Jonathan Crashington Seagull

Author Richard Bach is injured in plane crash

First joke that came to mind. I actually loved his book and the second title mentioned in the story was a warning sign for folks who take the road RPN does….along with Harrison Bergeron.

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The Silly Season of Political Paranoia (and a dose of something else)

It seems as if a certain political sentiment has fully metastasized into the form it will take for the next 7 months.  It goes something like this…as Krugman notes on point..

And it’s not just gas prices, of course. In fact, the conspiracy theories are proliferating so fast it’s hard to keep up. Thus, large numbers of Republicans — and we’re talking about important political figures, not random supporters — firmly believe that global warming is a gigantic hoax perpetrated by a global conspiracy involving thousands of scientists, not one of whom has broken the code of omertà. Meanwhile, others are attributing the recent improvement in economic news to a dastardly plot to withhold stimulus funds, releasing them just before the 2012 election. And let’s not even get into health reform.

Why is this happening? At least part of the answer must lie in the way right-wing media create an alternate reality. For example, did you hear about how the cost of Obamacare just doubled? It didn’t, but millions of Fox-viewers and Rush-listeners believe that it did. Naturally, people who constantly hear about the evil that liberals do are ready and willing to believe that everything bad is the result of a dastardly liberal plot. And these are the people who vote in Republican primaries.

But what about the broader electorate?

Now before you think any of this (or the many, many other examples) are hyperbolic statements about what is passing for “policy discussion” among the dedicated Republican primary voters…here’s an update on what they think is going on…

Seriously…that’s an official Santorum ad.  Wild stuff….BTW…DID YOU NOTICE HOW CRAZY THIS IS?

About :40 seconds in…with the Iranian Boogeyman on the screen…they cut in a shot of the President of the United Stated.

Headshot of Obama interspersed into video of Iranian President

That’s how craaaazy these folks are.  Don’t believe me yet?  Here’s another one, of a thousand, of other examples.

And one that more directly affects real people…

On Monday, the Republican dominated Tennessee Senate passed an anti-evolution bill by a vote of 24-8. The bill, known as HB 368, is sponsored by Republican Senator Bo Watson and “provides guidelines for teachers answering students’ questions about evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects,” according to Knox News,  ”The measure also guarantees that teachers will not be subject to discipline for engaging students in discussion of questions they raise, though Watson said the idea is to provide guidelines so that teachers will bring the discussion back to the subjects authorized for teaching in the curriculum approved by the state Board of Education.” The bill basically encourages teachers to present scientific weaknesses of “controversial” topics.

[full story]

It’s come to the point of people just flat out not believing what is happening….which while not completely abnormal in political season…has gotten so bad that basic math has become partisan politics.

Thus making rational cost benefit analysis of said policies (while factually true) completely irrelevant.

Beginning in January 2011, the payroll tax withheld from employee paychecks was temporarily reduced to 4.2 percentage points from 6.2 percentage points. The cut was scheduled to expire at the end of 2011, but Congress has continued it through the end of 2012.

My calculationslast year, based on the proposed cut of 3.1 percentage points, suggested that the payroll tax cut “could raise employment by at least a million, albeit the duration of job creation is related to how long the tax cut lasts.”

On a seasonally adjusted basis, payroll employment was 130.2 million at the end of 2010, just before the payroll tax cuts took effect. As of last month, payroll employment was up 2 percent, or 2.5 million, to 132.7 million.

[full story]

And dealing with a growing and more well understood problem that much more difficult…

One of the main changes is the inclusion of more data from the Arctic region, which has experienced one of the greatest levels of warming.

The amendments do not change the long-term trend, but the data now lists 2010, rather than 1998, as the warmest year on record.

The update is reported in the published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

[full story]

And leading to some absolutely tragic decision making abilities…

It seems that this old lady believed many of the deliberate lies which were being put forward by the Fox News anchor, lies directed at President Obama and at his health care policy. She appears to have thought that if she had accepted medical care, following her fall, her medical information and her money would have been sent to Islamic extremists. This is of course completely false, but a reasonable deduction from the lies told by Fox News.

[full story]

Which happens while the system keeps chuggin’ along…

National income gained overall in 2010, but all of the gains were among the top 10 percent. Even within those 15.6 million households, the gains were extraordinarily concentrated among the super-rich, the top one percent of the top one percent.

[full story]

And paying the low inegrity-bright smile types to say whatever it takes to keep it coming…

In February, Common Cause wrote to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, asking for an explanation about an apparently unreported $1,350 gift from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2009. Cantor’s office immediately responded, claiming our inquiry was without foundation, but last week his office quietly amended his financial disclosures to include the gift from ALEC.

At that time, I wrote about Cantor’s failure to disclose:

‘ALEC, the so-called “free market, small government” lobby group underwritten by some of the nation’s largest corporations, reported in its tax filings for 2008 and 2009, making “cash grants” to the recipients of several annual awards. Common Cause has identified 22 legislators who received ALEC awards in those two years, including Rep. Cantor, who ALEC records indicate received $1,350 in 2009 as part of their Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award.’

Cantor responded within hours, saying no cash changed hands, but that he received a bust of Thomas Jefferson from ALEC, pictured above. But, under House Ethics Rules this type of award can only be received by a Member of Congress if it is disclosed, which Cantor did not do. This appears to be a clear ethics violation, and we have asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate. Prompted by Common Cause, Cantor has now very quietly amended his 2009 Financial Disclosure Report to include the ALEC gift. He also amended his 2010 report to include another bust given to him by the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group. We had no idea about this second award, but now we do.

[full story]

Even as another does the math, and realizes that we simply cannot go on like this…

However, Dodd–Frank does not eradi- cate TBTF. Indeed, it is our view at the Dallas Fed that it may actually perpetuate an already dangerous trend of increasing banking industry concentration. More than half of banking industry assets are on the books of just five institutions. The top 10 banks now account for 61 percent of commercial banking assets, substantially more than the 26 percent of only 20 years ago; their combined assets equate to half of our nation’s GDP. Further, as Rosenblum argues in his essay, there are signs that Dodd– Frank’s complexity and opaqueness may evenbe working against the economic recovery. In addition to remaining a lingering threat to financial stability, these megabanks signifi- cantly hamper the Federal Reserve’s ability to properly conduct monetary policy.

They were a primary culprit in magnifying the financial crisis, and their presence continues to play an impor- tant role in prolonging our economic malaise.There are good reasons why this recovery has remained frustratingly slow compared with periods following previous recessions, and I believe it has very little to do with the Federal Reserve. Since the onset of the Great Recession, we have undertaken a number of initiatives— some orthodox, some not—to revive and kick-start the economy. As I like to say, we’ve filled the tank with plenty of cheap, high-octane gasoline. But as any mechanic can tell you, it takes more than just gas to propel a car.

It is imperative that we end TBTF. In my view, downsizing the behemoths over time into institutions that can be prudently managed and regulated across borders is the appropriate policy response. Only thencantheprocessof “creativedestruction”— which America has perfected and practiced with such effectiveness that it led our country to unprecedented economic achievement— work its wonders in the financial sector, just as it does elsewhere in our economy. Only then will we have a financial system fit and proper for serving as the lubricant for an economy as dynamic as that of the United States.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/dallas-fed-calls-for-breakup-of-big-banks-2012-3#ixzz1qF2hXi7T

And so the desktop is clear…to watch the world for another couple weeks.

Paul Ryan and Class Mobility in 21st Century America

U.S. vs Europe contemporary comparison

U.S. vs Europe contemporary comparison of likelihood of social mobility

Paul Ryan is stuck in the last century

Paul Ryan is stuck in the last century, things have changed in the last 50 years

The Inflation Adjusted version of income gains over the last 30 years

The Inflation Adjusted version of income gains over the last 30 years

Original TPM link.

And there ya go.

Game Review ToDo

I mentioned in this post that this year was to be a bit more focused on gaming.    Below is my New Year’s Resolution Review List.  These are games that I’ve missed or not worked my way through and would like to give it a shot in 2011.  Many of these I came across in the Steam Holiday sale.  I figure these should hold me over for at least the next six months or so, if not longer.

There are a number of older games on the list.  I think this is more of a feature than a bug.  PC gaming, in particular affords a longer shelf life than most consoles can imagine.  One of the benefits of Moore’s Law is that each successive computing generation is easily capable of emulating the previous one.  Hence, with a bit of work, we can still enjoy those 2600 and C64 games to this day.  I’m not going to go back that far, but I wanted to get a good review of the decade in gaming, so there are certainly some elderly titles on the todo list*.

I’m hoping to spend an official week with each title (although my real life gaming will skew and Diablo 3 comes out this year, so at least one month is already spoken for) and do the review after that.

Here goes, in no particular order (other than alphabetical):

1) Alien Breed 3: Descent (have a weakness for these style games)

2) Amnesia : The Dark Descent (I like games that start off by telling you not to try and win them)

3) Arcania: Gothic 4 (almost done, should be an early review)

4) Archon Classic (a classic, like it says)

5) Batman: Arkham Asylum (very good, and a complete anomaly in major IP titles)

6) Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (oh yeah)

7) Battlestations: Midway (came in a publisher pack..no idea)

8) Battlestations: Pacific (see above)

9) blur (Rock’n’Roll Racing update)

10) Burnout Paradise (fun driving time)

11) Commander Keen (the id original)

12) Conflict Denied Ops (eh..no idea)

13) Counter Strike Source (my review will most likely be me getting slaughtered for a week, but there ya go)

14) Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (already gone halfway through this)

15) Depths of Peril (love the concept not sure on the execution)

16) Deus Ex GOTY Edition (yeah…just wanted to relive a classic and compare)

17) Deus Ex Invisible War (never did this one)

18) Disciples II : Rise of Elves/Gallena’s Return (softspot for these style games)

19) Doom 3 (I think I already have this review, have to dig it up…did a first person review, quite fun).

20) Evlen Legacy (various expansion…got this on a lark…we’ll see)

21) Empire : Total War (played the first few scenarios…wow).

22) Everyday Shooter (this’ll be an off week, I already have this one down).

23) Front Mission Evolved (Giant Robots, 3rd Person shooter)

24) Guardians of Graxia (again, softspot).

25) Gyromancer (RPG * Bejewled = Hours gone).

…second half coming tomorrow…

 

*Oh and by “review” I mean a bit more lengthy analysis of the qualities and weaknesses of particular titles.  In the PC gaming world, I think a more accurate picture can be taken once a game is *final*, not once it is *gold*.   So this isn’t the place to find  glowing reviews of the latest greatest slightly tweaked sequel, but more of a long-term view.  Like someone forced, forced I say, to play games until the end of time.

Holy Crap! Videogames! (RPN in 2011)

My very, very, very bad there.   You see I, uh, well, there was this thing, and I got involved with it, and stuff happened afterward (largely having to do with the eight years previous), I lost things and sold things and moved and pawned things, and sold things, and moved and on and on and on.  Long sentence short, I’m finally comfortable again…AND GAMING.

You see, this website is supposed to be about two main themes, international politics and videogames.   It’s a strange mix, but I love them both, and have that passion so I figured it would work out.

Then I stopped having the time and space and internet to game and writing about a loved hobby that I didn’t currently know (the pre-requisite for all adequate and above quality writing) seemed foolish.

That, friends, neighbors and virtual enemies, has changed.  And I’ve everything I need; 1)2TB of external drive space, 2) a Steam account, 3) a steady job to use 2 to fill 1, 4) a good hookup makes it all better, and 5) my own dang room to play in.   In other words, Gaming Nirvana: A Place I Could Stay Forever*.

So expect my frequent diatribes regarding the stagnation of my nation and my observations of the world in which it resides to be interspersed with game reviews and stuff like this… (oh yea, I got a new camera too, FINALLY)…

Just as a general comparison..that video by itslef is up to about 300,000 views…the site itself almost 100K…seems perhaps my mass market talents ain’t in ranting.  But we’ll see (going to be doing more live video on that front too in 2011).  Fair warning for my fans and foes alike, RPN is back and tearing up the nets (and yes, I’m “RobotPirateNinja” or “RobotPiratNinja” on every major gaming service**)

My tastes in games is much like my taste in information, wide, varied, and skewed towards both the independent and high quality.   I’ve been gaming since I was about 5, and cut my teeth on the 2600 (my internet teeth on 2600) and games built in 64K.  That’s 65,536 bytes.  My new hard drive has 2,199,023,255,552.   Or so…roughly.   Gaming has gone infinite, so I want to pick through the good stuff and play with that.

And, of course, tell y’all about it.

*  Not to be confused with Gaming Paradise, which is all the above but upgraded.  You can imagine it in your mind…no…better than that…keep going…keeeeep going….almost there…

** Except for the PS3.  None of that Japan crap ’round these parts (sorry, practicing my smack talking skills…kids today are rather crass).

Nice Interview re: war/commodity culture/tebaggers w/Henry Rollins

I love this perspective.

So when you visit the troops now, how do you rein in some of your strongly held beliefs about war? Oh, that’s easy. It’s just really not the place for that. Quite often in these places like Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s a very apolitical situation. The job that day is not to wonder why Donald Rumsfeld or Gates did what he did, it’s to get through the day without getting blown up and getting back to the dining facility at sundown. That’s the job. So, you know, it’s really not OK to discuss “Well you know, the Project for New American Century says dadadada.” They’re like, “Yeah, I know man, that’s great. But today is Don’t Get Blown Up Day.”

You can read the full thing here.

Gotta love this…

Judging by the comments to one of your columns it appears that you pissed off some Palin fans and some Tea Party fans. Awwww, you know how much sleep I lose over that?

I imagine you’re pretty upset. Oh, it’s awful. Especially talking to a journalist from Ohio. John Boehner, he’s a piece of work. Get to John when you can and remind him that the Declaration of Independence is one thing and the Constitution is another. He says he carries a copy with him. I actually do carry a copy of the Constitution with me wherever I go and I was listening on the radio as he read the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence as the preamble of the Constitution. Wait a minute, I’m just a high school graduate without a fake tan, and I was able to pick that out. And you know, no one behind him, if you watch the footage, no one is even wrinkling their brow going “Wait a minute, he got it wrong.” No one in the crowd—tea partiers, who love the constitution—none of them are saying “Hey wait a minute coach, you got that one wrong.” They’re just nodding and going “Hell yeah, get your government hands off my Medicare!” So I’m sure I do get hate mail from these people.

And re: the idiotic commie and socialist slurs the tea-party folks love…

…but what really gets to me with these tea-partiers and these Palin people is when I’m demonized for saying people should have health care. You know, Bubba in the Ku Klux Klan should not lose his house because his wife gets breast cancer. We should take better care of American people. And that makes me a communist? Well, OK. I don’t understand how that makes me a communist. I like my fellow countrymen and women. I want them to be healthy. I think it helps the country get better results. Less crime, better output at the factory, everyone gets more, you live better, so what’s the problem?

“Well if the government does it, they screw up everything else.” Oh, let’s see, you know you’re ripping on the Marines, that’s interesting. So the marines suck. FDIC, that blows. SEC, doesn’t work. Medicaid, that sucks. The Air Force, NASA—awful. When people put down the government, [and say] “they can’t get anything right.” Shut up. Move. Go away. Or stop complaining, and let’s fix it. What’s your solution?

Morality and the Health Care Debate

Last week, after it became apparent that the GOP campaign of disinformation regarding the health care legislation was working wonderfully [1] President Obama shifted gears a bit to talk about *why* this change is necessary.

WASHINGTON — President Obama sought Wednesday to reframe the health care debate as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” imploring a coalition of religious leaders to help promote the plan to lower costs and expand insurance coverage for all Americans.

“I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness,” Mr. Obama told a multidenominational group of pastors, rabbis and other religious leaders who support his goal to remake the nation’s health care system.

To be sure, I’m no multi-denominational preacher.   In fact, my spiritual beliefs and the foundation of my moral system is largely outside of those of the ancient religions.  But more on that in a moment.  Let’s look at the problem here from a slightly larger perspective.

As has been widely reported, there are 47,000,000 red-blooded American citizens that don’t have health insurance.  As we are a compassionate country (in some ways) when any of these 47,000,000 living, breathing, humans show up at an emergency room, they will get treated for what is likely to make them dead humans.

The problem with this “final solution” is that treating illness when it becomes life threatening is extremely expensive and that cost is then paid completely by those not currently receiving life saving treatment.

Every single other large industrialized country on our planet has determined that providing preventative and diagnostic health care for emerging problems has proved far more economical than just ignoring the fact that forty-seven-million Americans don’t get any health care until they are at, or near, their death beds.

For those of us with morals, this situation is untenable.

As mentioned previously, my moral foundation is grounded not in faith in the supernatural, but in the preponderous amount of qualified information we now have regarding the natural world and it’s wondrous creations [2].  In this formulation, based on understanding as much verified information as possible and providing the best possible explanation (aka “theory”), the question of morality and health care is even simpler.

And the theory is also getting stronger, as more information becomes available.  Which brings up to Operation Stardust, and the latest bit of verified information.

For the first time, a building block of proteins — and hence of life as we know it — has been found in a comet.

That adds to the prevailing notion that many of the ingredients for the origin of life showered down on the early Earth when asteroids (interplanetary rocks orbiting the inner solar system) and comets (dirty ice balls that generally congregate in the outer solar system beyond Neptune) made impact with the planet.

In the new research, scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md., detected the amino acid glycine in comet bits brought back in 2006 by the NASA space probe Stardust.

So what does finding an amino acid in a comet’s tail have to do with providing healthcare for all Americans?

Good question, and I’ll be honest, we’re doing a bit of misdirection here [3].  You see, my moral foundation comes from the idea that simple elements combined over time is vast explosions in space created more complex elements.   The more complex elements, attracted to each other by the natural bending of space known as gravity, came together to form larger, more stable structures (like the glycine mentioned above, verifying this step of theory).

Once the stable building of blocks of life existed, all that was needed was a wet warm place to grow, which brings us (literally) to Planet Earth.

Mix in a few billions years, and tendency of more efficient organisms (in terms of survival and propagation) to gain in complexity and the ability to alter and effect reality, and you get life as we know it.  Mix in a few more million years, and you get life that we would call human.

Mix in another 10,000 years and you get human life that we would call civilized.

Mix in another 100 years and you get industrialized human life, where machines do most of the work, and human’s biggest health problem in now one that we ourselves create.

We now know so much about ourselves and our world most health problems and horrible diseases can be treated, and these amazing things we have become can life happy and healthy lives…when given the amazing medical care now available to prevent and treat disease before they can become life-threatening and chronic.

Which is why I support a health care system reform that places profits over people.  In the industrialized world, there is but one country that places profit in the marketplace above and beyond the amazing thing we call life.  That country is the United States of America, and it is time for that country to change.

It is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

——-

[1] “THE POLL: 45 percent said it’s likely the government will decide when to stop care for the elderly; 50 percent said it’s not likely.

THE FACTS: Nothing being debated in Washington would give the government such authority.

THE POLL: 55 percent expect the overhaul will give coverage to illegal immigrants; 34 percent don’t.

THE FACTS: The proposals being negotiated do not provide coverage for illegal immigrants.

THE POLL: 54 percent said the overhaul will lead to a government takeover of health care; 39 percent disagree.

THE FACTS: Obama is not proposing a single-payer system in which the government covers everyone, like in Canada or some European countries.

THE POLL: 50 percent expect taxpayer dollars will be used to pay for abortions; 37 percent don’t.

THE FACTS: The House version of legislation would allow coverage for abortion, but the bill says a beneficiary’s own money — not taxpayer funds — must be used to pay for the procedure.

[source]

[2] For those with a moral foundation in the supernatural religions, the question of whether or not health care should be provided to all fellow citizens was decided long ago.  The question now is only how to make it more efficient.

[3] The necessity for the misdirection is explained by the results of this study.

“In fact,” he says, “for the most part people completely ignore contrary information.

“The study demonstrates voters’ ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information,” he explains.

While numerous scholars have blamed a campaign of false information and innuendo from the Bush administration, this study argues that the primary cause of misperception in the 9/11-Saddam Hussein case was not the presence or absence of accurate data but a respondent’s desire to believe in particular kinds of information.

“The argument here is that people get deeply attached to their beliefs,” Hoffman says.

I can’t just go at the issue for those that have already decided, and become emotionally enamoured with the idea that Obama is an evil socialist/Muslim bent on taking away their guns.  You have to go with the science, and attack from the flank.

The World This Week, March 22, 2009

[videos forthcoming]

US NEWS

People thieving the electrons.

Obama: Economy hurts.  Duh.

Obama Budget Strategy raises questions.

New home construction gets a lift (month-to-month).

Small business help on the way.

Fed prints money like mad.

A couple economists agree that printing money is a good idea…today.

China wants a new global currency standard.

Palin to preach to choir.

McCain Twitterview a joke, a stilted lagging joke.

Feel the outrage….

….oh wait, we did that?

Probe into AIG bonuses launched.

Gassley suggest suicide for AIG execs, then back off to resignation and public flogging.

Laid off worked parades in front of AIG mansion.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Pakistan moves closer to rule of law.

Iraqi government wants heads to roll.

Dead Sea Scrolls authors existence questioned.

Georgia v. stem cells.

Pope v. witchcraft and tribalism.

Everyone of the Book (Christian, Muslim, Jew) vs teh Gays.

Stop-Loss phasing out.

Obama talks to Iran.

Iran wants more than talk.

SCIENCE/TECH

The Frogopalypse.

Veggie garden makes a return to White House lawn.

Obama gets schooled on Special Olympics and bowling.  NOTE: Bowling not a particularly intellectual pursuit.

The Great Unkowns and the Unknowables.

Why I’m a Writer, Not a “Blogger”

So I finally finished reading Andrew Sullivan’s piece on “Why I Blog” (available here, as a four page blog post).  He hits the nail on the head on why I’m not a blogger with this paragraph (and a half).

If all this sounds postmodern, that’s because it is. And blogging suffers from the same flaws as postmodernism: a failure to provide stable truth or a permanent perspective. A traditional writer is valued by readers precisely because they trust him to have thought long and hard about a subject, given it time to evolve in his head, and composed a piece of writing that is worth their time to read at length and to ponder. Bloggers don’t do this and cannot do this—and that limits them far more than it does traditional long-form writing.

A blogger will air a variety of thoughts or facts on any subject in no particular order other than that dictated by the passing of time. A writer will instead use time, synthesizing these thoughts, ordering them, weighing which points count more than others, seeing how his views evolved in the writing process itself, and responding to an editor’s perusal of a draft or two. The result is almost always more measured, more satisfying, and more enduring than a blizzard of posts.

So yea…I’m not really a “blogger”.  I’m just an idiot who writes for free.  My bad.

I should have stuck with the inane bullshit approach.  “Superficial bullshit” as some close friends would call it.

Oh well…someday people will realize I’m a writer, and a pretty solid one, at that.  A, as the gay guy said, “traditional writer [who] is valued by readers precisely because they trust him to have thought long and hard about a subject, given it time to evolve in his head, and composed a piece of writing that is worth their time to read at length and to ponder.”

Yea, that’s how I blog…for the most part.  I do the inane shit too, sometimes, but really when it’s time for me to write, I freakin’ write.

Now….if only I can figure out this business model thing…capitalism is a right bastard sometimes.  😉

[on a sidenote…”blogging” is a strange term that came of age before it became of age.  That, in essense, is what “postmodernism” is…stuff that people know before they know it.  Yea…I just gave you a real, hard, short definition of ‘postermodernism’.  Hey, it’s what I do.  🙂 ]

The Economic Apocalypse (retro-look)

This line of thought began with this MetaFilter post linking to this FRONTLINE piece on what happened with the banking/ibanking sector last Fall. [BTW, the best animation explanation of the problems is here.]

The FRONTLINE documentary does a great job at pointing out some of the players in the mix and the personal relationships that helped bring the problem to a head.

Perhaps the most poignant bit was on the relationship between Henry (“Hank”) Paulson (formerly of Goldman Sachs) and Richard Fuld (of the bankrupt Lehman Brothers).  Fuld firmly believed up to the last that Paulson would help him out.  Instead, Paulson decided to make an example of him…and teach him a lesson.  Before we get to the lesson that Paulson learned (yea…he screwed up) we have a quick and funny story about Fuld…

Mr Fuld, who has been testifying on the financial crisis before the US House Oversight Committee, was attacked on a Sunday shortly after it was announced that the banking giant was bankrupt.

Following rumours that the incident had occurred, Vicki Ward, a US journalist, said “two very senior sources – one incredibly senior source” had confirmed it to her. “He went to the gym after … Lehman was announced as going under,” she told CNBC. “He was on a treadmill with a heart monitor on. Someone was in the corner, pumping iron and he walked over and he knocked him out cold.

“And frankly after having watched [Mr Fuld’s testimony to the committee], I’d have done the same too.”

—-

In a robust performance in front of the committee, Mr Fuld said that he would wonder “until they put me in the ground” why the US government had not rescued the 158-year-old firm. He said that regulators were fully aware of its plight well before its collapse.

This bit here, about how Fuld still doesn’t understand why he was let to fall, is a big part of the FRONTLINE piece.  When it became known that, really, none of the investment banks were safe, AND THE GOVERNMENT WASN’T GOING TO HELP, the panic set in and we got something I called the “Seven Minutes of Death“.  That was the point when the entire concept of a “rational market” disappeared along with about $7,000,000,000,000….in seven minutes.

Paulson wanted to make a point with Fuld, and that point was that the government isn’t going to help you.  Sadly, this sticking to some sort of “market morality” is exactly the thing that pushed the whole system to collapse.  The problem was exacerbated by election year politics, as noted in my post “Why the Failout Failed.”

When Lehman was allowed to collapse, it triggered off all the “bombs” (CDS) in the animation linked above, as these were the underlying insurance for the entire scheme.  The fact that people were selling armageddon insurance (essentially) should have been a sign that something wicked was this way coming.

A couple more quick personal anecdotes.  Phil Gramm offered a rambling defense of his bill that allowed this stuff to happen.   I countered that, I think fairly effectively, in this video, which has a more political side to it than the animation.  The simple fact of the matter is that this breakdown was created by GREED at every level.  Without something to regulate that GREED, it ate the system.

The best part of that Phil Gramm piece is this blurb on the bottom.

Mr. Gramm, a former U.S. Senator from Texas, is vice chairman of UBS Investment Bank. UBS. This op-ed is adapted from a recent paper he delivered at the American Enterprise Institute

Hmmm, where have I been reading about UBS lately…oh yea…the U.S. and their pissing match with the Swiss.  General note on International Politics, when you start to piss off the Swiss, it might be time to re-think your awesome plan.

ZURICH, Feb 21 (Reuters) – The right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) called on Saturday for retaliation against the United States over a U.S. tax probe into the country’s biggest bank UBS that threatens prized banking secrecy.

Switzerland should also reconsider its policy of representing the United States in countries where it has no diplomatic presence, the parliamentary SVP said in a statement.

The SVP said gold stored by the Swiss National Bank in the United States should be repatriated and Switzerland should ban the sale of U.S. funds in the country to protect Swiss investors after the failure of U.S. regulators.

The comments came after UBS agreed on Wednesday to pay a fine of $780 million and to disclose about 250 names of U.S. clients it said had committed tax fraud to settle U.S. criminal charges that it had helped rich Americans dodge taxes.

U.S. tax authorities said on Thursday they were still pursuing a civil case against UBS seeking access to thousands more names of U.S. citizens it says are hiding about $14.8 billion in assets in secret Swiss bank accounts.

[full story]

This has been the long run towards the end of the “secret Swiss bank account” legend.  A number of the rich (Howdy, Mr. Gramm) use these methods to avoid paying taxes.  It is this kind of stuff, exactly, that led to the fiction of the Laffer Curve (the idea being that by lowering tax rates, it’s no longer worth it to hide money and thus government revenues increase with lower tax rates).

One of the things the Patriot Act has allowed for is previously unknown levels of intrusion into American’s financial status.  It was exactly this type of intrusion that led to the ouster of Eliot Spitzer.   Sure, Spitzer was never charged with a crime, but was excised from public life because of the way he spent his personal money.  The Feds are watching that closely, and if you are an up-and-comer from The Other Party…watch yo-self, because they are watching too.

So now we have a federal government that is a) strapped for cash and b) has all the tools necessary to find those nest eggs and secret storage places.  Oh, and it has a huge mandate from The People to do something about it all, and do something Obama certainly is.

At this point it’s really hard to tell what is going to happen.  A lot of people really don’t understand how much has changed and how badly we have been hallowed out.  One guy does, and his outlook is a bit less than rosy.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Renowned investor George Soros said on Friday the world financial system has effectively disintegrated, adding that there is yet no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis.

Soros said the turbulence is actually more severe than during the Great Depression, comparing the current situation to the demise of the Soviet Union.

He said the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September marked a turning point in the functioning of the market system.

And he’s right.  Because of a few people’s “faith” in a broken market, and not acting quickly enough to shore up the lynchpins of the economy, we crashed a lot harder than we needed to.  The crashing in and of itself adds additional costs to a recovery (think…the looting and burning that goes with mobs mad at The Man…and taking it out on anything and everything within reach…of which The Man owns little).   In this case, the mobs were the Republicans and The Man is Obama  (yes, we are in Bizarro world now).

Playing obstructionist *now* is closing the barn door after the barn has been burned to the ground.

What we want to build in place of the barn is the question now.   It should be noted, however, that we are living in the 21st century now, and rebuilding an 18th Century barn might not be the best idea.

Just some food for thought, from the bottom, where I eat scraps that filter down.