Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Tuesday, 18 December 2007 at 17h 4m 19s|
Yep, that's what I think too
As we have seen in oh so many different contexts, the blind adherence to dogma and ideology, from
religious zealots to acolytes of Ayn Rand, seems to only lead to a broad range of problems, ranging
from errors in judgment to unnecessary pain. Ultimately, most political and economic extremists
collapse under the weight of their own slavish devotion to a universal idea that is inapplicable to
a specific situation. Some people call this consistency, but the word "stupidity" means the same
thing, and can be typed with less letters
[SOURCE: Barry Ritholtz The Big Picture blog]
|Tuesday, 18 December 2007 at 16h 48m 0s|
Oh my God. Bush is actually really destroying the government, while the media
corps all act like the emperor actually wears any clothes.
The head of the GAO just released a earth-shattering report yesterday, and in the national media, a
pin drops in some distant forest. What is this thing which shatters the Earth?
Yesterday, the Treasury Department released a troubling financial report that revealed the federal
government’s “total liabilities and unfunded commitments for future payments” related to Social
Security and Medicare are now estimated at $53 trillion, up from $20 trillion in 2000.
In a speech yesterday at the National Press Club, GAO Comptroller General David Walker said:
If the federal government was a private corporation and the same report came out this morning, our
stock would be dropping and some people would be talking about whether the company’s management
directors needed a major shake-up.
“The federal government’s total liabilities,” Walker explained, “translates into a de facto
mortgage of about $455,000 for every American household and there’s no house to back that mortgage.
In other words, our government has made a whole lot of promises that, in the long run, it cannot
possibly keep without huge tax increases.”
[SOURCE: ThinkProgress.org ]
SOURCE: Mary Mosquera Federal Computer Week ]
[SOURCE: Dan Friedman Congress Daily]
[SOURCE: GAO 2007
Report US Department of Treasury ]
David Walker is basically the Government's financial advisor/auditor guy. He is the top officer of
the Government Accountability Office, or GAO. A wikipedia history link is here.
Did you catch that dollar amount? $455,000 for every American household. What Mr. Walker means is
that every American is financing that kind of debt per year, which can be determined by taking the
entire interest payments of the government (406 billion in 2006) dividing by the number of
households, and making the result equal to the interest rate multiplied to the Principle ( interest
per person = i*P. When you divide by the interest rate, you get $455,000.
Look at that military spending
Now keep that chart in mind, when you consider what the GAO report said in it's official statement:
three major impediments continue to prevent us from rendering an opinion on the accrual basis
consolidated financial statements: (1) serious financial management problems at the
Department of Defense, (2) the federal government’s inability to adequately account for
and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and (3)
the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial
The entire statement is only 4 pages long. If you want a brief read, here is the PDF file link
to the statement of the GAO from the Department of the Treasury website.
|Monday, 17 December 2007 at 8h 14m 43s|
Oh the webs they weave
I write letters to the editor periodically. I've been doing so since I was in high
one I wrote in response to a Mr. Harold, whose letter to editor was published in last week's
Mr. Harold writes a letter accusing “liberals” of everything that is wrong with the Bush
administration, and says that invading Iraq to defeat terrorism was a good idea because Clinton
agreed. Oh, and moveon.org ran a defeatist ad in the New York Times.
Whatever you think of Moveon.org, they did not lie. The Swift-boat veterans group however (aided
by a Bush-Cheney team lawyer) did lie. The Republican organization Choice-point was given the
contract by Jeb Bush to purge the Florida voters of felons in 1999-2000, and was 90% inaccurate
because they loosely associated a list of names without bothering to verify they were correct –
costing 80,000 votes! Republican astro-turf groups (like Sproul and associates) organized fake
registration drives that threw
away Democratic registrations in Nevada, Arizona, and California during the 2004 campaign.
Republican Ohio secretary of State Blackwell manipulated the voting machine distributions so that
voters in Democratic districts had to wait in lines for 8 hours to vote. But Moveon.org gets your
ire because that’s what the right-wing spin machine tells you, and like a fool you listen.
And you want “facts, not negative spin” ?
FACT: The Cheney-Bush team did not convene the terrorism task force once during the entire 9 months
of 2001, even though they knew Al Quaida was intending to attack because the Clinton team
thoroughly briefed them in February 2001.
FACT: Cheney meet with oil & energy firms to look at oil maps of Iraq at the secretive Energy Task
Force that meet in April of 2001. FACT: The Bush-Cheney team ignored and stymied all of the
warning by lower level FBI agents. FACT: Bush signed an executive order halting the investigation
into the bin laden charity funding networks, because the Bush family has been friends with the
Saudi Arabian monarch family for nearly 40 years. FACT: When planes were grounded on September
12th, the bin ladens in the United States were all picked up by a private chartered plane and
allowed to leave the country without being questioned at all.
FACT: the Bush-Cheney team used forged Niger documents to falsely say that Iraq
purchased “yellowcake” uranium. FACT: the Bush-Cheney team created the “Office of Special Plans”
within the Defense department to alter and skew intelligence to suit their agenda. FACT: the Bush-
Cheney team used fake “dissidents” coached by public relations firms to make untrue statements that
were publicized by Judith Miller and other willing journalists.
The Bush-Cheney team is defunding the veterans administration and treating our troops
horrifically. There has been no beefing up of security in the United States at all. The funds
for first-responders has been cut by the Bush administration so they can ensure funds for their
political appointments and private contractors. The corruption is beyond anything this nation has
seen since Ullysses Grant. But somehow our troops are keeping “us out of harms way” by invading
nations that did not attack us and were no threat to our nation whatsoever, because of the Bush-
Cheney teams’ psychopathic dream of a New American Empire.
|Saturday, 15 December 2007 at 13h 49m 17s|
Negative home equity and dropping home prices
Click here if you are interested in reading about home equity, negative home
equity, and how the drop in home prices in various American markets will push a lot of home owners
into negative equity.
Here's a cool chart
This is a percentage distribution. The vertical axis represents percentage of mortgaged
homeowners. The horizontal axis represents the percent of equity, with positive meaning the value
of the house is more than the mortgage debt. Negative equity occurs when the value of the house is
less than the mortgage. According to the Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey (see table
here) there were 51,234,170 household with mortgage in the U.S. in 2006.
The dashed line is the boundary between positive and negative equity, the "break-even" point. A
very high proportion of foreclosures occur because the occupants can't afford the mortgage and
can't sell the house to pay off the mortgage. This is why negative equity is a very big deal, and
why declining prices is a very serious economic factor in the next 2 years. If the prices drop by
10% (the first 2 bars to the right of the dashed line) 9% of 51.2 million home mortgages will enter
into negative equity. That's close to 5 million homes.
|Saturday, 15 December 2007 at 19h 33m 2s|
Eighty percent of the country is stagnant
Here’s what the numbers say about percentage gains in after-tax income from 2003 to 2005:
- Bottom quintile: 2%
- Next quintile: 2.4%
- Middle quintile: 3.9%
- Fourth quintile: 3.7%
- Top quintile: 16%
- Top 10%: 20.9%
- Top 5%: 27.7%
- Top 1%: 43.5%
[SOURCE: Paul Krugman NY TIMES ]
If you include inflation from energy prices, food prices, and housing (which is easily 50 to 90% of
the income of eighty percent of the country) there have been no economic gains in the bottom four
Quintiles are 20% population blocks, ie. 20 percent of the population. What you do is rank
everyone based upon total value (income and capital assets) and than divy up the 20% blocks from
top to bottom. That's why 80% of the
country is represented by the bottom 4 quintiles. Each quintile is a way to group the population
based upon rank, except the richest person in the country isn't exactly the
valedictorian of some graduating class. He may just be some ruthless lucky dumbass with a ton of
money and a bad attitude.
|Saturday, 15 December 2007 at 12h 50m 55s|
description of why the media is strangling
the ability of the citizens to effectively choose their leaders.
It's a long article, so grab a cup of tea before you start reading.
Here is a small snapshot : an example of how the media punditry are just showcasing liars and
deceitful hacks to make them seem viable and news-worthy.
One of the more contrived Clinton storylines the media have played up in recent weeks is the idea
that if she were elected, there would be some grave crisis provoked by having "two presidents" in
the White House. This theme seems to have started with Sally Bedell Smith, who invoked
the "extraordinary" complications such a situation would present -- something, Smith gravely
noted, "people have not focused on" until she brought it to our attention. Smith brought this up
again and again on television, radio, and in print while promoting her recent book about Bill and
Hillary Clinton, For Love of Politics.
Smith and her book were warmly embraced by much of the media. Chris Matthews welcomed her to
Hardball with a friendly "Sally, old buddy"; CBS anchor Harry Smith called her book "meticulous";
and the Houston Chronicle declared it "well-written and detail-rich."
"Meticulous" might not be the best description of Smith's book; as Media Matters detailed this
week, For Love Of Politics is filled with errors large and small, from her apparent wholesale
fabrication of quotes attributed to John Podesta that appear neither in the source material she
cited nor in any source available on Nexis or retrievable via Google, to her repetition of the long-
ago-debunked myth that Bill Clinton delayed air traffic at the Los Angeles airport while getting a
haircut, to her false claim that Bill Clinton didn't mention the minimum-wage increase during his
1996 Democratic convention speech.
That last one was so transparently false -- quick, try to think of a Democratic presidential
nominee who hasn't talked about the minimum wage -- that it almost wasn't worth checking. But we
did; it took about 11 seconds to prove Smith wrong. Go to Google; type "Bill Clinton 1996
Democratic convention speech"; click on the first result -- a transcript available via PBS -- and
search for "minimum wage."
That's what passes for "meticulous" these days -- a book that contains quotes that seem to be made
up out of whole cloth and highly implausible claims that can be debunked in less time than it takes
to type this sentence.
But Sally Bedell Smith wasn't just greeted with open arms by her "old buddy" Chris Matthews;
her "two presidents" theme was eagerly repeated by other journalists.
This is why television has become a monster, because when you watch it, these people slip into the
small spaces of your reference frame and become a normative reality. The mind is an amalgamation
of all experience, and what we call "free will" cannot be separated from this experience. So when
you get pieces of trash embedded in your normative reference frame, your mental perspective starts
to rot and your mental view gets squeezed into a box.
Turn off the TV. All you do is lose your self.
|Saturday, 15 December 2007 at 12h 20m 22s|
The American delegation booed into submission by the world
here for the Der Spiegel story on how the Bali conference on global climate change turned out.
The last-minute deal came on Saturday after the US delegation made a U-turn in a final negotiating
session, where Paula Dobriansky, leader of the US delegation, and her colleague James Connaughton
were the target of naked animosity. When Dobriansky announced that the US would not sign up for the
Bali roadmap, boos echoed through the room. Afterward the Americans were sharply attacked by
several delegations. “If you’re not willing to lead, please get out of the way,” said a US
environmental activist representing Papua New Guinea.
The US was opposing a proposal by the G77 bloc, which represents developing countries, for rich
nations to do more to help developing countries combat increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
However opponents of binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions, such as Japan or Russia, did not
come to the defense of the US, and the Americans gave in. “We will go forward and join consensus,”
said Dobriansky. This time the delegation was rewarded with a standing ovation from some
Americans need to realize that we are not viewed by the rest of the world the same way we may have
been in the 1940's and 50's. We need to stop thinking that we "are the leader of the free world"
and stop acting like our nation is the super-hero out to help the world, because not only is this
not true, but the world does not see us that way. In the eyes of the world, we are just another
body of rich and powerful people out to take advantage when we can, while acting like we are doing
you a favor.
|Thursday, 13 December 2007 at 12h 0m 27s|
The Iran Intelligence is well vetted
And here is
proof, provided by the
National Security Network.
Here's the cliff notes:
The findings of the recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran represent
positive news for American security. Yet, a small group of neoconservatives
have challenged the findings of the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies - despite
having no access to the classified intelligence - because it conflicts with
their view of the world. It appears that when it comes to the Iran NIE, neocons
are once again trying to generate smoke where there is no fire.
This is a group of 2,000 ex and retired national security officials appauled at
the way Bush has run the state department and the government. Wesley Clark,
Ted Sorensen, Lesley Gelb, and Richard Holbrooke are on the twelve person
advisary board. Rand Beers is the President. Rand Beers
"entered the foreign service in 1971, working for the Department of State in
the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, where he held a number of positions,
including: deputy assistant secretary for regional affairs and export control,
deputy for strategy and the operations coordinator for regional affairs and
security assistance, director of the Office of Security Analysis and the Office
of International Security Policy, and deputy director of the Office of Policy
Analysis. He then served on the National Security Council staff in various
positions, including senior director and special assistant to the President for
"After a decade with the National Security Council, President William J.
Clinton appointed Beers first principal deputy assistant secretary of state,
and then assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law
enforcement affairs (1998). Beers remained in this position for four years,
returning to the National Security Council in 2002 as special assistant and
senior director for combating terrorism.
"Beers left the Bush administration in March 2003, signing on with Sen. John F.
Kerry (D-MA) as national security adviser for Kerry's 2004 presidential
|Thursday, 13 December 2007 at 18h 46m 28s|
More victories in the War on Terror
This story is too important to link to ...
here it is anyway. It's from the London Guardian.
Here is the google
news page of the same story in different newspapers.
Jurors Deadlock in 6 of 7 Defendants
Thursday December 13, 2007 8:46 PM
By CURT ANDERSON
MIAMI (AP) - One of seven Miami men accused of plotting to join forces with al-
Qaida to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower was acquitted Thursday, and a mistrial
was declared for the six others after the federal jury deadlocked.
The mistrial means prosecutors will have to decide whether to retry the six
The outcome was a setback for the Bush administration, which had seized on the
case to illustrate the dangers of homegrown terrorism and trumpet the
government's post-Sept. 11 success in infiltrating and smashing terror plots in
their earliest stages.
Lyglenson Lemorin, who was not the alleged ringleader, was acquitted.
The jury gave up on the other defendants after nine days of deliberations on
four terrorism-related conspiracy charges that carry a combined maximum of 70
years in prison. The jury of six men and six women twice sent notes to the
presiding judge indicating they could not reach verdicts but were told to keep
trying. The mistrial came after their third note.
Prosecutors said the ``Liberty City Seven'' - so-named because they operated
out of a warehouse in Miami's blighted Liberty City section - swore allegiance
to al-Qaida and hoped to forge an alliance to carry out bombings against
America's tallest skyscraper, the FBI's Miami office and other federal
The group never actually made contact with al-Qaida. Instead, a paid FBI
informant known as Brother Mohammed posed as an al-Qaida emissary.
Here is the same story from the AFP, the French Press Agency (Agence France-
MIAMI (AFP) — A US judge declared a mistrial Thursday in a case against six
alleged homegrown terrorists, while a seventh defendant was acquitted of
charges of plotting with Al-Qaeda to bring down the US government.
Shortly after judge Joan Lenard granted a motion for mistrial, prosecutors said
the Miami case would be retried on January 7.
The jurors unanimously found one defendant, Lyglenson Lemorin, not guilty on
all four counts but said they failed they were deadlocked over the other six
The defendants, known as the "Liberty City Seven" after the predominantly
African-American Miami neighborhood where they lived, were accused of
conspiring to provide assistance to Al-Qaeda, conspiring to carry out acts of
terror and conspiring to bring down the US government.
US prosecutors claim that conspiracy included a plot to blow up the 108-story
Sears Towers in Chicago and other buildings, and shoot any survivors.
The defense maintained the group had merely tried to scam Al-Qaeda, but instead
ended up being conned by paid FBI informants, one of whom posed as an envoy of
the terror network's leader Osama Bin Laden.
The government's case centered largely on secretly-taped video footage of the
defendants pledging an oath to Al-Qaeda, in the presence of an undercover FBI
informant posing as a member of the terrorist network.
Prosecutors said the whole plot was discovered after a man who had recently
left Miami for his native Yemen called the FBI to say the leader of the Miami
group had asked him to get in touch with Al-Qaeda.
The man was flown back to Miami, infiltrated the group and later brought in
another FBI informant, who posed as an Al-Qaeda member.
The defense team insisted the informants, who were paid a total of 100,000
dollars, planted the idea of the attacks, and that the cash-strapped defendants
feigned interest in the plot, hoping to get money out of Al-Qaeda.
When the seven were arrested in June 2006, the FBI admitted they did not have
the means to carry out the attacks, calling the alleged plot "more aspirational
A Miami Herald editorialist recently called the case "a bittersweet farce" that
offered the illusion authorities were making progress in the "war on terror."
Columnist Ana Menendez dubbed the defendants "bumbling jihadists."
The seven men are members of a faction of the Moorish Science Temple, a sect
that mingles elements of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Now go check the state-
The interesting thing I found was that a lot of the Newspapers in the states
did not mention the FBI informant, and mostly dramatized the case about a
government that based their case on 12,000 pieces of video and wire-tapes, but
the defendents only had hearsay.
Remember this: the story you read in a state-side newspaper could very well be
a drastically edited version, or even the same story with 2 or 3 important
paragraphs dinged out. If you want to know something, do the research, or find
sources that you trust, and don't rely on any one for your information.
Unless you like to be lied to repeatedly, day after day, confounded by the
merchants of messaged perspectives. Go for it.
|Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 23h 52m 48s|
Soft, or hard
No I'm not talking about sexual apparati. I'm talking about
recession. Will it be a "soft" or a "hard" landing?
In other words, how many people will get wiped out, and how many sectors of the
economy will suffer price declines and bankruptcy. Already, COMPUSA will be
going out of business after the first of the year. Washington Mutual is under
tremendous pressure because of the Housing implosion. The fall of the dollar
is causing adjustments all across the economy as various businesses have
increased costs because the value of their assets are now worth less.
For instance: if you invested $1,000,000 in dollar-denominated assets, this
asset lost 30% over the last year, and is now worth the equivalent $700,000 in
the world markets. Thus the need for cash balances has soaked up the available
credit and has halted spendingas businesses look to cover this paper loss on
their balance sheets.
here and read the first 12 comments to the article as well. Here is a
great summary of the current economic events by someone who goes by the moniker
A U.S. Credit Bubble of fictitious capital has been circulated through the
international system. Fictitious capital is the gap between price and value.
U.S. Dollar imperialism may be coming to an end soon.
The central banks of Asia are stuck with trillions of Green inflating
The pyramid of credit has been inflating for years.
The Fed is now trying to reflate the U.S. credit system to prevent a
The fictitious Capital of finance securitization 'investnments' may be $100
trillion(?) globally. These paper claims or liens of wealth have fictitious
values and will be liquidated for their 'market' prices or a sell-off crisis.
Deregulation and non-regulation of debt securitization has allowed for a
looting of holders of U.S. debt. This with the declining value of dollars held
will be a huge loss for foreign holders.
Owners of securitized investments will meet government intervention with a
flood of lawsuits.
Asian nations are stuck and will go down as the dollar and the fictitious
Capital goes down.
Will there be a shift to the Asian nations as the center of the capitalist
system after this deflation plays out? There is an unraveling of the
international credit system. Is the U.S. plan to manage the empire through
bankruptcy going to work?
The bailouts won't work because this bubble has to burst as all bubbles
burst and reinflation just buys time. Credit right now to insolvent businesses
and consumers is political damage control.
With the size of the finance bubble to blow up, this has to go
Also the amount of lawsuits coming against the government and investment
will be staggering.
Any attorneys here with input. The ads for 'investment loss' lawsuits are
beginning to surface.
Considering the securitization investments are bad deals, will litigation
concerning losses be successful and what will that do for the markets and the
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