Friday, September 26, 2008

Something is happening, McJones

Dedicated to John McSenile's presidential debate debut tonight ...

Ballad of a Thin Man by Bob Dylan (6-minutes) ... not a visual vid, so you can listen, read lyrics & marvel at Dylan's descriptions at the same time (have to keep it simple for McCrusty):

You walk into the room with your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked and you say, "Who is that man?"
You try so hard but you don't understand
Just what you'll say when you get home,
Because something is happening here but you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?
You raise up your head and you ask, "Is this where it is?"
And somebody points to you and says, "It's his"
And you say, "What's mine?" & somebody else says, "Where what is?"
And you say, "Oh my God am I here all alone?"
But something is happening and you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You hand in your ticket and you go watch the geek
Who immediately walks up to you when he hears you speak
And says, "How does it feel to be such a freak?"
And you say, "Impossible!" as he hands you a bone --
And something is happening here but you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You have many contacts among the lumberjacks
To get you facts when someone attacks your imagination
But nobody has any respect, anyway they already expect
you to just give a check to tax-deductible charity organizations

You've been with the professors and they've all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have discussed lepers and crooks
You've been through all of F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
You're very well read, it's well known ...
But something is happening
here and you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you and then he kneels
He crosses himself and then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice he asks you how it feels
And he says, "Here is your throat back, thanks for the
And you know something is happening but you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Now you see this one-eyed midget shouting the word "NOW"
And you say, "For what reason?" And he says, "How?"
& you say, "What does this mean?" & he screams back, "You're a cow;
Give me some milk or else go home!"
And you know something's happening but you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, you walk into the room like a camel and then you frown
You put your eyes in your pocket and your nose on the ground
There ought to be a law against you comin' around --
You should be made to wear earphones !
Because something is happening and you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Diamonds and Dogs

After watching "Split: A Divided America" on IFC today, I guess I'm just in this kind of mood.

Conservative Christian Right Wing Republican Straight White American Male (animated, about 3-minutes):

While I love the animated version, a purist who might more enjoy Todd Snider talking & performing this song live can click here. This version is about 5-minutes cuz of all that trash talk about Garth Brooks. The song was included in Todd's "East Nashville Skyline" album. Note to self: add this to the musical meme I'm working on for Diva and Utah Savage.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Vermont, last bastion of democracy

Damn! I wish I lived in Vermont so I could vote for an Attorney General who would prosecute GWB for murder. AG Candidate Charlotte Dennett would also appoint Vincent Bugliosi as special prosecutor. It just gets better and better.

Link to brief summary.

The Vermont state senate voted to impeach Bush & Cheney in 2007. Various Vermont cities have also voted to impeach. No wonder Vermont remains the only state Bush has never visited during his presidency.

As if Senator Bernie Sanders wasn't enough reason to wish to live in Vermont ... a Canadian border state, beautiful scenery, productive farmland, maple syrup ... now if only we could find a way to remove winter snow!

(panorama pic -- click to enlarge)

"All in the McFamily" and "McKeating Five" posts are directly below ...

All in the McFamily!

Remember Archie Bunker? The archetypal racist bigot conservative war-supporting nixon enabler? I believe John McCain is channeling Archie Bunker. How else to explain these coincidences from Archie's famous TV series, "All in the Family"?










{note: click this and the following pics to enlarge. they were taken on our recent vacation in the great depression room of an old mining museum}





Click here to see Archie explain why the energy crisis of the 1970's was all the democrat's fault. This was around the time President Carter told us to turn down the winter heat and put on sweaters. Carter urged us to seek alternative forms of energy, offering rebate programs for solar/wind/etc in an effort to wean us off the oil teat. But you know, he was just some loony dem gov from georgia, soon to be replaced by reaganvoodooeconomics, bushvoodooeconomics, bushvoodoowar and some clintoncentrism (go along to get along) somewhere in the midst of all that voodoo. Seems much of Archie's fuzzy logic is alive and well in the McSenile/Failin campaign today!


ps, Carroll O'Connor played the Archie character so well that not many people realized he was true blue liberal in real life. Kind of like what Steven Colbert does today.

pps, DivaJood and Utah Savage have challenged me in a musical meme (25 songs I would put on my IPod if I had one). Still working on that. Border Explorer sent a Brillante award my way. Still working on that one, too, along with worrying about WaMu (see post below).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

John McKeating Five

Joseph Romm has an article in Huffington Post today about why The Keating Five Story must be told. Here are some excerpts, starting with a few minutes of an interview with David Sirota on The Rachel Maddow show yesterday:

Partial Transcript:
SIROTA: [McCain is] an ideological conservative who is against regulation. So for him to now run out there and say that he's suddenly the guy who's going to regulate the economy and regulate Wall Street is beyond absurd. And I think we have to look at his history. Let's remember that McCain's formative economic experience was in the last crisis, the S&L crisis where he was one of the Keating Five. In that scandal he was somebody who used his Senate position to effectively intervene and press regulators to not get involved and regulate that scandal.
MADDOW: Well, is there a risk as this economic debacle that we are involved in right now starts to resemble the S&L scandal that the Keating Five issue is actually going to be on the table? Obama and Biden have stayed away from it thus far. Some outside groups have touched on it in a very minor way but I think 99 out of a 100 Americans would have no idea what the Keating Five was or what John McCain's role was in it.
SIROTA: ... I think older Americans might remember the S&L scandal. I think explaining that McCain was involved in that scandal, used his office in that scandal again to press regulators to get out of that scandal, to not essentially regulate the financial industry. It's completely relevant. It's completely important because it's the last example that we have, it's actually the only example that we have, of what John McCain would do with a public office with a crisis like this.


OK, for those of you who are not "older Americans", here's a wiki-link to the Keating Five story. Keating was the chair of Lincoln Savings and Loan Association of Irvine, California, and he "ultimately served five years in prison for his corrupt mismanagement of Lincoln." Lincoln had become "burdened with bad debt resulting from its past aggressiveness, and by early 1986, its investment practices were being investigated and audited" by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB) over whether it had violated rules limiting certain kinds of risky, direct investments. "Lincoln directed FDIC-insured accounts into commercial real estate ventures. By the end of 1986, the FHLBB found that Lincoln had $135 million in unreported losses and had surpassed the regulated direct investments limit by $600 million."

The core allegation of the Keating Five affair is that Keating had made contributions of about $1.3 million to various U.S. Senators, and he called on those Senators to help him resist regulators. The regulators backed off, to later disastrous consequences. In 1991, the Senate Ethics Committee found that McCain had exercised "poor judgment" for meeting with federal regulators on Keating's behalf. Others members of the Keating Five were found to have acted improperly. Many independent observers thought all five got off lightly, especially McCain, who had far closer ties to Keating than the others:

McCain was the closest socially to Keating of the five senators.... Between 1982 and 1987, McCain had received $112,000 in political contributions from Keating and his associates. In addition, McCain's wife Cindy McCain and her father Jim Hensley had invested $359,100 in a Keating shopping center in April 1986, a year before McCain met with the regulators. McCain, his family, and their baby-sitter had made nine trips at Keating's expense, sometimes aboard Keating's jet. Three of the trips were made during vacations to Keating's opulent Bahamas retreat at Cat Cay.

McCain acted unethically back then and he is acting unethically today with his dishonest and dishonorable campaign. McCain sided with his fat cat contributors back then, and he's doing it again today. McCain's incredibly close ties with Keating foreshadow his incredibly close ties with lobbyists today, especially with the oil industry, whose polluting policies McCain flip-flopped to embrace this year and whose lobbyists McCain now has running his campaign.


A personal note: As Washington Mutual goes on the auction block today, I'd like to tie that back to the Keating Five S&L scandal, if as an "older american" I can remember the sequence. In 1987, I funded a small IRA account with Citicorp. As the S&L scandals grew, many S&L's (not just Lincoln) failed. Many others were merged with larger banks, just as is happening today. These failures were so numerous that for years there was a special line on federal tax returns allowing deductions for depositor savings you might have lost during the S&L shake-out.

During that time, Citicorp was chopped up and some of its depositor money, including my small IRA account, was absorbed by Great Western Savings. As the S&L debacle wore on, Great Western ended up being gobbled up by Washington Mutual. Right from the start, I never cared for WaMu, mainly because all their local branches were so sleezy. But you know how it goes. An individual pension account can sit there for years. You don't really have any contact with it until you start withdrawing from it. And since moving a pension account is not that simple, I didn't see any real reason to mess with it.

So here I am today, looking at my Washington Mutual account and wondering if it will make it through yet another merger or if this time I will get stung. I think it'll be fine because it doesn't exceed FDIC limits, and at this point the FDIC reserves are still adequate. But I'm very worried what will happen when the FDIC reserves are simply gone. It won't take too many more bank failures for that to happen. $50Billion is chump-change these days.

And I don't think simply printing more treasury securities is going to fool anybody either. It will add to our already scary inflation. People needed a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread in Germany in the 1930's. And we all know where that led.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Who are the Lehman Brothers Top Shareholders?

Today Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail, not bailed out like BearStearns or FreddieMac or FannieMae. Why? The fact that it is the largest U.S. corporate bankruptcy to date (see list below) cannot be the whole story. After all, we are often told that huge corporations, like GM, are too big to be allowed to fail.

So here is a thought I'm tossing out for consideration: Perhaps Lehman Brothers was not bailed out because of who their major investors were (or weren't). In BearStearns case, the Carlyle Group was involved (through Carlyle Capital). Carlyle is closely tied to the Bush family and Saudi royals. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I can't find any google route into Lehman Brothers List of Top Shareholders to verify or debunk who their major investors are. Maybe they are people or firms without clout in our neocon world. Maybe they are competitors with Bush-Saudi interests for oil domination. Maybe maybe maybe the "Line in the Sand" (today's official talking point) is really just Bushit.


List of biggest U.S. corporate bankruptcies:

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s Chapter 11 filing is by far the largest corporate bankruptcy case in the U.S., measured by total assets before the filing. Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday after falling under the weight of $60 billion in soured real estate holdings. Its filing listed $639 billion in assets as of May 31.The list includes the date of the company’s bankruptcy filing and its assets at the time of filing...

1. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Sept. 15, 2008, $639 billion
2. Worldcom Inc., July 21, 2002, $103.91 billion
3. Enron Corp., Dec. 2, 2001, $63.39 billion
4. Conseco Inc., Dec. 18, 2002, $61.39 billion
5. Texaco Inc., April 12, 1987, $35.89 billion
6. Financial Corp. of America, Sept. 9, 1988, $33.86 billion
7. Refco Inc., Oct. 17, 2005, $33.33 billion
8. Global Crossing Ltd., Jan. 28, 2002, $30.19 billion
9. Pacific Gas and Electric Co., April 6, 2001, $29.77 billion
10. UAL Corp., Dec. 9, 2002, $25.2 billion
11. Delta Air Lines Inc., Sept. 14, 2005, $21.8 billion
12. Adelphia Communications, June 25, 2002, $21.5 billion
13. Mcorp, March 31, 1989, $20.23 billion
14. Mirant Corp., July 14, 2003, $19.42 billion
15. Delphi Corp., Oct. 8, 2005, $16.59 billion

Source: The Associated Press
Updated: 2:54 p.m. ET Sept. 15, 2008© 2008

Did you notice something funny about that list? All but 3 of the 15 largest US corporate bankruptcies in history took place during the GWBush Administration! The 3 outliers took place during the waning days of Reagan and beginning of GHWBush. Those Repubs sure know how to bring down the house!

But don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Lehman Brothers didn't deserve to fail. I'm just questioning why them and why not BearStearns? I'd be willing to hazard a guess that none of the largest shareholders of Lehman Brothers is named Bush or Cheney or Carlyle. Please correct me if you have shareholder info.


Now here's another thought: the BofA spokesman interviewed on Bloomberg today predicted that by this time next year, the number of surviving US banks will be 50% of the current apprx 9,000 US banks. He should know. His company has been in the bank gobbling business for years. Last year BofA acquired MBNA (another Bush-Carlyle investment). Today they acquired Merrill Lynch. Both BofA and Barclay's Bank passed on Lehman Brothers.

There is a very important reason you should be watching which banks are gobbling up the banks you do business with. That reason is FDIC-insurance limits. Your money is only insured up to the FDIC limit for each banking institution (link to FDIC limits). You may find yourself unintentionally exceeding those limits if a few of your banks are merged into one mega bank in the coming financial shake-out.

Well, that's my financial tip of the day, inspired by comments at Enigma's "Black Monday" post. Soon we will see the predictably weak Fed response of lowering interest rates which will further erode the US Dollar (not to mention further impoverishing those living on fixed incomes). It seems to be all they can think of to do!

UPDATE 9/16/08: LindsayLobe found the VIP shareholder info ... read his & my response in the comment thread ... I think we are onto something about why one investment firm was bailed out, but not the other. Thanks, Lindsay!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

No escaping politics, even on vacation

I'm still on vacation, but can't resist a little Sarah in the Night ...

Sarah Palin in 4-minutes (sub-title: are you f**king kiddin' me?) ...
(apologies ... had to post that vid as a link instead of embed ... is anyone else having trouble embedding vids about Sarah? Blogger just would NOT let me embed this vid ... maybe because it uses the vajayjay word) ...

Why is it when you are camping in some very remote areas, the only TV channel you can reliably receive is FOX? Still, it wasn't a total bust because on some morning nitwit FOX show, I did get to see Ed Harris (hawking his new movie "Appaloosa", a western with Jeremy Irons and Viggo Mortensen!), respond when questioned about what we could expect from a Sarah Palin Veepiency:

"It is my fervent wish that she will become a fascinating footnote in the anals of moosehunting."

Tell me that's not poetic (and, I hope, prophetic)!

And today, reading online news (thanks to some kindly friendly wired friends), I can't pass up posting a link to the ABC Exclusive Interview with Sarahpoo -- wherein she shows her energy chops over possible oil wars with Russia and/or Iran -- oh how I wish this were all some joke. If you missed her Thursday interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson, he stuck it out for more with Sarah to be aired Friday on "Good Morning America" and "World News" and on "20/20". You gotta give it to Charlie -- the man has more staying power than most.

Since I'm pretty sure FOX won't be showing these interviews, the balance of our camping trip is probably safe.

See 'ya in a few more days!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Blooming Fools

Late Summer Flowers:

Purple Sage in my front yard.

They bloom after heavy monsoons.

Last summer they bloomed 3 times. This year, twice.

Blooming Sage always attract tons of bees. You can hear them buzzing from across the yard.

I tried to get a close up of them, but the wiley bees were hiding way down in the blooms.
I think you can see one in the center left area if you look closely. Click pic to enlarge.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The D.K. Family is leaving for a little camping trip now. Be back in a couple weeks. I'll miss you all.

Please work on Sarahpoo's departure while we're gone.

She is Dick Cheney's inner queen in high heels.

Here's some Frank Zappa for trippy clues:

Sorry this is so disjointed. It's late and I'm tired and we have a lot of driving to do today. It'll be nice to escape the heat.