September 30, 2008

Something that was bugging me:

I knew Paulson reminded me of someone.

Per Wikipedia, Paulson was raised as a Christian Scientist and worked in the Nixon admin. as assistant to John Ehrlichman during the events of the Watergate scandal, for which Ehrlichman was convicted to a prison sentence. Paulson joined Goldman Sachs in 1974 and eventually became its chief executive. The company was under investigation for fraud by Elliott Spitzer during Paulson's leadership. (As of 10-2-08, the Wikipedia entry on Paulson mentioned this, but the entry's been scrubbed since my previous post on the topic. Spitzer himself has, of course, been conveniently neutralized.)

Paulson is the person whose job it is to restore our confidence in the markets.

I'm gonna be Paulson for Halloween -- a decent candidate for the new scariest person on Earth.

UPDATE: Here's more from Spitzer on Paulson and the bailout.

Two Items You're Not Hearing About in the Corporate Media:

Progressive Dems have proposed an alternative to Paulson's bail-out plan; full Scoop here. (Thanks, ingin!)

Meanwhile, what looks to me in a YouTube video like at least a thousand protestors have been demonstrating on Wall St.: "You broke it, you bought it, no bail-out!"

Are We Palin-Ready?

I doubt it.

comedic break

Vintage Jon Stewart, with Maher while he was still coloring his hair. Second half not quite as funny (but the commercials at the beginning aren't bad).

Contact Your Congresscritters!

We may or may not now face economic catastrophe -- is anyone here besides me old enough to have had a grandparent driven to crime by the Great Depression? -- but what kind of bailout we now do definitely IS in the same ballpark as the decision whether to invade Iraq.

The devil IS in the details -- or, as usual lately, in the LACK of them.

I think it's very important that we let Congress know what WE want -- if we don't, you can be sure someone else will GET what THEY want. (Sorry for all the caps and ital, but I'm really kinda concerned as to whether everyone gets how crucial this juncture is, not because we're about to melt down, 'cause I'm not so much convinced we are, as because we're on the verge of enabling big money to bring about the destruction of economic democracy.)

That said, here's what I just sent to my gov'l rep (you can reach your own rep(s) here -- feel free to use or modify my text -- and you can always reach that url through the link in the sidebar at left (if you'd like more info re- the bases & background for my letter below, pls see my previous posts with the label, "it's the economy". My own rep., by the way, is a pretty good Dem but voted FOR the bailout):

I have some acquaintance with debt "workouts" involving pretty big borrowers persuading pretty big institutions to settle for cents on the dollar. Generally, the bigger the money, the MORE accountability is demanded.

Lenders -- let alone equity investors -- LET ALONE DONORS, which is what this last bailout bill would have made us -- do NOT extend credit, invest, or GIVE money away, unless the people asking for the money OPEN their books and disclose exactly what their assets and liabilities are, what their finances looked like last year, what they plan to do with the money, etc.

Can you imagine a bankruptcy case in which the debtor asked his or her creditors to help cover his/her debts but refused to open his/her books or disclose what their liabilities were?

Ok, in any workout, you expect some spinning, jockying, etc., BUT NOTHING like the ultimatum now thrust at us: GIVE US YOUR MONEY OR DIE!

The proponents of this bill can't or won't even tell us where they got the number.

If this were really an emergency, or at least if they really cared about it, they would have presented something a reasonable lender/investor/donor might conceivably accept. They'd be able to tell us how they came up with $700 billion, and they certainly wouldn't have demanded absolute unaccountability as to what they do with it.

Either it's not really an emergency, or they care more about the looting opportunity than about bailing out the economy.


Nature abhors a vacuum. Unless we've got Plan B ready, we'll be stuck with some version of Plan A.

To my mind, NO bailout should afford the kind of power and immunity to any member of the executive branch that even the "compromised" bailout bill would have done (given the virtually total lack of any meaningful enforcement even for Constitutional violations).

Apart from that, a reasonable precondition for a sane bailout would be the un-repealing of Glass-Steagall, plus extending it to cover new kinds of institutions.
P.S.: In case you didn't know, the plan presented by Paulson is known to have been sitting on the shelf for months -- so it's not like they didn't have time to work out something more reasonable, if they thought they might need to get something passed quickly.

UPDATE: After I sent this letter, I came across these notes taken from a telephone conference between Treasury and ca. 800 Wallstreeters.

FURTHER UPDATE: Kucinich agrees with me:

September 29, 2008

More Re- the Bailout (It's Not Dead Yet)

Few have had time or whatever to actually read the proposed bailout bill that was just (for now) defeated. From one who did, the bill would have provided:

1. That Sec. of Treasury Paulson can violate all statutes with impunity, and no one can sue.

2. That even if you prove a Constitutional violation in court, any order in your favor is STAYED (put on hold) until Paulson is done appealing.

3. So after you litigate for months or years in appellate courts, and assuming you finally win (again) in the trial court AND the final court of appeal, all you get is an equitable order for the Secretary to (finally) stop violating your Constitutional rights -- WITHOUT any enforcement remedy if he fails to do so (i.e., any penalty to him or compensation to you).

4. And, even then, he can keep on violating your statutory rights, forever.
More here.

Here's Pelosi on the bill (and if you don't get what she says, I suspect you could benefit from diversifying your news sources).

Here's The New York Times re- the plunderers' machinations in connection with the bailout bill:
"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.

"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.

"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees."
There are many alternative approaches to resolving this crisis -- as Bloomberg reports, "Hundreds of Economists [Have] Urge[d] Congress Not to Rush on Rescue Plan," and there are in fact good arguments that one or more alternative approaches would work BETTER -- but unfortunately, only one constituency had a plan sitting on the shelf ready for the crisis they helped create.

Finally check this out re- the interests of the Carlyle Group.

We can't afford to let them scare us into another gargantuan mistake. Go here to find out how your congresscritter voted; and/or contact them here.

September 28, 2008

Why Paulson's $700 Billion Socialism for the Rich Won't Work -- and What WOULD

To Those Who've Compared Palin to Xena

. . . this from Lucy Lawless (who plays the "Warrior Princess"): "[s]omeone asked me today if I knew that Sarah Palin's supporters are calling her 'Xena.' I had to ask, 'Oh, is Sarah Palin a lesbian too?!' I don't see it on her bio anywhere . . . nope, not there. Curiously, in her earlier life, Xena traded motherhood for a career as an evil warlord. Hmmmm . . . "

More here.

September 27, 2008

More from Spoonamore on Electronic Voting

This is the first of 10 segments of a new interview taped 9-11-08 in Washington, D.C. The remaining segments are at the links below:

9: -- In this segment, Spoon predicts the outcome of the 2008 election.

For Spoonamore's previous statements, click here.

Deathrow Convict's Body to Be Used to Feed Fish (Art Project)

"Gene Hathorn, a convict on death row in Texas, has agreed to give his body to the Danish-based artist Marco Evaristti, should [Hathorn's] final appeal against execution fail. Evaristti plans to turn Hathorn’s body into a work of art. 'My aim is to . . . make fish food out of [Hathorn's body]. Visitors to my exhibition will be able to feed goldfish with it . . . .'

"Hathorn, 47, has been on death row since 1985, after being found guilty for the murder of his father, step-mother and step-brother. At an earlier trial Hathorn’s friend, James Lee Beathard, was also convicted for the murders after Hathorn testified against him. . . . Hathorn later recanted his testimony but Beathard, who protested his innocence to the end, was executed by lethal injection in 1999 because of a Texas law which prevents the presentation of new evidence after 30 days have passed from the original trial."

"Evaristti came to international attention in 2000 when he placed goldfish in electric blenders filled with water. Visitors to the exhibition at Denmark’s Trapholt Art Museum could choose to press a button, turn on the blenders and kill the fish."

Recent Work by Martha Rosler

Good article in The New York Times including an audio slide show.

Delvoye Work Banned from Shanghai Art Show,

. . . the SHContemporary. Wim Delvoye's work comprised a pen with several pigs tattooed with Walt Disney Co. characters and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA motifs.

Per Delvoye, the sole reason for the banning was that the tattooed pigs were deemed "not art." "We have collectors who've traveled to China all the way from Europe to see the pigs. They're very disappointed." More here.

(Image of framed tattoo on pigskin from Sperone Westwater.)

Fortunately, Delvoye has also tattooed a human, Tim Steiner; this work, which included the rights to require Steiner to exhibit himself and to receive the tattooed skin after his death, was sold to a collector for nearly $215,000 (b.t.w., Steiner got a cut, so to speak.)

Steiner is being substituted for the pigs; apparently, a tattooed human IS art. More here.

Artists Shepard Fairey & Robert Indiana Jailed

In case you missed it, the artists were held for 17 hours in Denver during the Democratic National Convention on charges of putting up unauthorized posters. More details here; Fairey's website here.

(Mural by Fairey with installation by Nic and Z.)

Worthwhile Obit

. . . here. (Thanks, snarky!)

September 25, 2008

McCain Rushing Back to D.C. to Help with Economic Crisis???

(You can stop watching the first video at about 1:35 min., when it moves on to the subject of McCain's competency w.r.t. Iraq):

I'm so glad McCain's "suspended" his campaign and is trying to back out of the first debate so he can help cope with the crisis! Phil Gramm was key in pushing through the deregulation that led to the current financial meltdown. If my life savings weren't at stake, McCain & Co. would be hilarious.

Here's Barbara Boxer on his years of "experience" in dealing with our financial system (she gets to that subject after about the first minute in):

The Wall Street Journal reports, "Sen. Chris Dodd, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, said Thursday that [the] bipartisan meeting with President Bush at the White House on the mortgage rescue plan was nothing short of a disaster. . . . 'I am not going to sign on to something I just saw this afternoon,' Dodd said . . . . [t]he whole meeting 'looked like a rescue plan for John McCain . . . .'"

Bloomberg reports, "Hundreds of Economists Urge Congress Not to Rush on Rescue Plan."

Here's my solution. We don't have to enact any new legislation that no one's had a chance to review. We simply repeal the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the law enacted after the crash of 1929 that was carefully designed to protect against exactly this kind of meltdown and that worked just fine until the Republicons repealed it, and make it apply to all kinds of depositaries without exception.

P.S.: If you were somewhat surprised by the revelation that the Bush Admin had a financial "Patriot Act" all ready just sitting on the shelf waiting for an opportune meltdown, see this and this.

September 24, 2008

Please VOTE

All credit to Rolling Stone; please do go there, 'cause there's more good info, e.g. here and here.

E-Mail from a Nigerian Named Paulson . . .

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008 5:11 AM


I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of [XXX] billion USD. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who (God willing) will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a former U.S. congressional leader and the architect of the PALIN / McCain Financial Doctrine, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. As such, you can be assured that this transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully,

Minister of Treasury Paulson

(Thanks, All Spin Zone! {via Truth2Tell})

"WE DO NOT SUPPORT GOV'T BAILOUTS OF PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS. Gov't Interference in the Markets Exacerbates Problems in the Marketplace . . .

and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself." (Emphasis supplied.)

From the 2008 Republican Party Platform adopted earlier this month.

P.S.: Did you catch (from The Washington Post), "The White House budget office said yesterday that it has decided not to incorporate mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the federal budget, citing the temporary nature of the Treasury Department's takeover and 'the level of federal ownership' of the firms."

September 23, 2008

The Food Shark

If you're going to Marfa for Open House this year, keep your eye out for my friend Adam Bork, video artist and alt-rock musician, and for his Food Shark, which serves the best falafel in town. Somebody told me he's getting famous.

Army Unit to Deploy in October for Domestic Operations

Per Democracy Now (citing Army Times), "[b]eginning in October, the Army plans to station an active unit inside the United States for the first time to serve as an on-call federal response in times of emergency. The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent thirty-five of the last sixty months in Iraq, but now the unit is training for domestic operations. The unit will soon be under the day-to-day control of US Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command. The Army Times reports this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to Northern Command. The paper says the Army unit may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control. The soldiers are learning to use so-called nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds."

Anyone ever heard of posse comitatus?

And don't forget those those "detention centers" Halliburton's been building in the U.S.

Dem. Rep. from Washington State, Jim McDermott

Wish I could say, I watch so you don't have to; but I alone can't keep up.

September 16, 2008

Of Course, Konservative Keymasters Know . . .

it doesn't matter who the V.P. or even the P. is; all that matters is, can they be managed.

Anne Lamott on What to Do

"Figure out one thing you can do every single day to be a part of the solution, concentrating on swing states. Money, walking precincts, registering voters, whatever. This is the only way miracles ever happen -- left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe. Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe. The great novelist E.L. Doctorow once said that writing a novel is like driving at night with the headlights on: You can only see a little ways in front of you, but you can make the whole journey this way. It is the truest of all things; the only way to write a book, raise a child, save the world.

"As my anonymous pal Krinkle Bearcat once wrote: Laughter is carbonated holiness. It is chemo. So do whatever it takes to keep your sense of humor. . . .

"Reread everything Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower ever wrote. Write down that great line of Molly's, that 'Freedom fighters don't always win, but they're always right.' Tape it next to your phone."

More at Salon.

September 15, 2008


It all makes sense if in place of "lipstick," you read, the corporate-owned media. (Speaking of pigs.)

Installations at Adam Bork's Dome House in Marfa, TX

Don't forget to go rate the video up if you like it. Also a bunch of cool photos here.

September 14, 2008

But Can Obama Lead . . .

even though he was never in a beauty pageant?

This'll prolly get me flamed, but . . .

If you have credible support re- any inaccuracies in Frank's factual statements regarding the candidate's respective resumes, pls let me know (preferably with citation(s)).

If you receive an application for an absentee ballot in the mail . . .

please confirm ALL the info before using it.

"Democratic voters in at least two Wisconsin communities have received absentee voter forms from the McCain campaign that -- if used -- could cause their votes to be ignored.

* * * * *
"[One] report comes from Jennifer Jackson, a Kenosha County supervisor. She says a friend in Middleton received . . . McCain literature [together with] an application for an absentee ballot. The return address was wrong. Instead of the Middleton address for her clerk's office, it was a Madison clerk's office address. Had she filled this out and sent it back, 'her vote would never have been counted,' according to Jackson.

"Jackson -- full disclosure requires us to note that she's a Democratic Party activist -- said: 'My friend is very involved with the Obama Campaign in Middleton. She called many of her friends and found they had the same thing. They debated whether or not to send them in at McCain expense, then they realized the return address was not Middleton but in fact a Madison address.'

"Jackson . . . asks, 'Why mail to established Democrats who have no intention of voting for McCain? Why did everyone with a Middleton address have the same mistake of a return to the Madison Clerk's office? It is clear,' she adds, 'that, not trusting E-voting, many Democrats are absentee voting this year. Did the McCain camp think by mis-routing these applications their votes would not be counted? It is true, they would not have been.'

More here.

Stephen Hawking to Unveil New Way to Tell Time

"The Corpus Clock has been invented and designed by Dr. John Taylor [and] will be unveiled [this week] by Prof. Stephen Hawking, cosmologist and author of the global bestseller, A Brief History of Time.

* * * * *

"'One of my heroes is John Harrison,' [Taylor] says.

"'Of Harrison's many innovations, he came up with the "grasshopper escapement,"' explained Dr Taylor, referring to the device used by Harrison to turn rotational motion into a pendulum motion for timekeeping.

* * * * *

He calls the new version of the escapement a 'Chronophage' (time-eater) – 'a fearsome beast which drives the clock, literally "eating away time".'"

Hands are not among the clock's features; instead, time is marked by light.

More here; but John Harrison's 1776 masterpiece, the Late Regulator, is possibly even more interesting; more on that here.

McCain à la King

(Thanks, Julie!)

September 13, 2008

More Ike

Photo by Brett Coomer.

September 12, 2008


Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator

What would your name be if Sarah Palin were your mother? Find out here!

If You're Still Not Freaked About Electronic Voting Machines . . .

Mark Crispin Miller, a New York University professor, wants
" . . . to focus national attention on the revelations of whistle-blower Stephen Spoonamore, who's lately been revealing all we need to know about the Bush regime's conspiracy to rig the vote from 2000 to the present. Spoonamore knows all the principals in this conspiracy, has been dealing with them for some time, and has a trove of emails, etc., to back up what he says.

"There have been several other whistle-blowers on this front, but none is as compelling as [Spoonamore] is--not just because he knows about the whole plot overall, but also because he is (a) a Republican, (b) an erstwhile member of the McCain campaign (he quit some months ago, when he discovered what they have planned) and (c) a prominent and well-respected expert on computer fraud. Detection of such fraud is, in fact, his specialty.

"Spoonamore has named the man who was Karl Rove's IT guru from 2000 until some time last year: Mike Connell, a pro-life zealot who told Spoonamore that he had helped the Bush regime subvert elections "to save the babies." (The actual nuts and bolts of the election fraud machinery are largely in the hands of Christianist fanatics, who have done whatever Karl Rove asked them to.) Connell's fingerprints are thick on every dubious election of the last eight years."
(More on Miller's blog.)

An in-depth interview with Spoonamore appears on YouTube in eight short segments; here's the first one. If you haven't yet absorbed all the technological details, here's your chance to catch up:

Please share and rate these up.

do they have to make it so easy/hard?

September 9, 2008

The Debt Crisis: How It Arose & How to Fix It

Great interview here of Michael Hudson, a former Wall Street economist specializing in the balance of payments and real estate at Chase Manhattan Bank, Arthur Anderson, and later at the Hudson Institute (no relation), Dennis Kucinich’s Chief Economic Advisor in the recent Democratic primary presidential campaign, and currently a prof at University of Missouri, Kansas City.

September 8, 2008

Nano-Artwork Making Nano-Circuits

In 2000, I wrote (here), "[w]e've already begun incorporating computers into ourselves, and it’s hard not to believe that one day, computers themselves will qualify as a life-form. We may already have commenced our greatest creation, the species that will succeed us and carry on."

. . . . and (here), "[p]erhaps the key characteristics of a living system can be summed up as having to do with the regulation and processing of material passing in and out of the system so as to maintain itself as a recognizable identity or form. The article my friend gave me on general systems theory pointed out that boundary and identity maintenance are key functions of any living system. The boundaries or skin of any living system should be neither too yielding or permeable, on the one hand, nor too rigid or impenetrable, on the other hand. If the boundaries are too rigid or impenetrable, interaction between the entity and its environment will be overly restricted and the entity will likely starve, explode, stagnate, or be unable to respond or adapt as necessary to changing external conditions or events. An individual or group can be destroyed through failing to take in resources or new information quickly enough. On the other hand, if the boundaries are too soft or permeable, the entity may be too vulnerable to deformation or invasion by outside pressures or attack, or to being depleted, or otherwise destabilized or overwhelmed to the point that it either disintegrates or is changed beyond recognition.

* * * * *

"My theory also suggests there may be optimal velocities or rates at which various functions might be performed, i.e., rates of change that balance the need for growth and the need for stability, given the exigencies of the environment in which the system exists. For a system to be healthy in the sense of surviving in identifiable form, it seems a balance is needed between softness and hardness, openness and closedness, and between rapid and slow rates of change."

As Paul Rothemund says, "To create complex forms, life performs computations."

I Need More McLuhan

September 7, 2008

September 3, 2008

By Popular Demand . . .

I wasn't going to post this, but.

If you haven't already heard what Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy said of the pick when they thought the microphones were off, check out HuffPo.

There are some interesting theories out there about why Palin was picked . . . 'cause it doesn't make much sense on the face of it.

Naomi Klein Responds to Attacks on her "Shock Doctrine"

Hm, this link disappeared; but I encourage you to search Naomi Klein and read it all. Here's something to get you going.

Never Forget:

(Thanks, garybeck!) For info on how to register to vote in Texas or confirm your registration is still good, click here. For other states, try your Secretary of State's website.

Protests at RNC

Some good pics here.

Intrade Sees 14.6% Chance Palin Nomination Will Be Withdrawn

"Intrade Chief Executive John Delaney . . . . [said] prediction markets [are] more accurate than public opinion polls and [that] Intrade forecast President George W. Bush's reelection in 2004 while correctly indicating the results in all 50 states.

"The market gives Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama a 61.6 percent chance of a November win, with McCain at 38.6 percent."

September 1, 2008

Comedic Conservatism

Twin Cities police were praised by Mayor Chris Coleman for their "heroic" restraint today -- but among other things, they managed to arrest Amy Goodman (an investigative journalist acclaimed for her exposés of human rights violations in East Timor and Nigeria and the principal host of Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! program, carried on over 700 stations around the U.S.).

And then there's Sarah Palin . . .

Meanwhile, I understand Bristol Palin's 17-year-old husband-to-be states on his myspace page, "'I don't want kids.'"

UPDATE: Video of our arrest of a premier journalist (uh, bringing democracy to where, again?); don't forget to go rate it up:

Even funner:

Not so fun: Protester offers flower; police pepper spray her.

Duke and Battersby

V. cool; e.g., The New Freedom Founders: I am a Conjuror.

(Thanks, Dee!)

North Pole Has Become an Island for First Time in Recorded History

Details here.

Sorry to Pound You but They Are Fast & So Must We Be

Compilation re- police action in Minneapolis.