November 14, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. After months of ignoring the obvious, the rhetoric from the NY Times is changing. Today’s story is how Militants now turn to small bombs in Iraq attacks. Small, “sticky bombs”, “usually no bigger than a man’s fist and attached to a magnet or a strip of gummy adhesive,” are now the weapon of choice for the insurgent groups in Iraq. In Arabic they’re known as “obwah lasica”.

    Light, portable and easy to lay, sticky bombs are tucked quickly under the bumper of a car or into a chink in a blast wall. Since they are detonated remotely, they rarely harm the person who lays them…

    They are also contributing, in the midst of an uptick in violence, to a growing feeling of unease in the capital.

    Note that last sentence well, that denotes a rhetorical change. The violence in Baghdad is now increasing. While it has been for the past 6 months, the news agencies had been reporting violence was down due to the “surge”. Is this shift an acknowledgment of the security change in Iraq or an attempt to pressure Obama to keep U.S. forces deployed there?

    Sticky bombs have frequently been used to attack Iraqi government and military officials and important businessmen. In July, Faris Amir, the deputy general director of Baghdad’s traffic police, was wounded by a sticky bomb attack. In September, an executive at Al Arabiya, the satellite channel, narrowly survived an assassination attempt by sticky bomb, which destroyed his car. In October, the lawyer Waleed al-Azzawi and the police commander of Diwaniya Province, Omar Abu Atra, were killed in Baghdad by sticky bombs.

    Back in mid-September, I wrote a diary arguing that Americans got bored or why the “surge” in Iraq worked, but really violence was increasing. Interestingly, the NY Times and most other news groups failed to notice this trend during the presidential campaign.

Four at Four continues with offshore drilling plans for the coast of Virginia, what to do with the Obama’s grassroots organization, and financial scams.

The Rule of Law and the Constitution.

I will put this as simply as I can.

America is, and is only, The Constitution….and the laws, rights and privileges spelled out therein.

There IS nothing else.

We do not have anything else from which to proceed, there is no other basis for reference, there is no alternative history or text. We have no monarchy and no traditions of monarchy, we have no aristocracy, we in fact do not even have a philosophy. We have a Constitution. We have Laws. We are a Nation of Laws and nothing else. Without the Constitution…what is America?

Without the Constitution, in point of fact, America becomes a monarchy, an aristocracy with the president as our King, and Congress as our aristocracy. Yes they can still be replaced, but while in office for two, four, six or eight years…well we have seen how long the last eight years have been and how much damage has been wreaked in that time. These 536 people set and decide and enforce the Law. On what basis? Personal whim?  What brings them the most lasting power (see gerrymandering and the incumbent re-election rate.) What will garner them the most political contributions? Favors for the temporarily influential? The politics of the moment?

On what basis do they proceed in governing, without the strict guidance of the Constitution?  When a difficult question of governing arises, to what do they refer? There either is or is not a Constitution, there either is or there is not the Rule of Law. We are either governed by laws, or we are governed by the  exigencies of the moment and the will of ….men (and women).

We have are just emerging from a momentous civics lesson. The most unpopular President ever, the worst President ever, seized power by court order and proceeded to do everything in that power….literally regardless of law…to increase that power. George Bush declared war, not America, not the Constitution. George Bush declared that torture was legal. George Bush declared that he would spy on Americans. In direct contravention of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution. George Bush and Dick Cheney decided that the President had the power to rule America. Not govern America in a co-equal system of checks and balances. As the Constitution insists. Without basing every decision made upon the Rule of Law, we become a nation ruled by the whim of the President and the Congress, or at best by political expediency. If the President can cow the Congress and corrupt the only other agency to which he is accountable, the Department of Justice, HE…a fallible man…becomes the Ruler, Not the Rule of Law. Not the Constitution.

And here we are.

America has the incredible benefit of being founded on the highest principles and the best presentation of those principles in the history of mankind. It is ALL in the Constitution….and it works. The principle of the Rule of Law is the only way  that freedom, justice and equality is possible. At the moment we are in grave danger of throwing that away….because Obama has so much else to do to ‘fix things.’

But what basis, what reference point is there for any ‘fix’ if the most basic principle, the founding principle of America, The Rule of Law is ignored, if it is not restored?

On the Twoness of Being

Back in January, as the Democratic Primary heated up in an epic battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, there was a lot of what I would categorize as “silly talk” pitting women’s issues against those of African Americans. I can’t claim to have been untouched by that strain in our leftward attempts at coalition though. There were charges from both sides that were deeply painful and only occasionally a real discussion about how these systems of hierarchy and oppression are very much alive in our culture.

I remember that during those days, I found solace and guidance in the words of the one group who felt this tension deep in their souls…African American women. I traveled around the nets to find and listen to their voices and wrote an essay that attempted to capture some of it. At the time, these women were busy reacting to an op-ed by Gloria Steinem. But its these words that I remember most.

After reading Steinem’s Op-Ed I felt invisible…as if black and woman can’t exist in the same body. I felt undocumented…as if the history of blacks and the history of women have nothing to do with the history of black women.

Look, I’m not going to go head to head with Steinem and argue what is most pressing for womyn in America – race or gender. What I do know is that as a US womyn of color living in this country is that the two are so inexplicably interlaced that I resist ANY individual that pits once against the other.

Further, by casting the debate as between Black men and White women, Steinem renders the woman of colour invisible, reaffirms the binary Black-White paradigm of race, and demands we take a side in the epic battle between race and gender.

Obama Wants Bush liberal appointees Gates and Petraues to Stay On


(General Petraues seen here raising his fist in a black power salute of unity with Obama and Gates)…


In a dramatic reversal to previous presidents, sources say President Elect Obama has asked, Bush favorites Robert Gates (CIA liberal) and David Petraues (Military Industrial Complex liberal) to stay on. Petraues started out as a purchaser of weapons in Iraq and went on to become supreme overseer of the military in the region. He was responsible for implementing the fabulously succesful, “surge” which has brought peace, stability and democracy to Iraq.  

Open Thread

Let there be Thread!

You Say Recession; I say Depression; Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The difference between a recession and a depression?

A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours.

Old joke.

But who is laughing now?

Obama transition points to more war and repression

Original article, by Bill Van Auken, via World Socialist Web Site:

President-elect Barack Obama owes his victory, both in the Democratic primaries and the general election, in large part to the overwhelming hostility of the American people to the years of military aggression, torture, extraordinary rendition, domestic spying and all of the other crimes that will constitute the indelible legacy of the Bush administration.

Re-Building Plan for the Religious Wingnutery and Repug Party??

I may be jumping to a wrong conclusion here but this looks mighty suspicious and sounds rather wingnutery.

Could there be a Nationwide Call Out, is this a challenge to the Dems and Indies to get it on as well, or have they finally figured out what Sex really is {not bj’s or hand signals in public johns} and with whom and want to celebrate their new found intelligence.

The commentary, leading me to think the christian right thus repug, is written by John Kelso in the Austin Statesman, and as he writes

it’s a great big church with about 20,000 members over five campuses

Anyone who knows of this Mega Church,  Fellowship Church in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine, can set me straight.

Here’s what he’s doin this coming Sunday:

“Many Americans have already bought their last car”

In his most recent missive, “Presto Change-o“, James Howard Kunstler shares his thoughts on bailing out the big three American automakers.

The dilemma is essentially this: the consumer economy we all knew and loved has died. There will be pressure from nearly every quarter to keep it hooked up to the costly life support machines even though it is dead. A different economy is waiting to be born, but it is nothing like the one that has died. The economy-to-come is one of rigor and austerity. It is not the kind of thing that a nation of overfed clowns is used to. Do we even have a prayer of getting to it, or are we going to squander our dwindling resources on life support for something that is already dead?

A case in point: the car industry. The Big Three, all functionally bankrupt, are now lined up for bail-outs from the treasury’s bottomless checking account. Personally, I believe the age of Happy Motoring is over. Many Americans have already bought their last car — they just don’t know it yet.

The changing reality that is our cratering, consumer-driven economy won’t stop the big three automakers from asking for a bailout.

Docudharma Times friday November 14

The Automobile Industry

Is Like The Model T

It Comes In One Color


Friday’s Headlines:

Fire destroys up to 80 houses in Montecito

EU unveils plan to weaken Russian grip on gas supply

Church fury as coma woman allowed to die

Off the coast of Somalia: ‘We’re not pirates. These are our waters, not theirs’

Congo refugees ‘have to be moved’

Clean-up runs out of steam in world’s most corrupt nation

Greed, mad science and melamine

Militants turn to small bombs in Iraq attacks

An intellectual makeover for Iranian women

Riots break out across Colombia after investment scam collapses

Chances Dwindle on Bailout Plan for Automakers


Published: November 13, 2008

WASHINGTON – The prospects of a government rescue for the foundering American automakers dwindled Thursday as Democratic Congressional leaders conceded that they would face potentially insurmountable Republican opposition during a lame-duck session next week.

At the same time, hope among many Democrats on Capitol Hill for an aggressive economic stimulus measure all but evaporated. Democratic leaders have been calling for a package that would include help for the auto companies as well as new spending on public works projects, an extension of jobless benefits, increased food stamps and aid to states for rising Medicaid expenses.

Tech puts JFK conspiracy theories to rest  

Sixth floor of book depository, not the grassy knoll, was origin of lethal shot

By Eric Bland Discovery

A team of experts assembled by the Discovery Channel has recreated the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Using modern blood spatter analysis, new artificial human body surrogates, and 3-D computer simulations, the team determined that the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository was the most likely origin of the shot that killed the 35th president of the United States.

“The question we were trying to answer is, given the spatter evidence in a vehicle, and knowing an individual was sitting at a particular location, is there something we could use to determine where the shot originated?” said Steve Schliebe, a blood spatter and trace evidence specialist with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, who was part of the special investigation.



FDIC Details Plan To Alter Mortgages

Treasury Opposes Using Bailout Funds For Proposal to Ease Monthly Payments

By Binyamin Appelbaum

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, November 14, 2008; Page A01

Officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. yesterday detailed a plan to prevent 1.5 million foreclosures in the next year by offering financial incentives to companies that agree to sharply reduce monthly payments on mortgage loans.

The proposal, which has the support of leading congressional Democrats, would considerably expand the scope and force of the government’s efforts to stem foreclosures. Agency officials estimated the cost to the government at $24.4 billion.

FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair continues to face opposition within the Bush administration.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

State of the Onion VI

Art Link


The Whittlers

All it took

was for me

to become different

They jumped

at the chance

they sit around

waiting for

to grab their knives

and carve away

at my reputation

my physical body

my possessions

my dignity

my humanity

but inside

I was resolute

tougher than

I would have thought

stubborn to the core

The pain sliced

at the surface

of my soul

but deep inside

I was free

and they were chained

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 22, 2006

Real News: Obama And Guantanamo Bay

Guantanamo Bay: Camp X-Ray

There has been quite a bit of conflicting information in the news lately and speculation about what Obama intends to do about Guantanamo Bay and whether Bush has set things up in such a way that it may be very difficult if not nearly impossible to close the place, and it appears to be shaping up as one of the most defining issues of the opening days of his presidency, and whether or not he will live up to campaign promises or just made them out of expediency during his campaign.

Center for Constitutional Rights President Michael Ratner talks about the issue with Real News CEO Paul Jay:

As the world waits for examples of the ways the Obama administration is going to distance itself from the exiting Bush administration, his transition team confirmed on Monday that they will follow through on Obama’s promise to close Bush’s controversial prison camp located at the US Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Senior Editor Paul Jay spoke to constitutional law expert Michael Ratner who expressed his approval for the news but couched that support in an explanation of the variety of other tough decisions that accompany the decision to close the base.

Most of the issues hinge around the fates of those currently imprisoned at Guantanamo, both those who will face prosecution and those who will not. Michael expresses his desire that those who the US does not plan to charge, a group that represents the vast majority of the inmates, should be released immediately. Those remaining, Michael believes, should be tried in civilian courts and not by military commission.

This is a move that human rights groups and Michael himself have been advocating for a variety of reasons, one of which has been that civilian courts–unlike military commissions–do not admit evidence obtained under the use of torture.

November 13, 2008 – 11 min 46 sec

When and how will Obama close Guantanamo?

Michael Ratner: Focus is on fate of hundreds detained at Guantanamo who will never be put on trial

Load more