March 18, 2008 archive

Pony Partial – Another Bailout

Over the past few days I’ve seen both new and long time (six months?)commenters remark how this is the site for reasonable adults and calm discourse and reflection and sensitivity etc.  Well, don’t look for that shit in this one.

If that’s what you’re looking for, stay on the Front Page or read the other Totally Excellent Recent and Recommended Essays.

Once again ms. moneysmith has enlisted her e-loveslave to do the Tuesday evening Pony Party.  Her reason this time was kind of vague, it may have something to do with this:…

because she had to fly to Hong Kong.  

Besides the Pony Party, she left me a list of other things to take care of: Paint a couple rooms, dust the plants, scrub the floors, do the laundry, weed the yard, reset all the flagstone, and walk the dogs twice a day. Plus she has me on a strict diet of fruit juice and protein powder, and insists on an exercise program for me.

All of this is kind of difficult attached to the dog-collar and cable and stuff, so doing the Pony Party is actually kind of a break for me.

While I was cleaning the tile grout with a toothbrush (mine) I thought I might need a little pick-me-up, so I, once again, hearkened back to my youth and thought of Joe Walsh.

The James Gang got their start in Cleveland, my home town. I don’t think anyone ever accused Joe of being too serious either.

An Interview With Lifetime Activist and Social Entrepreneur Charles Halpern

Charles Halpern

The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal, as well as The Wild Wild Left, The Peace Tree, Independent Bloggers Alliance and Worldwide Sawdust.

Effective change agents and activists must blend their cognitive skills and passions with deep reservoirs of inner strength. It’s a life path requiring self-sacrifice, discipline, a tough hide combined with empathy, idealism joined with pragmatism, a willingness to put ego aside, resiliency and a perspective beyond the moment of immediate conflict.

Alas, many of us dedicated to pursuing the cause of peace, justice and economic fairness are demoralized by setbacks and criticisms overtime. Personal lives are also easily consumed by the flames of devotion to causes larger than ourselves, such as reversing global warming or stopping genocide. It’s so easy to lose our balance as we stand apart from professional colleagues, friends and relatives who don’t share our passions or devotion to change the world for the better.

‘Salute’ Eric, RIP Little Brother!

Memorial for Eric Hall

Sarasota Herald Tribune photo by Ed Pfueller

Justin Hall salutes and parents Kevin and Becky Hall embrace as the sound of a rifle salute fills a memorial service for their brother and son Marine Corps Veteran Eric Hall during at Faith Lutheran Church Thursday in Punta Gorda

In Iraq, the irony doesn’t drip; it bleeds.

In Iraq, the irony doesn’t drip; it bleeds.

You remember the last time Saint Maverick went to Iraq to give us a little straight talk about the improving conditions. You remember how he went on a leisurely shopping trip to an open-air market. Wearing a flak jacket. And accompanied by 100 of his closest armed friends. With three Blackhawk helicopters hovering overhead. Not to mention two Apache gunships. Well, he’ll be skipping that fun diversion, this time. As John King of CNN explained:

And it will be interesting, because you note that marketplace. It’s called the Sorja (ph) marketplace. It’s in a Baghdad neighborhood.

We tried to go there today, as a matter of fact. We wanted to see what it looks like now, a year after Senator McCain was here. And he did walk around, and he did say it was proof that there were security gains being made, and that some parts of Baghdad and Iraq were quite safe. And as you noted, he also had 100-plus troops providing his security detail. And many of the merchants in the area, as soon as they were gone, said the neighborhood was quite unsafe.

We got close to that marketplace today, Jim, but our own security advisers here in Iraq didn’t want us to go there. They did not believe it was safe for an American to be in that area.

We were in a thriving marketplace nearby, but when you show up, the local Iraqis, well, it is clear that security is better on the street. And it’s clear there are more markets open. Just the traffic jams alone tell you that things are better on the streets of Baghdad.

It’s also very sensitive potential neighborhoods. That one marketplace, as a matter of fact, that neighborhood, you do see Iraqi police, you do see the Iraqi army. But in truth, that area is controlled by the racial cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi army.

It’s safer for the Iraqis, but still not safe for Americans. But it’s safer for the Iraqis because it’s controlled by al-Sadr. Good thing he extended his truce. Otherwise that market might not even be safer for the Iraqis.

Iraq Moratorium, war’s 5th anniversary demand action

The convergence of the 5th anniversary of “shock and awe” with Christian Holy Week and Iraq Moratorium #7 has sparked hundreds of antiwar actions across the country this week.

The Iraq Moratorium, a loosely-knit grassroots movement, is usually observed on the Third Friday of every month, but March events are spread throughout the week.

It began last weekend, when more than 500 people gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco for a rally, march and vigil.

Speakers included Daniel Ellsberg, State Sen. Carole Migden and former San Francisco Supervisor and current Green Party vice presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez.

Ellsberg invited the crowd at the church to join him in a “die in” Wednesday at noon outside the San Francisco office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “We may be arrested for disturbing the peace,” he said. “But there is no peace.

Golden Gate XPress, the student newspaper at San Francisco State University, reports:

[Cindy]Sheehan,(right) a congressional candidate … concluded the event by reflecting on her personal loss. She told the story of her son who was killed in the third bloody mission into Sadr City, a mission forced upon him against his will.

“Today I have one dead son,” she said to a silent hall, using a tissue to dry a tear. “When your child is killed in a war, they always say ‘Your child volunteered. Your child was a hero,'” she said. “What makes him a hero if he was ordered to kill innocent Iraqis?”

Sheehan further acknowledged the Americans and Iraqis who lost their lives in the war and the politicians who put them there.

“It’s bullshit that we’re not impeaching,” she said.

Because the Moratorium, which encourages local grassroots action on the Third Friday of every month, coincides with the Christian observance of Good Friday, March 21, some actions will include a religious theme.

The Pike’s Peak Justice Coalition will take part in Pax Christi’s Way of the Cross/Way of Justice procession in downtown Colorado Springs.  

A Hartford, CT “Lamentation and Protest” will begin with an interfaith prayer service, followed by a silent procession to the federal building, where marchers will pile stones bearing the names of victims of the Iraq war.  Church bells will ring in a number of communities in Massachusetts to mark Moratorium observances.

In Cincinnati, candlelight vigils will be held in eight neighborhoods, and dozens of street corner vigils are planned across the country.  Most vigils take place every month, and some have been going since the war began.  

In a session called “Write Some Wrongs,” people in Cornwall, CT will meet at the public library to write their Congressman about “what is in your heart about the Iraq war and what you want him to do about it.”

The Iraq Moratorium encourage local organizers to “do their own thing” on the third Friday of the month – but to do something, whatever it is, to end the war.  It is all a loosely-knit national grassroots effort operating under the Iraq Moratorium umbrella.

Friday is the seventh monthly Moratorium, and more than 800 events have been listed on the group’s website, , which has a list of this month’s actions and reports, photos and videos from previous months.

OR-Sen Candidate Joins Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq

As we approach the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War, there is a movement building to end the war. The Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq is a growing coalition of congressional candidates and military leaders who are pushing a swift and responsible withdrawal plan. The coalition includes candidates like Darcy Burner WA-8 and Donna Edwards MD-4, Major General Paul Eaton who was the former Security Transition Commanding General in Iraq and Dr. Lawrence Korb who is the former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration. The coalition to end the war just got gained another endorser, Oregon Senate candidate and current House Speaker Jeff Merkley.

Four at Four

  1. The New York Times reports Bush backs Fed’s actions, but critics quickly find fault. George W. “Bush on Monday welcomed the Federal Reserve’s sweeping intervention in the nation’s financial markets as his administration faced accusations that it had supported the bailout of a prestigious investment bank while doing little to address the hardships of Americans facing foreclosures on their homes… Mr. Bush singled out Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. for praise, saying he had shown ‘the country and the world that the United States is on top of the situation,’ an assertion that was broadly disputed by the president’s critics.”

    Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, George W. Bush, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke yuck it up as their policies steer the United States into a deep recession and a worthless dollar.

    The Wall Street Jornal reports Street Cheers Goldman, Lehman. “Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the two big U.S. investment banks least wounded thus far by the credit crunch, gave markets a shot in the arm Tuesday by reporting first-quarter results that beat Wall Street’s expectations and were free of nasty surprises. To be sure, the results were damaged by the turmoil of the past few months, in which key markets froze up as banks became increasingly wary of trading with each other. Each bank’s earnings fell by more than 50% from the year before, and each booked roughly $2 billion in credit-related losses.” And this was the “good” news today? Put me down as unimpressed.

    Meanwhile over in Russia, Prava, yeah Pravda, runs with an opinion-analysis of the U.S. economic fallout by Abbas Bakhtiar, When the US sneezes the world catches cold.

    The world’s economy will experience the negative effects from the US economic downturn. The most affected areas will be China and other Asian “emerging” economies and European Union… The full picture of financial crisis is still hidden and full cost of the coming bailouts will not be known till autumn.

    Of course this is not written in stone. The US government may come to its senses and decides to act responsibly and allow many companies and banks to go under. It may try to support dollar. It may try to cut the budget deficit or the trade deficit. It may even decide that its war in Iraq was not and is not such a good idea and withdraw its troops. It may even try to get friendly with Venezuela and Iran, thereby reduce both the price of oil and pressure on the dollar. The truth is that it is the US president that can do these things and not the Federal Reserves. We just have to wait for the elections and see who is elected as the next president.

    It is my opinion that no other US president has ever damaged United States as much as George Bush, and he will be remembered by both the Americans and others as one of the most unpopular US presidents ever. But he is at the end of his second term and has only a year to destroy the rest of the economy. Let us hope that he will be busy with other things and doesn’t do more damage. Let us also hope that the American people will not fall for promises of further tax cuts and glories in battle fields abroad. Neither brings peace and prosperity.

    And, just to underscore how “on top of the situation” Bernake is, the Federal Reserve cuts key interest rate by 3/4 of a point, according to the NY Times. The cut “to 2.25 percent… was less than investors had been hoping for even though it was one of the deepest in Fed history.” Don’t Panic. Don’t Panic.

  2. The Associated Press reports Mortars near U.S. embassy in Yemen kill 1. “Two mortar shells exploded Tuesday by a high school next to the U.S. embassy, killing a Yemeni guard and wounding three students and three other guards, an Interior Ministry official said. Troops sealed off roads and prevented journalists from coming closer to the school, which is attended mostly by Yemeni students… It was unclear if the embassy or the school was the target.”

  3. The Guardian reports Kosovo clashes force UN to withdraw. “Serbs went on the warpath against western peacekeepers in northern Kosovo yesterday in the worst unrest since the small Albanian-dominated Balkan province declared independence a month ago. As UN riot police backed by Nato helicopters and armoured vehicles used stun grenades and teargas to restore control of a court building occupied by Serb activists last week in the northern Serb-controlled town of Mitrovica, Serbian rioters clashed with the international forces and used automatic weapons against Nato troops. Dozens of police, Nato troops, and Serb civilians were hurt in explosions and clashes after riot police stormed the building at dawn.”

  4. The Independent reports China prepares for crackdown by clearing Tibetan capital of witnesses. “After days of street fighting and protests by Tibetans seeking independence, Chinese authorities have moved to clear Lhasa of the last independent witnesses ahead of a deadline for demonstrators to surrender. Beijing’s governor in Tibet promised leniency to demonstrators prepared to give themselves up, but Tibet independence groups said scores of people had already been killed during the protests. Yesterday, sources in Lhasa said NGOs and the few remaining foreign journalists were taken out of the city, leaving no one to inform the world of how Beijing would reinforce order. Some reports said handcuffed Tibetan prisoners were paraded through the city earlier yesterday.”

News of Obama’s speech this morning is below the fold.

When The Going Gets Weird……

The weird turn pro.


And the going is starting…well, continuing at an accelerated pace…to get weird. And will get weirder. We are in a time of great change…on every level. It is a fact that every generation, every era, thinks that it is in the midst of some existential crisis, and lol, in a way they are correct. All of the event and the decisions made in response to their crises have led to…now. And to the confluence of events that we are facing today, in our era.

But our era IS different, if for no other reason than that this is the first truly global era…and in the fact that we are facing a truly global set of circumstances. The conflict of “good” vs “evil” has always been with us, but we are in an era where a true decision between them must be made. And NOT just on the individual level.

Though if course that is where it always begins.

Wherein I burnish my parenting credentials…

I know on a day like today one should say something brilliant or witty or insightful on Obama’s speech, but I’ve committed to be the class clown even on heady days and so I offer up my darkest moment of political fatherhood…

With that out of the way…

Updated – Dalai Lama May Resign If Violence Escalates (w/vid)

“If things become out of control then my only option is to completely resign,” Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader told a news conference in the north Indian town of Dharamsala, the seat of his government-in-exile.

“Even 1,000 Tibetans sacrificed their life, not much help,” he said. “Please help stop violence from Chinese side and also from Tibetan side.”


Pony Party, Deja Vu

I don’t intend to be a pest about DocuDharma’s March Madness online bracket-picking group…found here….really, i dont…

But as registration will cut off when the tournament starts on Thursday, I wanted to make extra sure that anyone who wished to participate had ample notice…


30 Mill: N’Orleanians vs N’Learians

A short rant on Priorities.

30 million to bail out the rich folks.  What?  Afraid they might make a late Lear payment? Of course all the employees who worked for B-S just got the big douche, being minor stock holders.  No job, no 401K’s nadda. No bailout for them.

Of course, I have a hard time working up a great deal of sympathy for those who make a living shuffling papers on other’s loans, milking profit off the middle class’ interest rates. I realize I am being simplistic, but still…..

This is even truer, because if we have 30 million laying around, why the fuck did we not use it in New Orleans? Never mind. We all know the answer to that.

Pictorial explanation below.

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