Frontier Former Editor

March 17, 2009

Here’s another reason to major in history, or at least read it more than once every few years . . .

The Credit Mobilier scandal of 1872 – a good reason to hold big business’ s and elected government’s collective feet to the fire on a regular basis.

“Crédit Mobilier of America was formed by George Francis Train, the vice-president in charge of publicity for the Union Pacific Railroad. Crédit Mobilier of America was designed to limit the liability of stockholders and maximize profits from construction with the hefty fees being paid by federal subsidies. The company also gave cheap shares of stock to members of Congress who agreed to support additional funding  . . .

“It was claimed that the $72 million in contracts had been given to Crédit Mobilier for building a rail only worth $53 million. Union Pacific and other investors were left nearly bankrupt.”

Okay folks, and that was 57 years before the 1929 crash. Dubya, let’s go over the success of the “No Child Left Behind Act” again, shall we?

January 11, 2009

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

A presidential welcome for USS George H.W. Bush

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090110/D95KGCRG0.html

“What do you give a guy who has been blessed and has just about everything he has ever needed?” asked President George W. Bush from aboard the Navy’s newest ship. “Well, an aircraft carrier.”

It’s always disturbed me how the naming of American aircraft carriers got away from the old system of naming after American Revolutionary War and Civil War era battles and warships and drifted into naming after congressmen and presidents, even when some of those presidents deserved remembrance.

This one just smacks too much of dumbass son trying to give daddy a birthday gift.  Not to impugn father Bush’s own wartime bravery but, if they were going to name it after a wartime naval pilot, how about Edward O’Hare or Jimmy Thach or Richard Best or Wade McCluskey or legions of others who made decisive and fundamental contributions to wartime survival?

If to name it after an American politician, how about George Marshall?

Or even better – go back to the old system. The names were supposed to remind us of our history and values and sacrifice – not to be birthday or Christmas presents.

August 24, 2008

Playing with Movie Maker and old Cold War literature

I’ve been thinking years about doing this, and finally got around to it . . .

July 13, 2008

Translation: Things are pretty damned bad

There is a point, in financial markets, when things stop being psychological in origination and become real as hell. The housing market has been bad enough in recent months, but it’s a fairly good indicator that reality is in the parking lot when federal officials scramble to keep federally-backed paper from becoming just as worthless as the commercially-owned paper before it.

(from the Department of the Treasury website)

July 11, 2008
HP-1078

Statement by Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. made the following comment today on news stories about “contingency planning” at Treasury:

Washington, DC–

 

“Today our primary focus is supporting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their current form as they carry out their important mission.

“We appreciate Congress’ important efforts to complete legislation that will help promote confidence in these companies. We are maintaining a dialogue with regulators and with the companies. OFHEO will continue to work with the companies as they take the steps necessary to allow them to continue to perform their important public mission.”

 

and . . .

Paulson Statement on Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae: Full Text (from Bloomberg)

July 13 (Bloomberg) — Following is the text of a statement issued today by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a central role in our housing finance system and must continue to do so in their current form as shareholder-owned companies. Their support for the housing market is particularly important as we work through the current housing correction.

GSE (government sponsored entity – ed.) debt is held by financial institutions around the world. Its continued strength is important to maintaining confidence and stability in our financial system and our financial markets. Therefore we must take steps to address the current situation as we move to a stronger regulatory structure. In recent days, I have consulted with the Federal Reserve, OFHEO, the SEC, Congressional leaders of both parties and with the two companies to develop a three-part plan for immediate action. The President has asked me to work with Congress to act on this plan immediately.

First, as a liquidity backstop, the plan includes a temporary increase in the line of credit the GSEs have with Treasury. Treasury would determine the terms and conditions for accessing the line of credit and the amount to be drawn.

Second, to ensure the GSEs have access to sufficient capital to continue to serve their mission, the plan includes temporary authority for Treasury to purchase equity in either of the two GSEs if needed.

Use of either the line of credit or the equity investment would carry terms and conditions necessary to protect the taxpayer. Third, to protect the financial system from systemic risk going forward, the plan strengthens the GSE regulatory reform legislation currently moving through Congress by giving the Federal Reserve a consultative role in the new GSE regulator’s process for setting capital requirements and other prudential standards.

I look forward to working closely with the Congressional leaders to enact this legislation as soon as possible, as one complete package.

And add to that the run and panic on Indy Mac late last week:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — IndyMac Bank’s assets were seized by federal regulators on Friday after the mortgage lender succumbed to the pressures of tighter credit, tumbling home prices and rising foreclosures.

The bank is the largest regulated thrift to fail and the second largest financial institution to close in U.S. history, regulators said.

The Office of Thrift Supervision said it transferred IndyMac’s operations to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation because it did not think the lender could meet its depositors’ demands.

IndyMac customers with funds in the bank were limited to taking out money via automated teller machines over the weekend, debit card transactions or checks, regulators said.

Other bank services, such as online banking and phone banking were scheduled to be made available on Monday.

“This institution failed today due to a liquidity crisis,” OTS Director John Reich said.

While Shrub and his gang of idiots certainly have their share of the blame in this fiasco, they’re just part of a longer-term fiscal and financial idiocy amongst the government and citizenry of this fair land.

If anyone believes that the Democratic Party will be able to carry on with classic post-1960 American liberal policy and philosophy if Obama wins in November 2008, then you may want to go back and read some applied economics.

On the other hand, if anyone believes that a Republican-controlled 1600 Pennsylvania Ave can carry on with classic post-1979 American conservative thought and philosophy, then you might want to read up on the French Revolution, the Weimar Republic and 1929-1933 in the U.S. and Germany.

Brother can you spare a million Deutschmarks and a wheelbarrow?

May 18, 2008

It’s always enlightening to hear self-assessment

Thanks to The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room, via  Virginia Virtucon for this rather revealing document.

Just for background, Tom Davis is a Virginia Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Given that my Commonwealth now houses Republican luminaries such as Oliver North, Pat Robertson, Jim Gilmore and others, I’m sure that Davis’ little dissection is going over particularly well.

Especially when the Republican National Committee is so inclined to public self-denial. Yep, we’re winning the hell out of the war in Iraq and we’re going to achieve peace in our time in Palestine, yessiree!

Excerpt:

“The political atmosphere facing House Republicans this November is the worst since Watergate and is far more toxic than the fall of 2006 when we lost thirty seats (and our majority) and came within a couple of percentage points of losing another fifteen seats. Whether measured by polls, open seats, money, voter registration, generic ballot, Presidential popularity or issues, our party faces a steep climb to maintain our current numbers.

This slope is exacerbated by the fact that little has changed to improve our image over the past eighteen months and that voters looking for change are unlikely to embrace the same-old, same-old, which was overwhelmingly rejected in the last midterms. Members and pundits waiting for Democrats to fumble the ball, so that soft Republicans and Independents will snap back to the GOP, fail to understand the deep seeded (sic) antipathy toward the President, the war, gas prices, the economy, foreclosures and, in some areas, the underlying cultural differences that continue to brand our party.”

Really? You think?

There’s probably a strong clue in this document as to why Tom Davis chose not to run for the Republican nomination for Virginia’s open U.S. Senate seat: the Democrat candidate makes a better fiscally responsible, socially moderate Republican than any national Republican could hope to even dream of being.

But at least Tom Davis has a fair grasp of why Republicans in general are a pox upon the land – not that the Republican National Committee rank-and-file are going to listen.

Don’t think that, by implication, this post means that I wholeheartedly support the opposition. After wading through the pre-election festivities to date, I’d almost be willing to raise Nixon from the dead and vote for him.

Nixon might have been a paranoid, sociopathic, drunken, revanchist monster with fascist and John Bircher tendencies, but you could at least trust him to be those things and corner him like a rat to control those tendencies. Come to think of it, he was probably a better domestic-affairs and foreign policy president than just about every president in the 20th century with the possible exception of Roosevelt and Eisenhower.

Hell, even Nixon was willing to talk with our enemies because he could speak from a common base of experience, philosophy and complete lack of ethical grounding. Tyrants and subverters of democracy can appreciate threats and cajoling from other tyrants and subverters.

Not so with the greasy, amateurish pack of three trying to win our hearts and minds this year.

September 6, 2007

Dr. Strangelove? More like the Nutty Professor.

Thanks to Stepher (via Bagel) and Drudge for this cup of morning BWAHAHAHAHA!

agm-86.jpg

photo courtesy Federation of American Scientists

 Nuclear warheads mistakenly flown on B-52, landing at Barksdale AFB


A B-52 bomber mistakenly loaded with five nuclear warheads flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D, to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, resulting in an Air Force-wide investigation, according to three officers who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the incident.The B-52 was loaded with Advanced Cruise Missiles, part of a Defense Department effort to decommission 400 of the ACMs. But the nuclear warheads should have been removed at Minot before being transported to Barksdale, the officers said. The missiles were mounted onto the pylons of the bomber’s wings.read article here

What I love is the name of the website – The Town Talk.

Mrs. Humphreys recently went to visit her daughter and son-in-law in Metairie. The Daughters of the American Revolution on Thursday held their annual tea party. A B-52H brought five special visitors to town in time for the parish church rummage sale.

And here’s our special visitor . . . . (makes it sound like an out-of-wedlock birth, eh?)

Jump in my Stratofortress

It’s as big as a whale

And we’re about to set saillllllllll

It’s small comfort, but the U.S. military really does try to make it as hard as possible for folks to arm these little party favors. Having had an immediate relative who was part of an arming party for tactical nukes, I can say with some measure of knowledge that they don’t have electrical power to the warhead arming and detonation circuits unless you physically open one up and connect the ‘device’s’ battery properly. It’s not exactly the sort of task one can do unauthorized without being noticed and probably shot and killed unless you have a whole lot of people in on a conspiracy. (Where’s SPECTRE when you need them?)

But last week’s little spectacle makes one wonder just how far up ther collective ass, the heads of Minot AFB’s nuke weapons, armorer and flightline safety staffs were that day. Not to mention the watch staff and involved aircraft commander from the bomb wing in question.

As for their indestructibility, yeah, they’re pretty damned tough if mishandled. But there have been some really ‘fun’ incidents, like . . .

 “January 24, 1961, Goldsboro, North Carolina

In what nearly became a nuclear catastrophe, a B-52 bomber on airborne alert carrying two nuclear weapons broke apart in midair. The B-52 experienced structural failure in its right wing and the aircraft’s resulting breakup released the two weapons from a height of 2,000-10,000 feet. One of the bomb’s parachutes deployed properly and that weapon’s damage was minimal. However, the second bomb’s parachute malfunctioned and the weapon broke apart upon impact, scattering its components over a wide area. According to Daniel Ellsberg, the weapon could have accidentally fired because “five of the six safety devices had failed.” Nuclear physicist Ralph E. Lapp supported this assertion, saying that “only a single switch” had “prevented the bomb from detonating and spreading fire and destruction over a wide area.”

Despite an extensive search of the waterlogged farmland where the weapon was believed to have landed, the bomb’s highly enriched uranium core was never recovered. In order to prevent any discovery of the lost portion of the weapon, the Air Force purchased an easement which required that permission be obtained before any construction or digging could begin in the area. Three crew members were killed in the crash.

The accident was apparently so serious that it was reported to newly-elected President John F. Kennedy. According to Newsweek, President Kennedy was informed after the accident that “there had been more than 60 accidents involving nuclear weapons” since World War II, “including two cases in which nuclear-tipped anti-aircraft missiles were actually launched by inadvertence.” As a result of the Goldsboro accident, the U.S. placed many new safety devices on its nuclear arsenal and the Soviet Union was encouraged to do the same.”

Thank you, Department of Defense, for making me feel safe at night.

July 8, 2007

Note to Department of Defense – don’t outsource PR either

Filed under: be all you can be, dumbasses, free govt. stuff, helicopters, public relations — Frontier Former Editor @ 9:09 pm

As if the U.S. Army doesn’t have enough public relations issues these days, I bring you the following snippet of a recent Army pop-up ad:

index_01.jpg

The helicopter hovering in the left of this banner – an Aerospatiale Gazelle – is not even in the U.S. Army’s front-line or support inventory unless there’s a test/evaluation example tucked away somewhere.

Unless, of course, someone at the Pentagon or at Halliburton surreptitiously switched the Army’s helicopter inventory with that of the French Army . . . .

July 3, 2007

It doesn’t surprise me, but it certainly disgusts me . . .

most of all because that fat, bald, arrhytmic neofascist Cheney got away with the real crime. 

Statement by the President On Executive Clemency for Lewis Libby

The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today rejected Lewis Libby’s request to remain free on bail while pursuing his appeals for the serious convictions of perjury and obstruction of justice. As a result, Mr. Libby will be required to turn himself over to the Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his prison sentence.

I have said throughout this process that it would not be appropriate to comment or intervene in this case until Mr. Libby’s appeals have been exhausted. But with the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent, I believe it is now important to react to that decision.

From the very beginning of the investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name, I made it clear to the White House staff and anyone serving in my administration that I expected full cooperation with the Justice Department. Dozens of White House staff and administration officials dutifully cooperated.

After the investigation was under way, the Justice Department appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald as a Special Counsel in charge of the case. Mr. Fitzgerald is a highly qualified, professional prosecutor who carried out his responsibilities as charged.

This case has generated significant commentary and debate. Critics of the investigation have argued that a special counsel should not have been appointed, nor should the investigation have been pursued after the Justice Department learned who leaked Ms. Plame’s name to columnist Robert Novak. Furthermore, the critics point out that neither Mr. Libby nor anyone else has been charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act, which were the original subjects of the investigation. Finally, critics say the punishment does not fit the crime: Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service and was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury.

Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice. They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable. They say that had Mr. Libby only told the truth, he would have never been indicted in the first place.

Both critics and defenders of this investigation have made important points. I have made my own evaluation. In preparing for the decision I am announcing today, I have carefully weighed these arguments and the circumstances surrounding this case.

Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.

I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.

My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.

The Constitution gives the President the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted. It is my judgment that a commutation of the prison term in Mr. Libby’s case is an appropriate exercise of this power.

from the White House  

June 17, 2007

Another reason why most of the Bush administration and more than a few generals should be hunted down and tried as violent, stupid criminals . . .

Seymour Hersh does it again, and his source material is pretty damned hard to refute.

I know deep down what happened before I read it because it’s typical institutional behavior, but it still disgusts and revolts me to hear it.

The General’s Report

How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties.

by Seymour M. Hersh

“Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba—of the Taguba report!” Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials. Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, “I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting.”

more . . . .

June 4, 2007

“Have you had a sexual encounter with a current member of the United States Congress or a high-ranking government official?”

Filed under: Come again?, free govt. stuff, lost weekend, obscenity, public relations, Satanic verses, scumbags — Frontier Former Editor @ 10:44 am

I knew my chance to get rich would come eventually!

Hustler offers $1 million for sex smut on Congress

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hustler magazine is looking for some scandalous sex in Washington again — and willing to pay for it.

“Have you had a sexual encounter with a current member of the United States Congress or a high-ranking government official?” read a full-page advertisement taken out by Larry Flynt’s pornographic magazine in Sunday’s Washington Post.

It offered $1 million for documented evidence of illicit intimate relations with a congressman, senator or other prominent officeholder. A toll-free number and e-mail address were provided.

The last time Flynt made such an offer was in October 1998 during the drive to impeach President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.”

Dear Mr. Flynt,

 I have been repeatedly gangraped by all 435 535 members of Congress; the inhabitants of the White House, Naval Observatory and some remote secure location in Cheyenne Mountain, Wyoming; and the entire Justice Department. Of course, several million of my fellow Americans may be filing the same claim, so I got dibs!

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