well, the COBRA help.

94. marisacat - 22 February 2009

Thanks for the reminder on Academy Awards… I popped ABC on!

95. Madman in the Marketplace - 22 February 2009

I am very sorry for states like SC MS and LA …others…that seem to be rejecting the most basic aspects of the deal

Of course, the base voters in those states will complain that no one helps them while immigrants get everything free and drive Cadillacs.

96. Intermittent Bystander - 22 February 2009

93 – We’ll see who refuses what, once people cop on. . . .

94 – No prob!

97. aemd - 22 February 2009

Billmon has another post at dKos. The part of the post I found most interesting…

“This is the process that an economist of the Great Depression era, Irving Fisher, labeled “debt deflation”: As banks shrink their balance sheets, money and credit contracts. As money and credit contracts, prices (first of assets, then of commodities, labor and everything else) start to fall. Falling prices (deflation) increase the real value of outstanding debts while at the same time reducing the cash flows needed to service those debts. This forces more borrowers to default, forcing banks to shrink their balance sheets even more, causing prices to fall farther and faster. Rinse and repeat, until the banks (and the economy) are laying flat on their backs, with little tags attached to their big toes.

We’ve been down that spiral once before, and the results were sufficiently terrible to leave the next two generations of Americans with a morbid fear that it might happen again.

But now — even as the Great Depression has faded almost from living memory (allowing a new generation of conservative ideologues to lie with impunity about its causes and cures) — there is a very definite risk that it will happen again.”

Well from my limited view in the back row of the J6P peanut gallery, I’m seeing increasing asset contraction (real estate, commercial and residential, stocks, bonds, business profits). As for commodities, my grocery bill is steadily dropping. When milk dropped 50 cents per gallon last week, I went from a WooHoo to an Uh Oh moment fast. As for wages contracting, 1099, part time and temp workers (who we all know are not part of the real economic backbone) have been seeing this for a while. If you google “salary cuts”, “wage cuts” and the like then filter out all the screaming demands for wage cuts for everyone but the person who’s doing the screaming (who of course is underpaid), there is an increasing amount of corporate wage cut announcements. The point of this ramble? We are not risking a “debt deflation” spiral; we are already deep into one.

Nothing the Feds are currently doing will work. A stable economy can not be achieved when it is built upon a bad foundation and removal of regulations (by Uncle Sam), lack of enforcement of regulations (by Uncle Sam) and gaming of the system (by Uncle Sam) has jack hammered that foundation into rubble. Sorry, tacking up some cheap dry wall on a crappy foundation and having the same people who trashed the foundation throw money at it ain’t gonna do shit.

98. Intermittent Bystander - 22 February 2009

93 – More on my own adventures in unemployment and stimulus-land laaater. It’s been quite thrilling week! But yeah, the COBRA deal (and if I”m not mistaken, the extra $25/per week in unempl cash, before too long) really has to help a loooot of people, once the powers that be (responsible for noticing and paying) come to, post-signing.

Calling ms-xeno – Hope there’s peppermint schnappes in there somewhere for you!

99. Intermittent Bystander - 22 February 2009

PS to Madman and others – The unemployment debit card bank fee scam preys especially on those without bank accounts (and the option of direct deposit) when they lose their miserable jobs.

100. marisacat - 22 February 2009

We are not risking a “debt deflation” spiral; we are already deep into one.

I agree.. tho on the other points, I am not seeing grocery prices come down here, at all.

In fact just having had a Safeway delivery today, I was mulling that over last night.. they have seriously tightned up their sales schedules. Meaning if I had a taste for hot dogs to grill… usually either Nathans or Hebrew National was on sale sometime in the month.. just as an example. Now fewer things rotate to promotion.

I suppose to push their own label is one reason..

I also heard that now Silicon Valley is feeling the pinch… so we shall see.

101. Intermittent Bystander - 22 February 2009

Nice acceptance speech by screenwriter of Milk.

102. marisacat - 22 February 2009

New thread………………


…………. 8) ……………..

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