• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    HerstoryRepeating on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    Catscatscats on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    Earlynerd on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    William on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    HerStoryRepeating on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    Catscatscats on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    William on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    Ga6thDem on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    William on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    Ga6thDem on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    Ga6thDem on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    Ga6thDem on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    Ga6thDem on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    Ga6thDem on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
    William on Bring on the Conspiracy T…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    March 2010
    S M T W T F S
    « Feb   Apr »
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 18, 2019
      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 18, 2019 by Tony Wikrent Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy Rebecca Gordon, How the U.S. Created the Central American Immigration Crisis [TomDispatch, via Naked Capitalism 8-16-19] How the Supreme Court Is Rebranding Corruption — Ciara Torres-Spelli […]
  • Top Posts

  • Advertisements

Oopsie!


We’ve been hearing for a couple weeks that the right wingers are violent and crazy extremists who have been threatening congressional supporters of ObamaCare. Sarah Palin has been accused (again) of ginning up the hate.

Well, the FBI arrested the nutball in the above video for threatening to kill Rep. Eric Cantor and his family. One problem – the Congressman is a GOPer and Senor Nutball is an Obama supporter.

Strangely enough, if you read the report by Toilet Paper Memes you won’t find any mention of Rep. Cantor’s party affiliation or Herr Nutball’s support for Obama.

It’s probably just a coinky-dink.

Advertisements

Monday Midday: Sacrilege in the Church of Baseball,* Midwest Christian Militias, Fundamentalist Manifestos, and Pedophile Priests

Fenway Park, Boston

* Annie Savoy in Bull Durham:

I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring…

Why is ESPN allowed to ruin an age-old Boston sports tradition?

The home opener in Boston has always meant a day game during the week, with kids skipping school, adults skipping work, and local pols skipping graft and corruption to watch the game. But thanks to ESPN and baseball, we now have a Sunday night game instead. That’s just pathetic! No sunshine, no opportunity to skip out of school or work. Baseball was meant to be played with the sun shining. Now there are so few day games and the powers that be have taken away the most sacred day game of all.

Do those ESPN morons even know what Boston weather is like in April? On April 4 (opening day) the high will be in the 70s in the daytime, which would be nice, but at night it will be in the 40s–ugly, horrible weather for a baseball game.

And why do the Red Sox have to play the Yankees on opening day? That has never been a baseball tradition. The Red Sox-Yankee rivalry isn’t even fun anymore, after all the exploitation of it by Major League Baseball and TV. it used to be we wouldn’t see the Yankees until Patriot’s day (Boston Marathon Day) after both teams had had a some chance to get up to speed.

Okay, rant over.

The rest of this morning’s post will be about religion and politics. I was a little bit intimidated by the reaction to my Friday post, but I got over it. Rude and offensive comments will be removed and posters of those comments will be put in moderation for the duration of this thread. I hope that is perfectly clear. Feel free to post and discuss news links on any topic at all.

Midwest Christian Militia Members Busted by Feds

Members of Hutaree and another Michigan militia group

Here’s some interesting religion/politics news. According to the Detroit News, seven members of a Christian militia group called “Hutaree” have been arrested in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana in “massive” raids involving the FBI, Homeland Security, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The raids took place on Saturday and Sunday.

Sources have said the FBI was in the second day of raids around the southeastern Michigan city of Adrian that are connected to a militia group, known as the Hutaree, an Adrian-based group whose members describe themselves as Christian soldiers preparing for the arrival and battle with the anti-Christ.

WXYZ-TV reports that helicopters were spotted in the sky for much of Saturday night, and agents set up checkpoints throughout the area. Witnesses told the station that it was like a small army had descended on the area. The Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are also involved in the raids.

According to several reports, the town of Adrian, Michigan looked like it was being invaded.

Helicopters, foot patrols, Michigan State Police, FBI, and a tank were seen in Lenawee County since Saturday evening.

Resident Christina Lamb says folks said the group was “KKK. That they’re making bombs. That they have a whole bunch of drugs and guns.”

The focus of the raid was a large rural property in Adrian where a militia member lived in a house and his two sons lived in nearby trailers. From Huffpo:

Law enforcement swarmed a rural, wooded property Saturday evening near Adrian, about 70 miles southwest of Detroit, neighbors said. Two ramshackle trailers sat side-by-side on the property, the door to one slightly ajar late Sunday as if it had been forced open.

Phyllis Brugger, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, said some people who lived there were known as having ties to militia. They would shoot guns and often wore camouflage, according to Brugger and her daughter, Heidi Wood.

Similar operations took place in Sandusky, Ohio and Hammond, Indiana.

In Hammond, Indiana, several young men standing outside a pizza place where they worked saw “a swarm of law enforcement” swoop in. According to George Ponce, 18,

“I heard a yell, ‘Get back inside!’ and saw a squad member pointing a rifle at us,” Ponce said. “They told us the bomb squad was going in, sweeping the house looking for bombs.”

He said another agent was in the bushes near the house, and law enforcement vehicles were “all over.” He estimated that agents took more than two dozen guns from the house.

Two more arrests were made in Sandusky and Huron, Ohio. From Huffpo article linked above:

A young man who answered the door at the trailer Sunday said no one from the family wanted to talk. A neighbor said he saw authorities with rifles run past his window and toward the trailer Saturday night.

“They took over the block like it was the Army. I thought we were being invaded,” said Michael Morin, who lives two lots away.

Park manager Terry Mills said authorities blocked off the street for about an hour Saturday night.

“Needless to say, this has everyone talking,” said Mills, 62. “We have a lot of retirees here who don’t want all this commotion.”

Some militia members are reportedly on the run, and perhaps more will be arrested. It also isn’t clear what the charges were in these arrests. Two possibilities I’ve seen are that the group may have made threats against Islamic groups and that they may have been selling pipe bombs. That was a lot of firepower for some pipe bombs and threats.

So what is this group all about anyway? Hutaree supposedly means “Christian Warrier.” The group’s web page says they are “preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.” According to news stories, this means they are preparing to fight the Anti-Christ. The Doctrine of the Hutaree is also posted on the site. It’s here if you’re interested in reading it.

According to Ann Arbor.com, members of Michigan militias, including Hutaree have recently helped local law enforcement to find missing persons:

…several Hutaree members were recently involved in searches in Bridgewater Township after two residents went missing in separate incidents. Schiel [seen in photo above, second from left] worked closely with Hutaree members during those searches.

Both missing people were found–unfortunately dead. One, a woman, died from hypothermia (friends said she may have taken too much anti-anxiety medication) and the other, a man, was found in his car dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. The large women on the left side of the above photo is a Hutaree member who helped in the searches, Wendy Lineweaver.

She joined the tightly-knit unit after meeting several members at a Ron Paul rally several years ago in Ann Arbor. Lineweaver opposes surveillance cameras on streets, the use of body scanners at airports and fears the government may microchip people.

“If you really want to try and install a police state in this society, you’re going to hit a brick wall, meaning us,” she said. “That’s what we’re preparing for.”

The group also has a MySpace page and a YouTube channel with lots of videos of people running around in camoflage and shooting off guns.
Continue reading

Book Review: The Big Short

In the last couple of months, I have started to receive mail from “Wealth Management” financial advisors like Merrill-Lynch.  This is funny for two reasons: 1. I have no wealth to manage and 2. after reading the book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis, the last people in the world I would give my money to is Merrill-Lynch.  They were one of the last companies to figure out how to make money during the subprime housing bubble.

The Big Short is about those esoteric “instruments” that Wall Street developed to suck money out of America, the rampant fraud that signified a bubble and some ragtag outsiders who accurately predicted the bursting of that bubble and made a lot of money in the process.  Our cast of characters, the good guys, if this tale has any heros at all, includes Michael Burry, a one-eyed neurologist with Aspberger’s syndrome who liked to read prospectuses for fun, Steve Eisman, an iconclastic hedge fund manager at Frontpoint, and a “garage band” hedge fund called Cornwall Capital consisting of Charlie Ledley, Jaimie May and Ben Hockett.  With the exception of Eisman and Hockett, the rest were amateurs, just dabbling in money markets and placing bets on unlikely events.

For each of these three groups of people, there was something unique about their approach to the financial market.  Michael Burry was discovered by investors who read some of his blog posts about where to put their money in the stock market.  He was persuaded to manage other people’s money and started Scion Capital.  But unlike other financial managers, Burry told his investors that they had to be in it for the long haul.  The Cornwall Capital guys started with $100,000 and the crazy idea that if you want to make money in the financial world, you have to bet against conventional wisdom.  Steve Eisman was raised on Wall Street.  He came from a family of analysts that seemed to think the Wall Street investment companies had a fiduciary responsibility towards their investors.

The Big Short follows our outliers throughout the last decade as they discover the subprime housing market and start to wrap their heads around the concept of collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps.  As they wander their way through the complexity and deliberate opacity of the bond market, they start to realize that it is fueling a bubble.  Eisman quickly sees that the subrpime mortgage business is encouraging fraud when his Jamaican baby nurse tells him she is over her head in debt from the 5 townhouses she’s bought in Brooklyn.  Wall Street firms were writing teaser rate loans for people who didn’t have the income to pay when the balloon rate would kick in.  Then they bundled the loans, sliced them up and sold them to unwitting investors who didn’t read the prospectuses.  Michael Burry was one of the few who did read them.  With his sharp analytical mind, he calculated when the bubble would burst and was one of the first people to place a bet on the losses when he asked for custom credit default swaps from Morgan-Stanley and Goldman-Sachs.  Charlie Ledley and Jamie May thought the subprime market was too good to be true so they bet against it too.

The book takes us through the complicated maze of the financial world from Wall Street to Las Vegas and Berkeley and introduces us to a bunch of colorful characters.  There’s the almost allegorical investment fund manager who just passes his investors money through the CDO market, the salesman from Deutsche Bank who lays out how the whole Ponzi scheme works and the Morgan Stanley guy who loses more money for his accounts in the meltdown than anyone  in history.

Our good guys start to get more alarmed as the enormity of the coming armageddon starts to take shape.  Well before the crash, they challenge the ratings firms and bankers in public, write letters to their investors describing what’s happening and even have a social conscience when they make a trip to the SEC and try to explain it to a clueless government official.  When the proverbial $hit starts hitting the fan, they’re as anxious and distressed as everyone else even though they each made a ton of money.  In Burry’s and Cornwall’s case, the events were so unsettling that they gave up managing money.

There were a couple of take home messages for me.  For one thing, I absolutely do not trust Wall Street after reading this book.  There may be some honest brokers out there but not nearly enough to handle the trillions of retirement dollars that pass through their Bloomberg terminals every day.  Another disturbing thing is how disconnected Wall Street bankers and brokers seem to be with the lives of average Americans.  They don’t take care of the money they’ve been entrusted with.  It’s almost like it’s not real to them.  They might as well be manipulating poker chips or Monopoly scrip.  And it didn’t seem to occur to them that the vast number of Americans who got trapped into teaser rate loans were not going to be able to pay their mortgages when the loan readjusted.  Just where did these geniuses think the money was going to come from in a decade when wages were essentially flat and made more difficult to come by due the short term thinking of the institutional investors?  One curious thing is the timing of the bubble burst.  It started in March of 2007, well before the primaries of 2008.  The guys at Cornwall Capital started to get concerned that they were going to be exposed financially when the government came to the rescue of strapped mortgage holders.  But that never happened.  As we all know, Hillary was the one in favor of a homeowners bailout; Obama was not.  It makes Obama’s “win” even more suspect.

As you guys might know, I listen to books on my iPhone and rate my them by sponge count.  That is, the book has to be engrossing enough that I won’t even notice that I’m cleaning the kitchen.  I give this one 4.5 sponges.  It was easy to get engrossed in the book, so much so that I was laughing out loud while I was walking around Ikea.  But I was about 2/3’s of the way through the book before sentences like “And so it was that Ben Hockett found himself sitting in a pub called the Powder Monkey in the city of Exmouth in the county of Devon England, seeking a buyer of $205 million dollars of credit default swaps on the AA tranches of mezzanine sub-prime CDO’s” didn’t make me stop the audio and rewind.  So, if you’re new to mezzanine subprime tranches, expect some confusion at first.  Lewis does an excellent job of parsing it for the uninitiated but it’s still dense material.

I recommend the audible version in particular because it includes a 10 minute interview with the author at the end.  Lewis is pretty tough on the Obama administration.  He says it has made financial reform harder by hiring the guys who were most responsible for letting it the subprime bubble happen in the first place.  He has no respect for Geithner.  Lewis also thinks that Obama blew it when he took office.  He could have used the momentum and mandate he had in early 2009 to clean up the mess.  He’s now wasted his political capital on a lousy health care reform bill and has let the financial mess simmer, ready to boil over in another meltdown.  From what I can tell, it ain’t over yet, folks.

Highly recommended.

Note: I bought this book on my own and wasn’t asked to review it.