Monday, September 21, 2009

Obama's plan to give everyone a free Maserati

Why haven't any Wall Street tycoons been sent to the slammer?

By Kevin G. Hall

WASHINGTON — More than a year into the gravest financial crisis since the Great Depression, millions of Americans have seen their home values and retirement savings plunge and their jobs evaporate.

What they haven't seen are any Wall Street tycoons forced to swap their multi-million dollar jobs and custom-made suits for dishwashing and prison stripes.

There are plenty of civil and class-action lawsuits from aggrieved investors angered by the losses in their mortgage bonds, hedge funds or pensions. Regulators have stepped up their vigilance after the fact. But to date, no captain of finance tied to the crisis has walked the plank.

There have been some high-profile arrests and federal convictions of financial giants — such as Ponzi scheme king Bernard Madoff and Stanford Financial Group chairman Robert Allen Stanford. They weren't among the causes of the financial meltdown, however, just poster boys for an era of lax enforcement, weak regulation and devout faith in free markets.

"A lot of people who are responsible (for the crisis) seem to have gotten awfully rich in the process," said Barbara Roper, the director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America.

The absence of what many would call justice stands out all the more because past financial crises always had their villains. The depression-era had electricity and railroad magnate Samuel Insull, who partly inspired the movie "Citizen Kane." The savings and loan crisis of the 1980's had banker Charles Keating. Energy giant Enron Corp.'s spectacular collapse offered the late CEO Kenneth Lay, a Texas crony of President George W. Bush.

Yet there's no such poster child for the Great Recession, as today's crisis is now called.

I'mma let you finish

thanks Obama

The 9/11 Commission Rejects own Report as Based on Government Lies

How long have we watered the Tree of Deceit with the blood of patriots?

The Ground Truth: The Story Behind America's Defense on 9/11
John Farmer's book: "The Ground Truth: The Story Behind America's Defense on 9/11″

(CINCINNATI, Ohio) - In John Farmer's book: "The Ground Truth: The Story Behind America's Defense on 9/11″, the author builds the inescapably convincing case that the official version... is almost entirely untrue...

The 9/11 Commission now tells us that the official version of 9/11 was based on false testimony and documents and is almost entirely untrue. The details of this massive cover-up are carefully outlined in a book by John Farmer, who was the Senior Counsel for the 9/11 Commission.

Farmer, Dean of Rutger Universities' School of Law and former Attorney General of New Jersey, was responsible for drafting the original flawed 9/11 report.

Does Farmer have cooperation and agreement from other members of the Commission? Yes. Did they say Bush ordered 9/11? No. Do they say that the 9/11 Commission was lied to by the FBI, CIA, Whitehouse and NORAD? Yes. Is there full documentary proof of this? Yes.

Farmer states..."at some level of the government, at some point in time…there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened... I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described …. The [Norad air defense] tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years. This is not spin."

The 9/11 Commission head, Thomas Kean, was the Republican governor of New Jersey. He had the following to say... "We to this day don't know why NORAD [the North American Aerospace Command] told us what they told us, it was just so far from the truth. . . " When Bush's own handpicked commission failed to go along with the cover up and requested a criminal investigation, why was nothing done?

9/11 Commission member and former US Senator, Bob Kerrey, says, "No one is more qualified to write the definitive book about the tragedy of 9/11 than John Farmer. Fortunately, he has done so. Even more fortunately the language is clear, alive and instructive for anyone who wants to make certain this never happens again."

With the only "official" 9/11 report now totally false, where do we go from here? Who is hurt by these lies? The families of the victims of 9/11 have fought, for years, to get to the truth. For years, our government has hidden behind lies and secrecy to deny them closure.

In 2006, The Washington Post reported..."Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission..."

What does Farmer's book tell us? Farmer offers no solutions, only a total and full rejection of what was told and his own his own ideas concerning the total failure of honesty on the part of the government, a government with something to hide.

Farmer never tells us what. Nobody could keep a job in the public sector speaking out more than Farmer has. What were Farmer's omissions? There are some. Now that we know that intelligence given the 9/11 Commission wasn't just lies from our own government but based on testimony coerced through torture from informants forced to back up a cover story now proven false, a pattern emerges.

We know that, immediately after 9/11, many more potential suspects and informants were flown directly to Saudi Arabia by Presidential order than were ever detained and questioned. We will never know what they could have said. Their testimony would have been vital to any real investigation were they not put beyond the reach of even Congress and the FBI.

Putting aside all other questions of recent evidence of CIA involvement with bin Laden prior to 9/11 or altered physical evidence involving the Pentagon attack, any failure to call to account the systematic perjury committed by dozens of top government officials, now exposed as a certainty is an offense to every American.

What do we know? We know the conjecture about 9/11 still stands but for certain, we know we were lied to, not in a minor way, but systematically as part of a plot covering up government involvement at nearly every level, perhaps gross negligence, perhaps something with darker intent.

Video Shows Price of Cheap Eggs: Chicks Ground Up Alive

by Martha Rosenberg

photoThis screen grab from Mercy for Animals' YouTube video shows chicks on a conveyor belt. (Photo: Mercy for Animals)

    The "food units" cascading down the conveyor in the video are sorted like apples, fine grade, rejects.

    Except that the kinetic yellow balls - an undulating fuzzy mass - are not pears or peppers, but newborn chicks. And they're being sorted into male, female and deformed - with male and deformed destined for death.

    A video just released by Mercy For Animals from Hy-Line Hatchery in Spencer, Iowa, the largest hatchery for egg-laying breed chicks in the US, confirms what has been rumored for years about the egg industry: that newborn males, which are worthless to the industry, are ground up alive in chopping machines called macerators.

    Video from a hidden camera clearly shows healthy male chicks, peeping and bouncing as they greet the world, fed into the blades of the macerator like so much litter. Hello! Goodbye!

    "I saw a bloody slush coming out of the bottom of the grinder," writes the MFA investigator, who worked in the Hy-Line "transfer room" and on the cleaning crew during May and June. "The plant manager told me that the ground-up male chicks were used in dog food and fertilizer."

    Also shown in the Mercy For Animals video is the debeaking procedure in which chicks are inserted en masse into a laser cutter where they dangle by their beaks, struggling, while burns are inflicted that make part of their beak fall off in a week.

    Nor does the egg industry want to waste any time letting a chick peck its way out of its shell to start its tour of duty on the egg farm, if it's female.

    The hatchery's "separator" machine efficiently disconnects newborns from their shells at the price of the few, which fall to the ground or get caught in the machine and "washed" along with the equipment.

Warning: Chicks.
(Illustration: Martha Rosenberg)

    Asked about the panting, damp newborns on the floor, half born and half dead, a worker tells the MFA investigator, "Some of them get on the floor and get wet and then they're no good."

    Like veal calves on dairy farms, egg industry chicks experience no moments with their mothers despite their innate biological urges. Their first memories will be of blades, pain and terror, not of a mother in the mechanized hell the egg industry has devised to bring cheap product to the market.

Wingnuts United for Shouting

Health Insurers Consider A Caesarean-Section Pregnancy A Pre-Existing Condition

prenatal-test Earlier this week, the Huffington Post's Ryan Grim reported on the fact that in seven states plus the District of Columbia, "getting beaten up by your spouse is a pre-existing condition." The insurance industry figures that if "you are in a marriage with someone who has beaten you in the past, you're more likely to get beaten again than the average person and are therefore more expensive to insure," but what it really does is punish these victims for something that wasn't their fault.

But that isn't the only policy that health insurers have that primarily discriminate against women. First of all, most individual health insurance markets don't cover maternity care. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 14 states have a requirement for such coverage, and the number of plans without maternity coverage continues to rise dramatically. Why? Anthem Blue Cross — which has been actively fighting health care reformconsiders pregnancy optional and therefore not necessary to insure:

"The point of insurance is to insure against catastrophic care costs. That's what you're trying to aggregate and pool for such things as heart attacks and cancer," said an Anthem Blue Cross spokesman. "Having a child is a matter of choice. Dealing with an adult onset illness, such as diabetes, heart disease breast or prostate cancer, is not a matter of choice."

Even Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) spoke an unintentional truth when he said of his parents: "When they arrived in Baton Rouge, my mother was already four-and-a-half-months pregnant. I was what folks in the insurance industry now call a pre-existing condition."

When a woman isn't currently pregnant, she often still cannot get coverage. Many insurers consider a Caesarean-section pregnancy a pre-existing condition and refuse to cover women who have had the procedure.

Strange & Fantastic Buildings Architecture

01. Device to Root Out Evil (Vancouver, Canada)

InstantShift - Strange & Fantastic Buildings Architecture

02. The Crooked House (Sopot, Poland)

InstantShift - Strange & Fantastic Buildings Architecture

03. Museum of Contemporary Art (Niteroi, Brazil)

InstantShift - Strange & Fantastic Buildings Architecture

04. ING Headquarters (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

InstantShift - Strange & Fantastic Buildings Architecture

05. Experience Music Project (Seattle, Washington, USA)

InstantShift - Strange & Fantastic Buildings Architecture

06. Dancing Building (Prague, Czech Republic)

InstantShift - Strange & Fantastic Buildings Architecture

07. Druzhba Holiday Center (Yalta, Ukraine)

InstantShift - Strange & Fantastic Buildings Architecture

08. Lotus Temple (Delhi, India)

InstantShift - Strange & Fantastic Buildings Architecture

09. Forest Spiral Building (Darmstadt, Germany)

InstantShift - Strange & Fantastic Buildings Architecture

10. The Torre Galatea Figueras (Spain)

InstantShift - Strange & Fantastic Buildings Architecture

Colbert Goes There - Only Media Figure In America To Openly Discuss Corporate Control Of Gov't

The Colbert Report last night featured one of the most subversive and brutally honest half-hours of television in recent memory.  It's a sad commentary that it takes a comedy program to provide more news and information on one of the most critical subjects in American politics that anywhere else in our broken media and political landscape, but I'll take this argument wherever I can get it.

Colbert spent two full segments of his show focusing on the Citizens United Supreme Court case, which could - and probably will - lead to deregulating the entire campaign finance process, allowing corporations to give unlimited money to any candidate of their choosing.  This severe step backwards with enormous implications has been barely discussed in any traditional media setting, but Colbert went after it vigorously, discussing the consequences and even the flawed legal rationale, a true third rail of American politics, corporate personhood.  Colbert explained that the 1886 case (Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad) that conferred 14th Amendment equal protection rights onto corporations wasn't even in the original ruling.  But when the Chief Justice made an off-hand comment that the Court wouldn't hear an argument on whether the 14th Amendment applied to these corporations (saying, "We are all of the opinion that it does"), the court reporter wrote it into the ruling opinion, and the precedent has held ever since.  And that reporter of the Supreme Court didn't only have ties to the railroad barons, he used to run one.

These are subjects you just never hear about in the American media, precisely because the American media is owned by giant multinational corporations, who benefit from the corporate personhood rule and would stand to benefit more from deregulating elections so they could use their "speech" to buy candidates and fund their own with unlimited resources.  And despite being on a Viacom-owned network, Colbert says, skewering the immorality and psychopathology of the corporation, "Corporations are legally people... they do everything people do, except breathe, die, and go to jail for dumping 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River."

Google Releases A Nuke. Apple Won’t Win This Fight.
by Michael Arrington

Well, something clearly broke down behind the scenes in the ongoing Apple/Google negotiations over Google Voice on the iPhone, because Google released one of two nukes it has been holding back. In a letter to the FCC today, Google disclosed previously unpublished information about Apple's rejection of their Google Voice application.

There's no longer any question – either Google or Apple is flat out lying to the FCC:

Apple: "Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it."

Google: "Apple representatives informed Google that the Google Voice application was rejected because Apple believed the application duplicated the core dialer functionality of the iPhone"

Our position is that Apple is the one full of it, which we stated way before this new information from Google. And it isn't just he said/she said – Apple's story doesn't add up.

But Apple is standing firm, and even today told press that they haven't rejected the Google Voice application, despite what Google says.

This doesn't end here. As we've speculated, Apple will capitulate and accept the application with a few minor tweaks to save face. Because if they don't we've heard Google has yet another nuke waiting on the sidelines – a screen shot of the actual rejection notice via the iPhone developers admin with the formal rejection. At that point, Apple will no longer be able to rely on nuances and misdirection. The FCC and everyone else will know that they lied in a government investigation.

Author of Time's Beck profile digs a deeper hole

by Jamison Foser

Charles Kaiser offers this pitch-perfect description of Time's profile of Glenn Beck: "Von Drehle's piece is so humiliating on so many levels, it's hard to know where to begin."

Kaiser interviewed Von Drehle about the Beck profile, with hilarious results.  Like this, from Kaiser's Full Court Press post:

Von Drehle identified the boycott as "a boon" to Beck's ratings; but he didn't say that it now includes more than sixty corporations, including Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Procter & Gamble.   

FCP asked Von Drehle if sixty wasn't a rather large number-one perhaps worth mentioning in his piece.  "Well," he replied.  "There are millions of companies."

See, Von Drehle didn't mention the fact that 60 companies are boycotting Beck's show because there are millions of other companies that aren't.  Got it?  Millions of companies that have never advertised on Glenn Beck's show make the fact that 60 companies that used to do so now refuse to meaningless.  

Oh, and Detroit automakers are doing just fine. Sure, they've lost a lot of customers over the years -- but literally billions of people haven't stopped buying their cars!  Bonuses all around!

The Final Option

Ruben Bolling

$30 billion home loan time bomb set for 2010

Thousands of Bay Area homes have a ticking time bomb embedded in their mortgage. The homes were purchased with loans known as option ARMs, short for adjustable rate mortgages.

Next year, many option ARM payments will begin to readjust, slamming borrowers with dramatically higher monthly mortgage bills. Analysts say that could unleash the next big wave of foreclosures - and home-loan data show that the risky loans were heavily used in the Bay Area.

From 2004 to 2008, "one in five people who took out a mortgage loan (for both purchases and refinancing) in the San Francisco metropolitan region (San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Mateo counties) got an option ARM," said Bob Visini, senior director of marketing in San Francisco at First American CoreLogic, a mortgage research firm. "That's more than twice the national average.

"People think option ARMs (will be) a national crisis," he said. "That's not really true. It's just in higher-cost areas like California where you see their prevalence."

Of the 10 metro areas nationwide with the most option ARMs, three are in the Bay Area, according to Fitch Ratings, a New York research firm. They are the East Bay counties of Alameda and Contra Costa, the South Bay area of Santa Clara and San Benito counties, and the counties of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo.

Together, these areas account for the second-most option ARMs in the country, although they are still far behind the greater Los Angeles area (including Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties), according to Fitch data.

Understated data

First American shows more than 54,000 option ARMs issued here with a value of about $30.9 billion. Fitch shows more than 47,000 option ARMs here with a value of about $28 billion. Both say their data underestimate the totals.

Welcome to the National Asylum


by Alexander Cockburn

photo     Was there ever a society so saturated with lunacy as ours? One expects modulated nuttiness from the better element, particularly those inhabiting the corporate and legislative spheres, but these days, insanity is pervasive, spreading through all classes and walks of life. For years, we have been treated to pinstriped fugitives from the asylum like Pete Peterson urging the nation into ruin by slashing the deficit, but on Monday, there in Washington in tens of thousands were the sans-culottes screaming for fiscal propriety as though channeling the ruinous orthodoxies of Montagu Norman or Andrew Mellon.

     Many among these Glenn Beck legions were surely one stroke or tumor away from financial ruin, yet are still ready to tear any advocates of publicly funded health insurance in tiny pieces as though they were hawking the Communist Manifesto at a revival meeting. Inspiring, was it not, to see such self-abnegation on the part of so many people prepared to die in the name of free enterprise!

     Many of the Glenn Beckers are "Birthers," too, making delusional forays into the supposedly dubious documentation of Barack Obama's delivery in a hospital in Hawaii. Sometimes I think that the White House should knock these surmises on the head by releasing all relevant documents and testimonies. But of course, this would merely throw napalm on the flames.

     Once, when writing some caustic remarks about the occupants of another ward in the national asylum, the 9/11 Truthers, I suggested that the "missing people" on the plane that hit the Pentagon had been kidnapped at an earlier stage in the operation, and flown to an airbase in Louisiana -- the very self-same airbase where George Bush briefly touched down in his erratic flight from Florida on 9/11/2001. George Bush then personally executed the captives.

     It was a satirical sally. But I swiftly received serious letters from people vexed by the lack of detail. Where had Bush shot them? With what type of weapon? A summary burst from a machine gun? Or a .22 bullet behind the ear?

     For all too many on the left, the so-called 9/11 conspiracy still remains the magic key. If it can be turned, then history at its present impasse will be unlocked and we can move on. For those on the racist right, aghast at the reality of a black man (actually a half-white, half-black) in the White House, the magic key to reversing this unpleasing development is Obama's allegedly fake Hawaiian birth certificate. Their suppositions and claims shift, but the essence is always the same: He's alien. He has no right to be president. And as with the Truthers, the provision of evidence rebutting their claims is merely fuel piled on the bonfire of their insanity.

     From the nuttiness of his detractors to the madness of Great Ones, in this case of President Obama. His rhetoric is decorous, but the delusions are just as ripe and far more lethal than those of the Glenn Beck demonstrators under his window. How is one supposed to rate the rationality of a person who wins the White House in large measure because of popular outrage at the disastrous war in Iraq and who then instantly ratchets up another war in Afghanistan -- an enterprise for whose utter futility history, both ancient and modern, offers copious testimonies?

     From time to time, one meets a madman in a shopping mall or at a bus stop who approaches one with discreet confidences about his mother, the Queen of England, or about the messages beamed through the fillings in his teeth that warn him of CIA surveillance from the plane flying 30,000 feet above his head. It's an effort of will to remind oneself that this is a person in disheveled mental condition and it would be unwise to be drawn into protracted discussion of royal lineage tracked through the Almanach de Gotha or to peer into jaws suddenly opened for one's inspection.

     Similarly, with Obama, he advances ridiculous propositions with nutty aplomb, as when he claimed in his speech to Congress last week that his plan was deficit neutral. Why does he expose himself thus to well-merited derision? Is it that Obama simply cannot bear to displease anyone -- unless they are far away in places like Afghanistan?

     Indeed the president reached the apex of lunatic effrontery when he caused the assembled legislators to leap to their feet in stormy applause by pledging that "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits." This is the same president, these are the same legislators, who are committing billions in red ink for the war in Afghanistan and the continued U.S. presence in Iraq.

Baucus Health Care!