• maa8722 commented on the blog post Why Act Now on Cuba

    2014-12-18 16:31:06View | Delete

    In practice, the “principle” might be no more than the fear of getting caught.

    That fear would see bad consequences sure to folllow. That in turn would entail defeat and being apprehended, or an expectation that way. In turn that expects elimination of any surviving shard of support to save the evil doer’s day.

    I think that’s how the bad guys get religion and become pious. Yet genuine evil doers, who are cocksure of getting away with something, can be expected to do so.

    Could “principle” be no more than an excuse for doing the right thing and claiming such, in order to skate?

    So far it doesn’t seem there is anything truly altruistic about humanity which overrides this dilemma.

  • maa8722 commented on the blog post Why Act Now on Cuba

    2014-12-18 15:36:30View | Delete

    “Why Act Now. . .?”

    I’ll humbly offer a pretext better than any of the above. There is NO snark in this.

    Cuba could be a test bed, pretext, for doing much the same with NK on the bigger scale. But I suggest doing this in a hurry while the iron’s hot. That is, how outraged can the right wingers actually get, after all? So, why not a two fer?

    With an NK DEAL, there should be no advance warning to SK, or other preconditions more substantive than a reasonable, orderly time to withdraw US troops from SK. What will NK offer in return?

    I propose that NK doesn’t even have to acknowledge gulags, let alone do anything about them, at least not in the near term. Let’s say, however, no US direct aid for the time being, and we’ll see. . .

    That would be the real test I think. Applaud O’s Cuba initiative. Wipe the slate clean, I’d , and do NK as well.

    It would be the most unexpected but best legacy for him.

  • maa8722 commented on the blog post The Roundup for December 17th, 2014

    2014-12-18 09:18:52View | Delete

    Regarding Bernie Sanders and political revolution. . .

    The tones are good, but no substance of how to. . . Cogent specifics, please, of how generic “fight” and “push” will produce results other than noise.

    Also, a problem with Sanders is his support for the F-35 fighter plane, which is slated to replace the F-16 at the Burlington VT Air Nat’l Guard unit. It’s about the money, of course. There are good reasons not to base a new fighter there, or, for that matter, to even have an ANG unit based there in the future. Drawdown issues.

    Often Sanders is the good guy, though, usually better than his other many colleagues.

  • The Cuban thing, it’s not an entirely benign event resting on its own merits. It may not be all that important, either, since the Europeans have been dealing there all along. And yet. . .

    By now Cuba must be in a panic over the crash in oil prices and Venezuela’s collapsing prospects over its own huge (and largely inaccessible) oil reserves, not to mention the Bolivar. Venezuelan oil was a major factor, a gift, in helpimg Cuba stay afloat when oil was pricey. In exchange Venezuela got lots of Cuban medical experts, plus Caracas wasn’t a likely venue for Cuban doctors to defect and generate bad press.

    Going forward, since there’ll be more communicating between Havana and DC, Fidel and his minions can get with our own PTB and exchange notes on effective torture methods.

    Why is O holding back on freedom for tourists from the US? Kinda hypocritical I’d say. It makes the “new” policy half a loaf, disingenuous.

  • maa8722 commented on the blog post Still awaiting evidence for Steve King, however…

    2014-12-17 04:46:13View | Delete

    Fool me once.

    That last time “life” was “discovered” there wasn’t it coincidentally when the media was catching up on juicy bits of Bill Clinton’s trysts?

    NASA to the rescue!

  • Regarding the skepticism, pessimism mentioned. . .

    Can you smell the similarity to the 1960s? The basics are very similar. The most important stuff hasn’t changed.

    The differences are trivial, like today’s high tech conveniences which trap our lives into veal pens while luring us into illusions of new freedoms.

    I think the lesson this time will be harder. I never would have expected some five decades could have been so wasted.

  • maa8722 commented on the blog post Making All the People Unhappy All the Time

    2014-12-15 14:15:59View | Delete

    It’s my understanding there is a big gap between Congress as an institution versus what individuals think of their own Reps and Senators. Otherwise term limits would be its own correction, even if not in law. There would be little if any power of incumbency.

    If that’s the case, then the institutional take, seemingly always negative, is of little use.

  • maa8722 commented on the blog post Greenpeace Took Things Too Far With the Nazca Lines Stunt

    2014-12-14 19:19:39View | Delete

    I agree. But there is something fishy here.

    Maybe my impression about Greenpeace is incorrect, but I had thought they took care to coordinate within the organization and avoided ad hoc stuff like this.

    Could there be a false flag at work somewhere?

  • I remember from then Dan Rather sneaking in there at night. He was well disguised wearing the local clothing and risking his life for teevee clip.

    I thought that was hubris then, and still do. Otherwise Rather would brought something back to warn us plebes away from our own misadventure there. It was just a spectacle.

  • This morning John Carney thought this was more cut and dried. It sounds like the ratings game, and shi**ing in one’s nest for short term gain. WSJ today. Intermittent paywall popped up, down awhile, up, down. . . Who knows?

    “. . . Why did fierce fighting on Capitol Hill over an arcane piece of financial regulation nearly derail the $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by Congress on Thursday night?

    “The provision largely repeals a rule that required banks to push some derivatives into subsidiaries that aren’t eligible for government support, such as deposit insurance or access to the Federal Reserve’s discount window. So far, none of the big banks have explained why such a fight was worth having. There has been talk of it helping small businesses and midsize financial firms, or clearing up regulatory inconsistencies.

    “That rings hollow. As with so much else on Wall Street, short-term profit was the likely motive along with reluctance to give up what is essentially a taxpayer subsidy.

    “For starters, the banks’ own actions show there was a good deal at stake. J.P. Morgan Chase chief James Dimon called to lobby lawmakers Thursday, according to people familiar with the calls. And the provision’s language was reportedly authored by lobbyists for Citigroup . That led Sen. Elizabeth Warren to say, “This is a democracy and the American people didn’t elect us to stand up for Citigroup.”

    “And while 1,404 U.S. banks had derivatives activities at the end of the second quarter, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, just five accounted for 95% of the total notional derivatives of $302 trillion. They are: J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs Group , Bank of America and Morgan Stanley .

    “Of vital importance, especially for Citi, is where the derivatives are legally housed. Except for Morgan Stanley, the banks hold most derivatives in their depository unit. The advantage: The bank subsidiaries, with implicit government backing, are considered less risky than parent holding companies. Being seen as a less-risky counterparty gives banks an advantage in pricing and collateralization of derivatives.

    “Bank-capital rules matter, too. These impose capital charges based on an assessment of counterparty risk, which is closely linked to credit ratings. And those ratings explain the big banks’ desire for the rule change.

    “Citigroup’s insured depository unit is rated A2 by Moody’s ; the parent company is a far lower Baa2. So a bank buying a derivative contract from the parent would receive a higher capital charge than if it bought it from the depository unit. So the price Citi could fetch for it would be lower. The same divergence exists at the other banks, though to a lesser degree.

    “The result: Each would suffer from having to push derivatives out of their depository units. In effect, they would lose the advantage of the higher rating and perception of government support.

    “Resistance on Capitol Hill wasn’t baseless. The rule would have pushed out nearly $10.4 trillion in credit default swaps, of which J.P. Morgan owns 44%, according to Thomas Hoenig, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. vice chairman. That is three times the amount of such swaps American International Group had when it was bailed out. One irony is that Morgan Stanley arguably lost out because it has few derivatives in its bank. So the push out would have leveled the playing field among banks.

    “Another is that banks may have overreached. Yes, they secured an advantage. But they have also galvanized Wall Street’s critics and potentially squandered political capital being rebuilt following the financial crisis.”

  • maa8722 commented on the blog post Over Easy: The Torture Report

    2014-12-12 06:34:30View | Delete

    & #3. . .

    I think the post Civil War pardons had to do with expedience. And that might have come from a fear of scattered guerrilla activity and how to divert that temptation. It was a gamble, no?

    Anyhow, the decision doesn’t seem morally in synch either with ending slavery or for settled accountability. The unfinished narrative continues to this day.

    Similarly, Gerald Ford’s pardoning Nixon was especially repugnant because N hadn’t been charged yet. He should have been. So Ford’s motive was to evade accountability for N. and pretend nothing had happened. It was a evil act on Ford’s part I think, but he didn’t have the capacity to understand why. Had he been hell bent on letting N off, he should have pardoned only after charges and impeachment were complete.

    The treasonous Confederates should have been handled in the much same way.

  • maa8722 commented on the blog post The Roundup for December 10th, 2014

    2014-12-11 17:47:30View | Delete

    Canada is something of a paradox. In many ways far more progressive than US, but in other ways uber strict.

    The closeness of British law may be part of that as you point out. I think the troubles with Quebec going back to 1960s, nascent terrorism, DeGaulle’s visit, the split with the right wing westerners. . . could be any remaining shard of progressive inclinations would be expected consumed by all that.

    A curious place for sure.

  • maa8722 commented on the blog post The Study Health Care Reform Desperately Needs

    2014-12-10 19:58:45View | Delete

    RomneyCare is not a test bed, because Mass is not a representative state.

    Mass is already exceedingly wealthy, geographically small, and has lots of hospitals — even before the Feds began pumping in $400 million a year to get RCare up and running. The best and most expensive healthcare in the country was already here.

    With a ton of money concentrated in a small area, a lot becomes possible. But little was learned applicable on a much larger, but less prosperous scale. The state’s budget is well over $300 million in the hole now.

    They should have tried this somewhere else.

  • maa8722 commented on the blog post The Study Health Care Reform Desperately Needs

    2014-12-10 19:46:21View | Delete

    There’s also the issue of skyrocketing deductibles and copays.

    How does one measure the deterrent, delaying effect on someone needing to seek medical attention, and what the consequences will be? Or recklessly trying to “bundle” necessary treatment into a single policy year?

  • maa8722 commented on the blog post The Roundup for December 8th, 2014

    2014-12-08 21:10:51View | Delete

    Thanks Brandon for Louisiana and North Carolina coastlines link.

    Fifteen years ago the Cape Hatteras lighthouse was picked up and moved 1500′ inland due to rising sea level. The sea was encroaching and reached within just 15′ of the base of the structure. The move was years in planning, expensive, dangerous, but had it not been done the beautiful structure would have been lost.

    So the end is delayed there a few years. The link below, scroll down to History –Relocation.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Hatteras_Lighthouse