Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Help me!

(h/t Atrios)


Did you know that 70% of the US intelligence budget is channeled to private corporations?

The privatization is going hand in hand with the expansion of these activities, $60bn+ goes now to the 11 agencies that make up the National Security State. It is said that they also fund themselves through other activities.

Chalmers Johnson at TomDispatch looks at the implication of mercenaries working in areas that give total access and total information: lack of accountability, lack of oversight, and plenty of capacity for corruption of the worst type.

Also, listen to Glenn Greenwald's interview with Tom Shorrock on the same subject.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Goodling takes the fall

Justice Officials Repeatedly Broke Law on Hiring, Report Says

But violating the law is only "misconduct":
Taking political or personal factors into account in employment decisions for career positions violates civil service laws and can run afoul of ethics rules. Investigators said today that both Goodling and Sampson had engaged in "misconduct."
Not like the good old days:
Well, if you get a good break, you'll be out of Tehachapi in 20 years and you can come back to me then. I hope they don't hang you, precious, by that sweet neck...Yes, angel, I'm gonna send you over. The chances are you'll get off with life. That means if you're a good girl, you'll be out in 20 years. I'll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I'll always remember you.
-The Maltese Falcon

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More fiscal responsibility

And it's heading your way.

The 'news' that the Congressional Budget office is saying that the cost of the Macs bailout 'might' be $25bn is how it is being presented to the public. The good news, we are told, is that it might not cost anything, the bad news is that it might cost $100bn, the unspoken fact is that no one knows what it will cost, and Congress is about to pass out another blank check.

What might it really cost? Well, one thing congresscritters are looking at is whether to exempt payments to the Macs from the federal debt limit. The cushion is now about $310bn, so if they're going to exempt the Treasury payout for this, you can bet that amount is in sight. It could also be a lot more.

Signing over a blank check to Paulson is means the country's greatest ripoff will continue. The only question is how long the rest of the world will continue to buy our bad paper. Is the US too big to fail? We shall soon see.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Russia's energy drive

M K Bhadrakumar in the Asia Times returns to the big game, the struggle for control of energy resources throughout the world, and the two primary players at the moment, the US and Russia.

He goes through the latest developments:
1. Mendelev's appearance at the G8, and the snub he got from the US, US radar in the Czech Republic, and US military maneuvers in Georgia. The US is also pressing NATO to offer membership to the Ukraine and Georgia.
2. Russia's moves to form energy partnerships with Iran, Libia, Algeria, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
3. Russia has been cut out of oil deals in Iraq.

So, apart from Iraq, whose oil deals are still of dubious value, at least in the short term, we see Russia pushing ahead with energy cooperation (monopolies, says the US), while the US continues to try to put geo-strategic military pressure on the Russians.

Unless there is an outbreak of war (not impossible in Georgia), the US is committed to an extremely expensive strategy of military domination. Maintaining hundreds of bases around the globe may seem impressive, but with the breakdown of the strategy in Iraq, the money keeps flowing in one direction, out of the US.

With McCain gung-ho for more of the same, and Obama's position unclear, the current moves by the US seem to be creating a fait accompli for the next administration. But unless there is something out hidden out there, the strategy seems doomed to die a slow death from starvation.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Doubledown on doublethink

Doublethink is now so common among politicos that it hardly bears comment. Charges of flip-flopping are ridiculous in such an environment, but when doublethink becomes common among the leading economists of the nation, it might be time to worry.

This article, US mortgage firms safe, says Fed, by a news organization that has gone down the tubes (the BBC), is a case in point. Listen to this:

In the second day of his semi-annual testimony to Congress, Mr Bernanke sought to allay fears that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which between them guarantee nearly half of US mortgage debt, might run out of cash.

Policymakers have always insisted the two firms are adequately capitalised, but the US Treasury announced plans on Sunday to supply them with additional credit and buy shares in the firms, if needed.

and try to fit your head around it. Fannie and Freddie are in great shape, but you don't have to worry because even if they're not, we're already planning to bail them out, or nationalize them, whichever costs the most, probably.

It's also encouraging that the markets are responding so positively to the doublethink good news. It kind of reminds one of what happened when Bear Stearns was bailed out bought given away. How long did that euphoria last?


The question that we all wanted asked, has been, by Prof. Adolf Reed, Jr. in the Black Agenda Report:
This is what passes for a left now in this country. It is a left that can insist, apparently, that Obama's FISA vote, going out of his way (after all, he could simply have followed the model of Eisenhower on the Brown decision and said that the Court has ruled; therefore it's the law, and his job as president would be to enforce the law) to align himself - twice, or three times -- with the Scalia/Thomas/Roberts/Alito wing of the Supreme Court, his declaring that social problems, unlike foreign policy adventurism, are "too big for government" and pledging to turn over more of HHS and HUD's budgets to the Holy Rollers are both tactically necessary and consistent with his convictions. So, if those are his convictions, or for that matter what he feels he must do opportunistically to get elected, why the fuck should we vote for him?
My emphasis. Why, indeed? Those of us that were hoping that some dawning of consciousness would appear on the horizon of American politics this election have been sorely disappointed. The relentless framing of the 'issues' has once again woven its magic and excluded the 800 pound gorillas that are growling at the doorstep.

"Gorillas, we don't see any gorillas out there.", say our press all-stars. Wouldn't they tell us if they saw them? And Barack Obama, wouldn't he?

Nope. No way. The ratcheting up of American imperialism this decade seems to have been embraced wholeheartedly by Obama, though he quibbles about the recipients of our tough love. So, stay in Iraq, or go to Pakistan, have a national security state that has half the population on watch lists and the other half watching, one of the 800 pounders is never mentioned, at all. How to pay for our brave new world?

He talks about invading Pakistan like one would mention invading Grenada, about leaving a residual force in Iraq that would only be about 80,000 troops, and about preventing Iran from doing anything the Israelis might not like, presumably by bombing them back to the stone age. But how to pay for it all, never a word. Not that distinguishes him from anyone, au contraire, it is his obedience to the boundaries of American discussion that reveal him for what he obviously is, a pandering, two-faced politician, just like the rest of the crew.

Really, the only reason to vote for Obama is this: fear, fear of John McCain. McCain is stupid, he is, I believe, at least slightly mad, and has a terrible temper. Just to look at the guy make one want to run for the exits. He has also jointed the kleptocracy wholeheartedly, these people use all these powers they've grabbed (enabled by the Democrats), and used it to hijack the financial system, destroy the Department of Justice, and steal everything they can lay their hands on. McCain, just like Bush and Cheney, will continue to enable their depredations.

So, I guess I've answered Prof. Reed's question, and my own. You vote for Obama because you're scared shitless of McCain.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Drowning. It's the end of the Cheney wars, despite McIraq and AfghanObama.

Look at this as pressure for a blank check from Congress:
US faces global funding crisis, warns Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch has warned that the United States could face a foreign "financing crisis" within months as the full consequences of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage debacle spread through the world.

The country depends on Asian, Russian and Middle Eastern investors to fund much of its $700bn (£350bn) current account deficit, leaving it far more vulnerable to a collapse of confidence than Japan in the early 1990s after the Nikkei bubble burst. Britain and other Anglo-Saxon deficit states could face a similar retreat by foreign investors.
How many blank checks can one write before the marks get a clue?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


But what is there then to buy? And when the T-bonds go south, will not the dollar soon follow?

US Treasury bonds are now taking a big hit from the assumed bail out (Congress still needs to rubber stamp it) of Freddie and Fannie:
``The market is starting to look at the senior debt of the GSEs as approaching full-faith-and-credit obligations of the U.S. government,'' said Ken Hackel, managing director of fixed-income strategy at RBS Greenwich Capital in Greenwich, Connecticut. ``That is a large book of debt to effectively transfer to the U.S. balance sheet and increase the government's liability.''
But don't worry, be happy, because Feckless Leader says everything is OK.
(h/t naked capitalism)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Satire, Niet!!

Reasonable conservative Jon Swift takes a persuasive look at the New Yorker magazine cover, showing how the Obamas will be celebrating their election victory. As Jon points out, humor, especially satirical humor, has no place in our national discourse.

Leading lights of the liberal progressive blogosphere thankfully agree, shame on you, New Yorker!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Um, America

Get ready to bend over and take it, once again.

Yes, the super-wonderful laws of the marketplace have decreed that you need to bale out the richest people in the country so they won't suffer the consequences of having set up a kleptocracy that has already stolen you blind. Let us watch the Democratic Congress fall into line to bail out private interests, evidently the Fed has other patients that need its tender mercies (can you say Lehman Bros.?).

Yes, you are paying thieves for their bad investments with your money. Your slavish obedience to your masters, greased by your paranoid fear of the terrorist boogieman has made you nothing more than prey to your so-called leaders. And to top it off, your blind faith in an economic philosophy, neo-liberalism, that places greed and cheating on the top of your pantheon of gods, has come back to ream your backside with a gold studded baseball bat.

What can we at Blog Simple say but, "ENJOY!".

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Laughing Clowns

Laughter, the cure for a 'mental recession'. Yes, America, you whiners, the joke's on you.

I cannot help but be amazed that McCain is hugging Phil Gramm so tightly to his breast. The chief architect of our current financial woes, which are still at phase one, would be someone to shun if there was any expectation that it might be necessary to distance oneself from the policies that are bankrupting the country.

The damage the kleptocrats (Gramm is a leading kleptocrat) have done so far is breathtaking, kept in for another four years the possibilities are colossal.

How much was Gramm responsible for the current woes of UBS? A lot would be my guess. If so, you would think they would want to heave him overboard, but maybe they are betting that he'll have a plum post in the McCain WhiteHouse, and a bit of quid pro quo might help bail them out.

It would be inconceivable that America would elect McCain with his embrace of failed policies, if we hadn't seem them elect Feckless Leader, twice!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tragedy, or farce?

The news that the Dems caved, finally, on the FISA bill is really no news at all. Despite all the attendant hysteria, it was clear almost a year ago that the bill would be passed. Why it was necessary to draw is out for so long is anyone's guess, perhaps the thinking is that any distraction is useful. Obama even showed up to vote 'oui', putting the final nail in the coffin of 'hope springs eternal' that has animated so many bloggers. Bipartisanship, baby, it rocks the world of Washington, but it's a bitter pill to those like Glen Greenwald who have done so much to fight the good fight.

It's no good trying to explain to all those folks, not just Greenwald, that their political techniques are useless, because they always refuse to admit that there are other ways to skin the cat, while their way is more like petting it. Telephoning your Senator, raising money for ads, contributing to those that oppose the bill doesn't work. The Obamas of the world will take your money, and then turn around and betray, every time. The wheels of power are running roughshod over the bones of this country, unless they can be stopped it's all just farce, despite the good intentions. When it's finally clear to enough people that unless there is action to stop the wheels, the real tragedy will start. Of course, by then every repressive mechanism that can be conceived by these beelzebubs will be in place and ready for action.

If there had been any support for a general strike one year ago, it might have made some difference. But these people are unwilling to consider, to admit as even a possibility, anything out of their world view of politics as just money and votes. The American people themselves are so numbed and oblivious that only real misery is going to start to wake them up. Like it or not, that is on its way. Perpetual war in the service of global corporations, gigantic scams in the financial world, environmental disasters guarantee that it won't be long.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Patriotism down your throat

Returning from a overlong Fourth of July weekend, filled with beer, BBQs and baseball, it's clear that a patriotic frenzy is going to be visited upon our collective asses this election season. Baseball led the way with their 'Welcome Back Veterans' extravaganza this weekend with caps all blue, some uniforms changed to look like desert camis... the horror. They claim, of course, this is apolitical, a filthy lie. This is due to be repeated this September 11 as well. The mind boggles at what football might do to top it.

The NYT took a look at giant American flags at sporting events, and reported the warning from a manufacturer of some of the mega-flags:
“It’s a feeling. It’s a feeling that takes over a whole stadium. If anyone in the stands opened their mouth and objected, there would be hell to pay.”
The Triumph of the Will lives on. There will be no free speech zones in America's stadiums and ballparks in our wondrous future.

Since much of sports is now being sponsored by the DoD, this is right and proper. Treating returning veterans as charity cases can let the military budget off the hook, and allow more recruitment advertising. Everybody wins!

The real impact of all this faldural might be to increase the chances of McCain getting elected, and to help to conceal the uncomfortable fact that the country and the world has real problems that should be urgently addressed. Since both presidential candidates, both political parties, and the media are fully on board with the Bush administration's head in the sand, steal all you can approach to policy, it has a good chance of working up to the elections.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

"The Economy? Words Fail Me."

Here's the link to the Dana Milbank article, with video, but the video is so great, and so funny, that I just had to embed it.

(h/t Calculated Risk)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Leg or thigh?

It looks like Turkey's political crisis is about to hit the fan, possibly spreading pieces around the Middle East and Europe. For once, the Islamic party now in power seems to have pushed back against the Kemalist establishment, arresting highly visible 'plotters', just as a court case is being argued that could remove them from office.

The 'deep state' within Turkey, aligned with the neo-cons, US congress-critters and other criminals, as revealed by Sibel Edmonds, might be being challenged now by the legitimate state.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Party time!

In Mesa, Ariz., officials are trying to decide what to do about boarded-up McMansions that become party pads, trashed in raucous "raves" where invitations come by text message.
(h/t cryptogon)


The more that Obama tries to prove to us that he's really just like Bush, only more so, the more the Republicans are forced to dumb down their troops. Not that it's difficult, I think I hear a collective sign of relief when an episode like Clark's stating the obvious:
"Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president," Clark said.
can be met with the most obtuse kind of outrage.

Denying Republicans their policy issues by adopting more of Bush's policies as his own (faith based handouts, capital punishment, the hatred of dirty fucking hippies, etc.), we can be sure that the campaign will revolve more and more around 'character issues'.

With two useless wars soaking up much of the nation's resources, environmental disasters multiplying, infrastructure collapsing, and an economic system that has carried deregulation to the point of no return, Americans are asked to forget all that, by both candidates!

Over at TomDispatch, Rick Shenkman looks at good old American stupidity. Here's his definition:
Five defining characteristics of stupidity, it seems to me, are readily apparent. First, is sheer ignorance: Ignorance of critical facts about important events in the news, and ignorance of how our government functions and who's in charge. Second, is negligence: The disinclination to seek reliable sources of information about important news events. Third, is wooden-headedness, as the historian Barbara Tuchman defined it: The inclination to believe what we want to believe regardless of the facts. Fourth, is shortsightedness: The support of public policies that are mutually contradictory, or contrary to the country's long-term interests. Fifth, and finally, is a broad category I call bone-headedness, for want of a better name: The susceptibility to meaningless phrases, stereotypes, irrational biases, and simplistic diagnoses and solutions that play on our hopes and fears.
Both candidates are depending on stupidity to prevent people from asking hard questions. When people do ask them, they'll be marginalized as extremists. The media will work hand in glove to produce a down to the wire race that will keep politics revolving around the idiotic questions that need no answers, while the real question are ignored. Unless some significant breakdown occurs, American's good old fashioned stupidity will allow them to blind themselves to their upcoming ruin.

UPDATE: To put an accent over the stupidity theme, there's this:
Lawsuit Filed To Carry Weapons In Atlanta Airport
These people are short sighted, if I can't carry my Beretta onto my flight, I can never be free.