Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for January, 2008

Allegation: 911 Report was tampered with

Posted by Charles II on January 31, 2008

This by way of Brad DeLong‘s Semi-Daily Journal. Justin Rood, who ABC News has wisely hired, reports:

The former executive director of the 9/11 Commission denies explosive charges of undisclosed ties to the Bush White House or interference with the panel’s report.

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Posted in Constitutional crisis, Karl Rove, September 11, terrorism | 7 Comments »

Third wave financial crisis

Posted by Charles II on January 31, 2008

The mortgage crisis is largely misunderstood. It is not primarily about foreclosures on lenders,borrowers the first wave of the crisis. Absent effective federal response, a certainty in an Administration that managed to lose an entire American city, those will take place. Some people will move in with relatives, some will end up on the street, but the consequences are straightforward.

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Posted in capitalism as cancer, mortgage crisis, wrong way to go about it | 3 Comments »

When Security Theater Becomes Farce

Posted by MEC on January 31, 2008

The government that’s imposed upon us tax cuts for billionaires and stricter eligibility for school lunches, standardized testing for Head Start, and an opponent of contraception as head of the government’s family planning programs has created “war games” to test the country’s preparedness for terrorist attacks.

They’re even more paranoid than you’d expect.

The laundry list of fictional catastrophes — which include hundreds of people on “No Fly” lists suddenly arriving at airport ticket counters — is significant because it suggests what kind of real-world trouble keeps people in the White House awake at night.

Imagined villains include hackers, bloggers and even reporters. After mock electronic attacks overwhelmed computers at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, an unspecified “major news network” airing reports about the attackers refused to reveal its sources to the government. Other simulated reporters were duped into spreading “believable but misleading” information that worsened fallout by confusing the public and financial markets, according to the government’s files.

Okay, reporters being duped into spreading misleading information is a plausible scenario, especially if you stretch the definition of “reporters” to include the wankers on Faux News. But depicting a news organization refusing to reveal its sources to the government as a terrorist threat? That just shows the Busheviks’ opinion of the Constitution.

Oh, and hundreds of people on “No Fly” lists suddenly arriving at airport ticket counters? Has the “No Fly” list ever stopped any passenger from getting on the plane who was actually a potential terrorist? Or has it only stopped members of peace and environmental groups, Democratic politicians, military veterans, and a four-year-old boy?

Did the participants in the little exercise actually learn anything? Perhaps, but not what the government was hoping they’d learn:

In the middle of the war game, someone quietly attacked the very computers used to conduct the exercise. Perplexed organizers traced the incident to overzealous players and sent everyone an urgent e-mail marked “IMPORTANT!” reminding them not to probe or attack the game computers.

The lesson of that “prank” could have been, should have been that you have to be able to respond to things you didn’t anticipate. Instead, the official reaction was to issue a scolding to the people who didn’t follow the rules and insist that everybody stay within the limits the government set for them. That says it all.

Meanwhile, everything from fake bombs to live kittens are getting through airport screening undetected. The millions of dollars the government spent on that cyber-exercise in absurdity isn’t doing a thing about the incompetence of the TSA.

The purpose of “Homeland Security” is patently not security.

Posted in Homeland Security | 9 Comments »

The Networks Are Starting To Get Antsy

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 31, 2008

The strike’s beginning to hurt for real now:

The 12-week-old Hollywood writers strike is taking a heavy toll on prime-time viewership with television production largely stopped and the major networks airing more repeats, game shows and reality shows. The five top broadcast networks were down a collective 17 percent for the week ended Jan. 27 in ratings among viewers aged 18 to 49, the audience most prized by advertisers compared with the same week last year, according to Nielsen Media Research.

That is a sharp drop from earlier this season, before networks’ supply of original sitcom and drama episodes ran dry and year-to-year ratings declines were running closer to 10 percent, network executives said.

Even FOX, with a high amount of reality-TV programming, still saw a drop of 13 percent among viewers 18 to 49 years of age from the same week last year. NBC, which has the least amount of scripted TV programming, was able to stay flat compared to the same week in 2007, but only because of the new “American Gladiators” rollout and a fresh episode of “Law and Order”.

Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier, FOX’s hopes of a ratings bonanza from the 2008 primary season have been dashed by a successful netroots-originated boycott of FOX News by the Democratic candidates.

Posted in 2008, Fox Noise, GOP/Media Complex, media, Media machine, mediawhores, unions | 3 Comments »

Life’s Little Ironies

Posted by MEC on January 30, 2008

Today is Dick Cheney’s birthday. (Officially, anyway; I remain unconvinced that he was born in the normal sense, and isn’t just a projection of humanity’s collective capacity for evil.)

Today is also the birth anniversary of the late historian Barbara Tuchman, author of The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, a book about the most devastatingly stupid wars in history. Ms. Tuchman could write a new chapter about the debacle in Afghanistan and Iraq that would make the hubris and incompetence described in the original book seem as nothing.

Posted in Dick Cheney, historians, history | 5 Comments »

The Extreme Weirdness Of The 2008 Race

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 30, 2008

Lots of moderate and liberal antiwar Americans are lining up behind John McCain, to the point where Rasmussen gives him an eight-point lead nationally over Hillary Clinton and a six-point lead over Barack Obama.

This is ironic, as John McCain is, of all the Republicans, the one most fanatically behind staying in Iraq and attacking Iran.

However, there is hope coming out of California, as Obama and Romney are now in the lead in the primaries there:

By the numbers: California’s twin presidential primaries may be much tighter than polls have suggested, with both Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama making late surges, according to new tracking data.

The numbers are part of a nightly tracking poll being done by the anti-Indian-gaming initiative campaign, which has included a question on the presidential primaries.

Separate samplings of 300 Republican voters taken Thursday and Sunday found Romney had gained five points from earlier in the week and pulled into a dead heat with John McCain. Each had about 25 percent, and those figures held up Monday night. But then that was before McCain’s big Florida win Tuesday.

On the Democratic side, the combined results of three nightly samplings of 400 different voters – for Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday – found Hillary Rodham Clinton at 36 percent, Obama at 31 percent and John Edwards at 12 percent.

But when taken alone, Sunday’s tracking – just a day after Obama’s big win in the South Carolina primary – had Obama leading Clinton, 35 percent to 32 percent, with Edwards’ share growing to 16 percent. And pretty much the same numbers came up Monday.

One caveat: A prominent political consultant following the numbers emphasizes that while a single night’s tracking isn’t considered statistically reliable, it does show movement and direction.

Any way you slice it, the source says, the presidential race here is definitely heating up.

Now, if only Edwards’ people would go en masse to Obama, I’d feel a lot better.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Wednesday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 30, 2008


— How bad are things in Haiti under the rule of Bush-approved warlord thugs that drove out the democratically-elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide nearly four years ago? People are reduced to literally eating dirt.

— Hillary, in pushing for the Michigan and Florida delegates to count so she can unfairly claim them, is pushing for the DNC to violate a judge’s order:

[US District Judge Robert] Hinkle was not convinced. He ruled that forcing the national party to break its own primary schedule rules by seating Florida delegates would violate the party’s First Amendment right to assemble.

“There can be a schedule, there need not be a free-for-all and the entity that can set the schedule is the national party,” said Hinkle while pronouncing his ruling. “Florida has to comply with the same rules and procedures as everybody else and does not get to have its own way.

— It looks like John Edwards is out of the 2008 race. This is bad, both because he’s the guy who did the best in head-to-head matchups against McCain, and because even though he was the most progressive of the three major Democratic candidates, enough low-information conservative Democratic white voters thought otherwise to siphon off support that would have otherwise gone to Hillary.

Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, Democrats, Florida (where magical things happen), Haiti, Hillary Clinton, Michigan | 2 Comments »

Awwww, Pooooor Babieeez!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 30, 2008


 Eric Boehlert of Media Matters on how FOX News (and News Corp. in general) had a sucky end of 2007 and is having an even suckier 2008.

Short version:  They’re getting killed by CNN in the ratings on primary coverage, and they’re so well-known as biased one-sided GOP shills that nobody takes their new business channel seriously, much less actually watches it. 

The one thing that’s worked out for FOX so far is the writers’ strike:  Since FOX relies the most on cheap (and writer-free) “reality TV” shows for its programming, it can run more new entertainment programming than the other networks.  (It’s been gouging advertisers, too, something I suspect those advertisers will remember.)  But with the primaries now in full swing, and with CNN dominating the primary coverage with MSNBC making a respectable showing, FOX is not going to enjoy the reality-TV advantage the way it did in the early weeks of the strike. 

Posted in GOP bullying, GOP/Media Complex, media, Media machine, mediawhores | 1 Comment »

No, It’s Not Really Like Date Rape

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 30, 2008

Jane Hamsher on FISA, the 15-day PAA extension, and Republican ideas of bipartisanship.

Posted in Bush, BushCo malfeasance, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples | Comments Off on No, It’s Not Really Like Date Rape

What Happens When The Scapegoat Escapes?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 29, 2008

It might be that people start to look at root causes instead of “bad apples”:

The Société Générale affair descended deeper into the mire last night as investigating judges threw out the most serious accusation, attempted fraud, put forward by prosecutors against the trader behind the €4.9bn losses, Jérôme Kerviel.

They released him under judicial supervision, or bail, after two days of police questioning, leading his lawyers to claim a substantial victory. The surprise threatened to undermine the bank’s increasingly fragile defence that he had used ingeniously fraudulent devices, including hacking into colleagues’ internet codes, to hide his gambling on equity derivatives trading markets.

Why did SocGen try to pretend that Kerviel was the source of all that was wrong with SocGen? Because of this:

Earlier, a lawyer acting for 100 small shareholders sued the bank over insider trading and market manipulation, and minority investors accused it of issuing misleading information.

So SocGen, in order to avoid going under in a flurry of lawsuits, tried to finger Kerviel as the sole perp. But Kerviel fingered right back:

And Kerviel, depicted by the bank as a “lone” rogue trader, also increased SocGen’s woes by accusing his colleagues of having similarly traded beyond their limits. Prosecutors said the bank had been alerted by the Eurex derivatives market to the scale of his positions as long ago as November last year.

Now SocGen’s in even worse doo-doo. Oooops.

Posted in big money, capitalism as cancer, corruption, economy, international | 1 Comment »