Tag: ek Politics

Feb 01

Haiti Developments

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

No doubt by now you’re aware of the return of ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, but you may have missed the news that the only democratically elected President of Haiti ever, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is also returning to Haiti.

This takes place against the backdrop of the devastating earthquake one year ago and the announcement tomorrow of the results of the first round of another Presidential election where the clear winner was Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady.

The second place on the ballot was disputed between Michel Martelly, a popular singer, and the hand picked choice of current President Rene Preval- Jude Celestin.

Celestin had a slim lead in the vote count, but widespread allegations of fraud are leading to reports of his withdrawal from the race.

Feb 01

Latest Wikileaks Revelation

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

It’s been a long time so in case you’ve forgotten, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is the Libyan Intellegence officer convicted of organizing the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 including 11 people in the town of Lockerbie, Scotland where the plane fell to earth.

Al-Megrahi was imprisoned from 2001 to 2009 when he was released for compassionate reasons with a supposedly terminal cancer diagnosis.  He’s still alive and was greeted on his return to Libya as a hero.

At the time of his release there was understandable outrage and the Blair/Brown British Labor government steadfastly maintained that the decision was made by Scottish authorities alone.

Well, it turns out that was a lie.

WikiLeaks cables show Government was ‘playing false’ over Lockerbie bomber

By Christopher Hope, and Robert Winnett, The Daily Telegraph

9:21 AM GMT 01 Feb 2011

A Foreign Office minister sent Libyan officials detailed legal advice on how to use Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s cancer diagnosis to ensure he was released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds, documents obtained by the Daily Telegraph show.

The Duke of York is also said to have played a behind-the-scenes role in encouraging the terrorist’s release.

The Scottish First Minister said the revelations confirm that while his administration acted according to its public pronouncements on the affair, Tony Blair’s Government was behaving duplicitously.

“The cables … show that the former UK Government were playing false on the issue, with a different public position from their private one,” said a statement released by Mr Salmond’s office.

Jan 31

Some Findings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Wall Street Appears To Have Violated Federal Securities Law, Crisis Panel Finds

Shaihien Nasiripour, The Huffington Post

01/27/11 10:28 PM

Wall Street firms that sold mortgage-backed securities appear to have violated federal securities laws by misleading investors on the quality of the underlying mortgages, a bipartisan panel created by Congress to investigate the root causes of the financial crisis concluded.



In September, the crisis commission heard testimony from Keith Johnson, former president of Clayton Holdings, one of the nation’s biggest mortgage research companies. Johnson testified that some 28 percent of the loans given to homeowners with poor credit examined by his firm on behalf of Wall Street banks failed to meet basic standards. Yet nearly half appear to have been sold to investors regardless, he added.

Last April, the commission heard from Richard Bowen, a whistleblower and former chief underwriter for Citigroup’s consumer-lending unit. Bowen told the panel that in the middle of 2006, he discovered more than 60 percent of the mortgages the bank had purchased from other firms and then sold to investors were “defective,” meaning they did not satisfy the bank’s own lending criteria. On November 3, 2007, Bowen sent an e-mail to top Citi officials, including Robert Rubin, a former Treasury Secretary. Bowen’s warnings appear to have been ignored.

In Panel’s Report, Stern Warning on Repeating Financial Crisis

By SEWELL CHAN, The New York Times

Published: January 27, 2011

WASHINGTON – Behind closed doors, Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, called it “the worst financial crisis in global history, including the Great Depression.”

He said that 12 of the country’s 13 most important financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, had been on the verge of collapse “within a week or two.” (The apparent exception: JPMorgan Chase.)



Enabling those developments, the panel found, were a bias toward deregulation by government officials, and mismanagement by financiers who failed to perceive the risks.

Goldman Sachs Got Billions From AIG For Its Own Account, Crisis Panel Finds

Shaihien Nasiripour, The Huffington Post

01/26/11 10:23 PM

Goldman Sachs collected $2.9 billion from the American International Group as payout on a speculative trade it placed for the benefit of its own account, receiving the bulk of those funds after AIG received an enormous taxpayer rescue, according to the final report of an investigative panel appointed by Congress.

The fact that a significant slice of the proceeds secured by Goldman through the AIG bailout landed in its own account–as opposed to those of its clients or business partners– has not been previously disclosed. These details about the workings of the controversial AIG bailout, which eventually swelled to $182 billion, are among the more eye-catching revelations in the report to be released Thursday by the bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.



At a hearing on July 1, 2010–two weeks before Goldman sent the e-mail acknowledging how $2.9 billion in AIG funds wound up in its own account–the crisis panel questioned Goldman’s chief financial officer, David A. Viniar and managing director David Lehman. Both said they knew nothing about AIG funds landing in the bank’s private coffers, according to a transcript of the hearing.

The report concludes that Goldman collected the $2.9 billion as payment for so-called proprietary trades made for its own account–essentially successful bets on large pools of financial instruments.

Jan 30

NASCAR Welfare

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Something Very Serious People never talk about is how most of the complexity of the Tax Code is there specifically to provide monetary entitlements to the Extremely Wealthy and our Corporate Citizens.

This post by masaccio about Turn Left Racing caught my eye and is well worth reading in full (even if it is a little technical and wonky at points).

Let’s Go Racing for Loopholes – Motorsports Tax Scam Wins a Grafty

By: masaccio, Firedog Lake

Friday January 28, 2011 2:28 pm

There is a special rule for Motorsports Entertainment Complexes, allowing their buildings, grandstands, parking lots and other improvements to be written off over 7 years. IRC § 168(e)(3)(c)(ii). To write the limitation so that it mainly affected auto race tracks, as opposed to dog tracks, took 213 words in IRC § 168(i)(15). The provision was set to expire December 31, 2009, but it was extended to 2011 by § 738 of the Obama Tax Capitulation Act of 2010, more politely known as Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.

One of the fun parts of tax issues is to see who benefits from a loophole. The obvious answer is International Speedway Corporation, the publicly held company that owns a bunch of NASCAR tracks, including Daytona, Talladega, Michigan International, Darlington and Watkins Glen.

Now the Very Serious People will tell you these Tax Breaks are stimulative, that they create economic demand and jobs and by the Miracle of the discredited Trickle Down Voodoo Supply Side Economics of the last 30 years they somehow benefit you.

This is a bald faced LIE!

I refuse to believe that the availability of this deduction made the slightest difference in the budgeting decisions of International Speedway Corporation. This budget was set with full knowledge that the loophole would expire at the end of 2009, and projects were going forward without the exemption. The loophole did not create a single job. The extension is a pure gift to the company.

I call it a Miracle because it’s supernatural.  There’s not one shred of evidence that supports it, it’s just one of those things you take on faith like any true believing Jihadi Fundamentalist.  No more scientific than burnt offerings to Mammon.

I also liked the editor’s note-

(A)nother post in Firedoglake’s semi-regular series exposing and exploring ways in which the federal government spends vast sums or forsakes vital revenue in a perpetual, profligate and pathetic quest to assure corporate America that the elected representatives of we the people are really, truly, madly, deeply “business friendly.” With each story, we hope to highlight another government giveaway, tax break, or loophole handcrafted by lawmakers and lobbyists to keep the powerful powerful and make the rich richer. If the reverse Robin Hoodism rises to special heights, we will present it with the FDL Wealthy Welfare Award-or, as we have taken to calling it back here, The Grafty.

Jan 26

Perp Walks Part 2

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The next part of my story centers around frauds 6, 7, 8, and 9 of 11 criminal frauds.

AMBAC is a Monoline Insurer and they offer-

Bond insurance is a service whereby issuers of a bond can pay a premium to a third party, who will provide interest and capital repayments as specified in the bond in the event of the failure of the issuer to do so. The effect of this is to raise the rating of the bond to the rating of the insurer; accordingly, a bond insurer’s credit rating must be almost perfect.

The premium requested for insurance on a bond is a measure of the perceived risk of failure of the issuer.

The economic value of bond insurance to the governmental unit, agency, or company offering bonds is a saving in interest costs reflecting the difference in yield on an insured bond from that on the same bond if uninsured. Insured securities ranged from municipal bonds and structured finance bonds to collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) domestically and abroad.

AMBAC is suing Bear Stearns (JP Morgan Chase).

The Ambac Suit: Bear Stearns Execs Double-Dipped, Committed Criminal Fraud on Investors

By: David Dayen Tuesday January 25, 2011 11:01 am

The mortgage traders at Bear, who now are spread out across the financial sector, sold purposefully bad securities to investors – emails revealed show that they told superiors they were selling “a sack of shit.” They got data on their pools of mortgages bundled up in securities deals that came back with high percentages of bad underwriting or even loans already slipping into default. They falsified that data for the rating agencies to get AAA ratings, never told the investors about the bad loans in the pools, and sold the shit as gold. But it gets worse.



They got paid by the investors for selling the mortgage-backed security, AND they got paid by the originator for taking back the bad loan. So Bear traders made money on the same mortgage twice. Only the investors could force a put-back on an originator after the security was sold – Bear Stearns didn’t have a legal claim on the loan after they sold it. They did so anyway.

There is no legal universe under the sun where that isn’t just criminal fraud and theft. Ambac eventually discovered that 80% of the loans in its MBS had an early payment default. They were corrupted and substandard from the moment they received them, so awful that Bear Stearns was forcing the bank to take them back – even though they didn’t own the loans.

This Ambac suit names the actual decision-makers, Marano and two others who are working at Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. JPMorgan, which now owns Bear Stearns, is named in the lawsuit as well, as a responsible party. It seems that this is a pretty standard repurchase lawsuit, but Ambac added accounting fraud to the claim to double the award owed to them.

The original Atlantic article-

E-mails Suggest Bear Stearns Cheated Clients Out of Billions

Teri Buhl, The Atlantic

Jan 25 2011, 1:01 AM ET

Former Bear Stearns mortgage executives who now run mortgage divisions of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Ally Financial have been accused of cheating and defrauding investors through the mortgage securities they created and sold while at Bear. According to e-mails and internal audits, JPMorgan had known about this fraud since the spring of 2008, but hid it from the public eye through legal maneuvering. Last week a lawsuit filed in 2008 by mortgage insurer Ambac Assurance Corp against Bear Stearns and JPMorgan was unsealed. The lawsuit’s supporting e-mails, going back as far as 2005, highlight Bear traders telling their superiors they were selling investors like Ambac a “sack of shit.”



According to the lawsuit, the Bear traders would sell toxic mortgage securities to investors and then sell back the bad loans with early payment defaults to the banks that originated them at a discount. The traders would pocket the refund, and would not pass it on to the mortgage trust, which was where it should have gone to be distributed to the investors who owned the bonds. The Marano-led traders also cut the time allowed for early payment defaults, without telling the bond investors. That way, Bear could quickly securitize defective loans, without leaving enough time for investors to do their own due diligence after the bonds were sold and put-back any bad loans to Bear.

The traders were essentially double-dipping — getting paid twice on the deal. How was this possible? Once the security was sold, they didn’t have a legal claim to get cash back from the bad loans — that claim belonged to bond investors — but they did so anyway and kept the money. Thus, Bear was cheating the investors they promised to have sold a safe product out of their cash. According to former Bear Stearns and EMC traders and analysts who spoke with The Atlantic, Nierenberg and Verschleiser were the decision-makers for the double dipping scheme, and thus, are named as individual defendants in the suit.



Last week, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said it will take years to get through mortgage litigation risk the bank inherited and had set aside around $9 billion for litigation-related risk. Yet in the bank’s January earnings call, Dimon suggested that the bank may not have to buy back any soured mortgages from private investors and said that the issue is “not that material” for JPMorgan. Still, Ambac recently won a court order in December to add accounting fraud against JPMorgan to its suit, which can double or triple lawsuit awards. So it’s hard to tell whether America’s largest bank is prepared to pay for the sins of Bear. JPMorgan did fight tooth and nail for the Ambac suit not to be made public, however, because the firm argued it could damage the reputations of senior bank executives currently working in the industry. Individuals named as defendants in the amended complaint include: Jimmy Cayne, Alan “ACE” Greenberg, Warren Spector, Alan Schwartz, Thomas Marano, Jeffrey Mayer, Mary Haggerty, Baron Silverstein, Jeffrey Verschleiser, and Michael Nierenberg. But the court chose to fold these individuals into the charges against JPMorgan as the case goes through appeal.

JPMorgan is not the only firm in trouble-

Countrywide Accused in Lawsuit of ‘Massive Fraud’

By Karen Freifeld, Bloomberg News

Jan 25, 2011 5:54 PM ET

Bank of America Inc.’s Countrywide Financial unit, acquired by the bank in 2008, was accused of “massive fraud” in a lawsuit by investors who claim they were misled about mortgage-backed securities.

TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Co., New York Life Insurance Co. and Dexia Holdings Inc. are among a dozen institutional investors who filed the complaint yesterday in New York state Supreme Court.

Jan 26

Perp Walks

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

As I’ve pointed out before one of the confusing things about Bankster Fraud is that there are no less than 11 different criminal frauds that are all lumped together.

In my next piece I’m going to examine one particular part of this puzzle, but I should note that starting tomorrow we’re going to be one step closer to the jump-suited perp walks we’ll need to see in order to unwind this discredited neo-liberal disaster of an economy with the release of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report which recommends investigation by the Department of Justice for Criminal Prosecution.

Financial Crisis Commission Finds Cause For Prosecution Of Wall Street

Shahien Nasiripour, The Huffington Post

01/24/11 07:29 PM

(T)he decision to refer cases for potential prosecution could provoke a different conclusion: It may yet satisfy public craving for what Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner once referred to as the “very deep public desire for Old Testament justice.”



The commission drew on testimony from less prominent senior executives with intimate knowledge of how Wall Street engaged in modern-day financial alchemy, turning mountains of dubious mortgages into seemingly rock-solid investments rated as safe as American Treasury bonds.

Richard Bowen, former chief underwriter for Citigroup’s consumer-lending unit, testified that, in the middle of 2006, he discovered more than 60 percent of the mortgages the bank had purchased from other firms and then sold to investors were “defective,” meaning they did not satisfy the bank’s own lending criteria.

Keith Johnson, former president of Clayton Holdings, one of the top mortgage research companies, testified that some 28 percent of the loans given to homeowners with poor credit examined by his firm for Wall Street banks failed to meet basic standards. Yet nearly half appear to have been sold to investors regardless, he added.

FCIC Will Refer Report to Authorities for Potential Criminal Prosecution

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Tuesday January 25, 2011 6:00 am

Many have found themselves disappointed in the FCIC’s work to this point, be it their inability to gain headlines, their inability to issue subpoenas without bipartisan cooperation, or even the commission’s personnel. But lest we forget that the FCIC uncovered, virtually by itself, the enormous mortgage bond scandal, based on testimony they gathered from Clayton Holdings in October. William D. Cohan said at the time that this strong, if pulled properly, could lead to justice:



This could be the building block for the criminal referrals, or it could be something deeper. But we know it will be backed up by a voluminous amount of evidence. In addition to their long report on the origins of the crisis, Yves Smith notes that the FCIC will release audio archives of all of their interviews with hundreds of witnesses. She was one of them. They will also release all the source documents, which is crucial.

As for the report itself, the Democratic version promises to be extremely satisfying to those who recognize quickly that corporate greed, deregulation and a financial industry determined to sidestep oversight entirely with the shadow banking system caused the crisis. One official told Reuters that Commission Chair Phil Angelides subscribed to the “vampire squid” view of the crisis, recalling the famous turn of phrase Matt Taibbi used to describe Goldman Sachs.

Jan 23

Privatization

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Former Spy With Agenda Operates a Private C.I.A.

By MARK MAZZETTI, The New York Times

Published: January 22, 2011

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the desert badlands of Afghanistan. Since the United States military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul’s ruling class.

Hatching schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy,” Mr. Clarridge has sought to discredit Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar power broker who has long been on the C.I.A. payroll, and planned to set spies on his half brother, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in hopes of collecting beard trimmings or other DNA samples that might prove Mr. Clarridge’s suspicions that the Afghan leader was a heroin addict, associates say.

Mr. Clarridge, 78, who was indicted on charges of lying to Congress in the Iran-contra scandal and later pardoned, is described by those who have worked with him as driven by the conviction that Washington is bloated with bureaucrats and lawyers who impede American troops in fighting adversaries and that leaders are overly reliant on mercurial allies.

His dispatches – an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports – have been sent to military officials who, until last spring at least, found some credible enough to be used in planning strikes against militants in Afghanistan. They are also fed to conservative commentators, including Oliver L. North, a compatriot from the Iran-contra days and now a Fox News analyst, and Brad Thor, an author of military thrillers and a frequent guest of Glenn Beck.

For all of the can-you-top-this qualities to Mr. Clarridge’s operation, it is a startling demonstration of how private citizens can exploit the chaos of combat zones and rivalries inside the American government to carry out their own agenda.

Jan 23

Making money in blogging.

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The latest rumor circulating about Keith (not that I’m star struck or anything, but he did in fact take the time to respond to a post of mine once, so it’s just professional courtesy) is that like Howard Fineman, Tucker Carlson, and others, he’s seeking his next fortune in the world of new media.

Did Keith Olbermann Bolt MSNBC to Create Media Empire?

By Dominic Patten & Sharon Waxman, TheWrap.com via HuffPo

Published: January 21, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

With two years left on his $7 million a year contract, Olbermann was seeking a full exit package but he really has his eye on creating his own media empire in the style of Huffington Post, according to the individual. That way, Olbermann would control his own brand and, in his view, potentially earn far more as an owner.

Umm…

Here’s a bit of free advice which, I’m afraid, is all I can afford.

I’ve heard that it’s possible to make money from blogging, but that’s certainly not my experience.

If you want to crosspost, you’re more than welcome to register.  I’d be grateful for your content.

Jan 22

Breaking! No more Keith!

Consider this a working thread.

My father, Richard, who is a devoted fan and TheMomCat have both informed me that Keith is fired.

Comcast coincidence?

I don’t have any more information.  Developments below.

Keith’s Sudden Farewell!

From Josh Marshall @ TPM, Keith’s first guest has left and arrived home to hear the news! He had no inkling of what was about to happen.

I was just on in the opening segment of Olbermann tonight. And I get home and get this press release from NBC saying this was the last episode of Countdown. At first I figured it had to be a spoof email because, jeez, I was on and I didn’t have any sense that any other than a regular Friday evening show was on. But sure enough I pulled up the recording and now I’m watching his final sign off.

MSNBC released the following statement on their new programming order:

Starting Monday, January 24, “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” will move to 8 p.m. ET/PT and “The Ed Show,” hosted by Ed Schultz, will move to 10 p.m. ET/PT on MSNBC. The announcement was made today by Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC. “The Rachel Maddow Show” will continue to air live at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

   Also starting Monday, Cenk Uygur, MSNBC contributor and host of the popular web show “The Young Turks,” will be filling in as host of the 6 p.m ET hour.

The New York Times

9:24 p.m. | Updated Keith Olbermann, the highest-rated host on MSNBC, announced abruptly on the air Friday night that he is leaving “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” immediately.

The host, who has had a stormy relationship with the management of the network for some time, especially since he was suspended for two days last November, came to an agreement with NBC’s corporate management late this week to settle his contract and step down.

In a closing statement on his show, Mr. Olbermann said simply that it would be the last edition of the program. He offered no explanation other than on occasion, the show had become too much for him.

Mr. Olbermann thanked his viewers for their enthusiastic support of a show that had “gradually established its position as anti-establishment.”

John Arivosis at AMERICAblog has a petition

I Stand with Keith

Jan 21

BFFs

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

High-profile Dem lawyer flacking for African strongman

Lanny Davis is now Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo’s man in Washington, as violence engulfs the African country

By Justin Elliott, Salon.com

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010 10:54 ET

You’re the leader of a small African country facing an international outcry after reversing the results of a presidential election and dispatching your forces to suppress and kill opposition protesters. What do you do to turn the tide and keep your grip on power?

Call Lanny Davis.

The columnist and former special counsel to Bill Clinton specializes in lobbying for controversial corporate and foreign clients, particularly those seeking Democratic representation in Washington. But even for Davis, taking on Ivory Coast leader and flagrant human rights violator Laurent Gbagbo as a client, as he did this week, seems to cross some kind of line.

D.C. law firm to aid Ivory Coast opposition leader

THE INFLUENCE INDUSTRY

By Dan Eggen, Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One of Washington’s top law firms has signed on to represent Alassane Ouattara, an Ivory Coast opposition leader who has been recognized as the winner of a disputed presidential election in that country.

In papers scheduled to be filed with the Justice Department on Thursday, Covington & Burling said it will “provide advice on international legal and policy matters” to Ouattara as he continues to try to take over from the ousted president, Laurent Gbagbo. The work will be done free of charge as part of the firm’s pro bono services, officials said.

The decision follows controversy late last year over former Clinton administration counsel Lanny Davis, who registered to become Gbagbo’s lobbyist in Washington after the disputed election Nov. 28. Davis, whose firm collected $300,000 in fees, said last month that he was severing the agreement with Gbagbo.

Lanny Davis’ African human rights disaster

When Davis was hired by Equatorial Guinea, the lobbyist said things would change there. They haven’t

By Justin Elliott, Salon.com

Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 11:01 ET

Last April, when Democratic lobbyist Lanny Davis was hired by the government of Equatorial Guinea, he declared himself the “reform counsel” for the longtime dictator of the small, oil-rich African nation. Davis’ fee was $1 million per year plus expenses, and he and his client, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, promised widespread reforms and a new respect for human rights.

But today, human rights advocates who track Equatorial Guinea tell Salon that nothing has changed there and that Davis appears to be engaged in little more than a whitewashing exercise designed to rehabilitate the image of the Obiang regime on the international stage. And despite a direct promise by Davis to a reporter in June that political prisoners in Equatorial Guinea would be released, that has not happened.

Joe Lieberman – The Model Purple Senator

Lanny Davis, The Huffington Post

Posted: January 19, 2011 04:28 PM

In 1970, I was in the bathroom with a towel over my ears. In the living room, surrounded by my parents and friends, there you were — the sandek at the bris — holding my 8-day-old son Seth for the 3,000-year-old Jewish ceremony while the rabbi made the magic cut. I awarded you the title of godfather for doing me (and Seth) that great favor.

In 2000, you stood at the podium as the vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, the first Jew to be so honored, and I sat next to your mother, both of us crying, as you began your acceptance speech, in genuine wonder and awe: “Is this a great country, or what?”

In 2006, you lost a Democratic primary in Connecticut because your liberal base wouldn’t forgive you because you genuinely believed a democratic Iraq without Saddam Hussein was worth going to war over. I disagreed with you on that position. But I also knew that you were and always would be a progressive Democrat — that you had voted over 90 percent of the time with your fellow Democratic senators.

On primary night, when you had lost, I stood heartbroken in your hotel suite in Hartford, Conn. My son and your godson, Seth, now 36 years since the magic cut, arrived.

“So sorry, Godfather,” Seth said.



There is something especially sad that you, an important symbol of decency in politics, should pick this week to announce your retirement — the week after the murderous violence in Tucson, Ariz., left so many people in America frightened of the atmosphere of violence and polarization that has become the hallmark of our politics in too many places.

You will be missed, Sen. Lieberman — just at the time where the role of a “bridge-builder” between Democrats and Republicans, between liberals and conservatives, is needed more than ever.

You showed it is possible to be a genuine liberal Democrat on the major issues — but still able to work with Republicans, with conservatives, and be trusted by them. You were the model “purple” politician.

Jan 20

Bradley Manning Petition

Oliver North’s Pre-Trial Conditions for UCMJ Violations Dramatically Different than Bradley Manning’s

By: Jane Hamsher, Firedog Lake

Thursday January 20, 2011 9:35 am

David House is the only person aside from Bradley’s lawyer who visits him regularly. He recently wrote about Bradley’s conditions here at FDL, which include severe restrictions on his ability to exercise, communicate or even sleep. Manning has not been convicted of any crime, nor is there a date for any court hearing. The New York Times recently reported that these techniques are being used to induce Manning to flip on Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

I don’t recall Oliver North being subjected to anything like that while he was awaiting trial.

Over 30,000 people have signed the petition. We’d like to get it up to 50,000 by the time David delivers them. I promise to be a faithful videographer and bring back video of David’s experience with the petitions, to the extent that it is allowed on the base.

Jan 18

A Proper Snow

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

“For the first time I can remember…”

But it’s not the first time I can remember because it’s a benefit of Stars Hollow that I could grow up as a kid with snow banks high enough to construct a proper waist high fort with plenty of reserve ammunition, a life size snow person (I dunno, isn’t three balls how we all look?), and a highly dangerous block long sled run through multiple yards and hedges.

Keep your arms inside the car and stop or bail out before you hit one.  Not that there’s much traffic, but you could have an evil look out.

When I was in upstate New York it snowed all the time and I plowed home with positrac more than once which was quite a contrast from the tropical confines of the heated pools where I worked.  One day I walked over 2 miles in sub zero temperatures because the Blue Shark (my car at the time) wouldn’t start.

My friends would cross country ski through the park across the street which I tried a couple of times but found the uphill parts fatiguing and the downhill parts terrifying so I soon gave that up (they were good losers at Flash Bowling though).

Other amusements were Pitch (also called Set Back) which we played at work whenever we had a break, and Wednesday night Season Pass to the local mountain to shiver on a lift and not sweat your way up a slope.  Quite the sight to see all those skis rusting at the side of the pool.

Then there was the year I snooted the last six pack of Knickerbocker (that vile) at the Universal Market which happened to be right next to my dorm.

The point is that while I can remember what I consider “normal” snow I haven’t seen it much recently.  It’s reminded me of the early springs when I used to crunch through patches of dirt frost on my way to the library and imagined I was on a terraformed Mars.  This is the warmest year ever.

The world our children will inherit will be deeper, steeper, warmer, and wetter (not in a good way) than ours.

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