Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for February, 2014

Just lucky

Posted by Charles II on February 28, 2014

Jia Lynn Yang, WaPo:

Forget hiring a top hedge fund to manage your portfolio. Your better bet might be an employee at the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a new report suggesting that regulators are trading on inside information relating to investigations and upcoming enforcement actions.

In the report titled “The Stock Picking Skills of SEC Employees,” researchers found that SEC employees’ stock purchases look like your average person’s. But when these employees sell their stocks, they appear to systematically beat the market by making sales within weeks of costly enforcement actions by the agency.

“These results suggest that SEC employees potentially trade profitably under the new rules, and that at least some of their profits potentially stem from trading ahead of costly SEC sanctions and on privileged non-public information,” write Shivaram Rajgopal, a professor of accounting at Emory University, and Roger M. White, a doctoral student in accounting at Georgia State University. “In short, it appears that SEC employees continue to take advantage of non-public information to trade profitably in stocks under their regulatory purview.”

I have to say, all the most successful investors, guys like Warren Buffett, do it this way: trade on inside information. I still can’t believe that Martha Stewart of all people did jail time for what goes on all the time.

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Posted in frauds, stock market | 6 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on February 28, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 1 Comment »

Moyers Has It Backwards: The US Left Surrendered Decades Ago

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 27, 2014

There’s a piece by Bill Moyers that’s making the rounds in the anti-politics left:

In a web exclusive interview, political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. talks with me about his new article in the March issue of Harper’s Magazine — a challenge to America’s progressives provocatively titled, “Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals.”

In the piece, Reed writes that Democrats and liberals have become too fixated on election results rather than aiming for long-term goals that address the issues of economic inequality, and that the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama too often acquiesced to the demands of Wall Street and the right.

In other words, Reed and by implication Moyers call for the American left to do even more of what it’s already been doing since its leaders abandoned LBJ en masse over Vietnam (or as Rick Wolff thinks, since 1945): Avoid electoral politics in favor of other forms of activism.

As a result of this electoral surrender by the US left, overall voting participation has dropped and the Republicans have run riot. Here’s how that happened:

Take a look at this chart from the UCSB, bearing in mind that voter participation prior to 1920 was effectively limited to white males.  The reason for the percentage drop in 1920 is that while women nationwide now had the franchise, they were slow to exercise it; it wasn’t until 1928 that overall participation rates started to rise as more women started to vote.

As the UCSB chart shows, the last time voter participation rates were over 60% was 1968 — the height of our involvement in Vietnam.  Since then, turnout has generally declined, aside from certain years when strong third-party candidates were running (such as in 1992), or when special and successful efforts were made to increase turnout among non-white, non-rich, and non-male persons — such as in 2008, when the Obama campaign heavily pushed absentee voting, which up to then had been used mainly by Republican voters. (This is why the GOP did a 180 and is now not only against absentee voting, but any form of early voting.)

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

$14 Million And Counting For Darrell Issa’s IRS Witchhunt

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 26, 2014

Read about it here:

http://www.politicususa.com/2014/02/26/republican-irs-witch-hunt-cost-14-million-counting.html

Talk about government waste!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on $14 Million And Counting For Darrell Issa’s IRS Witchhunt

Welcome to East Germany

Posted by Charles II on February 26, 2014

First off, a little history from DemocracyNow, in which we learn that former FBI agents (among others) participated in the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, which actively assisted white supremacists to harass, arrest, frame, and even kill people who were trying to achieve equal rights for African Americans. Here’s an example:

On December 6, 1958, [Army veteran Clyde] Kennard wrote a detailed letter to the local newspaper, the Hattiesburg American, in which he announced his intention to enroll at Mississippi Southern for the January quarter. In the letter, Kennard laid out his “creed,” which was based on the belief that all individuals should be judged by their ability rather than their skin color. Sovereignty Commission’s investigators, led by former FBI agent Zack J. VanLandingham, responded by trying to find “derogatory information” about Kennard to sabotage his application. They explored every possible aspect of the applicant’s life, including his financial history, his personal life, and his employment record. State leaders, including Governor James P. Coleman, soon realized that Kennard’s application was particularly problematic because there were no obvious grounds for refusing it.

VanLandingham hatched a scheme to short-circuit Kennard’s efforts by having conservative black educators “call on Clyde Kennard and persuade him that it was in the best interest of all concerned that he withdraw and desist from filing an application for admission to Mississippi Southern College.” Kennard, however, refused to change his mind.

Kennard’s efforts to attend Mississippi Southern ended on September 25, 1960, when the Forrest County Cooperative, which had foreclosed on his chicken farm, was burglarized. Five bags of chicken feed worth $25.00 were stolen. A young employee, Johnny Lee Roberts, admitted taking the feed but claimed that Kennard had planned the break-in. Kennard was arrested and charged with accessory to burglary, a felony under Mississippi law.

Glenn Greenwald:

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.

Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups.

Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government. Ironically, the very same Sunstein was recently named by Obama to serve as a member of the NSA review panel created by the White House….

Wonder if that’s grounds for firing a tenured professor. Probably not.

DemocracyNow
:

AMY GOODMAN: …The man everyone knew as “John Jacob” was in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis. He also spied on the Industrial Workers of the World and Iraq Veterans Against the War. The antiwar activist Brendan Maslauskas Dunn helped expose John Towery’s true identity as a military spy. In 2009, Dunn spoke on Democracy Now!

BRENDAN MASLAUSKAS DUNN: …

when I met him, he admitted to several things. He admitted that, yes, he did in fact spy on us. He did in fact infiltrate us. He admitted that he did pass on information to an intelligence network, which, as you mentioned earlier, was composed of dozens of law enforcement agencies, ranging from municipal to county to state to regional, and several federal agencies, including Immigration Customs Enforcement, Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, Homeland Security, the Army in Fort Lewis.

So he admitted to other things, too. He admitted that the police had placed a camera, surveillance camera, across the street from a community center in Tacoma that anarchists ran called the Pitch Pipe Infoshop….

AMY GOODMAN: …

Since 2009, there have been numerous developments in the case. A newly made public email written by Towery reveals the Army informant was building a multi-agency spying apparatus. The email was sent by Towery using his military account. It was sent to the FBI as well as the police departments in Los Angeles, in Portland, Eugene, Everett and Spokane, Washington. He wrote, quote, “I thought it would be a good idea to develop a leftist/anarchist mini-group for intel sharing and distro [distribution].”…

LARRY HILDES: I think they crossed the line. They claim they’re allowed to do some level of investigative work to protect military activities, military shipments. But entrapping people—attempting to entrap people into conspiracies where they can get charged with major felonies they had no intention of committing, dealing with law enforcement agencies around the country to keep tabs on activists, following them to protests in Denver and St. Paul that have absolutely nothing to do with military shipments, they crossed the line into law enforcement, into civilian law enforcement.

And they did so quite knowingly and deliberately, and created this cover story that Towery was working for the fusion center, reporting to the sheriff’s office, not doing this during his work time, because they were well aware—in fact, he got paid overtime for attending the RNC, DNC conference at Evergreen, by the Army. So the Army was expressly paying him to monitor, disrupt and destroy these folks’ activism and their lives. I mean, we had—at one point, Brendan Dunn had four cases at the same time in four counties, because they kept stopping him. Seven times he got arrested or cited; Jeff Berryhill several times; Glenn Crespo. People would get busted over and over and over. Towery was attending their personal parties, their birthday parties, their going-away parties, and taking these vicious notes and passing them on about how to undermine these folks, how to undermine their activities, how to destroy their lives. This is way into Posse Comitatus. This is way beyond any legitimate military role.

So, the U.S. Army is paying people to infiltrate, harass, falsely arrest, and frame peaceful protesters. This happened to protesters at the RNC and DNC conventions.

There is no difference between what law enforcement has been doing to peaceful protesters and what the white supremacists did to Clyde Kennard, who just wanted to go to college in a state that wanted to keep him down.

Posted in astroturf, civil rights, FBI, NSA eavesdropping | 4 Comments »

Reports Of The RPM’s Death: Greatly Exaggerated

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 24, 2014

David FitzSimmons’ retirement does not equal the end of the Republican Party of Minnesota, no matter how many times certain metaphor mixers click their heels together and wish really hard.

That is all.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Reports Of The RPM’s Death: Greatly Exaggerated

Posted without comment

Posted by Charles II on February 24, 2014

Robert Parry, The Consortium:

Exclusive: American neocons helped destabilize Ukraine and engineer the overthrow of its elected government, a “regime change” on Russia’s western border. But the coup – and the neo-Nazi militias at the forefront – also reveal divisions within the Obama administration, reports Robert Parry.

Posted in neocons, Russia | 1 Comment »

Run, Scott, Run! Run, Run, Run!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 23, 2014

Well, lookiee here – Tiger Beat on the Potomac (aka Politico) is doing a puff piece on Scott Brown and his coy carpetbagging Senate race coquettry:

National Republicans are salivating over the possibility of a Brown candidacy. His name ID and fundraising prowess would instantly put a safe Democratic seat in play, and tilt a fall election map that already favors the GOP even more in the party’s direction. The GOP needs to pick up six seats to win a majority.

Never mind that he got his ass soundly kicked by Elizabeth Warren, whose name is conspicuous by its absence from this piece and who is currently making Teddy Kennedy’s shade smile and bankers cringe. The GOP establishment — or at least those of its members speaking anonymously to TBOTP’s James Hohmann — keeps talking him up as true Senatorial gold, at least in terms of going after Jeanne Shaheen’s Senate seat in New Hampshire.

As usual, the true lede be buried deep, deep down towards the end of the piece:

He seemed pleased with the resulting numbers: Two public polls in January showed the race within the margin of error, although a more recent WMUR/University of New Hampshire survey put Shaheen up 10 points.

In other words, he’s never been in the lead, and does worse the more people know about him.

In short, the perfect person for the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson to blow a few tens of millions on — erm, I mean “support”.

Run, Scott, run!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Run, Scott, Run! Run, Run, Run!

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on February 21, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 1 Comment »

There’s something happening here…

Posted by Charles II on February 20, 2014

A pattern.

There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there. Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound. Everybody look what’s going down.

A thousand people in the street. Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side. It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
–Buffalo Springfield

The Ukraine

STEPHEN COHEN: … we are watching history being made, but history of the worst kind.
…And the longer-term outcome may be…the construction, the emergence of a new Cold War divide between West and East…. And if that happens, if that’s the new Cold War divide, it’s permanent instability and permanent potential for real war for decades to come. That’s what’s at stake.

One last point, also something that nobody in this country wants to talk about: The Western authorities, who bear some responsibility for what’s happened, and who therefore also have blood on their hands, are taking no responsibility.

let’s ask ourselves this: Who precipitated this crisis? The American media says it was Putin and the very bad, though democratically elected, president of Ukraine, Yanukovych. But it was the European Union, backed by Washington, that said in November to the democratically elected president of a profoundly divided country, Ukraine, “You must choose between Europe and Russia.” That was an ultimatum to Yanukovych. Remember—wasn’t reported here—at that moment, what did the much-despised Putin say? He said, “Why? Why does Ukraine have to choose? We are prepared to help Ukraine avoid economic collapse, along with you, the West. Let’s make it a tripartite package to Ukraine.” And it was rejected in Washington and in Brussels. That precipitated the protests in the streets.

What percent are the quasi-fascists of the opposition? Let’s say they’re 5 percent. I think they’re more, but let’s give them the break, 5 percent. But we know from history that when the moderates lose control of the situation, they don’t know what to do. The country descends in chaos. Five percent of a population that’s tough, resolute, ruthless, armed, well funded, and knows what it wants, can make history. [Cohen adds that it is precisely these forces that Washington is supporting]

at the beginning, there were hundreds of thousands, tens of thousands, of very decent, liberal, progressive, honorable people in the streets. But they’ve lost control of the situation. That’s the point now. And so, the Russians are saying, “Look, you’re trying to depose Yanukovych, who’s the elected government.” Think. If you overthrow—and, by the way, there’s a presidential election in a year. The Russians are saying wait ’til the next election. If you overthrow him—and that’s what Washington and Brussels are saying, that he must go—what are you doing to the possibility of democracy not only in Ukraine, but throughout this part of the world? And secondly, who do you think is going to come to power?

[In a leaked tape,] The highest-ranking State Department official [Victoria Nuland], who presumably represents the Obama administration, and the American ambassador in Kiev [Geoffrey Pyatt] are, to put it in blunt terms, plotting a coup d’état against the elected president of Ukraine.

in Washington and in Brussels, they lie: They’re talking about democracy now. They’re not talking about democracy now; they’re talking about a coup now.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And is it conceivable, if Ukraine descends into a further civil war, that Russia might intervene?

STEPHEN COHEN: It’s conceivable. It’s conceivable.[Emphasis added]

Venezuela:

GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER: Sure. Well, the Obama government continues to fund this opposition even more openly than did the Bush—than did the Bush regime. If you look at the budget there, you know, Obama specifically requested funding for these Venezuelan opposition groups despite—you know, despite anti-democratic activity in the past, despite the fact that López and others were involved in signatories of the coup in 2002 and engaged in violent actions that they were brought up on charges for in 2002. And so, for López to come now and to claim that he’s an actor for democracy in the streets is really quite—you know, quite laughable. But what he is trying to do is to really seize control of this opposition away from the more moderate elements.

AMY GOODMAN: And the U.S. role?

GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER: The U.S. continues to fund this opposition. I think we’ll probably find out afterward, as we usually do, to what degree the U.S.’s hand has been actually involved in these processes. But the reality is this is a—this is a miscalculation by the opposition. I think it’s doubtful that the United States has told the opposition to take this tack, because it’s not a very strategic tack. But, you know, we know that this is an opposition that’s been in direct contact with the embassy, that it receives funding from the United States government. And so, this is—against the broad backdrop of U.S. intervention and the funding of the Venezuelan opposition, this is the action of an autonomous Venezuelan opposition that is going to, once again, it looks like, tear itself apart.

Cohen made a very good point. There aren’t many extremists. But when things break down to the point that the moderates are ineffective, extremists take over. The US is very good at funding opposition movements. But again and again, whether in Libya or in Syria or in Ukraine or in Venezuela, this has not empowered democratic forces, but rather reactionary, fascistic, and terrorist forces. In the case of the Ukraine, a leaked tape has made it clear that the US wants fascistic forces to come to power.

___
Update: See here for “Yats”:

[Nuland and Pyatt] conclude that Arseniy Yatsenyuk of jailed billionaire oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party should rule, conferring regularly with Oleh Tyahnybok of the fascist Svoboda Party, whose members and neo-Nazi allies provide most of the thugs fighting riot police in Kiev.

Posted in Russia, Venezuela | 2 Comments »