Month: September 2007

Sallie Mae Deal Going Balls Up

Sallie Mae, the former GSE and current student loan powerhouse, had a deal to go private, and it’s now in jeopardy.

There are two reasons, the difficulty in obtaining capital in the past few months, and the fact that Congress has reigned in some of the absurdly high fees in the guaranteed student loan business.

The fact is that the GSLs are handled better and cheaper by the government than by for-profits, and hopefully this market will move increasingly in that directions.

What Ezra Said (on Ads)

Mr Klein, that is.

Is All Publicity Good Publicity?

The viciously RightWing Center For Union Facts is currently advertising on my sidebar. As always, I don’t screen my advertisers for opinion because I don’t endorse any of them. But though I’m happy to take the Center’s cash, it’s worth pointing out that they’re a business front group that exists for no purpose save to smear and attack workers trying to organize for better wages, benefits, and treatment. Pretty loathsome folks. More on them here

His policy is the same as mine.

Then again, he actually has enough readers that advertisers specifically want to be on his site.

That being said, if you see an ad you find objectionable, email me. I won’t pull the ad, but I may ridicule it.

The Fruits of Bush Foreign Policy, Iran in Our Back Yard

Iran strengthens South America ties: “On the heels of a U.N. General Assembly appearance in which he said Iran will ignore demands by ‘arrogant powers’ to curb its nuclear program, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was headed to Bolivia on Thursday to establish first-time diplomatic relations with the Andean nation.”

Yes, our world is so much safer because the Avignon President is on the job.

Sy Hersh Details Bush/Cheney’s Plans for Attack on Iraq

It appears that the Bush administration is changing their justification for an attack on Iran. No one is believing their nuclear weapons claims (gee, I wonder why?), so now they are claiming that Iran is actively arming and supporting unsavory and violent elements in Iraq (like the Malaki government, I guess).

The explosively formed projectile claims are bogus. The IRA was making these in Irish basements 30 years ago, and they have found workshops where they are being made.

Explosives are from the unsecured ammunition dumps in Iraq.

And then, there is the issue that any US attack will secure the position of the Iranian government for the next 20 years, as Saddam’s attack did 25 years ago.

I don’t see Congress doing anything to stop him, and absent that, the only possibility of stopping this is a mutiny of the general officer corps, which is potentially far worse than an attack on Iran.

As I have stated before, I believe that the US intends to use nuclear weapons in this attack, and the long term consequences of this are catastrophic (the short term consequences are $200/bbl oil).

Geeky Tech Content: The iPhone Makes Windows Look Like Fort Knox

OMFG!!!! Apple® has come out with a system that is less secure than Windows.

The iPhone®, which runs an Apple® version of Unix® runs everything as root.

1) Every process runs as root. MobileSafari, MobileMail, even the Calculator, all run with full root privileges. Any security flaw in any iPhone application can lead to a complete system compromise. A rootkit takes on a whole new meaning when the attacker has access to the camera, microphone, contact list, and phone hardware. Couple this with “always-on” internet access over EDGE and you have a perfect spying device.

So, unlike your home computer, this is more vulnerable, and it can be set to listen in and photograph you with a remote compromise.

This is the NSA’s wet dream, you’ve bugged yourself.

FDIC Shuts Down NetBank

This will be the first of many, and proves that online business (NetBank was an online bank) obey the same economic laws as other businesses.

NetBank Inc., an online bank with $2.5 billion in assets, was shut down by the government on Friday because of an excessive level of mortgage defaults.

It was the largest savings and loan failure since the tail end of the industry’s crisis more than 14 years ago. Federal regulators appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as a receiver for Alpharetta, Ga.-based NetBank.

This is just the beginning.

United States Hands Ahmadinejad a Win

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to the US a weak man. His promises on the economy are unfulfilled, his ability to govern a joke. He left a hero to the Iranian people and probably a hero to much of the Arab world too.

Bollinger clearly had an American audience in mind when he denounced the Iranian leader to his face as a “cruel” and “petty dictator” and described his Holocaust denial as designed to “fool the illiterate and the ignorant.” Bollinger’s remarks may have taken him off the hook with his domestic critics, but when it came to the international media audience that really counted, Ahmadinejad already had carried the day. The invitation to speak at Columbia already had given him something totalitarian demagogues — who are as image-conscious as Hollywood stars — always crave: legitimacy. Bollinger’s denunciation was icing on the cake, because the constituency the Iranian leader cares about is scattered across an Islamic world that values hospitality and its courtesies as core social virtues. To that audience, Bollinger looked stunningly ill-mannered; Ahmadinejad dignified and restrained.

Back in Tehran, Mohsen Mirdamadi, a leading Iranian reformer and Ahmadinejad opponent, said Bollinger’s blistering remarks “only strengthened” the president back home and “made his radical supporters more determined,” According to an Associated Press report, “Many Iranians found the comments insulting, particularly because in Iranian traditions of hospitality, a host should be polite to a guest, no matter what he thinks of him.

It’s more than that the Presidency of Iran is a very weak office. One need only look at his the failure of predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, an erstwhile reformer, to engage in even the most mild of anti-corruption activities.

NPR Tells White House That He Doesn’t Get His Choice of Toady to Interview Him

The White House offered NPR an interview with George W. Bush, with the stipulation that Juan Williams (Softball Interviewer, Toady to Right Wingers, and Incompetent) interview him. NPR said no interview unless they chose the interviewer, so the White House had him interview Bush on….wait for it….Fox News.

I never how Juan Williams has managed to keep a job. I have never heard him do a story, or an interview, competently, and he brushed off Clarence Thomas’s sexual harassment without revealing that he himself was a sexual harasser.

My conclusion is that he has been coasting on his book Eyes on the Prize* for about 25 years.

*I bet you were expecting me to accuse him of an being an affirmative action hire, but I don’t think that he is. I think that he has gotten his job because on the fact that he was prominently competent once (never to be repeated).

State Department Obstructs Congressional Investigation

The State Department has instructed Blackwater not to cooperate with congressional investigators.

Absent a claim (which would be bogus) of executive privilege, this is a felony.

The State Department official, Kiazan Moneypenny, wrote Blackwater VP Fred Roitz to “advise” him of Blackwater’s obligations under the terms of State’s contract. Among them: “all documents and records (including photographs) generated during the performance of work under this contract shall be for the sole use of and become the exclusive property of the U.S. government.” These obligations, according to the contract, exist in perpetuity — not just until the contract expires. As a result, Moneypenny told Roitz to make “no disclosure of documents or information generated under [the contract] unless such disclosure has been authorized in writing by the Contract Officer.”

Miss Moneypenny (gotta love that name) mentions that she has communicated this previously.

Sounds like the notoriously closed-mouthed mercenaries are too talkative for the State Department.