Intravenous Caffeine

Totally Unfair and Completely Unbalanced

Goldman Sachs–shorting America

Lloyd Blankfein as Matt Taibbi's great vampire squid and his version of MAD--mutually assured derivatives--just as bad as mutually assured destruction.

The Great Vampire Squid testifies in front of Congress. Mutually Assured Destruc ... Derivatives?

Oh, how I wish I’d come up with Matt Taibbi’s description of Goldman Sachs as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” A prescient lad, he said that even before the revelations this past week about “The Big Short”. Seems these very shrewd operators basically: 1) made a bunch of loans to people they knew had a very good chance of defaulting; 2) bundled them into a security that they noodged Moody’s and Standard and Poors to rate AAA; 3) sold them to unsuspecting investors as a solid investment; and 4) shorted them so that when the price fell, they’d clean up. In fact, the only way they could have lost money would have been for the loans to be repaid. Thus they not only screwed the poor schmucks who couldn’t repay loans (remember the sliding rates that went up after a few years? Let’s stack the deck while we’re at it.) But they screwed their clients.

And when the bottom fell out, they screwed everybody. Lloyd Blankfein–who has an eerie resemblance to Erich von Stroheim, the “Man You Love To Hate”–claims he was doing God’s work, but for the life of me, Blankfein’s God has little to do with any modern God I know–more like Cthulhu (and we’re back to great vampire squids). Senator Dodd from Arkham has heard the call of Cthulhu and has busily crafted a financial reform bill that keeps the monsters and their derivatives intact–it seems mostly concerned with restoring the power of the regulators to wank instead of work and watch internet porn. Not break up the banks that bet AGAINST AMERICANS.

Most recently, Blankfein has had the gall to tell us that if we break up the banks, we will weaken America. Like the worst economic crisis since Black Friday didn’t do that already. Maybe he meant it in relative terms. After all, they broke the economy of the entire world–maybe America would have come out ahead on the deal.

If we’d shorted it.

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Or maybe it’s just the hot air cloud over Rush’s studio…

Too big to nail?

Too big to nail?

Well, our natural world seems to be having its fun with us as a huge ash cloud erupts from Mount Eyjafjallajokull (Eye-ya-falafel-cul?) and cuts off Europe from air travel for several days. This is not the first time such a huge cloud has occurred: there was the famous Mt. St. Helens eruption back in 1980. The centuries have been dotted with darknesses “enveloping the whole of Europe” as the description of one 5th century eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that, curiously enough, signaled the start of the Dark Ages (although the Dark Ages could have been presaged by an eruption of Mount Etna in 417, on whose dating, I, in an earlier incarnation as an historian, wrote a paper on in 1990 (Olympiodorus’ Eruption of Mount Etna: a possible dating of 417. EOS: Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 71:329-334)). Rush Limbaugh has been having fun with it, calling attention to Obama’s statement on the passing of the health care bill that the world hasn’t ended yet. I certainly hope the Almighty has better aim than to punish Europe for OUR supposed transgression, so I shall assume that Rush-boy is being ironic, should he be capable of such complexity of thought.

But with such a global disaster, it might be better to look for a more global transgression, and I think we have our candidate at Goldman Sachs. Their financial manipulations–along with other august companies–managed to pull off a global economic disaster, yet their CEO Lloyd Blankfein had the effrontery to make a positively BLASPHEMOUS statement that he was “doing God’s work” while bankrupting the entire world. Now if I know one thing about Our Lord God Jehovah, you can kill millions of people and He won’t bat an eyelash, but say one thing wrong about Him and all Armageddon is gonna bust loose. On top of all, Goldman Sachs has the sheer CHUTZPAH to announce 5 billion dollars in bonuses to be paid to its executives–you know, the ones who bet short on the world disaster they themselves engineered–and you say, enough is enough.

The teabaggers have it all wrong–the cause of our ills is not the government–tho it’s not helping by spending 20 times the amount that could eliminate world hunger on a military that has gotten itself bogged down in the middle of a desert for 8 years. It’s these bankers who think God’s work consists of lining their pockets with our money. They’re no better than the guy who is going to the track and convinces you to bet on a certain longshot that he says he has a tip that it can’t loose. Then, when he goes to the track, bets all YOUR money on the favorite and after the race, picks up one of the losing tickets off the floor to give you with the lame explanation that he’s never gonna listen to THAT TIPSTER again. It’s beyond time that they should be sued for fraud. It’s about time that they should be INDICTED for it!

In the meantime, Europe is enjoying a slower pace and beautiful sunsets. Maybe Mt. St. Palin in Alaska will explode in a few years and we’ll be the lucky ones :D


I went to a small con this weekend in Alexandria called T-MODE and had a great time. The advantage of a small con is its size–you can meet everyone and do everything. Naturally, you have a bigger selection of activities at a big con, but you always wind up missing some things you would have enjoyed. The organizers of T-MODE called it “fun-sized” and that it was. I got to hear a lovely singer Emi Meyer (also on MySpace–beautiful woman, beautiful voice, beautiful music) and hip hop artist Shing02 and DJ Icewater. I had a TAIKO DRUM LESSON from Doug Manring (Power Kix Drum Team and Real School of Rock) as well as meeting the new voice of Haruhi Suzumiya and a great singer herself Cristina Vee. Also there were our friends from the webcomic Geeks Next Door, who gave sessions ON webcomics, and Interrobang Studios, whose artist Sarah Martinez, gave a great session on surviving Artist’s Alley. I didn’t get to meet the vocal artist Mega Ran (aka Random) or voice actor Todd Haberkorn, or Roland Kelts, author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has invaded the US–I did have to run home and feed the kitten occasionally LOL. Oh and I nearly forgot, I got interviewed for Vidgle and I hope to have up a link next week to my podcast with them :) Congratulations to the organizers–I had a great time. My personal photos will be up on my Flicker account later this week.

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What Would It Take For A President to Say “The State of the Union Ain’t Very Strong”?

Two Hookers critique the state of the union address: Good oral, now let's see a little bump and thrust.

Or maybe a little slap-and-tickle on the right side of the aisle?

I mean seriously, what WOULD it take for the President to start out, “The State of the Union isn’t very strong”? Massive depression? Naw, even Herbert Hoover said the SOTU was strong. Open rebellion? I bet even Abe Lincoln said the state of the union was strong. And it was, if you didn’t count the 11 states that up and left when he was elected. Perhaps alien invasion? “Let me remind you, you still have two out of three branches of the federal government and that ain’t bad,” as the President said in MARS ATTACKS. Actual unemployment and underemployment is around 20%, we’re in debt up to our yinyangs to China because of a double recession during the Bush presidency, two wars that we shouldn’t have been in in the first place, tax cuts for the people who didn’t need them and a massive bailout of banks that had been holding a craps game with our money, credit card companies charging 30% interest, 30 million people without health insurance, BUT–The State of the Union is strong.
We did get one moment of high comedy tho–thanks to Chris Matthews of MSNBC. Forgot he was black for an hour, Chris? Way to GO! Only one month into 2010 and you already have the gaffe of the year! But wait–maybe you can outdo yourself–you have 11 more months to do it in!
President Obama gave himself a number of pats on the back, waved his finger at the right side of the aisle and outlined an ambitious agenda to get us back on track–well, not all that ambitious, there were a lot of half-measures–i.e., we need to increase jobs, but we need to keep the budget under control, so hey, let’s just do a little of both. He pointed the finger at the Bush administration for getting us into this mess more forcefully than he had since…his inauguration. You told Justice Roberts where to get off (and Stephen Colbert brought up a great point about how Roberts is willing to overturn precedent if he has only two dissents to do it on–and just where WERE Scalia and Thomas last night anway?). And he wants to see things on his desk! Well, Barry, let’s hope that you tell people exactly what you want on your desk this time around the calendar and that you knock some heads together to do it.
The problem is that we’ve heard all this before and we haven’t seen enough action on it. As my hookers say in the cartoon, you’re good at oral, now let’s see a little bump and thrust. You told us bank presidents weren’t going to get away with things and then you turn around and let them get away without showing up for their meeting with you. LEAD! Stop taking things off the table before you start negotiating. Get rid of your bad advisers. Rely more on Joe Biden than on Rahm Emanuel–Emanuel’s been advising you to give away the farm for nominal victories but Biden knows where the bodies are buried. Get rid of the financial cronies and slap around those bank presidents like you did the auto manufacturers. And for god’s sake, stop going on expensive dates with Michele while your middle class is going down with the ship–at least look like you have a bit of empathy. You said you’d rather be a good one-term president than a poor two-term one. Well, we don’t want you to be a good one-term president–we thought we were voting for a GREAT president. So stop futzing around and be what you promised.

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Happy Hallowe’en from the Cthulhu Group–your trusted name in finance

Mrs. Dymme mistakes the chthonic spawn of Cthulhu for children trick-or-treating as financial executives.

Ia? Shub-Niggurath? Is that Trick-or-Treat in a foreign language?

October is my favorite month because it has my two favorite holidays–my birthday, sometimes also known as Columbus Day (a day off AND presents, now that’s MY kind of holiday) and Hallowe’en. The end of October is fast approaching, the leaves have turned orange and started to fall, and the kids have started working on their costumes–unless they go to anime cons, and then they have costumes ready all year. But for some of us, Hallowe’en started last year and has continued on through the last 12 months–the bankers who destroyed the economy, told us that it would get worse if we didn’t give them nearly a trillion dollars to bail them out, and then proceeded to give themselves bonuses for doing such a great job. TRICK OR TREAT! Now, It wasn’t completely their fault, after all, we gave them the money And then said, “Oh, don’t bother to tell us how you’re going to spend it–we trust you to make the right decisions.” After all, look where your decisions have gotten us so far! With 20-20 hindsight, this lack of oversight was beyond doubt a true oversight that we should have had the foresight to forestall. But the Bush administration was still in charge and one thing you have to say about the Bush administration–when they were wrong–they made sure they were ABSOLUTELY WRONG. Not that things have changed that much with the Obama forces–our national treasury is still in the hands of Goldman-Sachs and the prospect of tougher regulation looks like it will go the way of single-payer health coverage–off the table before we even start. Instead, we’ve decided to ask these pirates if they pretty please with sugar on top, consider not acting like the total greedy bastards that they are.
But, isn’t it amazing how the real solutions get taken off the table so quickly–like impeaching Bush, which never even got to a vote because it had been taken off the table, and once the Democrats take something off the table, it’s like last month’s minutes at the cell phone company. Look at credit card reform–capping interest rates? That might make the credit card companies upset. Instead we forced them to “give notice” when they were going to gouge their customers–and then gave them enough of a grace period to institute loan shark rates before they had to even think of giving notice. Will we even be able to slap the wrists of the credit rating companies who issued fantasy ratings for the worthless securities that drove the economy into the dirt? No no no! those ratings are “opinions” and thus guarded by the First Amendment. The rating companies have no obligation to give an honest and truthful rating, according to their lawyers. If that’s true, why do we even have these ratings companies–why not just let everybody rate themselves and cut out the middleman! And on the health care front, the big question is whether the “public option” is going to be watered down as much as a strip’n'clip bourbon and water–or water and bourbon.
To add insult to injury, our old friend Joe Liebermann has announced that once again he will not vote with the Democrats but with the Republicans against the public option, demonstrating once again that his votes are not about what’s good for the country but what’s good for Joe Liebermann. I think he was jealous of all the attention Olympia Snowe was getting. Hey, they should all be getting upset about ME! Seriously, Democrats, I think it’s time you re-evaluated your relationship with this man. He promised to caucus with you, but cheats on you every chance he gets. If this was a marriage, you’d be consulting a divorce lawyer…a year ago when he supported the Republican Presidential nominee. I wanted to draw him today as an asshole (really–two cheeks with a hole in the crack) but since I don’t want to have to mark it “mature” I decided to do him as a slug amidst the chthonic spawn of Cthulhu instead :) I think it’s an apt analogy considering what he votes for.
In any case, Happy Hallowe’en: kids, trick-or-treat safely and treaters, always buy extra of your favorite candy. Now I’ve got to go carve some pumpkins :)

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Recovery is Underway–Quit the Bank Before They Cap Pay–Happy Days Are Here Again!

A patient is told by his doctor that he's on the road to recovery because his tapeworm is growing bigger....

What's the difference between a bank executive and a tapeworm? You can cure a tapeworm infection.

Oh yes, the Dow hit 10,000 and the GDP was up 3.2% last quarter. Time to Celebrate–the Great Recession is OVER. Happy Days are here again! The skies above are clear again–So let’s sing a song of cheer again–Happy days are here again!
What’s that? Your bank just closed? Oh, don’t worry, the FDIC will cover THAT. Oh, you didn’t have any money in it anyway? So, what do you have to worry about? You’ve been out of work for two years, your unemployment has run out and the only job you can find is part-time trash cleanup at McDonalds? Well, be thankful for Mickey D’s, some people don’t even have that. Oh, and your mortgage is being foreclosed and you’ve been evicted from your house and are living in your car. It could be worse! The repo man could be coming for your car! Oh, you park in different lots every night because of just that. Hey, not to worry, all that will be over soon! The Dow is up, the GDP is up, Happy Days are here again! Let’s Party like it was 1927! After all, we got our bonuses–and left our jobs before the government capped salaries! It doesn’t matter that the rise in GDP was because of tax break for new house buyers and the Cash for Clunkers program–we’ll worry about that NEXT quarter. Altogether shout it now–There’s no one who can doubt it now–So let’s tell the world about it now–Happy days are here again! So long sad times–Go long bad times–We are rid of you at last! Howdy gay times–Cloudy gray times–You are now a thing of the past! Your cares and troubles are gone–There’ll be no more from now on! Happy Days are here again! The skies above are clear again–So let’s sing a song of cheer again–Happy days are here again!

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