Month: February 2011

End the War, Bitch

The official hed is that the Democratic National Committee has passed a resolution calling for an accelerate withdrawal from Afghanistan, but when you consider the fact that the sitting president, who has doubled down on escalation, and soft pedaled any exodus for both Iraq and Afghanistan, reclassifying soldiers there as “non-combat” and directing a torrent of private military contractors (mercenaries) into both nations, it is pretty clear that this was a deliberate challenge to Barack Obama.

Kathleen Parker Quits Parker Spitzer on CNN

Well, now that she is leaving, perhaps I can check out the successor show without the right wing idoocy for “balance”:

Kathleen Parker has been dropped from “Parker Spitzer,” and the show is being replaced by a new show called “In The Arena,” the network announced Friday.

In a memo to staff, CNN President Ken Jautz said that “In The Arena” would be an “ensemble” show, with “several newsmakers, guests and contributors joining Eliot Spitzer each night.” Among the regulars will be former Fox News anchor E.D. Hill and National Review writer Will Cain.

(emphasis mine)


Then again, it maybe not.

The interesting thing here is that when Kathleen Parker took a temporary leave for medical reasons, the show’s ratings doubled.

Where Spitzer has credibility is his experience in dealing with Wall Street lawbreaking, and by larding the show up with “balance”, it makes it worse TV.

I’ll probably check it out at some point, if just because I can’t stand Lawrence O’Donnell, who is opposite to their time slot.

Is there a site online where I can see CNN streaming?

Normally, I Don’t Follow the Oscars

Good question

And the trailer

But Charles Ferguson, the director of the documentary The Inside Job, upon accepting his award for best documentary, raised an obvious point:

Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that’s wrong.

It’s a good question, and, considering the timing of the crisis, it really started in September 2008, and there was no way that anything but damage control could be done over the next few months, the answer has to be, “Because Barack Obama does not want a single financial executive to go to jail.”

There are some issues that were mismanaged by the Bush administration, they had no intention to reign in excessive bonuses, for example, but the only way that major figures, such as the recent decision to no-bill Angelo Mozillo, is if there was a conscious decision not to apply to the rule of law at the highest level.

This is very similar to, and as least as damaging in the long term as, his conscious to allow the worst excesses of torture, perjury, and civil rights violations for Bush and His Evil Minions.

This is corrosive to society.

The Irish Elections, and What it All Means…

Former Prime Minister, and former Fianna Fail head, Brian Cowen, in an unintentionally apt photograph

So, Fianna Fail, having been in government for 60 of the past 79 years, has been tossed out by a resounding margin.

They fell 59 seats to 18 in Parliament, and the Green party, its coalition partner, lost all of its seats, while Fine Gael picked up 19 seats to 70, the Labour Party picked up 16 seats to 36, Sinn Fein(!) picked up 9 to get 13, the United Left Alliance (a coalition of various socialist parties) picked up 5 seats, and the new “New Vision” Party picked up 1 seat.

This is obviously a crushing defeat for Fianna Fail, and for the bank coddling policies, where the indemnified not just the depositors, but the banks’ bond holders, thereby committing the Irish taxpayers to what can only be called “debt slavery”.

What is interesting here is that Fine Gael is actually a further right party than Fianna Fail, and what the voters were really calling for were basically three policies:

  • F%$# the Irish banks.
  • F%$# the foreign banks that hold Irish debt.
  • F%$# the banks.

Whether this electoral landslide has any long term effects has to do with whether the people who voted for real change actually see it.

While there is both a moral and treaty obligation to make the account holders whole (up to something around €20,000), the idea that the Irish are impoverishing themselves in order to prop up foreign bond holders, largely British and German, who received higher returns than they would have at home because of the higher risk, banks is clearly something that the average Irishman finds unacceptable.

A lot of people are talking about how this is a seismic reshaping of the Irish body politic, but I doubt it.

My guess is that Fianna Fail will be back in the majority in the next election, because now that the opposition has control of government, we will see half measures, and coddling of both the Irish banks and their foreign creditors, which will result in a tsunami in the other direction in the next elections.

As has been noted, a, “deeply indebted economy with just 1.8 million people at work cannot underwrite private banking liabilities of €200bn.”

If Fine Gael, (and one their likely coalition partner Labour) do not understand this, and do not force haircuts on the bond holders through threat of default (which has the added benefit of transferring the pain to the feckless Angela Merkel ), the voters will turn on them.

For a recent political case study on the wages of timidity in this sort of a crisis, one need only look to the US, and the Democratic Party under the leadership of one Barack H. Obama.

It’s Bank Failure Friday!!!! (on Saturday)

It’s a fairly slow week, with only one bank, and one credit union

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.

  1. Valley Community Bank, St. Charles, IL

Full FDIC list

And here are the credit union closings:

  1. NYC OTB Federal Credit Union, New York, NY

Full NCUA list

I suppose that the OTB credit union closing was inevitable, as New York’s OTB, state run Off Track Betting, was shut down recently because they could not make a profit. 

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

And since it’s early in the year, here is a detail of the first few weeks:

I don’t want to know what they put in coffee

Not worth almost $25 US

But the Covent Garden based creamery is selling breast milk ice cream:

When a well-stocked ice cream parlour says they sell every flavour, there are usually limits.

But one restaurant in London is selling breast milk ice cream which is being served to customers in a cocktail glass.

Icecreamists, based in Covent Garden, have named the £14 dish Baby Gaga.

Victoria Hiley, 35, from Leeds provided the first 30 fluid ounces of milk which was enough to make the first 50 servings.

But the company are looking for more women to provide breast milk – and are providing £15 for every ten ounces extracted using breast pumps.

The recipe blends breast milk with Madagascan vanilla pods and lemon zest, which is then freshly churned into ice cream.

A costumed Baby Gaga waitress serves the ice cream in a martini glass filled with the breast milk ice cream mix. Liquid nitrogen is then poured into the glass through a syringe and it is served with a rusk.

A rusk is a sort of biscotti, apparently.

On the Boeing Win

It will be called the KC-46A, and it appears that it was all about the relative size of the two aircraft:

A congressional source said Boeing was the “clear winner.” Lynn repeated the mantra and told reporters during the press briefing “that I think what we can tell you is Boeing was the clear winner” when asked how close was the competition.

The difference between the two bids may have come down the difference in fuel consumption, speculated Loren Thompson, defense consultant and analyst at the Lexington Institute. “The Airbus plane burns over one ton more of fuel per flight hour than the Boeing plane. Multiply that by 40 years and that’s a lot of money,” Thompson said. Boeing has argued for some time that its fuel consumption rate would save taxpayers “tens of billions” of dollars over the life of the program.

The first part is true, the 767 consumes less fuel per flight hour, but, and this is the reason that no one is buying it commercially any more, it costs more per pound of payload, or, one would assume, pound of fuel offloaded to tankers.

The Pentagon is saying that they are expecting a challenge, though I think that this less likely from EADS than it is from Boeing.

As to why Boeing won, I think that it comes down to the following:

  • If the primary criteria is lifetime cost per aircraft sortee, i.e. a simple price shootout, then the smaller 767 wins.
  • Boeing has a lot more Congressional support than EADS does, because they have been cultivating Congress for decades.
  • EADS’s position is such that it less likely to make a formal challenge to the award, I figure about 30% for EADS, as versus 90% for Boeing, because they do not have the existing relationships with the Congress and the DoD, and so are more concerned about creating enemies.

In the greater scheme of things, if this was just a price shootout, that might be a good thing, if further competitions, on systems that are more exclusively military in development, it might be a good thing.

In any case, you can read Boeing’s press release here.

Too True

This has a core of truth to it

Full disclosure, I’ve never worked at the Pentagon, but I’ve worked on a number of doomed Pentagon projects, most notably MEADS and the Future Combat Systems, and there is much to to be desired in the ways that we make our own weapons of mass destruction.

I’m just saying.

Not Enough Bullets

RBS bankers get £950m in bonuses despite £1.1bn loss:

More than 100 bankers at Royal Bank of Scotland were paid more than £1m last year and total bonus payouts reached nearly £1bn – even though the bailed-out bank reported losses of £1.1bn for 2010.

The chairman, Sir Philip Hampton, said the number of millionaires was lower than a year ago and said a quarter of the group’s 18,700 investment bankers would not receive a bonus from the £950m payout pool agreed with UK Financial Investments, which controls the taxpayer’s 83% stake in the bank. Unions were baffled that any bankers were getting bonuses.

The unions are not the only ones who are baffled.

Roger Ailes Suborned Perjury

Judith Regan, who literally f%$#ed Bernie Kerik at ground zero in Manhattan, settled for a few million dollars after being fired by Rupert Murdoch, and got an apology, in which News Corp formally disavowed the original accusation of anti-Semitism that was the ostensible reasoning for her firing.

Well, now we know why Newscorp caved, because Fox News chief Roger Ailes got caught on tape advising her to lie to federal investigators:

It was an incendiary allegation — and a mystery of great intrigue in the media world: After the publishing powerhouse Judith Regan was fired by HarperCollins in 2006, she claimed that a senior executive at its parent company, News Corporation, had encouraged her to lie two years earlier to federal investigators who were vetting Bernard B. Kerik for the job of homeland security secretary.

Ms. Regan had once been involved in an affair with Mr. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner whose mentor and supporter, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, was in the nascent stages of a presidential campaign. The News Corporation executive, whom she did not name, wanted to protect Mr. Giuliani and conceal the affair, she said.

Now, court documents filed in a lawsuit make clear whom Ms. Regan was accusing of urging her to lie: Roger E. Ailes, the powerful chairman of Fox News and a longtime friend of Mr. Giuliani. What is more, the documents say that Ms. Regan taped the telephone call from Mr. Ailes in which Mr. Ailes discussed her relationship with Mr. Kerik.

It is unclear whether the existence of the tape played a role in News Corporation’s decision to move quickly to settle a wrongful termination suit filed by Ms. Regan, paying her $10.75 million in a confidential settlement reached two months after she filed it in 2007.

Yeah, it’s “unclear”.

Would not have come up, except for the fact that Regan fired her lawyers just before the settlement, and they were accusing her of doing so to avoid paying a contingency fee, and in the lawsuit, her lawyers’ affidavits mistakenly became part of the public record:

“In fact,” the complaint said, “a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”

Mr. Redniss, in his affidavit, referred to “a recorded telephone call between Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News (a News Corp. company) and Regan, in which Mr. Ailes discussed with Regan her responses to questions regarding her personal relationship with Bernard Kerik.”

It appears that Fox in general, and Ailes in particular, found supporting Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign to be imperative, and so told her to lie in order to keep the dirt off of Rudy.

An interesting side note to all of this:

The court records examined by The New York Times this week, which have subsequently been taken out of the public case file, also reveal another interesting footnote. After Ms. Regan fired her lawyers, a seemingly unlikely figure came forward to help settle the case: Susan Estrich, a law professor and a regular Fox commentator whose book Ms. Regan had published, according to Ms. Regan’s affidavit.

Susan Estrich has been an absolutely useless horror show on the American body politic since she handed the presidency to George H.W. Bush on a silver platter as Michael Dukkakis’ campaign manager.

Boeing Wins Tanker Contract

Just heard, and I’ll try to tease out more detail for the weekend.

I’m kind of surprised, the Airbus A330 is a better plane, that’s why the 767 is at the end of life, but the A330 is still selling,  but then again, I was kind of surprised when EADS won in the first competition, because of the dynamics of a foreign firm winning such a high stakes competition.

If Boeing had lost, I would have said that a challenge was a dead nuts certainty, but EADS is I think rather less likely to do so, if just because the potential blow-back is bigger.

Scott Walker Started as a Tragedy, and is Finishing as a Comedy

So, the Republican Party’s next “Great White Hope,” Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s assault on the right to unionize, has gone from the Republican’s best plan for tearing down the base of the Democratic party to a rather unpopular farce.

First, attempts in Indiana Republicans to ape* Wisconsin led to Indiana lawmakers fleeing the state to stop the effort.

I don’t know what this sh%$ is doing for the economies of Wisconsin and Indiana, but it sure is boosting the hospitality industry in Illinois.

Also, it is becoming increasingly apparent that these actions are unpopular, the polls are pretty strongly against it, and Republican notables are backing away from the idea, with Indiana governor Mitch Daniels telling the ‘Phants in his legislature to kill the bill, and Florida governor, and über-Teabagger, Rick Scott coming out against the idea.

So it already looks like this strategy is playing a lot like the 1995 government shutdown, and now Scott Walker got punked by the editor of the Buffalo Beast, who pretended to be David Koch.

The interesting take aways here is that he’s not seeing any need to compromise and is planning to:

  • Dock the state Senator’s pay.
  • Looking at going after them on ethics violations, and a possible felony, if they took food or lodging assistance from unions. (FWIW, he accepted an invite from “David Koch” for a flight out to California and being put up there later in the call)
  • That he’s intending to organize a “summit” of some sort with the Democrats, and use their presence to push the vote through while they are in the room with him (it’s a quorum/recess game).
  • Discussed planting “troublemakers” with the activists to either create bad press, or provide an excuse to crack down.

So, he’s now on tape admitting that he cannot be trusted to negotiate in good faith, the quote is:

I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders—talk, not negotiate and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn—but I’ll only do it if all 14 of them will come back and sit down in the state assembly…legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they’re actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have quorum…so we’re double checking that. If you heard I was going to talk to them that’s the only reason why. We’d only do it if they came back to the capital with all 14 of them…

So he’s been caught on tape admitting that he would basically launch a sneak attack during peace talks, good luck getting anyone to trust you ever again.

*No offense intended to primates. I’m using the verb form, and I can understand how simians might find comparing them to Republicans to be offensive.

The (legal in Wisconsin) tape of the phone call and the transcript after the break:

Part 1

Part 2

Transcript follows:

Walker: Hi; this is Scott Walker.
Koch: Scott! David Koch. How are you?
Walker: Hey, David! I’m good. And yourself?
Koch: I’m very well. I’m a little disheartened by the situation there, but, uh, what’s the latest?
Walker: Well, we’re actually hanging pretty tough. I mean—you know, amazingly there’s a much smaller group of protesters—almost all of whom are in from other states today. The State Assembly is taking the bill up—getting it all the way to the last point it can be at where it’s unamendable. But they’re waiting to pass it until the Senate’s—the Senate Democrats, excuse me, the assembly Democrats have about a hundred amendments they’re going through. The state Senate still has the 14 members missing but what they’re doing today is bringing up all sorts of other non-fiscal items, many of which are things members in the Democratic side care about. And each day we’re going to ratchet it up a little bit…. The Senate majority leader had a great plan he told about this morning—he told the Senate Democrats about and he’s going to announce it later today, and that is: The Senate organization committee is going to meet and pass a rule that says if you don’t show up for two consecutive days on a session day—in the state Senate, the Senate chief clerk—it’s a little procedural thing here, but—can actually have your payroll stopped from being automatically deducted—
Koch: Beautiful.
Walker: —into your checking account and instead—you still get a check, but the check has to be personally picked up and he’s instructing them—which we just loved—to lock them in their desk on the floor of the state Senate.
Koch: Now you’re not talking to any of these Democrat bastards, are you?
Walker: Ah, I—there’s one guy that’s actually voted with me on a bunch of things I called on Saturday for about 45 minutes, mainly to tell him that while I appreciate his friendship and he’s worked with us on other things, to tell him I wasn’t going to budge.
Koch: Goddamn right!
Walker: …his name is Tim Cullen—
Koch: All right, I’ll have to give that man a call.
Walker: Well, actually, in his case I wouldn’t call him and I’ll tell you why: he’s pretty reasonable but he’s not one of us…
Koch: Now who can we get to budge on this collective bargaining?
Walker: …I think the paycheck will have an impact…secondly, one of the things we’re looking at next…we’re still waiting on an opinion to see if the unions have been paying to put these guys up out of state. We think there’s at minimum an ethics violation if not an outright felony.
Koch: Well, they’re probably putting hobos in suits.
Walker: Yeah.
Koch: That’s what we do. Sometimes.
Walker: I mean paying for the senators to be put up. I know they’re paying for these guy—I mean, people can pay for protesters to come in and that’s not an ethics code, but, I mean, literally if the unions are paying the 14 senators—their food, their lodging, anything like that…[*** Important regarding his later acceptance of a Koch offer to “show him a good time.” ***]
[I was stunned. I am stunned. In the interest of expediting the release of this story, here are the juiciest bits:]
Walker: …I’ve got layoff notices ready…
Koch: Beautiful; beautiful. Gotta crush that union.
Walker: [bragging about how he doesn’t budge]…I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders—talk, not negotiate and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn—but I’ll only do it if all 14 of them will come back and sit down in the state assembly…legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they’re actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have quorum…so we’re double checking that. If you heard I was going to talk to them that’s the only reason why. We’d only do it if they came back to the capital with all 14 of them…
Koch: Bring a baseball bat. That’s what I’d do.
Walker: I have one in my office; you’d be happy with that. I have a slugger with my name on it.
Koch: Beautiful.
Walker: [union-bashing…]
Koch: Beautiful.
Walker: So this is ground zero, there’s no doubt about it. [Talks about a “great” NYT piece of “objective journalism.” Talks about how most private blue-collar workers have turned against public, unionized workers.]…So I went through and called a handful, a dozen or so lawmakers I worry about each day and said, “Everyone, we should get that story printed out and send it to anyone giving you grief.”
Koch: Goddamn right! We, uh, we sent, uh, Andrew Breitbart down there.
Koch: Yeah.
Walker: Good stuff.
Koch: He’s our man, you know.
Walker: [blah about his press conferences, attacking Obama, and all the great press he’s getting.] Brian [Sadoval], the new Governor of Nevada, called me the last night he said—he was out in the Lincoln Day Circuit in the last two weekends and he was kidding me, he said, “Scott, don’t come to Nevada because I’d be afraid you beat me running for governor.” That’s all they want to talk about is what are you doing to help the governor of Wisconsin. I talk to Kasich every day—John’s gotta stand firm in Ohio. I think we could do the same thing with Vic Scott in Florida. I think, uh, Snyder—if he got a little more support—probably could do that in Michigan. You start going down the list there’s a lot of us new governors that got elected to do something big.
Koch: You’re the first domino.
Walker: Yep. This is our moment.
Koch: Now what else could we do for you down there?
Walker: Well the biggest thing would be—and your guy on the ground [Americans For Prosperity president Tim Phillips] is probably seeing this [stuff about all the people protesting, and some of them flip him off].
[Abrupt end of first recording, and start of second.]
Walker: [Bullshit about doing the right thing and getting flipped off by “union bulls,” and the decreasing number of protesters. Or some such.]
Koch: We’ll back you any way we can. What we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.
Walker: You know, well, the only problem with that —because we thought about that. The problem—the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them, the public is not really fond of this…[explains that planting troublemakers may not work.] My only fear would be if there’s a ruckus caused is that maybe the governor has to settle to solve all these problems…[something about ’60s liberals.]…Let ‘em protest all they want…Sooner or later the media stops finding it interesting.
Koch: Well, not the liberal bastards on MSNBC.
Walker: Oh yeah, but who watches that? I went on “Morning Joe” this morning. I like it because I just like being combative with those guys, but, uh. You know they’re off the deep end.
Koch: Joe—Joe’s a good guy. He’s one of us.
Walker: Yeah, he’s all right. He was fair to me…[bashes NY Senator Chuck Schumer, who was also on the program.]
Koch: Beautiful; beautiful. You gotta love that Mika Brzezinski; she’s a real piece of ass.
Walker: Oh yeah. [story about when he hung out with human pig Jim Sensenbrenner at some D.C. function and he was sitting next to Brzezinski and her father, and their guest was David Axelrod. He introduced himself.]
Koch: That son of a bitch!
Walker: Yeah no kidding huh?…
Koch: Well, good; good. Good catching up with ya’.
Walker: This is an exciting time [blah, blah, blah, Super Bowl reference followed by an odd story of pulling out a picture of Ronald Reagan and explaining to his staff the plan to crush the union the same way Reagan fired the air traffic controllers]…that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall because the Communists then knew Reagan wasn’t a pushover. [Blah, blah, blah. He’s exactly like Reagan. Won’t shut up about how awesome he is.]
Koch: [Laughs] Well, I tell you what, Scott: once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.
Walker: All right, that would be outstanding. [*** Ethical violation much? ***] Thanks for all the support…it’s all about getting our freedoms back…
Koch: Absolutely. And, you know, we have a little bit of a vested interest as well. [Laughs]
Walker: [Blah] Thanks a million!
Koch: Bye-bye!

Walker: Bye.

Stay Classy David Petraeus

In response to allegations of civilian casualties in response to military operations in Konar province, America’s favorite showboating general claimed that Afghan parents probably burnt their own children for propaganda purposes:

To the shock of President Hamid Karzai’s aides, Gen. David H. Petraeus suggested Sunday at the presidential palace that Afghans caught up in a coalition attack in northeastern Afghanistan might have burned their own children to exaggerate claims of civilian casualties, according to two participants at the meeting.


The U.S. military “did have initial reports that the feet and hands of the children appeared to have been burned,” Smith said. “We have observed increased reporting of children being disciplined by having their hands and feet dipped into boiling water. No one is claiming this is the case in this instance, but it may well be.”

Petraeus apparently had suggested something along these lines at the national security council meeting Sunday, remarks that “really bothered everyone,” including Karzai, one participant said.

“He claimed that in the midst of the [operation] some pro-Taliban parents in contact with a government official decided to create a civilian casualty claim to pressure international forces to cease the [operation]. They burned hands and legs of some of their children and sent them to the hospital,” a second participant said.

I know that Petraeus sees his mission as continuing the various “Forever Wars,” because it keeps that old Pentagon gravy train rolling along, but this is beneath contempt.

Maybe, instead of coming up with alibis for civilian casualties, he should try to reduce the number.