Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lie. Obstruct. Lie. Repeat.

Special Bonus Double-Edition:

"What's In A Promise?"

Earlier this month Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell promised not to filibuster the stimulus package. On NPR this week uber-conservative crank Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) promised a filibuster. Not to be outdone McConnell's #2, Senate Minority Whip/uber-conservative crank Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), is mustering the troops for some filibuster fun. Think Progress has the skinny.

"Your Mind Is On Vacation
(But Your Mouth Is Working Overtime)

For all their whining and bitching about lowering taxes and creating jobs, House Republicans' slapped together Stimulus Plan not only could raise taxes but also used some crazy-assed calculations to contrive their job numbers.

*Gotta love Mose Allison.

Another Little Piece Of Me Just Died

Found out last week the commercial radio show I started 23 years ago was taken off-the-air due to budget cuts.



RNC Website Update?

OK, maybe I'm being picky here. Maybe not. Almost 24 hours after historic election of its first African-American chairman, the Republican National Committee has yet to update a key part of their website.
Not be all superior and shit but you can be certain within minutes of choosing a new chair, especially a "first" of any kind, the DNC site would reflect it throughout.


This Is Why I Don't Gamble

Boy, was I ever wrong. Ex-MD Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is the RNC's first black chairman. A very bold move indeed. The money quote from RI national committeeman Joe Trillo:

"It's a diverse party. We're tired of being labeled as white supremacists."
Easy Joe. Putting an African-American at the top of the food chain doesn't wave a wand and instantly change decades of racist GOP bullshit. Not when your chair is despised by the black populace. Not when your party engages in massive voter caging, voter suppression, voter caging, etc., specifically targeting the African-American community. You were doing it as recently as 13 weeks ago!

Once again the party of Lincoln proves to be the party of delusion.

Five fun things to know and tell about Steele. Think Progress has much more.

*Update #1: TPM jogged my memory about the new RNC chief's 2006 attempt to fool Dems re: his party affiliation w/his "Steele Democrats" signs.
**Update #2: Steele is one of only 5 black RNC members out of 146 or just under 3%. Two of the five ran for chairman.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Then There Were Five

Chip Saltsman*, the idjit cracker of the infamous "Barack The Magic Negro" Xmas CD mailer, didn't make the cut for the RNC Chair ballot. Clearly lacking any magic of his own, Chip failed to find the six backers required. Loser.

So who's left? Allow me to have a go at handicapping the race...

  1. Current RNC Chairman Mike Duncan. Toast. Invisible and ineffectual (see: 2008 elections here & here).
  2. Ex-MD Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. High profile. Couldn’t be worse than Duncan. Dumb as dirt tho' (see: silly contrived "Oreo incident"**). Steele’s only possible chance is if Republicans get crazy & take the “we’re-makin’-our-top-token-black-person-GOP-chair-to-make-like-we’ve-really-changed-even-though-we-haven’t-changed-at-all” route. A super long shot but don't count him out given this narrow field.
  3. Ken Blackwell’s partisan bona fides are as good as it gets. But Kenny’s Ohio election shenanigans were waaaaaay too high profile. Find me one person who doesn’t deep down think this sucker belongs in prison. One person. And there's that Diebold thang. And the he's black thang (see: Michael Steele). Not a hope in hell. Next.
  4. Katon Dawson’s strengths are he’s white, from the South and appears to be baggage-free. Major bonus points for truly impressive outreach to SC’s African-American community. Smells like teen spirit to me.
  5. Will Saul Anuzis' moniker be enough to trigger widespread RNC nomatophobia? Republicans do have a marked tendency to get afeared of "unusual" names. Anuzis is a 2nd generation immigrant & former Teamster too. Could cause queasiness amongst the RNC's sizeable anti-immigrant/anti-labor Kool-Aid drinkin’ crowd. See-ya Saul.
That leaves us Michael Steele and Katon Dawson.

If successful, Steele’s installation would come in the wake of President Obama’s thunderous debut. The first black RNC chief can't look anything but pathetically bandwagonesque. You gotta think right about now committee members, at some subconscious level, can't exactly be predisposed to any black candidate. Bitterness runs deep here.

Pay no mind. This is not the time for two consecutive weak Committee chairs. And Steele is simply not strong enough. It's gonna take a far more powerful contender than he to overcome an RNC rank & file as of yet unready for an African-American head. Say sayonara to Steele.

Smart money’s on Dawson. The dude has the biggest upside. His proven fundraising ability alone could've sealed it. But the clincher is unlike the brothers on the ballot, Dawson has yank with his African-American communities. In fact, both Blackwell (voter suppression) and Steele (laughingstock) set back Republican-black voter relations in OH & MD respectively by years. It speaks volumes about the GOP when their two most prominent African-American politicians are persona non grata in the hood

Dawson, and only Dawson, brings desperately needed street cred with home state African-Americans to the party. The kinda cred that offers the GOP their first, best step towards transforming from the “underhanded tight-ass whitey-only political club” into something slightly less awful.

Stay tuned...


*Could there be a name whiter than "Saltsman"? What's whiter than "salt"? Seriously.
**Damn, how the late great Steve Gilliard was all over that one.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Reminder Re: Sen. Holy Jim DeMint (R-SC)

An April 20, 2003 AP story "Fellowship finances townhouse where 6 congressmen live" is unfortunately no longer available on the ‘net.* However, since he's been shooting his mouth off, it seemed a good time to recall Sen. DeMint's (R-SC) unique Washington housing arrangement.

Holy Jimmy DeMint (R-SC) is so righteous he lives in a DC townhouse with 5 other Congress members. It's courtesy of a secretive religious group known as The Family AKA The Fellowship AKA The Fellowship Foundation AKA National Fellowship Council AKA Fellowship House AKA The International Foundation AKA National Committee for Christian Leadership AKA International Christian Leadership AKA the National Leadership Council.

I'm not much of a Christian nor am I a fan of organized religion. My perception is there's at least as many organized worshipers of any given faith up to no good as there are doing good works. So I dunno about you but I find it more than a little hinky that a "Christian" group requires more aliases names than your garden-variety grifter.

It also strikes me as odd that while spending his time in the Capitol, a bible-thumping homophobic Senator chooses to live with 5 other guys instead of his wife. For the uninitiated, it looks kinda gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But what about Senators and Congressmen living rent free through the kindness of this lobbying entity? Because make no mistake about it, that's what The Family is. Under these circumstances i.e. getting a posh rent-free townhouse might make you powerfully inclined to vote in the interests of your "landlord."Surely something is wrong with that.

Nope. Miraculously, Jesus' involvement makes this A-OK. That's messed up. If The Family was a secular group, rather than a secretive religious group hell-bent on influencing Congress, "subsidizing" housing for member of Congress wouldn't only be viewed as inappropriate. It would be illegal.

"The Family" skinny per Sourcewatch.

*I have this article saved somewhere as a PDF for such an occasion. If I can find it, I'll try to figure out how to post it.

They Said It. I Repeat It.

The GOP vs. the stimulus package, pt. 2:

"I think they had pretty good talking points initially on some of these spending issues and look they got the President to knock down a couple of them on the National Mall, on contraceptives as well. So they had some tactical skirmishes that they won. But what you see at the end of it is a party that is struggling for definition and direction. And without clear leadership, some of them are going in one ideological direction and others are just looking after their own skins and their own district.

There are confident predictions inside The White House not just that they will pick up votes in the Senate, but you’re going to see Republicans in the House voting for this final package when it comes back to them. In other words, there a going to be Republicans out there who say they voted against it before they voted for it."
Richard Wolffe/Newsweek
Countdown with Keith Olbermann 01-28-09

This first big test of the "new" GOP is gonna be pass/fail. Stay tuned...


Lie. Obstruct. Lie. Repeat.

Jim DeMint (R-SC) edition. In which DeMint (R-SC) rips the stimulus package for "not doing anything" to help the housing market or to ensure "the credit market works." Even though our now-ruptured false economy was largely based on those two things, I agree they need to be addressed further in some way at some time. But wasn't Republican President Bush's TARP plan supposed to get the banks lending again? Nevermind...

More DeMint (R-SC):

"They rejected every Republican ammendment so this idea of bi-partisanship is a bunch of rhetoric. There is no bi-partisanship on this massive spending bill. But I think it is going to help define the Republicans and the Democrats once again. Because every Republican in the House rejected this, and I think every Republican in the Senate might do as well."
Jim DeMint (R-SC) is a fool, a homophobe, xenophobe, a misogynist, school prayer crusader and, unsurprisingly, a far-right Christian. He topped The National Journal's 2007 list of most conservative Senators. Voted against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's confirmation too.


They Said It. I Repeat It.

There are many people in The White House who think that Republicans opposing a popular President and a popular spending package are effectively driving themselves off a cliff.
Richard Wolffe/Newsweek
Countdown with Keith Olbermann - 01-28-09

It's Official: The New Sheriff's In Town

The Boston Globe has collected a slew of amazing inauguration photos here.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Separated At Birth?

Ex-Wall Street Kingpin John Thain and Devo mastermind Mark Mothersbaugh.

*Thanks to Mrs. Forester for the graphics assist.

I'm A Posting Fool Today

Yesterday I was in the city all day.


What Widespread Belief Is More Irrational Than Creationism?*

Mrs. Forester sent me the above picture. I haven't laughed so hard in a while. Then again I'm clinically depressed and the Forester family has long had a Darwin Fish on the back of our car.

(If our car were red, it would look like this:)
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against spirituality either-- far from it. But there's something about creationists that's plain ol' nuts. Here's a quote from a stem cell research "article" on Creation Wiki:

The fact that embryonic stem cell research requires the murder of a human has become a major concern for Christians.
Requires the murder of a human? Requires? Murder? Human? These folks say little or nothing when these cute lil' blastocysts pass their freshness date and are tossed in the dumpster. Just don't you try to ease the suffering of your fellow man. **sigh**

Look, I can do crazy with the best of them. However, to match crazy with crazy is a complete waste of time. Lord knows I've tried. It's because I'm only mostly crazy.

Creationists are entirely crazy.


*Barack Obama is a Muslim wins hands down.

No Plane For You!

President Obama puts the hammer down on Citigroup's jet deal.

President Obama. I do so love the sound of those words.


Lie. Obstruct. Lie. Repeat.

When they're not obstructin', they're a lyin'...House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) can't stop lying about the CBO's non-partisan stimulus package eval (CBO stuff here & here). He did it last week. Cantor's at it again this week even though the target of his original lie has been removed.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) is dutifully following misguided Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) into the abyss. From the AP:

Hours earlier, according to officials who were present at a GOP meeting, none of the Republicans in attendance spoke up in disagreement when urged to oppose the legislation by their leaders. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the party's leader, and Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second in command, said they wanted "100 percent" opposition to the measure, which they argue includes billions in wasteful spending, these officials said.
Good luck with that. We are hemorrhaging jobs, small businesses are dropping faster than flies, homes are being ditched/foreclosed at an unprecedented rate, Wall Street is an absolute catastrophe and we haven't even seen the beginning of the end of this mayhem! Really. We haven't.

Over the past eight years the GOP has exposed itself as an unmitigated fraud. If Boehner & co. are convinced that these methods will be an effective way to rebuild the Republican Party, they've got another thing coming. I'm wicked cynical but I'm certain America won't stand for this. The 2010 Congressional elections will bear me out. So keep up the good work fellas.

It's not like our very nation's at stake or anything.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Do You Feel Used, Rep. Tiahrt (R-KS)?

Very. Nice. Ride.

Earlier this month Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas) had a "no corporate jet" provision tossed from the Troubled Assets Relief Program Reform and Accountability Act of 2009. At that time Tiahrt described the jet ban to The Wichita Eagle thusly:

"That is a bad signal for Kansas (and) a bad signal for the industry. This sends the wrong message that you cannot use a productivity tool like corporate aircraft. It says you can't use modern technology."
Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas) didn't want to risk layoffs at the Canadian-owned Bombardier Business Aircraft factory in his district. By now Tiahrt should have known these bailed-out banks are always one step ahead in their fucking of the American people. Oh-so-predictably, Citigroup then turned around and blew $50 mill on a French jet.

Do you feel used, Todd (R-Kansas)? I know I sure do. Not just by CitiGroup either.

If you had done your homework job Rep. Tiahrt (R-Kansas), you'd know that there was no reasonable expectation these banks would buy American. You'd have learned over the last ten years Citi had bought only French-made Dassault Falcon 900 EXs. Then, maybe then, you'd have thought to ensure that any such planes bought by banks receiving TARP cash would be required to buy American-built planes.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Think Progress has the lowdown.


P.S. I first moved to NYC almost 18 years ago and opened an account with Citibank. I can testify that they are the absolute worst in every possible way.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Who Knew?

Rahm Emaneul is a former ballet dancer.


I'm So Glad I Don't Live On Butt Hole Road

Those English sure have some funny names for places.


Funny How Loser's Good Ideas Suddenly Become Winner's Bad Ones

McCain was the top sponsor of 2005's The Community Broadband Act. A program to give tax breaks to companies increasing broadband access to rural communities was the nucleus of his 2008 Presidential campaign's technology platform. McCain now sez it's a wasteful part of the stimulus package since it "will take years."

It's a bad idea now only because McCain is unable to take credit for it & he has nothing to gain from its passage.


Friday, January 23, 2009

"You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It)"*

or Straight Outta MIDEM: Ten Years On, The Music Industry Goes All Napster?

It used to make me cry but now this shit just makes me laugh. Every year music company big wigs from around the world get together to literally save their world. With worldwide music sales plummeting and iTunes sales flat, The NY Times reports from Cannes that "The Industry" pins its hopes on unlimited "free" access to millions of songs to save their sinking ship.

OK, so nothing's "free" here. The cost is added on to yer cell phone or broadband bill. Sounds simple enough. I'm left with any number of unanswered questions:

  1. How much is this "free" service?
  2. Will consumers embrace any cell/broadband bill increase, for what is in essence a luxury, during the greatest worldwide economic catastrosphe ever?
  3. Which record companies are participants?
  4. How are the proceeds split amongst participants i.e. a flat rate split for each or split according to percentage of total tunes downloaded or something else?
  5. What is the projected average cost per song to the consumer?
  6. What is the projected revenue per song for the record company?
  7. What is the projected total yearly net profit from this service?
  8. How much revenue does each record company project receiving?
  9. Does this make it easier for us to get more, and more rare, songs for less?
  10. Will this kill iTunes for which we still pay a buck a cut?
Feargal Sharkey's beaucoup punk rock bona fides aside, I cannot grasp how this gambit will save the day. The music industry has proven time and time again that its stupidity is surpassed only by its greed.

Blah! After a major Blogger crash, it's taken me most of this week to get this far so...
Next up: How we came to be hear here.

*1979 single by genius No. Irish pop-punkers The Undertones featuring a young Feargal Shockey on vox. Highly recommended. Much loved.

I feel an Uncle Anacher's Punk Rock Tales coming on.

London Flies US Flag For Obama Inauguration

I've been at a loss to add anything to the hyper-extensive coverage of Barack Obama's inauguration. The news that the City of London raised the Stars & Stripes over City Hall gave this admitted Anglophile a double shot of pride. My ancestor was the Town Clerk of London in the reign of Henry V & Henry VI and Founder of The City of London School.

(HT: Scott Horton)

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

Three more horsemen of the economic apocalypse?

In the "if it plays out properly, and that is a big if, this should be eventually good in the tear-down-a-structurally-compromised-M. C. Escher-of-a-high-rise-to-erect-practical-home" department: The End of Banking as We Know It

In the meantime, we foot the banks' bill. So if you were seething with bailout rage before, your head will now explode: Bailout Is a No-Strings Windfall to Banks, if Not to Borrowers

I don't pretend understand the financially rarified air of the hedge fund manager. But I'd love it if stories like this would do away with the practice of short selling: Hedge Funds, Unhinged

By my count this brings the horsemen of the economic apocalypse running total up to about 27.


Hate Rears Its Ugly Head: Anti-Semite Edition

I've mentioned previously that I cannot stand nor understand bigotry in any form. It's so goddamn irrational. While I was searching for Andrew Wyeth obits for the post below, I stumbled across the most deeply disturbing, naked anti-Semitism.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Andrew Wyeth's The White Dory

Here's the print I mentioned earlier.

Thanks to Mrs. Forester for the assist.


*Update: Boston Globe obit, NY Times obit, WaPo obit, AP obit, LA Times obit, AP sez: Wyeth's death reignites debate over his legacy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Reagraham Lincool

Reagan-Appointed Judge Validated Warrentless Wiretaps

Of course he did. Bruce M. Selya, the judge who wrote the opinion, is a Reagan appointee. He probably shoots cuddly lil' animals on weekends with fellow Reaganites Dick Cheney & Justice Scalia just for fun.

Selya was part of the secret three-member FISA Review Court that made this ruling last summer. Why release it now? Bush's "legacy project." Natch.

We're witness to the legal equivalent to football's sudden-death overtime. Right down to the very last minute the Bush DOJ works to provide defense of the indefensible.

Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out fellas.

Cross-posted at TPM Cafe.

Apology Rejected

Ex DOJ voting rights chief John Tanner has a lot to learn about making apologies.


**Update: "Supposed Apology" Is "Even Funnier."

RIP: Andrew Wyeth

Detail from Sea Shells, 1953.

My mother grew up in northern coastal Maine. Her mother was a talented, mostly self-taught artist. I cherish Grammy's paintings, pen and ink drawings, Christmas ornaments including Santa, Mrs. Claus and a slew of elves to this day.

In Grammy's world Andrew Wyeth's paintings were appreciated not only for their artistic merit but also with a keen sense of pride for their celebration of Maine. I vividly remember my whole family traipsing to a Wyeth exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. My cousins (who were/are older than my mom) gave us a deluxe print from the Farnsworth Museum of The White Dory as a wedding gift.

Andrew Wyeth died today in his suburban Phildelphia home. He was 91.


The Great Lost Gem of "Brit Pop"

Cast's "Alright"*

"Brit Pop." How I hated that word. But then again I've always been against labeling or pigeonholing. Unless I was tired or lazy and grasping for shorthand to explain a band's sound or milieu. When the "Brit Pop" flash in the pan that gave rise to Oasis and validated Blur is now examined some dozen years on, Cast invariably gets short shrift.

What a mistake! I'll gladly put All Change track for track up against any other "Brit Pop" release out in 1995. Pulp. Suede. Oasis. Supergrass. Blur. (OK, maybe not Elastica because I still hold a major unrequited crush on Justine Frischmann -- pay no mind). Cast's John Leckie-produced debut sounds great today.

I spent a lotta time with Cast on their first US tours. Being Liverpudlians, it was like hanging out with the Beatles' kids. I spent so much one-on-one time with the band over that stretch that by the time they headed home I had picked up their dialect's trademark lilt. It wore off, not in a fortnight, but in about in ten days time.

I don't have to try very hard to I hear John Power, in the Back of My Mind, saying, "Anacher, la..."

*Those brilliant fuckers at Universal still won't allow video embeds.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Daily Duck Dissects Daily Dish's Gaza Disconnect

In "Andrew Sullivan's Tidy Little World" The Duck attacks this humble blog's idiot namesake for his"wobbly sensibility." (A great turn of phrase that I'm sure to be stealing).

Unfortunately, The Duck's martial diplomacy is awfully reminiscent of a certain resolute someone. We know how that worked out.

*edited for clarity and sanity.

Newsflash: Bush Administration Finally Bases Policy Decision on Science!

Or "Duck season!" "Rabbit season!" "Duck season!" "Wolf season?"*

For almost eight years, courts have blocked every Bush administration attempt to kick gray wolves off the federal endangered species list. Today the Bush administration gave it one last try. Their justification? The gray wolf spent 34 out of the endangered species list's entire 35 year existence. So its population must be suddenly all better now. From the AP:

...the decision was based on science independently of policy considerations and that it was a watershed moment for a species first listed as endangered in 1974.

"Returning this essential part of our national heritage to so much of our natural landscape ranks among our greatest conservation achievements," Scarlett said.

Leave it to the Bush administration to say, "We've done this wonderful nature thing for America. Now let's kill it."

I don't know why Bush's DOI has had a hard-on for wolves Smells like Cheney. I can see it now...Ole Dick has plenty of free time coming up. Perhaps one of his friends will nice enough stake a wolf out in his Wyoming yard so Dick can shoot it from the comfort his porch. "If it weren't for that damn law!", Cheney bellows, "If it weren't for that damn law..."

Where was I?

It's no accident Lynn Scarlett made this announcement. I bet for weeks she was positively licking her lips in anticipation. Scarlett's official bio sez she "coordinates Interior's environmental policy initiatives to implement the President's executive order on cooperative conservation" -- a stunning piece of Newspeak that implies cooperation between anybody other than the Bush Administration and their campaign contributors.

Lynn Scarlett has a master degree in poli-sci and worse is a die hard -- as in ex-Prezzie of the Reason Foundation (motto: "free minds & free markets") -- libertarian. Now you know how I feel about libertarians (here, here, here, here, here and most especially here). Exactly the qualifications I don't want in our Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

Free market environmentalism my ass!

I'm counting the minutes until these people get kicked out of town.

(HT: Raw)

Hudson River Plane Crash Caused By Flock of Geese

Unbelievable. In January no less. I'm old enough to remember a time when geese would fly south for the winter.

If you still needed to be convinced that there's something drastically wrong with our ecosystem, this should do it.


ACLU Rips Whistleblower Law

The ACLU filed a complaint today along with ACLU of Virginia on behalf of themselves, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and OMB Watch. Here's the skinny:

Complaints filed under the False Claims Act (FCA) are automatically filed under seal and those who file them are gagged from speaking about them, keeping the complaints secret from the public for months or even years. "Secret courts and secret proceedings have no place in this country," said Chris Hansen, senior staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. "There are plenty of procedures Congress or the courts could adopt to preserve the interest of privacy when it is warranted without enlisting the courts in a blanket scheme that automatically gags people who have information about possible abuse of taxpayer dollars.

Apparently our whistleblower law gets almost everything bass ackwards by protecting the contractors, the military, our government -- everybody but the taxpayer. Ronald Reagan kicked it up a notch by pushing through an amendment to screw this law up further:

Under the FCA, originally enacted by President Lincoln to combat war profiteering and other contractor fraud against the federal government, private citizens are entitled to bring complaints of fraud on behalf of the government. A 1986 amendment to the law requires that FCA complaints are automatically filed under seal and whistleblowers who file the complaints are gagged from speaking to anybody about them. The seal and gag are not lifted until the Justice Department decides whether it will pursue a complaint, which can be anywhere from 60 days to several years later. According to the Justice Department there were approximately 1,000 FCA cases under seal as of July 2007.
Whoa! Enacted by Lincoln?!? 1,000 sealed cases?!? That's seriously fucked up. Nothing personal Abe. I don't ever want to hear the words "Lincoln" or "sealed cases" in any paragraph related to the Iraq War.

The bottom line:

According to today's complaint, the FCA secrecy provisions have hidden an unknown number of allegations of military contractor fraud during the Iraq War from the public, raising concerns that the government may neglect to take action against certain contractors.
If we're to be serious about this business of war, which despite Obama's election we give every indication we are (Hello? Afghanistan?), we better damn well retool a 140+ year old anti-war profiteering law more that once every 20 years.


Note: Two foundations that provided major funding for the ACLU were cleaned out by Bernie Madoff. Help the ACLU keep fighting the good fight by donating here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

60 Minutes On Oil Prices

Sunday's 60 Minutes lead story delved into how speculation caused oil prices to soar. Well, duh.

Not so fast, Sunshine. The news is the very Wall Street investment houses that jacked up the prices of that sweet, sweet crude are in the oil business too:

Morgan Stanley isn't an oil company in the traditional sense of the word - it doesn't own or control oil wells or refineries, or gas stations. But according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Morgan Stanley is a significant player in the wholesale market through various entities controlled by the corporation.

It not only buys and sells the physical product through subsidiaries and companies that it controls, Morgan Stanley has the capacity to store and hold 20 million barrels. For example, some storage tanks in New Haven, Conn. hold Morgan Stanley heating oil bound for homes in New England, where it controls nearly 15 percent of the market.

The Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs also has huge stakes in companies that own a refinery in Coffeyville, Kan., and control 43,000 miles of pipeline and more than 150 storage terminals.

And analysts at both investment banks contributed to the oil frenzy that drove prices to record highs: Goldman's top oil analyst predicted last March that the price of a barrel was going to $200; Morgan Stanley predicted $150 a barrel.

Both companies declined 60 Minutes' requests for an interview, but maintain that their oil businesses are completely separate from their trading activities, and that neither influence the independent opinions of their analysts. There is no evidence that either company has done anything illegal.
(Emphasis mine)
Oil prices are one more way Wall Street's bigger players fucked us coming and going and coming again. When oil futures and everything else all went boom, they backed up the truck to the US Treasury and had Paulson load 'em up.

Where Goldman Sachs Keeps Their Oil.

When called on the carpet by Congress, big surprise, they lied their asses off:
Yet when Congress began holding hearings last summer and asked Wall Street banker Lawrence Eagles of J.P. Morgan what role excessive speculation played in rising oil prices, the answer was little to none. "We believe that high energy prices are fundamentally a result of supply and demand," he said in his testimony.

As it turns out, not even J.P. Morgan's chief global investment officer agreed with him. The same that day Eagles testified, an e-mail went out to clients saying "an enormous amount of speculation" ran up the price" and "140 dollars in July was ridiculous.
Yep, these fuckers sold us the "China, Russia, India and the Tooth Fairy caused an unbelievable increase in demand" bill of goods. I mean how many times were we fed that lie by the media? We just nodded our heads and sucked it up.

A new MIT study and US Government stats for that time period worldwide supply increased at the same time demand actually decreased:
A recent report out of MIT, analyzing world oil production and consumption, also concluded that the basic fundamentals of supply and demand could not have been responsible for last year's run-up in oil prices. And Michael Masters says the U.S. Department of Energy's own statistics show that if the markets had been working properly, the price of oil should have been going down, not up.
Ladies and gentlemen, we've been had.

I did have a major problem CBS' story. It seemingly let the oil companies off the hook. I'm sorry but if wordwide supply is up and demand is down, how do the Big Oil companies make record, almost exponentially greater, profits?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Taking "Smart" Drugs for Kicks

London Independent columnist Johann Hari scores Provigil on the internet without a prescription from "a foreign pharmacy." First he marvels at it. He stops taking it just to see. Then he starts up again only to quit when his "conscience" wake up too.


I know Hari is an acclaimed journalist but does his story sound as contrived to you as it does to me?

As a former avid user of recreational drugs, I risk playing the hypocrite. So be it...

Due to legitimate health reasons, I've taken Provigil since it's become available here in the US. I know well the risks involved and I've chosen to take them. In return, unlike any other medication I've tried, Provigil has allowed me to live a more normal life.

It concerns me that folks are using Provigil recreationally when scientists still have only a purely theoretical understanding of its mechanism. This drug has been used by a statistically insignificant population for a relatively short period of time too. We have no idea what the long term effects are if any for prescribed usage.

I also happen to have severe ADHD. In addition to Provigil, I've taken Ritalin, Concerta et a over the yearsl. Compared to Adderall, Provigil just makes me a jitter-free wide awake scatterbrain. In truth, the jury is out as to whether or not Provigil helps concentration in any way other than allowing you to avoid feeling physically fatigued. A simple Google search will turn up almost as many studies concluding Provigil is not helpful in treating ADHD as there are where it is.

(HT: Raw Story)

They Said It. I Repeat It.

"President Bush exudes serenity as he prepares to leave office, content that the war in Iraq is nearly won and he had the fortitude to buck his party despite incredible pressure to withdraw."
Fox News


Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Next Generation of News Junkies

Will grow up not knowing what a daily print newspaper is.* Looks like The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will be but the first giant to fall. (Deets here and here).

A large part of this has to do with publishers' inability to adapt a centuries old business model to a new millennium (i.e. finding a way to make the internet pay without completely alienating readers à la TimesSelect). Yet had they done so, the paper newspaper was still doomed. Our economic crisis and the resulting plummet in advertising revenue greatly accelerated the pace.

I confess to reading rags online each and everyday. Nothing could be more convenient. I scan The NY Times, WaPo, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, The LA Times, etc., without leaving my home and without adding to my ever unmanageable recycling bin. The search function saves time while allowing me to access archives too.

Nevertheless, an internet edition does not provide the same experience as thumbing through an actual, physical newspaper. There's a certain Zen quality to this ritual. These days I'm find myself wondering how many stories of interest I miss by not skimming the ol' gazette page by page.

If you think your newspaper and TV newscasts suck now, there are major implications inherent to the death of the print newspaper. Tops on my list:

  1. Drastic cuts to both broadcast & print media newsrooms/bureaus worldwide have already caused the quality and depth of reporting to suffer. This will only get worse.
  2. How many times have you seen newspaper reporters on TV explaining stories they broke and/or broadcast news missed? Say bye-bye.
  3. We will rely on more news from fewer credible sources.
  4. Fewer credible news sources allows information to be that much more easily controlled and manipulated by corporations, special interest groups and governments.
  5. Fewer news sources means reporting errors & omissions go unnoticed & uncorrected for longer periods of time if at all.
  6. All kindsa huge decisions (diplomacy, politics, economics, health...) may be made on the basis of incomplete context, inaccurate information and/or flat-out propaganda.
There's a more personal aspect to this seismic paradigm shift that I find difficult to express. It has to do with how despite the marvel of the Internet, I feel in many ways our world becomes a colder, duller, smaller place by the minute.

Or maybe I'm just old.


*I can't help but be reminded of how the advent of the MP3 seemingly doomed the phonograph. But unlike my beloved turntable, the new breed will not come to dig a superior old skool product.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Our Culture is Completely FUBAR

Juuust how fucked up is it that AOL Parent Dish has an inset of "Top Baby Names 2008" in any story about increased teen birth rates for half our country's states?

I say very fucked up.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Hospital Hell

Mrs. Forester sprung me yesterday. My 24-hour EEG became a 48-hour EEG. Unfortunately, it was a total waste of time. And very uncomfortable.

It was a bad sign when I was served chicken for my first meal. I had told them I would eat anything but chicken. I'm allergic to chicken.

I take a whole lotta, whole lotta medicine. Even though I showed up at the hospital with a typed-out detailed medication schedule, the hospital completely fucked up my "pain management." This despite spending at least 30 minutes of my intake interview with the neurology resident specifically going over my meds.

I'll spare you the gory details. I did not get any useful test results. I left very much the worse for wear.

I don't know when I've been so glad to be home.