Links 1/2/10

Update on Our Brave New Slavery: Yes, It Applies to American Citizens, Too Chris Floyd (hat tip reader Warren C). A follow-up on his post of the Supreme Court’s effective gutting of due process protection. Confirms our contention that anyone could be designated an enemy combatant and disappeared.

Blogger who blew the whistle on hedge fund Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip Crocodile Chuck). Congrats to John Hempton, but as Chuck points out, the only reason Hempton was able to get ASIC (Australia’s SEC) to pay attention was he sent the letter through Treasury….where he once worked. In other word, it appears you have to be a card-carrying member of the establishment to get the authorities to investigate hedge fraudsters. And this is post Madoff. Exactly how many card carrying members of the establishment are prepared to be whistle-blowers?

For Some in Japan, Home Is a Tiny Plastic Bunk New York Times (hat tip DoctoRx)

North Korea Calls For End Of Hostile Relations With U.S Huffington Post

Irish atheists challenge new blasphemy laws Guardian (hat tip reader John L)

Uranium Is So Last Century — Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke Wired (hat tip reader DoctoRx)

Ten Albums that Defined the Dot Com Era – Part 2 Steve Robles (hat tip reader David C)

New Year’s Resolutions from the Nation’s Capitol Outside The (Cardboard) Box (hat tip reader TomoftheNorth) Rude at points and very funny.

Where We Are, Where We’re Heading (2010) Karl Denninger (hat tip reader Steve2241).

Goldman Sachs Evades Taxes, Takes Tarp Funds Anthony Freed

An AT&T Mystery: Abrupt New York iPhone Shutdown Business Week (hat tip reader Michael T)

Cap and Fade John Hansen, New York Times versus Sack Goldman Sachs Cap-and-Trade. John Bougearel finds some significant differences between the scrubbed and unscrubbed versions.

A Nation of Do-It-Yourself Lawyers John T. Broderick Jr. and Ronald M. George, New York Times. Yet another beneath-the-radar indicator of economic stress. It also allows me to bring up a tangentially-related matter: the movie Find Me Guilty is a real sleeper, very much worth seeing.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Garrett):

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  1. Blissex

    «Confirms our contention that anyone could be designated an enemy combatant and disappeared.»

    That is a crass lie that understates the patriotism and determination of the USA executive and courts! :-) Anybody who is a «suspected enemy combatant» (not just a designated one) can be disappeared.

    The blog comments to which the link points are also rather wrong, they blame this disgrace mostly on the executive and the courts.

    No, it can be blamed on USA voters, who are, like Dixie ones were (to the point of volunteering to die in their hundreds of thousands for the right of their superiors to enslave subhumans), enthusiastic supporters of thee measures.

    I’ll copy here a quote from the notoriously communist propaganda vehicle, the Financial Times, and that old far left extremist, Tocqueville:
    «But is clear leaders of both parties lack the confidence to challenge the mood of xenophobia that exists outside Washington. Instead they are fuelling it. In some respects the Democrats are now as guilty of stoking fears on national security as the Republicans. Their logic is impeccable. A majority of Americans believe there will be another large terrorist attack on American soil.
    Such is the depth of anxiety that one-fifth or more of Americans believe they will personally be victims of a future terrorist attack. This number has not budged in the last four and a half years.”
    «Mr Bush has consistently received a much higher public trust rating on the war on terror than the Democrats.
    Without this — and without the constant manipulation of yellow and orange terror alert warnings at key moments in the political narrative — Mr Bush would almost certainly have lost the presidential race to John Kerry in 2004.
    «In other words, the Democrats have found an effective way of neutralising their most persistent electoral liability: they are out-Bushing Mr Bush.
    It is easy to see why key Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have adopted this strategy. It is easy also to see why their Republican counterparts are following suit. As Peter King, the Republican representative for New York, said last week: “We are not going to allow the Democrats get to the right of us on this issue.” This left Mr Bush holding the candle for the left, as it were.

    Tocqueville, “Democracy in America”:

    «When a man or a party suffers from an injustice in the United States, to whom can he turn? To public opinion? That is what forms the majority. To the legislative body? That represents the majority and obeys it blindly. To the
    executive power? That is appointed by the majority and servers as is passive instrument. To the public police force? They are nothing but the majority under arms. To the jury? That is the majority invested with the right to pronounce judgements; the very judges in certain states are elected by the majority. So, however unfair or unreasonable the measure which damages you, you have to submit.
    A striking example of the excesses which the despotism of the majority may occasion was seen in Baltimore during the war of 1812. At that time the war was very popular in Baltimore.
    A newspaper opposed to it aroused the indignation of the inhabitants by taking that line. The people came together, destroyed the printing presses and attacked the journalists’ premises. The call went out to summon the militia which, however, did not respond to the call. In order to save those wretched fellows threatened with by the public frenzy the decision was taken to put them in prison like criminals.
    The precaution was useless. During the night the people gathered once again; when the magistrates failed to summon the militia, the prison was forced one of the journalists was killed on the spot and the others were left for dead. The guilty parties, when standing before a jury, were acquitted.

    «I said to someone who lived in Pennsylvania: “Kindly explain to me how, in a state founded by Quakers and celebrated for its tolerance, free Negroes are not allowed to exercise their civil rights. They pay their taxes; is it not fair that they should have the vote?”
    “You insult us,” he replied, “if you imagine that our legislators committed such a gross act of injustice and intolerance.”
    “Thus the blacks possess the right to vote in this country?”
    “Without any doubt.”
    “So, how does it come about that at the polling-booth this morning I did not notice a single Negro in the crowd?”
    “That is not the fault of the law,” said the American to me. “It is true that the Negroes have the right to participate in the elections but they voluntarily abstain from making an appearance.”
    “That is indeed very modest of them.”
    “It is not that they are refusing to attend, but they are afraid of being mistreated. In this country it sometimes happens that the law lacks any force when the majority does not support it. Now, the majority is imbued with the strongest of prejudices against the blacks and the magistrates feel they do not have enough strength to guarantee the rights which the legislator has conferred upon them.”
    “So you mean that the majority, which has the privilege of enacting the laws, also wishes to enjoy the privilege of disobeying them?”

    Ah also my usual quote from celebrated Real American antropologist Gingrich:
    «If you have a society where almost every middle class person routinely fudges the law, that’s telling us something. We have laws that matter-murder, rape, and we have laws that don’t matter. [ … ] The first thing that every good American says each morning is “What’s the angle?” “How can I get around it?” “What does my lawyer think?” “There must be a loophole!” Then he proceeds to work the angle, and the bureaucracy spends its time chasing that and writing new regs to stop him.»

    1. Sam in NY

      Baloney, in my humble opinion. Half the country at least thinks 9/11 is not what it was presented as. People have had enough of these phony wars that have real consequences. You could look at GWB, and now Obama, and know he’s lying right at you. But you can do nothing about it, and if you try to elect someone else, that one will lie right at you too.

    2. DownSouth


      A couple of days ago in another thread a commenter provided a link to the book Toward an American Revolution, in which Jerry Fresia wrote:

      Moreover, I shall present additional evidence about the lives of the Framers, the Constitution, and the period in which it was written which supports the contention that the Framers were profoundly anti-democratic and afraid of the people. Some of the information may be surprising. In 1782, for example, Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris believed that a stronger central government was needed to “restrain the democratic spirit” in the states. Eric Foner tells us that Morris’s private correspondence reveals “only contempt for the common people.” Benjamin Rush, “the distinguished scientist and physician” from Philadelphia and Framer (although he was not at the Constitutional Convention), would often refer to common people as “scum.” Alexander Hamilton called the people “a great beast.” Not all the Framers resorted to name calling, but it is clear that they feared and distrusted the political participation of common people.

      While I certainly don’t agree with Fresia’s implication that all the Framers were anti-democratic, I could nevertheless add several more names to the list of those apprehensive about democracy, the point being that Tocqueville was certainly not alone in his fear of the demos. In fact, his thought was consistent with an ancient tradition, as explained here by Hannah Arendt:

      Freedom as a political phenomenon was coeval with the rise of the Greek city-states. Since Herodotus, it was understood as a form of political organization in which the citizens lived together under conditions of no-ruse, without a division between rulers and ruled. This notion of no-rule was expressed by the word isonomy, whose outstanding characteristic among the forms of government, as the ancients had enumerated them, was that the notion of rule was entirely absent from it. The polis was supposed to be an isonomy, not a democracy. The word ‘democracy’, expressing even then majority rule, the rule of the many, was originally coined by those who were opposed to isonomy and who meant to say: What you say is ‘no-rule’ is in fact only another kind of rulership; it is the worst form of government, rule by the demos.
      –Hannah Arendt, On Revolution

      With the benefit of the experience of the last couple of hundred years, it is quite evident that Tocqueville’s fears of democracy were not justified. In fact, wealthy minorities have been quite adept at manipulating the majority and the government. So if anything, the problem has been just the opposite of what Tocqueville feared. The struggle to prevent a small wealthy minority from gaining inordinate power, as has happened today, has been constant throughout American history.

      Or as Arendt put it:

      Here Tocqueville read something into the American society which he knew from the French Revolution, where already Robespierre had substituted an irresistible and anonymous stream of violence for the free and deliberate actions of men…

      At any rate, the result of the ‘American’ aversion from conceptual thought has been that the interpretation of American history, ever since Tocqueville, succumbed to theories whose roots of experience lay elsewhere, until in our own century this country has shown a deplorable inclination to succumb to and to magnify almost every fad and humbug…

      1. Blissex

        «With the benefit of the experience of the last couple of hundred years, it is quite evident that Tocqueville’s fears of democracy were not justified. In fact, wealthy minorities have been quite adept at manipulating the majority and the government. So if anything, the problem has been just the opposite of what Tocqueville feared.»

        Unfortunately that is a bad reading of Tocqueville and quite many of his predictions have come true. In particular those regarding the perils of democracy and to democracy, which are not as reported above.

        The main peril of democracy he reports is indeed that majorities don’t care about the rights of individuals, as well as minorities, and here is a quote apposite to the situation:

        (Chapter 7, page 814 of the Penguin edition)
        «Another very natural, yet very dangerous feeling with democratic peoples is the one which leads them to despise and undervalue the rights of private individuals»
        «It is, therefore, in democratic times, above all, that the true friends of the liberty and greatness of humanity should be constantly ready to make a stand to prevent the power of society from carelessly sacrificing the private rights of a few individuals to the general execution of its own plans.
        At such moments, no citizen is so obscure that it is not very dangerous to allow him to be oppressed, nor any individual rights so unimportant that they can with impunity be surrendered to capricious government decisions.
        The reason for this is simple; to violate the right of a private individual in an age when the human mind is imbued with importance and sanctity of such rights is to damage not only the person who loses them; but to violate suich a right these days is to deeply to corrupt the manners of the nation and to endanger the whole of society because the very idea of these kinds of rights tends endlessly to deteriorate and disappear amongst us.

        The other warning he gave as a peril to democracy is the rise of the businessmen as a new aristocracy:

        (part 2 chapter 10)
        «At the present day the more affluent classes of society have no influence in political affairs; and wealth, far from conferring a right, is rather a cause of unpopularity than a means of attaining power. The rich abandon the lists, through unwillingness to contend, and frequently to contend in vain, against the poorer classes of their fellow citizens. As they cannot occupy in public a position equivalent to what they hold in private life, they abandon the former and give themselves up to the latter; and they constitute a private society in the state which has its own tastes and pleasures. They submit to this state of things as an irremediable evil, but they are careful not to show that they are galled by its continuance; one often hears them laud the advantages of a republican government and demo-cratic institutions when they are in public. Next to hating their enemies, men are most inclined to flatter them.
        Mark, for instance, that opulent citizen, who is as anxious as a Jew of the Middle Ages to conceal his wealth. His dress is plain, his demeanor unassuming; but the interior of his dwelling glitters with luxury, and none but a few chosen guests, whom he haughtily styles his equals, are allowed to penetrate into this sanctuary. No European noble is more exclusive in his pleasures or more jealous of the smallest advantages that a privileged station confers.
        «But beneath this artificial enthusiasm and these obsequious attentions to the preponderating power, it is easy to perceive that the rich have a hearty dislike of the democratic institutions of their country. The people form a power which they at once fear and despise. If the maladministration of the democracy ever brings about a revolutionary crisis and monarchical institutions ever become practicable in the United States, the truth of what I advance will become obvious.»

        (part 2 chapter 20, page 648 of the Penguin edition)
        «The aristocracy created by business rarely settles in the midst of the manufacturing population which it directs; the object is not to govern that population, but to use it. An aristocracy thus constituted can have no great hold upon those whom it employs, and even if it succeeds in retaining them at one moment, they escape the next; it knows not how to will, and it cannot act.
        The territorial aristocracy of former ages was either bound by law, or thought itself bound by usage, to come to the relief of its serving-men and to relieve their distress. But the manufacturing aristocracy of our age first impoverishes and debases the men who serve it and then abandons them to be supported by the charity of the public. This is a natural consequence of what has been said before. Between the workman and the master there are frequent relations, but no real association.
        I am of the opinion, on the whole, that the manufacturing aristocracy which is growing up under our eyes is one of the harshest that ever existed in the world; but at the same time it is one of the most confined and least dangerous.
        Nevertheless, the friends of democracy should keep their eyes anxiously fixed in this direction; for if ever a permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy again penetrates into the world, it may be predicted that this is the gate by which they will enter.

        Who would have known that finance leaders in the USA would re-establish not an aristocracy with the Business Roundtable as its House of Lords, but a theocracy with Goldman Sachs as its Church Of God’s Work and Blankfein as its prophet? :-)

        Anyhow I have a well marked copy of the Penguin edition, and my eyes just fell on another bit which seems relevant to recent events cocerning GS and AIG and other amusements:

        «In America there is no law against fraudulent bankruptcies, not because they are few, but because they are many. The dread of being prosecuted as a bankrupt is greater in the minds of the majority than the fear of being ruined by the bankruptcy of others; and a sort of guilty tolerance is extended by the public conscience to an offense which everyone condemns in his individual capacity.»

        Many in the USA would like to be able to screw a few billions out of government and others suckers like the WINNERS of finance did. Stealing from the rich is abominable because everybody wants to be rich, but the poor are losers and they have it coming :-).

        Also, as to vigilantism and the “proactive” policies against brown and dark skinned nobodies that might be suspected of being enemy combatants:

        «In the new states of the Southwest the citizens generally take justice into their own hands, and murders are of frequent occurrence. This arises from the rude manners and the ignorance of the inhabitants of those deserts, who do not perceive the utility of strengthening the law, and who prefer duels to prosecutions.»

        Another apposite quote:

        «Mr. Story, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, speaks, in his Commentaries on the Constitution, of the advantages of trial by jury in civil cases: “The inestimable privilege of a trial by jury in civil cases,” says he, “a privilege scarcely inferior to that in criminal cases, which is counted by all persons to be essential to political and civil liberty.”»

        1. DownSouth

          Tocqueville’s passages that you offer up not only highlight that he, like Alexander Hamilton, was very much an apologist for the restoration of the aristocracy, but also confirm Arendt’s criticisms I cited above. To quote Arendt again, inherent in the passages you cite are things that he read “into the American society which he knew from the French Revolution,” or more generally from European history, that had little to do with the American experience.

          The battle between the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie (middle, merchant or business class) began with the rise of the European middle class, which was given moral and intellectual legitimacy by the Renaissance and the Reformation—the rise of Protestantism—and eventually the Enlightenment. When Tocqueville warns of the “aristocracy created by business” he is making an argument in favor of the traditional aristocracy by asserting that the abuses of the bourgeoisie are worse than those of the aristocracy. And he certainly had good grounds for this. For instance, as C.R. Boxer points out in The Dutch Seaborne Empire: 1600-1800 that the Dutch merchant class used the revolt against King Phillip II (read monarch or aristocracy) in 1581 to establish just the sort of new “aristocracy” Tocqueville warns of:

          The regents thus took advantage of the struggle with Spain to consolidate their position as a self-perpetuating burgher-oligarchy and to exclude the ordinary citizens from any direct say in either the local or provincial administration.

          And life for the ordinary citizen under the burgher-oligarchy was indeed every bit as grim, if not worse, than it was under the nobles under the old feudal order.

          Tocqueville’s solution, instead of trying to work out democracy’s kinks, was a return to traditional aristocracy.

          But, as Arendt goes on to point out, as the American Revolution unfolded, and because of America’s unique experience, a return to an enlightened and paternalistic monarchy as advocated by Tocqueville was not to be in the cards. The American Revolution was not the French Revolution. There was no Reign of Terror. There was no counter-revolution. There was no restoration of the monarchy.

          Another quote you cite goes to show how Tocqueville at times let his biases get the best of him:

          At the present day the more affluent classes of society have no influence in political affairs; and wealth, far from conferring a right, is rather a cause of unpopularity than a means of attaining power. The rich abandon the lists, through unwillingness to contend, and frequently to contend in vain, against the poorer classes of their fellow citizens.

          Anyone with any competency in American history knows that such a state of affairs never existed in America. I suggest a reading of Kevin Phillips’ Wealth and Democracy where Phillips delves in great detail into the political and economic history of U.S. wealth, drawing the connections between wealth concentration and the corruption of politics, government, and public policy.

        2. DownSouth

          And you are right. My first comment was a “bad reading” of Tocqueville.

          It’s important to put Tocqueville in his proper historical context and realize that he was an advocate of the restoration of the monarchy/aristocracy, and as such was fighting a war on two fronts. First, he had to battle against the middle, business or merchant class—the bourgeoisie as it later came to be known. And then he had to battle against the ordinary citizens, who constitute the vast majority. Thus we have him inveighing not only against “democracy” and the majority, but against the “the aristocracy created by business” as well.

          It’s a little difficult for us today to understand some of Tocqueville’s comments, because in contemorary America we do not have a traditional aristocracy, monarchy or nobility for which Tocqueville served as apologist, and furthermore any such apology, because our republican form of government has become so ingrained, would now be considered to be outlandish. But if we place Tocqueville within his historical context, and within the debates that were transpiring at the time, what he had to say becomes much more coherent.

  2. enemy combatant

    I’m going to mail Hashmi some socks. Nice cozy warm ones. Lock me up, you fuckers! I’m your enemy. Because after I send the socks of mass destruction, then every possible thing I can do to undermine and weaken and destroy your bullshit totalitarian state I will do. This America nonsense is not helpful any more.

  3. dearieme

    Hempton’s headline:-
    “… Astarra, the missing money and how examining a fund manager owned by Joe Biden’s family led to substantial regulatory action in Australia”.

  4. LeeAnne

    Irish atheists challenge new blasphemy laws.

    But religious freedom is a hallmark of democratic governance, and along with freedom of speech, everyone can have an opinion.

    We can’t have people going around saying just anything. Think of the hordes who might be offended. Its not good or business.

    The inquisition worked.

    How about blasphemy laws: that should do it.

    That should do it.

  5. Dan Duncan

    C’mon, Yves. You write:

    “Confirms our contention that anyone could be designated an enemy combatant and disappeared.”

    Your original contention was based on the original Chris Floyd piece. Now you’re using Floyd’s follow-up to confirm the original contention??

    Moving past the circular confirmation, the Chris Floyd piece is just downright dishonest.

    Floyd writes:

    “The case against Hashmi revolves around the testimony of Junaid Babar, also an American citizen. Babar, in early 2004, stayed with Hashmi at his London apartment for two weeks. In his luggage, the government alleges, Babar had raincoats, ponchos and waterproof socks, which Babar later delivered to a member of al-Qaida in south Waziristan, Pakistan. It was alleged that Hashmi allowed Babar to use his cell phone to call conspirators in other terror plots.”

    Floyd portrays the indictment of Hashmi as being based solely on providing some socks and a cell phone call to an alleged al-Qaida member.

    The result, then, is feeble minded, knee-jerk responses like “enemy combatant” at 10:27 am.

    [Can I get a “FREE TIBET” while were at it?]


    The accusations against Hashmi are more serious than sending out a Care-Package.

    Hashmi was a member of Al Muhajiroun, or the Emigrants, a London-based group, now ostensibly disbanded, that praised the 9/11 attacks and was active in New York. Investigators have said a few members were involved in terrorist activity. The group has been linked to the Finsbury Park Mosque in London, which investigators called a magnet for terrorists.

    He is accused of sending money and military gear (including night vision goggles) to al-Qaida fighters to be used against the US in Afghanistan.

    Now I’m not saying I’m comfortable with the Kafka like refusal to release any evidence against him and the 2.5 year solitary confinement.

    But Floyd’s distortion of the facts makes it difficult to get to the heart of the matter. It makes it difficult to take Hashmi’s defenders seriously. Why does Floyd have to lie about Hashmi’s activities?

    It’s bullshit like this, that makes the Left and the Right continually talk past each other and it fosters an insidious and unnecessary hatred.

    It’s one thing to throw Hashmi is solitary for 2.5 years on the basis of sending out some warm socks…

    And another for activities deemed in support of terrorists.

    If you want to have a legitimate debate, then you should be offended by Floyd. He’s treating you like an idiot…that you can’t make an argument against this sort of behavior by our government unless the facts are distorted. Chris Floyd is a liar. As such, he hardens the opposition and he’s a part of the problem.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      “Now I’m not saying I’m comfortable with the Kafka like refusal to release any evidence against him and the 2.5 year solitary confinement.

      But Floyd’s distortion of the facts makes it difficult to get to the heart of the matter.”

      That is the heart of the matter (“refusal to release any evidence against him and the 2.5 year solitary confinement.”) as far as the selectively enforced scam ‘rule of law’ is concerned … but closer to the center of the heart would be an open an honest discussion of why ‘they hate us for our freedom’, or, seeking truth beyond that silly ass corn ball deflection, what has caused their anger and are they justified in that anger?

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    2. mikkel

      “He is accused of sending money and military gear (including night vision goggles) to al-Qaida fighters to be used against the US in Afghanistan.”

      I assume you got that from the initial news reports.

      His lawyer (who is under very strict requirements and can be imprisoned for breaking them) says:

      “It gets murky to some degree, and I’m going to say what I can say publicly. And I can talk briefly about the public charges, and those are that he’s charged with providing—or conspiring to provide material support. The government has made representations in England, in the extradition process, that he supposedly provided military gear. Military gear was described as raincoats, ponchos and waterproof socks. So, there is—at this point we’re not aware of an allegation that he’s providing any weapons of any kind. It’s that he knowingly allowed this other person to stay in his apartment, keep the raincoats and ponchos, perhaps let him use his cell phone.

      Well, again, the allegation is that Fahad permitted someone to use his own cell phone. That is what is being lumped together as military gear. And I can’t get into more of the allegations. This is what the government has said publicly, and I have to leave it at that. But these are allegations that obviously we are contesting vigorously.”

    3. enemy combatant

      Deemed [note the passive voice] in support of terrorists [eeek!] Sniveling terror pussy Dan Duncan can’t bring himself to mention due process or human rights conventions that we signed. Charge him or release him, see if the evidence of your lying state can pass the laugh test. Slave boy wants to have legitimate debates: Here’s my civil liberties, here’s my rights, just protect me, please! Grovel to your authorities, slave boy.

      1. Skippy

        Um hes just cranky, its almost masters bath time and his seafood metaphors….run Dan run!

        Skippy…bloody enemy every where syndrome, fat people using up health care, waning empire fear, retirement anxiety, wealth reduction denial…land of the brave, rofl…Piss their pants at firecrackers now days.

  6. Blissex

    «But Floyd’s distortion of the facts makes it difficult to get to the heart of the matter. It makes it difficult to take Hashmi’s defenders seriously.»

    This is crass dishonesty of the worst kind — it is very different to defend someone’s actions vs. defending someone’s right to be tried in a court for allegations about those actions.

    «Why does Floyd have to lie about Hashmi’s activities?
    It’s bullshit like this, that makes the Left and the Right continually talk past each other and it fosters an insidious and unnecessary hatred.

    This is again revolting dishonesty of the worst kind. The argument is not about the activities of one person, but the activities of the government who has jailed a person without trial, regardless of what the person may have done or not, which would not be proven until argued before a proper court.

    «It’s one thing to throw Hashmi is solitary for 2.5 years on the basis of sending out some warm socks…
    And another for activities deemed in support of terrorists.

    And here is the core of the crass, revolting dishonesty; the squalid, soviet communist style statement above cleverly omits is the “without trial” vital detail,
    as the whole argument is about the right to a trial before punishments like imprisonment and torture.

    Jailing someone without trial is exactly the same whether the someone is alleged to have sent socks to someone or to have instigated war crimes and given orders to kidnap and torture prisoners.

    Hashmi is no less innocent of supporting terrorism than Bush or Obama are of being war criminals, even if the evidence so far published against him is far weaker than that published against Bush or Obama; none of them has been given the opportunity to defend themselves in court,
    and that is what matters.

    «that you can’t make an argument against this sort of behavior by our government unless the facts are distorted»

    This is another glaring dishonesty: switching from allegations about distorting the facts as to the activities of the victim, vs. distorting the facts as to the behaviour of the government.

    No facts have been distorted regarding the actions of the government — the government has jailed someone for years without trial. This fact is entirely irrelevant as to whether the allegations against the victim of the government have been distorted or not.

    [note: what follows is an attempt to reach out to the right :-)]

    Soviet-communist fellow travelers like you want to justify arbitrary government rendition to the gulags on the basis of political says-so by their Great Leader, their Commissar of the People Obama.

    Obama, a far left extremist (and secret Muslim illegal immigrant) wants the power to make people disappear without trial, or only with a show trial in best stalinist tradition, or subject to informal, primitive ones like sharia justice.

    Aren’t you terrified that the communist totalitarian conspiracy to sovietize and islamize the USA initiated by FDR is now being continued by a product of misgenation and agent of the ACORN conspiracy for turning America into a bad copy of soviet hellholes like North Korea or Islamic dictatorships like Iran, who also make enemies of the state disappear into their vicious gulags?

  7. Steve2241

    Yves, maybe you could solicit a Guest Post from Marla Singer at Zerohedge. What an intellect that broad has!

    See her Origins of an American Kleptocracy, plus her responses to readers’ comments, early today.

    The writing is what impressed me, not necessarily the content of this particular post of hers. You also have written about the GSE’s, Yves, but we already have YOU! Or, I should say some of us would like to have you. (wink wink) No. Just kidding.

  8. Blissex

    «soviet hellholes like North Korea or Islamic dictatorships like Iran, who also make enemies of the state disappear into their vicious gulags?»

    Note that the islamo-communist Umma Soviet America conspiracy run by ACORN also justifies jailing without trial suspects in the purest anti-individualist, anti-capitalist soviet collectivist tradition: that the right of the people (represented by their political commissars) to jail someone on suspicion are more important the the right to freedom until convicted of those suspected of crimes.

    In case of The People vs. an individual, the rights of the individual are now insignificant; the collective is not longer restrained by the Constitution. This is pure soviet communist/islamist fundamentalist style collectivism.

    No surprise from the likes of Obama and his ACORN accomplices like his fellow secret Muslim bolshevik Emmanuel, who has steered a soviet version of “zakhat”, the healthcare welfare taxes, on the USA.

    Communist expropriation like Obama’s tax rises on the top 5% also looks like a “jizya” to punish the most Christian, productive heroes of the USA that do God’s work for the benefit of all like at GS.


  9. Blissex

    «the most Christian, productive heroes of the USA that do God’s work for the benefit of all like at GS.»

    Now that I think of it, just as GS became a bank holding company when they realized that they were the centre of the USA banking system and deserves to be rewarded with government support, it may be that their CEO’s statement that they are doing God’s work prelude to a conversion into a bank holding church, as their charitable work (gathering as much compensation as possible to increase the trickle down to poor stockbrokers) for the glorification of God should be tax exempt, as their role as the centre of the financial system deserves government funding and guarantees.

    Goldman Sachs Bank Holding Church of God’s Work, you heard it here first.


  10. rickstersherpa

    Reference the Hashami case I only want to point out that his case, and his being held without bail, must have been argued before a Federal District Court judge since he is awaiting trial in the Southern District in New York after indictment by a grand jury. And in trials involving national security, whether of spies like the FBI agent Hanson or of alleged terrorist plotters like Hashami are usually done with the accused held in close confinement and restrictions on the evidence that can be made public.

    Whether it was a fair hearing or not, I cannot tell (Sacco and Vinzetti were found guilty in a trial and had appeals but history has judged their trial was not fair). Given the recent events of XMAS on the Amsterdam to Detroit flight and the preponderance of the criticism at Obama from the MSM and the Republicans that the administration as percieved as “soft on terror” (for using mere using of terms like “alleged”) for not sending the Nigerian direct to Guantanmo, they might look at Hedges article as a godsend in the current political climate.

  11. Anonymous

    Nicely done, Blissex.

    “The writing is what impressed me, not necessarily the content of this particular post of hers.”

    That sums up Marla Singer pretty well.

  12. Blissex

    «Half the country at least thinks 9/11 is not what it was presented as.»

    However Bush/Cheney got re-elected on a gulag-and-torture record, and nearly all congressmen got re-elected on a very similar record (plus TARP etc.).

    What matters is not “Half the country”, it is voters and most voters are older, richer, more authoritarian and scared than the average, and many belong to the “F*ck you! I got mine” and “Better safe than sorry” persuasions.

    Also, the “Half the country” that does not vote does not matter, and the 5% that give to campaigns matter a bit more than the 50% that vote.

  13. Michaelc

    Yves, RE the synthetic CDO issues, I’d like to recommend this article which will help add some heft to your argument that the shorts were designed to fail and may help counter some of GS, disingenuous ‘hedging’ spin.

    This article was posted at a short lived blog (A Credit Trader)”The AIG Fiasco or How Not To Manage your CDO Exposure” back in March/April 2009.

    The central argument is that it all structurers realized (pre 2006) that CDOs were uninsurable. Full stop. If this argument is valid (I’m not qualified to judge, but he makes a cogent case.), it supports the case that the CDOs were created with the certainty they would fail, or at least that all protection written on them would fail.

    The heart of his/her case is the wrong wayness of the bet and its implications :
    “Why did Banks buy Protection from AIG?
    Did the banks realize the value of its protection held against AIG was zero? Of course they did – they aren’t as dumb as the media suggests. The reason they continued to pay the full market CDS offer (rather than a much lower level due to AIG’s massive wrong-wayness) to AIG was because they considered it a cost that allowed them to continue originating CDOs. If they could not offload super-senior risk to someone, their originating desks would be effectively shut down.

    So, while the trading desks continued to buy super-senior protection from AIG, the risk management desks, realizing that the protection was effectively worthless, bought protection on AIG itself from the street and clients in large size. In fact, I would imagine the size they needed to buy was too large and they likely ended up buying puts on the AIG stock or just shorting outright. Let’s hope the Fed unwinds of AIG’s trades took into account the huge gains these banks took on the AIG hedges”

    This article’s limited focus on the realizion that the origination desk was doomed without protection, can be extended to followup conclusion that lucrative origination desks were exploited to get massively short. If they realized that all purchased protection was virtually certain to payoff, then anyone willing to write that insurance was ripe for the picking. And they (this wasn’t only GS dirty little secret), were apparently right.

    Since we don’t know how GS ‘hedged’ its exposure to a failed AIG it’s possible the massive shorts through synthetics were the ‘hedge’ they put on to cover that exposure. After all, who was selling protection on AIG in enough size to cover GS positions anyway?

      1. Ted K

        I had already posted the Anthony Freed story on this site more than 40 hours before you put it in links. I think I know how Rodney Dangerfield felt with his wife.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Ted K,

          I did spend 10 minutes trying to find who deserved the h/t and gave up. And this is supposedly a holiday weekend and I suggest you look at when the post went up. I stay up all night sometimes to get the blog out, and not everything gets done all the time. Sometimes it is typos, sometimes I miss links in the post, and sometimes I miss h/t. I’m sorry and will amend the post.

          1. Ted K

            Just razzing you. Actually people like you and James Kwak (pursuing his law degree) amaze me. I don’t know how you do it all. I could never be in you guys league. The important thing is people got to read it. The Freed article is the type of populist article that if Obama gave some stump speeches on might rouse this country out of its sleep. But I guess Rahm Emanuel couldn’t have any of that. Then they might go on to wonder what Rahm did to get $320,000 from Freddie, and we can’t have any of THAT.

      2. Francois T


        In the same vein (CDOs and Goldman) you won’t be surprised to know that Econ of Contempt has written a post about it where he contend that your take on this affair is based on a misconception:

        More importantly, what you have to realize — and where I think Yves goes wrong — is that Goldman wasn’t necessarily placing an independent bet against the synthetic CDO market; rather, it was using synthetic CDOs to bet against the housing market. There’s a big difference. Goldman was betting that the housing bubble would burst, and that the resulting decline in the housing market would be reflected in synthetic CDOs referencing mortgage-backed CDOs. (The mechanism was this: declining housing prices → higher default rates → reduced cash flows to mortgage-backed securities → lower RMBS/CDO prices → higher value of CDS protection on RMBS/CDOs → ca-ching!)

        Quite frankly, I’m not sure this argument is entirely convincing. But it is clear that this guy knows a thing or two about structured finance and Wall Street. So do you, of course! :-)

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Francois T,

          EoC has distorted the argument. I never said anything that could be inferred to suggest Goldman was betting against the synthetic CDS market.

          Further, my beef was that Goldman was hiding what in the securities law context would be the omission of a material fact (hence a violation) but was kosher in the unregulated derivatives market, namely, that these CDOs were constructed for the sole purpose of Goldman taking a short position (it took most, generally all, of the short side created by this trade), AND Goldman as structurer could and presumably did take steps to assure that its bet would pay off, meaning the CDO would fail.

          1. Francois T

            Discredit you?

            Gee! He sure got too much time on his hands to engage in such a futile enterprise.

      3. Michaelc

        One other bit that makes me pretty sure you’re on the right path here, Viniar’s own words (from your 4/14/09 posting)

        Viniar held a conference call on March 20 to answer questions about the firm’s trading relationship with AIG and to “clarify certain misperceptions.”
        When AIG was rescued, Goldman Sachs had $10 billion of exposure to the insurance company that was offset with $7.5 billion of collateral
        as well as credit-default swaps that would have paid off in in the event of an AIG bankruptcy,
        (pretty loaded phrase. He doesn’t claim to have bought protection on AIG specifically, which I think is what many people had concluded)
        Viniar said on the March 20 call.
        He also said on the call that Goldman Sachs recorded a gain “over time” on the value of the hedges it bought to guard against a default on AIG, even though the government enabled the insurer to honor its obligations. In today’s interview, he said those gains were booked “from 2006 to now” and that any gains booked in the first quarter “would have been very, very small
        Note the gains were booked incrementally since 2006 which fits the ‘short the mortgage market’ timeline.
        Of course he was ‘mystified’ with people’s obsession with AIG counterparty risk. The AIG counterparty exposure was more than covered already, those gains were so last year, and besides they weren’t directly attributable to AIG. As to the tiny gains booked in 1st quarter 09 comment, I guess he’s saying the shorts didn’t make much money in 1Q09 or maybe they were closed out or maybe they didn’t move much in 1Q 09 or maybe something else.
        Since I don’t believe he’s lied, I think he’s merely confirmed the GS short strategy timeline. He seems to be making a full disclosure. What’s mustiffying is why no one asked and he didn’t offer any explanation about the hedges.

        After all we can’t pretend to be shocked when he’s told us exactly what he’s been doing. At the time, the post and comments were focused on the govt payments to AIG and missed the significance of what he was saying regarding the hedges.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Great spade work, and confirms what Credit Trader said, that anyone hedging with the monolines and AIG knew they were taking on “wrong way risk”. That aspect had never occurred to me, but of course, once someone points it out, it seems blindingly obvious.

  14. Sam

    Thanks for the ‘Find Me Guilty’ recommendation. Quite enjoyable and Vin Diesel was surprisingly good.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Glad you liked it. It had been on my list, and I finally got to it over the holidays. And I should have mentioned that it shows that Vin Diesel is a good actor when given the chance. I can imagine some might see his name and think I had gone daft.

  15. Francois T

    THe SCOTUS merely confirmed what the Court of Appeals of the 2nd Cuircuit decided in the Arar case. (Arar v. Ashcroft) The astonishing rationale used by the Court is nothing less than a total abdication of judicial resposibility:

    “providing a damages remedy against senior officials who implement an extraordinary rendition policy would enmesh the courts ineluctably in an assessment of the validity of the rationale of that policy and its implementation in this particular case, matters that directly affect significant diplomatic and national security concerns” (p. 39).

    In other words, we the Justices, shall defer to the Executive the sole power to decide whatever they wish. Poncius Pilatus washing his hands.

    In a post (“A court decision that reflects what type of country the U.S. is” 03-nov-2009) Glennzilla chimed in saying:

    In other words, government officials are free to do anything they want in the national security context — even violate the law and purposely cause someone to be tortured — and courts should honor and defer to their actions by refusing to scrutinize them.

    We are slowly, but surely on the road to fascism, pure and simple. It is only a matter of time.

  16. enemy combatant

    On the other hand, cringing servile coward Dan Duncan feels much safer for having given up his birthright and human dignity in a hysterical panic.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hempton e-mailed, said Blogger took his site down as a spam site. Happened to me when I started posting Links daily. I got back up in a day only by virtue of having a friend who was the brother of someone senior at Google. If you don’t have connections, it normally takes two weeks, and you cannnot reach a live person at Google.

      Hempton says he intends to file a suit against them, that serving them should capture their attention and speed the process. Awful that he has to go to such lengths.

      1. Skippy

        I pinged Simon and received an email back from John where he states it may take only 3 spam complaints to engage robotic response[?], if true this would be a very low threshold, could we find out the protocol from goggle?

        Too much time and effort goes into blogging to not be informed about the rules of ingagement…eh!

        Skippy…publicly have to thank John H. for taking the time to ping me back so soon during his blog crisis, thanks John!

  17. Blissex

    «“providing a damages remedy against senior officials who implement an extraordinary rendition policy would enmesh the courts ineluctably in an assessment of the validity of the rationale of that policy and its implementation in this particular case [ … ]”
    [ … ] violate the law and purposely cause someone to be tortured — and courts should honor and defer to their actions by refusing to scrutinize them.

    I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that are two very important details that are perhaps a bit subtle and may be missed by many.

    The SC effectively stated two very different things:

    * Crimes or at least torts may well have been committed in the “implementation in this particular case” or another of some policy.

    * In cases where the government alleges foreign or security policy relevance, the courts will refuse to hear any complaints as to any crimes or torts because they cannot do an “assessment of the validity of the rationale of that policy” or (separately) of “its implementation in a particular case

    The key point is the “assessment of the validity of the rationale of that policy“, and it is exceptionally important.

    Because for example in the case of torture, that is according to the law always a crime (and a tort); it is a crime (and a tort) no matter whether torture has been pursuant to a policy or an implementation that have any “rationale” of any “validity“.

    Which means that if the “validity of the rationale” is an issue at all, the SC believes that a policy with a valid rationale has priority over the laws and the Constitution, and no matter what the laws and the Constitution say, torture is not a crime (and a tort) if instigated by a valid and rational policy and implementation; since validity of the rationale is a political call of judgement, and courts don’t do politics (as if…), courts cannot judge it and must presume it valid, and therefore it would be frivolous to hear complaints about something authorized by a policy even if forbidden by the laws and the Constitution.

    Now that foreign and political policy cannot be reviewed judicially by the courts (but only politically by Congress and voters) is a well established and sensible principle; but here the SC is using it rather dishonestly as a figleaf, as if it were the key of the matter, when the key of their reasoning is that crimes (and torts) committed by members of the executive branch are not really crimes (or torts) if committed pursuant to policy.

    Even worse, the courts will refuse to hear complaints not just about alleged crimes (and torts) committed by “senior officials” (translation: scapegoat the little people) according to policy, but also those committed not according to policy, as long as policy relevance is alleged, because they won’t review not just the “validity of the rationale of that policy“, but also that of “its implementation in this particular case“.

    That is, if the policy is “torture any brown skinned loser that we get our hands on in case she knows something”, and a yellow skinned loser is tortured just in case (better safe than sorry…), the courts will refuse to hear the complaint from the yellow skinned loser, because whether torturing him was a violation of the “brown skinned loser” policy involves the “validity of the rationale of [ … ] its implementation in this particular case>/i>”.

    But the really big deal is the idea that “senior officials” pursuing a foreign or security policy can commit acts that are a crime (and a tort) if committed by ordinary losers, even if the law and the Constitution do not make any exception for that.

    That is a “senior official” pursuing a foreign or security policy (even a secret or retroactive one, because there is no limitation as to that) are exempt from the laws (both criminal and civil) and the Constitution, because whether they committed a violation of the law or the Constitution depends on the “validity of the rationale of that policy and its implementation“, not on what the law or the Constitution says.

    Note that in judging so the SC has committed also IMNHO a colossal mistake even if they wanted to introduce a new category of “justifiable” action, that is a crime (or tort) committed pursuant to a foreign or security policy.

    Because it makes a very big difference whether an action is not a crime, or is a crime but is not punishable, and the latter would have been a much better alternative.

    For example, theft is always a crime in most jurisdiction, but in most theft committed in a state of necessity (e.g. to save a life) remains a crime but is not punishable; that is the author of the crime is convicted but is not sentenced.

    Acknowledging in court that a crime has been committed, even if the author is not punished, has very important moral, legal and practical consequences; for one thing the circumstances are investigated, whether the action was a crime is judged, restitution and insurance are affected.

    For example, if you steal something to save a life, you won’t be sentenced, but as the author of a crime you have a duty to mitigate its effects, so you have to return what you have stolen if you can, and if you cannot it is on record as a theft and the victim can use that to get the insurer to pay if the victim has theft insurance.

    What the SC has decided is that crimes (and torts) committed pursuing foreign or security policy are outside the law and thus unreviewable, not just unpunishable like crimes committed in a state of necessity; and since without a conviction there is no crime, they are not crimes (or torts) at all.

    It used to be that a crime happened when:

    * An action was done that fell in category described by the law as a crime at the time both at the time of judgement and when it was committed.
    * There was intent to commit that action.

    Currently instead it works like this:

    * An action was done that fell in category described by the law as a crime at the time both at the time of judgement and when it was committed, unless the action was done or instigated pursuing a foreign or security policy, even if the policy was secret or instituted after the action was done.
    * There was intent to commit that action and the intent was not by a senior official.

    Again, it would have been bad enough if the SC had declared “senior officials” unpunishable (but convictable) for crimes pursuant to a foreign or security policy, but to have declared that whatever they do is not reviewable because those policies takes priority over the laws and the constitution when their rationale is valid is monstrous.

    Again, the monstrous issue is not at all that validity and rationale of a foreign and security policy must be presumed by the courts, but that it pre-empts the laws and the Constitution.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      Or, as they say out on the streets, selectively enforced scam ‘rule of law’!

      Thanks for your good posts all.

  18. Blissex

    «slowly, but surely on the road to fascism, pure and simple»

    That seems a bit of an exxageration and more importantly a distortion.

    The USA have often been a quasi-fascist state; the army has machine gunned strikers and protestors, there have been political witch hunts, and so on.

    What is happening is that the authoritarianism is being legalized on the wave of the transformation of most of voters into richer, older, meaner, greedier, more scared middle class boomers who are eager to demand more safety for them at any cost to someone else, and this is being used by the business class to extend the grip of the authorities they control.

    Authoritarianism is going from a common fact to a wide principle, and the USA executive is going from consul powers to imperator (tribunicial) powers.

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