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The arsonists take out fire insurance on Greece

Posted by Charles II on June 16, 2011

David Oakley of FT has an interesting article saying that “investors” (i.e. speculators) are betting on a Greek “accident,” i.e., default by buying credit default swaps which pay big if Greece defaults.

Now, it’s not much of a bet. Either Germany comes up with a loan/gift (probability approximately zero) or the Greeks default. There is not the political will in Germany to bail out Greece. They can extend and pretend–which, by the way, worked pretty well in the US bank bailout– but the longer it goes on, the more Germans will get p–sed off (I think they’re wrong to do so, but they’re very anal about accounting).

The Greek government is deadlocked, with conservatives refusing to deal with Papandreou’s party unless he resign. The interest rate on new debt is 28%. Credit default swaps are pricing in a 75% chance of default. There are riots.

The IMF has provided loans, and a Merrill Lynch researcher claims that they will do rollovers to guarantee funding through 2013. Of course, the idea that they should stimulate the Greek economy at the bottom end simply does not occur.

The contagion is spreading to Spain and Italy, where bond rates are rising. And there are, as of Thursday morning, concerns about Turkey’s deficit, though I can’t seem to get the article to come up.

The arsonists made their money through CDS last time. It worked so nicely, they’re likely to try again. I certainly hope the full faith and credit of the US is not on the line.

BTW, Rahul Jacob of FT reports that strikes, protests, and riots are occurring that rate of almost 500 per day in China.

And US markets are poised for a neutral open (down from a positive open earlier in the evening). US markets are only down by roughly 7% from their tops, and yet very few financial writers think they will go below 10% from the high.

I always feel confident when arsonists are taking out fire insurance, aren’t you?

Posted in economy, Europe, fearmongering | Comments Off on The arsonists take out fire insurance on Greece

Thank God for Monica Lewinsky, Part II

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 18, 2010

Sorry I didn’t do an earlier heads-up on this, as I’d promised earlier:

By 1997, Bill Clinton felt he had the upper hand with Congress and it was time for him to make historic moves. He had replaced Leon Panetta as Chief of Staff with investment banker Erskine Bowles late in his first term, and as author Steven Gillon tells the tale, Bowles brought a sense of order to the White House. Bowles planned to return to the private sector as Clinton’s second term began, but Bill and Hillary implored him to stay on for one final task: “fixing” Social Security.

President Obama has likewise entrusted Erskine Bowles with the task of chairing his own Deficit Commission, which is currently meeting in secret to address Social Security and other entitlement issues. Since little is known about the deliberations of that commission, I thought it would be instructive to have Dr. Gillon on to talk about Bowles’s history of shuttle diplomacy in 1997 to negotiate a deal between Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton to cut Social Security. He based his book The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry that Defined a Generation on interviews he conducted with Clinton, Gingrich, Bowles and others involved in the negotiations. And according to Bowles, the deal would have gone through save for one factor: the Monica Lewinsky episode.

The Book Salon will likely be over by the time you see this, but stop by and read the comments anyway.

Posted in (Rich) Taxpayers League, big money, Bill Clinton, fearmongering, Social Security | 5 Comments »

Wednesday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 18, 2009

Obama’s plans for Afghanistan include an “end game”. In other words, it sounds like he’s not buying the arguments of McChrystal or McChrystal’s Australian guru, Dr. David Kilcullen, that we need to stay in Afghanistan for fifty or a hundred years.

Frank Schaeffer discusses with Rachel Maddow how all those “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8” are actually calls for him to be murdered — “trawling for assassins” is how he puts it. As the Christian Science Monitor explains:

The psalm reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

Presidential criticism through witty slogans is nothing new. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats with “1/20/09” commemorated President Bush’s last day in office.

But the verse immediately following the psalm referenced is a bit more ominous: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

As a commenter on Daily Kos mentions in a diary on this subject:

It’s important to note that in Hebrew poetic language (of which the Psalms is a part) repetition was a major form. A writer would say something and repeat it once or more times with slightly different wording to bring out a fully-fledged meaning. So it is not only possible that Psalm 109:9 makes 109:8 seem more ominous, 109:9 clearly shows that the author wants someone dead in order that their office will come to someone else. There is no other good interpretation. So don’t let anyone get away with some “that’s out of context” non-sense.

— Speaking of conservative efforts to misuse religion, the conservatives in the Catholic Church are not happy to hear this news that preliminary phase of the $2 million study commissioned by the bishops at the height of the Church’s sexual abuse scandal has so far found no connection between sexual orientation and abuse of children by clergy.

Posted in Afghanistan, Christianity, evil, faith-based flim-flams, false prophets, fascism, fearmongering, gay rights, President Obama, Professional Christians, rightwing moral cripples | 3 Comments »

Giving Themselves A Wedgie

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 11, 2009

Several events, seemingly unrelated, occurred recently:

— Dick Cheney, asked to choose between Rush Limbaugh and Colin Powell, took the vastly overpaid, Clear-Channel-killing “fatass drug addict” over his own former Joint Chiefs head, saying that Powell was “no longer a Republican”. I presume that means they figure that Powell is not going to come grovelling on his knees to prostrate himself before Rush Hudson Limbaugh III, as that seems to be a defining mark of a Republican these days.

Colin Powell’s high-profile endorsement of Obama in October of 2008 — an endorsement that came despite Powell’s having earlier maxed out on contributions to McCain — was probably a sign as well. I know that his backing of Obama made a lot of Republican fence-sitters I know a lot more willing to accept Obama as president, as Powell is someone that they tend to respect.

— Southern Republicans are reacting to Obama’s lifting stem-cell restrictions by planning state-level bans in the states they still control. As Salon’s Peter Dizikes points out, this is not only dumb scientifically, it’s also dumb politically: “State-level politicians from conservative districts may be staging a rear-guard action that displeases the larger public — and many Republicans nationally. A Gallup Poll from February, just before Obama’s stem cell decision, showed 39 percent of Republicans agreeing that embryonic stem cell research restrictions should be eased or eliminated. Wedge issues are supposed to split the other party, not your own.”

Nate Silver on Mike Huckabee’s statements on the GOP’s constitutency:

If you accept Huckabee’s assertion — that social conservatives are always economic conservatives, but economic conservatives are not always social conservatives — it follows that social conservatives are necessarily a subset of economic conservatives…

The GOP’s real problem, of course, is that there is far from perfect overlap between social conservatives and economic conservatives…

The irony of all of this is that Huckabee’s greatest appeal is probably to economically moderate (or even liberal), but socially conservative voters, precisely the sorts of voters that he says don’t exist. But these voters do exist, and the GOP’s medium-term choice is probably in picking between them (which, FWIW, probably requires their making significant into the Hispanic and perhaps even African-American communities) and their alter egos, which are fiscally conservative but socially moderate, libertarianish voters. Right now, however, the GOP’s messaging is so haphazard that they are probably losing majorities of both groups.

Five years after legalizing marriage equality (aka “gay marriage”), Massachusetts residents have noticed that the sky stubbornly refuses to fall. As Nate Silver noted last month — as Iowa was about to join Massachusetts and Connecticut et al in legalizing marriage equality, and Maine would soon follow — the tide is rapidly shifting in favor of marriage equality, thus depriving the Republicans of a favorite wedge issue even as the appeal to racism (another favorite GOP trick) is losing its potency.

Does this all say anything to you? It does to me.

Posted in Dick Cheney, family values, fearmongering, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, stem cell research | Tagged: | Comments Off on Giving Themselves A Wedgie

Biblically correct

Posted by Charles II on March 12, 2009


Via Avedon Carol‘s (incomparable) Sideshow, we learn of a protest at The University of Chicago against Westboro Baptist Church, the vehicle of Fred Phelps & kin for their campaign of vengeance against, well, almost everyone:

The Westboro Baptist Church brought their show to campus, leading the student body to a myriad of counter-protests and celebrations of pride and diversity. Whatever the WBC’s goals are, we’ll never know, but the students’ voice was heard loud and clear: “Many identities, one community.”

Posted in fearmongering, Fred Phelps, Fundies, Good Things | 4 Comments »

Here We Go Again

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 25, 2009

Seems that some people who are still fighting the 2008 primaries (they know who they are) and who have been pushing the Obama=Bush meme have latched onto the Wired article by David Kravets that Charles mentions in his last post.

Emptywheel explains why we shouldn’t be so quick to take Kravets’ article at face value. And a legal eagle over at DKos who goes by the nom de Kos of “NCrissieB” has already rather neatly sliced and diced the article. (She’s also, in response to prodding by Meteor Blades, sliced up Kravets’ followup piece.)  Here’s a  sample:

The January 5th ruling that the “state secrets” privilege does not exist in FISA-related cases was huge.  This is not the same as the “executive privilege” we heard about in the Libby case, where the president asserts that all conversations with aides are protected because the president needs to have candid advice.  The “state secrets” privilege covers classified information.

We can debate whether the Bush Administration classified too much (I think they did).  We can debate whether the Obama Administration should or will declassify a lot of that information (I think they should and hope they will).  But I hope we can agree that classified information must be protected unless and until it is declassified.  A lot of it is classified for very good reasons, and we shouldn’t throw the nation’s baby out with Bush’s bathwater.

The specific issue here is not whether or how the Obama DOJ will defend the Al-Haramain case.  In fact, the January 23rd memorandum says not one word about whether or how the Obama Administration will treat that case, except that the Obama DOJ does want the trial court to stay proceedings until the Ninth Circuit hear the appeal of the trial court’s January 5th order eliminating the “state secrets” privilege in FISA cases.

In legalese, that’s called an interlocutory appeal, an appeal that is heard “between pleadings” to the trial court.


So Obama’s just saying “We need to settle this specific legal issue before the case goes on to trial?”

Yes, exactly.

The January 23rd memorandum to the court does not “side with Bush,” except in the very narrow sense that the Obama Administration seems to agree that the appeal of the January 5th decision should happen before the case goes to trial.  And there are sound constitutional reasons for that position.

The “state secrets” privilege is grounded in the president’s Article II authority as Chief Executive, because whether to classify a document is an Executive Branch call.  There are statutes setting out procedures for declassifying a document, but the decision to classify is and has always been an executive decision, usually made by the person or office creating the document, at the time of its creation.  The rules for what kinds of documents should be classified are set by Executive Orders.

So essentially, the trial court found that the 1978 FISA supersedes Article II, and legislative acts can’t supersede the Constitution.  So the Ninth Circuit, and perhaps ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court, should decide whether the “state secrets” privilege applies, and how classified information should be handled, in FISA-related cases.  While the specific classified information in this case is already public knowledge, that won’t always be true.  And while the specific classified information in this case does not seem to reveal any sensitive “sources and methods,” that won’t always be true either.

So regardless of whether and how the Obama Administration defend this one case, there are sound arguments for letting the appellate courts decide how to handle classified information in FISA-related cases.  That will be especially important if the Obama Administration investigate and ultimately prosecute government officials on FISA violations.  They will need to be sure they handle classified information in the best way to both protect sensitive “sources and methods” and provide transparency and justice for the parties.

So Obama kinda-sorta “Sides With Bush,” but really wants to ensure the courts get these procedures right?

Yes, exactly.

But Obama wants to ensure courts get procedures right doesn’t make for a properly cynical headline.  It doesn’t fit the clearly emerging narrative of “Obama will be just like Bush, so give up, go back to complaining because nothing ever changes.”  And that’s the cynical narrative the media would love all of us Natives to buy, so the Villagers can go back to running things their way while we grumble despondently and go along.  That cynicism is about discouraging we Natives from trying to stay engaged and involved in our government.  It’s about going back to business as usual, where the Villagers lead us from one vat of whine to the next, but always in that tut-tutting way that says “Of course, there is nothing you mere peons can do about this.”

And I’ve had more than enough of that.

Another Kossack, who served as the facility security officer for a defense contractor, chimes in:

First of all, we need [the classification process].  The decision to classify a document theoretically is and should be made ONLY to protect national security.  Not to protect an administration.

Among the many things properly classified are:

1) Military capabilities, both of troops and weapons
2) Military plans (would you want the enemy to know your exact capabilities and plans?)
3) How to build an ICBM, or a nuclear warhead
4) Stealth technology and other such technologies
5) emergency preparedness planning (great info for terrorists)
6) Intelligence sources and methods (remember Valerie Plame?)

I could go on at some length, but I’ll spare you. :)

In my experience, there are quite a few things that MUST be classified for valid national security reasons.  Unfortunately, the ability to classify has sometimes been abused.  Take Reagan for example.  After Carter started a massive declassification program (I mean, heavens, we had stuff still classified from WWII!) Reagan came into office, halted the entire declassification program, and indeed made a move to classify every single bit of research being done in this country, even at universities.  Only an uproar from academics and other researchers forced him to rethink.  They argued they couldn’t conduct research if they were inhibited from exchanging information.  The result was DARPAnet…and out of that the Internet.

So state secrets are essential to our national security.  The question that must be decided by the courts is how to handle classified documents in a trial in such a way that protects national security without damaging the legal rights of those involved in a court case.  This is a very important question, and the District Court’s ruling is too broad, with the potential to seriously damage the essential secrecy privileges that really DO protect us.

Obama is quite right to ask for legal clarification.

But again, don’t expect this to matter one whit to the “Obama=Bush” crowd.

Posted in Barack Obama, circular firing squad, fearmongering, FISA, judicial rulings, paranoia, WTF? | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Lieberman: Hagee is a Moses

Posted by Charles II on May 23, 2008

Be sure not to miss the senior Senator from Connecticut’s ringing endorsement of the man who’s pressing God for a new and improved Holocaust here.

Posted in anti-Americanism, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitism, fascism, fearmongering, israel, Joe Lieberman | 3 Comments »

Please Just Make It Stop

Posted by MEC on May 2, 2008

There goes the Department of Homeland Security again, protecting us from sanity.

On the heels of a report that the no-fly list is protecting airline passengers from the presence of air marshals on their flights, we learn that the U.S. terrorist watch list is keeping us safe from Nobel Peace Prize laureates:

Nobel Peace Prize winner and international symbol of freedom Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needs special permission to visit the USA.

Which is so ridiculous even Condoleezza Rice is embarrassed:

“This is a country with which we now have excellent relations, South Africa, but it’s frankly a rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterpart, the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader Nelson Mandela,” Rice said.

Note, however, that no matter how idiotic the consequences of having no-thought lists for banning people, nobody in the Bush Administration seems to have considered ditching them as ineffective and counterproductive.

Posted in fearmongering, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | Comments Off on Please Just Make It Stop

What Is the Real Purpose of the No-Fly List?

Posted by MEC on April 30, 2008


The real purpose of the no-fly list can’t possibly be to keep air travelers safer.

The list has prevented air marshals from boarding the planes they’re assigned to protect. The marshals have been complaining about this problem “for years” (probably since the list was compiled) and nothing has been done to fix it.

Posted in BushCo malfeasance, fearmongering, TSA, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | 2 Comments »

Telecom Immunity = Bush Immunity

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 2, 2008

dday has the goods. An excerpt:

So if the intelligence community doesn’t care about this, and the phone company executives don’t care about this, there’s only one constituency for which this legislation is designed. And that’s the Bush Administration itself. As Glenn Greenwald noted the other day, it’s not like this is even well hidden.

In his Press Conference yesterday, Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush candidly explained why he was so eager to have Congress grant amnesty to telecoms:

“Allowing the lawsuits to proceed could aid our enemies, because the litigation process could lead to the disclosure of information about how we conduct surveillance.” […]

Bush is finally being candid about the real reason the administration is so desperate to have these surveillance lawsuits dismissed. It’s because those lawsuits are the absolute last hope for ever learning what the administration did when they spied on Americans for years in violation of the law. Dismissal via amnesty would ensure that their spying behavior stays permanently concealed, buried forever, and as importantly, that no court ever rules on the legality of what they did. Isn’t it striking how that implication of telecom amnesty is never discussed, and how little interest it generates among journalists — whose role, theoretically, is to uncover secret government actions?

That’s all this is about. The telecoms don’t want the amnesty. The overriding goal is to shut down these lawsuits and, most important, eliminate the discovery phase so that the full extent of Administration lawbreaking is permanently hidden. This is about burying the evidence, as every single action by the White House since the Democratic takeover of Congress has been. Bush may have a soft spot in his heart for his corporate buddies, but he’s really not interested in indemnifying them. He’s interested in immunity for himself.

Posted in abuse of power, Bush, Bush Family Evil Empire, BushCo malfeasance, Busheviks, Congress, Constitution, Constitutional crisis, corruption, cronies, FBI, fearmongering, rights, terrorism, totalitarianism, treason | Comments Off on Telecom Immunity = Bush Immunity

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