January 29, 2009 archive

Can You Play Me a Memory?

Its nine o’clock on a Saturday

The regular crowd shuffles in,

There’s an old man sitting next to me,

Staring into his tonic and gin.  

He says, son, can you play me a memory?

I’m not really sure how it goes,

But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete,

When I wore a younger man’s clothes.

A memory . . .

He remembered that one.  It was sad, it was sweet, and he knew it complete, when he wore a younger man’s clothes . . .

Israel Soldier Praying Pictures, Images and Photos

He was a veteran of the 6-Day War, a veteran of the Yom Kippur War, a veteran of the invasion of Lebanon.  He was a son of Holocaust victims, an old man tired of the killing, the hate, the self-righteousness of victims who create other victims and call it justice.  

Obama’s Strategy

Over the last few days, I’ve been watching an interesting discussion going on between several progressive bloggers who are trying to understand and/or criticize Obama’s attempts to talk/work with Republicans on the stimulus bill. There are nuanced opinions to be sure, but overall, the positions break down into two camps.

The first is the one we hear most about on the progressive blogs…that Obama is wasting his time in these efforts of bi-partisanship and weakening legislation in the meantime. One of the people criticizing Obama most severely is David Sirota at Open Left.

Obama has to choose between his campaign spending promises and his odes to bipartisanship – and unfortunately, it looks like he’s trying not to make a choice at all. He’s proposing a plan that tries to split the difference between GOP-backed tax cuts that Democrats acknowledge are ineffective, and progressive spending proposals. Policy-wise, the net effect is a weaker stimulus package than the moment requires. Politically, the effect is to help resuscitate a Republican Party and conservative movement that should be left to wither away. Indeed, the only way the GOP can claw itself back to political relevance is to garner attention from Obama and the Democrats – and sadly, it seems Obama seems intent on helping the GOP get back in the game.

Four at Four

  1. Reuters reports U.S. jobless claims the highest since at least 1967. “The number of Americans claiming jobless benefits hit a record high in mid-January… The number of people staying on state jobless benefits rolls after drawing an initial week of aid jumped 159,000 to a higher-than-forecast 4.78 million in the week ended January 17, the most recent week for which data is available. It was the highest reading on records dating to 1967.”

    The “sales of newly built single-family homes slumped to their lowest levels since records started in 1963” and “New orders for long-lasting manufactured goods dropped 2.6 percent last month after plunging 3.7 percent in November, the Commerce Department said.”

  2. The NY Times reports Ford has its worst year ever but won’t ask for aid. “The Ford Motor Company, the only Detroit automaker not being propped up by billions of dollars in government loans, said on Thursday that it lost $14.6 billion last year, making 2008 its worst year in history as a result of the biggest sales slump in decades.” Ford “reiterated that it did not need federal aid unless the economy worsened significantly or a competitor filed for bankruptcy protection.”

  3. The Washington Post reports a Military judge denies Obama request to suspend hearings at Guantanamo. Saying he found the government’s argument “unpersuasive”, Judge James Pohl, an Army colonel, “denied the Obama administration’s request to delay proceedings for 120 days in the case of a detainee accused of planning the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole warship, an al-Qaeda strike that killed 17 service members and injured 50 others… The Pentagon may now be forced to withdraw the charges against Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen of Yemeni descent.”

  4. McClatchy reports a new White House lawyer’s firm sought bailout money. President Obama “appointed Neal Wolin, division president of The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., to become his deputy White House counsel for economic affairs. That makes Wolin the top legal adviser on economic issues.” Last November, Hartford “applied to become a thrift holding company entitled to between $1.1 billion and $3.4 billion in funds under the much-maligned Troubled Asset Relief Program” after purchasing a Florida thrift bank.

    “Consumer advocacy groups are upset. And not just because Wolin was a top executive of a company seeking bailout money, but also because of the regulatory reform Obama promised that includes calls for first-ever federal regulation of the insurance industry.”

  5. The Washington Post reports Iraq denies new license to Blackwater. “The Iraqi government has informed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that it will not issue a new operating license to Blackwater, Worldwide, the embassy’s primary security company”. “Blackwater must leave the country as soon as a joint Iraqi-U.S. committee finishes drawing up guidelines for private contractors under the security agreement.”

The Bush Bankruptcy: Political, Financial, and….Moral

We are not in a recession. We are not in the Second Great Depression. We are in the Bush Bankruptcy. And we are in deep trouble because of it, not just financially but on every conceivable level.

The Bush Bankruptcy reached A zenith yesterday when in an atmosphere of attempted bi partisanship that is driving the people who have spent 8 years fighting against Bush, Rush, Dick and their army of conservative bootlickers into fits of frustration…..every single Republican voted against a bill to rescue America and the world from the mess that they have made. Every Single One.

Every single one of the people who were the direct causation of Bush Bankruptcy SPIT on the hand that was extended to them. Obama reached out to these people who have driven this bus off this cliff and are now watching it plunge into this abyss of ruination…and they rejected it.

They rejected political reconciliation, they rejected a financial solution and perhaps worst of all, they rejected their moral obligation to repair the damage that THEY have done. Damage not to some political ideal, or financial philosophy, but to real living and breathing human beings who are suffering because of them. They know the facts, they have seen the figures, they have heard the stories of suffering….and yet they chose to continue down the exact same road that led us to this awful scary place we find ourselves in: The Bush Bankruptcy.

The old stale ideas that they offer are bankrupt, have been proven to be bankrupt in the Real World. The old stale tactics of smear and division that they are using are bankrupt, they have been proven to be bankrupt by the polarized and thus paralyzed political reality they so ably illustrated yesterday, in the midst of a real crisis for our country. And the old stale morality of their ‘government for the rich’ policies have been proven bankrupt by the millions of ordinary Americans who are being thrown out of their middle class homes and middle class jobs….because of that bankrupt approach to ‘governance.’

But perhaps where the Bush Bankruptcy has hurt us all the most is in the subversion of our greater morality. The Bush Bankruptcy has lead us as a people down a road where Americans are now forced to make stunning moral choice….based not on the actual issues of morality, but based on politics.


Open Thread


Thread Power!

The Latest from The Environmentalist

Four (wow) articles from THE ENVIRONMENTALIST (many more on the site):

US Climate Change Envoy in Place and Ready to Negotiate

by Jake Schmidt.  Today, a ceremony was held at the US State Department to announce Todd Stern as the Special Envoy for Climate Change (see short bio and video of the event). As we outlined in our transition recommendations, it is crucial that President Obama appoint a climate negotiating team early in his Administration.


Deniability: Facing the War on Terror through Poetry

There are times in history when it is best for a people to move on from past mistakes. There are other times, such as now, when the past cries out to be explored. For those who are searching for meaning to the last eight years, a new book by American poet, George Witte, Deniability, is the place to start. This is not only for the writing that is spectacular in its simplicity, its perfect placement of each word, its prose, but for its bravery in peeling back the layers of the war on terror as an eight year journey that is stark and unforgiving in its verse.


Global Temperature Trends: 2008 Annual Summation

by James Hansen. The Goddard Institute for Space Studies has analyzed the global temperature trends based on 2008 surface air temperature leading to the conclusion that, despite the cold brought on by the strong La Nina event last year, 2008 was the ninth warmest year since measurements began in 1880.


Unleashing the Geeks

by William S. Becker.  There is good climate change and bad climate change. One of the very best types is the radical warming of the atmosphere for scientific inquiry we’re already feeling from the incoming Obama Administration.


See The Environmentalist for more

Docudharma Times Thursday January 29

Republican Bipartisanship

All Vote Against The Stimulus Package

Thursday’s Headlines:

Fed warns of deepening slump, may move on mortgage rates

Israel’s destruction of U.S.-style school shocks Gazans

Saturday’s Surge

Russia ready to shelve missiles plan in conciliatory gesture to Obama

France hit by nationwide strike

Wounded trapped in Sri Lankan war zone

A battle before a battle

Even in exile, Somali journalists face death

South Africa Says Zimbabwe Agreed on Unity Government

Mexico drug bosses may have set truce

House Passes Stimulus Plan Despite G.O.P. Opposition


Published: January 28, 2009

WASHINGTON – Without a single Republican vote, President Obama won House approval on Wednesday for an $819 billion economic recovery plan as Congressional Democrats sought to temper their own differences over the enormous package of tax cuts and spending.

As a piece of legislation, the two-year package is among the biggest in history, reflecting a broad view in Congress that urgent fiscal help is needed for an economy in crisis, at a time when the Federal Reserve has already cut interest rates almost to zero.

But the size and substance of the stimulus package remain in dispute, as House Republicans argued that it tilted heavily toward new spending instead of tax cuts.

In China, a Grass-Roots Rebellion

Rights Manifesto Slowly Gains Ground Despite Government Efforts to Quash It<

By Ariana Eunjung Cha

Washington Post Foreign Service

Thursday, January 29, 2009; Page A01

SHANGHAI — When Tang Xiaozhao first saw a copy of the pro-democracy petition in her e-mail inbox, she silently acknowledged she agreed with everything in it but didn’t want to get involved.

Tang, a pigtailed, 30-something cosmetology major, had never considered herself the activist type. Like many other Chinese citizens, she kept a blog where she wrote about current events and her life, but she wasn’t political.

A few days later, however, Tang surprised herself. She logged on to her computer and signed the document by sending her full name, location and occupation to a special e-mail address.



Peanut Corp. recalls all products back to 2007

Salmonella was found at least 12 times in products made at the Ga. plant

msnbc.com staff and news service reports

Food and Drug Administration officials called for a recall of all products containing peanut butter, peanut paste and peanut oil manufactured since Jan. 1, 2007 at the Blakely, Ga., processing center operated by Peanut Corp. of America.

That could vastly increase the number of recalled food and other products in the nation’s consumer supply.

Additional strains of salmonella also have been detected at the plant, although federal officials emphasized they have confirmed no illnesses beyond those associated with the current Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


After the Thrill of Living is Gone

Is this an arroyo in the desert

or a pass through a mountain chain?

Is it a opening in my mind

or a convolution in my brain?

Oh, yeah…life goes on.

Am I more like a krill in Mono Lake

or a whale who swims the sea?

Am I a caged up mountain lion

or a springbok, bounding free?

Oh, yeah…life goes on.

Are the currents in the rivers

or are they my uncertainty?

Will I ever find the words

to describe all that I see?

Oh, yeah…life goes on.

Are we gorillas behind glass

or porpoises in pools?

Have we walled the world away from us

because we can use tools?

Oh, yeah…life goes on.

Awkwardly I ask the air

am I living in a bowl?

It’s probably time to listen to

the music in my soul.

Long after the thrill…

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–December 28, 2007

Pony Party: the 1980s

Talking Heads:

Pony Party is an Open Thread.  Please not to REC the party.  But please to ADD your own favorite clips or to speak up in the Comments.  Thank you.

Late Night Karaoke

From Los Angeles   California

The Doors

LA Woman

The Foreign Press, Salon.com, & the Army Field Manual

On September 7, 2006, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Cully Stimson and Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (G-2) Lt. Gen. John Kimmons showed up at a State Department foreign press briefing on the then-new DoD Directive 2310.10E (on its detainee program) and the also then brand-new Army Field Manual on interrogations (see note at end of post re links). Only the day before, Kimmons and Stimson had held a news briefing for U.S. reporters at the Department of Defense on the same subjects, which I covered in a recent article at AlterNet.

While few bloggers paid attention to the September 6 DoD briefing (except one noted reporter, as I’ll note later), most likely that was because President Bush had one of his infrequent news conferences the same day, and this one was a blockbuster. Bush acknowledged the existence of a secret CIA prison network. He also announced he was ordering the transfer of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 13 other “high-value detainees” to Guantánamo Bay to be put on trial.

Our Noble Professions

(crossposted from DKos)

I’ve been working on the project Petition for a Special Prosecutor which for me has entailed writing a lot about justice, the intersection of justice and politics and justice and the practice of law.

Of course, due to the excellent work of blogger Valtin, the profession of psychology has also come under scrutiny, as the American Psychological Association did not protest when some of their members validated torture by participating in it at Gitmo and elsewhere.

The profession of law has been soiled by the work of folks like John Yoo, yet he has not been disbarred and I haven’t heard any official protest by the American Bar Association when it comes to lawyers writing legal papers justifying torture.

Ethics.  It is to laugh.

Our noble professions.  Doctor.  Lawyer.  Journalist.  All professions with ethical codes of conduct and a certain level of social privilege conferred upon their practitioners.

Oh, and let’s not forget accountants, shall we?  They have principles to adhere to as well.  I think they didn’t do a good job when it came to oh, say, Enron.  Just to name one example.

Here’s something about the code of conduct for lawyers in New York State (all emphasis mine):

The Code of Professional Responsibility consists of three separate but interrelated parts: Canons, Ethical Considerations, and Disciplinary Rules. The Code is designed to be both an inspirational guide to the members of the profession and a basis for disciplinary action when the conduct of a lawyer falls below the required minimum standards stated in the Disciplinary Rules.

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