Saturday, July 14, 2012

Do you like being chewed on?

Initial unemployment claims dropped by 26,000 this week to a relatively low number of 350,000. If you weren't aware of that, it is to be forgiven as the main stream media wasn't really interested in telling you about it. They thought you would be more interested in being teased with the idea that Condoleezza Rice was actually being considered as Romney's VP, it's more likely Willard would dig up the corpse of Sarah Palin and run it.

JP Morgan Chase's stock price jumped driving up the stock market, supposedly on "news" that the losses on its derivative trading were "only" 5.8 billion instead of the 9 billion that has been reported. Nine billion is probably not even close to the actual loss, but what the hell, it's only paper. The trading operations of the Wall Street banks are more than big enough to drive the stock market, so what exactly does it matter? Unless you thought you would ever see that money in your 401(k). Sorry, but you probably won't.

A lot is being made of the Simpson-Bowles and Buffett interview on CNBC, it's being portrayed as if we are up against a fiscal cliff and Congress has to embrace austerity or else. They make much of the fact that since Bush drove us off the fiscal cliff (not that they mention his name) that we are at a huge risk of runaway interest rates driving the budget to unsustainable levels. We are spending 250b a year on interest (this obscene). The thing is that we are borrowing money from rich people who have more money than they can get rid of with, BECAUSE THEY DON'T PAY ANY TAXES. In fact we don't have to pay any interest to borrow money, we can just print it in a responsible way. Borrowing from the rich is only a "convenience" for them, not a requirement.

An economy is a closed system, we print money to make the economy run. If somebody is hoarding cash, it is by definition a taxation problem. Treasury bonds are selling on auction at nearly zero interest rates (the higher the bid, the lower the interest rate), it's because rich people have too much money. In case you haven't caught on, it will never "trickle down".

Simpson, Bowles and Buffet are not economists, they see everything as a balance sheet. The same way a cat's brain is hard wired to see everything as a mouse. You have to look at these things the way they actually work, and not in a way that benefits only the very rich, or the cats. Unless you think the mouse should accept the way the cat thinks.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The F-word

The usual meme that Democrats are too timid and don't think strategically is being put to rest by the Obama campaign. Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter laid it out simply that Romney is either lying about leaving Bain in 1999, or he is a Felon. Three years of SEC reports that say he was in charge at Bain as CEO and Chairman of the Board are indisputable. If he is going to continue claiming he had nothing to do with all the nasty things they were doing down at Snidely Whiplash Inc, then he is confessing to multiple felonies. These aren't trivial formalities of paper work, because he signed the disclosure forms claiming he was in charge when he also claims he wasn't. In a post Enron era these are serious, go to prison crimes.

The Republicans were working the talking point up the chain of fat heads that Obama was lying about Romney's time at Bain. Now they are forced to express faux outrage at Obama calling Willard a Felon, not realizing that every time they utter words Romney and Felon in the same breath they are serving Obama's purpose. Time to overuse the chess metaphor again, make your opponent move in the direction you want because you're thinking five moves ahead.

Some people are expressing the fantasy that all the crazy Republican primary candidates will try to challenge Mittens at the Republican convention. He has too much money to make that possible. On the other hand there are billionaires who can match Romney's war chest with the money in the couch cushions at their 5th smallest mansion. If one or more of them decided to make it happen, this is a fantasy that could come true.

Afternoon update - Romney is going on all the network evening news shows to either try to wiggle out of this or drop out of the race (not likely, but not impossible). It seems that Mittens put information on his election (FEC) forms that he wasn't involved with Bain after 1999. Oops, one set of these forms is a lie, either the FEC or the SEC. Lying to either commission is a felony. Willard is going to need to go to the planet Kolab for a miracle.

From the Evening News - The corporate media gave Mittens a pass as you might expect and let him berate the President, demanding an apology as if Obama had forged the documents that Willard signed, incriminating himself. There was one exception although inadvertent I'm sure. One overly helpful reporter interrupted the perp offering to allow him to expand his denials. "... and you don't remember ... or attending any board meetings or anything?" Romney paused for a beat and said "No" in a kind of mumble, knowing full well he just told another lie. Since he held all the senior corporate positions, they couldn't hold a board meeting without him. If he appointed a replacement to run the company, he won't say who, and they would have been required to sign the SEC forms.  Show us the minutes of the board meetings Mitt.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

You know it's bad when a rigged casino fails

It seems we've only seen the tip of the iceberg with the Barclays Bank prosecution for rigging the LIBOR (London Interbank Offer Rate). It seems that they are cooperating to avoid jail time. Bob Diamond who headed the bank until recently said "he was sickened when he saw the emails", what he means is that he was sickened that his underlings were stupid enough to leave a paper trail. His nausea will be somewhat soothed by the $3.5 million he gets as a golden parachute. This however about a tenth of what he expected to get. How will he make the payments on his Rolls?

From what's coming out it appears that all the big banks were doing this. Not a huge surprise there. That was the whole idea of deregulation, or rather decriminalization. But they weren't satisfied with skimming hundreds of billions a year (trillions over time) from the world economy. These "smartest guys in the room" managed to bankrupt their own rigged casino. 

They really got in trouble when they started rigging the LIBOR to keep the derivatives "market" from collapsing. Upwards of a quadrillion dollars in dark market contracts on everything and anything, much of it simply gambling with other people's money. ($1,000,000,000,000,000.00 or a million billions) That's on total world GDP of maybe $60T or 60,000 billion, needless to say this a parasite load that can't be sustained. If your veterinarian was a Wall Street banker he'd tell you that ten pound tick on your dog was good for him.

Your right-wing apologist will tell you that all derivatives contracts have counter-parties and that it all balances it out. Clearly it didn't work that way. Traditionally these contracts were supposed to be hedges against market fluctuations. Grain futures are the often cited example, as if they were a benevolent thing. They weren't of course, they were used by big grain traders to drive down farm prices and dominate the market. All those Mexicans in front of Home Depot were corn farmers driven off their land by these companies using derivatives to keep prices low, allowing them dump that cheap corn into Mexico.

In fact the banks do a great deal of business by convincing the unwary, the gullible, the corrupt, or the desperate to buy these contracts. The banks take a small amount of vig from each one. Say you run an airline and you hear constantly on FOX News how the price of oil is going from $140 to $200 any day. You're already in desperate shape from Bush/Cheney taking oil from $18 to $140, so what do you do? Southwest was making more money in the fuel "market" than they were by flying planes. That was until the market collapsed, paying off all their contracts nearly took them under.

Investment funds, state and municipal pension funds can all find themselves in a position to want to hedge or make the kind of return they promised investors. Cities, counties and utility service districts, even entire countries got suckered, and the thing is that not playing the rigged game wasn't really an option either. The bankers would put people into a position where it was the only choice. Appeals to the government by people who realized what was happening were either ignored, or were actively opposed by the Bush Crime Family.

The really scary thing is that the banks are still doing the very same things that they were in 2008. Hundreds of trillions in derivatives are still in circulation. Jamie Diamon at JP Morgan Chase lost at least 9 billion making derivative bets, (maybe hundreds of billions, we don't know yet). He claims they were just hedging against losses. Yeah right. Excuse me, a tick is trying to carry off my dog.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Timing is everything

Mittens says he left Bain in 1999 in order to run the "successful" Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. The games were only a success because he had the Washington connections to get massive amounts of Federal money, and he bragged about doing exactly that. Stimulus is a great thing, when it goes to your people.

Another small problem with Willard and the truth again, he continued to sign the SEC filings for years after he supposedly left Bain. This means he was still running Bain when they did a number things he claims to not to have been involved with.

The Romney people say that's no big deal, SEC filings don't really mean anything. The thing is, that's a felony. Only the guy who actually knows what the company is doing is supposed to sign off on those information filings. This is to protect investors in the company from incompetence and fraud. What am I thinking? Of course it would be no big deal. Protect investors? Prevent incompetence and fraud? Ha ha ha ha ha, sigh....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

There's no there there

There, there, Mittens has nothing to hide. We know because he says so, and we know he never lies, haven't you been listening to the things he says. He'll prove there isn't anything untoward in his tax returns, by not releasing them. We already know he's rich, so what is he hiding?

He says Republicans want us all to be rich (unlike those Democrats). I personally would like to know how to turn a few tens of thousand of dollars into tens of millions of dollars, all tax free. Who ever made those profits possible by taking a tens of millions loss almost certainly wrote it off those losses on their taxes. That's what he's hiding. The IRS recently gave amnesty from criminal prosecution to people who used off-shore tax havens to do tax fraud, if you paid the tax and penalties. He could be hiding that sort of thing. Something is in those returns that would guarantee he'd lose the election, if not go to prison.

Brad Friedman (the voting machine blogger, is certain that Mittens is hiding proof of his voter fraud when he claimed he was living in his son's unfinished basement in Massachusetts to vote against Kennedy, because he was filing taxes in California. I don't think so, he would never be prosecuted for that, he's a rich Republican. He bragged about doing it. The statute of limitations has probably run out, besides most people don't even think voter fraud is a crime, if you're white.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I'm not a crook, my friends

Mittens went investing, and boy did he do good. When he says he’s a really, really smart businessman, he ain’t kidd‘n. Seems his campaign disclosure statement says that he has an IRA that has a balance of between 20 million and 100 million dollars. Wow! 

The really fantastic part is that he’s only had it for 15 years, and the most you can invest in an IRA is $6000 per year for a total at the end of $90,000. Mind you, that’s the balance at the end and not at the beginning, he only started with $6000. What a fantastic return on investment. 

You don’t suppose he got swindled by Bernie Madoff and the balance in his account is really zero? Poor, poor Mittens….  I think not.   

The only way you could turn $90,000 into $20 million or five times that, is by some sort of money laundering scheme. There is absolutely no legitimate way to get a 1000 to 1 return on investment. This would ambitious, or rather foolish, even for a mob book keeper as the IRS should be all over this. 

You wondered why Willard needed all the offshore accounts? Apparently somebody took huge losses, say a company like Bain, and the profits ended up in Romney’s tax sheltered account. Imagine that. Did Bain write off the losses against its taxes? Sure, why not? 

The FBI and the IRS employ thousands of very bright individuals that do nothing but ferret out this sort of thing, and put people in prison for long terms. But, I have the feeling that the way the possible next President of the United States did it was all legal. Or rather this behavior has been de-criminalized by Reagan and the stooges for the billionaires that have been in charge since. As I recall Richard Nixon very nearly got caught doing something very similar involving one of his cronies, so there is precedent. 

The quote updated would be, “I am not a crook, my friends“. Things don't change that much, they just get made "legal".

From the news: Florida has closed the only public hospital dedicated to tuberculous treatment in the US. Republicans want to save money by closing the facility. The health service is putting patients in motels to keep them on their medications, or they are on the street. People that had previously been confined in rooms with separate air and water supplies to contain the highly contagious disease. Patients that were deemed too dangerous to have visitors are now staying in the local motel, if they aren't out on the street coughing on passersby. 

This is likely another move to privatization, or maybe just stupidity. The private sector can isolate and treat TB patients effectively, just like private contractors provide services for the military, instead of using GIs, at five times the cost.

Never mind the tendency of these contractors to not be satisfied with an 80% profit causing them to cut corners. Drug resistant TB is already a problem, lets just incubate a few new strains until we get something worthy of Stephen King novel.     

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Advanced Alien Liars Recovered Near Roswell NM

It's the 65th anniversary of the first battle between the US Military and alien spacecraft over Roswell NM in 1947. That's as good of a story as any. It might explain the many trillions spent on "defense" since. Surely the critics who say we have just been supporting the lifestyles of a few hundred millionaires with all that money are wrong. President Eisenhower gave several speeches warning us against dangers of the Alien Industrial Complex, and how massive diversions of money away from schools and hospitals were needed to combat it.

The original press release stating that the US Army Air Force had recovered alien wreckage and bodies was surprisingly detailed. The transition to the independent USAF as wouldn't happen until September that year. The massive cover-up in the press that began the next day was simply unbelievable.  They could have said it was just a practical joke that got out of hand, cashiered the Major responsible for the story going to the local newspaper and ended it there. But instead they told an obvious lie.

Was it simply that the Generals were terrified to admit that anything issued by the military press office could be a lie? We were already into the Cold War, and lying to the public was the entire thrust of that "patriotic" movement.

The cover-up produced at great expensive by the USAF decades later was an even bigger lie than the original weather balloon story. They broadcast films from a test program used to work out the design of high altitude pilot ejection parachutes. This operation used dummies in USAF flight suits dropped from high altitude balloons, this explained away the alien bodies from the original official Army press release. There are enough facts in the story so-far to point that out as a lie. Do you get it? The uniforms don't match, the USAF had their own by the time the film was made, seven years later. They had no idea that they would ever be bailing out at high altitudes in 1947.

Why not tell another lie, and use fake evidence to back it up? Nothing new about that. Were there little green men at Roswell? We'll never know, unless the little green men tell us. But their military is probably run by even more advanced liars than ours.