There are many on the Dog’s side of the political spectrum who want to end our war in Afghanistan right away. They are not cold or heartless; in fact they make their arguments from good, sound humanitarian principals. They will tell you that we have, through our neglect of Afghanistan gone too far down the road to ever get back. They will ask, and to the Dog’s point of view, really want to know what it is we can “win” there if we can indeed win. They will point to the fact that we are broke as a country and that these foreign wars are taking money that could be spent in places where Americans are suffering, in Detroit, in Florida, in California and Nevada.
February 24, 2009 archive
Feb 24 2009
Feb 24 2009
In this post at Democratic Underground, EFerrari asks How much of economic meltdown is Iran Contra, continued? The writer mentioned two reports that haven’t received a lot of press: (emphasis mine)
First, there’s this from a post dated Feb. 20, 09 on Rep. Kucinich’s website Kucinich: Who told SEC to “Stand Down” on Sanford Probe?
Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today sent a letter to Ms. Mary Schapiro, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting documents that could reveal which government agency told the SEC to “stand down” rather than take enforcement action against the Stanford Group in October 2006 as has been reported by the New York Times.
Recent media reports have indicated that the SEC was aware of improprieties at Stanford Financial Group as early as October 2006, but withheld action at the request of another government agency.
Feb 24 2009
The LA Times reports Taxing pot could alleviate California’s budget crisis. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano from San Francisco announced legislation Monday to “make California the first state in the nation to tax and regulate recreational marijuana in the same manner as alcohol.”
“By some estimates, California’s pot crop is a $14-billion industry, putting it above vegetables ($5.7 billion) and grapes ($2.6 billion). If so, that could mean upward of $1 billion in tax revenue for the state each year.”
The NY Times reports U.S. soldiers were attacked by Iraqis in uniforms. “American forces were attacked by Iraqi insurgents wearing police uniforms in Mosul on Tuesday, making it at least the third attack in the restive city in the past two months by Iraqis wearing the uniforms of security officers. At least two soldiers were wounded and an Iraqi interpreter was killed, according to a statement from the United States military.”
The CS Monitor reports Iraq’s waning insurgency scrambles for new sanctuary. “Ongoing violence in outlying provinces such as Diyala and Nineveh indicates that although violence has fallen and some normalcy is returning to Baghdad, the fringes of Iraq – the rural towns, farming villages, and desert outposts – have become the new fronts in the fight against the insurgent threat as extremists have fled cities and are hiding in the country’s remote corners.”
Meanwhile, in Britain The Guardian reports Blair cabinet Iraq war minutes are kept secret by veto.
Jack Straw today said he would take the unprecedented step of vetoing the release of cabinet minutes relating to the decision to invade Iraq.
The justice secretary made his announcement in response to a decision from the information tribunal, which last month ordered the publication of the minutes of two cabinet meetings, held on 13 and 17 March 2003.
It is the first time the government has used its power to veto the release of documents under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.
Four at Four continues with voting rights for D.C. and the mountains of Antarctica.
Feb 24 2009
Compare the two leadership styles and learn, because this relationship will guide the world:
“Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.” — China’s former Communist Party Leader, Deng Xiaoping.
“But I can say that the president of the United States said during his campaign and in the debates that if there is an actionable target, of a high-level Al Qaeda personnel, that he would not hesitate to use action to deal with that” — Vice President Joseph Biden.
Feb 24 2009
(hat tip to M_A for breaking this story on WWL)
Here’s to Alex Jones of INFOWARS.COM for viralizing among bloggers what went largely ignored by the media: A practice drill by the military on an Iowan town. On Friday, February 20th, he dedicated a large portion of his radio show to objecting as well. He was committed to doing his show live from Arcadia in portest, and encouraged others to join him.
Company A, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry had planned a four-day exercise the first weekend of April to practice cordon-and-search operations in an urban environment.
The Daily Times Herald of Carrol, Iowa quietly broke the story on February 17th without comment or objection.
The Daily Times Herald of Carrol, Iowa quietly broke on February 23rd the story of the plan being scrapped, this time with comment, being sure to state it was a lack of operational readiness, not Jones’ show that prompted the change of plans. They made sure to throw a disparaging light on the negative public reaction.
“I really feel sorry for the National Guard having to justify their actions.”
“It got blown way out of proportion,” he said.
Nothing CAUSAL in that timeline relationship, eh? Phhhhhhhh!
Fascism always whispers in on feather light feet, trying to avoid detection, and those who oppose it are always burned at the proverbial Joan of Arc stake.
Feb 24 2009
Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I never wanted another.
Your mission is to proceed up the Wasilla River, pick up the trail of returned designer clothes, follow it and learn what you can along the way. When you find Sarah Palin, infiltrate her team by whatever means available and terminate her political future.
Terminate her political future???
She’s up there in Alaska operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any rational human conduct. She’s still in office commanding the Alaska National Guard, she’s stark raving mad, but she’s going to run for president in 2012 anyway.
I mentioned the turkey beheading incident and suggested that Palin’s been terminating her political future at a pretty good clip all by herself, so why send me up there? But they wouldn’t take no for an answer.
I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn’t even know it yet. Palin was out there somewhere, still ranting about Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson, still raving about liberal media treachery, descending into madness hundreds of Bridge to Nowhere miles from here.
I looked out the window. Juneau . . . shit, I’m still only in Juneau. I braced myself for the harrowing journey ahead, a journey that would snake through Alaska like a frozen circuit cable–plugged straight into . . .
Feb 24 2009
Hatred is your name, O beast
Who pursues the quick-moving light in the night
Hatred drives you forth to consume
That which you could never control
Which brings hope and guidance to those below
Romance and magic, and tides, and life
You know you could never match the great honor
That Mani pays to his sister Sunna
He brings Her light to where She can not fare
You live only to slay Him for it
Hatred is all that you are, O beast
Slavering fangs at the heels of the Moon-god
An endless shadow to His guiding light
The thought floods your veins like the sweetest mead
All your seething envy could end this day
If you finally take the Moon-god’s life!
Obsessed with the chase, you near your prize
With a furious leap, you seize the rider
And those below watch in awe and fear
As Mani’s blood fills the sky
Hatred is your downfall, O beast
Now as the hot wolf-blood takes you
Into pride and a lust for destruction
Beserk rage and fury your only love,
Your howling sends ice down spines
Revel in the pain of your vanquished prey
Claim credit for all of His agony
Bay with insensate joy at your triumph
And bellow in bestial rage at the Gods,
That Ragnarok is soon come!
Hatred is all you have left, O beast
For you should have been using your mighty jaws
For something other than howling!
The ways of hatred are foolish at best
Love, light and truth long outlast the unworthy
Cool was His smile and unheard were His steps
As you robbed yourself of the killing blow,
For while you exulted in your hateful victory
The hard-won prize has escaped!
Wise, silent Mani has slipped away
And the Norns shall weave for another day…
Feb 24 2009
Yesterday it really hit me. It wasn’t one thing. It wasn’t a certain number or graph, and you won’t find any in this essay. It was the zeitgeist. It was seeing the look on peoples faces. People’s faces who have been briefed, people’s faces who truly understand this stuff.
We are in deeep shit.
The financial crisis is not just a financial crisis…it is a FINANCIAL CRISIS!!!
The problem, as far as perception and understanding goes, is that Bush manufactured crisis after crisis. Cried wolf at the drop of the hat. Over and over and over in order to plunge the nation into fear and thus docility and made ‘us’ controllable. Heck Bush even had a fear meter, the Terror Alert System, where he could communicate to us how afraid we should be. When it was politically advantageous for him. Experts were trotted out, ‘paid’ experts in the case of the Military Analyst scandal, to scare us into docility as Bush pushed his purely political and ideological agenda on the world. As he tortured and murdered and had the NSA spy on us to make sure we were docile. And spied on journalists, to make sure that the nominal Guardians of Truth were docile as well. The upshot of all this Wolf yelling was, as is the moral of the story, that we became inured to fear mongering at the hands of government pronouncements.
So at least for me, when the talk of a new great depression started a while ago, I discounted it….at least somewhat. I have stopped doing that now.
Feb 24 2009
For those of you who have watched “Prime Ministers Questions” on cspan and wished we had a similar format here in the US, yesterday that wish sort-of came true. President Obama held a “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” at the White House and invited congressional leaders, union representatives, industry leaders and others to talk about the difficult task of our country’s fiscal challenges. After they had met in small groups on topic areas, Obama made some remarks (transcript) and then opened the floor for questions/comments. It was an interesting back-and-forth.
But I was particularly interested in this (just the first 35 seconds of the video):
Feb 24 2009
Senator Richard Shellby Of Alabama
Decides That Wild Wing Nut Conspiracy Theories
Are True That Tin Foil Hat
Must Be A Little Tight
‘Those I hoped would rescue me were allied with my abusers’
The Guardian, Tuesday 24 February 2009
Britain’s role in the secret abduction of terror suspects came under intense new scrutiny with the return to the UK of Binyam Mohamed yesterday after more than four years in Guantánamo Bay.
Senior MPs said they intended to pursue ministers and officials over what they knew of his ill-treatment and why Britain helped the CIA interrogate him.
In a statement released shortly after he arrived in a US Gulfstream jet at RAF Northolt in west London, Mohamed said: “For myself, the very worst moment came when I realised in Morocco that the people who were torturing me were receiving questions and materials from British intelligence.”
Once inside the terminal building he met his sister for the fist time in more than seven years and in the most emotionally charged moment of the day they both cried and hugged.
North Korea ‘plans rocket launch’
North Korea has announced that it is preparing to launch a rocket carrying a communications satellite.
It did not give a date for the launch, but said it would mark a great step forward for the communist state.
Correspondents say the statement is Pyongyang’s clearest reference yet to what neighbours believe may be the imminent test of a long-range missile.
When it tested the Taepodong-1 missile in 1998, it claimed to have put a satellite in orbit.
In July 2006 it test-fired the three-stage long-range Taepodong-2, but the missile failed shortly after launch.
North Korea’s move comes amid heightened tensions with South Korea, and with Pyongyang pushing for a top spot on the agenda of the new US administration.
The announcement came in a statement from the national space agency, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
U.S. Pressed to Add Billions to Bailouts
This article is by Edmund L. Andrews, Andrew Ross Sorkin and Mary Williams Walsh
The government faced mounting pressure on Monday to put billions more in some of the nation’s biggest banks, two of the biggest automakers and the biggest insurance company, despite the billions it has already committed to rescuing them.
The government’s boldest rescue to date, its $150 billion commitment for the insurance giant American International Group, is foundering. A.I.G. indicated on Monday it was now negotiating for tens of billions of dollars in additional assistance as losses have mounted.
Separately, the Obama administration confirmed it was in discussions to aid Citigroup, the recipient of $45 billion so far, that could raise the government’s stake in the banking company to as much as 40 percent.
Feb 24 2009
The New York Times, February 23, 2009
I worry that we’re operating far beyond our economic knowledge. Every time the administration releases an initiative, I read 20 different economists with 20 different opinions. I worry that we lack the political structures to regain fiscal control. Deficits are exploding, and the president clearly wants to restrain them. But there’s no evidence that Democrats and Republicans in Congress have the courage or the mutual trust required to share the blame when taxes have to rise and benefits have to be cut.
All in all, I can see why the markets are nervous and dropping. And it’s also clear that we’re on the cusp of the biggest political experiment of our lifetimes. If Obama is mostly successful, then the epistemological skepticism natural to conservatives will have been discredited. We will know that highly trained government experts are capable of quickly designing and executing top-down transformational change. If they mostly fail, then liberalism will suffer a grievous blow, and conservatives will be called upon to restore order and sanity.
It’ll be interesting to see who’s right. But I can’t even root for my own vindication. The costs are too high. I have to go to the keyboard each morning hoping Barack Obama is going to prove me wrong.
Feb 24 2009
In a move of breathtaking and remarkable callousness even for a soulless greed driven banker, JP Morgan announced yesterday that it was slashing it’s dividend 87% from 38 cents to a nickle a share-
JPMorgan slashes dividend
By Jonathan Stempel, Reuters
Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:15am EST
NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), the second-largest U.S. bank, slashed its common stock dividend 87 percent on Monday, a surprise move by a lender considered among the strongest in the U.S. financial sector.
The bank also said it has been “solidly profitable” this quarter, and that the outlook for the three-month period is “roughly in line” with analyst forecasts. Shares rose 5.5 percent in after-hours trading.
JPMorgan said its decision to lower its quarterly dividend to 5 cents per share from 38 cents will save $5 billion of common equity a year. It hopes the lowered payout will help it pay back the $25 billion of capital it got in October from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program faster.
So why do you think Jamie Dimon is so anxious to pay back the TARP Funds? Out of a sense of patriotism and the goodness of his heart?
Maybe it has something to do with this-
Geithner May Have Little Leeway on Executive Compensation Rules
By Matthew Benjamin, Bloomberg
February 20, 2009
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his staff will have little leeway to dilute the executive pay rules enacted by Congress for banks getting U.S. government aid, according to legislative and compensation analysts.
The new rules force the top five executives at banks receiving at least $500 million from the Troubled Asset Relief Program — such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. — and the 20 most highly paid employees at those firms, to forgo cash bonuses. Incentive pay will be limited to stock that is restricted until bailout funds are repaid. The language went beyond guidelines the Treasury previously issued for future recipients of “exceptional” aid.
Jamie Dimon is willing to shaft his shareholders so he and his fellow parasites can keep sucking down their obscene salaries.