Open Thread → Washingtons Blog
Open Thread - Washingtons Blog

Friday, July 30, 2010

Open Thread

I'll be out of town and largely away from a computer for the next week.

Let me know what's on your mind, what stories you think are most important, what you think about issues of the day such as the Gulf oil spill, the economy, investing, gold, China, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (or the threats against Iran), the assault on the Constitution, breakthroughs in alternative energy, the odds that the people will awaken from their deep slumber, unexplained neutrino measurements, or anything else on your mind.

Let me know what you think I should write about when I get back ...


  1. Wachovia launders hundreds of billions in drug money, pays fine. “Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” says Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the case.

    Google teams up with CIA and NSC to record and store everything:

    Ditching google account asap.

  2. There is a lot of saberrattling going on with regards to Iran now. I've always been at odds whether to believe it or not. On the one hand I know there are folks who really want the US and/or Israel to attack Iran, but on the other I believe such an act would be a suicide mission for both countries in many ways. A good and detailed analysis on the likelyhood of an attack in the near future would be good.

  3. The expulsion of Google from China is right up there.

  4. The good and bad of wikileaks...

    Documents being used to spread war of terror into Pakistan?

    Why is Assange annoyed at 9/11 questions?

    Is this a CIA/similar operation?

  5. We need to start talking about two huge issues:

    1. Our political system is dysfunctional. My
    state of NJ, like many others, is barely
    skirting bankruptcy...for over a decade.

    How do we get state governments that actually
    know how to apply best management practices
    to state governments?

    The question applies in spades to our federal government.

    What needs to be done to fix this? And how do progressives make it happen? Can we use NRA and
    AIPAC strategies and tactics to wield political influence far greater than our numbers?

    2. Our current business policies and practices are sucking the sap out of America. For decades, our corporations have been divesting in America (shutting down factories, cutting work force, deploying capital overseas, avoiding corporate taxes and sucking tons of subsidies out of Washington). Our financial industry has wrecked not only its own sector, but has knee capped most other sectors in the American economy.

    Our political system has adopted a deaf and dumb attitude to the strip-mining of the American economy. The Wealth of Corporations is well on its way to sucking up the Wealth of our Nation and reduce our economy to rubble.

    Citizens United makes the situation even worse.

    Its time for progressives to realize these 2 huge issues dominate our opportunities to create a better nation. Its time the progressive
    community started acting like a community and work together to envision a better America than our political and economic leaders can provide. And create the strategy and tactics to make it happen.

  6. I would like to hear some feedback on the latest work from Bill Still who made The Money Masters film.

    His most recent documentary is called "The Secret of Oz" and can be found here:


    Is this really the actual root of so many of our problems? The solutions plausible? etc.

  7. People in Michigan have a chance to send President Obama a message August 3rd!

    President Obama is trying to knock down Michigan’s best chance at finally having a conservative governor, but we can’t let Obama win! The stakes of this election are simply too high!

    August 3rd is the most important day in Michigan politics in years! We need to do what we can to help make sure Michigan sends President Obama a message.

  8. The ongoing propaganda concerning an economic recovery being as utterly laughable as it all is, I think we all need to start asking and coming up with answers for how bad is it going to get.

    Already we are seeing signs of a worldwide die-off of massive proportions. Suicide is up in the West, starvation is up -worldwide, war is definitely taking many more lives, poisons are quite-literally ruining many-many more.

    And still system after system is shutting down in this ongoing collapse of our pragmatic societies.

    Let me cite "A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century" by Barbara W. Tuchman as a necessary read.

    The deeper I look into this mirror, the more I am convinced -it presages our future.

    The book is about the Black Plague, and its aftermath, -which was far worse than the Plague itself.

    What happened, -if I may paraphrase- is -that at the local level -all the important people died during the Black Plague. That was due to the nature of the transmission of this disease.

    The important people all had it transmitted to them -because they had daily contact with many other people, some of whom were infected with Plague.

    A third or more of the population of Europe disappeared in a short period of time. And more importantly, just about anyone who was key to the functioning of this early, -but still complex- society -expired and vanished from the scene taking with them all their socially-necessary skills.

    Complex societies support vastly larger populations than the previous societies upon which they were built. The subsequent post-Plague social collapse of 14th Century Europe -was far worse than the Plague that brought about that social collapse.

    European humanity went insane and fought with devils that emerged -like those that emerged in the story, "Lord of The Flies".

    Returning to barbarism was the only course open that had any efficacy. The collapse of feudal societies was calamitous -as Tuchman notes.

    As soon as feudal societies collapsed, looting, pillaging and scavenging became the only viable means of survival.

    And then organized bands of roaming looters and brigands took control. Skirmishes propounded small local wars, which in turn propounded even greater local wars.

    Bravery and chivalry became the ethic of choice -kill or be killed.

    Like dominoes -after the demise of feudalism -a sequence of events led eventually to Louis XIV - the Sun King, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, Napoleon, the American Civil War and the dropping of the A-bomb...

    If you do not recognize it, this IS the end of an era.

    When you hear the final resounding thud, I might suggest you do as I was taught in 1957 at the Walnut Lake Elementary School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

    Sit. Turn and face the wall. Put your head between your knees. Cover your head with your hands. And shut your eyes to protect them from the blast.

    Forget about your portfolios. And simply talk sense to those who will still take the time to listen.

    Soon enough -I expect- those same people will be looking at you -like you are quite literally -a meal-.

  9. far be it for me to suggest what should be in my favorite blog

  10. Hows this for an 'off the wall' theory:

    The Bullion banks sell all their customers unallocated gold as reported in the FT to the BIS. Could this be in preparation for default? The gold is sold to the bankers who store it safely when the default comes the unallocated holders have no gold the bankers now have it. Is that a possibility?

  11. This page has video showing continued seepage and "not so minor" eruptions of gas from the sea floor around the well. What are the chances that the seafloor has been compromised and that a full on volcano is still a significant risk?

  12. Have a nice break from blogging, but please come back! You do such a great job and provide fantastic links! Here are some suggestions:

    1) The squandering of money in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, the missing pallets of cash:


    Why aren't the American people outraged over this?

    2) Garbage in the oceans:


    Why isn't THE WHOLE WORLD outraged about this???

  13. I think you should write about whether you believe in free markets or in state regulation of markets (and to what extent.)


  14. Hi!
    Your blog is really interesting.
    I send you two articles:
    1- America's Ruling Class - And the Perils of Revolution
    By Angelo M. Codevilla

    2- From Marx to Goldman Sachs: The Fictions of Fictitious Capital
    By Economist Michael Hudson

    Please check them out, I've been reading a lot lately and this two are the best.

    Welcome back!! ;)

  15. Property crime is skyrocketing. In the last 2 weeks, my car has been burgled twice. This is actually kind of funny.

    The first time, I left a door unlocked and they stole the spare change and my CDs (which were all burned by myself so absolutely no value to anyone else).

    The second time they attempted to get into the trunk & broke the lock, so broke the passenger window. In the car I had two shirts newly purchased and a Crate & Barrel box of martini glasses. They opted not to take those, nor the spare change, nor the CDs. The height of indignity - my stuff wasn't worth stealing!

    Just an anecdote, but with continuing high levels of unemployment I think we'll see more of this.

  16. Well - I for one would like to hear some ideas about what we can do to stop all this madness. Do we just quit, go off grid and live with less. I really do not believe in protests anymore - that is what the PTB want us to do. Hummmm - we need a better more ethical financial system. We all know this. There are some that do not want this to ever happen .... What can we do to do better and different? Is this even possible or is our world and society just always going to be "not so fun".

  17. More discussion regarding the still on-going oil disaster:

  18. Oil Drum destroys all of Matt Simmons' theories on which you have religiously commented and implied as possible or likely (with the exception of one).

    EPA releases results from Phase II of dispersant testing. The results? Dispersants alone are less toxic than oil and oil-dispersant mix, and Oil-dispersant mix is no more toxic than the oil alone that's already spewed into the gulf. They also continue to affirm that it's use should necessarily be restricted but that it has been an absolutely essential part of the clean up response in preventing even further damage.

    Flow rate estimate revised to 53,000bpd just before the closure via the capping stack and 62,000bpd when the spill started. Your posts using 120,000bpd and upwards continue to be unsupported by the official estimates and reality.

  19. A) A synthesis of all of the above... and who is driving it, including weather modification, and black-market trafficking in guns, gold, people, and drugs. B) Global war, nuclear or not; 3)Survival, not in the sense of militia groups with MRE's, but in terms of resilience, seed communities, and re-emerging from the dark ages.

  20. A more effective stimulus to the economy -I would suggest- might include government paying an interest-dividend-stipend to individual savers with US savings accounts. What I envision is government adding by expenditure 3% to the interest rate paid to individual US citizen-savers at our nations banks.

    The effect of such a stimulus program would be myriad. I've been thinking this through for more than a year.

    1) This would encourage savings by enriching savers.

    2) It would also provide an increase of funds available to banks BELOW the fed rate. You read that right, funds BELOW the fed rate. (Something everyone else says cannot be done.)

    3) It would put the stimulus dollar into the hands of those who are frugal -who in turn would put those same dollars into the hands of banks -but not without some real marketplace constraints attached.

    4) It would also enforce some much-needed accountability upon individual banks, that would be required to address public concerns about their business practices, -because their savers could walk away from them and across the street to a competitor.

    5) While all stimulus programs are inflationary, the stimulus-related-inflation arising from such a program would directly effect-less US capital than it would dollars held overseas.

    I think all stimulus packages are economically evil. And -I am not alone here.

    Economies should not be run this way.

    But, given the policy demands made upon this sort of evil-approach, -any future stimulus programs should be designed to directly reward NOT those entities that caused the rational for stimulus programs to arise.

    There is the crux of the moral question.

    Stimulus programs when-seen-as-necessary -should be focused upon those who would rein in the entities that caused the perception of this necessity to arise.

    Individual savers will rein in the banks long before the banks will rein themselves in.

    And government regulations (which are always going to be corrupted) never rein anyone in.

    This is going to be a long slog pulling the country out of this steepening downward spiraling malaise.

    That doesn't mean it's not necessary to think these things through before throwing money at them.

  21. This blog has been incredibly informative in what I see as a cover up by the MSM and the administration. Though I'm no expert on the oil industry, especially deep water extraction, I'm calling BS on this one... From Bloomberg News

    "U.S. Says 74 Pct of BP Oil Gone From Gulf Waters"

  22. Gulf oil spill could have impact for ‘decades’: US official

  23. Heres a good website with alot of articles to read while our friend here is away

  24. Richard Simmons is not a reliable source unless you want oil for your thighs.
    With the plugging going on- you picked the most opportune time to disappear. (I'm sure it is coincidental.) Can't wait to see your attempt to restore your credibility. Your "stories" brought in all your junking zealots to ZeroHedge and nearly destroyed the credibility of the whole site. ZH should ban your ass.

  25. Please note the coordinates on the following video clip from 06/07/2010:
    1202476 and 10431302.

    Here is another clip from that day:
    Here, the ROV spends most of its time at 1202497 and 10431358.
    This clip is from another side of the BOP being shown in the first clip. So the 2 views are from different sides showing the same structure spewing oil.

    The 2 views were taken from about 50 feet apart.

    The problem is that those coordinates are 4 or 500 feet away from the coordinates of the capped structure we are currently being shown.

    Now here is a clip from the location we are currently being shown. Notice that this clip shows plenty of lower structure (and a bit of mud kicked up by the ROV at times during the clip) but NO view of oil spewing.
    At 2:20ish into the clip the coordinates are 1202812 and 10431617. This clip…which doesn’t show oil spewing…is from 05/27/2010.

    Putting the coordinates side by side:
    1202476 1202812
    10431302 10431617
    These numbers are denominated in FEET.
    You can see there are hundreds of feet separating the 2 locations. Approx 4 or 500 feet.

    The coordinates we are currently being shown since the BOP was capped:
    1202794 and 10431616
    This is the same location as the 05/27 clip.


    What’s the story behind the TWO locations?
    BP submitted a plan to drill 2 wells.
    MC252a and MC252b.

    The plan is here:

    On page 3 BP gives the coordinates for both planned wells.
    Well “a” is at 1202799 and 10431610
    These are the coordinates of the location we are currently being shown.

    Well “b” is at 1202514 and 10431494
    These are the coordinates of the first two clips above.

    Here is a ROV distance calculator that gives distance from ROV to well "a".

    Something is not right with this picture.

  26. In reference to the plan for 2 wells submitted by BP:

    “The rig started drilling a well at a water depth of 5,000ft in MC block 252 in February 2010, but exploded during drilling in April 2010. The rig was on fire continuously for three days.

    “The operator, US Coast Guard and other agencies are engaged in the execution of an oil spill response plan.”
    The well was planned to be drilled to 18,000ft, and was to be plugged and abandoned for later completion as a subsea producer.

    As per the plan, the rig was supposed to be drilling the second of the two wells planned. But it faced oil spills over two fronts: one at the wellhead and another at the surface offshore. The wells are located in lease G-32306 over the prospect.”

  27. Hey DougR56, perhaps you should learn the difference between different types of coordinate systems. Your lack of knowledge of this subject is on full display right now. It's almost as bad as the guy claiming that the ROVs were actually in the Sulu Sea.

    Go here:

    1: learn difference between feet and US Survey Feet

    2: learn how reference ellipsoids are used. Specifically, Clarke 1866 in this case.

    3: learn what NAD27 is and how it is converted to WGS84, and why it is important to do so.

  28. So I suppose it's merely an amazing coincidence that the coordinates for MC252b are showing up on the ROVs.

    The coordinates are consistent between BP's plans and what the ROV's show for MC252a. Why not for the location of MC252b?

    Perhaps YOU can clarify this instead of throwing around what appears to be just flak.

  29. "Borrowing dropped at an annual rate of $1.3 billion in June, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. That marked the 16th drop in overall credit in the past 17 months."

    More people drop out of the credit economy every day. And good for them. The credit economy is a very recent phenomenon.

    The demise of the credit economy is the biggest win for the little guy going. The credit economy was creating a new class of wage slaves, -until a large number of people said, NO MAS!

    I'm sixty, never had a credit card or a loan in my life. And I'm doing just fine, thank you.

    Credit is what drives inflation, and what keeps so many people so stinking broke.

    If you're thinking of buying a house on credit, you're helping to make housing unaffordable.

    If the house you are looking at has an asking price of $150k, -offer $15k. And walk away laughing if they say, No. Walk away, and do not look back. Just go on and look at another house and tell them the same thing. This is what a lot of people are doing right now. And, it's taking hold of the marketplace.

    All those Boomers trying to sell you their home for gazillions, -are hopped-up on dope. The marketplace doesn't support their asking price.

    In the town I live in, you can buy houses now for less than $10k, and there are more of them on the market -every day.

    If you examine the demographics, housing should be free. Look at all the vacant housing!

    I sold my 50 acre Maine farm in 2005. I sold it at the peak. I sold it because of the then impending demographic shift that dictated this ongoing decline in housing.

    The guy who bought it for me -now owns something he cannnot sell, and he pays twice the property taxes I paid for the same place. So, what's it worth?

    The subprime crisis only arose because the government got a bit too-clever about trying to postpone the decline predicated by the demographic shift -by loosening to loan rules to take up the avalanche of slack in the housing pipeline.

    Nope. Let the credit economy die. Stop borrowing. The credit economy will only hang you.

    This is a deflationary economy, and anything you borrow today, will become increasingly more difficult to pay back as the price of everything continues to fall, -including salaries, wages and the potential to make money as an entrepreneur.

    Nope, -this is the end of an era. Sit back and relax. And let the credit economy implode.

    Because it is going to implode with or without you hanging to all the debts you can pile up in this insane credit economy.

    One of the key questions employers are asking right now is, How much debt do you have? Have you ever defaulted? Are you behind in your loan payments?

    Even federal government hiring practices reflect the new-credit-economy-implosion reality.

    You cannot even get a job as a TSA goon -if your debt is out of control -or- looking like it is headed in that direction.

  30. how about writing about the tax law and making it more well kwon, and fixes like an 80% tax on corporate but tax free on all research and development done in this country. tax the shit out of any personal income over a million. if your worth over 5 million at 65 yrs old you do not collect social security.
    tax the hell out of bank profits and even the damn religions because their just all about money.
    and make anyone who works on wall street do 40 hrs a week of community service after their hrs steeling from the brain washed.
    And 1,000 dollars aweek fine to any employer who hires an illegal, per illegal. change the immigration law so if you need help you can sponsor a rabbit from their home country on a work visa.

  31. Here's another important topic, though it's being covered by many others; Net Neutrality, and Google/Verizon's recent advocacy for a tiered system over the wireless internet, which in the near future will be how the vast majority of people access the internet- it already is in the developing world.


→ Thank you for contributing to the conversation by commenting. We try to read all of the comments (but don't always have the time).

→ If you write a long comment, please use paragraph breaks. Otherwise, no one will read it. Many people still won't read it, so shorter is usually better (but it's your choice).

→ The following types of comments will be deleted if we happen to see them:

-- Comments that criticize any class of people as a whole, especially when based on an attribute they don't have control over

-- Comments that explicitly call for violence

→ Because we do not read all of the comments, I am not responsible for any unlawful or distasteful comments.