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    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Thursday: Dear Julian

Bank of America's new headquarters?

Please pay attention, Julian.

For the last 4 days, the country’s newspapers have been in a tizzy over the leaked State Department cables full of juicy gossip and how nobody likes Iran and whether Hillary should resign because she authorized American ambassadors to snoop on their buds at the UN.  (Ummm, no, that’s not a resignable offence.) And all this time, you’ve been sitting on the real bombshell: leaked documents from the Bank of America.

Why the f%^& have you been wasting our time with this note passing crap from the State Department?

Dish, Julian!  We want to know what the bastards have been up to and what they’ve been saying about us while they’ve taken trillions of dollars in taxpayer money to make up for the other-people’s-money they gambled away.  Oh, sure, we already know they think they’re the smartest dudes on the planet and we’re all a bunch of stupid suckers. (See Money Never Weeps from This American Life.  Priceless.)  But we want to see some perp walks, Jules.  You know, dudes shedding their bespoke suits for some neon orange jumper.  And for Gawd’s sakes, do it before Interpol catches up with you and the world shuts down your servers.

The scope of the theft of taxpayer dollars is breathtaking.  Am I reading this right?  Citigroup alone helped itself to $2.2 trillion?  From the AP, Fed ID’s Companies That Used Crisis Aid Programs, we get this (very short) summary:

New documents show that the most loan and other aid for U.S. institutions over time went to Citigroup ($2.2 trillion), followed by Merrill Lynch ($2.1 trillion), Morgan Stanley ($2 trillion), Bear Stearns ($960 billion), Bank of America ($887 billion), Goldman Sachs ($615 billion), JPMorgan Chase ($178 billion) and Wells Fargo ($154 billion).

The New York Times has a more detailed article on the Fed Bailout in Fed Documents Breadth of Emergency Measures.  It’s a wonder we didn’t have another Great Depression.  Once again, the Yanks come to the world’s rescue and bails out foreign banks as well.  The bastards have soaked us for every penny in the past couple of years, raising interest rates on credit cards and foreclosing at the drop of the hat, and they brought several countries to ruin.  Ireland, Spain, Greece, Iceland and now Italy, have all been taken to the cleaners by the monumental greed and carelessness of these jerks.  They should have been taken over two years ago.  Instead, they’re still walking around free, rewarding themselves generously and sticking it to the rest of us.

Citibank, Jules, do you have anything on Citibank?  Merill-Lynch?  Get it out there, Julian.  Don’t waste a minute more of our time.

Speaking of Citigroup, Peter Orszag, Obama’s former budget director, is in negotiations to join their investment banking unit. Wait!  Isn’t there some kind of rule about joining the corporation you might have been protecting in your previous capacity as a public servant?  Don’t you have to wait a couple of years?   (Ah, yes, here is an article from Aug 2010 that refers to the waiting period for ex-legislators and regulators before they can lobby.) Or does that only apply to actual public servants, like the Clintons, who were forced to divest themselves before Hillary became Secretary of State so as to avoid even a hint of a conflict of interest?  I guess that level of scrutiny and ethics doesn’t apply when it is a guy who has left the Obama administration, even if it once applied to Congress and everyone else in government.

So, Orszag is going to join one of the criminal organizations that held up the country at gunpoint.  Yeah, that doesn’t look the least bit sleazy or unethical.  I’m sure they’re going to say, “But he’s not going to lobby.  He’s just going to join the investment banking unit.  That’s not a conflict.”  Uh-huh.  If the Obama administration doesn’t dissuade this deal and doesn’t immediately institute new rules about how long its former officials have to wait, then we can pretty much dispense with that whole notion that somehow Obama’s administration will be holier than any previous administration of either party.

And let us not forget that it was Peter Orszag who recently wrote that ridiculous opinion piece in the NYTimes about how we should turn Social Security into a welfare program.  Let’s recap: Peter Orszag, former acolyte of Robert Rubin, is present during the worst days of the banking crisis and has a hand in structuring that pathetic stimulus package after the banks crippled the economy and now, he’s going to work for the very same guys who fleeced us.  He now tries to persuade taxpayers who have been diligently paying for their retirements all of their working lives to take a haircut on Social Security because he and his new buddies don’t want to pay back their generous tax breaks.  Have I got that right?

As for Social Security and the “new and improved” Bowles-Simpson charade of a deficit reduction proposal, Paul Krugman says this in Destroying Retirement in Order to Save It:

Let’s think about that. Right now we have a retirement system that has the great virtue of not being intrusive: Social Security doesn’t demand that you prove you need it, doesn’t ask about your personal life, doesn’t make you feel like a beggar. And now we’re going to replace that with a system in which large numbers of Americans have to plead for special dispensation, on the grounds that they’re too feeble to work for a living. Freedom!

It’s worse than that, Paul.  It’s more like having to beg your ex for child support and having him plead to the court that if he gives you money, you’re just going to spend it.  Alan Simpson does not like the obligation to pay Social Security to the people who invested in it.  F^&* that $hit.  I’m not going to be made to feel like a spendthrift floozy for wanting my hard earned money back when I retire.  If I don’t get it back, it will be like paying extra taxes all my working life so that the wealthy don’t have to pay theirs for all the public services government provides them.  Social Security works and I’m sick to death and angry as all hell when people like Alan Simpson trash it.  And Obama better not think he can act like some kind of hero by saving it.  Politicians who play games with people’s retirements to score votes are in for a rude awakening.

I don’t know what must be done to punish the wicked and hit the reset switch to get rid of the virtual debt all of us responsible, hard working people are being forced to pay to the gambling addicts.  But politicians better get a move on it.  There are a lot more voters than bankers and these days, you don’t have to watch campaign ads on TV if you have a DVR.  People are paying attention.

Am I done ranting yet?  For the moment.

Onto some promising news in the area of education.  It appears that an alert superintendant and a principal in Texas have discovered what I have long suspected: teachers reward compliance over actual knowledge mastered and this is showing up in standardized tests.  (I can just see this thread being highjacked by opponents of standardized testing.  Get over it, guys.  In the rest of the world, standardized tests are, well, standard.  This is a losing battle.)  In A’s for Good Behavior, the students with the best grades in the class were not always the students with the best test scores in terms of mastery of material.  Conversely, some of the students who got poor grades in class and seemed turned off by school, scored better than their honor roll counterparts.

I’ve seen this in action with my own eyes.  For nine miserable years, Brooke floundered in school.  Her tests were always outstanding, putting her in the top 1-2% in the state and nationally.  But this kid never made the honor roll.  Her teachers were constantly on my case to force her to turn in signed test papers that never made it home, fill out reams of pointless worksheets covering material she already knew and write drafts of papers with corrected mistakes that she never made.  She was misdiagnosed as having ADHD, was sent to detention on multiple occasions for minor infractions and humiliated in front of the class by one of her teachers for not having a pencil.  Points were taken off for breathing too loud.  For nine long years, I struggled to get the kid out of bed in the morning because she didn’t want to go to school.  She wasn’t a troublemaker.  She was bored out of her mind and tired of spinning her wheels in class not learning new material.

High school has been a blessing for Brooke.  She has skipped grades in several subjects and she’s now doing the work.  But it has been a constant struggle with the educational establishment and has been personally expensive as I have born the costs of additional testing, summer courses in math to keep her at her level and online courses to substitute for what the high school couldn’t or wouldn’t provide for her.

But Brooke is lucky in some ways.  I knew there was something wrong with the way she was being educated and took steps to correct it.  In my own extended family, I’ve seen what happens when a kid doesn’t have that kind of advocacy.  It’s not pretty. The study in Texas suggests that up to 10% of their students were being underserved because they failed to meet the teacher’s standards of compliance.  Meanwhile, a significant number of A students thought they were smarter than they actually were.

They’ll probably grow up to be bankers.

Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

OBAMA/On a day when Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary, Turbo Tax Timmy Geithner, tax cheat (TTTG,tc) appear before Congress seeking unprecedented power to further loot manipulate regulate the financial industry, including non-banking entities like AIG, the company whose bonuses they’ve been called on the carpet to address, perusal of the day’s news stories, blog posts, and opinion pieces reveals more questions than answers.  Is this the bizarre Obministration Hokey Pokey Bamboozle One Step Forward, Two Steps Back Cha-Cha-Cha it appears to be, or are the Obanomic efforts of the government so far truly on behalf of the people?

Talking Points Memo‘s Josh Marshall wonders if we are living in an “alternate universe” after reading today’s Wall Street Journal article claiming that the Obministration has had a recent change of heart towards Wall Street, itself.  I’m not sure what exactly it is about the Journal’s conclusions that has Marshall’s knickers in a twist, but one of the passages that jumped out at me lead me to believe that the article’s writer is completely full of hooey.  Rather than eschew a close working Wall Street relationship as Monica Langley claims, it seems to me that Barack Obama was bought, paid for and hand-delivered to the White House courtesy of the banksters he now serves.  Though Ms. Langley spends a lot of ink chronicling the many instances where Obacolytes paid lip service to being critical of the “dirty bankers” that financed his campaign and advised his every move during his presidential run, she ignores the obvious fact that he’s been dirty banker pocket lint all along.  Here’s the part that leapt off my page: Continue reading

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