Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 18h 29m 52s|
ex-Attorney General John Ashcroft
Riches are raining down on the former attorney general's consulting firm, the Ashcroft Group, thanks to a former Justice
Department associate. The group has been handed an 18-month contract worth between $28-million and $52-million by
Christopher Christie, the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey - a man who used to work for Ashcroft. There was no competitive
bidding for this well-compensated work and, according to the New York Times, Christie has been using his position to direct
similar arrangements to other former department colleagues.
Ashcroft's contract has eye-popping numbers. For the sum of $750,000 per month plus between $150,000 and $250,000 per
month in expenses, his consulting group will monitor an out-of-court settlement the Justice Department reached with Zimmer
Holdings, a medical supply company in Indiana. That company was accused of paying kickbacks to doctors who used their knee
and hip implants.
Zimmer Holdings was directed to contract with Ashcroft's firm by Christie, who defends the action as just finding the best man
for the job. It is hard to believe that other firms wouldn't be as equally capable, and they would be without the appearance of
cronyism or rewarding friends.
Ashcroft's firm negotiated its fees directly with Zimmer Holdings in a way that raises questions about whether they might be too
generous in order to curry favor. The hourly billing rate for Ashcroft and his top staff is between $695 and $895. Nice work if you
can get it.
[SOURCE: | St. Petersburg Times | 11 January 2008]
This is why Republicans want to get government off your backs, because they got government in their back pockets.
|Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 20h 22m 16s|
America Has Spoken
|Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 18h 11m 54s|
Mindless whores who like their 7 figure salaries
"The media horseshit produced in New Hampshire was worse than useless;
not only arrogant, mindless and sheeplike, per usual, but also wrong on the
very horse-race measurements upon which these faux smarties pride themselves.
How can an entire industry continue to exist when the product it provides is
both unwanted and defective, and proven repeatedly to be so?"
Alterman | Altercation.com | 10 January 2008
Exceptionally moronic and insane are Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough. Why are these lying sack of shits getting paid millions
of dollars to "pretend' like they don't serve an agenda that is anti-democratic in spirit. Here is a snippet of the two of them
from the December 12 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
MATTHEWS: I was thinking that -- Giuliani's the other strong favorite. He's once again selected as the best leader, the most
experienced, and I think the best chance to win. But the fact that he's still the best leader in the Republican Party is the key thing.
Republicans like leaders, and I still think that's why he's the front-runner. If you look down the stretch, he can win the big states
with the unit rule. He could do well in Florida; he can do well in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California,
Washington, Oregon. He could win the coasts big time and win the nomination a little slower and a little dirtier than he'd like, but
he'll win it.
BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, but isn't it -- sorry -- isn't it because people just think he simply can win, as opposed to whether or not they
agree with what he stands for? Is it -- are we still there?
MATTHEWS: Yeah, that's where they're at. You're right, Mika. They think he can win it. And they think he's a leader, and they think
he might be an SOB. And one thing is, he's an authentic SOB.
I mean, he really looks like one, acts like one, talks like one -- he is the real thing. He is not a nice guy; he's a tough guy. And at
3 o'clock in the morning on the subway, do you want a nice guy to get on -- do you want Huckabee joining you on the subway -
- or do you want this guy who looks like he might just have brass knuckles on? You don't know.
SCARBOROUGH: I want Giuliani sitting next to me on the subway.
BRZEZINSKI: You don't want Huckabee?
MATTHEWS: I think that's what you want. You want [former New York City police commissioner] Bernie Kerik sitting next to you on
the subway is what you really want.
SCARBOROUGH: You're damn straight I want Bernie Kerik. I will not criticize Bernie Kerik --
BRZEZINSKI: Oh, Lord!
SCARBOROUGH: -- because I can walk around the streets of New York City at 2 in the morning and not be afraid for my life.
BRZEZINSKI: Chris --
SCARBOROUGH: You're damn --
MATTHEWS: I felt that, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: You're damn straight.
MATTHEWS: Joe, I'm an out-of-towner, too.
MORNING JOE | | 12 December 2008]
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Amazing how this is considered insightful and provocative commentary on morning television. Rudy's heavy-handed police
tactics shot at, killed, and harassed people of color far out of proportion to the declining crime rate which had nothing to do with
Rudy. Money that was available occurred before he became Mayor. They praise for the mob lackey Bernie Kerik without
mentioning the adulterous romps in an apartment paid for by the city, along with the complete politicization and corruption of
the the police departments.
But Christy Matthews praises the man because he can walk the streets at night, and Joey Scarborough wants to sit next to Rudy
the subway. Case closed. The historical record be damned.
What nightmares these two men must have in their subconscious reality.
|Sunday, 13 January 2008 at 8h 24m 3s|
Wait a minute
In what could be a first in the world of political advertising, a message created by a deeply unhappy Arkansas voter that initially
came alive on the web in December is going to air on television tonight in the important primary state of South Carolina, right in
the middle of a Fox News debate among the Republican presidential candidates.
The minute-long advertisement attacks Republican Mike Huckabee for the release of convicted serial rapist Wayne Dumond
during Huckabee's tenure as Arkansas governor. Dumond went on to kill a woman named Carol Sue Shields in Missouri. The spot
features Shields' mother, Lois Davidson, who tells viewers "If not for Mike Huckabee, Wayne Dumond would be in prison and
Carol Sue would be with us."
[SOURCE: Sarah Lai
Stirland | Wired | 10 January 2008]
But that's not all. Huckabee released Dumond over the advice of the state pardon board because of a political hoopla from some
right wing radio talk shows that Clinton was covering up his involvement and scapegoating Dumond.
But don't just believe me.
As Clinton rose to national prominence, the case came to the attention of his critics. Journalists and talk show hosts questioned
the victim’s story and suggested that DuMond had been railroaded by the former governor. Steve Dunleavy, a New York Post
columnist, took up the case as a cause, calling DuMond’s conviction “a travesty of justice.” […]
When Huckabee became governor in 1996, he expressed doubts about DuMond’s guilt and said he was considering commuting
his sentence to time served. After the victim and her supporters protested, Huckabee decided against commutation.
[SOURCE: | CBS NEWS | 5 December 2007]
|Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 7h 57m 9s|
Astronomy and Jesus
Is the birth of Jesus -- as leftover over to us by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John -- really just the
leftover co-optation by the Romans of the pagan rituals?
The birth sequence is completely astrological. The star in the east is Sirius, the brightest star
in the night sky, on December 24th, aligns with the 3 brightest stars in Orion's Belt. These 3
bright stars are called today what they were called in ancient times: The Three Kings and the
brightest star, Sirius, all point to the place of the sunrise on December 25th. This is why the
Three Kings "follow" the star in the east, in order to locate the sunrise -- the birth of the sun.
The Romans were losing their grip on their far flung empire even before the bad ole 300s when
the "barbarian invasions" began to appear. What were called "Christian" cults were cropping up all
over the various districts of the empire. In fact, these early groups were very many different
types of groups, many of them non-Christian, pagan groups who actually gathered together to perform
their rituals in tribune to the Earth's spirits and such. Holy groups worshipping the baby Jesus?
Far from it. But nevertheless, these groups were very numerous and growing in the period from 200
BC and on. Creating a state religion and then requiring all gatherings to be registered with the
state was a step towards attempting to control the population. The Roman Church is an outgrowth of
the old Roman Empire's bureaucracy of social control.
For all we know, these stories that are revered in the "Holy Bible" could be just ancient myth-
makers working in league with the tyranny of their day to keep the people down and in their place.
Mind you, the great spirit is everywhere, pervading all things, but not in any one book. Rather a
little piece in every single book that ever existed, even if a mere speck in the books and mouths
|Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 19h 39m 34s|
The FBI can't even pay the bills with the people's money
This is just too incredible to be funny, but I had to share this
Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of
the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time.
A Justice Department
audit released Thursday[100K PDF file] blamed the lost connections on the FBI's lax oversight
of money used in
undercover investigations. In one office alone, unpaid costs for wiretaps from one phone company
In at least one case, a wiretap used in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigation "was
halted due to untimely payment," the audit found. FISA wiretaps are used in the government's most
sensitive and secretive criminal and intelligence investigations, and allow eavesdropping on
suspected terrorists or spies.
"We also found that late payments have resulted in telecommunications carriers actually
disconnecting phone lines established to deliver surveillance results to the FBI, resulting in lost
evidence," according to the audit by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.
More than half of 990 bills to pay for telecommunication surveillance in five unidentified FBI
field offices were not paid on time, the report shows.
..."It seems the telecoms, who are claiming they were just being 'good patriots' when they allowed
government to spy on us without warrants, are more than willing to pull the plug on national
security investigations when the government falls behind on its bills," said former FBI agent
Michael German, the ACLU's national security policy counsel. "To put it bluntly, it sounds as
though the telecoms believe it when the FBI says the warrant is in the mail but not when they say
the check is in the mail."
...The faulty bookkeeping was blamed, in large part, for an FBI employee who pleaded guilty in June
2006 to stealing $25,000 for her own use, the audit noted.
"As demonstrated by the FBI employee who stole funds intended to support undercover activities,
procedural controls by themselves have not ensured proper tracking and use of confidential case
funds," it concluded.
[SOURCE: Lara Jakes Jordan | AP News | 10
|Friday, 4 January 2008 at 19h 32m 54s|
Father and son
Earl Baron Lacour III
Earl Baron Lacour IV
This is my best friend and his first born child, now aged 15. I've known that long-hair freak
since he first got into the womb. I won't explain that one, but Barry and Kelly understand what
My other friend Rob's first (and probably only) born Brody is alive and kicking at 18 months,
already walking on his own and getting ready to say daddy. I neglected to take those pictures
|Friday, 4 January 2008 at 20h 4m 18s|
A summary of subprime mortgage SIVs and CDOs
In case you haven't been paying attention, or if you don't really
this is the
best quick summary of the big picture over the subprime mortgages.
banks made loans to homeowners who did not have to prove their ability to pay, then quickly sold
the loans to other companies. By the time it emerged that a lot of homeowners could not pay, these
loans had been pooled with other loans and chopped into strange new paper assets that were sold to
unsuspecting buyers around the globe. The subsequent reckoning has forced major banks to write off
vast sums of money.
“Here you had all these people who were supposed to be sophisticated investors, and it turns out
they were buying billions of dollars worth of debt where they didn’t even understand what they
owned,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research.
[SOURCE: Peter S Goodman | New York
Times | 30 December 2007 ]
A "SIV" is the acronym for Structured Investment Vehicle. CDOs are Collateralized Debt
Let me explain. Collateral is something of value that backs the loan. Here's an example of what
collateral means in the real world. When you take out a 5 year loan on a car (something they
call "financing") the value of the car is the collateral of the loan. This means that if you balk
on the loan after, say, 14 months, the collateral value of the car plus the payments over the 14
months is the economic accountanting that takes place.
You buy a Toyota that is $20,000 wholesale, but sold for to you $22,000. Toyota "finances" a loan,
which means the finance company buys the $20,000 wholesale and keeps the title until the loan is
paid. If you make $350 payments for 14 months you have paid $4900. At 10% interest, about half or
less would be collected as interest on the loan, but this really depends on the finance charges the
company takes after the car is repossessed, since the blue book value is still $20,000 after 14
months. Now after adding the $4900 to the $20,000, the finance company has assets of $24,900 less
wholesale price, or $4900 profits over 14 months. Say the finance company sells the car back to
the Toyota dealer for $17000. This yields them a total of $21,900 ... which is net gain of
$1900 more than the original $20000 wholesale price: a 9.5% gain over 14 months, or 8.1% per year.
Housing and Real Estate work the same way, except that housing generally appreciates over time,
automobiles, which depreciate (decrease) in value over a relatively brief span of time. A 20 year
old car is generally
worthless and unusable, unless it is an antique; but a 20 year old house is usually 10 times more
money in value. Plus, if that house is an apartment building or 20 story office tower, the
property receives a regular supply of rental income.
However, the value of houses & properties are tied to supply, location, and the
average income of those who inhabit the cities, towns, and suburbs where the houses are located.
People have to be able to buy the houses, or they will continue to rent apartments. The monthly
payments necessary to finance housing purchases cannot be too much larger than the average
necessary rental costs, or very few persons will be able to afford the monthly payments. Most
and real estate brokers will say no more than a third of one's income.
And don't forget property taxes and interest payments.
Housing and real estate in general are not always commodities that attract investors, because
houses don't create their own value like a factory or communications corporation does. The value
of a piece of property is more directly related to the number of purchasers. In the case of
business real estate, it is a function of the ability of businesses to earn revenue over and above
their costs plus the cost of leasing the property. The value of the property, the ability
to "generate" revenue is contingent upon local economic conditions and location.
Which brings me to the other acronym, the Structured Investment Vehicle, or SIV. This is what the
investment gurus call bundling the various financial agreements and mortgage payments into an
agglomeration of say 2,000. This is the "vehicle" thru which real estate values became part of the
securities market. A "security" is a piece of paper that confers a percentage
payment. "Securitizing" means you obtain funds based upon the inherent value of the "security"
such as a stock, or a corporate receivable.
Bonds are loans to public institutions. The value of a bond is the amount of repaid funds after a
period of time. A value of a bond is based upon how much will be repaid after a period of time.
The United States, or Canada, or Germany, are safely assumed to always make the quarterly interest
payments for 10 years, so the value of bonds don't change much over time. A bond rate of 4.5%
means you purchase the bond for 95.5% (100 minus 4.5%) of the value knowing you are 99.9999%
guaranteed to get your 4.5% return per year. A large demand for bonds is indicative of investors
who are leery of the alternatives and want a "safer" investment. This however reduces the value
because more people wanting a limited quantity causes the price to go up.
When banks and investment firms are holding collateral and securities that drop in value, the
equity and assets on their balance sheets reduce their ratios of cash to liabilities. In order to
maintain the necessary ratios to stay solvent, banks have to hold on to their cash. The Fed can
liquify the system, but the banks are still "borrowing" from the Fed. This is why the
Fed interest rate decisions are a very big deal. Lowering the Fed rate costs the banks less money
when they borrow from the Fed. Mind you they don't actually "pay" this money. What happens is they
buy Treasuries equivalent to the interest on the Fed loans. The money from the Fed are backed by
the Federal bonds that are sold.
As you can see, all this is pretty complicated, inter-related stuff. It's taken me 20 plus years
to figure this much out, and I'm
still not quite able to grasp the entirety of the macroscopically inter-related global details such
international monetary flows and international stock markets. But I'm working on it. It's a life-
process. I'll keep you posted.
|Friday, 4 January 2008 at 11h 45m 39s|
J Edgar Hoover and Habeus Corpus
The New York Times reported that a newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, longtime director of the FBI, had a
plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty.
According to the declassified material, Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950. This was 12 days after the
Korean War began. Hoover's plan called for putting suspect Americans in military prisons.
Hoover urged President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests necessary to "protect the country against treason,
espionage and sabotage." The FBI would "apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous" to national security. The arrests would
be carried out under "a master warrant attached to a list of names" provided by the bureau. The names were part of an index
Hoover had been compiling for years. "The index now contains approximately 12,000 individuals, of which approximately 97
percent are citizens of the United States," he wrote. "In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends
the writ of habeas corpus."
Truman did declare a national emergency, but he had the great good sense to reject Hoover's advice for the United States to
adopt one of the worst of communist characteristics -- to create an American gulag for thousands of people unfortunate enough
to find their names on Hoover's lists.
[SOURCE: | Capital Hill Blue | 3 January 2008 ]
Thank god for Harry Truman.
I was talking to a childhood friend this Xmas, and he was talking about how he thinks the government is preparing for an
"incident" in which they intend to arrest a lot of people. He said that there are 2 books of names: the people arrested before the
incident, and the people arrested after the incident. This is how the Nazi's took control between 1930 and 1939. Keep in mind
that Hitler was technically elected.
Now I'm not as conspiratorially minded as my friend, but when you know the history of the past, J. Edgar Hoover in particular,
you know that these deranged paranoid types exist -- even now. I've blogged about a lot of these trolls and ghouls in human
form many times in the past. These iron-skin lizards live in the sheltered worlds of law offices, lobby firms, and think tanks
bankrolled by a small number of irrational mean-spirited extremely wealthy people. They provide the money for the sadists and
anti-democratic actions of the hirelings.
Two names you should look up : Norman Podhoretz (stess the "hor") and John Negropontes ("black layings"). The careers of both these men embody the
paranoid sadist streak that permeates the minds of a small number of humankind throughout the length of history. From
Caligula and Nero, to the Dark Czars of Russia, the dungeons of the Inquisition, and up to now, the possibility of individuals to
break the social norms and yield to naked power is ever present. Only the strength of a people to resist dictates the extent in
which they are permitted to thrive.
|Friday, 4 January 2008 at 20h 7m 16s|
The Winter storm hits
It is stormy as hell today. The entire city is littered
trees from the winds gusting close to 50 mph at
times. The lights were out at a lot of major intersects and the ticket riders wound up directing
traffic in their raincoats. I had to go to 3 gas stations to find one that still had power.
The rain comes and goes in cycles between barely a drizzle and then a pelter of rain. The
electricity is out in my neck of the woods,
and right now I'm parked outside of Cafe Abir linking to their wi-fi network hoping the meter maid
doesn't show up.
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