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28 October 2008

a Poem by I.M.Small about USA presidential campaign 2008

Agence-Vleeptron Presse has received another of the rare and somewhat remarkable Comments from I.M.Small. This one is a Poem.
We mentioned in that post that this fucking campaign is making us physically sick.
We have noted hither and thither in Cyberspace that historically, USA politics is a very rough and nasty sport, not unlike Rugby or Rollerball with straightrazors and brass knuckles. A game traditionally played with no rules, or by systematically breaking what few rules there are. (About 20 of Nixon's team, including his Attorney General, had to go to federal prison after the stunts they pulled during the 1972 campaign against McGovern.)
Abraham Lincoln confessed that his only regret of his political life was to have bought a silent ownership of a German-language immigrant newspaper in Illinois, and anonymously accuse his political opponent of fathering an illigitimate child. Davy Crockett told voters that a presidential candidate had shot his own mother.
Seeing that his first bid for elected office was doomed, young James Curley sent his campaign workers throughout his Boston district at 4 a.m. on Election Day, banging on apartment doors with pots and pans, screaming VOTE FOR JONES! Curley won.
USA politics are not for the squeamish or dainty or overethical.
But this one's the worst, and I've been paying attention to this crap since the Kennedy-Nixon race of 1960. This one's the worst, the nastiest, the most mean-spirited, ugliest, the most shameful and disgraceful, the one that has attracted the most scoundrels and liars and sneaks and outright criminals and insane people like a cloud of flies buzzing around a pile of fresh hot wet stable dung on a hot summer day. This one's the worst. This one blows dead rats.
I will say this much now about the Obama campaign: As ferociously competitive and ambitious as it is -- to get to this point, a black guy had to drive a steamroller over Hillary Clinton -- it has exercized far more restraint and self-discipline about manufacturing character assassinations and dirty tricks and attacks on family members.
It's pretty clear desperation is driving the leadership, the strategists (if they can accurately be called that), the swarm of unpaid K Street lobbyists, the addled volunteers, in the McCain/Palin campaign. Desperation that has inevitably followed a campaign of spectacularly bad instincts.
They have one final decision to make: After the numbers on Wednesday 5 November 2008 clearly show they have lost the Electoral College vote, will they accept defeat graciously and will McCain make a dignified, respectful concession speech promptly?
Or will we get another Month Of Bitter Paralytic Dispute a la 2000? Will two teams of Harvard and USC lawyers duke it out in state and federal courts while Americans wonder, confused and worried, who their next president will be?
While all the residents of Planet Earth wonder, confused and worried and frightened, who the next President of the United States of America will be.
McCain -- I guess he's in charge, I guess he calls the shots, he says he's in charge and calls the shots -- has only one decision left. He's already lost, will he be a gracious loser?

He has only one lesson left to offer America: How to accept defeat in a sportspersonlike fashion, a handshake across the tennis net, a salute from a burning wreck to the other fighter pilot still flying high in the sky
There is a Constitutional promise and a historical tradition that every time the voters choose a new president, the transition will be smooth and run like clockwork.
But the promise and the tradition depend on decisions men and women make at every presidential transition. We could end up with coups, with countercoups, with juntas, with suspensions of civilian democratic rule. If it's not sportspersonlike, prompt and dignified, we could end up with soccer/footie stadiums with more people in them than David Beckham.
~ ~ ~
I.M.Small (writing as Rudderless Quipling) said...


In extended observation of the ways and works of man
From the Four-mile radius roughly to the Plains of Pakistan,
I have drunk with mixed assemblies seen the racial ruction rise
And the men of half Creation damning half Creation´s eyes.

I have seen the worst of Whites berate the aptitude of Blacks,
Obama is a nincompoop or ape so on they wax,
Such eloquence as only White Trash competence can muster,
As idiots declaim in single syllables unjuster--

Than even such a joke about the raping a white gal
(How do you stop a gang of Blacks? Throw them a basketball!)
And on and on the slanders pile, vituperative their hate
These cognoscenti than Obama less articulate!

It is a bit too late to blame your own ineptitude
Upon the Blacks--Obama, neither crass nor coarse nor crude
Is not so much an orator as knows to parse a sentence
Grammatically with logic offering no glib repentance.

Of all the meanest, dumbest numbskulls in the world at large
Would seem Americans the worst so cravenly who charge
To slander and invade while boasting theirs the only right--
But would God bless my country less if people grew polite?

America, America, O gaze into the mirror:
Has self-deception led to estimation growing clearer?
Don´t pin pejoratives upon the Black. Obama can
(If God´s with him) out-think, out-wrestle all y´all to a man.

23 October 2008

braille from my doctor's office decoded!

Bien sur, cliquez, plus grande. plus clair

CLOSE ENOUGH!!!! patfromch wins the Shredded Wheat or the Grape Nuts, his choice! Outstanding!


patfromch said...

Now if you use standard Braille then you will get the floor and room number (3-B3), note that the first sign what looks like an L with a hangover must be set in fromt of a number and the one dot indicates that a capital letter follows. The two dots in the middle represent a hyphon.

Unless this is Braille shorthand, then it would mean something completly different.

I still have doubts tho, since you originally offered 9 slices of Pizza for that Q...

Remember that Braille table I sent you ?

Turned out to be useless since there are major differences between german and english / north american Braille.

21 October 2008 wants to send you a message

They asked me to do this, so I'm doing this. I like

But please keep reading VleeptronZ. Vleeptron is going to say much about this campaign in plenty of time to give you stuff to think about before Election Day -- Tuesday 4 November.

Forgive me if I haven't posted enough about the election. This election campaign makes me vomit and have nightmares.


Dear MoveOn member,

If you're an Obama supporter, watching the polls or reading the news can feel pretty good right now. And we should feel good—progressives have worked hard to get this far!

But we can't listen to the pundits who say it's over. Can you share these "Top 5 reasons Obama supporters shouldn't rest easy" with your blog readers—and encourage them to volunteer for Obama between now and Election Day?


1. The polls may be wrong. This is an unprecedented election. No one knows how racism may affect what voters tell pollsters—or what they do in the voting booth. And the polls are narrowing anyway. In the last few days, John McCain has gained ground in most national polls, as his campaign has gone even more negative.

2. Dirty tricks. Republicans are already illegally purging voters from the rolls in some states. They're whipping up hysteria over ACORN to justify more challenges to new voters. Misleading flyers about the voting process have started appearing in black neighborhoods. And of course, many counties still use unsecure voting machines.

3. October surprise. In politics, 15 days is a long time. The next McCain smear could dominate the news for a week. There could be a crisis with Iran, or Bin Laden could release another tape, or worse.

4. Those who forget history... In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote after trailing by seven points in the final days of the race. In 1980, Reagan was eight points down in the polls in late October and came back to win. Races can shift—fast!

5. Landslide. Even with Barack Obama in the White House, passing universal health care and a new clean-energy policy is going to be hard. Insurance, drug and oil companies will fight us every step of the way. We need the kind of landslide that will give Barack a huge mandate.

If you agree that we shouldn't rest easy, please sign up to volunteer at your local Obama office by clicking here:

We're just two weeks away from turning the page on the Bush era—but we can't afford to take our eye off the prize. We've got to keep pushing until the very end.

By posting this Top 5 list on your blog and encouraging folks to volunteer for Obama (and signing up to volunteer yourself), you can make a big difference and help Obama win.
Thanks for all you do.

–Adam, Lenore, Adam G., Patrick S., and the rest of the team

Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 4.2 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.


PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. This email was sent to Bob Merkin on October 20, 2008.

19 October 2008


Click image for larger, clearer.

The marionette is a daughter of Emperor Charles V or VI or one of those guys. She made it back to Massachusetts from Prague with only one point of her crown broken, but we glued it back on.

During the era of the Socialist Heroes, puppet theater was about the only allowed public political expression. You could complain about the Party, the Revolution, and the Government, but only if you complained through the mouths of Puppets.

There is also a huge body of surrealistic non-representational animated cartoons from the former Socialist satellites of Eastern Europe which (if you were a non-representational surrealist) clearly criticized the ruling regime. These were tolerated because only 4 people could understand they were criticizing the government. Everybody else just thought they were swirling patterns in pudding, or toenails slowly growing very long.

~ ~ ~

The avalanche and flood of Today
has finally been victorious over my beloved Machines of Yesterday.

These sublime machines for reproducing beautiful music -- and all kinds of crazy, weird noises -- first began showing up in my life about 37 years ago. I was fresh out of the Army, my hair hadn't even had time to fully grow back to hippie length yet. I was broke and going back to college on the pathetic pittance of the Vietnam-era G.I. Bill, studying electrical engineering.

By coincidence I lived with a bunch of young audio engineers, and they showed me how I could take my problem -- having No Money -- and still have the world's best stereo system. They showed me how to buy Dynaco kits and solder them together to get the best music reproduction available.

The Hafler power amp at the top is the design of David Hafler, the engineer behind Dynaco's classic kit designs. Today an original Dynaco vacuum tube (UK: valve) power amp is worth $$$$$$ on the whacko audiophile market. Japanese audiophiles are particularly wild about them.

Anyway, this week I sadly surrendered and agreed to say Farewell to these wonderful boxes and the jungle of wires and cables that connected them to each other.

The wonderful collection of discrete components has been replaced by one of those Everything-In-One-Box (including speakers) thingies. This one's a reasonably priced machine from Cambridge Soundworks, a knockoff of the overpriced Bose box they hype on endless TV ads. There's a dock for S.W.M.B.O.'s iPod, and it also plays DVDs as well as CDs. You run everything with a sofa remote, you never have to stand up again, except to pee.

I've held on to the Hafler, the oscilloscope, the magnificent SAE preamp, and of course the turntable. I got a lot of classic vinyl down in the basement. (Including the last 78 record ever made, R. Crumb's "Keep On Truckin'" b/w "Wisconsin Wiggle").

S.W.M.B.O. put about 5 of these machines in a cardboard box on the front lawn with a sign that said FREE. The next day she looked out the window and saw a man park his car, look around very nervously like he was committing a burglary, and throw all of them in his car and sped off. He was about my age. He knew what these things were. Wait till he gets home and discovers they all work.

S.W.M.B.O. said the guy looked like he suspected the woman of the house was mega-pissed-off at her boyfriend, and while the guy was out of town, she threw out all his stereo equipment.

The Audiophile Laws

If you are a German shepherd or a poodle or a Weimaraner or a basenji or a basset hound, you know that the following Laws are True.

1. Discrete Components reproduce music much better than All-In-One combination boxes. All-In-One boxes (like a receiver) contaminate the signal with radio crosstalk between the different components, and also are designed with design compromises. A box which does only one job doesn't require compromises.

2. Vacuum Tubes, in all stages of processing, at low and high voltages/wattages, reproduce music far better than transistors. Tubes pass all musical higher harmonics without interference. Solid-State chops off the higher harmonics. Harmonics give music its richness, color, flavor.

3. Analog sources (vinyl particularly) reproduce music far better than digital storage sources. Digital sources and playback systems are particularly brutal to high frequencies and dynamic range.

4. 1. 2. and 3. don't matter for rock n roll. You're going deaf from tinnitus anyway. One of the members of The Who is the celebrity spokesman for the Tinnitus Foundation.

5. $11,280 is a reasonable price to pay for a top-of-the-line stereo component from a manufacturer nobody ever heard of, especially if you are an unmarried guy.

6. Audiophile guys should never seek psychiatric help from female therapists.

6a. (converse) Women who own hundreds of pairs of shoes should never seek psychiatric help from male therapists.

15 October 2008

backyard mushroom / Amanita phalloides, the Destroying Angel

Click for larger & clearer

Amanita phalloides, popularly called the Destroying Angel, also called the Death Cap, is the wild mushroom -- actually toadstool -- thought to be the most poisonous of all fungi. Even if you eat it in the intensive care unit of the Mayo Clinic with a dozen experts hovering around your bed, there is no cure, you're dead of liver and kidney failure soon. The main toxin is the molecule a-amanitin.

One account (Agatha Christie) of such a death has it that after several days of severe illness, you suddenly feel better, healthy, just fine, a bit euphoric, happy, optimistic about the future. And then you die.

It happens often, because the Destroying Angel closely resembles a popular edible wild mushroom, the straw mushroom Volvariella volvacea. The Roman Emperor Claudius and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI are suspected to have died from eating the Destroying Angel.

Collecting edible mushrooms is or was a popular hobby in Europe, with hundreds of illustrated guidebooks, but it suffered a sudden loss of popularity after the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. Correctly or otherwise, it was widely believed fungi would be the first plant to absorb radioactive isotope/nuclide fallout in dangerous concentrations. I don't know if the hobby has had a resurgence of popularity.

GrapeNutsQ or ShreddedWheatQ! What do the dots say?

Why certainly, feel free to click.

Because of all the complaints about how I hand-copied these signs at my doctor's office a few months ago, this is no longer a PizzaQ.

Now it's a ShreddedWheatQ. Or, your choice, a GrapeNutsQ. If you don't know what these delicious food items are, don't bother Googling. You have to actually try to eat them to fully appreciate their unique cuisine virtue. (Grape Nuts can break your teeth.)

Anyway, this time when I went to the doctor I took my itty-bitty camera, and while I waited for the nurse, I photographed the signs. The dots aren't yellow, but I added the yellow to enhance the clarity.

So, for your choice of delicious Grape Nuts or Shredded Wheat, what do these dots say?

14 October 2008

the inventor of the lie about Obama: the antisemitic certified psycho Andy Martin / and his enabler, Fox's Hannity

Andy Martin is known for filing many lawsuits.

The New York Times
e-pub: Sunday 12 October 2008
print: Monday 13 October 2008 Page A-1

The Man Behind
The Whispers
About Obama

by Jim Rutenberg

The most persistent falsehood about Senator Barack Obama’s background first hit in 2004 just two weeks after the Democratic convention speech that helped set him on the path to his presidential candidacy:

“Obama is a Muslim who has concealed his religion.”

That statement, contained in a press release, spun a complex tale about the ancestry of Mr. Obama, who is Christian.

The press release was picked up by a conservative Web site,, and spread steadily as others elaborated on its claims over the years in e-mail messages, Web sites and books. It continues to drive other false rumors about Mr. Obama’s background.

Just last Friday, a woman told Senator John McCain at a town-hall-style meeting, “I have read about him,” and “he’s an Arab.” Mr. McCain corrected her.

Until this month, the man who is widely credited with starting the cyberwhisper campaign that still dogs Mr. Obama was a secondary character in news reports, with deep explorations of his background largely confined to liberal blogs.

But an appearance in a documentary-style program on the Fox News Channel watched by three million people last week thrust the man, Andy Martin, and his past into the foreground. The program allowed Mr. Martin to assert falsely and without challenge that Mr. Obama had once trained to overthrow the government.

An examination of legal documents and election filings, along with interviews with his acquaintances, revealed Mr. Martin, 62, to be a man with a history of scintillating if not always factual claims. He has left a trail of animosity — some of it provoked by anti-Jewish comments — among political leaders, lawyers and judges in three states over more than 30 years.

He is a law school graduate, but his admission to the Illinois bar was blocked in the 1970s after a psychiatric finding of “moderately severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character.”

Though he is not a lawyer, Mr. Martin went on to become a prodigious filer of lawsuits, and he made unsuccessful attempts to win public office for both parties in three states, as well as for president at least twice, in 1988 and 2000. Based in Chicago, he now identifies himself as a writer who focuses on his anti-Obama Web site and press releases.

Mr. Martin, in a series of interviews, did not dispute his influence in Obama rumors.

“Everybody uses my research as a takeoff point,” Mr. Martin said, adding, however, that some take his writings “and exaggerate them to suit their own fantasies.”

As for his background, he said: “I’m a colorful person. There’s always somebody who has a legitimate cause in their mind to be angry with me.”

When questions were raised last week about Mr. Martin’s appearance and claims on “Hannity’s America” on Fox News, the program’s producer said Mr. Martin was clearly expressing his opinion and not necessarily fact.

It was not Mr. Martin's first turn on national television. The CBS News program "48 Hours" in 1993 devoted an hourlong program, "See You in Court; Civil War, Anthony Martin Clogs Legal System with Frivolous Lawsuits," to what it called his prolific filings. (Mr. Martin has
also been known as Anthony Martin-Trigona.) He has filed so many lawsuits that a judge barred him from doing so in any federal court without preliminary approval.

He prepared to run as a Democrat for Congress in Connecticut, where paperwork for one of his campaign committees listed as one purpose “to exterminate Jew power.” He ran as a Republican for the Florida State Senate and the United States Senate in Illinois. When running for president in 1999, he aired a television advertisement in New Hampshire that accused George W. Bush of using cocaine.

In the 1990s, Mr. Martin was jailed in a case in Florida involving a physical altercation.

His newfound prominence, and the persistence of his line of political attack — updated regularly on his Web site and through press releases — amazes those from his past.

“Well, that’s just a bookend for me,” said Tom Slade, a former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, whom Mr. Martin sued for refusing to support him. Mr. Slade said Mr. Martin was driven like “a run-over dog, but he’s fearless.”

Given Mr. Obama’s unusual background, which was the focus of his first book, it was perhaps bound to become fodder for some opposed to his candidacy.

Mr. Obama was raised mostly by his white mother, an atheist, and his grandparents, who were Protestant, in Hawaii. He hardly knew his father, a Kenyan from a Muslim family who variously considered himself atheist or agnostic, Mr. Obama wrote. For a few childhood years, Mr. Obama lived in Indonesia with a stepfather he described as loosely following a liberal Islam.

Theories about Mr. Obama’s background have taken on a life of their own. But independent analysts seeking the origins of the cyberspace attacks wind up at Mr. Martin’s first press release, posted on the Free Republic Web site in August 2004.

Its general outlines have turned up in a host of works that have expounded falsely on Mr. Obama’s heritage or supposed attempts to conceal it, including “Obama Nation,” the widely discredited best seller about Mr. Obama by Jerome R. Corsi. Mr. Corsi opens the book with a quote from Mr. Martin.

“What he’s generating gets picked up in other places,” said Danielle Allen, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., who has investigated the e-mail campaign’s circulation and origins, “and it’s an example of how the Internet has given power to sources we would have never taken seriously at another point in time.”

Ms. Allen said Mr. Martin’s original work found amplification in 2006, when a man named Ted Sampley wrote an article painting Mr. Obama as a secret practitioner of Islam. Quoting liberally from Mr. Martin, the article circulated on the Internet, and its contents eventually found their way into various e-mail messages, particularly an added claim that Mr. Obama had attended “Jakarta’s Muslim Wahhabi schools. Wahhabism is the radical teaching that created the Muslim terrorists who are now waging jihad on the rest of the world.”

Mr. Obama for two years attended a Catholic school in Indonesia, where he was taught about the Bible, he wrote in “Dreams From My Father,” and for two years went to an Indonesian public school open to all religions, where he was taught about the Koran.

Mr. Sampley, coincidentally, is a Vietnam veteran and longtime opponent of Mr. McCain and Senator John Kerry, both of whom he accused of ignoring his claims that American prisoners were left behind in Vietnam. He previously portrayed Mr. McCain as a “Manchurian candidate.” Speaking of Mr. Martin’s influence on his Obama writings, Mr. Sampley said, “I keyed off of his work.”

Mr. Martin’s depictions of Mr. Obama as a secret Muslim have found resonance among some Jewish voters who have received e-mail messages containing various versions of his initial theory, often by new authors and with new twists.

In his original press release, Mr. Martin wrote that he was personally “a strong supporter of the Muslim community.” But, he wrote of Mr. Obama, “it may well be that his concealment is meant to endanger Israel.” He added, “His Muslim religion would obviously raise serious questions in many Jewish circles.”

Yet in various court papers, Mr. Martin had impugned Jews. A motion he filed in a 1983 bankruptcy case called the judge “a crooked, slimy Jew who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race.”

In another motion, filed in 1983, Mr. Martin wrote, “I am able to understand how the Holocaust took place, and with every passing day feel less and less sorry that it did.”

In an interview, Mr. Martin denied some statements against Jews attributed to him in court papers, blaming malicious judges for inserting them.

But in his “48 Hours” interview in 1993, he affirmed a different anti-Semitic part of the affidavit that included the line about the Holocaust, saying, “The record speaks for itself.”

When asked Friday about an assertion in his court papers that “Jews, historically and in daily living, act through clans and in wolf pack syndrome,” he said, “That one sort of rings a bell.”

He said he was not anti-Semitic. “I was trying to show that everybody in the bankruptcy court was Jewish and I was not Jewish,” he said, “and I was being victimized by religious bias.”

In discussing the denial of his admission to the Illinois bar, Mr. Martin said the psychiatric exam listing him as having a “moderately severe personality defect” was spitefully written by an evaluator he had clashed with.

Mr. Martin, who says he is from a well-off banking and farming family, is clearly pleased with his newfound attention. But, he said, others have added to his work in “scary” ways.

“They Google ‘Islam’ and ‘Obama’ and my stuff comes up and they take that and kind of use that — like a Christmas tree, and they decorate it,” he said. For instance, he said, he did not necessarily ascribe to a widely circulated e-mail message from the Israeli right-wing activist Ruth Matar, which includes the false assertion, “If Obama were elected, he would be the first Arab-American president.”

He said he had at least come to “accept” Mr. Obama’s word that he had found Jesus Christ. His intent, he said, was only to educate.

Kitty Bennett contributed reporting.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 14, 2008

An article on Monday about Andy Martin, who has been a source of some of the false rumors about Senator Barack Obama’s background, referred incorrectly to an academic institution where a study of the rumors’ origins was conducted by Prof. Danielle Allen. The Institute for Advanced Study is located in Princeton, N.J., but is not part of Princeton University.

A version of this article appeared in print on October 13, 2008, on page A1 of the New York edition.

Past Coverage
Book Attacking Obama Hopes To Repeat '04 Anti-Kerry Feat (August 13, 2008)
Want Obama in a Punch Line? First, Find a Joke (July 15, 2008)
Muslim Voters Detect a Snub From Obama (June 24, 2008)
Bloomberg, In Florida, Blasts Rumor About Obama (June 21, 2008)

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

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1.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
Why, NY Times, do you legitimize nut-case provocateurs by responding to them? What nitwitted impulse compelled you to write a brief on Obama's background, as if there was some "issue" about it? There is none. There are only cynical "conservatives" who live off your inability to ignore them.
— Jon, China

No big surprise that Fox News and Sean Hannity should be connected with and be standing behind this type of hatred and crazed ranting.
-- Jeff, New York

I'd rather have Obama as a president than Martin any day! I think having a president who is tolerant and open, and actually understands Islam (rather than has a knee-jerk reaction to the religion, lumping over 1 billion people who follow a generally peace-loving Islam into the same bucket as non-sanctioned fanatics) would be a benefit to the US. Oh, and I'm Jewish, by the way. Palin scares me a heck of a lot more than anything out there!
— debbie, new york

October 13, 2008 7:06 am
Don't you think this guy has had more than enough attention? This article was too even-handed for a disseminator of lies.
— John, Geneva, Switzerland

5.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
You had better hope people get the point of this article, that this man is a disgusting pathetic anti-Semitic liar. I'm nervous that you just thrust him and his despicable rants into the spotlight even more.

Be careful, New York Times.
— Naomi, Brooklyn, NY

6.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
What a wonderful country.. really:) dreams do come true. But then am I thinking of just a fictitious country that we all love so much.Maybe it has never existed..? only that can explain how one can get away with this absolutely slanderous behavior and be accepted by society.

Oh but I forget of course our constitution guarantees us Freedom of speech! Am I among the select few that feels so repulsed with this kind of slime? I went to a catholic school.. and I loved my teachers who were mostly nuns. Even though I am not Christian, I was always
proud to be from a convent! Is this Christianity, what the republican party and This slime ball espouses. One wonders how Taleban et al came to hold so much sway in the middle east? One can say most of them who belong to that school are not well educated. But what does one say to all the crazies here.. how are they getting away with just absolutely behaving like the lowest denominator possible.. how does Sean Hannity et al exist and have a following? Where is The Lord when you need him?
— Srikanth, Clifton

7.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
The "fair and balanced" news network does it again. FOX TV promotes what they want to promote whether it's true or not. When confronted by a Barack advisor on Andy Martin's lies and anti-semitism, Fox admitted nothing.

8.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
the republicans are desperate.they will try to swift boat obama in the next three weeks.
— observer, us

9.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
Is this for real? It's hard to believe so many people have so little common sense that they would stoop to believing stuff like that. Or, are that many people filled with that much hate? I suppose that's about the best explanation for why the rest of us have had to put up with eight years of the no-class Bush.
— Andy Hain, Carmel, CA

10.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
What a lunatic. A shame that a large number of the American public believes this load of garbage. But then again, most of those that are ignorant enough to believe such ridiculousness probably wouldn't vote for Obama in the first place. Which really is a shame because they would probably be better off with him in the white house than with a Republican.

Thank you for your investigative research.
— Zach Claudino, Visalia, Ca

11.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
We need stronger libel laws in this country. The fact that someone can say and a national news organization can publish allegations that are patently false and intended to do the object of the statement harm without being subject to civil action because the object of the malicious statement is a public figure is just plain wrong.

Fox News is a travesty. Their idea of a good moderated discussion or debate is to have two people talking with raised voices in opposition of each other while Chris Wallace tut, tuts in the middle. The Republican guests are very good at shouting the other person down.

They need to come out of the closet and start wearing brown uniforms.
— Peter Martin, Grapevine, TX

12.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
When you get a moment, would you send memo's out to Senator McCain, Governor Palin, and News Corporation with a special attention to the Fox News Empire.

— Mark, Winnetka, IL

As so many of us on the "left" have realized over the years...vileness, hatred, libel, fascist-type propaganda and despicable lies, completely devoid of one ounce of journalistic
integrity finds a willing home at FOX news...FOX is not alone, there are many, (they are legion)....
— chabuka, Olympia, WA.

14.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
This is the typical GOP strategy; If you can't argue with the message, then smear the messenger. It worked on Gore and Kerry, but I hope Americans can never be fooled again by those who will stop at nothing, tell any lie or break any law, to win or get what they want. We can't afford (literally) another 8 years like the last 8.
— JimZ, Thousand Oaks, CA

15.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
My GOD what a loser. Is this all that is left of the Republican Party? It seems so.
— Scy, Dallas

16.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
It's incredible to me that there are rumors that he's a muslim among the same crowd that also propagated the rumors that he's a radical christian follower of Jeramiah Wright. I believe it shouldn't even matter what religion he is or who he listens to on weekends analyzing old books, but if people want to look at christian values, which candidate has stayed with one wife and which has a divorce.
— Matthew, Sydney, NSW

17.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
What this speaks to is not so much about this crackpot, but how an American news network like Fox and another hate filled and ignorant man such as Hannity would allow such slander to fill the airwaves.

You have an Austrailian, Rupert Murdoch, allowed by this government and Republican John McCain, who for many years was head of the Commerce Committee,to purchase multiple news outlets. It was Johm McCain's committee that let the laws be relaxed over how ownership of Radio, TV and newspapers could be bought. Murdoch has done the same in England and elsewhere and turned legitimate news into tabloid trash.

There is no dividing line between real news and Fox and something akin to the National Inquirer.

Then you hire ignorant bloviators such as Hannity and O'Reiley, who never let facts get in the way of a hate filled propoganda and guess what???? They sell this as real news and give voice to every hated filled crackpot living.

Allowing one man to buy up news outlets is akin to the Republicans allowing the financial institutions to have free wheeling laws that has caused no regulations and has driven our economy into a ditch.

Those laws, in place since the Great Depression, were overturned by Mr. Deregulator, Phil Gramm who is on McCain's short list for Secretary of the Treasury.

So, we have Bush/Cheney who started two wars and are complete failures in everything they have touched, Rupert Murdoch who allows the airwaves to be tainted with hate filled crackpots, and McCain's great friend to deregulate the financial markets and we have the perfect storm of destruction of America.

And Americans are suppose to buy their tripe of "Obama is a Muslim" or "Who is Obama" or "Obama hangs out with terrorists", at the same time these pigs are destroying this once great country? Not that it matters that none of the utterances are in any way true. We are suppose to believe these crackpots, all ?

Not this time !!

— TN60, Tennessee

18.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
Who is Hal Turner, and what is his relationship to Sean Hannity?
— swingvoter, Florida

19.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
What is most puzzling to me about this whole election rubbish is - what is CNN doing to counter this. I have seen nothing. In fact, at times, they have seemed more like Fox than Fox, especially during the primary season, when it came yo Hillary vs Obama. Your newspaper has been late to the game as well. Why is this?
— susan3631, australia

20.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
Obama, Fleger, Wright, and Farrakhan are easily linked together through Trinity United Church of Christ. Fleger attacks white people with 401k's as guilty of Slavery. Fleger defends Wright and Farrakhan.

Then, Farrakhan says, "we owe them the whole damn country!" Them referring to blacks. Get your head out of your ...
— Skeptician, Alabama

21.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
Slime hath a name; it is Andy Martin. He is what might be understood as the "intellectual" fire power behind the recent angry, racist mob gatherings that McCain/Palin rallies have become.
— John, Chicago

22.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
So that's how this stupid nonsense got started. I live not all that far from Indonesia and they simply do not have extremist madrassas in the country, they are not allowed.

The education system is pretty good, the people extremely moderate and mostly always have been and they have always been friends of Australia and the US.
— monty41, Australia

23.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
Fox News has been host to a string of blatantly and latently of anti-semitic incidents in recent weeks, of which giving Herr Martin a half-hour of air-time is only the next-to-the-latest. I'm disappointed you didn't take Herr Hannity more to task (or to task at all for that matter) for not only putting scum like Martin out there, but then refusing to take any responsibility for his actions in doing so---much like the candidate both of these, ahem, men would have us elect President.

By the way, for the latest anti-semitic bit, check out Gov. Huckabee's act earlier this evening---he and ignorant guests going after Speaker Pelosi for letting the House go on "vacation" on September 29, ignoring that it was in fact the Jewish New Year. Perhaps minor in the cosmic scheme, but all part of a pattern, it would seem.
— larnov, N. Hollywood

24.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
So, Fox News allowed Mr. Martin to assert falsely and without challenge that Mr. Obama had once trained to overthrow the government. Is Fox News held to the same standards as the Sci-Fi channel? Forget about running for president for the past year, would a man that trained to overthrow the government be allowed to serve in the U.S. Congress? Do people that watch Fox News believe such things are possible? Maybe I shouldn't be asking questions I don't want to hear the answer to...Fox News owes their viewers an explanation and an apology.
— Leonardo Canneto, Los Angeles

25.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
Anthony R. Martin-Trigona is the real name of the person now posing as Andy Martin.

In the 1970s, Mr. Anthony R. Martin-Trigona was a slum landlord in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, renting apartments to University of Illinois students. It was well-known that Martin-Trigona was a racist and anti-Semite. In once case, when Trigona found out that a property
manager had rented one of his apartments to black students, Trigona forced the tenants out by turning off the utilities to their apartment. The Champaign County Courthouse has the case records of this matter and other matters where Trigona harassed tenants.

Trigona frequently slandered Jews and harassed his female tenants. He frequently sued judges and government agencies alleging, inter alia, grand Jewish conspiracies to prevent his admission to the Illinois Bar.

Trigona, a tall large man, used to walk around town wearing Army fatigues and combat boots, and carrying a large stick. Most people gave him a wide berth.

It is difficult to believe than any news organization or website is giving this racist hatemonger a platform to spew his pathological hatred. Andy Martin is a fraud, a convicted criminal and the worst of America.
— WildOne, Portland

PIZZAQ: What the heck is going on here?

Oh yeah, click for larger.
square dingbats by Adina Weinand
Minneapolis College of Art & Design
Minnesota USA

I have received several inquiries regarding this PizzaQ image, and should explain that it came into our possession as the illustration on one of the very rare postage stamps ever seen outside its originating postal authority, Planet Mollyringwald. Mollyringwald is the most reclusive, closed, secretive, xenophobic, isolationist planet in the Dwingeloo-2 Galaxy. It makes North Korea seem like a 4th of July Kiwanis Club picnic. We know next to nothing about it or its inhabitants, but there is a strong belief among Vleeptron's exobiologists that it is populated exclusively by females.

The Journal of Dwingeloonic Studies, J. Guillam points out that unless such a society is intentionally self-extincting, like the Shaker religious community in North America, it probably has at least one male, whose name might be Scott or Todd or maybe Mark.)

This postage stamp was accidentally or illegally transmitted off Mollyringwald in 22400739 (roughly Earth Year 1994 AD), affixed to the upper right corner of a postcard that said only:

Miss You

* * *

3 square slices of white / ranch spinach pizza.

What on earth is going on here???

I'll need a full, unambiguous explanation. 3 names of people, and 1 species designation, would be nice.

I'm not sure, my memories of the '60s are pretty fuzzy, but I think I was at this Halloween party in Takoma Park, Maryland, or something a lot like it.

13 October 2008

McCain/Palin county campaign chairman's newspaper column about Barack Obama / vote McCain/Palin, become a racist knuckledragger

Well, girls and boys, this is what the McCain presidential campaign has come down to. This is who runs John McCain's campaign on the grassroots level. Here's the voice of today's Republican party, southern Virginia klavern.

Though snippets of Bobby May's column have appeared all over the news in the last 48 hours, this blogger was thoughtful enough to post an image of the entire column on the Web.

And Agence-Vleeptron Presse was thoughtful enough to transcribe the column, so you can read the entire Sample of the Thought of a McCain/Palin Chairman here.

This is the kind of guy you get to stand next to if you go to a rally for John McCain and Sarah Palin. This is who the McCain/Palin campaign appoints as the county chairman. (May is also Treasurer of the Buchanan County Republican Committee.)

Virginia has traditionally been a solid "given" for Republican candidates, but enthusiasm for Obama, particularly in northern Virginia (near Washington DC), has turned that upside-down, and Obama is now polling ahead of McCain. The McCain campaign is ferociously, and nastily, battling for a state which was once in the GOP bag. Elsewhere in Virginia, The Wall Street Journal (recently bought by Rupert Murdoch) reports:

* * *

Sen. McCain's younger brother, Joe, 65, told supporters at a rally in Loudon County, a key northern Virginia battleground, that areas of the state where Obama has stronger support are "communist country." Mr. McCain, a former newspaper reporter and Navy petty officer, later apologized for the statement.

* * *

Anyway, after a brief AP item about Bobby May's dismissal by the McCain campaign, check out Bobby May's column, and get a whiff of the McCain campaign in Virginia. A-VP types every damn word just for you.


Associated Press (US newswire)
Sunday 12 October 2008

McCain drops Virginia
GOP county chairman
over newspaper column

DANVILLE, Va. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign has ousted a prominent Virginia GOP figure who wrote a newspaper column mocking a potential Barack Obama administration.

A McCain spokeswoman said Bobby May was dropped this week from his job as McCain's Buchanan County campaign chairman.

May wrote in his column, "The (clarified) platform of Barack Hussein Obama," that if the Democratic senator were elected he would hire rapper Ludacris to paint the White House black and change the national anthem to the "Black National Anthem."

The column originally appeared in The Voice, a local newspaper.

May has worked on dozens of state Republican campaigns.

- 30 -


The Buchanan County Voice
Buchanan County, Virginia USA
Friday 10 October 2008

The (clarified) platform
of Barack Hussein Obama

[by] Bobby May

In response to criticism that I favor John Mccain for president and only present "one side of the issues," I am listing for your consideration the platform of Barack Hussein Obama as best as I can figure it out after venting all for the hot air, straining out the honey and removing the smelly substance similar to what the old bull left behind.

I think I've did a pretty good job of boiling his positions down to their very essence for the sake of clarity.

HIGH GAS PRICES: Inflate your tires.


ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: Learn to speak Spanish.


IRAQ: Establish time table to turn tail and run.

HEALTH CARE FUNDING CRISIS: Don't get sick. And raise taxes.

ENERGY SOLUTIONS: NO coal mining. NO oil drilling. NO nuclear power. Use solar panels and wind turbines to power cell phones and iPods; walk everywhere you go, buy a bike if you have any money left after huge Obama tax increases are implemented.


JOB CREATION: Raise taxes.

REPARATIONS TO BLACK COMMUNITY: Opposes before Election Day and supports after Election Day.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION: Mandatory Black Liberation Theology courses taught in all churches -- raise taxes to pay for this mandate. Put Rev. Jeremiah Wright in charge. Condemnation of homosexuality from the pulpit will become a Class 1 Felony.

HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE: Raise taxes. And coddle sexual perverts. Give tax breaks for NAMBLA membership fees.




DRUG CRISIS: Raise taxes to pay for free drugs for Obama's inner-city political base.

SPACE EXPLORATION: Raise taxes to send all Republicans to Mars.

ABORTION: Anywhere, anytime, for anyone for any reason up to 9 months and send taxpayers the bill. Encourage Partial Birth Abortion.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Keep buying foreign oil and sending billions to Muslim countries that hate us and want to destroy us.

TAXES: Soak the rich; everyone is hereby declared 'rich' for taxing purposes.

2ND AMENDMENT: Under Obama will only apply to gang-bangers, illegal aliens, Islamo-Fascist terrorists and Senator Jim Webb's aide.

REST OF U.S. CONSTITUTION: Appoint George Soros to update it for 21st Century, assing Socialist/Communist "grand ideas" and deleting First and Fourteeth Amendments upon advice of Buchanan County Democratic Party.

FOREIGN RELATIONS: Appoint Rev. Al Sharpton as Secretary of State, Jesse Jackson as UN Representative and let Bill Clinton handle all other "foreign relations" ... as long as Hillary doesn't find out! And raise taxes.

THE WHITE HOUSE: Hire rapper Ludacris to "paint it black." Taxes to be increased to buy enough paint to do the job plus spray-paint for graffiti.

THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES: Raise taxes to send $845 billion, send most to Africa so the Obama family there can skim off enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream.

POLITICAL CORRUPTION: Yes. (Must in future be based on the Chicago model; no other restrictions will apply as long as Mayor Daley's machine gets a percentage.) And raise taxes.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Change to the "Black National Anthem" by James Weldon Johnson. And raise taxes.

VOTING RIGHTS: Extend franchise to the French, English and especially the Germans due to their level of political sophistication and admiration of "The New Messiah."

STATEHOOD: Extend statehood the The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Kenya, Cuba, Palestine, Freedonia, Bugtussle and "The Free State of McDowell." Then raise taxes.

U.S. CURRENCY: Update photos to reflect U.S. diversity; include pictures of "great Americans" such as Oprah Winfrey, Ludacris, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lousiana Congressman William Jefferson (Obama's new Secretary of the Treasury -- 50 Cent refused position after learning that he would lose his crazy check if he accepted the nomination). And raise taxes.

U.S. FLAG: Replace 50 stars with a star and crescent logo; red stripes changed to green to represent Obama's tree-hugging radical environmentalism and his lack of experience. Flag label pins, having become a substitute for "real patriotism" will henceforth be banned.

And raise taxes.

U.S. MILITARY: Confiscate all weapons, substitute water pistols, pea shooters and bows with suction cup arrows. Replace U.S. flag on uniforms with peace symbols changing uniform color from green to pink and abolishing the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, replacing it with "A queer in every foxhole and a camouflage sex toy in every backpack" requirement. Condoms will be issued instead of bullets and brotherly love encouraged. Barney Frank will be the new Secretary of Defense (renamed Secretary of Peace and Love) and Rosie O'Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, Lindsay Lohan and Rick Boucher will all be made 5-star generals. And raise taxes.

* * * * *

If Barack Obama, a/k/a "The Great One" or "The New Messiah" takes issue with any of the above then I dare him to meet me on County Talk next Friday to debate his plans to divide and conquer America and change Liberty and Freedom to Socialism and Communism.

11 October 2008

Bob gets a (slightly more sensible) new ride / when Bad Things happen to Good Quakers / always inspect sack for cobras before entering embassy

Click images for larger.

Hi B & D --

Please mourn with me the sad farewell to my heroic, helpful and ridiculous pickup truck -- though it may Keep On Truckin' as a donation to Smith Vocational High School. When next you see me wheeling around, it will be in a far more realistic and sensible pre-owned Honda CR-V, from Pleasant Journey, whose All-Wheel Drive will still give me the illusion that no Adventure or helpful chore is beyond my reach in any season. Cynthia took a test drive and has pronounced it acceptable, and even Lots Of Fun.

Last April, I was lazily trying to filch a Web version of [John Kenneth] Galbraith's "The Great Crash," and found some snippets on the website of an Australian crystallographer who also admires this funny and spooky history.

Our correspondence turned to Herbert Hoover, and I had the fun of introducing the crystallographer to Herbert and Lou Hoover's 1912 translation, still the only English version, of Agricola's 1556 sourcebook of the mining sciences, De Re Metallica. He rushed out and bought the Dover edition -- and so did I, it's a beautiful window into the past, and a magnificent scholarly achievement, which the Hoovers did as geology students at Stanford. In the mining communities of Renaissance Europe, De Re Metallica was often chained to the church altar, so the priest could read and translate it for the miners. The Hoovers did lots of lab experiments to clarify obscure technical points in Agricola.

On-line version at

or borrow my gorgeous Dover.

Galbraith is not very kind to Hoover; few Americans are, or are ever likely to be. But yesterday a book I didn't even realize I owned popped out and open, and gave me the niftiest treat.

Thought I'd pass this along, thought you might be interested. The book, of course, is yours for the asking.


* * * * * * *

Dear Lachlan C.,

Yesterday, largely by magical principles, a book in my collection jumped off the shelf, and I wanted to steer you to a remarkable chapter, "Herbert Hoover and the Crisis of American Individualism," that's just given me enormous surprise and pleasure.

Its insights are certainly timely. I dearly wish they weren't. I wish these were just curiosities of absolutely no significance to current events. But like the last go-round in '29, real people all over the world have been plunged deeply into fear, and even tangible suffering has started. The parallels, and in many cases the identities to Galbraith's account are startling.

The book, still highly regarded in history circles, is "The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made it," by Richard Hofstadter (New York: A.A. Knopf, 1948). It was reprinted as a Random House / Vintage Books paperback, so should be easy to get your hands on.

There's good news about an e-text, and your credentials may be the Open Sesame to accessing it. (Mine sure aren't.) It's archived here:

Galbraith was a New Deal (Franklin D. Roosevelt) liberal and prominent Democrat. President Kennedy appointed him U.S. Ambassador to India. (He bragged that he was the first ambassador to insist on examining the cobra-catcher's sack before the cobra catcher entered the embassy grounds, rather than upon leaving, when he would be paid by the snake.)

Hofstadter was well to the left of Galbraith, a prominent academic Marxist, and a strident critic of capitalism. God bless academic freedom, private universities, and tenure, because he seems to have escaped the political terror of the McCarthy era of the 1950s, and his books were a string of popular and highly honored mainstream successes. He was a prof at Columbia University in New York City. (Politically, New York City can often only be explained or comprehended as a different planet.)

So Hoftadter should be the harshest critic and basher of Hoover. But you'll be startled at his unbridled admiration for Hoover. Ultimately his portrait of Hoover's private career and public achievements can only explain what happened to Hoover in '29 as classic Greek tragedy; Hofstadter leaves us convinced that no man ever worked harder, more brilliantly, or more honestly, no man ever deserved better -- but was punished more brutally. What happened to him can only be attributed to malevolent gods -- and to Hoover's sincere conviction that the laissez-faire system that made him rich and shot him to the top of world affairs would spontaneously heal itself.

A bit of local interest: At 23, Hoover's first challenge was to open new gold mines in Coolgardie [Australia]. (Are they still producing?) From there he went from mining success to success all over the world.

Like Hofstadter, all my beliefs, background and prejudices entitle me to the universal American villification of Hoover. I come from a family of True Believers that FDR and his New Deal saved America (and, shortly thereafter, the entire civilized world). I should reject out of hand any and all suggestions that Hoover was a great national and world figure.

But, for all his philosophical faults and blindnesses, and for all the Great Depression's suffering, the good Quaker gentleman and Latin scholar manages to keep shining through. I hope you can get your hands on this very interesting account.

Hope all's well with you, your travels, and your work.

Bob Merkin
Northampton Massachusetts USA

09 October 2008

this is a test / hope it still wiggles

Sure, click.

GRRRRRR!!! it's not wiggling. That like totally sucks.

Go HERE (the Secret Part of the Internet where my old website is hidden), it wiggles there.

This is a test
to see if the upper left image wiggles for you (and for me). It wiggled when I created it about 10 years ago, and it was still wiggling today when I hunted it down in a Secret Corner of the Internet Which You Can't Find, haha, and I copied it.

The lower left image shows two wisecracking American scientist guys talking to a bushy-eyebrowed Alien guy from Planet Metaluna. The Alien guy FedEx'ed the wisecracking scientist guys an Interocitor Kit, they followed the instructions and built the Kit, they turned it on, and there was the Alien guy talking to them on the screen.

The upper left image is my Heathkit Interocitor IR-55, which I use to teleconference with my pals on Vleeptron when the Zeta Beam isn't working.

You can rent "This Island Earth" (1955), or you can rent "Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie," where a janitor from Minnesota and his robot pals are forced by Evil Scientists to watch "This Island Earth" and make rude, vulgar comments about the cheezy old sci-fi movies they're watching in the movie theater aboard the Satellite o Love. Later Crow the Robot remembers he has an Interocitor Kit in his bedroom, they find it under the bed and they build it, and they chat with another Alien Guy from Metaluna.

Any questions? Did it wiggle for you?

01 October 2008

ye Island of Hostile & Suspicious Strangers in the Great Wet Sea of Planet Hoon

Click, gets larger.

Somewhere in the vast expanse of the Great Wet Sea of Planet Hoon,
there is a small, uncharted desert island. Only marooned, shipwrecked people live there, and those who live there never escape; no ship or airplane has ever found the island or rescued any of its miserable castaways.

Everybody on the island finds a hiding place and scrupulously avoids everybody else. For all you know, your neighbors might be cannibals or pirates or worse. There's utterly no Social Life or Romance or Team Sports or Holiday Get-Togethers. Everybody's a suspicious, hidden hermit.

There's not much on this Island of Hostile & Suspicious Strangers to keep body and soul alive -- a few coconuts, a little driftwood to make a fire, a few scraggly seabirds and eggs, a plump crab now and then.

Now and then someone finds an old bottle of rum or a can of tobacco -- little surprises which aren't good for your health, but will make you a little less miserable.

An odd kind of Trade has sprung up on the island. At night a castaway will stuff something into a sack and sneak to the edge of a small clearing in the middle of the island. He tosses his sack into the clearing, while another castaway does the same.

Then the two rush out, grab the other sack, and run back to their hiding places, where they open the new sack and discover what their swap has given them.

Sometimes, safe at home, they open the new sack and all they got for their risk and trouble is rocks. That really pisses off the castaway -- especially if he just gave away a coconut or a tasty crab.

They can see (and smell) who their trading partner was each night, and they all have long memories.

They have to keep trading, because the few valuable or enjoyable things are scattered in different corners of the island. If you don't keep trading your stuff and hoping for good stuff in the new sack, you'll die.

Your only chance of surviving is to be smart, clever, tough, quick-witted -- and thus reasonably successful at these sack swaps night after night.

So every castaway develops a Strategy -- a personal mix of Suspicion and Trust, of Hope and Grudge, of Risk and Caution, of Punishment and Reward.

If you want, you can flavor your Strategy with old Sunday School lessons about Charity, Trust, Honesty, Faith, Love, Brotherhood, Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You.

If you want, you can flavor your Strategy with your old beliefs that People Are No Damn Good, Every Man For Himself, Always Look Out For Number One, Do Unto Others Before They Do It To You.

Years go by and thousands of two-sack swaps take place. Sometimes a castaway who sucked as a trader dies. New castaways wash up on the beach, find hiding places, stumble on the nightly trading ritual, and develop a personal Strategy.

This is a rough description of Life & Death on the Desert Island of Hostile & Suspicious Strangers.

Any questions? I'll try to answer them as best I can.

But here's my question: Where is all this going? If you were cast away on this Island, what kind of Sack Trader would you become? What kind of Strategy do you think would keep you alive and healthy? What kind of Strategy is the fast track to early death?

Who survives, and who perishes, on the Island of Hostile & Suspicious Strangers in the Great Wet Sea of Planet Hoon?

George Soros has more to say about the financial crisis and the bailout plan

Look, I got no idea what the hell is going on with the financial crisis and the bailout plan. All I know is I'm investing heavily in the only commodity which is guaranteed to increase in value no matter what happens: halvah. We got a half-ton of the stuff in the basement, we're sitting pretty.

Meanwhile, another e-mail from my buddy the gazillionaire George Soros. (He also speaks fluent Esperanto.) It is slightly possible he has some insight into this slightly confusing mess. This column first appeared in today's online edition of The Financial Times. Read it, memorize a few phrases and ideas, and the people you talk to for the next few days will think you're smarter than Sarah Palin.

$ ₵ € ₱ ₰
₯ ₮ ₨ ₤ ₣

Recapitalise the banking system

by George Soros

The emergency legislation currently before Congress was ill-conceived - or more accurately, not conceived at all. As Congress tried to improve what Treasury originally requested, an amalgam plan has emerged that consists of Treasury's original Troubled Asset Relief Programme (Tarp) and a quite different capital infusion programme in which the government invests and stabilises weakened banks and profits from the economy's eventual improvement. The capital infusion approach will cost tax payers less in future years, and may even make money for them.

Two weeks ago the Treasury did not have a plan ready - that is why it had to ask for total discretion in spending the money. But the general idea was to bring relief to the banking system by relieving banks of their toxic securities and parking them in a government-owned fund so that they would not be dumped on the market at distressed prices. With the value of their investments stabilised, banks would then be able to raise equity capital.

The idea was fraught with difficulties. The toxic securities in question are not homogenous and in any auction process the sellers are liable to dump the dregs on to the government fund. Moreover, the scheme addresses only one half of the underlying problem - the lack of credit availability. It does very little to enable house owners to meet their mortgage obligations and it does not address the foreclosure problem. With house prices not yet at the bottom, if the government bids up the price of mortgage backed securities, the taxpayers are liable to loose; but if the government does not pay up, the banking system does not experience much relief and cannot attract equity capital from the private sector.

A scheme so heavily favouring Wall Street over Main Street was politically unacceptable. It was tweaked by the Democrats, who hold the upper hand, so that it penalises the financial institutions that seek to take advantage of it. The Republicans did not want to be left behind and imposed a requirement that the tendered securities should be insured against loss at the expense of the tendering institution. The rescue package as it is now constituted is an amalgam of multiple approaches. There is now a real danger that the asset purchase programme will not be fully utilised because of the onerous conditions attached to it.

Nevertheless, a rescue package was desperately needed and, in spite of its shortcomings, it would change the course of events. As late as last Monday, September 22, Treasury secretary Hank Paulson hoped to avoid using taxpayers' money; that is why he allowed Lehman Brothers to fail. Tarp establishes the principle that public funds are needed and if the present programme does not work, other programmes will be instituted. We will have crossed the Rubicon.

Since Tarp was ill-conceived, it is liable to arouse a negative response from America's creditors. They would see it as an attempt to inflate away the debt. The dollar is liable to come under renewed pressure and the government will have to pay more for its debt, especially at the long end. These adverse consequences could be mitigated by using taxpayers' funds more effectively.

Instead of just purchasing troubled assets the bulk of the funds ought to be used to recapitalise the banking system. Funds injected at the equity level are more high-powered than funds used at the balance sheet level by a minimal factor of twelve - effectively giving the government $8,400bn to re-ignite the flow of credit. In practice, the effect would be even greater because the injection of government funds would also attract private capital. The result would be more economic recovery and the chance for taxpayers to profit from the recovery.

This is how it would work. The Treasury secretary would rely on bank examiners rather than delegate implementation of Tarp to Wall Street firms. The bank examiners would establish how much additional equity capital each bank needs in order to be properly capitalised according to existing capital requirements. If managements could not raise equity from the private sector they could turn to Tarp.
Tarp would invest in preference shares with warrants attached. The preference shares would carry a low coupon (say 5 per cent) so that banks would find it profitable to continue lending, but shareholders would pay a heavy price because they would be diluted by the warrants; they would be given the right, however, to subscribe on Tarp's terms. The rights would be tradeable and the secretary of the Treasury would be instructed to set the terms so that the rights would have a positive value.

Private investors, including me, are likely to jump at the opportunity. The recapitalised banks would be allowed to increase their leverage, so they would resume lending. Limits on bank leverage could be imposed later, after the economy has recovered. If the funds were used in this way, the recapitalisation of the banking system could be achieved with less than $500bn of public funds.

A revised emergency legislation could also provide more help to homeowners. It could require the Treasury to provide cheap financing for mortgage securities whose terms have been renegotiated, based on the Treasury's cost of borrowing. Mortgage service companies could be prohibited from charging fees on foreclosures, but they could expect the owners of the securities to provide incentives for renegotiation as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are already doing.

Banks deemed to be insolvent would not be eligible for recapitalization by the capital infusion programme, but would be taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The FDIC would be recapitalised by $200bn as a temporary measure. FDIC, in turn could remove the $100,000 limit on insured deposits. A revision of the emergency legislation along these lines would be more equitable, have a better chance of success, and cost taxpayers less in the long run.

The writer is chairman of Soros Fund Management