“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Euroruption of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain...

Greek rescue frays as Irish crisis drags on

The eurozone bail-out for Greece has begun to unravel after Austria suspended aid contributions over failure to comply with the rescue terms, and Germany warned Athens that its patience was running out.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard 8:44PM GMT 16 Nov 2010

The clash caught markets off-guard and heightened fears that Europe's debt crisis may be escalating, with deep confusion over the Irish crisis as Dublin continues to resist EU pressure to request its own rescue.

Olli Rehn, the EU economics commissioner, said escalating rhetoric in Europe was turning dangerous. "I want to call on every responsible European to resist the centrifugal tendencies and existential alarmism."

Swirling rumours hit eurozone bond markets, while bourses tumbled across the world. The FTSE 100 fell 2.4pc to 5681.9, and the Dow dropped over 200 points in early trading. The euro slid two cents to $1.3460 against the dollar as the US currency regained its safe-haven status.

Austria's finance minister Josef Proll said he was "very critical" of Greece's performance, saying Athens had failed to meet the tax revenue targets agreed under the EU Memorandum.

Credit default swaps on Greek debt rocketed 97 basis points to 950 as investors woke up to the awful possibility that the EU could turn its back on Athens, which will run out of money by mid-January without loans. A Greek default would trigger $300bn (£188bn) worth of CDS contracts.

A 'Troika' of EU-IMF inspectors is currently in Greece but has not indicated whether the next €6.5bn (£5.5bn) tranche will be approved. German influence is crucial, yet Greek premier George Papandreou courted fate on Monday when he accused Chancellor Angela Merkel of driving the weaker EMU states into bankruptcy by scaring investors with talk of "haircuts".

Finance minister Wolfgang Schauble expressed deep irritation. "Greece has enjoyed a lot of solidarity from Europe and Germany. But solidarity is not a one-way street: nobody should ever forget that," he said.

In Dublin, premier Brian Cowen said Ireland has "not made any application for external support" and is fully-funded until June. The assurance did little to silence reports that Ireland is in talks with the EU authorities and the International Monetary Fund for a loan package of €80bn to €100bn.

Finance minister Brian Lenihan declined to comment before meeting eurozone counterparts last night. Dublin is hoping a formula that would dress up any aid package as a move to recapitalise banks and stabilise EMU bond markets, rather than a rescue for Ireland.

The political chemistry is volatile because Ireland is being pushed into a pre-emptive bail-out to ensure that contagion does not reach Portugal and Spain. Citigroup said it was "far from clear" whether an Irish bail-out would in fact lift the pressure off others since they share the same problem of excess debt. Markets may simply shift their focus onto the next country.

Ian Stannard from BNP Paribas said the EU's €440bn rescue fund was never designed to be used. "The sheer existence of the fund was supposed to be enough, but that has not happened. It is only a matter of time before the Spanish economy slips back into recession, and that is when the spotlight will turn to Spain," he said.

A Spanish auction of 12-month debt on Tuesday saw rates of 2.36pc, compared to 1.84pc in October, even though markets think an Irish bail-out is a 'done deal'. Analysts say that Portugal and Spain should be careful what they wish for.


  1. "I want to call on every responsible European to resist the centrifugal tendencies and existential alarmism."

  2. Seems that the Irish have decided that their PRIVATE banks are not extensions of their government.

    That if those PRIVATE banks fail, well then, that is the capitalist way.

    I recall that is was not all that long ago that Ireland was being praised for its capitalist ways. Leading the revolt against Socialism in the EU and all that.

    They may believe it to be the one true way.

    Unlike here in the US, where even "conservatives" embrace Federal Socialism, whenever it is their ox that is about to be gored.

  3. Concrete Evidence of a Possible Plan.

    Those Germans, concrete is solid, possible is pliable. Guess that concrete is still wet.

    (CNN) -- Concrete evidence has emerged of a possible attack planned in Germany later this month, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday.

  4. The Irish will study the challenge, with their EU partners, but will not accept an "unspecified burden".

    Brian Lenihan, Ireland's finance minister, said ...

    “Ireland has been the point of the attack on that currency in recent weeks and it’s important that we build up our defence and ensure that the currency itself is protected. And for that reason, the Irish government will fully engage with this process and work with the mission to ensure that everything possible is done to secure the Irish banking system,” Mr Lenihan told Irish radio

    He said the Irish government and its EU partners were still examining “options” on what shape a package of financial assistance might take. But he said: “There is no question of loading on to the Irish sovereign and the Irish state some kind of unspecified burden. That’s why the government took great care not to make a formal application at this stage but to engage in intensive discussions to see exactly what the options are.”

  5. 16. blert

    Ireland is the victim of the Soviet (economic) Mafia.

    During the hyper-boom, Ireland permitted Soviet Mafia Dons to ‘lend’ fantastic sums to themselves. These monies have gone to money heaven. A chasmic hole was blown in their bank’s balance sheets.

    Criminal pursuit of the players has begun, but the probability of funds recovery is slight.

    It is significant that Dublin at one point sought Russian funds to top up her banks.


    31. blert

    HD Greene…

    Under the current global fiat money system only ONE currency is universally acknowledged to be the RESERVE CURRENCY: USDollars.

    Hence, it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to run surpluses in international trade.

    Any attempt to do so causes the reserve base of all the other powers to collapse.

    That’s the real reason why our trade imbalances are permanent.

    As you note handing them yet more currency makes it a pretty good deal for us.

    When you net it all out, the foreign demand for reserve currency covers our defense budget — year in and year out. This means that we are exporting a service: peace and unobstructed oceanic trade.


    Obviously I have no idea who this fellow is but his statements are always intriguing. Much like Karl Denninger, I can't confirm the truth nor can I debate the premises, such as our defense budget being funded by the foreign community.

    Looks like those low corporate tax rates in Ireland attract a wide variety of investors. If blert is right.

    Looks like DR called it again. Real world beats Fiction.

  6. Goddamned stinking republicans are just dying to get their VAT (er, excuse me, "national sales tax.")

    Talk about an economy killer.

    Pete Dominici is a tired, old, senile joke.

  7. When you net it all out, the foreign demand for reserve currency covers our defense budget — year in and year out. This means that we are exporting a service: peace and unobstructed oceanic trade.

    Well phrased, and exactly right.

  8. However, I'm afraid that we're now giving them more "peace and security" than they are ready, and willing to pay for.

  9. I swear to God, if I were the King of Ireland I'd quit the Euro, and tell the banks to take a piss.

  10. Dublin was founded by Scandinavians like me.

  11. Rufus: Goddamned stinking republicans are just dying to get their VAT (er, excuse me, "national sales tax.")

    Talk about an economy killer.

    Must be the old school Republicans you're talking about. The Tea Party Republicans say:

    4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
    Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words—the length of the original Constitution.

  12. And the great famine was caused by the potato blight. Most of the farms were small, 40% under five acres, and all they ate were potatoes. Unca Jerry used to talk about it. A million or so starved to death, about the same number emigrated, among them his ancestors.

  13. Many 'Irish' are actually Scandinavians. They invaded the place time and time again.

  14. Just for historical shits and grins, here's a look at the PIIGS domino set up just before it tips over. Note that Greece is the smallest fucking part of it.

  15. From the medieval warm period to the little Ice Age. All that nice weather stirred 'em up like bees in summer.

  16. Bob, I think I remember reading that they were "Exporting" a lot of potatoes during the famine.

  17. That might be so Rufus, but the five acre guys were starving.

  18. No food stamps in those days, no social net, no unemployment insurance, no crop insurance, just an empty belly.

  19. Warren Buffet said this morning that his overall fed tax rate was 17%. All of his employees were 30% +.

  20. Well phrased, and exactly right.

    So how does that square with the contention (ref DR) that the intent of the 9-11 attack was to engage the US in financially crippling military engagements in the ME?

    Not trying to start a fight, but I don't fully understand the concept.

    I take it the answer is that we're now giving them more "peace and security" than they are ready, and willing to pay for.

    Macroscopically that might be true but US is still carrying the defense cost on our accounting books.

  21. Yeah, Bob, the 5 acre guys were, literally, starving, but the big land-owners were getting rich.

  22. I guess I'd say that it's kind of an "indirect" effect, CL.

    We get away with a lot because we're the last "safe refuge." A large part of being the last, best safe "refuge" is having the biggest kickass military on the planet, and having shown a willingness to use it.

  23. We're fortunate to have a large country with a diverse agriculture, wonderful chemical companies, hard to bring down, with all sorts of programs. Like you say, Rufus, we can kinda 'float blissfully' along on that.

  24. Bristol has a nearly two-year-old son with her on-off boyfriend Levi Johnston. Her unplanned pregnancy became a talking point during the 2008 White House campaign, which made her America's most famous teenage mother.

    Of her latest television triumph Tuesday, one blogger commented on the website: "She could win this thing, and here's
    why - the power of the American voter.

  25. It also helps, I think, that the Europeans mostly believe we spend most of our time riding around on horseback, and killing Indians while shooing grizzley bears off the back forty.

    When the shit hits the fan, like in the "Crash of '08, they couldn't get their cash out of Europe, and into the land of Cowboys, and Crazed, Gun-happy, Warrior-Farmers fast enough.

  26. Clint Eastwood or soft-handed, Euro beta male?

    Soft-handed euro beta banker or Clint Eastwood?


  27. I think the lingering effect on this country and the developed world will be the security impact rather than a financial impact.

    Financially developed economies are slowing while emerging economies are ... emerging. This reflects the distributional impact of globalization and has less to do with 9-11.

    Financially, US will recover - I think the big brains are working it out as I type. Something must have got their attention.

    But the security apparatus - the Washington Post expose of the size, cost, and extent of the bureaucracy by Dana Priest, and the recent enhanced airport search measures for the holiday flights ("touch my junk and I'll have you arrested" - we're back in laugh or cry territory) - has the potential to be more 'lingering' for a host of reasons. The constitutional non-scholar speaks but I don't think there is much in our founding documents that provides direction in dealing with terrorist response protocols let alone the modern environment of half-peace, half-war that generated the criminal versus war crime debate.

    Well, anyway, someone will have to handle it. Won't be me.

  28. ::))

    It helps to have crazy on your side.

    At least the illusion of it.

  29. Deuce wrote (re. barring foreign purchases of US bonds):

    "Awful isn't it, like withholding heroin from an addict."

    and then Blogger Deuce said...

    "We fought WWII, ran deficits of 14.5% in 1942, 31.1% in 1943, 23.6% in 1944, and 22.4% in 1945. The government financed the war by issuing bonds t the American public.

    The output was obviously war material, not for private consumption, but we were a nation fully employed and saving money by buying government bonds.

    The existing model of consuming more than you produce, wrecking domestic industry and running massive trade deficits is only possible by the surplus trading nations buying debt rather than products.

    What part of that are you having problems understanding? Take debt out of the picture and China would have to buy American products or invest in the US. What else would they do with their currency?"

    I am not aware of the US banning foreign purchases of US war bonds. Did that happen?

    If your goal is to get the US government to balance its budget, well, argue for that. If you were actually to try to balance the budget (or some approximation) by only allowing US citizens to purchase US debt you would decimate any new issues of debt and send interest rates through the roof. Bankruptcy's on a huge scale would follow. Not a wise course of action in my view.

  30. I say turn the nation's finances over to Dave Ramsey. For a total body makeover go to Melody's hairdresser, for a total financial makeover, even national in scale, Ramsey's the guy.

  31. The touch my junk guy was actually quite sane, heard him interviewed, very intelligent and well spoken.

  32. Maybe they got some intel that shows a big threat around the holidays is why they are pushing the searches so hard now.

  33. 31. blert

    HD Greene…

    Under the current global fiat money system only ONE currency is universally acknowledged to be the RESERVE CURRENCY: USDollars.

    I was thinking about this Reserve Currency notion and China and desires to move to a gold standard just this morning.

    Basically when China started coming out of its shell and engaging with the rest of the world around the '80's they pegged the RMB to the dollar. Reasonable if you like the notion of stability and a 'fixed value' sorta like fixing the value of the dollar to gold (except that you don't dig it out of the ground). The US dollar was the 'gold standard'. At the time the RMB was overvalued and you could get more RMB for a buck on the black market then you could officially. That has changed to the point some are screaming it is hugely undervalued.

    Anyway, their peg is much like pegging the dollar to gold. If you print too many you've got to redeem those dollars with gold by either digging up more or buying it on the market. The Chinese, using the US Dollar as the 'gold standard' has to maintain that peg by buying US dollars to redeem all those RMB.

    Not much too this really other than I was wondering how many of the folk who are very concerned about the Chinese peg are also advocates of returning to the gold standard.

  34. Ash, obviously you cannot do it in one action. In WWII there was no one to buy bonds but much of the world's gold was transferred to the US.

    Interest paid on domestic owners of bonds ends up in the gross domestic income. interest paid to foreign owners ends up in the deficit.

    It is absurd when a country such as China can decimate UD industry by selling into the US market, effectively banning US imports into China and balance its books by buying US treasuries. Not only does that hurt current manufacturers in the US, it also is a future call on US income which is extracted from the private sector and sent to China.

    China buys or steals western technology and then undercuts the the owners of the intellectual property by sending back products cheaper than can be made in the US and most other countries. There is no magic in how they do it.

  35. RE: the touch my junk guy

    I wasn't laughing at him, but with him. The line had me laughing out loud and I never laugh out loud. I read he is a software guy and though Sam might be down in San Diego.

  36. I'm not sure what mean by "UD industry" but China's copyright infringements and other trade protections/practices are certainly problems usually, ironically, dealt with by free trade agreements.

    In any case I think the limiting of US debt to Americans is a non-starter and would be very detrimental if attempted.

  37. In any case I think the limiting of US debt to Americans is a non-starter and would be very detrimental if attempted.

    I'm sure Deuce will get back to you but that's not how I understood his argument. My reading is that he questions allowing non-free or otherwise unfriendly sovereign states from purchasing USA debt. At a minimum he seemed to be suggesting a limit and/or use of the right of purchase as a bargaining chip. Nowhere did I see 'Americans only.'

  38. Seems to me like it would just be easier to whomp a tariff on their asses and be done with it. Inform them that for every 5% the Yuan appreciates $5.00 will come off the tariff.

  39. Deuce wrote:

    "Stop allowing foreign nations to hold US government debt. They then have to actually trade with the US. What else can they do with their dollars?

    Tue Nov 16, 08:09:00 AM EST"

  40. That's the same power structure that killed millions of their own people. They're not going to respond to anything other than an offer they can't refuse.

  41. There is a movement to get off the US dollar as the exchange currency. It seems Sarkozy could be heading up the movement to 'update' the monetary system. sorta like a new 'gold standard' but different- care to peg to and SDR?

  42. p.s. money has become another 'commodity' that trades...

  43. In the last two weeks we have drawn down our crude/products inventories by almost 20 Million Barrels. That is one huge draw.

    But, Oil is still down $0.60 today (about $7.00 for the last five days.)

  44. Sarko is Soooo full a shit.

  45. That's what I get for speed reading. The context of the piece was China - a communist country that is the third largest holder of our debt. But I see the author is back.

  46. rufus said...

    Sarko is Soooo full a shit.

    Yeah, but he is heading up the G20 and there is a meeting planned on this issue. There are real valid concerns out in the rest of the world over Fed policy and US being the exchange currency. In short, QE is similar to the Chinese currency peg - i.e. the Fed's devaluing of the US dollar (while claiming it is simply for domestic concerns) is a manipulation of its value and, because of its exchange status, affects the currencies of the rest of the world. China's response, the peg, is an interesting one in this context. Heck, maybe everyone should peg to the US dollar and prevent the unfair competition?

  47. The proposed solution appears to be a 'currency' which tracks a basket of currencies and gold...

  48. He's just "being French," Ash.

    France is in the "Domino Line," and they would like to do something to distract the predators from their crippled-prey asses.

  49. One thing about Bristol Palin. If she goes all the way, Joy Behar will have a heart attack.

  50. The Davos crowd has been making noises about a currency basket for some time. It just accelerated after 2008.

  51. And that would be a bad thing?

    Go Bristol.

  52. I don't care if they tie it to Superman's tallywhacker; one currency can't service 15 discrete nations.

    I would bet my first-born pup that the Euro won't be around in the year 2015, much less 2020.

  53. Maybe we'd get rid of Barbara Walters, too.

  54. If currency exchanges continue the current volatility then I think the basket idea will gain traction. As many folk are alarmed by China gaming the system so to are they beginning to think the US is gaming the system.

  55. ...they beginning to think the US is gaming the system.

    At which point the would-be rock stars will begin to experience the full cost of global defense - on their own books.

  56. Joy Behar - and Letterman - aggressively and consistently goes after Palin and her family. AFAIK, Barbara Walters not so much. (But it was still a funny line, maybe Susan Sarandon and Barbra Streisand as well. Hollywood might riot.)

    Not that you will, but you should admit that the Palin view on this site has been more discrete and measured, far from the obsessive hostility demonstrated by a handful of public figures.

  57. Just talked with my wife, who watched the fiasco of last night. Brandy really got screwed. When Bristol won, the crowd was shocked, shocked into silence and disbelief. My wife is so pissed, she is going to vote next week, the finals.
    Dammit, I may vote too, and against Bristol. This is, or should be, a dance contest, not a popularity poll.

  58. The Cleaning Lady said...
    One thing about Bristol Palin. If she goes all the way, Joy Behar will have a heart attack.

    Ya see, I just dont give a crap about "dancing with the stars"

    and I thought all the attention to Bristol?

    who gives a shit...

    but now I have found I enjoy it..

    No not to WATCH it...

    Just knowing joy Behar hates it and is driving to distress?


  59. Bristol Palin has an opening here for some real redemption. If she wins next week, she could turn the prize down, dropping out, saying "I know I'm not the best one, and everybody else does too. It's just because people like my mom, and I don't want to win that way."

    She would be headlines not only on the tabloids but even The Lewiston Morning Tribune.

    Bristol Palin Womans Up, Shows Real High Class Character

    And her mother's political career would probably benefit, too.

  60. CL wrote:

    "At which point the would-be rock stars will begin to experience the full cost of global defense - on their own books."

    Some think that the "global defense" is just a linguistic term masking the operations of the global empire for US elites benefit - Corporate Rule.

  61. Oh my.

    And I thought you were anti-conspiricist.

    I guess we're back to that group of 100.

  62. There are a lot of people in the world and their views aren't necessarily mine. The US has a history of foreign adventures benefiting certain segments of the population. In general the US acts in its own interest and the not the worlds. Many in the 'rest of the world' are probably more cognizant of that then many Americans.

  63. Not all modern warfare was fought in Viet Nam Ash.

    Not by a long shot.

  64. Another View of Chris Christie

    Knowing nothing about it, I just put it out there.

  65. and Iraq wasn't about oil?

    History encompasses more than the last few decades. Central America springs to mind...

  66. Middle East engagement policy hasn't been pretty. I won't defend it other than to say that the game is still very much in play with some smart people calling the shots.

    Central America was all about fighting The Communism.

    To lump modern aggressions into the Corporate category apparently neglects the causus belli of WWI & II. I suppose a dogmatic can link opposition to totalitarian ideologies with the furtherance of Corporate interests but the substance of the world wars encompassed motives quite different from many of the ones that followed. So no, I do not view WW I or II as fought in pursuit of Corporate goals.

    And I need no reminder from anyone of the lengthy history of warfare.

  67. The author of The Ben Bernank video said on CNBC that the policy and decision-makers should stop talking down to the American people.

    Words to live by.

  68. CL wrote:

    "Central America was all about fighting The Communism."

    Certainly the government propaganda releases stress the meme "all about communism" but do you really think that is the case? Do you really think Iraq is all about bringing "freedom" to the Iraqis?

    U".S. Intervention in Central America: Kellogg’s Charges of a Bolshevist Threat

    By the early 20th century, U.S. companies dominated the economies of the five Central American republics, controlling most of the banana production, railroads, port facilities, mines, and banking institutions. This export-based economy also maintained a social hierarchy of a small number of large landowners and millions of landless peasants. Nicaragua offers a case study of both American domination of the region and local and international resistance to that domination. During the 19th century Nicaragua was among the main contenders for an interoceanic canal and thus drew major railroad and steamship investors from both Britain and the United States. The United States intervened in Nicaragua four times during the 1890s to protect U.S. economic interests during periods of political unrest. In 1912 U.S. marines landed once again to maintain a pro-American government; this occupation lasted until 1925. As this January 1927 memorandum submitted to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee indicated, Secretary of State Frank Kellogg justified U.S. occupation of Nicaragua on the basis of communist threats from Mexico and the Soviet Union. The United States brokered a peace treaty between Nicaraguan liberals and conservatives that allowed the two parties to share political power, but U.S. influence and economic power remained intact. "

  69. Do you really think Iraq is all about bringing "freedom" to the Iraqis?

    No. Nor did I say that.

    But I will note that the entire world would benefit from peace and stability in this tempestuous part of the world, although one must face charges of naivete for even acknowledging the human resource benefits.

  70. Certainly the government propaganda releases stress the meme "all about communism" but do you really think that is the case?

    It was at first, before morphing into the usual mess of complicated and interwoven motivations.

    To reduce all of modern warfare to Central and South American adventurism is inappropriate.

  71. No, but my main point is that all that America does is not 'good', especially as it relates to the 'rest of the world'.

  72. The actual number of US manufacturing jobs has fallen by half since 1970. During that same period trade deficits went from positive to -7% GDP.

    Please explain to me how that is sustainably possible without uncontrolled holding of US sovereign date by foreign powers? That debt holding is the means to sustainable trade deficits.

    If it went on for ever, the US would be fortunate in that it could export digital banks of 000's in exchange for goods.

    The export is fun while it lasts but comes at the expense of manufacturing industry. Entire sectors disappear and when they do they take down the human skills and suppliers that support the industry.

  73. .

    Not a big Jon Stewart fan but when it's funny it's funny.

    Charlie Rangel


  74. In macro-economic terms this is "bullshit."

  75. I don't like to drop in and leave a comment or too and leave. But that's my situation right now...

    With that in mind I heard about the new nuclear magic being brewed at Lawrence Livermore.

    And it reminded me of my time in the Bay Area in the early '60s.

    As a further aside Quirk and melody may enjoy what brought this memory about.

    I was transferred to the San Francisco area and was looking for housing.

    I wasn't having much luck. Possibly because I'd been raised in the Pacific NW and I've found we tend to be more, how would you say? naive? than more cosmopolitan folk... At least back then.

    I had found that it was difficult to even get an interview for an apartment. I learned that the "code" that an apartment was available was for all the shades to be drawn in the windows.

    Then you pressed the mgr button and, hopefully, began a dialogue.

    I came to work one day and recounted the previous evening's search and how the woman on the other end of the speaker had only asked "What sign are you?" And when mine was not apparently compatible all I heard in reply was a click.

    One of my co-workers, who I ultimately became close to, was a black guy by the name of Jack Joseph. He, unlike me, was the epitome of cosmopolitan. His suits always looked freshly pressed, unlike rumpled me, and he introduced me to long snooker playing lunches in a lingerie bar. He introduced me to Lou Rawls...

    I could go on.

    But this day I was the new guy in the office with a problem the others were sniffily avoiding.

    Jack instead just sighed and said "It looks like you could use a little help." He came over to my desk and unfolded a large city map. With his hand he covered different areas and said "You can live here, I can live here. And we can live here. The rest? Forget about it."


  76. Where I ultimately ended up was in a basement apartment on Nob Hill. As the ostensible manager.

    In actual fact the real managers, who had the knack of selecting tenants, had threatened to leave. They were overworked and wanted to pursue their muse. Their art.

    The owner, who had very limited social skills, knew he needed them to keep peace and the apt house full.

    So I became the compromise. They fashioned a room in the basement, bathtub covered became a table, view was to the brickwalled airshafts between our building and the ones behind and beside.

    I did the maintenance work, the original managers just collected the rent and selected new tenants when necessary.

    The situation was not all that bad. My room in the basement had its own entrance. It was quiet and private...

    And, at that time, Nob Hill was home to many young single women. In our apartment house it was more than 60% as I remember. Nurses at the nearby hospital...

    And the "real" managers weren't all that bad. They introduced me to Mike's Chili Parlor and the wonders of North Beach. Even let me week end at their place in, at that time, relatively undiscovered, Nevada City.

    One of their hobbies, actually a money maker, was to get permission to dig under and around the old wood framed houses there. They would find old medicine bottles and such. As per usual I didn't catch on quickly that what we were doing was digging through old privies. I kinda lost interest after that...


  77. The guy who owned the apartment house I was working and living in was an East German refugee.

    One day he came into the paint locker, an enclosed room about 8 ft by 10 ft in the basement. With only a hanging bulb for illumination.

    Guy's name was Horst and he was a real piece of work. Very, very bright physicist, he'd written maybe 10, 12 text books. Mostly in the DDR. He escaped with gold in his belt and nothing more. Left his wife and kids behind. Married another piece of work gummint lawyer over here.

    He worked at Lawrence Livermore and this one particular day he surprised me coming in behind me as I was kneeling down mixing paint. He was usually very surly. That day, though, he was laughing and jovial. And grabbed me in a bear hug and started to wrestle/dance with me. He was a big, burly, hairy man. And between me and the door.

    Now imagine him speaking in very broken German accented English: "gnossos! gnossos!" "Do you know what we did today?" "We killed a pig!!!"

    At this point we've stumbled or he's wrestled me down and we're on the floor, him on top. (60 watt bulb swinging above) "We killed a pig! With radiation! Do you know how much radiation it takes to kill a pig?"

    Yelling now, very loud, face just above mine, spittle spraying: "THE SAME AS IT DOES TO KILL A HUMAN BEING! HA, HA, HA!"

    Good times, those days in San Francisco...


  78. No, but my main point is that all that America does is not 'good', especially as it relates to the 'rest of the world'.

    I can't think of one person here who would argue with that.

    Possibly several at BC, but not here.

  79. which brings us full circle to:

    "Some think that the "global defense" is just a linguistic term masking the operations of the global empire for US elites benefit - Corporate Rule."


  80. That sounds like an argument for the Transnational Progressive One-World Government movement, which exists in fact and to some degree in fantasy, but includes Corporate elites from around the globe, confined not simply to this country.

    Or possibly the reference is to a separate and distinct movement on behalf of corporatism, in which case, again, US elites would constitute but one demographic within a global group.

    Corporatism seems to be the modern incarnation of the Robber Baron legacy in which case the US may have provided the historical template but the modern players comprise a more diverse group among sovereign states of which the US is but one.

  81. I guess you've got a point there - in this ole modern world it doesn't matter where the corporation is from just who they've bought in the political structure of the US


  82. I would ask the German finance minister whether his country’s efforts to promote solidarity with Greece was a sincere gesture or rather a desperate attempt to save German banks that play an important role as the major creditors.