January 31, 2009

Geithner and Obama Admin to cut bank execs slack

The Obama Administration’s plans to continue helping the financial sector do NOT include plans to tighten the screws on executive compensation, despite President Obama’s public-consumption carping about executive bonuses.

The story goes on to tout the administration’s idea of taking multiple approaches to financial sector problems. All well and good. But, I don’t see how you can do that without a “bad bank” idea as part of the picture; that’s not counting George Soros’ idea of a “good bank” as well as a bad bank.

Nor does the article mention Geithner’s resistance to anything that smacks of bank nationalization, which is probably connected to his resistance to a bad bank idea.

He claims it’s “complicated” to do a bad bank, but since Sweden did it, in the 1990s, as part of, ahem, bank nationalization, this would NOT involve reinventing the wheel.

So, we have Geithner (and behind him, Summers, you can bet), taking a pseudo-comprehensive approach to dealing with financial sector problems, and tied to that, Obama issuing a “for public consumption only” statement on the issue, like he did with NAFTA during the Democratic primary season, when he got busted at it.

Question: Will the MSM, or MSLBs (especially those, like TPM, with a reporting staff), ask Obama how his statement squares with Treasury comments, re executive compensation?

C’mon, now. You know the answer.

Laura Miller shills for ‘clean’ coal

The former Dallas mayor, who formed the Texas Clean Air Cities Coalition before leaving office, is now shilling for clean slightly less dirty coal and even trying to get Obama stimulus money for it.

As I’ve said more than once, after leaving the Dallas Observer, Laura Miller became just like one of the politicians she used to excoriate. Now, she’s moved on to become one of the special-interest insiders she used to excoriate as well.

That said, I’m not totally against either increasing the tax credit for carbon sequestered, or lowering the megawatt size of slightly less dirty coal plants that would qualify for other tax breaks.

But, the flip side is that slightly less dirty coal plants, in turn, need to offer legally binding guarantees for their sequestration and probably post bonds against that.

Do that with some clean slightly less dirty coal companies and we’ll find out just how much they believe in “clean” coal.

That said, Miller is specifically lobbying Kay Bailey Hutchison to adjust the relevant tax credits, with Miller client Summit Power waiting to build a plant in Odessa.

Hutchison probably will bite. Gives her a jobs and energy issue for the 2010 gubernatorial primary while giving her a “green” item to use with people who don’t know better in the general, if she knocks off Perry.

Something’s rotten in the state of Georgia

And, it’s called a peanut butter processing plant.

Actually, though, the rottenness isn’t so much at Peanut Corp. of America, in some ways, as it is with our lackadaisical, underfunded, underenforced federal regulatory system.

How’s that?

Get this.

Peanut Corp. was under no obligation to tell the FDA it was making peanut butter at the Georgia plant, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

So, the FDA would have no way of knowing it should be inspecting peanut butter at Peanut Corp. of America.

That said, didn’t the FDA have some idea it should look for some sort of peanut-based food at this plant? I guess not; that would explain why the FDA didn’t inspect it for seven years.

Daschle latest ethically challenged Obama nominee

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, President Obama’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, has a Tim Geithner-style tax problem.

Daschle has fessed up to restating income to the amount of more than $250,000 and having to pay more than $100,000 in back taxes on that restated income.

And, this isn’t income you could just “misplace,” either, it seems:
The car service and the consulting income were received in connection with Daschle's business relationship with InterMedia Partners of Englewood, Colo. Daschle is a limited partner and chairman of its executive advisory board. Daschle is also an independent consultant to InterMedia Advisors LLP of New York City. … Beginning in 2005, Daschle was provided the use of a car and driver. Charges for the car and driver services were billed to InterMedia.

All of a sudden, “sometime” in 2008, Daschle suddenly things this car and driver might be taxable income.

Gee, was that “sometime” sometime after Nov. 4, when the possibility of a Cabinet position started become real? (That was a rhetorical question, in case you didn't get it.)

And, from the way the story reads, we, and the Senate Finance Committee, still aren’t at the bottom of just exactly what Daschle’s taxable income should be the last few years.

Gimme a fricking break is the bottom-line statement from here. Not knowing that, or whether, a company-supplied car and driver was taxable income??? Puhleeze. And, if not sure, at least not asking somebody? And, no, I do not think the IRS code is that complicated, though, as with Geithner, some Obamiacs are starting to float that line already.

Amazing what self-delusion can do.

January 30, 2009

Turkish PM spat over Israel-Gaza could have benefits

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, frustrated that he didn’t have enough time at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to tell Israeli President Shimon Peres what he really thought about Israel’s invasion of Gaza and Peres’ commens, walked off the stage and said he didn’t expect to return.

Since Turkey has long been a top ally of Israel in the Muslim world, the “stun” factor is understandable.

But, that's also part of why Turkey sgtands to benefit from this in the long term. Erdogan's comments have already boosted his credibility in the Arab world. That said, as long as Turkey continues its commitment to democracy and secularism, it could have even broader benefits.

The Turkish opposition won't be able to back fully away from this, but, as a campaign issue by an opposition constantly worried about Erdogan's commitment to secularism, it is something that will keep him in line, too.

World headed for ‘water bankruptcy’?

That’s the stark warning coming from this year’s assemblage of the World Economics Forum in Davos.

That said, this being Davos, even though a specific solution or set of solutions to the problem wasn’t mentioned, I’m sure something “market-based” was probably on the minds of many.

Carl Hiaasen knows ‘Scat’

He’s better; that’s the title of his third children’s book, daring enough to talk about the Iraq War to children.

‘Carnival of the Liberals’ isn’t

Another Carnival of the Liberals is out. Again, yours truly didn’t make the cut.

CotL is different than most blog carnivals in that it has a 10-post cutoff for posts each issue, making it more selective, if you will, than two other blog carnivals to whom I regularly submit.

My submission this time?

Tim Geithner compares Obama to Bush. Nuff said?

It’s not the first time that something that critiques what passes for American liberalism from further left hasn’t made the cut. That’s OK in and of itself.

What’s not OK from where blog is some of the stuff that gets in.

The main offender? The blogger known as Greta Christina, whose posts regularly make the Top 10 cut, even when, as this time around (no link will be provided), they’re of no connection to any liberal issue. A blog post deriding conspiracy theories is fine for, say, Skeptics’ Circle, but it had nothing to do with liberalism. And, she does nothing for me anyway.

Beyond that, seeing comments yesterday on this Washington Monthly post by CotL host Dr. Biobrain, I now realize why I’m not making the cut. (His comments to my Geithner post only reinforce that. Note to Democrats only "liberals" like Biobrain – look in the mirror before calling somebody like me closed-minded.)

When the idea of someone being to the left of Obama is basically derided, I don’t need to bang my head against that wall any more.

So, I doubt I’ll bother submitting anymore. I can always post my best left-liberal comment of the last two weeks to the blog that hosts the particular CotL.

Another reason astronauts won’t go to Mars

At least not anytime soon, that is. Astronaut bone loss has been shown to be worse than previously believed, especially in the hip.

How bad? As bad as serious cases of osteoporosis on earth. Now take time on the International Space Station and change it to a trip to Mars in a crew capsule offering less, if not much less, room to exercise.

Picture a hip fracture from stumbling over a crater lip on the Martian surface

Schizophrenia – too much focus on self

A startling new explanation of schizophrenia is the finding of a new research study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The nickel overview?

Areas of the brain devoted to self-attention and self-reflection are overactive in schizophrenics. Researchers say this could explain hallucinations and other symptoms, in that “normal” exterior stimuli aren’t perceived as external, due to the amount of self-focus.

(No, there’s nothing to indicate such undue self-focus is primarily an environmental effect, so Freudians can remain seated. In fact, the research study has good evidence for the heritability of this brain activity.)

Read the whole story; it sounds like a new line of research has just opened up.

Political vote on S-CHIP for Hutchison?

Kay Bailey Hutchison was one of just 9 GOP Senators to vote Yes on S-CHIP expansion.

Given Rick Perry’s generally abysmal record on children’s health issues, this is an easy issue to stake out some separation, not just for the GOP primary, but to give her a “reasonableness” image for the general election, if she beats Perry.

January 29, 2009

Iranians used poison gas

Of course, they were normally known as Persians then.

Whey? More than 1,700 years ago, when the Sassanid Empire used suffocating gas to attack the Romans.

Just shows that, between the people who invented crucifixion and those who brought it to a new "art form," there's nothing new under the sun in the way of warfare, cruelty, etc.

Also, for the V.D. Hansens of the world determined to demonize Iran? Your Christianity's heaven, hell, apocalyptic dualism, bodily resurrection, last judgment and afterlife all came from those ancient Persians, as did Marco Polo's macaroni `,000 years after the battle in the link, so I'd just shut up if I were you.

Feds have more steroids goods on Bonds

Supposedly, the government has bad Bonds urine tests among information to offer in his perjury trial.

Although ESPN isn’t clear, it appears the “other steroids” alleged to be in Barry B’s urine are, unlike the “clear” and the “cream,” stuff that was known to be steroids at the time Bonds ingested.

And, former teammate, catcher Bobby Estalella, is expected to testify against Bonds.

The lies of John Yoo, part 133

Torture advocate and would-be philosophical defender John Yoo claims to be writing about Obama’s executive order requiring the CIA to follow the Army Field Manual on interrogations, but is actually in some alternative universe.

His ludicrous claims include the idea that this would eliminate good-cop, bad-cop routines. Funny… American police departments still do that all the time, Mr. Yoo.

Second, the right to a lawyer doesn’t mean that alleged terrorists won’t still talk to interrorgatos, or can’t still be convicted if evidence is available.

Nor does all evidence have to be produced in open court. In criminal cases ranging from severe child abuse to Mafia racketeering, our court system as now established allows for a variety of private testimony.

Krugman tears Obama a new one

Riffing on an old joke about communism, Paul Krugman says that on TARP bailout issues for self-inflicted wounds of greedy banks, Obama is just like Bush, only different.

FINALLY! A major pundit, and one with the chops to stand by saying it, says Obama, Summers and Geithner have no clothes.

As for "the free market," Adam Smith's "enlightened hand" came out of his Enlightenment Deist beliefs, beliefs long since shattered by the Napoleonic Wars, WW I and WW II, atomic weapons and more.

Talking about "the market" like this is nothing but clownishness

Turkish PM walks out on Davos over Gaza

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, frustrated that he didn’t have enough time at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to tell Israeli President Shimon Peres what he really thought about Israel’s invasion of Gaza and Peres’ commens, walked off the stage and said he didn’t expect to return.

Since Turkey has long been a top ally of Israel in the Muslim world, the “stun” factor is understandable.

Erdogan added that he was frustrated in part because he thought, before the Gaza invasion, that he was close to a deal with Israeli PM EHud Olmert over Syrian issues.

Holocaust questioning just a ‘technical aspect’

The northeast Itialy head of the Society of St. Pius X probably needs to put the shovel down and stop diggingin trying to put some spin on anti-Holocaust comments by an American member of the order.

Rev. Floriano Abrahamowicz said the comments by Bishop Richard Williamson, just “rehabilitated” by Pope Benedict XVI, doubting Jews were gassed, was only questioning the “technical aspect” of gas chambers.

However, that was just the entrée for the main course of foot in mouth. Abrahamowicz then said Jews were:
“The people of God who then became the God-killing people.”

Especially with a converso surname like that, the blatant bigotry is shocking.

So, too, is the Vatican’s claim that it “had to” co ahead with Williamson’s rehabilitation. Read why.

‘Buy American’ in stimulus package good idea, bad idea

The House included a Buy American provision in its economic stimulus program that sounds great on paper. But is it?

The rider would require that only American iron and steel be used in infrastructure projects funded by the stimulus.

Promote American steel-making sounds great, right?

But, I can’t see how this passes World Trade Organization scrutiny. (That’s not to say I’m a fan of the WTO, just reporting the issues.)

Compound that with the fact that sovereign wealth funds from China and the Arab world, among other places, are getting antsy about the possibility of being asked to take a haircut on their investments in U.S. investment banks as part of a “bad bank” idea, and the “Buy American” provision looks like an even tougher international sell.

The European Union has already threatened countermeasures, in shades of the Great Depression after the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff.

A better set of ideas would be to go after Chinese steel dumping while giving bidding bonus points to using U.S. steel without requiring it.

More proof Geithner in the tank for Wall Street

First, Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department has yet to respond to a Bloomberg request for information on what securities at Citigroup and Bank of America the Treasury recently propped up. Treasury did a document dump on its website Jan. 28, but had none of the information Bloomberg wanted.

Bloomberg is most interested in tanking, or tanked, CDOs the two banks wrote that the government is now having to underwrite.

Be prepared to wait a while. Geither, in Senate Finance Committee comments to Sen. Charles Grassley, indicated he’s learned too well from former boss Ben Bernanke the idea of stiffing both the media and Congress.

Second, it is clear Geithner (with Larry Summers ultimately behind him), on the issue of bank nationalization, is NOT just worried about the PR of the word “nationalization” but that he actively opposed the whole concept.

Why? He wants his friends at Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, etc., to continue to rake in federal money with a shovel without facing the consequences.

Hey, Obamiacs! Love your “common man” president so far?

Cry a river for Detroit and Coal Congressmen

The Formerly Big Three says likely new California carbon-dioxide standards will be too tough for them to meet.

Meanwhile, coal-state Democratic Congressmen and Senators are feeling that, from his environmental ideas to his environmental and energy advisors and Cabinet members, Obama is giving them a bit of a cold shoulder.
“There’s a bias in our Congress and government against manufacturing, or at least indifference to us, especially on the coasts,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio. “It’s up to those of us in the Midwest to show how important manufacturing is. If we pass a climate bill the wrong way, it will hurt American jobs and the American economy, as more and more production jobs go to places like China, where it’s cheaper.”

I’ve got some word for you folks.

Detroit, you’ve wasted 30 years. Time’s up, not just for you, but for how much longer we can wait to take action on global warming.

Sherrod Brown? There’s no bias against manufacturing, just the source of your electricity.

Coal states? Like James Hansen says, we need to stop burning coal. Maybe we can use it for coal gasification, or for carbon nanotubes, but not for electric power.

Require new Congressmen to undergo science training

Or, in the case of antiscientific nutbars like Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, let's not limit the training to newbies!

Seriously, though, Susanne Haga of Duke University notes that in Great Britain, such training is suggested of new Members of Parliament
The Conservative Party in Great Britain recently announced that it will include classes on scientific methodology and basic concepts in the orientation activities for all new Conservative members of Parliament after the next elections, specifically to address politicians' lack of scientific expertise.

Shadow Science Minister Adam Afriyie, the architect behind these new courses, says, "By building a base of scientific knowledge among politicians and officials, we aim to strengthen the role of science in policy making."

She then wonders why we possibly can’t or won’t install a similar requirement here.

Well, the obvious answer to the can’t or won’t is because Congress makes its own rules.

More seriously, though, we require initial and remedial training for county judges here in Texas; on the judicial side, other states require that for magistrate judges, JPs, etc., so requiring elected officials to undergo training isn’t even close to preposterous.

And, it would definitely boost President Obama's efforts to have science-based government policies.

January 28, 2009

Ignatieff and Canadian Liberals flunk first cojones test

Canadian Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff said today his party will not challenge Prime Minister Stephen Harper's new budget, but will put the Conservatives on probation for money from Harper's economic stimulus program to actually be dispersed as budgeted.

Yeah, Harper is quaking in his boots.

The stimulus package has the government pledging income tax cuts and $9.8 billion for infrastructure. There is money for bridges and highways, high-speed Internet networks and a 12-month tax rebate for home renovations. The government also lengthened the amount of time unemployed people will be able to collect insurance if they are laid off to 50 weeks from 45 weeks.

(Both the New Democratic Party and Bloc Quebecois have said they will continue to oppose the budget.)

Britain the next Iceland?

At Foreign Policy, David Kenner says it's quite possible the UK economy will implode as badly as Iceland's. A holding of foreign debt twice that of the total British annual economic output, combined with the EU expecting the British economy to contract nearly 3 percent this year, puts it atop a five-country sick list.

Latvia, Greece, Nicaragua and Ukraine round out the list. Read why.

John Cornyn 'hearts' torture


I guess that he's worried that Attorney General-designee Eric Holder might actually prosecute some of Big John's BushCo buddies for waterboarding or other torturous activities, so he just had to vote against Holder's nomination at the Senate Judiciary Committee level, joining fellow nutbar Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

California law enforcement plans crackdown on ORVs

No warnings anymore for off-road vehicle drivers trespassing on private land in the Tehachapi Mountains; it will be trespassing citations instead.

Good, and more than time. For every one ORVer claiming to be law abiding, there’s a dozen who aren’t.

Marines want to hog Route 66

The U.S. Marine Corps wants to expand its Twentynine Palms, Calif., air-ground combat training area, to the east (the city is northwest of Joshua Tree National Park). But cities in the Mojave Desert worry that the expansion would clog up a major section of old Route 66.

Soros - 'good bank' as well as "bad bank' needed

Gazillionaire financier/international monetary raider George Soros appears to have a very sound idea, especially if put in the larger context of a seemingly necessary bank nationalization.

More bad news about bisphenol

People may be ingesting it from non-food sources, and/or it may remain in the body longer than once thought and can’t easily be unclogged.

Too little economic stimulus – or too much?

The case for the idea that President Obama is not pushing for enough of a an economic stimulus package is made here. by some Congressional Democrats, challenging the administration’s claim (i.e., Larry Summers’ claim) that mass transit and other projects aren’t “shovel ready.”

A variegated collection of libertarians, non-supply side conservatives and economic scolds transcending political labels argues that there’s already too much economic stimulus effort on the table.

My take?

First, I’m disappointed that reregulation of investment banking, etc., has been decoupled from economic relief. Given the Goldman Sachs-heavy makeup of Obama’s economic advisors, I’m afraid we will NEVER get serous re-regulation.

Second, the “too much stimulus” group is right to be skeptical about some parts of the package. While I favor something like allowing mortgages to be sent to bankruptcy court for “cram-down” adjustment, I do also agree that the housing bubble has yet to be fully burst in many places. AND, so far, no mortgage-bankruptcy proposals differentiate between people who got burned and/or suckered, vs. “flippers,” second/third/fourth home buyers, and others making investment buys, who deserve NO help.

Third, the do-nothing crowd is right to the degree that the stimulus package probably needs more focusing. Wall Street Journalop-ed hackery aside, I don’t think the Obama team has yet to answer the question of whether 20th-century Keynesianism (or other 20th-century economic theories) are suitable to a 21st-cenutry recession.

That said, yet more money for mass transit, for green research both by the government and private industry, etc. SHOULD be in a stimulus bill. Indeed, those aspects could be relabeled as an “energy and climate security package.”

But, we won’t actually get this. Instead, we’ll get a Wall Street-friendly package that is NOT what America needs.

The hackery of Tim Geithner now complete

The new Treasury Secretary has hired a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist as his chief of staff. And, even if this passes the letter of President Obama’s anti-lobbying ethics reform executive order, it sure doesn’t pass the spirit of it, or the smell test.

And, I’m not sure if it even passes the letter of the lobbying rules.

If this isn’t proof that the second round of TARP disbursements, and much else within Obama administration economic efforts, will be targeted at Wall Street and not Main Street, I don’t know what is. (In other words, per the one Democratic National Convention commercial, Obama's financial administration IS about Smith Barney and NOT about "average Joe" speaker Barney Smith.)

For the non-diehard Obamiacs, please tell me you’re not surprised.

And, I hope you're not surprised that MSLBs haven't noted this issue yet.

The bathtub effect – why global warming isn’t readily reversed

The bathtub effect says that, in essence, some of our “drains” for removing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere have already started clogging and can’t easily be unclogged.

Andy Stern extends SEIU heavyhandedness

I didn’t really even have to click on the headline link to know what union it was that Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern had placed into trusteeship.

Unable to control, intimidate or beat down United Healthcare Workers-West, he got former Labor Secretary Ray Marshall to be his toady to force the trusteeship issue.

Big corporation suckup Stern is going to wind up destroying the labor reform movement that he spearheaded a decade ago; he moves further down that road all the tiem.

January 27, 2009

Get your Lincoln Bicentennial groove on

The National Park Service has a special website for the bicentennial.

Obama caving to GOP on taxes?

President Obama has reportedly told Congressional Republicans, in a closed-door meeting, that he’s open to more tax cuts as part of his economic stimulus fiscal package, according to GOP Rep. Jack Kingston.

That said, four GOP Senators on the Senate Appropriations Committee voted “yes” on $366 billion of the spending portion of the legislation, meaning that Senate filibuster threats are null and void.

Rodney Ellis wants to clean up Texas highways

We’re not talking about litter, but about air pollution. Should California have its request for a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant granted, the Houston state senator wants Texas to join 13 other states and adopt California standards.

Ellis said adopting the tougher standards would cost drivers about $7 a month more for a five-year new car purchase, but could save as much as $18 a month on fuel costs.

Predictably, carmakers, for the most part, and advocacy groups, are strongly opposed.

Being not just the nation’s No. 2 car market, but its No. 1 truck market, means this is a big deal.

Besides, California and the other 13 states in question have more than half the nation’s population, and under an Obama EPA rehearing, it’s likely the waiver will be granted.

Of course, I’m not holding my breath over the likelihood of Ellis getting a bill passed here in Texas, but, it’s definitely worth a shot.

Palin starts PAC

No, it’s not the I Lie About Pregnancy PAC, or the I Love Slaughtering Wolves for No Good Reason PAC, or the Damn, My Family is Dysfunctional PAC. It’s an actual political action committee called, wait for it …

SarahPac.

Hmnm, guess “Whore of Wasilla PAC” was already taken.

Vive le Empereur? Non!

Global warming could kill the emperor penguin within 50 years if it can’t adapt.

And, they don’t appear to be that fast of adaptors. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change offers 1-in-3 odds of a 95 percent or greater die-off.

A different take on Blago impeachment

Is Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich being railroaded, or close to it, in his Illinois Senate impeachment? Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson says yes, and has some persuasive arguments.
Is Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about to be impeached on grounds of loopiness, obnoxiousness and a bad haircut? Apparently so. ,,,

(I)t is unclear to me what else Blagojevich has done that a duly constituted jury would find illegal. … Unfortunately for the governor, the Illinois Senate is not bound by the strict rules of evidence and testimony that constrain a criminal court.

Plus, as Robinson adds, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has asked the state senate to stay away from possible witnesses in any Blago trial.

Oh, speaking of that? Remember that “second round” of taped conversations Fitz said – about two months ago – that he would release?

Haven’t seen or heard a thing about that recently, have we?

Methinks Fitz has a weak case and that's part of why he doesn't want the Illinois Senate calling witnesses.

Last nail hammered in crack baby myth’s coffin

An extensive, longitudinal study shows that while babies born to crack cocaine-using mothers have some effects, the effects are far less than those fdrom fetal alcohol syndrome and indeed are about the same as from mothers smoking cigarettes. And, a lot fewer mothers smoke crack (or snort powder, for that matter), than drink a bit too much, or smoke Marlboros.

Also, blaming crack lets larger, largely white, society ignore the social condition that actually were and are a more serious contributor to the delayed mental development of “crack babies.”

And, it allowed people like Ronnie Reagan to come up with and push the bullshit of the “War on Drugs” in the name of saving little black babies from becoming grown-up black adults.

Needed - a NEW fiscal regulatory agency

The Washington Post has an excellent article on the need to seriously tighten federal fiscal regulation. (Why neither House nor Senate, while the current iron-is-hot leverage moment exists, isn't attaching new regulatory measures to Obama's economic stimulus proposal, I don't know.)

The article then raises the question as to whether the Federal Reserve should get new powers to do this, or should some other extant federal agency, or should we start some new agency?

Without plumping for option 2 or 3, I'll say a definite no to Option 1. The Fed doesn't need these new powers.

First, it's failed to adequately use the powers it has, both at The Fed and at the NY Fed, where new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner failed badly in overseeing investment bank. (Peter Principle at work for the first time in the Obama administration.)

Second, the length of terms of Fed governors, and the cult-like status that Greenspan (and, partially Volcker before him) have arrogated, make this a no-go without further structural reforms of the Fed.

China recovery will not help world

First and foremost, it appears that any Chinese economic recovery will primarily benefit the internal economy and only have a secondary effect for the outside world.

Second, who says that China needs to make "consumption" a principle engine of economic growth? Note to Business Week - do you know what a "bubble" is? What one looks like?

Credit card companies, like telcos, helped snoop on America

That’s the word from former National Security Agency analyst, and current whistleblower, Russell Tice. Without saying he had hard evidence, he indicated that it’s his belief that credit card companies, like telecommunications companies, voluntarily gave the NSA access to their data after 9/11.
To get at what's really going on here, the CEOs of these telecom companies, and also of the banking and credit card companies and any other company where you have big databases, those are the people you have to haul in to Congress and tell them you better tell the truth. Because anyone in the government is going to claim executive privilege.

Is Obama listening? Is Eric Holder listening?

January 26, 2009

Geithner confirmation was no slam dunk

OK, so President (No, really, it's about change) Obama has his serial-lying Wall Street insider Scientists have begun drilling to a planned depth of three-quarters of a mile in southeastern Washington basalt. The goal? To see if officially confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury.

BUT...

How often has a new president had muliple members of his own party vote against a Cabinet nominee? (Three Democrats, plus Bernie Sanders, said "nyet" to Geithner.)

Meanwhile, from here in Texas, Crackpot John Cornyn showed:
A. How crackpot clueless he really is;
B. How much he's playing politics with Obama nominations, such as his Clinton stunt;

By voting YES on Geithner.

The principled Russ Feingold and oft-principled (except Big Ag subsidies) Tom Harkin voted no, as did Robert Byrd and Sanders.

Question.

Given the talking point I mentioned, that multiple no votes from ones own party in the Senate, when it's in the majority, for a Cabinet nominee is rare, will Obama listen?

Carbon sequestration gets tryout

Scientists have begun drilling to a planned depth of three-quarters of a mile in southeastern Washington basalt. The goal? To see if carbon sequestration is practical there. Geologists already believe basalt is a good medium for carbon sequestration, in part, because carbon dioxide in basalt is converted into calcium carbonate.

But, High Country News cautions that the idea still has a lot of uncertainty.

And, theoretically, saline formations are better for sequestration.

Carbon emission action needed now

If we don’t act by 2010, it now seems virtually impossible that we can keep global warming change below 2 degrees Celsius. Climate scientists believe that’s a baseline number and temperature increase above it will inflict major changes to Earth’s environment.

Among those changes? Major dead zones in the world’s oceans, enough to seriously reduce the plentitude of the oceans as a world food source.

More on the imperative need to act now is here, from Susan Solomon of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Obama’s Vietnam?

Juan Cole has his strongest warning yet that President Obama needs to be very careful how he handles Afghanistan.

Needed – the mother of all energy bills

Joseph Romm, dismissing MSM allegations that the Obama Administration if of two minds on climate change issues, says we need the mother of all energy bills from the current administration.

Texas wildfires ramp up

They've killed one person so far and damaged several thousand acres around the state.

It's no wonder, with the number of northers shooting through here this year, and the dry winter we've had. It could be a long spring, like a few years ago.

Get ready for more food sticker shock

Ongoing drought in California's Central Valley and elsewhere means lettuce, almonds and melons are among produce itself set to start a price climb. Federally-ordered, environmentally-driven, cutbacks of water going south from California's Sacramento Delta, are adding to the problem, while federal reservoirs in the area are at their lowest in nearly 20 years.

And, early weather forecasts call for a dry spring.

Yet another study refutes autism-thimerosal link

This one comes from Italy, which accidentally set up a ready-made study when, in the early 1990s, children there got whooping cough vaccines with notably different amounts of the preservative thimerosal, with the vaccines differing by a factor of more than two. Thimerosal fingered by many autism conspiracy theory peddlers as the causative agent for an alleged, but actually nonexistent, “epidemic” of autism.

Ten years later, 1,400 of the children took a batter of brain tests. Only tiny differences were found, within the range of chance, in two of 24 measurements. As for actual cases of autism, only one was diagnosed, and that in a child who got the low-thimerosal vaccine.

Update, Jan. 6, 2011: Well, we know now that the lies of Andrew Wakefield involved deliberate fraud. So, it's strike 4, or 4,000, and counting. Though antivaxxers won't own up to that.

Probably, the exposure of the deliberate fraud is itself a conspiracy.

January 25, 2009

Girls Gone Mild

Yes, the "adult entertainment industry" reportedly is showing signs, of, er, "softening" in its The L.A. Dodgers' skipper and former New York Yankees field general is bottom-line fiscal performance in the current economic downturn.

Beyond the recession, Internet piracy and the continued growth of "amateur" pornography are leaving LA's San Fernando Valley badly in need of some economic Viagra.

Joe Torre grinds a few axes

The L.A. Dodgers' skipper and former New York Yankees field general is doing some pinstripe burials in his new book, "The Pinstripe Years."

Top talking points include that Yankee teammates called Alex (A-Rod) Rodriguez "A-Fraud" and that Torre thinks Yankee GM Brian Cashman deserted him during his last, unsuccessful contract talks with Yankee brass.

Trash picking up trash in Missouri

A Neo-Nazi group is doing highway adopt-a-spot work near Springfield, Mo.

SoCal earthquake danger raised

It’s possible the southern end of the main San Andreas Fault is overdue for a major earthquake, one as big as the El Cajon temblor of 1857.

If an earthquake about that big hit in the same area today, not only could it cause major structural damage in the Southland, it would also like cause major damage to the California Aqueduct and State Water Project systems.

EU pushes ahead on carbon-control fight

The European Union will unveil plans later this week to ramp up investment in fighting global warming, including floating ideas of a global carbon tax.

The EU wants to get the U.S. and the BRIC top-tier developing countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — on board with the plan, which would offer help to lower-level developing countries to control carbon emissions.

Bush’s worst legacy outside of war and civil liberties

His worst other legacy, without a doubt, is his anti-environmentalism. It could take decades for the National Park Service to recover from the neglect, cut budgets, neglect and worse.

That’s not allowing for the fact that new Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, while an improvement by far over Gale Norton, has a far from unblemished record on this such as oil and gas drilling in pristine lands, endangered species protection and other things.