Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for January 29th, 2008

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 »

Reading list

Posted by Charles II on January 29, 2008

From Dan Cooper’s new book on Fox News and Roger Ailes, Naked Launch (via Johnny Wendell and Eric Boehlert):

“I already know the ansa. I got a phone call from Roger Ailes an owwa ago. He told me that until I drop you as a cloyent, any demo tapes I send ovah for talent jobs will sit in the cawwna and gatha dust”. Drop me as a client? Threatening to damage my agent’s business if he didn’t drop me from his client roster? Tapes gathering dust if he didn’t cut me out? This was certainly pure Roger, icing the poison cake with a darkly comic visual metaphor. Roger was part Don Rickles and part Don Corleone. He was going to leave the tapes there for years maybe, and never have them dusted. And maybe send photos of them to Richard. Unless Richard stopped representing me.

Posted in Fox Noise | 1 Comment »

Haley Barbour Shows Us How It’s Done

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 29, 2008

After reading this today (h/t digby), I don’t want to hear any more crap about how “corrupt Democrats” either caused Katrina or hindered the recovery from it:

While thousands of Mississippians who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina remain in FEMA trailers, the federal government on Friday approved a state plan to spend $600 million in grants earmarked for housing on a major expansion of the state-owned port — a project that could eventually include casino and resort facilities.

Despite strong objections from housing activists and two powerful congressional Democrats, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson on Friday sent Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour a letter approving the diversion.

But really, things can’t be that bad in Mississippi, right? It’s not as if Barbour was some high-handed dictator of some third world area, screwing over the peasants just so his already-richer-than-God buddies can upgrade the swimming pools at their mansions in the Caymans, right?

Erm…

Mississippi, with the highest poverty rate of any state by several measures, already had won HUD waivers of rules that require the funds to benefit low- and moderate-income residents. Critics see the waivers as a product of the unparalleled influence with the Bush administration enjoyed by Barbour, a former Reagan White House political director, Republican National Committee chairman and legendary fixer who continues to receive checks from the Washington lobbying shop that still bears his name.

‘Absolutely no oversight’

Barbour “basically has free wheel,” said Milner of the Steps Coalition. “Unless we have a different administration (in the White House) he’ll do whatever he wants to do. There’s absolutely no oversight over any of this. Whatever he sends up there, they say OK to.”

(And of course Barbour takes good care of his family and friends. Really good care.)

So what do Barbour and his friends do when confronted on all this? What Republicans always do — they lie like rugs:

Barbour’s current position that part of the housing grant pool was always intended for the port is at odds with his March 2006 testimony before a Senate committee, in which he emphasized that the CDBG money was mostly committed to housing and sought new funds for the port. A year later, Gray Swoope, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, did not mention port funding in testimony before Congress about the use of grant funds a few months before the new port master plan was adopted.

But aren’t the housing activists dirty Commie hippies who hate commerce of all sorts? Uh, nope:

Cindy Singletary of Living Independence For Everyone, one of 50 nonprofit, religious and social advocacy groups that make up the Steps Coalition, sees the move to divert the housing funds as a bait-and-switch maneuver. “I have nothing against the port itself,” she said. “The main thing I’m against is the priority of it. … We have jobs on the coast. There’s ‘help wanted’ signs everywhere. But we don’t have homes, we don’t have apartments. … That, to me, should be the No. 1 priority for Mississippi.”

Democratic Reps. Barney Frank and Maxine Waters agree. In two letters to Jackson before the HUD secretary acted Friday, the veteran House members urged him to deny Mississippi’s request to use the money for the port. Using CDBG funds for the port expansion, “when so many families have yet to be able to return home, is misguided and disregards the continued need for available housing in Mississippi,” Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Waters, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, said in October, shortly after the state’s plans to divert the funds came to light. The two upped the ante in a second letter this week, threatening to hold hearings on “any waivers approved by the secretary.”

Now why would those mean icky partisan Democrats be picking on this nice upstanding honest Mister Secretary Jackson? Why don’t they trust him?

This might be a clue:

Jackson is currently the subject of an investigation by the FBI and the HUD inspector general that sprang from a public boast that his decisions as HUD secretary were guided by political favoritism.

Meanwhile, how many people are still sitting in the rotting, chemical-laden FEMA trailers while Haley takes their house money away to give to his buddies in the port industries?

35,129 still in FEMA housing

In its “Mississippi CDBG Recovery Fund Report Card,” the Steps Coalition reported that as of mid-January more than 13,000 Mississippi families — or a total of 35,129 people — remained in FEMA housing, nearly 90 percent of them in small travel trailers and most of them ineligible for the CDBG-funded grants.

Another 15,500 households — more than 40,000 people — have open case files with long-term recovery organizations and need assistance to repair their homes and replace belongings, according to the report. Replacement of low-income rental housing also is moving very slowly, and government programs and incentives will restore fewer than half of the 28,514 units damaged and destroyed by Katrina, according to the coalition.

Is it too early in the morning to have a drink yet?

But really, though, this is Haley Barbour we’re talking about. This is the guy who got a few million from the Chinese, particularly Ambrose Tung Young, just in time to transfer much if not most of it to the bank accounts of the Republican National Committee in 1994 in order to fuel their takeover of Congress. And then what did the Republicans do once they got their made-in-China takeover accomplished? They accused the Clintons of selling us all out to Red China! Brilliance.

Posted in 'starving the beast', abuse of power, big money, Bush, Bush Family Evil Empire, BushCo malfeasance, Busheviks, capitalism as cancer, poverty, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples | 7 Comments »

Palast On The 2008 SOTU

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 29, 2008

From an e-mail sent to Greg Palast‘s mailing list last night:

In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20.

Here’s your second question. The President also demanded that Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years. The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids, roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut per millionaire? That’s right, Richie, $287,000 apiece.

Mr. Bush said, “In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams. And a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.”

So how much educational dreaming will $20 buy?

-George Bush’s alma mater, Phillips Andover Academy, tells us their annual tuition is $37,200. The $20 “Pell Grant for Kids,” as the White House calls it, will buy a poor kid about 35 minutes of this educational dream. So they’ll have to wake up quickly.

-$20 won’t cover the cost of the final book in the Harry Potter series.

If you can’t buy a book nor pay tuition with a sawbuck, what exactly can a poor kid buy with $20 in urban America? The Palast Investigative Team donned baseball caps and big pants and discovered we could obtain what local citizens call a “rock” of crack cocaine. For $20, we were guaranteed we could fulfill any kid’s dream for at least 15 minutes.

Now we could see the incontrovertible logic in what appeared to be quixotic ravings by the President about free trade with Colombia, Pell Grant for Kids and the surge in Iraq. In Iraq, General Petraeus tells us we must continue to feed in troops for another ten years. There is no way the military can recruit these freedom fighters unless our lower income youth are high, hooked and desperate. Don’t say, ‘crack vials,’ they’re, ‘Democracy Rocks’!

The plan would have been clearer if Mr. Bush had kept in his speech the line from his original draft which read, “I have ordered 30,000 additional troops to Iraq this year – and I am proud to say my military-age kids are not among them.”

Of course, there’s an effective alternative to Mr. Bush’s plan – which won’t cost a penny more. Simply turn it upside down. Let’s give each millionaire in America a $20 bill, and every poor child $287,000.

And, there’s an added benefit to this alternative. Had we turned Mr. Bush and his plan upside down, he could have spoken to Congress from his heart.

Posted in 2008, big money, Bush, Bush Family Evil Empire, BushCo malfeasance, capitalism as cancer, eedjits | 1 Comment »

This Doesn’t Surprise Me One Bit

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 29, 2008

Three Federal employees have been busted for using the GOP’s favorite online weapon, the smear e-mail forward:

Three federal employees are being investigated for unlawful political activities after they allegedly sent an e-mail falsely accusing Barack Obama of being a “radical Muslim,” the Globe has learned.The US Office of Special Counsel – the independent federal agency responsible for enforcing a law banning civil service workers from engaging in political activism while performing their official duties – has launched investigations of two employees at one agency and one employee at another agency. All three are believed to have forwarded the erroneous chain e-mail about Obama from their government e-mail accounts.

Yup, the infamous “Obama’s a Jihadi” e-mail, which has already raised its sleazy head in DoD:

The US Army has already told its soldiers not to use government computers to spread the Obama smear. Personnel at the US Army Medical Command in Fort Sam Houston, were warned last week after an Army employee used an official e-mail address to send the message to soldiers and civilian employees worldwide.

Federal laws bar military personnel from actively engaging in politics while in uniform.

Gee, what with all the efforts made to stamp out this little bit of e-slander, how come it’s still around? The bolded part of the next paragraph provides a clue:

The e-mail questioning Obama’s faith and patriotism, though widely discredited, is still alive on the Internet, where it has been forwarded to thousands of voters and has appeared on right-wing blogs. It recently appeared on a local Republican Party office’s website in Washington state. [PW adds: Here’s the link to that story.]

The anonymous author has not been identified and the origin of the e-mail is unknown. A version of the e-mail asserts this is “something that should be considered in your choice” for president.

Strange, that the GOP seems to be so fond of this anonymous, bogusly-sourced smear. Look at how it’s allowed to sit unchallenged in the comments sections of one of their tightly-monitored blogs. In fact, conservatives and racists in general (dig the anti-SPLC links in the sidebar of that blog!) seem to really like this smear, which is ironic as one of the groups targeted by the smear is America’s Jewish community.

A variation even falsely cites Snopes.com as backup. As can be imagined, this doesn’t exactly make the Snopes people very happy.

Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, mythmaking, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, Silly Republicans, The smear industry | Comments Off on This Doesn’t Surprise Me One Bit