Friday, January 23, 2009

SAR #9023

We brought this on ourselves.

First Light: Hours after taking office, President Obama ordered a halt to the show trials at Guantanamo, Guantanamo is to be closed within a year and the CIA directed end 'enhanced' interrogations. Could we also do away with Homemade Security or at least persuade it that Americans have rights again? And at least rename ICE? Let us be the land of the brave again, not the fortress of the fearful.

Re-Runs: By the numbers: new unemployment claims = 768,858, "adjusted" to 589,000. 2008's unadjusted was 415,149. Etc.

Silliness Continues: Our troubles are caused by the irrational belief that an economy can be based on unending debt. The new economic team looks a lot like the old Clinton bunch - who were less than innocent in getting us here. And the map out leads to more and more debt, both private and governmental. Who's going to finance $2 to $3 trillion in US debt this year? You are, of course. Through inflation.

House That Again? December building permits 10% below November and only half of last year's data. Starts were down 15% from November and 45% below December 2007.

Ah, Me First! Greed's poster child John Thain accelerated Merrill Lynch's executive bonus schedule so he could get his bonus and leave just before Bank of America took over. Under the TARP of darkness, as it were.

Call Waiting: Turns out you weren't being paranoid, NSA was tapping your phone all along. And your email. And your internet use. By the way, your cell phone has a GPS tracking chip in it, too. Bush is gone, what happens next?

Return of the Prodigal: Now that George is back in Texas, the fight against teaching evolution in Texas schools is heating up again.

Self Interest: A survey of over 3,000 earth scientists, 90% of them PhDs, found that 82% agreed that human activity was largely responsible for global warming. Respondent patterns also showed that self-interest outweighs education in that only 47% of petroleum geologists considered global warming to be man-made. Climatologists - who actually study the subject - were nearly unanimous (97%) that human activity was a major contributor to global warming.

Better Late Than... Peace grows out of the barrel of a gun. This, while hardly news, needs thinking about once in a while.

"It Don't Come Easy": Confidence in the US banking system ebbs ever lower as the 3 largest US banks sink into the mire. Losses at BoA, Citi, and JPMorgan will continue well into 2010. The ongoing infusions (those we know about and - given past events - those we don't) have failed. Trust doesn't seem for sale at any price.

Finding Fault: A previously unkonwn fault line in eastern Arkansas could trigger a magnitude 7 earthquake. One day, but probably not tomorrow.

Career Change: Former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev is leaving the Dark Side and becoming the publisher of the London Daily Standard. Adding a frisson to the story is the paper in question, The Standard, which has long been owned by ultra conservative Lord Rothemere.

Porn O'Graph: Childhood in the Greatest Country on Earth.


Mark Derricott said...

Under "Silliness Continues", Roberts' article:

The trillions of dollars in credit default swaps (CDS) should be declared null and void. These “swaps” are simply bets that financial instruments and companies will fail, and the bulk of the bets are made by people and institutions that do not hold the financial instruments or shares in the companies. The ideology that financial markets were self-regulating allowed illegal gambling free rein. There is no reason under the sun for taxpayers to bail out gamblers.

Would that be possible? I don't have a deep understanding, but it seemed that the credit seizure in 9/2008 was a result of Lehmen's CDS's essentially declared null and void.

Am I off? or is declaring CDS's null and void a real solution?

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Rolandovich - I think the correct answer is "No one knows." The theory (and apparent practice last autumn) was that the CDS bets were adjusted nearly daily. The other credal belief seemed to be that CDS were mostly offsetting and could be unwound with little ruckus.
Made no sense to me. If all these bets are offsetting, why bother to make them?
Yet in September we kept waiting to see the big write-offs and except for a few tens of billion at AGS, none appeared.
I say chop off their heads and see how far they can walk.

Anonymous said...

Climatologists - who actually study the subject - were nearly unanimous (97%) that human activity was a major contributor to global warming.

Hahahahahaha - yep, climatologist are the only honest people totally not motivated by research grants and employability!

Anonymous said...

@ "Better Late than Never"

What a repulsive, hateful piece. Am surprised you linked to what seems to be a call for (further) ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from Israel.

Rdan made a serious error in judgement in posting his "unpleasant" thoughts and I daresay you compounded it by drawing attention to it.

I am disappointed in you Mr. Michaelson.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

I had hoped the readership was adult enough to consider things as they are, and not just the 'wouldn't it be nice' things. I see the mendacity in Israel's assault on the Palestinian population. It's the same mendacity that cleared North America of its natives, the same justification behind the US Right's "Let's go kill 'em all." foreign policy.
"The other" is less worthy - she started it! 'Them or us' is an historic - maybe even prehistoric - theme. And as long as one side has the guns, history if not justice will be on that side. Sad fact, might makes right in this world. 'Taint fair, just the way it is.
Doesn't change things not to look at it and think about what could be - but won't.
And if Israel (or the US) thinks that what they've achieved is peace, they haven't been paying attention. And that's the internal discussion I'd hoped the reader would have with his or her worldview.

Anonymous said...

I take your "life isn't fair" point but one of us seems to be misreading what Rdan is trying to articulate, possibly because the thinking is so muddled.

To my mind, in the penulitimate paragraph, Rdan is implying that Israel would be better off driving out all of the Palestinians for once and for all.

As for the final paragraph, the question "why aren't the Israeli's doing it" is either disingenuous or naive because Israel has "doing it" in dribs and drabs for the past 60 years. This is apparent to anyone who cares to look. Ethnic cleansing by a thousand cuts: the modern version of settler colonolism better suited to our more delicate sensibilities.

Sorry to quibble. I suspect we completely agree on this issue but there are serious problems with the piece by Rdan.

Azmi Bishara, an Israeli (Palestinian, Christian, former Knesset member) wrote:

"Zionist colonialism inhabits the space between two extinct models -- those provided by South Africa and French practice in Algeria. It is not a blend of the two, but rather a distillation of the worst in each."

Anonymous said...

Sorry: "colonialism"