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Friday, October 10, 2008

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, SLO CA for October 10, 2008


Waltz Me Around Again, Willie

If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer


As far as comedy routines go, it’s as old as the hills. The two city-slickers tie a string around a wallet, place it on the sidewalk, then run the string back behind some bushes where they crouch, waiting for The Sucker to come along. He always does, wearing his shabby country bumpkin overalls, hayseed sticking out of his cow-licked hair. He bends down to grab the wallet, which is promptly pulled away by the string. Hayseed falls, kerploot! on his keister. City Dudes snicker and run away with the wallet.

When it happens in the movies or the funny papers, it’s funny. When it happens to a whole nation, it turns into a slo-mo train wreck feeding on an endless loop – the eternal string, the forever falling bumpkin, the ker-splat, the cries of pain and surprise, over and over again.

But in real life, it’s also dismaying because it keeps happening; our hapless Bumpkin learns nothing, never wises up, never changes the game. He’s always, eternally falling for the oldest con in the book until he changes from a victim into another other stock comic figure: The self-bamboozled, petard-hoisted Fool.

And right now, America is more than filling that role. Throughout our history we keep falling for the same old wallet trick, utterly ignoring the two givens of the “free markets:” Caveat Emptor and The Golden Rule: he who has the most gold, makes the rules. Hayseeds need not apply.

After the Great Depression, a sufficient number of people decided it was time to put into place additional rules that would help guard against the worst excesses of a free market economy. But starting in the 1980’s with the so-called Reagan Revolution, the voters put into office a whole series of bi-partisan Penolopies to sit at the national financial loom and carefully pull out the protective, regulatory warps and woofs so that the tapestry would fall apart . . . again.

Thread by thread they worked, the K-Street Lobbyists, their bought-and-paid-for Congresspeople, all of whom had drunk the Kool-Aid offered by a Reagan/Gingrich/Atwater/Norquist/Rove/Limbaughian/Greenspanian anti-tax, anti-government, anti-Commons Crony Capitalist ideology that Regulation was BAD, government was BAD, and the hayseed public shouldn’t worry because the hand of the Free Market would solve all problems.

The voters bought it again and again, even though cracks in the system were appearing, Jeremiah’s were starting to holler that the foxes were running the chicken coop and Americans needed to pay attention since their best interests were being sold to the highest bidders and they were all busy moving those nice assets to tax-free Dubai.

They didn’t, of course. The wallet and string joke wouldn’t keep working if the hayseeds ever wised up. Instead, like clockwork, the American people took – once again – the slo-mo pratfall while the K-Street kleptocrats scampered off with the silverware.

And while we’ll all be stuck with the bills from this particular train wreck, what’s curious is the blind and bland equanimity of the people who’ve just been fleeced. Instead of pikestaffs and firebrands and the storming of Washington, they still seem unable to connect any dots or understand the implications of past policies and their own behaviors. And if the present polls are correct, they may well put into office a team who spent their careers being staunch proponents of the sort of DEregulation that helped create this mess.

Which, you have to admit, actually is comic; Nobody learns anything. So it’s possible the American people have turned themselves into Shmoos, those Al Capp comic characters whose only purpose for being is to make humans happy by doing and being anything they want, from serving as bounce-back punching bags to making themselves into a tasty meal-- Sheep for the shearing, architects of their own destruction.

It’s a far cry from the tough-minded “I’m From Missouri, Show Me” American of yore. But then that tough old bird likely has been transformed by a consumer society into just another mall rat with overextended credit, a corporate media-mesmerized sucker born every minute, voting into office the same wolves that will consume him in the end, string, wallet, and all.

11 comments:

Mark said...

Ann,

You have ignored 8 years of Bill Blinton...
Ever heard of Barney Frank or Chris Dodd?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MGT_cSi7Rs&feature=related

Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...

Mark,

It is far too simple to blame Clinton, Frank and Dodd without also fingering Greenspan, Gramm and Cox.

For what it's worth, listening to the most recent This American Life: Another Frightening Show About the Economy and reading Taking Hard New Look at a Greenspan Legacy (NYTimes.com) and a primer on Credit Default Swaps and Explaining CDS and CDOs with Doodles (WSJ.com).

Nope, everyone participated in allowing the massive gambling which became the interconnected house of cards which is now falling because all the players want to avoid losing the bank.

Sewertoons said...

Yesterday the New York Times had a great article explaining this mess and the part "derivatives" played in it. Here is a Greenspan quote from the article (what he told the Senate Banking Committee in 2003):

"What we have found over the years in the marketplace is that derivatives have been an extraordinary useful vehicle to transfer the risk from those who shouldn't be taking it to those who are willing to do so. We think it would be a mistake" to more deeply regulate the contracts, he said.

Today the problem is not that the contracts failed, he says. Rather the people using them got greedy. (A speech from a week ago at Georgetown University.)

And when hasn't that happened if a cookie jar is left open and unguarded?

Watershed Mark said...

Like the hunt for a P~I~P~E~...

Oh I forgot, with a low interest SRF LOAN, tt desn't matter how much it costs just so long as the repayment is acceptable to those who vote for it and will not pay for.

Is that anyway to coduct your business affairs?

*PG-13 said...

With apologies, I have not yet partaken of the many links previously posted. Still, what hasn't already been said? Over and over and over and, yet again, over again? Have you ever seen soooooo many talking heads before? In addition to the usual politico's - and this in an election year for Gawd's sake with the election less than a month away! - and a hugely expanded set of media pundits, we've now got a plethora of bankers, brokers, historians, financial honcho's and economic guru's. Hell, even the candlestick maker's making comment on how we got into this mess. And how we might conceivably get out of it. A real Rub-a-dub-dub moment. Oh, and let's not forget the reverends, ministers, preachers and religio-hobknobs! Can't leave them out. No siree Bob! Waaaaaay too much to weigh in on. IRS be damned! The end of time is coming. Retribution is at hand if you choose to see it in those terms. What can possibly be left to be said?

Even as I write this the TV is blaring in the next room ..... "unprecedented", "Nobody's ever seen anything like this ...", "1929 - the last depression ....", "It wasn't until Pearl Harbor pulled us out of that depression ....", "We don't know where the bottom is ...", "The U.S. is going to come out of this a much diminished nation ....","Lack of leadership ...", "Another FDR is what we need today!" Whatever. The cacophony is deafening.

I agree with all of the above. Who can argue? There was error. There is fault. Plenty of blame to go around. The systems failed. Certainly. As all systems will when subsumed by human greed and political pull. But who was pulling and who was pushing? Fewer systemic controls gave leverage to the pullers. Which in turn fed the pushers. Oh, great gnashing of teeth, why didn't somebody regulate this? Who was minding the store? And the world goes round and round and the painted ponies go up and down. (sigh) As much as I truly hate to say it I gotta say I agree with the religio-hobknobs. In principle not in specific. This is as much a metaphysical crisis as an economic crisis. Do what we will. Bail as we might. The boat's gonna sink. The only question is ..... how deep is the bottom? And how good a swimmer are you?

For better AND for worse, the days of Reagonomics and unregulated markets are over. The days of making easy hay are over. The US hegemony over the world's economics is over. This is a world economic crises - largely of our own making - and we will recover only as well as most of the rest of the world recovers. Get used to it. Be thankful. The proof is in the pudding: We weren't as good at it as we thought we were. We were playing with house money. We'll be lucky to escape with our hides. I hope we're lucky.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Presidential campaigns continue undeterred. Yeah, great lip service is given to the crises. But nothing has changed. McCain and his gal-friend Palin rip Obama. Obama and his smooth-talkin side-kick rip McCain. All the while, clearly nobody is listening to the President. Or his advisers. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. Nothing but talking hands. Granted, No Regs McCain is now pushing for maximal regs and a $300 billion bail-out of bone-headed mortgages. And Obama is marginally ahead in the polls so he's not gonna say nothin'. (sigh) The ship's sinking and each party is holding campaign meetings fore and aft. Democrats fore, Republicans aft. Bon Voyage. So Long and thanks for all the fish.

Billy Dunne said...

"Like the hunt for a P~I~P~E~..."

Don't have any idea what this possibly has to do with the thread, but now that you appeared again, can you do me a favor Marcus? When your boy Tom Murphy prints all the names of us who don't buy one of his Wrecklamator's....let's see....how did he put it in the New Times...oh yeah..."We're going to publish their names in the paper--just like they were child molesters, the same thing--it's crimminal." When he does that, make sure he puts the "e" at the end of my name. It's a common mistake, but I want to make sure he gets it right. That's Dunne. With an "e." Thanks buddy.

Sandra said...

I wish I wasn't on this train!

Not that I think any one person can do anything, I am working actively on the Obama campaign. Since is the first Prez election since the 60's that has got me hitting the streets.

Nevada is a swing state and the Obama offices here in Las Vegas are filled with volunteers from California.

Obamanos!

Churadogs said...

Bille DunnE sez:"When your boy Tom Murphy prints all the names of us who don't buy one of his Wrecklamator's....let's see....how did he put it in the New Times...oh yeah..."We're going to publish their names in the paper--just like they were child molesters, the same thing--it's crimminal." When he does that, make sure he puts the "e" at the end of my name. It's a common mistake, but I want to make sure he gets it right. That's Dunne. With an "e." Thanks buddy."

Hahahahah. Hahahahahah! HAHAHAHAH!

Re the Wall St. mess. What's so amazing to me is everyone is acting so SURPRISED, like, "Gosh, we NEVER even THOUGHT something ike that could EVER happen," like ENRON happend somewhere back in the 14th century so who could be expected to remember that far back.

What's also so interesting to me is that Osama Bin Laden spoke of this in both his writings and various tapes. He KNEW America and Americans and American policy. He KNEW the ju-jitsu point to hit to bring down the entire structure. Not for nothing did he hit the World TRADE Towers. It was all about the economy, stupid, not the Armies. Bankrupt yourselves fighting a war on your credit cards, demand NO taxes to pay for the war from the people who didn't want to pay for anything, people the president told to Go Shopping, attempt a Guns AND Butter economy on the back of a system that was already in deep over-extended doo-doo, then sit back and let America destroy itself. Bin Laden knew and sure enough, it's happening.

And, of course, everyone's acting all surprised, like they didn't listen to the guy, like he hadn't already laid this all out beforehand? Like he was some Saladin from the 14th century so of course we coudn't be expected to be familiar with his writings?

Like nobody learns anything and the painted ponies keep going up and down. Sigh, indeed.

Howie said...

AAA Identity Confirmation



**FRAUD ALERT**




NOTORIOUS VCU HACKER SURFACES ONLINE IN LOS OSOS, CALIFORNIA; "SHARK INLET" IDENTIFIED AS
CAL POLY PROFESSOR STEVE REIN



The suspected hacker who wreaked havoc at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, in the late '90s, but fled the state before he could be brought up on criminal charges, has been traced to California's Central Coast and identified as Cal Poly University statistics professor, Steve Rein.
At VCU Rein was accused of setting up a website that discredited a Christian parenting organization, Growing Families International, and attacked its founders with lies, distortions and extremist statements. But that was just the beginning of Rein's over-the-top reign of Internet terror against GFI. Rein then reportedly hacked a GFI computer, stealing attorney-privileged documents, and posted them on his website. Caught red-handed with his electronic fingerprint on the cookie jar, Reins bolted while the investigation was still in progress.
"In addition to the many false and misleading postings found on his site, we have personally seen the written documents implicating Mr. Rein in a potentially prosecutable crime against GFI," wrote a GFI spokesperson.
In 1997 GFI discovered that a password protected area and other back areas of their computer were wrongfully accessed leaving behind an electronic fingerprint. The matter was first turned over to local and federal law enforcement officers for review and comment. An investigation of criminal misconduct followed. GFI reports that their management personnel retraced the wrongful access back to a single computer located on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). The computer was assigned to Professor Steve Rein."
Not surprisingly, Rein is again involved in shady online activities, this time in Los Osos blogging under the anonymous moniker of "Shark Inlet." Using similar tactics in Los Osos to those he deployed at VCU, Rein is suspected of managing an online disinformation campaign on behalf of the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Works against activists fighting the County's plan to build the most expensive wastewater project per capital in U.S. history in little Los Osos. Activists contend the County has intentionally priced the project to displace one-third of Los Osos' 16,500 residents who won't be able to afford to pay a $300 a month sewer bill and thousands more to hook up.
At least one complaint has been previously lodged against Rein for using a Cal Poly computer to post political messages on Los Osos blogsites promoting the County project. He may also have used a Cal Poly computer to hack password-protected areas on private computers in Los Osos to steal attorney-privileged documents that later fell into the hands of a local Los Osos nuisance litigator, Taxpayers Watch, which is suing current Los Osos district board members and promoting local candidates in the November 4 election that Rein and the County support -- while bashing opposition candidates in public online forums.
Investigators also wouldn't mind taking a look at Rein's home computer to track his online activities, as well as his financial records to determine whether he received any compensation for his online "dirty tricks" activities on behalf of the County and pro-County candidates, and if so, how much and from whom. To access Rein's home computer would require a search warrant from a judge.

***

Please read the full details of this FRAUD ALERT. Read about Rein's outrageous actions against GFI, a Christian organization, as well as the comments below regarding Rein's character, ethics and credibility. These comments can be found online at: www.ezzotruth.com/steve-rein.html

Steve Rein owns and operates ezzoinfo, a website specifically dedicated to providing mostly negative information about Gary Ezzo and Growing Families International. The amount of misrepresentation on Mr. Rein's site is staggering. As such, it is not possible to comment on it all. We have dealt with most of the issues on the FAQ page which should give the reader an idea of deception that is being promoted on his site. However, we do think that his character might be fairly well summarized in the following account. We would not share this information about Mr. Rein if this were but a simple disagreement between individuals, but the integrity of Gary Ezzo and his Christian ministry is at stake on an international basis. Proverbs 18:17 reminds us that "the first one to present his case seems right until the second one comes along and questions him." His website postings should be viewed with extreme caution and prayerful consideration.
In addition to the many false and misleading postings found on his site, we have personally seen the written documents implicating Mr. Rein in a potentially prosecutable crime against GFI.
In 1997 GFI discovered that a password protected area and other back areas of their computer were
wrongfully accessed leaving behind an electronic fingerprint. The matter was first turned over to
local and federal law enforcement officers for review and comment. An investigation of criminal misconduct followed. GFI reports that their management personnel retraced the wrongful access back to a single computer located on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). The computer was assigned to Professor Steve Rein.
GFI then presented their extensive documentation to VCU officials and requested they take
appropriate administrative action against Mr. Rein, which included the removal of his "anti-Ezzo" website from the State's computers (formerly called "Red Rhino"). Through a series of meetings and phone conversations with VCU officials and the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney, GFI felt
confident that the matter would be fully investigated and properly resolved. In a letter from GFI legal representatives, GFI was informed that the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney indicated that "VCU had taken administrative action against Steve Rein." Rein's site was removed from VCU's
computers and Mr. Rein left VCU before the next fall semester. With this bit of historical context and the action taken by GFI against Mr. Rein, we believe a case can be made to at least
question Mr. Rein's motives and the tone of his site, if not the entire credibility of his website.
Since our initial posting Mr. Rein contacted us claiming he was wronged by the insinuation that he hacked into the GFI computers. We assume because it implies criminal misconduct. We wish to be very accurate with both our words and the description of the events that took place between GFI and Virginia Commonwealth University with regard to this incident. We are very willing to remove the word hacked from the original post and replace it with wrongfully accessed. However, it does not remove the significant concerns and evidence that lead GFI to pursue VCU nor does simply removing the word exonerate Mr. Rein from involvement in the intruder activity. Mr. Rein also states that his leaving VCU had nothing to do with the GFI claim against him. We have asked Mr. Rein some very specific questions regarding this incident and his leaving VCU but to date, he has refused to answer any of our questions. More evidence supportive of GFI's position will be added as needed. In addition, any other information which comes to our attention which would
change our understanding of this event will be promptly posted.

Questions Steve Rein refused to answer:

1. Legality aside, do you think it is morally or ethically acceptable for anyone to enter back sectors and password protected areas of a corporate computer, browse through files, take very specific information not made readily available to the public or linked as a viewable page, and then download and pass the information on to others?

2. For absolute clarity, are you asserting that you have never entered password or non-password protected areas of the GFI computers or that you never downloaded files from nonpublic areas of GFI computers and passed them (or their URLs) to another party?

3. Did you access and download or retrieve in any form, guestbook information from GFI computers?

4. In Christianity Today, (November 13, 2000) your name appears in an article written by Kathleen Terner clearly stating that "GFI asked legal authorities to take criminal action against Rein."

We were not made aware of this event from GFI or any other source (either publicly or privately) until Christianity Today made it public. Do you know how CT obtained this information? If you did not provide it, did you make a written protest to Christianity Today for bringing this issue to
public awareness implicating you in something possibly worthy of criminal charges?

5. Are you aware of any documentation or meetings noting that VCU took administrative actions against you or that VCU exonerated you in light of GFI claims relating to an unauthorized entry into password protected areas of their computers?

6. Are you maintaining that VCU did not request that you remove your "RedRhino" site from their computers in response to GFl claims against you?

7. Would you please clarify for us the circumstances surrounding your departure from VCU? What date did you officially resign from VCU? If you did not resign, was your contract just not renewed for some reason? What was the reason? You mentioned that you were hoping to relocate back to the west coast closer to family. If you resigned due to taking another job, we would really appreciate seeing a copy of your resignation letter or whatever documented evidence you have to notify VCU that you would not be returning. If your contract was not renewed, please provide the date that VCU notified you. Did you know that your contract was not being renewed before you decided to look for another job?

8. Please explain in detail how you came in possession of two versions of a letter concerning Roy Maynard which were in the GFI computer. Did you pass that information to Kathy Nesper, or anyone else? Were/are you co-owner of the PAM list with Kathy Nesper?

9. Are you saying that you did not meet with VCU officials or anyone else concerning the GFI claim against you?

10. Have you at any time notified the Ezzos of information to be posted on your site which may have impugned their character or their ministry efforts to find out if your information was correct? Did you ever ask them for the other side of the story on any specific issue? Please list those topics which you have listed on your site that you have discussed with the Ezzos before your post.

11. Would you please give us a prepared statement as to why you feel it is necessary to have the ezzoinfo website along with your biblical justification for your site.

12. Are you denying that your Red Rhino site which contained your personal information about the Ezzos was on VCU computers? Please quote the VCU guidelines regarding the use of their computers that gave you permission to use them for your own personal, non-university related purposes
related to accessing the GFI computers and downloading information that was not made public or linked to a viewable page.

Now you know...

Sewertoons said...

Ann, "howie" has hijacked your blog.

Churadogs said...

Howie, and all others, please read my posting on the blog entry above.