Friday, March 27, 2009

The Corrupting of America

Is it any wonder that a nation, which for close to 100 years has increasingly relied on deceit to push policy, would eventually collapse into corruption?

Wherever you look, whenever you hear, and when you read in current news there is corruption. Our local officials, military generals, financial officials like Madoff, election officials, and on and on, are exhibiting the type of ho-hum everyday corruption a banana republic would have.

Our behaviour defines what we are, and that behaviour says we are becoming a corrupt banana republic:
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said today that it will overturn the convictions of up to 1,200 juveniles in the wake of a corruption scandal that is sending two county judges to jail for more than seven years.

Last month, veteran Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan pleaded guilty to taking $2.6 million in kickbacks to send juveniles to privately run detention centers.
(USA Today, emphasis added [it was censured, so here is the Wayback Machine Copy]). Judges sending kids to jail so corrupt private prisons can profit. That is as low as a banana republic gets.

The FBI director testified this week that the FBI has thousands of corruption investigations going on.

He said that the FBI is saturated with corruption investigations, and has already prosecuted thousands of officials for corruption.

He said that the FBI is running out of resources with which to investigate and prosecute such corruption.

This daily corruption plague has now reached into The US Department of Treasury and again into your tax dollars, to wit:
A top bank regulator has been placed on leave pending a Treasury Department investigation into regulators' approval of backdated cash infusions for troubled thrifts.

The Office of Thrift Supervision said Thursday that its acting director, Scott Polakoff, was placed on leave "pending a review by the Department of the Treasury of the OTS' August 2008 actions related to post-period capital contributions."
(Huffington Post). A year ago in May 2008, under Bush II regime Treasury Secretary Paulson (who was able to receive over a hundred million dollars tax free for coming to Treasury) it became obvious to The Office of Thrift Supervision that IndyBank was going down.

For some reason Scott Polakoff backdated capital infusions that added up to a thousand times more than the AIG bonuses.

That "small" (by comparison to this $18 billion) AIG amount was enough to drive the nation into anger. Will there be a thousand times more anger now?

Anyway, back to the story. This backdating of cash infusions by Polakoff would allow the IndyBank people to spend the $18 billion in the way they wanted to before the FDIC attained the authority to take over and freeze assets and accounts.

They could selectively take care of "special people" but not others. They could pick and choose as if they had done it "a while back".

It does not look good to say the least. Actually no corruption or deceit by the government looks good does it?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Lazy Economists Act

The economy shrunk at 6.3% last quarter, and corporate profits were down to a 55 year low last quarter.

One economist says these bad numbers are going to happen again in the first quarter. However, the numbers are probably going to be a bit worse:
Economists predict that the impact of the $787bn government stimulus package will not be felt until the second half of this year and that the economy could contract by another 6 per cent in the second quarter before flattening. The US government’s 10-year budget outline unveiled last month projected that the economy would contract by 1.2 per cent in 2009 before rebounding to 3.2 per cent growth in 2010. The Congressional Budget Office, however, found those estimates to be exceedingly hopeful.

“All the incoming data suggest that the economy will contract by a staggering 7 to 8 per cent in the first quarter, before the economy begins to stabilise,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight.
(Financial Times, emphasis added). We have been into a decade of play pretend growth, or a bubble economy, some would say.

The cost of the Iraq and the Afghanistan wars which produces nothing but costs staggering amounts is surely to blame for much of this. We know that much of it has been waste and graft.

The new administration does not want to begin to think it is immune if it does exactly the same thing:
The United States risks repeating the same mistakes in Afghanistan that have led to billions of dollars being squandered in Iraq on its reconstruction, US auditors warned Wednesday.

The warnings come just days before President Barack Obama is due to unveil his new strategy for Afghanistan, which is expected to include an increase in reconstruction aid and civilian assistance.
(AFP). When did economists become too lazy to look ahead so that economic catastrophe could be avoided?

Do they think acting in catastrophe movies is really where it is at, or are they mentally cruising on a virtual SS Californian watching the Titanic go down?

The Lazy FBI Act

The FBI wants something renewed.


Like they have for the past 8 years. They like to call what they want renewed "The Patriot Act". The only thing correct about that name that it is in fact an act in a play.

The act that helped them play despots, torture people, and ruin our worldwide reputation.

It really must be called "The Lazy FBI Act" if we are to avoid a misnomer.

The FBI once upon a time liked to be known as the agency that "always got their man", without spying on all Americans.

Without forcing the telecoms to give up all records on Americans without a valid, constitutional warrant.

Now their motto has changed to "let AT&T or Verizon and our super computers do our work and get our man because it is now too hard to tell who is the enemy".


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Garbage Garbage Garbage

Life encumbered by progress
Not everyone will remember the song Garbage by Steele and Seeger.

Not many people know about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

It is in the ocean, and the eastern portion is twice the size of Texas.

The western portion is not quite as large.

Oceanographers say:
The garbage patches present numerous hazards to marine life, fishing and tourism. But before we discuss those, it's important to look at the role of plastic. Plastic constitutes 90 percent of all trash floating in the world's oceans. The United Nations Environment Program estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. In some areas, the amount of plastic outweighs the amount of plankton by a ratio of six to one. Of the more than 200 billion pounds of plastic the world produces each year, about 10 percent ends up in the ocean. Seventy percent of that eventually sinks, damaging life on the ocean floor. The rest floats; much of it ends up in gyres and the massive garbage patches that form there, with some plastic eventually washing up on a distant shore.
(How Stuff Works). More than twice the size of Texas ... and then some.

I wonder if the astronauts can see it from space?

Out of sight out of mind.

UPDATE: Some related video:

Spill Baby Spill!

The anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska brings back memories.

I was sipping on a cup of coffee in Wasilla, Alaska on that fateful day in 1989.

The radio mentioned that an oil tanker had run aground near Valdez 20 minutes earlier, and was reportedly leaking cargo.

In those days Alaska was more environmentally friendly, really really had a determination to keep Alaska pristine, and so that spill was big news then.

Later I watched the lawyer community in Anchorage grow as lawsuits mounted and then proceeded.

National Geographic has this to say about the infamous spill:
Although it was not large compared to other spills, the Valdez oil spill was one of the world's most ecologically devastating disasters, spoiling more than 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers) of shoreline, including three national parks, three national wildlife refuges, and one national forest.
(National Geographic). The native people had sold their land to the military oil complex for one dollar on the promise that the oilsters would be very careful and take care of the environment.

Well, forked man speaks with white tongue, so the oil company of course violated the agreement.

The Exxon Valdez's radar had not been working for a very long time, and was not even activated on that fateful day. The oil robber barons were not careful, so once again the native Americans were wronged by the oil crusaders.

To this day there is still oil on beaches in that vast pristine area. Since no one comes to look very much, the oil companies have gotten away with it.

And the judges of some of the courts, possibly beholding to the oil companies in "prior lifetimes" in some way, have cut the damages Exxon has to pay down to a small percentage of the original jury awards.

The addiction to oil continues like a plague.

The next post in this series is here.

Death Penalty For Being Late

In Texas nine people are or were facing death because their lawyers filed appellate papers late.

And the judge has a personal pet peeve about being prompt.

Six of the appellants whose lawyers filed papers late have already been executed.

If Texas justice is no better than Illinois, that means the chances are high that some of those executed were innocent:
When I started to read this post I assumed it was an article about cases from decades ago. In Illinois the state responded to this type of problem with forming a capital litigation bar requiring a certain resume of murder and serious felony work aswell as requiring specific CLE requirements (more people on Illinois death row have been found factually innocent than executed since the death penalty was reintroduced).

Calls for speedy justice in capital cases no doubt have lead to innocents being executed in places like Texas.
(Comments). The chief judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is being judged as to whether or not she can continue to be a judge.

One of the six appellants was put to death because the lawyer was 20 minutes late and she said "we are closed".

Perhaps she would do better as a timer at NASCAR races?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Textbooks - An Endangered Species?

Of course we all know that textbooks are destined to become extinct. In some professions it is called planned obsolescence.

It is becoming less and less of a rarity for scientists to say "oops, I guess we did not understand that as well as we thought we did".

Stellar evolution has been one of the more solid theories upon which cosmologists tell us what "it is all about Alfie", yet from time to time science experiences unplanned obsolescence.

Recently a star has exploded billions of years before its time, endangering many textbooks on the subject.

Commenting on an article written in the journal Nature, an article at the website "Space" quotes Nature as follows:
A massive star a million times brighter than our sun exploded way too early in its life, suggesting scientists don't understand stellar evolution as well as they thought.

"This might mean that we are fundamentally wrong about the evolution of massive stars, and that theories need revising," said Avishay Gal-Yam of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

According to theory, the doomed star, about 100 times our sun's mass, was not mature enough to have evolved a massive iron core of nuclear fusion ash, considered a prerequisite for a core implosion that triggers the sort of supernova blast that was seen.
(Space). That means an article here at Dredd Blog, expressing optimism about the time our star will grant to us before it becomes hell fire and brimstone, may have to become extinct too.

Which could strengthen the EPH theory ... but that is another story.

An interesting fact about this super nova is that it happened 215 million years ago. The light from the super nova reached us in 2005.

The star which exploded seemed fine according to 1997 light which was reaching us at that time. It is strange that the sky we see at night "now" is actually what was happening a long time ago.

First Shots Fired In The Internecine Wars

David Axelrod is primarily the one who made the Obama campaign aware of the reality that the last election for president was a rejection election.

A full on rejection of the status quo that had prevailed for almost a decade in DC.

A rejection of the robber barons and their lies and their propaganda.

Forgetting all that, possibly because he is dealing with the many catastrophes he inherited from them, President Obama has listened to voices from areas where he has no personal expertise.

Obama has ventured into more than simply working with those who know where the skeletons and bodies are buried.

Evidently he ventured into that minefield because he has concluded that it would make some of the remedial work easier to accomplish.

He has ventured into the murky shadows and swamps of trusting those who perpetuated that hated status quo, yes the realm of Wall Street dogma and propaganda as a deliberate tactic.

In round one of Axelrod v Geitner the latter won. Which means to a certain degree that the status quo won.

Which means to a certain degree that Obama may have suffered a set back, in the sense that he has been somewhat detached from the wisdom and understanding of how the public feels.

Monday, March 23, 2009

First Shots Fired In The Currency Wars

The excesses of the Bush II regime which invaded other sovereign nations, ransacked the economy, and let fellow Americans perish during Katrina, are continuing to have dire consequences.

Our reputation has been damaged more so than at any other time in history.

Trust in the United States is at an all time low, and the new administration is struggling with the wasteland left behind by the Bush II era robber barons.

Mistrust of our economic prowess goes along with the other mistrust that has grown against us.

Now, another little noticed attack has been levelled at us, in that, there is a movement afoot to remove the dollar as the world's currency:
China’s central bank governor has issued a bold proposal to overhaul the global monetary system and one day replace the dollar as the world’s main reserve currency with the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Special Drawing Right
(Times Online, or here). This is no light matter and it could snowball into something we are not well equipped to deal with at the moment.

It is not like we don't have two wars, an economic crisis, an environmental crisis, and a politically divided nation to deal with.

The next post in this series is here.

53% of AIG Bonus Went To Foreigners

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has found out that only 47% of the AIG bonus money went to American workers.

We have been pointing out for some time that behind the scenes plane loads, truck loads, and suit case loads of TARP, bailout, and "war money" has been going to foreign entities.

For many years now America has been looted.

Some of the AIG articles showing foreign involvement in banking we posted recently are: AIG Iraq, AIG Liquidity Corp, Banque AIG & Family, including Swiss AIG Private Bank, Out On The False Front, unAmerican International Group, and "American" International Group, and Oil Sheiks "Borrow" Bailout Money.

The banksters wonder why the tiniest of the tip of the iceberg outraged Americans so, yes they wonder why a "mere" $165 million in bonuses got us all uptight.

We have also suggested, sarcastically of course, that the solution to the economic problem would be for us to invade ourselves.

In an article titled War - Great Stimulant - Lets Invade Ourselves we show that in a mere 11.5 hours we spend a minimum of the amount AIG paid in bonuses ($165 million) on the Iraq war. And have done so for over six years now.

And in General Madoff we show that not only "friendly fire" has hurt us, but "friendly fraud" has ripped us off too.

The wars would not have impoverished us if we had invaded ourselves and spent that money on US.

We can only imagine the hell that would break loose if the full story was told by journalists.

We have asked, and now ask again then, why is it being covered up or not told to the public?

When Left & Right Agree on Economy...

... does that prove that economics is not a science?

Or on the other hand when they disagree on politics does it prove that political science is not a science?

Who knows.

But it does expand the saying "politics makes strange bedfellows" further and even into the saying "economics makes strange bedfellows".

This morning flagrant conservative Joe Scarborough of the MSNBC program "Morning Joe" was on the pessimistic side or the realist side ... depending on one's point of view.

Joe repeated some dire predictions he had made in 2004 about the Bush II administration's economic policies, which proved to be accurate.

He repeated that the Obama administration is no more exempt from the penalties of promiscuous economic policy than was the Bush II regime.

His basic argument is that a poison is not an antidote for a poisoned economy.

Wonder of wonders, Rolling Stone Magazine has an article that is in agreement with Morning Joe of all people:
It's over — we're officially, royally f**ked. no empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far. It happened when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was forced to admit that he was once again going to have to stuff billions of taxpayer dollars into a dying insurance giant called AIG, itself a profound symbol of our national decline — a corporation that got rich insuring the concrete and steel of American industry in the country's heyday, only to destroy itself chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of the British Empire ...

The latest bailout came as AIG admitted to having just posted the largest quarterly loss in American corporate history — some $61.7 billion. In the final three months of last year, the company lost more than $27 million every hour. That's $465,000 a minute, a yearly income for a median American household every six seconds, roughly $7,750 a second. And all this happened at the end of eight straight years that America devoted to frantically chasing the shadow of a terrorist threat to no avail, eight years spent stopping every citizen at every airport to search every purse, bag, crotch and briefcase for juice boxes and explosive tubes of toothpaste. Yet in the end, our government had no mechanism for searching the balance sheets of companies that held life-or-death power over our society and was unable to spot holes in the national economy the size of Libya (whose entire GDP last year was smaller than AIG's 2008 losses).
(Rolling Stone, emphasis added). Something is clearly not science, not accurate, and not even sane.

We worship the fear god when we intrude by searching even into the crotches of Americans trying to catch their flight.

We worship the market god when we don't even consider looking into the darkness of the unAmerican AIG.

When we do both at the same time we worship the god of folly.

Reversing the roles of those gods, President Obama in his recent California town hall meeting, likened those who "qualified" for bailouts to terrorists with explosives strapped around them with their finger on the detonator button.

It is a crisis and we are hostage to them was his message.

In the final analysis, could this fit into the Pogo folder? We lost some "war on terrorism" because we did not know that we have found the enemy and it is us? Have we found that the warsters and banksters of the Bush II administration end up being our enemies? With friends like them who needs enemies?

If so, then the theme song for the Bush II regime must become I Fought The Law And The Law Won.

Send in someone who really knows how to deal with those who have the finger on the detonator.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

America's Shame Memos - #Next

We have been writing about America's shame memo's, and have been giving each one of them a sequential number as we moved along. Now it is becoming apparent that there will be too many of them for the numbers to matter.

So we have changed the sequence to "next", and will link back to the former one, instead of numbering them on and on.

That way you can go to the next one should you choose to.

Newsweek is reporting that the Obama Administration is preparing to release the Ugly Big Brother memos:
Over objections from the U.S. intelligence community, the White House is moving to declassify—and publicly release—three internal memos that will lay out, for the first time, details of the "enhanced" interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration for use against "high value" Qaeda detainees. The memos, written by Justice Department lawyers in May 2005, provide the legal rationale for waterboarding, head slapping and other rough tactics used by the CIA. One senior Obama official, who like others interviewed for this story requested anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, said the memos were "ugly" and could embarrass the CIA. Other officials predicted they would fuel demands for a "truth commission" on torture.
(Newsweek, emphasis added). If history is to be the judge and arbiter of this upcoming scenario, next will come the Nuremberg Defence, which we wrote about not too long ago.

"I was only following orders when I tortured people" who had been turned in, fingered, ratted on, and outed by warlords and other strangers who were paid big money for doing so ... the Nuremberg Defence.

Those we paid this big money to included the social enemies, competing drug smugglers, or political competitors of these people who became homeless at Guantanamo. It is so Nuremberg.

Some were teens. Most were innocent. It is so holocaustal.

We paid people who could not speak English to say their enemies were bad guys, and then we tortured them because we were told they were our enemies.

How much you want to bet that these rewards did not stop with the Afghan warlords and liars, but went also to Rumsfeld, Cheney, and those doing the torture they orchestrated?

Bobblehead For EI Bobbleheaders

The St. Paul Saints independent league baseball team is giving fans a symbol of the Franken / Coleman political contest for senator from Minnesota.

They are offering a bobble head doll, one with a constantly spinning / wobbling head:
“The Saints have really outdone themselves with this one,” said Independent Senate candidate Dean Barkley. “I am glad, however, they decided not to make this a talking doll. Norm-Al will look great on someone’s shelf—silently.”
(The Saints). That is how the local baseball team in Minnesota sees it, but of course they are not experts.

The experts have a different take on it. Instead of seeing it as the disaster it really is, the Brad Blog has unabashedly said:
Franken Declared 'Winner,' But Final Certification Will Likely (and Appropriately) be Delayed ... Excellent provision in MN law ... A very good provision in MN's law --- not found in most other states --- may delay Franken's seating, meaning he will not be sworn in with rest of Congress at the beginning of the new session slated to start tomorrow. Ultimately, however, the provisions should ensure that whoever is eventually sworn in to serve as the state's Senator will not be forced to serve under a cloud ... Would that all of the other states in the union had such a provision ... The voters of MN deserve that much, no matter how long it takes ...
(January 5 Thread, emphasis added). If that is how elections are supposed to be everywhere, about half the baseball games would still be in overtime.

Should The Free Press Be Bailed Out?

Some journalists, free press, and constitutional activists are very concerned.

A while back we mentioned some news that newspapers are increasingly filing bankruptcy.

Why is there no clamor to bail them out? Can government even do that?

Perhaps the government would be better off if some of the free press went away?

Are some banks we are bailing out more valuable than the free press?

One thing is for certain, John Nichols & Robert W. McChesney are concerned:
Journalism is collapsing, and with it comes the most serious threat in our lifetimes to self-government and the rule of law as it has been understood here in the United States.

After years of neglecting signs of trouble, elite opinion-makers have begun in recent months to recognize that things have gone horribly awry. Journals ranging from Time, The New Yorker, The Atlantic and The New Republic to the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times concur on the diagnosis: newspapers, as we have known them, are disintegrating and are possibly on the verge of extinction.
(The Nation, emphasis added). Alarming words to say the least.

But are newspapers any more sacrosanct than the internet blogs and internet news sources are?

We criticized Obama for thinking blogs are misleading when it comes to economics, because he hinted that other news sources were not.

Banks do not have protection from the first amendment like the newspapers and the blogs do.

Protecting the free press, then, is more constitutional than protecting the banks, isn't it?

Economy - Optimists vs. Pessimists ???

Send in the realists or send in the clowns?

Economic utterances flying through the DC air, like springtime dandelions, are often only fodder.

So it is often difficult to tell who or what to send in.

We hear spokespersons saying over and over again "we always come out of economic crises". Some writers in a Newsweek article have picked up on that:
The good news from our historical study of eight centuries of international financial crises is that, so far, they have all ended.
(Newsweek, emphasis added). Good point. However, the fact remains that it is the last or final economic crisis which has taken down the empires we read of in our history books.

The essential exercise, then, is to make certain one does not enter into the final crisis. Certainly that means more than sticking our heads in the sand.

In that regard, Newsweek is saying, among other things, that the white house has flip flopped by focusing too much on the notion of confidence.

The Newsweek article, by two well known economists, says that the Obama administration's position on the economy has gone from pessimistic to optimistic:
The U.S. administration, for example, is now predicting that growth will renew in the latter part of this year and continue at a brisk pace of 4 percent for several years thereafter. Is this a fact-based forecast or wishful thinking?
(ibid). While the prospect of those numbers isn't bad, what is bad these economists say, is that there probably isn't a sufficient factual basis upon which to base the optimism.

The long awaited doublespeak program (my description), who some say will be unveiled tomorrow, may be a case in point:
The Treasury Department will unveil the next step in its financial rescue efforts tomorrow, announcing that it intends to create a government body, called the Public Investment Corp., to finance the purchase of as much as $1 trillion in soured loans and toxic assets from ailing banks, according to sources.

The plan calls for the new entity to combine its resources with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Reserve and private investors to buy those loans and other assets. But the government will put far more money into the deals and take on more risk than the investors, which could include hedge funds, private-equity firms, pension funds and foreign investors with U.S. headquarters, the sources said. The corporation will be funded with $75 billion to $100 billion from the $700 billion financial rescue package.
(Washington Post). If the economy is going to return later this year, then proceed at a 4% growth rate thereafter, why take more money from the taxpayers and give it to bad performers on Wall Street?

This one action of the government, to me, does not seem to be in step with what it is saying about how good or how bad the economy is.

UPDATE: Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman had recently criticized the "toxic asset" plans of the Obama Administration, but administration spokesperson Christina Romer said Krugman's criticism was very unfair.

It Is Not Wrong To Avoid Taxes

It is wrong to evade taxes.

Avoid and evade do not equate.

Our language has taken such a hit from business and other propaganda that it is no wonder an English professor at Rutgers wrote the book Why No One Knows What Anyone Is Saying Anymore.

Appeals Court Judge Learned Hand, one of our better known jurists, put it this way:
“Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes.”
(Helvering v. Gregory, 69 F.2d 809, 810 (2d Cir. 1934) (Hand. J.), aff'd, 293 U.S. 465 (1935), emphasis added). That is an explanation of avoiding taxes.

But there are zones where one unwittingly evades when one intended in good faith to only avoid.

Judge Allegra of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals pointed out that in many areas of our tax system there are shadow zones.

Zones where the courts have to pull out their judicial flash lights and magnifying glasses, then enter into the shadows where we can't see them. We can only hear their voices:
When does a taxpayer cross the fault line between the cheering fields of tax planning and the forbidding elevations of form over substance, far enough, at least, to require a transaction to be recharacterized for tax purposes? No map – statutory, regulatory or otherwise – precisely reveals this point of no return. Rather, in turn, the taxpayer, the government, and, ultimately, the judicial traveler are guided only by multi-factored analyses, balancing tests and other forms of ad hocery, which, if properly employed, serve hope that the terrain’s true character will be revealed. This tax refund suit presents not one, but two opportunities to exercise these faculties.
(Principal Life Insurance Co. v U.S., 2006). The shadow cast by the tax code makes long shadows indeed, and only those who can afford to hire CPA firms (the wealthy and the corporations) can venture into those shadowy zones.

That small percentage of taxpayers use specialized firms who have infra-red detectors and night goggles with which to venture into those shadowy zones.

Unfortunately, for the remainder of us, the moralist tax propagandists have injected fear into our minds. We of the middle class, increasingly, never even steer near those shadowy tax zones.

Like our ancestors who always steered clear of the well publicized and propagandised "edge of the earth", in tax matters we incessantly recite the mantra "err on the safe side".

Then there are the tax protesters. Those tax vandals and barbarians who rush headlong past every sign and warning, yelling and whooping with no consideration whatsoever of any tax norms.

Even though countless tax court decisions, for decades, have rejected their time-worn mantra ("there is no such thing as an income tax"). A mantra which they incessantly recite to judges who struggle with judicial patience, but who seem to always impose fines upon them.

Will this cacophony and lack of clarity, encrusted with the icing of "all is well that ends well", ever subside?

Open Thread

Tell it like it is.