Archive for April, 2009

Where’s the outrage?

By Steve Klinger

Here’s my recent letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner:

Dear Tim, plague ambulance

I demand a bailout, story and I want it right now!

It’s not easy selling ads for Grassroots Press. The peace symbol in our logo sends most enterprising capitalists running for cover, in case one of their moneyed conservative advertisers might spot their ad on our subversive pages. The progressive businesses are struggling just like I am and say they can’t afford to advertise. Printing and mailing costs have gone up. Subscribers increasingly opt to pick up a free copy in these challenging times. I tell you, I can’t go on any longer!

But I’m performing a vital service this nation needs: an independent voice providing a perspective on the news you won’t get from mainstream media. The future of democracy depends on little papers like mine that speak truth to power. You can’t let me fail.

So listen here, Geithner, and Summers too: If I lose this gig and go on the dole, the entire nation will be impacted. I won’t be buying the big HD television or that slide-in camper. No summer road trips to the Rockies. No visits to the dentist for another four years.

And a tax credit worth $13 a week won’t cut it either! I want more. Let’s start with at least a billion, and whatever you give me, it may not be enough. I may be back.

I know I didn’t keep my promises to pay for health care for all my retired employees, but I can’t afford it. Turn my pockets inside out; it’s just not there.

I’ve done my part to jump through your hoops lately, haven’t I? Enclosed is my plan to shrink distribution and cut back on color in future issues.  We’ve curtailed our plans for worldwide expansion. We’ll be a leaner, meaner company and we’ll repay your loan with interest. Or not. What are you gonna do, sue me?

Here’s Geithner’s reply:

Dear Editor,

Thanks for your recent request. The new administration is all about change so I’m enclosing a few quarters to help you out. I’m sure you’ll understand we have to save the big bucks for the big-ass companies that finance the campaigns to get our great leaders elected.

I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’re not quite big enough to be a must-save. You haven’t reached the critical mass worthy of a bailout. If you’d have thrown in with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, we might have been able to do more for you. But right now we’re kind of busy with General Motors and Chrysler.

If you want to scrape a few bucks together, you might think about making some innocent mistakes on your taxes.  But you didn’t hear that from me.

Have a great day!

Tim
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, cure the Republicans, are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, psychotherapist the Republicans, are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, drugs the Republicans, women’s health are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Xandtrek

Rich people need to shut up now.

You rich people have been whining a lot lately about how Obama is going to create a vast socialist society that will threaten to make you less wealthy. Your right-wing nuts jobs are apoplectic: the President is going to redistribute the wealth from the rich to the poor. You are upset that you have to hide your jets and island paradises you purchased with our late fees and dead relatives who couldn’t afford your health care system. You are so persecuted. So what?

The opposite system has been in place for years. Wealth has been clearly and deliberately redistributed from the poor to the wealthy for over 30 years. Laws and policies have been written to promote this redistribution. Special interests and politicians have worked together to ensure that the rich get richer, symptoms and the poor get poorer.

So shut up now. You people were not content to get rich – you had to rape and pillage to the point that you have destroyed the global economy, and possibly the earth as a viable planet for human beings.

Your ideas are failed and yet you still promote them as gospel. Some of your wealth did trickle down – in a very, very, grudgingly slow process. And most of us got left behind in your dust. And some boats floated up with you, but a bunch sank to the bottom where you couldn’t see, or didn’t want to see. Globalization means other countries need to pay really low wages to workers, get rid of unions, and accept debt that they can never pay off. I’m sure the world is thanking you now.

Even if you are a decent wealthy person, who worked hard for your money, gave a lot of it away for a tax deduction and an interview on Charlie Rose, and maybe you didn’t sell your soul — you shut up now too.

So you were born in the right time, at the right place, to the right parents, or you got really lucky, or God decided you should be richer than him, or you just lied and stole your way to your privileged position. Guess what? It’s not your time anymore and you need to SHUT UP because we want to hunt you down and take it all away from you. Sleep well.

By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
Predicting the Future

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, read
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
Predicting the Future

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, read
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Grassroots movements arise spontaneously at ground level. AstroTurf looks like grass from a distance, mind but not up close. It’s all in the roots, traumatologist
you see; when they’re fake, symptoms
the surface must be ersatz as well. When interest groups conspire to ignite a so-called people’s movement, the only roots are in those groups, and at their source is always money and power. So it may look like Bermuda or rye, but it’s as phony as the turf in the Metrodome – or an April 15th Boston Tea Party.

The Republicans are so delusional they not only steal ideas from the libertarians but then rewrite history so they can prove ownership. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 wasn’t a rebellious act against taxation or deficit spending but a protest against a particular tax that was unfair because the colonists had no political rights yet were being assessed a tax on tea that should have been paid by the British East India Company. For the Republicans to incite modern tax-day protests, when Republican Congresses and presidents gave us decades of deficit spending and the massive deregulation that empowered corporations and freed them from both oversight and most taxation, goes beyond hypocrisy. The irony is thick enough to cut with, well, a lawnmower.

Right-wing squeals about the tax rollbacks Obama is proposing are blatant lies that ignore those nasty little facts that get in the way – such as the tax rates they’re so upset about reverting to levels in effect under the previous socialist president, Ronald Reagan.

Predictably, the rabble jump right in and blame Obama and the Democrats for mortgaging their grandchildren’s heritage with stimulus spending. The puppetmasters pull the strings and the rank-and-file, who will never make enough to pay the higher income taxes, take to the streets to defend the agendas of the rich and the incorporated who will (but probably don’t because they’ve offshored to the Cayman Islands).

But we need to be aware of what else is going on here, and that what else is about as insidious and cynical as a political strategy can get. It may help to remember that the folks behind today’s tea parties are not subjects in a monarchy or citizens who were disenfranchised. No, they were in power but they made such a catastrophic mess that they were voted out of power – democratically.  You can see how much they care about their country by tracking the total obstructionism of the current House Republicans and all but three of their Senate counterparts. (The Republican conscience is epitomized by Norm Coleman, who would appeal to Satan if it would buy him and his cohorts another day of denying Al Franken his rightfully won Senate seat. Someone said that if conscience were oil, Coleman would be a quart low. I say he’d have thrown a rod.)

So the audacious lies and the hypocrisy have set the stage, but the drama the Republican diehards have in mind is far darker than this opening act. Imagine if you will a party that has marginalized itself to the point that it has no leader, no vision, no positive message, no plan other than to tear down those who won the election. It gets worse.

The truth is these Republicans, having failed to appeal to minorities, cannot see a future in which they are likely to win another national election as population trends work increasingly against them.  Their only hopes for regaining power are total disaster from stymieing and obstructing the Democrats, or a Revolution built on lies, such as a faux taxation-without-representation theme.

That’s why the rhetoric is so exaggerated and so virulent: They must somehow get the masses to think it’s patriotic to “restore” American liberty and democracy by rising up against the “totalitarian” Obama government, which they alternately label socialist and fascist.

All the seeds of fear are sewn: Obama will outlaw guns, so buy as many as you can now.  Dissent is being stifled, so take to the streets and fight for your rights, just like your heroic forebears of 1776. America is being weakened by a leader who would listen to Europeans  and Muslims, who’s not even a native-born American, who would redistribute your (hypothetical) wealth to lazy minorities, so  (the increasingly unsubtle message) use those guns and put the people back in power, and if you take him out, oh well, he asked for it.

Bigger ironies: The alleged power-usurping Democrats aren’t even progressives but rather centrist, status-quo politicians, nurtured by and beholden to the same special interests pulling the AstroTurf strings. They may have a few shreds of conscience for the common folks and just enough naivete to disbelieve – until it’s too late – that the Republicans would be such Macchiavellians as to bring down the government to reclaim power. And so those Democrats will express aggrievement and horror when the civil unrest turns to violence and bloodshed and a military response is necessary to restore order.  And of course they won’t nip things in the bud by stating publicly that the American right is inciting violence and committing acts of sedition in fomenting the faux uprising that has the solitary goal of destabilizing the U.S. so the real fascists can seize power.

I have a better idea. On July 4th, why don’t the states big on this Teabag Revolution just secede? Maybe Obama, unlike Lincoln, will let them go.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
Predicting the Future

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, read
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Grassroots movements arise spontaneously at ground level. AstroTurf looks like grass from a distance, mind but not up close. It’s all in the roots, traumatologist
you see; when they’re fake, symptoms
the surface must be ersatz as well. When interest groups conspire to ignite a so-called people’s movement, the only roots are in those groups, and at their source is always money and power. So it may look like Bermuda or rye, but it’s as phony as the turf in the Metrodome – or an April 15th Boston Tea Party.

The Republicans are so delusional they not only steal ideas from the libertarians but then rewrite history so they can prove ownership. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 wasn’t a rebellious act against taxation or deficit spending but a protest against a particular tax that was unfair because the colonists had no political rights yet were being assessed a tax on tea that should have been paid by the British East India Company. For the Republicans to incite modern tax-day protests, when Republican Congresses and presidents gave us decades of deficit spending and the massive deregulation that empowered corporations and freed them from both oversight and most taxation, goes beyond hypocrisy. The irony is thick enough to cut with, well, a lawnmower.

Right-wing squeals about the tax rollbacks Obama is proposing are blatant lies that ignore those nasty little facts that get in the way – such as the tax rates they’re so upset about reverting to levels in effect under the previous socialist president, Ronald Reagan.

Predictably, the rabble jump right in and blame Obama and the Democrats for mortgaging their grandchildren’s heritage with stimulus spending. The puppetmasters pull the strings and the rank-and-file, who will never make enough to pay the higher income taxes, take to the streets to defend the agendas of the rich and the incorporated who will (but probably don’t because they’ve offshored to the Cayman Islands).

But we need to be aware of what else is going on here, and that what else is about as insidious and cynical as a political strategy can get. It may help to remember that the folks behind today’s tea parties are not subjects in a monarchy or citizens who were disenfranchised. No, they were in power but they made such a catastrophic mess that they were voted out of power – democratically.  You can see how much they care about their country by tracking the total obstructionism of the current House Republicans and all but three of their Senate counterparts. (The Republican conscience is epitomized by Norm Coleman, who would appeal to Satan if it would buy him and his cohorts another day of denying Al Franken his rightfully won Senate seat. Someone said that if conscience were oil, Coleman would be a quart low. I say he’d have thrown a rod.)

So the audacious lies and the hypocrisy have set the stage, but the drama the Republican diehards have in mind is far darker than this opening act. Imagine if you will a party that has marginalized itself to the point that it has no leader, no vision, no positive message, no plan other than to tear down those who won the election. It gets worse.

The truth is these Republicans, having failed to appeal to minorities, cannot see a future in which they are likely to win another national election as population trends work increasingly against them.  Their only hopes for regaining power are total disaster from stymieing and obstructing the Democrats, or a Revolution built on lies, such as a faux taxation-without-representation theme.

That’s why the rhetoric is so exaggerated and so virulent: They must somehow get the masses to think it’s patriotic to “restore” American liberty and democracy by rising up against the “totalitarian” Obama government, which they alternately label socialist and fascist.

All the seeds of fear are sewn: Obama will outlaw guns, so buy as many as you can now.  Dissent is being stifled, so take to the streets and fight for your rights, just like your heroic forebears of 1776. America is being weakened by a leader who would listen to Europeans  and Muslims, who’s not even a native-born American, who would redistribute your (hypothetical) wealth to lazy minorities, so  (the increasingly unsubtle message) use those guns and put the people back in power, and if you take him out, oh well, he asked for it.

Bigger ironies: The alleged power-usurping Democrats aren’t even progressives but rather centrist, status-quo politicians, nurtured by and beholden to the same special interests pulling the AstroTurf strings. They may have a few shreds of conscience for the common folks and just enough naivete to disbelieve – until it’s too late – that the Republicans would be such Macchiavellians as to bring down the government to reclaim power. And so those Democrats will express aggrievement and horror when the civil unrest turns to violence and bloodshed and a military response is necessary to restore order.  And of course they won’t nip things in the bud by stating publicly that the American right is inciting violence and committing acts of sedition in fomenting the faux uprising that has the solitary goal of destabilizing the U.S. so the real fascists can seize power.

I have a better idea. On July 4th, why don’t the states big on this Teabag Revolution just secede? Maybe Obama, unlike Lincoln, will let them go.
By Steve Klinger

Grassroots movements arise spontaneously at ground level. AstroTurf looks like grass from a distance, patient but not up close. It’s all in the roots, clinic
you see; when they’re fake, the surface must be ersatz as well. When interest groups conspire to ignite a so-called people’s movement, the only roots are in those groups, and at their source is always money and power. So it may look like Bermuda or rye, but it’s as phony as the turf in the Metrodome – or an April 15th Boston Tea Party.

The Republicans are so delusional they not only steal ideas from the libertarians but then rewrite history so they can prove ownership. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 wasn’t a rebellious act against taxation or deficit spending but a protest against a particular tax that was unfair because the colonists had no political rights yet were being assessed a tax on tea that should have been paid by the British East India Company. For the Republicans to incite modern tax-day protests, when Republican Congresses and presidents gave us decades of deficit spending and the massive deregulation that empowered corporations and freed them from both oversight and most taxation, goes beyond hypocrisy. The irony is thick enough to cut with, well, a lawnmower.

Right-wing squeals about the tax rollbacks Obama is proposing are blatant lies that ignore those nasty little facts that get in the way – such as the tax rates they’re so upset about reverting to levels in effect under the previous socialist president, Ronald Reagan.

Predictably, the rabble jump right in and blame Obama and the Democrats for mortgaging their grandchildren’s heritage with stimulus spending. The puppetmasters pull the strings and the rank-and-file, who will never make enough to pay the higher income taxes, take to the streets to defend the agendas of the rich and the incorporated who will (but probably don’t because they’ve offshored to the Cayman Islands).

But we need to be aware of what else is going on here, and that what else is about as insidious and cynical as a political strategy can get. It may help to remember that the folks behind today’s tea parties are not subjects in a monarchy or citizens who were disenfranchised. No, they were in power but they made such a catastrophic mess that they were voted out of power – democratically.  You can see how much they care about their country by tracking the total obstructionism of the current House Republicans and all but three of their Senate counterparts. (The Republican conscience is epitomized by Norm Coleman, who would appeal to Satan if it would buy him and his cohorts another day of denying Al Franken his rightfully won Senate seat. Someone said that if conscience were oil, Coleman would be a quart low. I say he’d have thrown a rod.)

So the audacious lies and the hypocrisy have set the stage, but the drama the Republican diehards have in mind is far darker than this opening act. Imagine if you will a party that has marginalized itself to the point that it has no leader, no vision, no positive message, no plan other than to tear down those who won the election. It gets worse.

The truth is these Republicans, having failed to appeal to minorities, cannot see a future in which they are likely to win another national election as population trends work increasingly against them.  Their only hopes for regaining power are total disaster from stymieing and obstructing the Democrats, or a Revolution built on lies, such as a faux taxation-without-representation theme.

That’s why the rhetoric is so exaggerated and so virulent: They must somehow get the masses to think it’s patriotic to “restore” American liberty and democracy by rising up against the “totalitarian” Obama government, which they alternately label socialist and fascist.

All the seeds of fear are sewn: Obama will outlaw guns, so buy as many as you can now.  Dissent is being stifled, so take to the streets and fight for your rights, just like your heroic forebears of 1776. America is being weakened by a leader who would listen to Europeans  and Muslims, who’s not even a native-born American, who would redistribute your (hypothetical) wealth to lazy minorities, so  (the increasingly unsubtle message) use those guns and put the people back in power, and if you take him out, oh well, he asked for it.

Bigger ironies: The alleged power-usurping Democrats aren’t even progressives but rather centrist, status-quo politicians, nurtured by and beholden to the same special interests pulling the AstroTurf strings. They may have a few shreds of conscience for the common folks and just enough naivete to disbelieve – until it’s too late – that the Republicans would be such Macchiavellians as to bring down the government to reclaim power. And so those Democrats will express aggrievement and horror when the civil unrest turns to violence and bloodshed and a military response is necessary to restore order.  And of course they won’t nip things in the bud by stating publicly that the American right is inciting violence and committing acts of sedition in fomenting the faux uprising that has the solitary goal of destabilizing the U.S. so the real fascists can seize power.

I have a better idea. On July 4th, why don’t the states big on this Teabag Revolution just secede? Maybe Obama, unlike Lincoln, will let them go.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, this site Rick Perry, web the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.

Leave a Comment

Tortured Logic

By Steve Klinger

Here’s my recent letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner:

Dear Tim, plague ambulance

I demand a bailout, story and I want it right now!

It’s not easy selling ads for Grassroots Press. The peace symbol in our logo sends most enterprising capitalists running for cover, in case one of their moneyed conservative advertisers might spot their ad on our subversive pages. The progressive businesses are struggling just like I am and say they can’t afford to advertise. Printing and mailing costs have gone up. Subscribers increasingly opt to pick up a free copy in these challenging times. I tell you, I can’t go on any longer!

But I’m performing a vital service this nation needs: an independent voice providing a perspective on the news you won’t get from mainstream media. The future of democracy depends on little papers like mine that speak truth to power. You can’t let me fail.

So listen here, Geithner, and Summers too: If I lose this gig and go on the dole, the entire nation will be impacted. I won’t be buying the big HD television or that slide-in camper. No summer road trips to the Rockies. No visits to the dentist for another four years.

And a tax credit worth $13 a week won’t cut it either! I want more. Let’s start with at least a billion, and whatever you give me, it may not be enough. I may be back.

I know I didn’t keep my promises to pay for health care for all my retired employees, but I can’t afford it. Turn my pockets inside out; it’s just not there.

I’ve done my part to jump through your hoops lately, haven’t I? Enclosed is my plan to shrink distribution and cut back on color in future issues.  We’ve curtailed our plans for worldwide expansion. We’ll be a leaner, meaner company and we’ll repay your loan with interest. Or not. What are you gonna do, sue me?

Here’s Geithner’s reply:

Dear Editor,

Thanks for your recent request. The new administration is all about change so I’m enclosing a few quarters to help you out. I’m sure you’ll understand we have to save the big bucks for the big-ass companies that finance the campaigns to get our great leaders elected.

I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’re not quite big enough to be a must-save. You haven’t reached the critical mass worthy of a bailout. If you’d have thrown in with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, we might have been able to do more for you. But right now we’re kind of busy with General Motors and Chrysler.

If you want to scrape a few bucks together, you might think about making some innocent mistakes on your taxes.  But you didn’t hear that from me.

Have a great day!

Tim
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, cure the Republicans, are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, psychotherapist the Republicans, are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, drugs the Republicans, women’s health are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Xandtrek

Rich people need to shut up now.

You rich people have been whining a lot lately about how Obama is going to create a vast socialist society that will threaten to make you less wealthy. Your right-wing nuts jobs are apoplectic: the President is going to redistribute the wealth from the rich to the poor. You are upset that you have to hide your jets and island paradises you purchased with our late fees and dead relatives who couldn’t afford your health care system. You are so persecuted. So what?

The opposite system has been in place for years. Wealth has been clearly and deliberately redistributed from the poor to the wealthy for over 30 years. Laws and policies have been written to promote this redistribution. Special interests and politicians have worked together to ensure that the rich get richer, symptoms and the poor get poorer.

So shut up now. You people were not content to get rich – you had to rape and pillage to the point that you have destroyed the global economy, and possibly the earth as a viable planet for human beings.

Your ideas are failed and yet you still promote them as gospel. Some of your wealth did trickle down – in a very, very, grudgingly slow process. And most of us got left behind in your dust. And some boats floated up with you, but a bunch sank to the bottom where you couldn’t see, or didn’t want to see. Globalization means other countries need to pay really low wages to workers, get rid of unions, and accept debt that they can never pay off. I’m sure the world is thanking you now.

Even if you are a decent wealthy person, who worked hard for your money, gave a lot of it away for a tax deduction and an interview on Charlie Rose, and maybe you didn’t sell your soul — you shut up now too.

So you were born in the right time, at the right place, to the right parents, or you got really lucky, or God decided you should be richer than him, or you just lied and stole your way to your privileged position. Guess what? It’s not your time anymore and you need to SHUT UP because we want to hunt you down and take it all away from you. Sleep well.

By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
Predicting the Future

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, read
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
Predicting the Future

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, read
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Grassroots movements arise spontaneously at ground level. AstroTurf looks like grass from a distance, mind but not up close. It’s all in the roots, traumatologist
you see; when they’re fake, symptoms
the surface must be ersatz as well. When interest groups conspire to ignite a so-called people’s movement, the only roots are in those groups, and at their source is always money and power. So it may look like Bermuda or rye, but it’s as phony as the turf in the Metrodome – or an April 15th Boston Tea Party.

The Republicans are so delusional they not only steal ideas from the libertarians but then rewrite history so they can prove ownership. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 wasn’t a rebellious act against taxation or deficit spending but a protest against a particular tax that was unfair because the colonists had no political rights yet were being assessed a tax on tea that should have been paid by the British East India Company. For the Republicans to incite modern tax-day protests, when Republican Congresses and presidents gave us decades of deficit spending and the massive deregulation that empowered corporations and freed them from both oversight and most taxation, goes beyond hypocrisy. The irony is thick enough to cut with, well, a lawnmower.

Right-wing squeals about the tax rollbacks Obama is proposing are blatant lies that ignore those nasty little facts that get in the way – such as the tax rates they’re so upset about reverting to levels in effect under the previous socialist president, Ronald Reagan.

Predictably, the rabble jump right in and blame Obama and the Democrats for mortgaging their grandchildren’s heritage with stimulus spending. The puppetmasters pull the strings and the rank-and-file, who will never make enough to pay the higher income taxes, take to the streets to defend the agendas of the rich and the incorporated who will (but probably don’t because they’ve offshored to the Cayman Islands).

But we need to be aware of what else is going on here, and that what else is about as insidious and cynical as a political strategy can get. It may help to remember that the folks behind today’s tea parties are not subjects in a monarchy or citizens who were disenfranchised. No, they were in power but they made such a catastrophic mess that they were voted out of power – democratically.  You can see how much they care about their country by tracking the total obstructionism of the current House Republicans and all but three of their Senate counterparts. (The Republican conscience is epitomized by Norm Coleman, who would appeal to Satan if it would buy him and his cohorts another day of denying Al Franken his rightfully won Senate seat. Someone said that if conscience were oil, Coleman would be a quart low. I say he’d have thrown a rod.)

So the audacious lies and the hypocrisy have set the stage, but the drama the Republican diehards have in mind is far darker than this opening act. Imagine if you will a party that has marginalized itself to the point that it has no leader, no vision, no positive message, no plan other than to tear down those who won the election. It gets worse.

The truth is these Republicans, having failed to appeal to minorities, cannot see a future in which they are likely to win another national election as population trends work increasingly against them.  Their only hopes for regaining power are total disaster from stymieing and obstructing the Democrats, or a Revolution built on lies, such as a faux taxation-without-representation theme.

That’s why the rhetoric is so exaggerated and so virulent: They must somehow get the masses to think it’s patriotic to “restore” American liberty and democracy by rising up against the “totalitarian” Obama government, which they alternately label socialist and fascist.

All the seeds of fear are sewn: Obama will outlaw guns, so buy as many as you can now.  Dissent is being stifled, so take to the streets and fight for your rights, just like your heroic forebears of 1776. America is being weakened by a leader who would listen to Europeans  and Muslims, who’s not even a native-born American, who would redistribute your (hypothetical) wealth to lazy minorities, so  (the increasingly unsubtle message) use those guns and put the people back in power, and if you take him out, oh well, he asked for it.

Bigger ironies: The alleged power-usurping Democrats aren’t even progressives but rather centrist, status-quo politicians, nurtured by and beholden to the same special interests pulling the AstroTurf strings. They may have a few shreds of conscience for the common folks and just enough naivete to disbelieve – until it’s too late – that the Republicans would be such Macchiavellians as to bring down the government to reclaim power. And so those Democrats will express aggrievement and horror when the civil unrest turns to violence and bloodshed and a military response is necessary to restore order.  And of course they won’t nip things in the bud by stating publicly that the American right is inciting violence and committing acts of sedition in fomenting the faux uprising that has the solitary goal of destabilizing the U.S. so the real fascists can seize power.

I have a better idea. On July 4th, why don’t the states big on this Teabag Revolution just secede? Maybe Obama, unlike Lincoln, will let them go.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
Predicting the Future

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, read
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Grassroots movements arise spontaneously at ground level. AstroTurf looks like grass from a distance, mind but not up close. It’s all in the roots, traumatologist
you see; when they’re fake, symptoms
the surface must be ersatz as well. When interest groups conspire to ignite a so-called people’s movement, the only roots are in those groups, and at their source is always money and power. So it may look like Bermuda or rye, but it’s as phony as the turf in the Metrodome – or an April 15th Boston Tea Party.

The Republicans are so delusional they not only steal ideas from the libertarians but then rewrite history so they can prove ownership. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 wasn’t a rebellious act against taxation or deficit spending but a protest against a particular tax that was unfair because the colonists had no political rights yet were being assessed a tax on tea that should have been paid by the British East India Company. For the Republicans to incite modern tax-day protests, when Republican Congresses and presidents gave us decades of deficit spending and the massive deregulation that empowered corporations and freed them from both oversight and most taxation, goes beyond hypocrisy. The irony is thick enough to cut with, well, a lawnmower.

Right-wing squeals about the tax rollbacks Obama is proposing are blatant lies that ignore those nasty little facts that get in the way – such as the tax rates they’re so upset about reverting to levels in effect under the previous socialist president, Ronald Reagan.

Predictably, the rabble jump right in and blame Obama and the Democrats for mortgaging their grandchildren’s heritage with stimulus spending. The puppetmasters pull the strings and the rank-and-file, who will never make enough to pay the higher income taxes, take to the streets to defend the agendas of the rich and the incorporated who will (but probably don’t because they’ve offshored to the Cayman Islands).

But we need to be aware of what else is going on here, and that what else is about as insidious and cynical as a political strategy can get. It may help to remember that the folks behind today’s tea parties are not subjects in a monarchy or citizens who were disenfranchised. No, they were in power but they made such a catastrophic mess that they were voted out of power – democratically.  You can see how much they care about their country by tracking the total obstructionism of the current House Republicans and all but three of their Senate counterparts. (The Republican conscience is epitomized by Norm Coleman, who would appeal to Satan if it would buy him and his cohorts another day of denying Al Franken his rightfully won Senate seat. Someone said that if conscience were oil, Coleman would be a quart low. I say he’d have thrown a rod.)

So the audacious lies and the hypocrisy have set the stage, but the drama the Republican diehards have in mind is far darker than this opening act. Imagine if you will a party that has marginalized itself to the point that it has no leader, no vision, no positive message, no plan other than to tear down those who won the election. It gets worse.

The truth is these Republicans, having failed to appeal to minorities, cannot see a future in which they are likely to win another national election as population trends work increasingly against them.  Their only hopes for regaining power are total disaster from stymieing and obstructing the Democrats, or a Revolution built on lies, such as a faux taxation-without-representation theme.

That’s why the rhetoric is so exaggerated and so virulent: They must somehow get the masses to think it’s patriotic to “restore” American liberty and democracy by rising up against the “totalitarian” Obama government, which they alternately label socialist and fascist.

All the seeds of fear are sewn: Obama will outlaw guns, so buy as many as you can now.  Dissent is being stifled, so take to the streets and fight for your rights, just like your heroic forebears of 1776. America is being weakened by a leader who would listen to Europeans  and Muslims, who’s not even a native-born American, who would redistribute your (hypothetical) wealth to lazy minorities, so  (the increasingly unsubtle message) use those guns and put the people back in power, and if you take him out, oh well, he asked for it.

Bigger ironies: The alleged power-usurping Democrats aren’t even progressives but rather centrist, status-quo politicians, nurtured by and beholden to the same special interests pulling the AstroTurf strings. They may have a few shreds of conscience for the common folks and just enough naivete to disbelieve – until it’s too late – that the Republicans would be such Macchiavellians as to bring down the government to reclaim power. And so those Democrats will express aggrievement and horror when the civil unrest turns to violence and bloodshed and a military response is necessary to restore order.  And of course they won’t nip things in the bud by stating publicly that the American right is inciting violence and committing acts of sedition in fomenting the faux uprising that has the solitary goal of destabilizing the U.S. so the real fascists can seize power.

I have a better idea. On July 4th, why don’t the states big on this Teabag Revolution just secede? Maybe Obama, unlike Lincoln, will let them go.
By Steve Klinger

Grassroots movements arise spontaneously at ground level. AstroTurf looks like grass from a distance, patient but not up close. It’s all in the roots, clinic
you see; when they’re fake, the surface must be ersatz as well. When interest groups conspire to ignite a so-called people’s movement, the only roots are in those groups, and at their source is always money and power. So it may look like Bermuda or rye, but it’s as phony as the turf in the Metrodome – or an April 15th Boston Tea Party.

The Republicans are so delusional they not only steal ideas from the libertarians but then rewrite history so they can prove ownership. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 wasn’t a rebellious act against taxation or deficit spending but a protest against a particular tax that was unfair because the colonists had no political rights yet were being assessed a tax on tea that should have been paid by the British East India Company. For the Republicans to incite modern tax-day protests, when Republican Congresses and presidents gave us decades of deficit spending and the massive deregulation that empowered corporations and freed them from both oversight and most taxation, goes beyond hypocrisy. The irony is thick enough to cut with, well, a lawnmower.

Right-wing squeals about the tax rollbacks Obama is proposing are blatant lies that ignore those nasty little facts that get in the way – such as the tax rates they’re so upset about reverting to levels in effect under the previous socialist president, Ronald Reagan.

Predictably, the rabble jump right in and blame Obama and the Democrats for mortgaging their grandchildren’s heritage with stimulus spending. The puppetmasters pull the strings and the rank-and-file, who will never make enough to pay the higher income taxes, take to the streets to defend the agendas of the rich and the incorporated who will (but probably don’t because they’ve offshored to the Cayman Islands).

But we need to be aware of what else is going on here, and that what else is about as insidious and cynical as a political strategy can get. It may help to remember that the folks behind today’s tea parties are not subjects in a monarchy or citizens who were disenfranchised. No, they were in power but they made such a catastrophic mess that they were voted out of power – democratically.  You can see how much they care about their country by tracking the total obstructionism of the current House Republicans and all but three of their Senate counterparts. (The Republican conscience is epitomized by Norm Coleman, who would appeal to Satan if it would buy him and his cohorts another day of denying Al Franken his rightfully won Senate seat. Someone said that if conscience were oil, Coleman would be a quart low. I say he’d have thrown a rod.)

So the audacious lies and the hypocrisy have set the stage, but the drama the Republican diehards have in mind is far darker than this opening act. Imagine if you will a party that has marginalized itself to the point that it has no leader, no vision, no positive message, no plan other than to tear down those who won the election. It gets worse.

The truth is these Republicans, having failed to appeal to minorities, cannot see a future in which they are likely to win another national election as population trends work increasingly against them.  Their only hopes for regaining power are total disaster from stymieing and obstructing the Democrats, or a Revolution built on lies, such as a faux taxation-without-representation theme.

That’s why the rhetoric is so exaggerated and so virulent: They must somehow get the masses to think it’s patriotic to “restore” American liberty and democracy by rising up against the “totalitarian” Obama government, which they alternately label socialist and fascist.

All the seeds of fear are sewn: Obama will outlaw guns, so buy as many as you can now.  Dissent is being stifled, so take to the streets and fight for your rights, just like your heroic forebears of 1776. America is being weakened by a leader who would listen to Europeans  and Muslims, who’s not even a native-born American, who would redistribute your (hypothetical) wealth to lazy minorities, so  (the increasingly unsubtle message) use those guns and put the people back in power, and if you take him out, oh well, he asked for it.

Bigger ironies: The alleged power-usurping Democrats aren’t even progressives but rather centrist, status-quo politicians, nurtured by and beholden to the same special interests pulling the AstroTurf strings. They may have a few shreds of conscience for the common folks and just enough naivete to disbelieve – until it’s too late – that the Republicans would be such Macchiavellians as to bring down the government to reclaim power. And so those Democrats will express aggrievement and horror when the civil unrest turns to violence and bloodshed and a military response is necessary to restore order.  And of course they won’t nip things in the bud by stating publicly that the American right is inciting violence and committing acts of sedition in fomenting the faux uprising that has the solitary goal of destabilizing the U.S. so the real fascists can seize power.

I have a better idea. On July 4th, why don’t the states big on this Teabag Revolution just secede? Maybe Obama, unlike Lincoln, will let them go.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, this site Rick Perry, web the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.

Comments (1)

How to Secede Without Really Trying

By Steve Klinger

Here’s my recent letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner:

Dear Tim, plague ambulance

I demand a bailout, story and I want it right now!

It’s not easy selling ads for Grassroots Press. The peace symbol in our logo sends most enterprising capitalists running for cover, in case one of their moneyed conservative advertisers might spot their ad on our subversive pages. The progressive businesses are struggling just like I am and say they can’t afford to advertise. Printing and mailing costs have gone up. Subscribers increasingly opt to pick up a free copy in these challenging times. I tell you, I can’t go on any longer!

But I’m performing a vital service this nation needs: an independent voice providing a perspective on the news you won’t get from mainstream media. The future of democracy depends on little papers like mine that speak truth to power. You can’t let me fail.

So listen here, Geithner, and Summers too: If I lose this gig and go on the dole, the entire nation will be impacted. I won’t be buying the big HD television or that slide-in camper. No summer road trips to the Rockies. No visits to the dentist for another four years.

And a tax credit worth $13 a week won’t cut it either! I want more. Let’s start with at least a billion, and whatever you give me, it may not be enough. I may be back.

I know I didn’t keep my promises to pay for health care for all my retired employees, but I can’t afford it. Turn my pockets inside out; it’s just not there.

I’ve done my part to jump through your hoops lately, haven’t I? Enclosed is my plan to shrink distribution and cut back on color in future issues.  We’ve curtailed our plans for worldwide expansion. We’ll be a leaner, meaner company and we’ll repay your loan with interest. Or not. What are you gonna do, sue me?

Here’s Geithner’s reply:

Dear Editor,

Thanks for your recent request. The new administration is all about change so I’m enclosing a few quarters to help you out. I’m sure you’ll understand we have to save the big bucks for the big-ass companies that finance the campaigns to get our great leaders elected.

I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’re not quite big enough to be a must-save. You haven’t reached the critical mass worthy of a bailout. If you’d have thrown in with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, we might have been able to do more for you. But right now we’re kind of busy with General Motors and Chrysler.

If you want to scrape a few bucks together, you might think about making some innocent mistakes on your taxes.  But you didn’t hear that from me.

Have a great day!

Tim
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, cure the Republicans, are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, psychotherapist the Republicans, are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, drugs the Republicans, women’s health are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Xandtrek

Rich people need to shut up now.

You rich people have been whining a lot lately about how Obama is going to create a vast socialist society that will threaten to make you less wealthy. Your right-wing nuts jobs are apoplectic: the President is going to redistribute the wealth from the rich to the poor. You are upset that you have to hide your jets and island paradises you purchased with our late fees and dead relatives who couldn’t afford your health care system. You are so persecuted. So what?

The opposite system has been in place for years. Wealth has been clearly and deliberately redistributed from the poor to the wealthy for over 30 years. Laws and policies have been written to promote this redistribution. Special interests and politicians have worked together to ensure that the rich get richer, symptoms and the poor get poorer.

So shut up now. You people were not content to get rich – you had to rape and pillage to the point that you have destroyed the global economy, and possibly the earth as a viable planet for human beings.

Your ideas are failed and yet you still promote them as gospel. Some of your wealth did trickle down – in a very, very, grudgingly slow process. And most of us got left behind in your dust. And some boats floated up with you, but a bunch sank to the bottom where you couldn’t see, or didn’t want to see. Globalization means other countries need to pay really low wages to workers, get rid of unions, and accept debt that they can never pay off. I’m sure the world is thanking you now.

Even if you are a decent wealthy person, who worked hard for your money, gave a lot of it away for a tax deduction and an interview on Charlie Rose, and maybe you didn’t sell your soul — you shut up now too.

So you were born in the right time, at the right place, to the right parents, or you got really lucky, or God decided you should be richer than him, or you just lied and stole your way to your privileged position. Guess what? It’s not your time anymore and you need to SHUT UP because we want to hunt you down and take it all away from you. Sleep well.

By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
Predicting the Future

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, read
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
Predicting the Future

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, read
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Grassroots movements arise spontaneously at ground level. AstroTurf looks like grass from a distance, mind but not up close. It’s all in the roots, traumatologist
you see; when they’re fake, symptoms
the surface must be ersatz as well. When interest groups conspire to ignite a so-called people’s movement, the only roots are in those groups, and at their source is always money and power. So it may look like Bermuda or rye, but it’s as phony as the turf in the Metrodome – or an April 15th Boston Tea Party.

The Republicans are so delusional they not only steal ideas from the libertarians but then rewrite history so they can prove ownership. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 wasn’t a rebellious act against taxation or deficit spending but a protest against a particular tax that was unfair because the colonists had no political rights yet were being assessed a tax on tea that should have been paid by the British East India Company. For the Republicans to incite modern tax-day protests, when Republican Congresses and presidents gave us decades of deficit spending and the massive deregulation that empowered corporations and freed them from both oversight and most taxation, goes beyond hypocrisy. The irony is thick enough to cut with, well, a lawnmower.

Right-wing squeals about the tax rollbacks Obama is proposing are blatant lies that ignore those nasty little facts that get in the way – such as the tax rates they’re so upset about reverting to levels in effect under the previous socialist president, Ronald Reagan.

Predictably, the rabble jump right in and blame Obama and the Democrats for mortgaging their grandchildren’s heritage with stimulus spending. The puppetmasters pull the strings and the rank-and-file, who will never make enough to pay the higher income taxes, take to the streets to defend the agendas of the rich and the incorporated who will (but probably don’t because they’ve offshored to the Cayman Islands).

But we need to be aware of what else is going on here, and that what else is about as insidious and cynical as a political strategy can get. It may help to remember that the folks behind today’s tea parties are not subjects in a monarchy or citizens who were disenfranchised. No, they were in power but they made such a catastrophic mess that they were voted out of power – democratically.  You can see how much they care about their country by tracking the total obstructionism of the current House Republicans and all but three of their Senate counterparts. (The Republican conscience is epitomized by Norm Coleman, who would appeal to Satan if it would buy him and his cohorts another day of denying Al Franken his rightfully won Senate seat. Someone said that if conscience were oil, Coleman would be a quart low. I say he’d have thrown a rod.)

So the audacious lies and the hypocrisy have set the stage, but the drama the Republican diehards have in mind is far darker than this opening act. Imagine if you will a party that has marginalized itself to the point that it has no leader, no vision, no positive message, no plan other than to tear down those who won the election. It gets worse.

The truth is these Republicans, having failed to appeal to minorities, cannot see a future in which they are likely to win another national election as population trends work increasingly against them.  Their only hopes for regaining power are total disaster from stymieing and obstructing the Democrats, or a Revolution built on lies, such as a faux taxation-without-representation theme.

That’s why the rhetoric is so exaggerated and so virulent: They must somehow get the masses to think it’s patriotic to “restore” American liberty and democracy by rising up against the “totalitarian” Obama government, which they alternately label socialist and fascist.

All the seeds of fear are sewn: Obama will outlaw guns, so buy as many as you can now.  Dissent is being stifled, so take to the streets and fight for your rights, just like your heroic forebears of 1776. America is being weakened by a leader who would listen to Europeans  and Muslims, who’s not even a native-born American, who would redistribute your (hypothetical) wealth to lazy minorities, so  (the increasingly unsubtle message) use those guns and put the people back in power, and if you take him out, oh well, he asked for it.

Bigger ironies: The alleged power-usurping Democrats aren’t even progressives but rather centrist, status-quo politicians, nurtured by and beholden to the same special interests pulling the AstroTurf strings. They may have a few shreds of conscience for the common folks and just enough naivete to disbelieve – until it’s too late – that the Republicans would be such Macchiavellians as to bring down the government to reclaim power. And so those Democrats will express aggrievement and horror when the civil unrest turns to violence and bloodshed and a military response is necessary to restore order.  And of course they won’t nip things in the bud by stating publicly that the American right is inciting violence and committing acts of sedition in fomenting the faux uprising that has the solitary goal of destabilizing the U.S. so the real fascists can seize power.

I have a better idea. On July 4th, why don’t the states big on this Teabag Revolution just secede? Maybe Obama, unlike Lincoln, will let them go.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where