January 2009 archive

Docudharma Times Friday January 30

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Wall Street Bonuses  

Friday’s Headlines:

Republicans lack a party line on economy

US overtures divide Iran’s policymakers

My terror as a human shield: The story of Majdi Abed Rabbo

Iceland to be fast-tracked into the EU

French demonstration: Sarkozy vs the street

Sri Lanka gives Tamil Tigers 48 hours to allow civilians through jungle

Zimbabwe sidelines currency as economy collapses

Recalling an audience with Congo warlord Lubanga

Mexico City braces for water rationing

Senate Passes Health Insurance Bill for Children

Immigrant Clause Opens Rift

By Ceci Connolly

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, January 30, 2009; Page A01

The Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation yesterday to provide health insurance to 11 million low-income children, a bill that would for the first time spend federal money to cover children and pregnant women who are legal immigrants.

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is aimed at families earning too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance, currently covers close to 7 million youngsters at a cost of $25 billion.

Lawmakers voted 66 to 32, largely along party lines, to renew the joint state-federal program and spend an additional $32.8 billion to expand coverage to 4 million more children. The expansion would be paid for by raising the cigarette tax from 39 cents a pack to $1.

China’s Solution for Unemployed College Grads: State Jobs in the Boonies

By Maureen Fan

Washington Post Foreign Service

Friday, January 30, 2009; Page A08

BEIJING — Liu Yongquan thought he was well prepared for China’s job market, with his degree in electromechanical engineering. But a long internship had provided no help in the way of connections, nor any real job experience. So after graduating in 2007, he headed for rural Laozhuanghu village in Xiji town, on the outskirts of Beijing, where he works as a librarian, passing out legal and health-care notices and conducting surveys.

“I’m not from the city, so this job can solve my residential permit problem. Second, the rural experience helps me in my civil service exam,” said Liu, who is from Shandong province and now hoping for the stability of a state job. “I’m forgetting all my engineering knowledge, but this work doesn’t need professional skill. It is enough if you are patient and careful.”



Obama Calls Wall Street Bonuses ‘Shameful’


Published: January 29, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Obama branded Wall Street bankers “shameful” on Thursday for giving themselves nearly $20 billion in bonuses as the economy was deteriorating and the government was spending billions to bail out some of the nation’s most prominent financial institutions.”There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses,” Mr. Obama said during an appearance in the Oval Office with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. “Now’s not that time. And that’s a message that I intend to send directly to them, I expect Secretary Geithner to send to them.”

It was a pointed – if calculated – flash of anger from the president, who frequently railed against excesses in executive compensation on the campaign trail. He struck his populist tone as he confronted the possibility of having to ask Congress for additional large sums of money, beyond the $700 billion already authorized, to prop up the financial system, even as he pushes Congress to move quickly on a separate economic stimulus package that could cost taxpayers as much as $900 billion.

“See” OPOL Live Tonight on WWL Radio

EDIT UPDATE: Here is the Link to BTR chat. You can use it to type in questions, or comments as we go along, for those too shy to call; or if the switchboard gets too busy.


This evening, at 6pm Eastern, join us at WWL BlogTalkRadio as we discuss:

1. Equal Pay – The Lilly Ledbetter Law gets signed!

Call in and let us know if this will effect you, or has effected you in the past.

2. Conyers vs Rove.. Holder vs The Right

Is accountability a pipe dream, or did someone just repack the bowl???

3. Stimulus Package… Is Keynesianism on the Rise, or is this just more Trickle down?

Speak your minds!

Our VERY Special Guest will be OPOL, of Docudharma!!!!

Nothing like One Pissed Off Liberal to discuss with us:

1.  we should have listened to the hippies

2.  we should cease making war on people for bogus reasons

3.  we should re-purpose the MIC to address environmental and energy issues

Tune in and Listen:

Listen to The Wild Wild Left on internet talk radio

Call in with comments or questions to:


The link to BTR live chat will be available on the WWL 15 minutes before the show!

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning
High Desert

Below the vast cerulean above

enlivening an endless

canvas of assorted browns

lies a short barrel cactus

crowned by a yellow flower

with red streaks

topping the cylindrical body

which wears

lethal looking spines

warning me

to keep my distance

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–August 1, 2008

Late Night Karaoke

Ah The Lounge



News Special

An Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Obama calls Obama calls $18B in Wall St. bonuses ‘shameful’8B in Wall St. bonuses ‘shameful’

By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer

29 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama issued a withering critique Thursday of Wall Street corporate behavior, calling it “the height of irresponsibility” for employees to be paid more than $18 billion in bonuses last year while their crumbling financial sector received a bailout from taxpayers. “It is shameful,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “And part of what we’re going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some sense of responsibility.”

The president’s comments, made with new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at his side, came in swift response to a report that employees of the New York financial world garnered an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses last year. The figure, from the New York state comptroller, drew prominent news coverage.

Yet Obama’s stand also came just one day after he surrounded himself with well-paid chief executives at the White House. He had pulled in those business leaders and hailed them for being on the “front lines in seeing the enormous problems in our economy right now.”

Obama Dismissing Yoo Torture Memo Case?

Politico reported yesterday that Obama’s lawyers are prepping to  defend John Yoo next week by moving to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Jose Padilla.  Padilla seeks a declaration that Yoo’s legal memos that purported to authorize torture were unconstitutional.  Obama presumably does not plan to support torture or the torture memos. Instead, Obama may argue that the case should be dismissed in order to protect governmental prerogatives, like immunity for government officials acting within the scope of their employment or state secrets.  While any of these defenses may have legal validity, what about protecting the public’s prerogative to the rule of law?  And, does the US want to continue shielding our government officials from torture liability while prosecuting foreign officials to hold them individually accountable?

Quotes for Discussion: John Updike

Via Andrew Sullivan and Joe Posnanski, two of the myriad reasons why John Updike was what he was, and why I feel so fortunate to have shared the earth with him for much of my life.

When I was a boy, the bestselling books were often the books that were on your piano teacher’s shelf. I mean, Steinbeck, Hemingway, some Faulkner. Faulkner actually had, considering how hard he is to read and how drastic the experiments are, quite a middle-class readership. But certainly someone like Steinbeck was a bestseller as well as a Nobel Prize-winning author of high intent. You don’t feel that now. I don’t feel that we have the merger of serious and pop — it’s gone, dissolving. Tastes have coarsened. People read less, they’re less comfortable with the written word. They’re less comfortable with novels. They don’t have a backward frame of reference that would enable them to appreciate things like irony and allusions. It’s sad. It’s momentarily uphill, I would say.

And who’s to blame? Well, everything’s to blame. Movies are to blame, for stealing a lot of the novel’s thunder. Why read a novel when in two hours you can just go passively sit and be dazzled and amazed and terrified? Television is to blame, especially because it’s come into the home. It’s brought the fascination of the flickering image right into the house; like turning on a faucet, you can have it whenever you want. I was a movie addict, but you could only see so many movies in the course of a week. I still had a lot of time to read, and so did other people. But I think television would take all your day if you let it. Now we have these cultural developments on the Internet, and online, and the computer offering itself as a cultural tool, as a tool of distributing not just information but arts — and who knows what inroads will be made there into the world of the book.

– John Updike in interview with Salon.com

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.


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