Maybe we should have a metaphor contest?

A multi-multi-millionaire giving a homeless guy a dollar on the way to the Ritz… if that isn’t the perfect metaphor for the modern “Third Way” Democratic Party, I don’t know what is.

link: Bob Rubin Cuddles - Matt Taibbi - Taibblog - True/Slant

Alas, no

Wall Street, Obama proclaimed in Illinois this past week, is little better than "a big casino" playing with "Monopoly money."

link: Lessons from health bill apply to financial reform - Yahoo! News

Wall Street may be a big casino (it's a little unnerving how often Sorkin uses the word, "bet," in "Too Big to Fail") but if it were playing with Monopoly money nobody would need to care. It's playing with real money. And that's the problem there.


Photo: Phil Compton

Running the numbers

11,195. That's the number of corporate lobbyists who are presently plying their nefarious trade day and night in Washington's hallways and back rooms.

$2.95 billion. That's the amount that corporations spent on lobbyists last year alone (a sum more than six times greater than the total spent by all consumer,environmental, worker, and other non-corporate groups combined).

$473 million. That's the sum of money that corporate executives and lobbyists have slipped into Washington's many political pockets--so far--for the 2010 election cycle, including donations to candidates, leadership PACS, and party committees. We are still seven months from the 2010 elections, and already corporate spending has reached the record-breaking total of $475 million shelled out for the entire 2008 cycle.

link: Hightower: Washington Overrun by 11,000 Corporate Lobbyists and $500 Million in Corrupting Donations | | AlterNet


Maybe, but you don't vote in Arizona

Leviticus 19:33-34 (New International Version)

When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.


Obama is a Nazi!

MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER – Oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico oozed into Louisiana's ecologically rich wetlands Friday as storms threatened to frustrate desperate protection efforts. The White House put a hold on any new offshore oil projects until the rig disaster that caused the spill is explained.

link: New drilling on hold as Gulf spill oil washes up - Yahoo! News

Or wait a minute, maybe Commie! I can't keep track.

(Emphasis mine.)

In three hilarious acts

Imagine. Once upon a time, when you walked into a bank they gave you money. How cool was that.

My own bank, TDBank (it's mostly in New England; the TD stands for Toronto Dominion), has installed a new ATM machine, made by NCR, which is more fun than a video arcade, lots of slots and little doors that open and green lights flashing everywhere, it looks like a 1950's version of a space ship's bridge, awesome cool. Man. It is, however, so complicated that I'm not sure the money I put in (putting money in is, right there, a rare event so it'll take me quite a while to really get used to this thing) is really in. If you see what I mean. I guess I will have to log in to find out.

Meanwhile, speaking of technostuff, it turns out the little sign that comes on on the clothes dryer when it finishes with your clothes, "clean lint," actually means remove the lint. I thought it was some kind of commendation, like, "clean lint there, dude, way to go." But no.

BP feels sorry for itself

For Tony Hayward, who has led BP for the last three years, the [Gulf Coast oil well] accident threatens to overshadow all of the efforts he has made to burnish the tattered reputation of the company after a refinery explosion in Texas in 2005 and a pipeline leak in Alaska in 2006.

As Mr. Hayward said to fellow executives in his London office recently, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”

link: Oil Spill’s Blow to BP’s Image May Eclipse Its Cost - NYTimes.com

Poor guys.

Oh wait. Also:

LONDON — BP, the British oil company, said Tuesday that its profit more than doubled in the first quarter, helped by higher oil prices.

link: NYTimes.com

Drill, baby, drill

The massive oil well leak in the Gulf of Mexico abruptly turned into a national crisis yesterday, when scientists realized oil is probably gushing from the seafloor at five times the rate they first thought. The expanding slick began washing ashore in the Mississippi River Delta last night.

link: Oil leak reaching crisis proportions - The Boston Globe

Laugh alert

If you haven't been reading Doonesbury this week you've been missing a tea party being hosted by a Sara Palin action doll (named "mini-guv" by Trudeau). If you're interested, you can pick it up beginning with the April 27 strip, here.

Some days are just better than other days

On the day the Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit against Goldman Sachs for securities fraud, shares in the company plunged 12.8 percent, closing at $160.70. The market, it seemed, was finally passing judgment on a decade of high-stakes Wall Street scammery that left America threatening Nigeria, Indonesia and Belarus on the list of the world's most corrupt economies.

A few days later, Goldman announced its first-quarter numbers. Profits were up 91 percent, to a staggering $3.4 billion.

link: Politics -- Latest News -- The Feds vs. Goldman -- RollingStone.com


Hollywood Bowl

Universal Studios Hollywood
Photo: Lynn C Dot

Say goodby to the Gulf Coast

One fire-fighting expert told the BBC the [leaking oil well beneath the Gulf of Mexico] might become the "biggest oil spill in the world".

"Probably the only thing comparable to this is the Kuwait fires [following the Gulf War in 1991]," Mike Miller, head of Canadian oil well fire-fighting company Safety Boss, told BBC World Service.

"The Exxon Valdez [tanker disaster off Alaska in 1989] is going to pale [into insignificance] in comparison to this as it goes on."


It was a cold and windy week...

...OK, three days, and cold only if you consider 45º cold (just how wimpy are you, anyway?) but definitely windy, windy enough to knock all the dead twigs out of the trees hereabouts, and so a perfect week to spend lots of time indoors reading a book.

The book is Andrew Sorkin's "Too Big to Fail," and I'm getting close to being halfway through it now. "Too Big" is not an easy read. It's technical in places - over my head in places - but Sorkin does a good job of handling the technicalities in a way that lets laymen like myself stay with the story anyway. It's a fine piece of journalism, obviously thoroughly researched and clearly, if somewhat adoringly, written, and the overall effect is that of watching a massive train wreck occur in slo-mo right before your eyes.

The book's about a bunch or arrogant, self-absorbed, curiously clueless men (and one or two women) doing stuff to the financial markets that, if done between sheets, could surely get you tossed in jail for the rest of your life or maybe longer, and all the while paid millions to do it - and, if you pick up a newspaper you will find that they're still doing it to this day and it's all, indeed, grim.

And nowhere, in the first half of the book at least (or in the second half either, based on a handful of search words I ran it past) is an attention paid to the carnage on that street called Main, but surely that part of the story will be the subject of another book, somewhere, some time.

This book will wind up on the reading list in time, the list over in the sidebar there, but if you want to get it read before the weather gets all warm and beachworthy (yeah, I know, some of you are already in that climate but I'm taking about the rest of us now) it would be a good idea to start reading now.

You were expecting something different?

Republicans are blocking a Senate vote on the Dodd bill, seeking to build public support by misleading the public. They're claiming to want a stronger bill when in fact they're doing the Street's bidding by seeking a weaker one.

link: Robert Reich: Swiftboating Financial Reform

Or, from Elizabeth Warren:

"I'm tired of hearing politicians claim to support families and, at the same time, vote with the big banks on the most important financial reform package in generations. I'm deep-down tired of it."

It's just the berries...

Photo: Phil Compton

And you thought identity theft was a problem now

Several...companies have developed small credit card scanners that plug into a cellphone and for a small fee enable any individual or small business to turn a phone into a credit card processing terminal. PayPal’s cellphone app calls for only a simple bump of two cellphones to transfer money. Apple has submitted a patent application for a cellphone payment system.

link: Cellphone Payments Offer Alternative to Cash - NYTimes.com

The verdict

According to a recent study by Justin J. Gunnell ’05 law ’08 and Prof. Stephen J. Ceci, human ecology and the Helen L. Carr Professor of Developmental Psychology, more attractive defendants in court are less likely to be found guilty than less attractive ones. If there are damages, then more attractive people tend to receive higher rewards and in criminal cases, better-looking defendants receive lower sentences.

This phenomenon has been proven by more than 30 studies conducted over the past 60 to 70 years, according to Gunnell.

link: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Often | The Cornell Daily Sun

And, for extra points, what the hell does a professor of human ecology do?


Why am I thinking this can not end well?

NEW ORLEANS — Crews responding to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will soon light some of the petroleum on fire in an attempt to burn it off before it reaches shore.

link: Officials Set to Burn Oil in Gulf Soon - NYTimes.com


Lone Flotsam

Palm Desert backyard
Photo: Lynn C Dot



Beach and Fog

Tacoma, WA
Photo: Lynn C Dot

So, so helpful, these guys from Goldman Sachs are

"We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It's a virtuous cycle." To drive home his point, he makes a remarkably bold claim. "We have a social purpose.". . .


That's Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman chairman and chief executive, doing the honors.

Sacrifice redefined

At the Metropolitan Opera the general manager, Peter Gelb, cut his $1.5 million salary twice starting in December 2008 in response to declining donations, ticket sales and endowment, and recognizing that the opera’s budget would have to shrink across the board.

“An example had to be set,” said Mr. Gelb, whose salary is now $1.3 million....

link: Reducing Salaries for Cultural Executives in New York - NYTimes.com

Imagine the pain.


Yellow in a Box

Photo: Lynn C Dot

Tomorow this would be

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A Purdue University student is asking women around the world to show a little cleavage or wear short shorts on Monday as a humorous test to disprove an Iranian cleric's theory that immodest dress has the power to make the Earth shake.

link: 'Show cleavage' to fight oppression :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Nation

So there's hope after all

The election season is starting in earnest, and already one thing is crystal clear... It seems inconceivable that either party can possibly win anything. This may be the year when the Whigs finally get to make their comeback.

link: Op-Ed Columnist - Running on Empty - NYTimes.com