Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Sunday, 7 September 2008 at 10h 3m 35s|
The scope of the Fannie and Freddie problem
|Sunday, 7 September 2008 at 9h 25m 12s|
The shotgun marriage between a lying ruthless woman and a dishonest old man
SARAH PALIN makes John McCain look even older than he is. And he seemed more than willing to play that part on Thursday
By the time he slogged through his nearly 50-minute acceptance speech — longer even than Barack Obama’s — you half-
some brazen younger Republican (Mitt Romney, perhaps?) to dash onstage to give him a gold watch and the bum’s rush.
Still, attention must be paid. McCain’s address, though largely a repetitive slew of stump-speech lines and worn G.O.P.
reminded us of what we once liked about the guy: his aspirations to bipartisanship, his heroic service in Vietnam, his twinkle. He
took his (often inaccurate) swipes at Obama, but, in winning contrast to Palin and Rudy Giuliani, he wasn’t smug or nasty.
The only problem, of course, is that the entire thing was a sham.
In his 26 years in Washington, most of it with a Republican in the White House
and roughly half of it with Republicans in charge of Congress, he was better at lecturing his party about reform than leading a
reform movement. G.O.P. corruption and governmental dysfunction only grew. So did his cynical flip-flops on the most
destructive policies of the president who remained nameless Thursday night....
[Governor Sarah Palin] didn’t say “no thanks” to the “Bridge to Nowhere” until
after Congress had already abandoned it but given Alaska a blank check for $223 million in taxpayers’ money anyway. Far from
rejecting federal pork, she hired lobbyists to secure her town a disproportionate share of earmarks ($1,000 per resident in 2002,
20 times the per capita average in other states). Though McCain claimed “she has had national security as one of her primary
responsibilities,” she has never issued a single command as head of the Alaska National Guard. As for her “executive experience”
as mayor, she told her hometown paper in Wasilla, Alaska, in 1996, the year of her election: “It’s not rocket science. It’s $6
million and 53 employees.” Her much-advertised crusade against officials abusing their office is now compromised by a
bipartisan ethics investigation into charges that she did the same.
[SOURCE: Frank Rich | NewYorkTimes | 7 September
Click on the source to read the complete article.
|Saturday, 6 September 2008 at 22h 1m 7s|
The real Sarah Palin
“Palin is a conniving, manipulative, a**hole,” someone who thinks these are positive traits in a governor told me, summing up
Palin’s tenure in Alaska state and local politics.
“She’s a bigot, a racist, and a liar,” is the more blunt assessment of Arnold Gerstheimer who lived in Alaska until two years ago
and is now a businessman in Idaho.
“The GOP is kind of like organized crime up here,” an insurance agent in Anchorage who knows the Palin family, explained. “It’s
corrupt and arrogant. They’re all rich because they do private sweetheart deals with the oil companies, and they can destroy
anyone. And they will, if they have to.”
“Once Palin became mayor,” he continued, “She became part of that inner circle.”
According to Kilkenny and others in Wasilla as well as Juneau, Palin reduced progressive property taxes for businesses while
mayor and increased a regressive sales tax which even hits necessities such as food. The tax cuts she promoted in her St. Paul
speech actually benefited large corporate property owners far more than they benefited residents. Indeed, Kilkenny insists that
many Wasilla home owners actually saw their tax bill skyrocket to make up for the shortfall. Two other Wasillian’s with whom I
spoke said property taxes on their modest, three bedroom homes rose during the Palin regime.
To an outsider, it would seem hard to do, but an oil-rich town with zero debt on the day she was inaugurated mayor was left
saddled with $22 million of debt by the time she moved away to become governor – especially since nothing was spent on things
such as improving the city’s infrastructure or building a much-needed sewage treatment plant. So what did Mayor Palin spend
the taxpayer’s money on, if not fixing streets and scrubbing sewage?
For starters, she remodelled her office. Several times over, as a matter of fact.
Then Palin spent $1 million on an unnecessary, new park that no one other than the contractors and Palin seemed to want. Next,
Sarah doled out more than $15 million of taxpayer money for a sports complex that she shoved through even though the city did
not own clear title to the land; now, seven years later, the matter is still in litigation and lawyer fees are said to be close to at
least half of the original estimated price of the facility.
She also worked hard to get voters approval of a $5.5 million bond proposal for roads that could have been built without
borrowing. Anchorage may not be the center of the financial universe but, like good Republicans everywhere, Sarah Palin knows
how to please Alaskan bankers and bond dealers.
For good measure, she turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots.
You'll have to read the article yourself. It's from the LA Progressive, by Charley James,
and the quotes are from real people who have real stories to tell.
A "reformer" my ass.
|Saturday, 6 September 2008 at 9h 11m 32s|
Stalling the investigation
Key Alaska allies of John McCain are trying to derail a politically charged investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of her public
safety commissioner in order to prevent a so-called "October surprise" that would produce embarrassing information about the
vice presidential candidate on the eve of the election.
In a move endorsed by the McCain campaign Friday, John Coghill, the GOP chairman of the state House Rules Committee, wrote a
letter seeking a meeting of Alaska's bipartisan Legislative Council in order to remove the Democratic state senator in charge of
the so-called "troopergate" investigation.
[SOURCE: Michael Isakoff | Newsweek | 5
Did Palin fire public safety commissioner Walter Monnegan when he refused to fire a state trooper Mike Wooten on the orders of
Governor Palin? Mike Wooten was in a bitter divorce with Palin's sister, in which Palin herself stood outside the couple's window
to write down what was said during one of the couples raging fights.
Palin was for the "bridge to nowhere" initially, and in fact made public statements about how insulting the phrase "bridge to
nowhere" is the local Alaskans. But then when it became seen as an example of pork-barrel politics, she changed her position
over-night and came out against the "bridge to nowhere" -- to the point of actually using the phrase herself, the very same
phrase that was supposed to be insulting to local Alaskans.
She was on the committee to re-elect Ted Stevens, and was a very vocally active member of the campaign team. But then
Senator Ted Stevens became embroiled in a federal corruption sting investigation, and Palin quickly removed herself from the
Ted Stevens committee, while still keeping members of the Stevens team on her staff.
Palin is just a female face-lift for the lobbyist driven, moribund John McCain presidential race. The words "middle class" and "health-care" were not
said once in the speeches of both Palin and McCain at the Rethuglican public relations convention.
Accordinginly, asPaul Krugman correctly points out
Can the vice-presidential candidate of a party that has controlled the White House, Congress or both for 26 of the past 28 years,
a party that, Borg-like, assimilated much of the D.C. lobbying industry into itself — until Congress changed hands, high-paying
lobbying jobs were reserved for loyal Republicans — really portray herself as running against the “Washington elite”?
Yes, they can.
... What struck me as I watched the convention speeches, however, is how much of the anger on the right is based not on the
claim that Democrats have done bad things, but on the perception — generally based on no evidence whatsoever — that
Democrats look down their noses at regular people....
Thus Mr. Giuliani asserted that Wasilla, Alaska, isn’t “flashy enough” for Mr. Obama, who never said any such thing. And Ms. Palin
asserted that Democrats “look down” on small-town mayors — again, without any evidence.
What the G.O.P. is selling, in other words, is the pure politics of resentment; you’re supposed to vote Republican to stick it to an
elite that thinks it’s better than you.
That's all they have. Depict the opposition as a mirror of themselves.
|Monday, 1 September 2008 at 9h 5m 52s|
The banned OSHA films
Americans are disabled and killed every year due to on the job conditions. More than are killed and disabled per year in Iraq.
The reason OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) came into being was to minimize these on the job conditions
and set standards for Employer Safety Regulations.
The Republicans have fought this institution tooth and nail, undermining laws and even ignoring them. Remember when the Bush
administration changed the EPA's analysis of the Air Quality after the September 11th WTC implosions, denying that the air was
toxic to breath and even editing the EPA report that said so. In the next few years, tens of thousands of New Yorkers began
suffering debilitating respiratory ailments. Because the Federal Government refused to accept responsibility, these people had to
pay for their health costs out of their own pockets.
Currently the son of corrupt supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (Eugene Scalia) is busy running OSHA standards into the
ground. Read about Eugene Scalia here
Source Watch. Also, consult what repealing the OSHA Ergonomics Standard in March 2001 meant by reading this report and also this report ... both are from the United Electrical, Radio
and Machine Workers of America (UE).
Barry Ritholz posts a little known history of the Republican war on OSHA today.
In 1980, the last year of Jimmy Carter's administration, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) commissioned
a series of three 30-minute films about worker safety. These were real pro productions, with Studs Terkel as narrator on two of
the productions. In 1981, Reagan appointed 36-year old Florida construction executive Thorne G. Auchter, who proceeded to
systematically dismantle the agency. Evidently, the 3 films disturbed Thorne greatly, because OSHA issued a recall, threatening
to withold OSHA funds from any organization that did not return their copies of the films, which were promptly destroyed.
But, a few union officials defied the ban and "stole" copies so they weren't able to be returned. Over the years, they would
occasionally show them to their troops, using the fact they banned as a way to get them to watch the films, which have important
messages about worker rights and workplace safety. But, aside from these bootleg showings, the video disappeared.
[SOURCE: Barry Ritholtz | bigpicture.com | 1 September
What is in these films that disturbed the Republicans so much? Answer: Support of Union involvement in worker safety issues,
and the truth of employer unwillingness to improve health & safety standards and foist the expenses of unhealthy worker
conditions on the rest of society.
See for yourself.
HAPPY LABOR DAY !!!!!
|Sunday, 31 August 2008 at 10h 41m 1s|
A view from 4 investors
Jeremy Grantham: The chief investment strategist at GMO, the highly regarded Boston-based manager of
institutional and high-net-worth accounts, makes buy and sell decisions with a combination of computerized technical analysis
and old-fashioned spadework
Global economic growth is slowing under the weight of increasingly illiquid credit markets and inflationary pressures. Weaker
growth slashes corporate earnings, and since stock prices are tied to earnings, the outlook for equities worldwide, as Grantham
sees it, is poor to middling...
In Grantham's world view, stocks in both developed and emerging markets are "substantially overpriced," with the possible
exception of high-quality blue-chip companies that have strong, defensible global franchises.
"I underestimated in almost every way how badly economic and financial fundamentals would turn out," Grantham wrote
shareholders in a July letter. "Events must now be disturbing to everyone, and I for one am officially scared!"
One of his biggest fears, he added in an interview, is that "the whole global economy will be weaker than the market expects for
quite a considerable time." How long? "I would guess at least two years of sustained disappointment."
...Grantham is particularly uneasy about China, a leading engine of world growth that seems to be sputtering. "I worry on behalf
of the global economy at the consequences of China stumbling," he said. Without China's robust demand, he added, "the whole
level of global imports and exports would start to drop."
...Grantham points out that many of the world's strongest companies are based in the U.S., which could help the U.S. market's
relative performance. Moreover, he said, the weaker global picture will benefit the U.S. dollar, so the American market could turn
out to be "a safe haven."
Bob RodriguezThe manager of FPA Capital Fund (FPPTX) and bond-focused sibling FPA New Income Fund (FPNIX)
has since June 2003 been on a self-proclaimed "buyer's strike" regarding high-quality bonds with maturities greater than two
Rodriguez believed then -- and is even more convinced now -- that longer-term Treasury yields aren't substantial enough to
compensate investors for inflation's eroding impact on purchasing power. He wants to get 5% on 10-year Treasurys, which
recently yielded 3.8%, before venturing back.
Consequently, Rodriguez continues to focus on "caution and capital preservation," as he explained to fund shareholders in a June
letter. More than 40% of Capital Fund, for example, is given to short-term government agency and Treasury notes and cash.
"We will not provide long-term capital to borrowers with unsound and unwise business management practices at unattractive real
yields," Rodriguez wrote. That includes the U.S. government, he noted. "We require a higher level of compensation -- i.e. more
yield, for these potential risks."
John HussmanHussman runs two portfolios: stock-focused Hussman Strategic Growth Fund (HSGFX) and bond-
centric Hussman Strategic Total Return Fund (HSTRX) .
"The stock, bond and foreign-exchange markets continue to trade essentially on the theme that the global economy is
weakening, but that the U.S. has dodged a recession," Hussman wrote in his weekly market commentary in late August.
Investors' consensus is mistaken, Hussman contends. He said the U.S. is mired in recession, and once investors realize that
earnings expectations are overblown, stocks will take another major hit.
"The potential downside could be abrupt, leaving little opportunity to make defensive changes after the fact," Hussman wrote.
... Hussman doesn't expect much from stocks. He predicted that U.S. market returns will average 4%-6% annualized over the next
decade, primarily due to weaker corporate earnings. Given that slower-growth view, Hussman dumped most of his exposure to
the commodity, industrials and precious-metals sectors, which thrive in expansionist periods
Steve LeutholdSteve Leuthold has been called a "superbear" for his extreme pessimism about stocks during the bull
run of 1998....Leuthold is a colorful figure, offering targeted portfolios with catchy names like the bear-market Grizzly Short
Fund (GRZZX) and the bottom-fishing Undervalued and Unloved Fund (UGLYX) .
Leuthold is convinced that the U.S. economy is in recession. But he points out that the stock market typically bottoms around the
midpoint of the downturn. By his reckoning, the economy entered recession toward the end of 2007, and the extensive valuation
criteria he uses tell him there's now light at the end of the tunnel.
"The bottom has been made," Leuthold said. "The economy is going to start showing some positive signs sometime in the first
half of 2009."
So he's getting in early, loading up on shares of biotechnology and alternative-energy companies in particular, and keeping a
modest amount in oil drillers and natural gas producers.
Enthusiastic stock buying sets Leuthold apart, but it's in keeping with his iconoclastic ways.
"I guess I still am a contrarian," he said
Burton | Wall Street Journal MarketWatch | 29 August 2009]
Notice how all these investment managers are Old white guys. What they all do is get their hands on billions of dollars of other
peoples money and use to it purchase huge stakes in various companies, trying to profit by buying and selling when the stocks
go up or down. They can short stocks to make money, by borrowing a stock and selling it, then buying it back at a cheaper price,
making money on the difference in prices (since the SELL price minus the BUY BACK price is a positive number).
They can also "hedge" their investments by purchasing various different funds and stocks that tend to historically offset one
another. So for instance, if bonds get more attractive in a skittish market, purchasing bonds can protect against possible losses
in other types of market investments. Each investment firm has it's own historical research department devising formulas that
correlate market effects among the various types of investments, trying to obtain a very small net percentage gain. When you
have 1 billion dollars in investments, a 0.1% difference is still 1 million dollars in profit, especially if you are able to do this 20
times throughout the year.
What all this really is however is wealth redistribution, because non of these investments actually goes into building businesses
and adding jobs to the labor pool, accept maybe indirectly when their actions keep the interest rates stable. There is also an
inherent inflationary effect, because the more money earned by the wealthy classes pushes up the prices of items that wealthy
individuals can afford to purchase. Also, loading up debt and skimming the assets on otherwise viable businesses in order to
make money on the sale for investors of the financing arrangements is only putting extra expenses on the balance sheets of the
businesses operating budgets; or it causes outsourced functions to negotiate downward the compensation that labor and small
businesses can earn for doing the outsourced services. Just like the increased pricing of the housing market became driven by
the desire of the financiers to sell the underlying investments into asset packages, to the detriment of the home owners who had
to actually pay off the loans.
In this way, the "efficiency" of the market is merely a race to bottom. Some company may be able to make a product or do a
service cheaper, but they all pay their workers less, externalize all their pollution costs, and might even make products of inferior
This is why these business, market manager types like to use abstruse, vague language when they discuss their designs and
plans. They want to keep secret the stratagems by which they suck blood from the real economy, and glorify their shenanigans
underneath a layer of scientific banter.
|Friday, 29 August 2008 at 17h 38m 38s|
Who is Governor Palin
McCain has only met her once or twice. Mrs. Palin admits that she's not sure what the Vice President does every day. As
Governor, she is not very communicative with the various person's in the bureaucracy, and tends to fire off orders without
bothering to discuss solutions with her staff and those in the other branches of government. She is skeptical about Global
And she is also involved in an ongoing ethics scandal ...
JUNEAU -- Alaska legislators on Monday voted to spend up to $100,000 to investigate Gov. Sarah Palin's controversial firing of
former state Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.
The decision came from the Legislative Council, a bipartisan panel of state senators and representatives.
The committee itself will not conduct the probe. Rather, it will hire an independent investigator to explore whether Palin, her
family or members of her administration pressured Monegan to fire an Alaska state trooper involved in a rough divorce from
Monegan contends he did feel such pressure, and the question for the investigator will be whether Monegan might have lost his
job for failing to dismiss trooper Mike Wooten.
Palin has denied applying any pressure or otherwise abusing her power as governor.
Sharon Leighow, the governor's spokeswoman, said Palin "doesn't see a need for a formal investigation," but is willing to answer
"The governor has said all along that she will fully cooperate with an investigation and her staff will cooperate as well," Leighow
The governor was not available for comment Monday afternoon, as she was flying from Anchorage to the capital.
Palin abruptly fired Monegan on July 11 and later explained she wanted to take the Department of Public Safety in a different,
more energetic direction. She replaced him with Chuck Kopp, the former Kenai police chief. But Kopp resigned Friday over
questions about a reprimand he received after a sexual harassment complaint lodged against him in Kenai.
The Legislative Council is a panel of lawmakers who tend to legislative business when lawmakers are not meeting in regular
On Monday, the council voted 12-0 to spend up to $100,000 "to investigate the circumstances and events surrounding the
termination of former Public Safety Commissioner Monegan, and potential abuses of power and/or improper actions by members
of the executive branch."
Loy | Anchorage Daily News | 29 July 2008]
So McCain thinks having a double-X chromosome on the ticket will woo a large percentage of female voters in the nation.
Although there are plenty of can-do brilliant women worthy of leadership positions, is this the right time in the history of the
nation to be picking a woman VP merely because she might woo voters? McCain is 72 years old. If he goes through health
issues, Mrs. Palin will the commander in chief.
Remember, Condi Rice was busy buying new shoes in an upscale Manhattan store while New Orleans drowned. There are an
equal number of self-serving, short-sighted women as there are men in this world.
Oh, and her position on the war in Iraq : (I'm paraphrasing) "all I know is that America hasn't been attacked again".
It's gonna be a war of simplistic public relations sound bites, and the media talking heads will cluelessly spew them into the
minds of thoughtless Americans because that's what they get paid to do.
|Thursday, 28 August 2008 at 18h 46m 32s|
What the American Media won't publish
One of America’s biggest military contractors is being sued by a Nepali labourer and the families of a dozen other employees who
say they were taken against their will to work in Iraq. All but one of the Nepalese workers were subsequently kidnapped and
According to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, the Nepalese workers were recruited in 2004 in their home country by KBR and its
Jordanian contractors, Daoud & Partners, to work as kitchen staff in a luxury hotel in Amman. Once they reached the Jordanian
capital, however, their passports were taken from them and they were sent to Iraq. While travelling in an unprotected convoy, the
Nepalis were kidnapped and later executed.
“It doesn’t appear that any of them knew they were going to Iraq,” said Matthew Handley, a lawyer representing the only survivor
and the families of those who were killed. “A few were told they were going to work at an American camp ? They thought they were
going to work in America.”
[SOURCE: Andrew Buncombe | London Independent | 28 August 2008]
Nothing like a good ole no-bid contractor doing it's patriotic duty, because after-all .... FREEDOM ISN'T FREE.
|Thursday, 28 August 2008 at 18h 32m 40s|
Quick stick your heads in the sand
And glorify the sainthood of a mythological past. Manipulate the data by defining away the negative statistics so you
positive 3.3% Gross Domestic Product increase that doesn't include the inflationary effects on food and oil. Bring on the talking
heads to repeat the mystic mantra that all is good, and march the lemmings into the lala land of illusion.
We are a nation that is beyond denial -- we are kidding ourselves. If we don't start dealing with reality, it will be our undoing.
-- Barry Ritholtz.
Ritholtz | 28 August 2008]
[SOURCE: Barry Ritholtz | 28 August 2008]
|Thursday, 28 August 2008 at 18h 19m 45s|
How bad has the market been?
"Out of almost 2,100 diversified retail U.S. stock mutual funds that are open to new investors, just 17 have positive returns for both
the past 12 months and year-to-date, according to investment researcher Morningstar Inc."
Burton | MarketWatch | 5:22 p.m. EDT Aug. 27, 2008]
hat tip to Barry Ritholtz at bigpicture.com.
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