Wednesday, March 31, 2010


This movie reminded me of HBO’s Grey Gardens because it could’ve really sucked and it didn’t. It is actually fucking great. The best time I’ve had at the movies in forever and just in general satisfying with a capitol “S”. Kristen Stewart seriously deserves an academy award for her performance as Joan Jett. Not to brag, but I know Joan and was really worried she would be portrayed as a boring tomboy in the sick new tradition of “girls kick ass” flicks, but she wasn’t. Stewart portrayed her as a sexy, complicated punk who, quite simply was born to be onstage. Everyone at the after party was blown away by how well Stewart did. There is this certain hyper active kid meets cat that swallowed the canary face that Joan makes when she is really happy that Stewart nailed perfectly. If you haven’t seen this yet run don’t walk to your nearest movie theatre.

from Kathleen Hanna's personal blog

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

To Have and To Hold: A Film About Vinyl Records

I see some friends in this trailer, and just wrote the director on his vimeo page, this looks like a worthwhile project. Don't see a lot of those these days . . .
Coming soon?

Add this one to your list of must see vinyl inspired documentaries and movies. Director Jony Lyle gives a quick teaser of his upcoming film entitled To Have & To Hold, which Lyle describes as “a ‘musicmentory’ to celebrate the age of vinyl records.”

The film promises enough archive footage, records rooms, music collections, pressing plants, and rare vinyl to satisfy even the most die hard physical music addicts. In addition to its irresistible collectible eye candy, To Have & To Hold, which is scheduled for a 2010 release, features interviews with such notable vinyl aficionados as Questlove, Chuck D, Bobbito Garcia, DJ Amir, Bruce Lundvall, Christian Marclay, and Paul Mawhinney.

To Have & To Hold - Taster Tape from Jony Lyle on Vimeo.

Thanks DangerousMinds

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hummer Stagecoach - A Statement of Action

Cool statement...
Known as the CEO Stagecoach, the horse-drawn Hummer is the work of New York artist Jeremy Dean.
Jeremy Dean is an artist that set out on a unique mission: Take a massive HUMMER H2 and convert it into a horse-drawn carriage. The goal? To show just how screwed and unsustainable the auto-industry has become.

Dubbed the “Futurama”, Dean sees it as a symbol of where we’re headed unless things change drastically. From his site,

“As I see it, this is a time machine from the future, from a world destroyed through over consumption. This is my equivalent of GM’s Futurama and the logical conclusion of that thinking, the new “Brighter and better world of tomorrow. Come lets journey into the future… What will we see?” In this future world we will have learned little from the mistakes of the past, repeating the cycle of historical amnesia, human nature will once again be the strongest motivating factor.”

“In this apocalyptic world there will be a massive equality gap between the haves and the have-nots. A small few will possess all the wealth and will desire the best of the best. Energy will be scarce and expensive, but of little concern for the elite who travel in lavishly styled horse carts, a throwback to the Depression Chariot, and an earlier time in history; all of humanity is moving backwards.”

thanks to Presurfer and Ecorazzi.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

These conservative MOTHER FUCKING ASSHOLES have gone too far for too long!

So just as many did after the Bush election debacle, I am calling for our national politicians to seriously consider a way to split this country in two. Red states take way more federal dollars than they give (speaking of Socialism- I WISH!), they won't last too long without us and even if they could or did, that's fine with me, I'm just sick of them dragging this country down as they do. Hating, and threatening, over and over again, with fear mongering that's sick and pathetic, not to mention incredibly greedy or just plain ignorant. LOSERS like Beck, Rush, Palin, Coulter, and the politicians not putting them in their place? You all should be at the least ashamed, because I know you know better, as fucked as you all are, you're just taking advantage of the ignorance that's out there, it's disgusting. This weeks death threats to people who support Health Care reform? Tea party ignoramouses calling supporters of this legislation "Nigger" and "Faggot", breaking windows of HEALTH CARE SUPPORTERS!?! Your time is over and has been for a long time. So now if you really want it your way, please go speak to your representatives in the government, speak to those people who follow you and let's get this ball moving, let's do it without violence and get it done. You want it, we want it, let's just get it done once and for all, all the liberals, intellectuals, democrats, greens, and progressives in one place and all the greedy bastards, bitches, and stupid motherfuckers that follow them in another. I'm ready, let's go! (apologies to my friends and the free thinkers in places like Austin, TX surrounded by the loons, i'm sorry, you'll probably have to move, but it will be worth it, we'll have single payer health care, financial regulation, jobs and all without polluting the environment, correct?)

ANYWAY- here's a bit of the cover story from the new issue of The Nation magazine:

Leftists like to say that another world is possible, but I was never quite sure of that until I started reading tea party websites. There, a government of leftists is not only possible, it's on the cusp of seizing permanent power, having broken American capitalism and replaced it with a socialist state. Down that rabbit hole, Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel are communists, and "The Left"--which encompasses everyone from the Democratic Leadership Council to Maoist sectarians--is a disciplined and near omnipotent army marching in lockstep to a decades-old master plan for domination called the "Cloward-Piven strategy" or, as of January 20, 2009, "Cloward-Piven government."

What is this plot? According to David Horowitz, who apparently coined the expression, Cloward-Piven is "the strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis." Named after sociologists and antipoverty and voting rights activists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, who first elucidated it in a May 2, 1966, article for The Nation called "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty," the Cloward-Piven strategy, in Horowitz's words, "seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse." Like a fun-house-mirror version of Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine theory, the Cloward-Piven strategy dictates that the left will exploit that crisis to push through unpopular, socialist policies in a totalitarian manner.

Since Obama's election and the financial crash of 2008, Horowitz's description has been taken up by a clutch of tea party propagandists--from TV and radio hosts Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin to WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah, National Review editor Stanley Kurtz and The Obama Nation author Jerome Corsi--to explain how both events could have happened, here, in the U-S-A. In their historical narrative, it was Cloward and Piven's article that gave ACORN the idea to start peddling subprime mortgages to poor minorities in the 1980s, knowingly laying the groundwork for a global economic meltdown nearly thirty years later. Beck calls Cloward and Piven the two people who are "fundamentally responsible for the unsustainability and possible collapse of our economic system." It was Cloward and Piven who had the diabolical idea of registering (illegal or nonexistent) poor and minority voters through Project Vote and the Motor Voter Act, thus guaranteeing Obama's "fraudulent" victory. And it is the Cloward-Piven strategy that guides the Obama administration's every move to this day, as it seeks to ram through healthcare reform, economic stimulus and financial regulation (all of which, in reality, have enjoyed majority support in many polls taken during the last two years).
This cover story continues at The Nation here.

Listen to some of the folks who left messages for Rep. Stupak after the health bill passed:

Saturday, March 27, 2010


from Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds

Rule #1: Do not wear your teabag hat out in the rain.

John Avlon, author of Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America, writes of a scary new Harris poll that says volumes about the level of political literacy in this country. If this is to be believed, it’s appalling stuff.
From The Daily Beast:

67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist.
57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim
45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was “not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president”
38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did”
Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama “may be the Antichrist.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The T.A.M.I. show

from DangerousMinds

[Monday] marks the first time The T.A.M.I. Show has seen a proper release since it was in theaters over 40 years ago, although bootlegs have been easy to come by since the late 80s. James Brown’s inspired performance—perhaps the finest moment of his entire career—will knock your socks off.

Filmed at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, October 29, 1964, the performers also included Chuck Berry, Gerry And The Pacemakers, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Lesley Gore, Jan & Dean, Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, The Supremes, The Barbarians and The Rolling Stones. The DVD, put out by the mighty Shout Factory contains restored footage of the Beach Boys performance which was cut from the theatrical release.

And from Wikipedia

The T.A.M.I. Show is a 1964 concert film, released by American International Pictures. It includes performances by numerous popular rock and roll and R&B musicians from the United States and England. It was shot with TV cameras by director Steve Binder and his crew from The Steve Allen Show, and was the second of a small handful of productions to be recorded in Electronovision[1] - one of the first high-definition video cameras that captured somewhere between 1000-1100 lines at 25fps. Then, via kinescope recording, it was converted to film with sufficient enhanced resolution to allow big-screen enlargement.

The concert was held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 28 and 29, 1964. Free tickets were distributed to local high school students. Jan and Dean emceed the event and performed its theme song, "Here They Come (From All Over the World)". Jack Nitzsche was the show's music director. The acronym "T.A.M.I." was used inconsistently in the show's publicity to mean both Teenage Awards Music International and Teen Age Music International. The best footage from each of the two concert dates was edited into the film, which was released on December 29, 1964.

The T.A.M.I. Show is particularly well known for James Brown's performance, which features his legendary dance moves and remarkable energy. In interviews, Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones has claimed that choosing to follow Brown & The Famous Flames was the biggest mistake of their careers,[2] because no matter how well they performed, they could not top him. In a web-published interview,[1] Binder takes credit for persuading the Stones to follow James Brown, and serve as the centerpiece for the grand finale where all the performers dance together onstage. In addition, throughout the film, were numerous go-go dancers in the background or beside the performers. Among them were a very young Toni Basil and Teri Garr. It also featured The Supremes performing three back-to-back #1 singles, signaling their reign as the most successful girl group of that era. Diana Ross would go on to work with the director Steve Binder on several of her television specials including her first solo television special and more importantly her iconic Central Park concert, Live from New York Worldwide: For One and for All.

The film was shown unedited and in its entirety on cable television in Canada in 1984 (20th anniversary of its release), on the First Choice Network. However, there has never been an authorized home video release of the film in any format until the authorized DVD release in March 2010, though bootlegs have abounded. (A DVD release of the complete film by First Look Studios was planned for 2007, but subsequently withdrawn.) Also, because of a rights dispute, the footage of The Beach Boys' performance was deleted from all prints made after the movie's brief initial theatrical run, and is therefore absent from most of the bootlegs. All of the four Beach Boys tunes eventually surfaced on DVD in Sights and Sounds of Summer, a special CD/DVD edition of Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Story of Bottled Water

From our great friends at Free Range Studios - creativity with a conscience: The Story of Stuff crusade continues, and this time Annie's taking on one of the dumbest products on the market: bottled water.

What's wrong with this seemingly healthy refreshment? You'll be shocked to find out that it's often less clean, less tasty, and way more polluting than the water from your tap. This is the story that water bottlers Coke, Pepsi, and Nestlé don't want you to hear -- but thanks to Annie, millions of you will. Be one of the first and help spread the word at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Great Thing About the Health Care Law That Has Passed? It Will Save Republican Lives, Too (An Open Letter to Republicans from Michael Moore)‏

from MM on Monday, March 22nd, 2010

To My Fellow Citizens, the Republicans:

Thanks to last night's vote, that child of yours who has had asthma since birth will now be covered after suffering for her first nine years as an American child with a pre-existing condition.

Thanks to last night's vote, that 23-year-old of yours who will be hit one day by a drunk driver and spend six months recovering in the hospital will now not go bankrupt because you will be able to keep him on your insurance policy.

Thanks to last night's vote, after your cancer returns for the third time -- racking up another $200,000 in costs to keep you alive -- your insurance company will have to commit a criminal act if they even think of dropping you from their rolls.

Yes, my Republican friends, even though you have opposed this health care bill, we've made sure it is going to cover you, too, in your time of need. I know you're upset right now. I know you probably think that if you did get wiped out by an illness, or thrown out of your home because of a medical bankruptcy, that you would somehow pull yourself up by your bootstraps and survive. I know that's a comforting story to tell yourself, and if John Wayne were still alive I'm sure he could make that into a movie for you.

But the reality is that these health insurance companies have only one mission: To take as much money from you as they can -- and then work like demons to deny you whatever coverage and help they can should you get sick.

So, when you find yourself suddenly broadsided by a life-threatening illness someday, perhaps you'll thank those pinko-socialist, Canadian-loving Democrats and independents for what they did Sunday evening.

If it's any consolation, the thieves who run the health insurance companies will still get to deny coverage to adults with pre-existing conditions for the next four years. They'll also get to cap an individual's annual health care reimbursements for the next four years. And if they break the pre-existing ban that was passed last night, they'll only be fined $100 a day! And, the best part? The law will require all citizens who aren't poor or old to write a check to a private insurance company. It's truly a banner day for these corporations.

So don't feel too bad. We're a long way from universal health care. Over 15 million Americans will still be uncovered -- and that means about 15,000 will still lose their lives each year because they won't be able to afford to see a doctor or get an operation. But another 30,000 will live. I hope that's ok with you.

If you don't mind, we're now going to get busy trying to improve upon this bill so that all Americans are covered and so the grubby health insurance companies will be put out of business -- because when it comes to helping the sick, no one should ever be allowed to ask the question, "How much money can we save by making this poor bastard suffer?"

Please, my Republican friends, if you can, take a quiet moment away from your AM radio and cable news network this morning and be happy for your country. We're doing better. And we're doing it for you, too.

Michael Moore

P.S. I'll have more to say on this tonight [Monday], live on CNN, at 9pm ET. I'll be talking with Larry King about the health care bill and where we go from here, considering we still don't have universal health care.

P.P.S. In case you missed these photos in [Sunday's] NY Times Sunday Magazine... That's the results of seven years of madness. The Iraq War began its 8th year this weekend. How can we remove more of those responsible for this tragedy in November?

Monday, March 22, 2010

TEN Immediate Benefits of Health Care Reform

via Crooks And Liars
Here are ten benefits which come online within six months of the President’s signature on the health care bill:

1. Adult children may remain as dependents on their parents’ policy until their 27th birthday
2. Children under age 19 may not be excluded for pre-existing conditions
3. No more lifetime or annual caps on coverage
4. Free preventative care for all
5. Adults with pre-existing conditions may buy into a national high-risk pool until the exchanges come online. While these will not be cheap, they’re still better than total exclusion and get some benefit from a wider pool of insureds.
6. Small businesses will be entitled to a tax credit for 2009 and 2010, which could be as much as 50% of what they pay for employees’ health insurance.
7. The “donut hole” closes for Medicare patients, making prescription medications more affordable for seniors.
8. Requirement that all insurers must post their balance sheets on the Internet and fully disclose administrative costs, executive compensation packages, and benefit payments.
9. Authorizes early funding of community health centers in all 50 states (Bernie Sanders’ amendment). Community health centers provide primary, dental and vision services to people in the community, based on a sliding scale for payment according to ability to pay.
10. AND no more rescissions. Effective immediately, you can’t lose your insurance because you get sick.
Thanks DangerousMinds

Certainly not all that i want to see, but at least a start. I'll be posting an open letter from Michael Moore (one of the most important voices for Single Payer Health Care in America) , with his thoughts for his Republican friends tomorrow.

Bamboo "Flow Lights" are Powered by the Wind!

How do you create effective lighting when there’s no way to get to the grid? Leave it to a couple of ingenious designers to come up with a beautiful and self-sufficient bamboo lighting system! Designed by Ingendesign, the ‘Flow’ light is powered by constant prevailing coastal winds and is built to be almost completely biodegradable.

Expansive, dazzling and bustling during the day, the Colombian seaside quickly becomes a desolate and dangerous destination at night. The inability to channel electricity to the shore has created serious problems keeping beaches well-lit and safe past sun down.

Ingendesign’s ‘Flow’ light offers a self-sustaining public lighting solution that is based on the principle of vertical wind power plants. Taking the shape of a spiral, not only does the form make for a compelling aesthetic, but it is able to capture wind from any direction. Each of the blades’ tips have been incised angularly in order to project light downwards to passerbys and so that the motion can be seen at a distance. With light sources positioned at the ends of each of the wind blades, depending on the force of the wind, the play of light is abundant, ranging from continuous lighting to more deliberate waving movements.

In a simple construction made from bamboo and recyclable electronic components – LEDs, wires and dynamo – the lamp is relieved from any major eco-impact. Bamboo itself is one of the most ample and cheapest materials found in Colombia, and by using this as the base material, the lamps are almost completely biodegradable (sans the electronics) and can be locally sourced, making for easy manufacturability by the native population.

This spring, Ingendesign will start building 1:1 prototypes to be placed along Lake Balaton in Hungary, where wind-conditions are comparable to those along Colombian shores. If the tests are deemed successful, the team plans to install the lamps next summer.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader: A Discussion on Healthcare, Politics and Reform

from DemocracyNow

Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio announced on Wednesday he would switch his vote on the Democrat-led healthcare reform bill and support the legislation even though it does not create a public option. Kucinich’s decision came two days after he spoke with President Obama aboard Air Force One on their way to a rally in his district. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we spend the hour with Kucinich and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader for an in-depth discussion on healthcare, the Obama administration, the Iraq war and more.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Trailer for Parallel Lines: five short films that use the same dialogue

This concept looks pretty great.

Parallel Lines is a project by from Ridley Scott Associates that will be released April 8. It's a neat premise!

Five directors were each challenged to create short films in different genres using the same dialogue. The five 5 beautifully diverse films are by Greg Fay, Jake Scott, Johnny Hardstaff, Carl Erik Rinsch and animators Hi-Sim and their genres range from drama, animation, action, to sci-fi and thriller.

thanks, BoingBoing

Friday, March 19, 2010

Vile Incident at Tea Party Protest in Ohio

from Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds

[[Video removed, deemed unnecessary, writing much more important]]
If there was an American Idol for total assholism, the guy in this clip—you won’t wonder who I’m talking about, either—would be the unanimous winner. By national acclaim. A round of applause for the biggest fuckwit in America, please!

Hell, Chris Matthews even got Republican Mike Spence to admit this guy/these people is/are “despicable.” This is pretty much as low as it goes. Watch as this idiot literally starts throwing dollar bills at a man with Parkinson’s disease who is pro-health care reform. This turned my stomach in a way that not one lousy clip of the wingnuts and morons at the McCain/Palin rallies in 2008 could. This man (and the rest of these low IQ tea partying meanies) is a vile piece of shit. You have to wonder what went through his tiny mind (pride?) when he saw himself on television last night.

If that man can somehow be identified—anyone in Columbus, Ohio recognize him?—he should be fucked with mercilessly (identity theft would be a nice start). If there is a God, he’s not on this man’s side. Karma’s a bitch, shithead. I can’t wait until it comes back to bite your dumb ass…

But there is actually some good that comes out of incident like this, something that is so repulsive and mean and just… dumb: Eventually the public looks at creeps like him, especially younger people, and it turns them right off to anything the Republican Patry have to say to them. Forever. GOPers, tea partying ignoramuses, your days are numbered. You are the past, not the future, of America. The demographic tide will bury you and there is nothing you can do about it. Nothing at all. Good riddance. Fuck off. America doesn’t need you.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who Will Survive the Great Texas Textbook Rewrite?

Henry Rollins Straight Talk Espresso

From a letter to Thomas Jefferson written by John Adams, January 23, 1825:
Books that cannot bear examination certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration by penal laws…. The substance and essence of Christianity as I understand it is eternal and unchangeable and will bear examination forever but it has been mixed with extraneous ingredients, which I think will not bear examination and they ought to be separated.
Perhaps the powers that be in Texas consider Thomas Jefferson an extraneous ingredient and will seek to extract our third president and other major figures in American history from their school’s textbooks. It seems that there will be a bit of revision in Texas, and I fear it will be big—as things often are in the Lone Star State.

What will be the fate of Charles Darwin and Martin Luther King after the great cleansing, I wonder? I fear for the New Deal reforms and any other bits of history that may somehow be seen as inconvenient truths to the architects of the Great Texan Rewrite. I cringe when I think that the Civil Rights movement may magically vanish from the state’s history or be seen as an uppity peasant uprising. What will become of the Emancipation Proclamation? The outcome of the Civil War?

I understand a desire for nostalgia. I still listen to records I bought as a teenager. But a return to the dim-bulb cruelty and religious fascism of the past is a little too far in the way-back machine for me. What do you bring back next, the Bubonic Plague? The Texas Witch Trials!

Poorly educated people are not an asset unless you desire citizens who cannot think critically. Now why would any state want that? If I wanted my state to secede, I would need the voters to see that it is in their best interest to detach from a nation full of infidels and unpatriotic enemies. If it were me, I would start in the schools and the books that students read.

A man born in the great state of Connecticut once said, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.” I am sure he will get quite the sheen in the new history books of Texas.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Noam Chomsky Shares his thoughts
on the meaning of Love

from Big Think via Dangerous Minds

Big Think is a website devoted to giving some big brains a platform to spout off on topics meaningful to them, and hopefully to other citizens of this planet we call Earth. With a cadre of boldface names like Ricky Gervais, Robert Wright, Stephen Fry and Ray Kurzweil, Big Think aims to put its readers in touch with… well, big thinkers on topics like sustainability, religion, alternate energy sources, artificial intelligence, history, justice, cultural identity, politics and much more. It is what tends to be called a “heady brew”!

Perusing the site this morning, I watched this sincere short video with M.I.T. professor Noam Chomsky—probably America’s single most important intellectual—discussing the concept of what love is. He admits at the outset that he really doesn’t know, but he takes a good stab at it anyway. Big Think does a great job at fulfilling its mission statement with articles and videos quite akin to TED conference speeches. If you like TED talks (and who doesn’t?) then Big Think is probably a site you’ll want to bookmark, pronto.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I just uploaded a bunch of photos for people to use, NOT companies or theives.

I've opened a flickr account and have posted a bunch of photos free to use on any web pages or websites that don't sell anything, a link to my books page would be nice in return. Thanks and enjoy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

on a Monday, for you.

Reggie Watts in FUCK SHIT STACK

Classic hip-hop commentary on itself.

+ here's some true old school FUNKADELIC for good measure

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dark Secrets of the CIA

Tim Weiner on the dark history of the CIA, including the recent revelation of CIA suicide agents.


Thanks, DangerousMinds

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Reference Of Female-Fronted Punk Rock: 1977-89

This is a pretty insane project put together by my pal Vince B. from San Francisco a few years back. As the title indicates, this is a homemade 12 x CD-R (!) compilation of punk bands fronted by female vocalists from 1977 to 1989. More like a giant mixtape than a compilation, as he only made 36 copies which he sent to friends and people who submitted material. You may notice that some of the bands didn't have a steady female vocalist (The Lewd, etc.) but he still included songs that were sung by another member of the band. This is as international as it gets, with stuff ranging from world famous Blondie or Crass to the most obscure Eastern European cassette compilation veterans. The boxset came packaged in a handnumbered fancy translucent lunchbox enclosing all 12 CD-Rs, a stack of full-colored cards featuring comprehensive tracklist and artwork/info, as well as a manga pin-up figure! Talk about a labor of love.

Since this is such a massive compilation that takes time to listen to and digest, I'm gonna split it in 3 posts. Here are discs 1-4, make sure you stay tuned for the rest.

(Feb. 24th update: part 2 and part 3 are now available)

DISC 1: Download link

1. Blutsturz - Schweigen (Demo) (Germany, 198?)
2. Penetration - Money Talks (England, 1977)
3. Pyhäkoulu - Painajainen (Finland, 1986)
4. VulpeSS - Me Gusta Ser Una Zorra (Spain, 1983)
5. The Comes - Panic (Japan, 1984)
6. Suicide Squad - New Kids Army (Australia, 1980)
7. Rivolta Dell'Odio - Altari Del Terrore (Italy, 1984)
8. Sick Things - Anti-Social Disease (England, 1977)
9. Accident (a.k.a Accidents) - True Detective (USA, 1979)
10. Dishrags - I Don't Love You (Canada, 1979)
11. Último Resorte - Hogar, Dulce Hogar (Demo) (Spain, 1981)
12. The Fastbacks - Someone Else's Room (USA, 1981)
13. Anorexia - Rapist In The Park (England, 1980)
14. Phobia - Pretend You're Not Crazy (USA, 1978)
15. Androids Of Mu - Bored Housewives (England, 1981)
16. Sort Sol (With Lydia Lunch) - Boy-Girl (Denmark/USA, 1983)
17. Tappi Tikarrass - Skrid (Iceland, 1984)
18. Flowers - After Dark (Scotland, 1979)
19. The Rentals - I Got A Crush On You (USA, 1979)
20. Pariapunk - Double Face (France, 1987)
21. Amsterdamned - Traditie Amme Balle (Netherlands, 1982)
22. Dr. Zeke - Vild I Skogen (Sweden, 1979)
23. The Lewd - Magnetic Heart (USA, 1982)
24. Au Pairs - Kerb Crawler (England, 1980)
25. Mo-Dettes - White Mice (USA/Switzerland/England, 1979)
26. Stripes - Weekend Love (Germany, 1980)
27. Violators - The Fugitive (England, 1980)

DISC 2: Download link

1. Schund - Schund (Austria, 1982)
2. Wunderbach - Raya (France, 1982)
3. Total Muzak - Någonstans I Sta'n (Sweden, 1980)
4. Liliput - Hitch-Hike (Switzerland, 1980)
5. NJF - Sitting!! Pretty (Canada, 1984)
6. S.I.B. - Listless (Italy, 1981)
7. Manisch Depressiv - Zeitmaschine 1 (Switzerland, 1983)
8. Sheena & The Rokkets - Omae Ga Hoshii (One More Time) (Japan, 1979)
9. Rezillos - Flying Saucer Attack (Scotland, 1978)
10. Sado-Nation - Messed Up Mixed Up (USA, 1982)
11. Lucrate Milk - Fucking Pacifist (France, 1983)
12. Dan - Lust Is Greed (England, 1987)
13. Nasty Facts - Drive My Car (USA, 1981)
14. Life Cycle - Indifference (Wales, 1988)
15. Livin' Sacrifice - Mentalsjuk (Sweden, 1981)
16. The Brat - Attitudes (USA, 1980)
17. Non Band - Ducan Dancin' (Japan, 1982)
18. Bizkids - VIPs (Netherlands, 1980)
19. Minus Cway - Gdje Me Vjetar Odnese (Yugolsavia, 1982-88)
20. The Rats - Broken Wire Telephone (USA, 1983)
21. Anouschka & Les Privés - Contrôle (France, 1980)
22. Slits - Vindictive (England, 1977)
23. ICA - Untitled (Netherlands, 1981)
24. Trash - Peace Of What (USA, 1984)
25. Boys Boys - Monley Monkey (Japan, 1980)
26. Honey Bane - Girl On The Run (England, 1979)
27. TNT - Razzia (Switzerland, 1981)
28. Nuns - Wild (USA, 1980)
29. Electric Deads - 30 Years (Denmark, 1982)
30. Conflict - Who Will (USA, 1984)
31. Atims - Women (Netherlands, 1982)

DISC 3: Download link

1. Hans-A-Plast - Polizeiknüppel (Germany, 1979)
2. Usch - LTO (Sweden, 1979)
3. Desechables - El Asesino (Spain, 1984)
4. Ici Paris - Le Centre Du Monde (France, 1980)
5. Action Pact - Suicide Bag (England, 1982)
6. Invaders - Backstreet Romeo (England, 1980)
7. Lepers - Flipout (USA, 1979)
8. Franti - Vento Rosso (Italy, 1983)
9. Out On Blue 6 - Examples (England, 1981)
10. Mr. Kite - Exit B9 (Japan, 1978)
11. De Zweetkutten - Atoomgeweld (Netherlands, 1981)
12. Ideal - Berlin (Germany, 1980)
13. Holly And The Italians - I Wanna Go Home (USA, 1981)
14. Modesty - Kad Srce Radi Bi Bam (Yugoslavia, 1982-88)
15. Delta 5 - Anticipation (England, 1980)
16. Beex - He Obliterates Me (USA, 1981)
17. Kaltwetterfront - Revolverheld (Germany, 1982)
18. Hydra - Ombre (Italy, 1985)
19. Vacum - Är Ungdomar Människor? (Sweden, 1980)
20. Nixe - Man Under My Bed (Netherlands, 1981)
21. Alternative - Seen Through Tear-Filled Eyes (Scotland, 1984)
22. Schematix - Nothing Special (USA, 1980)
23. Eyes - Don't Talk To Me (USA, 1978)
24. Russians - Anything She Wants (England, 1980)
25. Kontrola W. - Manekiny (Poland, 1982/1998)

DISC 4: Download link

1. Kizza Ping - Den Nya (Sweden, 1982)
2. Strapaze - Tage (Germany, 1983)
3. Glueams - 365 (Switzerland, 1979)
4. Kleenex Aktiv - Hilfe (Germany, 1985)
5. XL Capris - My City Of Sydney (Australia, 1980)
6. Josie Cotton - Johnny, Are You Queer? (USA, 1981)
7. Rakketax - Van Agt (Netherlands, 1980)
8. A-Heads - No Rule (England, 1982)
9. Drustvo Prisjecavalaca Boljih Dana - Sexualna Ovisnost (Yugoslavia, 1982-88)
10. Pink Champagne - Söndagsskolehyckel (Sweden, 1980)
11. Curse - Killer Bees (Canada, 1978)
12. Flirt - Don't Push Me (USA, 1978)
13. Mizutama Shouboudan - Shinkuu Pakku Toraberu (Japan, 1981)
14. Bizon Kidz - Godsdienstwaanzin (Netherlands, 1981)
15. X-Ray Spex - I Live Off You (England, 1978)
16. Reactors - World War Four (USA, 1980)
17. Klasse Kriminale - Construito In Italia (Italy, 1988)
18. Debils - Maso (Switzerland, 1981)
19. Plastix - Geschlechtsverkehr (Austria, 1981)
20. Avengers - Teenage Rebel (USA, 1978)
21. Hagar The Womb - Idolization (England, 1983)
22. Blitzkrieg - Szene (Germany, 1989)
23. DIRT - Hiroshima (England, 1981)
24. Disturbers - KZ Syndroom (Netherlands, 1980)
25. Andreas Dorau Und Die Marinas - Fred Vom Jupiter (Germany, 1981)
26. Pandoras - That's Your Way Out (USA, 1984)
27. Lost Cherrees - Living In A Coffin (England, 1982)
28. Learned Helplessness - Vegis (USA, 1982)
29. A-Gen-53 - Stalingrad-Stumpfsinn (Austria, 1981)

thanks, Brad

Friday, March 12, 2010

Time for a U.S. Revolution - Fifteen Reasons

Z-Net Daily Commentary
By Bill Quigley, from Z Space

It is time for a revolution. Government does not work for regular people. It appears to work quite well for big corporations, banks, insurance companies, military contractors, lobbyists, and for the rich and powerful. But it does not work for people.

The 1776 Declaration of Independence stated that when a long train of abuses by those in power evidence a design to reduce the rights of people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is the peoples right, in fact their duty to engage in a revolution.

Martin Luther King, Jr., said forty three years ago next month that it was time for a radical revolution of values in the United States. He preached "a true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies." It is clearer than ever that now is the time for radical change.

Look at what our current system has brought us and ask if it is time for a revolution?

Over 2.8 million people lost their homes in 2009 to foreclosure or bank repossessions - nearly 8000 each day - higher numbers than the last two years when millions of others also lost their homes.

At the same time, the government bailed out Bank of America, Citigroup, AIG, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the auto industry and enacted the troubled asset (TARP) program with $1.7 trillion of our money.

Wall Street then awarded itself over $20 billion in bonuses in 2009 alone, an average bonus on top of pay of $123,000.

At the same time, over 17 million people are jobless right now. Millions more are working part-time when they want and need to be working full-time.

Yet the current system allows one single U.S. Senator to stop unemployment and Medicare benefits being paid to millions.

There are now 35 registered lobbyists in Washington DC for every single member of the Senate and House of Representatives, at last count 13,739 in 2009. There are eight lobbyists for every member of Congress working on the health care fiasco alone.

At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that corporations now have a constitutional right to interfere with elections by pouring money into races.

The Department of Justice gave a get out of jail free card to its own lawyers who authorized illegal torture.

At the same time another department of government, the Pentagon, is prosecuting Navy SEALS for punching an Iraqi suspect.

The US is not only involved in senseless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the U.S. now maintains 700 military bases world-wide and another 6000 in the US and our territories. Young men and women join the military to protect the U.S. and to get college tuition and healthcare coverage and killed and maimed in elective wars and being the world's police. Wonder whose assets they are protecting and serving?

In fact, the U.S. spends $700 billion directly on military per year, half the military spending of the entire world - much more than Europe, China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and Venezuela - combined.

The government and private companies have dramatically increased surveillance of people through cameras on public streets and private places, airport searches, phone intercepts, access to personal computers, and compilation of records from credit card purchases, computer views of sites, and travel.

The number of people in jails and prisons in the U.S. has risen sevenfold since 1970 to over 2.3 million. The US puts a higher percentage of our people in jail than any other country in the world.

The tea party people are mad at the Republicans, who they accuse of selling them out to big businesses.

Democrats are working their way past depression to anger because their party, despite majorities in the House and Senate, has not made significant advances for immigrants, or women, or unions, or African Americans, or environmentalists, or gays and lesbians, or civil libertarians, or people dedicated to health care, or human rights, or jobs or housing or economic justice. Democrats also think their party is selling out to big business.

Forty three years ago next month, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached in Riverside Church in New York City that "a time comes when silence is betrayal." He went on to condemn the Vietnam War and the system which created it and the other injustices clearly apparent. "We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing oriented" society to a "person oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

It is time.
Bill Quigley is legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bail Out Our Schools

I've always thought of Education as the most important issue in all elections and politics. Really. If people were smarter and better educated we wouldn't have all the fucked up political situations we have. I mean everyone knows it's only either ignorant or greedy people who vote for conservatives. We educate the populus and perhaps one day this mess will all be fixed?

once again here's a piece from Robert Reich's blog
Bail Out Our Schools
Any day now, the Obama administration will announce $4.35 billion in extra federal funds for under-performing public schools. That’s fine, but relative to the financial squeeze all the nation’s public schools now face it’s a cruel joke.

The recession has ravaged state and local budgets, most of which aren’t allowed to run deficits. That’s meant major cuts in public schools and universities, and a giant future deficit in the education of our people.

Across America, schools are laying off thousands of teachers. Classrooms that had contained 20 to 25 students are now crammed with 30 or more. School years have been shortened. Some school districts are moving to four-day school weeks. After-school programs have been cancelled; music and art classes, terminated. Even history is being chucked.

Pre-K programs have been shut down. Community colleges are reducing their course offerings and admitting fewer students. Public universities, like the one I teach at, have raised tuitions and fees. That means many qualified students won’t be attending.

Last year the nation committed $700 billion to bail out Wall Street banks, the engines of America’s financial capital, because we were told we’d face economic Armegeddon if we didn’t.

We’ve got our priorities backwards. Our schools are the engines of our human capital, and if we don’t bail out public education we face a bigger economic Armegeddon years from now.

Financial capital moves instantly around the globe to wherever it can earn the best return. Human capital – the skills and insights of our people – is the one resource that’s uniquely American, on which our future living standards uniquely depend.

Starting immediately, the federal government should give states and local governments interest-free loans to make up for all school and university budget shortfalls. The loans can be repaid when the recession is over and local and state tax revenues revive.

Over the longer term we must shift incentives away from financial capital toward human capital. A tiny one half of one percent tax on all financial transactions would generate about $200 billion a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. That might put a crimp on Wall Street bonuses but it’s enough to fund early childhood education, smaller K-12 classes, and lower tuitons and fees for public higher education.

The Street’s financial capital is important to the American economy, but over the long term the classroom’s human capital is absolutely crucial.
I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wall Street's Bailout Hustle

Goldman Sachs and other big banks aren't just pocketing the trillions we gave them to rescue the economy - they're re-creating the conditions for another crash

written by MATT TAIBBI for Rolling Stone

On January 21st, Lloyd Blankfein left a peculiar voicemail message on the work phones of his employees at Goldman Sachs. Fast becoming America's pre-eminent Marvel Comics supervillain, the CEO used the call to deploy his secret weapon: a pair of giant, nuclear-powered testicles. In his message, Blankfein addressed his plan to pay out gigantic year-end bonuses amid widespread controversy over Goldman's role in precipitating the global financial crisis.

The bank had already set aside a tidy $16.2 billion for salaries and bonuses — meaning that Goldman employees were each set to take home an average of $498,246, a number roughly commensurate with what they received during the bubble years. Still, the troops were worried: There were rumors that Dr. Ballsachs, bowing to political pressure, might be forced to scale the number back. After all, the country was broke, 14.8 million Americans were stranded on the unemployment line, and Barack Obama and the Democrats were trying to recover the populist high ground after their bitch-whipping in Massachusetts by calling for a "bailout tax" on banks. Maybe this wasn't the right time for Goldman to be throwing its annual Roman bonus orgy.

Not to worry, Blankfein reassured employees. "In a year that proved to have no shortage of story lines," he said, "I believe very strongly that performance is the ultimate narrative."

Translation: We made a shitload of money last year because we're so amazing at our jobs, so fuck all those people who want us to reduce our bonuses.

Goldman wasn't alone. The nation's six largest banks — all committed to this balls-out, I drink your milkshake! strategy of flagrantly gorging themselves as America goes hungry — set aside a whopping $140 billion for executive compensation last year, a sum only slightly less than the $164 billion they paid themselves in the pre-crash year of 2007. In a gesture of self-sacrifice, Blankfein himself took a humiliatingly low bonus of $9 million, less than the 2009 pay of elephantine New York Knicks washout Eddy Curry. But in reality, not much had changed. "What is the state of our moral being when Lloyd Blankfein taking a $9 million bonus is viewed as this great act of contrition, when every penny of it was a direct transfer from the taxpayer?" asks Eliot Spitzer, who tried to hold Wall Street accountable during his own ill-fated stint as governor of New York.

Beyond a few such bleats of outrage, however, the huge payout was met, by and large, with a collective sigh of resignation. Because beneath America's populist veneer, on a more subtle strata of the national psyche, there remains a strong temptation to not really give a shit. The rich, after all, have always made way too much money; what's the difference if some fat cat in New York pockets $20 million instead of $10 million?

The only reason such apathy exists, however, is because there's still a widespread misunderstanding of how exactly Wall Street "earns" its money, with emphasis on the quotation marks around "earns." The question everyone should be asking, as one bailout recipient after another posts massive profits — Goldman reported $13.4 billion in profits last year, after paying out that $16.2 billion in bonuses and compensation — is this: In an economy as horrible as ours, with every factory town between New York and Los Angeles looking like those hollowed-out ghost ships we see on History Channel documentaries like Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, where in the hell did Wall Street's eye-popping profits come from, exactly? Did Goldman go from bailout city to $13.4 billion in the black because, as Blankfein suggests, its "performance" was just that awesome? A year and a half after they were minutes away from bankruptcy, how are these assholes not only back on their feet again, but hauling in bonuses at the same rate they were during the bubble?

The answer to that question is basically twofold: They raped the taxpayer, and they raped their clients.

The bottom line is that banks like Goldman have learned absolutely nothing from the global economic meltdown. In fact, they're back conniving and playing speculative long shots in force — only this time with the full financial support of the U.S. government. In the process, they're rapidly re-creating the conditions for another crash, with the same actors once again playing the same crazy games of financial chicken with the same toxic assets as before.

That's why this bonus business isn't merely a matter of getting upset about whether or not Lloyd Blankfein buys himself one tropical island or two on his next birthday. The reality is that the post-bailout era in which Goldman thrived has turned out to be a chaotic frenzy of high-stakes con-artistry, with taxpayers and clients bilked out of billions using a dizzying array of old-school hustles that, but for their ponderous complexity, would have fit well in slick grifter movies like The Sting and Matchstick Men. There's even a term in con-man lingo for what some of the banks are doing right now, with all their cosmetic gestures of scaling back bonuses and giving to charities. In the grifter world, calming down a mark so he doesn't call the cops is known as the "Cool Off."

To appreciate how all of these (sometimes brilliant) schemes work is to understand the difference between earning money and taking scores, and to realize that the profits these banks are posting don't so much represent national growth and recovery, but something closer to the losses one would report after a theft or a car crash. Many Americans instinctively understand this to be true — but, much like when your wife does it with your 300-pound plumber in the kids' playroom, knowing it and actually watching the whole scene from start to finish are two very different things. In that spirit, a brief history of the best 18 months of grifting this country has ever seen:


By now, most people who have followed the financial crisis know that the bailout of AIG was actually a bailout of AIG's "counterparties" — the big banks like Goldman to whom the insurance giant owed billions when it went belly up.

What is less understood is that the bailout of AIG counter-parties like Goldman and Société Générale, a French bank, actually began before the collapse of AIG, before the Federal Reserve paid them so much as a dollar. Nor is it understood that these counterparties actually accelerated the wreck of AIG in what was, ironically, something very like the old insurance scam known as "Swoop and Squat," in which a target car is trapped between two perpetrator vehicles and wrecked, with the mark in the game being the target's insurance company — in this case, the government.

This may sound far-fetched, but the financial crisis of 2008 was very much caused by a perverse series of legal incentives that often made failed investments worth more than thriving ones. Our economy was like a town where everyone has juicy insurance policies on their neighbors' cars and houses. In such a town, the driving will be suspiciously bad, and there will be a lot of fires.

AIG was the ultimate example of this dynamic. At the height of the housing boom, Goldman was selling billions in bundled mortgage-backed securities — often toxic crap of the no-money-down, no-identification-needed variety of home loan — to various institutional suckers like pensions and insurance companies, who frequently thought they were buying investment-grade instruments. At the same time, in a glaring example of the perverse incentives that existed and still exist, Goldman was also betting against those same sorts of securities — a practice that one government investigator compared to "selling a car with faulty brakes and then buying an insurance policy on the buyer of those cars."

Goldman often "insured" some of this garbage with AIG, using a virtually unregulated form of pseudo-insurance called credit-default swaps. Thanks in large part to deregulation pushed by Bob Rubin, former chairman of Goldman, and Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, AIG wasn't required to actually have the capital to pay off the deals. As a result, banks like Goldman bought more than $440 billion worth of this bogus insurance from AIG, a huge blind bet that the taxpayer ended up having to eat.

Thus, when the housing bubble went crazy, Goldman made money coming and going. They made money selling the crap mortgages, and they made money by collecting on the bogus insurance from AIG when the crap mortgages flopped.

Still, the trick for Goldman was: how to collect the insurance money. As AIG headed into a tailspin that fateful summer of 2008, it looked like the beleaguered firm wasn't going to have the money to pay off the bogus insurance. So Goldman and other banks began demanding that AIG provide them with cash collateral. In the 15 months leading up to the collapse of AIG, Goldman received $5.9 billion in collateral. Société Générale, a bank holding lots of mortgage-backed crap originally underwritten by Goldman, received $5.5 billion. These collateral demands squeezing AIG from two sides were the "Swoop and Squat" that ultimately crashed the firm. "It put the company into a liquidity crisis," says Eric Dinallo, who was intimately involved in the AIG bailout as head of the New York State Insurance Department.

It was a brilliant move. When a company like AIG is about to die, it isn't supposed to hand over big hunks of assets to a single creditor like Goldman; it's supposed to equitably distribute whatever assets it has left among all its creditors. Had AIG gone bankrupt, Goldman would have likely lost much of the $5.9 billion that it pocketed as collateral. "Any bankruptcy court that saw those collateral payments would have declined that transaction as a fraudulent conveyance," says Barry Ritholtz, the author of Bailout Nation. Instead, Goldman and the other counterparties got their money out in advance — putting a torch to what was left of AIG. Fans of the movie Goodfellas will recall Henry Hill and Tommy DeVito taking the same approach to the Bamboo Lounge nightclub they'd been gouging. Roll the Ray Liotta narration: "Finally, when there's nothing left, when you can't borrow another buck . . . you bust the joint out. You light a match."

And why not? After all, according to the terms of the bailout deal struck when AIG was taken over by the state in September 2008, Goldman was paid 100 cents on the dollar on an additional $12.9 billion it was owed by AIG — again, money it almost certainly would not have seen a fraction of had AIG proceeded to a normal bankruptcy. Along with the collateral it pocketed, that's $19 billion in pure cash that Goldman would not have "earned" without massive state intervention. How's that $13.4 billion in 2009 profits looking now? And that doesn't even include the direct bailouts of Goldman Sachs and other big banks, which began in earnest after the collapse of AIG.


In the usual "DollarStore" or "Big Store" scam — popularized in movies like The Sting — a huge cast of con artists is hired to create a whole fake environment into which the unsuspecting mark walks and gets robbed over and over again. A warehouse is converted into a makeshift casino or off-track betting parlor, the fool walks in with money, leaves without it.

The two key elements to the Dollar Store scam are the whiz-bang theatrical redecorating job and the fact that everyone is in on it except the mark. In this case, a pair of investment banks were dressed up to look like commercial banks overnight, and it was the taxpayer who walked in and lost his shirt, confused by the appearance of what looked like real Federal Reserve officials minding the store.

Less than a week after the AIG bailout, Goldman and another investment bank, Morgan Stanley, applied for, and received, federal permission to become bank holding companies — a move that would make them eligible for much greater federal support. The stock prices of both firms were cratering, and there was talk that either or both might go the way of Lehman Brothers, another once-mighty investment bank that just a week earlier had disappeared from the face of the earth under the weight of its toxic assets. By law, a five-day waiting period was required for such a conversion — but the two banks got them overnight, with final approval actually coming only five days after the AIG bailout.

Why did they need those federal bank charters? This question is the key to understanding the entire bailout era — because this Dollar Store scam was the big one. Institutions that were, in reality, high-risk gambling houses were allowed to masquerade as conservative commercial banks. As a result of this new designation, they were given access to a virtually endless tap of "free money" by unsuspecting taxpayers. The $10 billion that Goldman received under the better-known TARP bailout was chump change in comparison to the smorgasbord of direct and indirect aid it qualified for as a commercial bank.

When Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley got their federal bank charters, they joined Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and the other banking titans who could go to the Fed and borrow massive amounts of money at interest rates that, thanks to the aggressive rate-cutting policies of Fed chief Ben Bernanke during the crisis, soon sank to zero percent. The ability to go to the Fed and borrow big at next to no interest was what saved Goldman, Morgan Stanley and other banks from death in the fall of 2008. "They had no other way to raise capital at that moment, meaning they were on the brink of insolvency," says Nomi Prins, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs. "The Fed was the only shot."

In fact, the Fed became not just a source of emergency borrowing that enabled Goldman and Morgan Stanley to stave off disaster — it became a source of long-term guaranteed income. Borrowing at zero percent interest, banks like Goldman now had virtually infinite ways to make money. In one of the most common maneuvers, they simply took the money they borrowed from the government at zero percent and lent it back to the government by buying Treasury bills that paid interest of three or four percent. It was basically a license to print money — no different than attaching an ATM to the side of the Federal Reserve.

"You're borrowing at zero, putting it out there at two or three percent, with hundreds of billions of dollars — man, you can make a lot of money that way," says the manager of one prominent hedge fund. "It's free money." Which goes a long way to explaining Goldman's enormous profits last year. But all that free money was amplified by another scam:


At one point or another, pretty much everyone who takes drugs has been burned by this one, also known as the "Rocks in the Box" scam or, in its more elaborate variations, the "Jamaican Switch." Someone sells you what looks like an eightball of coke in a baggie, you get home and, you dumbass, it's baby powder.

The scam's name comes from the Middle Ages, when some fool would be sold a bound and gagged pig that he would see being put into a bag; he'd miss the switch, then get home and find a tied-up cat in there instead. Hence the expression "Don't let the cat out of the bag."

The "Pig in the Poke" scam is another key to the entire bailout era. After the crash of the housing bubble — the largest asset bubble in history — the economy was suddenly flooded with securities backed by failing or near-failing home loans. In the cleanup phase after that bubble burst, the whole game was to get taxpayers, clients and shareholders to buy these worthless cats, but at pig prices.

One of the first times we saw the scam appear was in September 2008, right around the time that AIG was imploding. That was when the Fed changed some of its collateral rules, meaning banks that could once borrow only against sound collateral, like Treasury bills or AAA-rated corporate bonds, could now borrow against pretty much anything — including some of the mortgage-backed sewage that got us into this mess in the first place. In other words, banks that once had to show a real pig to borrow from the Fed could now show up with a cat and get pig money. "All of a sudden, banks were allowed to post absolute shit to the Fed's balance sheet," says the manager of the prominent hedge fund.

The Fed spelled it out on September 14th, 2008, when it changed the collateral rules for one of its first bailout facilities — the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, or PDCF. The Fed's own write-up described the changes: "With the Fed's action, all the kinds of collateral then in use . . . including non-investment-grade securities and equities . . . became eligible for pledge in the PDCF."

Translation: We now accept cats.

The Pig in the Poke also came into play in April of last year, when Congress pushed a little-known agency called the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, to change the so-called "mark-to-market" accounting rules. Until this rule change, banks had to assign a real-market price to all of their assets. If they had a balance sheet full of securities they had bought at $3 that were now only worth $1, they had to figure their year-end accounting using that $1 value. In other words, if you were the dope who bought a cat instead of a pig, you couldn't invite your shareholders to a slate of pork dinners come year-end accounting time.

But last April, FASB changed all that. From now on, it announced, banks could avoid reporting losses on some of their crappy cat investments simply by declaring that they would "more likely than not" hold on to them until they recovered their pig value. In short, the banks didn't even have to actually hold on to the toxic shit they owned — they just had to sort of promise to hold on to it.

That's why the "profit" numbers of a lot of these banks are really a joke. In many cases, we have absolutely no idea how many cats are in their proverbial bag. What they call "profits" might really be profits, only minus undeclared millions or billions in losses.

"They're hiding all this stuff from their shareholders," says Ritholtz, who was disgusted that the banks lobbied for the rule changes. "Now, suddenly banks that were happy to mark to market on the way up don't have to mark to market on the way down."


One of the great innovations of Victor Lustig, the legendary Depression-era con man who wrote the famous "Ten Commandments for Con Men," was a thing called the "Rumanian Box." This was a little machine that a mark would put a blank piece of paper into, only to see real currency come out the other side. The brilliant Lustig sold this Rumanian Box over and over again for vast sums — but he's been outdone by the modern barons of Wall Street, who managed to get themselves a real Rumanian Box.

How they accomplished this is a story that by itself highlights the challenge of placing this era in any kind of historical context of known financial crime. What the banks did was something that was never — and never could have been — thought of before. They took so much money from the government, and then did so little with it, that the state was forced to start printing new cash to throw at them. Even the great Lustig in his wildest, horniest dreams could never have dreamed up this one.

The setup: By early 2009, the banks had already replenished themselves with billions if not trillions in bailout money. It wasn't just the $700 billion in TARP cash, the free money provided by the Fed, and the untold losses obscured by accounting tricks. Another new rule allowed banks to collect interest on the cash they were required by law to keep in reserve accounts at the Fed — meaning the state was now compensating the banks simply for guaranteeing their own solvency. And a new federal operation called the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program let insolvent and near-insolvent banks dispense with their deservedly ruined credit profiles and borrow on a clean slate, with FDIC backing. Goldman borrowed $29 billion on the government's good name, J.P. Morgan Chase $38 billion, and Bank of America $44 billion. "TLGP," says Prins, the former Goldman manager, "was a big one."

Collectively, all this largesse was worth trillions. The idea behind the flood of money, from the government's standpoint, was to spark a national recovery: We refill the banks' balance sheets, and they, in turn, start to lend money again, recharging the economy and producing jobs. "The banks were fast approaching insolvency," says Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a vocal critic of Wall Street who nevertheless defends the initial decision to bail out the banks. "It was vitally important that we recapitalize these institutions."

But here's the thing. Despite all these trillions in government rescues, despite the Fed slashing interest rates down to nothing and showering the banks with mountains of guarantees, Goldman and its friends had still not jump-started lending again by the first quarter of 2009. That's where those nuclear-powered balls of Lloyd Blankfein came into play, as Goldman and other banks basically threatened to pick up their bailout billions and go home if the government didn't fork over more cash — a lot more. "Even if the Fed could make interest rates negative, that wouldn't necessarily help," warned Goldman's chief domestic economist, Jan Hatzius. "We're in a deep recession mainly because the private sector, for a variety of reasons, has decided to save a lot more."

Translation: You can lower interest rates all you want, but we're still not fucking lending the bailout money to anyone in this economy. Until the government agreed to hand over even more goodies, the banks opted to join the rest of the "private sector" and "save" the taxpayer aid they had received — in the form of bonuses and compensation.

The ploy worked. In March of last year, the Fed sharply expanded a radical new program called quantitative easing, which effectively operated as a real-live Rumanian Box. The government put stacks of paper in one side, and out came $1.2 trillion "real" dollars.

The government used some of that freshly printed money to prop itself up by purchasing Treasury bonds — a desperation move, since Washington's demand for cash was so great post-Clusterfuck '08 that even the Chinese couldn't buy U.S. debt fast enough to keep America afloat. But the Fed used most of the new cash to buy mortgage-backed securities in an effort to spur home lending — instantly creating a massive market for major banks.

And what did the banks do with the proceeds? Among other things, they bought Treasury bonds, essentially lending the money back to the government, at interest. The money that came out of the magic Rumanian Box went from the government back to the government, with Wall Street stepping into the circle just long enough to get paid. And once quantitative easing ends, as it is scheduled to do in March, the flow of money for home loans will once again grind to a halt. The Mortgage Bankers Association expects the number of new residential mortgages to plunge by 40 percent this year.


All of that Rumanian box paper was made even more valuable by running it through the next stage of the grift. Michael Masters, one of the country's leading experts on commodities trading, compares this part of the scam to the poker game in the Bill Murray comedy Stripes. "It's like that scene where John Candy leans over to the guy who's new at poker and says, 'Let me see your cards,' then starts giving him advice," Masters says. "He looks at the hand, and the guy has bad cards, and he's like, 'Bluff me, come on! If it were me, I'd bet everything!' That's what it's like. It's like they're looking at your cards as they give you advice."

In more ways than one can count, the economy in the bailout era turned into a "Big Mitt," the con man's name for a rigged poker game. Everybody was indeed looking at everyone else's cards, in many cases with state sanction. Only taxpayers and clients were left out of the loop.

At the same time the Fed and the Treasury were making massive, earthshaking moves like quantitative easing and TARP, they were also consulting regularly with private advisory boards that include every major player on Wall Street. The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee has a J.P. Morgan executive as its chairman and a Goldman executive as its vice chairman, while the board advising the Fed includes bankers from Capital One and Bank of New York Mellon. That means that, in addition to getting great gobs of free money, the banks were also getting clear signals about when they were getting that money, making it possible to position themselves to make the appropriate investments.

One of the best examples of the banks blatantly gambling, and winning, on government moves was the Public-Private Investment Program, or PPIP. In this bizarre scheme cooked up by goofball-geek Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the government loaned money to hedge funds and other private investors to buy up the absolutely most toxic horseshit on the market — the same kind of high-risk, high-yield mortgages that were most responsible for triggering the financial chain reaction in the fall of 2008. These satanic deals were the basic currency of the bubble: Jobless dope fiends bought houses with no money down, and the big banks wrapped those mortgages into securities and then sold them off to pensions and other suckers as investment-grade deals. The whole point of the PPIP was to get private investors to relieve the banks of these dangerous assets before they hurt any more innocent bystanders.

But what did the banks do instead, once they got wind of the PPIP? They started buying that worthless crap again, presumably to sell back to the government at inflated prices! In the third quarter of last year, Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Bank of America combined to add $3.36 billion of exactly this horseshit to their balance sheets.

This brazen decision to gouge the taxpayer startled even hardened market observers. According to Michael Schlachter of the investment firm Wilshire Associates, it was "absolutely ridiculous" that the banks that were supposed to be reducing their exposure to these volatile instruments were instead loading up on them in order to make a quick buck. "Some of them created this mess," he said, "and they are making a killing undoing it."


Here's the thing about our current economy. When Goldman and Morgan Stanley transformed overnight from investment banks into commercial banks, we were told this would mean a new era of "significantly tighter regulations and much closer supervision by bank examiners," as The New York Times put it the very next day. In reality, however, the conversion of Goldman and Morgan Stanley simply completed the dangerous concentration of power and wealth that began in 1999, when Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act — the Depression-era law that had prevented the merger of insurance firms, commercial banks and investment houses. Wall Street and the government became one giant dope house, where a few major players share valuable information between conflicted departments the way junkies share needles.

One of the most common practices is a thing called front-running, which is really no different from the old "Wire" con, another scam popularized in The Sting. But instead of intercepting a telegraph wire in order to bet on racetrack results ahead of the crowd, what Wall Street does is make bets ahead of valuable information they obtain in the course of everyday business.

Say you're working for the commodities desk of a big investment bank, and a major client — a pension fund, perhaps — calls you up and asks you to buy a billion dollars of oil futures for them. Once you place that huge order, the price of those futures is almost guaranteed to go up. If the guy in charge of asset management a few desks down from you somehow finds out about that, he can make a fortune for the bank by betting ahead of that client of yours. The deal would be instantaneous and undetectable, and it would offer huge profits. Your own client would lose money, of course — he'd end up paying a higher price for the oil futures he ordered, because you would have driven up the price. But that doesn't keep banks from screwing their own customers in this very way.

The scam is so blatant that Goldman Sachs actually warns its clients that something along these lines might happen to them. In the disclosure section at the back of a research paper the bank issued on January 15th, Goldman advises clients to buy some dubious high-yield bonds while admitting that the bank itself may bet against those same shitty bonds. "Our salespeople, traders and other professionals may provide oral or written market commentary or trading strategies to our clients and our proprietary trading desks that reflect opinions that are contrary to the opinions expressed in this research," the disclosure reads. "Our asset-management area, our proprietary-trading desks and investing businesses may make investment decisions that are inconsistent with the recommendations or views expressed in this research."

Banks like Goldman admit this stuff openly, despite the fact that there are securities laws that require banks to engage in "fair dealing with customers" and prohibit analysts from issuing opinions that are at odds with what they really think. And yet here they are, saying flat-out that they may be issuing an opinion at odds with what they really think.

To help them screw their own clients, the major investment banks employ high-speed computer programs that can glimpse orders from investors before the deals are processed and then make trades on behalf of the banks at speeds of fractions of a second. None of them will admit it, but everybody knows what this computerized trading — known as "flash trading" — really is. "Flash trading is nothing more than computerized front-running," says the prominent hedge-fund manager. The SEC voted to ban flash trading in September, but five months later it has yet to issue a regulation to put a stop to the practice.

Over the summer, Goldman suffered an embarrassment on that score when one of its employees, a Russian named Sergey Aleynikov, allegedly stole the bank's computerized trading code. In a court proceeding after Aleynikov's arrest, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Facciponti reported that "the bank has raised the possibility that there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways."

Six months after a federal prosecutor admitted in open court that the Goldman trading program could be used to unfairly manipulate markets, the bank released its annual numbers. Among the notable details was the fact that a staggering 76 percent of its revenue came from trading, both for its clients and for its own account. "That is much, much higher than any other bank," says Prins, the former Goldman managing director. "If I were a client and I saw that they were making this much money from trading, I would question how badly I was getting screwed."

Why big institutional investors like pension funds continually come to Wall Street to get raped is the million-dollar question that many experienced observers puzzle over. Goldman's own explanation for this phenomenon is comedy of the highest order. In testimony before a government panel in January, Blankfein was confronted about his firm's practice of betting against the same sorts of investments it sells to clients. His response: "These are the professional investors who want this exposure."

In other words, our clients are big boys, so screw 'em if they're dumb enough to take the sucker bets I'm offering.


Not many con men are good enough or brazen enough to con the same victim twice in a row, but the few who try have a name for this excellent sport: reloading. The usual way to reload on a repeat victim (called an "addict" in grifter parlance) is to rope him into trying to get back the money he just lost. This is exactly what started to happen late last year.

It's important to remember that the housing bubble itself was a classic confidence game — the Ponzi scheme. The Ponzi scheme is any scam in which old investors must be continually paid off with money from new investors to keep up what appear to be high rates of investment return. Residential housing was never as valuable as it seemed during the bubble; the soaring home values were instead a reflection of a continual upward rush of new investors in mortgage-backed securities, a rush that finally collapsed in 2008.

But by the end of 2009, the unimaginable was happening: The bubble was re-inflating. A bailout policy that was designed to help us get out from under the bursting of the largest asset bubble in history inadvertently produced exactly the opposite result, as all that government-fueled capital suddenly began flowing into the most dangerous and destructive investments all over again. Wall Street was going for the reload.

A lot of this was the government's own fault, of course. By slashing interest rates to zero and flooding the market with money, the Fed was replicating the historic mistake that Alan Greenspan had made not once, but twice, before the tech bubble in the early 1990s and before the housing bubble in the early 2000s. By making sure that traditionally safe investments like CDs and savings accounts earned basically nothing, thanks to rock-bottom interest rates, investors were forced to go elsewhere to search for moneymaking opportunities.

Now we're in the same situation all over again, only far worse. Wall Street is flooded with government money, and interest rates that are not just low but flat are pushing investors to seek out more "creative" opportunities. (It's "Greenspan times 10," jokes one hedge-fund trader.) Some of that money could be put to use on Main Street, of course, backing the efforts of investment-worthy entrepreneurs. But that's not what our modern Wall Street is built to do. "They don't seem to want to lend to small and medium-sized business," says Rep. Brad Sherman, who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. "What they want to invest in is marketable securities. And the definition of small and medium-sized businesses, for the most part, is that they don't have marketable securities. They have bank loans."

In other words, unless you're dealing with the stock of a major, publicly traded company, or a giant pile of home mortgages, or the bonds of a large corporation, or a foreign currency, or oil futures, or some country's debt, or anything else that can be rapidly traded back and forth in huge numbers, factory-style, by big banks, you're not really on Wall Street's radar.

So with small business out of the picture, and the safe stuff not worth looking at thanks to the Fed's low interest rates, where did Wall Street go? Right back into the shit that got us here.

One trader, who asked not to be identified, recounts a story of what happened with his hedge fund this past fall. His firm wanted to short — that is, bet against — all the crap toxic bonds that were suddenly in vogue again. The fund's analysts had examined the fundamentals of these instruments and concluded that they were absolutely not good investments.

So they took a short position. One month passed, and they lost money. Another month passed — same thing. Finally, the trader just shrugged and decided to change course and buy.

"I said, 'Fuck it, let's make some money,'" he recalls. "I absolutely did not believe in the fundamentals of any of this stuff. However, I can get on the bandwagon, just so long as I know when to jump out of the car before it goes off the damn cliff!"

This is the very definition of bubble economics — betting on crowd behavior instead of on fundamentals. It's old investors betting on the arrival of new ones, with the value of the underlying thing itself being irrelevant. And this behavior is being driven, no surprise, by the biggest firms on Wall Street.

The research report published by Goldman Sachs on January 15th underlines this sort of thinking. Goldman issued a strong recommendation to buy exactly the sort of high-yield toxic crap our hedge-fund guy was, by then, driving rapidly toward the cliff. "Summarizing our views," the bank wrote, "we expect robust flows . . . to dominate fundamentals." In other words: This stuff is crap, but everyone's buying it in an awfully robust way, so you should too. Just like tech stocks in 1999, and mortgage-backed securities in 2006.

To sum up, this is what Lloyd Blankfein meant by "performance": Take massive sums of money from the government, sit on it until the government starts printing trillions of dollars in a desperate attempt to restart the economy, buy even more toxic assets to sell back to the government at inflated prices — and then, when all else fails, start driving us all toward the cliff again with a frank and open endorsement of bubble economics. I mean, shit — who wouldn't deserve billions in bonuses for doing all that?

Con artists have a word for the inability of their victims to accept that they've been scammed. They call it the "True Believer Syndrome." That's sort of where we are, in a state of nagging disbelief about the real problem on Wall Street. It isn't so much that we have inadequate rules or incompetent regulators, although both of these things are certainly true. The real problem is that it doesn't matter what regulations are in place if the people running the economy are rip-off artists. The system assumes a certain minimum level of ethical behavior and civic instinct over and above what is spelled out by the regulations. If those ethics are absent — well, this thing isn't going to work, no matter what we do. Sure, mugging old ladies is against the law, but it's also easy. To prevent it, we depend, for the most part, not on cops but on people making the conscious decision not to do it.

That's why the biggest gift the bankers got in the bailout was not fiscal but psychological. "The most valuable part of the bailout," says Rep. Sherman, "was the implicit guarantee that they're Too Big to Fail." Instead of liquidating and prosecuting the insolvent institutions that took us all down with them in a giant Ponzi scheme, we have showered them with money and guarantees and all sorts of other enabling gestures. And what should really freak everyone out is the fact that Wall Street immediately started skimming off its own rescue money. If the bailouts validated anew the crooked psychology of the bubble, the recent profit and bonus numbers show that the same psychology is back, thriving, and looking for new disasters to create. "It's evidence," says Rep. Kanjorski, "that they still don't get it."

More to the point, the fact that we haven't done much of anything to change the rules and behavior of Wall Street shows that we still don't get it. Instituting a bailout policy that stressed recapitalizing bad banks was like the addict coming back to the con man to get his lost money back. Ask yourself how well that ever works out. And then get ready for the reload.

[From RollingStone Issue 1099 — March 4, 2010]